Aunt Jane's Nieces Out West
By Edith Van Dyne
I CAUGHT BY THE CAMERA
II AN OBJECT LESSON
III AN ATTRACTIVE GIRL
IV AUNT JANE'S NIECES
V A THRILLING RESCUE
VI A. JONES
VII THE INVALID
VIII THE MAGIC OF A NAME
IX DOCTOR PATSY
X STILL A MYSTERY
XI A DAMSEL IN DISTRESS
XII PICTURES, GIRLS AND NONSENSE
XIII A FOOLISH BOY
XIV ISIDORE LE DRIEUX
XV A FEW PEARLS
XVII UNCLE JOHN IS PUZZLED
XVIII DOUBTS AND DIFFICULTIES
XIX MAUD MAKES A MEMORANDUM
XX A GIRLISH NOTION
XXI THE YACHT "ARABELLA"
XXII MASCULINE AND FEMININE
XXIII THE ADVANTAGE OF A DAY
XXIV PICTURE NUMBER NINETEEN
XXVI SUNSHINE AFTER RAIN
CAUGHT BY THE CAMERA
"This is getting to be an amazing old world," said a young girl, still in
her "teens," as she musingly leaned her chin on her hand.
"It has always been an amazing old world, Beth," said another girl who
was sitting on the porch railing and swinging her feet in the air.
"True, Patsy," was the reply; "but the people are doing such peculiar
"Yes, yes!" exclaimed a little man who occupied a reclining chair within
hearing distance; "that is the way with you young folks—always
confounding the world with its people."
"Don't the people make the world, Uncle John?" asked Patricia Doyle,
looking at him quizzically.
"No, indeed; the world could get along very well without its people; but
"To be sure; they need the world," laughed Patsy, her blue eyes
twinkling so that they glorified her plain, freckled face.
"Nevertheless," said Beth de Graf, soberly, "I think the people have
struck a rapid pace these days and are growing bold and impudent. The law
appears to allow them too much liberty. After our experience of this
morning I shall not be surprised at anything that happens—especially in
this cranky state of California."
"To what experience do you allude, Beth?" asked Uncle John, sitting up
straight and glancing from one to another of his two nieces. He was a
genial looking, round-faced man, quite bald and inclined to be a trifle
stout; yet his fifty-odd years sat lightly upon him.
"Why, we had quite an adventure this morning," said Patsy, laughing
again at the recollection, and answering her uncle because Beth
hesitated to. "For my part, I think it was fun, and harmless fun, at
that; but Beth was scared out of a year's growth. I admit feeling a
little creepy at the time, myself; but it was all a joke and really we
ought not to mind it at all."
"Tell me all about it, my dear!" said Mr. Merrick, earnestly, for
whatever affected his beloved nieces was of prime importance to him.
"We were taking our morning stroll along the streets," began Patsy, "when
on turning a corner we came upon a crowd of people who seemed to be
greatly excited. Most of them were workmen in flannel shirts, their
sleeves rolled up, their hands grimy with toil. These stood before a
brick building that seemed like a factory, while from its doors other
crowds of workmen and some shopgirls were rushing into the street and
several policemen were shaking their clubs and running here and there in
a sort of panic. At first Beth and I stopped and hesitated to go on, but
as the sidewalk seemed open and fairly free I pulled Beth along, thinking
we might discover what the row was about. Just as we got opposite the
building a big workman rushed at us and shouted: 'Go back—go back! The
wall is falling.'
"Well, Uncle, you can imagine our dismay. We both screamed, for we
thought our time had come, for sure. My legs were so weak that Beth had
to drag me away and her face was white as a sheet and full of terror.
Somehow we managed to stagger into the street, where a dozen men caught
us and hurried us away. I hardly thought we were in a safe place when the
big workman cried: 'There, young ladies; that will do. Your expression
was simply immense and if this doesn't turn out to be the best film of
the year, I'll miss my guess! Your terror-stricken features will make a
regular hit, for the terror wasn't assumed, you know. Thank you very much
for happening along just then.'"
Patsy stopped her recital to laugh once more, with genuine merriment, but
her cousin Beth seemed annoyed and Uncle John was frankly bewildered.
"But—what—what—was it all about?" he inquired.
"Why, they were taking a moving picture, that was all, and the workmen
and shopgirls and policemen were all actors. There must have been a
hundred of them, all told, and when we recovered from our scare I could
hear the machine beside me clicking away as it took the picture."
"Did the wall fall?" asked Uncle John.
"Not just then. They first got the picture of the rush-out and the
panic, and then they stopped the camera and moved the people to a safe
distance away. We watched them set up some dummy figures of girls and
workmen, closer in, and then in some way they toppled over the big brick
wall. It fell into the street with a thundering crash, but only the
dummies were buried under the debris."
Mr. Merrick drew a long breath.
"It's wonderful!" he exclaimed. "Why, it must have cost a lot of money to
ruin such a building—and all for the sake of a picture!"
"That's what I said to the manager," replied Patsy; "but he told us the
building was going to be pulled down, anyhow, and a better one built in
its place; so he invented a picture story to fit the falling walls and it
didn't cost him so much as one might think. So you see, Uncle, we are in
that picture—big as life and scared stiff—and I'd give a lot to see how
we look when we're positively terror-stricken."
"It will cost you just ten cents," remarked Beth, with a shrug; "that is,
if the picture proves good enough to be displayed at one of those horrid
"One?" said Uncle John. "One thousand little theatres, most likely, will
show the picture, and perhaps millions of spectators will see you and
Patsy running from the falling wall."
"Dear me!" wailed Patsy. "That's more fame than I bargained for. Do
millions go to see motion pictures, Uncle?"
"I believe so. The making of these pictures is getting to be an enormous
industry. I was introduced to Otis Werner, the other day, and he told me
a good deal about it. Werner is with one of the big concerns here—the
Continental, I think—and he's a very nice and gentlemanly fellow. I'll
introduce you to him, some time, and he'll tell you all the wonders of
the motion picture business."
"I haven't witnessed one of those atrocious exhibitions for months,"
announced Beth; "nor have I any desire to see one again."
"Not our own special picture?" asked Patsy reproachfully.
"They had no right to force us into their dreadful drama," protested
Beth. "Motion pictures are dreadfully tiresome things—comedies and
tragedies alike. They are wild and weird in conception, quite unreal and
wholly impossible. Of course the scenic pictures, and those recording
historical events, are well enough in their way, but I cannot understand
how so many cheap little picture theatres thrive."
"They are the poor people's solace and recreation," declared Mr. Merrick.
"The picture theatre has become the laboring man's favorite resort. It
costs him but five or ten cents and it's the sort of show he can
appreciate. I'm told the motion picture is considered the saloon's worst
enemy, for many a man is taking his wife and children to a picture
theatre evenings instead of joining a gang of his fellows before the bar,
as he formerly did."
"That is the best argument in their favor I have ever heard," admitted
Beth, who was strong on temperance; "but I hope, Uncle, you are not
defending the insolent methods of those picture-makers."
"Not at all, my dear. I consider the trapping of innocent bystanders to
be—eh—er—highly reprehensible, and perhaps worse. If I can discover
what picture manager was guilty of the act, I shall—shall—"
"I shall hint that he owes you an apology," he concluded, rather lamely.
Beth smiled scornfully.
"Meantime," said she, "two very respectable girls, who are not actresses,
will be exhibited before the critical eyes of millions of stupid workmen,
reformed drunkards, sad-faced women and wiggling children—not in
dignified attitudes, mind you, but scurrying from what they supposed was
an imminent danger."
"I hope it will do the poor things good to see us," retorted Patsy. "To
be strictly honest, Beth, we were not trapped at all; we were the victims
of circumstances. When I remember how quick-witted and alert that manager
was, to catch us unawares and so add to the value of his picture, I can
quite forgive the fellow his audacity."
"It wasn't audacity so much as downright impudence!" persisted Beth.
"I quite agree with you," said Mr. Merrick. "Do you wish me to buy that
film and prevent the picture's being shown?"
"Oh, no!" cried Patsy in protest. "I'm dying to see how we look. I
wouldn't have that picture sidetracked for anything."
"And you, Beth?"
"Really, Uncle John, the thing is not worth worrying over," replied his
niece. "I am naturally indignant at being drawn into such a thing against
my will, but I doubt if anyone who knows us, or whose opinion we value,
will ever visit a moving picture theatre or see this film. The common
people will not recognize us, of course."
You must not think Beth de Graf was snobbish or aristocratic because of
this speech, which her cousin Patsy promptly denounced as "snippy." Beth
was really a lovable and sunny-tempered girl, very democratic in her
tastes in spite of the fact that she was the possessor of an unusual
fortune. She was out of sorts to-day, resentful of the fright she had
endured that morning and in the mood to say harsh things.
Even Patricia Doyle had been indignant, at first; but Patsy's judgment
was clearer than her cousin's and her nature more responsive. She quickly
saw the humorous side of their adventure and could enjoy the recollection
of her momentary fear.
These two girls were spending the winter months in the glorious climate
of Southern California, chaperoned by their uncle and guardian, John
Merrick. They had recently established themselves at a cosy hotel in
Hollywood, which is a typical California village, yet a suburb of the
great city of Los Angeles. A third niece, older and now married—Louise
Merrick Weldon—lived on a ranch between Los Angeles and San Diego, which
was one reason why Uncle John and his wards had located in this pleasant
To observe this trio—the simple, complacent little man and his two young
nieces—no stranger would suspect them to be other than ordinary
tourists, bent on escaping the severe Eastern winter; but in New York the
name of John Merrick was spoken with awe in financial circles, where his
many millions made him an important figure. He had practically retired
from active business and his large investments were managed by his
brother-in-law, Major Gregory Doyle, who was Miss Patsy's father and sole
surviving parent. All of Mr. Merrick's present interest in life centered
in his three nieces, and because Louise was happily married and had now
an establishment of her own—including a rather new but very remarkable
baby—Uncle John was drawn closer to the two younger nieces and devoted
himself wholly to their welfare.
The girls had not been rich when their fairy godfather first found them.
Indeed, each of them had been energetically earning, or preparing to
earn, a livelihood. Now, when their uncle's generosity had made them
wealthy, they almost regretted those former busy days of poverty, being
obliged to discover new interests in life in order to keep themselves
occupied and contented. All three were open-handed and open-hearted,
sympathetic to the unfortunate and eager to assist those who needed
money, as many a poor girl and worthy young fellow could testify. In all
their charities they were strongly supported by Mr. Merrick, whose
enormous income permitted him to indulge in many benevolences. None gave
ostentatiously, for they were simple, kindly folk who gave for the pure
joy of giving and begrudged all knowledge of their acts to anyone outside
their own little circle.
There is no doubt that John Merrick was eccentric. It is generally
conceded that a rich man may indulge in eccentricities, provided he
maintains a useful position in society, and Mr. Merrick's peculiarities
only served to render him the more interesting to those who knew him
best. He did astonishing things in a most matter-of-fact way and acted
more on impulse than on calm reflection; so it is not to be wondered at
that the queer little man's nieces had imbibed some of his queerness.
Being by nature lively and aggressive young women, whose eager interest
in life would not permit them to be idle, they encountered many
They had just come from a long visit to Louise at the ranch and after
conferring gravely together had decided to hide themselves in Hollywood,
where they might spend a quiet and happy winter in wandering over the
hills, in boating or bathing in the ocean or motoring over the hundreds
of miles of splendid boulevards of this section.
Singularly enough, their choice of a retreat was also the choice of a
score or more of motion picture makers, who had discovered Hollywood
before them and were utilizing the brilliant sunshine and clear
atmosphere in the production of their films, which were supplied to
picture theatres throughout the United States and Europe. Appreciating
the value of such a monster industry, the authorities permitted the
cameras to be set up on the public streets or wherever there was an
appropriate scene to serve for a background to the photo-plays. It was no
unusual sight to see troops of cowboys and Indians racing through the
pretty village or to find the cameraman busy before the imposing
residence of a millionaire or the vine-covered bungalow of a more modest
citizen. No one seemed to resent such action, for Californians admire the
motion picture as enthusiastically as do the inhabitants of the Eastern
states, so the girls' "adventure" was really a common incident.
AN OBJECT LESSON
It was the following afternoon when Uncle John captured his casual
acquaintance, Mr. Otis Werner, in the office of the hotel and dragged the
motion picture man away to his rooms to be introduced to his nieces.
"Here, my dears, is Mr. Werner," he began, as he threw open the door of
their apartment and escorted his companion in. "He is one of those
picture makers, you'll remember, and—and—"
He paused abruptly, for Beth was staring at Mr. Werner with a frown on
her usually placid features, while Patsy was giggling hysterically. Mr.
Werner, a twinkle of amusement in his eye, bowed with exaggerated
"Dear me!" said Uncle John. "Is—is anything wrong!"
"No; it's all right, Uncle," declared Patsy, striving to control a fresh
convulsion of laughter. "Only—this is the same dreadful manager who
dragged us into his picture yesterday."
"I beg your pardon," said Mr. Werner; "I'm not a manager; I'm merely what
is called in our profession a 'producer,' or a 'stage director.'"
"Well, you're the man, anyhow," asserted Patsy. "So what have you to say
for yourself, sir?"
"If you were annoyed, I humbly apologize," he returned. "Perhaps I was
unintentionally rude to frighten you in that way, but my excuse lies in
our subservience to the demands of our art. We seldom hesitate at
anything which tends to give our pictures the semblance of reality."
"Art, did you say, Mr. Werner?" It was Beth who asked this and there
was a bit of a sneer in her tone.
"It is really art—art of the highest character," he replied warmly. "Do
you question it, Miss—Miss—"
"Miss de Graf. I suppose, to be fair, I must admit that the photography
is art; but the subjects of your pictures, I have observed, are far from
artistic. Such a picture, for instance, as you made yesterday can have
little value to anyone."
"Little value! Why, Miss de Graf, you astonish me," he exclaimed. "I
consider that picture of the falling wall one of my greatest
triumphs—and I've been making pictures for years. Aside from its
realism, its emotional nature—'thrills,' we call it—this picture
conveys a vivid lesson that ought to prove of great benefit to humanity."
Beth was looking at him curiously now. Patsy was serious and very
attentive. As Uncle John asked his visitor to be seated his voice
betrayed the interest he felt in the conversation.
"Of course we saw only a bit of the picture," said Patsy Doyle. "What was
it all about, Mr. Werner?"
"We try," said he, slowly and impressively, as if in love with his
theme, "to give to our pictures an educational value, as well as to
render them entertaining. Some of them contain a high moral lesson;
others, a warning; many, an incentive to live purer and nobler lives.
All of our plots are conceived with far more thought than you may
suppose. Underlying many of our romances and tragedies are moral
injunctions which are involuntarily absorbed by the observers, yet of so
subtle a nature that they are not suspected. We cannot preach except by
suggestion, for people go to our picture shows to be amused. If we
hurled righteousness at them they would soon desert us, and we would be
obliged to close up shop."
"I must confess that this is, to me, a most novel presentation of the
subject," said Beth, more graciously. "Personally, I care little for your
pictures; but I can understand how travel scenes and scientific or
educational subjects might be of real benefit to the people."
"I can't understand anyone's being indifferent to the charm of motion
pictures," he responded, somewhat reproachfully.
"Why, at first they struck me as wonderful," said the girl. "They were
such a novel invention that I went to see them from pure curiosity. But,
afterward, the subjects presented in the pictures bored me. The drama
pictures were cheap and common, the comedy scenes worse; so I kept away
from the picture theatres."
"Educational pictures," said Mr. Werner, musingly, "have proved a
failure, as I hinted, except when liberally interspersed with scenes of
action and human interest. The only financial failures among the host of
motion picture theatres, so far as I have observed, are those that have
attempted to run travel scenes and educational films exclusively. There
are so few people with your—eh—culture and—and—elevated tastes, you
see, when compared with the masses."
"But tell us about our picture," pleaded Patsy. "What lesson can that
falling wall possibly convey?"
"I'll be glad to explain that," he eagerly replied, "for I am quite proud
of it, I assure you. There are many buildings throughout our larger
cities that were erected as cheaply as possible and without a single
thought for the safety of their tenants. So many disasters have resulted
from this that of late years building inspectors have been appointed in
every locality to insist on proper materials and mechanical efficiency
in the erection of all classes of buildings. These inspectors, however,
cannot tear the old buildings down to see if they are safe, and paint and
plaster cover a multitude of sins of unscrupulous builders. Usually the
landlord or owner knows well the condition of his property and in many
cases refuses to put it into such shape as to insure the safety of his
tenants. Greed, false economy and heartless indifference to the welfare
of others are unfortunately too prevalent among the wealthy class. No
ordinary argument could induce owners to expend money in strengthening or
rebuilding their income-producing properties. But I get after them in my
picture with a prod that ought to rouse them to action.
"The picture opens with a scene in the interior of a factory. Men, girls
and boys are employed. The foreman observes a warning crack in the wall
and calls the proprietor's attention to it. In this case the manufacturer
is the owner of the building, but he refuses to make repairs. His
argument is that the wall has stood for many years and so is likely to
stand for many more; it would be a waste of money to repair the old
shell. Next day the foreman shows him that the crack has spread and
extended along the wall in an alarming manner but still the owner will
not act. The workmen counsel together seriously. They dare not desert
their jobs, for they must have money to live. They send a petition to the
owner, who becomes angry and swears he won't be driven to a useless
expense by his own employees. In the next scene the manufacturer's
daughter—his only child—having heard that the building was unsafe,
comes to her father's office to plead with him to change his mind and
make the needed repairs. Although he loves this daughter next to his
money he resents her interference in a business matter, and refuses. Her
words, however, impress him so strongly that he calls her back from the
door to kiss her and say that he will give the matter further thought,
for her sake.
"As she leaves the office there is a cry of terror from the factory and
the working people come rushing out of the now tottering building. That
was when you two young ladies came walking up the street and were dragged
out of danger by the foreman of the shop—in other words, by myself. The
owner's daughter, bewildered by the confusion, hesitates what to do or
which way to turn, and as she stands upon the sidewalk she is crushed by
the falling wall, together with several of her father's employees."
"How dreadful!" exclaimed Patsy.
"Of course no one was actually hurt," he hastened to say; "for we used
dummy figures for the wall to fall upon. In the final scene the bereaved
father suddenly realizes that he has been working and accumulating only
for this beloved child—the child whose life he has sacrificed by his
miserly refusal to protect his workmen. His grief is so intense that no
one who follows the story of this picture will ever hesitate to repair a
building promptly, if he learns it is unsafe. Do you now understand the
lesson taught, young ladies?"
Mr. Werner's dramatic recital had strongly impressed the two girls, while
Uncle John was visibly affected.
"I'm very glad," said the little man fervently, "that none of my money is
in factories or other buildings that might prove unsafe. It would make
my life miserable if I thought I was in any way responsible for such a
catastrophe as you have pictured."
"It seems to me," observed Patsy, "that your story is unnecessarily
cruel, Mr. Werner."
"Then you do not understand human nature," he retorted; "or, at least,
that phase of human nature I have aimed at. Those indifferent rich men
are very hard to move and you must figuratively hit them squarely between
the eyes to make them even wink."
They were silent for a time, considering this novel aspect of the picture
business. Then Beth asked:
"Can you tell us, sir, when and where we shall be able to see this
"It will be released next Monday."
"What does that mean?"
"It means that we, as manufacturers, supply certain agencies in all the
large cities, who in turn rent our films to the many picture theatres.
When a picture is ready, we send copies to all our agencies and set a
day when they may release it, or give it to their customers to use. In
this way the picture will be shown in all parts of the United States on
the same day—in this case, next Monday."
"Isn't that very quick?"
"Yes. The picture we took yesterday will to-night be shipped, all
complete and ready to run, to forty-four different centers."
"And will any picture theatre in Hollywood or Los Angeles show it?"
"Certainly. It will be at the Globe Theatre in Los Angeles and at the
Isis Theatre in Hollywood, for the entire week."
"We shall certainly see it," announced Uncle John.
When Mr. Werner had gone they conversed for some time on the subject of
motion pictures, and the man's remarkable statement concerning them.
"I had no idea," Beth confessed, "that the industry of making pictures is
so extensive and involves so much thought and detail."
"And money," added Uncle John. "It must be a great expense just to
employ that army of actors."
"I suppose Mr. Werner, being a theatrical man, has drawn the long bow in
his effort to impress us," said Patsy. "I've been thinking over some of
the pictures I've seen recently and I can't imagine a moral, however
intangible or illusive, in connection with any of them. But perhaps I
wasn't observant enough. The next time I go to a picture show I shall
study the plays more carefully."
AN ATTRACTIVE GIRL
On Saturday they were treated to a genuine surprise, for when the omnibus
drew up before the hotel entrance it brought Arthur Weldon and his
girl-wife, Louise, who was Uncle John's eldest niece. It also brought
"the Cherub," a wee dimpled baby hugged closely in the arms of Inez, its
Patsy and Beth shrieked in ecstasy as they rushed forward to smother
"Toodlums," as they irreverently called the Cherub, with kisses. Inez, a
handsome, dark-eyed girl, relinquished her burden cheerfully to the two
adoring "aunties," while Uncle John kissed Louise and warmly shook the
hand of her youthful husband.
"What in the world induced you to abandon your beloved ranch?" inquired
"Don't ask me, sir!" replied Arthur, laughing at the elder gentleman's
astonishment. He was a trim young fellow, with a clean-cut, manly face
and frank, winning manners.
"It's sort of between hay and grass with us, you know," he explained.
"Walnuts all marketed and oranges not ready for the pickers. All our
neighbors have migrated, this way or that, for their regular winter
vacations, and after you all left, Louise and I began to feel lonely. So
at breakfast this morning we decided to flit. At ten o'clock we caught
the express, and here we are—in time for lunch. I hope it's ready,
It was; but they must get their rooms and settle the baby in her new
quarters before venturing to enter the dining room. So they were late for
the midday meal and found themselves almost the only guests in the great
As they sat at table, chatting merrily together, Arthur asked:
"What are you staring at, Patsy?"
"A lovely girl," said she. "One of the loveliest girls I have ever seen.
Don't look around, Arthur; it might attract their attention."
"How many girls are there?"
"Two; and a lady who seems to be their mother. The other girl is pretty,
too, but much younger than her sister—or friend, for they do not
resemble one another much. They came in a few minutes ago and are seated
at the table in the opposite corner."
"New arrivals, I suppose," remarked Uncle John, who from his position
could observe the group.
"No," said Patsy; "their waitress seems to know them well. But I've never
before seen them in the hotel."
"We are always early at meal time," explained Beth, "and to-day these
people are certainly late. But they are pretty girls, Patsy. For once I
concur in your judgment."
"You arouse my curiosity," said Arthur, speaking quietly, so as not to be
overheard in the far corner. "If I hear more ecstatic praises of these
girls I shall turn around and stare them out of countenance."
"Don't," said Louise. "I'm glad your back is toward them, Arthur, for it
preserves you from the temptation to flirt."
"Oh, as for that, I do not need to turn around in order to see pretty
girls," he replied.
"Thank you, Arthur," said Patsy, making a face at him. "Look me over all
you like, and flirt if you want to. I'm sure Louise won't object."
"Really, Patsy, you're not bad to look at," he retorted, eyeing her
critically. "Aside from your red hair, the pug nose and the freckles, you
have many excellent qualities. If you didn't squint—"
"What do you call that affection of your eyes?"
"That," she said, calmly eating her dessert, "was a glance of
scorn—burning, bitter scorn!"
"I maintain it was a squint," declared Arthur.
"That isn't her only expression," announced Uncle John, who loved these
little exchanges of good-humored banter. "On Monday I will show you Patsy
as a terror-stricken damsel in distress."
"Also Beth, still more distressful," added Patsy; and then they told
Louise and Arthur about the picture.
"Fine!" he cried. "I'm deeply gratified that my own relatives—"
"I am gratified that my secondhand cousins have been so highly honored.
I'd rather see a good moving picture than the best play ever produced."
"You'll see a good one this time," asserted Patsy, "for we are the
"I think that unscrupulous Mr. Werner deserves a reprimand," said Louise.
"Oh, he apologized," explained Beth. "But I'm sure he'd take the same
liberty again if he had the chance."
"He admits that his love of art destroys his sense of propriety,"
As they rose from the table Arthur deliberately turned to view the party
in the other corner, and then to the amazement of his friends he coolly
walked over and shook the elder lady's hand with evident pleasure. Next
moment he was being introduced to the two girls. The three cousins and
their Uncle John walked out of the dining hall and awaited Arthur Weldon
in the lobby.
"It is some old acquaintance, of course," said Louise. "Arthur knows a
tremendous lot of people and remembers everyone he ever has met."
When he rejoined them he brought the lady and the two beautiful girls
with him, introducing Mrs. Montrose as one of his former acquaintances in
New York, where she had been a near neighbor to the Weldons. The girls,
who proved to be her nieces instead of her daughters, were named Maud and
Florence Stanton, Maud being about eighteen years of age and Florence
perhaps fifteen. Maud's beauty was striking, as proved by Patsy's
admiration at first sight; Florence was smaller and darker, yet very
dainty and witching, like a Dresden shepherdess.
The sisters proved rather shy at this first meeting, being content to
exchange smiles with the other girls, but their aunt was an easy
conversationalist and rambled on about the delights of Hollywood and
southern California until they were all in a friendly mood. Among other
things Mrs. Montrose volunteered the statement that they had been at the
hotel for several weeks, but aside from that remark disclosed little of
their personal affairs. Presently the three left the hotel and drove
away in an automobile, having expressed a wish to meet their new friends
again and become better acquainted with them.
"I was almost startled at running across Mrs. Montrose out here," said
Arthur. "After father's death, when I gave up the old home, I lost track
of the Montroses; but I seem to remember that old Montrose went to the
happy hunting grounds and left a widow, but no children. I imagine these
people are wealthy, as Montrose was considered a successful banker. I'll
write to Duggins and inquire about them."
"Duggins seems to know everything," remarked Louise.
"He keeps pretty good track of New York people, especially of the old
families," replied her husband.
"I can't see what their history matters to us," observed Patsy. "I like
to take folks as I find them, without regard to their antecedents or
finances. Certainly those Stanton girls are wonderfully attractive and
But now the baby claimed their attention and the rest of that day was
passed in "visiting" and cuddling the wee Toodlums, who seemed to know
her girl aunties and greeted them with friendly coos and dimpled smiles.
On Sunday they took a motor trip through the mountain boulevards and on
their way home passed the extensive enclosure of the Continental Film
Company. A thriving village has been built up at this place, known as
Film City, for many of those employed by the firm prefer to live close to
their work. Another large "plant" of the same concern is located in the
heart of Hollywood.
As they passed through Film City Uncle John remarked:
"We are invited to visit this place and witness the making of a motion
picture. I believe it would prove an interesting sight."
"Let us go, by all means," replied Arthur. "I am greatly interested in
this new industry, which seems to me to be still in its infancy. The
development of the moving picture is bound to lead to some remarkable
things in the future, I firmly believe."
"So do I," said Uncle John. "They'll combine the phonograph with the
pictures, for one thing, so that the players, instead of being silent,
will speak as clearly as in real life. Then we'll have the grand operas,
by all the most famous singers, elaborately staged; and we'll be able to
see and hear them for ten cents, instead of ten dollars. It will be the
same with the plays of the greatest actors."
"That would open up a curious complication," asserted Louise. "The operas
would only be given once, before the camera and the recorder. Then what
would happen to all the high-priced opera singers?"
"They would draw royalties on all their productions, instead of
salaries," replied Arthur.
"Rather easy for the great artists!" observed Patsy. "One
performance—and the money rolling in for all time to come."
"Well, they deserve it," declared Beth. "And think of what the public
would gain! Instead of having to suffer during the performances of
incompetent actors and singers, as we do to-day, the whole world would be
able to see and hear the best talent of the ages for an insignificant
fee. I hope your prediction will come true, Uncle John."
"It's bound to," he replied, with confidence. "I've read somewhere that
Edison and others have been working on these lines for years, and
although they haven't succeeded yet, anything possible in mechanics is
bound to be produced in time."
AUNT JANE'S NIECES
The picture, which was entitled "The Sacrifice," proved—to use Patsy's
words—"a howling success." On Monday afternoons the little theatres are
seldom crowded, so Mr. Merrick's party secured choice seats where they
could observe every detail of the photography. The girls could not wait
for a later performance, so eager were they to see themselves in a motion
picture, nor were they disappointed to find they were a mere incident in
the long roll of film.
The story of the photo-play was gripping in its intensity, and since Mr.
Werner had clearly explained the lesson it conveyed, they followed the
plot with rapt attention. In the last scene their entrance and exit was
transitory, but they were obliged to admit that their features were
really expressive of fear. The next instant the wall fell, burying its
victims, and this rather bewildered them when they remembered that fully
half an hour had elapsed while the dummies were being placed in position,
the real people removed from danger and preparations made to topple over
the wall from the inside of the building. But the camera had been
inactive during that period and so cleverly had the parts of the picture
been united that no pause whatever was observable to the spectators.
"My! what a stuffy place," exclaimed Louise, as they emerged into the
light of day. "I cannot understand why it is necessary to have these
moving picture theatres so gloomy and uncomfortable."
"It isn't necessary," replied Uncle John. "It's merely a habit the
builders have acquired. There seemed to be a total lack of ventilation in
"No one expects much for ten cents," Arthur reminded him. "If the
pictures are good the public will stand for anything in the matter of
"Did you notice," said Patsy, slowly, "how many children there were in
"Yes, indeed," answered Beth. "The pictures seem to be an ideal
amusement for children. I do not suppose they can understand all the
dramas and love stories, but the pictures entertain them, whatever the
theme may be."
"They are not allowed to go unless accompanied by a parent or guardian,"
Arthur stated; "but I saw a group of eleven under the care of one
cheery-looking old lady, so I suppose the little ones evade the law in
On Tuesday forenoon they drove to the office of the Continental Film
Manufacturing Company and inquired for Mr. Werner. Every approach to the
interior of the big stockade was closely guarded in order to prevent the
curious from intruding, but Werner at once hurried out to greet them and
escorted them into the enclosure.
"You are just in time," said he, "to witness one of the scenes in our
great picture, 'Samson and Delilah.' They're getting it on now, so you
must hurry if you want to see the work. It's really the biggest thing our
firm has ever turned out."
They passed a group of low but extensive frame buildings, threading
their way between them until finally they emerged within a large open
space where huge frames covered with canvas were propped up in broad
daylight and apparently in great disorder. Huddled here and there were
groups of people wearing Oriental costumes of the Bible days, their
skins stained brown, the make-up on their faces showing hideously in the
strong light. A herd of meek donkeys, bearing burdens of faggots, was
tethered near by.
"Follow me closely," cautioned their guide, "so you will not step over
the 'dead line' and get yourselves in the picture."
"What is the 'dead line'?" inquired Uncle John.
"The line that marks the limit of the camera's scope. Outside of that you
are quite safe. You will notice it is plainly marked in chalk."
They passed around to the front and were amazed at the picture disclosed
by the reverse of the gaunt, skeleton-like framework. For now was
displayed Solomon's temple in all its magnificence, with huge pillars
supporting a roof that seemed as solid and substantial as stone and
mortar could make it.
The perspective was wonderful, for they could follow a line of vision
through the broad temple to a passage beyond, along which was
approaching a procession of priests, headed by dancing girls and
musicians beating tomtoms and playing upon reeds. The entire scene was
barbaric in its splendor and so impressive that they watched it
spellbound, awed and silent.
Yet here beside them was the motion-picture camera, clicking steadily
away and operated by a man in his shirt-sleeves who watched the scene
with sharp eyes, now frowning and now nodding approval. Beside him at
times, but rushing from one point to another just outside the chalk-marks
that indicated the "dead line," was the director of this production, who
shouted commands in a nervous, excited manner and raged and tore his hair
when anything went wrong.
Something went very wrong presently, for the director blew a shrill blast
on his whistle and suddenly everything stopped short. The camera man
threw a cloth over his lenses and calmly lighted a cigarette. The
procession halted in uncertainty and became a disordered rabble; but the
director sprang into the open space and shouted at his actors and
actresses in evident ill temper.
"There it is again!" he cried. "Five hundred feet of good film, ruined by
the stupidity of one person. Get out of that priest's robe, Higgins, and
let Jackson take your place. Where's Jackson, anyhow?"
"Here," answered a young man, stepping out from a group of spectators.
"Do you know the work? Can you lead that procession into the temple so
they will leave room for Delilah to enter, and not crowd her off the
platform?" asked the director.
Jackson merely nodded as he scrambled into the priest's robe which the
discomfited Higgins resigned to him. Evidently the bungling actor was in
disgrace, for he was told to go to the office and get his pay and then
So now the procession was sent back into the passage and rearranged in
proper order; the signal was given to begin and in an instant the camera
renewed its clicking as the operator slowly revolved the handle that
carried the long strip of film past the lenses. The musicians played, the
girls danced, the procession slowly emerged from the passage.
This time it advanced properly and came to a halt just at the head of the
staircase leading up to the entrance to the temple.
"Delilah!" shouted the director, and now appeared a beautiful girl who
made a low obeisance to the chief priest.
"Why—goodness me!" cried Patsy. "It's—it's Maud Stanton!"
"Nonsense!" returned Arthur, sharply; and then he looked again and drew a
long breath; for unless it were indeed the elder niece of Mrs. Montrose,
there must be two girls in the world identically alike.
Mr. Werner settled the question by quietly remarking: "Of course it's
Maud Stanton. She's our bright, particular star, you know, and the public
would resent it if she didn't appear as the heroine of all our best
"An actress!" exclaimed Arthur. "I—I didn't know that."
"She and her sister Flo are engaged by us regularly," replied Werner,
with an air of pride. "They cost us a lot of money, as you may imagine,
but we can't afford to let any competitor have them."
If Arthur Weldon felt any chagrin at this, discovery it was not in the
least shared by the others of his party. Beth was admiring the young
girl's grace and dignity; Patsy was delighted by her loveliness in the
fleecy, picturesque costume she wore; Louise felt pride in the fact that
she had been introduced to "a real actress," while Uncle John wondered
what adverse fortune had driven this beautiful, refined girl to pose
before a motion picture camera.
They soon discovered Florence Stanton in the picture, too, among the
dancing girls; so there could be no mistake of identity. Mrs. Montrose
was not visible during the performance; but afterward, when Samson had
pulled down the pillars of the temple and it had fallen in ruins, when
the "show" was over and the actors trooping away to their
dressing-rooms, then the visitors were ushered into the main office of
the establishment to meet Mr. Goldstein, the manager, and seated by the
window was the aunt of the two girls, placidly reading a book. She looked
up with a smile as they entered.
"Did you see the play?" she asked. "And isn't it grand and impressive? I
hope you liked Maud's 'Delilah.' The poor child has worked so hard to
create the character."
They assured her the girl was perfect in her part, after which Mr.
Merrick added: "I'm astonished you did not go out to see the play
She laughed at his earnestness.
"It's an old story to me," she replied, "for I have watched Maud rehearse
her part many times. Also it is probable that some—if not all—of the
scenes of 'Samson and Delilah' will be taken over and over, half a dozen
times, before the director is satisfied."
"The performance seemed quite perfect to-day," said Uncle John. "I
suppose, Mrs. Montrose, you do not—er—er—act, yourself?"
"Oh. I have helped out, sometimes, when a matronly personation is
required, but my regular duties keep me busily engaged in the office."
"May we ask what those duties are?" said Louise.
"I'm the reader of scenarios."
"Dear me!" exclaimed Patsy. "I'm sure we don't know any more than we
"A 'scenario,'" said the lady, "is a description of the plot for a
photo-play. It is in manuscript form and hundreds of scenarios are
submitted to us from every part of the country, and by people in all
walks of life."
"I shouldn't think you could use so many," said Beth.
"We can't, my dear," responded the lady, laughing at her simplicity. "The
majority of the scenarios we receive haven't a single idea that is worth
considering. In most of the others the ideas are stolen, or duplicated
from some other picture-play. Once in a while, however, we find a plot of
real merit, and then we accept it and pay the author for it."
"How much?" inquired Arthur.
"So little that I am ashamed to tell you. Ideas are the foundation of
our business, and without them we could not make successful films; but
when Mr. Goldstein buys an idea he pays as little for it as possible, and
the poor author usually accepts the pittance with gratitude."
"We were a little surprised," Uncle John ventured to say, "to find you
connected with this—er—institution. I suppose it's all right; but those
"Yes, they are motion picture actresses, and I am a play reader. It is
our profession, Mr. Merrick, and we earn our living in this way. To be
frank with you, I am very proud of the fact that my girls are popular
favorites with the picture theatre audiences."
"That they are, Mrs. Montrose!" said Goldstein, the manager, a lean
little man, earnestly endorsing the statement; "and that makes them the
highest priced stars in all our fourteen companies of players. But
they're worth every cent we pay 'em—and I hope ev'rybody's satisfied."
Mrs. Montrose paid little deference to the manager. "He is only a detail
man," she explained when Goldstein had gone way, "but of course it is
necessary to keep these vast and diverse interests running smoothly, and
the manager has enough details on his mind to drive an ordinary mortal
crazy. The successful scenario writers, who conceive our best plays, are
the real heart of this business, and the next to them in importance are
the directors, or producers, who exercise marvelous cleverness in staging
the work of the authors."
"I suppose," remarked Arthur Weldon, "it is very like a theatre."
"Not so like as you might imagine," was the reply. "We employ scenery,
costumes and actors, but not in ways theatrical, for all our work is
subservient to the camera's eye and the requirements of photography."
While they were conversing, the two Stanton girls entered the office,
having exchanged their costumes for street clothes and washed the make-up
from their faces, which were now fresh and animated.
"Oh, Aunt Jane!" cried Flo, running to Mrs. Montrose, "we're dismissed
for the day. Mr. McNeil intends to develop the films before we do
anything more, and Maud and I want to spend the afternoon at the beach."
The lady smiled indulgently as Maud quietly supported her sister's
appeal, the while greeting her acquaintances of yesterday with her sweet,
girlish charm of manner.
"A half-holiday is quite unusual with us," she explained, "for it is the
custom to hold us in readiness from sunrise to sunset, in case our
services are required. An actress in a motion picture concern is the
slave of her profession, but we don't mind the work so much as we do
waiting around for orders."
"Suppose we all drive to the beach together," suggested Mr. Merrick. "We
will try to help you enjoy your holiday and it will be a rich treat to us
to have your society."
"Yes, indeed!" exclaimed Patsy Doyle. "I'm just crazy over this motion
picture business and I want to ask you girls a thousand questions
They graciously agreed to the proposition and at once made preparations
for the drive. Mrs. Montrose had her own automobile, but the party
divided, the four young girls being driven by Mr. Merrick's chauffeur in
his machine, while Uncle John, Arthur and Louise rode with Mrs. Montrose.
It did not take the young people long to become acquainted, and the air
of restraint that naturally obtained in the first moments gradually wore
away. They were all in good spirits, anticipating a jolly afternoon at
the ocean resorts, so when they discovered themselves to be congenial
companions they lost no time in stilted phrases but were soon chattering
away as if they had known one another for years.
A THRILLING RESCUE
"It must be fine to be an actress," said Patsy Doyle, with enthusiasm.
"If I had the face or the figure or the ability—all of which I sadly
lack—I'd be an actress myself."
"I suppose," replied Maud Stanton, thoughtfully, "it is as good a
profession for a girl as any other. But the life is not one of play, by
any means. We work very hard during the rehearsals and often I have
become so weary that I feared I would drop to the ground in sheer
exhaustion. Flo did faint, once or twice, during our first engagement
with the Pictograph Company; but we find our present employers more
considerate, and we have gained more importance than we had in the
"It is dreadfully confining, though," remarked Florence, with a sigh.
"Our hours are worse than those of shopgirls, for the early morning sun
is the best part of the day for our work. Often we are obliged to reach
the studio at dawn. To be sure, we have the evenings to ourselves, but we
are then too tired to enjoy them."
"Did you choose, this profession for amusement, or from necessity?"
inquired Beth, wondering if the question sounded impertinent.
"Stern necessity," answered Maud with a smile. "We had our living to
"Could not your aunt assist you?" asked Patsy.
"Aunt Jane? Why, she is as poor as we are."
"Arthur Weldon used to know the Montroses," said Beth, "and be believed
Mr. Montrose left his widow a fortune."
"He didn't leave a penny," asserted Florence. "Uncle was a stock gambler,
and when he died he was discovered to be bankrupt."
"I must explain to you," said Maud, "that our father and mother were both
killed years ago in a dreadful automobile accident. Father left a small
fortune to be divided between Flo and me, and appointed Uncle George our
guardian. We were sent to a girls' school and nicely provided for until
uncle's death, when it was found he had squandered our little inheritance
as well as his own money."
"That was hard luck," said Patsy sympathetically.
"I am not so sure of that," returned the girl musingly. "Perhaps we are
happier now than if we had money. Our poverty gave us dear Aunt Jane for
a companion and brought us into a field of endeavor that has proved
"But how in the world did you ever decide to become actresses, when so
many better occupations are open to women?" inquired Beth.
"Are other occupations so much better? A motion picture actress is quite
different from the stage variety, you know. Our performances are all
privately conducted, and although the camera is recording our actions it
is not like being stared at by a thousand critical eyes."
"A million eyes stare at the pictures," asserted Patsy.
"But we are not there to be embarrassed by them," laughed Flo.
"We have but one person to please," continued Maud, "and that is the
director. If at first the scene is not satisfactory, we play it again and
again, until it is quite correct. To us this striving for perfection is
an art. We actors are mere details of an artistic conception. We have now
been in Hollywood for five months, yet few people who casually notice us
at the hotel or on the streets have any idea that we act for the
'movies.' Sometimes we appear publicly in the streets, in characteristic
costume, and proceed to enact our play where all may observe us; but
there are so many picture companies in this neighborhood that we are no
longer looked upon as a novelty and the people passing by pay little
attention to us."
"Were you in that picture of the falling wall?" asked Beth.
"No. We were rehearsing for 'Samson and Delilah.' But sometimes we
are called upon to do curious things. One night, not long ago, a big
residence burned down in the foothills back of our hotel. At the
first alarm of fire one of the directors wakened us and we jumped
into our clothes and were whisked in an automobile to the scene of
the conflagration. The camera-man was already there and, while we
had to dodge the fire-fighters and the hose men, both Flo and I
managed to be 'saved from the flames' by some of our actors—not
once, but several times."
"It must have been thrilling!" gasped Patsy.
"It was exciting, at the moment," confessed Maud. "One of the pictures
proved very dramatic, so an author wrote a story where at the climax a
girl was rescued from the flames by her lover, and we took our time to
act the several scenes that led up to the fire. The completed picture was
a great success, I'm told."
"Those directors must be wonderfully enterprising fellows," said Beth.
"They are, indeed, constantly on the lookout for effects. Every incident
that occurs in real life is promptly taken advantage of. The camera-men
are everywhere, waiting for their chance. Often their pictures prove of
no value and are destroyed, but sometimes the scenes they catch are very
useful to work into a picture play. A few weeks ago I was shipwrecked on
the ocean and saved by clinging to a raft. That was not pleasant and I
caught a severe cold by being in the water too long; but I was chosen
because I can swim. Such incidents are merely a part of our game—a game
where personal comfort is frequently sacrificed to art. Once Flo leaped
over a thirty-foot precipice and was caught in a net at the bottom. The
net was, of course, necessary, but when the picture was displayed her
terrible leap was followed by a view of her mangled body at the bottom of
"How did they manage to do that?" asked Patsy.
"Stopped the camera, cut off the piece of film showing her caught by the
net, and substituted a strip on which was recorded Flo's body lying among
the jagged rocks, where it had been carefully and comfortably arranged.
We do a lot of deceptive tricks of that sort, and sometimes I myself
marvel at the natural effects obtained."
"It must be more interesting than stage acting."
"I believe it is. But we've never been on the stage," said Maud.
"How did you happen to get started in such a queer business?"
"Well, after we found ourselves poor and without resources we began
wondering what we could do to earn money. A friend of Aunt Jane's knew a
motion picture maker who wanted fifty young girls for a certain picture
and would pay each of them five dollars a day. Flo and I applied for the
job and earned thirty dollars between us; but then the manager thought he
would like to employ us regularly, and with Auntie to chaperon us we
accepted the engagement. The first few weeks we merely appeared among the
rabble—something like chorus girls, you see—but then we were given
small parts and afterward more important ones. When we discovered our own
value to the film makers Auntie managed to get us better engagements, so
we've acted for three different concerns during the past two years, while
Aunt Jane has become noted as a clever judge of the merits of scenarios."
"Do both of you girls play star parts?" Beth inquired.
"Usually. Flo is considered the best 'child actress' in the business, but
when there is no child part she makes herself useful in all sorts of
ways. To-day, for instance, you saw her among the dancing girls. I do
the ingenue, or young girl parts, which are very popular just now. I did
not want to act 'Delilah,' for I thought I was not old enough; but Mr.
McNeil wanted me in the picture and so I made myself took as mature as
"You were ideal!" cried Patsy, admiringly.
The young girl blushed at this praise, but said deprecatingly:
"I doubt if I could ever be a really great actress; but then, I do not
intend to act for many more years. Our salary is very liberal at present,
as Goldstein grudgingly informed you, and we are saving money. As soon as
we think we have acquired enough to live on comfortably we shall abandon
acting and live as other girls do."
"The fact is," added Flo, "no one will employ us when we have lost our
youth. So we are taking advantage of these few fleeting years to make hay
while the sun shines."
"Do many stage actresses go into the motion picture business?"
"A few, but all are not competent," replied Maud. "In the 'silent drama'
facial expression and the art of conveying information by a gesture is of
paramount importance. In other words, action must do the talking and
explain everything. I am told that some comedians, like 'Bunny' and
Sterling Mace, were failures on the stage, yet in motion pictures they
are great favorites. On the other hand, some famous stage actors can do
nothing in motion pictures."
On their arrival at Santa Monica Mr. Merrick invited the party to be his
guests at luncheon, which was served in a cosy restaurant overlooking
the ocean. And then, although at this season it was bleak winter back
East, all but Uncle John and Aunt Jane took a bath in the surf of the
blue Pacific, mingling with hundreds of other bathers who were enjoying
Mrs. Montrose and Uncle John sat on the sands to watch the merry scene,
while the young people swam and splashed about, and they seemed—as Miss
Patsy slyly observed—to "get on very well together."
"And that is very creditable to your aunt," she observed to Maud Stanton,
who was beside her in the water, "for Uncle John is rather shy in the
society of ladies and they find him hard to entertain."
"He seems like a dear old gentleman," said Maud.
"He is, indeed, the dearest in all the world. And, if he likes your Aunt
Jane, that is evidence that she is all right, too; for Uncle John's
intuition never fails him in the selection of friends. He—"
"Dear me!" cried Maud; "there's someone in trouble, I'm sure."
She was looking out across the waves, which were fairly high to-day, and
Patsy saw her lean forward and strike out to sea with strokes of
remarkable swiftness. Bathers were scattered thickly along the coast, but
only a few had ventured far out beyond the life-lines, so Patsy naturally
sought an explanation by gazing at those farthest out. At first she was
puzzled, for all the venturesome seemed to be swimming strongly and
composedly; but presently a dark form showed on the crest of a wave—a
struggling form that tossed up its arms despairingly and then
She looked for Maud Stanton and saw her swimming straight out, but still
a long way from the person in distress. Then Patsy, always quick-witted
in emergencies, made a dash for the shore where a small boat was drawn up
on the beach.
"Come, Arthur, quick!" she cried to the young man, who was calmly wading
near the beach, and he caught the note of terror in her voice and
hastened to help push the little craft into the water.
"Jump in!" she panted, "and row as hard as you ever rowed in all
Young Weldon was prompt to obey. He asked no useless questions but,
realizing that someone was in danger, he pulled a strong, steady oar and
let Patsy steer the boat.
The laughter and merry shouts of the bathers, who were all unaware that a
tragedy was developing close at hand, rang in the girl's ears as she
peered eagerly ahead for a sign to guide her. Now she espied Maud
Stanton, far out beyond the others, circling around and diving into this
wave or that as it passed her.
"Whoever it was," she muttered, half aloud, "is surely done for by this
time. Hurry, Arthur! I'm afraid Maud has exhausted all her strength."
But just then Maud dived again and when she reappeared was holding fast
to something dark and inanimate. A moment later the boat swept to her
side and she said:
"Get him aboard, if you can. Don't mind me; I'm all right."
Arthur reached down and drew a slight, boyish form over the gunwale,
while Patsy clasped Maud's hand and helped the girl over the side. She
was still strong, but panted from her exertions to support the boy.
"Who is it?" inquired Patsy, as Arthur headed the boat for the shore.
Maud shook her head, leaning forward to look at the face of the rescued
one for the first time.
"I've never seen him before," she said. "Isn't it too bad that I reached
him too late?"
Patsy nodded, gazing at the white, delicate profile of the young fellow
as he lay lifeless at her feet. Too late, undoubtedly; and he was a mere
boy, with all the interests of life just unfolding for him.
Their adventure had now been noticed by some of the bathers, who crowded
forward to meet the boat as it grounded on the beach. Uncle John, always
keeping an eye on his beloved nieces, had noted every detail of the
rescue and as a dozen strong men pulled the boat across the sands, beyond
the reach of the surf, the Merrick automobile rolled up beside it.
"Now, then!" cried the little man energetically, and with the assistance
of his chauffeur he lifted the lifeless form into the car.
"The hospital?" said Patsy, nodding approval.
"Yes," he answered. "No; you girls can't come in your wet bathing suits.
I'll do all that can be done."
Even as he spoke the machine whirled away, and looking after it Maud
said, shaking her head mildly: "I fear he's right. Little can be done for
the poor fellow now."
"Oh, lots can be done," returned Patsy; "but perhaps it won't bring him
back to life. Anyhow, it's right to make every attempt, as promptly as
possible, and certainly Uncle John didn't waste any time."
Beth and Florence now joined them and Louise came running up to ask eager
"Who was it, Patsy?"
"We don't know. Some poor fellow who got too far out and had a cramp,
perhaps. Or his strength may have given out. He didn't seem very rugged."
"He was struggling when first I saw him," said Maud. "It seemed dreadful
to watch the poor boy drowning when hundreds of people were laughing and
playing in the water within earshot of him."
"That was the trouble," declared Arthur Weldon. "All those people were
intent on themselves and made so much noise that his cries for help could
not be heard."
The tragedy, now generally known, had the effect of sobering the bathers
and most of them left the water and trooped to the bathhouses to dress.
Mrs. Montrose advised the girls to get their clothes on, as all were
shivering—partly from nervousness—in their wet bathing suits.
They were ready an hour before Mr. Merrick returned, and his long absence
surprised them until they saw his smiling face as he drove up in his car.
It gave them a thrill of hope as in chorus they cried:
"I think he will live," returned the little man, with an air of great
satisfaction. "Anyway, he's alive and breathing now, and the doctors say
there's every reason to expect a rapid recovery."
"Who is he?" they asked, crowding around him.
"A—what?" This from Patsy, in a doubtful tone.
"Jones. A. Jones."
"Why, he must have given you an assumed name!"
"He didn't give us any name. As soon as he recovered consciousness he
fell asleep, and I left him slumbering as peacefully as a baby. But we
went through his clothes, hoping to get a trace of his friends, so they
could be notified. His bathing suit is his own, not rented, and the name
'A. Jones' is embroidered on tape and sewn to each piece. Also the key to
bathhouse number twenty-six was tied to his wrist. The superintendent
sent a man for his clothing and we examined that, too. The letters 'A.J.'
were stamped in gold on his pocketbook, and in his cardcase were a number
of cards engraved: 'A. Jones, Sangoa.' But there were no letters, or any
"Where is Sangoa?" inquired Beth.
"No one seems to know," confessed Uncle John. "There was plenty of money
in his pocket-book and he has a valuable watch, but no other jewelry.
His clothes were made by a Los Angeles tailor, but when they called him
up by telephone he knew nothing about his customer except that he had
ordered his suit and paid for it in advance. He called for it three days
ago, and carried it away with him, so we have no clue to the boy's
"Isn't that a little strange—perhaps a little suspicious?" asked
"I think not, ma'am," answered Mr. Merrick. "We made these
investigations at the time we still feared he would die, so as to
communicate with any friends or relatives he might have. But after he
passed the crisis so well and fell asleep, the hospital people stopped
worrying about him. He seems like any ordinary, well-to-do young
fellow, and a couple of days in the hospital ought to put him upon his
"But Sangoa, Uncle; is that a town or a country?"
"Some out-of-the-way village, I suppose. People are here from every crack
and corner of America, you know."
"It sounds a bit Spanish," commented Arthur. "Maybe he is from Mexico."
"Maybe," agreed Uncle John. "Anyhow, Maud has saved his life, and if it's
worth anything to him he ought to be grateful."
"Never mind that," said Maud, flushing prettily with embarrassment as all
eyes turned upon her, "I'm glad I noticed him in time; but now that he is
all right he need never know who it was that rescued him. And, for that
matter, sir, Patsy Doyle and Mr. Weldon did as much for him as I.
Perhaps they saved us both, while your promptness in getting him to the
hospital was the main factor in saving his life."
"Well, it's all marked down in the hospital books," remarked Uncle John.
"I had to tell the whole story, you see, as a matter of record, and all
our names are there, so none can escape the credit due her—or him."
"In truth," said Mrs. Montrose with a smile, "it really required four of
you to save one slender boy."
"Yes, he needed a lot of saving," laughed Flo. "But," her pretty face
growing more serious, "I believe it was all Fate, and nothing else. Had
we not come to the beach this afternoon, the boy might have drowned; so,
as I suggested the trip, I'm going to take a little credit myself."
"Looking at it in that light," said Patsy, "the moving picture man saved
the boy's life by giving you a half-holiday."
This caused a laugh, for their spirits were now restored to normal. To
celebrate the occasion, Mr. Merrick proposed to take them all into Los
Angeles to dine at a "swell restaurant" before returning to Hollywood.
This little event, in conjunction with the afternoon's adventure, made
them all more intimate, so that when they finally reached home and
separated for the night they felt like old friends rather than recent
There was work for the Stanton girls at the "film factory," as they
called it, next morning, so they had left the hotel before Mr. Merrick's
party assembled at the breakfast table.
"I must telephone the Santa Monica hospital and find out how our patient
is," remarked Uncle John, when the meal was over; but presently he
returned from the telephone booth with a puzzled expression upon his
face. "A. Jones has disappeared!" he announced.
"Disappeared! What do you mean, Uncle?" asked Beth.
"He woke early and declared he was himself again, paid his bill, said
'good morning' to the hospital superintendent and walked away. He
wouldn't answer questions, but kept asking them. The nurse showed him the
book with the record of how he was saved, but she couldn't induce him to
say who he was, where he came from nor where he was going. Seems a little
queer, doesn't it?"
They all confessed that it did.
"However," said Patsy Doyle, "I'm glad he recovered, and I'm sure Maud
will be when she hears the news. The boy has a perfect right to keep his
own counsel, but he might have had the grace to tell us what that initial
'A.' stands for, and where on earth Sangoa is."
"I've been inquiring about Sangoa," announced Arthur, just then joining
the group, "and no one seems wiser than we are. There's no record of such
a town or state in Mexico, or in the United States—so far as I can
discover. The clerk has sent for a map of Alaska, and perhaps we'll find
"What does it matter?" inquired Louise.
"Why, we don't like to be stumped," asserted Patsy, "that's all. Here is
a young man from Sangoa, and—"
"Really," interrupted Beth, who was gazing through the window, "I believe
here is the young man from Sangoa!"
"Where?" they all cried, crowding forward to look.
"Coming up the walk. See! Isn't that the same mysterious individual whose
life Maud saved?"
"That's the identical mystery," declared Uncle John. "I suppose he has
come here to look us up and thank us."
"Then, for heaven's sake, girls, pump him and find out where Sangoa is,"
said Arthur hastily, and the next moment a bell boy approached their
party with a card.
They looked at the young fellow curiously as he came toward them. He
seemed not more than eighteen years of age and his thin features wore a
tired expression that was not the result of his recent experience but
proved to be habitual. His manner was not languid, however, but rather
composed; at the same time he held himself alert, as if constantly on his
guard. His dress was simple but in good taste and he displayed no
embarrassment as he greeted the party with a low bow.
"Ah," said Uncle John, heartily shaking his hand, "I am delighted to
find you so perfectly recovered."
A slight smile, sad and deprecating, flickered for an instant over his
lips. It gave the boyish face a patient and rather sweet expression as he
"I am quite myself to-day, sir, and I have come to assure you of my
gratitude for your rescue of me yesterday. Perhaps it wasn't worth all
your bother, but since you generously took the trouble to save me, the
least I can do is to tender you my thanks." Here he looked from one to
another of the three girls and continued: "Please tell me which young
lady swam to my assistance."
"Oh, it was none of us," said Patsy. "Miss Stanton—Maud Stanton—swam
out to you, when she noticed you were struggling, and kept you afloat
until we—until help came."
"And Miss Stanton is not here?"
"Not at present, although she is staying at this hotel."
He gravely considered this information for a moment. As he stood there,
swaying slightly, he appeared so frail and delicate that Uncle John
seized his arm and made him sit down in a big easy chair. The boy sighed,
took a memorandum from his pocket and glanced at it.
"Miss Doyle and Mr. Weldon pulled out in a boat and rescued both Miss
Stanton and me, just as we were about to sink," he said. "Tell me,
please, if either Miss Doyle or Mr. Weldon is present."
"I am Arthur Weldon," said that young gentleman; "but I was merely the
boatman, under command of Miss Doyle, whom I beg to present to you."
A. Jones looked earnestly into Patsy's face. Holding out his hand he
said with his odd smile: "Thank you." Then he turned to shake Arthur's
hand, after which he continued: "I also am indebted to Mr. Merrick for
carrying me to the hospital. The doctor told me that only this prompt
action enabled them to resuscitate me at all. And now, I believe it
would be courteous for me to tell you who I am and how I came to be in
such dire peril."
He paused to look around him questioningly and the interest on every
face was clearly evident. Arthur took this opportunity to introduce Jones
to Louise and Beth and then they all sat down again. Said Uncle John to
the stranger, in his frank and friendly way:
"Tell us as much or as little as you like, my boy. We are not unduly
inquisitive, I assure you."
"Thank you, sir. I am an American, and my name is Jones. That is, I may
claim American parentage, although I was born upon a scarcely known
island in the Pacific which my father purchased from the government of
Uruguay some thirty years ago."
"Sangoa?" asked Arthur.
He seemed surprised at the question but readily answered:
"Yes; Sangoa. My father was a grandnephew of John Paul Jones and very
proud of the connection; but instead of being a sailor he was a
scientist, and he chose to pass his life in retirement from the world."
"Your father is no longer living, then?" said Mr. Merrick.
"He passed away a year ago, on his beloved island. My mother died
several years before him. I began to feel lonely at Sangoa and I was
anxious to visit America, of which my mother had so often told me. So
some months ago I reached San Francisco, since when I have been traveling
over your country—my country, may I call it?—and studying your modern
civilization. In New York I remained fully three months. It is only about
ten days since I returned to this coast."
He stopped abruptly, as if he considered he had told enough. The brief
recital had interested his auditors, but the ensuing pause was rather
"I suppose you have been visiting relatives of your parents," remarked
Uncle John, to ease the situation.
"They—had no relatives that I know of," he returned. "I am quite alone
in the world. You must not suppose I am unaccustomed to the water," he
hastened to add, as if to retreat from an unpleasant subject. "At Sangoa
I have bathed in the sea ever since I can remember anything; but—I am
not in good health. I suffer from indigestion, a chronic condition,
which is my incubus. Yesterday my strength suddenly deserted me and I
"How fortunate it was that Maud noticed you!" exclaimed Patsy, with
Again the half sad smile softened his face as he looked at her.
"I am not sure it was wholly fortunate for me," he said, "although I
admit I have no wish to end my uninteresting life by drowning. I am not a
misanthrope, in spite of my bad stomach. The world is more useful to me
than I am to the world, but that is not my fault. Pardon me for talking
so much about myself."
"Oh, we are intensely interested, I assure you," replied Patsy. "If some
of us were indeed the instruments that saved you yesterday, it is a
pleasure to us to know something of the—the man—we saved."
She had almost said "boy," he was such a youthful person, and he knew it
as well as she did.
"I would like to meet Miss Stanton and thank her personally," he
presently resumed. "So, if you have no objection, I think I shall
register at this hotel and take a room. I—I am not very strong yet, but
perhaps Miss Stanton will see me when I have rested a little."
"She won't return before five o'clock," explained Mr. Merrick. "Miss
Stanton is—er—connected with a motion picture company, you know, and is
busy during the day."
He seemed both surprised and perplexed, at first, but after a moment's
thought he said:
"She is an actress, then?"
"Yes; she and her sister. They have with them an aunt, Mrs. Montrose, for
"Thank you. Then I will try to meet them this evening."
As he spoke he rose with some difficulty and bade them adieu. Arthur went
with him to the desk and proffered his assistance, but the young man said
he needed nothing but rest.
"And just think of it," said Patsy, when he had gone. "We don't know yet
what that 'A' stands for!"
"Arthur," suggested Louise.
"Albert," said Beth.
"Or Algernon," added Uncle John with a chuckle.
"But we haven't seen the last of him yet," declared Miss Doyle. "I've a
romance all plotted, of which A. Jones is to be the hero. He will fall in
love with Maud and carry her away to his island!"
"I'm not so sure of that result," observed Uncle John thoughtfully. "It
wouldn't astonish me to have him fall in love with Maud Stanton; we've
all done that, you know; but could Maud—could any girl—be attracted by
a lean, dismal boy with a weak stomach, such as A. Jones?"
"Even with these drawbacks he is quite interesting," asserted Beth.
"He is sure to win her sympathy," said Louise.
"But, above all," declared Patsy, "he has an island, inherited from his
royal daddy. That island would count for a lot, with any girl!"
The girls intercepted Maud Stanton when she returned to the hotel that
evening, and told her all about A. Jones. The tale was finished long
before that dyspeptic youth had wakened from his slumbers. Then they all
dressed for dinner and afterward met in the lobby, where Uncle John told
them he had arranged to have a big round table prepared for the entire
party, including a seat for A. Jones, who might like to join them.
However, the young man did not make his appearance, and as they trooped
into the dining room Patsy said resentfully:
"I believe A. Jones is in a trance and needs rolling on a barrel again."
"He probably found himself too weak to appear in public," replied Flo
Stanton. "I'm sure if I had been all but drowned a few hours ago, I would
prefer bed to society."
"I'm astonished that he summoned energy to visit us at all," declared
Mrs. Montrose. "He may be weak and ill, but at least he is grateful."
"Jones seems a vary gentlemanly young fellow," said Mr. Merrick. "He is a
bit shy and retiring, which is perhaps due to his lonely life on his
island; but I think he has been well brought up."
As they came out from dinner they observed the porters wheeling several
big trunks up the east corridor. The end of each trunk was lettered:
"Well," said Beth, with an amused smile, "he intends to stay a while,
anyhow. You'll have a chance to meet him yet, Maud."
"I'm glad of that," answered Maud, "for I am anxious to calculate the
worth of the life I helped to save. Your reports are ambiguous, and I am
undecided whether you are taking the boy seriously or as a joke. From
your description of his personal appearance, I incline to the belief that
under ordinary circumstances I would not look twice at Mr. Jones, but
having been partly instrumental in preserving him to the world, I
naturally feel a proprietary interest in him."
"Of course," said Flo. "He's worth one look, out of pure curiosity; but
it would be dreadful to have him tagging you around, expressing his
"I don't imagine he'll do that," observed Patsy Doyle. "A. Jones strikes
me as having a fair intellect in a shipwrecked body, and I'll wager a
hatpin against a glove-buttoner that he won't bore you. At the same time
he may not interest you—or any of us—for long, unless he develops
talents we have not discovered. I wonder why he doesn't use his whole
name. That mystic 'A' puzzles me."
"It's an English notion, I suppose," said Mrs. Montrose.
"But he isn't English; he's American."
"Sangoese," corrected Beth.
"Perhaps he doesn't like his name, or is ashamed of it," suggested
"It may be 'Absalom,'" said Flo. "We once knew an actor named Absalom,
and he always called himself 'A. Judson Keith.' He was a dignified chap,
and when we girls one day called him 'Ab,' he nearly had hysterics."
"Mr. Werner had hysterics to-day," asserted Maud, gravely; "but I didn't
blame him. He sent out a party to ride down a steep hill on horseback, as
part of a film story, and a bad accident resulted. One of the horses
stepped in a gopher hole and fell, and a dozen others piled up on him,
including their riders."
"How dreadful!" was the general exclamation.
"Several of the horses broke their legs and had to be shot," continued
Maud; "but none of the riders was seriously injured except little
Sadie Martin, who was riding a bronco. The poor thing was caught under
one of the animals and the doctor says she won't be able to work again
"Goodness me! And all for the sake of a picture?" cried Patsy
indignantly. "I hope you don't take such risks, Maud."
"No; Flo and I have graduated from what is called 'the bronco bunch,' and
now do platform work entirely. To be sure we assume some minor risks in
that, but nothing to compare with the other lines of business."
"I hope the little girl you mentioned will get well, and has enough money
to tide her over this trouble," said Uncle John anxiously.
"The manager will look after her," returned Mrs. Montrose. "Our people
are very good about that and probably Sadie Martin's salary will continue
regularly until she is able to work again."
"Well," said Beth, drawing a long breath, "I suppose we shall read all
about it in the morning papers."
"Oh, no!" exclaimed Maud and added: "These accidents never get into the
papers. They happen quite often, around Los Angeles, where ten thousand
or more people make their living from motion pictures; but the public is
protected from all knowledge of such disasters, which would detract from
their pleasure in pictures and perhaps render all films unpopular."
"I thought the dear public loved the dare-devil acts," remarked
"Oh, it does," agreed Mrs. Montrose; "yet those who attend the picture
theatres seem not to consider the action taking place before their eyes
to be real. Here are pictures only—a sort of amplified story book—and
the spectators like them exciting; but if they stopped to reflect that
men and women in the flesh were required to do these dangerous feats for
their entertainment, many would be too horrified to enjoy the scenes. Of
course the makers of the pictures guard their actors in all possible
ways; yet, even so, casualties are bound to occur."
They had retired to a cosy corner of the public drawing room and were
conversing on this interesting topic when they espied A. Jones walking
toward them. The youth was attired in immaculate evening dress, but his
step was slow and dragging and his face pallid.
Arthur and Uncle John drew up an easy chair for him while Patsy performed
the introductions to Mrs. Montrose and her nieces. Very earnestly the boy
grasped the hand of the young girl who had been chiefly responsible for
his rescue, thanking her more by his manner than in his few carefully
As for Maud, she smilingly belittled her effort, saying lightly: "I
know I must not claim that it didn't amount to anything, for your life is
valuable, Mr. Jones, I'm sure. But I had almost nothing to do beyond
calling Patsy Doyle's attention to you and then swimming out to keep you
afloat until help came. I'm a good swimmer, so it was not at all
"Moreover," he added, "you would have done the same thing for anyone in
"I realize that. I am quite a stranger to you. Nevertheless, my gratitude
is your due and I hope you will accept it as the least tribute I can pay
you. Of all that throng of bathers, only you noticed my peril and came to
"Fate!" whispered Flo impressively.
"Nonsense," retorted her sister. "I happened to be the only one looking
out to sea. I think, Mr. Jones, you owe us apologies more than gratitude,
for your folly was responsible for the incident. You were altogether too
venturesome. Such action on this coast, where the surf rolls high and
creates an undertow, is nothing less than foolhardy."
"I'm sure you are right," he admitted. "I did not know this coast, and
foolishly imagined the old Pacific, in which I have sported and played
since babyhood, was my friend wherever I found it."
"I hope you are feeling better and stronger this evening," said Mr.
Merrick. "We expected you to join us at dinner."
"I—I seldom dine in public," he explained, flushing slightly. "My
bill-of-fare is very limited, you know, owing to my—my condition; and so
I carry my food-tablets around with me, wherever I go, and eat them in my
"Food-tablets!" cried Patsy, horrified.
"Yes. They are really wafers—very harmless—and I am permitted to eat
"No wonder your stomach is bad and you're a living skeleton!" asserted
the girl, with scorn.
"My dear," said Uncle John, gently chiding her, "we must give Mr. Jones
the credit for knowing what is best for him."
"Not me, sir!" protested the boy, in haste. "I'm very ignorant
about—about health, and medicine and the like. But in New York I
consulted a famous doctor, and he told me what to do."
"That's right," nodded the old gentleman, who had never been ill in his
life. "Always take the advice of a doctor, listen to the advice of a
lawyer, and refuse the advise of a banker. That's worldly wisdom."
"Were you ill when you left your home?" inquired Mrs. Montrose, looking
at the young man with motherly sympathy.
"Not when I left the island," he said. "I was pretty well up to that
time. But during the long ocean voyage I was terribly sick, and by the
time we got to San Francisco my stomach was a wreck. Then I tried to eat
the rich food at your restaurants and hotels—we live very plainly in
Sangoa, you know—and by the time I got to New York I was a confirmed
dyspeptic and suffering tortures. Everything I ate disagreed with me. So
I went to a great specialist, who has invented these food tablets for
cases just like mine, and he ordered me to eat nothing else."
"And are you better?" asked Maud.
"Sometimes I imagine I am. I do not suffer so much pain, but I—I seem
to grow weaker all the time."
"No wonder!" cried Patsy. "If you starve yourself you can't grow strong."
He looked at her with an expression of surprise. Then he asked abruptly:
"What would you advise me to do, Miss Doyle?"
A chorus of laughter greeted this question. Patsy flushed a trifle but
covered her confusion by demanding: "Would you follow my advice?"
He made a little grimace. There was humor in the boy, despite his
"I understand there is a law forbidding suicide," he replied. "But I
asked your advice in an attempt to discover what you thought of my absurd
condition. Now that you call my attention to it, I believe I am
starving myself. I need stronger and more nourishing food; and yet the
best specialist in your progressive country has regulated my diet."
"I don't believe much in specialists," asserted Patsy. "If you do, go
ahead and kill yourself, in defiance of the law. According to common
sense you ought to eat plenty of good, wholesome food, but you may be so
disordered—in your interior—that even that would prove fatal. So I
won't recommend it."
"I'm doomed, either way," he said quietly. "I know that."
"How do you know it?" demanded Maud in a tone of resentment.
He was silent a moment. Then he replied:
"I cannot remember how we drifted into this very personal argument. It
seems wrong for me to be talking about myself to those who are
practically strangers, and you will realize how unused I am to the
society of ladies by considering my rudeness in this interview."
"Pshaw!" exclaimed Uncle John; "we are merely considering you as a
friend. You must believe that we are really interested in you," he
continued, laying a kindly hand on the young fellow's shoulder. "You seem
in a bad way, it's true, but your condition is far from desperate.
Patsy's frankness—it's her one fault and her chief virtue—led you to
talk about yourself, and I'm surprised to find you so despondent
and—and—what do you call it, Beth?"
"But you're wrong, sir!" said the boy with a smile; "I may not be elated
over my fatal disease, but neither am I despondent. I force myself to
keep going when I wonder how the miserable machine responds to my urging,
and I shall keep it going, after a fashion, until the final breakdown.
Fate weaves the thread of our lives, I truly believe, and she didn't use
very good material when she started mine. But that doesn't matter," he
added quickly. "I'm trying to do a little good as I go along and not
waste my opportunities. I'm obeying my doctor's orders and facing the
future with all the philosophy I can summon. So now, if you—who have
given me a new lease of life—think I can use it to any better advantage,
I am willing to follow your counsel."
His tone was more pathetic than his words. Maud, as she looked at the boy
and tried to realize that his days were numbered, felt her eyes fill
with tears. Patsy sniffed scornfully, but said nothing. It was Beth who
remarked with an air of unconcern that surprised those who knew her
"It would be presumptuous for us to interfere, either with Fate or with
Nature. You're probably dead wrong about your condition, for a sick
person has no judgment whatever, but I've noticed the mind has a good
deal to do with one's health. If you firmly believe you're going to die,
why, what can you expect?"
No one cared to contradict this and a pause followed that was growing
awkward when they were all aroused by the sound of hasty footsteps
approaching their corner.
THE MAGIC OF A NAME
The newcomer proved to be Goldstein, the manager of the Continental.
His face was frowning and severe as he rudely marched up to the group
and, without the formality of a greeting, pointedly addressed the
"What does it mean?" he demanded in evident excitement, for his voice
shook and the accusing finger he held out trembled. "How does it happen
that my people, under contract to work for the Continental, are working
for other firms?"
Maud paled and her eyes glistened with resentment as she rose and faced
her manager. Florence pulled her sister's sleeve and said with a forced
laugh: "Sit down, Maud; the man has probably been drinking."
He turned on the young girl fiercely, but now it was Arthur Weldon who
seized the manager's arm and whirled him around.
"Sir, you are intruding," he said sternly. "If you have business with
these ladies, choose the proper time and place to address them."
"I have!" cried Goldstein, blusteringly. "They have treated me
shamefully—unprofessionally! They have played me a trick, and I've the
right to demand why they are working for a rival firm while in my pay."
Mrs. Montrose now arose and said with quiet dignity:
"Mr. Goldstein, you are intruding, as Mr. Weldon says. But you have said
so much to defame my nieces in the eyes of our friends, here assembled,
that you must explain yourself more fully."
The manager seemed astonished by his reception. He looked from one to
another and said more mildly:
"It is easy enough for me to explain, but how can the Stantons explain
their conduct? They are under contract to act exclusively for the
Continental Film Company and I pay them a liberal salary. Yet only
yesterday, when I was kind enough to give them a holiday, they went down
to the beach and posed for a picture for our rivals, the Corona
"You are mistaken, sir!" retorted Arthur. "The young ladies were in our
company the entire afternoon and they did not pose for any picture
"Don't tell me!" cried Goldstein. "I've just seen the picture down town.
I was going by one of the theatres when I noticed a placard that read:
'Sensational Film by Maud Stanton, the Queen of Motion Picture Actresses,
entitled "A Gallant Rescue!" First run to-night.' I went in and saw the
picture—with my own eyes!—and I saw Maud Stanton in a sea scene,
rescuing a man who was drowning. Don't deny it, Miss," he added, turning
upon Maud fiercely. "I saw it with my own eyes—not an hour ago!"
After a moment's amazed silence his hearers broke into a chorus of
laughter, led by Flo, who was almost hysterical. Even A. Jones smiled
indulgently upon the irate manager, who was now fairly bristling with
"The Corona people," remarked Arthur Weldon, "are quite enterprising. I
did not know they had a camera-man at the beach yesterday, but he must
have secured a very interesting picture. It was not posed, Mr. Goldstein,
but taken from life."
"It was Maud Stanton!" asserted, the manager.
"Yes; she and some others. A man was really drowning and the brave girl
swam to his rescue, without a thought of posing."
"I don't believe it!" cried the man rudely.
Here A. Jones struggled to his feet.
"It is true," he said. "I was the drowning man whom Miss Stanton saved."
Goldstein eyed him shrewdly.
"Perhaps you were," he admitted, "for the man in the picture was about
your style of make-up. But how can you prove it was not a put-up job with
the Corona people? How do I know you are not all in the employ of the
"I give you my word."
"Pah! I don't know you."
"I see you don't," returned the youth stiffly.
"Here is my card. Perhaps you will recognize the name."
He fumbled in his pocket, took out a card and handed it to the manager.
Goldstein looked at it, started, turned red and then white and began
bobbing his head with absurd deference to the youth.
"Pardon, Mr. Jones—pardon!" he gasped. "I—I heard you were in our
neighborhood, but I—I did not recognize you. I—I hope you will pardon
me, Mr. Jones! I was angry at what I supposed was the treachery of an
employee. You will—will—understand that, I am sure. It is my duty to
protect the interests of the Continental, you know, sir. But it's all
right now, of course! Isn't it all right now, Mr. Jones?"
"You'd better go, Goldstein," said the boy in a weary tone, and sat
The manager hesitated. Then he bowed to Maud Stanton and to the others,
"All a mistake, you see; all a mistake. I—I beg everybody's pardon."
With this he backed away, still bowing, and finally turned and beat a
hasty retreat. But no one was noticing him especially. All eyes were
regarding the boy with a new curiosity.
"That Goldstein is an ill-bred boor!" remarked Uncle John in an
"I suppose," said Maud, slowly, "he thought he was right in demanding an
explanation. There is great rivalry between the various film
manufacturers and it was rather mean of the Corona to put my name on
"It's wonderful!" exclaimed Patsy. "How did they get the picture, do
"They have camera-men everywhere, looking for some picture worth while."
explained Mrs. Montrose. "If there's a fire, the chances are a camera-man
is on the spot before the firemen arrive. If there's an accident, it is
often caught by the camera before the victim realizes what has happened.
Perhaps a camera-man has been at the beach for weeks, waiting patiently
for some tragedy to occur. Anyway, he was on hand yesterday and quietly
ran his film during the excitement of the rescue. He was in rare luck to
get Maud, because she is a favorite with the public; but it was not fair
to connect her name with the picture, when they know she is employed by
Young Jones rose from his chair with a gesture of weariness.
"If you will excuse me," he said, "I will go to my room. Our little
conversation has given me much pleasure; I'm so alone in the world.
Perhaps you will allow me to join you again—some other time?"
They hastened to assure him his presence would always be welcome. Patsy
even added, with her cheery smile, that they felt a certain
proprietorship in him since they had dragged him from a watery grave. The
boy showed, as he walked away, that he was not yet very steady on his
feet, but whether the weakness was the result of his malady or his recent
trying experience they could not determine.
"What staggers me," said Maud, looking after him, "is the effect his name
had on Goldstein, who has little respect or consideration for anyone. Who
do you suppose A. Jones is?"
"Why, he has told us," replied Louise. "He is an islander, on his first
visit to this country."
"He must be rather more than that," declared Arthur. "Do you remember
what the manager said to him?"
"Yes," said Beth. "He had heard that A. Jones was in this neighborhood,
but had never met him. A. Jones was a person of sufficient importance
to make the general manager of the Continental Film Company tremble in
"He really did tremble," asserted Patsy, "and he was abject in his
"Showing," added Flo Stanton, "that Goldstein is afraid of him."
"I wonder why," said Maud.
"It is all very easy of solution," remarked Arthur. "Goldstein believes
that Jones is in the market to buy films. Perhaps he's going to open a
motion picture theatre on his island. So the manager didn't want to
antagonize a good customer."
"That's it," said Uncle John, nodding approval. "There's no great mystery
about young Jones, I'm sure."
Next morning Uncle John and the Weldons—including the precious
baby—went for a ride into the mountains, while Beth and Patsy took their
embroidery into a sunny corner of the hotel lobby.
It was nearly ten o'clock when A. Jones discovered the two girls and came
tottering toward them. Tottering is the right word; he fairly swayed as
he made his way to the secluded corner.
"I wish he'd use a cane," muttered Beth in an undertone. "I have the
feeling that he's liable to bump his nose any minute."
Patsy drew up a chair for him, although he endeavored to prevent her.
"Are you feeling better this morning?" she inquired.
"I—I think so," he answered doubtfully. "I don't seem to get back my
strength, you see."
"Were you stronger before your accident?" asked Beth.
"Yes, indeed. I went swimming, you remember. But perhaps I was not
strong enough to do that. I—I'm very careful of myself, yet I seem to
grow weaker all the time."
There was a brief silence, during which the girls plied their needles.
"Are you going to stay in this hotel?" demanded Patsy, in her blunt way.
"For a time, I think. It is very pleasant here," he said.
"Have you had breakfast?"
"I took a food-tablet at daybreak."
"Huh!" A scornful exclamation. Then she glanced at the open door of
the dining-hall and laying aside her work she rose with a determined
air and said:
"Come with me!"
For answer she assisted him to rise. Then she took his hand and marched
him across the lobby to the dining room.
He seemed astonished at this proceeding but made no resistance. Seated
at a small table she called a waitress and said:
"Bring a cup of chocolate, a soft-boiled egg and some toast."
"Pardon me, Miss Doyle," he said; "I thought you had breakfasted."
"So I have," she replied. "The breakfast I've ordered is for you, and
you're going to eat it if I have to ram it down your throat."
"You've told us you are doomed. Well, you're going to die with a
"But the doctor—"
"Bother the doctor! I'm your doctor, now, and I won't send in a bill,
thank your stars."
He looked at her with his sad little smile.
"Isn't this a rather high-handed proceeding, Miss Doyle?"
"I haven't employed you as my physician, you know."
"True. But you've deliberately put yourself in my power."
"In the first place, you tagged us here to this hotel."
"You don't mind, do you?"
"Not in the least. It's a public hostelry. In the second place, you
confided to us your disease and your treatment of it—which was really
none of our business."
"I—I was wrong to do that. But you led me on and—I'm so lonely—and you
all seemed so generous and sympathetic—that I—I—"
"That you unwittingly posted us concerning your real trouble. Do you
realize what it is? You're a hypo—hypo—what do they call
"I am not!"
"And your doctor—your famous specialist—is a fool."
"Oh, Miss Doyle!"
"Also you are a—a chump, to follow his fool advice. You don't need
sympathy, Mr. A. Jones. What you need is a slapstick."
"A slapstick. And that's what you're going to get if you don't
Here the maid set down the breakfast, ranging the dishes invitingly
before the invalid. His face had expressed all the emotions from
amazement to terror during Patsy's tirade and now he gazed from her firm,
determined features to the eggs and toast, in an uncertain, helpless way
that caused the girl a severe effort to curb a burst of laughter.
"Now, then," she said, "get busy. I'll fix your egg. Do you want more
sugar in your chocolate? Taste it and see. And if you don't butter that
toast before it gets cold it won't be fit to eat."
He looked at her steadily now, again smiling.
"You're not joking, Miss Doyle?"
"I'm in dead earnest."
"Of course you realize this is the—the end?"
"Of your foolishness? I hope so. You used to eat like a sensible boy,
"When I was well."
"You're well now. Your only need is sustaining, strengthening food. I
came near ordering you a beefsteak, but I'll reserve that for lunch."
He sipped the chocolate.
"Yes; it needs more sugar," he said quietly. "Will you please butter my
toast? It seems to me such a breakfast is worth months of suffering. How
delicious this egg is! It was the fragrance of the egg and toast that
conquered me. That, and—"
"And one sensible, determined girl. Don't look at me as if I were a
murderess! I'm your best friend—a friend in need. And don't choke down
your food. Eat slowly. Fletcherize—chew your food, you know. I know
you're nearly famished, but you must gradually accustom yourself to a
He obeyed meekly. Patsy's face was calm, but her heart beat fast, with a
thrill of fear she could not repress. Acting on impulse, as she had, the
girl now began to consider that she was personally responsible for
whatever result might follow this radical treatment for dyspepsia. Had
she been positive it was dyspepsia, she would never have dared
interfere with a doctor's orders; but she felt that the boy needed food
and would die unless he had it. He might die from the effect of this
unusual repast, in which case she would never forgive herself.
Meantime, the boy had cast aside all fear. He had protested, indeed, but
his protests being overruled he accepted his food and its possible
consequences with philosophic resignation and a growing satisfaction.
Patsy balked on the third slice of toast and took it away from him. She
also denied him a second cup of chocolate. He leaned back in his chair
with a sigh of content and said:
"Bless the hen that laid that egg! No dainty was ever more delicious. And
now," he added, rising, "let us go and inquire the address of a good
undertaker. I have made my will, and I'd like to be cremated—it's so
much nicer than the old-fashioned burial, don't you think?"
"I'll attend to all that, if you wish," she replied, trying to repress a
shudder as she followed him from the room. "Do you smoke?"
"I used to, but the doctor forbade it; so I gave it up entirely."
"Go over to that stand and buy a cigar. Then you may sit beside Beth and
me and smoke it."
The girl did not wholly approve of smoking and had often chided Uncle
John and her father and Arthur Weldon for indulging in the habit; but
this advice to young Jones was given in desperation, because all the men
of her family stoutly affirmed that a cigar after a meal assisted
digestion. She resumed her former seat beside Beth, and her cousin
quickly read the anxiety on her face.
"What did you do, Patricia?"
"I fed him."
"Did he really eat?"
"Like a starved cat."
"Hm-m-m," said Beth. "What next, I wonder?"
Patsy wondered, too, the cold shivers chasing one another up and down her
back. The boy was coming toward them, coolly puffing a cigar. He did not
seem to totter quite so much as before, but he was glad to sink into an
"How do you feel?" asked Beth, regarding him curiously.
"Like one of those criminals who are pampered with all the good things
of life before being led to the scaffold."
He shook his head.
"Not yet. I've asked the clerk, whenever I signal him, to send someone to
carry me to my room. If I'm not able to say good-bye to you, please
accept now my thanks for all your kindness to a stranger. You see, I'm
not sure whether I'll have a sudden seizure or the pains will come on
"What pains?" demanded Patsy.
"I can't explain them. Don't you believe something is bound to happen?"
he inquired, nervously removing the ash from his cigar.
"To be sure. You're going to get well."
He made no reply, but sat watching Beth's nimble fingers. Patsy was too
excited to resume her embroidery.
"I wonder if you are old enough to smoke?" remarked Beth.
"I'm over twenty-one."
"Indeed! We decided you were about eighteen."
"I suppose I look younger than my age. At home, in Sangoa, I am still
regarded as a mere child. That is because I had no brothers and sisters,
and my father never could realize that I was growing up. The people
still call me—"
He paused, in an embarrassed way, till Patsy asked:
"Call you what?"
"By my old childish name."
Both the girls were distinctly disappointed. But bluff Patsy Doyle would
not be denied the satisfaction of her curiosity. Within the last hour
she had felt as if she had adopted this friendless boy, and some
information concerning him was her due.
"Your name is A. Jones?" she aid.
"What does the 'A' stand for?"
There! The question was out, at last. He hesitated, flushing read. Then
he replied slowly:
"It stands for one of my father's peculiarities. I think I have told you
how proud he was that we are direct descendants of John Paul Jones.
'John Paul,'" he would often say, 'has ennobled the name of Jones, so
that to be a Jones is to bear the proudest name known to mankind.' When
I was born they were undecided what to name me. 'There is no hurry about
it,' said my father; 'whatever we call him, he is a Jones.' My mother
must have been something of a humorist. She kept referring to her baby
as 'a Jones' until father caught the absurd idea of letting it go at
that, and had me christened merely 'A. Jones.'"
"How delightful?" cried Patsy, clapping her hands gleefully. "Then 'A'
doesn't stand for anything at all?"
"Oh, yes; it stands for a Jones," said the boy, making a wry face. "I
think it is dreadful."
"But what did they call you, afterward? What was the childish name you
"Another of my mother's humorous fancies. She called me 'Ajo,' and
others quickly caught up the horrid nickname. It is merely a contraction
of A. Jones, and in Sangoa I am called nothing else."
"Ajo," repeated Beth, her sweet voice giving the title a pleasant sound.
"In Spanish it would be pronounced 'Ah-ho.'"
"But we are not Spanish in Sangoa."
"What are your people?"
"Formerly all Americans. The younger generation are, like myself I
suppose, Sangoans by birth. But there isn't a black or yellow or brown
man on our island."
"How many inhabitants has Sangoa?"
"About six hundred, all told."
There was silence for a while.
"Any pains yet?" inquired Beth.
"Not yet. But I'm feeling drowsy. With your permission I'll lie down and
take a nap. I slept very little last night."
He threw away his cigar, which he had smoked nearly to the end, and
rising without assistance, bowed and walked away.
"Will he ever waken, I wonder?" said Beth softly.
"Of course," declared Patsy. "He has crossed the Rubicon and is going to
get well. I feel it in my bones!"
"Let us hope," responded Beth, "that Ajo also feels it in his bones,
rather than in his stomach."
STILL A MYSTERY
The day advanced to luncheon time and Uncle John and the Weldons came
back from their mountain trip. Hollywood is in the foothills and over the
passes are superb automobile roads into the fruitful valleys of San
Fernando and La Canada.
"Seen anything of the boy—A. Jones?" inquired Arthur.
"Yes; and perhaps we've seen the last of him," answered Beth.
"Oh. Has he gone?"
"No one knows. Patsy fed him and he went to sleep. What has happened
since we cannot tell."
The girls then related the experiences of the morning, at which both
Uncle John and Arthur looked solemn and uncomfortable. But Louise
"I think Patsy was quite right. I wouldn't have dared such a thing
myself, but I'm sure that boy needed a square meal more than anything. If
he dies, that breakfast has merely hastened his end; but if he doesn't
die it will do him good."
"There's another possibility," remarked Uncle John. "He may be suffering
agonies with no one to help him."
Patsy's face was white as chalk. The last hour or two had brought her
considerable anxiety and her uncle's horrible suggestion quite unnerved
her. She stole away to the office and inquired the number of Mr. Jones'
room. It was on the ground floor and easily reached by a passage. The
girl tiptoed up to the door and putting her ear to the panel listened
intently. A moment later a smile broke over her face; she chuckled
delightedly and then turned and ran buck to her friends.
"He's snoring like a walrus!" she cried triumphantly.
"Are you sure they are not groans?" asked Arthur.
"Pah! Can't I recognize a snore when I hear it? And I'll bet it's the
first sound sleep he's had in a month."
Mr. Merrick and Arthur went to the door of the boy's room to satisfy
themselves that Patsy was not mistaken, and the regularity of the sounds
quickly convinced them the girl was right. So they had a merry party at
luncheon, calling Patsy "Doctor" with grave deference and telling her she
had probably saved the life of A. Jones for a second time.
"And now," proposed Uncle John, when the repast was over, "let us drive
down to the sea and have a look at that beautiful launch that came in
yesterday. Everyone is talking about it and they say it belongs to some
So they motored to Santa Monica and spent the afternoon on the sands,
watching the bathers and admiring the graceful outlines of the big yacht
lying at anchor a half mile from the shore. The boat was something of a
mystery to everybody. It was named the "Arabella" and had come from
Hawaii via San Francisco; but what it was doing here and who the owner
might be were questions no one seemed able to answer. Rumor had it that
a Japanese prince had come in it to inspect the coast line, but newspaper
reporters were forbidden to scale the side and no satisfaction was given
their eager questioning by the bluff old captain who commanded the craft.
So the girls snapped a few kodak pictures of the handsome yacht and then
lost interest in it.
That evening they met Mrs. Montrose and the Stanton girls at dinner and
told them about the boy, who still remained invisible. Uncle John had
listened at his door again, but the snores had ceased and a deathlike
silence seemed to pervade the apartment. This rendered them all a trifle
uneasy and when they left the dining room Arthur went to the hotel clerk
"Have you seen Mr. Jones this evening?"
"No," was the reply. "Do you know him?"
"Well, he's the queerest guest we've ever had. The first day he ate
nothing at all. This morning I hear he had a late breakfast. Wasn't
around to lunch, but a little while ago we sent a meal to his room that
would surprise you."
"Yes. A strange order it was! Broiled mushrooms, pancakes with maple
syrup and ice cream. How is that for a mix-up—and at dinner time, too!"
said the clerk, disgustedly.
Arthur went back and reported.
"All right," said Patsy, much relieved. "We've got him started and now he
can take care of himself. Come, Uncle; let's all go down town and see the
picture that drove Mr. Goldstein crazy."
"He was very decent to us to-day," asserted Flo Stanton.
"Did he ask any explanation about Maud's appearing in the picture of a
rival company?" inquired Arthur.
"No, not a word."
"Did he mention Mr. Jones, who conquered him so mysteriously?"
"Not at all. Goldstein confined himself strictly to business; but he
treated us with unusual courtesy," explained Maud.
They were curious to see the films of the rescue, and the entire party
rode to the down-town theatre where the Corona picture was being run.
Outside the entrance they found the audacious placard, worded just as
Goldstein had reported, and they all agreed it was a mean trick to claim
another firm's star as their own.
"I do not think the Corona Company is responsible for this announcement,"
said Uncle John. "It is probably an idea of the theatre proprietor, who
hoped to attract big business in that way."
"He has succeeded," grumbled Arthur, as he took his place at the end of a
long line of ticket buyers.
The picture, as it flashed on the screen, positively thrilled them. First
was shown the crowd of merry bathers, with Patsy and Maud standing in the
water a little apart from the others. Then the boy—far out beyond the
rest—threw up his arms, struggling desperately. Maud swam swiftly toward
him, Patsy making for the shore. The launching of the boat, the race to
rescue, Maud's effort to keep the drowning one afloat, and the return to
the shore, where an excited crowd surrounded them—all was clearly shown
in the picture. Now they had the advantage of observing the expressions
on the faces of the bathers when they discovered a tragedy was being
enacted in their midst. The photographs were so full of action that the
participants now looked upon their adventure in a new light and regarded
it far more seriously than before.
The picture concluded with the scene where Uncle John lifted the body
into the automobile and dashed away with it to the hospital.
Maud Stanton, used as she was to seeing herself in motion pictures, was
even more impressed than the others when observing her own actions at a
time when she was wholly unconscious that a camera-man had his lens
focused upon her.
"It's a great picture!" whispered Flo, as they made their way out of the
crowded theatre. "Why can't all our films be as natural and absorbing as
"Because," said her sister, "in this case there is no acting. The picture
carries conviction with a force that no carefully rehearsed scene could
"That is true," agreed her Aunt Jane. "The nature scenes are the best,
"The most unsatisfactory pictures I have ever seen," remarked Uncle John,
"were those of prominent men, and foreign kings, and the like, who stop
before the camera and bow as awkwardly as a camel. They know they are
posing, and in spite of their public experience they're as bashful as
schoolboys or as arrogant as policemen, according to their personal
"Did you notice the mob of children in that theatre?" asked Patsy, as
they proceeded homeward. "I wish there were more pictures made that are
suitable to their understandings."
"They enjoy anything in the way of a picture," said Arthur. "It isn't
necessary to cater to children; they'll go anyhow, whatever is shown."
"That may be, to an extent, true," said Beth. "Children are fascinated by
any sort of motion pictures, but a lot of them must be wholly
incomprehensible to the child mind. I agree with Patsy that the little
ones ought to have their own theatres and their own pictures."
"That will come, in time," prophesied Aunt Jane. "Already the film
makers are recognizing the value of the children's patronage and are
trying to find subjects that especially appeal to them."
They reached the hotel soon after ten o'clock and found "Ajo" seated in
the lobby. He appeared much brighter and stronger than the day before and
rose to greet Patsy with a smile that had lost much of its former sad
"Congratulate me, Dr. Doyle," said he. "I'm still alive, and—thanks to
your prescription—going as well as could be expected."
"I'm glad I did the right thing," she replied; "but we were all a little
worried for fear I'd make a mistake."
"I have just thrown away about a thousand of those food-tablets," he
informed her with an air of pride. "I am positive there is no substitute
for real food, whatever the specialists may say. In fact," he continued
more soberly, "I believe you have rescued me a second time from certain
death, for now I have acquired a new hope and have made up my mind to
"Be careful not to overdo it," cautioned Uncle John. "You ordered a
queer supper, we hear."
"But it seemed to agree with me. I've had a delightful sleep—the first
sound sleep in a month—and already I feel like a new man. I waited up to
tell you this, hoping you would be interested."
"We are!" exclaimed Patsy, who felt both pride and pleasure. "This
evening we have been to see the motion picture of your rescue from
"Oh. How did you like it?"
"It's a splendid picture. I'm not sure it will interest others as much as
ourselves, yet the people present seemed to like it."
"Well it was their last chance to observe my desperate peril and my
heroic rescue," said the boy. "The picture will not be shown after
"Why not?" they asked, in surprise.
"I bought the thing this afternoon. It didn't seem to me quite modest to
exploit our little adventure in public."
This was a new phase of the strange boy's character and the girls did
not know whether to approve it or not.
"It must have cost you something!" remarked Flo, the irrepressible.
"Besides, how could you do it while you were asleep?"
"Why, I wakened long enough to use the telephone," he replied with a
smile. "There are more wonderful inventions in the world than motion
pictures, you know."
"But you like motion pictures, don't you?" asked Maud, wondering why he
had suppressed the film in question.
"Very much. In fact, I am more interested in them than in anything else,
not excepting the telephone—which makes Aladdin's lamp look like a
firefly in the sunshine."
"I suppose," said Flo, staring into his face with curious interest,
"that you will introduce motion pictures into your island of Sangoa,
when you return?"
"I suppose so," he answered, a little absently. "I had not considered
that seriously, as yet, but my people would appreciate such a treat,
This speech seemed to destroy, in a manner, their shrewd conjecture
that he was in America to purchase large quantities of films. Why,
then, should Goldstein have paid such abject deference to this
In his own room, after the party had separated for the night, Mr. Merrick
remarked to Arthur Weldon as they sat smoking their cigars:
"Young Jones is evidently possessed of some means."
"So it seems," replied Arthur. "Perhaps his father, the scientific
recluse, had accumulated some money, and the boy came to America to get
rid of it. He will be extravagant and wasteful for awhile, and then go
back to his island with the idea that he has seen the world."
Uncle John nodded.
"He is a rather clean-cut young fellow," said he, "and the chances are he
won't become dissipated, even though he loses his money through lack of
worldly knowledge or business experience. A boy brought up and educated
on an island can't be expected to prove very shrewd, and whatever the
extent of his fortune it is liable to melt like snow in the sunshine."
"After all," returned Arthur, "this experience won't hurt him. He will
still have his island to return to."
They smoked for a time in silence.
"Has it ever occurred to you, sir," said Arthur, "that the story Jones
has related to us, meager though it is, bears somewhat the stamp of a
Uncle John removed his cigar and looked reflectively at the ash.
"You mean that the boy is not what he seems?"
"Scarcely that, sir. He seems like a good boy, in the main. But his story
is—such as one might invent if he were loath to tell the truth."
Uncle John struck a match and relit his cigar.
"I believe in A. Jones, and I see no reason to doubt his story," he
asserted. "If real life was not full of romance and surprises, the
novelists would be unable to interest us in their books."
A DAMSEL IN DISTRESS
The day had not started auspiciously for the Stanton sisters. Soon after
they arrived at the Continental Film Company's plant Maud had wrenched
her ankle by stumbling over some loose planks which had been carelessly
left on the open-air stage, and she was now lying upon a sofa in the
manager's room with her limb bandaged and soaked with liniment.
Flo was having troubles, too. A girl who had been selected by the
producer to fall from an aeroplane in mid-air had sent word she was ill
and could not work to-day, and the producer had ordered Flo to prepare
for the part. Indignantly she sought the manager, to file a protest, and
while she waited in the anteroom for an audience, Mr. A. Jones of Sangoa
came in and greeted her with a bow and a smile.
"Good gracious! Where did you come from?" she inquired.
"My hotel. I've just driven over to see Goldstein," he replied.
"You'll have to wait, I'm afraid," she warned him. "The manager is busy
just now. I've been wiggling on this bench half an hour, and haven't seen
him yet—and my business is very important."
"So is mine, Miss Flo," he rejoined, looking at her with an odd
expression. Then, as a stenographer came hurrying from the inner room, he
stopped the girl and said:
"Please take my card to Mr. Goldstein."
"Oh, he won't see anybody now, for he's busy talking with one of our
producers. You'll have to call again," she said flippantly. But even as
she spoke she glanced at the card, started and turned red. "Oh, pardon
me!" she added hastily and fled back to the managerial sanctum.
"That's funny!" muttered Flo, half to herself.
"Yes," he said, laughing, "my cards are charged with electricity, and
they're bound to galvanize anyone in this establishment. Come in, Miss
Flo," he added, as Goldstein rushed out of his office to greet the boy
effusively; "your business takes precedence to mine, you know."
The manager ushered them into his office, a big room with a busy aspect.
At one end were two or three girls industriously thumping typewriters;
McNeil, the producer, was sorting manuscript on Goldstein's own desk; a
young man who served as the manager's private secretary was poring over a
voluminous record-book, wherein were listed all the films ever made by
the manufacturers of the world. On a sofa in a far corner reclined the
injured "star" of the company, Maud Stanton, who—being half asleep at
the moment—did not notice the entrance of her sister and young Jones.
"Sit down, Mr. Jones; pray sit down!" exclaimed Goldstein eagerly,
pointing to his own chair. "Would you like me to clear the room, so that
our conversation may be private?"
"Not yet," replied the boy, refusing the seat of honor and taking a
vacant chair. "Miss Stanton has precedence, and I believe she wishes to
speak with you."
Goldstein took his seat at the desk and cast an inquiring glance at Flo.
"Well?" he demanded, impatiently.
"Mr. Werner has ordered me to do the airship stunt for his picture,
because Nance Holden isn't here to-day," began the girl.
"Well, why annoy me with such trifles? Werner knows what he wants, and
you'll do as well as the Holden girl."
"But I don't want to tumble out of that airship," she protested.
"There's no danger. Life nets will be spread underneath the aeroplane,"
said the manager. "The camera merely catches you as you are falling, so
the thing won't be more than twenty or thirty feet from the ground. Now
run away and don't bother. I must speak with Mr. Jones."
"But I'm afraid, Mr. Goldstein!" pleaded the girl. "I don't want to go up
in the aeroplane, and these stunts are not in my line, or what I was
engaged to do."
"You'll do what I tell you!" asserted the manager, with marked
irritation. "I won't stand for any rebellion among my actors, and you'll
do as Werner orders or you'll forfeit your week's pay."
Here Maud half rose from her sofa to address her employer.
"Please, Mr. Goldstein," she said, "don't make Flo do that fall. There
are plenty of other girls to take her place, and she—"
"Silence, Miss Stanton!" roared the manager. "You'll disrupt all
discipline if you interfere. A nice time we'd have here, if we allowed
our actors to choose their own parts! I insist that your sister obey my
"Quite right, Goldstein," remarked young Jones, in his quiet voice.
"You've carried your point and maintained discipline. I like that. Miss
Flo Stanton will do exactly what you request her to do. But you're going
to change your mind and think better of her protest. I'm almost sure,
Goldstein, from the expression of your face, that you intend to issue
prompt orders that another girl must take her place."
Goldstein looked at him steadily a moment and the arrogant expression
changed to one of meek subservience.
"To be sure!" he muttered. "You have read my mind accurately, Mr. Jones.
Here, Judd," to his secretary, "find Werner and tell him I don't approve
his choice of Flo Stanton as a substitute for Nance Holden. Let's see;
tell him to put that Moore girl in her place."
The young fellow bowed and left the room. McNeil smiled slyly to himself
as he bent over his manuscript. Jones had gone to Maud's side to inquire
anxiously after her injury.
"I don't imagine it will amount to much," she said reassuringly. "Mr.
Goldstein wants me to rest quietly until this afternoon, when our new
photo-play is to be produced. I'm to do the leading part, you know, and
he thinks I'll be able by that time to get through all right."
Goldstein overheard this and came toward them, rubbing his hands together
"That seems unwise, Miss Maud," objected Jones. "To use your foot so
soon might make it much worse. Let us postpone the play until some
Goldstein's face was a study. His body twitched spasmodically.
"Oh, Mr. Jones!" he exclaimed; "that's impossible; it wouldn't do at
all! We've been rehearsing this play and preparing for its production for
the last two weeks, and to-day all our actors and assistants are here and
ready to make the picture. I've already postponed it four hours—until
this afternoon—to favor Miss Stanton, but, really—"
"Never mind the details," interrupted the boy. "I do not consider Miss
Stanton able to do her work to-day. Send her back to her hotel at once
and order the play postponed until she is able to attend."
Goldstein was greatly disturbed by this order, issued quietly but in a
tone of command that brooked no opposition. Again he glanced shrewdly at
the young man, and in the manager's face astonishment and fear were
"Sir," he said in repressed tones, for he was really angry and had been
accustomed to wield the power of an autocrat in this establishment, "you
are placing me in an embarrassing position. I am expected to make every
day count, so that the Continental may pay a liberal profit to its
owners. To follow your instructions would burden us with an enormous
expense, quite useless, I assure you, and—"
"Very well. Incur the expense, Goldstein."
"All right, Mr. Jones. Excuse me a moment while I issue instructions for
McNeil rose and faced the manager.
"Are you really going to postpone this important play?" he demanded, in a
voice of wonder.
Goldstein was glad to vent his chagrin on the producer.
"No insolence, sir!" he roared. "Come with me, and," as he dragged McNeil
to the door and paused there, "if you dare lisp a word of what you've
overheard, I'll fire you like a shot!"
When they had left the room Maud said with a puzzled air:
"I can't understand your power over Goldstein, Mr. Jones. He is a
dictator—almost a tyrant—and in this place his word is law. At least,
it was until you came, and—and—"
"Don't try to understand it, Miss Stanton," he answered in a careless
manner. "Do you think you can manage to crawl to the automobile, or shall
we carry you?"
"I'll bet Goldstein has murdered someone, and Mr. Jones knows all about
it!" exclaimed Flo, who had been an interested witness of the scene.
Maud stood up, with her sister's support, and tested her lame ankle.
"It still hurts a little," she said, "but I can manage to hobble on it."
"Get your sister's wraps," the boy said to Flo, "and we'll send her
"I expect Goldstein will dock my salary, as well as fine Flo," remarked
Maud musingly, as she waited for her hat and coat. "He obeyed you very
meekly, Mr. Jones, but I could see a wicked glitter in his eye,
"I am sure the manager will neither dock nor fine either of you," he
replied reassuringly. "On the contrary, you might sue the company for
damages, for leaving that lumber where you would fall over it."
"Oh, no," she returned, laughing at the idea. "We have signed contracts
waiving any damages for injuries sustained while at work on the premises.
We all have to do that, you know, because the business is hazardous at
its best. On the other hand, Mr. Goldstein has a physician and surgeon
always within call, in case of accident, and the service is quite free to
all the employees."
"I know. But the fact that you signed such a contract, under compulsion,
would not prevent the court from awarding damages, if you sustained them
while on duty."
"This hurt is nothing of importance," she said hastily. "In a day or two
I shall be able to walk as well as ever."
Flo came running back with Maud's things. Aunt Jane followed, saying
that if Maud was to go to the hotel she would accompany her and take
care of her.
"I've examined the ankle," she said to young Jones, "and I assure you it
is not a severe strain. But it is true that she will be better off in her
own room, where she can rest quietly. So I will go with her."
"How about Miss Flo?" asked the boy.
"Flo is very self-reliant and will get along to-day very nicely without
me," replied Mrs. Montrose.
Mr. Goldstein entered, frowning and still resenting the interference of
this Mr. A. Jones of Sangoa. But he ventured no further protest nor did
he speak until Maud, Flo and Aunt Jane had all left the room.
"You're not going, Mr. Jones?" he asked.
"Only to see Miss Stanton started for home. Then I'll come back and have
a little talk with you."
"Thank you, sir."
PICTURES, GIRLS AND NONSENSE
"Well, Aunt Jane," said Maud Stanton, when their car was rolling toward
the hotel and the girl had related the remarkable interview in the
office, "what do you think of Ajo now?"
"He is certainly an amazing young man," was the reply. "I cannot in any
way figure out his connection with Goldstein, or his power over the man.
The Continental Film Manufacturing Company is a great corporation, with
headquarters in New York, and Mr. Goldstein is the authorized head and
manager of the concern on the Pacific coast. I understand his salary is
ten thousand a year. On the other hand, young Jones has only been in this
country for a year, coming from an insignificant island somewhere in the
South Seas, where he was born and reared. Much of the time since he
arrived in America he has been an invalid. Aside from this meager
information, no one seems to know anything about him."
"Putting the case that way makes it all the more remarkable," observed
Maud. "A big, experienced, important man, cowed by a mere boy. When
Goldstein first met this callow, sallow youth, he trembled before him.
When the boy enters the office of the great film company he dictates to
the manager, who meekly obeys him. Remember, too, that A. Jones, by his
interference, has caused a direct loss to the company, which Goldstein
will have to explain, as best he may, in his weekly report to the New
York office. A more astonishing state of affairs could not be imagined,
"The puzzle will solve itself presently," said the lady. "Abnormal
conditions seldom last long."
Maud passed the day in bed, quietly reading a book. Her injury was really
slight and with rest it mended rapidly. Patsy and Beth came in to see her
and in the conversation that ensued the girls were told of the latest
mystery surrounding A. Jones.
"It is surely queer!" admitted Miss Doyle, impressed and thoughtful.
"Uncle John and Arthur were saying this noon, at lunch, that Ajo was a
helpless sort of individual and easily influenced by others—as witness
his caving in to me when I opposed his doctor's treatment. Arthur thinks
he has come to this country to squander what little money his father left
him and that his public career outside the limits of his little island
will be brief. Yet according to your story the boy is no weakling but has
power and knows how to use it."
"He surely laid down the law to Goldstein," said Maud.
"He is very young," remarked Beth, ignoring the fact that she was herself
no older, "and perhaps that is why we attach so much importance to his
actions. A grown-up man is seldom astonishing, however eccentric he may
prove to be. In a boy we expect only boyishness, and young Jones has
interested us because he is unique."
After a little the conversation drifted to motion pictures, for both
Patsy and Beth were eager to learn all about the business details of film
making, which Maud, by reason of her months of experience, was able to
explain to them in a comprehensive manner. Flo came home toward evening,
but had little more to tell them, as the day had passed very quietly at
the "studio." Jones had remained closeted with the manager for a full
hour, and it was remarked that after he had gone away Goldstein was
somewhat subdued and performed his duties less aggressively than usual.
Maud's visitors now left her to dress for dinner, at which meal she was
able to rejoin them, walking with a slight limp but otherwise recovered
from her accident. To their surprise, young Jones appeared as they were
entering the dining room and begged for a seat at their table. Uncle John
at once ordered another place laid at the big round table, which
accommodated the company of nine very nicely.
Ajo sat between Patsy and Maud and although he selected his dishes with
some care he partook of all the courses from soup to dessert.
The morning interview with Goldstein was not mentioned. Ajo inquired
about Maud's hurt but then changed the subject and conversed upon nearly
everything but motion pictures. However, after they had repaired to the
hotel lobby and were seated together in a cosy, informal group, Patsy
broached a project very near to her heart.
"Beth and I," said she, "have decided to build a Children's
"Where?" asked Uncle John, rather startled by the proposition.
"Here, or in Los Angeles," was the reply.
"You see," explained Beth, "there is a crying need for a place where
children may go and see pictures that appeal especially to them and are,
at the same time, quite proper for them to witness. A great educational
field is to be opened by this venture, and Patsy and I would enjoy the
work of creating the first picture theatre, exclusively for children,
ever established in America."
"You may say, 'in the world,'" added Arthur. "I like this idea of yours,
girls, and I hope you will carry it out."
"Oh, they'll carry it out, all right," remarked Uncle John. "I've been
expecting something of this sort, ever since we came here. My girls,
Mr. Jones," he said, turning to the young man, "are always doing some
quaint thing, or indulging in some queer enterprise, for they're a
restless lot. Before Louise married, she was usually in these skirmishes
with fate, but now—"
"Oh, I shall join Patsy and Beth, of course," asserted Louise. "It will
make it easier for all, to divide the expense between us, and I am as
much interested in pictures as they are."
"Perhaps," said Patsy musingly, "we might build two theatres, in
different parts of the city. There are so many children to be amused. And
we intend to make the admission price five cents."
"Have you any idea what it costs to build one of these picture theatres?"
"We're not going to build one of 'these' theatres," retorted Patsy. "Many
of the dens I've been in cost scarcely anything, being mere shelters. The
city is strewn with a lot of miserable, stuffy theatres that no one can
enjoy sitting in, even to see a good picture. We have talked this over
and decided to erect a new style of building, roomy and sanitary, with
cushioned seats and plenty of broad aisles. There are one or two of this
class already in Los Angeles, but we want to make our children's theatres
a little better than the best."
"And the expense?"
"Well, it will cost money, of course. But it will be a great delight to
the children—bless their little hearts!"
"This is really a business enterprise," added Beth gravely.
Uncle John chuckled with amusement.
"Have you figured out the profits?" he inquired.
"It really ought to pay, Uncle," declared Patsy, somewhat nettled by this
flaccid reception of her pet scheme. "All the children will insist on
being taken to a place like that, for we shall show just the pictures
they love to see. And, allowing there is no money to be made from the
venture, think of the joy we shall give to innumerable little ones!"
"Go ahead, my dears," said Uncle John, smiling approval. "And, if you
girls find you haven't enough money to carry out your plans, come to me."
"Oh, thank you, Uncle!" exclaimed Beth. "But I feel sure we can manage
the cost ourselves. We will build one of the theatres first, and if that
is a success we will build others."
"But about those films, made especially for children," remarked Arthur.
"Where will you get them?"
"Why, there are lots of firms making films," replied Patsy. "We can
select from all that are made the ones most suitable for our purpose."
"I fear you cannot do that," said Mrs. Montrose, who had listened with
wonder to this conversation. "There are three combinations, or 'trusts,'
among the film makers, which are known as the Licensed, the Mutual and
the Independents. If you purchase from one of these trusts, you cannot
get films from the others, for that is their edict. Therefore you will
have only about one-third of the films made to select from."
"I thought money would buy anything—in the way of merchandise," said
Louise, half laughing and half indignant.
"Not from these film dictators," was the reply.
"They all make a few children's pictures," announced Maud Stanton. "Even
the Continental turns out one occasionally. But there are not nearly
enough, taken all together, to supply an exclusive children's theatre."
"Then we will have some made," declared Patsy. "We will order some fairy
tales, such as the children like. They would be splendid in motion
"Some have already been made and exhibited," said Mrs. Montrose. "The
various manufacturers have made films of the fairy tales of Hans
Andersen, Frank Baum, Lewis Carroll and other well-known writers."
"And were they successful?"
"Quite so, I believe; but such films are seldom put out except at
"I think, Beth," said Patsy to her cousin, in a businesslike tone, "that
we must organize a company and make our own films. Then we can get
exactly what we want."
"Oh, yes!" replied Beth, delighted with the suggestion. "And let us get
Maud and Flo to act in our pictures. Won't it be exciting?"
"Pardon me, young ladies," said A. Jones, speaking for the first time
since this subject had been broached. "Would it not be wise to consider
the expense of making films, before you undertake it?"
Patsy looked at him inquiringly.
"Do you know what the things cost?" she asked.
"I've some idea," said he. "Feature films of fairy tales, such as you
propose, cost at least two thousand dollars each to produce. You would
need about three for each performance, and you will have to change your
programmes at least once a week. That would mean an outlay of not less
than six thousand dollars a week, which is doubtless more money than your
five-cent theatre could take in."
This argument staggered the girls for a moment. Then Beth asked: "How do
the ordinary theatres manage?"
"The ordinary theatre simply rents its pictures, paying about three
hundred dollars a week for the service. There is a 'middleman,' called
the 'Exchange,' whose business is to buy the films from the makers and
rent them to the theatres. He pays a big price for a film, but is able
to rent it to dozens of theatres, by turns, and by this method he not
only gets back the money he has expended but makes a liberal profit."
"Well," said Patsy, not to be baffled, "we could sell several copies of
our films to these middlemen, and so reduce the expense of making them
for our use."
"The middleman won't buy them," asserted Jones. "He is the thrall of one
or the other of the trusts, and buys only trust pictures."
"I see," said Uncle John, catching the idea; "it's a scheme to destroy
"Exactly," replied young Jones.
"What does the Continental do, Maud?" asked Patsy.
"I don't know," answered the girl; "but perhaps Aunt Jane can tell you."
"I believe the Continental is a sort of trust within itself," explained
Mrs. Montrose. "Since we have been connected with the company I have
learned more or less of its methods. It employs a dozen or so producing
companies and makes three or four pictures every week. The concern has
its own Exchange, or middleman, who rents only Continental films to the
theatres that patronize him."
"Well, we might do the same thing," proposed Patsy, who was loath to
abandon her plan.
"You might, if you have the capital," assented Mrs. Montrose. "The
Continental is an immense corporation, and I am told it has more than a
million dollars invested."
"Two millions," said A. Jones.
The girls were silent a while, seriously considering this startling
assertion. They had, between them, considerable money, but they realized
they could not enter a field that required such an enormous investment as
"I suppose," said Beth regretfully, "we shall have to give up
"Then where are we to get the proper pictures for our theatre?"
"It is quite evident we can't get them," said Louise. "Therefore we may
be obliged to abandon the theatre proposition."
Another silence, still more grave. Uncle John was discreet enough to say
nothing. The Stantons and Mrs. Montrose felt it was not their affair.
Arthur Weldon was slyly enjoying the chagrin visible upon the faces of
Mr. Merrick's three pretty nieces.
As for A. Jones, he was industriously figuring upon the back of an
envelope with a stubby bit of pencil.
A FOOLISH BOY
It was the youthful Sangoan who first broke the silence. Glancing at the
figures he had made he said:
"It is estimated that if twenty picture theatres use any one film—copies
of it, of course—that film will pay for its cost of making. Therefore,
if you build twenty children's theatres, instead of the one or two you
originally proposed, you would be able to manufacture your own films and
they would be no expense to you."
They gazed at him in bewilderment.
"That is all simple enough!" laughed Arthur. "Twenty picture theatres at
twenty thousand dollars each—a low estimate, my dears, for such as you
require—would mean an investment of four hundred thousand dollars. A
film factory, with several producing companies to keep it busy, and all
the necessary paraphernalia of costumes and properties, would mean a
million or so more. Say a million and a half, all told. Why, it's a mere
"Arthur!" Severely, from Louise.
"I advise you girls to economize in other ways and devote your resources
to this business, which might pay you—and might not," he continued,
oblivious to stony glares.
"Really, Mr. Jones," said Beth, pouting, "we were not joking, but in
"Have I questioned it, Miss De Graf?"
"Mr. Jones was merely trying to show you how—er—er—how impractical
your idea was," explained Uncle John mildly.
"No; I am in earnest, too," said the boy. "To prove it, I will agree to
establish a plant and make the pictures, if the young ladies will build
the twenty theatres to show them in."
Here was another suggestion of a bewildering nature. Extravagant as
the offer seemed, the boy was very serious. He blushed a little as he
observed Mr. Merrick eyeing him earnestly, and continued in an
embarrassed, halting way: "I—I assure you, sir, that I am able to
fulfill my part of the agreement. Also I would like to do it. It
would serve to interest me and keep me occupied in ways that are not
wholly selfish. My—my other business does not demand my personal
attention, you see."
To hear this weak, sickly youth speak of investing a million dollars in
a doubtful enterprise, in spite of the fact that he lived on a far-away
island and was a practical stranger in America, set them all to
speculating anew in regard to his history and condition in life. Seeing
that the boy had himself made an opening for a logical query, Uncle
"Do you mind telling us what this other business is, to which you refer?"
A. Jones moved uneasily in his chair. Then he glanced quickly around the
circle and found every eye regarding him with eager curiosity. He blushed
again, a deep red this time, but an instant later straightened up and
spoke in a tone of sudden resolve.
"Most people dislike to speak of themselves," he said, "and I am no
exception. But you, who have kindly received me as a friend, after having
generously saved me from an untimely death, have surely the right to
know something about me—if, indeed, the subject interests you."
"It is but natural that we should feel an interest in you, Mr. Jones,"
replied Mr. Merrick; "yet I assure you we have no desire to pry into your
personal affairs. You have already volunteered a general statement of
your antecedents and the object of your visit to America, and that, I
assure you, will suffice us. Pardon me for asking an impertinent
The boy seemed perplexed, now.
"I did not consider it impertinent, sir. I made a business proposal to
your nieces," he said, "and before they could accept such a proposal they
would be entitled to know something of my financial standing."
For a green, inexperienced youth, he spoke with rare acumen, thought Mr.
Merrick; but the old gentleman had now determined to shield the boy from
a forced declaration of his finances, so he said:
"My nieces can hardly afford to accept your proposition. They are really
able to build one or two theatres without inconveniencing themselves,
but twenty would be beyond their means. You, of course, understand they
were not seeking an investment, but trying, with all their hearts, to
benefit the children. I thoroughly approve their original idea, but if it
requires twenty picture theatres to render it practical, they will
abandon the notion at once."
Jones nodded absently, his eyes half closed in thought. After a brief
pause he replied:
"I hate to see this idea abandoned at the very moment of its birth. It's
a good idea, and in no way impractical, in my opinion. So permit me to
make another proposition. I will build the twenty theatres myself, and
furnish the films for them, provided the young ladies will agree to
assume the entire management of them when they are completed."
Dead silence followed this speech. The girls did some rapid-fire mental
calculations and realized that this young man was proposing to invest
something like fourteen hundred thousand dollars, in order that they
might carry out their philanthropic conception. Why should he do this,
even if he could afford it?
Both Mr. Merrick and Arthur Weldon were staring stolidly at the floor.
Their attitudes expressed, for the first time, doubt—if not positive
unbelief. As men of considerable financial experience, they regarded the
young islander's proposition as an impossible one.
Jones noted this blank reception of his offer and glanced appealingly at
Patsy. It was an uncomfortable moment for the girl and to avoid meeting
his eyes she looked away, across the lobby. A few paces distant stood a
man who leaned against a table and held a newspaper before his face.
Patsy knew, however, that he was not reading. A pair of dark, glistening
eyes peered over the top of the paper and were steadfastly fixed upon the
unconscious features of young Jones.
Something in the attitude of the stranger, whom she had never seen
before, something in the rigid pose, the intent gaze—indicating both
alertness and repression—riveted the girl's attention at once and gave
her a distinct shock of uneasiness.
"I wish," said the boy, in his quiet, firm way, yet with much deference
in his manner and tone, "that you young ladies would consider my offer
seriously, and take proper time to reach a decision. I am absolutely in
earnest. I want to join you in your attempt to give pleasure to children,
and I am willing and—and able—to furnish the funds required. Without
your cooperation, however, I could do nothing, and my health is such that
I wish to leave the management of the theatres entirely in your hands, as
well as all the details of their construction."
"We will consider it, of course, Mr. Jones," answered Beth gravely. "We
are a little startled just now, as you see; but when we grow accustomed
to the immensity of the scheme—our baby, which you have transformed into
a giant—we shall be able to consider it calmly and critically, and
decide if we are competent to undertake the management of so many
"Thank you. Then, I think, I will excuse myself for this evening and
return to my room. I'm improving famously, under Dr. Doyle's
instructions, but am not yet a rugged example of health."
Patsy took his hand at parting, as did the others, but her attention was
divided between Ajo and the strange man who had never for a moment
ceased watching him. Not once did the dark eyes waver, but followed each
motion of the boy as he sauntered to the desk, got his key from the
clerk, and then proceeded to his room, turning up one of the corridors
on the main floor.
The stranger now laid his newspaper on the table and disclosed his
entire face for the first time. A middle-aged man, he seemed to be,
with iron-gray hair and a smoothly shaven, rather handsome face. From
his dress he appeared to be a prosperous business man and it was
evident that he was a guest of the hotel, for he wandered through the
lobby—in which many other guests were grouped, some chatting and
others playing "bridge"—and presently disappeared down the corridor
traversed by young Jones.
Patsy drew a deep breath, but said nothing to the others, who, when
relieved of the boy's presence, began to discuss volubly his
"The fellow is crazy," commented Arthur. "Twenty picture theatres,
with a film factory to supply them, is a big order even for a
multi-millionaire—and I can't imagine this boy coming under that head."
"He seemed in earnest," said Maud, musingly. "What do you think,
"I am greatly perplexed," admitted Mrs. Montrose. "Had I not known of the
conquest of Goldstein by this boy, who issued orders which the manager of
the Continental meekly obeyed, I would have laughed at his proposition.
As it is, I'm afraid to state that he won't carry out his plan to the
letter of the agreement."
"Would it not be a rash investment, ma'am?" inquired Uncle John.
"Frankly, I do not know. While all the film makers evade any attempt to
discover how prosperous—financially—they are, we know that without
exception they have grown very wealthy. I am wondering if this young
Jones is not one of the owners of the Continental—a large stockholder,
perhaps. If so, that not only accounts for his influence with Goldstein,
but it proves him able to finance this remarkable enterprise. He
doubtless knows what he is undertaking, for his figures, while not
accurate, were logical."
"Of course!" cried Patsy. "That explains everything."
"Still," said Uncle John cautiously, "this is merely surmise on our part,
and before accepting it we must reconcile it with the incongruities in
the case. It is possible that the elder Jones owned an interest in the
Continental and bequeathed it to his son. But is it probable? Remember,
he was an islander, and a recluse."
"More likely," said Beth, "Ajo's father left him a great fortune, which
the boy invested in the Continental stock."
"I have been told," remarked Aunt Jane thoughtfully, "that Continental
stock cannot be bought at any price. It pays such enormous dividends that
no owner will dispose of it."
"The whole thing is perplexing in the extreme," declared Arthur. "The boy
tells a story that at first seems frank and straightforward, yet his
statements do not dovetail, so to speak."
"I think he is holding something back," said Beth; "something that would
explain all the discrepancies in his story. You were wrong, Uncle John,
not to let him speak when he offered to tell you all."
"There was something in his manner that made me revolt from forcing his
confidence," was the reply.
"There was something in his manner that made me think he was about
to concoct a story that would satisfy our curiosity," said Louise
with a shrug.
Uncle John looked around the circle of faces.
"You are not questioning the young fellow's sincerity, I hope?" said he.
"I don't, for a single second!" asserted Patsy, stoutly. "He may have a
queer history, and he may not have told us all of it, but Ajo is honest.
I'll vouch for him!"
"So will I, my dear," said Uncle John.
"That is more than I can do, just at present," Arthur frankly stated. "My
opinion is that his preposterous offer is mere bluff. If you accepted
it, you would find him unable to do his part."
"Then what is his object?" asked Maud.
"I can't figure it out, as yet. He might pose as a millionaire and a
generous friend and philanthropist for some time, before the truth was
discovered, and during that time he could carry out any secret plans he
had in mind. The boy is more shrewd than he appears to be. We, by chance
saved his life, and at once he attached himself to us like a barnacle,
and we can't shake him off."
"We don't want to," said Patsy.
"My explanation is that he has fallen in love with one of us
girls," suggested Flo, with a mischievous glance at her sister. "I
wonder if it's me?"
"It is more likely," said Louise, "that he has discovered Uncle John to
be a very—prosperous—man."
"Nonsense, my dear!" exclaimed that gentleman, evidently irritated by the
insinuation. "Don't pick the boy to pieces. Give him a chance. So far he
has asked nothing from us, but offers everything. He's a grateful fellow
and is anxious to help you girls carry out your ambitious plans. That is
how I read him, and I think it is absurd to prejudge him in the way you
The party broke up, the Stantons and Weldons going to their rooms. Beth
"Are you coming to bed, Patsy?" she inquired.
"Not just now," her cousin replied. "Between us, we've rubbed Uncle
John's fur the wrong way and he won't get composed until he has
smoked his good-night cigar. I'll sit with him in this corner and
keep him company."
So the little man and his favorite niece were left together, and he did
not seem in the least ruffled as he lit his cigar and settled down in a
big chair, with Patsy beside him, to enjoy it.
ISIDORE LE DRIEUX
Perhaps the cigar was half gone when Patsy gave a sudden start and
squeezed Uncle John's hand, which she had been holding in both her own.
"What is it, my dear?"
"The man I told you of. There he is, just across the lobby. The man with
the gray clothes and gray hair."
"Oh, yes; the one lighting a cigar."
Uncle John gazed across the lobby reflectively. The stranger's eyes roved
carelessly around the big room and then he moved with deliberate steps
toward their corner. He passed several vacant chairs and settees on his
way and finally paused before a lounging-chair not six feet distant from
the one occupied by Mr. Merrick.
"Pardon me; is this seat engaged, sir?" he asked.
"No," replied Uncle John, not very graciously, for it was a deliberate
The stranger sat down and for a time smoked his cigar in silence. He was
so near them that Patsy forbore any conversation, knowing he would
Suddenly the man turned squarely in their direction and addressed them.
"I hope you will pardon me, Mr. Merrick, if I venture to ask a
question," said he.
"I saw you talking with Mr. Jones this evening—A. Jones, you know, who
says he came from Sangoa."
"Didn't he?" demanded the old gentleman.
The stranger smiled.
"Perhaps; once on a time; allowing such a place exists. But his last
journey was here from Austria."
Mr. Merrick and Patsy were both staring at the man incredulously.
"I am quite sure of that statement, sir; but I cannot prove it, as yet."
"Ah! I thought not."
Patsy had just told her uncle how she had detected this man stealthily
watching Jones, and how he had followed the boy when he retired to his
room. The present interview had, they both knew, something to do with
this singular action. Therefore Mr. Merrick restrained his indignation at
the stranger's pointed questioning. He realized quite well that the man
had come to their corner determined to catechise them and gain what
information he could. Patsy realized this, too. So, being forewarned,
they hoped to learn his object without granting him the satisfaction of
"I suppose you are friends of this Mr. A. Jones," was his next remark.
"We are acquaintances," said Mr. Merrick.
"Has he ever mentioned his adventures in Austria to you?"
"Are you a friend of Mr. Jones?" demanded uncle John.
"I am not even an acquaintance," said the man, smiling. "But I am
interested in him, through a friend of mine who met him abroad. Permit me
to introduce myself, sir."
He handed them a card which read:
"ISADORE LE DRIEUX
Importer of Pearls and Precious Stones
36 Maiden Lane,
New York City."
"I have connections abroad, in nearly all countries," continued the man,
"and it is through some of them that I have knowledge of this young
fellow who has taken the name of A. Jones. In fact, I have a portrait of
the lad, taken in Paris, which I will show you."
He searched in his pocket and produced an envelope from which he
carefully removed a photograph, which he handed to Uncle John. Patsy
examined it, too, with a start of surprise. The thin features, the large
serious eyes, even the closely set lips were indeed those of A. Jones.
But in the picture he wore a small mustache.
"It can't be our A. Jones," murmured Patsy. "This one is older."
"That is on account of the mustache," remarked Le Drieux, who was
closely watching their faces. "This portrait was taken more than a
"Oh; but he was in Sangoa then," protested Patsy, who was really
bewildered by the striking resemblance.
The stranger smiled indulgently.
"As a matter of fact, there is no Sangoa." said he; "so we may doubt the
young man's assertion that he was ever there."
"Why are you interested in him?" inquired Mr. Merrick.
"A natural question," said Le Drieux, after a moment of hesitation. "I
know you well by reputation, Mr. Merrick, and believe I am justified in
speaking frankly to you and your niece, provided you regard my statements
as strictly confidential. A year ago I received notice from my friend in
Austria that the young man had gone to America and he was anxious I
should meet him. At the time I was too busy with my own affairs to look
him up, but I recently came to California for a rest, and noticed the
strong resemblance between the boy, A. Jones, and the portrait sent me.
So I hunted up this picture and compared the two. In my judgment they are
one and the same. What do you think, sir?"
"I believe there is a resemblance," answered Uncle John, turning the
card over. "But here is a name on the back of the photograph: 'Jack
"Yes; this is Jack Andrews," said Le Drieux, nodding. "Have you ever
heard the name before?"
"Well, Andrews is noted throughout Europe, and it is but natural he
should desire to escape his notoriety by assuming another name out here.
Do you note the similarity of the initials? 'J.A.' stand for Jack
Andrews. Reverse them and 'A.J.' stand for A. Jones. By the way, what
does he claim the 'A' means? Is it Andrew?"
"It means nothing at all," said Patsy. "He told us so."
"I see. You caught him unprepared. That isn't like Jack. He is always
Both Patsy and Uncle John were by this time sorely perplexed. They had a
feeling common to both of them, that the subject of this portrait and A.
Jones were two separate and distinct persons; yet the resemblance could
not be denied, if they were indeed the same, young Jones had deliberately
lied to them, and recalling his various statements and the manner in
which they had been made, they promptly acquitted the boy of the charge
"For what was Jack Andrews noted throughout Europe?" inquired Mr.
Merrick, after silently considering these things.
"Well, he was a highflier, for one thing." answered Le Drieux. "He was
known as a thorough 'sport' and, I am told, a clever gambler. He had a
faculty of making friends, even among the nobility. The gilded youth of
London, Paris and Vienna cultivated his acquaintance, and through them he
managed to get into very good society. He was a guest at the splendid
villa of Countess Ahmberg, near Vienna, when her magnificent collection
of pearls disappeared. You remember that loss, and the excitement it
caused, do you not?"
"No, sir; I have never before heard of the Countess of Ahmberg or
"Well, the story filled the newspapers for a couple of weeks. The
collection embraced the rarest and most valuable pearls known to exist."
"And you accuse this man, Andrews, of stealing them?" asked Uncle John,
tapping with his finger the portrait he still held.
"By no means, sir; by no means!" cried Le Drieux hastily. "In fact, he
was one of the few guests at the villa to whom no suspicion attached.
From the moment the casket of pearls was last seen by the countess until
their loss was discovered, every moment of Andrews' time was accounted
for. His alibi was perfect and he was quite prominent in the unsuccessful
quest of the thief."
"The pearls were not recovered, then?"
"No. The whole affair is still a mystery. My friend in Vienna, a pearl
merchant like myself, assisted Andrews in his endeavor to discover the
thief and, being much impressed by the young man's personality, sent me
this photograph, asking me to meet him, as I have told you, when he
"Is his home in this country?"
"New York knows him, but knows nothing of his family or his history. He
is popular there, spending money freely and bearing the reputation of an
all-around good fellow. On his arrival there, a year ago, he led a gay
life for a few days and then suddenly disappeared. No one knew what had
become of him. When I found him here, under the name of A. Jones, the
disappearance was solved."
"I think," said Uncle John, "you are laboring under a serious, if
somewhat natural, mistake. The subject of this picture is like A. Jones,
indeed, but he is older and his expression more—more—"
"Blase and sophisticated," said Patsy.
"Thank you, my dear; I am no dictionary, and if those are real words they
may convey my meaning. I feel quite sure, Mr. Le Drieux, that the story
of Andrews can not be the story of young Jones."
Le Drieux took the picture and replaced it in his pocket.
"To err is human," said he, "and I will admit the possibility of my being
mistaken in my man. But you will admit the resemblance?"
"Yes. They might be brothers. But young Jones has said he has no
brothers, and I believe him."
Le Drieux sat in silence for a few minutes. Then he said:
"I appealed to you, Mr. Merrick, because I was not thoroughly satisfied,
in my own mind, of my conclusions. You have added to my doubts, I must
confess, yet I cannot abandon the idea that the two men are one and the
same. As my suspicion is only shared by you and your niece, in
confidence, I shall devote myself for a few days to studying young Jones
and observing his actions. In that way I may get a clue that will set all
doubt at rest."
"We will introduce you to him," said Patsy. "and then you may question
him as much as you like."
"Oh, no; I prefer not to make his acquaintance until I am quite sure,"
was the reply. "If he is not Jack Andrews he would be likely to resent
the insinuation that he is here trading under a false name. Good night,
Mr. Merrick. Good night, Miss Doyle. I thank you for your courteous
He had risen, and now bowed and walked away.
"Well," said Patsy. "what was he after? And did he learn anything from
"He did most of the talking himself," replied Uncle John, looking after
Le Drieux with a puzzled expression. "Of course he is not a jewel
"No," said Patsy, "he's a detective, and I'll bet a toothpick to a match
that he's on the wrong scent."
"He surely is. Unfortunately, we cannot warn Ajo against him."
"It isn't necessary, Uncle. Why, the whole thing is absurd. Our boy is
not a gambler or roysterer, nor do I think he has ever been in Europe.
Mr. Le Drieux will have to guess again!"
A FEW PEARLS
The next morning Patsy, Beth and Louise met in earnest conference over
the important proposition made them by young Jones, and although Uncle
John and Arthur Weldon were both present the men took no part in the
"Some doubt has been expressed," said Beth judicially, "that Ajo is
really able to finance this big venture. But he says he is, and that he
will carry it through to the end, so I propose we let him do it."
"Why not?" asked Louise. "If he succeeds, it will be glorious. If he
fails, we will suffer in no way except through disappointment."
"Well, shall we accept this offer, girls?"
"First," said Louise, "let us consider what we will have to do, on our
part, when the twenty theatres are built and the film factory is in
"We are to be the general managers," returned Patsy. "We must select the
subjects, or plots, for the pictures, and order them made under our
direction. Then we must see that all of our theatres present them in a
proper manner, and we must invite children to come and see the shows. I
guess that's all."
"That will be enough to keep us busy, I'm sure," said Beth. "But we will
gladly undertake it, and I am sure we shall prove good managers, as soon
as we get acquainted with the details of the business."
"It will give us the sort of employment we like," Patsy assured them.
"Our first duty will be to plan these theatres for children, and make
them as cosy and comfortable as possible, regardless of expense. Ajo will
pay the bills, and when all the buildings are ready we will set to work
So, when A. Jones appeared he was told that the girls would gladly accept
his proposition. The young man seemed greatly pleased by this verdict. He
appeared to be much better and stronger to-day and he entered eagerly
into a discussion of the plans in detail. Together they made a list of a
string of twenty theatres, to be built in towns reaching from Santa
Barbara on the north to San Diego in the south. The film factory was to
be located in the San Fernando Valley, just north of Hollywood.
This consumed the entire forenoon, and after lunch they met a prominent
real estate man whom Jones had summoned to the hotel. This gentleman was
given a copy of the list of locations and instructed to purchase in each
town the best site that could be secured for a motion picture theatre.
This big order made the real estate man open his eyes in surprise.
"Do you wish me to secure options, or to purchase the land
outright?" he asked.
"Be sure of your locations and then close the deals at once," replied
Jones. "We do not wish to waste time in useless dickering, and a location
in the heart of each town, perhaps on the main street, is more important
than the price. You will, of course, protect me from robbery to the best
of your ability; but buy, even if the price is exorbitant. I will this
afternoon place a hundred thousand dollars to your credit in the bank,
with which to make advance payments, and when you notify me how much more
is required I will forward my checks at once."
"That is satisfactory, sir. I will do the best I can to guard your
interests," said the man.
When he had gone the girls accompanied Ajo in a motorcar to Los Angeles,
to consult an architect. They visited several offices before the boy, who
seemed to estimate men at a glance, found one that satisfied him. The
girls explained with care to the architect their idea of a luxurious
picture theatre for children, and when he had grasped their conception,
which he did with enthusiasm, he suggested several improvements on their
immature plans and promised to have complete drawings ready to submit to
them in a few days.
From the architect's office they drove to the German-American Bank, where
Ajo gave his check for a hundred thousand dollars, to be placed to the
credit of Mr. Wilcox, the real estate agent. The deference shown him by
the cashier seemed to indicate that this big check was not the extent of
A. Jones' credit there, by any means.
As they drove back to Hollywood, Patsy could not help eyeing this
youthful capitalist with wonder. During this day of exciting business
deals the boy had behaved admirably, and there was no longer a shadow of
doubt in the minds of any of Uncle John's nieces that he was both able
and anxious to carry out his part of the agreement.
Patsy almost giggled outright as she thought of Le Drieux and his
ridiculous suspicions. One would have to steal a good many pearls in
order to acquire a fortune to match that of the Sangoan.
He was speaking of Sangoa now, in answer to a question of Beth's.
"Yes, indeed," said he, "Sangoa is very beautiful, and the climate is
even more mild than that of your Southern California. The north coast is
a high bluff, on which is a splendid forest of rosewood and mahogany. My
father would never allow any of these magnificent trees to be cut, except
a few that were used in building our house."
"But how do your people live? What is the principal industry of your
islanders?" asked Beth.
"My people are—fishermen," he said, and then the automobile drew up
before the hotel entrance and the conversation ended.
It was on the following afternoon, as they all met in the hotel lobby
after lunch, that a messenger handed young Jones a neat parcel, for which
a receipt was demanded. Ajo held the parcel in his hand a while,
listening to the chatter of the girls, who were earnestly discussing
plans for the new picture enterprise. Then very quietly and unobtrusively
he unwrapped the package and laid upon the table beside him several small
boxes bearing the name of a prominent jeweler.
"I hope," said he, taking advantage of a pause caused by the girls
observing this action, and growing visibly confused by their involuntary
stares of curiosity; "I—I hope that you, my new friends, will pardon a
liberty I have taken. I wanted to—to present those who were instrumental
in saving my life with—with a—a slight token of my gratitude—a sort
of—of—memento of a brave and generous act that gave me back the life I
had carelessly jeopardized. No," as he saw surprise and protest written
on their faces, "don't refuse me this pleasure, I implore you! The
little—eh—eh—mementos are from my own Island of Sangoa, with the
necessary mountings by a Los Angeles jeweler, and—please accept them!"
As he spoke he handed to each of the girls a box, afterward giving one to
Uncle John and another to Arthur. There remained upon the table three
others. He penciled a name upon the bottom of each and then handed them
to Patsy, saying:
"Will you kindly present these, with my compliments, to the Misses
Stanton, and to their aunt, when they return this evening? Thank you!"
And then, before they could recover from their astonishment, he turned
abruptly and fled to his room.
The girls stared at one another a moment and then began laughing. Arthur
seemed crestfallen, while Uncle John handled his small box as gingerly as
if he suspected it contained an explosive.
"How ridiculous!" cried Patsy, her blue eyes dancing. "And did you
notice how scared poor Ajo was, and how he skipped as fearfully as though
he had committed some crime? But I'm sure the poor boy meant well. Let's
open our boxes, girls, and see what foolishness Ajo has been up to."
Slipping off the cover of her box, Beth uttered a low cry of amazement
and admiration. Then she held up a dainty lavalliere, with a pendant
containing a superb pearl. Louise had the mate to this, but the one Patsy
found had a pearl of immense size, its color being an exquisite shade of
pink, such as is rarely seen. Arthur displayed a ring set with a splendid
white pearl, while Uncle John's box contained a stick pin set with a huge
black pearl of remarkable luster. Indeed, they saw at a glance that the
size and beauty of all these pearls were very uncommon, and while the
others expressed their enthusiastic delight, the faces of Mr. Merrick and
Patsy Doyle were solemn and perplexed. They stared at the pearls with
feelings of dismay, rather than joy, and chancing to meet one another's
eyes they quickly dropped their gaze to avoid exchanging the ugly
suspicion that had forced itself upon their minds.
With a sudden thought Patsy raised her head to cast a searching glance
around the lobby, for although their party was seated in an alcove they
were visible to all in the big room of which it formed a part. Yes, Mr.
Isidore Le Drieux was standing near them, as she had feared, and the
slight sneer upon his lips proved that he had observed the transfer of
So the girl promptly clasped her lavalliere around her neck and openly
displayed it, as a proud defiance, if not a direct challenge, to that
Arthur, admiring his ring in spite of his chagrin at receiving such a
gift from a comparative stranger, placed the token on his finger.
"It is a beauty, indeed," said he, "but I don't think we ought to accept
such valuable gifts from this boy."
"I do not see why," returned his wife Louise. "I think these pretty
tributes for saving Mr. Jones' life are very appropriate. Of course
neither Beth nor I had anything to do with that affair, but we are
included in the distribution because it would be more embarrassing to
leave us out of it."
"And the pearls came from Sangoa," added Beth, "so all these precious
gifts have cost Ajo nothing, except for their settings."
"If Sangoa can furnish many such pearls as these," remarked Arthur,
reflectively, "the island ought to be famous, instead of unknown. Their
size and beauty render the gems priceless."
"Well," said Patsy soberly, "we know now where A. Jones got his money,
which is so plentiful that he can build any number of film factories and
picture theatres. Sangoa must have wonderful pearl fisheries—don't you
remember, girls, that he told us his people were fishermen?—for each of
these specimens is worth a small fortune. Mine, especially, is the
largest and finest pearl I have ever seen."
"I beg your pardon!" sternly exclaimed Uncle John, as he whirled swiftly
around. "Can I do anything for you, sir?"
For Mr. Le Drieux had stealthily advanced to the alcove and was glaring
at the display of pearls and making notes in a small book.
He bowed, without apparent resentment, as he answered Mr. Merrick: "Thank
you, sir; you have already served me admirably. Pardon my intrusion."
Then he closed the book, slipped it into his pocket and with another low
bow walked away.
"What rank impertinence!" cried Arthur, staring after him. "Some
newspaper reporter, I suppose. Do you know him, Uncle John?"
"He forced an introduction, a few evenings ago. It is a pearl
merchant from New York, named Le Drieux, so I suppose his curiosity
is but natural."
"Shall we keep our pearls, Uncle?" asked Beth.
"I shall keep mine," replied the little man, who never wore any ornament
of jewelry. "It was generous and thoughtful in young Jones to present
these things and we ought not offend him by refusing his 'mementos,' as
he calls them."
Perhaps all the nieces were relieved to hear this verdict, for already
they loved their beautiful gifts. That evening the Stanton girls and
their Aunt Jane received their parcels, being fully as much surprised as
the others had been, and their boxes also contained pearls. Flo and Maud
had lavallieres, the latter receiving one as large and beautiful as that
of Patsy Doyle, while Mrs. Montrose found a brooch set with numerous
Patsy urged them all to wear the ornaments to dinner that evening, which
they did, and although Jones was not there to observe the effect of the
splendid pearls, Mr. Le Drieux was at his place in the dining room and
made more notes in his little book.
That was exactly what Patsy wanted. "I can't stand the suspense of this
thing," she whispered to Uncle John, "and if that man wants any
information about these pearls I propose we give it to him. In that way
he will soon discover he is wrong in suspecting the identity of Jack
Andrews and A. Jones."
Mr. Merrick nodded absently and went to his corner for a smoke. Arthur
soon after joined him, while Aunt Jane took her bevy of girls to another
part of the loge.
"Le Drieux will be here presently," said Uncle John to young Weldon.
"Oh, the fellow with the book. Why, sir?"
"He's a detective, I think. Anyhow, he is shadowing Jones, whom he
suspects is a thief."
He then told Arthur frankly of his former conversation with Le Drieux,
and of the puzzling photograph.
"It really resembles the boy," he admitted, with a frown of perplexity,
"yet at the same time I realized the whole thing was absurd. Neither
Patsy nor I can believe that Jones is the man who robbed an Austrian
countess. It's preposterous! And let me say right now, Arthur, that I'm
going to stand by this young fellow, with all my influence, in case those
hounds try to make him trouble."
Arthur did not reply at once. He puffed his cigar silently while he
revolved the startling accusation in his mind.
"Both you and Patsy are staunch friends," he observed, after a while,
"and I have noticed that your intuition as regards character is seldom
at fault. But I advise you, in this instance, not to be hasty, for—"
"I know; you are going to refer to those pearls."
"Naturally. If I don't, Le Drieux will, as you have yourself prophesied.
Pearls—especially such pearls as these—are rare and easy to recognize.
The world does not contain many black-pearls, for instance, such as that
you are wearing. An expert—a man with a photograph that strongly
resembles young Jones—is tracing some stolen pearls of great value—a
collection, I think you said. We find Jones, a man seemingly unknown
here, giving away a number of wonderful pearls that are worthy a place in
any collection. Admit it is curious, Uncle John. It may be all a
coincidence, of course; but how do you account for it, sir?"
"Jones has an island in the South Seas, a locality where most of the
world's famous pearls have been found."
"It is not on any map. This man, Le Drieux, positively stated that there
is no such island, did he not?"
Uncle John rubbed his chin, a gesture that showed he was disturbed.
"He was not positive. He said he thought there was no such island."
"If Jones could lie about his island, he would be capable of the theft of
those pearls," admitted Mr. Merrick reluctantly.
"That is conclusive, sir."
"But he isn't capable of the theft. Le Drieux states that Jack Andrews is
a society swell, an all-around confidence man, and a gambler. Jones is a
diffident and retiring, but a very manly young fellow, who loves quiet
and seems to have no bad habits. You can't connect the two in any
Again Arthur took time to consider.
"I have no desire to suspect Jones unjustly," he said. "In fact, I have
been inclined to like the fellow. And yet—his quaint stories and his
foolish expenditures have made me suspicious from the first. You have
scarcely done justice to his character in your description, sir. To us he
appears diffident, retiring, and rather weak, in a way, while in his
intercourse with Goldstein he shows a mailed fist. He can be hard as
nails, on occasion, as we know, and at times he displays a surprising
knowledge of the world and its ways—for one who has been brought up on
an out-of-the-way island. What do we know about him, anyway? He tells a
tale no one can disprove, for the South Seas are full of small islands,
some of which are probably unrecorded on the charts. All this might
possibly be explained by remembering that a man like Jack Andrews is
undoubtedly a clever actor."
"Exactly!" said a jubilant voice behind them, and Mr. Isidore Le Drieux
stepped forward and calmly drew up a chair, in which he seated himself.
"You will pardon me, gentlemen, for eavesdropping, but I was curious to
know what you thought of this remarkable young man who calls himself
Arthur faced the intruder with a frown. He objected to being startled in
this manner. "You are a detective?" he asked.
"Oh, scarcely that, sir," Le Drieux replied in a deprecating way. "My
printed card indicates that I am a merchant, but in truth I am a special
agent, employed by the largest pearl and gem dealers in the world, a firm
with branches in every large European and American city. My name is Le
Drieux, sir, at your service," and with a flourish he presented his card.
The young rancher preferred to study the man's face.
"I am a sort of messenger," he continued, placidly. "When valuable
consignments of jewels are to be delivered, I am the carrier instead of
the express companies. The method is safer. In twenty-six years of this
work I have never lost a single jewel."
"One firm employs you exclusively, then?"
"One firm. But it has many branches."
"It is a trust?"
"Oh, no; we have many competitors; but none very important. Our closest
rival, for instance, has headquarters on this very coast—in San
Francisco—but spreads, as we do, over the civilized world. Yet
Jephson's—that's the firm—do not claim to equal our business. They deal
mostly in pearls."
"Pearls, eh?" said Arthur, musingly. "Then it was your firm that lost the
valuable collection of pearls you mentioned to Mr. Merrick?"
"No. They were the property of Countess Ahmberg, of Vienna. But we had
sold many of the finest specimens to the countess and have records of
their weight, size, shape and color. The one you are now wearing, sir,"
pointing to Uncle John's scarf pin, "is one of the best black pearls ever
discovered. It was found at Tremloe in 1883 and was originally purchased
by our firm. In 1887 I took it to Tiffany, who sold it to Prince Godesky,
of Warsaw. I carried it to him, with other valuable purchases, and after
his death it was again resold to our firm. It was in October, 1904, that
I again became the bearer of the pearl, delivering it safely to Countess
Ahmberg at her villa. It was stolen from her, together with 188 other
rare pearls, valued at a half million dollars, a little over a year ago."
"This pearl, sir," said Uncle John stiffly, "is not the one you refer
to. It was found on the shores of the island of Sangoa, and you have
never seen it before."
Le Drieux smiled sweetly as he brushed the ashes from his cigar.
"I am seldom mistaken in a pearl, especially one that I have handled,"
said he. "Moreover, a good pearl becomes historic, and it is my business
to know the history of each and every one in existence."
"Even those owned by Jephson's?" asked Arthur.
"Yes; unless they were acquired lately. I have spoken in this manner in
order that you may understand the statements I am about to make, and I
beg you to listen carefully: Three daring pearl robberies have taken
place within the past two years. The first was a collection scarcely
inferior to that of the Countess Ahmberg. A bank messenger was carrying
it through the streets of London one evening, to be delivered to Lady
Grandison, when he was stabbed to the heart and the gems stolen.
Singularly enough, Jack Andrews was passing by and found the dying
messenger. He called for the police, but when they arrived the messenger
had expired. The fate of the pearls has always remained a mystery,
although a large reward has been offered for their recovery."
"Oh; a reward."
"Naturally, sir. Four months later Princess Lemoine lost her wonderful
pearl necklace while sitting in a box at the Grand Opera in Paris. This
was one of the cleverest thefts that ever baffled the police, for the
necklace was never recovered. We know, however, that Jack Andrews
occupied the box next to that of the princess. A coincidence—perhaps. We
now come to the robbery of the Countess Ahmberg, the third on the list.
Jack Andrews was a guest at her house, as I have explained to you. No
blame has ever attached to this youthful adventurer, yet my firm, always
interested in the pearls they have sold, advised me to keep an eye on him
when he returned to America. I did so.
"Now, Mr. Merrick, I will add to the tale I told you the other night.
Andrews behaved very well for a few weeks after he landed at New York;
then he disposed of seven fine pearls and—disappeared. They were not
notable pearls, especially, but two of them I was able to trace to the
necklace of Princess Lemoine. I cabled my firm. They called attention to
the various rewards offered and urged me to follow Andrews. That was
impossible; he had left no clue. But chance favored me. Coming here to
Los Angeles on business, I suddenly ran across my quarry: Jack Andrews.
He has changed a bit. The mustache is gone, he is in poor health, and I
am told he was nearly drowned in the ocean the other day. So at first I
was not sure of my man. I registered at this hotel and watched him
carefully. Sometimes I became positive he was Andrews; at other times I
doubted. But when he began distributing pearls to you, his new friends,
all doubt vanished. There, gentlemen, is my story in a nutshell. What do
you think of it?"
Both Mr. Merrick and young Weldon had listened with rapt interest, but
their interpretation of the tale, which amounted to a positive
accusation of A. Jones, showed the difference in the two men's natures.
"I think you are on the wrong trail, sir," answered Mr. Merrick.
"Doubtless you have been misled by a casual resemblance, coupled with
the fact that Andrews is suspected of stealing pearls and Jones is known
to possess pearls—the pearls being of rare worth in both cases. Still,
you are wrong. For instance, if you have the weight and measurement of
the Tremloe black pearl, you will find they do not fit the pearl I am
Le Drieux smiled genially.
"It is unnecessary to make the test, sir," he replied. "The pearl Andrews
gave to Miss Doyle is as unmistakable as your own. But I am curious to
hear your opinion, Mr. Weldon."
"I have been suspicious of young Jones from the first," said Arthur; "but
I have been studying this boy's character, and he is positively incapable
of the crimes you accuse him of, such as robbery and murder. In other
words, whatever Jones may be, he is not Andrews; or, if by chance he
proves to be Andrews, then Andrews is innocent of crime. All your
theories are based upon a desire to secure rewards, backed by a chain of
"A chain," said Le Drieux, grimly, "that will hold Jack Andrews fast in
its coils, clever though he is."
"Circumstantial evidence," retorted Mr. Merrick, "doesn't amount to
shucks! It is constantly getting good people into trouble and allowing
rascals to escape. Nothing but direct evidence will ever convince me that
a man is guilty."
Le Drieux shrugged his shoulders.
"The pearls are evidence enough," said he.
"To be sure. Evidence enough to free the poor boy of suspicion. You may
be a better messenger than you are a detective, Mr. Le Drieux, but that
doesn't convince me you are a judge of pearls."
The agent rose with a frown of annoyance.
"I am going to have Jack Andrews arrested in the morning," he remarked.
"If you warn him, in the meantime, I shall charge you with complicity."
Uncle John nearly choked with anger, but he maintained his dignity.
"I have no knowledge of your Jack Andrews," he replied, and turned his
Uncle John and Arthur decided not to mention to the girls this astounding
charge of Isidore Le Drieux, fearing the news would make them nervous and
disturb their rest, so when the men joined the merry party in the alcove
they did not refer to their late interview.
Afterward, however, when all but Arthur Weldon had gone to bed and he was
sitting in Uncle John's room, the two discussed the matter together with
"We ought to do something, sir," said Arthur. "This Jones is a mere
boy, and in poor health at that. He has no friends, so far as we
know, other than ourselves. Therefore it is our duty to see him
through this trouble."
Mr. Merrick nodded assent.
"We cannot prevent the arrest," he replied, "for Le Drieux will not
listen to reason. If we aided Jones to run away he would soon be caught.
Absurd as the charge is, the youngster must face it and prove his
Arthur paced the floor in a way that indicated he was disturbed by
"He ought to have no difficulty in proving he is not Jack Andrews," he
remarked, reflectively; "and yet—those pearls are difficult to explain.
Their similarity to the ones stolen in Europe fooled the expert, Le
Drieux, and they are likely to fool a judge or jury. I hope Jones has
some means of proving that he brought the pearls from Sangoa. That would
settle the matter at once."
"As soon as he is arrested we will get him a lawyer—the best in this
country," said Mr. Merrick. "More than that we cannot do, but a good
lawyer will know the proper method of freeing his client."
The next morning they were up early, awaiting developments; but Le Drieux
seemed in no hurry to move. He had breakfast at about nine o'clock, read
his newspaper for a half hour or so, and then deliberately left the
hotel. All of Mr. Merrick's party had breakfasted before this and soon
after Le Drieux had gone away young Jones appeared in the lobby. He was
just in time to see the Stanton girls drive away in their automobile,
accompanied by their Aunt Jane.
"The motion picture stars must be late to-day," said the boy, looking
"They are," answered Patsy, standing beside him at the window; "but Maud
says this happens to be one of their days of leisure. No picture is to be
taken and they have only to rehearse a new play. But it's a busy life,
seems to me, and it would really prove hard work if the girls didn't
enjoy it so much."
"Yes," said he, "it's a fascinating profession. I understand, and nothing
can be called work that is interesting. When we are obliged to do
something that we do not like to do, it becomes 'work.' Otherwise, what
is usually called 'work' is mere play, for it furnishes its quota of
He was quite unconscious of any impending misfortune and when Beth and
Louise joined Patsy in thanking him for his pretty gifts of the pearls he
flushed with pleasure. Evidently their expressions of delight were very
grateful to his ears.
Said Uncle John, in a casual way: "Those are remarkably fine pearls, to
have come from such an island as Sangoa."
"But we find much better ones there, I assure you," replied the boy. "I
have many in my room of much greater value, but did not dare ask you to
accept them as gifts."
"Do many pearls come from Sangoa, then?" asked Arthur.
"That is our one industry," answered the young man. "Many years ago my
father discovered the pearl fisheries. It was after he had purchased the
island, but he recognized the value of the pearls and brought a colony of
people from America to settle at Sangoa and devote their time to pearl
fishing. Once or twice every year we send a ship to market with a
consignment of pearls to our agent, and—to be quite frank with you—that
is why I am now able to build the picture theatres I have contracted for,
as well as the film factory."
"I see," said Uncle John. "But tell me this, please: Why is Sangoa so
little known, or rather, so quite unknown?"
"My father," Jones returned, "loved quiet and seclusion. He was willing
to develop the pearl fisheries, but objected to the flock of adventurers
sure to descend upon his island if its wealth of pearls became generally
known. His colony he selected with great care and with few exceptions
they are a sturdy, wholesome lot, enjoying the peaceful life of Sangoa
and thoroughly satisfied with their condition there. It is only within
the last two years that our American agents knew where our pearls came
from, yet they could not locate the island if they tried. I do not feel
the same desire my father did to keep the secret, although I would
dislike to see Sangoa overrun with tourists or traders."
He spoke so quietly and at the same time so convincingly that both
Arthur and Uncle John accepted his explanation unquestioningly.
Nevertheless, in the embarrassing dilemma in which Jones would presently
be involved, the story would be sure to bear the stamp of unreality to
any uninterested hearer.
The girls had now begun to chatter over the theatre plans, and their
"financial backer"—as Patsy Doyle called him—joined them with eager
interest. Arthur sat at a near-by desk writing a letter; Uncle John
glanced over the morning paper; Inez, the Mexican nurse, brought baby to
Louise for a kiss before it went for a ride in its perambulator.
An hour had passed when Le Drieux entered the lobby in company with a
thin-faced, sharp-eyed man in plain clothes. They walked directly toward
the group that was seated by the open alcove window, and Arthur Weldon,
observing them and knowing what was about to happen, rose from the
writing-desk and drew himself tensely together as he followed them. Uncle
John lowered his paper, frowned at Le Drieux and then turned his eyes
upon the face of young Jones.
It was the thin-featured man who advanced and lightly touched the
"Beg pardon, sir," said he, in even, unemotional tones. "You are Mr.
Andrews, I believe—Mr. Jack Andrews?"
The youth turned his head to look at his questioner.
"No, sir," he answered with a smile. "A case of mistaken identity. My
name is Jones." Then, continuing his speech to Patsy Doyle, he said:
"There is no need to consider the acoustic properties of our theatres,
for the architect—"
"Pardon me again," interrupted the man, more sternly. "I am positive this
is not a case of mistaken identity. We have ample proof that Jack
Andrews is parading here, under the alias of 'A. Jones.'"
The boy regarded him with a puzzled expression.
"What insolence!" muttered Beth in an under-tone but audible enough to be
The man flushed slightly and glanced at Le Drieux, who nodded his head.
Then he continued firmly:
"In any event, sir, I have a warrant for your arrest, and I hope you will
come with me quietly and so avoid a scene."
The boy grew pale and then red. His eyes narrowed as he stared fixedly at
the officer. But he did not change his position, nor did he betray
either fear or agitation. In a voice quite unmoved he asked:
"On what charge do you arrest me?"
"You are charged with stealing a valuable collection of pearls from the
Countess Ahmberg, at Vienna, about a year ago."
"But I have never been in Vienna."
"You will have an opportunity to prove that."
"And my name is not Andrews."
"You must prove that, also."
The boy thought for a moment. Then he asked:
"Who accuses me?"
"This gentleman; Mr. Le Drieux. He is an expert in pearls, knows
intimately all those in the collection of the countess and has recognized
several which you have recently presented to your friends, as among those
you brought from Austria."
Again Jones smiled.
"This is absurd, sir," he remarked.
The officer returned the smile, but rather grimly.
"It is the usual protest, Mr. Andrews. I don't blame you for the denial,
but the evidence against you is very strong. Will you come? And quietly?"
"I am unable to offer physical resistance," replied the young fellow,
as he slowly rose from his chair and displayed his thin figure.
"Moreover," he added, with a touch of humor, "I believe there's a fine
for resisting an officer. I suppose you have a legal warrant. May I be
permitted to see it?"
The officer produced the warrant. Jones perused it slowly and then handed
it to Mr. Merrick, who read it and passed it back to the officer.
"What shall I do, sir?" asked the boy.
"Obey the law," answered Uncle John. "This officer is only the law's
instrument and it is useless to argue with him. But I will go with you to
the police station and furnish bail."
Le Drieux shook his head.
"Quite impossible, Mr. Merrick," he said. "This is not a bailable
"Are you sure?"
"I am positive. This is an extradition case, of international
importance. Andrews, after an examination, will be taken to New York and
from there to Vienna, where his crime was committed."
"But he has committed no crime!"
Le Drieux shrugged his shoulders.
"He is accused, and he must prove his innocence," said he.
"But that is nonsense!" interposed Arthur warmly. "There is no justice in
such an assertion. If I know anything of the purpose of the law, and I
think I do, you must first prove this man's guilt before you carry him to
Austria to be tried by a foreign court."
"I don't care a snap for the purpose of the law," retorted Le Drieux.
"Our treaty with Austria provides for extradition, and that settles
it. This man is already under arrest. The judge who issued the warrant
believes that Jones is Jack Andrews and that Jack Andrews stole the
pearls from the Countess Ahmberg. Of course, the prisoner will have a
formal examination, when he may defend himself as best he can, but we
haven't made this move without being sure of our case, and it will be
rather difficult for him to escape the penalty of his crimes, clever
as he is."
"Clever?" It was Jones himself who asked this, wonderingly.
Le Drieux bowed to him with exaggerated politeness.
"I consider you the cleverest rogue in existence," said he. "But even the
cleverest may be trapped, in time, and your big mistake was in disposing
of those pearls so openly. See here," he added, taking from his pocket a
small packet. "Here are the famous Taprobane pearls—six of them—which
were found in your room a half hour ago. They, also, were a part of the
"Oh, you have been to my room?"
"Under the authority of the law."
"And you have seen those pearls before?"
"Several times. I am an expert in pearls and can recognize their value at
a glance," said Le Drieux with much dignity.
Jones gave a little chuckle and then turned deprecatingly to Mr. Merrick.
"You need not come with me to the station, sir," said he; "but, if you
wish to assist me, please send me a lawyer and then go to the Continental
and tell Mr. Goldstein of my predicament."
"I will do that," promptly replied Uncle John.
Jones turned to bow to the girls.
"I hope you young ladies can forgive this disgraceful scene," he remarked
in a tone of regret rather then humiliation. "I do not see how any effort
of mine could have avoided it. It seems to be one of the privileges of
the people's guardians, in your free country, to arrest and imprison
anyone on a mere suspicion of crime. Here is a case in which someone has
sadly blundered, and I imagine it is the pompous gentleman who claims to
know pearls and does not," with a nod toward Le Drieux, who scowled
"It is an outrage!" cried Beth.
"It's worse than that," said Patsy; "but of course you can easily prove
"If I have the chance," the boy agreed. "But at present I am a prisoner
and must follow my captor."
He turned to the officer and bowed to indicate that he was ready to go.
Arthur shook the young fellow's hand and promised to watch his interests
in every possible way.
"Go with him now, Arthur," proposed Louise. "It's a hard thing to be
taken to jail and I'm sure he needs a friend at his side at this time."
"Good advice," agreed Uncle John. "Of course they'll give him a
preliminary hearing before locking him up, and if you'll stick to him
I'll send on a lawyer in double-quick time."
"Thank you," said the boy. "The lawyer first, Mr. Merrick, and then
UNCLE JOHN IS PUZZLED
Uncle John was off on his errands even before Jones and Arthur Weldon
had driven away from the hotel with the officer and Le Drieux. There had
been no "scene" and none of the guests of the hotel had any inkling of
Uncle John had always detested lawyers and so he realized that he was
sure to be a poor judge of the merits of any legal gentleman he might
secure to defend Jones.
"I may as well leave it to chance," he grumbled, as he drove down the
main boulevard. "The rascals are all alike!"
Glancing to this side and that, he encountered a sign on a building:
"Fred A. Colby, Lawyer."
"All right; I mustn't waste time," he said, and stopping his driver he
ascended a stairway to a gloomy upper hall. Here the doors, all in a row,
were alike forbidding, but one of them bore the lawyer's name, so Mr.
Merrick turned the handle and abruptly entered.
A sallow-faced young man, in his shirt-sleeves, was seated at a table
littered with newspapers and magazines, engaged in the task of putting
new strings on a battered guitar. As his visitor entered he looked up in
surprise and laid down the instrument.
"I want to see Colby, the lawyer," began Uncle John, regarding the
disordered room with strong disapproval.
"You are seeing him," retorted the young man, with a fleeting smile, "and
I'll bet you two to one that if you came here on business you will
presently go away and find another lawyer."
"Why?" questioned Mr. Merrick, eyeing him more closely.
"I don't impress people," explained Colby, picking up the guitar again.
"I don't inspire confidence. As for the law, I know it as well as
anyone—which is begging the question—but when I'm interviewed I have
to admit I've had no experience."
"Just a few collections, that's all I sleep on that sofa yonder, eat at
a cafeteria, and so manage to keep body and soul together. Once in a
while a stranger sees my sign and needs a lawyer, so he climbs the
stairs. But when he meets me face to face he beats a hasty retreat."
As he spoke, Colby tightened a string and began strumming it to get it
tuned. Uncle John sat down on the one other chair in the room and
thought a moment.
"You've been admitted to the bar?" he asked.
"Yes, sir. Graduate of the Penn Law School."
"Then you know enough to defend an innocent man from an unjust
Colby laid down the guitar.
"Ah!" said he, "this grows interesting. I really believe you have half a
mind to give me your case. Sir, I know enough, I hope, to defend an
innocent man; but I can't promise, offhand, to save him, even from an
"Why not? Doesn't law stand for justice?"
"Perhaps; in the abstract. Anyhow, there's a pretty fable to that effect.
But law in the abstract, and law as it is interpreted and applied, are
not even second cousins. To be quite frank, I'd rather defend a guilty
person than an innocent one. The chances are I'd win more easily. Are you
sure your man is innocent?"
Uncle John scowled.
"Perhaps I'd better find another lawyer who is more optimistic," he said.
"Oh, I'm full of optimism, sir. My fault is that I'm not well known in
the courts and have no arrangement to divide my fees with the powers that
be. But I've been observing and I know the tricks of the trade as well as
any lawyer in California. My chief recommendation, however, is that I'm
eager to get a case, for my rent is sadly overdue. Why not try me, just
to see what I'm able to do? I'd like to find that out myself."
"This is a very important matter," asserted Mr. Merrick.
"Very. If I'm evicted for lack of rent-money my career is crippled."
"I mean the case is a serious one."
"Are you willing to pay for success?"
"Then I'll win it for you. Don't judge my ability by my present
condition, sir. Tell me your story and I'll get to work at once."
Uncle John rose with sudden decision.
"Put on your coat," he said, and while Colby obeyed with alacrity he gave
him a brief outline of the accusation brought against Jones. "I want you
to take my car," he added, "and hasten to the police station, that you
may be present at the preliminary examination. There will be plenty of
time to talk afterward."
Colby nodded. His coat and hat made the young lawyer quite presentable
and without another word he followed Mr. Merrick down the stairs and took
his seat in the motorcar. Next moment he was whirling down the street and
Uncle John looked after him with a half puzzled expression, as if he
wondered whether or not he had blundered in his choice of a lawyer.
A little later he secured a taxicab and drove to the office of the
Continental Film Manufacturing Company. Mr. Goldstein was in his office
but sent word that he was too busy to see visitors. Nevertheless, when
Mr. Merrick declared he had been sent by A. Jones, he was promptly
admitted to the manager's sanctum.
"Our friend, young Jones," he began, "has just been arrested by a
Goldstein's nervous jump fairly raised him off his chair; but in
an instant he settled back and shot an eager, interested look at
"What for, Mr. Merrick?" he demanded.
"For stealing valuable pearls from some foreign woman. A trumped-up
charge, of course."
Goldstein rubbed the palms of his hands softly together. His face wore a
look of supreme content.
"Arrested! Ah, that is bad, Mr. Merrick. It is very bad indeed. And it
involves us—the Continental, you know—in an embarrassing manner."
"Why so?" asked Uncle John.
"Can't you see, sir?" asked the manager, trying hard to restrain a
smile. "If the papers get hold of this affair, and state that our
president—our biggest owner—the man who controls the Continental
stock—is a common thief, the story will—eh—eh—put a bad crimp in
our business, so to speak."
Uncle John looked at the man thoughtfully.
"So Jones controls the Continental, eh?" he said. "How long since, Mr.
"Why, since the January meeting, a year and more ago. It was an
astonishing thing, and dramatic—believe me! At the annual meeting of
stockholders in walks this stripling—a mere kid—proves that he holds
the majority of stock, elects himself president and installs a new board
of directors, turning the tired and true builders of the business out in
the cold. Then, without apology, promise or argument, President Jones
walks out again! In an hour he upset the old conditions, turned our
business topsy-turvy and disappeared with as little regard for the
Continental as if it had been a turnip. That stock must have cost him
millions, and how he ever got hold of it is a mystery that has kept us
all guessing ever since. The only redeeming feature of the affair was
that the new board of directors proved decent and Jones kept away from us
all and let us alone. I'd never seen him until he came here a few days
ago and began to order me around. So, there, Mr. Merrick, you know as
much about Jones as I do."
Mr. Merrick was perplexed. The more he heard of young Jones the more
amazing; the boy seemed to be.
"Has the Continental lost money since Jones took possession?" he
"I think not," replied Goldstein, cautiously. "You're a business man, Mr.
Merrick, and can understand that our machinery—our business system—is
so perfect that it runs smoothly, regardless of who grabs the dividends.
What I object to is this young fellow's impertinence in interfering with
my work here. He walks in, reverses my instructions to my people, orders
me to do unbusinesslike things and raises hob with the whole
"Well, it belongs to him, Goldstein," said Uncle John, in defense of
the boy. "He is your employer and has the right to dictate. But just at
present he needs your help. He asked me to come here and tell you of
Goldstein shrugged his shoulders.
"His arrest is none of my business," was his reply. "If Jones stole the
money to buy Continental stock he must suffer the consequences. I'm
working for the stock, not for the individual."
"But surely you will go to the station and see what can be done for him?"
protested Uncle John.
"Surely I will not," retorted the manager. "What's the use? There isn't
even a foot of good picture film in so common a thing as the arrest of a
thief—and the censors would forbid it if there were. Let Jones fight
his own battles."
"It occurs to me," suggested Mr. Merrick, who was growing indignant,
"that Mr. Jones will be able to satisfy the court that he is not a thief,
and so secure his freedom without your assistance. What will happen then,
"Then? Why, it is still none of my business. I'm the manager of a motion
picture concern—one of the biggest concerns in the world—and I've
nothing to do with the troubles of my stockholders."
He turned to his desk and Mr. Merrick was obliged to go away without
farther parley. On his way out he caught a glimpse of Maud Stanton
passing through the building. She was dressed in the costume of an Indian
princess and looked radiantly beautiful. Uncle John received a nod and a
smile and then she was gone, without as yet a hint of the misfortune that
had overtaken A. Jones of Sangoa.
Returning to the hotel, rather worried and flustered by the morning's
events, he found the girls quietly seated in the lobby, busy over their
"Well, Uncle," said Patsy, cheerfully, "is Ajo still in limbo?"
"I suppose so," he rejoined, sinking into an easy chair beside her. "Is
Arthur back yet?"
"No," said Louise, answering for her husband, "he is probably staying to
do all he can for the poor boy."
"Did you get a lawyer?" inquired Beth.
"I got a fellow who claims to be a lawyer; but I'm not sure he will be
of any use."
Then he related his interview with Colby, to the amusement of his nieces,
all three of whom approved the course he had taken and were already
prepared to vouch for the briefless barrister's ability, on the grounds
that eccentricity meant talent.
"You see," explained Miss Patsy, "he has nothing else to do but jump
heart and soul into this case, so Ajo will be able to command his
exclusive services, which with some big, bustling lawyer would be
Luncheon was over before Arthur finally appeared, looking somewhat grave
"They won't accept bail," he reported. "Jones must stay in jail until his
formal examination, and if they then decide that he is really Jack
Andrews he will remain in jail until his extradition papers arrive."
"When will he be examined?" asked Louise.
"Whenever the judge feels in the humor, it seems. Our lawyer demanded
Jones' release at once, on the ground that a mistake of identity had
been made; but the stupid judge is of the opinion that the charge
against our friend is valid. At any rate he refused to let him go. He
wouldn't even argue the case at present. He issues a warrant on a
charge of larceny, claps a man in jail whether innocent or not, and
refuses to let him explain anything or prove his innocence until a
formal examination is held."
"There is some justice in that," remarked Uncle John. "Suppose Jones is
guilty; it would be a mistake to let him go free until a thorough
examination had been made."
"And if he is innocent, he will have spent several days in jail, been
worried and disgraced, and there is no redress for the false
imprisonment. The judge won't even apologize to him!"
"It's all in the interests of law and order, I suppose," said Patsy; "but
the law seems dreadfully inadequate to protect the innocent. I suppose
it's because the courts are run by cheap and incompetent people who
couldn't earn a salary in any other way."
"Someone must run them, and it isn't an ambitious man's job," replied
Uncle John. "What do you think of the lawyer I sent you, Arthur?"
The young ranchman smiled.
"He's a wonder, Uncle. He seemed to know more about the case than Jones
or I did, and more about the law than the judge did. He's an
irrepressible fellow, and told that rascal Le Drieux a lot about pearls
that the expert never had heard before. Where did you find him, sir?"
Uncle John explained.
"Well," said Arthur, "I think Jones is in good hands. Colby has secured
him a private room at the jail, with a bath and all the comforts of home.
Meals are to be sent in from a restaurant and when I left the place the
jailer had gone out to buy Jones a stock of books to while away his
leisure hours—which are bound to be numerous. I'd no idea a prisoner
could live in such luxury."
"Money did it, I suppose," Patsy shrewdly suggested.
"Yes. Jones wrote a lot of checks. Colby got a couple of hundred for a
retaining fee and gleefully informed us it was more money than he had
ever owned at one time in all his previous career. I think he will earn
"Where is he now?" asked Uncle John.
"Visiting all the newspaper offices, to 'buy white space,' as he put it.
In other words, Colby will bribe the press to silence, at least until
the case develops."
"I'm glad of that," exclaimed Beth. "What do you think of this queer
"Why, I've no doubt of the boy's innocence, if that is what you mean.
I've watched him closely and am positive he is no more Jack Andrews than
I am. But I fear he will have a hard task to satisfy the judge that he is
falsely accused. It would be an admission of error, you see, and so the
judge will prefer to find him guilty. It is this same judge—Wilton, I
think his name is—who will conduct the formal examination, and to-day he
openly sneered at the mention of Sangoa. On the other hand, he evidently
believed every statement made by Le Drieux about the identity of the
pearls found in Jones' possession. Le Drieux has a printed list of the
Ahmberg pearls, and was able to check the Jones' pearls off this list
with a fair degree of accuracy. It astonished even me, and I could see
that Jones was equally amazed."
"Wouldn't it be queer if they convicted him!" exclaimed Beth.
"It would be dreadful, since he is innocent," said Patsy.
"There is no need to worry about that just at present," Arthur assured
them. "I am placing a great deal of confidence in the ability of
DOUBTS AND DIFFICULTIES
The Stanton girls and Mrs. Montrose came in early that afternoon. They
had heard rumors of the arrest of Jones and were eager to learn what had
occurred. Patsy and Beth followed them to their rooms to give them every
known detail and canvass the situation in all its phases.
"Goldstein has been an angel all afternoon," said Flo. "He grinned
and capered about like a schoolboy and some of us guessed he'd been
left a fortune."
"He ought to be ashamed of himself." Patsy indignantly asserted. "The man
admitted to Uncle John that Ajo is the biggest stockholder in the
Continental, the president, to boot; yet Goldstein wouldn't lift a finger
to help him and positively refused to obey his request to go to him after
he was arrested."
"I know about that," said Aunt Jane, quietly. "Goldstein talked to me
about the affair this afternoon and declared his conviction that young
Jones is really a pearl thief. He has taken a violent dislike to the boy
and is delighted to think his stock will be taken away from him."
Maud had silently listened to this dialogue as she dressed for dinner.
But now she impetuously broke into the conversation, saying:
"Something definite ought to be done for the boy. He needs intelligent
assistance. I'm afraid his situation is serious."
"That is what Arthur thinks," said Beth. "He says that unless he can
furnish proof that he is not Jack Andrews, and that he came by those
pearls honestly, he will be shipped to Austria for trial. No one knows
what those foreigners will do to him, but he would probably fare badly
in their hands."
"Such being the logical conclusion," said Maud, "we must make our fight
now, at the examination."
"Uncle John has engaged a lawyer," announced Patsy, "and if he proves
bright and intelligent he ought to be able to free Ajo."
"I'd like to see that lawyer, and take his measure," answered Maud,
musingly, and her wish was granted soon after they had finished dinner.
Colby entered the hotel, jaunty as ever, and Arthur met him and
introduced him to the girls.
"You must forgive me for coming on a disagreeable mission," began the
young attorney, "but I have promised the judge that I would produce all
the pearls Mr. Jones gave you, not later than to-morrow morning. He wants
them as evidence, and to compare privately with Le Drieux's list,
although he will likely have the expert at his elbow. So I can't promise
that you will ever get your jewels back again."
"Oh. You think, then, that Mr. Jones is guilty?" said Maud coldly.
"No, indeed; I believe he is innocent. A lawyer should never suspect his
client, you know. But to win I must prove my case, and opposed to me is
that terrible Le Drieux, who insists he is never mistaken."
"Arthur—Mr. Weldon—says you understand pearls as well as Mr. Le Drieux
does," suggested Patsy.
"I thank him; but he is in error. I chattered to the judge about
pearls, it is true, because I found he couldn't tell a pearl from a
glass bead; and I believe I even perplexed Le Drieux by hinting at a
broad knowledge on the subject which I do not possess. It was all a bit
of bluff on my part. But by to-morrow morning this knowledge will be a
fact, for I've bought a lot of books on pearls and intend to sit up all
night reading them."
"That was a clever idea," said Uncle John, nodding approval.
"So my mission here this evening is to get the pearls, that I may study
them as I read," continued Colby. "Heretofore I've only seen the things
through a plate glass window, or a show case. The success of our defense
depends upon our refuting Le Drieux's assertion that the pearls found in
Jones' possession are a part of the Countess Ahmberg's collection. He has
a full description of the stolen gems and I must be prepared to show
that none of the Jones' pearls is on the list."
"Can you do that?" asked Maud.
She was gazing seriously into the young man's eyes and this caused him to
blush and stammer a little as he replied:
"I—I hope to, Miss Stanton."
"And are you following no other line of defense?" she inquired.
He sat back and regarded the girl curiously for a moment.
"I would like you to suggest some other line of defense," he replied.
"I've tried to find one—and failed."
"Can't you prove he is not Jack Andrews?"
"Not if the identity of the pearls is established," said the lawyer. "If
the pearls were stolen, and if Jones cannot explain how he obtained
possession of them, the evidence is prima facia that he is Jack
Andrews, or at least his accomplice. Moreover, his likeness to the
photograph is somewhat bewildering, you must admit."
This gloomy view made them all silent for a time, each thoughtfully
considering the matter. Then Maud asked:
"Do you know the cash value of Mr. Jones' stock in the Continental
Colby shook his head, but Uncle John replied:
"Goldstein told me it is worth millions."
"Ah!" exclaimed the girl. "There, then, is our proof."
The lawyer reflected, with knitted brows.
"I confess I don't quite see your point," said he.
"How much were those stolen pearls worth?" asked the girl.
"I don't know."
"You know they were not worth millions. Jack Andrews was an adventurer,
by Le Drieux's showing; he was a fellow who lived by his wits and
generally earned his livelihood by gambling with the scions of wealthy
families. Even had he stolen the Countess' pearls and disposed of the
collection at enormous prices—which a thief is usually unable to do—he
would still have been utterly unable to purchase a controlling interest
in the Continental stock."
She spoke with quiet assurance, but her statement roused the group to
"Hooray!" cried Patsy. "There's your proof, Mr. Colby."
"The logic of genius," commented Uncle John.
"Why, it's proof positive!" said Beth.
"It is certainly a strong argument in favor of the boy's innocence,"
asserted Arthur Weldon.
"Maud's a wonder when she wakes up. She ought to have been a 'lady
detective,'" remarked Flo, regarding her sister admiringly.
Colby, at first startled, was now also regarding Maud Stanton with open
admiration; but there was an odd smile on his lips, a smile of indulgent
"Le Drieux's statement connects Andrews with two other pearl robberies,"
he reminded her. "The necklace of the Princess Lemoine is said to be
priceless, and the Grandison collection stolen in London was scarcely
less valuable than that of Countess Ahmberg."
"Allowing all that," said Mr. Merrick, "two or three hundred thousand
dollars would doubtless cover the value of the entire lot. I am quite
certain, Mr. Colby, that Miss Stanton's suggestion will afford you an
excellent line of defense."
"I shall not neglect it, you may be sure," replied the lawyer. "Tonight
I'll try to figure out, as nearly as possible, the total cash value of
all the stolen pearls, and of course Jones will tell us what he paid
for his stock, or how much it is worth. But I am not sure this argument
will have as much weight as Miss Stanton suggests it may. A bold
gambler, such as Andrews, might have obtained a huge sum at Baden Baden
or Monte Carlo; and, were he indeed so clever a thief as his record
indicates, he may have robbed a bank, or stolen in some way an immense
sum of money. Logically, the question has weight and I shall present it
as effectively as I can; but, as I said, I rely more on my ability to
disprove the identity of the pearls, on which the expert Le Drieux lays
so much stress. Jones will have a thorough and formal examination
within a few days—perhaps to-morrow—and if the judge considers that
Andrews the pearl thief has been captured, he will be held here pending
the arrival from Washington of the extradition papers—say two or
three weeks longer."
"Then we shall have all that time to prove his innocence?" inquired Maud.
"Unfortunately, no. There will be no further trial of the prisoner until
he gets to Vienna and is delivered to the authorities there. All our work
must be done previous to the formal examination."
"You do not seem very hopeful," observed Maud, a hint of reproach
in her tone.
"Then appearances are against me, Miss Stanton," replied the lawyer with
a smile. "This is my first important case, and if I win it my future is
assured; so I mean to win. But in order to do that I must consider the
charge of the prosecution, the effect of its arguments upon the judge,
and then find the right means to combat them. When I am with you, the
friends of the accused, I may consider the seamy side of the fabric; but
the presiding judge will find me so sure of my position that he will
instinctively agree with me."
They brought him the pearls Jones had presented to them and then the
lawyer bade them good night and went to his office to master the history
of pearls in general and those famous ones stolen from Countess Ahmberg
When he had gone Uncle John remarked:
"Well, what do you think of him?"
They seemed in doubt.
"I think he will do all he can," said Patsy.
"And he appears quite a clever young man," added Beth, as if to
"Allowing all that," said Maud, gravely, "he has warned us of the
possibility of failure. I cannot understand how the coils of evidence
have wrapped themselves so tightly around poor Ajo."
"That," asserted Flo, "is because you cannot understand Ajo himself. Nor
can I; nor can any of us!"
MAUD MAKES A MEMORANDUM
My mother used to say to me: "Never expect to find brains in a pretty
girl." Perhaps she said it because I was not a pretty girl and she
wished to encourage me. In any event, that absurd notion of the ancients
that when the fairies bestow the gift of beauty on a baby they withhold
all other qualities has so often been disproved that we may well
Maud Stanton was a pretty girl—indeed, a beautiful girl—but she
possessed brains as well as beauty and used her intellect to advantage
more often than her quiet demeanor would indicate to others than her most
intimate associates. From the first she had been impressed by the notion
that there was something mysterious about A. Jones and that his romantic
explanation of his former life and present position was intended to hide
a truth that would embarrass him, were it fully known. Therefore she had
secretly observed the young man, at such times as they were together, and
had treasured every careless remark he had made—every admission or
assertion—and made a note of it. The boy's arrest had startled her
because it was so unexpected, and her first impulse was to doubt his
innocence. Later, however, she had thoroughly reviewed the notes she had
made and decided he was innocent.
In the quiet of her own room, when she was supposed to be asleep, Maud
got out her notebook and read therein again the review of all she had
learned concerning A. Jones of Sangoa.
"For a boy, he has a good knowledge of business; for a foreigner, he has
an excellent conception of modern American methods," she murmured
thoughtfully. "He is simple in little things; shrewd, if not wise, in
important matters. He proved this by purchasing the control of the
Continental, for its shares pay enormous dividends.
"Had he stolen those pearls, I am sure he would have been too shrewd to
have given a portion of them to us, knowing we would display them openly
and so attract attention to them. A thief so ingenious as Andrews, for
instance, would never have done so foolish a thing as that, I am
positive. Therefore, Jones is not Andrews.
"Now, to account for the likeness between Andrews, an American
adventurer, and Jones, reared and educated in the mysterious island of
Sangoa. Ajo's father must have left some near relatives in this country
when he became a recluse in his far-away island. Why did he become a
recluse? That's a subject I must consider carefully, for he was a man of
money, a man of science, a man of affairs. Jones has told us he has no
relatives here. He may have spoken honestly, if his father kept him in
ignorance of the family history. I'm not going to jump at the conclusion
that the man who calls himself Jack Andrews is a near relative of our
Ajo—a cousin, perhaps—but I'll not forget that that might explain the
likeness between them.
"Ajo's father must have amassed a great fortune, during many years, from
his pearl fisheries. That would explain why the boy has so much money at
his disposal. He didn't get it from the sale of stolen pearls, that is
certain. In addition to the money he invested in the Continental, he has
enough in reserve to expend another million or so in Patsy Doyle's motion
picture scheme, and he says he can spare it easily and have plenty left!
This, in my opinion, is a stronger proof of Jones' innocence than Lawyer
Colby seems to consider it. To me, it is conclusive.
"Now, then, where is Sangoa? How can one get to the island? And,
finally, how did Jones get here from Sangoa and how is he to return, if
he ever wants to go back to his valuable pearl fisheries, his people and
She strove earnestly to answer these questions, but could not with her
present knowledge. So she tucked the notebook into a drawer of her desk,
put out her light and got into bed.
But sleep would not come to her. The interest she took in the fate of
young Jones was quite impersonal. She liked the boy in the same way she
had liked dozens of boys. The fact that she had been of material
assistance in saving his life aroused no especial tenderness in her. On
his own account, however, Jones was interesting to her because he was so
unusual. The complications that now beset him added to this interest
because they were so curious and difficult to explain. Maud had the
feeling that she had encountered a puzzle to tax her best talents, and so
she wanted to solve it.
Suddenly she bounded out of bed and turned on the electric light. The
notebook was again brought into requisition and she penciled on its pages
the following words:
"What was the exact date that Jack Andrews landed in America? What
was the exact date that Ajo landed from Sangoa? The first question
may be easily answered, for doubtless the police have the record.
Then she replaced the book, put out the light and went to sleep
That last thought, now jotted down in black and white, had effectually
cleared her mind of its cobwebs.
A GIRLISH NOTION
Colby came around next morning just as Mr. Merrick was entering the
breakfast room, and the little man took the lawyer in to have a cup of
coffee. The young attorney still maintained his jaunty air, although
red-eyed from his night's vigil, and when he saw the Stanton girls and
their Aunt Jane having breakfast by an open window he eagerly begged
permission to join them, somewhat to Uncle John's amusement.
"Well?" demanded Maud, reading Colby's face with her clear eyes.
"I made a night of it, as I promised," said he. "This morning I know so
much about pearls that I'm tempted to go into the business."
"As Jack Andrews did?" inquired Flo.
"Not exactly," he answered with a smile. "But it's an interesting
subject—so interesting that I only abandoned my reading when I found I
was burning my electric lamp by daylight. Listen: A pearl is nothing more
or less than nacre, a fluid secretion of a certain variety of oyster—not
the eatable kind. A grain of sand gets between the folds of the oyster
and its shell and irritates the beast. In self-defense the oyster covers
the sand with a fluid which hardens and forms a pearl."
"I've always known that," said Flo, with a toss of her head.
"Yes; but I want you all to bear it in mind, for it will explain a
discovery I have made. Before I get to that, however, I want to say that
at one time the island of Ceylon supplied the world with its most famous
pearls. The early Egyptians discovered them there, as well as on the
Persian and Indian coasts. The pearl which Cleopatra is said to have
dissolved in wine and swallowed was worth about four hundred thousand
dollars in our money; but of course pearls were scarce in her day. A
single pearl was cut in two and used for earrings for the statue of Venus
in the Pantheon at Rome, and the sum paid for it was equal to about a
quarter of a million dollars. Sir Thomas Gresham, in the days of Queen
Elizabeth, had a pearl valued at about seventy-five thousand dollars
which he treated in the same manner Cleopatra did, dissolving it in wine
and boasting he had given the most expensive dinner ever known."
"All of which—" began Maud, impatiently.
"All of which, Miss Stanton, goes to show that pearls have been of great
price since the beginning of history. Nowadays we get just as valuable
pearls from the South Seas, and even from Panama, St. Margarita and the
Caromandel Coast, as ever came from Ceylon. But only those of rare size,
shape or color are now valued at high prices. For instance, a string of
matched pearls such as that owned by Princess Lemoine is estimated as
worth only eighty thousand dollars, because it could be quite easily
duplicated. The collection of Countess Ahmberg was noted for its variety
of shapes and colors more than for its large or costly pearls; and that
leads to my great discovery."
"Thank heaven," said Flo, with a sigh.
"I have discovered that our famous expert. Le Drieux, is an
"We had suspected that," remarked Maud.
"Now we know it," declared Colby. "Pearls, I have learned, change their
color, their degree of luster, even their weight, according to
atmospheric conditions and location. A ten-penny-weight pearl in Vienna
might weigh eight or nine pennyweights here in California, or it is more
likely to weigh twelve. The things absorb certain moistures and chemicals
from the air and sun, and shed those absorptions when kept in darkness or
from the fresh air. Pearls die, so to speak; but are often restored to
life by immersions in sea-water, their native element. As for color: the
pink and blue pearls often grow white, at times, especially if kept long
in darkness, but sun-baths restore their former tints. In the same way a
white pearl, if placed near the fumes of ammonia, changes to a pinkish
hue, while certain combinations of chemicals render them black, or
'smoked.' A clever man could steal a pink pearl, bleach it white, and
sell it to its former owner without its being recognized. Therefore, when
our expert, Le Drieux, attempts to show that the pearls found in Jones'
possession are identical with those stolen from the Austrian lady, he
fails to allow for climatic or other changes and cannot be accurate
enough to convince anyone who knows the versatile characteristics of
"Ah, but does the judge know that, Mr. Colby?" asked Maud.
"I shall post him. After that, the conviction of the prisoner will be
"Do you think the examination will be held to-day?" inquired Mr. Merrick.
"I cannot tell that. It will depend upon the mood of Judge Wilton. If he
feels grouchy or disagreeable, he is liable to postpone the case. If he
is in good spirits and wants to clear his docket he may begin the
examination at ten o'clock, to-day, which is the hour set for it."
"Is your evidence ready, Mr. Colby?"
"Such as I can command, Miss Stanton," he replied. "Last evening I wired
New York for information as to the exact amount of stock Jones owns in
the Continental, and I got a curious reply. The stock is valued at
nineteen hundred thousand dollars, but no one believes that Jones owns
it personally. It is generally thought that for politic reasons the young
man was made the holder of stock for several different parties, who still
own it, although it is in Jones' name. The control of stock without
ownership is not unusual. It gives the real owners an opportunity to hide
behind their catspaw, who simply obeys their instructions."
"I do not believe that Jones is connected with anyone in that manner,"
said Mr. Merrick.
"Nor do I," asserted Aunt Jane. "His interference with Goldstein's plans
proves he is under no obligations to others, for he has acted
arbitrarily, in accordance with his personal desires and against the
financial interests of the concern."
"Why didn't you ask him about this, instead of wiring to New York?"
"He might not give us exact information, under the circumstances,"
The girl frowned.
"Jones is not an ordinary client," continued the lawyer, coolly. "He
won't tell me anything about himself, or give me what is known as
'inside information.' On the contrary, he contents himself with saying
he is innocent and I must prove it. I'm going to save the young man, but
I'm not looking to him for much assistance."
Maud still frowned. Presently she said:
"I want to see Mr. Jones. Can you arrange an interview for me, sir?"
"Of course. You'd better go into town with me this morning. If the
examination is held, you will see Jones then. If it's postponed, you may
visit him in the jail."
Maud reflected a moment.
"Very well," said she, "I'll go with you." Then, turning to her aunt, she
continued: "You must make my excuses to Mr. Goldstein, Aunt Jane."
Mrs. Montrose eyed her niece critically.
"Who will accompany you, Maud?" she asked.
"Why, I'll go," said Patsy Doyle; and so it was settled, Uncle John
agreeing to escort the young ladies and see them safely home again.
THE YACHT "ARABELLA"
As the party drove into town Colby said:
"It wouldn't be a bad idea for Jones to bribe that fellow Le Drieux. If
Le Drieux, who holds a warrant for the arrest of Jack Andrews, issued by
the Austrian government and vised in Washington, could be won to our
side, the whole charge against our friend might be speedily dissolved."
"Disgraceful!" snapped Maud indignantly. "I am positive Mr. Jones would
not consider such a proposition."
"Diplomatic, not disgraceful," commented the lawyer, smiling at her. "Why
should Jones refuse to consider bribery?"
"To use money to defeat justice would be a crime as despicable as
stealing pearls," she said.
"Dear me!" muttered Colby, with a puzzled frown. "What a queer way to
look at it. Le Drieux has already been bribed, by a liberal reward, to
run down a supposed criminal. If we bribe him with a larger sum to give
up the pursuit of Jones, whom we believe innocent, we are merely
defending ourselves from a possible injustice which may be brought about
by an error of judgment."
"Isn't this judge both able and honest?" asked Uncle John.
"Wilton? Well, possibly. His ability consists in his knowledge of law,
rather than of men and affairs. He believes himself honest, I suppose,
but I'll venture to predict he will act upon prejudice and an assumption
of personal dignity, rather than attempt to discover if his personal
impressions correspond with justice. A judge, Mr. Merrick, is a mere
man, with all the average man's failings; so we must expect him to be
"Never mind," said Patsy resignedly. "Perhaps we shall find him a better
judge than you are lawyer."
"He has had more experience, anyhow," said Colby, much amused at the
They found, on arriving at court, that the case had already been
postponed. They drove to the jail and obtained permission to see the
prisoner, who was incarcerated under the name of "Jack Andrews, alias A.
Jones." Maud would have liked a private audience, but the lawyer was
present as well as Patsy and Mr. Merrick, and she did not like to ask
them to go away.
The boy greeted them with his old frank smile and did not seem in the
least oppressed by the fact that he was a prisoner accused of an ugly
crime. The interview was held in a parlor of the jail, a guard standing
by the door but discreetly keeping out of earshot.
Colby first informed the boy of the postponement of his formal
examination and then submitted to his client an outline of the defense he
had planned. Jones listened quietly and shook his head.
"Is that the best you can do for me?"
"With my present knowledge, yes," returned the lawyer.
"And will it clear me from this suspicion?" was the next question.
"I hope so."
"You are not sure?"
"This is an extraordinary case, Mr. Jones. Your friends all believe you
innocent, but the judge wants facts—cold, hard facts—and only these
will influence him. Mr. Le Drieux, commissioned by the Austrian
government, states that you are Jack Andrews, and have escaped to America
after having stolen the pearls of a noble Viennese lady. He will offer,
as evidence to prove his assertion, the photograph and the pearls. You
must refute this charge with counter-evidence, in order to escape
extradition and a journey to the country where the crime was committed.
There you will be granted a regular trial, to be sure, but even if you
then secure an acquittal you will have suffered many indignities and your
good name will be permanently tarnished."
"I shall work unceasingly to secure your release at the examination. But
I wish I had some stronger evidence to offer in rebuttal."
"Go ahead and do your best," said the boy, nonchalantly. "I will abide
by the result, whatever it may be."
"May I ask a few questions?" Maud timidly inquired.
He turned to her with an air of relief.
"Most certainly you may, Miss Stanton."
"And you will answer them?"
"I pledge myself to do so, if I am able."
"Thank you," she said. "I am not going to interfere with Mr. Colby's
plans, but I'd like to help you on my own account, if I may."
He gave her a quick look, at once grateful, suspicious and amused.
Then he said:
"Clear out, Colby. I'm sure you have a hundred things to attend to, and
when you're gone I'll have a little talk with Miss Stanton."
The lawyer hesitated.
"If this conversation is likely to affect your case," he began, "then—"
"Then Miss Stanton will give you any information she may acquire,"
interrupted Jones, and that left Colby no alternative but to go away.
"Now, then, Miss Stanton, out with it!" said the boy.
"There are a lot of things we don't know, but ought to know, in order to
defend you properly," she observed, looking at him earnestly.
"Question me, then."
"I want to know the exact date when you landed in this country
"Let me see. It was the twelfth day of October, of last year."
"Oh! so long ago as that? It is fifteen months. Once you told us that you
had been here about a year."
"I didn't stop to count the months, you see. The twelfth of October
"Where did you land?"
"At San Francisco."
"Direct from Sangoa?"
"Direct from Sangoa."
"And what brought you from Sangoa to San Francisco?"
"No, a large yacht. Two thousand tons burden."
"Whose yacht was it?"
"Then where is it now?"
He reflected a moment.
"I think Captain Carg must be anchored at San Pedro, by now. Or perhaps
he is at Long Beach, or Santa Monica," he said quietly.
"On this coast!" exclaimed Maud.
Patsy was all excitement by now and could no longer hold her tongue.
"Is the yacht Arabella yours?" she demanded.
"It is, Miss Patsy."
"Then it is lying off Santa Monica Bay. I've seen it!" she cried.
"It was named for my mother," said the boy, his voice softening, "and
built by my father. In the Arabella I made my first voyage; so you will
realize I am very fond of the little craft."
Maud was busily thinking.
"Is Captain Carg a Sangoan?" she asked.
"Of course. The entire crew are Sangoans."
"Then where has the yacht been since it landed you here fifteen
"It returned at once to the island, and at my request has now made
another voyage to America."
"It has been here several days."
"Has it brought more pearls from Sangoa?"
"Perhaps. I do not know, for I have not yet asked for the captain's
Both Uncle John and Patsy were amazed at the rapidity with which Maud was
acquiring information of a really important character. Indeed, she was
herself surprised and the boy's answers were already clearing away some
of the mists. She stared at him thoughtfully as she considered her next
question, and Jones seemed to grow thoughtful, too.
"I have no desire to worry my friends over my peculiar difficulties," he
presently said. "Frankly, I am not in the least worried myself. The
charge against me is so preposterous that I am sure to be released after
the judge has examined me; and, even at the worst—if I were sent to
Vienna for trial—the Austrians would know very well that I am not the
man they seek."
"That trip would cause you great inconvenience, however," suggested
"I am told a prisoner is treated very well, if he is willing to pay for
such consideration," said Jones.
"And your good name?" asked Maud, with a touch of impatience.
"My good name is precious only to me, and I know it is still untarnished.
For your sake, my newly found friends, I would like the world to believe
in me, but there is none save you to suffer through my disgrace, and you
may easily ignore my acquaintance."
"What nonsense!" cried Patsy, scornfully. "Tell me, sir, what's to become
of our grand motion picture enterprise, if you allow yourself to be
shipped to Vienna as a captured thief?"
He winced a trifle at the blunt epithet but quickly recovered and
smiled at her.
"I'm sorry, Miss Patsy," said he. "I know you will be disappointed if our
enterprise is abandoned. So will I. Since this latest complication arose
I fear I have not given our project the consideration it deserves."
The boy passed his hand wearily across his forehead and, rising from his
seat, took a few nervous steps up and down the room. Then, pausing, he
"Are you still inclined to be my champion, Miss Stanton?"
"If I can be of any help," she replied, simply.
"Then I wish you would visit the yacht, make the acquaintance of Captain
Carg and tell him of the trouble I am in. Will you?"
"With pleasure. That is—I'll be glad to do your errand."
"I'll give you a letter to him," he continued, and turning to the
attendant he asked for writing material, which was promptly furnished
him. At the table he wrote a brief note and enclosed it in an envelope
which he handed to Maud.
"You will find the captain a splendid old fellow," said he.
"Will he answer any questions I may ask him?" she demanded.
"That will depend upon your questions," he answered evasively. "Carg is
considered a bit taciturn, I believe, but he has my best interests at
heart and you will find him ready to serve me in any possible way."
"Is there any objection to my going with Maud?" asked Patsy. "I'd like to
visit that yacht; it looks so beautiful from a distance."
"You may all go, if you wish," said he. "It might be well for Mr. Merrick
to meet Captain Carg, who would prefer, I am sure, to discuss so delicate
a matter as my arrest with a man. Not that he is ungallant, but with a
man such as Mr. Merrick he would be more at his ease. Carg is a sailor,
rather blunt and rugged, both in speech and demeanor, but wholly devoted
to me because I am at present the Jones of Sangoa."
"I'll accompany the girls, of course," said Uncle John; "and I think we
ought not to delay in seeing your man. Colby says you may be called for
examination at any time."
"There is one more question I want to ask," announced Maud as they rose
to go. "On what date did you reach New York, after landing at San
"Why, it must have been some time in last January. I know it was soon
after Christmas, which I passed in Chicago."
"Is that as near as you can recollect the date?"
"Yes, at short notice."
"Then perhaps you can tell me the date you took possession of the
Continental Film Company by entering the stockholders' meeting and
ejecting yourself president?"
He seemed surprised at her information and the question drew from him an
"How did you learn about that incident?" he asked.
"Goldstein told Mr. Merrick. He said it was a coup d'etat."
The boy laughed again.
"It was really funny," said he. "Old Bingley, the last president, had no
inkling that I controlled the stock. He was so sure of being reelected
that he had a camera-man on hand to make a motion picture of the scene
where all would hail him as the chief. The picture was taken, but it
didn't interest Bingley any, for it showed the consternation on his face,
and the faces of his favored coterie, when I rose and calmly voted him
out of office with the majority of the stock."
"Oh!" exclaimed Maud. "There was a picture made of that scene, then?"
"To be sure. It was never shown but once to an audience of one. I sat
and chuckled to myself while the film was being run."
"Was it kept, or destroyed?" asked the girl, breathlessly.
"I ordered it preserved amongst our archives. Probably Goldstein now has
the negative out here, stored in our Hollywood vaults."
"And the date—when was it?" she demanded.
"Why, the annual meeting is always the last Thursday in January. Figure
it out—it must have been the twenty-sixth. But is the exact date
important, Miss Stanton?"
"Very," she announced. "I don't know yet the exact date that Andrews
landed in New York on his return from Vienna, but if it happened to be
later than the twenty-sixth of January—"
"I see. In that case the picture will clear me of suspicion."
"Precisely. I shall now go and wire New York for the information I
"Can't you get it of Le Drieux?" asked the young man.
"Perhaps so; I'll try. But it will be better to get the date from the
steamship agent direct."
With this they shook the boy's hand, assuring him of their sympathy and
their keen desire to aid him, and then hurried away from the jail.
MASCULINE AND FEMININE
Uncle John and the girls, after consulting together, decided to stop at
the Hollywood studio and pick up Flo and Mrs. Montrose.
"It would be a shame to visit that lovely yacht without them," said
Patsy; "and we were all invited, you know."
"Yes, invited by a host who is unavoidably detained elsewhere," added
"Still, that yacht is very exclusive," his niece stated, "and I'm sure we
are the first Americans to step foot on its decks."
They were all in a brighter mood since the interview at the jail, and
after a hurried lunch at the hotel, during which Maud related to the
others the morning's occurrences, they boarded the big Merrick
seven-passenger automobile and drove to Santa Monica Bay. Louise couldn't
leave the baby, who was cutting teeth, but Arthur and Beth joined the
party and on arrival at the beach Uncle John had no difficulty in
securing a launch to take them out to the Arabella.
"They won't let you aboard, though," declared the boatman. "A good
many have tried it, an' come back disjointed. There's something queer
about that craft; but the gov'ment don't seem worried, so I guess it
ain't a pirate."
The beauty of the yacht grew on them as they approached it. It was
painted a pure white in every part and on the stern was the one word:
Arabella, but no name of the port from which she hailed. The ladder was
hoisted and fastened to an upper rail, but as they drew up to the smooth
sides a close-cropped bullet-head projected from the bulwarks and a gruff
"Well, what's wanted?"
"We want to see Captain Carg," called Arthur, in reply.
The head wagged sidewise.
"No one allowed aboard," said the man.
"Here's a letter to the captain, from Mr. Jones," said Maud,
The word seemed magical. Immediately the head disappeared and an instant
later the boarding ladder began to descend. But the man, a sub-officer
dressed in a neat uniform of white and gold, came quickly down the steps
and held out his hand for the letter.
"Beg pardon," said he, touching his cap to the ladies, "but the rules are
very strict aboard the Arabella. Will you please wait until I've taken
this to the captain? Thank you!"
Then he ran lightly up the steps and they remained seated in the launch
until he returned.
"The captain begs you to come aboard," he then said, speaking very
respectfully but with a face that betrayed his wonder at the order of his
superior. Then he escorted them up the side to the deck, which was
marvelously neat and attractive. Some half a dozen sailors lounged here
and there and these stared as wonderingly at the invasion of strangers as
the subaltern had done. But their guide did not pause longer than to see
that they had all reached the deck safely, when he led them into a
Here they faced Captain Carg, whom Patsy afterward declared was the
tallest, thinnest, chilliest man she had ever encountered. His hair was
grizzled and hung low on his neck; his chin was very long and ended in a
point; his nose was broad, with sensitive nostrils that marked every
breath he drew. As for his eyes, which instantly attracted attention,
they were brown and gentle as a girl's but had that retrospective
expression that suggests far-away thoughts or an utter lack of interest
in one's surroundings. They never looked at but through one. The effect
of Carg's eyes was distinctly disconcerting.
The commander of the Arabella bowed with much dignity as his guests
entered and with a sweep of his long arm he muttered in distant tones:
"Pray be seated." They obeyed. The cabin was luxuriously furnished and
there was no lack of comfortable chairs.
Somehow, despite the courteous words and attitude of Captain Carg, there
was something about him that repelled confidence. Already Maud and Patsy
were wondering if such a man could be loyal and true.
"My young master," he was saying, as he glanced at the letter he still
held in his hand, "tells me that any questions you may ask I may answer
as freely as I am permitted to."
"What does that mean, sir?" Maud inquired, for the speech was quite
"That I await your queries, Miss," with another perfunctory bow in her
She hesitated, puzzled how to proceed.
"Mr. Jones is in a little trouble," she finally began. "He has been
mistaken for some other man and—they have put him in jail until he can
be examined by the federal judge of this district."
The captain's face exhibited no expression whatever. Even the eyes
failed to express surprise at her startling news. He faced his visitors
"At the examination," Maud went on, "it will be necessary for him to
prove he is from Sangoa."
No reply. The captain sat like a statue.
"He must also prove that certain pearls found in his possession came
Still no reply. Maud began to falter and fidget. Beth was amused.
Patsy was fast growing indignant. Flo had a queer expression on her
pretty face that denoted mischief to such an extent that it alarmed
her Aunt Jane.
"I'm afraid," said Maud, "that unless you come to your master's
assistance, Captain Carg, he will be sent to Austria, a prisoner charged
with a serious crime."
She meant this assertion to be very impressive, but it did not seem to
affect the man in the least. She sighed, and Flo, with a giggle, broke an
"Well, why don't you get busy. Maud?" she asked.
"I—in what way, Flo?" asked her sister, catching at the suggestion
"Captain Carg would make a splendid motion picture actor," declared the
younger Miss Stanton, audaciously. "He sticks close to his cues, you see,
and won't move till he gets one. He will answer your questions; yes, he
has said he would; but you may prattle until doomsday without effect, so
far as he is concerned, unless you finish your speech with an
Mrs. Montrose gave a gasp of dismay, while Maud flushed painfully. The
captain, however, allowed a gleam of admiration to soften his grim
features as he stared fixedly at saucy Flo. Patsy marked this fleeting
change of expression at once and said hastily:
"I think. Maud, dear, the captain is waiting to be questioned."
At this he cast a grateful look in Miss Doyle's direction and bowed to
her. Maud began to appreciate the peculiar situation and marshalled her
questions in orderly array.
"Tell me, please, where is Sangoa?" she began.
"In the South Seas, Miss."
"Will you give me the latitude and longitude?"
"Oh, you mean that you will not?"
"I have been commanded to forget the latitude and longitude of Sangoa."
"But this is folly!" she exclaimed, much annoyed. "Such absurd reticence
may be fatal to Mr. Jones' interests."
He made no reply to this and after reflection she tried again.
"What is the nearest land to Sangoa?"
"Toerdal," said he.
"What is that, an island?"
"Is it on the maps? Is it charted?"
She silenced Flo's aggravating giggle with a frown.
"Tell me, sir," she continued, "what is the nearest land to Sangoa that
is known to the world?"
He smiled faintly as he replied: "I cannot tell."
Uncle John had grown very uneasy by this time and he decided he ought to
attempt to assist Maud. So, addressing Captain Carg, he said in a
"We quite understand, sir, that it has been the policy of the owners of
Sangoa to guard all knowledge of the island's whereabouts from the
outside world, as well as the fact that its pearl fisheries are very
rich. We understand that an influx of treasure-seekers would embarrass
the Sangoans. But we are close friends of young Mr. Jones and have no
desire to usurp his island kingdom or seize his pearls. Our only anxiety
is to free him from an unjust suspicion. A foolish man named Le Drieux
accuses Jones of stealing a choice collection of pearls from a lady in
Austria and fleeing with them to America. He has a photograph of the real
criminal, taken abroad, which curiously resembles your young master."
Here the captain turned a quick look upon the speaker and for the first
time his eyes lost their dull expression. But he made no remark and Uncle
"This man Le Drieux found several choice pearls in the possession of Mr.
Jones, which he claims are a part of the stolen collection. Hence he
obtained your master's arrest. Jones says he brought the pearls from
Sangoa, his home, where they were found. No one here knows anything of
Sangoa, so they regard his story with suspicion. Now, sir, we believe
that through you we can prove he has told the truth, and so secure his
release. Here is the important question: Will you help us?"
"Willingly, sir," replied the captain.
"Are you forbidden to tell us where Sangoa is, or anything about
"Yes, sir; I am forbidden to do that, under any circumstances," was the
"Have you been to Sangoa since you landed Mr. Jones in San Francisco,
some fifteen months ago?"
"And did you bring back with you, on this trip, any pearls?"
"Have you already disposed of them?"
"I am awaiting orders from my master."
"Has he been aboard since you anchored here?"
"What were your instructions?"
"To anchor on this coast and await his coming."
"Well," said Mr. Merrick, reflectively, "I believe you can prove our case
without telling the location of Sangoa. An exhibition of the pearls you
have brought ought to convince any reasonable judge. Are there many of
them in this lot?"
"Not so many as usual, sir."
"Are they very choice ones?"
"Not so choice as usual, sir."
Uncle John was greatly disappointed, but Maud exclaimed eagerly:
"Let us see them, please!"
That was not a question, but the captain rose at once, bowed and left the
cabin. It was some ten minutes before he returned, followed by two men
who bore between them a heavy bronze chest which they placed upon the
cabin floor. Then they left the room and the captain took a key from his
pocket and unlocked a secret panel in the wainscoting of the cabin. A
small compartment was disclosed, in which hung another key on an iron
hook. He removed this and with it unlocked the chest, drawing-from its
recesses several trays which he deposited upon the table. These trays
were lined and padded with white velvet and when the covers were removed,
the girls, who had crowded around the table, uttered cries of
astonishment and delight.
"They may not be as numerous or as choice 'as usual,'" murmured
Mrs. Montrose, "but they are the most amazing lot of pearls I have
"And did all these come from Sangoa?" Maud asked the captain.
"They represent two months' fishing on the coast of our island," he
replied; "but not the best two months of the year. The weather was bad;
there were many storms."
"Why, the pearls that Ajo gave us were insignificant when compared with
these!" cried Beth. "This collection must be worth an enormous sum.
Uncle John merely nodded. He had been thinking, as he studied the pearls,
and now turned to Captain Carg.
"Will you come ashore and testify before the judge in behalf of
"Yes, if he asks me to do so."
"And will you bring these pearls with you?"
"If my master orders it."
"Very good. We will have him send you instructions."
The captain bowed, after which he turned to the table and began replacing
the trays in the chest. Then he locked it, again hung the key in the
secret aperture and closed the panel. A whistle summoned the two seamen,
who bore away the chest, accompanied by the captain in person.
When they were left alone, Maud said anxiously:
"Is there anything more we can do here?"
"I think not," replied Mr. Merrick.
"Then let us get back. I want to complete my evidence at once, for no one
knows when the judge will summon Ajo for examination."
They thanked the captain when he rejoined them, but he remained as silent
and undemonstrative as ever, so they took their departure without further
ceremony and returned to the shore.
THE ADVANTAGE OF A DAY
That evening Le Drieux appeared in the lobby of the hotel and sat himself
comfortably down, as if his sole desire in life was to read the evening
paper and smoke his after-dinner cigar. He cast a self-satisfied and
rather supercilious glance in the direction of the Merrick party, which
on this occasion included the Stantons and their aunt, but he made no
attempt to approach the corner where they were seated.
Maud, however, as soon as she saw Le Drieux, asked Arthur Weldon to
interview the man and endeavor to obtain from him the exact date when
Jack Andrews landed in New York. Uncle John had already wired to Major
Doyle, Patsy's father, to get the steamship lists and find which boat
Andrews had come on and the date of its arrival, but no answer had as yet
Arthur made a pretext of buying a cigar at the counter and then
strolled aimlessly about until he came, as if by chance, near to where
Le Drieux was sitting. Making a pretense of suddenly observing the man,
he remarked casually:
"Ah, good evening."
"Good evening, Mr. Weldon," replied Le Drieux, a note of ill-suppressed
triumph in his voice.
"I suppose you are now content to rest on your laurels, pending the
formal examination?" said Arthur.
"I am, sir. But the examination is a mere form, you know. I have already
cabled the commissioner of police at Vienna and received a reply stating
that the Austrian ambassador would make a prompt demand for extradition
and the papers would be forwarded from Washington to the Austrian consul
located in this city. The consul has also been instructed to render me
aid in transporting the prisoner to Vienna. All this will require several
days' time, so you see we are in no hurry to conclude the examination."
"I see." said Arthur. "Is it, then, your intention to accompany the
prisoner to Vienna?"
"Of course. I have not mentioned the fact to you before, but I hold a
commission from the Chief of Police of Vienna authorizing me to arrest
Jack Andrews wherever I may find him, and deliver him up for trial. My
firm procured for me this commission, as they are very anxious to recover
the lost pearls."
"Well, to be frank, sir, the countess still owes our firm a large sum for
purchases. She had almost her entire fortune tied up in that collection,
and unless it is recovered—."
"I can well appreciate the anxiety of your firm. But aside from that, Mr.
Le Drieux, I suppose a big reward has been offered?"
"Not big; just a fair amount. It will repay me, quite handsomely, for my
trouble in this affair; but, of course, my firm gets half of the reward."
"They are not too generous. You deserve it all."
"Thank you. It has been an interesting episode, Mr. Weldon."
"It has been more than that. I consider this escapade of Andrews quite a
romance; or is it more of a tragedy, in your opinion?"
"It will be a tragedy for Andrews, before he's through with it," replied
Le Drieux grimly. "They're pretty severe on the long-fingered gentry,
over there in Europe, and you must remember that if the fellow lives
through the sentence they will undoubtedly impose upon him in Vienna, he
has still to answer for the Paris robbery and the London murder. It's all
up with Andrews, I guess; and it's a good thing, too, for he is too
clever to remain at large."
"I do not consider him so clever as his captor," said Arthur smoothly.
"It did not take you long to discover where he had hidden. Why, he has
only returned to America about fifteen months ago."
"Eleven months ago—even less than that, I think," retorted Le Drieux,
with much pride. "Let me see," taking out a notebook, "Andrews landed
from the Princess Irene on the twenty-seventh of January last."
"Oh, the twenty-seventh? Are you sure of that?" said Arthur.
"I was under the impression he landed on the twenty-fifth."
"No; you are wrong. Why, I met the boat myself, but missed him, although
he was on the passenger list. He disembarked very slyly, I afterward
learned, being doubtless afraid he would be arrested. But at that time I
had no positive evidence against him."
Arthur asked a few more questions of no importance and then bade Le
Drieux good night and rejoined the girls.
"You win, Maud," he remarked as he sat down. "That clew of yours was an
inspiration. Andrews arrived in America on January twenty-seventh, just
one day after Jones had a motion picture of himself taken at the
stockholders' meeting of the Continental Film Company."
"Then we needn't worry over Ajo any longer!" asserted Patsy joyfully.
"With this evidence and the testimony of Captain Carg and his pearls, the
most stupid judge on earth would declare the boy innocent. Why, Beth, we
shall get our theatres built, after all!"
PICTURE NUMBER NINETEEN
"Well, where have you been?" demanded Goldstein gruffly, as Maud Stanton
entered his office the next morning in response to a summons from the
Continental manager. "What made you run away yesterday? Don't you know
such things make us lots of trouble and cost us money?"
"I'm not worrying about that," replied Maud, as she composedly sat down
opposite the manager.
Goldstein glared at her, but he was cautious.
"You're a fine actress, Miss Stanton, and you're popular on the films,"
he said, "but if you cannot attend to business we are paying you too
"No other firm could afford to give you so much, you know that; and the
only reason we are so extravagant is because you are one of our
"Am I to take this as a dismissal?" she asked carelessly.
"Dismissal!" he cried, holding up his hands. "Of course not. Who is
talking of dismissal? But I owe a duty to my firm. Such actions as yours,
in running away from rehearsals, must have a—a—reprimand. Not severe; I
am not so angry as grieved; but a reprimand is your due—and that
fly-away sister of yours is just as bad."
"We went to assist your president—Mr. Jones—to establish his innocence
of the awful charge made against him," she explained.
"Bah. You can't do that. No one can save him," he replied, with triumph
and satisfaction mingled in his tone.
She looked at him thoughtfully.
"You seem pleased with the idea that he is guilty, Mr. Goldstein."
"I am glad he is caught. What is Jones to me? An interloper! A boy who
gets money, buys stock, and then interferes with a business he knows
nothing about. You are a professional, Miss Stanton. You know how we, who
are in the game, have won our knowledge of it by long experience, by
careful study, by keeping the thousand threads of the rope of success
twisted tightly together. Any fool could buy this business, but only an
expert could run it successfully. You know that. So I am glad this
interfering boy is wiped off the slate forever."
"But he isn't!" she protested. "You still have this boy to reckon with,
Goldstein. When he is examined by the judge he will be set free, for all
the evidence is in his favor and there is ample proof that he is not the
man they are after. And that reminds me. There is a negative here that
was made at the directors' meeting in January, a year ago, which shows
Mr. Jones taking control of the Continental."
"I have never seen it," he said, shaking his head.
"It is here, though, and I want a positive printed at once, and mounted
on a reel, so it can be exhibited before the judge. Have Alfred get it
out of the vault."
"Why should I do that?" he inquired, frowning.
"Because, if you refuse, Mr. Jones is quite likely to find another
manager. No other firm would pay you so much as you are getting here. You
He grinned with delight at the thrust, then grew solemn.
"You are sure he will go free?"
"Positive," returned Maud. "He doesn't really need that film, but it
would be good policy—excellent policy—for you to produce it."
"Alfred!" called the manager. "Bring me the stock book."
He ran his finger down the pages.
"January twenty-sixth," she said.
"Here it is: 'Special of Annual Meeting, C.F.M. Co.—280 feet.—No. 19,'
Get number nineteen out of the vault, Alfred."
While the young man was gone he relapsed into thought. Maud waited
"You see," resumed the manager abruptly, "I am making more money for the
Continental than I get paid for. That is because I know how. It is not
good business to cut down the profits; therefore I should be paid a
bigger salary. Miss Stanton, you're a friend of young Jones, who controls
this company. Yon might talk to him about me."
"I will," she said.
"You might say I know every trick of the trade. Tell Jones how all the
other film makers are crazy to get me. But say how I refuse more money
because I believe our directors will wake up to my value and raise my
salary. That sounds pretty good, eh?"
"It sounds remarkable."
"And it's no dream. Ah, here comes Alfred."
The clerk laid upon the table a round box coated with paraffin to exclude
the air. A tag was attached to the box, describing its contents.
"Number nineteen. Quite right. Take it to the printing room and tell
McDonald to make me a copy as quickly as possible. Tell him to let me
know when it's dry and ready to run."
As the clerk disappeared Maud said:
"I needn't wait, I suppose?"
"No. Werner wants you at the rehearsal of 'The Love of a Princess.'
Before you go home to-night I'll call you in to see the run of number
nineteen. Then you may take the film to Jones—with my compliments."
At five o'clock, when she was dressing to go home, Maud was summoned to
the little "dark room" where all films are exhibited, trimmed and tested
before being sent out. She took Aunt Jane and Flo with her and they found
Goldstein already waiting and the operator standing by his machine.
The scene was short and not very exciting, although of interest in the
present crisis. It showed the interior of the hall where the
stock-holders' meeting was held, and began with the assembling of the
members. Two or three pompous individuals then seated themselves facing
the others, and the proceedings began. A slim boy on a back bench arose
and said something. Panic was at once written on the faces of the former
officers. They gesticulated; their lips moved rapidly. The boy, easily
recognized as A. Jones, advanced and displayed a lot of papers, which
were carefully examined. He then took the president's chair, the former
officers fled in disgust and the throng of stockholders wildly applauded.
Then the light went out, the machine stopped, and Goldstein opened the
door to let in light and air.
"It was the same kid, all right," he remarked. "I had never seen this
film run before, but it shows how Jones called the turn on the old
officers in great shape. I wonder where he got all the money?"
Maud secured his promise to send an operator to town, to exhibit the film
before the judge, whenever he might be required. Then she went to her
hotel fully satisfied that she had done all in her power to assist A.
Jones of Sangoa.
A telegram from Major Doyle corroborated Le Drieux's assertion that Jack
Andrews had arrived at the port of New York via the Princess Irene on
January twenty-seventh. A report from Lawyer Colby stated that he was now
so thoroughly posted on everything pertaining to pearls that he could
easily confound the expert, Mr. Isidore Le Drieux. There the matter
rested for three days, during which the Stanton girls continued their
work at the studio and Uncle John's nieces busied themselves enjoying the
charms of the ideal Hollywood climate. Then came the news that the judge
would call Jones for examination at nine o'clock on Friday morning, the
"Friday, the thirteenth!" said Patsy with a grimace. "I hope Ajo isn't
"That combination proves lucky for some people," replied Arthur,
laughing. "Let us hope that Jones is one of them."
"Of course we shall all go to see what happens," said Beth, and to this
there was no dissenting voice.
Maud obtained a letter from Jones to Captain Carg, asking him to be on
hand, and this she dispatched by a safe messenger to the yacht
Arabella. She also told Goldstein to have his operator in attendance
with the film. Finally, a conference was called that evening with Mr.
Colby, at which the complete program of defense was carefully rehearsed.
"Really," said the lawyer, "there's nothing to this case. It's a regular
walkaway, believe me! I'm almost ashamed to take Mr. Jones' money for
conducting a case that Miss Stanton has all cut and dried for me. I'll
not receive one half the credit I should had the thing been complicated,
or difficult. However, I've learned so much about pearls that I'm almost
tempted to go into the jewelry business."
Friday morning was bright and cool—one of those perfect days for which
Southern California is famous. Judge Wilton appeared in court with a
tranquil expression upon his face that proved he was in a contented mood.
All conditions augured well for the prisoner.
The prosecution was represented by two well known attorneys who had
brought a dozen witnesses to support their charge, among them being the
Austrian consul. The case opened with the statement that the prisoner,
Jackson Dowd Andrews, alias A. Jones, while a guest at the villa of the
Countess Ahmberg, near Vienna, had stolen from his hostess a valuable
collection of pearls, which he had secretly brought to America. Some of
the stolen booty the prisoner had disposed of, it was asserted; a part
had been found in his possession at the time of his arrest; some of the
pearls had been mounted by Brock & Co., the Los Angeles jewelers, at his
request, and by him presented to several acquaintances he had recently
made but who were innocent of any knowledge of his past history or his
misdeeds. Therefore the prosecution demanded that the prisoner be kept in
custody until the arrival of extradition papers, which were already on
the way, and that on the arrival of these papers Andrews should be
turned over to Le Drieux, a representative of the Vienna police, and by
him taken to Austria, the scene of his crime, for trial and punishment.
The judge followed the charge of the prosecution rather indifferently,
being already familiar with it. Then he asked if there was any defense.
Colby took the floor. He denied that the prisoner was Jackson Dowd
Andrews, or that he had ever been in Vienna. It was a case of mistaken
identity. His client's liberty had been outraged by the stupid blunders
of the prosecution. He demanded the immediate release of the prisoner.
"Have you evidence to support this plea?" inquired Judge Wilton.
"We have, your honor. But the prosecution must first prove its charge."
The prosecution promptly responded to the challenge. The photograph of
Andrews, taken abroad, was shown. Two recognized experts in physiognomy
declared, after comparison, that it was undoubtedly the photograph of the
prisoner. Then Le Drieux took the stand. He read a newspaper account of
the robbery. He produced a list of the pearls, attested by the countess
herself. Each individual pearl was described and its color, weight and
value given. Then Le Drieux exhibited the pearls taken from Jones and,
except for the small ones in the brooch which had been presented to Mrs.
Montrose, he checked off every pearl against his list, weighing them
before the judge and describing their color.
During this, Judge Wilton continually nodded approval. Such evidence was
concise and indisputable, it seemed. Moreover, the defense readily
admitted that the pearls exhibited had all been in Jones' possession.
Then Colby got up to refute the evidence.
"Mr. Jones," he began, "has—"
"Give the prisoner's full name," said the judge.
"His full name is A. Jones."
"What does the 'A' stand for?"
"It is only an initial, your honor. Mr. Jones has no other name."
"Puh! He ought to have taken some other name. Names are cheap," sneered
Colby ignored the point.
"Mr. Jones is a resident of Sangoa, where he was born. Until he landed at
San Francisco, fifteen months ago, he had never set foot on any land but
that of his native island."
"Where is Sangoa?" demanded the judge.
"It is an island of the South Seas."
"It is independent. It was purchased from Uruguay by Mr. Jones' father
many years ago, and now belongs exclusively to his son."
"Your information is indefinite," snapped the judge.
"I realize that, your honor; but my client deems it wise to keep the
location of his island a secret, because he has valuable pearl
fisheries on its shores. The pearls exhibited by the prosecution were
all found at Sangoa."
"How do you account, then, for their checking so accurately against the
list of stolen pearls?"
"I can make almost any pearls check with that list, which represents a
huge collection of almost every size, weight and color," replied Colby.
"To prove this, I will introduce in evidence Captain Carg of Sangoa, who
recently arrived at Santa Monica Bay with the last proceeds of the pearl
fisheries of the island."
Captain Carg was on hand, with his two sailors guarding the chest. He now
produced the trays of pearls and spread them on the desk before the
amazed eyes of the judge. Le Drieux was astounded, and showed it plainly
on his face.
Colby now borrowed the list, and picking up a pearl from the tray weighed
it on Le Drieux's scales and then found a parallel to it on the list.
This he did with several of the pearls, chosen at random, until one of Le
Drieux's attorneys took the expert aside and whispered to him. Then Le
Drieux's expression changed from chagrin to joy and coming forward he
"Your honor, this is the collection—the balance of it—which was stolen
from the Countess Ahmberg!"
The judge looked at him a moment, leaned back in his chair and nodded his
"What nonsense!" protested Colby. "These trays contain twice the number
of pearls included in that entire list, as your honor may plainly see."
"Of course," retorted Le Drieux eagerly; "here are also the pearls from
the necklace of Princess Lemoine, and the London collection of Lady
Grandison. Your honor, in his audacity the defense has furnished us proof
positive that this prisoner can be none other than the adventurer and
clever thief, Jack Andrews."
It was in vain that Colby declared these pearls had just come from
Sangoa, where they were found. The judge cut him short and asked if he
had any other evidence to advance.
"These pearls," he added, indicating the trays, "I shall take possession
of. They must remain in my custody until their owners claim them, or
Captain Carg can prove they are the lawful property of the prisoner."
Consternation now pervaded the ranks of the defense. The girls were
absolutely dismayed, while Uncle John and Arthur Weldon wore bewildered
looks. Only Jones remained composed, an amused smile curling the corners
of his delicate mouth as he eyed the judge who was to decide his fate.
On the side of the prosecution were looks of triumph. Le Drieux already
regarded his case as won.
Colby now played his trump card, which Maud Stanton's logic and energy
had supplied the defense.
"The prosecution," said he, "has stated that the alleged robbery was
committed at Vienna on the evening of September fifteenth, and that
Jack Andrews arrived in America on the steamship Princess Irene on
the afternoon of the January twenty-seventh following. Am I correct in
The judge consulted his stenographer.
"The dates mentioned are correct," he said pompously.
"Here are the papers issued by the Commander of the Port of San
Francisco, proving that the yacht Arabella of Sangoa anchored in that
harbor on October twelfth, and disembarked one passenger, namely: A.
Jones of Sangoa."
"That might, or might not, have been the prisoner," declared the
"True," said the judge. "The name 'A. Jones' is neither distinguished nor
"On the evening of January twenty-sixth, twenty-four hours before Jack
Andrews landed in America," continued Colby, "the prisoner, Mr. A. Jones,
appeared at the annual meeting of the stockholders of the Continental
Film Manufacturing Company, in New York, and was formally elected
president of that organization."
"What is your proof?" inquired the judge, stifling a yawn.
"I beg to submit the minutes of the meeting, attested by its secretary."
The judge glanced at the minutes.
"We object to this evidence," said the opposing attorney. "There is no
proof that the A. Jones referred to is the prisoner."
"The minutes," said Colby, "state that a motion picture was taken of the
meeting. I have the film here, in this room, and beg permission to
exhibit it before your honor as evidence."
The judge was a bit startled at so novel a suggestion but assented with
a nod. In a twinkling the operator had suspended a roller-screen from the
chandelier dependent from the ceiling, pulled down the window shades and
attached his projecting machine to an electric-light socket.
Then the picture flashed upon the screen. It was not entirely distinct,
because the room could not be fully darkened and the current was not
strong, yet every face in the gathering of stockholders could be plainly
recognized. Jones, especially, as the central figure, could not be
mistaken and no one who looked upon the picture could doubt his identity.
When the exhibition was concluded and the room again lightened, Le
Drieux's face was visibly perturbed and anxious, while his attorneys sat
glum and disconcerted.
Colby now put Goldstein on the stand, who testified that he recognized
Jones as president of his company and the owner of the majority of
stock. The young man had come to him with unimpeachable credentials to
The girls were now smiling and cheerful. To them the defense was
absolutely convincing. But Le Drieux's attorneys were skillful fighters
and did not relish defeat. They advanced the theory that the motion
picture, just shown, had been made at a later dale and substituted for
the one mentioned in the minutes of the meeting. They questioned
Goldstein, who admitted that he had never seen Jones until a few days
previous. The manager denied, however, any substitution of the picture.
He was not a very satisfactory witness for the defense and Colby was
sorry he had summoned him.
As for the judge, he seemed to accept the idea of the substitution with
alacrity. He had practically decided against Jones in the matter of the
pearls. Now he listened carefully to the arguments of the prosecution and
cut Colby short when he raised objections to their sophistry.
Finally Judge Wilton rose to state his decision.
"The evidence submitted in proof of the alleged fact that the prisoner is
Jack Andrews, and that Jack Andrews may have robbed the Countess Ahmberg,
of Vienna, of her valuable collection of pearls, is in the judgment of
this court clear and convincing," he said. "The lawyer for the defense
has further succeeded in entangling his client by exhibiting an
additional assortment of pearls, which may likewise be stolen property.
The attempt to impose upon this court a mythical island called Sangoa
is—eh—distinctly reprehensible. This court is not so easily hoodwinked.
Therefore, in consideration of the evidence advanced, I declare that the
prisoner is Jack Andrews, otherwise Jackson Dowd Andrews, otherwise
parading under the alias of 'A. Jones,' and I recognize the claim of the
Austrian police to his person, that he may be legally tried for his
alleged crimes in the territory where it is alleged he committed them.
Therefore I order that the prisoner be held for requisition and turned
over to the proper authorities when the papers arrive. The court is
SUNSHINE AFTER RAIN
Of course not one of our friends agreed with the judge. Indignation and
resentment were written on every face—except that of Goldstein. The
manager rubbed his hands softly together and, approaching Maud, he
"You needn't speak to Jones about me. It's all right. I guess he won't be
interfering with me any more, eh? And come early to-morrow morning.
We've got a lot of rehearsing to do. To-day I will call a holiday for
you. And, believe me, Miss Stanton, this is nothing to worry any of us.
The judge settles it, right or wrong, for the law defies us all."
As the manager hurried away Uncle John looked after him and said:
"I wonder if he realizes how true his words are? 'The law defies us all.'
How helpless we are to oppose injustice and oppression when one man,
with a man's limitations and prejudices, is clothed with authority to
Colby stood silent. The poor fellow's eyes were full of unshed tears.
"This is my first case, and my last," said he. "I won it honestly. It was
the judge, not the evidence, that defeated me. I'm going to rent my
office and apply for a job as a chauffeur."
Jones was the least affected of the group. "Never mind, friends," he said
to them, "it will all come right in the end. If you will stand by me,
Colby, I'll retain you to plead my case in the Austrian court, or at
least advise my Austrian lawyers. I've an idea they will treat me fairly,
over there in Vienna."
"It's outrageous!" quoth indignant Patsy Doyle. "I'd like to give that
judge a piece of my mind."
"If you did," replied Arthur, "he'd fine you for contempt."
"It would be a just line, in that case," said Patsy; "so I'm sure he
wouldn't do it."
The jailer had come to take the prisoner back to his cell. He smiled
whimsically at Miss Doyle's speech and remarked:
"There's always one side to kick, Miss, whichever way the judge decides.
It was only Solomon who could satisfy everybody."
"Clear the room!" shouted the bailiff.
Captain Carg's men took the empty chest back to the launch. The captain
followed them, after pressing the hand of his young master, who said:
"Wait for orders, Captain." Uncle John took his flock back to the hotel,
where they gathered in his room and held an indignation meeting. Here it
was safe to give full vent to their chagrin and disappointment.
"Every bit of honest evidence was on our side," declared Maud. "I shall
never be able to understand why we lost."
"Bribery and corruption," said Flo. "I'll bet a cookie Le Drieux divided
the reward with the judge."
"I suppose it's all up with Ajo now," sighed Beth, regretfully.
"Yes," replied Colby, who had accompanied them; "there is nothing more to
be done for him at present. From the judge's order there is no appeal,
in such a case. Mr. Jones must go to Vienna for trial; but there he may
secure an acquittal."
"He is very brave, I think," said Patsy. "This affair must have hurt his
pride, but he smiles through it all. In his condition of health, the
confinement and humiliation may well shorten his life, yet he has made
"He's good stuff, that boy," commented Uncle John. "Perhaps it is due to
that John Paul blood his father was so proud of."
When Arthur went into the lobby a little later he found Le Drieux seated
comfortably and smoking a long cigar. The pearl expert nodded to the
young ranchman with so much evident satisfaction that Arthur could not
resist engaging him in conversation.
"Well, you won," he remarked, taking a vacant chair beside Le Drieux.
"Yes, of course," was the reply; "but I'll admit that fellow Andrews is a
smooth one. Why, at one time he had even me puzzled with his alibis and
his evidence. That flash of the pearls was the cleverest trick I ever
heard of; but it didn't go, I'd warned the judge to look out for a scoop.
He knew he was dealing with one of the most slippery rogues in
"See here, Le Drieux," said Arthur; "let us be honest with one another,
now that the thing is settled and diplomacy is uncalled for. Do you
really believe that Jones is Jack Andrews?"
"Me? I know it, Mr. Weldon. I don't pose as a detective, but I'm
considered to have a shrewd insight into human character, and from the
first moment I set eyes on him I was positive that Jones was the famous
Jack Andrews. I can understand how you people, generous and trusting,
have been deceived in the fellow; I admire the grit you've all shown in
standing by him to the last. I haven't a particle of malice toward any
one of you, I assure you—not even toward Andrews himself."
"Then why have you bounded him so persistently?"
"For two reasons." said Le Drieux. "As a noted pearl expert, I wanted
to prove my ability to run down the thief; and, as a man in modest
circumstances, I wanted the reward."
"How much will you get?"
"All together, the rewards aggregate twenty thousand dollars. I'll get
half, and my firm will get half."
"I think," said Arthur, to test the man, "that Jones would have paid you
double that amount to let him alone."
Le Drieux shook his head; then he smiled.
"I don't mind telling you, Mr. Weldon—in strict confidence, of
course—that I approached Jones on that very subject, the day he was
placed in jail. He must have been sure his tricks would clear him, for he
refused to give me a single penny. I imagine he is very sorry, right now;
don't you, sir?"
"No," said Arthur, "I don't. I still believe in his innocence."
Le Drieux stared at him incredulously.
"What, after that examination of to-day?" he demanded.
"Before and after. There was no justice in the decision of Judge Wilton;
he was unduly prejudiced."
"Be careful, sir!"
"We are talking confidentially."
"To be sure. But you astonish me. I understand the character of Andrews
so thoroughly that I fail to comprehend how any sensible person can
believe in him. Talk about prejudice!"
"I suppose you are to remain at this hotel?" said Arthur, evading
"Yes, until the papers arrive. They ought to be here by Monday. Then
I shall take Andrews to New York and we will board the first steamer
Arthur left him. Le Drieux puzzled him more than he puzzled Le Drieux.
The expert seemed sincere in the belief that he had trapped, in Jones, a
noted criminal. Weldon could not help wondering, as he walked away, if
possibly he and his friends had been deceived in A. Jones of Sangoa. The
doubt was but momentary, yet it had forced itself into his mind.
On Saturday afternoon they all made a visit to the prisoner and tried to
cheer him. Again on Sunday they called—the Stantons and Merricks and
Weldons and all. Young Jones received them with composure and begged them
not to worry on his account.
"I am quite comfortable in this jail, I assure you," said he. "On my
journey to Vienna I shall be able to bribe Le Drieux to let me have such
comforts as I desire. There is but one experience I shrink from: the
passage across the Atlantic. If it brings a return of my former malady I
shall suffer terribly."
"It may not be so bad as you fear," Patsy assured him, although in her
heart she realized it might be the death of the boy. "Often those who are
distressed by a voyage on the Pacific endure the Atlantic very well."
"That is encouraging," said he. "It is my dread of the water that has
prevented me from returning to Sangoa, or even visiting my yacht. And
this reminds me of a favor I wish to ask."
"You may rely upon our friendship," said Maud.
"I believe that. Here is a letter to Captain Carg, putting the Arabella
at your disposal until my return from Vienna. I have named Mr. Merrick
as the commander of the yacht, in my absence, and if you feel inclined to
make the trip and can spare the time I would like you all to make a
voyage to Sangoa."
"To Sangoa!" they cried in chorus.
"Yes. I am ambitious to prove to you, who have been my staunch friends,
that the island is indeed there. Incidentally you will become acquainted
with the prettiest place in all the world. My house will be at your
disposal while you remain and I am sure you will find it fairly
They were so amazed at this proposition that at first no one found
words to answer the boy. It was Flo, naturally, who first collected
"It will be awfully jolly!" she cried, clapping her hands with delight.
"I'm sure Maud and I need a vacation. Let's stick up our noses at
Goldstein and sail away to the mysterious isle. What do you say, girls?
And you, Mr. Merrick?"
"I believe, my boy," said Uncle John, laying a kindly hand on the youth's
shoulder, "that all of us are inclined to take advantage of your offer.
That is, if you are sure we can be of no further use to you in your
"I am taking Colby abroad with me and he can do all that may be done
until after my trial. Then I hope to rejoin you here and am looking
forward to a jolly reunion."
Uncle John took the letters which Ajo had written to Captain Carg, to his
superintendent in Sangoa and to his housekeeper. Then they all pressed
the boy's hand and went away.
* * * * *
Monday morning the extradition papers arrived. Le Drieux exhibited them
proudly to young Weldon, to Mr. Merrick, and even to the girls, who
regarded the documents with shuddering awe.
"We'll take the night train," said the man. "That will get us to New York
on Friday, in time to catch the Saturday steamer for Calais."
As he spoke a boy approached and handed Le Drieux a telegram.
"Excuse me," said he, and opened it with an important flourish. The next
moment his face fell. He staggered and sank half fainting into a chair
which Mr. Merrick pushed toward him.
Patsy ran for some water. Maud Stanton fanned the man with a folded
newspaper. Arthur Weldon picked up the telegram which had fluttered
from Le Drieux's grasp and deliberately read it. Then he, too, sank
gasping into a chair.
"Listen, girls!" he cried, his voice shrill with emotion. "What do you
think of this?
"'Jack Andrews arrested here in New York to-day by Burns detectives.
Countess Ahmberg's collection of pearls was found in his possession,
intact. Return here first train.'
"Signed: 'Eckstrom & Co.'"
There was a moment of tense silence.
Flo clapped her hands.
"Come on," she shouted in glee, "let's go and tell Ajo!"