Infomotions, Inc.By Shore and Sedge / Harte, Bret, 1836-1902



Author: Harte, Bret, 1836-1902
Title: By Shore and Sedge
Publisher: Project Gutenberg
Tag(s): rosey; renshaw; nott; sarah walker; gideon; sarah; pontiac; sleight; sez; ferrieres; walker; abner nott; sarah walker's; miss nott; ship; cabin; deck
Contributor(s): Edwards, Owen Morgan, Sir, 1858-1920 [Editor]
Versions: original; local mirror; HTML (this file); printable
Services: find in a library; evaluate using concordance
Rights: GNU General Public License
Size: 42,229 words (really short) Grade range: 9-12 (high school) Readability score: 61 (easy)
Identifier: etext2178
Delicious Bookmark this on Delicious

Discover what books you consider "great". Take the Great Books Survey.

The Project Gutenberg Etext of By Shore and Sedge, by Bret Harte
#3 in our series by Bret Harte


Copyright laws are changing all over the world, be sure to check
the copyright laws for your country before posting these files!!

Please take a look at the important information in this header.
We encourage you to keep this file on your own disk, keeping an
electronic path open for the next readers.  Do not remove this.


**Welcome To The World of Free Plain Vanilla Electronic Texts**

**Etexts Readable By Both Humans and By Computers, Since 1971**

*These Etexts Prepared By Hundreds of Volunteers and Donations*

Information on contacting Project Gutenberg to get Etexts, and
further information is included below.  We need your donations.


By Shore and Sedge

by Bret Harte

May, 2000  [Etext #2178]


The Project Gutenberg Etext of By Shore and Sedge, by Bret Harte
******This file should be named bysns10.txt or bysns10.zip******

Corrected EDITIONS of our etexts get a new NUMBER, bysns11.txt.
VERSIONS based on separate sources get new LETTER, bysns10a.txt.


We are now trying to release all our books one month in advance
of the official release dates, for time for better editing.

Please note:  neither this list nor its contents are final till
midnight of the last day of the month of any such announcement.
The official release date of all Project Gutenberg Etexts is at
Midnight, Central Time, of the last day of the stated month.  A
preliminary version may often be posted for suggestion, comment
and editing by those who wish to do so.  To be sure you have an
up to date first edition [xxxxx10x.xxx] please check file sizes
in the first week of the next month.  Since our ftp program has
a bug in it that scrambles the date [tried to fix and failed] a
look at the file size will have to do, but we will try to see a
new copy has at least one byte more or less.


Information about Project Gutenberg (one page)

We produce about two million dollars for each hour we work.  The
fifty hours is one conservative estimate for how long it we take
to get any etext selected, entered, proofread, edited, copyright
searched and analyzed, the copyright letters written, etc.  This
projected audience is one hundred million readers.  If our value
per text is nominally estimated at one dollar then we produce $2
million dollars per hour this year as we release thirty-two text
files per month, or 384 more Etexts in 1997 for a total of 1000+
If these reach just 10% of the computerized population, then the
total should reach over 100 billion Etexts given away.

The Goal of Project Gutenberg is to Give Away One Trillion Etext
Files by the December 31, 2001.  [10,000 x 100,000,000=Trillion]
This is ten thousand titles each to one hundred million readers,
which is only 10% of the present number of computer users.  2001
should have at least twice as many computer users as that, so it
will require us reaching less than 5% of the users in 2001.


We need your donations more than ever!


All donations should be made to "Project Gutenberg/CMU": and are
tax deductible to the extent allowable by law.  (CMU = Carnegie-
Mellon University).

For these and other matters, please mail to:

Project Gutenberg
P. O. Box  2782
Champaign, IL 61825

When all other email fails try our Executive Director:
Michael S. Hart <hart@pobox.com>

We would prefer to send you this information by email
(Internet, Bitnet, Compuserve, ATTMAIL or MCImail).

******
If you have an FTP program (or emulator), please
FTP directly to the Project Gutenberg archives:
[Mac users, do NOT point and click. . .type]

ftp uiarchive.cso.uiuc.edu
login:  anonymous
password:  your@login
cd etext/etext90 through /etext96
or cd etext/articles [get suggest gut for more information]
dir [to see files]
get or mget [to get files. . .set bin for zip files]
GET INDEX?00.GUT
for a list of books
and
GET NEW GUT for general information
and
MGET GUT* for newsletters.

**Information prepared by the Project Gutenberg legal advisor**
(Three Pages)


***START**THE SMALL PRINT!**FOR PUBLIC DOMAIN ETEXTS**START***
Why is this "Small Print!" statement here?  You know: lawyers.
They tell us you might sue us if there is something wrong with
your copy of this etext, even if you got it for free from
someone other than us, and even if what's wrong is not our
fault.  So, among other things, this "Small Print!" statement
disclaims most of our liability to you.  It also tells you how
you can distribute copies of this etext if you want to.

*BEFORE!* YOU USE OR READ THIS ETEXT
By using or reading any part of this PROJECT GUTENBERG-tm
etext, you indicate that you understand, agree to and accept
this "Small Print!" statement.  If you do not, you can receive
a refund of the money (if any) you paid for this etext by
sending a request within 30 days of receiving it to the person
you got it from.  If you received this etext on a physical
medium (such as a disk), you must return it with your request.

ABOUT PROJECT GUTENBERG-TM ETEXTS
This PROJECT GUTENBERG-tm etext, like most PROJECT GUTENBERG-
tm etexts, is a "public domain" work distributed by Professor
Michael S. Hart through the Project Gutenberg Association at
Carnegie-Mellon University (the "Project").  Among other
things, this means that no one owns a United States copyright
on or for this work, so the Project (and you!) can copy and
distribute it in the United States without permission and
without paying copyright royalties.  Special rules, set forth
below, apply if you wish to copy and distribute this etext
under the Project's "PROJECT GUTENBERG" trademark.

To create these etexts, the Project expends considerable
efforts to identify, transcribe and proofread public domain
works.  Despite these efforts, the Project's etexts and any
medium they may be on may contain "Defects".  Among other
things, Defects may take the form of incomplete, inaccurate or
corrupt data, transcription errors, a copyright or other
intellectual property infringement, a defective or damaged
disk or other etext medium, a computer virus, or computer
codes that damage or cannot be read by your equipment.

LIMITED WARRANTY; DISCLAIMER OF DAMAGES
But for the "Right of Replacement or Refund" described below,
[1] the Project (and any other party you may receive this
etext from as a PROJECT GUTENBERG-tm etext) disclaims all
liability to you for damages, costs and expenses, including
legal fees, and [2] YOU HAVE NO REMEDIES FOR NEGLIGENCE OR
UNDER STRICT LIABILITY, OR FOR BREACH OF WARRANTY OR CONTRACT,
INCLUDING BUT NOT LIMITED TO INDIRECT, CONSEQUENTIAL, PUNITIVE
OR INCIDENTAL DAMAGES, EVEN IF YOU GIVE NOTICE OF THE
POSSIBILITY OF SUCH DAMAGES.

If you discover a Defect in this etext within 90 days of
receiving it, you can receive a refund of the money (if any)
you paid for it by sending an explanatory note within that
time to the person you received it from.  If you received it
on a physical medium, you must return it with your note, and
such person may choose to alternatively give you a replacement
copy.  If you received it electronically, such person may
choose to alternatively give you a second opportunity to
receive it electronically.

THIS ETEXT IS OTHERWISE PROVIDED TO YOU "AS-IS".  NO OTHER
WARRANTIES OF ANY KIND, EXPRESS OR IMPLIED, ARE MADE TO YOU AS
TO THE ETEXT OR ANY MEDIUM IT MAY BE ON, INCLUDING BUT NOT
LIMITED TO WARRANTIES OF MERCHANTABILITY OR FITNESS FOR A
PARTICULAR PURPOSE.

Some states do not allow disclaimers of implied warranties or
the exclusion or limitation of consequential damages, so the
above disclaimers and exclusions may not apply to you, and you
may have other legal rights.

INDEMNITY
You will indemnify and hold the Project, its directors,
officers, members and agents harmless from all liability, cost
and expense, including legal fees, that arise directly or
indirectly from any of the following that you do or cause:
[1] distribution of this etext, [2] alteration, modification,
or addition to the etext, or [3] any Defect.

DISTRIBUTION UNDER "PROJECT GUTENBERG-tm"
You may distribute copies of this etext electronically, or by
disk, book or any other medium if you either delete this
"Small Print!" and all other references to Project Gutenberg,
or:

[1]  Only give exact copies of it.  Among other things, this
     requires that you do not remove, alter or modify the
     etext or this "small print!" statement.  You may however,
     if you wish, distribute this etext in machine readable
     binary, compressed, mark-up, or proprietary form,
     including any form resulting from conversion by word pro-
     cessing or hypertext software, but only so long as
     *EITHER*:

     [*]  The etext, when displayed, is clearly readable, and
          does *not* contain characters other than those
          intended by the author of the work, although tilde
          (~), asterisk (*) and underline (_) characters may
          be used to convey punctuation intended by the
          author, and additional characters may be used to
          indicate hypertext links; OR

     [*]  The etext may be readily converted by the reader at
          no expense into plain ASCII, EBCDIC or equivalent
          form by the program that displays the etext (as is
          the case, for instance, with most word processors);
          OR

     [*]  You provide, or agree to also provide on request at
          no additional cost, fee or expense, a copy of the
          etext in its original plain ASCII form (or in EBCDIC
          or other equivalent proprietary form).

[2]  Honor the etext refund and replacement provisions of this
     "Small Print!" statement.

[3]  Pay a trademark license fee to the Project of 20% of the
     net profits you derive calculated using the method you
     already use to calculate your applicable taxes.  If you
     don't derive profits, no royalty is due.  Royalties are
     payable to "Project Gutenberg Association/Carnegie-Mellon
     University" within the 60 days following each
     date you prepare (or were legally required to prepare)
     your annual (or equivalent periodic) tax return.

WHAT IF YOU *WANT* TO SEND MONEY EVEN IF YOU DON'T HAVE TO?
The Project gratefully accepts contributions in money, time,
scanning machines, OCR software, public domain etexts, royalty
free copyright licenses, and every other sort of contribution
you can think of.  Money should be paid to "Project Gutenberg
Association / Carnegie-Mellon University".

*END*THE SMALL PRINT! FOR PUBLIC DOMAIN ETEXTS*Ver.04.29.93*END*




BY SHORE AND SEDGE

by BRET HARTE




CONTENTS


BY SHORE AND SEDGE

  AN APOSTLE OF THE TULES

  SARAH WALKER

  A SHIP OF '49




BY SHORE AND SEDGE



AN APOSTLE OF THE TULES


I


On October 10, 1856, about four hundred people were camped in
Tasajara Valley, California.  It could not have been for the
prospect, since a more barren, dreary, monotonous, and uninviting
landscape never stretched before human eye; it could not have been
for convenience or contiguity, as the nearest settlement was thirty
miles away; it could not have been for health or salubrity, as the
breath of the ague-haunted tules in the outlying Stockton marshes
swept through the valley; it could not have been for space or
comfort, for, encamped on an unlimited plain, men and women were
huddled together as closely as in an urban tenement-house, without
the freedom or decency of rural isolation; it could not have been
for pleasant companionship, as dejection, mental anxiety, tears,
and lamentation were the dominant expression; it was not a hurried
flight from present or impending calamity, for the camp had been
deliberately planned, and for a week pioneer wagons had been slowly
arriving; it was not an irrevocable exodus, for some had already
returned to their homes that others might take their places.  It
was simply a religious revival of one or two denominational sects,
known as a "camp-meeting."

A large central tent served for the assembling of the principal
congregation; smaller tents served for prayer-meetings and class-
rooms, known to the few unbelievers as "side-shows"; while the
actual dwellings of the worshipers were rudely extemporized
shanties of boards and canvas, sometimes mere corrals or inclosures
open to the cloudless sky, or more often the unhitched covered
wagon which had brought them there.  The singular resemblance to a
circus, already profanely suggested, was carried out by a
straggling fringe of boys and half-grown men on the outskirts of
the encampment, acrimonious with disappointed curiosity, lazy
without the careless ease of vagrancy, and vicious without the
excitement of dissipation.  For the coarse poverty and brutal
economy of the larger arrangements, the dreary panorama of unlovely
and unwholesome domestic details always before the eyes, were
hardly exciting to the senses.  The circus might have been more
dangerous, but scarcely more brutalizing.  The actors themselves,
hard and aggressive through practical struggles, often warped and
twisted with chronic forms of smaller diseases, or malformed and
crippled through carelessness and neglect, and restless and uneasy
through some vague mental distress and inquietude that they had
added to their burdens, were scarcely amusing performers.  The
rheumatic Parkinsons, from Green Springs; the ophthalmic Filgees,
from Alder Creek; the ague-stricken Harneys, from Martinez Bend;
and the feeble-limbed Steptons, from Sugar Mill, might, in their
combined families, have suggested a hospital, rather than any other
social assemblage.  Even their companionship, which had little of
cheerful fellowship in it, would have been grotesque but for the
pathetic instinct of some mutual vague appeal from the hardness of
their lives and the helplessness of their conditions that had
brought them together.  Nor was this appeal to a Higher Power any
the less pathetic that it bore no reference whatever to their
respective needs or deficiencies, but was always an invocation for
a light which, when they believed they had found it, to
unregenerate eyes scarcely seemed to illumine the rugged path in
which their feet were continually stumbling.  One might have smiled
at the idea of the vendetta-following Ferguses praying for
"justification by Faith," but the actual spectacle of old Simon
Fergus, whose shot-gun was still in his wagon, offering up that
appeal with streaming eyes and agonized features was painful beyond
a doubt.  To seek and obtain an exaltation of feeling vaguely known
as "It," or less vaguely veiling a sacred name, was the burden of
the general appeal.

The large tent had been filled, and between the exhortations a
certain gloomy enthusiasm had been kept up by singing, which had
the effect of continuing in an easy, rhythmical, impersonal, and
irresponsible way the sympathies of the meeting.  This was
interrupted by a young man who rose suddenly, with that spontaneity
of impulse which characterized the speakers, but unlike his
predecessors, he remained for a moment mute, trembling and
irresolute.  The fatal hesitation seemed to check the unreasoning,
monotonous flow of emotion, and to recall to some extent the reason
and even the criticism of the worshipers.  He stammered a prayer
whose earnestness was undoubted, whose humility was but too
apparent, but his words fell on faculties already benumbed by
repetition and rhythm.  A slight movement of curiosity in the rear
benches, and a whisper that it was the maiden effort of a new
preacher, helped to prolong the interruption.  A heavy man of
strong physical expression sprang to the rescue with a hysterical
cry of "Glory!" and a tumultuous fluency of epithet and sacred
adjuration.  Still the meeting wavered.  With one final paroxysmal
cry, the powerful man threw his arms around his nearest neighbor
and burst into silent tears.  An anxious hush followed; the speaker
still continued to sob on his neighbor's shoulder.  Almost before
the fact could be commented upon, it was noticed that the entire
rank of worshipers on the bench beside him were crying also; the
second and third rows were speedily dissolved in tears, until even
the very youthful scoffers in the last benches suddenly found their
half-hysterical laughter turned to sobs.  The danger was averted,
the reaction was complete; the singing commenced, and in a few
moments the hapless cause of the interruption and the man who had
retrieved the disaster stood together outside the tent.  A horse
was picketed near them.

The victor was still panting from his late exertions, and was more
or less diluvial in eye and nostril, but neither eye nor nostril
bore the slightest tremor of other expression.  His face was stolid
and perfectly in keeping with his physique,--heavy, animal, and
unintelligent.

"Ye oughter trusted in the Lord," he said to the young preacher.

"But I did," responded the young man, earnestly.

"That's it.  Justifyin' yourself by works instead o' leanin' onto
Him!  Find Him, sez you!  Git Him, sez you!  Works is vain.  Glory!
glory!" he continued, with fluent vacuity and wandering, dull,
observant eyes.

"But if I had a little more practice in class, Brother Silas, more
education?"

"The letter killeth," interrupted Brother Silas.  Here his
wandering eyes took dull cognizance of two female faces peering
through the opening of the tent.  "No, yer mishun, Brother Gideon,
is to seek Him in the by-ways, in the wilderness,--where the foxes
hev holes and the ravens hev their young,--but not in the Temples
of the people.  Wot sez Sister Parsons?"

One of the female faces detached itself from the tent flaps, which
it nearly resembled in color, and brought forward an angular figure
clothed in faded fustian that had taken the various shades and
odors of household service.

"Brother Silas speaks well," said Sister Parsons, with stridulous
fluency.  "It's fore-ordained.  Fore-ordinashun is better nor
ordinashun, saith the Lord.  He shall go forth, turnin' neither to
the right hand nor the left hand, and seek Him among the lost
tribes and the ungodly.  He shall put aside the temptashun of
Mammon and the flesh."  Her eyes and those of Brother Silas here
both sought the other female face, which was that of a young girl
of seventeen.

"Wot sez little Sister Meely,--wot sez Meely Parsons?" continued
Brother Silas, as if repeating an unctuous formula.

The young girl came hesitatingly forward, and with a nervous cry of
"Oh, Gideon!" threw herself on the breast of the young man.

For a moment they remained locked in each other's arms.  In the
promiscuous and fraternal embracings which were a part of the
devotional exercises of the hour, the act passed without
significance.  The young man gently raised her face.  She was young
and comely, albeit marked with a half-frightened, half-vacant
sorrow.  "Amen," said Brother Gideon, gravely.

He mounted his horse and turned to go.  Brother Silas had clasped
his powerful arms around both women and was holding them in a
ponderous embrace.

"Go forth, young man, into the wilderness."

The young man bowed his head, and urged his horse forward in the
bleak and barren plain.  In half an hour every vestige of the camp
and its unwholesome surroundings was lost in the distance.  It was
as if the strong desiccating wind, which seemed to spring up at his
horse's feet, had cleanly erased the flimsy structures from the
face of the plain, swept away the lighter breath of praise and
plaint, and dried up the easy-flowing tears.  The air was harsh but
pure; the grim economy of form and shade and color in the level
plain was coarse but not vulgar; the sky above him was cold and
distant but not repellent; the moisture that had been denied his
eyes at the prayer-meeting overflowed them here; the words that had
choked his utterance an hour ago now rose to his lips.  He threw
himself from his horse, and kneeling in the withered grass--a mere
atom in the boundless plain--lifted his pale face against the
irresponsive blue and prayed.

He prayed that the unselfish dream of his bitter boyhood, his
disappointed youth, might come to pass.  He prayed that he might in
higher hands become the humble instrument of good to his fellow-
man.  He prayed that the deficiencies of his scant education, his
self-taught learning, his helpless isolation, and his inexperience
might be overlooked or reinforced by grace.  He prayed that the
Infinite Compassion might enlighten his ignorance and solitude with
a manifestation of the Spirit; in his very weakness he prayed for
some special revelation, some sign or token, some visitation or
gracious unbending from that coldly lifting sky.  The low sun
burned the black edge of the distant tules with dull eating fires
as he prayed, lit the dwarfed hills with a brief but ineffectual
radiance, and then died out.  The lingering trade winds fired a few
volleys over its grave and then lapsed into a chilly silence.  The
young man staggered to his feet; it was quite dark now, but the
coming night had advanced a few starry vedettes so near the plain
they looked like human watch-fires.  For an instant he could not
remember where he was.  Then a light trembled far down at the
entrance of the valley.  Brother Gideon recognized it.  It was in
the lonely farmhouse of the widow of the last Circuit preacher.


II


The abode of the late Reverend Marvin Hiler remained in the
disorganized condition he had left it when removed from his sphere
of earthly uselessness and continuous accident.  The straggling
fence that only half inclosed the house and barn had stopped at
that point where the two deacons who had each volunteered to do a
day's work on it had completed their allotted time.  The building
of the barn had been arrested when the half load of timber
contributed by Sugar Mill brethren was exhausted, and three windows
given by "Christian Seekers" at Martinez painfully accented the
boarded spaces for the other three that "Unknown Friends" in
Tasajara had promised but not yet supplied.  In the clearing some
trees that had been felled but not taken away added to the general
incompleteness.

Something of this unfinished character clung to the Widow Hiler and
asserted itself in her three children, one of whom was consistently
posthumous.  Prematurely old and prematurely disappointed, she had
all the inexperience of girlhood with the cares of maternity, and
kept in her family circle the freshness of an old maid's
misogynistic antipathies with a certain guilty and remorseful
consciousness of widowhood.  She supported the meagre household to
which her husband had contributed only the extra mouths to feed
with reproachful astonishment and weary incapacity.  She had long
since grown tired of trying to make both ends meet, of which she
declared "the Lord had taken one."  During her two years' widowhood
she had waited on Providence, who by a pleasing local fiction had
been made responsible for the disused and cast-off furniture and
clothing which, accompanied with scriptural texts, found their way
mysteriously into her few habitable rooms.  The providential manna
was not always fresh; the ravens who fed her and her little ones
with flour from the Sugar Mills did not always select the best
quality.  Small wonder that, sitting by her lonely hearthstone,--a
borrowed stove that supplemented the unfinished fireplace,--
surrounded by her mismatched furniture and clad in misfitting
garments, she had contracted a habit of sniffling during her dreary
watches.  In her weaker moments she attributed it to grief; in her
stronger intervals she knew that it sprang from damp and draught.

In her apathy the sound of horses' hoofs at her unprotected door
even at that hour neither surprised nor alarmed her.  She lifted
her head as the door opened and the pale face of Gideon Deane
looked into the room.  She moved aside the cradle she was rocking,
and, taking a saucepan and tea-cup from a chair beside her,
absently dusted it with her apron, and pointing to the vacant seat
said, "Take a chair," as quietly as if he had stepped from the next
room instead of the outer darkness.

"I'll put up my horse first," said Gideon gently.

"So do," responded the widow briefly.

Gideon led his horse across the inclosure, stumbling over the heaps
of rubbish, dried chips, and weather-beaten shavings with which it
was strewn, until he reached the unfinished barn, where he
temporarily bestowed his beast.  Then taking a rusty axe, by the
faint light of the stars, he attacked one of the fallen trees with
such energy that at the end of ten minutes he reappeared at the
door with an armful of cut boughs and chips, which he quietly
deposited behind the stove.  Observing that he was still standing
as if looking for something, the widow lifted her eyes and said,
"Ef it's the bucket, I reckon ye'll find it at the spring, where
one of them foolish Filgee boys left it.  I've been that tuckered
out sens sundown, I ain't had the ambition to go and tote it back."
Without a word Gideon repaired to the spring, filled the missing
bucket, replaced the hoop on the loosened staves of another he
found lying useless beside it, and again returned to the house.
The widow once more pointed to the chair, and Gideon sat down.
"It's quite a spell sens you wos here," said the Widow Hiler,
returning her foot to the cradle-rocker; "not sens yer was
ordained.  Be'n practicin', I reckon, at the meetin'."

A slight color came into his cheek.  "My place is not there, Sister
Hiler," he said gently; "it's for those with the gift o' tongues.
I go forth only a common laborer in the vineyard."  He stopped and
hesitated; he might have said more, but the widow, who was familiar
with that kind of humility as the ordinary perfunctory expression
of her class, suggested no sympathetic interest in his mission.

"Thar's a deal o' talk over there," she said dryly, "and thar's
folks ez thinks thar's a deal o' money spent in picnicking the
Gospel that might be given to them ez wish to spread it, or to
their widows and children.  But that don't consarn you, Brother
Gideon.  Sister Parsons hez money enough to settle her darter Meely
comfortably on her own land; and I've heard tell that you and Meely
was only waitin' till you was ordained to be jined together.
You'll hev an easier time of it, Brother Gideon, than poor Marvin
Hiler had," she continued, suppressing her tears with a certain
astringency that took the place of her lost pride; "but the Lord
wills that some should be tried and some not."

"But I am not going to marry Meely Parsons," said Gideon quietly.

The widow took her foot from the rocker.  "Not marry Meely!" she
repeated vaguely.  But relapsing into her despondent mood she
continued: "Then I reckon it's true what other folks sez of Brother
Silas Braggley makin' up to her and his powerful exhortin'
influence over her ma.  Folks sez ez Sister Parsons hez just
resigned her soul inter his keepin'."

"Brother Silas hez a heavenly gift," said the young man, with
gentle enthusiasm; "and perhaps it may be so.  If it is, it is the
Lord's will.  But I do not marry Meely because my life and my ways
henceforth must lie far beyond her sphere of strength.  I oughtn't
to drag a young inexperienced soul with me to battle and struggle
in the thorny paths that I must tread."

"I reckon you know your own mind," said Sister Hiler grimly.  "But
thar's folks ez might allow that Meely Parsons ain't any better
than others, that she shouldn't have her share o' trials and keers
and crosses.  Riches and bringin' up don't exempt folks from the
shadder.  I married Marvin Hiler outer a house ez good ez Sister
Parsons', and at a time when old Cyrus Parsons hadn't a roof to his
head but the cover of the emigrant wagon he kem across the plains
in.  I might say ez Marvin knowed pretty well wot it was to have a
helpmeet in his ministration, if it wasn't vanity of sperit to say
it now.  But the flesh is weak, Brother Gideon."  Her influenza
here resolved itself into unmistakable tears, which she wiped away
with the first article that was accessible in the work-bag before
her.  As it chanced to be a black silk neckerchief of the deceased
Hiler, the result was funereal, suggestive, but practically
ineffective.

"You were a good wife to Brother Hiler," said the young man gently.
"Everybody knows that."

"It's suthin' to think of since he's gone," continued the widow,
bringing her work nearer to her eyes to adjust it to their tear-
dimmed focus.  "It's suthin' to lay to heart in the lonely days and
nights when thar's no man round to fetch water and wood and lend a
hand to doin' chores; it's suthin' to remember, with his three
children to feed, and little Selby, the eldest, that vain and
useless that he can't even tote the baby round while I do the work
of a hired man."

"It's a hard trial, Sister Hiler," said Gideon, "but the Lord has
His appointed time."

Familiar as consolation by vague quotation was to Sister Hiler,
there was an occult sympathy in the tone in which this was offered
that lifted her for an instant out of her narrower self.  She
raised her eyes to his.  The personal abstraction of the devotee
had no place in the deep dark eyes that were lifted from the cradle
to hers with a sad, discriminating, and almost womanly sympathy.
Surprised out of her selfish preoccupation, she was reminded of her
apparent callousness to what might be his present disappointment.
Perhaps it seemed strange to her, too, that those tender eyes
should go a-begging.

"Yer takin' a Christian view of yer own disappointment, Brother
Gideon," she said, with less astringency of manner; "but every
heart knoweth its own sorrer.  I'll be gettin' supper now that the
baby's sleepin' sound, and ye'll sit by and eat."

"If you let me help you, Sister Hiler," said the young man with a
cheerfulness that belied any overwhelming heart affection, and
awakened in the widow a feminine curiosity as to his real feelings
to Meely.  But her further questioning was met with a frank,
amiable, and simple brevity that was as puzzling as the most artful
periphrase of tact.  Accustomed as she was to the loquacity of
grief and the confiding prolixity of disappointed lovers, she could
not understand her guest's quiescent attitude.  Her curiosity,
however, soon gave way to the habitual contemplation of her own
sorrows, and she could not forego the opportune presence of a
sympathizing auditor to whom she could relieve her feelings.  The
preparations for the evening meal were therefore accompanied by a
dreary monotone of lamentation.  She bewailed her lost youth, her
brief courtship, the struggles of her early married life, her
premature widowhood, her penurious and helpless existence, the
disruption of all her present ties, the hopelessness of the future.
She rehearsed the unending plaint of those long evenings, set to
the music of the restless wind around her bleak dwelling, with
something of its stridulous reiteration.  The young man listened,
and replied with softly assenting eyes, but without pausing in the
material aid that he was quietly giving her.  He had removed the
cradle of the sleeping child to the bedroom, quieted the sudden
wakefulness of "Pinkey," rearranged the straggling furniture of the
sitting-room with much order and tidiness, repaired the hinges of a
rebellious shutter and the lock of an unyielding door, and yet had
apparently retained an unabated interest in her spoken woes.
Surprised once more into recognizing this devotion, Sister Hiler
abruptly arrested her monologue.

"Well, if you ain't the handiest man I ever seed about a house!"

"Am I?" said Gideon, with suddenly sparkling eyes.  "Do you really
think so?"

"I do."

"Then you don't know how glad I am."  His frank face so
unmistakably showed his simple gratification that the widow, after
gazing at him for a moment, was suddenly seized with a bewildering
fancy.  The first effect of it was the abrupt withdrawal of her
eyes, then a sudden effusion of blood to her forehead that finally
extended to her cheekbones, and then an interval of forgetfulness
where she remained with a plate held vaguely in her hand.  When she
succeeded at last in putting it on the table instead of the young
man's lap, she said in a voice quite unlike her own,--

"Sho!"

"I mean it," said Gideon, cheerfully.  After a pause, in which he
unostentatiously rearranged the table which the widow was
abstractedly disorganizing, he said gently, "After tea, when you're
not so much flustered with work and worry, and more composed in
spirit, we'll have a little talk, Sister Hiler.  I'm in no hurry
to-night, and if you don't mind I'll make myself comfortable in the
barn with my blanket until sun-up to-morrow.  I can get up early
enough to do some odd chores round the lot before I go."

"You know best, Brother Gideon," said the widow, faintly, "and if
you think it's the Lord's will, and no speshal trouble to you, so
do.  But sakes alive! it's time I tidied myself a little," she
continued, lifting one hand to her hair, while with the other she
endeavored to fasten a buttonless collar; "leavin' alone the
vanities o' dress, it's ez much as one can do to keep a clean rag
on with the children climbin' over ye.  Sit by, and I'll be back in
a minit."  She retired to the back room, and in a few moments
returned with smoothed hair and a palm-leaf broche shawl thrown
over her shoulders, which not only concealed the ravages made by
time and maternity on the gown beneath, but to some extent gave her
the suggestion of being a casual visitor in her own household.  It
must be confessed that for the rest of the evening Sister Hiler
rather lent herself to this idea, possibly from the fact that it
temporarily obliterated the children, and quite removed her from
any responsibility in the unpicturesque household.  This effect was
only marred by the absence of any impression upon Gideon, who
scarcely appeared to notice the change, and whose soft eyes seemed
rather to identify the miserable woman under her forced disguise.
He prefaced the meal with a fervent grace, to which the widow
listened with something of the conscious attitude she had adopted
at church during her late husband's ministration, and during the
meal she ate with a like consciousness of "company manners."

Later that evening Selby Hiler woke up in his little truckle bed,
listening to the rising midnight wind, which in his childish fancy
he confounded with the sound of voices that came through the open
door of the living-room.  He recognized the deep voice of the young
minister, Gideon, and the occasional tearful responses of his
mother, and he was fancying himself again at church when he heard a
step, and the young preacher seemed to enter the room, and going to
the bed leaned over it and kissed him on the forehead, and then
bent over his little brother and sister and kissed them too.  Then
he slowly re-entered the living-room.  Lifting himself softly on
his elbow, Selby saw him go up towards his mother, who was crying,
with her head on the table, and kiss her also on the forehead.
Then he said "Good-night," and the front door closed, and Selby
heard his footsteps crossing the lot towards the barn.  His mother
was still sitting with her face buried in her hands when he fell
asleep.

She sat by the dying embers of the fire until the house was still
again; then she rose and wiped her eyes.  "Et's a good thing," she
said, going to the bedroom door, and looking in upon her sleeping
children; "et's a mercy and a blessing for them and--for--me.  But--
but--he might--hev--said--he--loved me!"


III


Although Gideon Deane contrived to find a nest for his blanket in
the mouldy straw of the unfinished barn loft, he could not sleep.
He restlessly watched the stars through the cracks of the boarded
roof, and listened to the wind that made the half-open structure as
vocal as a sea-shell, until past midnight.  Once or twice he had
fancied he heard the tramp of horse-hoofs on the far-off trail, and
now it seemed to approach nearer, mingled with the sound of voices.
Gideon raised his head and looked through the doorway of the loft.
He was not mistaken: two men had halted in the road before the
house, and were examining it as if uncertain if it were the
dwelling they were seeking, and were hesitating if they should
rouse the inmates.  Thinking he might spare the widow this
disturbance to her slumbers, and possibly some alarm, he rose
quickly, and descending to the inclosure walked towards the house.
As he approached the men advanced to meet him, and by accident or
design ranged themselves on either side.  A glance showed him they
were strangers to the locality.

"We're lookin' fer the preacher that lives here," said one, who
seemed to be the elder.  "A man by the name o' Hiler, I reckon!"

"Brother Hiler has been dead two years," responded Gideon.  "His
widow and children live here."

The two men looked at each other.  The younger one laughed; the
elder mumbled something about its being "three years ago," and then
turning suddenly on Gideon, said:

"P'r'aps YOU'RE a preacher?"

"I am."

"Can you come to a dying man?"

"I will."

The two men again looked at each other.  "But," continued Gideon,
softly, "you'll please keep quiet so as not to disturb the widow
and her children, while I get my horse."  He turned away; the
younger man made a movement as if to stop him, but the elder
quickly restrained his hand.  "He isn't goin' to run away," he
whispered.  "Look," he added, as Gideon a moment later reappeared
mounted and equipped.

"Do you think we'll be in time?" asked the young preacher as they
rode quickly away in the direction of the tules.

The younger repressed a laugh; the other answered grimly, "I
reckon."

"And is he conscious of his danger?"

"I reckon."

Gideon did not speak again.  But as the onus of that silence seemed
to rest upon the other two, the last speaker, after a few moments'
silent and rapid riding, continued abruptly, "You don't seem
curious?"

"Of what?" said Gideon, lifting his soft eyes to the speaker.  "You
tell me of a brother at the point of death, who seeks the Lord
through an humble vessel like myself.  HE will tell me the rest."

A silence still more constrained on the part of the two strangers
followed, which they endeavored to escape from by furious riding;
so that in half an hour the party had reached a point where the
tules began to sap the arid plain, while beyond them broadened the
lagoons of the distant river.  In the foreground, near a clump of
dwarfed willows, a camp-fire was burning, around which fifteen or
twenty armed men were collected, their horses picketed in an outer
circle guarded by two mounted sentries.  A blasted cotton-wood with
a single black arm extended over the tules stood ominously against
the dark sky.

The circle opened to receive them and closed again.  The elder man
dismounted and leading Gideon to the blasted cotton-wood, pointed
to a pinioned man seated at its foot with an armed guard over him.
He looked up at Gideon with an amused smile.

"You said it was a dying man," said Gideon, recoiling.

"He will be a dead man in half an hour," returned the stranger.

"And you?"

"We are the Vigilantes from Alamo.  This man," pointing to the
prisoner, "is a gambler who killed a man yesterday.  We hunted him
here, tried him an hour ago, and found him guilty.  The last man we
hung here, three years ago, asked for a parson.  We brought him the
man who used to live where we found you.  So we thought we'd give
this man the same show, and brought you."

"And if I refuse?" said Gideon.

The leader shrugged his shoulders.

"That's HIS lookout, not ours.  We've given him the chance.  Drive
ahead, boys," he added, turning to the others; "the parson allows
he won't take a hand."

"One moment," said Gideon, in desperation, "one moment, for the
sake of that God you have brought me here to invoke in behalf of
this wretched man.  One moment, for the sake of Him in whose
presence you must stand one day as he does now."  With passionate
earnestness he pointed out the vindictive impulse they were
mistaking for Divine justice; with pathetic fervency he fell upon
his knees and implored their mercy for the culprit.  But in vain.
As at the camp-meeting of the day before, he was chilled to find
his words seemed to fall on unheeding and unsympathetic ears.  He
looked around on their abstracted faces; in their gloomy savage
enthusiasm for expiatory sacrifice, he was horrified to find the
same unreasoning exaltation that had checked his exhortations then.
Only one face looked upon his, half mischievously, half
compassionately.  It was the prisoner's.

"Yer wastin' time on us," said the leader, dryly; "wastin' HIS
time.  Hadn't you better talk to him?"

Gideon rose to his feet, pale and cold.  "He may have something to
confess.  May I speak with him alone?" he said gently.

The leader motioned to the sentry to fall back.  Gideon placed
himself before the prisoner so that in the faint light of the camp-
fire the man's figure was partly hidden by his own.  "You meant
well with your little bluff, pardner," said the prisoner, not
unkindly, "but they've got the cards to win."

"Kneel down with your back to me," said Gideon, in a low voice.
The prisoner fell on his knees.  At the same time he felt Gideon's
hand and the gliding of steel behind his back, and the severed
cords hung loosely on his arms and legs.

"When I lift my voice to God, brother," said Gideon, softly, "drop
on your face and crawl as far as you can in a straight line in my
shadow, then break for the tules.  I will stand between you and
their first fire."

"Are you mad?" said the prisoner.  "Do you think they won't fire
lest they should hurt you?  Man! they'll kill YOU, the first
thing."

"So be it--if your chance is better."

Still on his knees, the man grasped Gideon's two hands in his own
and devoured him with his eyes.

"You mean it?"

"I do."

"Then," said the prisoner, quietly, "I reckon I'll stop and hear
what you've got to say about God until they're ready."

"You refuse to fly?"

"I reckon I was never better fitted to die than now," said the
prisoner, still grasping his hand.  After a pause he added in a
lower tone, "I can't pray--but--I think," he hesitated, "I think I
could manage to ring in a hymn."

"Will you try, brother?"

"Yes."

With their hands tightly clasped together, Gideon lifted his gentle
voice.  The air was a common one, familiar in the local religious
gatherings, and after the first verse one or two of the sullen
lookers-on joined unkindly in the refrain.  But, as he went on, the
air and words seemed to offer a vague expression to the dull
lowering animal emotion of the savage concourse, and at the end of
the second verse the refrain, augmented in volume and swelled by
every voice in the camp, swept out over the hollow plain.

It was met in the distance by a far-off cry.  With an oath taking
the place of his supplication, the leader sprang to his feet.  But
too late!  The cry was repeated as a nearer slogan of defiance--the
plain shook--there was the tempestuous onset of furious hoofs--a
dozen shots--the scattering of the embers of the camp-fire into a
thousand vanishing sparks even as the lurid gathering of savage
humanity was dispersed and dissipated over the plain, and Gideon
and the prisoner stood alone.  But as the sheriff of Contra Costa
with his rescuing posse swept by, the man they had come to save
fell forward in Gideon's arms with a bullet in his breast--the
Parthian shot of the flying Vigilante leader.

The eager crowd that surged around him with outstretched helping
hands would have hustled Gideon aside.  But the wounded man roused
himself, and throwing an arm around the young preacher's neck,
warned them back with the other.  "Stand back!" he gasped.  "He
risked his life for mine!  Look at him, boys!  Wanted ter stand up
'twixt them hounds and me and draw their fire on himself!  Ain't he
just hell?" he stopped; an apologetic smile crossed his lips.  "I
clean forgot, pardner; but it's all right.  I said I was ready to
go; and I am."  His arm slipped from Gideon's neck; he slid to the
ground; he had fainted.

A dark, military-looking man pushed his way through the crowd--the
surgeon, one of the posse, accompanied by a younger man
fastidiously dressed.  The former bent over the unconscious
prisoner, and tore open his shirt; the latter followed his
movements with a flush of anxious inquiry in his handsome, careless
face.  After a moment's pause the surgeon, without looking up,
answered the young man's mute questioning.  "Better send the
sheriff here at once, Jack."

"He is here," responded the official, joining the group.

The surgeon looked up at him.  "I am afraid they've put the case
out of your jurisdiction, Sheriff," he said grimly.  "It's only a
matter of a day or two at best--perhaps only a few hours.  But he
won't live to be taken back to jail."

"Will he live to go as far as Martinez?" asked the young man
addressed as Jack.

"With care, perhaps."

"Will you be responsible for him, Jack Hamlin?" said the sheriff,
suddenly.

"I will."

"Then take him.  Stay, he's coming to."

The wounded man slowly opened his eyes.  They fell upon Jack Hamlin
with a pleased look of recognition, but almost instantly and
anxiously glanced around as if seeking another.  Leaning over him,
Jack said gayly, "They've passed you over to me, old man; are you
willing?"

The wounded man's eyes assented, but still moved restlessly from
side to side.

"Is there any one you want to go with you?"

"Yes," said the eyes.

"The doctor, of course?"

The eyes did not answer.  Gideon dropped on his knees beside him.
A ray of light flashed in the helpless man's eyes and transfigured
his whole face.

"You want HIM?" said Jack incredulously.

"Yes," said the eyes.

"What--the preacher?"

The lips struggled to speak.  Everybody bent down to hear his
reply.

"You bet," he said faintly.


IV


It was early morning when the wagon containing the wounded man,
Gideon, Jack Hamlin, and the surgeon crept slowly through the
streets of Martinez and stopped before the door of the "Palmetto
Shades."  The upper floor of this saloon and hostelry was occupied
by Mr. Hamlin as his private lodgings, and was fitted up with the
usual luxury and more than the usual fastidiousness of his
extravagant class.  As the dusty and travel-worn party trod the
soft carpets and brushed aside their silken hangings in their slow
progress with their helpless burden to the lace-canopied and snowy
couch of the young gambler, it seemed almost a profanation of some
feminine seclusion.  Gideon, to whom such luxury was unknown, was
profoundly troubled.  The voluptuous ease and sensuousness, the
refinements of a life of irresponsible indulgence, affected him
with a physical terror to which in his late moment of real peril he
had been a stranger; the gilding and mirrors blinded his eyes; even
the faint perfume seemed to him an unhallowed incense, and turned
him sick and giddy.  Accustomed as he had been to disease and
misery in its humblest places and meanest surroundings, the wounded
desperado lying in laces and fine linen seemed to him monstrous and
unnatural.  It required all his self-abnegation, all his sense of
duty, all his deep pity, and all the instinctive tact which was
born of his gentle thoughtfulness for others, to repress a
shrinking.  But when the miserable cause of all again opened his
eyes and sought Gideon's hand, he forgot it all.  Happily, Hamlin,
who had been watching him with wondering but critical eyes, mistook
his concern.  "Don't you worry about that gin-mill and hash-
gymnasium downstairs," he said.  "I've given the proprietor a
thousand dollars to shut up shop as long as this thing lasts."
That this was done from some delicate sense of respect to the
preacher's domiciliary presence, and not entirely to secure
complete quiet and seclusion for the invalid, was evident from the
fact that Mr. Hamlin's drawing and dining rooms, and even the hall,
were filled with eager friends and inquirers.  It was discomposing
to Gideon to find himself almost an equal subject of interest and
curiosity to the visitors.  The story of his simple devotion had
lost nothing by report; hats were doffed in his presence that might
have grown to their wearers' heads; the boldest eyes dropped as he
passed by; he had only to put his pale face out of the bedroom door
and the loudest discussion, heated by drink or affection, fell to a
whisper.  The surgeon, who had recognized the one dominant wish of
the hopelessly sinking man, gravely retired, leaving Gideon a few
simple instructions and directions for their use.  "He'll last as
long as he has need of you," he said respectfully.  "My art is only
second here.  God help you both!  When he wakes, make the most of
your time."

In a few moments he did waken, and as before turned his fading look
almost instinctively on the faithful, gentle eyes that were
watching him.  How Gideon made the most of his time did not
transpire, but at the end of an hour, when the dying man had again
lapsed into unconsciousness, he softly opened the door of the
sitting-room.

Hamlin started hastily to his feet.  He had cleared the room of his
visitors, and was alone.  He turned a moment towards the window
before he faced Gideon with inquiring but curiously-shining eyes.

"Well?" he said, hesitatingly.

"Do you know Kate Somers?" asked Gideon.

Hamlin opened his brown eyes.  "Yes."

"Can you send for her?"

"What, HERE?"

"Yes, here."

"What for?"

"To marry him," said Gideon, gently.  "There's no time to lose."

"To MARRY him?"

"He wishes it."

"But say--oh, come, now," said Hamlin confidentially, leaning back
with his hands on the top of a chair.  "Ain't this playing it a
little--just a LITTLE--too low down?  Of course you mean well, and
all that; but come, now, say--couldn't you just let up on him
there?  Why, she"--Hamlin softly closed the door--"she's got no
character."

"The more reason he should give her one."

A cynical knowledge of matrimony imparted to him by the wives of
others evidently colored Mr. Hamlin's views.  "Well, perhaps it's
all the same if he's going to die.  But isn't it rather rough on
HER?  I don't know," he added, reflectively; "she was sniveling
round here a little while ago, until I sent her away."

"You sent her away!" echoed Gideon.

"I did."

"Why?"

"Because YOU were here."

Nevertheless Mr. Hamlin departed, and in half an hour reappeared
with two brilliantly dressed women.  One, hysterical, tearful,
frightened, and pallid, was the destined bride; the other, highly
colored, excited, and pleasedly observant, was her friend.  Two men
hastily summoned from the anteroom as witnesses completed the group
that moved into the bedroom and gathered round the bed.

The ceremony was simple and brief.  It was well, for of all who
took part in it none was more shaken by emotion than the
officiating priest.  The brilliant dresses of the women, the
contrast of their painted faces with the waxen pallor of the dying
man; the terrible incongruity of their voices, inflections,
expressions, and familiarity; the mingled perfume of cosmetics and
the faint odor of wine; the eyes of the younger woman following his
movements with strange absorption, so affected him that he was glad
when he could fall on his knees at last and bury his face in the
pillow of the sufferer.  The hand that had been placed in the
bride's cold fingers slipped from them and mechanically sought
Gideon's again.  The significance of the unconscious act brought
the first spontaneous tears into the woman's eyes.  It was his last
act, for when Gideon's voice was again lifted in prayer, the spirit
for whom it was offered had risen with it, as it were, still
lovingly hand in hand, from the earth forever.

The funeral was arranged for two days later, and Gideon found that
his services had been so seriously yet so humbly counted upon by
the friends of the dead man that he could scarce find it in his
heart to tell them that it was the function of the local preacher--
an older and more experienced man than himself.  "If it is," said
Jack Hamlin, coolly, "I'm afraid he won't get a yaller dog to come
to his church; but if you say you'll preach at the grave, there
ain't a man, woman, or child that will be kept away.  Don't you go
back on your luck, now; it's something awful and nigger-like.
You've got this crowd where the hair is short; excuse me, but it's
so.  Talk of revivals!  You could give that one-horse show in
Tasajara a hundred points, and skunk them easily."  Indeed, had
Gideon been accessible to vanity, the spontaneous homage he met
with everywhere would have touched him more sympathetically and
kindly than it did; but in the utter unconsciousness of his own
power and the quality they worshiped in him, he felt alarmed and
impatient of what he believed to be their weak sympathy with his
own human weakness.  In the depth of his unselfish heart, lit, it
must be confessed, only by the scant, inefficient lamp of his
youthful experience, he really believed he had failed in his
apostolic mission because he had been unable to touch the hearts of
the Vigilantes by oral appeal and argument.  Feeling thus the
reverence of these irreligious people that surrounded him, the
facile yielding of their habits and prejudices to his half-uttered
wish, appeared to him only a temptation of the flesh.  No one had
sought him after the manner of the camp-meeting; he had converted
the wounded man through a common weakness of their humanity.  More
than that, he was conscious of a growing fascination for the
truthfulness and sincerity of that class; particularly of Mr. Jack
Hamlin, whose conversion he felt he could never attempt, yet whose
strange friendship alternately thrilled and frightened him.

It was the evening before the funeral.  The coffin, half smothered
in wreaths and flowers, stood upon trestles in the anteroom; a
large silver plate bearing an inscription on which for the second
time Gideon read the name of the man he had converted.  It was a
name associated on the frontier so often with reckless hardihood,
dissipation, and blood, that even now Gideon trembled at his
presumption, and was chilled by a momentary doubt of the efficiency
of his labor.  Drawing unconsciously nearer to the mute subject of
his thoughts, he threw his arms across the coffin and buried his
face between them.

A stream of soft music, the echo of some forgotten song, seemed to
Gideon to suddenly fill and possess the darkened room, and then to
slowly die away, like the opening and shutting of a door upon a
flood of golden radiance.  He listened with hushed breath and a
beating heart.  He had never heard anything like it before.  Again
the strain arose, the chords swelled round him, until from their
midst a tenor voice broke high and steadfast, like a star in
troubled skies.  Gideon scarcely breathed.  It was a hymn--but such
a hymn.  He had never conceived there could be such beautiful
words, joined to such exquisite melody, and sung with a grace so
tender and true.  What were all other hymns to this ineffable
yearning for light, for love, and for infinite rest?  Thrilled and
exalted, Gideon felt his doubts pierced and scattered by that
illuminating cry.  Suddenly he rose, and with a troubled thought
pushed open the door to the sitting-room.  It was Mr. Jack Hamlin
sitting before a parlor organ.  The music ceased.

"It was YOU," stammered Gideon.

Jack nodded, struck a few chords by way of finish, and then wheeled
round on the music-stool towards Gideon.  His face was slightly
flushed.  "Yes.  I used to be the organist and tenor in our church
in the States.  I used to snatch the sinners bald-headed with that.
Do you know I reckon I'll sing that to-morrow, if you like, and
maybe afterwards we'll--but"--he stopped--"we'll talk of that after
the funeral.  It's business."  Seeing Gideon still glancing with a
troubled air from the organ to himself, he said: "Would you like to
try that hymn with me?  Come on!"

He again struck the chords.  As the whole room seemed to throb with
the music, Gideon felt himself again carried away.  Glancing over
Jack's shoulders, he could read the words but not the notes; yet,
having a quick ear for rhythm, he presently joined in with a deep
but uncultivated baritone.  Together they forgot everything else,
and at the end of an hour were only recalled by the presence of a
silently admiring concourse of votive-offering friends who had
gathered round them.

The funeral took place the next day at the grave dug in the public
cemetery--a green area fenced in by the palisading tules.  The
words of Gideon were brief but humble; the strongest partisan of
the dead man could find no fault in a confession of human frailty
in which the speaker humbly confessed his share; and when the hymn
was started by Hamlin and taken up by Gideon, the vast multitude,
drawn by interest and curiosity, joined as in a solemn Amen.

Later, when those two strangely-assorted friends had returned to
Mr. Hamlin's rooms previous to Gideon's departure, the former, in a
manner more serious than his habitual cynical good-humor, began: "I
said I had to talk business with you.  The boys about here want to
build a church for you, and are ready to plank the money down if
you'll say it's a go.  You understand they aren't asking you to run
in opposition to that Gospel sharp--excuse me--that's here now, nor
do they want you to run a side show in connection with it.  They
want you to be independent.  They don't pin you down to any kind of
religion, you know; whatever you care to give them--Methodist,
Roman Catholic, Presbyterian---is mighty good enough for them, if
you'll expound it.  You might give a little of each, or one on one
day and one another--they'll never know the difference if you only
mix the drinks yourself.  They'll give you a house and guarantee
you fifteen hundred dollars the first year."

He stopped and walked towards the window.  The sunlight that fell
upon his handsome face seemed to call back the careless smile to
his lips and the reckless fire to his brown eyes.  "I don't suppose
there's a man among them that wouldn't tell you all this in a great
deal better way than I do.  But the darned fools--excuse me--would
have ME break it to you.  Why, I don't know.  I needn't tell you I
like you--not only for what you did for George--but I like you for
your style--for yourself.  And I want you to accept.  You could
keep these rooms till they got a house ready for you.  Together--
you and me--we'd make that organ howl.  But because I like it--
because it's everything to us--and nothing to you, it don't seem
square for me to ask it.  Does it?"

Gideon replied by taking Hamlin's hand.  His face was perfectly
pale, but his look collected.  He had not expected this offer, and
yet when it was made he felt as if he had known it before--as if he
had been warned of it--as if it was the great temptation of his
life.  Watching him with an earnestness only slightly overlaid by
his usual manner, Hamlin went on.

"I know it would be lonely here, and a man like you ought to have a
wife for--" he slightly lifted his eyebrows--"for example's sake.
I heard there was a young lady in the case over there in Tasajara--
but the old people didn't see it on account of your position.
They'd jump at it now.  Eh?  No?  Well," continued Jack, with a
decent attempt to conceal his cynical relief, "perhaps those boys
have been so eager to find out all they could do for you that
they've been sold.  Perhaps we're making equal fools of ourselves
now in asking you to stay.  But don't say no just yet--take a day
or a week to think of it."

Gideon still pale but calm, cast his eyes around the elegant room,
at the magic organ, then upon the slight handsome figure before
him.  "I WILL think of it," he said, in a low voice, as he pressed
Jack's hand.  "And if I accept you will find me here to-morrow
afternoon at this time; if I do not you will know that I keep with
me wherever I go the kindness, the brotherly love, and the grace of
God that prompts your offer, even though He withholds from me His
blessed light, which alone can make me know His wish."  He stopped
and hesitated.  "If you love me, Jack, don't ask me to stay, but
pray for that light which alone can guide my feet back to you, or
take me hence for ever."

He once more tightly pressed the hand of the embarrassed man before
him and was gone.

Passers-by on the Martinez road that night remembered a mute and
ghostly rider who, heedless of hail or greeting, moved by them as
in a trance or vision.  But the Widow Hiler the next morning,
coming from the spring, found no abstraction or preoccupation in
the soft eyes of Gideon Deane as he suddenly appeared before her,
and gently relieved her of the bucket she was carrying.  A quick
flash of color over her brow and cheek-bone, as if a hot iron had
passed there, and a certain astringent coyness, would have
embarrassed any other man than him.

"Sho, it's YOU.  I reck'ned I'd seen the last of you."

"You don't mean that, Sister Hiler?" said Gideon, with a gentle
smile.

"Well, what with the report of your goin's on at Martinez and
improvin' the occasion of that sinner's death, and leadin' a
revival, I reckoned you'ld hev forgotten low folks at Tasajara.
And if your goin' to be settled there in a new church, with new
hearers, I reckon you'll want new surroundings too.  Things change
and young folks change with 'em."

They had reached the house.  Her breath was quick and short as if
she and not Gideon had borne the burden.  He placed the bucket in
its accustomed place, and then gently took her hand in his.  The
act precipitated the last drop of feeble coquetry she had retained,
and the old tears took its place.  Let us hope for the last time.
For as Gideon stooped and lifted her ailing babe in his strong
arms, he said softly, "Whatever God has wrought for me since we
parted, I know now He has called me to but one work."

"And that work?" she asked, tremulously.

"To watch over the widow and fatherless.  And with God's blessing,
sister, and His holy ordinance, I am here to stay."



SARAH WALKER


It was very hot.  Not a breath of air was stirring throughout the
western wing of the Greyport Hotel, and the usual feverish life of
its four hundred inmates had succumbed to the weather.  The great
veranda was deserted; the corridors were desolated; no footfall
echoed in the passages; the lazy rustle of a wandering skirt, or a
passing sigh that was half a pant, seemed to intensify the heated
silence.  An intoxicated bee, disgracefully unsteady in wing and
leg, who had been holding an inebriated conversation with himself
in the corner of my window pane, had gone to sleep at last and was
snoring.  The errant prince might have entered the slumberous halls
unchallenged, and walked into any of the darkened rooms whose open
doors gaped for more air, without awakening the veriest Greyport
flirt with his salutation.  At times a drowsy voice, a lazily
interjected sentence, an incoherent protest, a long-drawn phrase of
saccharine tenuity suddenly broke off with a gasp, came vaguely to
the ear, as if indicating a half-suspended, half-articulated
existence somewhere, but not definite enough to indicate
conversation.  In the midst of this, there was the sudden crying of
a child.

I looked up from my work.  Through the camera of my jealously
guarded window I could catch a glimpse of the vivid, quivering blue
of the sky, the glittering intensity of the ocean, the long
motionless leaves of the horse-chestnut in the road,--all utterly
inconsistent with anything as active as this lamentation.  I
stepped to the open door and into the silent hall.

Apparently the noise had attracted the equal attention of my
neighbors.  A vague chorus of "Sarah Walker," in querulous
recognition, of "O Lord! that child again!" in hopeless protest,
rose faintly from the different rooms.  As the lamentations seemed
to approach nearer, the visitors' doors were successively shut,
swift footsteps hurried along the hall; past my open door came a
momentary vision of a heated nursemaid carrying a tumultuous chaos
of frilled skirts, flying sash, rebellious slippers, and tossing
curls; there was a moment's rallying struggle before the room
nearly opposite mine, and then a door opened and shut upon the
vision.  It was Sarah Walker!

Everybody knew her; few had ever seen more of her than this passing
vision.  In the great hall, in the dining-room, in the vast
parlors, in the garden, in the avenue, on the beach, a sound of
lamentation had always been followed by this same brief apparition.
Was there a sudden pause among the dancers and a subjugation of the
loudest bassoons in the early evening "hop," the explanation was
given in the words "Sarah Walker."  Was there a wild confusion
among the morning bathers on the sands, people whispered "Sarah
Walker."  A panic among the waiters at dinner, an interruption in
the Sunday sacred concert, a disorganization of the after-dinner
promenade on the veranda, was instantly referred to Sarah Walker.
Nor were her efforts confined entirely to public life.  In cozy
corners and darkened recesses, bearded lips withheld the amorous
declaration to mutter "Sarah Walker" between their clenched teeth;
coy and bashful tongues found speech at last in the rapid
formulation of "Sarah Walker."  Nobody ever thought of abbreviating
her full name.  The two people in the hotel, otherwise
individualized, but known only as "Sarah Walker's father" and
"Sarah Walker's mother," and never as Mr. and Mrs. Walker,
addressed her only as "Sarah Walker"; two animals that were
occasionally a part of this passing pageant were known as "Sarah
Walker's dog" and "Sarah Walker's cat," and later it was my proud
privilege to sink my own individuality under the title of "that
friend of Sarah Walker's."

It must not be supposed that she had attained this baleful eminence
without some active criticism.  Every parent in the Greyport Hotel
had held his or her theory of the particular defects of Sarah
Walker's education; every virgin and bachelor had openly expressed
views of the peculiar discipline that was necessary to her
subjugation.  It may be roughly estimated that she would have spent
the entire nine years of her active life in a dark cupboard on an
exclusive diet of bread and water, had this discipline obtained;
while, on the other hand, had the educational theories of the
parental assembly prevailed, she would have ere this shone an
etherealized essence in the angelic host.  In either event she
would have "ceased from troubling," which was the general Greyport
idea of higher education.  A paper read before our Literary Society
on "Sarah Walker and other infantile diseases," was referred to in
the catalogue as "Walker, Sarah, Prevention and Cure," while the
usual burlesque legislation of our summer season culminated in the
Act entitled "An Act to amend an Act entitled an Act for the
abatement of Sarah Walker."  As she was hereafter exclusively to be
fed "on the PROVISIONS of this Act," some idea of its general tone
may be gathered.  It was a singular fact in this point of her
history that her natural progenitors not only offered no resistance
to the doubtful celebrity of their offspring, but, by hopelessly
accepting the situation, to some extent POSED as Sarah Walker's
victims.  Mr. and Mrs. Walker were known to be rich, respectable,
and indulgent to their only child.  They themselves had been
evolved from a previous generation of promiscuously acquired wealth
into the repose of inherited property, but it was currently
accepted that Sarah had "cast back" and reincarnated some waif on
the deck of an emigrant ship at the beginning of the century.

Such was the child separated from me by this portentous history, a
narrow passage, and a closed nursery door.  Presently, however, the
door was partly opened again as if to admit the air.  The crying
had ceased, but in its place the monotonous Voice of Conscience,
for the moment personated by Sarah Walker's nursemaid, kept alive a
drowsy recollection of Sarah Walker's transgressions.

"You see," said the Voice, "what a dreadful thing it is for a
little girl to go on as you do.  I am astonished at you, Sarah
Walker.  So is everybody; so is the good ladies next door; so is
the kind gentleman opposite; so is all!  Where you expect to go to,
'Evin only knows!  How you expect to be forgiven, saints alone can
tell!  But so it is always, and yet you keep it up.  And wouldn't
you like it different, Sarah Walker?  Wouldn't you like to have
everybody love you?  Wouldn't you like them good ladies next door,
and that nice gentleman opposite, all to kinder rise up and say,
'Oh, what a dear good little girl Sarah Walker is?'"  The
interpolation of a smacking sound of lips, as if in unctuous
anticipation of Sarah Walker's virtue, here ensued--"Oh, what a
dear, good, sw-e-et, lovely little girl Sarah Walker is!"

There was a dead silence.  It may have been fancy, but I thought
that some of the doors in the passage creaked softly as if in
listening expectation.  Then the silence was broken by a sigh.  Had
Sarah Walker ingloriously succumbed?  Rash and impotent conclusion!

"I don't," said Sarah Walker's voice, slowly rising until it broke
on the crest of a mountainous sob, "I--don't--want--'em--to--love
me.  I--don't want--'em--to say--what a--dear--good--little girl--
Sarah Walker is!"  She caught her breath.  "I--want--'em--to say--
what a naughty--bad--dirty--horrid--filthy--little girl Sarah
Walker is--so I do.  There!"

The doors slammed all along the passages.  The dreadful issue was
joined.  I softly crossed the hall and looked into Sarah Walker's
room.

The light from a half-opened shutter fell full upon her rebellious
little figure.  She had stiffened herself in a large easy-chair
into the attitude in which she had been evidently deposited there
by the nurse whose torn-off apron she still held rigidly in one
hand.  Her shapely legs stood out before her, jointless and
inflexible to the point of her tiny shoes--a POSE copied with
pathetic fidelity by the French doll at her feet.  The attitude
must have been dreadfully uncomfortable, and maintained only as
being replete with some vague insults to the person who had put her
down, as exhibiting a wild indecorum of silken stocking.  A
mystified kitten--Sarah Walker's inseparable--was held as rigidly
under one arm with equal dumb aggressiveness.  Following the stiff
line of her half-recumbent figure, her head suddenly appeared
perpendicularly erect--yet the only mobile part of her body.  A
dazzling sunburst of silky hair, the color of burnished copper,
partly hid her neck and shoulders and the back of the chair.  Her
eyes were a darker shade of the same color--the orbits appearing
deeper and larger from the rubbing in of habitual tears from long
wet lashes.  Nothing so far seemed inconsistent with her infelix
reputation, but, strange to say, her other features were marked by
delicacy and refinement, and her mouth--that sorely exercised and
justly dreaded member--was small and pretty, albeit slightly
dropped at the corners.

The immediate effect of my intrusion was limited solely to the
nursemaid.  Swooping suddenly upon Sarah Walker's too evident
deshabille, she made two or three attempts to pluck her into
propriety; but the child, recognizing the cause as well as the
effect, looked askance at me and only stiffened herself the more.
"Sarah Walker, I'm shocked."

"It ain't HIS room anyway," said Sarah, eying me malevolently.
"What's he doing here?"

There was so much truth in this that I involuntarily drew back
abashed.  The nurse-maid ejaculated "Sarah!" and lifted her eyes in
hopeless protest.

"And he needn't come seeing YOU," continued Sarah, lazily rubbing
the back of her head against the chair; "my papa don't allow it.
He warned you 'bout the other gentleman, you know."

"Sarah Walker!"

I felt it was necessary to say something.  "Don't you want to come
with me and look at the sea?" I said with utter feebleness of
invention.  To my surprise, instead of actively assaulting me Sarah
Walker got up, shook her hair over her shoulders, and took my hand.

"With your hair in that state?" almost screamed the domestic.  But
Sarah Walker had already pulled me into the hall.  What
particularly offensive form of opposition to authority was implied
in this prompt assent to my proposal I could only darkly guess.
For myself I knew I must appear to her a weak impostor.  What would
there possibly be in the sea to interest Sarah Walker?  For the
moment I prayed for a water-spout, a shipwreck, a whale, or any
marine miracle to astound her and redeem my character.  I walked
guiltily down the hall, holding her hand bashfully in mine.  I
noticed that her breast began to heave convulsively; if she cried I
knew I should mingle my tears with hers.  We reached the veranda in
gloomy silence.  As I expected, the sea lay before us glittering in
the sun--vacant, staring, flat, and hopelessly and unquestionably
uninteresting.

"I knew it all along," said Sarah Walker, turning down the corners
of her mouth; "there never was anything to see.  I know why you got
me to come here.  You want to tell me if I'm a good girl you'll
take me to sail some day.  You want to say if I'm bad the sea will
swallow me up.  That's all you want, you horrid thing, you!"

"Hush!" I said, pointing to the corner of the veranda.

A desperate idea of escape had just seized me.  Bolt upright in the
recess of a window sat a nursemaid who had succumbed to sleep
equally with her helpless charge in the perambulator beside her.  I
instantly recognized the infant--a popular organism known as "Baby
Buckly"--the prodigy of the Greyport Hotel, the pet of its
enthusiastic womanhood.  Fat and featureless, pink and pincushiony,
it was borrowed by gushing maidenhood, exchanged by idiotic
maternity, and had grown unctuous and tumefacient under the kisses
and embraces of half the hotel.  Even in its present repose it
looked moist and shiny from indiscriminate and promiscuous
osculation.

"Let's borrow Baby Buckly," I said recklessly.

Sarah Walker at once stopped crying.  I don't know how she did it,
but the cessation was instantaneous, as if she had turned off a tap
somewhere.

"And put it in Mr. Peters' bed!" I continued.

Peters being notoriously a grim bachelor, the bare suggestion
bristled with outrage.  Sarah Walker's eyes sparkled.

"You don't mean it!--go 'way!"--she said with affected coyness.

"But I do!  Come."

We extracted it noiselessly together--that is, Sarah Walker did,
with deft womanliness--carried it darkly along the hall to No. 27,
and deposited it in Peters' bed, where it lay like a freshly opened
oyster.  We then returned hand in hand to my room, where we looked
out of the window on the sea.  It was observable that there was no
lack of interest in Sarah Walker now.

Before five minutes had elapsed some one breathlessly passed the
open door while we were still engaged in marine observation.  This
was followed by return footsteps and a succession of swiftly
rustling garments, until the majority of the women in our wing had
apparently passed our room, and we saw an irregular stream of
nursemaids and mothers converging towards the hotel out of the
grateful shadow of arbors, trees, and marquees.  In fact we were
still engaged in observation when Sarah Walker's nurse came to
fetch her away, and to inform her that "by rights" Baby Buckly's
nurse and Mr. Peters should both be made to leave the hotel that
very night.  Sarah Walker permitted herself to be led off with dry
but expressive eyes.  That evening she did not cry, but, on being
taken into the usual custody for disturbance, was found to be
purple with suppressed laughter.

This was the beginning of my intimacy with Sarah Walker.  But while
it was evident that whatever influence I obtained over her was due
to my being particeps criminis, I think it was accepted that a
regular abduction of infants might become in time monotonous if not
dangerous.  So she was satisfied with the knowledge that I could
not now, without the most glaring hypocrisy, obtrude a moral
superiority upon her.  I do not think she would have turned state
evidence and accused me, but I was by no means assured of her
disinterested regard.  She contented herself, for a few days
afterwards, with meeting me privately and mysteriously
communicating unctuous reminiscences of our joint crime, without
suggesting a repetition.  Her intimacy with me did not seem to
interfere with her general relations to her own species in the
other children in the hotel.  Perhaps I should have said before
that her popularity with them was by no means prejudiced by her
infelix reputation.  But while she was secretly admired by all, she
had few professed followers and no regular associates.  Whether the
few whom she selected for that baleful preeminence were either torn
from her by horrified guardians, or came to grief through her
dangerous counsels, or whether she really did not care for them, I
could not say.  Their elevation was brief, their retirement
unregretted.  It was however permitted me, through felicitous
circumstances, to become acquainted with the probable explanation
of her unsociability.

The very hot weather culminated one afternoon in a dead faint of
earth and sea and sky.  An Alpine cloudland of snow that had mocked
the upturned eyes of Greyport for hours, began to darken under the
folding shadow of a black and velvety wing.  The atmosphere seemed
to thicken as the gloom increased; the lazy dust, thrown up by
hurrying feet that sought a refuge, hung almost motionless in the
air.  Suddenly it was blown to the four quarters in one fierce gust
that as quickly dispersed the loungers drooping in shade and cover.
For a few seconds the long avenue was lost in flying clouds of
dust, and then was left bare of life or motion.  Raindrops in huge
stars and rosettes appeared noiselessly and magically upon the
sidewalks--gouts of moisture apparently dropped from mid-air.  And
then the ominous hush returned.

A mile away along the rocks, I turned for shelter into a cavernous
passage of the overhanging cliff, where I could still watch the
coming storm upon the sea.  A murmur of voices presently attracted
my attention.  I then observed that the passage ended in a kind of
open grotto, where I could dimly discern the little figures of
several children, who, separated from their nurses in the sudden
onset of the storm, had taken refuge there.  As the gloom deepened
they became silent again, until the stillness was broken by a
familiar voice.  There was no mistaking it.--It was Sarah Walker's.
But it was not lifted in lamentation, it was raised only as if
resuming a suspended narrative.

"Her name," said Sarah Walker gloomily, "was Kribbles.  She was the
only child--of--of orphaned parentage, and fair to see, but she was
bad, and God did not love her.  And one day she was separated from
her nurse on a desert island like to this.  And then came a
hidgeous thunderstorm.  And a great big thunderbolt came galumping
after her.  And it ketehed her and rolled all over her--so! and
then it came back and ketched her and rolled her over--so!  And
when they came to pick her up there was not so much as THAT left of
her.  All burnt up!"

"Wasn't there just a little bit of her shoe?" suggested a cautious
auditor.

"Not a bit," said Sarah Walker firmly.  All the other children
echoed "Not a bit," indignantly, in evident gratification at the
completeness of Kribbles' catastrophe.  At this moment the
surrounding darkness was suddenly filled with a burst of blue
celestial fire; the heavy inky sea beyond, the black-edged mourning
horizon, the gleaming sands, each nook and corner of the dripping
cave, with the frightened faces of the huddled group of children,
started into vivid life for an instant, and then fell back with a
deafening crash into the darkness.

There was a slight sound of whimpering.  Sarah Walker apparently
pounced upon the culprit, for it ceased.

"Sniffling 'tracts 'lectricity," she said sententiously.

"But you thaid it wath Dod!" lisped a casuist of seven.

"It's all the same," said Sarah sharply, "and so's asking
questions."

This obscure statement was however apparently understood, for the
casuist lapsed into silent security.  "Lots of things 'tracts it,"
continued Sarah Walker.  "Gold and silver, and metals and knives
and rings."

"And pennies?"

"And pennies most of all!  Kribbles was that vain, she used to wear
jewelry and fly in the face of Providence."

"But you thaid--"

"Will you?--There! you hear that?"  There was another blinding
flash and bounding roll of thunder along the shore.  "I wonder you
didn't ketch it.  You would--only I'm here."

All was quiet again, but from certain indications it was evident
that a collection of those dangerous articles that had proved fatal
to the unhappy Kribbles was being taken up.  I could hear the clink
of coins and jingle of ornaments.  That Sarah herself was the
custodian was presently shown.  "But won't the lightning come to
you now?" asked a timid voice.

"No," said Sarah, promptly, "'cause I ain't afraid!  Look!"

A frightened protest from the children here ensued, but the next
instant she appeared at the entrance of the grotto and ran down the
rocks towards the sea.  Skipping from bowlder to bowlder she
reached the furthest projection of the ledge, now partly submerged
by the rising surf, and then turned half triumphantly, half
defiantly, towards the grotto.  The weird phosphorescence of the
storm lit up the resolute little figure standing there, gorgeously
bedecked with the chains, rings, and shiny trinkets of her
companions.  With a tiny hand raised in mock defiance of the
elements, she seemed to lean confidingly against the panting breast
of the gale, with fluttering skirt and flying tresses.  Then the
vault behind her cracked with three jagged burning fissures, a
weird flame leaped upon the sand, there was a cry of terror from
the grotto, echoed by a scream of nurses on the cliff, a deluge of
rain, a terrific onset from the gale--and--Sarah Walker was gone?
Nothing of the kind!  When I reached the ledge, after a severe
struggle with the storm, I found Sarah on the leeward side,
drenched but delighted.  I held her tightly, while we waited for a
lull to regain the cliff, and took advantage of the sympathetic
situation.

"But you know you WERE frightened, Sarah," I whispered; "you
thought of what happened to poor Kribbles."

"Do you know who Kribbles was?" she asked confidentially.

"No."

"Well," she whispered, "I made Kribbles up.  And the hidgeous storm
and thunderbolt--and the burning!  All out of my own head."

The only immediate effect of this escapade was apparently to
precipitate and bring into notoriety the growing affection of an
obscure lover of Sarah Walker's, hitherto unsuspected.  He was a
mild inoffensive boy of twelve, known as "Warts," solely from an
inordinate exhibition of these youthful excrescences.  On the day
of Sarah Walker's adventure his passion culminated in a sudden and
illogical attack upon Sarah's nurse and parents while they were
bewailing her conduct, and in assaulting them with his feet and
hands.  Whether he associated them in some vague way with the cause
of her momentary peril, or whether he only wished to impress her
with the touching flattery of a general imitation of her style, I
cannot say.  For his lovemaking was peculiar.  A day or two
afterwards he came to my open door and remained for some moments
bashfully looking at me.  The next day I found him standing by my
chair in the piazza with an embarrassed air and in utter inability
to explain his conduct.  At the end of a rapid walk on the sand one
morning, I was startled by the sound of hurried breath, and looking
around, discovered the staggering Warts quite exhausted by
endeavoring to keep up with me on his short legs.  At last the
daily recurrence of his haunting presence forced a dreadful
suspicion upon me.  Warts was courting ME for Sarah Walker!  Yet it
was impossible to actually connect her with these mute attentions.
"You want me to give them to Sarah Walker," I said cheerfully one
afternoon, as he laid upon my desk some peculiarly uninviting
crustacea which looked not unlike a few detached excrescences from
his own hands.  He shook his head decidedly.  "I understand," I
continued, confidently; "you want me to keep them for her."  "No,"
said Warts, doggedly.  "Then you only want me to tell her how nice
they are?"  The idea was apparently so shamelessly true that he
blushed himself hastily into the passage, and ceased any future
contribution.  Naturally still more ineffective was the slightest
attempt to bring his devotion into the physical presence of Sarah
Walker.  The most ingenious schemes to lure him into my room while
she was there failed utterly.  Yet he must have at one time basked
in her baleful presence.  "Do you like Warts?" I asked her one day
bluntly.  "Yes," said Sarah Walker with cheerful directness; "ain't
HE got a lot of 'em?--though he used to have more.  But," she added
reflectively, "do you know the little Ilsey boy?"  I was compelled
to admit my ignorance.  "Well!" she said with a reminiscent sigh of
satisfaction, "HE'S got only two toes on his left foot--showed 'em
to me.  And he was born so."  Need it be said that in these few
words I read the dismal sequel of Warts' unfortunate attachment?
His accidental eccentricity was no longer attractive.  What were
his evanescent accretions, subject to improvement or removal,
beside the hereditary and settled malformations of his rival?

Once only, in this brief summer episode, did Sarah Walker attract
the impulsive and general sympathy of Greyport.  It is only just to
her consistency to say it was through no fault of hers, unless a
characteristic exposure which brought on a chill and diphtheria
could be called her own act.  Howbeit, towards the close of the
season, when a sudden suggestion of the coming autumn had crept,
one knew not how, into the heart of a perfect day; when even a
return of the summer warmth had a suspicion of hectic,--on one of
these days Sarah Walker was missed with the bees and the
butterflies.  For two days her voice had not been heard in hall or
corridor, nor had the sunshine of her French marigold head lit up
her familiar places.  The two days were days of relief, yet
mitigated with a certain uneasy apprehension of the return of Sarah
Walker, or--more alarming thought!--the Sarah Walker element in a
more appalling form.  So strong was this impression that an unhappy
infant who unwittingly broke this interval with his maiden outcry
was nearly lynched.  "We're not going to stand that from YOU, you
know," was the crystallized sentiment of a brutal bachelor.  In
fact, it began to be admitted that Greyport had been accustomed to
Sarah Walker's ways.  In the midst of this, it was suddenly
whispered that Sarah Walker was lying dangerously ill, and was not
expected to live.

Then occurred one of those strange revulsions of human sentiment
which at first seem to point the dawning of a millennium of poetic
justice, but which, in this case, ended in merely stirring the
languid pulses of society into a hectic fever, and in making
sympathy for Sarah Walker an insincere and exaggerated fashion.
Morning and afternoon visits to her apartment, with extravagant
offerings, were de rigueur; bulletins were issued three times a
day; an allusion to her condition was the recognized preliminary to
all conversation; advice, suggestions, and petitions to restore the
baleful existence, flowed readily from the same facile invention
that had once proposed its banishment; until one afternoon the
shadow had drawn so close that even Folly withheld its careless
feet before it, and laid down its feeble tinkling bells and gaudy
cap tremblingly on the threshold.  But the sequel must be told in
more vivid words than mine.

"Whin I saw that angel lyin' there," said Sarah Walker's nurse, "as
white, if ye plaze, as if the whole blessed blood of her body had
gone to make up the beautiful glory of her hair; speechless as she
was, I thought I saw a sort of longin' in her eyes.

"'Is it anythin' you'll be wantin', Sarah darlint', sez her mother
with a thremblin' voice, 'afore it's lavin' us ye are?  Is it the
ministher yer askin' for, love?' sez she.

"And Sarah looked at me, and if it was the last words I spake, her
lips moved and she whispered 'Scotty.'

"'Wirra! wirra!' sez the mother, 'it's wanderin' she is, the
darlin';' for Scotty, don't ye see, was the grand barkeeper of the
hotel.

"'Savin' yer presence, ma'am,' sez I, 'and the child's here, ez is
half a saint already, it's thruth she's spakin'--it's Scotty she
wants.'  And with that my angel blinks wid her black eyes 'yes.'

"'Bring him,' says the docthor, 'at once.'

"And they bring him in wid all the mustachios and moighty fine
curls of him, and his diamonds, rings, and pins all a-glistening
just like his eyes when he set 'em on that suffering saint.

"'Is it anythin' you're wantin,' Sarah dear?' sez he, thryin' to
spake firm.  And Sarah looks at him, and then looks at a tumbler on
the table.

"'Is it a bit of a cocktail, the likes of the one I made for ye
last Sunday unbeknownst?' sez he, looking round mortal afraid of
the parents.  And Sarah Walker's eyes said, 'It is.'  Then the
ministher groaned, but the docthor jumps to his feet.

"'Bring it,' sez he, 'and howld your jaw, an ye's a Christian
sowl.'  And he brought it.  An' afther the first sip, the child
lifts herself up on one arm, and sez, with a swate smile and a toss
of the glass:

"'I looks towards you, Scotty,' sez she.

"'I observes you and bows, miss,' sez he, makin' as if he was
dhrinkin' wid her.

"'Here's another nail in yer coffin, old man,' sez she winkin'.

"'And here's the hair all off your head, miss,' sez he quite
aisily, tossin' back the joke betwixt 'em.

"And with that she dhrinks it off, and lies down and goes to sleep
like a lamb, and wakes up wid de rosy dawn in her cheeks, and the
morthal seekness gone forever."

     .     .     .     .     .     .     .     .     .

Thus Sarah Walker recovered.  Whether the fact were essential to
the moral conveyed in these pages, I leave the reader to judge.

I was leaning on the terrace of the Kronprinzen-Hof at Rolandseck
one hot summer afternoon, lazily watching the groups of tourists
strolling along the road that ran between the Hof and the Rhine.
There was certainly little in the place or its atmosphere to recall
the Greyport episode of twenty years before, when I was suddenly
startled by hearing the name of "Sarah Walker."

In the road below me were three figures,--a lady, a gentleman, and
a little girl.  As the latter turned towards the lady who addressed
her, I recognized the unmistakable copper-colored tresses, trim
figure, delicate complexion, and refined features of the friend of
my youth!  I seized my hat, but by the time I had reached the road,
they had disappeared.

The utter impossibility of its being Sarah Walker herself, and the
glaring fact that the very coincidence of name would be
inconsistent with any conventional descent from the original Sarah,
I admit confused me.  But I examined the book of the Kronprinzen-
Hof and the other hotels, and questioned my portier.  There was no
"Mees" nor "Madame Walkiere" extant in Rolandseck.  Yet might not
Monsieur have heard incorrectly?  The Czara Walka was evidently
Russian, and Rolandseck was a resort for Russian princes.  But
pardon!  Did Monsieur really mean the young demoiselle now
approaching?  Ah! that was a different affair.  She was the
daughter of the Italian Prince and Princess Monte Castello staying
here.  The lady with her was not the Princess, but a foreign
friend.  The gentleman was the Prince.  Would he present Monsieur's
card?

They were entering the hotel.  The Prince was a little,
inoffensive-looking man, the lady an evident countrywoman of my
own, and the child--was, yet was NOT, Sarah!  There was the face,
the outline, the figure--but the life, the verve, the audacity, was
wanting!  I could contain myself no longer.

"Pardon an inquisitive compatriot, madam," I said; "but I heard you
a few moments ago address this young lady by the name of a very
dear young friend, whom I knew twenty years ago--Sarah Walker.  Am
I right?"

The Prince stopped and gazed at us both with evident affright; then
suddenly recognizing in my freedom some wild American indecorum,
doubtless provoked by the presence of another of my species, which
he really was not expected to countenance, retreated behind the
portier.  The circumstance by no means increased the good-will of
the lady, as she replied somewhat haughtily:--

"The Principessina is named Sarah Walker, after her mother's maiden
name."

"Then this IS Sarah Walker's daughter!" I said joyfully.

"She is the daughter of the Prince and Princess of Monte Castello,"
corrected the lady frigidly.

"I had the pleasure of knowing her mother very well."  I stopped
and blushed.  Did I really know Sarah Walker very well?  And would
Sarah Walker know me now?  Or would it not be very like her to go
back on me?  There was certainly anything but promise in the
feeble-minded, vacuous copy of Sarah before me.  I was yet
hesitating, when the Prince, who had possibly received some
quieting assurance from the portier, himself stepped forward,
stammered that the Princess would, without doubt, be charmed to
receive me later, and skipped upstairs, leaving the impression on
my mind that he contemplated ordering his bill at once.  There was
no excuse for further prolonging the interview.  "Say good-by to
the strange gentleman, Sarah," suggested Sarah's companion stiffly.
I looked at the child in the wild hope of recognizing some prompt
resistance to the suggestion that would have identified her with
the lost Sarah of my youth--but in vain.  "Good-by, sir, said the
affected little creature, dropping a mechanical curtsey.  "Thank
you very much for remembering my mother."  "Good-by, Sarah!"  It
was indeed good-by forever.

For on my way to my room I came suddenly upon the Prince, in a
recess of the upper hall, addressing somebody through an open door
with a querulous protest, whose wild extravagance of statement was
grotesquely balanced by its utter feeble timidity of manner.  "It
is," said the Prince, "indeed a grave affair.  We have here
hundreds of socialists, emissaries from lawless countries and
impossible places, who travel thousands of miles to fall upon our
hearts and embrace us.  They establish an espionage over us; they
haunt our walks in incredible numbers; they hang in droves upon our
footsteps; Heaven alone saves us from a public osculation at any
moment!  They openly allege that they have dandled us on their
knees at recent periods; washed and dressed us, and would do so
still.  Our happiness, our security--"

"Don't be a fool, Prince.  Do shut up!"

The Prince collapsed and shrank away, and I hurried past the open
door.  A tall, magnificent-looking woman was standing before a
glass, arranging her heavy red hair.  The face, which had been
impatiently turned towards the door, had changed again to profile,
with a frown still visible on the bent brow.  Our eyes met as I
passed.  The next moment the door slammed, and I had seen the last
of Sarah Walker.



A SHIP OF '49


It had rained so persistently in San Francisco during the first
week of January, 1854, that a certain quagmire in the roadway of
Long Wharf had become impassable, and a plank was thrown over its
dangerous depth.  Indeed, so treacherous was the spot that it was
alleged, on good authority, that a hastily embarking traveler had
once hopelessly lost his portmanteau, and was fain to dispose of
his entire interest in it for the sum of two dollars and fifty
cents to a speculative stranger on the wharf.  As the stranger's
search was rewarded afterwards only by the discovery of the body of
a casual Chinaman, who had evidently endeavored wickedly to
anticipate him, a feeling of commercial insecurity was added to the
other eccentricities of the locality.

The plank led to the door of a building that was a marvel even in
the chaotic frontier architecture of the street.  The houses on
either side--irregular frames of wood or corrugated iron--bore
evidence of having been quickly thrown together, to meet the
requirements of the goods and passengers who were once disembarked
on what was the muddy beach of the infant city.  But the building
in question exhibited a certain elaboration of form and design
utterly inconsistent with this idea.  The structure obtruded a
bowed front to the street, with a curving line of small windows,
surmounted by elaborate carvings and scroll work of vines and
leaves, while below, in faded gilt letters, appeared the legend
"Pontiac--Marseilles."  The effect of this incongruity was
startling.  It is related that an inebriated miner, impeded by mud
and drink before its door, was found gazing at its remarkable
facade with an expression of the deepest despondency.  "I hev lived
a free life, pardner," he explained thickly to the Samaritan who
succored him, "and every time since I've been on this six weeks'
jamboree might have kalkilated it would come to this.  Snakes I've
seen afore now, and rats I'm not unfamiliar with, but when it comes
to the starn of a ship risin' up out of the street, I reckon it's
time to pass in my checks."  "It IS a ship, you blasted old
soaker," said the Samaritan curtly.

It was indeed a ship.  A ship run ashore and abandoned on the beach
years before by her gold-seeking crew, with the debris of her
scattered stores and cargo, overtaken by the wild growth of the
strange city and the reclamation of the muddy flat, wherein she lay
hopelessly imbedded; her retreat cut off by wharves and quays and
breakwater, jostled at first by sheds, and then impacted in a block
of solid warehouses and dwellings, her rudder, port, and counter
boarded in, and now gazing hopelessly through her cabin windows
upon the busy street before her.  But still a ship despite her
transformation.  The faintest line of contour yet left visible
spoke of the buoyancy of another element; the balustrade of her
roof was unmistakably a taffrail.  The rain slipped from her
swelling sides with a certain lingering touch of the sea; the soil
around her was still treacherous with its suggestions, and even the
wind whistled nautically over her chimney.  If, in the fury of some
southwesterly gale, she had one night slipped her strange moorings
and left a shining track through the lower town to the distant sea,
no one would have been surprised.

Least of all, perhaps, her present owner and possessor, Mr. Abner
Nott.  For by the irony of circumstances, Mr. Nott was a Far
Western farmer who had never seen a ship before, nor a larger
stream of water than a tributary of the Missouri River.  In a
spirit, half of fascination, half of speculation, he had bought her
at the time of her abandonment, and had since mortgaged his ranch
at Petaluma with his live stock, to defray the expenses of filling
in the land where she stood, and the improvements of the vicinity.
He had transferred his household goods and his only daughter to her
cabin, and had divided the space "between decks" and her hold into
lodging-rooms, and lofts for the storage of goods.  It could hardly
be said that the investment had been profitable.  His tenants
vaguely recognized that his occupancy was a sentimental rather than
a commercial speculation, and often generously lent themselves to
the illusion by not paying their rent.  Others treated their own
tenancy as a joke,--a quaint recreation born of the childlike
familiarity of frontier intercourse.  A few had left carelessly
abandoning their unsalable goods to their landlord, with great
cheerfulness and a sense of favor.  Occasionally Mr. Abner Nott, in
a practical relapse, raged against the derelicts, and talked of
dispossessing them, or even dismantling his tenement, but he was
easily placated by a compliment to the "dear old ship," or an
effort made by some tenant to idealize his apartment.  A
photographer who had ingeniously utilized the forecastle for a
gallery (accessible from the bows in the next street), paid no
further tribute than a portrait of the pretty face of Rosey Nott.
The superstitious reverence in which Abner Nott held his monstrous
fancy was naturally enhanced by his purely bucolic exaggeration of
its real functions and its native element.  "This yer keel has
sailed, and sailed, and sailed," he would explain with some
incongruity of illustration, "in a bee line, makin' tracks for days
runnin'.  I reckon more storms and blizzards hez tackled her then
you ken shake a stick at.  She's stampeded whales afore now, and
sloshed round with pirates and freebooters in and outer the Spanish
Main, and across lots from Marcelleys where she was rared.  And yer
she sits peaceful-like just ez if she'd never been outer a pertater
patch, and hadn't ploughed the sea with fo'sails and studdin' sails
and them things cavortin' round her masts."

Abner Nott's enthusiasm was shared by his daughter, but with more
imagination, and an intelligence stimulated by the scant literature
of her father's emigrant wagon and the few books found on the cabin
shelves.  But to her the strange shell she inhabited suggested more
of the great world than the rude, chaotic civilization she saw from
the cabin windows or met in the persons of her father's lodgers.
Shut up for days in this quaint tenement, she had seen it change
from the enchanted playground of her childish fancy to the theatre
of her active maidenhood, but without losing her ideal romance in
it.  She had translated its history in her own way, read its quaint
nautical hieroglyphics after her own fashion, and possessed herself
of its secrets.  She had in fancy made voyages in it to foreign
lands; had heard the accents of a softer tongue on its decks, and
on summer nights, from the roof of the quarter-deck, had seen
mellower constellations take the place of the hard metallic glitter
of the Californian skies.  Sometimes, in her isolation, the long,
cylindrical vault she inhabited seemed, like some vast sea-shell,
to become musical with the murmurings of the distant sea.  So
completely had it taken the place of the usual instincts of
feminine youth that she had forgotten she was pretty, or that her
dresses were old in fashion and scant in quantity.  After the first
surprise of admiration her father's lodgers ceased to follow the
abstracted nymph except with their eyes,--partly respecting her
spiritual shyness, partly respecting the jealous supervision of the
paternal Nott.  She seldom penetrated the crowded centre of the
growing city; her rare excursions were confined to the old ranch at
Petaluma, whence she brought flowers and plants, and even
extemporized a hanging-garden on the quarter-deck.

It was still raining, and the wind, which had increased to a gale,
was dashing the drops against the slanting cabin windows with a
sound like spray when Mr. Abner Nott sat before a table seriously
engaged with his accounts.  For it was "steamer night,"--as that
momentous day of reckoning before the sailing of the regular mail
steamer was briefly known to commercial San Francisco,--and Mr.
Nott was subject at such times to severely practical relapses.  A
swinging light seemed to bring into greater relief that peculiar
encased casket-like security of the low-timbered, tightly-fitting
apartment, with its toy-like utilities of space, and made the
pretty oval face of Rosey Nott appear a characteristic ornament.
The sliding door of the cabin communicated with the main deck, now
roofed in and partitioned off so as to form a small passage that
led to the open starboard gangway, where a narrow, inclosed
staircase built on the ship's side took the place of the ship's
ladder under her counter, and opened in the street.

A dash of rain against the window caused Rosey to lift her eyes
from her book.

"It's much nicer here than at the ranch, father," she said
coaxingly, "even leaving alone its being a beautiful ship instead
of a shanty; the wind don't whistle through the cracks and blow out
the candle when you're reading, nor the rain spoil your things hung
up against the wall.  And you look more like a gentleman sitting in
his own--ship--you know, looking over his bills and getting ready
to give his orders."

Vague and general as Miss Rosey's compliment was, it had its full
effect upon her father, who was at times dimly conscious of his
hopeless rusticity and its incongruity with his surroundings.
"Yes," he said awkwardly, with a slight relaxation of his
aggressive attitude; "yes, in course it's more bang-up style, but
it don't pay--Rosey--it don't pay.  Yer's the Pontiac that oughter
be bringin' in, ez rents go, at least three hundred a month, don't
make her taxes.  I bin thinkin' seriously of sellin' her."

As Rosey knew her father had experienced this serious contemplation
on the first of every month for the last two years, and cheerfully
ignored it the next day, she only said, "I'm sure the vacant rooms
and lofts are all rented, father."

"That's it," returned Mr. Nott thoughtfully, plucking at his bushy
whiskers with his fingers and thumb as if he were removing dead and
sapless incumbranees in their growth, "that's just what it is--
them's ez in it themselves don't pay, and them ez haz left their
goods--the goods don't pay.  The feller ez stored them iron sugar
kettles in the forehold, after trying to get me to make another
advance on 'em, sez he believes he'll have to sacrifice 'em to me
after all, and only begs I'd give him a chance of buying back the
half of 'em ten years from now, at double what I advanced him.  The
chap that left them five hundred cases of hair dye 'tween decks and
then skipped out to Sacramento, met me the other day in the street
and advised me to use a bottle ez an advertisement, or try it on
the starn of the Pontiac for fire-proof paint.  That foolishness ez
all he's good for.  And yet thar might be suthin' in the paint, if
a feller had nigger luck.  Ther's that New York chap ez bought up
them damaged boxes of plug terbaker for fifty dollars a thousand,
and sold 'em for foundations for that new building in Sansome
Street at a thousand clear profit.  It's all luck, Rosey."

The girl's eyes had wandered again to the pages of her book.
Perhaps she was already familiar with the text of her father's
monologue.  But recognizing an additional querulousness in his
voice, she laid the book aside and patiently folded her hands in
her lap.

"That's right--for I've suthin' to tell ye.  The fact is Sleight
wants to buy the Pontiac out and out just ez she stands with the
two fifty vara lots she stands on."

"Sleight wants to buy her?  Sleight?" echoed Rosey incredulously.

"You bet!  Sleight--the big financier, the smartest man in
'Frisco."

"What does he want to buy her for?" asked Rosey, knitting her
pretty brows.

The apparently simple question suddenly puzzled Mr. Nott.  He
glanced feebly at his daughter's face, and frowned in vacant
irritation.  "That's so," he said, drawing a long breath; "there's
suthin' in that."

"What did he SAY?" continued the young girl, impatiently.

"Not much.  'You've got the Pontiac, Nott,' sez he.  'You bet!' sez
I.  'What'll you take for her and the lot she stands on?' sez he,
short and sharp.  Some fellers, Rosey," said Nott, with a cunning
smile, "would hev blurted out a big figger and been cotched.  That
ain't my style.  I just looked at him.  'I'll wait fur your figgers
until next steamer day,' sez he, and off he goes like a shot.  He's
awfully sharp, Rosey."

"But if he is sharp, father, and he really wants to buy the ship,"
returned Rosey, thoughfully, "it's only because he knows it's
valuable property, and not because he likes it as we do.  He can't
take that value away even if we don't sell it to him, and all the
while we have the comfort of the dear old Pontiac, don't you see?"

This exhaustive commercial reasoning was so sympathetic to Mr.
Nott's instincts that he accepted it as conclusive.  He, however,
deemed it wise to still preserve his practical attitude.  "But that
don't make it pay by the month, Rosey.  Suthin' must be done.  I'm
thinking I'll clean out that photographer."

"Not just after he's taken such a pretty view of the cabin front of
the Pontiac from the street, father!  No! he's going to give us a
copy, and put the other in a shop window in Montgomery Street."

"That's so," said Mr. Nott, musingly; "it's no slouch of an
advertisement.  'The Pontiac,' the property of A. Nott, Esq., of
St. Jo, Missouri.  Send it on to your Aunt Phoebe; sorter make the
old folks open their eyes--oh?  Well, seein' he's been to some
expense fittin' up an entrance from the other street, we'll let him
slide.  But as to that d----d old Frenchman Ferrers, in the next
loft, with his stuck-up airs and high-falutin style, we must get
quit of him; he's regularly gouged me in that ere horsehair
spekilation."

"How can you say that, father!" said Rosey, with a slight increase
of color.  "It was your own offer.  You know those bales of curled
horsehair were left behind by the late tenant to pay his rent.
When Mr. de Ferrieres rented the room afterwards, you told him
you'd throw them in in the place of repairs and furniture.  It was
your own offer."

"Yes, but I didn't reckon ther'd ever be a big price per pound paid
for the darned stuff for sofys and cushions and sich."

"How do you know HE knew it, father?" responded Rosey.

"Then why did he look so silly at first, and then put on airs when
I joked him about it, eh?"

"Perhaps he didn't understand your joking, father.  He's a
foreigner, and shy and proud, and--not like the others.  I don't
think he knew what you meant then, any more than he believed he was
making a bargain before.  He may be poor, but I think he's been--a--
a--gentleman."

The young girl's animation penetrated even Mr. Nott's slow
comprehension.  Her novel opposition, and even the prettiness it
enhanced, gave him a dull premonition of pain.  His small round
eyes became abstracted, his mouth remained partly open, even his
fresh color slightly paled.

"You seem to have been takin' stock of this yer man, Rosey," he
said, with a faint attempt at archness; "if he warn't ez old ez a
crow, for all his young feathers, I'd think he was makin' up to
you."

But the passing glow had faded from her young cheeks, and her eyes
wandered again to her book.  "He pays his rent regularly every
steamer night," she said, quietly, as if dismissing an exhausted
subject, "and he'll be here in a moment, I dare say."  She took up
her book, and leaning her head on her hand, once more became
absorbed in its pages.

An uneasy silence followed.  The rain beat against the windows, the
ticking of a clock became audible, but still Mr. Nott sat with
vacant eyes fixed on his daughter's face, and the constrained smile
on his lips.  He was conscious that he had never seen her look so
pretty before, yet he could not tell why this was no longer an
unalloyed satisfaction.  Not but that he had always accepted the
admiration of others for her as a matter of course, but for the
first time he became conscious that she not only had an interest in
others, but apparently a superior knowledge of them.  How did she
know these things about this man, and why had she only now
accidentally spoken of them?  HE would have done so.  All this
passed so vaguely through his unreflective mind, that he was unable
to retain any decided impression, but the far-reaching one that his
lodger had obtained some occult influence over her through the
exhibition of his baleful skill in the horsehair speculation.
"Them tricks is likely to take a young girl's fancy.  I must look
arter her," he said to himself softly.

A slow regular step in the gangway interrupted his paternal
reflections.  Hastily buttoning across his chest the pea-jacket
which he usually wore at home as a single concession to his
nautical surroundings, he drew himself up with something of the
assumption of a ship-master, despite certain bucolic suggestions of
his boots and legs.  The footsteps approached nearer, and a tall
figure suddenly stood in the doorway.

It was a figure so extraordinary that even in the strange
masquerade of that early civilization it was remarkable; a figure
with whom father and daughter were already familiar without
abatement of wonder--the figure of a rejuvenated old man, padded,
powdered, dyed, and painted to the verge of caricature, but without
a single suggestion of ludicrousness or humor.  A face so
artificial that it seemed almost a mask, but, like a mask, more
pathetic than amusing.  He was dressed in the extreme of fashion of
a dozen years before; his pearl gray trousers strapped tightly over
his varnished boots, his voluminous satin cravat and high collar
embraced his rouged cheeks and dyed whiskers, his closely-buttoned
frock coat clinging to a waist that seemed accented by stays.

He advanced two steps into the cabin with an upright precision of
motion that might have hid the infirmities of age, and said
deliberately with a foreign accent:--

"You-r-r ac-coumpt?"

In the actual presence of the apparition Mr. Nott's dignified
resistance wavered.  But glancing uneasily at his daughter and
seeing her calm eyes fixed on the speaker without embarrassment, he
folded his arms stiffly, and with a lofty simulation of examining
the ceiling, said,--

"Ahem!  Rosa!  The gentleman's account."

It was an infelicitous action.  For the stranger, who evidently had
not noticed the presence of the young girl before, started, took a
step quickly forward, bent stiffly but profoundly over the little
hand that held the account, raised it to his lips, and with "a
thousand pardons, mademoiselle," laid a small canvas bag containing
the rent before the disorganized Mr. Nott and stiffly vanished.

That night was a troubled one to the simple-minded proprietor of
the good ship Pontiac.  Unable to voice his uneasiness by further
discussion, but feeling that his late discomposing interview with
his lodger demanded some marked protest, he absented himself on the
plea of business during the rest of the evening, happily to his
daughter's utter obliviousness of the reason.  Lights were burning
brilliantly in counting-rooms and offices, the feverish life of the
mercantile city was at its height.  With a vague idea of entering
into immediate negotiations with Mr. Sleight for the sale of the
ship--as a direct way out of his present perplexity, he bent his
steps towards the financier's office, but paused and turned back
before reaching the door.  He made his way to the wharf and gazed
abstractedly at the lights reflected in the dark, tremulous, jelly-
like water.  But wherever he went he was accompanied by the absurd
figure of his lodger--a figure he had hitherto laughed at or half
pitied, but which now, to his bewildered comprehension, seemed to
have a fateful significance.  Here a new idea seized him, and he
hurried back to the ship, slackening his pace only when he arrived
at his own doorway.  Here he paused a moment and slowly ascended
the staircase.  When he reached the passage he coughed slightly and
paused again.  Then he pushed open the door of the darkened cabin
and called softly:--

"Rosey!"

"What is it, father?" said Rosey's voice from the little state-room
on the right--Rosey's own bower.

"Nothing!" said Mr. Nott, with an affectation of languid calmness;
"I only wanted to know if you was comfortable.  It's an awful busy
night in town."

"Yes, father."

"I reckon thar's tons o' gold goin' to the States tomorrow."

"Yes, father."

"Pretty comfortable, eh?"

"Yes, father."

"Well, I'll browse round a spell, and turn in myself, soon."

"Yes father."

Mr. Nott took down a hanging lantern, lit it, and passed out into
the gangway.  Another lamp hung from the companion hatch to light
the tenants to the lower deck, whence he descended.  This deck was
divided fore and aft by a partitioned passage,--the lofts or
apartments being lighted from the ports, and one or two by a door
cut through the ship's side communicating with an alley on either
side.  This was the case with the loft occupied by Mr. Nott's
strange lodger, which, besides a door in the passage, had this
independent communication with the alley.  Nott had never known him
to make use of the latter door; on the contrary, it was his regular
habit to issue from his apartment at three o'clock every afternoon,
dressed as he has been described, stride deliberately through the
passage to the upper deck and thence into the street, where his
strange figure was a feature of the principal promenade for two or
three hours, returning as regularly at eight o'clock to the ship
and the seclusion of his loft.  Mr. Nott paused before the door,
under the pretence of throwing the light before him into the
shadows of the forecastle; all was silent within.  He was turning
back when he was impressed by the regular recurrence of a peculiar
rustling sound which he had at first referred to the rubbing of the
wires of the swinging lantern against his clothing.  He set down
the light and listened; the sound was evidently on the other side
of the partition; the sound of some prolonged, rustling, scraping
movement, with regular intervals.  Was it due to another of Mr.
Nott's unprofitable tenants--the rats?  No.  A bright idea flashed
upon Mr. Nott's troubled mind.  It was de Ferrieres snoring!  He
smiled grimly.  "Wonder if Rosey'd call him a gentleman if she
heard that," he chuckled to himself as he slowly made his way back
to the cabin and the small state-room opposite to his daughter's.
During the rest of the night he dreamed of being compelled to give
Rosey in marriage to his strange lodger, who added insult to the
outrage by snoring audibly through the marriage service.

Meantime, in her cradle-like nest in her nautical bower, Miss Rosey
slumbered as lightly.  Waking from a vivid dream of Venice--a
child's Venice--seen from the swelling deck of the proudly-riding
Pontiac, she was so impressed as to rise and cross on tiptoe to the
little slanting porthole.  Morning was already dawning over the
flat, straggling city, but from every counting-house and magazine
the votive tapers of the feverish worshipers of trade and mammon
were still flaring fiercely.


II


The day following "steamer night" was usually stale and flat at San
Francisco.  The reaction from the feverish exaltation of the
previous twenty-four hours was seen in the listless faces and
lounging feet of promenaders, and was notable in the deserted
offices and warehouses still redolent of last night's gas, and
strewn with the dead ashes of last night's fires.

There was a brief pause before the busy life which ran its course
from "steamer day" to steamer day was once more taken up.  In that
interval a few anxious speculators and investors breathed freely,
some critical situation was relieved, or some impending catastrophe
momentarily averted.  In particular, a singular stroke of good
fortune that morning befell Mr. Nott.  He not only secured a new
tenant, but, as he sagaciously believed, introduced into the
Pontiac a counteracting influence to the subtle fascinations of de
Ferrieres.

The new tenant apparently possessed a combination of business
shrewdness and brusque frankness that strongly impressed his
landlord.  "You see, Rosey," said Nott, complacently describing the
interview to his daughter, "when I sorter intimated in a keerless
kind o' way that sugar kettles and hair dye was about played out ez
securities, he just planked down the money for two months in
advance.  'There,' sez he, 'that's YOUR SECURITY--now where's
MINE?'  'I reckon I don't hitch on, pardner,' sez I; 'security what
for?'  ''Spose you sell the ship?' sez he, 'afore the two months is
up.  I've heard that old Sleight wants to buy her.'  'Then you gets
back your money,' sez I.  'And lose my room,' sez he; 'not much,
old man.  You sign a paper that whoever buys the ship inside o' two
months hez to buy ME ez a tenant with it; that's on the square.'
So I sign the paper.  It was mighty cute in the young feller,
wasn't it?" he said, scanning his daughter's pretty puzzled face a
little anxiously; "and don't you see ez I ain't goin' to sell the
Pontiac, it's just about ez cute in me, eh?  He's a contractor
somewhere around yer, and wants to be near his work.  So he takes
the room next to the Frenchman, that that ship captain quit for the
mines, and succeeds naterally to his chest and things.  He's might
peart-lookin, that young feller, Rosey--long black moustaches, all
his own color, Rosey--and he's a regular high-stepper, you bet.  I
reckon he's not only been a gentleman, but ez NOW.  Some o' them
contractors are very high-toned!"

"I don't think we have any right to give him the captain's chest,
father," said Rosey; "there may be some private things in it.
There were some letters and photographs in the hair-dye man's trunk
that you gave the photographer."

"That's just it, Rosey," returned Abner Nott with sublime
unconsciousness, "photographs and love letters you can't sell for
cash, and I don't mind givin' 'em away, if they kin make a feller
creature happy."

"But, father, have we the RIGHT to give 'em away?"

"They're collateral security, Rosey," said her father grimly.  "Co-
la-te-ral," he continued, emphasizing each syllable by tapping the
fist of one hand in the open palm of the other.  "Co-la-te-ral is
the word the big business sharps yer about call 'em.  You can't get
round that."  He paused a moment, and then, as a new idea seemed to
be painfully borne in his round eyes, continued cautiously: "Was
that the reason why you woudn't touch any of them dresses from the
trunks of that opery gal ez skedaddled for Sacramento?  And yet
them trunks I regularly bought at auction--Rosey--at auction, on
spec--and they didn't realize the cost of drayage."

A slight color mounted to Rosey's face.  "No," she said, hastily,
"not that."  Hesitating a moment she then drew softly to his side,
and, placing her arms around his neck, turned his broad, foolish
face towards her own.  "Father," she began, "when mother died,
would YOU have liked anybody to take her trunks and paw around her
things and wear them?"

"When your mother died, just this side o' Sweetwater, Rosey," said
Mr. Nott, with beaming unconsciousness, "she hadn't any trunks.  I
reckon she hadn't even an extra gown hanging up in the wagin, 'cept
the petticoat ez she had wrapped around yer.  It was about ez much
ez we could do to skirmish round with Injins, alkali, and cold, and
we sorter forgot to dress for dinner.  She never thought, Rosey,
that you and me would live to be inhabitin' a paliss of a real
ship.  Ef she had she would have died a proud woman."

He turned his small, loving, boar-like eyes upon her as a
preternaturally innocent and trusting companion of Ulysses might
have regarded the transforming Circe.  Rosey turned away with the
faintest sigh.  The habitual look of abstraction returned to her
eyes as if she had once more taken refuge in her own ideal world.
Unfortunately the change did not escape either the sensitive
observation or the fatuous misconception of the sagacious parent.
"Ye'll be mountin' a few furbelows and fixins, Rosey, I reckon, ez
only natural.  Mabbee ye'll have to prink up a little now that
we've got a gentleman contractor in the ship.  I'll see what I kin
pick up in Montgomery Street."  And indeed he succeeded a few hours
later in accomplishing with equal infelicity his generous design.
When she returned from her household tasks she found on her berth a
purple velvet bonnet of extraordinary make, and a pair of white
satin slippers.  "They'll do for a start off, Rosey," he explained,
"and I got 'em at my figgers."

"But I go out so seldom, father, and a bonnet--"

"That's so," interrupted Mr. Nott, complacently, "it might be jest
ez well for a young gal like yer to appear ez if she DID go out, or
would go out if she wanted to.  So you kin be wearin' that ar
headstall kinder like this evening when the contractor's here, ez
if you'd jest come in from a pasear."

Miss Rosey did not however immediately avail herself of her
father's purchase, but contented herself with the usual scarlet
ribbon that like a snood confined her brown hair, when she returned
to her tasks.  The space between the galley and the bulwarks had
been her favorite resort in summer when not actually engaged in
household work.  It was now lightly roofed over with boards and
tarpaulin against the winter rain, but still afforded her a
veranda-like space before the gallery door, where she could read or
sew, looking over the bow of the Pontiac to the tossing bay or the
further range of the Contra Costa hills.

Hither Miss Rosey brought the purple prodigy, partly to please her
father, partly with a view of subjecting it to violent radical
changes.  But after trying it on before the tiny mirror in the
galley once or twice, her thoughts wandered away, and she fell into
one of her habitual reveries seated on a little stool before the
galley door.

She was roused from it by the slight shaking and rattling of the
doors of a small hatch on the deck, not a dozen yards from where
she sat.  It had been evidently fastened from below during the wet
weather, but as she gazed, the fastenings were removed, the doors
were suddenly lifted, and the head and shoulders of a young man
emerged from the deck.  Partly from her father's description, and
partly from the impossibility of its being anybody else, she at
once conceived it to be the new lodger.  She had time to note that
he was young and good-looking, graver perhaps than became his
sudden pantomimic appearance, but before she could observe him
closely, he had turned, closed the hatch with a certain familiar
dexterity, and walked slowly towards the bows.  Even in her slight
bewilderment, she observed that his step upon the deck seemed
different to her father's or the photographer's, and that he laid
his hand on various objects with a half-caressing ease and habit.
Presently he paused and turned back, and glancing at the galley
door for the first time encountered her wondering eyes.

It seemed so evident that she had been a curious spectator of his
abrupt entrance on deck that he was at first disconcerted and
confused.  But after a second glance at her he appeared to resume
his composure, and advanced a little defiantly towards the galley.

"I suppose I frightened you, popping up the fore hatch just now?"

"The what?" asked Rosey.

"The fore hatch," he repeated impatiently, indicating it with a
gesture.

"And that's the fore hatch?" she said abstractedly.  "You seem to
know ships."

"Yes--a little," he said quietly.  "I was below, and unfastened the
hatch to come up the quickest way and take a look round.  I've just
hired a room here," he added explanatorily.

"I thought so," said Rosey simply; "you're the contractor?"

"The contractor!--oh, yes!  You seem to know it all."

"Father's told me."

"Oh, he's your father--Nott?  Certainly.  I see now," he continued,
looking at her with a half repressed smile.  "Certainly, Miss Nott,
good morning," he half added and walked towards the companion way.
Something in the direction of his eyes as he turned away made Rosey
lift her hands to her head.  She had forgotten to remove her
father's baleful gift.

She snatched it off and ran quickly to the companion way.

"Sir!" she called.

The young man turned half way down the steps and looked up.  There
was a faint color in her cheeks, and her pretty brown hair was
slightly disheveled from the hasty removal of the bonnet.

"Father's very particular about strangers being on this deck," she
said a little sharply.

"Oh--ah--I'm sorry I intruded."

"I--I--thought I'd tell you," said Rosey, frightened by her
boldness into a feeble anti-climax.

"Thank you."

She came back slowly to the galley and picked up the unfortunate
bonnet with a slight sense of remorse.  Why should she feel angry
with her poor father's unhappy offering?  And what business had
this strange young man to use the ship so familiarly?  Yet she was
vaguely conscious that she and her father, with all their love and
their domestic experience of it, lacked a certain instinctive ease
in its possession that the half indifferent stranger had shown on
first treading its deck.  She walked to the hatchway and examined
it with a new interest.  Succeeding in lifting the hatch, she gazed
at the lower deck.  As she already knew the ladder had long since
been removed to make room for one of the partitions, the only way
the stranger could have reached it was by leaping to one of the
rings.  To make sure of this she let herself down holding on to the
rings, and dropped a couple of feet to the deck below.  She was in
the narrow passage her father had penetrated the previous night.
Before her was the door leading to de Ferrieres's loft, always
locked.  It was silent within; it was the hour when the old
Frenchman made his habitual promenade in the city.  But the light
from the newly-opened hatch allowed her to see more of the
mysterious recesses of the forward bulkhead than she had known
before, and she was startled by observing another yawning hatch-way
at her feet from which the closely-fitting door had been lifted,
and which the new lodger had evidently forgotten to close again.
The young girl stooped down and peered cautiously into the black
abyss.  Nothing was to be seen, nothing heard but the distant
gurgle and click of water in some remoter depth.  She replaced the
hatch and returned by way of the passage to the cabin.

When her father came home that night she briefly recounted the
interview with the new lodger, and her discovery of his curiosity.
She did this with a possible increase of her usual shyness and
abstraction, and apparently more as a duty than a colloquial
recreation.  But it pleased Mr. Nott also to give it more than his
usual misconception.  "Looking round the ship, was he--eh, Rosey?"
he said with infinite archness.  "In course, kinder sweepin' round
the galley, and offerin' to fetch you wood and water, eh?"  Even
when the young girl had picked up her book with the usual faint
smile of affectionate tolerance, and then drifted away in its
pages, Mr. Nott chuckled audibly.  "I reckon old Frenchy didn't
come by when the young one was bedevlin' you there."

"What, father?" said Rosey, lifting her abstracted eyes to his
face.

At the moment it seemed impossible that any human intelligence
could have suspected deceit or duplicity in Rosey's clear gaze.
But Mr. Nott's intelligence was superhuman.  "I was sayin' that Mr.
Ferrieres didn't happen in while the young feller was there--eh?"

"No, father," answered Rosey, with an effort to follow him out of
the pages of her book.  "Why?"

But Mr. Nott did not reply.  Later in the evening he awkwardly
waylaid the new lodger before the cabin door as that gentleman
would have passed on to his room.

"I'm afraid," said the young man, glancing at Rosey, "that I
intruded upon your daughter to-day.  I was a little curious to see
the old ship, and I didn't know what part of it was private."

"There ain't no private part to this yer ship--that ez, 'cepting
the rooms and lofts," said Mr. Nott, authoritatively.  Then,
subjecting the anxious look of his daughter to his usual faculty
for misconception, he added, "Thar ain't no place whar you haven't
as much right to go ez any other man; thar ain't any man, furriner
or Amerykan, young or old, dyed or undyed, ez hev got any better
rights.  You hear me, young fellow.  Mr. Renshaw--my darter.  My
darter--Mr. Renshaw.  Rosey, give the gentleman a chair.  She's only
jest come in from a promeynade, and hez jest taken off her bonnet,"
he added, with an arch look at Rosey, and a hurried look around the
cabin, as if he hoped to see the missing gift visible to the
general eye.  "So take a seat a minit, won't ye?"

But Mr. Renshaw, after an observant glance at the young girl's
abstracted face, brusquely excused himself, "I've got a letter to
write," he said, with a half bow to Rosey.  "Good night."

He crossed the passage to the room that had been assigned to him,
and closing the door gave way to some irritability of temper in his
efforts to light the lamp and adjust his writing materials.  For
his excuse to Mr. Nott was more truthful than most polite pretexts.
He had, indeed, a letter to write, and one that, being yet young in
duplicity, the near presence of his host rendered difficult.  For
it ran as follows:--


"DEAR SLEIGHT,

"As I found I couldn't get a chance to make any examination of the
ship except as occasion offered, I just went in to rent lodgings in
her from the God-forsaken old ass who owns her, and here I am a
tenant for two months.  I contracted for that time in case the old
fool should sell out to some one else before.  Except that she's
cut up a little between decks by the partitions for lofts that that
Pike County idiot has put into her, she looks but little changed,
and her FORE-HOLD, as far as I can judge, is intact.  It seems that
Nott bought her just as she stands, with her cargo half out, but he
wasn't here when she broke cargo.  If anybody else had bought her
but this cursed Missourian, who hasn't got the hayseed out of his
hair, I might have found out something from him, and saved myself
this kind of fooling, which isn't in my line.  If I could get
possession of a loft on the main deck, well forward, just over the
fore-hold, I could satisfy myself in a few hours, but the loft is
rented by that crazy Frenchman who parades Montgomery Street every
afternoon, and though old Pike County wants to turn him out, I'm
afraid I can't get it for a week to come.

"If anything should happen to me, just you waltz down here and
corral my things at once, for this old frontier pirate has a way of
confiscating his lodgers' trunks.

"Yours,

DICK."


III


If Mr. Renshaw indulged in any further curiosity regarding the
interior of the Pontiac, he did not make his active researches
manifest to Rosey.  Nor, in spite of her father's invitation, did
he again approach the galley--a fact which gave her her first vague
impression in his favor.  He seemed also to avoid the various
advances which Mr. Nott appeared impelled to make, whenever they
met in the passage, but did so without seemingly avoiding HER, and
marked his half contemptuous indifference to the elder Nott by an
increase of respect to the young girl.  She would have liked to ask
him something about ships, and was sure his conversation would have
been more interesting than that of old Captain Bower, to whose
cabin he had succeeded, who had once told her a ship was the
"devil's hen-coop."  She would have liked also to explain to him
that she was not in the habit of wearing a purple bonnet.  But her
thoughts were presently engrossed by an experience which
interrupted the even tenor of her young life.

She had been, as she afterwards remembered, impressed with a
nervous restlessness one afternoon, which made it impossible for
her to perform her ordinary household duties, or even to indulge
her favorite recreation of reading or castle building.  She
wandered over the ship, and, impelled by the same vague feeling of
unrest, descended to the lower deck and the forward bulkhead where
she had discovered the open hatch.  It had not been again
disturbed, nor was there any trace of further exploration.  A
little ashamed, she knew not why, of revisiting the scene of Mr.
Renshaw's researches, she was turning back when she noticed that
the door which communicated with de Ferrieres's loft was partly
open.  The circumstance was so unusual that she stopped before it
in surprise.  There was no sound from within; it was the hour when
its queer occupant was always absent; he must have forgotten to
lock the door or it had been unfastened by other hands.  After a
moment of hesitation she pushed it further open and stepped into
the room.

By the dim light of two port-holes she could see that the floor was
strewn and piled with the contents of a broken bale of curled horse
hair, of which a few untouched bales still remained against the
wall.  A heap of morocco skins, some already cut in the form of
chair cushion covers, and a few cushions unfinished and unstuffed
lay in the light of the ports, and gave the apartment the
appearance of a cheap workshop.  A rude instrument for combing the
horse hair, awls, buttons, and thread heaped on a small bench
showed that active work had been but recently interrupted.  A cheap
earthenware ewer and basin on the floor, and a pallet made of an
open bale of horse hair, on which a ragged quilt and blanket were
flung, indicated that the solitary worker dwelt and slept beside
his work.

The truth flashed upon the young girl's active brain, quickened by
seclusion and fed by solitary books.  She read with keen eyes the
miserable secret of her father's strange guest in the poverty-
stricken walls, in the mute evidences of menial handicraft
performed in loneliness and privation, in this piteous adaptation
of an accident to save the conscious shame of premeditated toil.
She knew now why he had stammeringly refused to receive her
father's offer to buy back the goods he had given him; she knew now
how hardly gained was the pittance that paid his rent and supported
his childish vanity and grotesque pride.  From a peg in the corner
hung the familiar masquerade that hid his poverty--the pearl-gray
trousers, the black frock coat, the tall shining hat--in hideous
contrast to the penury of his surroundings.  But if THEY were here,
where was HE, and in what new disguise had he escaped from his
poverty?  A vague uneasiness caused her to hesitate and return to
the open door.  She had nearly reached it when her eye fell on the
pallet which it partly illuminated.  A singular resemblance in the
ragged heap made her draw closer.  The faded quilt was a dressing-
gown, and clutching its folds lay a white, wasted hand.

The emigrant childhood of Rose Nott had been more than once
shadowed by scalping knives, and she was acquainted with Death.
She went fearlessly to the couch, and found that the dressing-gown
was only an enwrapping of the emaciated and lifeless body of de
Ferrieres.  She did not retreat or call for help, but examined him
closely.  He was unconscious, but not pulseless; he had evidently
been strong enough to open the door for air or succor, but had
afterward fallen in a fit on the couch.  She flew to her father's
locker and the galley fire, returned, and shut the door behind her,
and by the skillful use of hot water and whisky soon had the
satisfaction of seeing a faint color take the place of the faded
rouge in the ghastly cheeks.  She was still chafing his hands when
he slowly opened his eyes.  With a start, he made a quick attempt
to push aside her hands and rise.  But she gently restrained him.

"Eh--what!" he stammered, throwing his face back from hers with an
effort and trying to turn it to the wall.

"You have been ill," she said quietly.  "Drink this."

With his face still turned away he lifted the cup to his chattering
teeth.  When he had drained it he threw a trembling glance around
the room and at the door.

"There's no one been here but myself," she said quickly.  "I
happened to see the door open as I passed.  I didn't think it worth
while to call any one."

The searching look he gave her turned into an expression of relief,
which, to her infinite uneasiness, again feebly lightened into one
of antiquated gallantry.  He drew the dressing-gown around him with
an air.

"Ah! it is a goddess, Mademoiselle, that has deigned to enter the
cell where--where--I--amuse myself.  It is droll--is it not?  I
came here to make--what you call--the experiment of your father's
fabric.  I make myself--ha! ha!--like a workman.  Ah, bah! the
heat, the darkness, the plebeian motion make my head to go round.
I stagger, I faint, I cry out, I fall.  But what of that?  The
great God hears my cry and sends me an angel.  Voila!"

He attempted an easy gesture of gallantry, but overbalanced himself
and fell sideways on the pallet with a gasp.  Yet there was so much
genuine feeling mixed with his grotesque affectation, so much
piteous consciousness of the ineffectiveness of his falsehood, that
the young girl, who had turned away, came back and laid her hand
upon his arm.

"You must lie still and try to sleep," she said gently.  "I will
return again.  Perhaps," she added, "there is some one I can send
for?"

He shook his head violently.  Then in his old manner added, "After
Mademoiselle--no one."

"I mean--" she hesitated--"have you no friends?"

"Friends,--ah! without doubt."  He shrugged his shoulders.  "But
Mademoiselle will comprehend--"

"You are better now," said Rosey quickly, "and no one need know
anything if you don't wish it.  Try to sleep.  You need not lock
the door when I go; I will see that no one comes in."

He flushed faintly and averted his eyes.  "It is too droll,
Mademoiselle, is it not?"

"Of course it is," said Rosey, glancing round the miserable room.

"And Mademoiselle is an angel."

He carried her hand to his lips humbly--his first purely unaffected
action.  She slipped through the door, and softly closed it behind
her.

Reaching the upper deck she was relieved to find her father had not
returned, and her absence had been unnoticed.  For she had resolved
to keep de Ferrieres's secret to herself from the moment that she
had unwittingly discovered it, and to do this and still be able to
watch over him without her father's knowledge required some
caution.  She was conscious of his strange aversion to the
unfortunate man without understanding the reason, but as she was in
the habit of entertaining his caprices more from affectionate
tolerance of his weakness than reverence of his judgment, she saw
no disloyalty to him in withholding a confidence that might be
disloyal to another.  "It won't do father any good to know it," she
said to herself, "and if it DID it oughtn't to," she added with
triumphant feminine logic.  But the impression made upon her by the
spectacle she had just witnessed was stronger than any other
consideration.  The revelation of de Ferrieres's secret poverty
seemed a chapter from a romance of her own weaving; for a moment it
lifted the miserable hero out of the depths of his folly and
selfishness.  She forgot the weakness of the man in the strength of
his dramatic surroundings.  It partly satisfied a craving she had
felt; it was not exactly the story of the ship, as she had dreamed
it, but it was an episode in her experience of it that broke its
monotony.  That she should soon learn, perhaps from de Ferrieres's
own lips, the true reason of his strange seclusion, and that it
involved more than appeared to her now, she never for a moment
doubted.

At the end of an hour she again knocked softly at the door,
carrying some light nourishment she had prepared for him.  He was
asleep, but she was astounded to find that in the interval he had
managed to dress himself completely in his antiquated finery.  It
was a momentary shock to the illusion she had been fostering, but
she forgot it in the pitiable contrast between his haggard face and
his pomatumed hair and beard, the jauntiness of his attire, and the
collapse of his invalid figure.  When she had satisfied herself
that his sleep was natural, she busied herself softly in arranging
the miserable apartment.  With a few feminine touches she removed
the slovenliness of misery, and placed the loose material and
ostentatious evidences of his work on one side.  Finding that he
still slept, and knowing the importance of this natural medication,
she placed the refreshment she had brought by his side and
noiselessly quitted the apartment.  Hurrying through the gathering
darkness between decks, she once or twice thought she had heard
footsteps, and paused, but encountering no one, attributed the
impression to her over-consciousness.  Yet she thought it prudent
to go to the galley first, where she lingered a few moments before
returning to the cabin.  On entering she was a little startled at
observing a figure seated at her father's desk, but was relieved at
finding it was Mr. Renshaw.

He rose and put aside the book he had idly picked up.  "I am afraid
I am an intentional intruder this time, Miss Nott.  But I found no
one here, and I was tempted to look into this ship-shape little
snuggery.  You see the temptation got the better of me."

His voice and smile were so frank and pleasant, so free from his
previous restraint, yet still respectful, so youthful yet manly,
that Rosey was affected by them even in her preoccupation.  Her
eyes brightened and then dropped before his admiring glance.  Had
she known that the excitement of the last few hours had brought a
wonderful charm into her pretty face, had aroused the slumbering
life of her half-awakened beauty, she would have been more
confused.  As it was, she was only glad that the young man should
turn out to be "nice."  Perhaps he might tell her something about
ships; perhaps if she had only known him longer she might, with de
Ferrieres's permission, have shared her confidence with him, and
enlisted his sympathy and assistance.  She contented herself with
showing this anticipatory gratitude in her face as she begged him,
with the timidity of a maiden hostess, to resume his seat.

But Mr. Renshaw seemed to talk only to make her talk, and I am
forced to admit that Rosey found this almost as pleasant.  It was
not long before he was in possession of her simple history from the
day of her baby emigration to California to the transfer of her
childish life to the old ship, and even of much of the romantic
fancies she had woven into her existence there.  Whatever ulterior
purpose he had in view, he listened as attentively as if her
artless chronicle was filled with practical information.  Once,
when she had paused for breath, he said gravely, "I must ask you to
show me over this wonderful ship some day that I may see it with
your eyes."

"But I think you know it already better than I do," said Rosey with
a smile.

Mr. Renshaw's brow clouded slightly.  "Ah," he said, with a touch
of his former restraint; "and why?"

"Well," said Rosey timidly, "I thought you went round and touched
things in a familiar way as if you had handled them before."

The young man raised his eyes to Rosey's and kept them there long
enough to bring back his gentler expression.  "Then, because I
found you trying on a very queer bonnet the first day I saw you,"
he said, mischievously, "I ought to believe you were in the habit
of wearing one."

In the first flush of mutual admiration young people are apt to
find a laugh quite as significant as a sigh for an expression of
sympathetic communion, and this master-stroke of wit convulsed them
both.  In the midst of it Mr. Nott entered the cabin.  But the
complacency with which he viewed the evident perfect understanding
of the pair was destined to suffer some abatement.  Rosey, suddenly
conscious that she was in some way participating in ridicule of her
father through his unhappy gift, became embarrassed.  Mr. Renshaw's
restraint returned with the presence of the old man.  In vain, at
first, Abner Nott strove with profound levity to indicate his arch
comprehension of the situation, and in vain, later, becoming
alarmed, he endeavored, with cheerful gravity, to indicate his
utter obliviousness of any but a business significance in their
tete-a-tete.

"I oughtn't to hev intruded, Rosey," he said, "when you and the
gentleman were talkin' of contracts, mebbee; but don't mind me.
I'm on the fly, anyhow, Rosey dear, hevin' to see a man round the
corner."

But even the attitude of withdrawing did not prevent the exit of
Renshaw to his apartment and of Rosey to the galley.  Left alone in
the cabin, Abner Nott felt in the knots and tangles of his beard
for a reason.  Glancing down at his prodigious boots which, covered
with mud and gravel, strongly emphasized his agricultural origin,
and gave him a general appearance of standing on his own broad
acres, he was struck with an idea.  "It's them boots," he whispered
to himself, softly; "they somehow don't seem 'xactly to trump or
follow suit in this yer cabin; they don't hitch into anythin', but
jist slosh round loose, and, so to speak, play it alone.  And them
young critters nat'rally feels it and gets out o' the way."  Acting
upon this instinct with his usual precipitate caution, he at once
proceeded to the nearest second-hand shop, and, purchasing a pair
of enormous carpet slippers, originally the property of a gouty
sea-captain, reappeared with a strong suggestion of newly
upholstering the cabin.  The improvement, however, was fraught with
a portentous circumstance.  Mr. Nott's footsteps, which usually
announced his approach all over the ship, became stealthy and
inaudible.

Meantime Miss Rosey had taken advantage of the absence of her
father to visit her patient.  To avoid attracting attention she did
not take a light, but groped her way to the lower deck and rapped
softly at the door.  It was instantly opened by de Ferrieres.  He
had apparently appreciated the few changes she had already made in
the room, and had himself cleared away the pallet from which he had
risen to make two low seats against the wall.  Two bits of candle
placed on the floor illuminated the beams above, the dressing-gown
was artistically draped over the solitary chair, and a pile of
cushions formed another seat.  With elaborate courtesy he handed
Miss Rosey to the chair.  He looked pale and weak, though the
gravity of the attack had evidently passed.  Yet he persisted in
remaining standing.  "If I sit," he explained with a gesture, "I
shall again disgrace myself by sleeping in Mademoiselle's presence.
Yes!  I shall sleep--I shall dream--and wake to find her gone?"

More embarrassed by his recovery than when he was lying helplessly
before her, she said hesitatingly that she was glad he was better,
and that she hoped he liked the broth.

"It was manna from heaven, Mademoiselle.  See, I have taken it all--
every precious drop.  What else could I have done for
Mademoiselle's kindness?"

He showed her the empty bowl.  A swift conviction came upon her
that the man had been suffering from want of food.  The thought
restored her self-possession even while it brought the tears to her
eyes.  "I wish you would let me speak to father--or some one," she
said impulsively, and stopped.

A quick and half insane gleam of terror and suspicion lit up his
deep eyes.  "For what, Mademoiselle!  For an accident--that is
nothing--absolutely nothing, for I am strong and well now--see!" he
said tremblingly.  "Or for a whim--for a folly you may say, that
they will misunderstand.  No, Mademoiselle is good, is wise.  She
will say to herself, 'I understand, my friend Monsieur de Ferrieres
for the moment has a secret.  He would seem poor, he would take the
role of artisan, he would shut himself up in these walls--perhaps I
may guess why, but it is his secret.  I think of it no more.'"  He
caught her hand in his with a gesture that he would have made one
of gallantry, but that in its tremulous intensity became a piteous
supplication.

"I have said nothing, and will say nothing, if you wish it," said
Rosey hastily; "but others may find out how you live here.  This is
not fit work for you.  You seem to be a--a gentleman.  You ought to
be a lawyer, or a doctor, or in a bank," she continued timidly,
with a vague enumeration of the prevailing degrees of local
gentility.

He dropped her hand.  "Ah! does not Mademoiselle comprehend that it
is BECAUSE I am a gentleman that there is nothing between it and
this?  Look!" he continued almost fiercely.  "What if I told you it
is the lawyer, it is the doctor, it is the banker that brings me, a
gentleman, to this, eh?  Ah, bah!  What do I say?  This is honest,
what I do!  But the lawyer, the banker, the doctor, what are they?"
He shrugged his shoulders, and pacing the apartment with a furtive
glance at the half anxious, half frightened girl, suddenly stopped,
dragged a small portmanteau from behind the heap of bales and
opened it.  "Look, Mademoiselle," he said, tremulously lifting a
handful of worn and soiled letters and papers.  "Look--these are
the tools of your banker, your lawyer, your doctor.  With this the
banker will make you poor, the lawyer will prove you a thief, the
doctor will swear you are crazy, eh?  What shall you call the work
of a gentleman--this"--he dragged the pile of cushions forward--"or
this?"

To the young girl's observant eyes some of the papers appeared to
be of a legal or official character, and others like bills of
lading, with which she was familiar.  Their half-theatrical
exhibition reminded her of some play she had seen; they might be
the clue to some story, or the mere worthless hoardings of a
diseased fancy.  Whatever they were, de Ferrieres did not
apparently care to explain further; indeed, the next moment his
manner changed to his old absurd extravagance.  "But this is stupid
for Mademoiselle to hear.  What shall we speak of?  Ah, what SHOULD
we speak of in Mademoiselle's presence?"

"But are not these papers valuable?" asked Rosey, partly to draw
her host's thoughts back to their former channel.

"Perhaps."  He paused and regarded the young girl fixedly.  "Does
Mademoiselle think so?"

"I don't know," said Rosey.  "How should I?"

"Ah! if Mademoiselle thought so--if Mademoiselle would deign--"  He
stopped again and placed his hand upon his forehead.  "It might be
so!" he muttered.

"I must go now," said Rosey, hurriedly, rising with an awkward
sense of constraint.  "Father will wonder where I am."

"I shall explain.  I will accompany you, Mademoiselle."

"No, no," said Rosey, quickly; "he must not know I have been here!"
She stopped.  The honest blush flew to her cheek, and then returned
again, because she had blushed.

De Ferrieres gazed at her with an exalted look.  Then drawing
himself to his full height, he said, with an exaggerated and
indescribable gesture, "Go, my child, go.  Tell your father that
you have been alone and unprotected in the abode of poverty and
suffering, but--that it was in the presence of Armand de
Ferrieres."

He threw open the door with a bow that nearly swept the ground, but
did not again offer to take her hand.  At once impressed and
embarrassed at this crowning incongruity, her pretty lip trembled
between a smile and a cry as she said, "Good-night," and slipped
away into the darkness.

Erect and grotesque de Ferrieres retained the same attitude until
the sound of her footsteps was lost, when he slowly began to close
the door.  But a strong arm arrested it from without, and a large
carpeted foot appeared at the bottom of the narrowing opening.  The
door yielded, and Mr. Abner Nott entered the room.


IV


With an exclamation and a hurried glance around him, de Ferrieres
threw himself before the intruder.  But slowly lifting his large
hand, and placing it on his lodger's breast, he quietly overbore
the sick man's feeble resistance with an impact of power that
seemed almost as moral as it was physical.  He did not appear to
take any notice of the room or its miserable surroundings; indeed,
scarcely of the occupant.  Still pushing him, with abstracted eyes
and immobile face, to the chair that Rosey had just quitted, he
made him sit down, and then took up his own position on the pile of
cushions opposite.  His usually underdone complexion was of watery
blueness; but his dull, abstracted glance appeared to exercise a
certain dumb, narcotic fascination on his lodger.

"I mout," said Nott, slowly, "hev laid ye out here on sight,
without enny warnin', or dropped ye in yer tracks in Montgomery
Street, wherever ther was room to work a six-shooter in comf'ably?
Johnson, of Petaluny--him, ye know, ez had a game eye--fetched
Flynn comin' outer meetin' one Sunday, and it was only on account
of his wife, and she a second-hand one, so to speak.  There was
Walker, of Contra Costa, plugged that young Sacramento chap, whose
name I disremember, full o' holes just ez HE was sayin' 'Good by'
to his darter.  I mout hev done all this if it had settled things
to please me.  For while you and Flynn and that Sacramento chap ez
all about the same sort o' men, Rosey's a different kind from their
sort o' women."

"Mademoiselle is an angel!" said de Ferrieres, suddenly rising,
with an excess of extravagance.  "A saint!  Look!  I cram the lie,
ha! down his throat who challenges it."

"Ef by mam'selle ye mean my Rosey," said Nott, quietly laying his
powerful hands on de Ferrieres's shoulders, and slowly pinning him
down again upon his chair, "ye're about right, though she ain't
mam'selle yet.  Ez I was sayin', I might hev killed you off-hand if
I hed thought it would hev been a good thing for Rosey."

"For her?  Ah, well!  Look, I am ready," interrupted de Ferrieres,
again springing to his feet, and throwing open his coat with both
hands.  "See! here at my heart--fire!"

"Ez I was sayin'," continued Nott, once more pressing the excited
man down in his chair, "I might hev wiped ye out--and mebbee ye
wouldn't hev keered--or YOU might hev wiped ME out, and I mout hev
said, 'Thank'ee,' but I reckon this ain't a case for what's
comf'able for you and me.  It's what's good for ROSEY.  And the
thing to kalkilate is, what's to be done."

His small round eyes for the first time rested on de Ferrieres's
face, and were quickly withdrawn.  It was evident that this
abstracted look, which had fascinated his lodger, was merely a
resolute avoidance of de Ferrieres's glance, and it became apparent
later that this avoidance was due to a ludicrous appreciation of de
Ferrieres's attractions.

"And after we've done THAT we must kalkilate what Rosey is, and
what Rosey wants.  P'raps, ye allow, YOU know what Rosey is?
P'raps you've seen her prance round in velvet bonnets and white
satin slippers, and sich.  P'raps you've seen her readin' tracks
and v'yages, without waitin' to spell a word, or catch her breath.
But that ain't the Rosey ez I know.  It's a little child ez uster
crawl in and out the tail-board of a Mizzouri wagon on the alcali
pizoned plains, where there wasn't another bit of God's mercy on
yearth to be seen for miles and miles.  It's a little gal as uster
hunger and thirst ez quiet and mannerly ez she now eats and drinks
in plenty; whose voice was ez steady with Injins yelling round her
nest in the leaves on Sweetwater ez in her purty cabin up yonder.
THAT'S the gal ez I know!  That's the Rosey ez my ole woman puts
into my arms one night arter we left Laramie when the fever was
high, and sez, 'Abner,' sez she, 'the chariot is swingin' low for
me to-night, but thar ain't room in it for her or you to git in or
hitch on.  Take her and rare her, so we kin all jine on the other
shore,' sez she.  And I'd knowed the other shore wasn't no
Kaliforny.  And that night, p'raps, the chariot swung lower than
ever before, and my ole woman stepped into it, and left me and
Rosey to creep on in the old wagon alone.  It's them kind o'
things," added Mr. Nott thoughtfully, "that seem to pint to my
killin' you on sight ez the best thing to be done.  And yet Rosey
mightn't like it."

He had slipped one of his feet out of his huge carpet slippers,
and, as he reached down to put it on again, he added calmly: "And
ez to yer marrying HER it ain't to be done."

The utterly bewildered expression which transfigured de Ferrieres's
face at this announcement was unobserved by Nott's averted eyes,
nor did he perceive that his listener the next moment straightened
his erect figure and adjusted his cravat.

"Ef Rosey," he continued, "hez read in vy'ges and tracks in
Eyetalian and French countries of such chaps ez you and kalkilates
you're the right kind to tie to, mebbee it mout hev done if you'd
been livin' over thar in a pallis, but somehow it don't jibe in
over here and agree with a ship--and that ship lying comf'able
ashore in San Francisco.  You don't seem to suit the climate, you
see, and your general gait is likely to stampede the other cattle.
Agin," said Nott, with an ostentation of looking at his companion
but really gazing on vacancy, "this fixed up, antique style of
yours goes better with them ivy kivered ruins in Rome and Palmyry
that Rosey's mixed you up with, than it would yere.  I ain't
saying," he added as de Ferrieres was about to speak, "I ain't
sayin' ez that child ain't smitten with ye.  It ain't no use to lie
and say she don't prefer you to her old father, or young chaps of
her own age and kind.  I've seed it afor now.  I suspicioned it
afor I seed her slip out o' this place to-night.  Thar! keep your
hair on, such ez it is!" he added as de Ferrieres attempted a quick
deprecatory gesture.  "I ain't askin yer how often she comes here,
nor what she sez to you nor you to her.  I ain't asked her and I
don't ask you.  I'll allow ez you've settled all the preliminaries
and bought her the ring and sich; I'm only askin' you now,
kalkilatin you've got all the keerds in your own hand, what you'll
take to step out and leave the board?"

The dazed look of de Ferrieres might have forced itself even upon
Nott's one-idead fatuity, had it not been a part of that
gentleman's system delicately to look another way at that moment so
as not to embarrass his adversary's calculation.  "Pardon,"
stammered de Ferrieres, "but I do not comprehend!"  He raised his
hand to his head.  "I am not well--I am stupid.  Ah, mon Dieu!"

"I ain't sayin'," added Nott more gently, "ez you don't feel bad.
It's nat'ral.  But it ain't business.  I'm asking you," he
continued, taking from his breast-pocket a large wallet, "how much
you'll take in cash now, and the rest next steamer day, to give up
Rosey and leave the ship."

De Ferrieres staggered to his feet despite Nott's restraining hand.
"To leave Mademoiselle and leave the ship?" he said huskily, "is it
not?"

"In course.  Yer can leave things yer just ez you found 'em when
you came, you know," continued Nott, for the first time looking
around the miserable apartment.  "It's a business job.  I'll take
the bales back ag'in, and you kin reckon up what you're out,
countin' Rosey and loss o' time."

"He wishes me to go--he has said," repeated de Ferrieres to himself
thickly.

"Ef you mean ME when you say HIM, and ez thar ain't any other man
around, I reckon you do--'yes!'"

"And he asks me--he--this man of the feet and the daughter--asks
me--de Ferrieres--what I will take," continued de Ferrieres,
buttoning his coat.  "No! it is a dream!"  He walked stiffly to the
corner where his portmanteau lay, lifted it, and going to the outer
door, a cut through the ship's side that communicated with the
alley, unlocked it and flung it open to the night.  A thick mist
like the breath of the ocean flowed into the room.

"You ask me what I shall take to go," he said as he stood on the
threshold.  "I shall take what YOU cannot give, Monsieur, but what
I would not keep if I stood here another moment.  I take my Honor,
Monsieur, and--I take my leave!"

For a moment his grotesque figure was outlined in the opening, and
then disappeared as if he had dropped into an invisible ocean
below.  Stupefied and disconcerted at this complete success of his
overtures, Abner Nott remained speechless, gazing at the vacant
space until a cold influx of the mist recalled him.  Then he rose
and shuffled quickly to the door.

"Hi!  Ferrers!  Look yer--Say!  Wot's your hurry, pardner?"

But there was no response.  The thick mist, which hid the
surrounding objects, seemed to deaden all sound also.  After a
moment's pause he closed the door, but did not lock it, and
retreating to the centre of the room remained blinking at the two
candles and plucking some perplexing problem from his beard.
Suddenly an idea seized him.  Rosey!  Where was she?  Perhaps it
had been a preconcerted plan, and she had fled with him.  Putting
out the lights, he stumbled hurriedly through the passage to the
gangway above.  The cabin-door was open; there was the sound of
voices--Renshaw's and Rosey's.  Mr. Nott felt relieved but not
unembarrassed.  He would have avoided his daughter's presence that
evening.  But even while making this resolution with characteristic
infelicity he blundered into the room.  Rosey looked up with a
slight start; Renshaw's animated face was changed to its former
expression of inward discontent.

"You came in so like a ghost, father," said Rosey with a slight
peevishness that was new to her.  "And I thought you were in town.
Don't go, Mr. Renshaw."

But Mr. Renshaw intimated that he had already trespassed upon Miss
Nott's time, and that no doubt her father wanted to talk with her.
To his surprise and annoyance, however, Mr. Nott insisted on
accompanying him to his room, and without heeding Renshaw's cold
"Good-night," entered and closed the door behind him.

"P'rap's," said Mr. Nott with a troubled air, "you disremember that
when you first kem here you asked me if you could hev that 'er loft
that the Frenchman had down stairs."

"No, I don't remember it," said Renshaw almost rudely.  "But," he
added, after a pause, with an air of a man obliged to revive a
stale and unpleasant memory, "if I did--what about it?"

"Nuthin', only that you kin hev it to-morrow, ez that 'ere
Frenchman is movin' out," responded Nott.  "I thought you was
sorter keen about it when you first kem."

"Umph! we'll talk about it to-morrow."  Something in the look of
wearied perplexity with which Mr. Nott was beginning to regard his
own mal a propos presence, arrested the young man's attention.
"What's the reason you didn't sell this old ship long ago, take a
decent house in the town, and bring up your daughter like a lady?"
he asked with a sudden blunt good humor.  But even this implied
blasphemy against the habitation he worshiped did not prevent Mr.
Nott from his usual misconstruction of the question.

"I reckon, now, Rosey's got high-flown ideas of livin' in a castle
with ruins, eh?" he said cunningly.

"Haven't heard her say," returned Renshaw abruptly.  "Good-night."

Firmly convinced that Rosey had been unable to conceal from Mr.
Renshaw the influence of her dreams of a castellated future with de
Ferrieres, he regained the cabin.  Satisfying himself that his
daughter had retired, he sought his own couch.  But not to sleep.
The figure of de Ferrieres, standing in the ship side and melting
into the outer darkness, haunted him, and compelled him in dreams
to rise and follow him through the alleys and by-ways of the
crowded city.  Again, it was a part of his morbid suspicion that he
now invested the absent man with a potential significance and an
unknown power.  What deep-laid plans might he not form to possess
himself of Rosey, of which he, Abner Nott, would be ignorant?
Unchecked by the restraint of a father's roof he would now give
full license to his power.  "Said he'd take his Honor with him,"
muttered Abner to himself in the dim watches of the night; "lookin'
at that sayin' in its right light, it looks bad."


V


The elaborately untruthful account which Mr. Nott gave his daughter
of de Ferrieres's sudden departure was more fortunate than his
usual equivocations.  While it disappointed and slightly mortified
her, it did not seem to her inconsistent with what she already knew
of him.  "Said his doctor had ordered him to quit town under an
hour, owing to a comin' attack of hay fever, and he had a friend
from furrin parts waitin' him at the Springs, Rosey," explained
Nott, hesitating between his desire to avoid his daughter's eyes
and his wish to observe her countenance.

"Was he worse?--I mean did he look badly, father?" inquired Rosey
thoughtfully.

"I reckon not exackly bad.  Kinder looked ez if he mout be worse
soon ef he didn't hump hisself."

"Did you see him?--in his room?" asked Rosey anxiously.  Upon the
answer to this simple question depended the future confidential
relations of father and daughter.  If her father had himself
detected the means by which his lodger existed, she felt that her
own obligations to secrecy had been removed.  But Mr. Nott's answer
disposed of this vain hope.  It was a response after his usual
fashion to the question he IMAGINED she artfully wished to ask, i.
e. if he had discovered their rendezvous of the previous night.
This it was part of his peculiar delicacy to ignore.  Yet his reply
showed that he had been unconscious of the one miserable secret
that he might have read easily.

"I was there an hour or so--him and me alone--discussin' trade.  I
reckon he's got a good thing outer that curled horse hair, for I
see he's got in an invoice o' cushions.  I've stored 'em all in the
forrard bulkhead until he sends for 'em, ez Mr. Renshaw hez taken
the loft."

But although Mr. Renshaw had taken the loft, he did not seem in
haste to occupy it.  He spent part of the morning in uneasily
pacing his room, in occasional sallies into the street from which
he purposelessly returned, and once or twice in distant and furtive
contemplation of Rosey at work in the galley.  This last
observation was not unnoticed by the astute Nott, who at once
conceiving that he was nourishing a secret and hopeless passion for
Rosey, began to consider whether it was not his duty to warn the
young man of her preoccupied affections.  But Mr. Renshaw's final
disappearance obliged him to withhold his confidence till morning.

This time Mr. Renshaw left the ship with the evident determination
of some settled purpose.  He walked rapidly until he reached the
counting-house of Mr. Sleight, when he was at once shown into a
private office.  In a few moments Mr. Sleight, a brusque but
passionless man, joined him.

"Well," said Sleight, closing the door carefully.  "What news?"

"None," said Renshaw bluntly.  "Look here, Sleight," he added,
turning to him suddenly.  "Let me out of this game.  I don't like
it."

"Does that mean you've found nothing?" asked Sleight,
sarcastically.

"It means that I haven't looked for anything, and that I don't
intend to without the full knowledge of that d----d fool who owns
the ship."

"You've changed your mind since you wrote that letter," said
Sleight coolly, producing from a drawer the note already known to
the reader.  Renshaw mechanically extended his hand to take it.
Mr. Sleight dropped the letter back into the drawer, which he
quietly locked.  The apparently simple act dyed Mr. Renshaw's cheek
with color, but it vanished quickly, and with it any token of his
previous embarrassment.  He looked at Sleight with the convinced
air of a resolute man who had at last taken a disagreeable step but
was willing to stand by the consequences.

"I HAVE changed my mind," he said coolly.  "I found out that it was
one thing to go down there as a skilled prospector might go to
examine a mine that was to be valued according to his report of the
indications, but that it was entirely another thing to go and play
the spy in a poor devil's house in order to buy something he didn't
know he was selling and wouldn't sell if he did."

"And something that the man HE bought of didn't think of selling;
something HE himself never paid for, and never expected to buy,"
sneered Sleight.

"But something that WE expect to buy from our knowledge of all
this, and it is that which makes all the difference."

"But you knew all this before."

"I never saw it in this light before!  I never thought of it until
I was living there face to face with the old fool I was intending
to overreach.  I never was SURE of it until this morning, when he
actually turned out one of his lodgers that I might have the very
room I required to play off our little game in comfortably.  When
he did that, I made up my mind to drop the whole thing, and I'm
here to do it."

"And let somebody else take the responsibility--with the
percentage--unless you've also felt it your duty to warn Nott too,"
said Sleight with a sneer.

"You only dare say that to me, Sleight," said Renshaw quietly,
"because you have in that drawer an equal evidence of my folly and
my confidence; but if you are wise you will not presume too far on
either.  Let us see how we stand.  Through the yarn of a drunken
captain and a mutinous sailor you became aware of an unclaimed
shipment of treasure, concealed in an unknown ship that entered
this harbor.  You are enabled, through me, to corroborate some
facts and identify the ship.  You proposed to me, as a speculation,
to identify the treasure if possible before you purchased the ship.
I accepted the offer without consideration; on consideration I now
decline it, but without prejudice or loss to any one but myself.
As to your insinuation I need not remind you that my presence here
to-day refutes it.  I would not require your permission to make a
much better bargain with a good natured fool like Nott than I could
with you.  Or if I did not care for the business I could have
warned the girl--"

"The girl--what girl?"

Renshaw bit his lip but answered boldly, "The old man's daughter--a
poor girl--whom this act would rob as well as her father."

Sleight looked at his companion attentively.  "You might have said
so at first, and let up on this camp-meetin' exhortation.  Well
then--admitting you've got the old man and the young girl on the
same string, and that you've played it pretty low down in the short
time you've been there--I suppose, Dick Renshaw, I've got to see
your bluff.  Well, how much is it!  What's the figure you and she
have settled on?"

For an instant Mr. Sleight was in physical danger.  But before he
had finished speaking Renshaw's quick sense of the ludicrous had so
far overcome his first indignation as to enable him even to admire
the perfect moral insensibility of his companion.  As he rose and
walked towards the door, he half wondered that he had ever treated
the affair seriously.  With a smile he replied:

"Far from bluffing, Sleight, I am throwing my cards on the table.
Consider that I've passed out.  Let some other man take my hand.
Rake down the pot if you like, old man, I leave for Sacramento to-
night.  Adios."

When the door had closed behind him Mr. Sleight summoned his clerk.

"Is that petition for grading Pontiac Street ready?"

"I've seen the largest property holders, sir; they're only waiting
for you to sign first."  Mr. Sleight paused and then affixed his
signature to the paper his clerk laid before him.  "Get the other
names and send it up at once."

"If Mr. Nott doesn't sign, sir?"

"No matter.  He will be assessed all the same."  Mr. Sleight took
up his hat.

"The Lascar seaman that was here the other day has been wanting to
see you, sir.  I said you were busy."

Mr. Sleight put down his hat.  "Send him up."

Nevertheless Mr. Sleight sat down and at once abstracted himself so
completely as to be apparently in utter oblivion of the man who
entered.  He was lithe and Indian-looking; bearing in dress and
manner the careless slouch without the easy frankness of a sailor.

"Well!" said Sleight without looking up.

"I was only wantin' to know ef you had any news for me, boss?"

"News?" echoed Sleight as if absently; "news of what?"

"That little matter of the Pontiac we talked about, boss," returned
the Lascar with an uneasy servility in the whites of his teeth and
eyes.

"Oh," said Sleight, "that's played out.  It's a regular fraud.
It's an old forecastle yarn, my man, that you can't reel off in the
cabin."

The sailor's face darkened.

"The man who was looking into it has thrown the whole thing up.  I
tell you it's played out!" repeated Sleight, without raising his
head.

"It's true, boss--every word," said the Lascar, with an appealing
insinuation that seemed to struggle hard with savage earnestness.
"You can swear me, boss; I wouldn't lie to a gentleman like you.
Your man hasn't half looked, or else--it must be there, or--"

"That's just it," said Sleight slowly; "who's to know that your
friends haven't been there already?--that seems to have been your
style."

"But no one knew it but me, until I told you, I swear to God.  I
ain't lying, boss, and I ain't drunk.  Say--don't give it up, boss.
That man of yours likely don't believe it, because he don't know
anything about it.  I DO--I could find it."

A silence followed.  Mr. Sleight remained completely absorbed in
his papers for some moments.  Then glancing at the Lascar, he took
his pen, wrote a hurried note, folded it, addressed it, and,
holding it between his fingers, leaned back in his chair.

"If you choose to take this note to my man, he may give it another
show.  Mind, I don't say that he WILL.  He's going to Sacramento
to-night, but you could go down there and find him before he
starts.  He's got a room there, I believe.  While you're waiting
for him, you might keep your eyes open to satisfy yourself."

"Ay, ay, sir," said the sailor, eagerly endeavoring to catch the
eye of his employer.  But Mr. Sleight looked straight before him,
and he turned to go.

"The Sacramento boat goes at nine," said Mr. Sleight quietly.

This time their glances met, and the Lascar's eye glistened with
subtle intelligence.  The next moment he was gone, and Mr. Sleight
again became absorbed in his papers.

Meanwhile Renshaw was making his way back to the Pontiac with that
light-hearted optimism that had characterized his parting with
Sleight.  It was this quality of his nature, fostered perhaps by
the easy civilization in which he moved, that had originally drawn
him into relations with the man he had just quitted; a quality that
had been troubled and darkened by those relations, yet, when they
were broken, at once returned.  It consequently did not occur to
him that he had only selfishly compromised with the difficulty; it
seemed to him enough that he had withdrawn from a compact he
thought dishonorable; he was not called upon to betray his partner
in that compact merely to benefit others.  He had been willing to
incur suspicion and loss to reinstate himself in his self-respect,
more he could not do without justifying that suspicion.  The view
taken by Sleight was, after all, that which most business men would
take--which even the unbusiness-like Nott would take--which the
girl herself might be tempted to listen to.  Clearly he could do
nothing but abandon the Pontiac and her owner to the fate he could
not in honor avert.  And even that fate was problematical.  It did
not follow that the treasure was still concealed in the Pontiac,
nor that Nott would be willing to sell her.  He would make some
excuse to Nott--he smiled to think he would probably be classed in
the long line of absconding tenants--he would say good-by to Rosey,
and leave for Sacramento that night.  He ascended the stairs to the
gangway with a freer breast than when he first entered the ship.

Mr. Nott was evidently absent, and after a quick glance at the
half-open cabin door, Renshaw turned towards the galley.  But Miss
Rosey was not in her accustomed haunt, and with a feeling of
disappointment, which seemed inconsistent with so slight a cause,
he crossed the deck impatiently and entered his room.  He was about
to close the door when the prolonged rustle of a trailing skirt in
the passage attracted his attention.  The sound was so unlike that
made by any garment worn by Rosey that he remained motionless, with
his hand on the door.  The sound approached nearer, and the next
moment a white veiled figure with a trailing skirt slowly swept
past the room.  Renshaw's pulses halted for an instant in half
superstitious awe.  As the apparition glided on and vanished in the
cabin door he could only see that it was the form of a beautiful
and graceful woman--but nothing more.  Bewildered and curious, he
forgot himself so far as to follow it, and impulsively entered the
cabin.  The figure turned, uttered a little cry, threw the veil
aside, and showed the half troubled, half blushing face of Rosey.

"I--beg--your pardon," stammered Renshaw; "I didn't know it was
you."

"I was trying on some things," said Rosey, recovering her composure
and pointing to an open trunk that seemed to contain a theatrical
wardrobe--"some things father gave me long ago.  I wanted to see if
there was anything I could use.  I thought I was all alone in the
ship, but fancying I heard a noise forward I came out to see what
it was.  I suppose it must have been you."

She raised her clear eyes to his, with a slight touch of womanly
reserve that was so incompatible with any vulgar vanity or girlish
coquetry that he became the more embarrassed.  Her dress, too, of a
slightly antique shape, rich but simple, seemed to reveal and
accent a certain repose of gentlewomanliness, that he was now
wishing to believe he had always noticed.  Conscious of a
superiority in her that now seemed to change their relations
completely, he alone remained silent, awkward, and embarrassed
before the girl who had taken care of his room, and who cooked in
the galley!  What he had thoughtlessly considered a merely vulgar
business intrigue against her stupid father, now to his extravagant
fancy assumed the proportions of a sacrilege to herself.

"You've had your revenge, Miss Nott, for the fright I once gave
you," he said a little uneasily, "for you quite startled me just
now as you passed.  I began to think the Pontiac was haunted.  I
thought you were a ghost.  I don't know why such a ghost should
FRIGHTEN anybody," he went on with a desperate attempt to recover
his position by gallantry.  "Let me see--that's Donna Elvira's
dress--is it not?"

"I don't think that was the poor woman's name," said Rosey simply;
"she died of yellow fever at New Orleans as Signora somebody."

Her ignorance seemed to Mr. Renshaw so plainly to partake more of
the nun than the provincial that he hesitated to explain to her
that he meant the heroine of an opera.

"It seems dreadful to put on the poor thing's clothes, doesn't it?"
she added.

Mr. Renshaw's eyes showed so plainly that he thought otherwise,
that she drew a little austerely towards the door of her state-
room.

"I must change these things before any one comes," she said dryly.

"That means I must go, I suppose.  But couldn't you let me wait
here or in the gangway until then, Miss Nott?  I am going away to-
night, and I mayn't see you again."  He had not intended to say
this, but it slipped from his embarrassed tongue.  She stopped with
her hand on the door.

"You are going away?"

"I--think--I must leave to-night.  I have some important business
in Sacramento."

She raised her frank eyes to his.  The unmistakable look of
disappointment that he saw in them gave his heart a sudden throb
and sent the quick blood to his cheeks.

"It's too bad," she said, abstractedly.  "Nobody ever seems to stay
here long.  Captain Bower promised to tell me all about the ship
and he went away the second week.  The photographer left before he
finished the picture of the Pontiac; Monsieur de Ferrieres has only
just gone, and now YOU are going."

"Perhaps, unlike them, I have finished my season of usefulness
here," he replied, with a bitterness he would have recalled the
next moment.  But Rosey, with a faint sigh, saying, "I won't be
long," entered the state-room and closed the door behind her.

Renshaw bit his lip and pulled at the long silken threads of his
moustache until they smarted.  Why had he not gone at once?  Why
was it necessary to say he might not see her again--and if he had
said it, why should he add anything more?  What was he waiting for
now?  To endeavor to prove to her that he really bore no
resemblance to Captain Bower, the photographer, the crazy Frenchman
de Ferrieres?  Or would he be forced to tell her that he was
running away from a conspiracy to defraud her father--merely for
something to say?  Was there ever such folly?  Rosey was "not
long," as she had said, but he was beginning to pace the narrow
cabin impatiently when the door opened and she returned.

She had resumed her ordinary calico gown, but such was the
impression left upon Renshaw's fancy that she seemed to wear it
with a new grace.  At any other time he might have recognized the
change as due to a new corset, which strict veracity compels me to
record Rosey had adopted for the first time that morning.  Howbeit,
her slight coquetry seemed to have passed, for she closed the open
trunk with a return of her old listless air, and sitting on it
rested her elbows on her knees and her oval chin in her hands.

"I wish you would do me a favor," she said after a reflective
pause.

"Let me know what it is and it shall be done," replied Renshaw
quickly.

"If you should come across Monsieur de Ferrieres, or hear of him, I
wish you would let me know.  He was very poorly when he left here,
and I should like to know if he was better.  He didn't say where he
was going.  At least, he didn't tell father; but I fancy he and
father don't agree."

"I shall be very glad of having even THAT opportunity of making you
remember me, Miss Nott," returned Renshaw with a faint smile; "I
don't suppose either that it would be very difficult to get news of
your friend--everybody seems to know him."

"But not as I did," said Rosey with an abstracted little sigh.

Mr. Renshaw opened his brown eyes upon her.  Was he mistaken? was
this romantic girl only a little coquette playing her provincial
airs on him?  "You say he and your father didn't agree?  That
means, I suppose, that YOU and he agreed?--and that was the
result."

"I don't think father knew anything about it," said Rosey simply.

Mr. Renshaw rose.  And this was what he had been waiting to hear!
"Perhaps," he said grimly, "you would also like news of the
photographer and Captain Bower, or did your father agree with them
better?"

"No," said Rosey quietly.  She remained silent for a moment, and
lifting her lashes said, "Father always seemed to agree with YOU,
and that--" she hesitated.

"That's why YOU don't."

"I didn't say that," said Rosey with an incongruous increase of
coldness and color.  "I only meant to say it was that which makes
it seem so hard you should go now."

Notwithstanding his previous determination Renshaw found himself
sitting down again.  Confused and pleased, wishing he had said
more--or less--he said nothing, and Rosey was forced to continue.

"It's strange, isn't it--but father was urging me this morning to
make a visit to some friends at the old Ranch.  I didn't want to
go.  I like it much better here."

"But you cannot bury yourself here forever, Miss Nott," said
Renshaw with a sudden burst of honest enthusiasm.  "Sooner or later
you will be forced to go where you will be properly appreciated,
where you will be admired and courted, where your slightest wish
will be law.  Believe me, without flattery, you don't know your own
power."

"It doesn't seem strong enough to keep even the little I like
here," said Rosey with a slight glistening of the eyes.  "But," she
added hastily, "you don't know how much the dear old ship is to me.
It's the only home I think I ever had."

"But the Ranch?" said Renshaw.

"The Ranch seemed to be only the old wagon halted in the road.  It
was a very little improvement on outdoors," said Rosey with a
little shiver.  "But this is so cozy and snug and yet so strange
and foreign.  Do you know I think I began to understand why I like
it so since you taught me so much about ships and voyages.  Before
that I only learned from books.  Books deceive you, I think, more
than people do.  Don't you think so?"

She evidently did not notice the quick flush that covered his
cheeks and apparently dazzled his troubled eyelid for she went on
confidentially.

"I was thinking of you yesterday.  I was sitting by the galley
door, looking forward.  You remember the first day I saw you when
you startled me by coming up out of the hatch?"

"I wish you wouldn't think of that," said Renshaw, with more
earnestness than he would have made apparent.

"I don't want to either," said Rosey, gravely, "for I've had a
strange fancy about it.  I saw once when I was younger, a picture
in a print shop in Montgomery Street that haunted me.  I think it
was called 'The Pirate.'  There was a number of wicked-looking
sailors lying around the deck, and coming out of a hatch was one
figure with his hands on the deck and a cutlass in his mouth."

"Thank you," said Renshaw.

"You don't understand.  He was horrid-looking, not at all like you.
I never thought of HIM when I first saw you; but the other day I
thought how dreadful it would have been if some one like him and
not like you had come up then.  That made me nervous sometimes of
being alone.  I think father is too.  He often goes about
stealthily at night, as if he was watching for something."

Renshaw's face grew suddenly dark.  Could it be possible that
Sleight had always suspected him, and set spies to watch--or was he
guilty of some double intrigue?

"He thinks," continued Rosey with a faint smile, "that some one is
looking around the ship, and talks of setting bear-traps.  I hope
you're not mad, Mr. Renshaw," she added, suddenly catching sight of
his changed expression, "at my foolishness in saying you reminded
me of the pirate.  I meant nothing."

"I know you're incapable of meaning anything but good to anybody,
Miss Nott, perhaps to me more than I deserve," said Renshaw with a
sudden burst of feeling.  "I wish--I wish--you would do ME a favor.
YOU asked me one just now."  He had taken her hand.  It seemed so
like a mere illustration of his earnestness, that she did not
withdraw it.  "Your father tells you everything.  If he has any
offer to dispose of the ship, will you write to me at once before
anything is concluded?"  He winced a little--the sentence of
Sleight, "What's the figure you and she have settled upon?" flashed
across his mind.  He scarcely noticed that Rosey had withdrawn her
hand coldly.

"Perhaps you had better speak to father, as it is HIS business.
Besides, I shall not be here.  I shall be at the Ranch."

"But you said you didn't want to go?"

"I've changed my mind," said Rosey listlessly.  "I shall go to-
night."

She rose as if to indicate that the interview was ended.  With an
overpowering instinct that his whole future happiness depended upon
his next act, he made a step towards her, with eager outstretched
hands.  But she slightly lifted her own with a warning gesture, "I
hear father coming--you will have a chance to talk BUSINESS with
him," she said, and vanished into her state-room.


VI


The heavy tread of Abner Nott echoed in the passage.  Confused and
embarrassed, Renshaw remained standing at the door that had closed
upon Rosey as her father entered the cabin.  Providence, which
always fostered Mr. Nott's characteristic misconceptions, left that
perspicacious parent but one interpretation of the situation.
Rosey had evidently just informed Mr. Renshaw that she loved
another!

"I was just saying 'good-by' to Miss Nott," said Renshaw, hastily
regaining his composure with an effort.  "I am going to Sacramento
to-night, and will not return.  I--"

"In course, in course," interrupted Nott, soothingly; "that's wot
you say now, and that's what you allow to do.  That's wot they
allus do."

"I mean," said Renshaw, reddening at what he conceived to be an
allusion to the absconding propensities of Nott's previous
tenants,--"I mean that you shall keep the advance to cover any loss
you might suffer through my giving up the rooms."

"Certingly," said Nott, laying his hand with a large sympathy on
Renshaw's shoulder; "but we'll drop that just now.  We won't swap
hosses in the middle of the river.  We'll square up accounts in
your room," he added, raising his voice that Rosey might overhear
him, after a preliminary wink at the young man.  "Yes, sir, we'll
just square up and settle in there.  Come along, Mr. Renshaw."
Pushing him with paternal gentleness from the cabin, with his hand
still upon his shoulder, he followed him into the passage.  Half
annoyed at his familiarity, yet not altogether displeased by this
illustration of Rosey's belief of his preference, Renshaw
wonderingly accompanied him.  Nott closed the door, and pushing the
young man into a chair, deliberately seated himself at the table
opposite.  "It's just as well that Rosey reckons that you and me is
settlin' our accounts," he began, cunningly, "and mebbee it's just
ez well ez she should reckon you're goin' away."

"But I AM going," interrupted Renshaw, impatiently.  "I leave to-
night."

"Surely, surely," said Nott, gently, "that's wot you kalkilate to
do; that's just nat'ral in a young feller.  That's about what I
reckon I'D hev done to her mother if anythin' like this hed ever
cropped up, which it didn't.  Not but what Almiry Jane had young
fellers enough round her, but, 'cept ole Judge Peter, ez was lamed
in the War of 1812, there ain't no similarity ez I kin see," he
added, musingly.

"I am afraid I can't see any similarity either, Mr. Nott," said
Renshaw, struggling between a dawning sense of some impending
absurdity and his growing passion for Rosey.  "For Heaven's sake
speak out if you've got anything to say."

Mr. Nott leaned forward, and placed his large hand on the young
man's shoulder.  "That's it.  That's what I sed to myself when I
seed how things were pintin'.  'Speak out,' sez I, 'Abner!  Speak
out if you've got anything to say.  You kin trust this yer Mr.
Renshaw.  He ain't the kind of man to creep into the bosom of a
man's ship for pupposes of his own.  He ain't a man that would hunt
round until he discovered a poor man's treasure, and then try to
rob--'"

"Stop!" said Renshaw, with a set face and darkening eyes.  "WHAT
treasure? WHAT man are you speaking of?"

"Why Rosey and Mr. Ferrers," returned Nott, simply.

Renshaw sank into his seat again.  But the expression of relief
which here passed swiftly over his face gave way to one of uneasy
interest as Nott went on.

"P'r'aps it's a little highfalutin talkin' of Rosey ez a treasure.
But, considerin', Mr. Renshaw, ez she's the only prop'ty I've kept
by me for seventeen years ez hez paid interest and increased in
valooe, it ain't sayin' too much to call her so.  And ez Ferrers
knows this, he oughter been content with gougin' me in that horse-
hair spec, without goin' for Rosey.  P'r'aps yer surprised at
hearing me speak o' my own flesh and blood ez if I was talkin'
hoss-trade, but you and me is bus'ness men, Mr. Renshaw, and we
discusses ez such.  We ain't goin' to slosh round and slop over in
po'try and sentiment," continued Nott, with a tremulous voice, and
a hand that slightly shook on Renshaw's shoulder.  "We ain't goin'
to git up and sing, 'Thou'st larned to love another thou'st broken
every vow we've parted from each other and my bozom's lonely now oh
is it well to sever such hearts as ourn for ever kin I forget thee
never farewell farewell farewell.'  Ye never happen'd to hear Jim
Baker sing that at the moosic hall on Dupont Street, Mr. Renshaw,"
continued Mr. Nott, enthusiastically, when he had recovered from
that complete absence of punctuation which alone suggested verse to
his intellect.  "He sorter struck water down here," indicating his
heart, "every time."

"But what has Miss Nott to do with M. de Ferrieres?" asked Renshaw,
with a faint smile.

Mr. Nott regarded him with dumb, round, astonished eyes.  "Hezn't
she told yer?"

"Certainly not."

"And she didn't let on anythin' about him?" he continued, feebly.

"She said she'd liked to know where--"  He stopped, with the
reflection that he was betraying her confidences.

A dim foreboding of some new form of deceit, to which even the man
before him was a consenting party, almost paralyzed Nott's
faculties.  "Then she didn't tell yer that she and Ferrers was
sparkin' and keepin' kimpany together; that she and him was
engaged, and was kalkilatin' to run away to furrin parts; that she
cottoned to him more than to the ship or her father?"

"She certainly did not, and I shouldn't believe it," said Renshaw,
quickly.

Nott smiled.  He was amused; he astutely recognized the usual
trustfulness of love and youth.  There was clearly no deceit here!
Renshaw's attentive eyes saw the smile, and his brow darkened.

"I like to hear yer say that, Mr. Renshaw," said Nott, "and it's no
more than Rosey deserves, ez it's suthing onnat'ral and spell-like
that's come over her through Ferrers.  It ain't my Rosey.  But it's
Gospel truth, whether she's bewitched or not; whether it's them
damn fool stories she reads--and it's like ez not he's just the
kind o' snipe to write 'em hisself, and sorter advertise hisself,
don't yer see--she's allus stuck up for him.  They've had
clandesent interviews, and when I taxed him with it he ez much ez
allowed it was so, and reckoned he must leave, so ez he could run
her off, you know--kinder stampede her with 'honor.'  Them's his
very words."

"But that is all past; he is gone, and Miss Nott does not even know
where he is!" said Renshaw, with a laugh, which, however, concealed
a vague uneasiness.

Mr. Nott rose and opened the door carefully.  When he had satisfied
himself that no one was listening, he came back and said in a
whisper, "That's a lie.  Not ez Rosey means to lie, but it's a
trick he's put upon that poor child.  That man, Mr. Renshaw, hez
been hangin' round the Pontiac ever since.  I've seed him twice
with my own eyes pass the cabin windys.  More than that, I've heard
strange noises at night, and seen strange faces in the alley over
yer.  And only jist now ez I kem in I ketched sight of a furrin
lookin' Chinee nigger slinking round the back door of what useter
be Ferrers's loft."

"Did he look like a sailor?" asked Renshaw quickly, with a return
of his former suspicion.

"Not more than I do," said Nott, glancing complacently at his pea-
jacket.  "He had rings on his yeers like a wench."

Mr. Renshaw started.  But seeing Nott's eyes fixed on him, he said
lightly, "But what have these strange faces and this strange man--
probably only a Lascar sailor out of a job--to do with Ferrieres?"

"Friends o' his--feller furrin citizens--spies on Rosey, don't you
see?  But they can't play the old man, Mr. Renshaw.  I've told
Rosey she must make a visit to the old Ranch.  Once I've got her
ther safe, I reckon I kin manage Mr. Ferrers and any number of
Chinee niggers he kin bring along."

Renshaw remained for a few moments lost in thought.  Then rising
suddenly he grasped Mr. Nott's hand with a frank smile but
determined eyes.  "I haven't got the hang of this, Mr. Nott--the
whole thing gets me!  I only know that I've changed my mind.  I'm
NOT going to Sacramento.  I shall stay HERE, old man, until I see
you safe through the business, or my name's not Dick Renshaw.
There's my hand on it!  Don't say a word.  Maybe it is no more than
I ought to do--perhaps not half enough.  Only remember, not a word
of this to your daughter.  She must believe that I leave to-night.
And the sooner you get her out of this cursed ship the better."

"Deacon Flint's girls are goin' up in to-night's boat.  I'll send
Rosey with them," said Nott with a cunning twinkle.  Renshaw
nodded.  Nott seized his hand with a wink of unutterable
significance.

Left to himself Renshaw tried to review more calmly the
circumstances in these strange revelations that had impelled him to
change his resolution so suddenly.  That the ship was under the
surveillance of unknown parties, and that the description of them
tallied with his own knowledge of a certain Lascar sailor, who was
one of Sleight's informants--seemed to be more than probable.  That
this seemed to point to Sleight's disloyalty to himself while he
was acting as his agent, or a double treachery on the part of
Sleight's informants was in either case a reason and an excuse for
his own interference.  But the connection of the absurd Frenchman
with the case, which at first seemed a characteristic imbecility of
his landlord, bewildered him the more he thought of it.  Rejecting
any hypothesis of the girl's affection for the antiquated figure
whose sanity was a question of public criticism, he was forced to
the equally alarming theory that Ferrieres was cognizant of the
treasure, and that his attentions to Rosey were to gain possession
of it by marrying her.  Might she not be dazzled by a picture of
this wealth?  Was it not possible that she was already in part
possession of the secret, and her strange attraction to the ship,
and what he had deemed her innocent craving for information
concerning it, a consequence?  Why had he not thought of this
before?  Perhaps she had detected his purpose from the first, and
had deliberately checkmated him.  The thought did not increase his
complacency as Nott softly returned.

"It's all right," he began with a certain satisfaction in this rare
opportunity for Machiavellian diplomacy, "it's all fixed now.
Rosey tumbled to it at once, partiklerly when I said you was bound
to go.  'But wot makes Mr. Renshaw go, father,' sez she; 'wot makes
everybody run away from the ship?' sez she, rather peart like and
sassy for her.  'Mr. Renshaw hez contractin' business,' sez I; 'got
a big thing up in Sacramento that'll make his fortun',' sez I--for
I wasn't goin' to give yer away, don't ye see.  'He had some
business to talk to you about the ship,' sez she, lookin' at me
under the corner of her pocket handkerchief.  'Lots o' business,'
sez I.  'Then I reckon he don't care to hev me write to him,' sez
she.  'Not a bit,' sez I, 'he wouldn't answer ye if ye did.  Ye'll
never hear from that chap agin.'"

"But what the devil--" interrupted the young man impetuously.

"Keep yer hair on!" remonstrated the old man with dark
intelligence.  "Ef you'd seen the way she flounced into her
stateroom!--she, Rosey, ez allus moves ez softly ez a spirit--you'd
hev wished I'd hev unloaded a little more.  No sir, gals is gals in
some things all the time."

Renshaw rose and paced the room rapidly.  "Perhaps I'd better speak
to her again before she goes," he said, impulsively.

"P'r'aps you'd better not," replied the imperturbable Nott.

Irritated as he was, Renshaw could not avoid the reflection that
the old man was right.  What, indeed, could he say to her with his
present imperfect knowledge?  How could she write to him if that
knowledge was correct?

"Ef," said Nott, kindly, with a laying on of large benedictory and
paternal hands, "ef yer are willin' to see Rosey agin, without
SPEAKIN' to her, I reckon I ken fix it for yer.  I'm goin' to take
her down to the boat in half an hour.  Ef yer should happen--mind,
ef yer should HAPPEN to be down there, seein' some friends off and
sorter promenadin' up and down the wharf like them high-toned chaps
on Montgomery Street--ye might ketch her eye unconscious like.  Or,
ye might do this!"  He rose after a moment's cogitation and with a
face of profound mystery opened the door and beckoned Renshaw to
follow him.  Leading the way cautiously, he brought the young man
into an open unpartitioned recess beside her stateroom.  It seemed
to be used as a storeroom, and Renshaw's eye was caught by a trunk
the size and shape of the one that had provided Rosey with the
materials of her masquerade.  Pointing to it Mr. Nott said in a
grave whisper: "This yer trunk is the companion trunk to Rosey's.
SHE'S got the things them opery women wears; this yer contains the
HE things, the duds and fixin's o' the men o' the same stripe."
Throwing it open he continued: "Now, Mr. Renshaw, gals is gals;
it's nat'ral they should be took by fancy dress and store clothes
on young chaps as on theirselves.  That man Ferrers hez got the
dead wood on all of ye in this sort of thing, and hez been playing,
so to speak, a lone hand all along.  And ef thar's anythin' in
thar," he added, lifting part of a theatrical wardrobe, "that you
think you'd fancy--anythin' you'd like to put on when ye promenade
the wharf down yonder--it's yours.  Don't ye be bashful, but help
yourself."

It was fully a minute before Renshaw fairly grasped the old man's
meaning.  But when he did--when the suggested spectacle of himself
arrayed a la Ferrieres, gravely promenading the wharf as a last
gorgeous appeal to the affections of Rosey, rose before his fancy,
he gave way to a fit of genuine laughter.  The nervous tension of
the past few hours relaxed; he laughed until the tears came into
his eyes; he was still laughing when the door of the cabin was
suddenly opened and Rosey appeared cold and distant on the
threshold.

"I--beg your pardon," stammered Renshaw hastily.  "I didn't mean--
to disturb you--I--"

Without looking at him Rosey turned to her father.  "I am ready,"
she said coldly, and closed the door again.

A glance of artful intelligence came into Nott's eyes, which had
remained blankly staring at Renshaw's apparently causeless
hilarity.  Turning to him he winked solemnly.  "That keerless kind
o' hoss-laff jist fetched her," he whispered, and vanished before
his chagrined companion could reply.

When Mr. Nott and his daughter departed Renshaw was not in the
ship, neither did he make a spectacular appearance on the wharf as
Mr. Nott had fondly expected, nor did he turn up again until after
nine o'clock, when he found the old man in the cabin awaiting his
return with some agitation.

"A minit ago," he said, mysteriously closing the door behind
Renshaw, "I heard a voice in the passage, and goin' out who should
I see agin but that darned furrin nigger ez I told yer 'bout,
kinder hidin' in the dark, his eyes shinin like a catamount, I was
jist reachin' for my weppins when he riz up with a grin and handed
me this yer letter.  I told him I reckoned you'd gone to
Sacramento, but he said he wez sure you was in your room, and to
prove it I went thar.  But when I kem back the d----d skunk had
vamoosed--got frightened I reckon--and wasn't nowhar to be seen."

Reashaw took the letter hastily.  It contained only a line in
Sleight's hand.  "If you change your mind, the bearer may be of
service to you."

He turned abruptly to Nott.  "You say it was the same Lascar you
saw before."

"It was."

"Then all I can say is he is no agent of de Ferrieres's," said
Renshaw, turning away with a disappointed air.  Mr. Nott would have
asked another question, but with an abrupt "Good-night" the young
man entered his room, locked the door, and threw himself on his bed
to reflect without interruption.

But if he was in no mood to stand Nott's fatuous conjectures, he
was less inclined to be satisfied with his own.  Had he been again
carried away through his impulses evoked by the caprices of a
pretty coquette and the absurd theories of her half imbecile
father?  Had he broken faith with Sleight and remained in the ship
for nothing, and would not his change of resolution appear to be
the result of Sleight's note?  But why had the Lascar been haunting
the ship before?  In the midst of these conjectures he fell asleep.


VII


Between three and four in the morning the clouds broke over the
Pontiac, and the moon, riding high, picked out in black and silver
the long hulk that lay cradled between the iron shells of
warehouses and the wooden frames of tenements on either side.  The
galley and covered gangway presented a mass of undefined shadow,
against which the white deck shone brightly, stretching to the
forecastle and bows, where the tiny glass roof of the photographer
glistened like a gem in the Pontiac's crest.  So peaceful and
motionless she lay that she might have been some petrifaction of a
past age now first exhumed and laid bare to the cold light of the
stars.

Nevertheless this calm security was presently invaded by a sense of
stealthy life and motion.  What had seemed a fixed shadow suddenly
detached itself from the deck, and began to slip stanchion by
stanchion along the bulwarks toward the companion way.  At the
cabin door it halted and crouched motionless.  Then rising, it
glided forward with the same staccato movement until opposite the
slight elevation of the forehatch.  Suddenly it darted to the
hatch, unfastened and lifted it with a swift, familiar dexterity,
and disappeared in the opening.  But as the moon shone upon its
vanishing face, it revealed the whitening eyes and teeth of the
Lascar seaman.

Dropping to the lower deck lightly, he felt his way through the
dark passage between the partitions, evidently less familiar to
him, halting before each door to listen.  Returning forward he
reached the second hatchway that had attracted Rosey's attention,
and noiselessly unclosed its fastenings.  A penetrating smell of
bilge arose from the opening.  Drawing a small bull's-eye lantern
from his breast he lit it, and unhesitatingly let himself down to
the further depth.  The moving flash of his light revealed the
recesses of the upper hold, the abyss of the well amidships, and
glanced from the shining backs of moving zig-zags of rats that
seemed to outline the shadowy beams and transoms.  Disregarding
those curious spectators of his movements, he turned his attention
eagerly to the inner casings of the hold, that seemed in one spot
to have been strengthened by fresh timbers.  Attacking this
stealthily with the aid of some tools hidden in his oil-skin
clothing, in the light of the lantern he bore a fanciful
resemblance to the predatory animals around him.  The low
continuous sound of rasping and gnawing of timber which followed
heightened the resemblance.  At the end of a few minutes he had
succeeded in removing enough of the outer planking to show that the
entire filling of the casing between the stanchions was composed of
small boxes.  Dragging out one of them with feverish eagerness to
the light, the Lascar forced it open.  In the rays of the bull's-
eye, a wedged mass of discolored coins showed with a lurid glow.
The story of the Pontiac was true--the treasure was there!

But Mr. Sleight had overlooked the logical effect of this discovery
on the natural villainy of his tool.  In the very moment of his
triumphant execution of his patron's suggestions the idea of
keeping the treasure to himself flashed upon his mind.  HE had
discovered it--why should he give it up to anybody?  HE had run all
the risks; if he were detected at that moment, who would believe
that his purpose there at midnight was only to satisfy some one
else that the treasure was still intact?  No.  The circumstances
were propitious; he would get the treasure out of the ship at once,
drop it over her side, hastily conceal it in the nearest lot
adjacent, and take it away at his convenience.--Who would be the
wiser for it?

But it was necessary to reconnoitre first.  He knew that the loft
overhead was empty.  He knew that it communicated with the alley,
for he had tried the door that morning.  He would convey the
treasure there, and drop it into the alley.  The boxes were heavy.
Each one would require a separate journey to the ship's side, but
he would at least secure something if he were interrupted.  He
stripped the casing, and gathered the boxes together in a pile.

Ah, yes, it was funny too that he--the Lascar hound--the d----d
nigger--should get what bigger and bullier men than he had died
for!  The mate's blood was on those boxes, if the salt water had
not washed it out.  It was a hell of a fight when they dragged the
captain--Oh, what was that?  Was it the splash of a rat in the
bilge, or what?

A superstitious terror had begun to seize him at the thought of
blood.  The stifling hold seemed again filled with struggling
figures he had known; the air thick with cries and blasphemies that
he had forgotten.  He rose to his feet, and running quickly to the
hatchway, leaped to the deck above.  All was quiet.  The door
leading to the empty loft yielded to his touch.  He entered, and,
gliding through, unbarred and opened the door that gave upon the
alley.  The cold air and moonlight flowed in silently; the way of
escape was clear.  Bah!  He would go back for the treasure.

He had reached the passage when the door he had just opened was
suddenly darkened.  Turning rapidly, he was conscious of a gaunt
figure, grotesque, silent, and erect, looming on the threshold
between him and the sky.  Hidden in the shadow, he made a stealthy
step towards it, with an iron wrench in his uplifted hand.  But the
next moment his eyes dilated with superstitious horror; the iron
fell from this hand, and with a scream, like a frightened animal,
he turned and fled into the passage.  In the first access of his
blind terror he tried to reach the deck above through the
forehatch, but was stopped by the sound of a heavy tread overhead.
The immediate fear of detection now overcame his superstition; he
would have even faced the apparition again to escape through the
loft; but, before he could return there, other footsteps approached
rapidly from the end of the passage he would have to traverse.
There was but one chance of escape left now--the forehold he had
just quitted.  He might hide there until the alarm was over.  He
glided back to the hatch, lifted it, and it closed softly over his
head as the upper hatch was simultaneously raised, and the small
round eyes of Abner Nott peered down upon it.  The other footsteps
proved to be Renshaw's but, attracted by the open door of the loft,
he turned aside and entered.  As soon as he disappeared Mr. Nott
cautiously dropped through the opening to the deck below, and,
going to the other hatch through which the Lascar had vanished,
deliberately refastened it.  In a few moments Renshaw returned with
a light, and found the old man sitting on the hatch.

"The loft door was open," said Renshaw.  "There's little doubt
whoever was here escaped that way."

"Surely," said Nott.  There was a peculiar look of Machiavellian
sagacity in his face which irritated Renshaw.

"Then you're sure it was Ferrieres you saw pass by your window
before you called me?" he asked.

Nott nodded his head with an expression of infinite profundity.

"But you say he was going FROM the ship.  Then it could not have
been he who made the noise we heard down here."

"Mebbee no, and mebbee yes," returned Nott, cautiously.  "But if he
was already concealed inside the ship, as that open door, which you
say you barred from the inside, would indicate, what the devil did
he want with this?" said Renshaw, producing the monkey-wrench he
had picked up.

Mr. Nott examined the tool carefully, and shook his head with
momentous significance.  Nevertheless, his eyes wandered to the
hatch on which he was seated.

"Did you find anything disturbed THERE?" said Renshaw, following
the direction of his eye.  "Was that hatch fastened as it is now?"

"It was," said Nott, calmly.  "But ye wouldn't mind fetchin' me a
hammer and some o' them big nails from the locker, would yer, while
I hang round here just so ez to make sure against another attack."

Renshaw complied with his request; but as Nott proceeded to gravely
nail down the fastenings of the hatch, he turned impatiently away
to complete his examination of the ship.  The doors of the other
lofts and their fastenings appeared secure and undisturbed.  Yet it
was undeniable that a felonious entrance had been made, but by whom
or for what purpose still remained uncertain.  Even now, Renshaw
found it difficult to accept Nott's theory that de Ferrieres was
the aggressor and Rosey the object, nor could he justify his own
suspicion that the Lascar had obtained a surreptitious entrance
under Sleight's directions.  With a feeling that if Rosey had been
present he would have confessed all, and demanded from her an equal
confidence, he began to hate his feeble, purposeless, and
inefficient alliance with her father, who believed but dare not tax
his daughter with complicity in this outrage.  What could be done
with a man whose only idea of action at such a moment was to nail
up an undisturbed entrance in his invaded house!  He was so
preoccupied with these thoughts that when Nott rejoined him in the
cabin he scarcely heeded his presence, and was entirely oblivious
of the furtive looks which the old man from time to time cast upon
his face.

"I reckon ye wouldn't mind," broke in Nott, suddenly, "ef I asked a
favor of ye, Mr. Renshaw.  Mebbee ye'll allow it's askin' too much
in the matter of expense; mebbee ye'll allow it's askin' too much
in the matter o' time.  But I kalkilate to pay all the expense, and
if you'd let me know what yer vally yer time at, I reckon I could
stand that.  What I'd be askin' is this.  Would ye mind takin' a
letter from me to Rosey, and bringin' back an answer?"

Renshaw stared speechlessly at this absurd realization of his wish
of a moment before.  "I don't think I understand you," he
stammered.

"P'r'aps not," returned Nott, with great gravity.  "But that's not
so much matter to you ez your time and expenses."

"I meant I should be glad to go if I can be of any service to you,"
said Renshaw, hastily.

"You kin ketch the seven o'clock boat this morning, and you'll
reach San Rafael at ten--"

"But I thought Miss Rosey went to Petaluma," interrupted Renshaw
quickly.

Nott regarded him with an expression of patronizing superiority.
"That's what we ladled out to the public gin'rally, and to Ferrers
and his gang in partickler.  We SAID Petalumey, but if you go to
Madrono Cottage, San Rafael, you'll find Rosey thar."

If Mr. Renshaw required anything more to convince him of the
necessity of coming to some understanding with Rosey at once it
would have been this last evidence of her father's utterly dark and
supremely inscrutable designs.  He assented quickly, and Nott
handed him a note.

"Ye'll be partickler to give this inter her own hands, and wait for
an answer," said Nott gravely.

Resisting the proposition to enter then and there into an elaborate
calculation of the value of his time and the expenses of the trip,
Renshaw found himself at seven o'clock on the San Rafael boat.
Brief as was the journey it gave him time to reflect upon his
coming interview with Rosey.  He had resolved to begin by
confessing all; the attempt of last night had released him from any
sense of duty to Sleight.  Besides, he did not doubt that Nott's
letter contained some reference to this affair only known to Nott's
dark and tortuous intelligence.


VIII


Madrono Cottage lay at the entrance of a little canada already
green with the early winter rains, and nestled in a thicket of the
harlequin painted trees that gave it a name.  The young man was a
little relieved to find that Rosey had gone to the post-office a
mile away, and that he would probably overtake her or meet her
returning--alone.  The road--little more than a trail--wound along
the crest of the hill looking across the canada to the long, dark,
heavily-wooded flank of Mount Tamalpais that rose from the valley a
dozen miles away.  A cessation of the warm rain, a rift in the sky,
and the rare spectacle of cloud scenery, combined with a certain
sense of freedom, restored that lighthearted gayety that became him
most.  At a sudden turn of the road he caught sight of Rosey's
figure coming towards him, and quickened his step with the
impulsiveness of a boy.  But she suddenly disappeared, and when he
again saw her she was on the other side of the trail apparently
picking the leaves of a manzanita.  She had already seen him.

Somehow the frankness of his greeting was checked.  She looked up
at him with cheeks that retained enough of their color to suggest
why she had hesitated, and said, "YOU here, Mr. Renshaw?  I thought
you were in Sacramento."

"And I thought YOU were in Petaluma," he retorted gayly.  "I have a
letter from your father.  The fact is, one of those gentlemen who
has been haunting the ship actually made an entry last night.  Who
he was, and what he came for, nobody knows.  Perhaps your father
gives you his suspicions."  He could not help looking at her
narrowly as he handed her the note.  Except that her pretty
eyebrows were slightly raised in curiosity she seemed undisturbed
as she opened the letter.  Presently she raised her eyes to his.

"Is this all father gave you?"

"All."

"You're sure you haven't dropped anything?"

"Nothing.  I have given you all he gave me."

"And that is all it is."  She exhibited the missive, a perfectly
blank sheet of paper folded like a note!

Renshaw felt the angry blood glow in his cheeks.  "This is
unpardonable!  I assure you, Miss Nott, there must be some mistake.
He himself has probably forgotten the inclosure," he continued, yet
with an inward conviction that the act was perfectly premeditated
on the part of the old man.

The young girl held out her hand frankly.  "Don't think any more of
it, Mr. Renshaw.  Father is forgetful at times.  But tell me about
last night."

In a few words Mr. Renshaw briefly but plainly related the details
of the attempt upon the Pontiac, from the moment that he had been
awakened by Nott, to his discovery of the unknown trespasser's
flight by the open door to the loft.  When he had finished, he
hesitated, and then taking Rosey's hand, said impulsively, "You
will not be angry with me if I tell you all?  Your father firmly
believes that the attempt was made by the old Frenchman, de
Ferrieres, with a view of carrying you off."

A dozen reasons other than the one her father would have attributed
it to might have called the blood to her face.  But only innocence
could have brought the look of astonished indignation to her eyes
as she answered quickly:

"So THAT was what you were laughing at?"

"Not that, Miss Nott," said the young man eagerly: "though I wish
to God I could accuse myself of nothing more disloyal.  Do not
speak, I beg," he added impatiently, as Rosey was about to reply.
"I have no right to hear you; I have no right to even stand in your
presence until I have confessed everything.  I came to the Pontiac;
I made your acquaintance, Miss Nott, through a fraud as wicked as
anything your father charges to de Ferrieres.  I am not a
contractor.  I never was an honest lodger in the Pontiac.  I was
simply a spy."

"But you didn't mean to be--it was some mistake, wasn't it?" said
Rosey, quite white, but more from sympathy with the offender's
emotion than horror at the offense.

"I am afraid I did mean it.  But bear with me for a few moments
longer and you shall know all.  It's a long story.  Will you walk
on, and--take my arm?  You do not shrink from me, Miss Nott.  Thank
you.  I scarcely deserve the kindness."

Indeed so little did Rosey shrink that he was conscious of a slight
reassuring pressure on his arm as they moved forward, and for the
moment I fear the young man felt like exaggerating his offense for
the sake of proportionate sympathy.  "Do you remember," he
continued, "one evening when I told you some sea tales, you said
you always thought there must be some story about the Pontiac?
There was a story of the Pontiac, Miss Nott--a wicked story--a
terrible story--which I might have told you, which I OUGHT to have
told you--which was the story that brought me there.  You were
right, too, in saying that you thought I had known the Pontiac
before I stepped first on her deck that day.  I had."

He laid his disengaged hand across lightly on Rosey's, as if to
assure himself that she was listening.

"I was at that time a sailor.  I had been fool enough to run away
from college, thinking it a fine romantic thing to ship before the
mast for a voyage round the world.  I was a little disappointed,
perhaps, but I made the best of it, and in two years I was second
mate of a whaler lying in a little harbor of one of the uncivilized
islands of the Pacific.  While we were at anchor there a French
trading vessel put in, apparently for water.  She had the dregs of
a mixed crew of Lascars and Portuguese, who said they had lost the
rest of their men by desertion, and that the captain and mate had
been carried off by fever.  There was something so queer in their
story that our skipper took the law in his own hands, and put me on
board of her with a salvage crew.  But that night the French crew
mutinied, cut the cables, and would have got to sea if we had not
been armed and prepared, and managed to drive them below.  When we
had got them under hatches for a few hours they parleyed, and
offered to go quietly ashore.  As we were short of hands and unable
to take them with us, and as we had no evidence against them, we
let them go, took the ship to Callao, turned her over to the
authorities, lodged a claim for salvage, and continued our voyage.
When we returned we found the truth of the story was known.  She
had been a French trader from Marseilles, owned by her captain; her
crew had mutinied in the Pacific, killed their officers and the
only passenger--the owner of the cargo.  They had made away with
the cargo and a treasure of nearly half a million of Spanish gold
for trading purposes which belonged to the passenger.  In course of
time the ship was sold for salvage and put into the South American
trade until the breaking out of the Californian gold excitement,
when she was sent with a cargo to San Francisco.  That ship was the
Pontiac which your father bought."

A slight shudder ran through the girl's frame.  "I wish--I wish you
hadn't told me," she said.  "I shall never close my eyes again
comfortably on board of her, I know."

"I would say that you had purified her of ALL stains of her past--
but there may be one that remains.  And THAT in most people's eyes
would be no detraction.  You look puzzled, Miss Nott--but I am
coming to the explanation and the end of my story.  A ship of war
was sent to the island to punish the mutineers and pirates, for
such they were, but they could not be found.  A private expedition
was sent to discover the treasure which they were supposed to have
buried, but in vain.  About two months ago Mr. Sleight told me one
of his shipmates had sent him a Lascar sailor who had to dispose of
a valuable secret regarding the Pontiac for a percentage.  That
secret was that the treasure was never taken by the mutineers out
of the Pontiac!  They were about to land and bury it when we
boarded them.  They took advantage of their imprisonment under
hatches to BURY IT IN THE SHIP.  They hid it in the hold so
securely and safely that it was never detected by us or the Callao
authorities.  I was then asked, as one who knew the vessel, to
undertake a private examination of her, with a view of purchasing
her from your father without awakening his suspicions.  I assented.
You have my confession now, Miss Nott.  You know my crime.  I am at
your mercy."

Rosey's arm only tightened around his own.  Her eyes sought his.
"And you didn't find anything?" she said.

The question sounded so oddly like Sleight's, that Renshaw returned
a little stiffly--

"I didn't look."

"Why?" asked Rosey simply.

"Because," stammered Renshaw, with an uneasy consciousness of
having exaggerated his sentiment, "it didn't seem honorable; it
didn't seem fair to you."

"Oh, you silly! you might have looked and told ME."

"But," said Renshaw, "do you think that would have been fair to
Sleight?"

"As fair to him as to us.  For, don't you see, it wouldn't belong
to any of us.  It would belong to the friends or the family of the
man who lost it."

"But there were no heirs," said Renshaw.  "That was proved by some
impostor who pretended to be his brother, and libelled the Pontiac
at Callao, but the courts decided he was a lunatic."

"Then it belongs to the poor pirates who risked their own lives for
it, rather than to Sleight, who did nothing."  She was silent for a
moment, and then resumed with energy, "I believe he was at the
bottom of that attack last night."

"I have thought so too," said Renshaw.

"Then I must go back at once," she continued impulsively.  "Father
must not be left alone."

"Nor must YOU," said Renshaw, quickly.  "Do let me return with you,
and share with you and your father the trouble I have brought upon
you.  Do not," he added in a lower tone, "deprive me of the only
chance of expiating my offense, of making myself worthy your
forgiveness."

"I am sure," said Rosey, lowering her lids and half withdrawing her
arm, "I am sure I have nothing to forgive.  You did not believe the
treasure belonged to us any more than to anybody else, until you
knew ME--"

"That is true," said the young man, attempting to take her hand.

"I mean," said Rosey, blushing, and showing a distracting row of
little teeth in one of her infrequent laughs, "oh, you know what I
mean."  She withdrew her arm gently, and became interested in the
selection of certain wayside bay leaves as they passed along.  "All
the same, I don't believe in this treasure," she said abruptly, as
if to change the subject.  "I don't believe it ever was hidden
inside the Pontiac."

"That can easily be ascertained now," said Renshaw.

"But it's a pity you didn't find it out while you were about it,"
said Rosey.  "It would have saved so much talk and trouble."

"I have told you why I didn't search the ship," responded Renshaw,
with a slight bitterness.  "But it seems I could only avoid being a
great rascal by becoming a great fool."

"You never intended to be a rascal," said Rosey, earnestly, "and
you couldn't be a fool, except in heeding what a silly girl says.
I only meant if you had taken me into your confidence it would have
been better."

"Might I not say the same to you regarding your friend, the old
Frenchman?" returned Renshaw.  "What if I were to confess to you
that I lately suspected him of knowing the secret, and of trying to
gain your assistance?"

Instead of indignantly repudiating the suggestion, to the young
man's great discomfiture, Rosey only knit her pretty brows, and
remained for some minutes silent.  Presently she asked timidly,--

"Do you think it wrong to tell another person's secret for their
own good?"

"No," said Renshaw, promptly.

"Then I'll tell you Monsieur de Ferrieres's!  But only because I
believe from what you have just said that he will turn out to have
some right to the treasure."

Then with kindling eyes, and a voice eloquent with sympathy, Rosey
told the story of her accidental discovery of de Ferrieres's
miserable existence in the loft.  Clothing it with the unconscious
poetry of her fresh, young imagination, she lightly passed over his
antique gallantry and grotesque weakness, exalting only his lonely
sufferings and mysterious wrongs.  Renshaw listened, lost between
shame for his late suspicions and admiration for her thoughtful
delicacy, until she began to speak of de Ferrieres's strange
allusions to the foreign papers in his portmanteau.  "I think some
were law papers, and I am almost certain I saw the word Callao
printed on one of them."

"It may be so," said Renshaw, thoughtfully.  "The old Frenchman has
always passed for a harmless, wandering eccentric.  I hardly think
public curiosity has ever even sought to know his name, much less
his history.  But had we not better first try to find if there IS
any property before we examine his claims to it?"

"As you please," said Rosey, with a slight pout; "but you will find
it much easier to discover him than his treasure.  It's always
easier to find the thing you're not looking for."

"Until you want it," said Renshaw, with sudden gravity.

"How pretty it looks over there," said Rosey, turning her conscious
eyes to the opposite mountain.

"Very."

They had reached the top of the hill, and in the near distance the
chimney of Madrono Cottage was even now visible.  At the expected
sight they unconsciously stopped--unconsciously disappointed.
Rosey broke the embarrassing silence.

"There's another way home, but it's a roundabout way," she said
timidly.

"Let us take it," said Renshaw.

She hesitated.  "The boat goes at four, and we must return to-
night."

"The more reason why we should make the most of our time now," said
Renshaw with a faint smile.  "To-morrow all things may be changed;
to-morrow you may find yourself an heiress, Miss Nott.  To-morrow,"
he added, with a slight tremor in his voice, "I may have earned
your forgiveness, only to say farewell to you forever.  Let me keep
this sunshine, this picture, this companionship with you long
enough to say now what perhaps I must not say to-morrow."

They were silent for a moment, and then by a common instinct turned
together into a narrow trail, scarce wide enough for two, that
diverged from the straight practical path before them.  It was
indeed a roundabout way home, so roundabout, in fact, that as they
wandered on it seemed even to double on its track, occasionally
lingering long and becoming indistinct under the shadow of madrono
and willow; at one time stopping blindly before a fallen tree in
the hollow, where they had quite lost it, and had to sit down to
recall it; a rough way, often requiring the mutual help of each
other's hands and eyes to tread together in security; an uncertain
way, not to be found without whispered consultation and concession,
and yet a way eventually bringing them hand in hand, happy and
hopeful, to the gate of Madrono Cottage.  And if there was only
just time for Rosey to prepare to take the boat, it was due to the
deviousness of the way.  If a stray curl was lying loose on Rosey's
cheek, and a long hair had caught in Renshaw's button, it was owing
to the roughness of the way; and if in the tones of their voices
and in the glances of their eyes there was a maturer seriousness,
it was due to the dim uncertainty of the path they had traveled,
and would hereafter tread together.


IX


When Mr. Nott had satisfied himself of Renshaw's departure, he
coolly bolted the door at the head of the companion way, thus
cutting off any communication with the lower deck.  Taking a long
rifle from the rack above his berth, he carefully examined the
hammer and cap, and then cautiously let himself down through the
forehatch to the deck below.  After a deliberate survey of the
still intact fastenings of the hatch over the forehold, he
proceeded quietly to unloose them again with the aid of the tools
that still lay there.  When the hatch was once more free he lifted
it, and, withdrawing a few feet from the opening, sat himself down,
rifle in hand.  A profound silence reigned throughout the lower
deck.

"Ye kin rize up out o' that," said Nott gently.

There was a stealthy rustle below that seemed to approach the
hatch, and then with a sudden bound the Lascar leaped on the deck.
But at the same instant Nott covered him with his rifle.  A slight
shade of disappointment and surprise had crossed the old man's
face, and clouded his small round eyes at the apparition of the
Lascar, but his hand was none the less firm upon the trigger as the
frightened prisoner sank on his knees, with his hands clasped in
the attitude of supplication for mercy.

"Ef you're thinkin' o' skippin' afore I've done with yer," said
Nott with labored gentleness, "I oughter warn ye that it's my style
to drop Injins at two hundred yards, and this deck ain't anywhere
mor'n fifty.  It's an uncomfortable style, a nasty style--but it's
MY style.  I thought I'd tell yer, so yer could take it easy where
you air.  Where's Ferrers?"

Even in the man's insane terror, his utter bewilderment at the
question was evident.  "Ferrers?" he gasped; "don't know him, I
swear to God, boss."

"P'r'aps," said Nott, with infinite cunning, "yer don't know the
man ez kem into the loft from the alley last night--p'r'aps yer
didn't see an airy Frenchman with a dyed moustache, eh?  I thought
that would fetch ye!" he continued, as the man started at the
evidence that his vision of last night was a living man.  "P'r'aps
you and him didn't break into this ship last night, jist to run off
with my darter Rosey?  P'r'aps yer don't know Rosey, eh?  P'r'aps
yer don't know ez Ferrers wants to marry her, and hez been hangin'
round yer ever since he left--eh?"

Scarcely believing the evidence of his senses that the old man
whose treasure he had been trying to steal was utterly ignorant of
his real offense, and yet uncertain of the penalty of the other
crime of which he was accused, the Lascar writhed his body and
stammered vaguely, "Mercy!  Mercy!"

"Well," said Nott, cautiously, "ez I reckon the hide of a dead
Chinee nigger ain't any more vallyble than that of a dead Injin, I
don't care ef I let up on yer--seein' the cussedness ain't yours.
But ef I let yer off this once, you must take a message to Ferrers
from me."

"Let me off this time, boss, and I swear to God I will," said the
Lascar eagerly.

"Ye kin say to Ferrers--let me see--" deliberated Nott, leaning on
his rifle with cautious reflection.  "Ye kin say to Ferrers like
this--sez you, 'Ferrers,' sez you, 'the old man sez that afore you
went away you sez to him, sez you, "I take my honor with me," sez
you'--have you got that?" interrupted Nott suddenly.

"Yes, boss."

"'I take my honor with me,' sez you," repeated Nott slowly.
"'Now,' sez you--'the old man sez, sez he--tell Ferrers, sez he,
that his honor havin' run away agin, he sends it back to him, and
ef he ever ketches it around after this, he'll shoot it on sight.'
Hev yer got that?"

"Yes," stammered the bewildered captive.

"Then git!"

The Lascar sprang to his feet with the agility of a panther, leaped
through the hatch above him, and disappeared over the bow of the
ship with an unhesitating directness that showed that every avenue
of escape had been already contemplated by him.  Slipping lightly
from the cutwater to the ground, he continued his flight, only
stopping at the private office of Mr. Sleight.

When Mr. Renshaw and Rosey Nott arrived on board the Pontiac that
evening, they were astonished to find the passage before the cabin
completely occupied with trunks and boxes, and the bulk of their
household goods apparently in the process of removal.  Mr. Nott,
who was superintending the work of two Chinamen, betrayed not only
no surprise at the appearance of the young people, but not the
remotest recognition of their own bewilderment at his occupation.

"Kalkilatin'," he remarked casually to his daughter, "you'd rather
look arter your fixin's, Rosey, I've left 'em till the last.
P'r'aps yer and Mr. Renshaw wouldn't mind sittin' down on that
locker until I've strapped this yer box."

"But what does it all mean, father?" said Rosey, taking the old man
by the lapels of his sea-jacket, and slightly emphasizing her
question.  "What in the name of goodness are you doing?"

"Breakin' camp, Rosey dear, breakin' camp, jist ez we uster,"
replied Nott with cheerful philosophy.  "Kinder like old times,
ain't it?  Lord, Rosey," he continued, stopping and following up
the reminiscence, with the end of the rope in his hand as if it
were a clue, "don't ye mind that day we started outer Livermore
Pass, and seed the hull o' the Californy coast stretchin' yonder--
eh?  But don't ye be skeered, Rosey dear," he added quickly, as if
in recognition of the alarm expressed in her face.  "I ain't
turning ye outer house and home; I've jist hired that 'ere Madrono
Cottage from the Peters ontil we kin look round."

"But you're not leaving the ship, father," continued Rosey,
impetuously.  "You haven't sold it to that man Sleight?"

Mr. Nott rose and carefully closed the cabin door.  Then drawing a
large wallet from his pocket, he said, "It's sing'lar ye should hev
got the name right the first pop, ain't it, Rosey? but it's
Sleight, sure enough, all the time.  This yer check," he added,
producing a paper from the depths of the wallet, "this yer check
for 25,000 dollars is wot he paid for it only two hours ago."

"But," said Renshaw, springing to his feet furiously, "you're
duped, swindled--betrayed!"

"Young man," said Nott, throwing a certain dignity into his
habitual gesture of placing his hands on Renshaw's shoulders, "I
bought this yer ship five years ago jist ez she stood for 8,000
dollars.  Kalkilatin' wot she cost me in repairs and taxes, and wot
she brought me in since then, accordin' to my figgerin', I don't
call a clear profit of 15,000 dollars much of a swindle."

"Tell him all," said Rosey, quickly, more alarmed at Renshaw's
despairing face than at the news itself.  "Tell him everything,
Dick--Mr. Renshaw; it may not be too late."

In a voice half choked with passionate indignation Renshaw
hurriedly repeated the story of the hidden treasure, and the plot
to rescue it, prompted frequently by Rosey's tenacious memory and
assisted by Rosey's deft and tactful explanations.  But to their
surprise the imperturbable countenance of Abner Nott never altered;
a slight moisture of kindly paternal tolerance of their
extravagance glistened in his little eyes, but nothing more.

"Ef there was a part o' this ship, a plank or a bolt ez I don't
know, ez I hevn't touched with my own hand, and looked into with my
own eyes, thar might be suthin' in that story.  I don't let on to
be a sailor like YOU, but ez I know the ship ez a boy knows his
first hoss, as a woman knows her first babby, I reckon thar ain't
no treasure yer, onless it was brought into the Pontiac last night
by them chaps."

"But are you mad!  Sleight would not pay three times the value of
the ship to-day if he were not positive!  And that positive
knowledge was gained last night by the villain who broke into the
Pontiac--no doubt the Lascar."

"Surely," said Nott, meditatively.  "The Lascar!  There's suthin'
in that.  That Lascar I fastened down in the hold last night
unbeknownst to you, Mr. Renshaw, and let him out again this morning
ekally unbeknownst."

"And you let him carry his information to Sleight--without a word!"
said Renshaw, with a sickening sense of Nott's utter fatuity.

"I sent him back with a message to the man he kem from," said Nott,
winking both his eyes at Renshaw, significantly, and making signs
behind his daughter's back.

Rosey, conscious of her lover's irritation, and more eager to
soothe his impatience than from any faith in her suggestion,
interfered.  "Why not examine the place where he was concealed? he
may have left some traces of his search."

The two men looked at each other.  "Seem' ez I've turned the
Pontiac over to Sleight jist ez it stands, I don't know ez it's
'xactly on the square," said Nott doubtfully.

"You've a right to know at least WHAT you deliver to him,"
interrupted Renshaw brusquely: "Bring a lantern."

Followed by Rosey, Renshaw and Nott hurriedly sought the lower deck
and the open hatch of the forehold.  The two men leaped down first
with the lantern, and then assisted Rosey to descend.  Renshaw took
a step forward and uttered a cry.

The rays of the lantern fell on the ship's side.  The Lascar had,
during his forced seclusion, put back the boxes of treasure and
replaced the planking, yet not so carefully but that the quick eye
of Renshaw had discovered it.  The next moment he had stripped away
the planking again, and the hurriedly-restored box which the Lascar
had found fell to the deck, scattering part of its ringing
contents.  Rosey turned pale; Renshaw's eyes flashed fire; only
Abner Nott remained quiet and impassive.

"Are you satisfied you have been duped?" said Renshaw passionately.

To their surprise Mr. Nott stooped down, and picking up one of the
coins handed it gravely to Renshaw.  "Would ye mind heftin' that
'ere coin in your hand--feelin' it, bitin' it, scrapin' it with a
knife, and kinder seein' how it compares with other coins?"

"What do you mean?" said Renshaw.

"I mean that that yer coin--that ALL the coins in this yer box,
that all the coins in them other boxes--and ther's forty on 'em--is
all and every one of 'em counterfeits!"

The piece dropped unconsciously from Renshaw's hand, and striking
another that lay on the deck gave out a dull, suspicious ring.

"They waz counterfeits got up by them Dutch supercargo sharps for
dealin' with the Injins and cannibals and South Sea heathens ez
bows down to wood and stone.  If satisfied them ez well ez them
buttons ye puts in missionary boxes, I reckon, and 'cepting ez
freight, don't cost nothin'.  I found 'em tucked in the ribs o' the
old Pontiac when I bought her, and I nailed 'em up in thar lest
they should fall into dishonest hands.  It's a lucky thing, Mr.
Renshaw, that they comes into the honest fingers of a square man
like Sleight--ain't it?"

He turned his small, guileless eyes upon Renshaw with such child-
like simplicity that it checked the hysterical laugh that was
rising to the young man's lips.

"But did any one know of this but yourself?"

"I reckon not.  I once suspicioned that old cap'en Bowers, who was
always foolin' round the hold yer, must hev noticed the bulge in
the casin', but when he took to axin' questions I axed others--ye
know my style, Rosey?  Come."

He led the way grimly back to the cabin, the young people
following; but turning suddenly at the companionway he observed
Renshaw's arm around the waist of his daughter.

He said nothing until they had reached the cabin, when he closed
the door softly, and looking at them both gently, said with
infinite cunning--

"Ef it isn't too late, Rosey, ye kin tell this young man ez how I
forgive him for havin' diskivered THE TREASURE of the Pontiac."

     .     .     .     .     .     .     .     .     .

It was nearly eighteen months afterwards that Mr. Nott one morning
entered the room of his son-in-law at Madrono Cottage.  Drawing him
aside, he said with his old air of mystery, "Now ez Rosey's ailin'
and don't seem to be so eager to diskiver what's become of Mr.
Ferrers, I don't mind tellin' ye that over a year ago I heard he
died suddenly in Sacramento.  Thar was suthin' in the paper about
his bein' a lunatic and claimin' to be a relation to somebody on
the Pontiac; but likes ez not it's only the way those newspaper
fellows got hold of the story of his wantin' to marry Rosey."





End of The Project Gutenberg Etext of By Shore and Sedge, by Bret Harte


Colophon

This file was acquired from Project Gutenberg, and it is in the public domain. It is re-distributed here as a part of the Alex Catalogue of Electronic Texts (http://infomotions.com/alex/) by Eric Lease Morgan (Infomotions, Inc.) for the purpose of freely sharing, distributing, and making available works of great literature. Its Infomotions unique identifier is etext2178, and it should be available from the following URL:

http://infomotions.com/etexts/id/etext2178



Infomotions, Inc.

Infomotions Man says, "Give back to the 'Net."