Infomotions, Inc.Ranson's Folly / Davis, Richard Harding, 1864-1916



Author: Davis, Richard Harding, 1864-1916
Title: Ranson's Folly
Publisher: Project Gutenberg
Tag(s): ranson; cahill; channing; miss cahill; mary cahill; keating; miss warriner; jimmy jocks; miss dorothy; princess zichy; lieutenant ranson; sergeant clancey; lord chetney
Contributor(s): Scott-Moncrieff, C. K. (Charles Kenneth), 1889-1930 [Translator]
Versions: original; local mirror; HTML (this file); printable
Services: find in a library; evaluate using concordance
Rights: GNU General Public License
Size: 76,167 words (short) Grade range: 7-9 (grade school) Readability score: 71 (easy)
Identifier: etext5643
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Title: Ranson's Folly

Author: Richard Harding Davis

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RANSON'S FOLLY

BY

RICHARD HARDING DAVIS


WITH ILLUSTRATIONS BY

Frederic Remington, Walter Appleton Clark,
Howard Chandler Christy, E.M. Ashe
& F. Dorr Steele





CONTENTS

RANSOM'S FOLLY
  Illustrated by Frederic Remington.

THE BAR SINISTER
  Illustrated by E.M. Ashe.

A DERELICT
  Illustrated by Walter Appleton Clark.

LA LETTRE D'AMOUR
  Illustrated by Howard Chandler Christy.

IN THE FOG
  Illustrated by Frederic Dorr Steele.




ILLUSTRATIONS

"Throw up your hands," he commanded.

Ranson faced the door, spinning the revolver around his fourth
finger.

"I suppose I'm the ugliest bull-dog in America".

"Miss Dorothy snatches me up and kisses me between the ears."

"We've got a great story! We want a clear wire."

He played to the empty chair.

The men around the table turned and glanced toward the gentleman in
front of the fireplace.

"What was the object of your plot?"




RANSON'S FOLLY

PART I


The junior officers of Fort Crockett had organized a mess at the
post-trader's. "And a mess it certainly is," said Lieutenant Ranson.
The dining-table stood between hogsheads of molasses and a blazing
log-fire, the counter of the store was their buffet, a pool-table
with a cloth, blotted like a map of the Great Lakes, their sideboard,
and Indian Pete acted as butler. But none of these things counted
against the great fact that each evening Mary Cahill, the daughter of
the post-trader, presided over the evening meal, and turned it into a
banquet. From her high chair behind the counter, with the cash-
register on her one side and the weighing-scales on the other, she
gave her little Senate laws, and smiled upon each and all with the
kind impartiality of a comrade.

At least, at one time she had been impartial. But of late she smiled
upon all save Lieutenant Ranson. When he talked, she now looked at
the blazing log-fire, and her cheeks glowed and her eyes seemed to
reflect the lifting flame.

For five years, ever since her father brought her from the convent at
St. Louis, Mary Cahill had watched officers come and officers go. Her
knowledge concerning them, and their public and private affairs, was
vast and miscellaneous. She was acquainted with the traditions of
every regiment, with its war record, with its peace-time politics,
its nicknames, its scandals, even with the earnings of each company-
canteen. At Fort Crockett, which lay under her immediate observation,
she knew more of what was going forward than did the regimental
adjutant, more even than did the colonel's wife. If Trumpeter Tyler
flatted on church call, if Mrs. Stickney applied to the quartermaster
for three feet of stovepipe, if Lieutenant Curtis were granted two
days' leave for quail-shooting, Mary Cahill knew it; and if Mrs.
"Captain" Stairs obtained the post-ambulance for a drive to Kiowa
City, when Mrs. "Captain" Ross wanted it for a picnic, she knew what
words passed between those ladies, and which of the two wept. She
knew all of these things, for each evening they were retailed to her
by her "boarders." Her boarders were very loyal to Mary Cahill. Her
position was a difficult one, and had it not been that the boy-
officers were so understanding, it would have been much more
difficult. For the life of a regimental post is as circumscribed as
the life on a ship-of-war, and it would no more be possible for the
ship's barber to rub shoulders with the admiral's epaulets than that
a post-trader's child should visit the ladies on the "line," or that
the wives of the enlisted men should dine with the young girl from
whom they "took in" washing.

So, between the upper and the nether grindstones, Mary Cahill was
left without the society of her own sex, and was of necessity forced
to content herself with the society of the officers. And the officers
played fair. Loyalty to Mary Cahill was a tradition at Fort Crockett,
which it was the duty of each succeeding regiment to sustain.
Moreover, her father, a dark, sinister man, alive only to money-
making, was known to handle a revolver with the alertness of a town-
marshal.

Since the day she left the convent Mary Cahill had held but two
affections: one for this grim, taciturn parent, who brooded over her
as jealously as a lover, and the other for the entire United States
Army. The Army returned her affection without the jealousy of the
father, and with much more than his effusiveness. But when Lieutenant
Ranson arrived from the Philippines, the affections of Mary Cahill
became less generously distributed, and her heart fluttered hourly
between trouble and joy.

There were two rooms on the first floor of the post-trader's--this
big one, which only officers and their women-folk might enter, and
the other, the exchange of the enlisted men. The two were separated
by a partition of logs and hung with shelves on which were displayed
calicoes, tinned meats, and patent medicines. A door, cut in one end
of the partition, with buffalo-robes for portieres, permitted Cahill
to pass from behind the counter of one store to behind the counter of
the other. On one side Mary Cahill served the Colonel's wife with
many yards of silk ribbons to be converted into german favors, on the
other her father weighed out bears' claws (manufactured in Hartford,
Conn., from turkey-bones) to make a necklace for Red Wing, the squaw
of the Arrephao chieftain. He waited upon everyone with gravity, and
in obstinate silence. No one had ever seen Cahill smile. He himself
occasionally joked with others in a grim and embarrassed manner. But
no one had ever joked with him. It was reported that he came from New
York, where, it was whispered, he had once kept bar on the Bowery for
McTurk.

Sergeant Clancey, of G Troop, was the authority for this. But when,
presuming on that supposition, he claimed acquaintanceship with
Cahill, the post-trader spread out his hands on the counter and
stared at the sergeant with cold and disconcerting eyes. "I never
kept bar nowhere," he said. "I never been on the Bowery, never been
in New York, never been east of Denver in my life. What was it you
ordered?"

"Well, mebbe I'm wrong," growled the sergeant.

But a month later, when a coyote howled down near the Indian village,
the sergeant said insinuatingly, "Sounds just like the cry of the
Whyos, don't it?" And Cahill, who was listening to the wolf,
unthinkingly nodded his head.

The sergeant snorted in triumph. "Yah, I told you so!" he cried, "a
man that's never been on the Bowery, and knows the call of the Whyo
gang! The drinks are on you, Cahill."

The post-trader did not raise his eyes, but drew a damp cloth up and
down the counter, slowly and heavily, as a man sharpens a knife on a
whetstone.

That night, as the sergeant went up the path to the post, a bullet
passed through his hat. Clancey was a forceful man, and forceful men,
unknown to themselves, make enemies, so he was uncertain as to
whether this came from a trooper he had borne upon too harshly, or
whether, In the darkness, he had been picked off for someone else.
The next night, as he passed in the full light of the post-trader's
windows, a shot came from among the dark shadows of the corral, and
when he immediately sought safety in numbers among the Indians,
cowboys, and troopers in the exchange, he was in time to see Cahill
enter it from the other store, wrapping up a bottle of pain-killer
for Mrs. Stickney's cook. But Clancey was not deceived. He observed
with satisfaction that the soles and the heels of Cahill's boots were
wet with the black mud of the corral.

The next morning, when the exchange was empty, the post-trader turned
from arranging cans of condensed milk upon an upper shelf to face the
sergeant's revolver. He threw up his hands to the level of his ears
as though expressing sharp unbelief, and waited in silence. The
sergeant advanced until the gun rested on the counter, Its muzzle
pointing at the pit of Cahill's stomach. "You or me has got to leave
this post," said the sergeant, "and I can't desert, so I guess it's
up to you."

"What did you talk for?" asked Cahill. His attitude was still that of
shocked disbelief, but his tone expressed a full acceptance of the
situation and a desire to temporize.

"At first I thought it might be that new 'cruity' in F Troop,"
explained the sergeant "You came near making me kill the wrong man.
What harm did I do you by saying you kept bar for McTurk? What's
there in that to get hot about?"

"You said I run with the Whyos."

"What the h--l do I care what you've done!" roared the sergeant. "I
don't kmow nothing about you, but I don't mean you should shoot me in
the back. I'm going to tell this to my bunky, an' if I get shot up,
the Troop'll know who done it, and you'll hang for it. Now, what are
you going to do?"

Cahill did not tell what he would do; for, from the other store, the
low voice of Mary Cahill called, "Father! Oh, father!"

The two men dodged, and eyed each other guiltily. The sergeant gazed
at the buffalo-robe portieres with wide-opened eyes. Cahill's hands
dropped from the region of his ears, and fell flat upon the counter.

When Miss Mary Cahill pushed aside the portieres Sergeant Clancey, of
G Troop, was showing her father the mechanism of the new regulation-
revolver. He apparently was having some difficulty with the cylinder,
for his face was red. Her father was eying the gun with the critical
approval of an expert.

"Father," said Miss Cahill petulantly, "why didn't you answer? Where
is the blue stationery--the sort Major Ogden always buys? He's
waiting."

The eyes of the post-trader did not wander from the gun before him.
"Next to the blank books, Mame," he said. "On the second shelf."

Miss Cahill flashed a dazzling smile at the big sergeant, and
whispered, so that the officer in the room behind her might not
overhear, "Is he trying to sell you Government property, dad? Don't
you touch it. Sergeant, I'm surprised at you tempting my poor
father." She pulled the two buffalo-robes close around her neck so
that her face only showed between them. It was a sweet, lovely face,
with frank, boyish eyes.

"When the major's gone, sergeant," she whispered, "bring your gun
around my side of the store and I'll buy it from you."

The sergeant nodded in violent assent, laughing noiselessly and
slapping his knee in a perfect ecstasy of delight.

The curtains dropped and the face disappeared.

The sergeant fingered the gun and Cahill folded his arms defiantly.

"Well?" he said.

"Well?" asked the sergeant.

"I should think you could see how it is," said Cahill, "without my
having to tell you."

"You mean you don't want she should know?"

"My God, no! Not even that I kept a bar."

"Well, I don't know nothing. I don't mean to tell nothing, anyway, so
if you'll promise to be good I'll call this off."

For the first time in the history of Fort Crockett, Cahill was seen
to smile. "May I reach under the counter NOW?" he asked.

The sergeant grinned appreciatively, and shifted his gun. "Yes, but
I'll keep this out until I'm sure it's a bottle," he said, and
laughed boisterously.

For an instant, under the cover of the counter, Cahill's hand touched
longingly upon the gun that lay there, and then passed on to the
bottle beside it. He drew it forth, and there was the clink of
glasses.

In the other room Mary Cahill winked at the major, but that officer
pretended to be both deaf to the clink of the glasses and blind to
the wink. And so the incident was closed. Had it not been for the
folly of Lieutenant Ranson it would have remained closed.

A week before this happened a fire had started in the Willow Bottoms
among the tepees of some Kiowas, and the prairie, as far as one could
see, was bruised and black. From the post it looked as though the sky
had been raining ink. At the time all of the regiment but G and H
Troops was out on a practice-march, experimenting with a new-fangled
tabloid-ration. As soon as it turned the buttes it saw from where the
light in the heavens came and the practice-march became a race.

At the post the men had doubled out under Lieutenant Ranson with wet
horse-blankets, and while he led G Troop to fight the flames, H
Troop, under old Major Stickney, burned a space around the post,
across which the men of G Troop retreated, stumbling, with their ears
and shoulders wrapped in the smoking blankets. The sparks beat upon
them and the flames followed so fast that, as they ran, the blazing
grass burned their lacings, and they kicked their gaiters ahead of
them.

When the regiment arrived it found everybody at Fort Crockett talking
enthusiastically of Ranson's conduct and resentfully of the fact that
he had regarded the fire as one which had been started for his
especial amusement.

"I assure you," said Mrs. Bolland to the colonel, "if it hadn't been
for young Ranson we would have been burned in our beds; but he was
most aggravating. He treated it as though it were Fourth of July
fireworks. It is the only entertainment we have been able to offer
him since he joined in which he has shown the slightest interest."
Nevertheless, it was generally admitted that Ranson had saved the
post. He had been ubiquitous. He had been seen galloping into the
advancing flames like a stampeded colt, he had reappeared like a
wraith in columns of black, whirling smoke, at the same moment his
voice issued orders from twenty places. One instant he was visible
beating back the fire with a wet blanket, waving it above him
jubilantly, like a substitute at the Army-Navy game when his side
scores, and the next staggering from out of the furnace dragging an
asphyxiated trooper by the collar, and shrieking, "Hospital-steward,
hospital-steward! here's a man on fire. Put him out, and send him
back to me, quick!"

Those who met him in the whirlwind of smoke and billowing flame
related that he chuckled continuously. "Isn't this fun?" he yelled at
them. "Say, isn't this the best ever? I wouldn't have missed this for
a trip to New York!"

When the colonel, having visited the hospital and spoken cheering
words to those who were sans hair, sans eyebrows and with bandaged
hands, complimented Lieutenant Ranson on the parade-ground before the
assembled regiment, Ranson ran to his hut muttering strange and
fearful oaths.

That night at mess he appealed to Mary Cahill for sympathy.
"Goodness, mighty me!" he cried, "did you hear him? Wasn't it awful?
If I'd thought he was going to hand me that I'd have deserted. What's
the use of spoiling the only fun we've had that way? Why, if I'd
known you could get that much excitement out of this rank prairie I'd
have put a match to it myself three months ago. It's the only fun
I've had, and he goes and preaches a funeral oration at me."

Ranson came into the army at the time of the Spanish war because it
promised a new form of excitement, and because everybody else he knew
had gone into it too. As the son of his father he was made an
adjutant-general of volunteers with the rank of captain, and unloaded
on the staff of a Southern brigadier, who was slated never to leave
Charleston. But Ranson suspected this, and, after telegraphing his
father for three days, was attached to the Philippines contingent and
sailed from San Francisco in time to carry messages through the surf
when the volunteers moved upon Manila. More cabling at the cost of
many Mexican dollars caused him to be removed from the staff, and
given a second lieutenancy in a volunteer regiment, and for two years
he pursued the little brown men over the paddy sluices, burned
villages, looted churches, and collected bolos and altar-cloths with
that irresponsibility and contempt for regulations which is found
chiefly in the appointment from civil life. Incidentally, he enjoyed
himself so much that he believed in the army he had found the one
place where excitement is always in the air, and as excitement was
the breath of his nostrils he applied for a commission in the regular
army. On his record he was appointed a second lieutenant in the
Twentieth Cavalry, and on the return of that regiment to the States--
was buried alive at Fort Crockett.

After six months of this exile, one night at the mess-table Ranson
broke forth in open rebellion. "I tell you I can't stand it a day
longer," he cried. "I'm going to resign!"

From behind the counter Mary Cahill heard him in horror. Second
Lieutenants Crosby and Curtis shuddered. They were sons of officers
of the regular army. Only six months before they themselves had been
forwarded from West Point, done up in neat new uniforms. The
traditions of the Academy of loyalty and discipline had been kneaded
into their vertebrae. In Ranson they saw only the horrible result of
giving commissions to civilians.

"Maybe the post will be gayer now that spring has come," said Curtis
hopefully, but with a doubtful look at the open fire.

"I wouldn't do anything rash," urged Crosby.

Miss Cahill shook her head. "Why, I like it at the post," she said,
"and I've been here five years--ever since I left the convent--and I-
--"

Ranson interrupted, bowing gallantly. "Yes, I know, Miss Cahill," he
said, "but I didn't come here from a convent. I came here from the
blood-stained fields of war. Now, out in the Philippines there's
always something doing. They give you half a troop, and so long as
you bring back enough Mausers and don't get your men cut up, you can
fight all over the shop and no questions asked. But all I do here is
take care of sick horses. Any vet. in the States has seen as much
fighting as I have in the last half-year. I might as well have had
charge of horse-car stables."

"There is some truth in that," said Curtis cautiously. "If you do
resign, certainly no one can accuse you of resigning in the face of
the enemy."

"Enemy, ye gods!" roared Ranson. "Why, if I were to see a Moro
entering that door with a bolo in each fist I'd fall on his neck and
kiss him. I'm not trained to this garrison business. You fellows are.
They took all the sporting blood out of you at West Point; one bad
mark for smoking a cigarette, two bad marks for failing to salute the
instructor in botany, and all the excitement you ever knew were
charades and a cadet-hop a t Cullum Hall. But, you see, before I went
to the Philippines with Merritt, I'd been there twice on a fellow's
yacht, and we'd tucked the Spanish governor in his bed with his spurs
on. Now, I have to sit around and hear old Bolland tell how he put
down a car-strike in St. Louis, and Stickney's long-winded yarns of
Table Mountain and the Bloody Angle. He doesn't know the Civil War's
over. I tell you, if I can't get excitement on tap I've got to make
it, and if I make it out here they'll court-martial me. So there's
nothing for it but to resign."

"You'd better wait till the end of the week," said Crosby, grinning.
"It's going to be full of gayety. Thursday, paymaster's coming out
with our cash, and to-night that Miss Post from New York arrives in
the up stage. She's to visit the colonel, so everybody will have to
give her a good time."

"Yes, I certainly must wait for that," growled Ranson; "there
probably will be progressive euchre parties all along the line, and
we'll sit up as late as ten o'clock and stick little gilt stars on
ourselves."

Crosby laughed tolerantly.

"I see your point of view," he said. "I remember when my father took
me to Monte Carlo I saw you at the tables with enough money in front
of you to start a bank. I remember my father asked the croupiers why
they allowed a child of your age to gamble. I was just a kid then,
and so were you, too. I remember I thought you were the devil of a
fellow."

Ranson looked sheepishly at Miss Cahill and laughed. "Well, so I was-
-then," he said. "Anybody would be a devil of a fellow who'd been
brought up as I was, with a doting parent who owns a trust and
doesn't know the proper value of money. And yet you expect me to be
happy with a fifty-cent limit game, and twenty miles of burned
prairie. I tell you I've never been broken to it. I don't know what
not having your own way means. And discipline! Why, every time I have
to report one of my men to the colonel I send for him afterward and
give him a drink and apologize to him. I tell you the army doesn't
mean anything to me unless there's something doing, and as there is
no fighting out here I'm for the back room of the Holland House and a
rubber-tired automobile. Little old New York is good enough for me!"

As he spoke these fateful words of mutiny Lieutenant Ranson raised
his black eyes and snatched a swift side-glance at the face of Mary
Cahill. It was almost as though it were from her he sought his
answer. He could not himself have told what it was he would have her
say. But ever since the idea of leaving the army had come to him,
Mary Cahill and the army had become interchangeable and had grown to
mean one and the same thing. He fought against this condition of mind
fiercely. He had determined that without active service the army was
intolerable; but that without Mary Cahill civil life would also prove
intolerable, he assured himself did not at all follow. He had laughed
at the idea. He had even argued it out sensibly. Was it reasonable to
suppose, he asked himself, that after circling the great globe three
times he should find the one girl on it who alone could make him
happy, sitting behind a post-trader's counter on the open prairie?
His interest in Miss Cahill was the result of propinquity, that was
all. It was due to the fact that there was no one else at hand,
because he was sorry for her loneliness, because her absurd social
ostracism had touched his sympathy. How long after he reached New
York would he remember the little comrade with the brave, boyish eyes
set in the delicate, feminine head, with its great waves of gorgeous
hair? It would not be long, he guessed. He might remember the way she
rode her pony, how she swung from her Mexican saddle and caught up a
gauntlet from the ground. Yes, he certainly would remember that, and
he would remember the day he had galloped after her and ridden with
her through the Indian village, and again that day when they rode to
the water-fall and the Lover's Leap. And he would remember her face
at night as it bent over the books he borrowed for her, which she
read while they were at mess, sitting in her high chair with her chin
resting in her palms, staring down at the book before her. And the
trick she had, whenever he spoke, of raising her head and looking
into the fire, her eyes lighting and her lips smiling. They would be
pleasant memories, he was sure. But once back again in the whirl and
rush of the great world outside of Fort Crockett, even as memories
they would pass away.

Mary Cahill made no outward answer to the rebellious utterance of
Lieutenant Ranson. She only bent her eyes on her book and tried to
think what the post would hold for her when he had carried out his
threat and betaken himself into the world and out of her life
forever. Night after night she had sat enthroned behind her barrier
and listened to his talk, wondering deeply. He had talked of a world
she knew only in novels, in history, and in books of travel. His view
of it was not an educational one: he was no philosopher, nor trained
observer. He remembered London--to her the capital of the world--
chiefly by its restaurants, Cairo on account of its execrable golf-
links. He lived only to enjoy himself. His view was that of a boy,
hearty and healthy and seeking only excitement and mischief. She had
heard his tales of his brief career at Harvard, of the reunions at
Henry's American bar, of the Futurity, the Suburban, the Grand Prix,
of a yachting cruise which apparently had encountered every form of
adventure, from the rescuing of a stranded opera-company to the
ramming of a slaver's dhow. The regret with which he spoke of these
free days, which was the regret of an exile marooned upon a desert
island, excited all her sympathy for an ill she had never known. His
discourteous scorn of the social pleasures of the post, from which
she herself was excluded, rilled her with speculation. If he could
forego these functions, how full and gay she argued his former life
must have been. His attitude helped her to bear the deprivations more
easily. And she, as a loyal child of the army, liked him also because
he was no "cracker-box" captain, but a fighter, who had fought with
no morbid ideas as to the rights or wrongs of the cause, but for the
fun of fighting.

And one night, after he had been telling the mess of a Filipino
officer who alone had held back his men and himself, and who at last
died in his arms cursing him, she went to sleep declaring to herself
that Lieutenant Ranson was becoming too like the man she had pictured
for her husband than was good for her peace of mind. He had told the
story as his tribute to a brave man fighting for his independence and
with such regret that such a one should have died so miserably, that,
to the embarrassment of the mess, the tears rolled down his cheeks.
But he wiped them away with his napkin as unconcernedly as though
they were caused by the pepper-box, and said simply, "He had sporting
blood, he had. I've never felt so bad about anything as I did about
that chap. Whenever I think of him standing up there with his back to
the cathedral all shot to pieces, but giving us what for until he
died, it makes me cry. So," he added, blowing his nose vigorously, "I
won't think of it any more."

Tears are properly a woman's weapon, and when a man makes use of
them, even in spite of himself, he is taking an advantage over the
other sex which is unfair and outrageous. Lieutenant Ranson never
knew the mischief the sympathy he had shown for his enemy caused in
the heart of Mary Cahill, nor that from that moment she loved him
deeply.

The West Point graduates before they answered Ranson's ultimatum
smoked their cigarettes for some time in silence.

"Oh, there's been fighting even at Fort Crockett," said Crosby. "In
the last two years the men have been ordered out seven times, haven't
they, Miss Cahill? When the Indians got out of hand, and twice after
cowboys, and twice after the Red Rider."

"The Red Rider!" protested Ranson; "I don't see anything exciting in
rounding up one miserable horse thief."

"Only they don't round him up," returned Curtis crossly. "That's why
it's exciting. He's the best in his business. He's held up the stage
six times now in a year. Whoever the fellow is, if he's one man or a
gang of men, he's the nerviest road-agent since the days of Abe
Case."

Ranson in his then present mood was inclined toward pessimism. "It
doesn't take any nerve to hold up a coach," he contradicted.

Curtis and Crosby snorted in chorus. "That's what you say," mocked
Curtis.

"Well, it doesn't," repeated Ranson. "It's all a game of bluff. The
etiquette is that the driver mustn't shoot the road-agent, and that
the road-agent mustn't hurt the driver, and the passengers are too
scared to move. The moment they see a man rise out of the night they
throw up their hands. Why, even when a passenger does try to pull his
gun the others won't let him. Each thinks sure that if there's any
firing he will be the one to get hurt. And, besides, they don't know
how many more men the road agent may have behind him. I don't---"

A movement on the part of Miss Cahill caused him to pause abruptly.
Miss Cahill had descended from her throne and was advancing to meet
the post-trader, who came toward her from the exchange.

"Lightfoot's squaw," he said. "Her baby's worse. She's sent for you."

Miss Cahill gave a gasp of sympathy, snatched up her hat from the
counter, and the buffalo robes closed behind her.

Ranson stooped and reached for his sombrero. With the flight of Miss
Cahill his interest in the courage of the Red Rider had departed
also.

But Crosby appealed to the new-comer, "Cahill, YOU know," he said.
"We've been talking of the man they call the Red Rider, the chap that
wears a red bandanna over his face. Ranson says he hasn't any nerve.
That's not so, is it?"

"I said it didn't take any nerve to hold up a stage," said Ranson;
"and it doesn't."

The post-trader halted on his way back to the exchange and rubbed one
hand meditatively over the other arm. With him speech was golden and
difficult. After a pause he said: "Oh, he takes his chances."

"Of course he does," cried Crosby, encouragingly. "He takes the
chance of being shot by the passengers, and of being caught by the
posse and lynched, but this man's got away with it now six times in
the last year. And I say that takes nerve."

"Why, for fifty dollars---" laughed Ranson.

He checked himself, and glanced over his shoulder at the retreating
figure of Cahill. The buffalo robes fell again, and the spurs of the
post-trader could be heard jangling over the earth-floor of the
exchange.

"For fifty dollars," repeated Ranson, in brisk, businesslike tones,
"I'll rob the up stage to-night myself!"

Previous knowledge of his moods, the sudden look of mischief in his
eyes and a certain vibration in his voice caused the two lieutenants
to jump simultaneously to their feet. "Ranson!" they shouted.

Ranson laughed mockingly. "Oh, I'm bored to death," he cried. "What
will you bet I don't?"

He had risen with them, but, without waiting for their answer, ran to
where his horse stood at the open door. He sank on his knees and
began tugging violently at the stirrup-straps. The two officers,
their eyes filled with concern, pursued him across the room. With
Cahill twenty feet away, they dared not raise their voices, but in
pantomime they beckoned him vigorously to return. Ranson came at
once, flushed and smiling, holding a hooded army-stirrup in each
hand. "Never do to have them see these!" he said. He threw the
stirrups from him, behind the row of hogsheads. "I'll ride in the
stirrup-straps!" He still spoke in the same low, brisk tone.

Crosby seized him savagely by the arm. "No, you won't!" he hissed.
"Look here, Ranson. Listen to me; for Heaven's sake don't be an ass!
They'll shoot you, you'll be killed---"

--"And court-martialed," panted Curtis.

"You'll go to Leavenworth for the rest of your life!"

Ranson threw off the detaining hand, and ran behind the counter. From
a lower shelf he snatched a red bandanna kerchief. From another he
dragged a rubber poncho, and buttoned it high about his throat. He
picked up the steel shears which lay upon the counter, and snipping
two holes in the red kerchief, stuck it under the brim of his
sombrero. It fell before his face like a curtain. From his neck to
his knees the poncho concealed his figure. All that was visible of
him was his eyes, laughing through the holes in the red mask.

"Behold the Red Rider!" he groaned. "Hold up your hands!"

He pulled the kerchief from his face and threw the poncho over his
arm. "Do you see these shears?" he whispered. "I'm going to hold up
the stage with 'em. No one ever fires at a road agent. They just
shout, 'Don't shoot, colonel, and I'll come down.' I'm going to bring
'em down with these shears."

Crosby caught Curtis by the arm, laughing eagerly. "Come to the
stables, quick," he cried. "We'll get twenty troopers after him
before he can go a half mile." He turned on Ranson with a triumphant
chuckle. "You'll not be dismissed this regiment, if I can help it,"
he cried.

Ranson gave an ugly laugh, like the snarl of a puppy over his bone.
"If you try to follow me, or interfere with me, Lieutenant Crosby,"
he said, "I'll shoot you and your troopers!"

"With a pair of shears?" jeered Crosby.

"No, with the gun I've got in my pocket. Now you listen to me. I'm
not going to use that gun on any stage filled with women, driven by a
man seventy years old, but--and I mean it--if you try to stop me,
I'll use it on you. I'm going to show you how anyone can bluff a
stage full with a pair of tin shears and a red mask for a kicker. And
I'll shoot the man that tries to stop me."

Ranson sprang to his horse's side, and stuck his toe into the empty
stirrup-strap; there was a scattering of pebbles, a scurry of hoofs,
and the horse and rider became a gray blot in the moonlight.

The two lieutenants stood irresolute. Under his breath Crosby was
swearing fiercely. Curtis stood staring out of the open door.

"Will he do it?" he asked.

"Of course he'll do it."

Curtis crossed the room and dropped into a chair. "And what--what had
we better do?" he asked. For some time the other made no answer. His
brows were knit, and he tramped the room, scowling at the floor. Then
with an exclamation of alarm he stepped lightly to the door of the
exchange and threw back the curtain. In the other room, Cahill stood
at its furthest corner, scooping sugar from a hogshead.

Crosby's scowl relaxed, and, reseating himself at the table, he
rolled a cigarette. "Now, if he pulls it off," he whispered, "and
gets back to quarters, then--it's a case of all's well. But, if he's
shot, or caught, and it all comes out, then it's up to us to prove he
meant it as a practical joke."

"It isn't our duty to report it now, is it?" asked Curtis, nervously.

"Certainly not! If he chooses to make an ass of himself, that's none
of our business. Unless he's found out, we have heard nothing and
seen nothing. If he's caught, then we've got to stick by him, and
testify that he did it on a bet. He'll probably win out all right.
There is nobody expected on the stage but that Miss Post and her
aunt. And the driver's an old hand. He knows better than to fight."

"There may be some cowboys coming up."

"That's Ranson's lookout. As Cahill says, the Red Rider takes his
chances."

"I wish there was something we could do now," Curtis protested,
petulantly. "I suppose we've just got to sit still and wait for him?"

"That's all," answered Crosby, and then leaped to his feet. "What's
that?" he asked. Out on the parade ground, a bugle-call broke
suddenly on the soft spring air. It rang like an alarm. The noise of
a man running swiftly sounded on the path, and before the officers
reached the doorway Sergeant Clancey entered it, and halted at
attention.

"The colonel's orders," panted the sergeant, "and the lieutenant's
are to take twenty men from G and H Troops, and ride to Kiowa to
escort the paymaster."

"The paymaster!" Crosby cried. "He's not coming till Thursday."

"He's just telegraphed from Kiowa City, lieutenant. He's ahead of his
schedule. He wants an escort for the money. He left Kiowa a few
minutes ago in the up stage."

The two lieutenants sprang forward, and shouted in chorus: "The
stage? He is in the stage!"

Sergeant Clancey stared dubiously from one officer to the other. He
misunderstood their alarm, and with the privilege of long service
attempted to allay it. "The lieutenant knows nothing can happen to
the stage till it reaches the buttes," he said. "There has never been
a hold-up in the open, and the escort can reach the buttes long
before the stage gets here." He coughed consciously. "Colonel's
orders are to gallop, lieutenant."

As the two officers rode knee to knee through the night, the pay
escort pounding the trail behind them, Crosby leaned from his saddle.
"He has only ten minutes' start of us," he whispered. "We are certain
to overtake him. We can't help but do it. We must do it. We MUST! If
we don't, and he tries to stop Colonel Patten and the pay-roll, he'll
die. Two women and a deaf driver, that--that's a joke. But an Indian
fighter like old Patten, and Uncle Sam's money, that means a finish
fight-and his death and disgrace." He turned savagely in his saddle.
"Close up there!" he commanded. "Stop that talking. You keep your
breath till I want it--and ride hard."

After the officers had galloped away from the messroom, and Sergeant
Clancey had hurried after them to the stables, the post-trader
entered it from the exchange and barred the door, which they in their
haste had left open. As he did this, the close observer, had one been
present, might have noted that though his movements were now alert
and eager, they no longer were betrayed by any sound, and that his
spurs had ceased to jangle. Yet that he purposed to ride abroad was
evident from the fact that from a far corner he dragged out a heavy
saddle. He flung this upon the counter, and swiftly stripped it of
its stirrups. These, with more than necessary care, he hid away upon
the highest shelf of the shop, while from the lower shelves he
snatched a rubber poncho and a red kerchief. For a moment, as he
unbarred the door, the post-trader paused and cast a quick glance
before and behind him, and then the door closed and there was
silence. A minute later it was broken by the hoofs of a horse
galloping swiftly along the trail to Kiowa City.




PART II


That winter Miss Post had been going out a great deal more than was
good for her, and when the spring came she broke down. The family
doctor recommended Aiken, but an aunt of Miss Post's, Mrs. Truesdall,
had been at Farmington with Mrs. "Colonel" Bolland, and urged
visiting her instead. The doctor agreed that the climatic conditions
existing at Fort Crockett were quite as health-giving as those at
Aiken, and of the two the invalid decided that the regimental post
would be more of a novelty.

So she and her aunt and the maid changed cars twice after leaving St.
Louis and then staged it to Kiowa City, where, while waiting for
"Pop" Henderson's coach to Fort Crockett, they dined with him on
bacon, fried bread, and alkali water tinged with coffee.

It was at Kiowa City, a city of four hundred houses on blue-print
paper and six on earth, that Miss Post first felt certain that she
was going to enjoy her visit. It was there she first saw, at large
and on his native heath, a blanket Indian. He was a tall, beautiful
youth, with yellow ochre on his thin, brown arms and blue ochre on
his cheekbones, who sat on "Pop's" steps, gazing impassively at the
stars. Miss Post came out with her maid and fell over him. The maid
screamed. Miss Post said: "I beg your pardon"; and the brave
expressed his contempt by gutteral mutterings and by moving haughtily
away. Miss Post was then glad that she had not gone to Aiken. For the
twelve-mile drive through the moonlit buttes to Fort Crockett there
was, besides the women, one other passenger. He was a travelling
salesman of the Hancock Uniform Company, and was visiting Fort
Crockett to measure the officers for their summer tunics. At dinner
he passed Miss Post the condensed milk-can, and in other ways made
himself agreeable. He informed her aunt that he was in the Military
Equipment Department of the Army, but, much to that young woman's
distress, addressed most of his remarks to the maid, who, to his
taste, was the most attractive of the three.

"I take it," he said genially to Miss Post, "that you and the young
lady are sisters."

"No," said Miss Post, "we are not related."

It was eight o'clock, and the moon was full in the heavens when "Pop"
Henderson hoisted them into the stage and burdened his driver, Hunk
Smith, with words of advice which were intended solely for the ears
of the passengers.

"You want to be careful of that near wheeler, Hunk," he said, "or
he'll upset you into a gully. An' in crossing the second ford, bear
to the right; the water's running high, and it may carry youse all
down stream. I don't want that these ladies should be drowned in any
stage of mine. An' if the Red Rider jumps you don't put up no bluff,
but sit still. The paymaster's due in a night or two, an' I've no
doubt at all but that the Rider's laying for him. But if you tell him
that there's no one inside but womenfolk and a tailor, mebbe he won't
hurt youse. Now, ladies," he added, putting his head under the
leather flap, as though unconscious that all he had said had already
reached them, "without wishing to make you uneasy, I would advise
your having your cash and jewelry ready in your hands. With road-
agents it's mostly wisest to do what they say, an' to do it quick. Ef
you give 'em all you've got, they sometimes go away without spilling
blood, though, such being their habits, naturally disappointed." He
turned his face toward the shrinking figure of the military tailor.
"You, being an army man," he said, "will of course want to protect
the ladies, but you mustn't do it. You must keep cool. Ef you pull
your gun, like as not you'll all get killed. But I'm hoping for the
best. Good-night all, an' a pleasant journey."

The stage moved off with many creaks and many cracks of the whip,
which in part smothered Hunk Smith's laughter. But after the first
mile, he, being a man with feelings and a family, pulled the mules to
a halt.

The voice of the drummer could instantly be heard calling loudly from
the darkness of the stage: "Don't open those flaps. If they see us,
they'll fire!"

"I wanted you folks to know," said Hunk Smith, leaning from the box-
seat, "that that talk of Pop's was all foolishness. You're as safe on
this trail as in a Pullman palace-car. That was just his way. Pop
will have his joke. You just go to sleep now, if you can, and trust
to me. I'll get you there by eleven o'clock or break a trace.
Breakin' a trace is all the danger there is, anyway," he added,
cheerfully, "so don't fret."

Miss Post could not resist saying to Mrs. Truesdall: "I told you he
was joking."

The stage had proceeded for two hours. Sometimes it dropped with
locked wheels down sheer walls of clay, again it was dragged,
careening drunkenly, out of fathomless pits. It pitched and tossed,
slid and galloped, danced grotesquely from one wheel to another, from
one stone to another, recoiled out of ruts, butted against rocks, and
swept down and out of swollen streams that gurgled between the
spokes.

"If ever I leave Fort Crockett," gasped Mrs. Truesdall between jolts,
"I shall either wait until they build a railroad or walk."

They had all but left the hills, and were approaching the level
prairie. That they might see the better the flaps had been rolled up,
and the soft dry air came freely through the open sides. The mules
were straining over the last hill. On either side only a few of the
buttes were still visible. They stood out in the moonlight as cleanly
cut as the bows of great battleships. The trail at last was level.
Mrs. Truesdall's eyes closed. Her head fell forward. But Miss Post,
weary as she was in body, could not sleep. To her the night-ride was
full of strange and wonderful mysteries. Gratefully she drank in the
dry scent of the prairie-grass, and, holding by the frame of the
window, leaned far out over the wheel. As she did so, a man sprang
into the trail from behind a wall of rock, and shouted hoarsely. He
was covered to his knees with a black mantle. His face was hidden by
a blood-red mask.

"Throw up your hands!" he commanded. There was a sharp creaking as
the brakes locked, and from the driver's seat an amazed oath. The
stage stopped with a violent jerk, and Mrs. Truesdall pitched gently
forward toward her niece.

"I really believe I was asleep, Helen," she murmured. "What are we
waiting for?"

"I think we are held up," said Miss Post.

The stage had halted beyond the wall of rock, and Miss Post looked
behind it, but no other men were visible, only a horse with his
bridle drawn around a stone. The man in the mask advanced upon the
stage, holding a weapon at arm's-length. In the moonlight it flashed
and glittered evilly. The man was but a few feet from Miss Post, and
the light fell full upon her. Of him she could see only two black
eyes that flashed as evilly as his weapon. For a period of suspense,
which seemed cruelly prolonged, the man stood motionless, then he
lowered his weapon. When he opened his lips the mask stuck to them,
and his words came from behind it, broken and smothered. "Sorry to
trouble you, miss," the mask said, "but I want that man beside you to
get out."

Miss Post turned to the travelling salesman. "He wants you to get
out," she said.

"Wants me!" exclaimed the drummer. "I'm not armed, you know." In a
louder voice he protested, faintly: "I say, I'm not armed."

"Come out!" demanded the mask.

The drummer precipitated himself violently over the knees of the
ladies into the road below, and held his hands high above him. "I'm
not armed," he said; "indeed I'm not."

"Stand over there, with your back to that rock," the mask ordered.
For a moment the road agent regarded him darkly, pointing his weapon
meditatively at different parts of the salesman's person. He
suggested a butcher designating certain choice cuts. The drummer's
muscles jerked under the torture as though his anatomy were being
prodded with an awl.

"I want your watch," said the mask. The drummer reached eagerly for
his waistcoat.

"Hold up your hands!" roared the road agent. "By the eternal, if you
play any rough-house tricks on me I'll--" He flourished his weapon
until it flashed luminously.

An exclamation from Hunk Smith, opportunely uttered, saved the
drummer from what was apparently instant annihilation. "Say, Rider,"
cried the driver, "I can't hold my arms up no longer. I'm going to
put 'em down. But you leave me alone, an' I'll leave you alone. Is
that a bargain?" The shrouded figure whirled his weapon upon the
speaker. "Have I ever stopped you before, Hunk?" he demanded.

Hunk, at this recognition of himself as a public character, softened
instantly. "I dunno whether 'twas you or one of your gang, but--"

"Well, you've still got your health, haven't you?"

"Yes."

"Then keep quiet," snarled the mask.

In retort Hunk Smith muttered audible threatenings, but sank
obediently into an inert heap. Only his eyes, under cover of his
sombrero, roamed restlessly. They noted the McClellan saddle on the
Red Rider's horse, the white patch on its near fore-foot, the empty
stirrup-straps, and at a great distance, so great that the eyes only
of a plainsman could have detected it, a cloud of dust, or smoke, or
mist, that rode above the trail and seemed to be moving swiftly down
upon them.

At the sight, Hunk shifted the tobacco in his cheek and nervously
crossed his knees, while a grin of ineffable cunning passed across
his face.

With his sombrero in his hand, the Red Rider stepped to the wheel of
the stage. As he did so, Miss Post observed that above the line of
his kerchief his hair was evenly and carefully parted in the middle.

"I'm afraid, ladies," said the road agent, "that I have delayed you
unnecessarily. It seems that I have called up the wrong number." He
emitted a reassuring chuckle, and, fanning himself with his sombrero,
continued speaking in a tone of polite irony: "The Wells, Fargo
messenger is the party I am laying for. He's coming over this trail
with a package of diamonds. That's what I'm after. At first I thought
'Fighting Bob' over there by the rock might have it on him; but he
doesn't act like any Wells, Fargo Express agent I have ever tackled
before, and I guess the laugh's on me. I seem to have been weeping
over the wrong grave." He replaced his sombrero on his head at a
rakish angle, and waved his hand. "Ladies, you are at liberty to
proceed."

But instantly he stepped forward again, and brought his face so close
to the window that they could see the whites of his eyes. "Before we
part," he murmured, persuasively, "you wouldn't mind leaving me
something as a souvenir, would you?" He turned the skull-like
openings of the mask full upon Miss Post.

Mrs. Truesdall exclaimed, hysterically: "Why, certainly not!" she
cried. "Here's everything I have, except what's sewn inside my waist,
where I can't possibly get at it. I assure you I cannot. The
proprietor of that hotel told us we'd probably--meet you, and so I
have everything ready." She thrust her two hands through the window.
They held a roll of bills, a watch, and her rings

Miss Post laughed in an ecstasy of merriment "Oh, no, aunt," she
protested, "don't. No, not at all. The gentleman only wants a
keepsake. Something to remember us by. Isn't that it?" she asked. She
regarded the blood-red mask steadily with a brilliant smile.

The road agent did not at once answer. At her words he had started
back with such sharp suspicion that one might have thought he
meditated instant flight. Through the holes in his mask he now glared
searchingly at Miss Post, but still in silence.

"I think this will satisfy him," said Miss Post.

Out of the collection in her aunt's hands she picked a silver coin
and held it forward. "Something to keep as a pocket-piece," she said,
mockingly, "to remind you of your kindness to three lone females in
distress."

Still silent, the road agent reached for the money, and then growled
at her in a tone which had suddenly become gruff and overbearing. It
suggested to Miss Post the voice of the head of the family playing
Santa Claus for the children. "And now you, miss," he demanded.

Miss Post took another coin from the heap, studied its inscription,
and passed it through the window. "This one is from me," she said.
"Mine is dated 1901. The moonlight," she added, leaning far forward
and smiling out at him, "makes it quite easy to see the date; as
easy," she went on, picking her words, "as it is to see your peculiar
revolver and the coat-of-arms on your ring." She drew her head back."
Good-night," she cooed, sweetly.

The Red Rider jumped from the door. An exclamation which might have
been a laugh or an oath was smothered by his mask. He turned swiftly
upon the salesman. "Get back into the coach," he commanded. "And you,
Hunk," he called, "if you send a posse after me, next night I ketch
you out here alone you'll lose the top of your head."

The salesman scrambled into the stage through the door opposite the
one at which the Red Rider was standing, and the road agent again
raised his sombrero with a sweeping gesture worthy of D'Artagnan.
"Good-night, ladies," he said.

"Good-night, sir," Mrs. Truesdall answered, grimly, but exuding a
relieved sigh. Then, her indignation giving her courage, she leaned
from the window and hurled a Parthian arrow. "I must say," she
protested, "I think you might be in a better business."

The road agent waved his hand to the young lady. "Good-by," he said.

"Au revoir," said Miss Post, pleasantly.

"Good-by, miss," stammered the road agent,

"I said 'Au revoir,'" repeated Miss Post.

The road agent, apparently routed by these simple words, fled
muttering toward his horse.

Hunk Smith was having trouble with his brake. He kicked at it and,
stooping, pulled at it, but the wheels did not move.

Mrs. Truesdall fell into a fresh panic. "What is it now?" she called,
miserably.

Before he answered, Hunk Smith threw a quick glance toward the column
of moving dust. He was apparently reassured.

"The brake," he grunted. "The darned thing's stuck!"

The road agent was tugging at the stone beneath which he had slipped
his bridle. "Can I help?" he asked, politely. But before he reached
the stage, he suddenly stopped with an imperative sweep of his arm
for silence. He stood motionless, his body bent to the ground,
leaning forward and staring down the trail. Then he sprang upright.
"You old fox!" he roared, "you're gaining time, are you?"

With a laugh he tore free his bridle and threw himself across his
horse. His legs locked under it, his hands clasped its mane, and with
a cowboy yell he dashed past the stage in the direction of Kiowa
City, his voice floating back in shouts of jeering laughter. From
behind him he heard Hunk Smith's voice answering his own in a cry for
"Help!" and from a rapidly decreasing distance the throb of many
hoofs. For an instant he drew upon his rein, and then, with a defiant
chuckle, drove his spurs deep into his horse's side.

Mrs. Truesdall also heard the pounding of many hoofs, as well as Hunk
Smith's howls for help, and feared a fresh attack. "Oh, what is it?"
she begged

"Soldiers from the fort," Hunk called, excitedly, and again raised
his voice in a long, dismal howl.

"Sounds cheery, doesn't it?" said the salesman; "referring to the
soldiers," he explained. It was his first coherent remark since the
Red Rider had appeared and disappeared.

"Oh, I hope they won't--" began Miss Post, anxiously.

The hoof-beats changed to thunder, and with the pounding on the dry
trail came the jangle of stirrups and sling-belts. Then a voice, and
the coach was surrounded by dust-covered troopers and horses
breathing heavily. Lieutenant Crosby pulled up beside the window of
the stage. "Are you there, Colonel Patten?" he panted. He peered
forward into the stage, but no one answered him. "Is the paymaster in
here?" he demanded.

The voice of Lieutenant Curtis shouted in turn at Hunk Smith. "Is the
paymaster in there, driver?"

"Paymaster? No!" Hunk roared. "A drummer and three ladies. We've been
held up. The Red Rider--" He rose and waved his whip over the top of
the coach. "He went that way. You can ketch him easy."

Sergeant Clancey and half a dozen troopers jerked at their bridles.
But Crosby, at the window, shouted "Halt!"

"What's your name?" he demanded of the salesman.

"Myers," stammered the drummer. "I'm from the Hancock Uniform--"

Curtis had spurred his horse beside that of his brother officer. "Is
Colonel Patten at Kiowa?" he interrupted.

"I can't give you any information as to that," replied Mr. Myers,
importantly; "but these ladies and I have just been held up by the
Red Rider. If you'll hurry you'll--"

The two officers pulled back their horses from the stage and, leaning
from their saddles, consulted in eager whispers. Their men fidgeted
with their reins, and stared with amazed eyes at their officers.
Lieutenant Crosby was openly smiling, "He's got away with it," he
whispered. "Patten missed the stage, thank God, and he's met nothing
worse than these women."

"We MUST make a bluff at following him," whispered Curtis.

"Certainly not! Our orders are to report to Colonel Patten, and act
as his escort."

"But he's not at Kiowa; that fellow says so."

"He telegraphed the Colonel from Kiowa," returned Crosby. "How could
he do that if he wasn't there?" He turned upon Hunk Smith. "When did
you leave Henderson's?" he demanded.

"Seven o'clock," answered Hunk Smith, sulkily. "Say, if you young
fellows want to catch--"

"And Patten telegraphed at eight," cried Crosby. "That's it. He
reached Kiowa after the stage had gone. Sergeant Clancey!" he called.

The Sergeant pushed out from the mass of wondering troopers.

"When did the paymaster say he was leaving Kiowa?"

"Leaving at once, the telegram said," answered Clancey.

"'Meet me with escort before I reach the buttes.' That's the message
I was told to give the lieutenant."

Hunk Smith leaned from the box-seat. "Mebbe Pop's driving him over
himself in the buckboard," he volunteered. "Pop often takes 'em over
that way if they miss the stage."

"That's how it is, of course," cried Crosby. "He's on his way now in
the buckboard."

Hunk Smith surveyed the troopers dismally and shook his head. "If he
runs up against the Red Rider, it's 'good-by' your pay, boys," he
cried.

"Fall in there!" shouted Crosby. "Corporal Tynan, fall out with two
men and escort these ladies to the fort." He touched his hat to Miss
Post, and, with Curtis at his side, sprang into the trail. "Gallop!
March!" he commanded.

"Do you think he'll tackle the buckboard, too?" whispered Curtis.

Crosby laughed joyously and drew a long breath of relief.

"No, he's all right now," he answered. "Don't you see, he doesn't
know about Patten or the buckboard. He's probably well on his way to
the post now. I delayed the game at the stage there on purpose to
give him a good start. He's safe by now."

"It was a close call," laughed the other. "He's got to give us a
dinner for helping him out of this."

"We'd have caught him red-handed," said Crosby, "if we'd been five
minutes sooner. Lord!" he gasped. "It makes me cold to think of it.
The men would have shot him off his horse. But what a story for those
women! I hope I'll be there when they tell it. If Ranson can keep his
face straight, he's a wonder." For some moments they raced silently
neck by neck, and then Curtis again leaned from his saddle. "I hope
he HAS turned back to the post," he said. "Look at the men how
they're keeping watch for him. They're scouts, all of them."

"What if they are?" returned Crosby, easily. "Ranson's in uniform--
out for a moonlight canter. You can bet a million dollars he didn't
wear his red mask long after he heard us coming."

"I suppose he'll think we've followed to spoil his fun. You know you
said we would."

"Yes, he was going to shoot us," laughed Crosby. "I wonder why he
packs a gun. It's a silly thing to do."

The officers fell apart again, and there was silence over the
prairie, save for the creaking of leather and the beat of the hoofs.
And then, faint and far away, there came the quick crack of a
revolver, another, and then a fusillade. "My God!" gasped Crosby. He
threw himself forwards digging his spurs into his horse, and rode as
though he were trying to escape from his own men.

No one issued an order, no one looked a question; each, officer and
enlisted man, bowed his head and raced to be the first.

The trail was barricaded by two struggling horses and an overturned
buckboard. The rigid figure of a man lay flat upon his back staring
at the moon, another white-haired figure staggered forward from a
rock. "Who goes there?" it demanded.

"United States troops. Is that you, Colonel Patten?"

"Yes."

Colonel Patten's right arm was swinging limply at his side. With his
left hand he clasped his right shoulder. The blood, black in the
moonlight, was oozing between his fingers.

"We were held up," he said. "He shot the driver and the horses. I
fired at him, but he broke my arm. He shot the gun out of my hand.
When he reached for the satchel I tried to beat him off with my left
arm, but he threw me into the road. He went that way--toward Kiowa."

Sergeant Clancey, who was kneeling by the figure in the trail, raised
his hand in salute. "Pop Henderson, lieutenant," he said. "He's shot
through the heart. He's dead."

"He took the money, ten thousand dollars," cried Colonel Patten. "He
wore a red mask and a rubber poncho. And I saw that he had no
stirrups in his stirrup-straps."

Crosby dodged, as though someone had thrown a knife, and then raised
his hand stiffly and heavily.

"Lieutenant Curtis, you will remain here with Colonel Patten," he
ordered. His voice was without emotion. It fell flat and dead.
"Deploy as skirmishers," he commanded. "G Troop to the fight of the
trail, H Troop to the left. Stop anyone you see--anyone. If he tries
to escape, cry 'Halt!' twice and then fire--to kill. Forward! Gallop!
March! Toward the post."

"No!" shouted Colonel Patten. "He went toward Kiowa."

Crosby replied in the same dead voice: "He doubled after he left you,
colonel. He has gone to the post."

Colonel Patten struggled from the supporting arms that held him and
leaned eagerly forward. "You know him, then?" he demanded.

"Yes," cried Crosby, "God help him! Spread out there, you, in open
order--and ride like hell!"

Just before the officers' club closed for the night Lieutenant Ranson
came in and, seating himself at the piano, picked out "The Queen of
the Philippine Islands" with one finger. Major Stickney and others
who were playing bridge were considerably annoyed. Ranson then
demanded that everyone present should drink his health in champagne
for the reason that it was his birthday and that he was glad he was
alive, and wished everyone else to feel the same way about it. "Or,
for any other reason why," he added generously. This frontal attack
upon the whist-players upset the game entirely, and Ranson, enthroned
upon the piano-stool, addressed the room. He held up a buckskin
tobacco-bag decorated with beads.

"I got this down at the Indian village to-night," he said. "That old
squaw, Red Wing, makes 'em for two dollars. Crosby paid five dollars
for his in New Mexico, and it isn't half as good. What do you think?
I got lost coming back, and went all the way round by the buttes
before I found the trail, and I've only been here six months. They
certainly ought to make me chief of scouts."

There was the polite laugh which is granted to any remark made by the
one who is paying for the champagne.

"Oh, that's where you were, was it?" said the post-adjutant,
genially. "The colonel sent Clancey after you and Crosby. Clancey
reported that he couldn't find you. So we sent Curtis. They went to
act as escort for Colonel Patten and the pay. He's coming up to-night
in the stage." Ranson was gazing down into his glass. Before he
raised his head he picked several pieces of ice out of it and then
drained it.

"The paymaster, hey?" he said. "He's in the stage to-night, is he?"

"Yes," said the adjutant; and then as the bugle and stamp of hoofs
sounded from the parade outside, "and that's him now, I guess," he
added.

Ranson refilled his glass with infinite care, and then, in spite of a
smile that twitched at the corners of his mouth, emptied it slowly.

There was the jingle of spurs and a measured tramp on the veranda of
the club-house, and for the first time in its history four enlisted
men, carrying their Krags, invaded its portals. They were led by
Lieutenant Crosby; his face was white under the tan, and full of
suffering. The officers in the room received the intrusion in amazed
silence. Crosby strode among them, looking neither to the left nor
right, and touched Lieutenant Ranson upon the shoulder.

"The colonel's orders, Lieutenant Ranson," he said. "You are under
arrest."

Ranson leaned back against the music-rack and placed his glass upon
the keyboard. One leg was crossed over the other, and he did not
remove it.

"Then you can't take a joke," he said in a low tone. "You had to run
and tell." He laughed and raised his voice so that all in the club
might hear, "What am I arrested for, Crosby?" he asked.

The lines in Crosby's face deepened, and only those who sat near
could hear him. "You are under arrest for attempting to kill a
superior officer, for the robbery of the government pay-train--and
for murder."

Ranson jumped to his feet. "My God, Crosby!" he cried.

"Silence! Don't talk!" ordered Crosby. "Come along with me."

The four troopers fell in in rear of Lieutenant Crosby and their
prisoner. He drew a quick, frightened breath, and then, throwing back
his shoulders, fell into step, and the six men tramped from the club
and out into the night.




PART III


That night at the post there was little sleep for any one. The feet
of hurrying orderlies beat upon the parade-ground, the windows of the
Officers' Club blazed defiantly, and from the darkened quarters of
the enlisted men came the sound of voices snarling in violent
vituperation. At midnight, half of Ranson's troop, having attacked
the rest of the regiment with cavalry-boots, were marched under
arrest to the guard-house. As they passed Ranson's hut, where he
still paced the veranda, a burning cigarette attesting his
wakefulness, they cheered him riotously. At two o'clock it was
announced from the hospital that both patients were out of danger;
for it had developed that, in his hurried diagnosis, Sergeant Clancey
had located Henderson's heart six inches from where it should have
been.

When one of the men who guarded Ranson reported this good news the
prisoner said, "Still, I hope they'll hang whoever did it. They
shouldn't hang a man for being a good shot and let him off because
he's a bad one."

At the time of the hold-up Mary Cahill had been a half-mile distant
from the post at the camp of the Kiowas, where she had gone in answer
to the cry of Lightfoot's squaw. When she returned she found Indian
Pete in charge of the exchange. Her father, he told her, had ridden
to the Indian village in search of her. As he spoke the post-trader
appeared. "I'm sorry I missed you," his daughter called to him.

At the sound Cahill pulled his horse sharply toward the corral. "I
had a horse-deal on--with the chief," he answered over his shoulder.
"When I got to Lightfoot's tent you had gone."

After he had dismounted, and was coming toward her, she noted that
his right hand was bound in a handkerchief, and exclaimed with
apprehension.

"It is nothing," Cahill protested. "I was foolin' with one of the new
regulation revolvers, with my hand over the muzzle. Ball went through
the palm."

Miss Cahill gave a tremulous cry and caught the injured hand to her
lips.

Her father snatched it from her roughly.

"Let go!" he growled. "It serves me right."

A few minutes later Mary Cahill, bearing liniment for her father's
hand, knocked at his bedroom and found it empty. When she peered from
the top of the stairs into the shop-window below she saw him busily
engaged with his one hand buckling the stirrup-straps of his saddle.

When she called, he sprang upright with an oath. He had faced her so
suddenly that it sounded as though he had sworn, not in surprise, but
at her.

"You startled me," he murmured. His eyes glanced suspiciously from
her to the saddle. "These stirrup-straps--they're too short," he
announced. "Pete or somebody's been using my saddle."

"I came to bring you this 'first-aid' bandage for your hand," said
his daughter.

Cahill gave a shrug of impatience.

"My hand's all right," he said; "you go to bed. I've got to begin
taking account of stock."

"To-night?"

"There's no time by day. Go to bed."

For nearly an hour Miss Cahill lay awake listening to her father
moving about in the shop below. Never before had he spoken roughly to
her, and she, knowing how much the thought that he had done so would
distress him, was herself distressed.

In his lonely vigil on the veranda, Ranson looked from the post down
the hill to where the light still shone from Mary Cahill's window. He
wondered if she had heard the news, and if it were any thought of him
that kept sleep from her.

"You ass! you idiot!" he muttered. "You've worried and troubled her.
She believes one of her precious army is a thief and a murderer." He
cursed himself picturesquely, but the thought that she might possibly
be concerned on his account, did not, he found, distress him as
greatly as it should. On the contrary, as he watched the light his
heart glowed warmly. And long after the light went out he still
looked toward the home of the post-trader, his brain filled with
thoughts of his return to his former life outside the army, the old
life to which he vowed he would not return alone.

The next morning Miss Cahill learned the news when the junior officer
came to mess and explained why Ranson was not with them. Her only
comment was to at once start for his quarters with his breakfast in a
basket. She could have sent it by Pete, but, she argued, when one of
her officers was in trouble that was not the time to turn him over to
the mercies of a servant. No, she assured herself, it was not because
the officer happened to be Ranson. She would have done as much, or as
little, for any one of them. When Curtis and Haines were ill of the
grippe, had she not carried them many good things of her own making?

But it was not an easy sacrifice. As she crossed the parade-ground
she recognized that over-night Ranson's hut, where he was a prisoner
in his own quarters, had become to the post the storm-centre of
interest, and to approach it was to invite the attention of the
garrison. At head-quarters a group of officers turned and looked her
way, there was a flutter among the frocks on Mrs. Bolland's porch,
and the enlisted men, smoking their pipes on the rail of the
barracks, whispered together. When she reached Ranson's hut over four
hundred pairs of eyes were upon her, and her cheeks were flushing.
Ranson came leaping to the gate, and lifted the basket from her arm
as though he were removing an opera-cloak. He set it upon the gate-
post, and nervously clasped the palings of the gate with both hands.
He had not been to bed, but that fact alone could not explain the
strangeness of his manner. Never before had she seen him disconcerted
or abashed.

"You shouldn't have done it," he stammered. "Indeed, indeed, you are
much too good. But you shouldn't have come."

His voice shook slightly.

"Why not?" asked Mary Cahill. "I couldn't let you go hungry."

"You know it isn't that," he said; "it's your coming here at all.
Why, only three of the fellows have been near me this morning. And
they only came from a sense of duty. I know they did--I could feel
it. You shouldn't have come here. I'm not a proper person; I'm an
outlaw. You might think this was a pest-house, you might think I was
a leper. Why, those Stickney girls have been watching me all morning
through a field-glass." He clasped and unclasped his fingers around
the palings. "They believe I did it," he protested, with the
bewildered accents of a child. "They all believe it."

Miss Cahill laughed. The laugh was quieting and comforting. It
brought him nearer to earth, and her next remark brought him still
further.

"Have you had any breakfast?" she asked.

"Breakfast!" stammered Ranson. "No. The guard brought some, but I
couldn't eat it. This thing has taken the life out of me--to think
sane, sensible people--my own people--could believe that I'd steal,
that I'd kill a man for money."

"Yes, I know," said Miss Cahill soothingly; "but you've not had any
sleep, and you need your coffee." She lifted the lid of the basket.
"It's getting cold," she said. "Don't you worry about what people
think. You must remember you're a prisoner now under arrest. You
can't expect the officers to run over here as freely as they used to.
What do you want?" she laughed. "Do you think the colonel should
parade the band and give you a serenade?" For a moment Ranson stared
at her dully, and then his sense of proportion returned to him. He
threw back his head and laughed with her joyfully.

From verandas, barracks, and headquarters, the four hundred pairs of
eyes noted this evidence of heartlessness with varied emotions. But,
unmindful of them, Ranson now leaned forward, the eager, searching
look coming back into his black eyes. They were so close to Mary
Cahill's that she drew away. He dropped his voice to a whisper and
spoke swiftly.

"Miss Cahill, whatever happens to me I won't forget this. I won't
forget your coming here and throwing heart into me. You were the only
one who did. I haven't asked you if you believe that I--"

She raised her eyes reproachfully and smiled. "You know you don't
have to do that," she said.

The prisoner seized the palings as though he meant to pull apart the
barrier between them. He drew a long breath like one inhaling a
draught of clean morning air.

"No," he said, his voice ringing, "I don't have to do that."

He cast a swift glance to the left and right. The sentry's bayonet
was just disappearing behind the corner of the hut. To the four
hundred other eyes around the parade-ground Lieutenant Ranson's
attitude suggested that he was explaining to Cahill's daughter what
he wanted for his luncheon. His eyes held her as firmly as though the
palings he clasped were her two hands.

"Mary," he said, and the speaking of her name seemed to stop the
beating of his heart. "Mary," he whispered, as softly as though he
were beginning a prayer, "you're the bravest, the sweetest, the
dearest girl in all the world. And I've known it for months, and now
you must know. And there'll never be any other girl in my life but
you."

Mary Cahill drew away from him in doubt and wonder.

"I didn't mean to tell you just yet," he whispered, "but now that
I've seen you I can't help it. I knew it last night when I stood back
there and watched your windows, and couldn't think of this trouble,
nor of anything else, but just you. And you've got to promise me, if
I get out of this all right--you must--must promise me--"

Mary Cahill's eyes, as she raised them to his, were moist and
glowing. They promised him with a great love and tenderness. But at
the sight Ranson protested wildly.

"No," he whispered, "you mustn't promise--anything. I shouldn't have
asked it. After I'm out of this, after the court-martial, then you've
got to promise that you'll never, never leave me."

Miss Cahill knit her hands together and turned away her head. The
happiness in her heart rose to her throat like a great melody and
choked her. Before her, exposed in the thin spring sunshine, was the
square of ugly brown cottages, the bare parade-ground, in its centre
Trumpeter Tyler fingering his bugle, and beyond on every side an
ocean of blackened prairie. But she saw nothing of this. She saw
instead a beautiful world opening its arms to her, a world smiling
with sunshine, glowing with color, singing with love and content.

She turned to him with all that was in her heart showing in her face.

"Don't!" he begged, tremblingly, "don't answer. I couldn't bear it--
if you said 'no' to me." He jerked his head toward the men who
guarded him. "Wait until I'm tried, and not in disgrace." He shook
the gate between them savagely as though it actually held him a
prisoner.

Mary Cahill raised her head proudly.

"You have no right. You've hurt me," she whispered. "You hurt me."

"Hurt you?" he cried.

She pressed her hands together. It was impossible to tell him, it was
impossible to speak of what she felt; of the pride, of the trust and
love, to disclose this new and wonderful thing while the gate was
between them, while the sentries paced on either side, while the
curious eyes of the garrison were fastened upon her.

"Oh, can't you see?" she whispered. "As though I cared for a court-
martial! I KNOW you. You are just the same. You are just what you
have always been to me--what you always will be to me."

She thrust her hand toward him and he seized it in both of his, and
then released it instantly, and, as though afraid of his own self-
control, backed hurriedly from her, and she turned and walked rapidly
away.

Captain Carr, who had been Ranson's captain in the Philippines, and
who was much his friend, had been appointed to act as his counsel.
When later that morning he visited his client to lay out a line of
defence he found Ranson inclined to treat the danger which threatened
him with the most arrogant flippancy. He had never seen him in a more
objectionable mood.

"You can call the charge 'tommy-rot' if you like," Carr protested,
sharply. "But, let me tell you that's not the view any one else takes
of it, and if you expect the officers of the court-martial and the
civil authorities to take that view of it you've got to get down to
work and help me prove that it IS 'tommy rot.' That Miss Post, as
soon as she got here, when she thought it was only a practical joke,
told them that the road agent threatened her with a pair of shears.
Now, Crosby and Curtis will testify that you took a pair of shears
from Cahill's, and from what Miss Post saw of your ring she can
probably identify that, too; so--"

"Oh, we concede the shears," declared Ranson, waving his hand
grandly. "We admit the first hold-up."

"The devil we do!" returned Carr. "Now, as your counsel, I advise
nothing of the sort."

"You advise me to lie?"

"Sir!" exclaimed Carr. "A plea of not guilty is only a legal form.
When you consider that the first hold-up in itself is enough to lose
you your commission--"

"Well, it's MY commission," said Ranson. "It was only a silly joke,
anyway. And the War Department must have some sense of humor or it
wouldn't have given me a commission in the first place. Of course,
we'll admit the first hold-up, but we won't stand for the second one.
I had no more to do with that than with the Whitechapel murders."

"How are we to prove that?" demanded Carr. "Where's your alibi? Where
were you after the first hold-up?"

"I was making for home as fast as I could cut," said Ranson. He
suddenly stopped in his walk up and down the room and confronted his
counsel sternly. "Captain," he demanded, "I wish you to instruct me
on a point of law."

Carr's brow relaxed. He was relieved to find that Ranson had awakened
to the seriousness of the charges against him.

"That's what I'm here for," he said, encouragingly.

"Well, captain," said Ranson, "if an officer is under arrest as I am
and confined to his quarters, is he or is he not allowed to send to
the club for a bottle of champagne?"

"Really, Ranson!" cried the captain, angrily, "you are impossible."

"I only want to celebrate," said Ranson, meekly. "I'm a very happy
man; I'm the happiest man on earth. I want to ride across the prairie
shooting off both guns and yelling like a cowboy. Instead of which I
am locked up indoors and have to talk to you about a highway robbery
which does not amuse me, which does not concern me--and of which I
know nothing and care less. Now, YOU are detailed to prove me
innocent. That's your duty, and you ought to do your duty, But don't
drag me in. I've got much more important things to think about."

Bewilderment, rage, and despair were written upon the face of the
captain.

"Ranson!" he roared. "Is this a pose, or are you mad? Can't you
understand that you came very near to being hanged for murder and
that you are in great danger of going to jail for theft? Let me put
before you the extremely unpleasant position in which you have been
ass enough to place yourself. You don't quite seem to grasp it. You
tell two brother-officers that you are going to rob the stage. To do
so you disguise yourself in a poncho and a red handkerchief, and you
remove the army-stirrups from your stirrup-leathers. You then do rob
this coach, or at least hold it up, and you are recognized. A few
minutes later, in the same trail and in the same direction you have
taken, there is a second hold-up, this time of the paymaster. The man
who robs the paymaster wears a poncho and a red kerchief, and he has
no stirrups in his stirrup-leathers. The two hold-ups take place
within a half-mile of each other, within five minutes of each other.
Now, is it reasonable to believe that last night two men were hiding
in the buttes intent upon robbery, each in an army poncho, each
wearing a red bandanna handkerchief, and each riding without
stirrups? Between believing in such a strange coincidence and that
you did it, I'll be hanged if I don't believe you did it."

"I don't blame you," said Ranson. "What can I do to set your mind at
rest?"

"Well, tell me exactly what persons knew that you meant to hold up
the stage."

"Curtis and Crosby; no one else."

"Not even Cahill?"

"No, Cahill came in just before I said I would stop the stage, but I
remember particularly that before I spoke I waited for him to get
back to the exchange."

"And Crosby tells me," continued Carr, "that the instant you had gone
he looked into the exchange and saw Cahill at the farthest corner
from the door. He could have heard nothing."

"If you ask me, I think you've begun at the wrong end," said Ranson.
"If I were looking for the Red Rider I'd search for him in Kiowa
City."

"Why?"

"Because, at this end no one but a few officers knew that the
paymaster was coming, while in Kiowa everybody in the town knew it,
for they saw him start. It would be very easy for one of those
cowboys to ride ahead and lie in wait for him in the buttes. There
are several tough specimens in Kiowa. Any one of them would rob a man
for twenty dollars--let alone ten thousand. There's 'Abe' Fisher and
Foster King, and the Chase boys, and I believe old 'Pop' Henderson
himself isn't above holding up one of his own stages."

"He's above shooting himself in the lungs," said Carr. "Nonsense. No,
I am convinced that someone followed you from this post, and perhaps
Cahill can tell us who that was. I sent for him this morning, and
he's waiting at my quarters now. Suppose I ask him to step over here,
so that we can discuss it together."

Before he answered, Ranson hesitated, with his eyes on the ground. He
had no way of knowing whether Mary Cahill had told her father
anything of what he had said to her that morning. But if she had done
so, he did not want to meet Cahill in the presence of a third party
for the first time since he had learned the news.

"I'll tell you what I wish you would do," he said. "I wish you'd let
me see Cahill first, by myself. What I want to see him about has
nothing to do with the hold-up," he added. "It concerns only us two,
but I'd like to have it out of the way before we consult him as a
witness."

Carr rose doubtfully. "Why, certainly," he said; "I'll send him over,
and when you're ready for me step out on the porch and call. I'll be
sitting on my veranda. I hope you've had no quarrel with Cahill--I
mean I hope this personal matter is nothing that will prejudice him
against you."

Ranson smiled. "I hope not, too," he said. "No, we've not quarrelled-
-yet," he added.

Carr still lingered. "Cahill is like to be a very important witness
for the other side--"

"I doubt it," said Ranson, easily. "Cahill's a close-mouthed chap,
but when he does talk he talks to the point and he'll tell the truth.
That can't hurt us."

As Cahill crossed the parade-ground from Captain Carr's quarters on
his way to Ranson's hut his brain was crowded swiftly with doubts,
memories, and resolves. For him the interview held no alarms. He had
no misgivings as to its outcome. For his daughter's sake he was
determined that he himself must not be disgraced in her eyes and that
to that end Ranson must be sacrificed. It was to make a lady of her,
as he understood what a lady should be, that on six moonlit raids he
had ventured forth in his red mask and robbed the Kiowa stage. That
there were others who roamed abroad in the disguise of the Red Rider
he was well aware. There were nights the stage was held up when he
was innocently busy behind his counter in touch with the whole
garrison. Of these nights he made much. They were alibis furnished by
his rivals. They served to keep suspicion from himself, and he,
working for the same object, was indefatigable in proclaiming that
all the depredations of the Red Rider showed the handiwork of one and
the same individual.

"He comes from Kiowa of course," he would point out. "Some feller who
lives where the stage starts, and knows when the passengers carry
money. You don't hear of him holding up a stage full of recruits or
cow-punchers. It's always the drummers and the mine directors that
the Red Rider lays for. How does he know they're in the stage if he
don't see 'em start from Kiowa? Ask 'Pop' Henderson. Ask 'Abe'
Fisher. Mebbe they know more than they'd care to tell."

The money which at different times Cahill had taken from the Kiowa
stage lay in a New York bank, and the law of limitation made it now
possible for him to return to that city and claim it. Already his
savings were sufficient in amount to support both his daughter and
himself in one of those foreign cities, of which she had so often
told him and for which he knew she hungered. And for the last five
years he had had no other object in living than to feed her wants.
Through some strange trick of the mind he remembered suddenly and
vividly a long-forgotten scene in the back room of McTurk's, when he
was McTurk's bouncer. The night before a girl had killed herself in
this same back room; she made the third who had done so in the month.
He recalled the faces of the reporters eyeing McTurk in cold distaste
as that terror of the Bowery whimpered before them on his knees. "But
my daughters will read it," he had begged. "Suppose they believe I'm
what you call me. Don't go and give me a bad name to them, gentlemen.
It ain't my fault the girl's died here. You wouldn't have my
daughters think I'm to blame for that? They're ladies, my daughters,
they're just out of the convent, and they don't know that there is
such women in the world as come to this place. And I can't have 'em
turned against their old pop. For God's sake, gentlemen, don't let my
girls know!"

Cahill remembered the contempt he had felt for his employer as he
pulled him to his feet, but now McTurk's appeal seemed just and
natural. His point of view was that of the loving and considerate
parent. In Cahill's mind there was no moral question involved. If to
make his girl rich and a lady, and to lift her out of the life of the
Exchange, was a sin the sin was his own and he was willing to "stand
for it." And, like McTurk, he would see that the sin of the father
was not visited upon the child. Ranson was rich, foolishly, selfishly
rich; his father was a United States Senator with influence enough,
and money enough, to fight the law--to buy his son out of jail.
Sooner than his daughter should know that her father was one of those
who sometimes wore the mask of the Red Rider, Ranson, for all he
cared, could go to jail, or to hell. With this ultimatum in his mind,
Cahill confronted his would-be son-in-law with a calm and assured
countenance.

Ranson greeted him with respectful deference, and while Cahill seated
himself, Ranson, chatting hospitably, placed cigars and glasses
before him. He began upon the subject that touched him the most
nearly.

"Miss Cahill was good enough to bring up my breakfast this morning,"
he said. "Has she told you of what I said to her?"

Cahill shook his head. "No, I haven't seen her. We've been taking
account of stock all morning."

"Then--then you've heard nothing from her about me?" said Ranson.

The post trader raised his head in surprise. "No. Captain Carr spoke
to me about your arrest, and then said you wanted to see me first
about something private." The post trader fixed Ranson with his keen,
unwavering eyes. "What might that be?" he asked.

"Well, it doesn't matter now," stammered Ranson; "I'll wait until
Miss Cahill tells you."

"Any complaint about the food?" inquired the post trader.

Ranson laughed nervously. "No, it's not that," he said. He rose, and,
to protect what Miss Cahill evidently wished to remain a secret,
changed the subject. "You see you've lived in these parts so long,
Mr. Cahill," he explained, "and you know so many people, I thought
maybe you could put me on the track or give me some hint as to which
of that Kiowa gang really did rob the paymaster." Ranson was pulling
the cork from the whiskey bottle, and when he asked the question
Cahill pushed his glass from him and shook his head. Ranson looked up
interrogatively and smiled. "You mean you think I did it myself?" he
asked.

"I didn't understand from Captain Carr," the post trader began in
heavy tones, "that it's my opinion you're after. He said I might be
wanted to testify who was present last night in my store."

"Certainly, that's all we want," Ranson answered, genially. "I only
thought you might give me a friendly pointer or two on the outside.
And, of course, if it's your opinion I did the deed we certainly
don't want your opinion. But that needn't prevent your taking a drink
with me, need it? Don't be afraid. I'm not trying to corrupt you. And
I'm not trying to poison a witness for the other fellows, either.
Help yourself."

Cahill stretched out his left hand. His right remained hidden in the
side pocket of his coat. "What's the matter with your right hand?"
Ranson asked. "Are you holding a gun on me? Really, Mr. Cahill,
you're not taking any chances, are you?" Ranson gazed about the room
as though seeking an appreciative audience. "He's such an important
witness," he cried, delightedly, "that first he's afraid I'll poison
him and he won't drink with me, and now he covers me with a gun."

Reluctantly, Cahill drew out his hand. "I was putting the bridle on
my pony last night," he said. "He bit me."

Ranson exclaimed sympathetically, "Oh, that's too bad," he said.
"Well, you know you want to be careful. A horse's teeth really are
poisonous." He examined his own hands complacently. "Now, if I had a
bandage like that on my right hand they would hang me sure, no matter
whether it was a bite, or a burn, or a bullet."

Cahill raised the glass to his lips and sipped the whiskey
critically. "Why?" he asked.

"Why? Why, didn't you know that the paymaster boasted last night to
the surgeons that he hit this fellow in the hand? He says--"

Cahill snorted scornfully. "How'd he know that? What makes him think
so?"

"Well, never mind, let him think so," Ranson answered, fervently.
"Don't discourage him. That's the only evidence I've got on my side.
He says he fired to disarm the man, and that he saw him shift his gun
to his left hand. It was the shot that the man fired when he held his
gun in his left that broke the colonel's arm. Now, everybody knows I
can't hit a barn with my left. And as for having any wounds concealed
about my person"--Ranson turned his hands like a conjurer to show the
front and back--"they can search me. So, if the paymaster will only
stick to that story--that he hit the man--it will help me a lot."
Ranson seated himself on the table and swung his leg. "And of course
it would be a big help, too, if you could remember who was in your
Exchange when I was planning to rob the coach. For someone certainly
must have overheard me, someone must have copied my disguise, and
that someone is the man we must find. Unless he came from Kiowa."

Cahill shoved his glass from him across the table and, placing his
hands on his knees, stared at his host coldly and defiantly. His
would-be son-in-law observed the aggressiveness of his attitude, but,
in his fuller knowledge of their prospective relations, smiled
blandly.

"Mr. Ranson," began Cahill, "I've no feelings against you personally.
I've a friendly feeling for all of you young gentlemen at my mess.
But you're not playing fair with me. I can see what you want, and I
can tell you that you and Captain Carr are not helping your case by
asking me up here to drink and smoke with you, when you know that I'm
the most important witness they've got against you."

Ranson stared at his father-in-law-elect in genuine amazement, and
then laughed lightly.

"Why, dear Mr. Cahill," he cried, "I wouldn't think of bribing you
with such a bad brand of whiskey as this. And I didn't know you were
such an important witness as all that. But, of course, I know
whatever you say in this community goes, and if your testimony is
against me, I'm sorry for it, very sorry. I suppose you will testify
that there was no one in the Exchange who could have heard my plan?"

Cahill nodded.

"And, as it's not likely two men at exactly the same time should have
thought of robbing the stage in exactly the same way, I must have
robbed it myself."

Cahill nursed his bandaged hand with the other. "That's the court's
business," he growled; "I mean to tell the truth."

"And the truth is?" asked Ransom

"The truth is that last night there was no one in the Exchange but
you officers and me. If anybody'd come in on the store side you'd
have seen him, wouldn't you? and if he'd come into the Exchange I'd
have seen him. But no one come in. I was there alone--and certainly I
didn't hear your plan, and I didn't rob the stage. When you fellows
left I went down to the Indian village. Half the reservation can
prove I was there all the evening--so of the four of us, that lets me
out. Crosby and Curtis were in command of the pay escort--that's
their alibi--and as far as I can see, lieutenant, that puts it up to
you."

Ranson laughed and shook his head. "Yes, it certainly looks that
way," he said. "Only I can't see why you need be so damned pleased
about it." He grinned wickedly. "If you weren't such a respectable
member of Fort Crockett society I might say you listened at the door,
and rode after me in one of your own ponchos. As for the Indian
village, that's no alibi. A Kiowa swear his skin's as white as yours
if you give him a drink."

"And is that why I get this one?" Cahill demanded. "Am I a Kiowa?"

Ranson laughed and shoved the bottle toward his father-in-law-elect.

"Oh, can't you take a joke?" he said. "Take another drink, then."

The voice outside the hut was too low to reach the irate Cahill, but
Ranson heard it and leaped to his feet.

"Wait," he commanded. He ran to the door, and met Sergeant Clancey at
the threshold.

"Miss Cahill, lieutenant," said the sergeant, "wants to see her
father."

Cahill had followed Ranson to the door, "You want to see me, Mame?
"he asked.

"Yes," Miss Cahill cried; "and Mr. Ransom, too, if I may." She caught
her father eagerly by the arm, but her eyes were turned joyfully upon
Ranson. They were laughing with excitement. Her voice was trembling
and eager.

"It is something I have discovered," she cried; "I found it out just
now, and I think--oh, I hope!--it is most important. I believe it
will clear Mr. Ranson!" she cried, happily. "At least it will show
that last night someone went out to rob the coach and went dressed as
he was."

Cahill gave a short laugh. "What's his name?" he asked, mockingly.
"Have you seen him?"

"I didn't see him and I don't know his name, but--"

Cahill snorted, and picked up his sombrero from the table. "Then it's
not so very important after all," he said. "Is that all that brought
you here?"

"The main thing is that she is here," said Ranson; "for which the
poor prisoner is grateful--grateful to her and to the man she hasn't
seen, in the mask and poncho, whose name she doesn't know. Mr.
Cahill, bad as it is, I insist on your finishing your whiskey. Miss
Cahill, please sit down."

He moved a chair toward her and, as he did so, looked full into her
face with such love and happiness that she turned her eyes away.

"Well?" asked Cahill.

"I must first explain to Lieutenant Ranson, father," said his
daughter, "that to-day is the day we take account of stock."

"Speaking of stock," said Ranson, "don't forget that I owe you for a
red kerchief and a rubber poncho. You can have them back, if you
like. I won't need a rain coat where I am going."

"Don't," said Miss Cahill. "Please let me go on. After I brought you
your breakfast here, I couldn't begin to work just at once. I was
thinking about--something else. Everyone was talking of you--your
arrest, and I couldn't settle down to take account of stock." She
threw a look at Ranson which asked for his sympathy. "But when I did
start I began with the ponchos and the red kerchiefs, and then I
found out something." Cahill was regarding his daughter in strange
distress, but Ranson appeared indifferent to her words, and intent
only on the light and beauty in her face. But he asked, smiling, "And
that was?"

"You see," continued Miss Cahill, eagerly, "I always keep a dozen of
each article, and as each one is sold I check it off in my day-book.
Yesterday Mrs. Bolland bought a poncho for the colonel. That left
eleven ponchos. Then a few minutes later I gave Lightfoot a red
kerchief for his squaw. That left eleven kerchiefs."

"Stop!" cried Ranson. "Miss Cahill," he began, severely, "I hope you
do not mean to throw suspicion on the wife of my respected colonel,
or on Mrs. Lightfoot, 'the Prairie Flower.' Those ladies are my
personal friends; I refuse to believe them guilty. And have you ever
seen Mrs. Bolland on horseback? You wrong her. It is impossible."

"Please," begged Miss Cahill, "please let me explain. When you went
to hold up the stage you took a poncho and a kerchief. That should
have left ten of each. But when I counted them this morning there
were nine red kerchiefs and nine ponchos."

Ranson slapped his knee sharply. "Good!" he said. "That is
interesting."

"What does it prove?" demanded Cahill.

"It proves nothing, or it proves everything," said Miss Cahill. "To
my mind it proves without any doubt that someone overheard Mr.
Ranson's plan, that he dressed like him to throw suspicion on him,
and that this second person was the one who robbed the paymaster.
Now, father, this is where you can help us. You were there then. Try
to remember. It is so important. Who came into the store after the
others had gone away?"

Cahill tossed his head like an angry bull.

"There are fifty places in this post," he protested, roughly, "where
a man can get a poncho. Every trooper owns his slicker."

"But, father, we don't know that theirs are missing," cried Miss
Cahill, "and we do know that those in our store are. Don't think I am
foolish. It seemed such an important fact to me, and I had hoped it
would help."

"It does help--immensely!" cried Ranson.

"I think it's a splendid clue. But, unfortunately, I don't think we
can prove anything by your father, for he's just been telling me that
there was no one in the place but himself. No one came in, and he was
quite alone--" Ranson had begun speaking eagerly, but either his own
words or the intentness with which Cahill received them caused him to
halt and hesitate--"absolutely--alone."

"You see," said Cahill, thickly, "as soon as they had gone I rode to
the Indian village."

"Why, no, father," corrected Miss Cahill. "Don't you remember, you
told me last night that when you reached Lightfoot's tent I had just
gone. That was quite two hours after the others left the store." In
her earnestness Miss Cahill had placed her hand upon her father's arm
and clutched it eagerly. "And you remember no one coming in before
you left?" she asked. "No one?"

Cahill had not replaced the bandaged hand in his pocket, but had
shoved it inside the opening of his coat. As Mary Cahill caught his
arm her fingers sank into the palm of the hand and he gave a slight
grimace of pain.

"Oh, father," Miss Cahill cried, "your hand! I am so sorry. Did I
hurt it? Please--let me see."

Cahill drew back with sudden violence.

"No!" he cried. "Leave it alone! Come, we must be going." But Miss
Cahill held the wounded hand in both her own. When she turned her
eyes to Ranson they were filled with tender concern.

"I hurt him," she said, reproachfully. "He shot himself last night
with one of those new cylinder revolvers."

Her father snatched the hand from her. He tried to drown her voice by
a sudden movement toward the door. "Come!" he called. "Do you hear
me?"

But his daughter in her sympathy continued. "He was holding it so,"
she said, "and it went off, and the bullet passed through here." She
laid the tip of a slim white finger on the palm of her right hand.

"The bullet!" cried Ranson. He repeated, dully, "The bullet!"

There was a sudden, tense silence. Outside they could hear the crunch
of the sentry's heel in the gravel, and from the baseball field back
of the barracks the soft spring air was rent with the jubilant crack
of the bat as it drove the ball. Afterward Ranson remembered that
while one half of his brain was terribly acute to the moment, the
other was wondering whether the runner had made his base. It seemed
an interminable time before Ranson raised his eyes from Miss Cahill's
palm to her father's face. What he read in them caused Cahill to drop
his hand swiftly to his hip.

Ranson saw the gesture and threw out both his hands. He gave a
hysterical laugh, strangely boyish and immature, and ran to place
himself between Cahill and the door. "Drop it!" he whispered. "My
God, man!" he entreated, "don't make a fool of yourself. Mr. Cahill,"
he cried aloud, "you can't go till you know. Can he, Mary? Yes,
Mary." The tone in which he repeated the name was proprietary and
commanding. He took her hand. "Mr. Cahill," he said, joyously, "we've
got something to tell you. I want you to understand that in spite of
all I'VE done--I say in spite of all I'VE done--I mean getting into
this trouble and disgrace, and all that--I've dared to ask your
daughter to marry me." He turned and led Miss Cahill swiftly toward
the veranda. "Oh, I knew he wouldn't like it," he cried. "You see. I
told you so. You've got to let me talk to him alone. You go outside
and wait. I can talk better when you are not here. I'll soon bring
him around."

"Father," pleaded Miss Cahill, timidly. From behind her back Ranson
shook his head at the post-trader in violent pantomime. "She'd better
go outside and wait, hadn't she, Mr. Cahill?" he directed.

As he was bidden, the post-trader raised his head and nodded toward
the door. The onslaught of sudden and new conditions overwhelmed and
paralyzed him.

"Father!" said Miss Cahill, "it isn't just as you think. Mr. Ranson
did ask me to marry him--in a way--At least, I knew what he meant.
But I did not say--in a way--that I would marry him. I mean it was
not settled, or I would have told you. You mustn't think I would have
left you out of this--of my happiness, you who have done everything
to make me happy."

She reproached her father with her eyes fastened on his face. His own
were stern, fixed, and miserable. "You will let it be, won't you,
father?" she begged. "It--it means so much. I--can't tell you--" She
threw out her hand toward Ranson as though designating a superior
being. "Why, I can't tell HIM. But if you are harsh with him or with
me it will break my heart. For as I love you, father, I love him--and
it has got to be. It must be. For I love him so. I have always loved
him. Father," she whispered, "I love him so."

Ranson, humbly, gratefully, took the girl's hand and led her gently
to the veranda and closed the door upon her. Then he came down the
room and regarded his prospective father-in-law with an expression of
amused exasperation. He thrust his hands deep into the pockets of his
riding-breeches and nodded his head. "Well," he exclaimed, "you've
made a damned pretty mess of it, haven't you?"

Cahill had sunk heavily into a chair and was staring at Ranson with
the stupid, wondering gaze of a dumb animal in pain. During the
moments in which the two men eyed each other Ranson's smile
disappeared. Cahill raised himself slowly as though with a great
effort.

"I done it," said Cahill, "for her. I done it to make her happy."

"That's all right," said Ranson, briskly. "She's going to be happy.
We're all going to be happy."

"An' all I did," Cahill continued, as though unconscious of the
interruption, "was to disgrace her." He rose suddenly to his feet.
His mental sufferings were so keen that his huge body trembled. He
recognized how truly he had made "a mess of it." He saw that all he
had hoped to do for his daughter by crime would have been done for
her by this marriage with Ranson, which would have made her a "lady,"
made her rich, made her happy. Had it not been for his midnight raids
she would have been honored, loved, and envied, even by the wife of
the colonel herself. But through him disgrace had come upon her,
sorrow and trouble. She would not be known as the daughter of Senator
Ranson, but of Cahill, an ex-member of the Whyo gang, a highway
robber, as the daughter of a thief who was serving his time in State
prison. At the thought Cahill stepped backward unsteadily as though
he had been struck. He cried suddenly aloud. Then his hand whipped
back to his revolver, but before he could use it Ranson had seized
his wrist with both hands. The two struggled silently and fiercely.
The fact of opposition brought back to Cahill all of his great
strength.

"No, you don't!" Ranson muttered. "Think of your daughter, man. Drop
it!"

"I shall do it," Cahill panted. "I am thinking of my daughter. It's
the only way out. Take your hands off me--I shall!"

With his knuckles Ranson bored cruelly into the wounded hand, and it
opened and the gun dropped from it; but as it did so it went off with
a report that rang through the building. There was an instant rush of
feet upon the steps of the veranda, and at the sound the two men
sprang apart, eyeing each other sheepishly like two discovered
truants. When Sergeant Clancey and the guard pushed through the door
Ranson stood facing it, spinning the revolver in cowboy fashion
around his fourth finger. He addressed the sergeant in a tone of
bitter irony.

"Oh, you've come at last," he demanded. "Are you deaf? Why didn't you
come when I called?" His tone showed he considered he had just cause
for annoyance.

"The gun brought me, I--" began Clancey.

"Yes, I hoped it might. That's why I fired it," snapped Ranson. "I
want two whiskey-and-sodas. Quick now!"

"Two--" gasped Clancey.

"Whiskey-and-sodas. See how fast one of you can chase over to the
club and get 'em. And next time I want a drink don't make me wake the
entire garrison."

As the soldiers retreated Ranson discovered Miss Cahill's white face
beyond them. He ran and held the door open by a few inches.

"It's all right," he whispered, reassuringly. "He's nearly persuaded.
Wait just a minute longer and he'll be giving us his blessing."

"But the pistol-shot?" she asked.

"I was just calling the guard. The electric bell's broken, and your
father wanted a drink. That's a good sign, isn't it? Shows he's
friendly, What kind did you say you wanted, Mr. Cahill--Scotch was
it, or rye?" Ranson glanced back at the sombre, silent figure of
Cahill, and then again opened the door sufficiently for him to stick
out his head. "Sergeant," he called, "make them both Scotch--long
ones."

He shut the door and turned upon the post-trader. "Now, then, father-
in-law," he said, briskly, "you've got to cut and run, and you've got
to run quick. We'll tell 'em you're going to Fort Worth to buy the
engagement ring, because I can't, being under arrest. But you go to
Duncan City instead, and from there take the cars, to--"

"Run away!" Cahill repeated, dazedly. "But you'll be court-
martialled."

"There won't be any court-martial!"

Cahill glanced around the room quickly. "I see," he cried. In his
eagerness he was almost smiling. "I'm to leave a confession and give
it to you."

"Confession! What rot!" cried Ranson.

"They can't prove anything against me. Everyone knows by now that
there were two men on the trail, but they don't know who the other
man was, and no one ever must know--especially Mary."

Cahill struck the table with his fist. "I won't stand for it!" he
cried. "I got you into this and I'm goin'--"

"Yes, going to jail," retorted Ranson. "You'll look nice behind the
bars, won't you? Your daughter will be proud of you in a striped
suit. Don't talk nonsense. You're going to run and hide some place,
somewhere, where Mary and I can come and pay you a visit. Say--
Canada. No, not Canada. I'd rather visit you in jail than in a
Montreal hotel. Say Tangier, or Buenos Ayres, or Paris. Yes, Paris is
safe enough--and so amusing."

Cahill seated himself heavily. "I trapped you into this fix, Mr.
Ranson," he said, "you know I did, and now I mean to get you out of
it. I ain't going to leave the man my Mame wants to marry with a
cloud on him. I ain't going to let her husband be jailed."

Ranson had run to his desk and from a drawer drew forth a roll of
bills. He advanced with them in his hand.

"Yes, Paris is certainly the place," he said. "Here's three hundred
dollars. I'll cable you the rest. You've never been to Paris, have
you? It's full of beautiful sights--Henry's American Bar, for
instance, and the courtyard of the Grand Hotel, and Maxim's. All good
Americans go to Paris when they die and all the bad ones while they
are alive. You'll find lots of both kinds, and you'll sit all day on
the sidewalk and drink Bock and listen to Hungarian bands. And Mary
and I will join you there and take you driving in the Bois. Now, you
start at once. I'll tell her you've gone to New York to talk it over
with father, and buy the ring. Then I'll say you've gone on to Paris
to rent us apartments for the honeymoon. I'll explain it somehow.
That's better than going to jail, isn't it, and making us bow our
heads in grief?"

Cahill, in his turn, approached the desk and, seating himself before
it, began writing rapidly.

"What is it?" asked Ranson.

"A confession," said Cahill, his pen scratching.

"I won't take it," Ranson said, "and I won't use it."

"I ain't going to give it to you," said Cahill, over his shoulder. "I
know better than that. But I don't go to Paris unless I leave a
confession behind me. Call in the guard," he commanded; "I want two
witnesses."

"I'll see you hanged first," said Ranson.

Cahill crossed the room to the door and, throwing it open, called,
"Corporal of the guard!"

As he spoke, Captain Carr and Mrs. Bolland, accompanied by Miss Post
and her aunt, were crossing the parade-ground. For a moment the post-
trader surveyed them doubtfully, and then, stepping out upon the
veranda, beckoned to them.

"Here's a paper I've signed, captain," he said; "I wish you'd witness
my signature. It's my testimony for the court-martial."

"Then someone else had better sign it," said Carr. "Might look
prejudiced if I did." He turned to the ladies. "These ladies are
coming in to see Ranson now. They'll witness it."

Miss Cahill, from the other end of the veranda, and the visitors
entered the room together.

"Mrs. Truesdale!" cried Ranson. "You are pouring coals of fire upon
my head. And Miss Post! Indeed, this is too much honor. After the way
I threatened and tried to frighten you last night I expected you to
hang me, at least, instead of which you have, I trust, come to tea."

"Nothing of the sort," said Mrs. Bolland, sternly. "These ladies
insisted on my bringing them here to say how sorry they are that they
talked so much and got you into this trouble. Understand, Mr.
Ranson," the colonel's wife added, with dignity, "that I am not here
officially as Mrs. Bolland, but as a friend of these ladies."

"You are welcome in whatever form you take, Mrs. Bolland," cried
Ranson, "and, believe me, I am in no trouble--no trouble, I assure
you. In fact, I am quite the most contented man in the world. Mrs.
Bolland, in spite of the cloud, the temporary cloud which rests upon
my fair name, I take great pride in announcing to you that this young
lady has done me the honor to consent to become my wife. Her father,
a very old and dear friend, has given his consent. And I take this
occasion to tell you of my good fortune, both in your official
capacity and as my friend."

There was a chorus of exclamations and congratulations in which Mrs.
Bolland showed herself to be a true wife and a social diplomatist. In
the post-trader's daughter she instantly recognized the heiress to
the Ranson millions, and the daughter of a Senator who also was the
chairman of the Senate Committee on Brevets and Promotions. She fell
upon Miss Cahill's shoulder and kissed her on both cheeks. Turning
eagerly upon Mrs. Truesdale, she said, "Alice, you can understand how
I feel when I tell you that this child has always been to me like one
of my own."

Carr took Ranson's hand and wrung it. Sergeant Clancey grew purple
with pleasure and stole back to the veranda, where he whispered
joyfully to a sentry. In another moment a passing private was seen
racing delightedly toward the baseball field.

At the same moment Lieutenants Crosby and Curtis and the regimental
adjutant crossed the parade ground from the colonel's quarters and
ran up the steps of Ranson's hut. The expressions of good-will, of
smiling embarrassment and general satisfaction which Lieutenant
Crosby observed on the countenances of those present seemed to give
him a momentary check.

"Oh," he exclaimed, disappointedly, "someone has told you!"

Ranson laughed and took the hand which Crosby held doubtfully toward
him. "No one has told me," he said. "I've been telling them."

"Then you haven't heard?" Crosby cried, delightedly. "That's good. I
begged to be the first to let you know, because I felt so badly at
having doubted you. You must let me congratulate you. You are free."

"Free?" smiled Ranson.

"Yes, relieved from arrest," Crosby cried, joyfully. He turned and
took Ranson's sword from the hands of the adjutant. "And the
colonel's let your troop have the band to give you a serenade."

But Ranson's face showed no sign of satisfaction.

"Wait!" he cried. "Why am I relieved from arrest?"

"Why? Because the other fellow has confessed."

Ranson placed himself suddenly in front of Mary Cahill as though to
shield her. His eyes stole stealthily towards Cahill's confession.
Still unread and still unsigned, it lay unopened upon the table.
Cahill was gazing upon Ranson in blank bewilderment.

Captain Carr gasped a sigh of relief that was far from complimentary
to his client.

"Who confessed?" he cried.

"'Pop' Henderson," said Crosby.

"'Pop' Henderson!" shouted Cahill. Unmindful of his wound, he struck
the table savagely with his fist. For the first time in the knowledge
of the post he exhibited emotion. "'Pop' Henderson, by the eternal!"
he cried. "And I never guessed it!"

"Yes," said Crosby, eagerly. "Abe Fisher was in it. Henderson
persuaded the paymaster to make the trip alone with him. Then he
dressed up Fisher to represent the Red Rider and sent him on ahead to
hold him up. They were to share the money afterward. But Fisher fired
on 'Pop' to kill, so as to have it all, and 'Pop's' trying to get
even. And what with wanting to hurt Fisher, and thinking he is going
to die, and not wishing to see you hanged, he's told the truth. We
wired Kiowa early this morning and arrested Fisher. They've found the
money, and he has confessed, too."

"But the poncho and the red kerchief?" protested Carr. "And he had no
stirrups!"

"Oh, Fisher had the make-up all right," laughed Crosby; "Henderson
says Fisher's the 'only, original' Red Rider. And as for the
stirrups, I'm afraid that's my fault. I asked the colonel if the man
wasn't riding without stirrups, and I guess the wish was father to
the fact. He only imagined he hadn't seen any stirrups. The colonel
was rattled. So, old man," he added, turning to Ranson, "here's your
sword again, and God bless you."

Already the post had learned the news from the band and the verandas
of the enlisted men overflowed with delighted troopers. From the
stables and the ball field came the sound of hurrying feet, and a
tumult of cheers and cowboy yells. Across the parade-ground the
regimental band bore down upon Ranson's hut, proclaiming to the
garrison that there would be a hot time in the old town that night.
But Sergeant Clancey ran to meet the bandmaster, and shouted in his
ear. "He's going to marry Mary Cahill," he cried. "I heard him tell
the colonel's wife. Play 'Just Because She Made Them Goo-goo Eyes.'"

"Like hell!" cried the bandmaster, indignantly, breaking in on the
tune with his baton. "I know my business! Now, then, men," he
commanded, "'I'll Leave My Happy Home for You.'"

As Mrs. Bolland dragged Miss Cahill into view of the assembled
troopers Ranson pulled his father-in-law into a far corner of the
room. He shook the written confession in his face.

"Now, will you kindly tell me what that means?" he demanded. "What
sort of a gallery play were you trying to make?"

Cahill shifted his sombrero guiltily. "I was trying to get you out of
the hole," he stammered. "I--I thought you done it."

"You thought I done it!"

"Sure. I never thought nothing else."

"Then why do you say here that YOU did it?"

"Oh, because," stammered Cahill, miserably, "'cause of Mary, 'cause
she wanted to marry you--'cause you were going to marry her."

"Well--but--what good were you going to do by shooting yourself?"

"Oh, then?" Cahill jerked back his head as though casting out an
unpleasant memory. "I thought you'd caught me, you, too--between
you!"

"Caught you! Then you did--?"

"No, but I tried to. I heard your plan, and I did follow you in the
poncho and kerchief, meaning to hold up the stage first, and leave it
to Crosby and Curtis to prove you did it. But when I reached the
coach you were there ahead of me, and I rode away and put in my time
at the Indian village. I never saw the paymaster's cart, never heard
of it till this morning. But what with Mame missing the poncho out of
our shop and the wound in my hand I guessed they'd all soon suspect
me. I saw you did. So I thought I'd just confess to what I meant to
do, even if I didn't do it."

Ranson surveyed his father-in-law with a delighted grin. "How did you
get that bullet-hole in your hand?" he asked.

Cahill laughed shamefacedly. "I hate to tell you that," he said. "I
got it just as I said I did. My new gun went off while I was fooling
with it, with my hand over the muzzle. And me the best shot in the
Territory! But when I heard the paymaster claimed he shot the Red
Rider through the palm I knew no one would believe me if I told the
truth. So I lied."

Ranson glanced down at the written confession, and then tore it
slowly into pieces. "And you were sure I robbed the stage, and yet
you believed that I'd use this? What sort of a son-in-law do you
think you've got?"

"You thought _I_ robbed the stage, didn't you?"

"Yes."

"And you were going to stand for robbing it yourself, weren't you?
Well, that's the sort of son-in-law I've got!"

The two men held out their hands at the same instant.

Mary Cahill, her face glowing with pride and besieged with blushes,
came toward them from the veranda. She was laughing and radiant, but
she turned her eyes on Ranson with a look of tender reproach.

"Why did you desert me?" she said. "It was awful. They are calling
you now. They are playing 'The Conquering Hero.'"

"Mr. Cahill," commanded Ranson, "go out there and make a speech." He
turned to Mary Cahill and lifted one of her hands in both of his.
"Well, I AM the conquering hero," he said. "I've won the only thing
worth winning, dearest," he whispered; "we'll run away from them in a
minute, and we'll ride to the waterfall and the Lover's Leap." He
looked down at her wistfully. "Do you remember?"

Mary Cahill raised her head and smiled. He leaned toward her
breathlessly.

"Why, did it mean that to you, too?" he asked.

She smiled up at him in assent.

"But I didn't say anything, did I?" whispered Ranson. "I hardly knew
you then. But I knew that day that I--that I would marry you or
nobody else. And did you think--that you--"

"Yes," Mary Cahill whispered.

He bent his head and touched her hand with his lips.

"Then we'll go back this morning to the waterfall," he said, "and
tell it that it's all come right. And now, we'll bow to those crazy
people out there, those make-believe dream-people, who don't know
that there is nothing real in this world but just you and me, and
that we love each other."

A dishevelled orderly bearing a tray with two glasses confronted
Ranson at the door. "Here's the Scotch and sodas, lieutenant," he
panted. "I couldn't get 'em any sooner. The men wanted to take 'em
off me--to drink Miss Cahill's health."

"So they shall," said Ranson. "Tell them to drink the canteen dry and
charge it to me. What's a little thing like the regulations between
friends? They have taught me my manners. Mr. Cahill," he called.

The post-trader returned from the veranda.

Ranson solemnly handed him a glass and raised the other in the air.
"Here's hoping that the Red Rider rides on his raids no more," he
said; "and to the future Mrs. Ranson--to Mary Cahill, God bless her!"

He shattered the empty glass in the grate and took Cahill's hand.

"Father-in-law," said Ranson, "let's promise each other to lead a new
and a better life."






THE BAR SINISTER

PART I


The Master was walking most unsteady, his legs tripping each other.
After the fifth or sixth round, my legs often go the same way.

But even when the Master's legs bend and twist a bit, you mustn't
think he can't reach you. Indeed, that is the time he kicks most
frequent. So I kept behind him in the shadow, or ran in the middle of
the street. He stopped at many public-houses with swinging doors,
those doors that are cut so high from the sidewalk that you can look
in under them, and see if the Master is inside. At night when I peep
beneath them the man at the counter will see me first and say,
"Here's the Kid, Jerry, come to take you home. Get a move on you,"
and the Master will stumble out and follow me. It's lucky for us I'm
so white, for no matter how dark the night, he can always see me
ahead, just out of reach of his boot. At night the Master certainly
does see most amazing. Sometimes he sees two or four of me, and walks
in a circle, so that I have to take him by the leg of his trousers
and lead him into the right road. One night, when he was very nasty-
tempered and I was coaxing him along, two men passed us and one of
them says, "Look at that brute!" and the other asks "Which?" and they
both laugh. The Master, he cursed them good and proper.

This night, whenever we stopped at a public-house, the Master's pals
left it and went on with us to the next. They spoke quite civil to
me, and when the Master tried a flying kick, they gives him a shove.
"Do you want we should lose our money?" says the pals.

I had had nothing to eat for a day and a night, and just before we
set out the Master gives me a wash under the hydrant. Whenever I am
locked up until all the slop-pans in our alley are empty, and made to
take a bath, and the Master's pals speak civil, and feel my ribs, I
know something is going to happen. And that night, when every time
they see a policeman under a lamp-post, they dodged across the
street, and when at the last one of them picked me up and hid me
under his jacket, I began to tremble; for I knew what it meant. It
meant that I was to fight again for the Master.

I don't fight because I like it. I fight because if I didn't the
other dog would find my throat, and the Master would lose his stakes,
and I would be very sorry for him and ashamed. Dogs can pass me and I
can pass dogs, and I'd never pick a fight with none of them. When I
see two dogs standing on their hind-legs in the streets, clawing each
other's ears, and snapping for each other's windpipes, or howling and
swearing and rolling in the mud, I feel sorry they should act so, and
pretend not to notice. If he'd let me, I'd like to pass the time of
day with every dog I meet. But there's something about me that no
nice dog can abide. When I trot up to nice dogs, nodding and
grinning, to make friends, they always tell me to be off. "Go to the
devil!" they bark at me; "Get out!" and when I walk away they shout
"mongrel," and "gutter-dog," and sometimes, after my back is turned,
they rush me. I could kill most of them with three shakes, breaking
the back-bone of the little ones, and squeezing the throat of the big
ones. But what's the good? They are nice dogs; that's why I try to
make up to them, and though it's not for them to say it, I am a
street-dog, and if I try to push into the company of my betters, I
suppose it's their right to teach me my place.

Of course, they don't know I'm the best fighting bull-terrier of my
weight in Montreal. That's why it wouldn't be right for me to take no
notice of what they shout. They don't know that if I once locked my
jaws on them I'd carry away whatever I touched. The night I fought
Kelley's White Rat, I wouldn't loosen up until the Master made a
noose in my leash and strangled me, and if the handlers hadn't thrown
red pepper down my nose, I never would have let go of that Ottawa
dog. I don't think the handlers treated me quite right that time, but
maybe they didn't know the Ottawa dog was dead. I did.

I learned my fighting from my mother when I was very young. We slept
in a lumber-yard on the river-front, and by day hunted for food along
the wharves. When we got it, the other tramp-dogs would try to take
it off us, and then it was wonderful to see mother fly at them, and
drive them away. All I know of fighting I learned from mother,
watching her picking the ash-heaps for me when I was too little to
fight for myself. No one ever was so good to me as mother. When it
snowed and the ice was in the St. Lawrence she used to hunt alone,
and bring me back new bones, and she'd sit and laugh to see me trying
to swallow 'em whole. I was just a puppy then, my teeth was falling
out. When I was able to fight we kept the whole river-range to
ourselves, I had the genuine long, "punishing" jaw, so mother said,
and there wasn't a man or a dog that dared worry us. Those were happy
days, those were; and we lived well, share and share alike, and when
we wanted a bit of fun, we chased the fat old wharf-rats. My! how
they would squeal!

Then the trouble came. It was no trouble to me. I was too young to
care then. But mother took it so to heart that she grew ailing, and
wouldn't go abroad with me by day. It was the same old scandal that
they're always bringing up against me. I was so young then that I
didn't know. I couldn't see any difference between mother--and other
mothers.

But one day a pack of curs we drove off snarled back some new names
at her, and mother dropped her head and ran, just as though they had
whipped us. After that she wouldn't go out with me except in the
dark, and one day she went away and never came back, and though I
hunted for her in every court and alley and back street of Montreal,
I never found her.

One night, a month after mother ran away, I asked Guardian, the old
blind mastiff, whose Master is the night-watchman on our slip, what
it all meant. And he told me.

"Every dog in Montreal knows," he says, "except you, and every Master
knows. So I think it's time you knew."

Then he tells me that my father, who had treated mother so bad, was a
great and noble gentleman from London. "Your father had twenty-two
registered ancestors, had your father," old Guardian says, "and in
him was the best bull-terrier blood of England, the most ancientest,
the most royal; the winning 'blue-ribbon' blood, that breeds
champions. He had sleepy pink eyes, and thin pink lips, and he was as
white all over as his own white teeth, and under his white skin you
could see his muscles, hard and smooth, like the links of a steel
chain. When your father stood still, and tipped his nose in the air,
it was just as though he was saying, 'Oh, yes, you common dogs and
men, you may well stare. It must be a rare treat for you Colonials to
see a real English royalty.' He certainly was pleased with hisself,
was your father. He looked just as proud and haughty as one of them
stone dogs in Victoria Park--them as is cut out of white marble. And
you're like him," says the old mastiff--"by that, of course, meaning
you're white, same as him. That's the only likeness. But, you see,
the trouble is, Kid--well, you see, Kid, the trouble is--your mother-
-"

"That will do," I said, for I understood then without his telling me,
and I got up and walked away, holding my head and tail high in the
air.

But I was, oh, so miserable, and I wanted to see mother that very
minute, and tell her that I didn't care.

Mother is what I am, a street-dog; there's no royal blood in mother's
veins, nor is she like that father of mine, nor--and that's the
worst--she's not even like me. For while I, when I'm washed for a
fight, am as white as clean snow, she--and this is our trouble, she--
my mother, is a black-and-tan.

When mother hid herself from me, I was twelve months old and able to
take care of myself, and, as after mother left me, the wharves were
never the same, I moved uptown and met the Master. Before he came,
lots of other men-folks had tried to make up to me, and to whistle me
home. But they either tried patting me or coaxing me with a piece of
meat; so I didn't take to 'em. But one day the Master pulled me out
of a street-fight by the hind-legs, and kicked me good.

"You want to fight, do you?" says he. "I'll give you all the FIGHTING
you want!" he says, and he kicks me again. So I knew he was my
Master, and I followed him home. Since that day I've pulled off many
fights for him, and they've brought dogs from all over the province
to have a go at me, but up to that night none, under thirty pounds,
had ever downed me.

But that night, so soon as they carried me into the ring, I saw the
dog was over-weight, and that I was no match for him. It was asking
too much of a puppy. The Master should have known I couldn't do it.
Not that I mean to blame the Master, for when sober, which he
sometimes was, though not, as you might say, his habit, he was most
kind to me, and let me out to find food, if I could get it, and only
kicked me when I didn't pick him up at night and lead him home.

But kicks will stiffen the muscles, and starving a dog so as to get
him ugly-tempered for a fight may make him nasty, but it's weakening
to his insides, and it causes the legs to wabble.

The ring was in a hall, back of a public-house. There was a red-hot
whitewashed stove in one corner, and the ring in the other. I lay in
the Master's lap, wrapped in my blanket, and, spite of the stove,
shivering awful; but I always shiver before a fight; I can't help
gettin' excited. While the men-folks were a-flashing their money and
taking their last drink at the bar, a little Irish groom in gaiters
came up to me and give me the back of his hand to smell, and
scratched me behind the ears.

"You poor little pup," says he. "You haven't no show," he says. "That
brute in the tap-room, he'll eat your heart out."

"That's what you think," says the Master, snarling. "I'll lay you a
quid the Kid chews him up."

The groom, he shook his head, but kept looking at me so sorry-like,
that I begun to get a bit sad myself. He seemed like he couldn't bear
to leave off a-patting of me, and he says, speaking low just like he
would to a man-folk, "Well, good-luck to you, little pup," which I
thought so civil of him, that I reached up and licked his hand. I
don't do that to many men. And the Master, he knew I didn't, and took
on dreadful.

"What 'ave you got on the back of your hand?" says he, jumping up.

"Soap!" says the groom, quick as a rat. "That's more than you've got
on yours. Do you want to smell of it?" and he sticks his fist under
the Master's nose. But the pals pushed in between 'em.

"He tried to poison the Kid!" shouts the Master.

"Oh, one fight at a time," says the referee. "Get into the ring,
Jerry. We're waiting." So we went into the ring.

I never could just remember what did happen in that ring. He give me
no time to spring. He fell on me like a horse. I couldn't keep my
feet against him, and though, as I saw, he could get his hold when he
liked, he wanted to chew me over a bit first. I was wondering if
they'd be able to pry him off me, when, in the third round, he took
his hold; and I began to drown, just as I did when I fell into the
river off the Red C slip. He closed deeper and deeper, on my throat,
and everything went black and red and bursting; and then, when I were
sure I were dead, the handlers pulled him off, and the Master give me
a kick that brought me to. But I couldn't move none, or even wink,
both eyes being shut with lumps.

"He's a cur!" yells the Master, "a sneaking, cowardly cur. He lost
the fight for me," says he, "because he's a---------cowardly cur."
And he kicks me again in the lower ribs, so that I go sliding across
the sawdust. "There's gratitude fer yer," yells the Master. "I've fed
that dog, and nussed that dog, and housed him like a prince; and now
he puts his tail between his legs, and sells me out, he does. He's a
coward; I've done with him, I am. I'd sell him for a pipeful of
tobacco." He picked me up by the tail, and swung me for the men-folks
to see. "Does any gentleman here want to buy a dog," he says, "to
make into sausage-meat?" he says. "That's all he's good for."

Then I heard the little Irish groom say, "I'll give you ten bob for
the dog."

And another voice says, "Ah, don't you do it; the dog's same as dead-
-mebby he is dead."

"Ten shillings!" says the Master, and his voice sobers a bit; "make
it two pounds, and he's yours."

But the pals rushed in again.

"Don't you be a fool, Jerry," they say. "You'll be sorry for this
when you're sober. The Kid's worth a fiver."

One of my eyes was not so swelled up as the other, and as I hung by
my tail, I opened it, and saw one of the pals take the groom by the
shoulder.

"You ought to give 'im five pounds for that dog, mate," he says;
"that's no ordinary dog. That dog's got good blood in him, that dog
has. Why, his father--that very dog's father--"

I thought he never would go on. He waited like he wanted to be sure
the groom was listening.

"That very dog's father," says the pal, "is Regent Royal, son of
Champion Regent Monarch, champion bull-terrier of England for four
years."

I was sore, and torn, and chewed most awful, but what the pal said
sounded so fine that I wanted to wag my tail, only couldn't, owing to
my hanging from it.

But the Master calls out, "Yes, his father was Regent Royal; who's
saying he wasn't? but the pup's a cowardly cur, that's what his pup
is, and why--I'll tell you why--because his mother was a black-and-
tan street-dog, that's why!"

I don't see how I get the strength, but some way I threw myself out
of the Master's grip and fell at his feet, and turned over and
fastened all my teeth in his ankle, just across the bone.

When I woke, after the pals had kicked me off him, I was in the
smoking-car of a railroad-train, lying in the lap of the little
groom, and he was rubbing my open wounds with a greasy, yellow stuff,
exquisite to the smell, and most agreeable to lick off.




PART II


"Well--what's your name--Nolan? Well, Nolan, these references are
satisfactory," said the young gentleman my new Master called "Mr.
Wyndham, sir." "I'll take you on as second man. You can begin to-
day."

My new Master shuffled his feet, and put his finger to his forehead.
"Thank you, sir," says he. Then he choked like he had swallowed a
fish-bone. "I have a little dawg, sir," says he.

"You can't keep him," says "Mr. Wyndham, sir," very short.

"'Es only a puppy, sir," says my new Master; "'e wouldn't go outside
the stables, sir."

"It's not that," says "Mr. Wyndham, sir;" "I have a large kennel of
very fine dogs; they're the best of their breed in America. I don't
allow strange dogs on the premises."

The Master shakes his head, and motions me with his cap, and I crept
out from behind the door. "I'm sorry, sir," says the Master. "Then I
can't take the place. I can't get along without the dog, sir."

"Mr. Wyndham, sir," looked at me that fierce that I guessed he was
going to whip me, so I turned over on my back and begged with my legs
and tail.

"Why, you beat him!" says "Mr. Wyndham, sir," very stern.

"No fear!" the Master says, getting very red. "The party I bought him
off taught him that. He never learnt that from me!" He picked me up
in his arms, and to show "Mr. Wyndham, sir," how well I loved the
Master, I bit his chin and hands.

"Mr. Wyndham, sir," turned over the letters the Master had given him.
"Well, these references certainly are very strong," he says. "I guess
I'll let the dog stay this time. Only see you keep him away from the
kennels--or you'll both go."

"Thank you, sir," says the Master, grinning like a cat when she's
safe behind the area-railing.

"He's not a bad bull-terrier," says "Mr. Wyndham, sir," feeling my
head. "Not that I know much about the smooth-coated breeds. My dogs
are St. Bernards." He stopped patting me and held up my nose. "What's
the matter with his ears?" he says. "They're chewed to pieces. Is
this a fighting dog?" he asks, quick and rough-like.

I could have laughed. If he hadn't been holding my nose, I certainly
would have had a good grin at him. Me, the best under thirty pounds
in the Province of Quebec, and him asking if I was a fighting dog! I
ran to the Master and hung down my head modest-like, waiting for him
to tell my list of battles, but the Master he coughs in his cap most
painful. "Fightin' dog, sir," he cries. "Lor' bless you, sir, the Kid
don't know the word. 'Es just a puppy, sir, same as you see; a pet
dog, so to speak. 'Es a regular old lady's lap-dog, the Kid is."

"Well, you keep him away from my St. Bernards," says "Mr. Wyndham,
sir," "or they might make a mouthful of him."

"Yes, sir, that they might," says the Master. But when we gets
outside he slaps his knee and laughs inside hisself, and winks at me
most sociable.

The Master's new home was in the country, in a province they called
Long Island. There was a high stone wall about his home with big iron
gates to it, same as Godfrey's brewery; and there was a house with
five red roofs, and the stables, where I lived, was cleaner than the
aerated bakery-shop, and then there was the kennels, but they was
like nothing else in this world that ever I see. For the first days I
couldn't sleep of nights for fear someone would catch me lying in
such a cleaned-up place, and would chase me out of it, and when I did
fall to sleep I'd dream I was back in the old Master's attic,
shivering under the rusty stove, which never had no coals in it, with
the Master flat on his back on the cold floor with his clothes on.
And I'd wake up, scared and whimpering, and find myself on the new
Master's cot with his hand on the quilt beside me; and I'd see the
glow of the big stove, and hear the high-quality horses below-stairs
stamping in their straw-lined boxes, and I'd snoop the sweet smell of
hay and harness-soap, and go to sleep again.

The stables was my jail, so the Master said, but I don't ask no
better home than that jail.

"Now, Kid," says he, sitting on the top of a bucket upside down,
"you've got to understand this. When I whistle it means you're not to
go out of this 'ere yard. These stables is your jail. And if you
leave 'em I'll have to leave 'em, too, and over the seas, in the
County Mayo, an old mother will 'ave to leave her bit of a cottage.
For two pounds I must be sending her every month, or she'll have
naught to eat, nor no thatch over 'er head; so, I can't lose my
place, Kid, an' see you don't lose it for me. You must keep away from
the kennels," says he; "they're not for the likes of you. The kennels
are for the quality. I wouldn't take a litter of them woolly dogs for
one wag of your tail, Kid, but for all that they are your betters,
same as the gentry up in the big house are my betters. I know my
place and keep away from the gentry, and you keep away from the
Champions."

So I never goes out of the stables. All day I just lay in the sun on
the stone flags, licking my jaws, and watching the grooms wash down
the carriages, and the only care I had was to see they didn't get gay
and turn the hose on me. There wasn't even a single rat to plague me.
Such stables I never did see.

"Nolan," says the head-groom, "some day that dog of yours will give
you the slip. You can't keep a street-dog tied up all his life. It's
against his natur'." The head-groom is a nice old gentleman, but he
doesn't know everything. Just as though I'd been a street-dog because
I liked it. As if I'd rather poke for my vittles in ash-heaps than
have 'em handed me in a wash-basin, and would sooner bite and fight
than be polite and sociable. If I'd had mother there I couldn't have
asked for nothing more. But I'd think of her snooping in the gutters,
or freezing of nights under the bridges, or, what's worse of all,
running through the hot streets with her tongue down, so wild and
crazy for a drink, that the people would shout "mad dog" at her, and
stone her. Water's so good, that I don't blame the men-folks for
locking it up inside their houses, but when the hot days come, I
think they might remember that those are the dog-days and leave a
little water outside in a trough, like they do for the horses. Then
we wouldn't go mad, and the policemen wouldn't shoot us. I had so
much of everything I wanted that it made me think a lot of the days
when I hadn't nothing, and if I could have given what I had to
mother, as she used to share with me, I'd have been the happiest dog
in the land. Not that I wasn't happy then, and most grateful to the
Master, too, and if I'd only minded him, the trouble wouldn't have
come again.

But one day the coachman says that the little lady they called Miss
Dorothy had come back from school, and that same morning she runs
over to the stables to pat her ponies, and she sees me.

"Oh, what a nice little, white little dog," said she; "whose little
dog are you?" says she.

"That's my dog, miss," says the Master. "'Is name is Kid," and I ran
up to her most polite, and licks her fingers, for I never see so
pretty and kind a lady.

"You must come with me and call on my new puppies," says she, picking
me up in her arms and starting off with me.

"Oh, but please, Miss," cries Nolan, "Mr. Wyndham give orders that
the Kid's not to go to the kennels."

"That'll be all right," says the little lady; "they're my kennels
too. And the puppies will like to play with him."

You wouldn't believe me if I was to tell you of the style of them
quality-dogs. If I hadn't seen it myself I wouldn't have believed it
neither. The Viceroy of Canada don't live no better. There was forty
of them, but each one had his own house and a yard--most exclusive--
and a cot and a drinking-basin all to hisself. They had servants
standing 'round waiting to feed 'em when they was hungry, and valets
to wash 'em; and they had their hair combed and brushed like the
grooms must when they go out on the box. Even the puppies had
overcoats with their names on 'em in blue letters, and the name of
each of those they called champions was painted up fine over his
front door just like it was a public-house or a veterinary's. They
were the biggest St. Bernards I ever did see. I could have walked
under them if they'd have let me. But they were very proud and
haughty dogs, and looked only once at me, and then sniffed in the
air. The little lady's own dog was an old gentleman bull-dog. He'd
come along with us, and when he notices how taken aback I was with
all I see, 'e turned quite kind and affable and showed me about.

"Jimmy Jocks," Miss Dorothy called him, but, owing to his weight, he
walked most dignified and slow, waddling like a duck as you might
say, and looked much too proud and handsome for such a silly name.

"That's the runway, and that's the Trophy House," says he to me, "and
that over there is the hospital, where you have to go if you get
distemper, and the vet. gives you beastly medicine."

"And which of these is your 'ouse, sir?" asks I, wishing to be
respectful. But he looked that hurt and haughty. "I don't live in the
kennels," says he, most contemptuous. "I am a house-dog. I sleep in
Miss Dorothy's room. And at lunch I'm let in with the family, if the
visitors don't mind. They most always do, but they're too polite to
say so. Besides," says he, smiling most condescending, "visitors are
always afraid of me. It's because I'm so ugly," says he. "I suppose,"
says he, screwing up his wrinkles and speaking very slow and
impressive, "I suppose I'm the ugliest bull-dog in America," and as
he seemed to be so pleased to think hisself so, I said, "Yes, sir,
you certainly are the ugliest ever I see," at which he nodded his
head most approving.

"But I couldn't hurt 'em, as you say," he goes on, though I hadn't
said nothing like that, being too polite. "I'm too old," he says; "I
haven't any teeth. The last time one of those grizzly bears," said
he, glaring at the big St. Bernards, "took a hold of me, he nearly
was my death," says he. I thought his eyes would pop out of his head,
he seemed so wrought up about it. "He rolled me around in the dirt,
he did," says Jimmy Jocks, "an' I couldn't get up. It was low," says
Jimmy Jocks, making a face like he had a bad taste in his mouth.
"Low, that's what I call it, bad form, you understand, young man, not
done in our circles--and--and low." He growled, way down in his
stomach, and puffed hisself out, panting and blowing like he had been
on a run.

"I'm not a street-fighter," he says, scowling at a St. Bernard marked
"Champion." "And when my rheumatism is not troubling me," he says, "I
endeavor to be civil to all dogs, so long as they are gentlemen."

"Yes, sir," said I, for even to me he had been most affable.

At this we had come to a little house off by itself and Jimmy Jocks
invites me in. "This is their trophy-room," he says, "where they keep
their prizes. Mine," he says, rather grand-like, "are on the
sideboard." Not knowing what a sideboard might be, I said, "Indeed,
sir, that must be very gratifying." But he only wrinkled up his chops
as much as to say, "It is my right."

The trophy-room was as wonderful as any public-house I ever see. On
the walls was pictures of nothing but beautiful St. Bernard dogs, and
rows and rows of blue and red and yellow ribbons; and when I asked
Jimmy Jocks why they was so many more of blue than of the others, he
laughs and says, "Because these kennels always win." And there was
many shining cups on the shelves which Jimmy Jocks told me were
prizes won by the champions.

"Now, sir, might I ask you, sir," says I, "wot is a champion?"

At that he panted and breathed so hard I thought he would bust
hisself. "My dear young friend!" says he. "Wherever have you been
educated? A champion is a--a champion," he says. "He must win nine
blue ribbons in the 'open' class. You follow me--that is--against all
comers. Then he has the title before his name, and they put his
photograph in the sporting papers. You know, of course, that _I_ am a
champion," says he. "I am Champion Woodstock Wizard III., and the two
other Woodstock Wizards, my father and uncle, were both champions."

"But I thought your name was Jimmy Jocks," I said.

He laughs right out at that.

"That's my kennel name, not my registered name," he says. "Why, you
certainly know that every dog has two names. Now, what's your
registered name and number, for instance?" says he.

"I've only got one name," I says. "Just Kid."

Woodstock Wizard puffs at that and wrinkles up his forehead and pops
out his eyes.

"Who are your people?" says he. "Where is your home?"

"At the stable, sir," I said. "My Master is the second groom."

At that Woodstock Wizard III. looks at me for quite a bit without
winking, and stares all around the room over my head.

"Oh, well," says he at last, "you're a very civil young dog," says
he, "and I blame no one for what he can't help," which I thought most
fair and liberal. "And I have known many bullterriers that were
champions," says he, "though as a rule they mostly run with fire-
engines, and to fighting. For me, I wouldn't care to run through the
streets after a hose-cart, nor to fight," says he; "but each to his
taste."

I could not help thinking that if Woodstock Wizard III. tried to
follow a fire-engine he would die of apoplexy, and that, seeing he'd
lost his teeth, it was lucky he had no taste for fighting, but, after
his being so condescending, I didn't say nothing.

"Anyway," says he, "every smooth-coated dog is better than any hairy
old camel like those St. Bernards, and if ever you're hungry down at
the stables, young man, come up to the house and I'll give you a
bone. I can't eat them myself, but I bury them around the garden from
force of habit, and in case a friend should drop in. Ah, I see my
Mistress coming," he says, "and I bid you good-day. I regret," he
says, "that our different social position prevents our meeting
frequent, for you're a worthy young dog with a proper respect for
your betters, and in this country there's precious few of them have
that." Then he waddles off, leaving me alone and very sad, for he was
the first dog in many days that had spoken to me. But since he
showed, seeing that I was a stable-dog, he didn't want my company, I
waited for him to get well away. It was not a cheerful place to wait,
the Trophy House. The pictures of the champions seemed to scowl at
me, and ask what right had such as I even to admire them, and the
blue and gold ribbons and the silver cups made me very miserable. I
had never won no blue ribbons or silver cups; only stakes for the old
Master to spend in the publics, and I hadn't won them for being a
beautiful, high-quality dog, but just for fighting--which, of course,
as Woodstock Wizard III. says, is low. So I started for the stables,
with my head down and my tail between my legs, feeling sorry I had
ever left the Master. But I had more reason to be sorry before I got
back to him.

The Trophy House was quite a bit from the kennels, and as I left it I
see Miss Dorothy and Woodstock Wizard III. walking back toward them,
and that a fine, big St. Bernard, his name was Champion Red Elfberg,
had broke his chain, and was running their way. When he reaches old
Jimmy Jocks he lets out a roar like a grain-steamer in a fog, and he
makes three leaps for him. Old Jimmy Jocks was about a fourth his
size; but he plants his feet and curves his back, and his hair goes
up around his neck like a collar. But he never had no show at no
time, for the grizzly bear, as Jimmy Jocks had called him, lights on
old Jimmy's back and tries to break it, and old Jimmy Jocks snaps his
gums and claws the grass, panting and groaning awful. But he can't do
nothing, and the grizzly bear just rolls him under him, biting and
tearing cruel. The odds was all that Woodstock Wizard III. was going
to be killed. I had fought enough to see that, but not knowing the
rules of the game among champions, I didn't like to interfere between
two gentlemen who might be settling a private affair, and, as it
were, take it as presuming of me. So I stood by, though I was shaking
terrible, and holding myself in like I was on a leash. But at that
Woodstock Wizard III., who was underneath, sees me through the dust,
and calls very faint, "Help, you!" he says. "Take him in the hind-
leg," he says. "He's murdering me," he says. And then the little Miss
Dorothy, who was crying, and calling to the kennel-men, catches at
the Red Elfberg's hind-legs to pull him off, and the brute, keeping
his front pats well in Jimmy's stomach, turns his big head and snaps
at her. So that was all I asked for, thank you. I went up under him.
It was really nothing. He stood so high that I had only to take off
about three feet from him and come in from the side, and my long,
"punishing jaw" as mother was always talking about, locked on his
woolly throat, and my back teeth met. I couldn't shake him, but I
shook myself, and every time I shook myself there was thirty pounds
of weight tore at his windpipes. I couldn't see nothing for his long
hair, but I heard Jimmy Jocks puffing and blowing on one side, and
munching the brute's leg with his old gums. Jimmy was an old sport
that day, was Jimmy, or, Woodstock Wizard III., as I should say. When
the Red Elfberg was out and down I had to run, or those kennel-men
would have had my life. They chased me right into the stables; and
from under the hay I watched the head-groom take down a carriage-whip
and order them to the right about. Luckily Master and the young
grooms were out, or that day there'd have been fighting for
everybody.

Well, it nearly did for me and the Master. "Mr. Wyndham, sir," comes
raging to the stables and said I'd half-killed his best prize-winner,
and had oughter be shot, and he gives the Master his notice. But Miss
Dorothy she follows him, and says it was his Red Elfberg what began
the fight, and that I'd saved Jimmy's life, and that old Jimmy Jocks
was worth more to her than all the St. Bernards in the Swiss
mountains--where-ever they be. And that I was her champion, anyway.
Then she cried over me most beautiful, and over Jimmy Jocks, too, who
was that tied up in bandages he couldn't even waddle. So when he
heard that side of it, "Mr. Wyndham, sir," told us that if Nolan put
me on a chain, we could stay. So it came out all right for everybody
but me. I was glad the Master kept his place, but I'd never worn a
chain before, and it disheartened me--but that was the least of it.
For the quality-dogs couldn't forgive my whipping their champion, and
they came to the fence between the kennels and the stables, and
laughed through the bars, barking most cruel words at me. I couldn't
understand how they found it out, but they knew. After the fight
Jimmy Jocks was most condescending to me, and he said the grooms had
boasted to the kennel-men that I was a son of Regent Royal, and that
when the kennel-men asked who was my mother they had had to tell them
that too. Perhaps that was the way of it, but, however, the scandal
was out, and every one of the quality-dogs knew that I was a street-
dog and the son of a black-and-tan.

"These misalliances will occur," said Jimmy Jocks, in his old-
fashioned way, "but no well-bred dog," says he, looking most scornful
at the St. Bernards, who were howling behind the palings, "would
refer to your misfortune before you, certainly not cast it in your
face. I, myself, remember your father's father, when he made his
debut at the Crystal Palace. He took four blue ribbons and three
specials."

But no sooner than Jimmy would leave me, the St. Bernards would take
to howling again, insulting mother and insulting me. And when I tore
at my chain, they, seeing they were safe, would howl the more. It was
never the same after that; the laughs and the jeers cut into my
heart, and the chain bore heavy on my spirit. I was so sad that
sometimes I wished I was back in the gutter again, where no one was
better than me, and some nights I wished I was dead. If it hadn't
been for the Master being so kind, and that it would have looked like
I was blaming mother, I would have twisted my leash and hanged
myself.

About a month after my fight, the word was passed through the kennels
that the New York Show was coming, and such goings on as followed I
never did see. If each of them had been matched to fight for a
thousand pounds and the gate, they couldn't have trained more
conscientious. But, perhaps, that's just my envy. The kennel-men
rubbed 'em and scrubbed 'em and trims their hair and curls and combs
it, and some dogs they fatted, and some they starved. No one talked
of nothing but the Show, and the chances "our kennels" had against
the other kennels, and if this one of our champions would win over
that one, and whether them as hoped to be champions had better show
in the "open" or the "limit" class, and whether this dog would beat
his own dad, or whether his little puppy sister couldn't beat the two
of them. Even the grooms had their money up, and day or night you
heard nothing but praises of "our" dogs, until I, being so far out of
it, couldn't have felt meaner if I had been running the streets with
a can to my tail. I knew shows were not for such as me, and so I lay
all day stretched at the end of my chain, pretending I was asleep,
and only too glad that they had something so important to think of,
that they could leave me alone.

But one day before the Show opened, Miss Dorothy came to the stables
with "Mr. Wyndham, sir," and seeing me chained up and so miserable,
she takes me in her arms.

"You poor little tyke," says she. "It's cruel to tie him up so; he's
eating his heart out, Nolan," she says. "I don't know nothing about
bull-terriers," says she, "but I think Kid's got good points," says
she, "and you ought to show him. Jimmy Jocks has three legs on the
Rensselaer Cup now, and I'm going to show him this time so that he
can get the fourth, and if you wish, I'll enter your dog too. How
would you like that, Kid?" says she. "How would you like to see the
most beautiful dogs in the world? Maybe, you'd meet a pal or two,"
says she. "It would cheer you up, wouldn't it, Kid?" says she. But I
was so upset, I could only wag my tail most violent. "He says it
would!" says she, though, being that excited, I hadn't said nothing.

So, "Mr. Wyndham, sir," laughs and takes out a piece of blue paper,
and sits down at the head-groom's table.

"What's the name of the father of your dog, Nolan?" says he. And
Nolan says, "The man I got him off told me he was a son of Champion
Regent Royal, sir. But it don't seem likely, does it?" says Nolan.

"It does not!" says "Mr. Wyndham, sir," short-like.

"Aren't you sure, Nolan?" says Miss Dorothy.

"No, Miss," says the Master.

"Sire unknown," says "Mr. Wyndham, sir," and writes it down.

"Date of birth?" asks "Mr. Wyndham, sir."

"I--I--unknown, sir," says Nolan. And "Mr. Wyndham, sir," writes it
down.

"Breeder?" says "Mr. Wyndham, sir."

"Unknown," says Nolan, getting very red around the jaws, and I drops
my head and tail. And "Mr. Wyndham, sir," writes that down.

"Mother's name?" says "Mr. Wyndham, sir."

"She was a--unknown," says the Master. And I licks his hand.

"Dam unknown," says "Mr. Wyndham, sir," and writes it down. Then he
takes the paper and reads out loud: "Sire unknown, dam unknown,
breeder unknown, date of birth unknown. You'd better call him the
'Great Unknown,'" says he. "Who's paying his entrance-fee?"

"I am," says Miss Dorothy.

Two weeks after we all got on a train for New York; Jimmy Jocks and
me following Nolan in the smoking-car, and twenty-two of the St.
Bernards, in boxes and crates, and on chains and leashes. Such a
barking and howling I never did hear, and when they sees me going,
too, they laughs fit to kill.

"Wot is this; a circus?" says the railroad-man.

But I had no heart in it. I hated to go. I knew I was no "show" dog,
even though Miss Dorothy and the Master did their best to keep me
from shaming them. For before we set out Miss Dorothy brings a man
from town who scrubbed and rubbed me, and sand-papered my tail, which
hurt most awful, and shaved my ears with the Master's razor, so you
could most see clear through 'em, and sprinkles me over with pipe-
clay, till I shines like a Tommy's cross-belts.

"Upon my word!" says Jimmy Jocks when he first sees me. "What a swell
you are! You're the image of your grand-dad when he made his debut at
the Crystal Palace. He took four firsts and three specials." But I
knew he was only trying to throw heart into me. They might scrub, and
they might rub, and they might pipe-clay, but they couldn't pipe-clay
the insides of me, and they was black-and-tan.

Then we came to a Garden, which it was not, but the biggest hall in
the world. Inside there was lines of benches, a few miles long, and
on them sat every dog in the world. If all the dog-snatchers in
Montreal had worked night and day for a year, they couldn't have
caught so many dogs. And they was all shouting and barking and
howling so vicious, that my heart stopped beating. For at first I
thought they was all enraged at my presuming to intrude, but after I
got in my place, they kept at it just the same, barking at every dog
as he come in; daring him to fight, and ordering him out, and asking
him what breed of dog he thought he was, anyway. Jimmy Jocks was
chained just behind me, and he said he never see so fine a show.
"That's a hot class you're in, my lad," he says, looking over into my
street, where there were thirty bull-terriers. They was all as white
as cream, and each so beautiful that if I could have broke my chain,
I would have run all the way home and hid myself under the horse-
trough.

All night long they talked and sang, and passed greetings with old
pals, and the home-sick puppies howled dismal. Them that couldn't
sleep wouldn't let no others sleep, and all the electric lights
burned in the roof, and in my eyes. I could hear Jimmy Jocks snoring
peaceful, but I could only doze by jerks, and when I dozed I dreamed
horrible. All the dogs in the hall seemed coming at me for daring to
intrude, with their jaws red and open, and their eyes blazing like
the lights in the roof. "You're a street-dog! Get out, you street-
dog!" they yells. And as they drives me out, the pipe-clay drops off
me, and they laugh and shriek; and when I looks down I see that I
have turned into a black-and-tan.

They was most awful dreams, and next morning, when Miss Dorothy comes
and gives me water in a pan, I begs and begs her to take me home, but
she can't understand. "How well Kid is!" she says. And when I jumps
into the Master's arms, and pulls to break my chain, he says, "If he
knew all as he had against him, Miss, he wouldn't be so gay." And
from a book they reads out the names of the beautiful high-bred
terriers which I have got to meet. And I can't make 'em understand
that I only want to run away, and hide myself where no one will see
me.

Then suddenly men comes hurrying down our street and begins to brush
the beautiful bull-terriers, and Nolan rubs me with a towel so
excited that his hands trembles awful, and Miss Dorothy tweaks my
ears between her gloves, so that the blood runs to 'em, and they turn
pink and stand up straight and sharp.

"Now, then, Nolan," says she, her voice shaking just like his
fingers, "keep his head up--and never let the Judge lose sight of
him." When I hears that my legs breaks under me, for I knows all
about judges. Twice, the old Master goes up before the Judge for
fighting me with other dogs, and the Judge promises him if he ever
does it again, he'll chain him up in jail. I knew he'd find me out. A
Judge can't be fooled by no pipe-clay. He can see right through you,
and he reads your insides.

The judging-ring, which is where the Judge holds out, was so like a
fighting-pit, that when I came in it, and find six other dogs there,
I springs into position, so that when they lets us go I can defend
myself, But the Master smoothes down my hair and whispers, "Hold
'ard, Kid, hold 'ard. This ain't a fight," says he. "Look your
prettiest," he whispers. "Please, Kid, look your prettiest," and he
pulls my leash so tight that I can't touch my pats to the sawdust,
and my nose goes up in the air. There was millions of people a-
watching us from the railings, and three of our kennel-men, too,
making fun of Nolan and me, and Miss Dorothy with her chin just
reaching to the rail, and her eyes so big that I thought she was a-
going to cry. It was awful to think that when the Judge stood up and
exposed me, all those people, and Miss Dorothy, would be there to see
me driven from the show.

The Judge, he was a fierce-looking man with specs on his nose, and a
red beard. When I first come in he didn't see me owing to my being
too quick for him and dodging behind the Master. But when the Master
drags me round and I pulls at the sawdust to keep back, the Judge
looks at us careless-like, and then stops and glares through his
specs, and I knew it was all up with me.

"Are there any more?" asks the Judge, to the gentleman at the gate,
but never taking his specs from me.

The man at the gate looks in his book. "Seven in the novice-class,"
says he. "They're all here. You can go ahead," and he shuts the gate.

The Judge, he doesn't hesitate a moment. He just waves his hand
toward the corner of the ring. "Take him away," he says to the
Master. "Over there and keep him away," and he turns and looks most
solemn at the six beautiful bull-terriers. I don't know how I crawled
to that corner. I wanted to scratch under the sawdust and dig myself
a grave. The kennel-men they slapped the rail with their hands and
laughed at the Master like they would fall over. They pointed at me
in the corner, and their sides just shaked. But little Miss Dorothy
she presses her lips tight against the rail, and I see tears rolling
from her eyes. The Master, he hangs his head like he had been
whipped. I felt most sorry for him, than all. He was so red, and he
was letting on not to see the kennel-men, and blinking his eyes. If
the Judge had ordered me right out, it wouldn't have disgraced us so,
but it was keeping me there while he was judging the high-bred dogs
that hurt so hard. With all those people staring too. And his doing
it so quick, without no doubt nor questions. You can't fool the
judges. They see insides you.

But he couldn't make up his mind about them high-bred dogs. He scowls
at 'em, and he glares at 'em, first with his head on the one side and
then on the other. And he feels of 'em, and orders 'em to run about.
And Nolan leans against the rails, with his head hung down, and pats
me. And Miss Dorothy comes over beside him, but don't say nothing,
only wipes her eye with her finger. A man on the other side of the
rail he says to the Master, "The Judge don't like your dog?"

"No," says the Master.

"Have you ever shown him before?" says the man.

"No," says the Master, "and I'll never show him again. He's my dog,"
says the Master, "an' he suits me! And I don't care what no judges
think." And when he says them kind words, I licks his hand most
grateful.

The Judge had two of the six dogs on a little platform in the middle
of the ring, and he had chased the four other dogs into the corners,
where they was licking their chops, and letting on they didn't care,
same as Nolan was.

The two dogs on the platform was so beautiful that the Judge hisself
couldn't tell which was the best of 'em, even when he stoops down and
holds their heads together. But at last he gives a sigh, and brushes
the sawdust off his knees and goes to the table in the ring, where
there was a man keeping score, and heaps and heaps of blue and gold
and red and yellow ribbons. And the Judge picks up a bunch of 'em and
walks to the two gentlemen who was holding the beautiful dogs, and he
says to each "What's his number?" and he hands each gentleman a
ribbon. And then he turned sharp, and comes straight at the Master.

"What's his number?" says the Judge. And Master was so scared that he
couldn't make no answer.

But Miss Dorothy claps her hands and cries out like she was laughing,
"Three twenty-six," and the Judge writes it down, and shoves Master
the blue ribbon.

I bit the Master, and I jumps and bit Miss Dorothy, and I waggled so
hard that the Master couldn't hold me. When I get to the gate Miss
Dorothy snatches me up and kisses me between the ears, right before
millions of people, and they both hold me so tight that I didn't know
which of them was carrying of me. But one thing I knew, for I
listened hard, as it was the Judge hisself as said it.

"Did you see that puppy I gave 'first' to?" says the Judge to the
gentleman at the gate.

"I did. He was a bit out of his class," says the gate-gentleman.

"He certainly was!" says the Judge, and they both laughed.

But I didn't care. They couldn't hurt me then, not with Nolan holding
the blue ribbon and Miss Dorothy hugging my ears, and the kennel-men
sneaking away, each looking like he'd been caught with his nose under
the lid of the slop-can.

We sat down together, and we all three just talked as fast as we
could. They was so pleased that I couldn't help feeling proud myself,
and I barked and jumped and leaped about so gay, that all the bull-
terriers in our street stretched on their chains, and howled at me.

"Just look at him!" says one of those I had beat. "What's he giving
hisself airs about?"

"Because he's got one blue ribbon!" says another of 'em. "Why, when I
was a puppy I used to eat 'em, and if that Judge could ever learn to
know a toy from a mastiff, I'd have had this one."

But Jimmy Jocks he leaned over from his bench, and says, "Well done,
Kid. Didn't I tell you so!" What he 'ad told me was that I might get
a "commended," but I didn't remind him.

"Didn't I tell you," says Jimmy Jocks, "that I saw your grandfather
make his debut at the Crystal--"

"Yes, sir, you did, sir," says I, for I have no love for the men of
my family.

A gentleman with a showing leash around his neck comes up just then
and looks at me very critical. "Nice dog you've got, Miss Wyndham,"
says he; "would you care to sell him?"

"He's not my dog," says Miss Dorothy, holding me tight. "I wish he
were."

"He's not for sale, sir," says the Master, and I was that glad.

"Oh, he's yours, is he?" says the gentleman, looking hard at Nolan.
"Well, I'll give you a hundred dollars for him," says he, careless-
like.

"Thank you, sir, he's not for sale," says Nolan, but his eyes get
very big. The gentleman, he walked away, but I watches him, and he
talks to a man in a golf-cap, and by and by the man comes along our
street, looking at all the dogs, and stops in front of me.

"This your dog?" says he to Nolan. "Pity he's so leggy," says he. "If
he had a good tail, and a longer stop, and his ears were set higher,
he'd be a good dog. As he is, I'll give you fifty dollars for him."

But before the Master could speak, Miss Dorothy laughs, and says,
"You're Mr. Polk's kennel-man, I believe. Well, you tell Mr. Polk
from me that the dog's not for sale now any more than he was five
minutes ago, and that when he is, he'll have to bid against me for
him." The man looks foolish at that, but he turns to Nolan quick-
like. "I'll give you three hundred for him," he says.

"Oh, indeed!" whispers Miss Dorothy, like she was talking to herself.
"That's it, is it," and she turns and looks at me just as though she
had never seen me before. Nolan, he was a gaping, too, with his mouth
open. But he holds me tight.

"He's not for sale," he growls, like he was frightened, and the man
looks black and walks away.

"Why, Nolan!" cries Miss Dorothy, "Mr. Polk knows more about bull-
terriers than any amateur in America. What can he mean? Why, Kid is
no more than a puppy! Three hundred dollars for a puppy!"

"And he ain't no thoroughbred neither!" cries the Master. "He's
'Unknown,' ain't he? Kid can't help it, of course, but his mother,
Miss--"

I dropped my head. I couldn't bear he should tell Miss Dorothy. I
couldn't bear she should know I had stolen my blue ribbon.

But the Master never told, for at that, a gentleman runs up, calling,
"Three Twenty-Six, Three Twenty-Six," and Miss Dorothy says, "Here he
is, what is it?"

"The Winner's Class," says the gentleman "Hurry, please. The Judge is
waiting for him."

Nolan tries to get me off the chain onto a showing leash, but he
shakes so, he only chokes me. "What is it, Miss?" he says. "What is
it?"

"The Winner's Class," says Miss Dorothy. "The Judge wants him with
the winners of the other classes--to decide which is the best. It's
only a form," says she. "He has the champions against him now."

"Yes," says the gentleman, as he hurries us to the ring. "I'm afraid
it's only a form for your dog, but the Judge wants all the winners,
puppy class even."

We had got to the gate, and the gentleman there was writing down my
number.

"Who won the open?" asks Miss Dorothy.

"Oh, who would?" laughs the gentleman. "The old champion, of course.
He's won for three years now. There he is. Isn't he wonderful?" says
he, and he points to a dog that's standing proud and haughty on the
platform in the middle of the ring.

I never see so beautiful a dog, so fine and clean and noble, so white
like he had rolled hisself in flour, holding his nose up and his eyes
shut, same as though no one was worth looking at. Aside of him, we
other dogs, even though we had a blue ribbon apiece, seemed like
lumps of mud. He was a royal gentleman, a king, he was. His Master
didn't have to hold his head with no leash. He held it hisself,
standing as still as an iron dog on a lawn, like he knew all the
people was looking at him. And so they was, and no one around the
ring pointed at no other dog but him.

"Oh, what a picture," cried Miss Dorothy; "he's like a marble figure
by a great artist--one who loved dogs. Who is he?" says she, looking
in her book. "I don't keep up with terriers."

"Oh, you know him," says the gentleman. "He is the Champion of
champions, Regent Royal."

The Master's face went red.

"And this is Regent Royal's son," cries he, and he pulls me quick
into the ring, and plants me on the platform next my father.

I trembled so that I near fall. My legs twisted like a leash. But my
father he never looked at me. He only smiled, the same sleepy smile,
and he still keep his eyes half-shut, like as no one, no, not even
his son, was worth his lookin' at.

The Judge, he didn't let me stay beside my father, but, one by one,
he placed the other dogs next to him and measured and felt and pulled
at them. And each one he put down, but he never put my father down.
And then he comes over and picks up me and sets me back on the
platform, shoulder to shoulder with the Champion Regent Royal, and
goes down on his knees, and looks into our eyes.

The gentleman with my father, he laughs, and says to the Judge,
"Thinking of keeping us here all day. John?" but the Judge, he
doesn't hear him, and goes behind us and runs his hand down my side,
and holds back my ears, and takes my jaws between his fingers. The
crowd around the ring is very deep now, and nobody says nothing. The
gentleman at the score-table, he is leaning forward, with his elbows
on his knees, and his eyes very wide, and the gentleman at the gate
is whispering quick to Miss Dorothy, who has turned white. I stood as
stiff as stone. I didn't even breathe. But out of the corner of my
eye I could see my father licking his pink chops, and yawning just a
little, like he was bored.

The Judge, he had stopped looking fierce, and was looking solemn.
Something inside him seemed a troubling him awful. The more he stares
at us now, the more solemn he gets, and when he touches us he does it
gentle, like he was patting us. For a long time he kneels in the
sawdust, looking at my father and at me, and no one around the ring
says nothing to nobody.

Then the Judge takes a breath and touches me sudden. "It's his," he
says, but he lays his hand just as quick on my father. "I'm sorry,"
says he.

The gentleman holding my father cries:

"Do you mean to tell me--"

And the Judge, he answers, "I mean the other is the better dog." He
takes my father's head between his hands and looks down at him, most
sorrowful. "The King is dead," says he, "long live the King. Good-by,
Regent," he says.

The crowd around the railings clapped their hands, and some laughed
scornful, and everyone talks fast, and I start for the gate so dizzy
that I can't see my way. But my father pushes in front of me, walking
very daintily, and smiling sleepy, same as he had just been waked,
with his head high, and his eyes shut, looking at nobody.

So that is how I "came by my inheritance," as Miss Dorothy calls it,
and just for that, though I couldn't feel where I was any different,
the crowd follows me to my bench, and pats me, and coos at me, like I
was a baby in a baby-carriage. And the handlers have to hold 'em back
so that the gentlemen from the papers can make pictures of me, and
Nolan walks me up and down so proud, and the men shakes their heads
and says, "He certainly is the true type, he is!" And the pretty
ladies asks Miss Dorothy, who sits beside me letting me lick her
gloves to show the crowd what friends we is, "Aren't you afraid he'll
bite you?" and Jimmy Jocks calls to me, "Didn't I tell you so! I
always knew you were one of us. Blood will out, Kid, blood will out.
I saw your grandfather," says he, "make his debut at the Crystal
Palace. But he was never the dog you are!"

After that, if I could have asked for it, there was nothing I
couldn't get. You might have thought I was a snow-dog, and they was
afeerd I'd melt. If I wet my pats, Nolan gave me a hot bath and
chained me to the stove; if I couldn't eat my food, being stuffed
full by the cook, for I am a house-dog now, and let in to lunch
whether there is visitors or not, Nolan would run to bring the vet.
It was all tommy-rot, as Jimmy says, but meant most kind. I couldn't
scratch myself comfortable, without Nolan giving me nasty drinks, and
rubbing me outside till it burnt awful, and I wasn't let to eat bones
for fear of spoiling my "beautiful" mouth, what mother used to call
my "punishing jaw," and my food was cooked special on a gas-stove,
and Miss Dorothy gives me an overcoat, cut very stylish like the
champions', to wear when we goes out carriage-driving.

After the next show, where I takes three blue ribbons, four silver
cups, two medals, and brings home forty-five dollars for Nolan, they
gives me a "Registered" name, same as Jimmy's. Miss Dorothy wanted to
call me "Regent Heir Apparent," but I was THAT glad when Nolan says,
"No, Kid don't owe nothing to his father, only to you and hisself.
So, if you please, Miss, we'll call him Wyndham Kid." And so they
did, and you can see it on my overcoat in blue letters, and painted
top of my kennel. It was all too hard to understand. For days I just
sat and wondered if I was really me, and how it all come about, and
why everybody was so kind. But, oh, it was so good they was, for if
they hadn't been, I'd never have got the thing I most wished after.
But, because they was kind, and not liking to deny me nothing, they
gave it me, and it was more to me than anything in the world.

It came about one day when we was out driving. We was in the cart
they calls the dog-cart, because it's the one Miss Dorothy keeps to
take Jimmy and me for an airing. Nolan was up behind, and me in my
new overcoat was sitting beside Miss Dorothy. I was admiring the
view, and thinking how good it was to have a horse pull you about so
that you needn't get yourself splashed and have to be washed, when I
hears a dog calling loud for help, and I pricks up my ears and looks
over the horse's head. And I sees something that makes me tremble
down to my toes. In the road before us three big dogs was chasing a
little, old lady-dog. She had a string to her tail, where some boys
had tied a can, and she was dirty with mud and ashes, and torn most
awful. She was too far done up to get away, and too old to help
herself, but she was making a fight for her life, snapping her old
gums savage, and dying game. All this I see in a wink, and then the
three dogs pinned her down, and I can't stand it no longer and clears
the wheel and lands in the road on my head. It was my stylish
overcoat done that, and I curse it proper, but I gets my pats again
quick, and makes a rush for the fighting. Behind me I hear Miss
Dorothy cry, "They'll kill that old dog. Wait, take my whip. Beat
them off her! The Kid can take care of himself," and I hear Nolan
fall into the road, and the horse come to a stop. The old lady-dog
was down, and the three was eating her vicious, but as I come up,
scattering the pebbles, she hears, and thinking it's one more of
them, she lifts her head and my heart breaks open like someone had
sunk his teeth in it. For, under the ashes and the dirt and the
blood, I can see who it is, and I know that my mother has come back
to me.

I gives a yell that throws them three dogs off their legs.

"Mother!" I cries. "I'm the Kid," I cries. "I'm coming to you,
mother, I'm coming."

And I shoots over her, at the throat of the big dog, and the other
two, they sinks their teeth into that stylish overcoat, and tears it
off me, and that sets me free, and I lets them have it. I never had
so fine a fight as that! What with mother being there to see, and not
having been let to mix up in no fights since I become a prize-winner,
it just naturally did me good, and it wasn't three shakes before I
had 'em yelping. Quick as a wink, mother, she jumps in to help me,
and I just laughed to see her. It was so like old times. And Nolan,
he made me laugh too. He was like a hen on a bank, shaking the butt
of his whip, but not daring to cut in for fear of hitting me.

"Stop it, Kid," he says, "stop it. Do you want to be all torn up?"
says he. "Think of the Boston show next week," says he, "Think of
Chicago. Think of Danbury. Don't you never want to be a champion?"
How was I to think of all them places when I had three dogs to cut up
at the same time. But in a minute two of 'em begs for mercy, and
mother and me lets 'em run away. The big one, he ain't able to run
away. Then mother and me, we dances and jumps, and barks and laughs,
and bites each other and rolls each other in the road. There never
was two dogs so happy as we, and Nolan, he whistles and calls and
begs me to come to him, but I just laugh and play larks with mother.

"Now, you come with me," says I, "to my new home, and never try to
run away again." And I shows her our house with the five red roofs,
set on the top of the hill. But mother trembles awful, and says:
"They'd never let the likes of me in such a place. Does the Viceroy
live there, Kid?" says she. And I laugh at her. "No, I do," I says;
"and if they won't let you live there, too, you and me will go back
to the streets together, for we must never be parted no more." So we
trots up the hill, side by side, with Nolan trying to catch me, and
Miss Dorothy laughing at him from the cart.

"The Kid's made friends with the poor old dog," says she. "Maybe he
knew her long ago when he ran the streets himself. Put her in here
beside me, and see if he doesn't follow."

So, when I hears that, I tells mother to go with Nolan and sit in the
cart, but she says no, that she'd soil the pretty lady's frock; but I
tells her to do as I say, and so Nolan lifts her, trembling still,
into the cart, and I runs alongside, barking joyful.

When we drives into the stables I takes mother to my kennel, and
tells her to go inside it and make herself at home. "Oh, but he won't
let me!" says she.

"Who won't let you?" says I, keeping my eye on Nolan, and growling a
bit nasty, just to show I was meaning to have my way. "Why, Wyndham
Kid," says she, looking up at the name on my kennel.

"But I'm Wyndham Kid!" says I.

"You!" cries mother. "You! Is my little Kid the great Wyndham Kid the
dogs all talk about?" And at that, she, being very old, and sick, and
hungry, and nervous, as mothers are, just drops down in the straw and
weeps bitter.

Well, there ain't much more than that to tell. Miss Dorothy, she
settled it.

"If the Kid wants the poor old thing in the stables," says she, "let
her stay."

"You see," says she, "she's a black-and-tan, and his mother was a
black-and-tan, and maybe that's what makes Kid feel so friendly
toward her," says she.

"Indeed, for me," says Nolan, "she can have the best there is. I'd
never drive out no dog that asks for a crust nor a shelter," he says.
"But what will Mr. Wyndham do?"

"He'll do what I say," says Miss Dorothy, "and if I say she's to
stay, she will stay, and I say--she's to stay!"

And so mother and Nolan, and me, found a home. Mother was scared at
first--not being used to kind people--but she was so gentle and
loving, that the grooms got fonder of her than of me, and tried to
make me jealous by patting of her, and giving her the pick of the
vittles. But that was the wrong way to hurt my feelings. That's all,
I think. Mother is so happy here that I tell her we ought to call it
the Happy Hunting Grounds, because no one hunts you, and there is
nothing to hunt; it just all comes to you. And so we live in peace,
mother sleeping all day in the sun, or behind the stove in the head-
groom's office, being fed twice a day regular by Nolan, and all the
day by the other grooms most irregular, And, as for me, I go hurrying
around the country to the bench-shows; winning money and cups for
Nolan, and taking the blue ribbons away from father.






A DERELICT


When the war-ships of a navy lie cleared for action outside a harbor,
and the war-ships of the country with which they are at war lie
cleared for action inside the harbor, there is likely to be trouble.
Trouble between war-ships is news, and wherever there is news there
is always a representative of the Consolidated Press.

As long as Sampson blockaded Havana and the army beat time back of
the Tampa Bay Hotel, the central office for news was at Key West, but
when Cervera slipped into Santiago Harbor and Sampson stationed his
battle-ships at its mouth, Key West lost her only excuse for
existence, and the press-boats burled their bows in the waters of the
Florida Straits and raced for the cable-station at Port Antonio. It
was then that Keating, the "star" man of the Consolidated Press
Syndicate, was forced to abandon his young bride and the rooms he had
engaged for her at the Key West Hotel, and accompany his tug to the
distant island of Jamaica.

Keating was a good and faithful servant to the Consolidated Press. He
was a correspondent after its own making, an industrious collector of
facts. The Consolidated Press did not ask him to comment on what it
sent him to see; it did not require nor desire his editorial opinions
or impressions. It was no part of his work to go into the motives
which led to the event of news interest which he was sent to report,
nor to point out what there was of it which was dramatic, pathetic,
or outrageous.

The Consolidated Press, being a mighty corporation, which daily fed
seven hundred different newspapers, could not hope to please the
policy of each, so it compromised by giving the facts of the day
fairly set down, without heat, prejudice, or enthusiasm. This was an
excellent arrangement for the papers that subscribed for the service
of the Consolidated Press, but it was death to the literary strivings
of the Consolidated Press correspondents.

"We do not want descriptive writing," was the warning which the
manager of the great syndicate was always flashing to its
correspondents. "We do not pay you to send us pen-pictures or prose
poems. We want the facts, all the facts, and nothing but the facts."

And so, when at a presidential convention a theatrical speaker sat
down after calling James G. Blaine "a plumed knight," each of the
"special" correspondents present wrote two columns in an effort to
describe how the people who heard the speech behaved in consequence,
but the Consolidated Press man telegraphed, "At the conclusion of
these remarks the cheering lasted sixteen minutes."

No event of news value was too insignificant to escape the
watchfulness of the Consolidated Press, none so great that it could
not handle it from its inception up to the moment when it ceased to
be quoted in the news-market of the world. Each night, from thousands
of spots all over the surface of the globe, it received thousands of
facts, of cold, accomplished facts. It knew that a tidal wave had
swept through China, a cabinet had changed in Chili, in Texas an
express train had been held up and robbed, "Spike" Kennedy had
defeated the "Dutchman" in New Orleans, the Oregon had coaled outside
of Rio Janeiro Harbor, the Cape Verde fleet had been seen at anchor
off Cadiz; it had been located in the harbor of San Juan, Porto Rico;
it had been sighted steaming slowly past Fortress Monroe; and the
Navy Department reported that the St. Paul had discovered the lost
squadron of Spain in the harbor of Santiago. This last fact was the
one which sent Keating to Jamaica. Where he was sent was a matter of
indifference to Keating. He had worn the collar of the Consolidated
Press for so long a time that he was callous. A board meeting--a mine
disaster--an Indian uprising--it was all one to Keating. He collected
facts and his salary. He had no enthusiasms, he held no illusions.
The prestige of the mammoth syndicate he represented gained him an
audience where men who wrote for one paper only were repulsed on the
threshold. Senators, governors, the presidents of great trusts and
railroad systems, who fled from the reporter of a local paper as from
a leper, would send for Keating and dictate to him whatever it was
they wanted the people of the United States to believe, for when they
talked to Keating they talked to many millions of readers. Keating,
in turn, wrote out what they had said to him and transmitted it,
without color or bias, to the clearinghouse of the Consolidated
Press. His "stories," as all newspaper writings are called by men who
write them, were as picturesque reading as the quotations of a stock-
ticker. The personal equation appeared no more offensively than it
does in a page of typewriting in his work.

Consequently, he was dear to the heart of the Consolidated Press,
and, as a "safe" man, was sent to the beautiful harbor of Santiago--
to a spot where there were war-ships cleared for action, Cubans in
ambush, naked marines fighting for a foothold at Guantanamo, palm-
trees and coral-reefs--in order that he might look for "facts."

There was not a newspaper man left at Key West who did not writhe
with envy and anger when he heard of it. When the wire was closed for
the night, and they had gathered at Josh Kerry's, Keating was the
storm-centre of their indignation.

"What a chance!" they protested. "What a story! It's the chance of a
lifetime." They shook their heads mournfully and lashed themselves
with pictures of its possibilities.

"And just fancy its being wasted on old Keating," said the Journal
man. "Why, everything's likely to happen out there, and whatever does
happen, he'll make it read like a Congressional Record. Why, when I
heard of it I cabled the office that if the paper would send me I'd
not ask for any salary for six months."

"And Keating's kicking because he has to go," growled the Sun man.
"Yes, he is, I saw him last night, and he was sore because he'd just
moved his wife down here. He said if he'd known this was coming he'd
have let her stay in New York. He says he'll lose money on this
assignment, having to support himself and his wife in two different
places."

Norris, "the star man" of the World, howled with indignation.

"Good Lord!" he said, "is that all he sees in it? Why, there never
was such a chance. I tell you, some day soon all of those war-ships
will let loose at each other and there will be the best story that
ever came over the wire, and if there isn't, it's a regular loaf
anyway. It's a picnic, that's what it is, at the expense of the
Consolidated Press. Why, he ought to pay them to let him go. Can't
you see him, confound him, sitting under a palm-tree in white
flannels, with a glass of Jamaica rum in his fist, while we're
dodging yellow fever on this coral-reef, and losing our salaries on a
crooked roulette-wheel."

"I wonder what Jamaica rum is like as a steady drink," mused the ex-
baseball reporter, who had been converted into a war-correspondent by
the purchase of a white yachting-cap.

"It won't be long before Keating finds out," said the Journal man.

"Oh, I didn't know that," ventured the new reporter, who had just
come South from Boston. "I thought he didn't drink. I never see
Keating in here with the rest of the boys."

"You wouldn't," said Norris. "He only comes in here by himself, and
he drinks by himself. He's one of those confidential drunkards, You
give some men whiskey, and it's like throwing kerosene on a fire,
isn't it? It makes them wave their arms about and talk loud and break
things, but you give it to another man and it's like throwing
kerosene on a cork mat. It just soaks in. That's what Keating is.
He's a sort of a cork mat."

"I shouldn't think the C. P. would stand for that," said the Boston
man.

"It wouldn't, if it ever interfered with his work, but he's never
fallen down on a story yet. And the sort of stuff he writes is
machine-made; a man can write C. P. stuff in his sleep."

One of the World men looked up and laughed.

"I wonder if he'll run across Channing out there," he said. The men
at the table smiled, a kindly, indulgent smile. The name seemed to
act upon their indignation as a shower upon the close air of a
summer-day. "That's so," said Norris. "He wrote me last month from
Port-au-Prince that he was moving on to Jamaica. He wrote me from
that club there at the end of the wharf. He said he was at that
moment introducing the President to a new cocktail, and as he had no
money to pay his passage to Kingston he was trying to persuade him to
send him on there as his Haitian Consul. He said in case he couldn't
get appointed Consul, he had an offer to go as cook on a fruit-
tramp."

The men around the table laughed. It was the pleased, proud laugh
that flutters the family dinner-table when the infant son and heir
says something precocious and impudent.

"Who is Channing?" asked the Boston man.

There was a pause, and the correspondents looked at Norris.

"Channing is a sort of a derelict," he said. "He drifted into New
York last Christmas from the Omaha Bee. He's been on pretty nearly
every paper in the country."

"What's he doing in Haiti?"

"He went there on the Admiral Decatur to write a filibustering story
about carrying arms across to Cuba. Then the war broke out and he's
been trying to get back to Key West, and now, of course, he'll make
for Kingston. He cabled me yesterday, at my expense, to try and get
him a job on our paper. If the war hadn't come on he had a plan to
beat his way around the world. And he'd have done it, too. I never
saw a man who wouldn't help Charlie along, or lend him a dollar." He
glanced at the faces about him and winked at the Boston man. "They
all of them look guilty, don't they?" he said.

"Charlie Channing," murmured the baseball reporter, gently, as though
he were pronouncing the name of a girl. He raised his glass. "Here's
to Charlie Channing," he repeated. Norris set down his empty glass
and showed it to the Boston man.

"That's his only enemy," he said. "Write! Heavens, how that man can
write, and he'd almost rather do anything else. There isn't a paper
in New York that wasn't glad to get him, but they couldn't keep him a
week. It was no use talking to him. Talk! I've talked to him until
three o'clock in the morning. Why, it was I made him send his first
Chinatown story to the International Magazine, and they took it like
a flash and wrote him for more, but he blew in the check they sent
him and didn't even answer their letter. He said after he'd had the
fun of writing a story, he didn't care whether it was published in a
Sunday paper or in white vellum, or never published at all. And so
long as he knew he wrote it, he didn't care whether anyone else knew
it or not. Why, when that English reviewer--what's his name--that
friend of Kipling's--passed through New York, he said to a lot of us
at the Press Club, 'You've got a young man here on Park Row--an
opium-eater, I should say, by the look of him, who if he would work
and leave whiskey alone, would make us all sweat.' That's just what
he said, and he's the best in England!"

"Charlie's a genius," growled the baseball reporter, defiantly. "I
say, he's a genius."

The Boston man shook his head. "My boy," he began, sententiously,
"genius is nothing more than hard work, and a man--"

Norris slapped the table with his hand.

"Oh, no, it's not," he jeered, fiercely, "and don't you go off
believing it is, neither. I've worked. I've worked twelve hours a
day. Keating even has worked eighteen hours a day--all his life--but
we never wrote 'The Passing of the Highbinders,' nor the 'Ships that
Never Came Home,' nor 'Tales of the Tenderloin,' and we never will.
I'm a better news-gatherer than Charlie, I can collect facts and I
can put them together well enough, too, so that if a man starts to
read my story he'll probably follow it to the bottom of the column,
and he may turn over the page, too. But I can't say the things,
because I can't see the things that Charlie sees. Why, one night we
sent him out on a big railroad-story. It was a beat, we'd got it by
accident, and we had it all to ourselves, but Charlie came across a
blind beggar on Broadway with a dead dog. The dog had been run over,
and the blind beggar couldn't find his way home without him, and was
sitting on the curb-stone, weeping over the mongrel. Well, when
Charlie came back to the office he said he couldn't find out anything
about that railroad deal, but that he'd write them a dog-story. Of
course, they were raging crazy, but he sat down just as though it was
no concern of his, and, sure enough, he wrote the dog-story. And the
next day over five hundred people stopped in at the office on their
way downtown and left dimes and dollars to buy that man a new dog.
Now, hard work won't do that."

Keating had been taking breakfast in the ward-room of H. M. S.
Indefatigable. As an acquaintance the officers had not found him an
undoubted acquisition, but he was the representative of seven hundred
papers, and when the Indefatigable's ice-machine broke, he had loaned
the officers' mess a hundred pounds of it from his own boat.

The cruiser's gig carried Keating to the wharf, the crew tossed their
oars and the boatswain touched his cap and asked, mechanically,
"Shall I return to the ship, sir?"

Channing, stretched on the beach, with his back to a palm-tree,
observed the approach of Keating with cheerful approbation.

"It is gratifying to me," he said, "to see the press treated with
such consideration. You came in just like Cleopatra in her barge. If
the flag had been flying, and you hadn't steered so badly, I should
have thought you were at least an admiral. How many guns does the
British Navy give a Consolidated Press reporter when he comes over
the side?"

Keating dropped to the sand and, crossing his legs under him, began
tossing shells at the water.

"They gave this one a damned good breakfast," he said, "and some very
excellent white wine. Of course, the ice-machine was broken, it
always is, but then Chablis never should be iced, if it's the real
thing."

"Chablis! Ice! Hah!" snorted Channing. "Listen to him! Do you know
what I had for breakfast?"

Keating turned away uncomfortably and looked toward the ships in the
harbor.

"Well, never mind," said Channing, yawning luxuriously. "The sun is
bright, the sea is blue, and the confidences of this old palm are
soothing. He's a great old gossip, this palm." He looked up into the
rustling fronds and smiled. "He whispers me to sleep," he went on,
"or he talks me awake--talks about all sorts of things--things he has
seen--cyclones, wrecks, and strange ships and Cuban refugees and
Spanish spies and lovers that meet here on moonlight nights. It's
always moonlight in Port Antonio, isn't it?"

"You ought to know, you've been here longer than I," said Keating.

"And how do you like it, now that you have got to know it better?
Pretty heavenly? eh?"

"Pretty heavenly!" snorted Keating. "Pretty much the other place!
What good am I doing? What's the sense of keeping me here? Cervera
isn't going to come out, and the people at Washington won't let
Sampson go in. Why, those ships have been there a month now, and
they'll be there just where they are now when you and I are bald. I'm
no use here. All I do is to thrash across there every day and eat up
more coal than the whole squadron burns in a month. Why, that tug of
mine's costing the C. P. six hundred dollars a day, and I'm not
sending them news enough to pay for setting it up. Have you seen 'em
yet?"

"Seen what? Your stories?"

"No, the ships!"

"Yes, Scudder took me across once in the Iduna. I haven't got a paper
yet, so I couldn't write anything, but--"

"Well, you've seen all there is to it, then; you wouldn't see any
more if you went over every day. It's just the same old harbor-mouth,
and the same old Morro Castle, and same old ships, drifting up and
down; the Brooklyn, full of smoke-stacks, and the New York, with her
two bridges, and all the rest of them looking just as they've looked
for the last four weeks. There's nothing in that. Why don't they send
me to Tampa with the army and Shafter--that's where the story is."

"Oh, I don't know," said Channing, shaking his head. "I thought it
was bully!"

"Bully, what was bully?"

"Oh, the picture," said Channing, doubtfully, "and--and what it
meant. What struck me about it was that it was so hot, and lazy, and
peaceful, that they seemed to be just drifting about, just what you
complain of. I don't know what I expected to see; I think I expected
they'd be racing around in circles, tearing up the water and throwing
broadsides at Morro Castle as fast as fire-crackers.

"But they lay broiling there in the heat just as though they were
becalmed. They seemed to be asleep on their anchor-chains. It
reminded me of a big bull-dog lying in the sun with his head on his
paws and his eyes shut. You think he's asleep, and you try to tiptoe
past him, but when you're in reach of his chain--he's at your throat,
what? It seemed so funny to think of our being really at war. I mean
the United States, and with such an old-established firm as Spain. It
seems so presumptuous in a young republic, as though we were
strutting around, singing, 'I'm getting a big boy now.' I felt like
saying, 'Oh, come off, and stop playing you're a world power, and get
back into your red sash and knickerbockers, or you'll get spanked!'
It seems as though we must be such a lot of amateurs. But when I went
over the side of the New York I felt like kneeling down on her deck
and begging every jackey to kick me. I felt about as useless as a fly
on a locomotive-engine. Amateurs! Why, they might have been in the
business since the days of the ark; all of them might have been
descended from bloody pirates; they twisted those eight-inch guns
around for us just as though they were bicycles, and the whole ship
moved and breathed and thought, too, like a human being, and all the
captains of the other war-ships about her were watching for her to
give the word. All of them stripped and eager and ready--like a lot
of jockeys holding in the big race-horses, and each of them with his
eyes on the starter. And I liked the way they all talk about Sampson,
and the way the ships move over the stations like parts of one
machine, just as he had told them to do.

"Scudder introduced me to him, and he listened while we did the
talking, but it was easy to see who was the man in the Conning Tower.
Keating--my boy!" Channing cried, sitting upright in his enthusiasm,
"he's put a combination-lock on that harbor that can't be picked--and
it'll work whether Sampson's asleep in his berth, or fifteen miles
away, or killed on the bridge. He doesn't have to worry, he knows his
trap will work--he ought to, he set it."

Keating shrugged his shoulders, tolerantly.

"Oh, I see that side of it," he assented. "I see all there is in it
for YOU, the sort of stuff you write, Sunday-special stuff, but
there's no NEWS in it. I'm not paid to write mail-letters, and I'm
not down here to interview palm-trees either."

"Why, you old fraud!" laughed Channing. "You know you're having the
time of your life here. You're the pet of Kingston society--you know
you are. I only wish I were half as popular. I don't seem to belong,
do I? I guess it's my clothes. That English Colonel at Kingston
always scowls at me as though he'd like to put me in irons, and
whenever I meet our Consul he sees something very peculiar on the
horizon-line."

Keating frowned for a moment in silence, and then coughed,
consciously.

"Channing," he began, uncomfortably, "you ought to brace up."

"Brace up?" asked Channing.

"Well, it isn't fair to the rest of us," protested Keating, launching
into his grievance. "There's only a few of us here, and we--we think
you ought to see that and not give the crowd a bad name. All the
other correspondents have some regard for--for their position and for
the paper, but you loaf around here looking like an old tramp--like
any old beach-comber, and it queers the rest of us. Why, those
English artillerymen at the Club asked me about you, and when I told
them you were a New York correspondent they made all sorts of jokes
about American newspapers, and what could I say?"

Channing eyed the other man with keen delight.

"I see, by Jove! I'm sorry," he said. But the next moment he laughed,
and then apologized, remorsefully.

"Indeed, I beg your pardon," he begged, "but it struck me as a sort
of--I had no idea you fellows were such swells--I knew I was a social
outcast, but I didn't know my being a social outcast was hurting
anyone else. Tell me some more."

"Well, that's all," said Keating, suspiciously. "The fellows asked me
to speak to you about it and to tell you to take a brace. Now, for
instance, we have a sort of mess-table at the hotels and we'd like to
ask you to belong, but--well--you see how it is--we have the officers
to lunch whenever they're on shore, and you're so disreputable"--
Keating scowled at Channing, and concluded, impotently, "Why don't
you get yourself some decent clothes and--and a new hat?"

Channing removed his hat to his knee and stroked it with affectionate
pity.

"It is a shocking bad hat," he said. "Well, go on."

"Oh, it's none of my business," exclaimed Keating, impatiently. "I'm
just telling you what they're saying. Now, there's the Cuban
refugees, for instance. No one knows what they're doing here, or
whether they're real Cubans or Spaniards."

"Well, what of it?"

"Why, the way you go round with them and visit them, it's no wonder
they say you're a spy."

Channing stared incredulously, and then threw back his head and
laughed with a shout of delight.

"They don't, do they?" he asked.

"Yes, they do, since you think it's so funny. If it hadn't been for
us the day you went over to Guantanamo the marines would have had you
arrested and court-martialed."

Channing's face clouded with a quick frown, "Oh," he exclaimed, in a
hurt voice, "they couldn't have thought that."

"Well, no," Keating admitted grudgingly, "not after the fight,
perhaps, but before that, when you were snooping around the camp like
a Cuban after rations." Channing recognized the picture with a laugh.

"I do," he said, "I do. But you should have had me court-martialed
and shot; it would have made a good story. 'Our reporter shot as a
spy, his last words were--' what were my last words, Keating?"

Keating turned upon him with impatience, "But why do you do it?" he
demanded. "Why don't you act like the rest of us? Why do you hang out
with all those filibusters and runaway Cubans?"

"They have been very kind to me," said Channing, soberly. "They are a
very courteous race, and they have ideas of hospitality which make
the average New Yorker look like a dog hiding a bone."

"Oh, I suppose you mean that for us," demanded Keating. "That's a
slap at me, eh?"

Channing gave a sigh and threw himself back against the trunk of the
palm, with his hands clasped behind his head.

"Oh, I wasn't thinking of you at all, Keating," he said. "I don't
consider you in the least." He stretched himself and yawned wearily.
"I've got troubles of my own." He sat up suddenly and adjusted the
objectionable hat to his head.

"Why don't you wire the C. P.," he asked, briskly, "and see if they
don't want an extra man? It won't cost you anything to wire, and I
need the job, and I haven't the money to cable."

"The Consolidated Press," began Keating, jealously. "Why--well, you
know what the Consolidated Press is? They don't want descriptive
writers--and I've got all the men I need."

Keating rose and stood hesitating in some embarrassment. "I'll tell
you what I could do, Channing," he said, "I could take you on as a
stoker, or steward, say. They're always deserting and mutinying; I
have to carry a gun on me to make them mind. How would you like that?
Forty dollars a month, and eat with the crew?"

For a moment Channing stood in silence, smoothing the sand with the
sole of his shoe. When he raised his head his face was flushing.

"Oh, thank you," he said. "I think I'll keep on trying for a paper--
I'll try a little longer. I want to see something of this war, of
course, and if I'm not too lazy I'd like to write something about it,
but--well--I'm much obliged to you, anyway."

"Of course, if it were my money, I'd take you on at once," said
Keating, hurriedly.

Channing smiled and nodded. "You're very kind," he answered. "Well,
good-by."

A half-hour later, in the smoking-room of the hotel, Keating
addressed himself to a group of correspondents.

"There is no doing anything with that man Channing," he said, in a
tone of offended pride. "I offered him a good job and he wouldn't
take it. Because he got a story in the International Magazine, he's
stuck on himself, and he won't hustle for news--he wants to write
pipe-dreams. What the public wants just now is news."

"That's it," said one of the group, "and we must give it to them--
even if we have to fake it."

Great events followed each other with great rapidity. The army ceased
beating time, shook itself together, adjusted its armor and moved,
and, to the delight of the flotilla of press-boats at Port Antonio,
moved, not as it had at first intended, to the north coast of Cuba,
but to Santiago, where its transports were within reach of their
megaphones.

"Why, everything's coming our way now!" exclaimed the World manager
in ecstasy. "We've got the transports to starboard at Siboney, and
the war-ships to port at Santiago, and all we'll need to do is to sit
on the deck with a field-glass, and take down the news with both
hands."

Channing followed these events with envy. Once or twice, as a special
favor, the press-boats carried him across to Siboney and Daiquiri,
and he was able to write stories of what he saw there; of the landing
of the army, of the wounded after the Guasimas fight, and of the
fever-camp at Siboney. His friends on the press-boats sent this work
home by mail on the chance that the Sunday editor might take it at
space rates. But mail matter moved slowly and the army moved quickly,
and events crowded so closely upon each other that Channing's
stories, when they reached New York, were ancient history and were
unpublished, and, what was of more importance to him, unpaid for. He
had no money now, and he had become a beach-comber in the real sense
of the word. He slept the warm nights away among the bananas and
cocoanuts on the Fruit Company's wharf, and by calling alternately on
his Cuban exiles and the different press-boats, he was able to obtain
a meal a day without arousing any suspicions in the minds of his
hosts that it was his only one.

He was sitting on the stringer of the pier-head one morning, waiting
for a press-boat from the "front," when the Three Friends ran in and
lowered her dingy, and the "World" manager came ashore, clasping a
precious bundle of closely written cable-forms. Channing scrambled to
his feet and hailed him.

"Have you heard from the chief about me yet?" he asked. The "World"
man frowned and stammered, and then, taking Channing by the arm,
hurried with him toward the cable-office.

"Charlie, I think they're crazy up there," he began, "they think they
know it all. Here I am on the spot, but they think--"

"You mean they won't have me," said Channing. "But why?" he asked,
patiently. "They used to give me all the space I wanted."

"Yes, I know, confound them, and so they should now," said the
"World" man, with sympathetic indignation. "But here's their cable;
you can see it's not my fault." He read the message aloud. "Channing,
no. Not safe, take reliable man from Siboney." He folded the
cablegram around a dozen others and stuck it back in his hip-pocket.

"What queered you, Charlie," he explained, importantly, "was that
last break of yours, New Year's, when you didn't turn up for a week.
It was once too often, and the chief's had it in for you ever since.
You remember?"

Channing screwed up his lips in an effort of recollection.

"Yes, I remember," he answered, slowly. "It began on New Year's eve
in Perry's drug-store, and I woke up a week later in a hack in
Boston. So I didn't have such a run for my money, did I? Not good
enough to have to pay for it like this. I tell you," he burst out
suddenly, "I feel like hell being left out of this war, with all the
rest of the boys working so hard. If it weren't playing it low down
on the fellows that have been in it from the start, I'd like to
enlist. But they enlisted for glory, and I'd only do it because I
can't see the war any other way, and it doesn't seem fair to them.
What do you think?"

"Oh, don't do that," protested the World manager. "You stick to your
own trade. We'll get you something to do. Have you tried the
Consolidated Press yet?"

Channing smiled grimly at the recollection.

"Yes, I tried it first."

"It would be throwing pearls to swine to have you write for them, I
know, but they're using so many men now. I should think you could get
on their boat."

"No, I saw Keating," Channing explained. "He said I could come along
as a stoker, and I guess I'll take him up, it seems--"

"Keating said--what?" exclaimed the "World" man. "Keating? Why, he
stands to lose his own job, if he isn't careful. If it wasn't that
he's just married, the C. P. boys would have reported him a dozen
times."

"Reported him, what for?"

"Why--you know. His old complaint."

"Oh, that," said Channing. "My old complaint?" he added.

"Well, yes, but Keating hasn't been sober for two weeks, and he'd
have fallen down on the Guasimas story if those men hadn't pulled him
through. They had to, because they're in the syndicate. He ought to
go shoot himself; he's only been married three months and he's
handling the biggest piece of news the country's had in thirty years,
and he can't talk straight. There's a time for everything, I say,"
growled the "World" man.

"It takes it out of a man, this boat-work," Channing ventured, in
extenuation. "It's very hard on him."

"You bet it is," agreed the "World" manager, with enthusiasm.
"Sloshing about in those waves, sea-sick mostly, and wet all the
time, and with a mutinous crew, and so afraid you'll miss something
that you can't write what you have got." Then he added, as an after-
thought, "And our cruisers thinking you're a Spanish torpedo-boat and
chucking shells at you."

"No wonder Keating drinks," Channing said, gravely. "You make it seem
almost necessary."

Many thousand American soldiers had lost themselves in a jungle, and
had broken out of it at the foot of San Juan Hill. Not wishing to
return into the jungle, they took the hill. On the day they did this
Channing had the good fortune to be in Siboney. The "World" man had
carried him there and asked him to wait around the waterfront while
he went up to the real front, thirteen miles inland. Channing's duty
was to signal the press-boat when the first despatch-rider rode in
with word that the battle was on. The World man would have liked to
ask Channing to act as his despatch-rider, but he did not do so,
because the despatch-riders were either Jamaica negroes or newsboys
from Park Row--and he remembered that Keating had asked Channing to
be his stoker.

Channing tramped through the damp, ill-smelling sand of the beach,
sick with self-pity. On the other side of those glaring, inscrutable
mountains, a battle, glorious, dramatic, and terrible, was going
forward, and he was thirteen miles away. He was at the base, with the
supplies, the sick, and the skulkers.

It was cruelly hot. The heat-waves flashed over the sea until the
transports in the harbor quivered like pictures on a biograph. From
the refuse of company kitchens, from reeking huts, from thousands of
empty cans, rose foul, enervating odors, which deadened the senses
like a drug. The atmosphere steamed with a heavy, moist humidity.
Channing staggered and sank down suddenly on a pile of railroad-ties
in front of the commissary's depot. There were some Cubans seated
near him, dividing their Government rations, and the sight reminded
him that he had had nothing to eat. He walked over to the wide door
of the freight-depot, where a white-haired, kindly faced, and
perspiring officer was, with his own hands, serving out canned beef
to a line of Cubans. The officer's flannel shirt was open at the
throat. The shoulder-straps of a colonel were fastened to it by
safety-pins. Channing smiled at him uneasily.

"Could I draw on you for some rations?" he asked. "I'm from the Three
Friends. I'm not one of their regular accredited correspondents," he
added, conscientiously, "I'm just helping them for to-day."

"Haven't you got a correspondent's pass?" asked the officer. He was
busily pouring square hardtack down the throat of a saddle-bag a
Cuban soldier held open before him.

"No," said Channing, turning away, "I'm just helping."

The officer looked after him, and what he saw caused him to reach
under the counter for a tin cup and a bottle of lime-juice.

"Here," he said, "drink this. What's the matter with you--fever? Come
in here out of that sun. You can lie down on my cot, if you like."

Channing took the tin cup and swallowed a warm mixture of boiled
water and acrid lime-juice.

"Thank you," he said, "but I must keep watch for the first news from
the front."

A man riding a Government mule appeared on the bridge of the lower
trail, and came toward them at a gallop. He was followed and
surrounded by a hurrying mob of volunteers, hospital stewards, and
Cubans.

The Colonel vaulted the counter and ran to meet him.

"This looks like news from the front now," he cried.

The man on the mule was from civil life. His eyes bulged from their
sockets and his face was purple. The sweat ran over it and glistened
on the cords of his thick neck.

"They're driving us back!" he shrieked.

"Chaffee's killed, an' Roosevelt's killed, an' the whole army's
beaten!" He waved his arms wildly toward the glaring, inscrutable
mountains. The volunteers and stevedores and Cubans heard him, open-
mouthed and with panic-stricken eyes. In the pitiless sunlight he was
a hideous and awful spectacle.

"They're driving us into the sea!" he foamed.

"We've got to get out of here, they're just behind me. The army's
running for its life. They're running away!"

Channing saw the man dimly, through a cloud that came between him and
the yellow sunlight. The man in the saddle swayed, the group about
him swayed, like persons on the floor of a vast ball-room. Inside he
burned with a mad, fierce hatred for this shrieking figure in the
saddle. He raised the tin cup and hurled it so that it hit the man's
purple face.

"You lie!" Channing shouted, staggering. "You lie! You're a damned
coward. You lie!" He heard his voice repeating this in different
places at greater distances. Then the cloud closed about him,
shutting out the man in the saddle, and the glaring, inscrutable
mountains, and the ground at his feet rose and struck him in the
face.

Channing knew he was on a boat because it lifted and sank with him,
and he could hear the rush of her engines. When he opened his eyes he
was in the wheel-house of the Three Friends, and her captain was at
the wheel, smiling down at him. Channing raised himself on his elbow.

"The despatch-rider?" he asked.

"That's all right," said the captain, soothingly. "Don't you worry.
He come along same time you fell, and brought you out to us. What
ailed you--sunstroke?"

Channing sat up. "I guess so," he said.

When the Three Friends reached Port Antonio, Channing sought out the
pile of coffee-bags on which he slept at night and dropped upon them.
Before this he had been careful to avoid the place in the daytime, so
that no one might guess that it was there that he slept at night, but
this day he felt that if he should drop in the gutter he would not
care whether anyone saw him there or not. His limbs were hot and
heavy and refused to support him, his bones burned like quicklime.

The next morning, with the fever still upon him, he hurried
restlessly between the wharves and the cable-office, seeking for
news. There was much of it; it was great and trying news, the
situation outside of Santiago was grim and critical. The men who had
climbed San Juan Hill were clinging to it like sailors shipwrecked on
a reef unwilling to remain, but unable to depart. If they attacked
the city Cervera promised to send it crashing about their ears. They
would enter Santiago only to find it in ruins. If they abandoned the
hill, 2,000 killed and wounded would have been sacrificed in vain.

The war-critics of the press-boats and of the Twitchell House saw but
two courses left open. Either Sampson must force the harbor and
destroy the squadron, and so make it possible for the army to enter
the city, or the army must be reinforced with artillery and troops in
sufficient numbers to make it independent of Sampson and indifferent
to Cervera.

On the night of July 2d, a thousand lies, a thousand rumors, a
thousand prophecies rolled through the streets of Port Antonio, were
filed at the cable-office, and flashed to the bulletin-boards of New
York City.

That morning, so they told, the batteries on Morro Castle had sunk
three of Sampson's ships; the batteries on Morro Castle had
surrendered to Sampson; General Miles with 8,000 reinforcements had
sailed from Charleston; eighty guns had started from Tampa Bay, they
would occupy the mountains opposite Santiago and shell the Spanish
fleet; the authorities at Washington had at last consented to allow
Sampson to run the forts and mines, and attack the Spanish fleet; the
army had not been fed for two days, the Spaniards had cut it off from
its base at Siboney; the army would eat its Fourth of July dinner in
the Governor's Palace; the army was in full retreat; the army was to
attack at daybreak.

When Channing turned in under the fruit-shed on the night of July 2d,
there was but one press-boat remaining in the harbor. That was the
Consolidated Press boat, and Keating himself was on the wharf,
signalling for his dingy. Channing sprang to his feet and ran toward
him, calling him by name. The thought that he must for another day
remain so near the march of great events and yet not see and feel
them for himself, was intolerable. He felt if it would pay his
passage to the coast of Cuba, there was no sacrifice to which he
would not stoop. Keating watched him approach, but without sign of
recognition. His eyes were heavy and bloodshot.

"Keating," Channing begged, as he halted, panting, "won't you take me
with you? I'll not be in the way, and I'll stoke or wait on table, or
anything you want, if you'll only take me."

Keating's eyes opened and closed, sleepily. He removed an unlit cigar
from his mouth and shook the wet end of it at Channing, as though it
were an accusing finger.

"I know your game," he murmured, thickly. "You haven't got a boat and
you want to steal a ride on mine--for your paper. You can't do it,
you see, you can't do it."

One of the crew of the dingy climbed up the gangway of the wharf and
took Keating by the elbow. He looked at him and then at Channing and
winked. He was apparently accustomed to this complication. "I haven't
got a paper, Keating," Channing argued, soothingly. "Who have you got
to help you?" he asked. It came to him that there might be on the
boat some Philip sober, to whom he could appeal from Philip drunk.

"I haven't got anyone to help me," Keating answered, with dignity. "I
don't need anyone to help me." He placed his hand heavily and
familiarly on the shoulder of the deck-hand. "You see that man?" he
asked. "You see tha' man, do you? Well, tha' man he's too good for me
an' you. Tha' man--used to be the best reporter in New York City, an'
he was too good to hustle for news, an' now he's--now he can't get a
job--see? Nobody'll have him, see? He's got to come and be a stoker."

He stamped his foot with indignation.

"You come an' be a stoker," he commanded. "How long you think I'm
going to wait for a stoker? You stoker, come on board and be a
stoker."

Channing smiled, guiltily, at his good fortune, He jumped into the
bow of the dingy, and Keating fell heavily in the stern.

The captain of the press-boat helped Keating safely to a bunk in the
cabin and received his instructions to proceed to Santiago Harbor.
Then he joined Channing. "Mr. Keating is feeling bad to-night. That
bombardment off Morro," he explained, tactfully, "was too exciting.
We always let him sleep going across, and when we get there he's
fresh as a daisy. What's this he tells me of your doing stoking?"

"I thought there might be another fight tomorrow, so I said I'd come
as a stoker."

The captain grinned.

"Our Sam, that deck-hand, was telling me. He said Mr. Keating put it
on you, sort of to spite you--is that so?"

"Oh, I wanted to come," said Channing.

The captain laughed, comprehendingly. "I guess we'll be in a bad
way," he said, "when we need you in the engine-room." He settled
himself for conversation, with his feet against the rail and his
thumbs in his suspenders. The lamps of Port Antonio were sinking into
the water, the moonlight was flooding the deck.

"That was quite something of a bombardment Sampson put up against
Morro Castle this morning," he began, critically. He spoke of
bombardments from the full experience of a man who had seen shells
strike off Coney Island from the proving-grounds at Sandy Hook. But
Channing heard him, eagerly. He begged the tugboat-captain to tell
him what it looked like, and as the captain told him he filled it in
and saw it as it really was.

"Perhaps they'll bombard again to-morrow," he hazarded, hopefully.

"We can't tell till we see how they're placed on the station," the
captain answered. "If there's any firing we ought to hear it about
eight o'clock to-morrow morning. We'll hear 'em before we see 'em."

Channing's conscience began to tweak him. It was time, he thought,
that Keating should be aroused and brought up to the reviving air of
the sea, but when he reached the foot of the companion-ladder, he
found that Keating was already awake and in the act of drawing the
cork from a bottle. His irritation against Channing had evaporated
and he greeted him with sleepy good-humor.

"Why, it's ol' Charlie Channing," he exclaimed, drowsily. Channing
advanced upon him swiftly.

"Here, you've had enough of that!" he commanded. "We'll be off Morro
by breakfast-time. You don't want that."

Keating, giggling foolishly, pushed him from him and retreated with
the bottle toward his berth. He lurched into it, rolled over with his
face to the ship's side, and began breathing heavily.

"You leave me 'lone," he murmured, from the darkness of the bunk.
"You mind your own business, you leave me 'lone."

Channing returned to the bow and placed the situation before the
captain. That gentleman did not hesitate. He disappeared down the
companion-way, and, when an instant later he returned, hurled a
bottle over the ship's side.

The next morning when Channing came on deck the land was just in
sight, a rampart of dark green mountains rising in heavy masses
against the bright, glaring blue of the sky. He strained his eyes for
the first sight of the ships, and his ears for the faintest echoes of
distant firing, but there was no sound save the swift rush of the
waters at the bow. The sea lay smooth and flat before him, the sun
flashed upon it; the calm and hush of early morning hung over the
whole coast of Cuba.

An hour later the captain came forward and stood at his elbow.

"How's Keating?" Channing asked. "I tried to wake him, but I
couldn't."

The captain kept his binoculars to his eyes, and shut his lips
grimly. "Mr. Keating's very bad," he said. "He had another bottle
hidden somewhere, and all last night--" he broke off with a relieved
sigh. "It's lucky for him," he added, lowering the glasses, "that
there'll be no fight to-day."

Channing gave a gasp of disappointment. "What do you mean?" he
protested.

"You can look for yourself," said the captain, handing him the
glasses. "They're at their same old stations. There'll be no
bombardment to-day. That's the Iowa, nearest us, the Oregon's to
starboard of her, and the next is the Indiana. That little fellow
close under the land is the Gloucester."

He glanced up at the mast to see that the press-boat's signal was
conspicuous, they were drawing within range.

With the naked eye, Channing could see the monster, mouse-colored
war-ships, basking in the sun, solemn and motionless in a great
crescent, with its one horn resting off the harbor-mouth. They made
great blots on the sparkling, glancing surface of the water. Above
each superstructure, their fighting-tops, giant davits, funnels, and
gibbet-like yards twisted into the air, fantastic and
incomprehensible, but the bulk below seemed to rest solidly on the
bottom of the ocean, like an island of lead. The muzzles of their
guns peered from the turrets as from ramparts of rock.

Channing gave a sigh of admiration.

"Don't tell me they move," he said. "They're not ships, they're
fortresses!"

On the shore there was no sign of human life nor of human habitation.
Except for the Spanish flag floating over the streaked walls of
Morro, and the tiny blockhouse on every mountain-top, the squadron
might have been anchored off a deserted coast. The hills rose from
the water's edge like a wall, their peaks green and glaring in the
sun, their valleys dark with shadows. Nothing moved upon the white
beach at their feet, no smoke rose from their ridges, not even a palm
stirred. The great range slept in a blue haze of heat. But only a few
miles distant, masked by its frowning front, lay a gayly colored,
red-roofed city, besieged by encircling regiments, a broad bay
holding a squadron of great war-ships, and gliding cat-like through
its choked undergrowth and crouched among the fronds of its
motionless palms were the ragged patriots of the Cuban army, silent,
watchful, waiting. But the great range gave no sign. It frowned in
the sunlight, grim and impenetrable.

"It's Sunday," exclaimed the captain. He pointed with his finger at
the decks of the battleships, where hundreds of snow-white figures
had gone to quarters. "It's church service," he said, "or it's
general inspection."

Channing looked at his watch. It was thirty minutes past nine. "It's
church service," he said. "I can see them carrying out the chaplain's
reading-desk on the Indiana." The press-boat pushed her way nearer
into the circle of battleships until their leaden-hued hulls towered
high above her. On the deck of each, the ship's company stood, ranged
in motionless ranks. The calm of a Sabbath morning hung about them,
the sun fell upon them like a benediction, and so still was the air
that those on the press-boat could hear, from the stripped and naked
decks, the voices of the men answering the roll-call in rising
monotone, "one, two, three, FOUR; one, two, three, FOUR." The white-
clad sailors might have been a chorus of surpliced choir-boys.

But, up above them, the battle-flags, slumbering at the mast-heads,
stirred restlessly and whimpered in their sleep.

Out through the crack in the wall of mountains, where the sea runs in
to meet the waters of Santiago Harbor, and from behind the shield of
Morro Castle, a great, gray ship, like a great, gray rat, stuck out
her nose and peered about her, and then struck boldly for the open
sea. High before her she bore the gold and blood-red flag of Spain,
and, like a fugitive leaping from behind his prison-walls, she raced
forward for her freedom, to give battle, to meet her death.

A shell from the Iowa shrieked its warning in a shrill crescendo, a
flutter of flags painted their message against the sky. "The enemy's
ships are coming out," they signalled, and the ranks of white-clad
figures which the moment before stood motionless on the decks, broke
into thousands of separate beings who flung themselves, panting, down
the hatchways, or sprang, cheering, to the fighting-tops.

Heavily, but swiftly, as islands slip into the water when a volcano
shakes the ocean-bed, the great battle-ships buried their bows in the
sea, their sides ripped apart with flame and smoke, the thunder of
their guns roared and beat against the mountains, and, from the
shore, the Spanish forts roared back at them, until the air between
was split and riven. The Spanish war-ships were already scudding
clouds of smoke, pierced with flashes of red flame, and as they fled,
fighting, their batteries rattled with unceasing, feverish fury. But
the guns of the American ships, straining in pursuit, answered
steadily, carefully, with relentless accuracy, with cruel
persistence. At regular intervals they boomed above the hurricane of
sound, like great bells tolling for the dead.

It seemed to Channing that he had lived through many years; that the
strain of the spectacle would leave its mark upon his nerves forever.
He had been buffeted and beaten by a storm of all the great emotions;
pride of race and country, pity for the dead, agony for the dying,
who clung to blistering armor-plates, or sank to suffocation in the
sea; the lust of the hunter, when the hunted thing is a fellow-man;
the joys of danger and of excitement, when the shells lashed the
waves about him, and the triumph of victory, final, overwhelming and
complete.

Four of the enemy's squadron had struck their colors, two were on the
beach, broken and burning, two had sunk to the bottom of the sea, two
were in abject flight. Three battle-ships were hammering them with
thirteen-inch guns. The battle was won.

"It's all over," Channing said. His tone questioned his own words.

The captain of the tugboat was staring at the face of his silver
watch, as though it were a thing bewitched. He was pale and panting.
He looked at Channing, piteously, as though he doubted his own
senses, and turned the face of the watch toward him.

"Twenty minutes!" Channing said. "Good God! Twenty minutes!"

He had been to hell and back again in twenty minutes. He had seen an
empire, which had begun with Christopher Columbus and which had
spread over two continents, wiped off the map in twenty minutes. The
captain gave a sudden cry of concern. "Mr. Keating," he gasped. "Oh,
Lord, but I forgot Mr. Keating. Where is Mr. Keating?"

"I went below twice," Channing answered. "He's insensible. See what
you can do with him, but first--take me to the Iowa. The Consolidated
Press will want the 'facts.'"

In the dark cabin the captain found Keating on the floor, where
Channing had dragged him, and dripping with the water which Channing
had thrown in his face. He was breathing heavily, comfortably. He was
not concerned with battles.

With a megaphone, Channing gathered his facts from an officer of the
Iowa, who looked like a chimney-sweep, and who was surrounded by a
crew of half-naked pirates, with bodies streaked with sweat and
powder.

Then he ordered all steam for Port Antonio, and, going forward to the
chart-room, seated himself at the captain's desk, and, pushing the
captain's charts to the floor, spread out his elbows, and began to
write the story of his life.

In the joy of creating it, he was lost to all about him. He did not
know that the engines, driven to the breaking-point, were filling the
ship with their groans and protests, that the deck beneath his feet
was quivering like the floor of a planing-mill, nor that his fever
was rising again, and feeding on his veins. The turmoil of leaping
engines and of throbbing pulses was confused with the story he was
writing, and while his mind was inflamed with pictures of warring
battle-ships, his body was swept by the fever, which overran him like
an army of tiny mice, touching his hot skin with cold, tingling taps
of their scampering feet.

From time to time the captain stopped at the door of the chart-room
and observed him in silent admiration. To the man who with difficulty
composed a letter to his family, the fact that Channing was writing
something to be read by millions of people, and more rapidly than he
could have spoken the same words, seemed a superhuman effort. He even
hesitated to interrupt it by an offer of food.

But the fever would not let Channing taste of the food when they
placed it at his elbow, and even as he pushed it away, his mind was
still fixed upon the paragraph before him. He wrote, sprawling across
the desk, covering page upon page with giant hieroglyphics, lighting
cigarette after cigarette at the end of the last one, but with his
thoughts far away, and, as he performed the act, staring
uncomprehendingly at the captain's colored calendar pinned on the
wall before him. For many months later the Battle of Santiago was
associated in his mind with a calendar for the month of July,
illuminated by a colored picture of six white kittens in a basket.

At three o'clock Channing ceased writing and stood up, shivering and
shaking with a violent chill. He cursed himself for this weakness,
and called aloud for the captain.

"I can't stop now," he cried. He seized the rough fist of the captain
as a child clings to the hand of his nurse.

"Give me something," he begged. "Medicine, quinine, give me something
to keep my head straight until it's finished. Go, quick," he
commanded. His teeth were chattering, and his body jerked with sharp,
uncontrollable shudders. The captain ran, muttering, to his medicine-
chest.

"We've got one drunken man on board," he said to the mate, "and now
we've got a crazy one. You mark my words, he'll go off his head at
sunset."

But at sunset Channing called to him and addressed him sanely. He
held in his hand a mass of papers carefully numbered and arranged,
and he gave them up to the captain as though it hurt him to part with
them.

"There's the story," he said. "You've got to do the rest. I can't--I-
-I'm going to be very ill." He was swaying as he spoke. His eyes
burned with the fever, and his eyelids closed of themselves. He
looked as though he had been heavily drugged.

"You put that on the wire at Port Antonio," he commanded, faintly;
"pay the tolls to Kingston. From there they are to send it by way of
Panama, you understand, by the Panama wire."

"Panama!" gasped the captain. "Good Lord, that's two dollars a word."
He shook out the pages in his hand until he found the last one. "And
there's sixty-eight pages here," he expostulated. "Why the tolls will
be five thousand dollars!" Channing dropped feebly to the bench of
the chart-room and fell in a heap, shivering and trembling.

"I guess it's worth it," he murmured, drowsily.

The captain was still staring at the last page.

"But--but, look here," he cried, "you've--you've signed Mr. Keating's
name to it! 'James R. Keating.' You've signed his name to it!"

Channing raised his head from his folded arms and stared at him
dully.

"You don't want to get Keating in trouble, do you?" he asked with
patience. "You don't want the C. P. to know why he couldn't write the
best story of the war? Do you want him to lose his job? Of course you
don't. Well, then, let it go as his story. I won't tell, and see you
don't tell, and Keating won't remember."

His head sank back again upon his crossed arms. "It's not a bad
story," he murmured.

But the captain shook his head; his loyalty to his employer was still
uppermost. "It doesn't seem right!" he protested. "It's a sort of a
liberty, isn't it, signing another man's name to it, it's a sort of
forgery."

Channing made no answer. His eyes were shut and he was shivering
violently, hugging himself in his arms.

A quarter of an hour later, when the captain returned with fresh
quinine, Channing sat upright and saluted him.

"Your information, sir," he said, addressing the open door politely,
"is of the greatest value. Tell the executive officer to proceed
under full steam to Panama. He will first fire a shot across her
bows, and then sink her!" He sprang upright and stood for a moment,
sustained by the false strength of the fever. "To Panama, you hear
me!" he shouted. He beat the floor with his foot. "Faster, faster,
faster," he cried. "We've got a great story! We want a clear wire, we
want the wire clear from Panama to City Hall. It's the greatest story
ever written--full of facts, facts, facts, facts for the Consolidated
Press--and Keating wrote it. I tell you, Keating wrote it. I saw him
write it. I was a stoker on the same ship."

The mate and crew came running forward and stood gaping stupidly
through the doors and windows of the chart-room. Channing welcomed
them joyously, and then crumpled up in a heap and pitched forward
into the arms of the captain. His head swung weakly from shoulder to
shoulder.

"I beg your pardon," he muttered, "I beg your pardon, captain, but
your engine-room is too hot. I'm only a stoker and I know my place,
sir, but I tell you, your engine-room is too hot. It's a burning
hell, sir, it's a hell!"

The captain nodded to the crew and they closed in on him, and bore
him, struggling feebly, to a bunk in the cabin below. In the berth
opposite, Keating was snoring peacefully.

After the six weeks' siege the Fruit Company's doctor told Channing
he was cured, and that he might walk abroad. In this first walk he
found that, during his illness, Port Antonio had reverted to her
original condition of complete isolation from the world, the press-
boats had left her wharves, the correspondents had departed from the
veranda of her only hotel, the war was over, and the Peace
Commissioners had sailed for Paris. Channing expressed his great
gratitude to the people of the hotel and to the Fruit Company's
doctor. He made it clear to them that if they ever hoped to be paid
those lesser debts than that of gratitude which he still owed them,
they must return him to New York and Newspaper Row. It was either
that, he said, or, if they preferred, he would remain and work out
his indebtedness, checking bunches of bananas at twenty dollars a
month. The Fruit Company decided it would be paid more quickly if
Channing worked at his own trade, and accordingly sent him North in
one of its steamers. She landed him in Boston, and he borrowed five
dollars from the chief engineer to pay his way to New York.

It was late in the evening of the same day when he stepped out of the
smoking-car into the roar and riot of the Grand Central Station. He
had no baggage to detain him, and, as he had no money either, he made
his way to an Italian restaurant where he knew they would trust him
to pay later for what he ate. It was a place where the newspaper men
were accustomed to meet, men who knew him, and who, until he found
work, would lend him money to buy a bath, clean clothes, and a hall
bedroom.

Norris, the World man, greeted him as he entered the door of the
restaurant, and hailed him with a cry of mingled fright and pleasure.

"Why, we didn't know but you were dead," he exclaimed. "The boys said
when they left Kingston you weren't expected to live. Did you ever
get the money and things we sent you by the Red Cross boat?"

Channing glanced at himself and laughed.

"Do I look it?" he asked. He was wearing the same clothes in which he
had slept under the fruit-sheds at Port Antonio. They had been soaked
and stained by the night-dews and by the sweat of the fever.

"Well, it's great luck, your turning up here just now," Norris
assured him, heartily. "That is, if you're as hungry as the rest of
the boys are who have had the fever. You struck it just right; we're
giving a big dinner here to-night," he explained, "one of Maria's
best. You come in with me. It's a celebration for old Keating, a
farewell blow-out."

Channing started and laughed.

"Keating?" he asked. "That's funny," he said. "I haven't seen him
since--since before I was ill."

"Yes, old Jimmie Keating. You've got nothing against him, have you?"

Channing shook his head vehemently, and Norris glanced back
complacently toward the door of the dining-room, from whence came the
sound of intimate revelry.

"You might have had, once," Norris said, laughing; "we were all up
against him once. But since he's turned out such a wonder and a war-
hero, we're going to recognize it. They're always saying we newspaper
men have it in for each other, and so we're just giving him this
subscription-dinner to show it's not so. He's going abroad, you know.
He sails to-morrow morning."

"No, I didn't know," said Channing.

"Of course not, how could you? Well, the Consolidated Press's sending
him and his wife to Paris. He's to cover the Peace negotiations
there. It's really a honeymoon-trip at the expense of the C. P. It's
their reward for his work, for his Santiago story, and the beat and
all that--"

Channing's face expressed his bewilderment.

Norris drew back dramatically.

"Don't tell me," he exclaimed, "that you haven't heard about that!"

Channing laughed a short, frightened laugh, and moved nearer to the
street.

"No," he said. "No, I hadn't."

"Yes, but, good Lord! it was the story of the war. You never read
such a story! And he got it through by Panama a day ahead of all the
other stories! And nobody read them, anyway. Why, Captain Mahan said
it was 'naval history,' and the Evening Post had an editorial on it,
and said it was 'the only piece of literature the war has produced.'
We never thought Keating had it in him, did you? The Consolidated
Press people felt so good over it that they've promised, when he
comes back from Paris, they'll make him their Washington
correspondent. He's their 'star' reporter now. It just shows you that
the occasion produces the man. Come on in, and have a drink with
him."

Channing pulled his arm away, and threw a frightened look toward the
open door of the dining-room. Through the layers of tobacco-smoke he
saw Keating seated at the head of a long, crowded table, smiling,
clear-eyed, and alert.

"Oh, no, I couldn't," he said, with sudden panic. "I can't drink;
doctor won't let me. I wasn't coming in, I was just passing when I
saw you. Good-night, I'm much obliged. Good-night."

But the hospitable Norris would not be denied.

"Oh, come in and say 'good-by' to him, anyhow," he insisted. "You
needn't stay."

"No, I can't," Channing protested. "I--they'd make me drink or eat
and the doctor says I can't. You mustn't tempt me. You say 'good-by'
to him for me," he urged. "And Norris--tell him--tell him--that I
asked you to say to him, 'It's all right,' that's all, just that,
'It's all right.' He'll understand."

There was the sound of men's feet scraping on the floor, and of
chairs being moved from their places.

Norris started away eagerly. "I guess they're drinking his health,"
he said. "I must go. I'll tell him what you said, 'It's all right.'
That's enough, is it? There's nothing more?"

Channing shook his head, and moved away from the only place where he
was sure to find food and a welcome that night.

"There's nothing more," he said.

As he stepped from the door and stood irresolutely in the twilight of
the street, he heard the voices of the men who had gathered in
Keating's honor upraised in a joyous chorus.

"For he's a jolly good fellow," they sang, "for he's a jolly good
fellow, which nobody can deny!"






LA LETTRE D'AMOUR


When Bardini, who led the Hungarian Band at the Savoy Restaurant, was
promoted to play at the Casino at Trouville, his place was taken by
the second violin. The second violin was a boy, and when he greeted
his brother Tziganes and the habitues of the restaurant with an
apologetic and deprecatory bow, he showed that he was fully conscious
of the inadequacy of his years. The maitre d'hotel glided from table
to table, busying himself in explanations.

"The boy's name is Edouard; he comes from Budapest," he said. "The
season is too late to make it worth the while of the management to
engage a new chef d'orchestre. So this boy will play. He plays very
good, but he is not like Bardini."

He was not in the least like Bardini. In appearance, Bardini
suggested a Roumanian gypsy or a Portuguese sailor; his skin was
deeply tanned, his hair was plastered on his low forehead in thick,
oily curls, and his body, through much rich living on the scraps that
fell from the tables of Girot's and the Casino des Fleurs, was stout
and gross. He was the typical leader of an orchestra condemned to
entertain a noisy restaurant. His school of music was the school of
Maxim's. To his skill with the violin he had added the arts of the
head waiter, and he and the cook ran a race for popularity, he
pampering to one taste, and the cook, with his sauces, pampering to
another. When so commanded, his pride as an artist did not prevent
him from breaking off in the middle of Schubert's Serenade to play
Daisy Bell, nor was he above breaking it off on his own accord to
salute the American patron, as he entered with the Belle of New York,
or any one of the Gaiety Girls, hurrying in late for supper, with the
Soldiers in the Park. When he walked slowly through the restaurant,
pausing at each table, his eyes, even while they ogled the women to
whom he played, followed the brother Tzigane--who was passing the
plate--and noted which of the patrons gave silver and which gave
gold.

Edouard, the second violin, was all that Bardini was not,
consequently he was entirely unsuited to lead an orchestra in a
restaurant. Indeed, so little did he understand of what was required
of him that on the only occasion when Bardini sent him to pass the
plate he was so unsophisticated as not to hide the sixpences and
shillings under the napkin, and so leave only the half-crowns and
gold pieces exposed. And, instead of smiling mockingly at those who
gave the sixpences, and waiting for them to give more, he even looked
grateful, and at the same time deeply ashamed. He differed from
Bardini also in that he was very thin and tall, with the serious,
smooth-shaven face of a priest. Except for his fantastic costume,
there was nothing about him to recall the poses of the musician: his
hair was neither long nor curly; it lay straight across his forehead
and flat on either side, and when he played, his eyes neither sought
out the admiring auditor nor invited his applause. On the contrary,
they looked steadfastly ahead. It was as though they belonged to
someone apart, who was listening intently to the music. But in the
waits between the numbers the boy's eyes turned from table to table,
observing the people in his audience. He knew nearly all of them by
sight: the head waiters who brought him their "commands," and his
brother-musicians, had often discussed them in his hearing. They
represented every city of the world, every part of the social
edifice: there were those who came to look at the spectacle, and
those who came to be looked at; those who gave a dinner for the sake
of the diners, those who dined for the dinner alone. To some the
restaurant was a club; others ventured in counting the cost, taking
it seriously, even considering that it conferred upon them some
social distinction. There were pretty women in paint and spangles,
with conscious, half-grown boys just up from Oxford; company-
promoters dining and wining possible subscribers or "guinea-pigs"
into an acquiescent state; Guardsmen giving a dinner of farewell to
brother-officers departing for the Soudan or the Cape; wide-eyed
Americans just off the steamer in high dresses, great ladies in low
dresses and lofty tiaras, and ladies of the stage, utterly
unconscious of the boon they were conferring on the people about
them, who, an hour before, had paid ten shillings to look at them
from the stalls.

Edouard, as he sat with his violin on his knee, his fingers fretting
the silent strings, observed them all without envy and without
interest. Had he been able to choose, it would not have been to such
a well-dressed mob as this that he would have given his music. For at
times a burst of laughter killed a phrase that was sacred to him, and
sometimes the murmur of the voices and the clatter of the waiters
would drown him out altogether. But the artist in him forced him to
play all things well, and for his own comfort he would assure himself
that no doubt somewhere in the room someone was listening, someone
who thought more of the strange, elusive melodies of the Hungarian
folksongs than of the chefs entrees, and that for this unknown one he
must be true to himself and true to his work. Covertly, he would seek
out some face to which he could make the violin speak--not openly and
impertinently, as did Bardini, but secretly and for sympathy, so that
only one could understand. It pleased young Edouard to see such a one
raise her head as though she had heard her name spoken, and hold it
poised to listen, and turn slowly in her chair, so completely engaged
that she forgot the man at her elbow, and the food before her was
taken away untouched. It delighted him to think that she knew that
the music was speaking to her alone. But he would not have had her
think that the musician spoke, too--it was the soul of the music, not
his soul, that was reaching out to the pretty stranger. When his soul
spoke through the music it would not be, so he assured himself, to
such chatterers as gathered on the terrace of the Savoy Restaurant.

Mrs. Warriner and her daughter were on their way home, or to one of
their homes; this one was up the Hills of Lenox. They had been in
Egypt and up the Nile, and for the last two months had been slowly
working their way north through Greece and Italy. They were in
London, at the Savoy, waiting for their sailing-day, and on the night
of their arrival young Corbin was giving them a dinner. For three
months Mrs. Warriner and himself had alternated in giving each other
dinners in every part of Southern Europe, and the gloom which hung
over this one was not due to the fact that the diners had become
wearied of one another's society, but that the opportunities still
left to them for this exchange of hospitality were almost at an end.
That night, for the hundredth time, young Corbin had decided it would
have been much better for him if they had come to an end many weeks
previous, for the part he played in the trio was a difficult one. It
was that of the lover who will not take "no" for an answer. The lover
who will take no, and goes on his way disconsolate, may live to love
another day, and everyone is content; but the one who will not have
no, who will not hear of it, nor consider it, has much to answer for
in making life a burden to himself and all around him.

When Corbin joined the Warriners on their trip up the Nile it was
considered by all of them, in their ignorance, a happy accident.
Other mothers, more worldly than Mrs. Warriner, with daughters less
attractive, gave her undeserved credit for having lured into her
party one of the young men of Boston who was most to be desired as a
son-in-law. But the mind of Mrs. Warriner, so far as Mr. Corbin was
concerned, was quite free from any such consideration; so was the
mind of the young bachelor; certainly Miss Warriner held no tender
thoughts concerning him. The families of the Warriners and the
Corbins had been friends ever since the cowpath crossed the Common.
Before Corbin entered Harvard Miss Warriner and he had belonged to
the same dancing-class. Later she had danced with him at four class-
days, and many times between. When he graduated, she had gone abroad
with her mother, and he had joined the Somerset Club, and played polo
at Pride's Crossing, and talked vaguely of becoming a lawyer, and of
re-entering Harvard by the door of the Law School, chiefly, it was
supposed, that he might have another year of the football team. He
was very young in spirit, very big and athletic, very rich, and
without a care or serious thought. Miss Warriner was to him, then, no
more than a friend; to her he was a boy, one of many nice, cultivated
Harvard boys, who occasionally called upon her and talked football.
On the face of things, she was not the sort of girl he should have
loved. But for some saving clause in him, he should have loved and
married one of the many other girls who had belonged to the same
dancing-class, who would have been known as "Mrs. Tom" Corbin, who
would have been sought after as a chaperone, and who would have stood
up in her cart when he played polo and shouted at him across the
field to "ride him off."

Miss Warriner, on the contrary, was much older than he in everything
but years, and was conscious of the fact. She was a serious, self-
centred young person, and satisfied with her own thoughts, unless her
companion gave her better ones. She concerned herself with the
character and ideas of her friends. If a young man lacked ideas, the
fact that he possessed wealth and good manners could not save him. If
these attributes had been pointed out to her as part of his assets
she would have been surprised. She was not impressed with her own
good looks and fortune--she took them for granted; so why should they
count with her in other people?

Miss Warriner made an error of analysis in regard to Mr. Corbin in
judging his brain by his topics of conversation. His conversation was
limited to the A B C's of life, with which, up to the time of his
meeting her, his brain had been fed. When, however, she began to cram
it full with all the other letters of the alphabet, it showed itself
just as capable of digesting the economic conditions of Egypt as it
had previously succeeded in mastering the chess-like problems of the
game of football.

Young Corbin had not considered the Home Beautiful, nor Municipal
Government, nor How the Other Half Lives as topics that were worth
his while; but when Miss Warriner showed her interest in them, her
doing so made them worth his while, and he fell upon them greedily.
He even went much further than she had gone, and was not content
merely to theorize and to discuss social questions from the safe
distance of the deck of a dahabiyeh on the Nile, but proposed to at
once put her theories into practice. To this end he offered her a
house in the slums of Boston, rent free, where she could start her
College Settlement. He made out lists of the men he thought would
like to teach there, and he volunteered to pay the expenses of the
experiment until it failed or succeeded. When her interest changed to
the Tombs of the Rameses, and the succession of the ancient
dynasties, he spent hours studying his Baedeker that he might keep in
step with her; and when she abandoned ancient for modern Egypt and
became deeply charmed with the intricacies of the dual control and of
the Mixed Courts, he interviewed subalterns, Pashas, and missionaries
in a gallant effort to comprehend the social and political
difficulties of the white men who had occupied the land of the
Sphinx, who had funded her debt, irrigated her deserts, and "made a
mummy fight."

One night, as the dahabiyeh lay moored beneath a group of palms in
the moonlight, Miss Warriner gave him praise for offering her the
house in the slums for her experiment. He assured her that he was
entirely selfish--that he did so because he believed her settlement
would be a benefit to the neighborhood, in which he owned some
property. When she then accused him of giving sordid reasons for what
was his genuine philanthropy he told her flatly that he neither cared
for the higher education of the slums nor the increased value of his
rents, but for her, and to please her, and that he loved her and
would love her always. In answer to this, Miss Warriner told him
gently but firmly that she could not love him, but that she liked him
and admired him, even though she was disappointed to find that his
sudden interest in matters more serious than polo had been assumed to
please her. She added that she would always be his friend. This, she
thought, ended the matter; it was unfortunate that they should be
shipbound on the Nile; but she trusted to his tact and good sense to
save them both from embarrassment. She was not prepared, however, to
see him come on deck very late the next morning, after, apparently, a
long sleep, as keen, as cheerful, and as smiling as he had been
before the blow had fallen. It piqued her a little, and partly
because of that, and partly because she really was relieved to find
him in such a humor, she congratulated him on his most evident
happiness.

"Why not?" he asked, suddenly growing sober. "I love you. That is
enough to make any man happy, isn't it? You needn't love me, but you
can't prevent my going on loving you."

"Well, I am very sorry," she sighed in much perplexity.

"You needn't be," he answered, reassuringly. "I'm more sorry for you
than I am for myself. You are going to have a terrible time until you
marry me."

They were at Thebes, and he went off that afternoon to the Temple of
Luxor with her mother, and made violent use of the sacred altars, the
beauty of Cleopatra, the eternity of the scarabea, and the
indestructibility of the Pyramids to suggest faintly to Mrs. Warriner
how much he loved her daughter. He shook his hand at the crouching
sphinxes and said:

"Mrs. Warriner, in forty centuries they have never looked down upon a
man as proud as I am, and I am told they have seen Napoleon; but I
need help; she won't help me, so you must. It's no use arguing
against me. When this Nile dries up I shall have ceased loving your
daughter!"

"Did you tell Helen what you have told me? Did you talk to her so?"
asked Mrs. Warriner.

"No, not last night," said Corbin; "but I will, in time, after she
gets more used to the Idea."

Unfortunately for the peace of Mr. Corbin and all concerned. Miss
Warriner did not become reconciled to the idea. On the contrary, she
resented it greatly. She had looked at the possibility of something
to be carried out later--much later, perhaps not at all. It did not
seem possible that before she had really begun to enjoy life it
should be subjected to such a change. She saw that it was obviously
the thing that should happen. If the match had been arranged by the
entire city of Boston it could not have been more obvious. But she
argued with him that marriage was a mutual self-sacrifice, and that
until she felt ready to make her share of the sacrifice it was
impossible for her to consent.

He combated her arguments, which he refused to consider as arguments,
and demolished them one by one. But the objection which he destroyed
before he went to sleep at night was replaced the next day by
another, and his cause never advanced. Each day he found the citadel
he was besieging girt in by new and intricate defences. The reason
was simple enough: the girl was not in love with him. Her objections,
her arguments, her reasons were as absurd as he proved them to be.
But they were insurmountable because they were really various
disguises of the fact that she did not care for him. They were
disguises to herself as well as to him. He was so altogether a good
fellow, so earnest, honest, and desperate a lover that the primary
fact that she did not want his love did not present itself, and she
kept casting about in her mind for excuses and reasons to explain her
lack of feeling. He wooed her in every obvious way that would present
itself to a boy of deep feeling, of quick mind, and an unlimited
letter of credit. He created wants in order to gratify them later. He
suggested her need of things which he had already ordered, which,
before she had been enticed into expressing a wish for them, were
then speeding across the Continent toward her. Every hour brought her
some fresh and ingenuous sign of his thought and of his devotion. He
treated these tributes as a matter of course; if she failed to
observe them and to see his handiwork in them he let them fall to the
ground unnoticed.

His love itself was his argument-in-chief; it was its own excuse; it
needed no allies; "I love you" was his first and last word. It
puzzled her to find that she could not care. When she was alone she
asked herself what there was in him of which she disapproved, and she
could only answer that there was nothing. She asked herself what
other men there were who pleased her more, and she could think of
none. On the contrary, she found him entirely charming as a friend--
but his love distressed her greatly. It was a foreign language; she
could not comprehend it. When he allowed it to appear it completely
disguised him in her eyes; it annoyed her so much that at times she
considered herself a much ill-used young person.

It was in this way that the matter stood between them when their long
journey was ended and they reached London. He was miserable,
desperate, and hopeless; the girl was firm in that she would not
marry him, and her mother, who respected both the depth of Corbin's
feelings and her daughter's reticence, and who had watched the
struggle with a troubled heart, was only thankful that they were to
part, and that it was at an end. Corbin had no idea where he would go
nor what he would do. He recognized that to cross the ocean with them
would only subject his love to fresh distress and humiliation, and he
had determined to put as much space between him and Miss Warriner as
the surface of the globe permitted. The Philippines seemed to offer a
picturesque retreat for a broken life. He decided he would go there
and enlist and have himself shot. He was uncertain whether he would
follow in the steps of his Revolutionary ancestors and join the men
who were struggling for their liberty and independence, or his
fellow-Americans; but that he would get shot by one side or the other
he was determined. And then in days to come she would think, perhaps,
of the young man on the other side of the globe, buried in the wet
rice-fields, with the palms fanning him through his eternal sleep,
and she might be sorry then that she had not listened to his troubled
heart. The picture gave him some small comfort, and that night when
he ordered dinner for them at the Savoy his manner showed the
inspired resolve of one who is soon to mount the scaffold unafraid,
and with a rose between his lips.

Edouard, the first violin, saw Miss Warriner when she entered and
took her place facing him at one of the tables in the centre of the
room. He was sitting with his violin on his knees, touching the
strings with his finger-tips. When he saw her he choked the neck of
the violin with his hand, as though it had been the hand of a friend
which he had grasped in a sudden ecstasy of delight. The effect her
appearance had made upon him was so remarkable that he glanced
quickly over his shoulder to see if he had betrayed himself by some
sign or gesture. But the other musicians were concerned with their
own gossip, and he felt free to turn again and from under his half-
closed eyelids to observe her covertly.

There was nothing to explain why Miss Warriner, in particular, should
have so disturbed him; the English women seated about her were as
fair; she showed no great sorrow in her face; her beauty was not of
the type which carried observers by assault. And yet not one of the
many beautiful women who on one night or another passed before
Edouard in the soft light of the red shades had ever stirred him so
strangely, had ever depressed him with such a tender melancholy, and
filled his soul--the soul of a Hungarian and a musician--with such
loneliness and unrest. He knew that, so far as he was concerned, she
was as distant as the Venus in the Louvre; she was, for him, a
beautiful, unapproachable statue, placed, by some social convention,
upon a pedestal.

As he looked at her he felt hotly the degradation of his silly
uniform, of the striped sash around his waist, the tawdry braids, and
the tasselled boots. He felt as he had often felt before, but now
more keenly than ever, the prostitution of his art in this temple of
the senses, this home of epicures, where people met to feast their
eyes and charm their palates. He could not put his feelings into
words, and he knew that if by some upheaval of the social world he
should be thrown into her presence he would still be bound, he would
not be able to speak or write what she inspired in him. But--and at
the thought he breathed quickly, and raised his shoulders with a
touch of pride--he could tell her in his own way; after his own
fashion he could express what he felt better even than those other
men could tell what they feel--these men for whose amusement he
performed nightly, to whom it was granted to sit at her side, who
spoke the language of her class and of her own people. Edouard was
not given to analyzing his emotions; like the music of his Tzigane
ancestors, they came to him sweeping every chord in his nature,
beating rapidly to the time of the Schardash, or with the fitfulness
of the gypsy folksongs sinking his spirits into melancholy. So he did
not stop to question why this one face so suddenly inspired him; he
only knew that he felt grateful, that he was impatient to pay his
tribute of admiration, that he was glad he was an artist who could
give his feelings voice.

In the long programme of selected airs he remembered that there was
one which would give him this chance to speak, in the playing of
which he could put all his skill and all his soul, an air which
carried with it infinite sadness and the touch of a caress. The other
numbers on the programme had been chosen to please the patrons of a
restaurant, this one, La Lettre d'Amour, was included in the list for
his own satisfaction. He had put it there to please himself; to-night
he would play it to please her--to this unknown girl who had so
suddenly awakened and inspired him.

As he waited for this chance to come he watched her, noting her every
movement, her troubled smile, her air of being apart and above her
surroundings. He noticed, too, the set face of the young man at her
side and, with the discernment of one whose own interest is captive,
saw the half-concealed longing in his eyes. He felt a quick antipathy
to this young man. His assured position at the girl's side
accentuated how far he himself was removed from her; he resented also
the manner of the young man to the waiters, and he wondered hotly if,
in the mind of this favored youth, the musician who played for his
entertainment was regarded any more highly than the servant who
received his orders. To this feeling of resentment was added one of
contempt. For, as he read the tableau at the table below him, the
young man was the devotee of the young girl at his side, and if one
could judge from her averted eyes, from her silent assent to his
questions, from the fact that she withdrew from the talk between him
and the older woman, his devotion was not welcome.

This reading of the pantomime pleased Edouard greatly. Nothing could
have so crowned the feeling which the beauty of the stranger stirred
in him as the thought that another loved her as well as himself, and
that the other, who started with all things in his favor, met with
none from her.

Edouard assured himself that this was so because he had often heard
his people boast that men not of their country could not feel as they
could feel. If he had ever considered them at all it was as cold and
conscious creatures who taught themselves to cover up what they felt,
so that when their emotions strove to assert themselves they were
found, through long disuse, to be dumb and inarticulate. Edouard
rejoiced that to the men of his race it was given to feel and suffer
much. He was sure that beneath the calmness of her beauty this woman
before him could feel deeply; he read in her eyes the sympathy of a
great soul; she made him think of a Madonna in the church of St.
Sophia at Budapest. He saw in her a woman who could love greatly.
When he considered how impossible it was for the young man at her
side ever to experience the great emotions which alone could reach
her, his contempt for him rose almost to pity. His violin, with his
power to feel, and with his knowledge of technic added, could send
his message as far as sound could carry. He could afford to be
generous, and when he rose to play La Lettre d'Amour it was with the
elation of a knight entering the lists, with the ardor of a lover
singing beneath his lady's window. La Lettre d'Amour is a composition
written to a slow measure, and filled with chords of exquisite
pathos. It comes hesitatingly, like the confession of a lover who
loves so deeply that he halts to find words with which to express his
feelings. It moves in broken phrases, each note rising in intensity
and growing in beauty. It is not a burst of passionate appeal, but a
plea, tender, beseeching, and throbbing with melancholy. As he
played, Edouard stepped down from the dais on which the musicians
sat, and advanced slowly between the tables. It was late, and the
majority of those who had been dining had departed to the theatres.
Those who remained were lingering over their coffee, and were
smoking; their voices were lowered to a polite monotone; the rush of
the waiters had ceased, and the previous chatter had sunk to a
subdued murmur. Into this, the quivering sigh of Edouard's violin
penetrated like a sunbeam feeling its way into a darkened room, and,
at the sound, the voices, one by one, detached themselves from the
general chorus, until, lacking support, it ceased altogether. Some
were silent, that they might hear the better, others, who preferred
their own talk, were silent out of regard for those who desired to
listen, and a waiter who was so indiscreet as to clatter a tray of
glasses was hushed on the instant. The tribute of attention lent to
Edouard an added power; his head lifted on his shoulders with pride;
his bow cut deeper and firmer, and with more delicate shading; the
notes rose in thrilling, plaintive sadness, and flooded the hot air
with melody.

Edouard made his way to within a short distance of the table at which
Miss Warriner was seated, and halted there as though he had found his
audience. He did not look at her, although she sat directly facing
him, but it was evident to all that she was the one to whom his
effort was directed, and Corbin, who was seated with his back to
Edouard, recognized this and turned in his chair.

The body of the young musician was trembling with the feeling which
found its outlet through the violin. He was in ecstasy over his power
and its accomplishment. The strings of the violin pulsated to the
beating of his heart, and he felt that surely by now the emotion
which shook him must have reached the girl who had given it life--
and, for one swift second, his eyes sought hers. What he saw was the
same beautiful face which had inspired him, but unmoved, cold, and
unresponsive. As his eyes followed hers she raised her head and
looked, listlessly, around the room, and then turned and glanced up
at him with a careless and critical scrutiny. If his music had been
the music of an organ in the street, and he the man who raised his
hat for coppers, she could not have been less moved. The discovery
struck Edouard like a cold blast from an open door. His fingers
faltered on the neck of his violin, his bow wavered, drunkenly,
across the strings, and he turned away his eyes to shut out the
vision of his failure, seeking relief and sympathy. And, in their
swift passage, they encountered those of Corbin looking up at him,
his eyes aglow with wonder, feeling, and sorrow. They seemed to hold
him to account; they begged, they demanded of him not to break the
spell, and, in response, the hot blood in the veins of the musician
surged back, his pride flared up again, his eyes turned on Corbin's
like those of a dog to his master's. Under their spell the music
soared, trembling, paused and soared again, thrilling those who heard
it with its grief and tenderness.

Edouard's heart leaped with triumph. "The man knows," he whispered to
the violin; "he understands us. He knows."

The people, leaning with their elbows on the tables before them, the
waiters listening with tolerant smiles, the musicians following
Edouard with anxious pride, saw only a young man with his arm thrown
heavily across the back of his chair, who was looking up at Edouard
with a steady, searching gaze. But Edouard saw in him both a disciple
and a master. He saw that this man was lifted up and carried with
him, that he understood the message of the music. The notes of the
violin sank lower and lower, until they melted into the silence of
the room, and the people, freed of the spell the music had put upon
them, applauded generously. Edouard placed his violin under his arm,
and with his eyes, which had never left Corbin's face, still fastened
upon his, bowed low to him, and Corbin raised his head and nodded
gravely. It was as though they were the only people in the room. As
Edouard retreated his face was shining with triumph, for he knew that
the other had understood him, and that the other knew that he knew.

That night until he fell asleep, and all of the day following, the
beautiful face of Miss Warriner troubled Edouard, and the thought of
her alternately thrilled and depressed him. One moment he mocked at
himself for presuming to think that his simple art could reach the
depths of such a nature, and the next he stirred himself to hope that
he should see her once again, and that he should succeed where he had
failed.

The music had moved Corbin so deeply that when he awoke the day
following the effect of it still hung upon him. It seemed to him as
though all he had been trying to tell Miss Warriner of his love for
her, and which he had failed to make her understand in the last three
months, had been expressed in the one moment of this song. It was
that in it which had so enchanted him. It was as though he had
listened to his own deepest and most sacred thoughts, uttered for the
first time convincingly, and by a stranger. Why was it, he asked
himself, that this unknown youth could translate another's feelings
into music, when he himself could not put them into words? He was
walking in Piccadilly, deep in this thought, when a question came to
him which caused him to turn rapidly into Green Park, where he could
consider it undisturbed.

The doubt which had so suddenly presented itself was in some degree
the same one which had stirred Edouard. Was it that he was really
unable to express his feelings, or was it that Miss Warriner could
not understand them? Was it really something lacking in him, or was
it not something lacking in her? He flushed at the disloyalty of the
thought and put it from him; but, as his memory reached back over the
past three months, the question returned again and again with fresh
force, and would not be denied. He called himself a fatuous,
conceited fool. Because he could not make a woman love him other men
could do so. That was really the answer; he was not the man. But the
answer did not seem final. What, after all, was the thing his love
sought--a woman only, or a woman capable of deep and great feeling?
Even if he could not inspire such emotions, even if another could, he
would still be content and proud to love a woman capable of such deep
feelings. But if she were without them? At the thought, Corbin stared
blankly before him as though he had stumbled against a stone wall.
What sign had she ever given him that she could care greatly? Was not
any form of emotion always distasteful to her? Was not her mind
always occupied with abstract questions? Was she not always engaged
in her own self-improvement--with schemes, it is true, for bettering
the world; but did her heart ever ache once for the individual? What
was it, then, he loved? Something he imagined this girl to be, or was
he in love with the fact that his own nature had been so mightily
stirred? Was it not the joy of caring greatly which had carried him
along? And if this was so, was he now to continue to proffer this
devotion to one who could not feel, to a statue, to an idol? Were not
the very things which rendered her beautiful the offerings which he
himself had hung upon her altar? Did the qualities he really loved in
her exist? Was he not on the brink of casting his love before one who
could neither feel it for him nor for any other man? He stood up,
trembling and frightened. Even though the girl had rejected him again
and again, he felt a hateful sense of disloyalty. He was ashamed to
confess it to himself, and he vowed, hotly, that he must be wrong,
that he would not believe. He would still worship her, fight for her,
and force her to care for him.

Mrs. Warriner and her daughter were to sail on the morrow, and that
night they met Corbin at dinner for the last time. After many days--
although self-accused--he felt deeply conscious of his recent lack of
faith, and, in the few hours still left him, he determined to atone
for the temporary halt in his allegiance. They had never found him
more eager, tactful, and considerate than he was that evening. The
eyes of Mrs. Warriner softened as she watched him. As one day had
succeeded another, her admiration and liking for him had increased,
until now she felt as though his cause was hers--as though she was
not parting from a friend, but from a son. But the calmness of her
daughter was impenetrable; from her manner it was impossible to learn
whether the approaching separation was a relief or a regret.

To Edouard the return of the beautiful girl to the restaurant
appeared not as an accident, but as a marked favor vouchsafed to him
by Fate. He had been given a second chance. He read it as a sign that
he should take heart and hope. He felt that fortune was indeed kind.
He determined that he would play to her again, and that this time he
would not fail.

As the first notes of La Lettre d'Amour brought a pause of silence in
the restaurant, Corbin, who was talking at the moment, interrupted
himself abruptly, and turned in his chair.

All through the evening he had been conscious of the near presence of
the young musician. He had not forgotten how, on the night before,
his own feelings had been interpreted in La Lettre d'Amour, and for
some time he had been debating in his mind as to whether he would
request Edouard to play the air again, or let the evening pass
without again submitting himself to so supreme an assault upon his
feelings. Now the question had been settled for him, and he found
that it had been decided as he secretly desired. It was impossible to
believe that Edouard was the same young man who had played the same
air on the night previous, for Edouard no longer considered that he
was present on sufferance--he invited and challenged the attention of
the room; his music commanded it to silence. It dominated all who
heard it.

As he again slowly approached the table where Miss Warriner was
seated, the eyes of everyone were turned upon him; the pathos, the
tenderness of his message seemed to speak to each; the fact that he
dared to offer such a wealth of deep feeling to such an audience was
in itself enough to engage the attention of all. A group of
Guardsmen, their faces flushed with Burgundy and pulling heavily on
black cigars, stared at him sleepily, and then sat up, erect and
alert, watching him with intent, wide-open eyes; and at tables which
had been marked by the laughter of those seated about them there fell
a sudden silence. Those who fully understood the value of the music
withdrew into themselves, submitting, thankfully, to its spell;
others, less susceptible, gathered from the bearing of those about
them that something of moment was going forward; but it was
recognized by each, from the most severe English matron present down
to the youngest "omnibus-boy" among the waiters, that it was a love-
story which was being told to them, and that in this public place the
deepest, most sacred, and most beautiful of emotions were finding
noble utterance.

The music filled Corbin with desperate longing and regret. It was so
truly the translation of his own feelings that he was alternately
touched with self-pity and inspired to fresh resolve. It seemed to
assure him that love such as his could not endure without some
return. It emboldened him to make still another and a final appeal.
Mrs. Warriner, with all the other people in the room, was watching
Edouard, and so, unobserved, and hidden by the flowers upon the
table, Corbin leaned toward Miss Warriner and bent his head close to
hers. His eyes were burning with feeling; his voice thrilled in
unison to the plaint of the violin.

He gave a toss of his head in the direction from whence the music
came.

"That is what I have been trying to tell you," he whispered. His
voice was hoarse and shaken. "That is how I care, but that man's
genius is telling you for me. At last, you must understand." In his
eagerness, his words followed each other brokenly and impetuously.
"That is love," he whispered. "That is the real voice of love in all
its tenderness and might, and--it is love itself. Don't you
understand it now?" he demanded.

Miss Warriner raised her head and frowned. She stared at Edouard with
a pained expression of perplexity and doubt.

"He shows no lack of feeling," she said, critically, "but his technic
is not equal to Ysaye's."

"Good God!" Corbin gasped. He sank away from Miss Warriner and stared
at her with incredulous eyes.

"His technic," he repeated, "is not equal to Ysaye's?" He gave a
laugh which might have been a sob, and sat up, suddenly, with his
head erect and his shoulders squared. He had the shaken look of one
who has recovered from a dangerous illness. But when he spoke again
it was in the accents of every-day politeness.

At an early hour the following morning, Mrs. Warriner and her
daughter left Waterloo Station on the steamer-train for Southampton,
and Corbin attended them up to the moment of the train's departure.
He concerned himself for their comfort as conscientiously as he had
always done throughout the last three months, when he had been their
travelling-companion; nothing could have been more friendly, more
sympathetic, than his manner. This effort, which Mrs. Warriner was
sure cost him much, touched her deeply. But when he shook Miss
Warriner's hand and she said, "Good-by, and write to us before you go
to the Philippines," Corbin for the first time stammered in some
embarrassment.

"Good-by," he said; "I--I am not sure that I shall go."

He dined at the Savoy again that night, in company with some
Englishmen. They sat at a table in the corner where they could
observe the whole extent of the room, and their talk was eager and
their laughter constant and hearty. It was only when the boy who led
the orchestra began to walk among the tables, playing an air of
peculiar sadness, that Corbin's manner lost its vivacity, and he sank
into a sudden silence, with his eyes fixed on the table before him.

"That's odd," said one of his companions. "I say, Corbin, look at
that chap! What's he doing?"

Corbin raised his eyes. He saw Edouard standing at the same table at
which for the last two nights Miss Warriner had been seated. "What is
it?" he asked.

"Why, that violin chap," said the Englishman. "Don't you see? He's
been playing to the only vacant table in the room, and to an empty
chair."






IN THE FOG

I


The Grill is the club most difficult of access in the world. To be
placed on its rolls distinguishes the new member as greatly as though
he had received a vacant Garter or had been caricatured in "Vanity
Fair."

Men who belong to the Grill Club never mention that fact. If you were
to ask one of them which clubs he frequents, he will name all save
that particular one. He is afraid if he told you he belonged to the
Grill, that it would sound like boasting.

The Grill Club dates back to the days when Shakespeare's Theatre
stood on the present site of the "Times" office. It has a golden
Grill which Charles the Second presented to the Club, and the
original manuscript of "Tom and Jerry in London," which was
bequeathed to it by Pierce Egan himself. The members, when they write
letters at the Club, still use sand to blot the ink.

The Grill enjoys the distinction of having blackballed, without
political prejudice, a Prime Minister of each party. At the same
sitting at which one of these fell, it elected, on account of his
brogue and his bulls, Quiller, Q. C., who was then a penniless
barrister.

When Paul Preval, the French artist who came to London by royal
command to paint a portrait of the Prince of Wales, was made an
honorary member--only foreigners may be honorary members--he said, as
he signed his first wine-card, "I would rather see my name on that
than on a picture in the Louvre."

At which Quiller remarked, "That is a devil of a compliment, because
the only men who can read their names in the Louvre to-day have been
dead fifty years."

On the night after the great fog of 1897 there were five members in
the Club, four of them busy with supper and one reading in front of
the fireplace. There is only one room to the Club, and one long
table. At the far end of the room the fire of the grill glows red,
and, when the fat falls, blazes into flame, and at the other there is
a broad bow-window of diamond panes, which looks down upon the
street. The four men at the table were strangers to each other, but
as they picked at the grilled bones, and sipped their Scotch and
soda, they conversed with such charming animation that a visitor to
the Club, which does not tolerate visitors, would have counted them
as friends of long acquaintance, certainly not as Englishmen who had
met for the first time, and without the form of an introduction. But
it is the etiquette and tradition of the Grill that whoever enters it
must speak with whomever he finds there. It is to enforce this rule
that there is but one long table, and whether there are twenty men at
it or two, the waiters, supporting the rule, will place them side by
side.

For this reason the four strangers at supper were seated together,
with the candles grouped about them, and the long length of the table
cutting a white path through the outer gloom.

"I repeat," said the gentleman with the black pearl stud, "that the
days for romantic adventure and deeds of foolish daring have passed,
and that the fault lies with ourselves. Voyages to the pole I do not
catalogue as adventures. That African explorer, young Chetney, who
turned up yesterday after he was supposed to have died in Uganda, did
nothing adventurous. He made maps and explored the sources of rivers.
He was in constant danger, but the presence of danger does not
constitute adventure. Were that so, the chemist who studies high
explosives, or who investigates deadly poisons, passes through
adventures daily. No, 'adventures are for the adventurous.' But one
no longer ventures. The spirit of it has died of inertia. We are
grown too practical, too just, above all, too sensible. In this room,
for instance, members of this Club have, at the sword's point,
disputed the proper scanning of one of Pope's couplets. Over so
weighty a matter as spilled Burgundy on a gentleman's cuff, ten men
fought across this table, each with his rapier in one hand and a
candle in the other. All ten were wounded. The question of the
spilled Burgundy concerned but two of them. The eight others engaged
because they were men of 'spirit.' They were, indeed, the first
gentlemen of the day. To-night, were you to spill Burgundy on my
cuff, were you even to insult me grossly, these gentlemen would not
consider it incumbent upon them to kill each other. They would
separate us, and to-morrow morning appear as witnesses against us at
Bow Street. We have here to-night, in the persons of Sir Andrew and
myself, an illustration of how the ways have changed."

The men around the table turned and glanced toward the gentleman in
front of the fireplace. He was an elderly and somewhat portly person,
with a kindly, wrinkled countenance, which wore continually a smile
of almost childish confidence and good-nature. It was a face which
the illustrated prints had made intimately familiar. He held a book
from him at arm's-length, as if to adjust his eyesight, and his brows
were knit with interest.

"Now, were this the eighteenth century," continued the gentleman with
the black pearl, "when Sir Andrew left the Club to-night I would have
him bound and gagged and thrown into a sedan chair. The watch would
not interfere, the passers-by would take to their heels, my hired
bullies and ruffians would convey him to some lonely spot where we
would guard him until morning. Nothing would come of it, except added
reputation to myself as a gentleman of adventurous spirit, and
possibly an essay in the 'Tatler' with stars for names, entitled, let
us say, 'The Budget and the Baronet.'"

"But to what end, sir?" inquired the youngest of the members. "And
why Sir Andrew, of all persons--why should you select him for this
adventure?"

The gentleman with the black pearl shrugged his shoulders.

"It would prevent him speaking in the House to-night. The Navy
Increase Bill," he added, gloomily. "It is a Government measure, and
Sir Andrew speaks for it. And so great is his influence and so large
his following that if he does"--the gentleman laughed ruefully--"if
he does, it will go through. Now, had I the spirit of our ancestors,"
he exclaimed, "I would bring chloroform from the nearest chemist's
and drug him in that chair. I would tumble his unconscious form into
a hansom-cab, and hold him prisoner until daylight. If I did, I would
save the British taxpayer the cost of five more battleships, many
millions of pounds."

The gentleman again turned, and surveyed the baronet with freshened
interest. The honorary member of the Grill, whose accent already had
betrayed him as an American, laughed softly.

"To look at him now," he said, "one would not guess he was deeply
concerned with the affairs of state."

The others nodded silently.

"He has not lifted his eyes from that book since we first entered,"
added the youngest member. "He surely cannot mean to speak to-night."

"Oh, yes, he will speak," muttered the one with the black pearl,
moodily. "During these last hours of the session the House sits late,
but when the Navy bill comes up on its third reading he will be in
his place--and he will pass it."

The fourth member, a stout and florid gentleman of a somewhat
sporting appearance, in a short smoking-jacket and black tie, sighed
enviously.

"Fancy one of us being as cool as that, if he knew he had to stand up
within an hour and rattle off a speech in Parliament. I'd be in a
devil of a funk myself. And yet he is as keen over that book he's
reading as though he had nothing before him until bedtime."

"Yes, see how eager he is," whispered the youngest member. "He does
not lift his eyes even now when he cuts the pages. It is probably an
Admiralty Report, or some other weighty work of statistics which
bears upon his speech."

The gentleman with the black pearl laughed morosely.

"The weighty work in which the eminent statesman is so deeply
engrossed," he said, "is called 'The Great Rand Robbery.' It is a
detective novel for sale at all bookstalls."

The American raised his eyebrows in disbelief.

"'The Great Rand Robbery'?" he repeated, incredulously. "What an odd
taste!"

"It is not a taste, it is his vice," returned the gentleman with the
pearl stud. "It is his one dissipation. He is noted for it. You, as a
stranger, could hardly be expected to know of this idiosyncrasy. Mr.
Gladstone sought relaxation in the Greek poets, Sir Andrew finds his
in Gaboriau. Since I have been a member of Parliament, I have never
seen him in the library without a shilling shocker in his hands. He
brings them even into the sacred precincts of the House, and from the
Government benches reads them concealed inside his hat. Once started
on a tale of murder, robbery, and sudden death, nothing can tear him
from it, not even the call of the division-bell, nor of hunger, nor
the prayers of the party Whip. He gave up his country house because
when he journeyed to it in the train he would become so absorbed in
his detective-stories that he was invariably carried past his
station." The member of Parliament twisted his pearl stud nervously,
and bit at the edge of his mustache. "If it only were the first pages
of 'The Rand Robbery' that he were reading," he murmured bitterly,
"instead of the last! With such another book as that, I swear I could
hold him here until morning. There would be no need of chloroform to
keep him from the House."

The eyes of all were fastened upon Sir Andrew, and each saw, with
fascination, that, with his forefinger, he was now separating the
last two pages of the book. The member of Parliament struck the
table, softly, with his open palm.

"I would give a hundred pounds," he whispered, "if I could place in
his hands at this moment a new story of Sherlock Holmes--a thousand
pounds," he added, wildly--"five thousand pounds!"

The American observed the speaker sharply, as though the words bore
to him some special application, and then, at an idea which
apparently had but just come to him, smiled, in great embarrassment.

Sir Andrew ceased reading, but, as though still under the influence
of the book, sat looking, blankly, into the open fire. For a brief
space, no one moved until the baronet withdrew his eyes and, with a
sudden start of recollection, felt, anxiously, for his watch. He
scanned its face eagerly, and scrambled to his feet.

The voice of the American instantly broke the silence in a high,
nervous accent.

"And yet Sherlock Holmes himself," he cried, "could not decipher the
mystery which to-night baffles the police of London."

At these unexpected words, which carried in them something of the
tone of a challenge, the gentlemen about the table started as
suddenly as though the American had fired a pistol in the air, and
Sir Andrew halted, abruptly, and stood observing him with grave
surprise.

The gentleman with the black pearl was the first to recover.

"Yes, yes," he said, eagerly, throwing himself across the table. "A
mystery that baffles the police of London. I have heard nothing of
it. Tell us at once, pray do--tell us at once."

The American flushed uncomfortably, and picked, uneasily, at the
table-cloth.

"No one but the police has heard of it," he murmured, "and they only
through me. It is a remarkable crime, to which, unfortunately, I am
the only person who can bear witness. Because I am the only witness,
I am, in spite of my immunity as a diplomat, detained in London by
the authorities of Scotland Yard. My name," he said, inclining his
head, politely, "is Sears, Lieutenant Ripley Sears, of the United
States Navy, at present Naval Attache to the Court of Russia. Had I
not been detained to-day by the police, I would have started this
morning for Petersburg."

The gentleman with the black pearl interrupted with so pronounced an
exclamation of excitement and delight that the American stammered and
ceased speaking.

"Do you hear, Sir Andrew?" cried the member of Parliament,
jubilantly. "An American diplomat halted by our police because he is
the only witness of a most remarkable crime--THE most remarkable
crime, I believe you said, sir," he added, bending eagerly toward the
naval officer, "which has occurred in London in many years."

The American moved his head in assent, and glanced at the two other
members. They were looking, doubtfully, at him, and the face of each
showed that he was greatly perplexed.

Sir Andrew advanced to within the light of the candles and drew a
chair toward him.

"The crime must be exceptional, indeed," he said, "to justify the
police in interfering with a representative of a friendly power. If I
were not forced to leave at once, I should take the liberty of asking
you to tell us the details."

The gentleman with the pearl pushed the chair toward Sir Andrew, and
motioned him to be seated.

"You cannot leave us now," he exclaimed. "Mr. Sears is just about to
tell us of this remarkable crime."

He nodded, vigorously, at the naval officer and the American, after
first glancing, doubtfully, toward the servants at the far end of the
room, and leaned forward across the table. The others drew their
chairs nearer and bent toward him. The baronet glanced, irresolutely,
at his watch, and, with an exclamation of annoyance, snapped down the
lid. "They can wait," he muttered. He seated himself quickly, and
nodded at Lieutenant Sears.

"If you will be so kind as to begin, sir," he said, impatiently.

"Of course," said the American, "you understand that I understand
that I am speaking to gentlemen. The confidences of this Club are
inviolate. Until the police give the facts to the public press, I
must consider you my confederates. You have heard nothing, you know
no one connected with this mystery. Even I must remain anonymous."

The gentlemen seated around him nodded gravely.

"Of course," the baronet assented, with eagerness, "of course."

"We will refer to it," said the gentleman with the black pearl, "as
'The Story of the Naval Attache.'"

"I arrived in London two days ago," said the American, "and I engaged
a room at the Bath Hotel. I know very few people in London, and even
the members of our embassy were strangers to me. But in Hong Kong I
had become great pals with an officer in your navy, who has since
retired, and who is now living in a small house in Rutland Gardens,
opposite the Knightsbridge Barracks. I telegraphed him that I was in
London, and yesterday morning I received a most hearty invitation to
dine with him the same evening at his house. He is a bachelor, so we
dined alone and talked over all our old days on the Asiatic Station
and of the changes which had come to us since we had last met there.
As I was leaving the next morning for my post at Petersburg, and had
many letters to write, I told him, about ten o'clock, that I must get
back to the hotel, and he sent out his servant to call a hansom.

"For the next quarter of an hour, as we sat talking, we could hear
the cab-whistle sounding, violently, from the doorstep, but
apparently with no result.

"'It cannot be that the cabmen are on strike,' my friend said, as he
rose and walked to the window.

"He pulled back the curtains and at once called to me.

"'You have never seen a London fog, have you?' he asked. 'Well, come
here. This is one of the best, or, rather, one of the worst, of
them.' I joined him at the window, but I could see nothing. Had I not
known that the house looked out upon the street I would have believed
that I was facing a dead wall. I raised the sash and stretched out my
head, but still I could see nothing. Even the light of the street-
lamps, opposite, and in the upper windows of the barracks, had been
smothered in the yellow mist. The lights of the room in which I stood
penetrated the fog only to the distance of a few inches from my eyes.

"Below me the servant was still sounding his whistle, but I could
afford to wait no longer, and told my friend that I would try and
find the way to my hotel on foot. He objected, but the letters I had
to write were for the Navy Department, and, besides, I had always
heard that to be out in a London fog was the most wonderful
experience, and I was curious to investigate one for myself.

"My friend went with me to his front door, and laid down a course for
me to follow. I was first to walk straight across the street to the
brick wall of the Knightsbridge Barracks. I was then to feel my way
along the wall until I came to a row of houses set back from the
sidewalk. They would bring me to a cross street. On the other side of
this street was a row of shops which I was to follow until they
joined the iron railings of Hyde Park. I was to keep to the railings
until I reached the gates at Hyde Park Corner, where I was to lay a
diagonal course across Piccadilly, and tack in toward the railings of
Green Park. At the end of these railings, going east, I would find
the Walsingham, and my own hotel.

"To a sailor the course did not seem difficult, so I bade my friend
good-night and walked forward until my feet touched the paving. I
continued upon it until I reached the curbing of the sidewalk. A few
steps further, and my hands struck the wall of the barracks. I turned
in the direction from which I had just come, and saw a square of
faint light cut in the yellow fog. I shouted, 'All right,' and the
voice of my friend answered, 'Good luck to you.' The light from his
open door disappeared with a bang, and I was left alone in a
dripping, yellow darkness. I have been in the Navy for ten years, but
I have never known such a fog as that of last night, not even among
the icebergs of Behring Sea. There one at least could see the light
of the binnacle, but last night I could not even distinguish the hand
by which I guided myself along the barrack-wall. At sea a fog is a
natural phenomenon. It is as familiar as the rainbow which follows a
storm, it is as proper that a fog should spread upon the waters as
that steam shall rise from a kettle. But a fog which springs from the
paved streets, that rolls between solid house-fronts, that forces
cabs to move at half speed, that drowns policemen and extinguishes
the electric lights of the music-hall, that to me is
incomprehensible. It is as out of place as a tidal wave on Broadway.

"As I felt my way along the wall, I encountered other men who were
coming from the opposite direction, and each time when we hailed each
other I stepped away from the wall to make room for them to pass. But
the third time I did this, when I reached out my hand, the wall had
disappeared, and the further I moved to find it the further I seemed
to be sinking into space. I had the unpleasant conviction that at any
moment I might step over a precipice. Since I had set out, I had
heard no traffic in the street, and now, although I listened some
minutes, I could only distinguish the occasional footfalls of
pedestrians. Several times I called aloud, and once a jocular
gentleman answered me, but only to ask me where I thought he was, and
then even he was swallowed up in the silence. Just above me I could
make out a jet of gas which I guessed came from a street-lamp, and I
moved over to that, and, while I tried to recover my bearings, kept
my hand on the iron post. Except for this nicker of gas, no larger
than the tip of my finger, I could distinguish nothing about me. For
the rest, the mist hung between me and the world like a damp and
heavy blanket.

"I could hear voices, but I could not tell from whence they came, and
the scrape of a foot, moving cautiously, or a muffled cry as someone
stumbled, were the only sounds that reached me.

"I decided that until someone took me in I had best remain where I
was, and it must have been for ten minutes that I waited by the lamp,
straining my ears and hailing distant footfalls. In a house near me
some people were dancing to the music of a Hungarian band. I even
fancied I could hear the windows shake to the rhythm of their feet,
but I could not make out from which part of the compass the sounds
came. And sometimes, as the music rose, it seemed close at my hand,
and, again, to be floating high in the air above my head. Although I
was surrounded by thousands of householders, I was as completely lost
as though I had been set down by night in the Sahara Desert. There
seemed to be no reason in waiting longer for an escort, so I again
set out, and at once bumped against a low, iron fence. At first I
believed this to be an area railing, but, on following it, I found
that it stretched for a long distance, and that it was pierced at
regular intervals with gates. I was standing, uncertainly, with my
hand on one of these, when a square of light suddenly opened in the
night, and in it I saw, as you see a picture thrown by a biograph in
a darkened theatre, a young gentleman in evening dress, and, back of
him, the lights of a hall. I guessed, from its elevation and distance
from the sidewalk, that this light must come from the door of a house
set back from the street, and I determined to approach it and ask the
young man to tell me where I was. But, in fumbling with the lock of
the gate, I instinctively bent my head, and when I raised it again
the door had partly closed, leaving only a narrow shaft of light.
Whether the young man had re-entered the house, or had left it I
could not tell, but I hastened to open the gate, and as I stepped
forward I found myself upon an asphalt walk. At the same instant
there was the sound of quick steps upon the path, and someone rushed
past me. I called to him, but he made no reply, and I heard the gate
click and the footsteps hurrying away upon the sidewalk.

"Under other circumstances the young man's rudeness, and his
recklessness in dashing so hurriedly through the mist, would have
struck me as peculiar, but everything was so distorted by the fog
that at the moment I did not consider it. The door was still as he
had left it, partly open. I went up the path, and, after much
fumbling, found the knob of the door-bell and gave it a sharp pull.
The bell answered me from a great depth and distance, but no movement
followed from inside the house, and, although I pulled the bell again
and again, I could hear nothing save the dripping of the mist about
me. I was anxious to be on my way, but unless I knew where I was
going there was little chance of my making any speed, and I was
determined that until I learned my bearings I would not venture back
into the fog. So I pushed the door open and stepped into the house.

"I found myself in a long and narrow hall, upon which doors opened
from either side. At the end of the hall was a staircase with a
balustrade which ended in a sweeping curve. The balustrade was
covered with heavy, Persian rugs, and the walls of the hall were also
hung with them. The door on my left was closed, but the one nearer me
on the right was open, and, as I stepped opposite to it, I saw that
it was a sort of reception or waiting-room, and that it was empty.
The door below it was also open, and, with the idea that I would
surely find someone there, I walked on up the hall. I was in evening
dress, and I felt I did not look like a burglar, so I had no great
fear that, should I encounter one of the inmates of the house, he
would shoot me on sight. The second door in the hall opened into a
dining-room. This was also empty. One person had been dining at the
table, but the cloth had not been cleared away, and a flickering
candle showed half-filled wineglasses and the ashes of cigarettes.
The greater part of the room was in complete darkness.

"By this time I had grown conscious of the fact that I was wandering
about in a strange house, and that, apparently, I was alone in it.
The silence of the place began to try my nerves, and in a sudden,
unexplainable panic I started for the open street. But as I turned, I
saw a man sitting on a bench, which the curve of the balustrade had
hidden from me. His eyes were shut, and he was sleeping soundly.

"The moment before I had been bewildered because I could see no one,
but at sight of this man I was much more bewildered.

"He was a very large man, a giant in height, with long, yellow hair,
which hung below his shoulders. He was dressed in a red silk shirt,
that was belted at the waist and hung outside black velvet trousers,
which, in turn, were stuffed into high, black boots. I recognized the
costume at once as that of a Russian servant, but what a Russian
servant in his native livery could be doing in a private house in
Knightsbridge was incomprehensible.

"I advanced and touched the man on the shoulder, and, after an
effort, he awoke, and, on seeing me, sprang to his feet and began
bowing rapidly, and making deprecatory gestures. I had picked up
enough Russian in Petersburg to make out that the man was apologizing
for having fallen asleep, and I also was able to explain to him that
I desired to see his master.

"He nodded vigorously, and said, 'Will the Excellency come this way?
The Princess is here.'

"I distinctly made out the word 'princess,' and I was a good deal
embarrassed. I had thought it would be easy enough to explain my
intrusion to a man, but how a woman would look at it was another
matter, and as I followed him down the hall I was somewhat puzzled.

"As we advanced, he noticed that the front door was standing open,
and with an exclamation of surprise, hastened toward it and closed
it. Then he rapped twice on the door of what was apparently the
drawing-room. There was no reply to his knock, and he tapped again,
and then, timidly, and cringing subserviently, opened the door and
stepped inside. He withdrew himself at once and stared stupidly at
me, shaking his head.

"'She is not there,' he said. He stood for a moment, gazing blankly
through the open door, and then hastened toward the dining-room. The
solitary candle which still burned there seemed to assure him that
the room also was empty. He came back and bowed me toward the
drawing-room. 'She is above,' he said; 'I will inform the Princess of
the Excellency's presence.'

"Before I could stop him, he had turned and was running up the
staircase, leaving me alone at the open door of the drawing-room. I
decided that the adventure had gone quite far enough, and if I had
been able to explain to the Russian that I had lost my way in the
fog, and only wanted to get back into the street again, I would have
left the house on the instant.

"Of course, when I first rang the bell of the house I had no other
expectation than that it would be answered by a parlor-maid who would
direct me on my way. I certainly could not then foresee that I would
disturb a Russian princess in her boudoir, or that I might be thrown
out by her athletic bodyguard. Still, I thought I ought not now to
leave the house without making some apology, and, if the worst should
come, I could show my card. They could hardly believe that a member
of an Embassy had any designs upon the hat-rack.

"The room in which I stood was dimly lighted, but I could see that,
like the hall, it was hung with heavy, Persian rugs. The corners were
filled with palms, and there was the unmistakable odor in the air of
Russian cigarettes, and strange, dry scents that carried me back to
the bazaars of Vladivostock. Near the front windows was a grand
piano, and at the other end of the room a heavily carved screen of
some black wood, picked out with ivory. The screen was overhung with
a canopy of silken draperies, and formed a sort of alcove. In front
of the alcove was spread the white skin of a polar bear, and set on
that was one of those low, Turkish coffee-tables. It held a lighted
spirit-lamp and two gold coffee-cups. I had heard no movement from
above stairs, and it must have been fully three minutes that I stood
waiting, noting these details of the room and wondering at the delay,
and at the strange silence.

"And then, suddenly, as my eye grew more used to the half-light, I
saw, projecting from behind the screen, as though it were stretched
along the back of a divan, the hand of a man and the lower part of
his arm. I was as startled as though I had come across a footprint on
a deserted island. Evidently, the man had been sitting there since I
had come into the room, even since I had entered the house, and he
had heard the servant knocking upon the door. Why he had not declared
himself I could not understand, but I supposed that, possibly, he was
a guest, with no reason to interest himself in the Princess's other
visitors, or, perhaps, for some reason, he did not wish to be
observed. I could see nothing of him except his hand, but I had an
unpleasant feeling that he had been peering at me through the carving
in the screen, and that he still was doing so. I moved my feet
noisily on the floor and said, tentatively, 'I beg your pardon.'

"There was no reply, and the hand did not stir. Apparently, the man
was bent upon ignoring me, but, as all I wished was to apologize for
my intrusion and to leave the house, I walked up to the alcove and
peered around it. Inside the screen was a divan piled with cushions,
and on the end of it nearer me the man was sitting. He was a young
Englishman with light-yellow hair and a deeply bronzed face. He was
seated with his arms stretched out along the back of the divan, and
with his head resting against a cushion. His attitude was one of
complete ease. But his mouth had fallen open, and his eyes were set
with an expression of utter horror. At the first glance, I saw that
he was quite dead.

"For a flash of time I was too startled to act, but in the same flash
I was convinced that the man had met his death from no accident, that
he had not died through any ordinary failure of the laws of nature.
The expression on his face was much too terrible to be
misinterpreted. It spoke as eloquently as words. It told me that
before the end had come he had watched his death approach and
threaten him.

"I was so sure he had been murdered that I instinctively looked on
the floor for the weapon, and, at the same moment, out of concern for
my own safety, quickly behind me; but the silence of the house
continued unbroken.

"I have seen a great number of dead men; I was on the Asiatic Station
during the Japanese-Chinese war. I was in Port Arthur after the
massacre. So a dead man, for the single reason that he is dead, does
not repel me, and, though I knew that there was no hope that this man
was alive, still, for decency's sake, I felt his pulse, and, while I
kept my ears alert for any sound from the floors above me, I pulled
open his shirt and placed my hand upon his heart. My fingers
instantly touched upon the opening of a wound, and as I withdrew them
I found them wet with blood. He was in evening dress, and in the wide
bosom of his shirt I found a narrow slit, so narrow that in the dim
light it was scarcely discernible. The wound was no wider than the
smallest blade of a pocket-knife, but when I stripped the shirt away
from the chest and left it bare, I found that the weapon, narrow as
it was, had been long enough to reach his heart. There is no need to
tell you how I felt as I stood by the body of this boy, for he was
hardly older than a boy, or of the thoughts that came into my head. I
was bitterly sorry for this stranger, bitterly indignant at his
murderer, and, at the same time, selfishly concerned for my own
safety and for the notoriety which I saw was sure to follow. My
instinct was to leave the body where it lay, and to hide myself in
the fog, but I also felt that since a succession of accidents had
made me the only witness to a crime, my duty was to make myself a
good witness and to assist to establish the facts of this murder.

"That it might, possibly, be a suicide, and not a murder, did not
disturb me for a moment. The fact that the weapon had disappeared,
and the expression on the boy's face were enough to convince, at
least me, that he had had no hand in his own death. I judged it,
therefore, of the first importance to discover who was in the house,
or, if they had escaped from it, who had been in the house before I
entered it. I had seen one man leave it; but all I could tell of him
was that he was a young man, that he was in evening dress, and that
he had fled in such haste that he had not stopped to close the door
behind him.

"The Russian servant I had found apparently asleep, and, unless he
acted a part with supreme skill, he was a stupid and ignorant boor,
and as innocent of the murder as myself. There was still the Russian
princess whom he had expected to find, or had pretended to expect to
find, in the same room with the murdered man. I judged that she must
now be either upstairs with the servant, or that she had, without his
knowledge, already fled from the house. When I recalled his
apparently genuine surprise at not finding her in the drawing-room,
this latter supposition seemed the more probable. Nevertheless, I
decided that it was my duty to make a search, and after a second
hurried look for the weapon among the cushions of the divan, and upon
the floor, I cautiously crossed the hall and entered the dining-room.

"The single candle was still flickering in the draught, and showed
only the white cloth. The rest of the room was draped in shadows. I
picked up the candle, and, lifting it high above my head, moved
around the corner of the table. Either my nerves were on such a
stretch that no shock could strain them further, or my mind was
inoculated to horrors, for I did not cry out at what I saw nor
retreat from it. Immediately at my feet was the body of a beautiful
woman, lying at full length upon the floor, her arms flung out on
either side of her, and her white face and shoulders gleaming, dully,
in the unsteady light of the candle. Around her throat was a great
chain of diamonds, and the light played upon these and made them
flash and blaze in tiny flames. But the woman who wore them was dead,
and I was so certain as to how she had died that, without an
instant's hesitation, I dropped on my knees beside her and placed my
hands above her heart. My fingers again touched the thin slit of a
wound. I had no doubt in my mind but that this was the Russian
princess, and when I lowered the candle to her face I was assured
that this was so. Her features showed the finest lines of both the
Slav and the Jewess; the eyes were black, the hair blue-black and
wonderfully heavy, and her skin, even in death, was rich in color.
She was a surpassingly beautiful woman.

"I rose and tried to light another candle with the one I held, but I
found that my hand was so unsteady that I could not keep the wicks
together. It was my intention to again search for this strange dagger
which had been used to kill both the English boy and the beautiful
princess, but before I could light the second candle I heard
footsteps descending the stairs, and the Russian servant appeared in
the doorway.

"My face was in darkness, or I am sure that, at the sight of it, he
would have taken alarm, for at that moment I was not sure but that
this man himself was the murderer. His own face was plainly visible
to me in the light from the hall, and I could see that it wore an
expression of dull bewilderment. I stepped quickly toward him and
took a firm hold upon his wrist.

"'She is not there,' he said. 'The Princess has gone. They have all
gone.'

"'Who have gone?' I demanded. 'Who else has been here? '

"'The two Englishmen,' he said.

"'What two Englishmen?' I demanded. 'What are their names?'

"The man now saw by my manner that some question of great moment hung
upon his answer, and he began to protest that he did not know the
names of the visitors and that until that evening he had never seen
them.

"I guessed that it was my tone which frightened him, so I took my
hand off his wrist and spoke less eagerly.

"'How long have they been here?' I asked, 'and when did they go?'

"He pointed behind him toward the drawing-room.

"'One sat there with the Princess,' he said; 'the other came after I
had placed the coffee in the drawing-room. The two Englishmen talked
together, and the Princess returned here to the table. She sat there
in that chair, and I brought her cognac and cigarettes. Then I sat
outside upon the bench. It was a feast-day, and I had been drinking.
Pardon, Excellency, but I fell asleep. When I woke, your Excellency
was standing by me, but the Princess and the two Englishmen had gone.
That is all I know.'

"I believed that the man was telling me the truth. His fright had
passed, and he was now apparently puzzled, but not alarmed.

"'You must remember the names of the Englishmen,' I urged. 'Try to
think. When you announced them to the Princess what name did you
give?'

"At this question he exclaimed, with pleasure, and, beckoning to me,
ran hurriedly down the hall and into the drawing-room. In the corner
furthest from the screen was the piano, and on it was a silver tray.
He picked this up and, smiling with pride at his own intelligence,
pointed at two cards that lay upon it. I took them up and read the
names engraved upon them."

The American paused abruptly, and glanced at the faces about him. "I
read the names," he repeated. He spoke with great reluctance.

"Continue!" cried the baronet, sharply.

"I read the names," said the American with evident distaste, "and the
family name of each was the same. They were the names of two
brothers. One is well known to you. It is that of the African
explorer of whom this gentleman was just speaking. I mean the Earl of
Chetney. The other was the name of his brother. Lord Arthur Chetney."

The men at the table fell back as though a trapdoor had fallen open
at their feet.

"Lord Chetney?" they exclaimed, in chorus. They glanced at each other
and back to the American, with every expression of concern and
disbelief.

"It is impossible!" cried the Baronet. "Why, my dear sir, young
Chetney only arrived from Africa yesterday. It was so stated in the
evening papers."

The jaw of the American set in a resolute square, and he pressed his
lips together.

"You are perfectly right, sir," he said, "Lord Chetney did arrive in
London yesterday morning, and yesterday night I found his dead body."

The youngest member present was the first to recover. He seemed much
less concerned over the identity of the murdered man than at the
interruption of the narrative.

"Oh, please let him go on!" he cried. "What happened then? You say
you found two visiting-cards. How do you know which card was that of
the murdered man?"

The American, before he answered, waited until the chorus of
exclamations had ceased. Then he continued as though he had not been
interrupted.

"The instant I read the names upon the cards," he said, "I ran to the
screen and, kneeling beside the dead man, began a search through his
pockets. My hand at once fell upon a card-case, and I found on all
the cards it contained the title of the Earl of Chetney. His watch
and cigarette-case also bore his name. These evidences, and the fact
of his bronzed skin, and that his cheek-bones were worn with fever,
convinced me that the dead man was the African explorer, and the boy
who had fled past me in the night was Arthur, his younger brother.

"I was so intent upon my search that I had forgotten the servant, and
I was still on my knees when I heard a cry behind me. I turned, and
saw the man gazing down at the body in abject horror.

"Before I could rise, he gave another cry of terror, and, flinging
himself into the hall, raced toward the door to the street. I leaped
after him, shouting to him to halt, but before I could reach the hall
he had torn open the door, and I saw him spring out into the yellow
fog. I cleared the steps in a jump and ran down the garden-walk but
just as the gate clicked in front of me. I had it open on the
instant, and, following the sound of the man's footsteps, I raced
after him across the open street. He, also, could hear me, and he
instantly stopped running, and there was absolute silence. He was so
near that I almost fancied I could hear him panting, and I held my
own breath to listen. But I could distinguish nothing but the
dripping of the mist about us, and from far off the music of the
Hungarian band, which I had heard when I first lost myself.

"All I could see was the square of light from the door I had left
open behind me, and a lamp in the hall beyond it flickering in the
draught. But even as I watched it, the flame of the lamp was blown
violently to and fro, and the door, caught in the same current of
air, closed slowly. I knew if it shut I could not again enter the
house, and I rushed madly toward it. I believe I even shouted out, as
though it were something human which I could compel to obey me, and
then I caught my foot against the curb and smashed into the sidewalk.
When I rose to my feet I was dizzy and half stunned, and though I
thought then that I was moving toward the door, I know now that I
probably turned directly from it; for, as I groped about in the
night, calling frantically for the police, my fingers touched nothing
but the dripping fog, and the iron railings for which I sought seemed
to have melted away. For many minutes I beat the mist with my arms
like one at blind man's buff, turning sharply in circles, cursing
aloud at my stupidity and crying continually for help. At last a
voice answered me from the fog, and I found myself held in the circle
of a policeman's lantern.

"That is the end of my adventure. What I have to tell you now is what
I learned from the police.

"At the station-house to which the man guided me I related what you
have just heard. I told them that the house they must at once find
was one set back from the street within a radius of two hundred yards
from the Knightsbridge Barracks, that within fifty yards of it
someone was giving a dance to the music of a Hungarian band, and that
the railings before it were as high as a man's waist and filed to a
point. With that to work upon, twenty men were at once ordered out
into the fog to search for the house, and Inspector Lyle himself was
despatched to the home of Lord Edam, Chetney's father, with a warrant
for Lord Arthur's arrest. I was thanked and dismissed on my own
recognizance.

"This morning, Inspector Lyle called on me, and from him I learned
the police theory of the scene I have just described.

"Apparently, I had wandered very far in the fog, for up to noon to-
day the house had not been found, nor had they been able to arrest
Lord Arthur. He did not return to his father's house last night, and
there is no trace of him; but from what the police knew of the past
lives of the people I found in that lost house, they have evolved a
theory, and their theory is that the murders were committed by Lord
Arthur.

"The infatuation of his elder brother, Lord Chetney, for a Russian
princess, so Inspector Lyle tells me, is well known to everyone.
About two years ago the Princess Zichy, as she calls herself, and he
were constantly together, and Chetney informed his friends that they
were about to be married. The woman was notorious in two continents,
and when Lord Edam heard of his son's infatuation he appealed to the
police for her record.

"It is through his having applied to them that they know so much
concerning her and her relations with the Chetneys. From the police
Lord Edam learned that Madame Zichy had once been a spy in the employ
of the Russian Third Section, but that lately she had been repudiated
by her own government and was living by her wits, by blackmail, and
by her beauty. Lord Edam laid this record before his son, but Chetney
either knew it already or the woman persuaded him not to believe in
it, and the father and son parted in great anger. Two days later the
marquis altered his will, leaving all of his money to the younger
brother, Arthur.

"The title and some of the landed property he could not keep from
Chetney, but he swore if his son saw the woman again that the will
should stand as it was, and he would be left without a penny.

"This was about eighteen months ago, when, apparently, Chetney tired
of the Princess, and suddenly went off to shoot and explore in
Central Africa. No word came from him, except that twice he was
reported as having died of fever in the jungle, and finally two
traders reached the coast who said they had seen his body. This was
accepted by all as conclusive, and young Arthur was recognized as the
heir to the Edam millions. On the strength of this supposition he at
once began to borrow enormous sums from the money-lenders. This is of
great importance, as the police believe it was these debts which
drove him to the murder of his brother. Yesterday, as you know, Lord
Chetney suddenly returned from the grave, and it was the fact that
for two years he had been considered as dead which lent such
importance to his return and which gave rise to those columns of
detail concerning him which appeared in all the afternoon papers.
But, obviously, during his absence he had not tired of the Princess
Zichy, for we know that a few hours after he reached London he sought
her out. His brother, who had also learned of his reappearance
through the papers, probably suspected which would be the house he
would first visit, and followed him there, arriving, so the Russian
servant tells us, while the two were at coffee in the drawing-room.
The Princess, then, we also learn from the servant, withdrew to the
dining-room, leaving the brothers together. What happened one can
only guess.

"Lord Arthur knew now that when it was discovered he was no longer
the heir, the moneylenders would come down upon him. The police
believe that he at once sought out his brother to beg for money to
cover the post-obits, but that, considering the sum he needed was
several hundreds of thousands of pounds, Chetney refused to give it
him. No one knew that Arthur had gone to seek out his brother. They
were alone. It is possible, then, that in a passion of
disappointment, and crazed with the disgrace which he saw before him,
young Arthur made himself the heir beyond further question. The death
of his brother would have availed nothing if the woman remained
alive. It is then possible that he crossed the hall, and, with the
same weapon which made him Lord Edam's heir, destroyed the solitary
witness to the murder. The only other person who could have seen it
was sleeping in a drunken stupor, to which fact undoubtedly he owed
his life. And yet," concluded the Naval Attache, leaning forward and
marking each word with his finger, "Lord Arthur blundered fatally. In
his haste he left the door of the house open, so giving access to the
first passer-by, and he forgot that when he entered it he had handed
his card to the servant. That piece of paper may yet send him to the
gallows. In the meantime, he has disappeared completely, and
somewhere, in one of the millions of streets of this great capital,
in a locked and empty house, lies the body of his brother, and of the
woman his brother loved, undiscovered, unburied; and with their
murder unavenged."

In the discussion which followed the conclusion of the story of the
Naval Attache, the gentleman with the pearl took no part. Instead, he
arose, and, beckoning a servant to a far corner of the room,
whispered earnestly to him until a sudden movement on the part of Sir
Andrew caused him to return hurriedly to the table.

"There are several points in Mr. Sears's story I want explained," he
cried. "Be seated, Sir Andrew," he begged. "Let us have the opinion
of an expert. I do not care what the police think, I want to know
what you think."

But Sir Andrew rose reluctantly from his chair.

"I should like nothing better than to discuss this," he said. "But it
is most important that I proceed to the House. I should have been
there some time ago." He turned toward the servant and directed him
to call a hansom.

The gentleman with the pearl stud looked appealingly at the Naval
Attache. "There are surely many details that you have not told us,"
he urged. "Some you have forgotten."

The Baronet interrupted quickly.

"I trust not," he said, "for I could not possibly stop to hear them."

"The story is finished," declared the Naval Attache; "until Lord
Arthur is arrested or the bodies are found there is nothing more to
tell of either Chetney or the Princess Zichy."

"Of Lord Chetney, perhaps not," interrupted the sporting-looking
gentleman with the black tie, "but there'll always be something to
tell of the Princess Zichy. I know enough stories about her to fill a
book. She was a most remarkable woman." The speaker dropped the end
of his cigar into his coffee-cup and, taking his case from his
pocket, selected a fresh one. As he did so he laughed and held up the
case that the others might see it. It was an ordinary cigar-case of
well-worn pig-skin, with a silver clasp.

"The only time I ever met her," he said, "she tried to rob me of
this."

The Baronet regarded him closely.

"She tried to rob you?" he repeated.

"Tried to rob me of this," continued the gentleman in the black tie,
"and of the Czarina's diamonds." His tone was one of mingled
admiration and injury.

"The Czarina's diamonds!" exclaimed the Baronet. He glanced quickly
and suspiciously at the speaker, and then at the others about the
table. But their faces gave evidence of no other emotion than that of
ordinary interest.

"Yes, the Czarina's diamonds," repeated the man with the black tie.
"It was a necklace of diamonds. I was told to take them to the
Russian Ambassador in Paris, who was to deliver them at Moscow. I am
a Queen's Messenger," he added.

"Oh, I see," exclaimed Sir Andrew, in a tone of relief. "And you say
that this same Princess Zichy, one of the victims of this double
murder, endeavored to rob you of--of--that cigar-case."

"And the Czarina's diamonds," answered the Queen's Messenger,
imperturbably. "It's not much of a story, but it gives you an idea of
the woman's character. The robbery took place between Paris and
Marseilles."

The Baronet interrupted him with an abrupt movement. "No, no," he
cried, shaking his head in protest. "Do not tempt me. I really cannot
listen. I must be at the House in ten minutes."

"I am sorry," said the Queen's Messenger. He turned to those seated
about him. "I wonder if the other gentlemen--" he inquired,
tentatively. There was a chorus of polite murmurs, and the Queen's
Messenger, bowing his head in acknowledgment, took a preparatory sip
from his glass. At the same moment the servant to whom the man with
the black pearl had spoken, slipped a piece of paper into his hand.
He glanced at it, frowned, and threw it under the table.

The servant bowed to the Baronet.

"Your hansom is waiting, Sir Andrew," he said.

"The necklace was worth twenty thousand pounds," began the Queen's
Messenger, "It was a present from the Queen of England to celebrate--
" The Baronet gave an exclamation of angry annoyance.

"Upon my word, this is most provoking," he interrupted. "I really
ought not to stay. But I certainly mean to hear this." He turned
irritably to the servant. "Tell the hansom to wait," he commanded,
and, with an air of a boy who is playing truant, slipped guiltily
into his chair.

The gentleman with the black pearl smiled blandly, and rapped upon
the table.

"Order, gentlemen," he said. "Order for the story of the Queen's
Messenger and the Czarina's diamonds."




II


"The necklace was a present from the Queen of England to the Czarina
of Russia," began the Queen's Messenger. "It was to celebrate the
occasion of the Czar's coronation. Our Foreign Office knew that the
Russian Ambassador in Paris was to proceed to Moscow for that
ceremony, and I was directed to go to Paris and turn over the
necklace to him. But when I reached Paris I found he had not expected
me for a week later and was taking a few days' vacation at Nice. His
people asked me to leave the necklace with them at the Embassy, but I
had been charged to get a receipt for it from the Ambassador himself,
so I started at once for Nice. The fact that Monte Carlo is not two
thousand miles from Nice may have had something to do with making me
carry out my instructions so carefully.

"Now, how the Princess Zichy came to find out about the necklace I
don't know, but I can guess. As you have just heard, she was at one
time a spy in the service of the Russian Government. And after they
dismissed her she kept up her acquaintance with many of the Russian
agents in London. It is probable that through one of them she learned
that the necklace was to be sent to Moscow, and which one of the
Queen's Messengers had been detailed to take it there. Still, I doubt
if even that knowledge would have helped her if she had not also
known something which I supposed no one else in the world knew but
myself and one other man. And, curiously enough, the other man was a
Queen's Messenger, too, and a friend of mine. You must know that up
to the time of this robbery I had always concealed my despatches in a
manner peculiarly my own. I got the idea from that play called 'A
Scrap of Paper.' In it a man wants to hide a certain compromising
document. He knows that all his rooms will be secretly searched for
it, so he puts it in a torn envelope and sticks it up where anyone
can see it on his mantle-shelf. The result is that the woman who is
ransacking the house to find it looks in all the unlikely places, but
passes over the scrap of paper that is just under her nose. Sometimes
the papers and packages they give us to carry about Europe are of
very great value, and sometimes they are special makes of cigarettes,
and orders to court-dressmakers. Sometimes we know what we are
carrying and sometimes we do not. If it is a large sum of money or a
treaty, they generally tell us. But, as a rule, we have no knowledge
of what the package contains; so to be on the safe side, we naturally
take just as great care of it as though we knew it held the terms of
an ultimatum or the crown-jewels. As a rule, my confreres carry the
official packages in a despatch-box, which is just as obvious as a
lady's jewel-bag in the hands of her maid. Everyone knows they are
carrying something of value. They put a premium on dishonesty. Well,
after I saw the 'Scrap-of-Paper' play, I determined to put the
government valuables in the most unlikely place that anyone would
look for them. So I used to hide the documents they gave me inside my
riding-boots, and small articles, such as money or jewels, I carried
in an old cigar-case. After I took to using my case for that purpose
I bought a new one, exactly like it, for my cigars. But, to avoid
mistakes, I had my initials placed on both sides of the new one, and
the moment I touched the case, even in the dark, I could tell which
it was by the raised initials.

"No one knew of this except the Queen's Messenger of whom I spoke. We
once left Paris together on the Orient Express. I was going to
Constantinople and he was to stop off at Vienna. On the journey I
told him of my peculiar way of hiding things and showed him my cigar-
case. If I recollect rightly, on that trip it held the grand cross of
St. Michael and St. George, which the Queen was sending to our
Ambassador. The Messenger was very much entertained at my scheme, and
some months later when he met the Princess he told her about it as an
amusing story. Of course, he had no idea she was a Russian spy. He
didn't know anything at all about her, except that she was a very
attractive woman. It was indiscreet, but he could not possibly have
guessed that she could ever make any use of what he told her.

"Later, after the robbery, I remembered that I had informed this
young chap of my secret hiding-place, and when I saw him again I
questioned him about it. He was greatly distressed, and said he had
never seen the importance of the secret. He remembered he had told
several people of it, and among others the Princess Zichy. In that
way I found out that it was she who had robbed me, and I know that
from the moment I left London she was following me, and that she knew
then that the diamonds were concealed in my cigar-case.

"My train for Nice left Paris at ten in the morning. When I travel at
night I generally tell the chef de gare that I am a Queen's
Messenger, and he gives me a compartment to myself, but in the
daytime I take whatever offers. On this morning I had found an empty
compartment, and I had tipped the guard to keep everyone else out,
not from any fear of losing the diamonds, but because I wanted to
smoke. He had locked the door, and as the last bell had rung I
supposed I was to travel alone, so I began to arrange my traps and
make myself comfortable. The diamonds in the cigar-case were in the
inside pocket of my waistcoat, and as they made a bulky package, I
took them out, intending to put them in my hand-bag. It is a small
satchel like a bookmaker's, or those hand-bags that couriers carry. I
wear it slung from a strap across my shoulders, and, no matter
whether I am sitting or walking, it never leaves me.

"I took the cigar-case which held the necklace from my inside pocket
and the case which held the cigars out of the satchel, and while I
was searching through it for a box of matches I laid the two cases
beside me on the seat.

"At that moment the train started, but at the same instant there was
a rattle at the lock of the compartment, and a couple of porters
lifted and shoved a woman through the door, and hurled her rugs and
umbrellas in after her.

"Instinctively I reached for the diamonds. I shoved them quickly into
the satchel and, pushing them far down to the bottom of the bag,
snapped the spring-lock. Then I put the cigars in the pocket of my
coat, but with the thought that now that I had a woman as a
travelling companion I would probably not be allowed to enjoy them.

"One of her pieces of luggage had fallen at my feet, and a roll of
rugs had landed at my side. I thought if I hid the fact that the lady
was not welcome, and at once endeavored to be civil, she might permit
me to smoke. So I picked her hand-bag off the floor and asked her
where I might place it.

"As I spoke I looked at her for the first time, and saw that she was
a most remarkably handsome woman.

"She smiled charmingly and begged me not to disturb myself. Then she
arranged her own things about her, and, opening her dressing-bag,
took out a gold cigarette-case.

"'Do you object to smoke?' she asked.

"I laughed and assured her I had been in great terror lest she might
object to it herself.

"'If you like cigarettes,' she said, 'will you try some of these?
They are rolled especially for my husband in Russia, and they are
supposed to be very good.'

"I thanked her, and took one from her case, and I found it so much
better than my own that I continued to smoke her cigarettes
throughout the rest of the journey. I must say that we got on very
well. I judged from the coronet on her cigarette-case, and from her
manner, which was quite as well bred as that of any woman I ever met,
that she was someone of importance, and though she seemed almost too
good-looking to be respectable, I determined that she was some grande
dame who was so assured of her position that she could afford to be
unconventional. At first she read her novel, and then she made some
comment on the scenery, and finally we began to discuss the current
politics of the Continent. She talked of all the cities in Europe,
and seemed to know everyone worth knowing. But she volunteered
nothing about herself except that she frequently made use of the
expression, 'When my husband was stationed at Vienna,' or 'When my
husband was promoted to Rome.' Once she said to me, 'I have often
seen you at Monte Carlo. I saw you when you won the pigeon-
championship.' I told her that I was not a pigeon-shot, and she gave
a little start of surprise. 'Oh, I beg your pardon,' she said; 'I
thought you were Morton Hamilton, the English champion.' As a matter
of fact, I do look like Hamilton, but I know now that her object was
to make me think that she had no idea as to who I really was. She
needn't have acted at all, for I certainly had no suspicions of her,
and was only too pleased to have so charming a companion.

"The one thing that should have made me suspicious was the fact that
at every station she made some trivial excuse to get me out of the
compartment. She pretended that her maid was travelling back of us in
one of the second-class carriages, and kept saying she could not
imagine why the woman did not come to look after her, and if the maid
did not turn up at the next stop, would I be so very kind as to get
out and bring her whatever it was she pretended she wanted.

"I had taken my dressing-case from the rack to get out a novel, and
had left it on the seat opposite to mine, and at the end of the
compartment farthest from her. And once when I came back from buying
her a cup of chocolate, or from some other fool-errand, I found her
standing at my end of the compartment with both hands on the
dressing-bag. She looked at me without so much as winking an eye, and
shoved the case carefully into a corner. 'Your bag slipped off on the
floor,' she said. 'If you've got any bottles in it, you had better
look and see that they're not broken.'

"And I give you my word, I was such an ass that I did open the case
and looked all through it. She must have thought I WAS a Juggins. I
get hot all over whenever I remember it. But, in spite of my dulness,
and her cleverness, she couldn't gain anything by sending me away,
because what she wanted was in the hand-bag, and every time she sent
me away the hand-bag went with me.

"After the incident of the dressing-case her manner changed. Either
in my absence she had had time to look through it, or, when I was
examining it for broken bottles, she had seen everything it held.

"From that moment she must have been certain that the cigar-case, in
which she knew I carried the diamonds, was in the bag that was
fastened to my body, and from that time on she probably was plotting
how to get it from me.

"Her anxiety became most apparent. She dropped the great-lady manner,
and her charming condescension went with it. She ceased talking, and,
when I spoke, answered me irritably, or at random. No doubt her mind
was entirely occupied with her plan. The end of our journey was
drawing rapidly nearer, and her time for action was being cut down
with the speed of the express-train. Even I, unsuspicious as I was,
noticed that something was very wrong with her. I really believe that
before we reached Marseilles if I had not, through my own stupidity,
given her the chance she wanted, she might have stuck a knife in me
and rolled me out on the rails. But as it was, I only thought that
the long journey had tired her. I suggested that it was a very trying
trip, and asked her if she would allow me to offer her some of my
cognac.

"She thanked me and said, 'No,' and then suddenly her eyes lighted,
and she exclaimed, 'Yes, thank you, if you will be so kind.'

"My flask was in the hand-bag, and I placed it on my lap and, with my
thumb, slipped back the catch. As I keep my tickets and railroad-
guide in the bag, I am so constantly opening it that I never bother
to lock it, and the fact that it is strapped to me has always been
sufficient protection. But I can appreciate now what a satisfaction,
and what a torment, too, it must have been to that woman when she saw
that the bag opened without a key.

"While we were crossing the mountains I had felt rather chilly and
had been wearing a light racing-coat. But after the lamps were
lighted the compartment became very hot and stuffy, and I found the
coat uncomfortable. So I stood up, and after first slipping the strap
of the bag over my head, I placed the bag in the seat next me and
pulled off the racing-coat. I don't blame myself for being careless;
the bag was still within reach of my hand, and nothing would have
happened if at that exact moment the train had not stopped at Arles.
It was the combination of my removing the bag and our entering the
station at the same instant which gave the Princess Zichy the chance
she wanted to rob me.

"I needn't say that she was clever enough to take it. The train ran
into the station at full speed and came to a sudden stop. I had just
thrown my coat into the rack, and had reached out my hand for the
bag. In another instant I would have had the strap around my
shoulder. But at that moment the Princess threw open the door of the
compartment and beckoned wildly at the people on the platform.
'Natalie!' she called, 'Natalie! here I am. Come here! This way!' She
turned upon me in the greatest excitement. 'My maid!' she cried. 'She
is looking for me. She passed the window without seeing me. Go,
please, and bring her back.' She continued pointing out of the door
and beckoning me with her other hand. There certainly was something
about that woman's tone which made one jump. When she was giving
orders you had no chance to think of anything else. So I rushed out
on my errand of mercy, and then rushed back again to ask what the
maid looked like.

"'In black,' she answered, rising and blocking the door of the
compartment. 'All in black, with a bonnet!'

"The train waited three minutes at Arles, and in that time I suppose
I must have rushed up to over twenty women and asked, 'Are you
Natalie?' The only reason I wasn't punched with an umbrella or handed
over to the police was that they probably thought I was crazy.

"When I jumped back into the compartment the Princess was seated
where I had left her, but her eyes were burning with happiness. She
placed her hand on my arm almost affectionately, and said, in a
hysterical way, 'You are very kind to me. I am so sorry to have
troubled you.'

"I protested that every woman on the platform was dressed in black.

"'Indeed, I am so sorry,' she said, laughing; and she continued to
laugh until she began to breathe so quickly that I thought she was
going to faint.

"I can see now that the last part of that journey must have been a
terrible half-hour for her. She had the cigar-case safe enough, but
she knew that she herself was not safe. She understood if I were to
open my bag, even at the last minute, and miss the case, I would know
positively that she had taken it. I had placed the diamonds in the
bag at the very moment she entered the compartment, and no one but
our two selves had occupied it since. She knew that when we reached
Marseilles she would either be twenty thousand pounds richer than
when she left Paris, or that she would go to jail. That was the
situation as she must have read it, and I don't envy her her state of
mind during that last half-hour. It must have been hell.

"I saw that something was wrong, and, in my innocence, I even
wondered if possibly my cognac had not been a little too strong. For
she suddenly developed into a most brilliant conversationalist, and
applauded and laughed at everything I said, and fired off questions
at me like a machine-gun, so that I had no time to think of anything
but of what she was saying. Whenever I stirred, she stopped her
chattering and leaned toward me, and watched me like a cat over a
mouse-hole. I wondered how I could have considered her an agreeable
travelling-companion. I thought I would have preferred to be locked
in with a lunatic. I don't like to think how she would have acted if
I had made a move to examine the bag, but as I had it safely strapped
around me again, I did not open it, and I reached Marseilles alive.
As we drew into the station she shook hands with me and grinned at me
like a Cheshire cat.

"'I cannot tell you,' she said, 'how much I have to thank you for.'
What do you think of that for impudence?

"I offered to put her in a carriage, but she said she must find
Natalie, and that she hoped we would meet again at the hotel. So I
drove off by myself, wondering who she was, and whether Natalie was
not her keeper.

"I had to wait several hours for the train to Nice; and as I wanted
to stroll around the city I thought I had better put the diamonds in
the safe of the hotel. As soon as I reached my room I locked the
door, placed the hand-bag on the table, and opened it. I felt among
the things at the top of it, but failed to touch the cigar-case. I
shoved my hand in deeper, and stirred the things about, but still I
did not reach it. A cold wave swept down my spine, and a sort of
emptiness came to the pit of my stomach. Then I turned red-hot, and
the sweat sprung out all over me. I wet my lips with my tongue, and
said to myself, 'Don't be an ass. Pull yourself together, pull
yourself together. Take the things out, one at a time. It's there, of
course, it's there. Don't be an ass.'

"So I put a brake on my nerves and began very carefully to pick out
the things, one by one, but, after another second, I could not stand
it, and I rushed across the room and threw out everything on the bed.
But the diamonds were not among them. I pulled the things about and
tore them open and shuffled and rearranged and sorted them, but it
was no use. The cigar-case was gone. I threw everything in the
dressing-case out on the floor, although I knew it was useless to
look for it there. I knew that I had put it in the bag. I sat down
and tried to think. I remembered I had put it in the satchel at Paris
just as that woman had entered the compartment, and I had been alone
with her ever since, so it was she who had robbed me. But how? It had
never left my shoulder. And then I remembered that it had--that I had
taken it off when I had changed my coat and for the few moments that
I was searching for Natalie. I remembered that the woman had sent me
on that goose-chase, and that at every other station she had tried to
get rid of me on some fool-errand.

"I gave a roar like a mad bull, and I jumped down the stairs, six
steps at a time.

"I demanded at the office if a distinguished lady of title, possibly
a Russian, had just entered the hotel.

"As I expected, she had not. I sprang into a cab and inquired at two
other hotels, and then I saw the folly of trying to catch her without
outside help, and I ordered the fellow to gallop to the office of the
Chief of Police. I told my story, and the ass in charge asked me to
calm myself, and wanted to take notes. I told him this was no time
for taking notes, but for doing something. He got wrathy at that, and
I demanded to be taken at once to his Chief. The Chief, he said, was
very busy, and could not see me. So I showed him my silver greyhound.
In eleven years I had never used it but once before. I stated, in
pretty vigorous language, that I was a Queen's Messenger, and that if
the Chief of Police did not see me instantly he would lose his
official head. At that the fellow jumped off his high horse and ran
with me to his Chief--a smart young chap, a colonel in the army, and
a very intelligent man.

"I explained that I had been robbed, in a French railway-carriage, of
a diamond-necklace belonging to the Queen of England, which her
Majesty was sending as a present to the Czarina of Russia. I pointed
out to him that if he succeeded in capturing the thief he would be
made for life, and would receive the gratitude of three great powers.

"He wasn't the sort that thinks second thoughts are best. He saw
Russian and French decorations sprouting all over his chest, and he
hit a bell, and pressed buttons, and yelled out orders like the
captain of a penny-steamer in a fog. He sent her description to all
the city-gates, and ordered all cabmen and railway-porters to search
all trains leaving Marseilles. He ordered all passengers on outgoing
vessels to be examined, and telegraphed the proprietors of every
hotel and pension to send him a complete list of their guests within
the hour. While I was standing there he must have given at least a
hundred orders, and sent out enough commissaires, sergeants de ville,
gendarmes, bicycle-police, and plain-clothes Johnnies to have
captured the entire German army. When they had gone he assured me
that the woman was as good as arrested already. Indeed, officially,
she was arrested; for she had no more chance of escape from
Marseilles than from the Chateau D'If.

"He told me to return to my hotel and possess my soul in peace.
Within an hour he assured me he would acquaint me with her arrest.

"I thanked him, and complimented him on his energy, and left him. But
I didn't share in his confidence. I felt that she was a very clever
woman, and a match for any and all of us. It was all very well for
him to be jubilant. He had not lost the diamonds, and had everything
to gain if he found them; while I, even if he did recover the
necklace, would only be where I was before I lost them, and if he did
not recover it I was a ruined man. It was an awful facer for me. I
had always prided myself on my record. In eleven years I had never
mislaid an envelope, nor missed taking the first train. And now I had
failed in the most important mission that had ever been intrusted to
me. And it wasn't a thing that could be hushed up, either. It was too
conspicuous, too spectacular. It was sure to invite the widest
notoriety. I saw myself ridiculed all over the Continent, and perhaps
dismissed, even suspected of having taken the thing myself.

"I was walking in front of a lighted cafe, and I felt so sick and
miserable that I stopped for a pick-me-up. Then I considered that if
I took one drink I would probably, in my present state of mind, not
want to stop under twenty, and I decided I had better leave it alone.
But my nerves were jumping like a frightened rabbit, and I felt I
must have something to quiet them, or I would go crazy. I reached for
my cigarette-case, but a cigarette seemed hardly adequate, so I put
it back again and took out this cigar-case, in which I keep only the
strongest and blackest cigars. I opened it and stuck in my fingers,
but, instead of a cigar, they touched on a thin leather envelope. My
heart stood perfectly still. I did not dare to look, but I dug my
finger-nails into the leather, and I felt layers of thin paper, then
a layer of cotton, and then they scratched on the facets of the
Czarina's diamonds!

"I stumbled as though I had been hit in the face, and fell back into
one of the chairs on the sidewalk. I tore off the wrappings and
spread out the diamonds on the cafe-table; I could not believe they
were real. I twisted the necklace between my fingers and crushed it
between my palms and tossed it up in the air. I believe I almost
kissed it. The women in the cafe stood up on the chairs to see
better, and laughed and screamed, and the people crowded so close
around me that the waiters had to form a body-guard. The proprietor
thought there was a fight, and called for the police. I was so happy
I didn't care. I laughed, too, and gave the proprietor a five-pound
note, and told him to stand everyone a drink. Then I tumbled into a
fiacre and galloped off to my friend the Chief of Police. I felt very
sorry for him. He had been so happy at the chance I gave him, and he
was sure to be disappointed when he learned I had sent him off on a
false alarm.

"But now that I had found the necklace, I did not want him to find
the woman. Indeed, I was most anxious that she should get clear away,
for, if she were caught, the truth would come out, and I was likely
to get a sharp reprimand, and sure to be laughed at.

"I could see now how it had happened. In my haste to hide the
diamonds when the woman was hustled into the carriage, I had shoved
the cigars into the satchel, and the diamonds into the pocket of my
coat. Now that I had the diamonds safe again, it seemed a very
natural mistake. But I doubted if the Foreign Office would think so.
I was afraid it might not appreciate the beautiful simplicity of my
secret hiding-place. So, when I reached the police-station, and found
that the woman was still at large, I was more than relieved.

"As I expected, the Chief was extremely chagrined when he learned of
my mistake, and that there was nothing for him to do. But I was
feeling so happy myself that I hated to have anyone else miserable,
so I suggested that this attempt to steal the Czarina's necklace
might be only the first of a series of such attempts by an
unscrupulous gang, and that I might still be in danger.

"I winked at the Chief, and the Chief smiled at me, and we went to
Nice together in a saloon-car with a guard of twelve carabineers and
twelve plain-clothes men, and the Chief and I drank champagne all the
way. We marched together up to the hotel where the Russian Ambassador
was stopping, closely surrounded by our escort of carabineers, and
delivered the necklace with the most profound ceremony. The old
Ambassador was immensely impressed, and when we hinted that already I
had been made the object of an attack by robbers, he assured us that
his Imperial Majesty would not prove ungrateful.

"I wrote a swinging personal letter about the invaluable services of
the Chief to the French Minister of Foreign Affairs, and they gave
him enough Russian and French medals to satisfy even a French
soldier. So, though he never caught the woman, he received his just
reward."

The Queen's Messenger paused and surveyed the faces of those about
him in some embarrassment.

"But the worst of it is," he added, "that the story must have got
about; for, while the Princess obtained nothing from me but a cigar-
case and five excellent cigars, a few weeks after the coronation the
Czar sent me a gold cigar-case with his monogram in diamonds. And I
don't know yet whether that was a coincidence, or whether the Czar
wanted me to know that he knew that I had been carrying the Czarina's
diamonds in my pig-skin cigar-case. What do you fellows think?"




III


Sir Andrew rose, with disapproval written in every lineament.

"I thought your story would bear upon the murder," he said. "Had I
imagined it would have nothing whatsoever to do with it, I would not
have remained." He pushed back his chair and bowed, stiffly. "I wish
you good night," he said.

There was a chorus of remonstrance, and, under cover of this and the
Baronet's answering protests, a servant, for the second time, slipped
a piece of paper into the hand of the gentleman with the pearl stud.
He read the lines written upon it and tore it into tiny fragments.

The youngest member, who had remained an interested but silent
listener to the tale of the Queen's Messenger, raised his hand,
commandingly.

"Sir Andrew," he cried, "in justice to Lord Arthur Chetney, I must
ask you to be seated. He has been accused in our hearing of a most
serious crime, and I insist that you remain until you have heard me
clear his character."

"You!" cried the Baronet.

"Yes," answered the young man, briskly. "I would have spoken sooner,"
he explained, "but that I thought this gentleman"--he inclined his
head toward the Queen's Messenger--"was about to contribute some
facts of which I was ignorant. He, however, has told us nothing, and
so I will take up the tale at the point where Lieutenant Sears laid
it down and give you those details of which Lieutenant Sears is
ignorant. It seems strange to you that I should be able to add the
sequel to this story. But the coincidence is easily explained. I am
the junior member of the law firm of Chudleigh & Chudleigh. We have
been solicitors for the Chetneys for the last two hundred years.
Nothing, no matter how unimportant, which concerns Lord Edam and his
two sons is unknown to us, and naturally we are acquainted with every
detail of the terrible catastrophe of last night."

The Baronet, bewildered but eager, sank back into his chair.

"Will you be long, sir?" he demanded.

"I shall endeavor to be brief," said the young solicitor; "and," he
added, in a tone which gave his words almost the weight of a threat,
"I promise to be interesting."

"There is no need to promise that," said Sir Andrew, "I find it much
too interesting as it is." He glanced ruefully at the clock and
turned his eyes quickly from it.

"Tell the driver of that hansom," he called to the servant, "that I
take him by the hour."

"For the last three days," began young Mr. Chudleigh, "as you have
probably read in the daily papers, the Marquis of Edam has been at
the point of death, and his physicians have never left his house.
Every hour he seemed to grow weaker; but although his bodily strength
is apparently leaving him forever, his mind has remained clear and
active. Late yesterday evening, word was received at our office that
he wished my father to come at once to Chetney House and to bring
with him certain papers. What these papers were is not essential; I
mention them only to explain how it was that last night I happened to
be at Lord Edam's bedside. I accompanied my father to Chetney House,
but at the time we reached there Lord Edam was sleeping, and his
physicians refused to have him awakened. My father urged that he
should be allowed to receive Lord Edam's instructions concerning the
documents, but the physicians would not disturb him, and we all
gathered in the library to wait until he should awake of his own
accord. It was about one o'clock in the morning, while we were still
there, that Inspector Lyle and the officers from Scotland Yard came
to arrest Lord Arthur on the charge of murdering his brother. You can
imagine our dismay and distress. Like everyone else, I had learned
from the afternoon papers that Lord Chetney was not dead, but that he
had returned to England, and, on arriving at Chetney House, I had
been told that Lord Arthur had gone to the Bath Hotel to look for his
brother and to inform him that if he wished to see their father alive
he must come to him at once. Although it was now past one o'clock,
Arthur had not returned. None of us knew where Madame Zichy lived, so
we could not go to recover Lord Chetney's body. We spent a most
miserable night, hastening to the window whenever a cab came into the
square, in the hope that it was Arthur returning, and endeavoring to
explain away the facts that pointed to him as the murderer. I am a
friend of Arthur's, I was with him at Harrow and at Oxford, and I
refused to believe for an instant that he was capable of such a
crime; but as a lawyer I could not help but see that the
circumstantial evidence was strongly against him.

"Toward early morning, Lord Edam awoke, and in so much better a state
of health that he refused to make the changes in the papers which he
had intended, declaring that he was no nearer death than ourselves.
Under other circumstances, this happy change in him would have
relieved us greatly, but none of us could think of anything save the
death of his elder son and of the charge which hung over Arthur.

"As long as Inspector Lyle remained in the house, my father decided
that I, as one of the legal advisers of the family, should also
remain there. But there was little for either of us to do. Arthur did
not return, and nothing occurred until late this morning, when Lyle
received word that the Russian servant had been arrested. He at once
drove to Scotland Yard to question him. He came back to us in an
hour, and informed me that the servant had refused to tell anything
of what had happened the night before, or of himself, or of the
Princess Zichy. He would not even give them the address of her house.

"'He is in abject terror,' Lyle said. 'I assured him that he was not
suspected of the crime, but he would tell me nothing.'

"There were no other developments until two o'clock this afternoon,
when word was brought to us that Arthur had been found, and that he
was lying in the accident-ward of St. George's Hospital. Lyle and I
drove there together, and found him propped up in bed with his head
bound in a bandage. He had been brought to the hospital the night
before by the driver of a hansom that had run over him in the fog.
The cab-horse had kicked him on the head, and he had been carried in
unconscious. There was nothing on him to tell who he was, and it was
not until he came to his senses this afternoon that the hospital
authorities had been able to send word to his people. Lyle at once
informed him that he was under arrest, and with what he was charged,
and though the Inspector warned him to say nothing which might be
used against him, I, as his solicitor, instructed him to speak freely
and to tell us all he knew of the occurrences of last night. It was
evident to anyone that the fact of his brother's death was of much
greater concern to him than that he was accused of his murder.

"'That,' Arthur said, contemptuously, 'that is damned nonsense. It is
monstrous and cruel. We parted better friends than we have been in
years. I will tell you all that happened--not to clear myself, but to
help you to find out the truth.' His story is as follows: Yesterday
afternoon, owing to his constant attendance on his father, he did not
look at the evening papers, and it was not until after dinner, when
the butler brought him one and told him of its contents, that he
learned that his brother was alive and at the Bath Hotel. He drove
there at once, but was told that about eight o'clock his brother had
gone out, but without giving any clew to his destination. As Chetney
had not at once come to see his father, Arthur decided that he was
still angry with him, and his mind, turning naturally to the cause of
their quarrel, determined him to look for Chetney at the home of the
Princess Zichy.

"Her house had been pointed out to him, and though he had never
visited it, he had passed it many times and knew its exact location.
He accordingly drove in that direction, as far as the fog would
permit the hansom to go, and walked the rest of the way, reaching the
house about nine o'clock. He rang, and was admitted by the Russian
servant. The man took his card into the drawing-room, and at once his
brother ran out and welcomed him. He was followed by the Princess
Zichy, who also received Arthur most cordially.

"'You brothers will have much to talk about,' she said. 'I am going
to the dining-room. When you have finished, let me know.'

"As soon as she had left them, Arthur told his brother that their
father was not expected to outlive the night, and that he must come
to him at once.

"'This is not the moment to remember your quarrel,' Arthur said to
him; 'you have come back from the dead only in time to make your
peace with him before he dies.'

"Arthur says that at this Chetney was greatly moved.

"'You entirely misunderstand me, Arthur,' he returned. 'I did not
know the governor was ill, or I would have gone to him the instant I
arrived. My only reason for not doing so was because I thought he was
still angry with me. I shall return with you immediately, as soon as
I have said good-by to the Princess. It is a final good-by. After to-
night I shall never see her again.'

"'Do you mean that?' Arthur cried.

"'Yes,' Chetney answered. 'When I returned to London I had no
intention of seeking her again, and I am here only through a
mistake.' He then told Arthur that he had separated from the Princess
even before he went to Central Africa, and that, moreover, while at
Cairo on his way south, he had learned certain facts concerning her
life there during the previous season, which made it impossible for
him to ever wish to see her again. Their separation was final and
complete.

"'She deceived me cruelly,' he said; 'I cannot tell you how cruelly.
During the two years when I was trying to obtain my father's consent
to our marriage she was in love with a Russian diplomat. During all
that time he was secretly visiting her here in London, and her trip
to Cairo was only an excuse to meet him there.'

"'Yet you are here with her to-night,' Arthur protested, 'only a few
hours after your return.'

"'That is easily explained,' Chetney answered. 'As I finished dinner
to-night at the hotel, I received a note from her from this address.
In it she said she had just learned of my arrival, and begged me to
come to her at once. She wrote that she was in great and present
trouble, dying of an incurable illness, and without friends or money.
She begged me, for the sake of old times, to come to her assistance.
During the last two years in the jungle all my former feeling for
Zichy has utterly passed away, but no one could have dismissed the
appeal she made in that letter. So I came here, and found her, as you
have seen her, quite as beautiful as she ever was, in very good
health, and, from the look of the house, in no need of money.

"'I asked her what she meant by writing me that she was dying in a
garret, and she laughed, and said she had done so because she was
afraid, unless I thought she needed help, I would not try to see her.
That was where we were when you arrived. And now,' Chetney added, 'I
will say good-by to her, and you had better return home. No, you can
trust me, I shall follow you at once. She has no influence over me
now, but I believe, in spite of the way she has used me, that she is,
after her queer fashion, still fond of me, and when she learns that
this good-by is final there may be a scene, and it is not fair to her
that you should be here. So, go home at once, and tell the governor
that I am following you in ten minutes.'

"'That,' said Arthur, 'is the way we parted. I never left him on more
friendly terms. I was happy to see him alive again, I was happy to
think he had returned in time to make up his quarrel with my father,
and I was happy that at last he was shut of that woman. I was never
better pleased with him in my life.' He turned to Inspector Lyle, who
was sitting at the foot of the bed, taking notes of all he told us.

"'Why, in the name of common-sense,' he cried, 'should I have chosen
that moment, of all others, to send my brother back to the grave?'
For a moment the Inspector did not answer him. I do not know if any
of you gentlemen are acquainted with Inspector Lyle, but if you are
not, I can assure you that he is a very remarkable man. Our firm
often applies to him for aid, and he has never failed us; my father
has the greatest possible respect for him. Where he has the advantage
over the ordinary police-official is in the fact that he possesses
imagination. He imagines himself to be the criminal, imagines how he
would act under the same circumstances, and he imagines to such
purpose that he generally finds the man he wants. I have often told
Lyle that if he had not been a detective he would have made a great
success as a poet or a playwright.

"When Arthur turned on him, Lyle hesitated for a moment, and then
told him exactly what was the case against him,

"'Ever since your brother was reported as having died in Africa,' he
said, 'your lordship has been collecting money on post-obits. Lord
Chetney's arrival, last night, turned them into waste-paper. You were
suddenly in debt for thousands of pounds--for much more than you
could ever possibly pay. No one knew that you and your brother had
met at Madame Zichy's. But you knew that your father was not expected
to outlive the night, and that if your brother were dead also, you
would be saved from complete ruin, and that you would become the
Marquis of Edam.'

"'Oh, that is how you have worked it out, is it?' Arthur cried. 'And
for me to become Lord Edam was it necessary that the woman should
die, too?'

"'They will say,' Lyle answered, 'that she was a witness to the
murder--that she would have told.'

"'Then why did I not kill the servant as well?' Arthur said.

"'He was asleep, and saw nothing.'

"'And you believe that?' Arthur demanded.

"'It is not a question of what I believe,' Lyle said, gravely. 'It is
a question for your peers.'

"'The man is insolent!' Arthur cried. 'The thing is monstrous!
Horrible!'

"Before we could stop him, he sprang out of his cot and began pulling
on his clothes. When the nurses tried to hold him down, he fought
with them.

"'Do you think you can keep me here,' he shouted, 'when they are
plotting to hang me? I am going with you to that house!' he cried at
Lyle. 'When you find those bodies I shall be beside you. It is my
right. He is my brother. He has been murdered, and I can tell you who
murdered him. That woman murdered him.'

'She first ruined his life, and now she has killed him. For the last
five years she has been plotting to make herself his wife, and last
night, when he told her he had discovered the truth about the
Russian, and that she would never see him again, she flew into a
passion and stabbed him, and then in terror of the gallows, killed
herself. She murdered him, I tell you, and I promise you that we will
find the knife she used near her--perhaps still in her hand. What
will you say to that?'

"Lyle turned his head away and stared down at the floor. 'I might
say,' he answered, 'that you placed it there.'

"Arthur gave a cry of anger and sprang at him, and then pitched
forward into his arms. The blood was running from the cut under the
bandage, and he had fainted. Lyle carried him back to the bed again,
and we left him with the police and the doctors, and drove at once to
the address he had given us. We found the house not three minutes'
walk from St. George's Hospital. It stands in Trevor Terrace, that
little row of houses set back from Knightsbridge, with one end in
Hill Street.

"As we left the hospital, Lyle had said to me, 'You must not blame me
for treating him as I did. All is fair in this work, and if by
angering that boy I could have made him commit himself, I was right
in trying to do so; though, I assure you, no one would be better
pleased than myself if I could prove his theory to be correct. But we
cannot tell. Everything depends upon what we see for ourselves within
the next few minutes.'

"When we reached the house, Lyle broke open the fastenings of one of
the windows on the ground-floor, and, hidden by the trees in the
garden, we scrambled in. We found ourselves in the reception-room,
which was the first room on the right of the hall. The gas was still
burning behind the colored glass and red, silk shades, and when the
daylight streamed in after us it gave the hall a hideously dissipated
look, like the foyer of a theatre at a matinee, or the entrance to an
all-day gambling-hall. The house was oppressively silent, and,
because we knew why it was so silent, we spoke in whispers. When Lyle
turned the handle of the drawing-room door, I felt as though someone
had put his hand upon my throat. But I followed, close at his
shoulder, and saw, in the subdued light of many-tinted lamps, the
body of Chetney at the foot of the divan, just as Lieutenant Sears
had described it. In the drawing-room we found the body of the
Princess Zichy, her arms thrown out, and the blood from her heart
frozen in a tiny line across her bare shoulder. But neither of us,
although we searched the floor on our hands and knees, could find the
weapon which had killed her.

"'For Arthur's sake,' I said, 'I would have given a thousand pounds
if we had found the knife in her hand, as he said we would.'

"'That we have not found it there,' Lyle answered, 'is to my mind the
strongest proof that he is telling the truth, that he left the house
before the murder took place. He is not a fool, and had he stabbed
his brother and this woman, he would have seen that by placing the
knife near her he could help to make it appear as if she had killed
Chetney and then committed suicide. Besides, Lord Arthur insisted
that the evidence in his behalf would be our finding the knife here.
He would not have urged that if he knew we would NOT find it, if he
knew he himself had carried it away. This is no suicide. A suicide
does not rise and hide the weapon with which he kills himself, and
then lie down again. No, this has been a double murder, and we must
look outside of the house for the murderer.'

"While he was speaking, Lyle and I had been searching every corner,
studying the details of each room. I was so afraid that, without
telling me, he would make some deductions prejudicial to Arthur, that
I never left his side. I was determined to see everything that he
saw, and, if possible, to prevent his interpreting it in the wrong
way. He finally finished his examination, and we sat down together in
the drawing-room, and he took out his note-book and read aloud all
that Mr. Sears had told him of the murder and what we had just
learned from Arthur. We compared the two accounts, word for word, and
weighed statement with statement, but I could not determine, from
anything Lyle said, which of the two versions he had decided to
believe.

"'We are trying to build a house of blocks,' he exclaimed, 'with half
of the blocks missing. We have been considering two theories,' he
went on: 'one that Lord Arthur is responsible for both murders, and
the other that the dead woman in there is responsible for one of
them, and has committed suicide; but, until the Russian servant is
ready to talk, I shall refuse to believe in the guilt of either.'

"'What can you prove by him?' I asked. 'He was drunk and asleep. He
saw nothing.'

"Lyle hesitated, and then, as though he had made up his mind to be
quite frank with me, spoke freely.

"'I do not know that he was either drunk or asleep,' he answered.
'Lieutenant Sears describes him as a stupid boor. I am not satisfied
that he is not a clever actor. What was his position in this house?
What was his real duty here? Suppose it was not to guard this woman,
but to watch her. Let us imagine that it was not the woman he served,
but a master, and see where that leads us. For this house has a
master, a mysterious, absentee landlord, who lives in St. Petersburg,
the unknown Russian who came between Chetney and Zichy, and because
of whom Chetney left her. He is the man who bought this house for
Madame Zichy, who sent these rugs and curtains from St. Petersburg to
furnish it for her after his own tastes, and, I believe, it was he
also who placed the Russian servant here, ostensibly to serve the
Princess, but in reality to spy upon her. At Scotland Yard we do not
know who this gentleman is; the Russian police confess to equal
ignorance concerning him. When Lord Chetney went to Africa, Madame
Zichy lived in St. Petersburg; but there her receptions and dinners
were so crowded with members of the nobility and of the army and
diplomats, that, among so many visitors, the police could not learn
which was the one for whom she most greatly cared.'

"Lyle pointed at the modern French paintings and the heavy, silk rugs
which hung upon the walls.

"'The unknown is a man of taste and of some fortune,' he said, 'not
the sort of man to send a stupid peasant to guard the woman he loves.
So I am not content to believe, with Mr. Sears, that the servant is a
boor. I believe him, instead, to be a very clever ruffian. I believe
him to be the protector of his master's honor, or, let us say, of his
master's property, whether that property be silver plate or the woman
his master loves. Last night, after Lord Arthur had gone away, the
servant was left alone in this house with Lord Chetney and Madame
Zichy. From where he sat in the hall, he could hear Lord Chetney
bidding her farewell; for, if my idea of him is correct, he
understands English quite as well as you or I. Let us imagine that he
heard her entreating Chetney not to leave her, reminding him of his
former wish to marry her, and let us suppose that he hears Chetney
denounce her, and tell her that at Cairo he has learned of this
Russian admirer--the servant's master. He hears the woman declare
that she has had no admirer but himself, that this unknown Russian
was, and is, nothing to her, that there is no man she loves but him,
and that she cannot live, knowing that he is alive, without his love.
Suppose Chetney believed her, suppose his former infatuation for her
returned, and that, in a moment of weakness, he forgave her and took
her in his arms. That is the moment the Russian master has feared. It
is to guard against it that he has placed his watch-dog over the
Princess, and how do we know but that, when the moment came, the
watch-dog served his master, as he saw his duty, and killed them
both? What do you think?' Lyle demanded. 'Would not that explain both
murders?'

"I was only too willing to hear any theory which pointed to anyone
else as the criminal than Arthur, but Lyle's explanation was too
utterly fantastic. I told him that he certainly showed imagination,
but that he could not hang a man for what he imagined he had done.

"'No,' Lyle answered, 'but I can frighten him by telling him what I
think he has done, and now when I again question the Russian servant
I will make it quite clear to him that I believe he is the murderer.
I think that will open his mouth. A man will at least talk to defend
himself. Come,' he said, 'we must return at once to Scotland Yard and
see him. There is nothing more to do here.'

"He arose, and I followed him into the hall, and in another minute we
would have been on our way to Scotland Yard. But just as he opened
the street-door a postman halted at the gate of the garden, and began
fumbling with the latch.

"Lyle stopped, with an exclamation of chagrin.

"'How stupid of me!' he exclaimed. He turned quickly and pointed to a
narrow slit cut in the brass plate of the front door. 'The house has
a private letter-box,' he said, 'and I had not thought to look in it!
If we had gone out as we came in, by the window, I would never have
seen it. The moment I entered the house I should have thought of
securing the letters which came this morning. I have been grossly
careless.' He stepped back into the hall and pulled at the lid of the
letter-box, which hung on the inside of the door, but it was tightly
locked. At the same moment the postman came up the steps holding a
letter. Without a word, Lyle took it from his hand and began to
examine it. It was addressed to the Princess Zichy, and on the back
of the envelope was the name of a West End dressmaker.

"'That is of no use to me,' Lyle said. He took out his card and
showed it to the postman. 'I am Inspector Lyle from Scotland Yard,'
he said. 'The people in this house are under arrest. Everything it
contains is now in my keeping. Did you deliver any other letters here
this morning?'

"The man looked frightened, but answered, promptly, that he was now
upon his third round. He had made one postal delivery at seven that
morning and another at eleven.

"'How many letters did you leave here?' Lyle asked.

"'About six altogether,' the man answered.

"'Did you put them through the door into the letter-box?'

"The postman said, 'Yes, I always slip them into the box, and ring
and go away. The servants collect them from the inside.'

"'Have you noticed if any of the letters you leave here bear a
Russian postage-stamp?' Lyle asked.

"'The man answered, 'Oh, yes, sir, a great many.'

"'From the same person, would you say?'

"'The writing seems to be the same,' the man answered. 'They come
regularly about once a week--one of those I delivered this morning
had a Russian postmark.'

"'That will do,' said Lyle, eagerly. 'Thank you, thank you very
much.'

"He ran back into the hall, and, pulling out his penknife, began to
pick at the lock of the letter-box.

"'I have been supremely careless,' he said, in great excitement.
'Twice before when people I wanted had flown from a house I have been
able to follow them by putting a guard over their mailbox. These
letters, which arrive regularly every week from Russia in the same
handwriting, they can come but from one person. At least, we shall
now know the name of the master of this house. Undoubtedly, it is one
of his letters that the man placed here this morning. We may make a
most important discovery.'

"As he was talking he was picking at the lock with his knife, but he
was so impatient to reach the letters that he pressed too heavily on
the blade and it broke in his hand. I took a step backward and drove
my heel into the lock, and burst it open. The lid flew back, and we
pressed forward, and each ran his hand down into the letter-box. For
a moment we were both too startled to move. The box was empty.

"I do not know how long we stood, staring stupidly at each other, but
it was Lyle who was the first to recover. He seized me by the arm and
pointed excitedly into the empty box.

"'Do you appreciate what that means?' he cried. 'It means that
someone has been here ahead of us. Someone has entered this house not
three hours before we came, since eleven o'clock this morning.'

"'It was the Russian servant!' I exclaimed.

"'The Russian servant has been under arrest at Scotland Yard,' Lyle
cried. 'He could not have taken the letters. Lord Arthur has been in
his cot at the hospital. That is his alibi. There is someone else,
someone we do not suspect. and that someone is the murderer. He came
back here either to obtain those letters because he knew they would
convict him, or to remove something he had left here at the time of
the murder, something incriminating--the weapon, perhaps, or some
personal article; a cigarette-case, a handkerchief with his name upon
it, or a pair of gloves. Whatever it was, it must have been damning
evidence against him to have made him take so desperate a chance.'

"'How do we know,' I whispered, 'that he is not hidden here now?'

"'No, I'll swear he is not,' Lyle answered. 'I may have bungled in
some things, but I have searched this house thoroughly.
Nevertheless,' he added, 'we must go over it again, from the cellar
to the roof. We have the real clew now, and we must forget the others
and work only it.' As he spoke he began again to search the drawing-
room, turning over even the books on the tables and the music on the
piano.

"'Whoever the man is,' he said, over his shoulder, 'we know that he
has a key to the front door and a key to the letter-box. That shows
us he is either an inmate of the house or that he comes here when he
wishes. The Russian says that he was the only servant in the house.
Certainly, we have found no evidence to show that any other servant
slept here. There could be but one other person who would possess a
key to the house and the letter-box--and he lives in St. Petersburg.
At the time of the murder he was two thousand miles away.' Lyle
interrupted himself, suddenly, with a sharp cry, and turned upon me,
with his eyes flashing. 'But was he?' he cried. 'Was he? How do we
know that last night he was not in London, in this very house when
Zichy and Chetney met?'

"He stood, staring at me without seeing me, muttering, and arguing
with himself.

"'Don't speak to me,' he cried, as I ventured to interrupt him. 'I
can see it now. It is all plain. It was not the servant, but his
master, the Russian himself, and it was he who came back for the
letters! He came back for them because he knew they would convict
him. We must find them. We must have those letters. If we find the
one with the Russian postmark, we shall have found the murderer.' He
spoke like a madman, and as he spoke he ran around the room, with one
hand held out in front of him as you have seen a mind-reader at a
theatre seeking for something hidden in the stalls. He pulled the old
letters from the writing-desk, and ran them over as swiftly as a
gambler deals out cards; he dropped on his knees before the fireplace
and dragged out the dead coals with his bare fingers, and then, with
a low, worried cry, like a hound on a scent, he ran back to the
waste-paper basket and, lifting the papers from it, shook them out
upon the floor. Instantly, he gave a shout of triumph, and,
separating a number of torn pieces from the others, held them up
before me.

"'Look!' he cried. 'Do you see? Here are five letters, torn across in
two places. The Russian did not stop to read them, for, as you see,
he has left them still sealed. I have been wrong. He did not return
for the letters. He could not have known their value. He must have
returned for some other reason, and, as he was leaving, saw the
letter-box, and, taking out the letters, held them together--so--and
tore them twice across, and then, as the fire had gone out, tossed
them into this basket. Look!' he cried, 'here in the upper corner of
this piece is a Russian stamp. This is his own letter--unopened!'

"We examined the Russian stamp and found it had been cancelled in St.
Petersburg four days ago. The back of the envelope bore the postmark
of the branch-station in upper Sloane Street, and was dated this
morning. The envelope was of official, blue paper, and we had no
difficulty in finding the other two parts of it. We drew the torn
pieces of the letter from them and joined them together, side by
side. There were but two lines of writing, and this was the message:
'I leave Petersburg on the night-train, and I shall see you at Trevor
Terrace, after dinner, Monday evening.'

"'That was last night!' Lyle cried. 'He arrived twelve hours ahead of
his letter--but it came in time--it came in time to hang him!'"

The Baronet struck the table with his hand.

"The name!" he demanded. "How was it signed? What was the man's
name?"

The young Solicitor rose to his feet and, leaning forward, stretched
out his arm. "There was no name," he cried. "The letter was signed
with only two initials. But engraved at the top of the sheet was the
man's address. That address was 'THE AMERICAN EMBASSY, ST.
PETERSBURG, BUREAU OF THE NAVAL ATTACHE,' and the initials," he
shouted, his voice rising into an exultant and bitter cry, "were
those of the gentleman who sits opposite who told us that he was the
first to find the murdered bodies, the Naval Attache to Russia,
Lieutenant Sears!"

A strained and awful hush followed the Solicitor's words, which
seemed to vibrate like a twanging bowstring that had just hurled its
bolt. Sir Andrew, pale and staring, drew away, with an exclamation of
repulsion. His eyes were fastened upon the Naval Attache with
fascinated horror. But the American emitted a sigh of great content,
and sank, comfortably, into the arms of his chair. He clapped his
hands, softly, together.

"Capital!" he murmured. "I give you my word I never guessed what you
were driving at. You fooled ME, I'll be hanged if you didn't--you
certainly fooled me."

The man with the pearl stud leaned forward, with a nervous gesture.
"Hush! be careful!" he whispered. But at that instant, for the third
time, a servant, hastening through the room, handed him a piece of
paper which he scanned eagerly. The message on the paper read, "The
light over the Commons is out. The House has risen."

The man with the black pearl gave a mighty shout, and tossed the
paper from him upon the table.

"Hurrah!" he cried. "The House is up! We've won!" He caught up his
glass, and slapped the Naval Attache, violently, upon the shoulder.
He nodded joyously at him, at the Solicitor, and at the Queen's
Messenger. "Gentlemen, to you!" he cried; "my thanks and my
congratulations!" He drank deep from the glass, and breathed forth a
long sigh of satisfaction and relief.

"But I say," protested the Queen's Messenger, shaking his finger,
violently, at the Solicitor, "that story won't do. You didn't play
fair--and--and you talked so fast I couldn't make out what it was all
about. I'll bet you that evidence wouldn't hold in a court of law--
you couldn't hang a cat on such evidence. Your story is condemned
tommy-rot. Now, my story might have happened, my story bore the mark-
-"

In the joy of creation, the story-tellers had forgotten their
audience, until a sudden exclamation from Sir Andrew caused them to
turn, guiltily, toward him. His face was knit with lines of anger,
doubt, and amazement.

"What does this mean?" he cried. "Is this a jest, or are you mad? If
you know this man is a murderer, why is he at large? Is this a game
you have been playing? Explain yourselves at once. What does it
mean?"

The American, with first a glance at the others, rose and bowed,
courteously.

"I am not a murderer, Sir Andrew, believe me," he said; "you need not
be alarmed. As a matter of fact, at this moment I am much more afraid
of you than you could possibly be of me. I beg you, please to be
indulgent. I assure you, we meant no disrespect. We have been
matching stories, that is all, pretending that we are people we are
not, endeavoring to entertain you with better detective-tales than,
for instance, the last one you read, 'The Great Rand Robbery.'"

The Baronet brushed his hand, nervously, across his forehead.

"Do you mean to tell me," he exclaimed, "that none of this has
happened? That Lord Chetney is not dead, that his Solicitor did not
find a letter of yours, written from your post in Petersburg, and
that just now, when he charged you with murder, he was in jest?"

"I am really very sorry," said the American, "but you see, sir, he
could not have found a letter written by me in St. Petersburg because
I have never been in Petersburg. Until this week, I have never been
outside of my own country. I am not a naval officer. I am a writer of
short stories. And to-night, when this gentleman told me that you
were fond of detective-stories, I thought it would be amusing to tell
you one of my own--one I had just mapped out this afternoon."

"But Lord Chetney IS a real person," interrupted the Baronet, "and he
did go to Africa two years ago, and he was supposed to have died
there, and his brother, Lord Arthur, has been the heir. And yesterday
Chetney did return. I read it in the papers."

"So did I," assented the American, soothingly; "and it struck me as
being a very good plot for a story. I mean his unexpected return from
the dead, and the probable disappointment of the younger brother. So
I decided that the younger brother had better murder the older one.
The Princess Zichy I invented out of a clear sky. The fog I did not
have to invent. Since last night I know all that there is to know
about a London fog. I was lost in one for three hours."

The Baronet turned, grimly, upon the Queen's Messenger.

"But this gentleman," he protested, "he is not a writer of short
stories; he is a member of the Foreign Office. I have often seen him
in Whitehall, and, according to him, the Princess Zichy is not an
invention. He says she is very well known, that she tried to rob
him."

The servant of the Foreign Office looked, unhappily, at the Cabinet
Minister, and puffed, nervously, on his cigar.

"It's true, Sir Andrew, that I am a Queen's Messenger," he said,
appealingly, "and a Russian woman once did try to rob a Queen's
Messenger in a railway carriage--only it did not happen to me, but to
a pal of mine. The only Russian princess I ever knew called herself
Zabrisky. You may have seen her. She used to do a dive from the roof
of the Aquarium."

Sir Andrew, with a snort of indignation, fronted the young Solicitor.

"And I suppose yours was a cock-and-bull story, too," he said. "Of
course, it must have been, since Lord Chetney is not dead. But don't
tell me," he protested, "that you are not Chudleigh's son either."

"I'm sorry," said the youngest member, smiling, in some
embarrassment, "but my name is not Chudleigh. I assure you, though,
that I know the family very well, and that I am on very good terms
with them."

"You should be!" exclaimed the Baronet; "and, judging from the
liberties you take with the Chetneys, you had better be on very good
terms with them, too."

The young man leaned back and glanced toward the servants at the far
end of the room.

"It has been so long since I have been in the Club," he said, "that I
doubt if even the waiters remember me. Perhaps Joseph may," he added.
"Joseph!" he called, and at the word a servant stepped briskly
forward.

The young man pointed to the stuffed head of a great lion which was
suspended above the fireplace.

"Joseph," he said, "I want you to tell these gentlemen who shot that
lion. Who presented it to the Grill?"

Joseph, unused to acting as master of ceremonies to members of the
Club, shifted, nervously, from one foot to the other.

"Why, you--you did," he stammered.

"Of course I did!" exclaimed the young man. "I mean, what is the name
of the man who shot it? Tell the gentlemen who I am. They wouldn't
believe me."

"Who you are, my lord?" said Joseph. "You are Lord Edam's son, the
Earl of Chetney."

"You must admit," said Lord Chetney, when the noise had died away,
"that I couldn't remain dead while my little brother was accused of
murder. I had to do something. Family pride demanded it. Now, Arthur,
as the younger brother, can't afford to be squeamish, but,
personally, I should hate to have a brother of mine hanged for
murder."

"You certainly showed no scruples against hanging me," said the
American, "but, in the face of your evidence, I admit my guilt, and I
sentence myself to pay the full penalty of the law as we are made to
pay it in my own country. The order of this court is," he announced,
"that Joseph shall bring me a wine-card, and that I sign it for five
bottles of the Club's best champagne."

"Oh, no!" protested the man with the pearl stud, "it is not for YOU
to sign it. In my opinion, it is Sir Andrew who should pay the costs.
It is time you knew," he said, turning to that gentleman, "that,
unconsciously, you have been the victim of what I may call a
patriotic conspiracy. These stories have had a more serious purpose
than merely to amuse. They have been told with the worthy object of
detaining you from the House of Commons. I must explain to you that,
all through this evening, I have had a servant waiting in Trafalgar
Square with instructions to bring me word as soon as the light over
the House of Commons had ceased to burn. The light is now out, and
the object for which we plotted is attained."

The Baronet glanced, keenly, at the man with the black pearl, and
then, quickly, at his watch. The smile disappeared from his lips, and
his face was set in stern and forbidding lines.

"And may I know," he asked, icily, "what was the object of your
plot?"

"A most worthy one," the other retorted. "Our object was to keep you
from advocating the expenditure of many millions of the people's
money upon more battle-ships. In a word, we have been working
together to prevent you from passing the Navy Increase Bill."

Sir Andrew's face bloomed with brilliant color. His body shook with
suppressed emotion.

"My dear sir!" he cried, "you should spend more time at the House and
less at your Club. The Navy Bill was brought up on its third reading
at eight o'clock this evening. I spoke for three hours in its favor.
My only reason for wishing to return again to the House to-night was
to sup on the terrace with my old friend, Admiral Simons; for my work
at the House was completed five hours ago, when the Navy Increase
Bill was passed by an overwhelming majority."

The Baronet rose and bowed. "I have to thank you, sir," he said, "for
a most interesting evening."

The American shoved the wine-card which Joseph had given him toward
the gentleman with the black pearl.

"You sign it," he said.






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