Infomotions, Inc.Tomaso's Fortune and Other Stories / Merriman, Henry Seton, 1862-1903



Author: Merriman, Henry Seton, 1862-1903
Title: Tomaso's Fortune and Other Stories
Publisher: Project Gutenberg
Tag(s): miss cheyne; mule; norah hood; mark ruthine; andrew smallie
Contributor(s): Blaydes, W. [Translator]
Versions: original; local mirror; HTML (this file); printable
Services: find in a library; evaluate using concordance
Rights: GNU General Public License
Size: 67,517 words (short) Grade range: 7-9 (grade school) Readability score: 69 (easy)
Identifier: etext6974
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Title: Tomaso's Fortune and Other Stories

Author: Henry Seton Merriman

Release Date: November, 2004  [EBook #6974]
[This file was first posted on February 19, 2003]

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This etext was prepared by Les Bowler, St. Ives, Dorset.




TOMASO'S FORTUNE and other stories
by HENRY SETON MERRIMAN.




     "The common problem, yours, mine, every one's,
      Is--not to fancy what were fair in life
      Provided it could be,--but, finding first
      What may be, then find how to make it fair . . ."




CONTENTS.

SISTER.
A SMALL WORLD.
IN A CROOKED WAY.
THE TALE OF A SCORPION.
ON THE ROCKS.
"GOLOSSA-A-L".
THE MULE.
IN LOVE AND WAR.
TOMASO'S FORTUNE.
STRANDED.
PUTTING THINGS RIGHT.
FOR JUANITA'S SAKE.
AT THE FRONT.
THE END OF THE "MOOROO".
IN A CARAVAN.
IN THE TRACK OF THE WANDERING JEW.
THROUGH THE GATE OF TEARS.
A PARIAH.
THE PRODIGAL'S RETURN.



SISTER



It does not matter where it was.  I do not want other people--that
is to say, those who were around us--to recognize Sister or myself.
It is not likely that she will see this, and I am not sure that she
knows my name.  Of course, some one may draw her attention to this
paper, and she may remember that the name affixed to it is that
which I signed at the foot of a document we made out together--
namely, a return of deaths.  At the foot of this paper our names
stood one beneath the other--stand there still, perhaps, in some
forgotten bundle of papers at the War Office.

I only hope that she will not see this, for she might consider it a
breach of professional etiquette; and I attach great importance to
the opinion of this woman, whom I have only seen once in my whole
life.  Moreover, on that occasion she was subordinate to me--more or
less in the position of a servant.

Suffice it to say, therefore, that it was war-time, and our trade
was what the commercial papers call brisk.  A war better remembered
of the young than of the old, because it was, comparatively
speaking, recent.  The old fellows seem to remember the old fights
better--those fights that were fought when their blood was still
young and the vessels thereof unclogged.

It was, by the way, my first campaign, but I was not new to the
business of blood; for I am no soldier--only a doctor.  My only
uniform--my full-parade dress--is a red cross on the arm of an old
blue serge jacket--such jacket being much stained with certain dull
patches which are better not investigated.

All who have taken part in war--doing the damage or repairing it--
know that things are not done in quite the same way when ball-
cartridge is served out instead of blank.  The correspondents are
very fond of reporting that the behaviour of the men suggested a
parade--which simile, it is to be presumed, was borne in upon their
fantastic brains by its utter inapplicability.  The parade may be
suggested before the real work begins--when it is a question of
marching away from the landing-stage; but after the work--our work--
has begun, there is remarkably little resemblance to a review.

We are served with many official papers which we never fill in,
because, on the spur of the moment, it is apt to suggest itself that
men's lives are more important.  We misapply a vast majority of our
surgical supplies, because the most important item is usually left
behind at headquarters or at the seaport depot.  In fact, we do many
things that we should leave undone, and omit to do more which we are
expected (officially) to do.

For some reason--presumably the absence of better men--I was sent up
to the front before we had been three days at work.  Our hospital by
the river was not full when I received orders to follow the flying
column with two assistants and the appliances of a field-hospital.

Out of this little nucleus sprang the largest depot for sick and
wounded that was formed during the campaign.  We were within easy
reach of headquarters, and I was fortunately allowed a free hand.
Thus our establishment in the desert grew daily more important, and
finally superseded the hospital at headquarters.

We had a busy time, for the main column had now closed up with the
first expeditionary force, and our troops were in touch with the
enemy not forty miles away from me.

In the course of time--when the authorities learnt to cease
despising the foe, which is a little failing in British military
high places--it was deemed expedient to fortify us, and then, in
addition to two medical assistants, I was allowed three Government
nurses.  This last piece of news was not hailed with so much
enthusiasm as might have been expected.  I am not in favour of
bringing women anywhere near the front.  They are, for their own
sakes and for the peace of mind of others, much better left behind.
If they are beyond a certain age they break down and have to be sent
back at considerable trouble--that is to say, an escort and an
ambulance cart, of which latter there are never enough.  If they are
below the climacteric--ever so little below it--they cause mischief
of another description, and the wounded are neglected; for there is
no passion of the human heart so cruel and selfish as love.

"I am sorry to hear it," I said to light-hearted little Sammy Fitz-
Warrener of the Naval Brigade, who brought me the news.

"Sorry to hear it?  Gad! I shouldn't be.  The place has got a
different look about it when there are women-folk around.  They are
so jolly clever in their ways--worth ten of your red-cross
ruffians."

"That is as may be," I answered, breaking open the case of whisky
which Sammy had brought up on the carriage of his machine-gun for my
private consumption.

He was taking this machine-gun up to the front, and mighty proud he
was of it.

"A clever gun," he called it; "an almighty clever gun."

He had ridden alongside of it--sitting on the top of his horse as
sailors do--through seventy miles of desert without a halt; watching
over it and tending it as he might have watched and tended his
mother, or perhaps some other woman.

"Gad! doctor," he exclaimed, kicking out his sturdy legs, and
contemplating with some satisfaction the yellow hide top-boots which
he had bought at the Army and Navy Stores.  (I know the boots well,
and--avoid them.)  "Gad! doctor, you should see that gun on the war-
path.  Travels as light as a tricycle.  And when she begins to talk-
-my stars!  Click-click-click-click!  For all the world like a
steam-launch's engine--mowing 'em down all the time.  No work for
you there.  It will be no use you and your satellites progging about
with skewers for the bullet.  Look at the other side, my boy, and
you'll find the beauty has just walked through them."

"Soda or plain?" I asked, in parenthesis.

"Soda.  I don't like the flavour of dead camel.  A big drink,
please.  I feel as if I were lined with sand-paper."

He slept that night in the little shanty built of mud and roofed
chiefly with old palm-mats, which was gracefully called the head
surgeon's quarters.  That is to say, he partook of such hospitality
as I had to offer him.

Sammy and I had met before he had touched a rope or I a scalpel.  We
hailed from the same part of the country--down Devonshire way; and,
to a limited extent, we knew each other's people--which little
phrase has a vast meaning in places where men do congregate.

We turned in pretty early--I on a hospital mattress, he in my bed;
but Sam would not go to sleep.  He would lie with his arms above his
head (which is not an attitude of sleep) and talk about that
everlasting gun.

I dozed off to the murmur of his voice expatiating on the extreme
cunning of the ejector, and awoke to hear details of the rifling.

We did not talk of home, as do men in books when lying by a camp-
fire.  Perhaps it was owing to the absence of that picturesque
adjunct to a soldier's life.  We talked chiefly of the clever gun;
and once, just before he fell asleep, Sammy returned to the question
of the nurses.

"Yes," he said, "the head saw-bones down there told me to tell you
that he had got permission to send you three nurses.  Treat 'em
kindly, Jack, for my sake.  Bless their hearts!  They mean well."

Then he fell asleep, and left me thinking of his words, and of the
spirit which had prompted them.

I knew really nothing of this man's life, but he seemed singularly
happy, with that happiness which only comes when daily existence has
a background to it.  He spoke habitually of women, as if he loved
them all for the sake of one; and this not being precisely my own
position, I was glad when he fell asleep.

The fort was astir next morning at four.  The bugler kindly blew a
blast into our glassless window which left no doubt about it.

"That means all hands on deck, I take it," said Sam, who was one of
the few men capable of good humour before tiffin time.

By six o'clock he was ready to go.  It was easy to see what sort of
officer this cheery sailor was by the way his men worked.

While they were getting the machine-gun limbered up, Sam came back
to my quarters, and took a hasty breakfast.

"Feel a bit down this morning," he said, with a gay smile.  "Cheap--
very cheap.  I hope I am not going to funk it.  It is all very well
for some of you long-faced fellows, who don't seem to have much to
live for, to fight for the love of fighting.  I don't want to fight
any man; I am too fond of 'em all for that."

I went out after breakfast, and I gave him a leg up on to his very
sorry horse, which he sat like a tailor or a sailor.  He held the
reins like tiller-lines, and indulged in a pleased smile at the
effect of the yellow boots.

"No great hand at this sort of thing," he said, with a nod of
farewell.  "When the beast does anything out of the common, or
begins to make heavy weather of it, I AM NOT."

He ranged up alongside his beloved gun, and gave the word of command
with more dignity than he knew what to do with.

All that day I was employed in arranging quarters for the nurses.
To do this I was forced to turn some of our most precious stores out
into the open, covering them with a tarpaulin, and in consequence
felt all the more assured that my chief was making a great mistake.

At nine o'clock in the evening they arrived, one of the juniors
having ridden out in the moonlight to meet them.  He reported them
completely exhausted; informed me that he had recommended them to go
straight to bed; and was altogether more enthusiastic about the
matter than I personally or officially cared to see.

He handed me a pencil note from my chief at headquarters, explaining
that he had not written me a despatch because he had nothing but a
"J" pen, with which instrument he could not make himself legible.
It struck me that he was suffering from a plethora of assistance,
and was anxious to reduce his staff.

I sent my enthusiastic assistant to the nurses' quarters, with a
message that they were not to report themselves to me until they had
had a night's rest.  Then I turned in.

At midnight I was awakened by the orderly, and summoned to the tent
of the officer in command.  This youth's face was considerably
whiter than his linen.  He was consulting with his second in
command, a boy of twenty-two or thereabouts.

A man covered with sand and blood was sitting in a hammock-chair,
rubbing his eyes, and drinking something out of a tumbler.

"News from the front?" I inquired without ceremony, which hindrance
we had long since dispensed with.

"Yes, and bad news."

It certainly was not pleasant hearing.  Some one mentioned the word
"disaster," and we looked at each other with hard, anxious eyes.  I
thought of the women, and almost decided to send them back before
daylight.

In a few moments a fresh man was roused out of his bed, and sent
full gallop through the moonlight across the desert to headquarters,
and the officer in command began to regain confidence.  I think he
extracted it from the despatch-bearer's tumbler.  After all, he was
not responsible for much.  He was merely a connecting-link, a point
of touch between two greater men.

It was necessary to get my men to work at once, but I gave
particular orders to leave the nurses undisturbed.  Disaster at the
front meant hard work at the rear.  We all knew that, and
endeavoured to make ready for a sudden rush of wounded.

The rush began before daylight.  As they came in we saw to them,
dressing their wounds and packing them as closely as possible.  But
the stream was continuous.  They never stopped coming; they never
gave us a moment's rest.

At six o'clock I gave orders to awaken the nurses and order them to
prepare their quarters for the reception of the wounded.  At half-
past six an Army Hospital Corps man came to me in the ward.

"Shockin' case, sir, just come in," he said.  "Officer.  Gun busted,
sir."

"Take him to my quarters," I said, wiping my instruments on my
sleeve.

In a few minutes I followed, and on entering my little room the
first thing I saw was a pair of yellow boots.

There was no doubt about the boots and the white duck trousers, and
although I could not see the face, I knew that this was Sammy Fitz-
Warrener come back again.

A woman--one of the nurses for whom he had pleaded--was bending over
the bed with a sponge and a basin of tepid water.  As I entered she
turned upon me a pair of calmly horror-stricken eyes.

"OH!" she whispered meaningly, stepping back to let me approach.  I
had no time to notice then that she was one of those largely built
women, with perfect skin and fair hair, who make one think of what
England must have been before Gallic blood got to be so widely
disseminated in the race.

"Please pull down that mat from the window," I said, indicating a
temporary blind which I had put up.

She did so promptly, and returned to the bedside, falling into
position as it were, awaiting my orders.

I bent over the bed, and I must confess that what I saw there gave
me a thrill of horror which will come again at times so long as I
live.

I made a sign to Sister to continue her task of sponging away the
mud, of which one ingredient was sand.

"Both eyes," she whispered, "are destroyed."

"Not the top of the skull," I said; "you must not touch that."

For we both knew that our task was without hope.

As I have said, I knew something of Fitz-Warrener's people, and I
could not help lingering there, where I could do no good, when I
knew that I was wanted elsewhere.

Suddenly his lips moved, and Sister, kneeling down on the floor,
bent over him.

I could not hear what he said, but I think she did.  I saw her lips
frame the whisper "Yes" in reply, and over her face there swept
suddenly a look of great tenderness.

After a little pause she rose and came to me.

"Who is he?" she asked.

"Fitz-Warrener of the Naval Brigade.  Do you know him?"

"No, I never heard of him.  Of course--it is quite hopeless?"

"Quite."

She returned to her position by the bedside, with one arm laid
across his chest.

Presently he began whispering again, and at intervals she answered
him.  It suddenly occurred to me that, in his unconsciousness, he
was mistaking her for some one else, and that she, for some woman's
reason, was deceiving him purposely.

In a few moments I was sure of this.

I tried not to look; but I saw it all.  I saw his poor blind hands
wander over her throat and face, up to her hair.

"What is this?" he muttered quite distinctly, with that tone of
self-absorption which characterizes the sayings of an unconscious
man.  "What is this silly cap?"

His fingers wandered on over the snowy linen until they came to the
strings.

As an aspirant to the title of gentleman, I felt like running away--
many doctors know this feeling; as a doctor, I could only stay.

His fingers fumbled with the strings.  Still Sister bent over the
bed.  Perhaps she bent an inch or two nearer.  One hand was beneath
his neck, supporting the poor shattered head.

He slowly drew off the cap, and his fingers crept lovingly over the
soft fair hair.

"Marny," he said, quite clearly, "you've done your hair up, and
you're nothing but a little girl, you know--nothing but a little
girl."

I could not help watching his fingers, and yet I felt like a man
committing sacrilege.

"When I left you," said the brainless voice, "you wore it down your
back.  You were a little girl--you are a little girl now."  And he
slowly drew a hairpin out.

One long lock fell curling to her shoulder.  She never looked up,
never noticed me, but knelt there like a ministering angel--
personating for a time a girl whom we had never seen.

"My little girl," he added, with a low laugh, and drew out another
hairpin.

In a few moments all her hair was about her shoulders.  I had never
thought that she might be carrying such glory quietly hidden beneath
the simple nurse's cap.

"That is better," he said--"that is better."  And he let all the
hairpins fall on the coverlet.  "Now you are my own Marny," he
murmured.  "Are you not?"

She hesitated one moment.  "Yes, dear," she said softly.  "I am your
own Marny."

With her disengaged hand she stroked his blanching cheek.  There was
a certain science about her touch, as if she had once known
something of these matters.

Lovingly and slowly the smoke-grimed fingers passed over the
wonderful hair, smoothing it.

Then he grew more daring.  He touched her eyes, her gentle cheeks,
the quiet, strong lips.  He slipped to her shoulder, and over the
soft folds of her black dress.

"Been gardening?" he asked, coming to the bib of her nursing apron.

It was marvellous how the brain, which was laid open to the day,
retained the consciousness of one subject so long.

"Yes--dear," she whispered.

"Your old apron is all wet!" he said reproachfully, touching her
breast where the blood--his own blood--was slowly drying.

His hand passed on, and as it touched her, I saw her eyes soften
into such a wonderful tenderness that I felt as if I were looking on
a part of Sister's life which was sacred.

I saw a little movement as if to draw back, then she resolutely held
her position.  But her eyes were dull with a new pain.  I wonder--I
have wondered ever since--what memories that poor senseless wreck of
a man was arousing in the woman's heart by his wandering touch.

"Marny," he said, "Marny.  It was not TOO hard waiting for me?"

"No, dear."

"It will be all right now, Marny.  The bad part is all past."

"Yes."

"Marny, you remember--the night--I left--Marny--I want--no--no, your
LIPS."

I knelt suddenly, and slipped my hand within his shirt, for I saw
something in his face.

As Sister's lips touched his I felt his heart give a great bound
within his breast, and then it was still.  When she lifted her face
it was as pale as his.

I must say that I felt like crying--a feeling which had not come to
me for twenty years.  I busied myself purposely with the dead man,
and when I had finished my task I turned, and found Sister filling
in the papers--her cap neatly tied, her golden hair hidden.

I signed the certificate, placing my name beneath hers.

For a moment we stood.  Our eyes met, and--we said nothing.  She
moved towards the door, and I held it open while she passed out.

Two hours later I received orders from the officer in command to
send the nurses back to headquarters.  Our men were falling back
before the enemy.



A SMALL WORLD



          "Thine were the calming eyes
      That round my pinnace could have stilled the sea,
      And drawn thy voyager home, and bid him be
      Pure with their pureness, with their wisdom wise,
      Merged in their light, and greatly lost in thee."

It was midday at the monastery of Montserrat, and a monk, walking in
the garden, turned and paused in his meditative promenade to listen
to an unwonted noise.  The silence of this sacred height is so
intense that many cannot sleep at night for the hunger of a sound.
There is no running water except the fountain in the patio.  There
are no birds to tell of spring and morning.  There are no trees for
the cool night winds to stir, nothing but eternal rock and the
ancient building so closely associated with the life of Ignatius de
Loyola.  The valley, a sheer three thousand feet below, is thinly
enough populated, though a great river and the line of railway from
Manresa to Barcelona run through it.  So clear is the atmosphere
that at the great distance the contemplative denizens of the
monastery may count the number of the railway carriages, while no
sound of the train, or indeed of any life in the valley, reaches
their ears.

What the monk heard was disturbing, and he hurried to the corner of
the garden, from whence a view of the winding road may be obtained.
Floating on the wind came the sound, as from another world, of
shouting, and the hollow rumble of wheels.  The holy man peered down
into the valley, and soon verified his fears.  It was the
diligencia, which had quitted the monastery a short hour ago, that
flew down the hill to inevitable destruction.  Once before in the
recollection of the watcher the mules had run away, rushing down to
their death, and carrying with them across that frontier the lives
of seven passengers, devout persons, who, having performed the
pilgrimage to the shrine of our Lady of Montserrat, had doubtless
received their reward.  The monk crossed himself, but, being human,
forgot alike to pray and to call his brethren to witness the scene.
It was like looking at a play from a very high gallery.  The
miniature diligencia on the toy road far below swayed from the bank
of the highway to the verge--the four mules stretched out at a
gallop, as in a picture.  The shouts dimly heard at the monastery
had the effect they were intended to create, for the monk could see
the carters and muleteers draw aside to let the living avalanche go
past.

There were but two men on the box-seat of the diligencia--the driver
and a passenger seated by his side.  The monk recollected that this
passenger had passed two days at Montserrat, inscribing himself in
the visitors' book as Matthew S. Whittaker.

"I am ready to take the reins when your arms are cramped," this
passenger was saying at that precise moment, "but I do not know the
road, and I cannot drive so well as you."

He finished with a curt laugh, and, holding on with both hands, he
turned and looked at his companion.  He was not afraid, and death
assuredly stared him in the face at that moment.

"Thanks for that, at all events," returned the driver, handling his
reins with a steady skill.  Then he fell to cursing the mules.  As
he rounded each corner of the winding road, he gave a derisive shout
of triumph; as he safely passed a cart, he gave voice to a yell of
defiance.  He went to his death--if death awaited him--with a fine
spirit, with a light in his eyes and the blood in his tanned cheeks.

The man at his side could perhaps have saved himself by a leap which
might, with good fortune, have resulted in nothing more serious than
a broken limb.  As he had been invited by the driver to take this
leap and had curtly declined, it is worth while to pause and give
particulars of this passenger on the runaway diligencia.  He was a
slightly built man, dressed in the ordinary dark clothes and soft
black felt hat of the middle class Spaniard.  His face was brown and
sun-dried, with deep lines drawn downwards from the nose to the lips
in such a manner that cynicism and a mildly protesting tolerance
were contending for mastery in an otherwise studiously inexpressive
countenance.

"The Excellency does not blame me for this?" the driver jerked out,
as he hauled round a corner with a sort of pride.

"No, my friend," replied the American; and he broke off suddenly to
curve his two hands around his lips and give forth a warning shout
in a clear tenor that rang down the valley like a trumpet.

A muleteer leading a heavily laden animal drew his beast into the
ditch, and leapt into the middle of the road.  He stepped nimbly
aside and sprang at the leading mule, but was rolled into the ditch
like an old hat.

"That is an old torero," shouted the driver.  "Bravo, bravo!"

As they flew on, Whittaker turned in his seat and caught a glimpse
of the man standing in the middle of the road, with arms spread out
in an attitude of apology and deprecation.

"Ah!" cried the driver, "we shall not pass these.  Now leap!"

"No," answered the other, and gave his warning shout.

Below them on the spiral road two heavy carts were slowly mounting.
These were the long country carts used for the carriage of wine-
casks, heavily laden with barrels for the monastery.  The drivers,
looking up, saw in a moment what to expect, and ran to the head of
their long teams of eight mules, but all concerned knew in a flash
of thought that they could not pull aside in time.

"Leap, in the name of a saint!" cried the driver, clenching his
teeth.

Whittaker made no answer.  But he cleared his feet and sat forward,
his keen face and narrow eyes alert to seize any chance of life.
The maddened mules rushed on, seeking to free themselves from the
swaying destroyer on their heels.  The leaders swung round the
corner, but refused to obey the reins when they caught sight of the
cart in front.  The brakes had long ceased to act; the wooden blocks
were charred as by fire.  The two heavier mules at the pole made a
terrified but intelligent attempt to check the pace, and the weighty
vehicle skidded sideways across the road, shuddering and rattling as
it went.  It poised for a moment on the edge of the slope, while the
mules threw themselves into their collars--their intelligence
seeming to rise at this moment to a human height.  Then the great
vehicle turned slowly over, and at the same moment Whittaker and the
driver leapt into the tangle of heels and harness.  One of the
leaders swung right out in mid-air with flying legs, and mules and
diligencia rolled over and over down the steep in a cloud of dust
and stones.

When Matthew S. Whittaker recovered consciousness, he found himself
in a richly furnished bedroom.  He woke as if from sleep, with his
senses fully alert, and began at once to take an interest in a
conversation of which he had been conscious in the form of a faint
murmur for some time.

"A broken arm, my child, and nothing more, so far as I can tell at
present," were the first comprehensible words.  Whittaker tried to
move his left arm, and winced.

"And the other man?" inquired a woman's voice in Spanish, but with
an accent which the listener recognised at once.  This was an
Englishwoman speaking Spanish.

"Ah! the other man is dead.  Poor Mogul!  He was always civil and
God-fearing.  He has driven the diligencia up to us for nearly
twenty years."

Whittaker turned his head, and winced again.  The speaker was a
monk--fat and good-natured--one of the few now left in the great
house on Montserrat.  His interlocutor was a woman not more than
thirty, with brown hair that gleamed in the sunlight, and a fresh,
thoughtful face.  Her attitude was somewhat independent, her manner
indicated a self-reliant spirit.  This was a woman who would
probably make mistakes in life, but these would not be the errors of
omission.  She was a prototype of a sex and an age which err in
advancing too quickly, and in holding that everything which is old-
fashioned must necessarily be foolish.

Whittaker lay quite still and watched these two, while the deep-
drawn lines around his lips indicated a decided sense of amusement.
He was in pain, but that was no new condition to a man whose spirit
had ever been robuster than his body.  He had, at all events, not
been killed, and his last recollection had been the effort to face
death.  So he lay with a twisted smile on his lips listening to
Brother Lucas, who, sad old monk that he was, took infinite pleasure
in glorifying to the young lady his own action in causing the
monastery cart to be brought out, and in driving down the slope at a
breakneck pace to place his medical knowledge at the disposal of
such as might require it.  He bowed in a portly way, and indicated
with a very worldly politeness that he himself was, in fact, at the
disposal of the Senorita.

"I was not always a monk--I began life as a doctor," he explained.

And his companion looked at him with speculative, clever eyes,
scenting afar off, with the quickness of her kind, the usual little
romance--the everlasting woman.

"Ah!" she said slowly.

And Whittaker in the alcove coughed with discretion.  Both turned
and hurried towards him.

"He has recovered his senses," said the girl.

The monk had, however, not laid aside all the things of this world.
He remembered the little ceremonies appertaining to the profession
which he had once practised.  He waived aside the girl, and stooped
over the bed.

"You understand what I say--you see me?" he inquired in a soothing
voice.

"Most assuredly," replied Whittaker, coolly.  "Most assuredly, my
father.  And I do not think there is much the matter with me."

"Holy Saints, but you go too quickly," laughed the monk.  "You will
be wanting next to get up and walk."

"I should not mind trying."

"Ah, that is good!  Then you will soon be well.  Senorita, we shall
have no trouble with this patient.  This, Senor, is the Senorita
Cheyne; in whose house you find yourself, and to whom your thanks
are due."

Whittaker turned in bed to thank her; but instead of speaking, he
quietly fainted.  He came to his senses again, and found that it was
evening.  The windows of his room were open, and he could see across
the valley the brown hills of Catalonia, faintly tinged with pink.
A nursing sister in her dark blue dress and white winged cap was
seated at the open window, gazing reflectively across the valley.
There was an odour of violets in the room.  A fitful breeze stirred
the lace curtains.  Whittaker perceived his own travel-worn
portmanteau lying half unpacked on a side table.  It seemed that
some one had opened it to seek the few necessaries of the moment.
He noted with a feeling of helplessness that his simple travelling
accessories had been neatly arranged on the dressing-table.  A clean
handkerchief lay on the table at the bedside.  The wounded man
became conscious of a feeling that he had lost some of the solitary
liberty which had hitherto been his.  It seemed that he had been
picked up on the road helpless and insensible by some one with the
will and power to take entire charge of him.  The feeling was so new
to this adventurer that he lay still and smiled.

Presently the nun rose and came quietly towards him, disclosing
within the halo of her snowy cap a gentle pink-and-white face
wrinkled by the passage of uneventful years.  She nodded cheerfully
on seeing that his eyes were open, and gave him some soup which was
warming on a spirit lamp in readiness for his return to
consciousness.

"I will tell the Senorita," she said, and noiselessly quitted the
room.

A minute later Miss Cheyne came in with a pleasant frou-frou of
silk, and Whittaker wondered for whom she had dressed so carefully.

"I did not know," she said in English, with an ease of manner which
is of this generation, "that I had succoured a countryman.  You were
literally thrown at my gate.  But the doctor, who has just left,
confirms the opinion of Brother Lucas that you are not seriously
hurt.  A broken fore-arm and a severe shake, they say--to be cured
by complete rest, which you will be able to enjoy here.  For there
is no one in the house but my aunt, Mrs. Dorchester, and myself."

She stood at the bedside, looking down at him with her capable,
managing air.  Whittaker now knew the source of that sense of being
"taken in and done for," of which he had become conscious the moment
his senses returned to him.

"They say," she went on, with a decisiveness which was probably an
accentuation of her usual attitude, inspired by the necessity of
sparing the patient the exertion of an explanation or an apology--
"they say, however, that you are not naturally a very strong man,
and that you have tried your constitution in the past, so that
greater care is required than would otherwise be necessary in such a
case."

She looked at the brown face and sinewy neck, the hollow cheeks, the
lean hands ("all wires," as she decided in her own prompt mind), and
her clear eyes were alight with a speculation as to what the past
had been in which this man had tried his constitution.

"I have led a rough life," explained Whittaker; and Miss Cheyne
nodded her head in a manner indicative of the fact that she divined
as much.

"I thought you were a Spaniard," she said.

"No; I have lived in the Spanish colonies, however--the last few
years--since the troubles began."

Miss Cheyne nodded again without surprise.  She had gone about the
world, with those clear eyes of hers very wide open, and was
probably aware that in those parts where, as Whittaker gracefully
put it, "troubles" are, such men as this are usually to be found.
For it is not the large men who make a stir in the world.  These
usually sit at home and love a life of ease.  It is even said that
they take to novel-writing and other sedentary occupations.  And in
the forefront, where things are stirring and history is to be
manufactured, are found the small and the frail, such as Matthew S.
Whittaker, who, in addition to the battles of progress, have to
contend personally against constitutional delicacy, nervous
depression, and disease.

Miss Cheyne kept silence for a few moments, and, during the pause,
turned at the sound of horses' feet on the gravel below the windows.
She seemed to have been expecting an arrival, and Whittaker noticed
a sudden brightening of the eyes, an almost imperceptible movement
of the shoulders, as if Miss Cheyne was drawing herself up.  The
American quickly reflected that the somewhat elaborate "toilette"
was unusual, and connected it with the expected visitor.  He was not
surprised when, with a polite assurance that he had only to ask for
anything he might require, she turned and left him.

Whittaker now remembered having been told by the voluble driver of
the diligencia the history of a certain English Senorita who, having
inherited property from a forgotten uncle, had come to live in her
"possession" on the mountain side.  He further recollected that the
house had been pointed out to him--a long, low dwelling of the dull
red stone quarried in this part of Catalonia.  Being of an observant
habit, he remembered that the house was overgrown by a huge
wisteria, and faced eastward.  He turned his head painfully, and now
saw that his windows were surrounded by mauve fronds of wisteria.
His room was, therefore, situated in the front of the house.  There
was, he recollected, a verandah below his windows, and he wondered
whether Miss Cheyne received her visitors there in the cool of the
afternoon.  He listened half-sleepily, and heard the horse depart,
led away by a servant.  There followed the murmur of a conversation,
between two persons only, below his window.  So far as he could
gather from the tones, for the words were inaudible, they were
spoken in English.  And thus he fell asleep.

During the next few days Whittaker made good progress, and fully
enjoyed the quiet prescribed to him by the doctors.  The one event
of the day was Miss Cheyne's visit, to which he soon learnt to look
forward.  He had, during an adventurous life, had little to do with
women, and Miss Cheyne soon convinced him of the fact that many
qualities--such as independence, courage, and energy--were not, as
he had hitherto imagined, the monopoly of men alone.  But the
interest thus aroused did not seem to be mutual.  Miss Cheyne was
kind and quick to divine his wants or thoughts; but her visits did
not grow longer day by day as, day by day, Whittaker wished they
would.  Daily, moreover, the visitor arrived on horseback, and the
murmured conversation in the verandah duly followed.  A few weeks
earlier Whittaker had made the voyage across to the island of
Majorca, to visit an old companion-in-arms there, and offer him a
magnificent inducement to return to active service.  That comrade
had smilingly answered that he held cards of another suite.  Miss
Cheyne likewise appeared to hold another suite, and the American
felt vaguely that the dealer of life's cards seemed somehow to have
passed him by.

He daily urged the young doctor to allow him to leave his bed, "if
only," he pleaded with his twisted smile, "to sit in a chair by the
window."  At last he gained his point, and sat, watch in hand,
awaiting the arrival of Miss Cheyne's daily visitor.  To the end of
his life Matthew Whittaker believed that some instinct guided him at
this time.  He had only spoken with his nurse and the doctor, and
had refrained from making inquiries of either respecting the lady
whose hospitality he enjoyed.  He had now carefully recalled all
that the dead driver of the diligencia had told him, and had
dismissed half of it as mere gossip.  Beyond the fact that Miss
Cheyne's aunt, Mrs. Dorchester, acted as her companion, he knew
nothing.  But he had surmised, from remarks dropped by the young
lady herself, that her mother had been a Spaniard; hence the uncle
from whom she had inherited this estate.  He also had reason to
believe that Miss Cheyne's mother had brought her up in the older
faith.

He reflected on these matters, and smiled half cynically at the
magnitude of his own interest in Miss Cheyne as he sat at the open
window.  He had not long to wait before the clatter of horse's feet
on the hard road became audible.  The house stood back from the
high-road in the midst of terraced olive groves, and was entirely
surrounded by a grove of cypress and ilex trees.  The visitor, whose
advent was doubtless awaited with as keen an impatience by another
within the red stone house, now leisurely approached beneath the
avenue of evergreen oak.  Whittaker got painfully upon his feet, and
stood, half concealed by the curtain.  He was conscious of a
singular lack of surprise when he recognized the face of the
horseman as one that he had already seen, though, when he came in a
flash of thought to reflect upon it, this among all he knew was the
last face that he could have expected to see in that place.

He sat down quite coolly and mechanically, thinking and acting as
men think and act, by instinct, in a crisis.  He seemed to be
obeying some pre-ordained plan.

The horseman was dark and clean-shaven--the happy possessor of one
of those handsome Andalusian faces which are in themselves a
passport in a world that in its old age still persists in judging by
appearance.  Whittaker scrupulously withdrew from the window.  He
had no desire to overhear their conversation.  But his eyes were
fierce with a sudden anger.  The very attitude of the new-comer--his
respectful, and yet patronizing, manner of removing his hat--clearly
showed that he was a lover, perhaps a favoured one.  And the
American, who, with all his knowledge of the world, knew so little
of women, stood in the middle of the room wrapt in thought.  It
seemed hardly possible that a woman of Miss Cheyne's intelligence, a
woman no longer in the first flush of girlhood, should fail to
perceive the obvious.  He did not know that so far as her vanity is
concerned a woman does not grow older, by the passage of years, but
younger--that she will often, for the sake of a little admiration,
accept the careless patronage of a man, knowing well that his one
good quality is the skill with which he flatters her.  He was not
aware that Miss Cheyne was distinctly handicapped, and that her
judgment was warped by the fact that she had by some chance or
another reached to years of discretion without ever having had a
lover.

Whittaker was not an impulsive man, although as prompt in action as
he was quick to make a decision.  He was a citizen of that new
country where an old chivalry still survives.  His sense of chivalry
was also intensified by the fact, already stated, that he knew but
little of that sex which is at the moment making a superficial stir
in the world.

"If the harm is done, a day more will make it no worse, I reckon,"
he said reflectively.  He would not listen to what they said, though
he could have heard easily enough, had he so desired.  He watched
Miss Cheyne and her lover, however, as they slowly walked the length
of the garden--she, holding a fan in the Spanish fashion, to shield
her face from the setting sun; the man, hat in hand, and carrying
himself with a sort of respectful grandeur, characteristic of his
race.  At the end of the garden they paused, and Whittaker smiled
cynically at the sight of the man's dark eyes as he looked at Miss
Cheyne.  He was apparently asking for something, and she at last
yielded, giving him slowly, almost shyly, a few violets that she had
worn in her belt.  Whittaker gave a curt laugh, but his eyes were by
no means mirthful.

Later in the evening Miss Cheyne came into his room.

"You have had a visitor," he said, in the course of their usual
conversation.

"Yes," she answered frankly; and Whittaker reflected that, at all
events, she knew her own mind.

He said nothing further upon that subject, but later he referred to
a topic which he had hitherto scrupulously avoided.  He had passed
his life among a class of men who were not in the habit of growing
voluble respecting themselves.

"I think you take me for an Englishman," he said.  "I am not.  I am
an American."

"Indeed!  You have no accent," replied Miss Cheyne; and, despite
that other suite of cards that she held, she looked at him
speculatively.  She was, in a way, interested in him.

"I have lived abroad a great deal, the last few years in Cuba."  And
his quick eyes flashed across her face.  She was not interested in
Cuba, at all events, and evidently knew nothing of that distressful
island.  When she left him, he stood looking at the closed door
reflectively.

"It will be for to-morrow," he said to himself, with his short
laugh.

The next morning the doctor paid his usual visit, and Whittaker
handed him an envelope.

"I am leaving this evening," he said, "and I shall leave in your
debt."

The doctor, who was a young man and a Spanish gentleman, slipped the
envelope into his pocket.

"Thank you," he said.  "The debt is mine.  You are not fit to be
moved yet; but it is as you like."

"Will you order me a carriage to be here at five o'clock this
evening?"

"I will do as you like."

"And omit to mention it to my hostess.  You understand my position
here, and my fear of outstaying a most courteous welcome?"

"I understand," said the doctor, and departed.

At four o'clock Whittaker had packed his portmanteau.  He took up
his position at the window and waited.  Before long he heard the
sound of a horse's feet.  Miss Cheyne's visitor presently appeared,
and swung off his hat with the usual deferential pride.  The horse
was led away.  The usual murmured conversation followed.  Whittaker
rose and walked to the door.  He paused on the threshold, and looked
slowly round the room as if conscious then that the moment was to be
one of the indelible memories of his life.

On the stairs he needed the support of the balustrade.  When he
reached the verandah his face was colourless, with shining eyes.
Miss Cheyne was sitting with her back turned towards him, but her
companion saw him at once and rose to his feet, lifting his hat with
a politely inquiring air.  From long habit acquired among a
naturally polite people, Whittaker returned the salutation.

"You do not recognise me, Senor?" he said, in English.

And the other shook his head, still polite and rather surprised.

"I was known in Cuba by the name of Mateo."

The Spaniard's handsome, sunburnt face slowly turned to the colour
of ashes.  His eyes looked into Whittaker's, not in anger, but with
a pathetic mingling of reproach and despair.

"What is the meaning of this?" said Miss Cheyne, alert, and rising,
characteristically, to the emergency of the moment.

Whittaker bit his lip and looked at the Spaniard, who seemed to be
dazed.

"You had better go," he said, almost gently.

"What is the meaning of this?" repeated Miss Cheyne, looking from
one to the other.  Then she turned to Whittaker, by what instinct
she never knew.  "Who is this gentleman?" she asked, angrily.  "What
have you against him?"

Whittaker, still biting his lip, looked hard at her.  Then he made a
gesture with his two hands, which was more eloquent than a thousand
words; for it seemed to convey to the two persons who breathlessly
awaited his words that he found himself in a position that was
intolerable.

"I knew him in Cuba," he said slowly.  "I have nothing against him,
Miss Cheyne; but the man is a priest."

                    *          *          *

"There, Senorita--I have made it myself."

The proprietor of the Venta of the Moor's Mill set down upon the
table in front of the inn a cracked dish containing an omelette.  It
was not a bad omelette, though not quite innocent of wood-ash,
perhaps, and somewhat ill-shapen.  The man laughed gaily and drew
himself up.  So handsome a man could surely be forgiven a broken
omelette and some charcoal, if only for the sake of his gay blue
eyes, his curling brown hair, and his devil-may-care air of
prosperity.  He looked at the Senorita and laughed in the manner of
a man who had never yet failed to "get on" with women.  He folded
his arms with fine, open gestures, and stood looking with approving
nods upon his own handiwork.  He was without the shadow of the
trailing vine which runs riot over bamboo trelliswork in front of
the Venta, affording a much needed shade in this the sunniest spot
in all Majorca, and the fierce sun beat down upon his face, which
was tanned a deep, healthy brown.  He was clad almost in white; for
his trousers were of canvas, his shirt of spotless linen.  Round his
waist he wore the usual Spanish faja or bright red cloth.  He was
consciously picturesque, and withal so natural, so good-natured, so
astonishingly optimistic, as to be quite inoffensive in his child-
like conceit.

The Venta of the Moor's Mill stands, as many know, at the northern
end of the Val D'Erraha, looking down upon the broader valley,
through which runs the high road from Palma to Valdemosa.  The city
of Palma, itself, is only a few miles away, for such as know the
mountain path.  Few customers come this way, and the actual trade of
the Venta is small.  Some day a German doctor will start a nerve-
healing establishment here, with a table d'hote at six o'clock, and
every opportunity for practising the minor virtues--and the Valley
of Repose will be the Valley of Repose no longer.

"Ah!  It is a good omelette," said the host of the Venta, as Miss
Cheyne took up her fork.  "Though I have not always been a cook, nor
yet an innkeeper."

He raised one finger, shook it from side to side in an emphatic
negation, and laughed.  Then he turned suddenly, and looked down
into the valley with a grave face and almost a sigh.

The man had a history it appeared--and, rarer still, was willing to
tell it.

She knew too much of the Spanish race, or perhaps of all men, to ask
questions.

"Yes," she said pleasantly, "it is a good omelette."  And the man
turned sharply and looked at her as if she had said something
startling.  She noticed his action, and showed surprise.

"It is nothing," he said with a laugh, "only a coincidence--a mere
accident.  It is said by the peasants that the mind of a friend has
wings.  Perhaps it is so.  As I looked down into the valley I was
thinking of a man--a friend.  Yes--name of a Saint--he was a friend
of mine, although a gentleman!  Educated?  Yes, many languages, and
Latin.  And I--what am I?  You see, Senorita, a peasant, who wears
no coat."

And he laughed heartily, only to change again suddenly to gravity.

"And as I looked down into the valley I was thinking of my friend--
and, believe me, you spoke at that moment with something in your
voice--in your manner--who knows?--which was like the voice and
manner of my friend.  Perhaps, Senorita, the peasants are right, and
the mind of my friend, having wings, flew to us at that moment."

The lady laughed, and said that it might be so.

"It is not that you are English," the innkeeper continued, with easy
volubility.  "For I know you belong to no other nation.  I said so
to myself the moment I saw you, riding up here on horseback alone.
I called upstairs to Juanita that there was an English Senorita
coming on a horse, and Juanita replied with a malediction, that I
should raise my voice when the nino was asleep.  She said that if it
was the Pope of Rome who came on a horse he must not wake the child.
'No,' I answered, 'but he would have to go upstairs to see it;' and
Juanita did not laugh.  She sees no cause to laugh at anything
connected with the nino--oh, no! it is a serious matter."

He was looking towards the house as he spoke.

"Juanita is your wife?" said the Englishwoman.

"Yes.  We have been married a year, and I am still sure that she is
the most beautiful woman in the world.  Is it not wonderful?  And
she will be jealous if she hears me talking all this while with the
Senorita."

"You can tell her that the Senorita has grey hair," said Miss
Cheyne, practically.

"That may be," said the innkeeper, looking at her with his head on
one side, and a gravely critical air.  "But you still have the air"-
-he shrugged his shoulders, and spread out his hands--"the air that
takes a man's fancy.  Who knows?"

Miss Cheyne, who had dealt much with a simple people, accustomed to
the statement of simple facts in plain language, only laughed.
There is a certain rough purity of thought which vanishes at the
advance of civilisation.  And cheap journalism, cheap fiction, cheap
prudery have not yet reached Spain.

"I know nothing," went on the man, with a shrewd, upward nod of the
head.  "But the Senorita has a lover.  He may be faithless, he may
be absent, he may be dead--but he is there--the God be thanked!"

He touched his broad chest in that part where a deadly experience
told him that the heart was to be found, and looked up to Heaven,
all with a change of expression and momentary gravity quite
incomprehensible to men of northern breed.

Miss Cheyne laughed again without self-consciousness.  Uneducated
people have a way of arriving at once at those matters that interest
rich and poor alike, which is rather refreshing, even to the highly
educated.

"But I, who talk like a washerwoman, forget that I am an innkeeper,"
said the man, with a truer tact than is often found under fine
linen.  And he proceeded to wait on her with a grand air, as if she
were a queen and he a nobleman.

"If Juanita were about it would be different," he said, whipping the
cloth from the table and shaking the crumbs to the four winds.  "And
the Senorita would be properly served.  But--what will you? the nino
is but a fortnight old, and I--I am new at my trade.  The Senorita
takes coffee?"

Miss Cheyne intimated that she did take coffee.

"And you, perhaps, will take a cup also," she added, whereupon the
man bowed in his best manner.  He had that perfect savoir-faire--a
certain innate gentlemanliness--which is the characteristic of all
Spaniards.  His manner indicated an appreciation of the honour, and
conveyed at the same time the intimation that he knew quite well how
to behave under the circumstances.

He went into the house from which--all the doors and windows being
open--came the sound of his conversation with Juanita, while he
prepared the coffee.  It was quite a frank and open conversation,
having Miss Cheyne for its object, and stating that she had not only
found the omelette good, but had eaten it all.

Presently he returned with the coffee-pot, two cups, and a small jug
of cream on a tray.  He turned the handle of the coffee-pot towards
Miss Cheyne, and conveyed in one inimitable gesture that he would
take his coffee from no other hand.

"The Senorita is staying in Palma?" he asked, pleasantly.

"Yes."

"For pleasure?"

"No--for business."

The innkeeper laughed gaily and deprecatingly, as if between persons
of their station business was a word only to be mentioned as a sort
of jest.

"I am the owner of a small property in the island--over in that
direction--towards Soller.  It is held on the 'rotas' system by a
good farmer, who has frequently come to see me where I live at
Monistrol, near Barcelona.  He has often begged me to come to
Majorca to see the property, and now I have come.  I am staying a
few days at Palma."

"Farming is good in Majorca," said the man, shrewdly.  "You should
receive a large sum for your share of the harvest.  I, too, shall
buy land presently when I see my chance, for I have the money.  Ah,
yes:  I was not always an innkeeper!"

He sipped his coffee pensively.

"That reminds me again of my friend," he said, after a pause.  "Why
do I think of him this afternoon?  It is a strange story; shall I
tell it?"

"I shall be glad to hear it," replied Miss Cheyne, in her energetic
way.  She was stirring her coffee slowly and thoughtfully.

"I knew him in his own country--in America; and then in Cuba--"

Miss Cheyne ceased stirring her coffee suddenly, as if she had come
against some object in the cup.  A keen observer might have guessed
that she had become interested at that moment in this idle tale.

"Ah! You know Cuba?" she said, indifferently interrogative.

"If I know Cuba?" he laughed, and spread out his hands in mute
appeal to the gods.  "If I know Cuba!  When Cuba is an independent
republic, Senorita--when the history of all this trouble comes to be
written, you will find two names mentioned in its pages.  The one
name is Antonio.  When you are an old woman, Senorita, you can tell
your children--or perhaps your grandchildren, if the good God is
kind to you--that you once knew Antonio, and took a cup of coffee
with him.  But you must not say it now--never--never.  And the other
name is Mateo.  You can tell your children, Senorita, when your hair
is white, that you once spoke to a man who was a friend to this
Mateo."

He finished with his gay laugh, as if he were fully alive to his own
fine conceit, and begged indulgence.

"He has been here--sitting where you sit now," he continued, with
impressive gravity.  "He came to me:  'Antonio,' he said, 'There are
five thousand men out there who want you.'  'Amigo,' replied I,
'there is one woman here who does the same'--and I bowed, and Mateo
went away without me.  I thought he had gone back there to conduct
affairs--to fight in his careless way, with his tongue in his cheek,
as it were.  He did all with his tongue in his cheek--that queer
Mateo.  And then came a message from Barcelona, saying that he
wanted me.  Name of a dog, I went--for his letter was unmistakable.
He had, it appeared, had an accident.  I found him with his arm in a
sling.  He had been cared for in the house of an Englishwoman--so
much he told--but I guessed more.  This Englishwoman--well, he said
so little about her, that I could only conclude one thing.  You
know, Senorita--when a man will not talk of a woman--well, it
assuredly means something.  But there was, it appears, another man--
this man, I grind my teeth to tell you of it--he was a priest.  One
Bernaldez, whom we had both known in Cuba.  He had, it appears, come
over to Spain in ordinary dress; for he was too well known to travel
as Bernaldez, the priest.  He was a fine man--so much I will say for
him.  The Englishwoman was, no doubt, beautiful.  Bernaldez met her.
She did not know that he was a priest."

Antonio paused, shrugged his shoulders and spread out his arms.

"The devil did the rest, Senorita.  And she?  Did she care for him?
Ah--one never knows with women."

"Perhaps they do not always know themselves," suggested Miss Cheyne,
without meeting her companion's eyes.

"Perhaps that is so, Senorita.  At all events, Mateo went to these
two, when they were together.  Mateo was always quick and very calm.
He faced Bernaldez, and he told the woman.  Then he left them.  And
I found him in Barcelona, two days afterwards, living at the Hotel
of the Four Nations, like one in his sleep.  'If Bernaldez wants
me,' he said, 'he knows where to find me.'  And the next day
Bernaldez came to us, where we sat in front of the Cafe of the Liceo
on the Rambla.  'Mateo,' he said, 'you will have to fight me.'  And
Mateo nodded his head.  'With the revolver.'  Mateo looked up with
his dry smile.  'I will take you at that game,' he said, 'for nuts'-
-in the American fashion, Senorita--one of their strange sad jokes.
Then Bernaldez sat down--his eyes were hollow; he spoke like one who
has been down to the bottom of misery.  'I know a place,' he said,
'that will suit our purpose.  It is among the mountains, on the
borders of Andorra.  You take the train from Barcelona to Berga, the
diligencia from Berga to Organa.  Between Organa and La Seo de Urgel
is a bridge called La Puente del Diabolo.  I will meet you at this
bridge on foot on Thursday morning at nine o'clock.  We can walk up
into the mountains together.  I shall bring a small travelling clock
with me.  We shall stand it on the ground between us, and when it
strikes, we fire.'"

Antonio had, in the heat of his narrative, leant forward across the
table.  With quick gestures he described the whole scene, so that
Miss Cheyne could see it as it had passed before his eyes.

"There is a madness, Senorita," he went on, "which shows itself by a
thirst for blood.  I looked at Bernaldez.  He was sane enough, but I
think the man's heart was broken.  'It is well,' said Mateo; 'I am
your man--at the Puente del Diabolo at nine o'clock on Thursday
morning.'  And mind you, Senorita, these were not Italians or
Greeks--they were a Spaniard and an American--men who mean what they
say, whether it be pleasant or the reverse."

Miss Cheyne was interested enough now.  She sat, leaning one arm on
the table, and her chin in the palm of her hand.  She held her lip
with her teeth, and watched the man's quick expressive face.

"We were there at nine o'clock," he went on, "that Mateo, with his
arm in a sling.  We had passed the night at the hotel of the
Libertad at Organa, where we both slept well enough.  What will
you?--when one is no longer young, the pulse is slow.  The morning
mist had descended the mountain side, the air was cold.  There at
the Puente, leaning against the wall, cloaked and quiet--was
Bernaldez.  'Ah!' he said to me, 'you have come, too?'  'Yes,
Amigo,' I answered, 'but I do not give the word for two friends to
let go at each other.  Your little clock can do that.'  He nodded
and said nothing.  Senorita, I was sorry for the man.  Who was I
that I should judge?  You remember, you, who read your Bible, the
writing on the ground?  Bernaldez led the way, and we climbed up
into the mountains in the morning mist.  Somewhere above us there
was a little waterfall singing its eternal song.  In the cloud,
where we could not see him, a curlew hung on his heavy wings, and
gave forth his low warning whistle.  'Have a care--have a care,' he
seemed to cry.  Presently Bernaldez stopped, and looked around him.
It was a desolate place.  'This will do,' he said.  'And he who
drops may be left here.  The other may turn on his heel, say "A
Dios," and go in safety.  'Yes,' answered Mateo.  'This will do as
well as any other place.'  Bernaldez looked at him, with a laugh.
'Ah,' he said, 'you think that you are sure to kill me--but I shall,
at all events, have a shot for my money.  Who knows?  I may kill
you.'  'That is quite possible,' answered Mateo.  Bernaldez threw
back his cloak.  He carried the little travelling clock in one hand-
-a gilt thing made in Paris.  'We will stand it here,' he said, 'on
a rock between us.'  We were in a little hollow far up the mountain
side, and the mist wrapped us round like a cloak.  I know these
mountains, Senorita, for it was here that the fiercest of the
fighting in the last Carlist War took place.  There are many dead up
there even now, who have never been found.  I also was in that
trouble--ah, no, I was not always an innkeeper!"

"Go on with your story," said Miss Cheyne, curtly, and closed her
teeth over her lower lip again.

"We stood there, then, and watched Bernaldez take the clock from its
case.  He held it to his ear to make sure that it was going.  It
seemed to me that it ticked as loud up there as a clock ticks in a
room at night.  Bernaldez set forward the hands till they stood at
five minutes to eleven.  'The eleventh hour,' said Mateo, with his
dry laugh.  Bernaldez set the clock down again.  He took off his hat
and threw it down to mark the ground.  'Ten paces,' he said, and,
turning on his heel, counted aloud.  I looked half-instinctively at
his bared head.  The tonsure was still visible to any who sought it;
for it was but half-grown over.  Mateo counted his steps and then
turned.  The clock gave a little tick, as such clocks do, four
minutes before they strike.  It seemed to me to hurry its pace as we
three stood listening in that silence.  We could hear the whisper of
the clouds as they hurried through the mountains.  The clock gave
another click, and the two men raised their pistols of a similar
pattern.  The little gong rang out, and immediately after two shots,
one following the other.  Bernaldez had fired first.  Mateo--a man
with a reputation to care for--took a moment longer for his aim.  I
heard Bernaldez's bullet sing past his ear like a mosquito.
Bernaldez fell forward--thus, on his arm--and the clock had not
ceased striking when we stood over him; and Mateo had held the
pistol in his left hand."

The narrator finished abruptly with a quick gesture.  All through
his story he had added a vividness to his description by quick
movements of the hand and head, by his flashing eyes, his southern
fire, so that his hearer could see the scene as he had seen it;
could feel the stillness of the mountains; could hear the whisper of
the clouds; could see the two men facing each other in the mist.
With a gesture he showed her how Bernaldez lay, on his face on the
wet stones, with a half-concealed tonsure, turned towards heaven in
mute appeal, awaiting the last great hearing of his case in that
Court where there is no appeal.

"And there we left him, Senorita," added Antonio, shortly.

He rose, walked away from her to the edge of the great slope, and
stood looking down into the valley that lay shimmering below him.
After a time he came back slowly.  In his simplicity he was not
ashamed of dimmed eyes.

"I tell you this, Senorita," he said with a laugh, "because you are
an Englishwoman, and because this Mateo was my friend.  He is an
American.  His name is Whittaker--Matthew S. Whittaker.  And this
afternoon I was reminded of him; I know not why.  Perhaps it was
something that I said myself, or some gesture that I made, which I
had caught from him.  If one thinks much about a person, one may
catch his gestures or his manner:  is it not so?  And then you
reminded me of him a second time.  That was strange."

"Yes," said Miss Cheyne, thoughtfully; "that was strange."

"He went to Cuba again at once, Senorita; that was a year ago.  And
I have never heard from him.  If, as the peasants say, the mind of a
friend has wings, perhaps Mateo's mind has flown on to tell me that
he is coming.  He said he would come back."

"Why was he coming back?" asked Miss Cheyne.

"I do not know, Senorita."

Miss Cheyne had risen, and was making ready to depart.  Her gloves
and riding-whip lay on the table.  The afternoon was far spent, and
already the shadows were lengthening on the mountain-side.  She paid
the trifling account, Antonio taking the money with such a deep bow
that the smallness of the coin was quite atoned for.  He brought her
horse from the stable.

"The horse and the Senorita are both tired," he said, with his
pleasant laugh.  And, indeed, Miss Cheyne looked suddenly weary.
"It is not right that you should go by the mountain path," he added.
"It is so easy to lose the way.  Besides, a lady alone--it is not
done in Spain."

"No; but in England women are learning to take care of themselves,"
laughed Miss Cheyne.

She placed her foot within his curved hands, and he lifted her to
the saddle.  All her movements were easy and independent.  It seemed
that she only stated a fact, and the man shook his head
forebodingly.  He belonged to a country which in some ways is a
century behind England and America.  She nodded a farewell, and
turned the horse's head towards the mountain path.

"I shall find my way," she said.  "Never fear."

"Only by good fortune," he answered, with a shake of the head.

The sun had almost set when she reached Palma.  At the hotel her
lawyer, who had made the voyage from Barcelona with her, awaited her
with impatience, while her maid leant idly from the window.  In the
evening she went abroad again, alone, in her independent way.  She
walked slowly on the Cathedral terrace, where priests lingered, and
a few soldiers from the neighbouring barracks smoked a leisurely
cigarette.  All turned at intervals, and looked in the same
direction--namely, towards the west, where the daylight yet lingered
in the sky.  The moon, huge and yellow, was rising over the
mountains, above Manacor, at the eastern end of the island.  One by
one the idlers dropped away, moving with leisurely steps towards the
town.  In very idleness Miss Cheyne followed them.  She knew that
they were going to the harbour in anticipation of the arrival of the
Barcelona steamer.  She was on the pier with the others, when the
boat came alongside.  The passengers trooped off, waving salutations
to their friends.  One among them, a small-made, frail man, detached
himself from the crowd, and made his way towards Miss Cheyne, as if
this meeting had been prearranged--and who shall say that it was
not?--by the dim decrees of Fate.



IN A CROOKED WAY



     "And let the counsel of thine own heart stand."

It was almost dark, and the Walkham River is much overhung in the
parts that lie between Horrabridge and the old brickworks.

In the bed of the river a man stumbled heavily along, trusting more
to his knowledge of the river than to his eyesight.  He was fishing
dexterously with flies that were almost white--flies which seemed to
suit admirably the taste of those small brown trout which never have
the sense to leave alone the fare provided for their larger white
brethren.

Suddenly he hooked a larger fish, and, not daring to step back
beneath the overhanging oak, he proceeded to tire his fish out in
the deep water.  In ten minutes he brought it to the landing-net,
and as he turned to open his creel his heart leapt in his breast.  A
man was standing in the water not two feet behind him.

"Holloa," he gasped.

"I won't insult you by telling you not to be frightened," said the
voice of a gentleman.  There was no mistaking it.  The speaker stood
quite still, with the water bubbling round his legs.  He was
hatless, and his hair was cut quite short.

A thought flashed across the fisherman's slow brain.  Like the rest
of his craft, he was slower of mind than of hand.

"Yes," said the other, divining his thoughts, "I'm from Dartmoor.
You probably heard of my escape two days ago."

"Yes," replied the other, quietly, while he wound in his line.  "I
heard of it."

"And where do they say I am?"

"Oh, the police have got a clue--as usual," replied the fisherman.

The escaped convict laughed bitterly, but the laugh broke off into a
sickening cackle.

"I've been in those brickworks," he said, "all the time, meditating
murder.  I stole a loaf from a baker's cart; but man cannot live by
bread alone; ah!  Ha! ha!"

The fisherman held out his flask, which the other took, and opened
the somewhat uncommon silver top with ease bred of knowledge.

He poured himself out a full glass and drank it off.

"I haven't had that taste in my mouth for four years," he said,
returning the flask.  "And you are guilty of felony!"

The fisherman probably knew this, for he merely laughed.

"Do you know Prince Town?" the convict asked abruptly.

The other nodded, glancing in the direction of the rising moor.

"And you've read the rules on the gate?  Parcere subjectis, cut in
the stone over the top.  Good God!"

The fisherman nodded again.

"The question is," said the convict, after a pause, during which
they had waded back to the bank, "whether you are going to help me
or not?  Heavens! I NEARLY killed you while you were playing that
fish."

"Ya-as," drawled the fisherman.  "I take it that you must have been
tempted.  I never heard you, owing to the rush of the water."

They were both big men, and the convict stared curiously into the
long, clean-shaven face of this calm speaker.  A smile actually
flickered for a moment in his desperate eyes.

"What I want," he said, "is your mackintosh, your waders, and your
hat--also your rod-case with a long stick in it.  The handle of your
landing-net will do.  Where do you come from?"

"Plymouth.  I am going back by the seven-thirty from Horrabridge."

"With a return ticket?"

"Yes."

"I should like that also."

The fisherman was slowly disjointing his rod.

"Suppose I told you to come and take 'em?" he said, with the drawl
again.

The convict looked him up and down with a certain air of competent
criticism.

"Then there would be a very pretty fight," he said, with a laugh,
which he checked when he detected the savour of the prison-yard that
was in it.

"We haven't time for the fight," said the fisherman.

And there came a hot gasp of excitement from the convict's lips.
His stake was a very large one.

In the same slow, reflective manner, the fisherman unbuttoned the
straps of his waders at the thigh, and sat down to unlace his
brogues.

"Here," he said, "pull 'em off for me.  They're so damnably sopped."

He held up his leg, and the convict pulled off the wet fishing-
stockings with some technical skill.

He drew them on over his own stockinged legs, and the fisherman
kicked the brogues towards him.  In exchange the convict handed him
his own shoes.

"Am I to wear these?" the fisherman asked, with something in his
voice that might have been amusement.

"Yes; they're a little out of shape, I'm afraid.  The Queen is no
judge of a shoe."

"I guess not!" answered the other, lacing.

There was a little silence.

"I suppose," said the convict, with a curious eagerness, "that you
have seen a bit of the world?"

"Here and there," answered the other, searching for the return half
of his ticket.

"Should you think, now, that a girl would wait four years for a chap
who, in the eyes of the world, was not worth waiting for?"

The fisherman, not being an absolute fool, knew that there was only
one answer to give.  But he was a kind-hearted man, so he told a
lie.  There was something about this convict that made him do it.

"Yes; I should think she would.  Girls are not always rational, I
guess."

The other said nothing.  He took the mackintosh-coat and the creel
and the rod-case without a word--even of thanks.  His manners were
brisker, as if the angler's lie had done him good.  The change of
costume was now complete, and the convict would pass anywhere for an
innocent disciple of Isaac Walton.

For a moment they stood thus, looking at each other.  Then the
convict spoke.

"Can you lend me a fiver?" he asked.

"Oh yes!"

Carelessly opening his purse, and displaying a good number of bank-
notes, he passed one to the unsteady hand held out.

"Want any more?" he asked, with a queer laugh.

"I'll take another if you can spare it."

A second note passed from hand to hand.

"Thanks," said the convict.  "Now, tell me your name and address; I
shall want to send these things back to you if--if I have any luck."

And the effort to steady his voice was quite apparent.

"Caleb S. Harkness, United States frigate Bruiser, now lying at
Plymouth," replied the other, tersely.

"Ah! you are an American?"

"That is why I don't care a d---n for your laws."

"MR. Harkness--or what?"

"I'm her captain," he replied modestly.

They shook hands and parted.

It was only as he plodded along the Tavistock Road, limping in the
regulation shoes, that the American remembered that he had quite
omitted to ask the convict any questions.  He had parted with his
mackintosh, and it was pouring.  Tavistock was two miles off, and he
had no notion what trains there were to Plymouth.  Yet he regretted
nothing, and at times a queer smile flitted over his countenance.
He was a man holding very decided views of his own upon most
subjects, and no one suspected him of it, because he never sought to
force them upon others.  What he loved above all in men was that
species of audacious and gentlemanly coolness which is found in
greater perfection in the ranks of the British aristocracy than
anywhere else in the world.

He was not the sort of man to be afraid of any one, or two, or three
men--he had never, for a moment, thought of fearing the fellow who
had gone off with his mackintosh, his waders, and his two five-pound
notes.  We all try to be our ideal, and Caleb S. Harkness prided
himself on being the coolest man in the two hemispheres.  He had met
a cooler, and rather than acknowledge his inferiority he had parted
with the valuables above mentioned, with no other guarantee of their
safe return than a gentlemanly inflection of voice.

Two days later he received his waders, mackintosh, and brogues; also
a new fishing-rod of the very best quality made in England, and two
five-pound notes.



America loves to show her appreciation of her great sons, but she
does not always do it wisely when she begins to cast honours about.
If England showed the same appreciation, some of us would not be so
cruelly industrious with our pens; but that is the affair of the
British public, who suffer most.

Caleb S. Harkness was bound to get on.  Firstly, because his
audacity was unrivalled, and secondly, he knew it was wise to be
audacious.

In due course he rose as high as he conveniently could in the Navy
active, and turned his attention to the Navy passive, which latter
means a nice little house in Washington, and the open arms of the
best society in that enlightened city.  Here also he got on, because
men were even more impressed by his audacity than the sea had been.
Also he developed a new talent.  He found within himself an immense
capacity for making others appear ridiculous, and there is no man in
the world so sensitive as your American senator.

Thus in six years' time we find Caleb S. Harkness moving, not in the
bed of an English trout-stream, but in the lap of Washingtonian
luxury.  It was a great night in the Government city, for England
had sent one of her brightest stars to meet the luminaries of the
United States in peaceful arbitration.  The British Plenipotentiary
had not yet been seen of the multitude--but he was the eldest son of
a British Earl, and had a title of his own.  That was enough for
Washington, with some to spare for Boston and New York.  Also he had
proved himself equal to two American statesmen and their respective
secretaries.  He was, therefore, held in the highest esteem by all
the political parties except that to which the worsted statesmen
belonged.

The President's levee was better attended than usual; that is to
say, there was not even room on the stairs, and America's first-
born, as per election, had long ago lost all feeling in the digits
of his right hand.

Caleb S. Harkness was moving about in the quieter rooms, awaiting
the great crush, when a lady and a man entered and looked around
them with some amusement.

"Lord!" ejaculated Admiral Harkness, when his slow and mournful eyes
rested on the lady.  The exclamation, if profane, was justified, for
it is probable that the American had never before set eyes on such a
masterpiece of the Creator's power.  There was in this woman's
being--in her eyes, her face, her every movement--that combination
of nonchalance and dignity which comes to beautiful and bright-
minded girls when they are beginning to leave girlhood behind them.
She was moderately tall, with hair of living brown, and deep blue
eyes full of life and sweetness.  She was not slim, but held herself
like a boy with the strength that comes of perfect proportion.  She
was one of those women who set a soldier or a sailor thinking what
manner of men her brothers must be.

Caleb Harkness observed all this with the unobtrusive scrutiny of
his nation.  He was standing near a curtained doorway buttoning his
glove, and some one coming behind him pushed against him.

"Beg pardon, Harkness," said a voice, and the Chief Secretary of the
English Legation patted him on the shoulder.  "Didn't see you.
Looking for some one.  By George, what a heat!  Ah! there he is--
thank goodness!"

And he went towards the lady and man who had just entered.

"Here, Monty, you're wanted at once," Harkness heard him say to the
youth, who appeared to be a few years younger than his beautiful
companion.

He spoke a few words to the lady, who replied laughingly, and the
British Attache came towards Harkness.

"Harkness," he said; "want to introduce you to Lady Storrel."

The American followed with a smile on his lean face.  He knew that
he was being introduced to Lady Storrel merely because there
happened to be no one else at hand and her cavalier was wanted
elsewhere.

"Lady Storrel, let me present to you Admiral Harkness, the man," he
added, over his shoulder, "who is going to make the United States
the first Naval Power in the world."

And with a good-natured laugh the two men went off, speaking
hurriedly together.

"Is that true?" asked the lady, smiling with that mixture of
girlishness and English grand-ladyism, which was so new to Caleb S.
Harkness.

"Quite," he answered; "but I am not going to tell you how."

"No, please don't.  Of course, you are an American?"

"Yes; but you need not mind that."

"What do you mean?" she asked, looking at him frankly.

"I take it," he answered, with a twinkle in his grave eyes, which
she saw, and liked him for, "that you want some one to listen to
your impressions of--all this.  It IS rum, is it not?"

She laughed.  "Yes," she admitted, "it is--RUM."

In a few minutes they had found a seat beneath a marvellous stand of
flowers, and she was chattering away like a schoolgirl while he
listened, and added here and there a keen comment or a humorous
suggestion.

Presently she began talking of herself, and in natural sequence of
her husband, of their home in England, of his career, and her hatred
of politics.

"And," she said suddenly, at the end of it, "here IS my husband."

Harkness followed the direction of her glance, and looked upon a man
in English Court-dress coming towards them.

"Ah!" he said, in a peculiar, dull voice, "that is your husband?"

She was smiling upon the man who approached, beckoning to him to
come with her eyes, as women sometimes do.  She turned sharply upon
Harkness, her attention caught by something in his voice.

"Yes?" she answered.

Harkness had risen with a clatter of his sword on the polished
floor, and stood awaiting the introduction.

"My husband--Admiral Harkness."

The men bowed, and, before they could exchange a banal observation,
the fair young man who had been called away came up.

"Phew, this is worse than Simla," he said; then, offering his arm to
Lady Storrel, "Alice," he continued, "I have discovered some ices,
THE most lovely ices."

They moved away, the lady favouring Harkness with a little nod,
leaving the two tallest men in that assembly facing each other.

When they were gone, Caleb S. Harkness and Lord Storrel looked into
each other's eyes.

"So," said Harkness, lapsing suddenly into a twang, "she waited."

The other nodded.  He raised his perfectly gloved hand to his
moustache, which he tugged pensively to either side.

"Yes," he answered; "she waited."

Then he looked round the room, and, seeing that they were almost
alone, he moved towards the seat just vacated by his wife.

"Come and sit down," he said, "and I will tell you a little story."

"Does she know it?" enquired Harkness, when they were seated.

"No."

"Then I don't want to hear it!  You'd better keep it to yourself, I
reckon."

The Englishman gave a little laugh, and lapsed into silence--
thinking abstractedly.

"I should like to tell you some of it, for my own sake.  I don't
want you to go away thinking--something that is not the fact."

"I would rather not have the story," persisted Harkness.  This
American had some strange notions of a bygone virtue called
chivalry.  "Give me a few facts--I will string them together."

Lord Storrel was sitting forward on his low chair, with his hands
clasped between his knees.  They were rather large hands--suggestive
of manual labour.

"Suppose," he said, without looking round, "that a man is in a
street row in Dublin, when no one knows he is even in the town.
Suppose the--eh--English side of the question is getting battered,
and he hits out and kills a drunken beast of an Irish agitator.
Suppose an innocent man is accused of it and the right chap is
forced to come forward and show up UNDER A FALSE NAME and gets five
years.  Suppose he escapes after three and a half, and goes home,
saying that he has been in America, cattle ranching--having always
been a scapegrace, and a ne'er-do-well, who never wrote home when he
had gone off in a huff.  Suppose he had tried all this for the sake
of--a girl, and had carried it through--"

Caleb Harkness had discovered that the identity of the British
Plenipotentiary had become known to some of the more curious of the
President's guests, who were now mooning innocently around them as
they sat.  He moved in his chair as if to rise.

"Yes--I can suppose all that," he said.

The Englishman's nerve was marvellous.  He saw what Harkness had
seen a moment before, and over his face came the bland smile of an
intelligent English man talking naval matters with an American
admiral.

"Of course," he said, "I am at your mercy."

"I was at yours once; so now we are quits, I take it."

And the two big men rose and passed out of the room together.



THE TALE OF A SCORPION



Spain is a country where custom reigns supreme.  The wonder of to-
day is by to-morrow a matter of indifference.

The man who came a second time to the Cafe Carmona in the Calle
Velasquez in Seville must have known this; else the politely
surprised looks, the furtive glances, the whisperings that met his
first visit would have sent him to some other house of mild
entertainment.  The truth was that the Cafe Carmona was, and is
still, select; with that somewhat narrow distinctiveness which is
observed by such as have no friendly feelings towards the
authorities that be.

It is a small Cafe, and foreigners had better not look for it.  Yet
this man was a foreigner--in fact an Englishman.  He was one of
those quiet, unobtrusive men, who are taller than they look, and
more important than they care to be considered.  He could, for
instance, pass down the crowded Sierpe of an evening, without so
much as attracting a glance; for, by a few alterations in dress, he
converted his outward appearance into that of a Spaniard.  He was
naturally dark, and for reasons of his own he spared the razor.  His
face was brown, his features good, and a hat with a flat brim is
easily bought.  Thus this man passed out of his hotel door in the
evening the facsimile of a dozen others walking in the same street.

Moreover, he had no great reason for doing this.  He preferred, he
said, to pass unnoticed.  But at the Foreign Office it was known
that no man knew Spain as Cartoner knew it.  Some men are so.  They
take their work seriously.  Cartoner had looked on the map of Europe
some years before for a country little known of the multitude, and
of which the knowledge might prove to be of value.  His eye lighted
on Spain; and he spent his next leave there, and the next, and so
on.

Consequently there was no one at the Foreign Office who could hold a
candle to Cartoner in matters Spanish.  That is already something--
to have that said of one.  He is a wise man nowadays who knows
something (however small it be) better than his neighbour.  Like all
his kind, this wise man kept his knowledge fresh.  He was still
learning--he was studying at the Cafe Carmona in the little street
in Seville, called Velasquez.

When he pushed the inner glass door open and lounged into the smoke-
filled room, the waiter, cigarette in mouth, nodded in a friendly
way without betraying surprise.  One or two old habitues glanced at
him, and returned to the perusal of La Libertad or El Imparcial
without being greatly interested.  The stranger had come the night
before.  He liked the place--the coffee suited his taste--"y bien,"
let him come again.

The waiter came forward without removing the cigarette from his
lips; which was already a step.  It placed this new-comer on a level
with the older frequenters of the Carmona.

"Cafe?" he inquired.

"Cafe!" replied the stranger, who spoke little.

He had selected a little table standing rather isolated at one end
of the room, and he sat with his back to the wall.  The whole Cafe
Carmona lay before him, and through the smoke of his cigarette he
looked with quiet, unobtrusive eyes, studying . . . studying.

Presently an old man entered.  This little table was his by right of
precedence.  He had been sitting at it the night before when the
Englishman had elected to sit beside him; bowing as he did so in the
Spanish manner, and clapping his hands in the way of Spain, to call
the waiter when he was seated.

It was this evening the turn of the old man to bow, and the
Englishman returned his salutation.  They sat some time in silence,
but when Cartoner passed the sugar the innate politeness of the
Spaniard perceived the call for conversation.

"His Excellency is not of Seville?" he said, with a pleasant smile
on his wrinkled, clean-shaven face.

"No; I am an Englishman."

"Oh!"

The keen old face hardened suddenly, until the features were like
the wrinkles of a walnut; and the Spaniard drew himself up with all
the dignity of his race.

The quiet eyes of Cartoner of the Foreign Office never left his
face.  Cartoner was surprised; for he knew Spain--he was aware that
the Peninsular War had not been forgotten.  He had never, in
whatsoever place or situation, found it expedient to conceal his
nationality.

The old Spaniard slowly unfolded his cloak, betraying the shabbiness
of its crimson plush lining.  He lighted a cigarette, and then the
national sense of politeness prevailed against personal feeling.

"His Excellency knows Gibraltar?"

"I have been there."

"Nothing more?"

"Nothing more."

"Pardon me," said the old man, with a grave bow.  "I thought--the
Spanish of His Excellency misled me."

The Englishman laughed quietly.  "You took me for a scorpion," he
said.  "I am not that.  I learnt your language here and in the
mountains of Andalusia."

"Then, I beg the pardon of His Excellency."

Cartoner made a Spanish gesture with his hand and shoulders,
indicating that no such pardon was called for.

"Like you," he said, "I do not love the Scorpion."

The Spaniard's eyes lighted up with a gleam which was hardly
pleasant to look upon.

"I HATE them," he hissed, bringing his face close to the quiet eyes;
and the Spanish word means more than ours.

Then he threw himself back in his chair with an upward jerk of the
head.

"I have good reason to do so," he added.  "I sometimes wonder why I
ever speak to an Englishman; for they resemble you in some things,
these Scorpions.  This one had a fair moustache, blue eyes, clean-
cut features, like some of those from the North.  But he was not
large, this one--the Rock does not breed a large race.  They are
mean little men, with small white hands and women's feet.  Ah, God!
how I hate them all!"

The Englishman took a fresh cigarette from a Russia leather case,
and pushed the remainder across the table for his companion to help
himself when he had finished mashing the crooked paper between his
lips.

"I know your language," the Spaniard went on, "as well almost as you
know mine.  But I do not speak it now.  It burns my throat--it
hurts."

Cartoner lighted his cigarette.  He betrayed not the smallest
feeling of curiosity.  It was marvellous how he had acquired the
manner of these self-contained Sons of the Peninsula.

"I will tell it."

The Englishman leant his elbow on the table, and his chin within his
hand, gazing indifferently out over the marble tables of the Cafe
Carmona.  The men seated there interchanged glances.  They knew from
the fierce old face, from the free and dramatic gestures, that old
Pedro Roldos was already telling his story to the stranger.

"Santa Maria!" the old man was saying.  "It is not a pleasant story.
I lived at Algeciras--I and my little girl, Lorenza.  Too near the
Rock--too near the Rock.  You know what we are there.  I had a
business--the contraband, of course--and sometimes I was absent for
days together.  But Lorenza was a favourite with the neighbours--
good women who had known my wife when she was the beauty of St.
Roque--just such a girl as Lorenza.  And I trusted Lorenza; for we
are all so.  We trust and trust, and yet we know that love and money
will kill honesty and truth at any moment.  These two are sacred--
more sacred than honesty or truth.  Diavolo!  What a fool I was.  I
ought to have known that Lorenza was too pretty to be left alone--
ignorant as she was of the ways of the world.

"Then the neighbours began to throw out hints.  They spoke of the
English Caballero, who was so fond of riding round the Bay, and they
hinted that it was not to see our old town of Algeciras that he
came.

"One night I came home after a successful journey.  I had been as
far as Buceita with a train of five mules--a clear run.  When I
opened the door Lorenza was gone.  Mother of God! gone--gone without
a word!  I went and fetched Nino--Nino, whose father had been my
partner until he was shot by the Guardia Civile one night in the
mountain behind Gaucin.  There was no one like Nino for mule work in
the mountains or for the handling of a boat when the west wind blew
across the Bay.  Nino, whom I wanted for a son-in-law, having no
Nino of my own.  I told him.  He said nothing, but followed me to
the quay and we got the boat out.  In half an hour I was at the
office of the Chief of the Police at Gibraltar.  We sat there all
night, Nino and I.  By ten o'clock the next morning we knew that it
was not one of the English officers--nor any civilian living on the
Rock.  'It may,' said the Chief of Police, who seemed to know every
one in his little district, 'be a passing stranger or--or a
Scorpion.  We do not know so much about them.  We cannot penetrate
to their houses.'  I gave him a description of Lorenza; he undertook
to communicate with England and with the Spanish police.  And Nino
and I went back to our work.  It is thus with us poor people.  Our
hearts break--all that is worth having goes from our lives, and the
end of it is the same; we go back to our work."

The old man paused.  His cigarette had gone out long ago.  He
relighted it and smoked fiercely in silence for some moments.
Cartoner made a sign to the waiter, who, with the intelligence of
his race, brought a decanter of the wine which he knew the Spaniard
preferred.

During all the above relation Cartoner had never uttered a syllable.
At the more violent points he had given a sympathetic little nod of
the head--nothing more.

"It was from that moment that I began to learn the difference
between Englishmen and Scorpions," Pedro Roldos went on.  "Up to
then I had not known that it made a difference being born on the
Rock or in England.  I did not know what a Scorpion was--with all
the vices of England and Spain in one undersized body.  I haunted
the Rock.  I learnt English.  All to no avail.  Lorenza was gone.
Nino never said anything--he merely stayed by my side--but I think
that something--some fibre had broken within him while he held the
sheet that first night, sailing across the Bay in a gale of wind.

"Thus--for a year.  Then came a letter from Cadiz. Lorenza was
there, alone with her child.  Her husband had deserted her in
England, and she had got back to Cadiz.  We went to her, Nino and I,
in our boat.  We brought her back; but she was no longer Lorenza.
Our grief, our love were nothing to her.  She was like a woman hewn
out of marble.  Maria! how I hated that man!  You cannot understand-
-you Englishmen.  Though there is something in your eyes, senor,
which makes me think that you too could have felt as I did.

"From Lorenza I learnt his name, and without telling her, I went
across to Gibraltar.  I inquired and found that he was there--there
in Gibraltar.  Almost within my grasp--think of that!  At once I was
cunning.  For we are a simple people, except when we love or hate!"

"Yes," said Cartoner, speaking for the first time.  "I know."

"In an hour I knew where he lived.  His father was an English groom
who had set up large breeding stables in Gibraltar, and was a rich
man.  The son had the pretension of being a gentleman.  He had been
in England they told me for a year, buying stud-horses--and--and
something else.  He was married.  Ah-ha!  He had been married three
years before he ever saw Lorenza, and the ceremony which had been
observed in the English Church at Seville was a farce.  My heart was
hot within me; hot with the hatred for this man, and I sat in the
Cafe Universal, which you know!  Yes, you know everything.  I sat
there thinking of how I should kill him--slowly, taking my own time-
-talking to him all the while.

"What I had learnt was no more than I expected.  The woman (his
wife), it appeared, was the daughter of a merchant at Gibraltar.
They were a whole nest of Scorpions.  I went back to Algeciras, and
said nothing then to Lorenza.  The next night I heard by chance that
he and his wife and children had taken passage in a steamer that
sailed for England in two days.  Madre de Dio! he nearly slipped
through our fingers.  It was not a P. and O. ship:  the passengers
had to take a boat from the Old Mole, which is always crowded with
Algeciras boats and others.  Nino and I sailed across there and
waited among the small craft.  We saw the woman (his wife) and the
children go on board in the afternoon.  In the evening he came.  I
had arranged it with the licensed boatmen; a few pesetas did that.
Our boat was nearest the steps.  In the dim light of the quay lamp
he noticed nothing, but stepped over the gunwale and mentioned the
name of his steamer in a quick way, which he thought was that of the
English.

"Nino took the oars, and when we were round the pier head we hoisted
the sail.  Then I spoke.

"'I am the father of Lorenza Roldos,' I said, 'and that man is Nino,
her cortejo.  We are going to kill you.'

"He started up, and was about to raise a cry, when Nino whipped out
his country knife.  We carry them, you know."

"Yes," said Cartoner, speaking for the second time, "I know."

He was watching the old man now beneath the shadow of his hand.

"'If you raise your voice,' I said, 'Nino will put his knife through
your throat.'

"I saw him glance sideways at the water.

"'You would have no chance that way,' I said; 'I would turn the boat
on you, and run you down.'

"He gave a sort of gasp, and I had the happiness of hearing his
teeth chatter.

"'I have money,' he said, in his thin, weak voice; 'not here, on
board.'

"We said nothing, but I hauled in the sheet a little, and ran for
the Europa light.

"'We are going to kill you,' I said quietly, without hurry.

"We landed just beyond the lighthouse, where there are no sentinels,
and we made him walk up the Europa Road past the Governor's house.
Nino's knife was within two inches of his throat all the while.  I
think he knew that his end was near.  You know the Third Europa
Advance Battery?"

"Yes," answered Cartoner.

"The cliff recedes there.  There is a drop of four hundred metres,
and then deep water."

"Yes, I know."

"It was there," hissed the old Spaniard, with a terrible gleam in
his eyes.  "We sat there on the low walk, and I spoke to him.  As we
came along, Nino had said to me in our dialect:  'With a man like
this, fear is better than pain;' and I knew that he was right.

"We did not touch him with our knives.  We merely spoke to him.  And
then we began quietly making our arrangements.  That man died a
hundred times in the ten minutes wherein we ballasted him.  We tied
heavy stones upon his body--we filled his pockets with smaller ones.
We left his arms free, but to the palm of each hand we bound a stone
as large as my head.  The same to each foot.

"Then I said, 'Lie down!  Hands and legs straight out!  It is only
right that a Scorpion should die from his own rock, and taking some
souvenirs with him.'

"I took his arms and Nino his feet.  We swung him three times, and
let him fly into the darkness.

"And Lorenza never forgave us.  She told me that she loved him
still.  One never comes to understand a woman!"



ON THE ROCKS



     "For they are blest that have not much to rue -
      That have not oft misheard the prompter's cue."

The gale was apparently at its height--that is to say, it was
blowing harder than it had blown all through the night.  But those
whose business is on the great waters know that a gale usually
finishes its wrath in a few wild squalls.  "'Tis getting puffy," the
sailors say; "'tis nearly over."

A man hurrying through the narrow main street of Yport was thrown
against the shutters of the little baker's shop on the left-hand
side, and stood there gasping for breath.

"Mon Dieu!" he muttered.  "It's a dog's night."

And he wiped the rain from his face.  The wind, which blew from a
wild north-west, roared against the towering cliffs, and from east
and west concentrated itself funnel-wise on the gap where Yport
lies.  Out seaward there was a queer, ghostly light lying on the
face of the waters--the storm-light--and landsmen rarely see it.
For the sea was beaten into unbroken foam.  The man, who was clad in
oilskins, was in the neck of the funnel.  Overhead, he heard the
wind roaring through the pines far up on the slope of the narrow
valley--close at hand, a continuous whistle told of its passage
across the housetops.  The man steadied himself with his left hand.
He had but one, and he cursed the empty sleeve which flapped across
his face.

"Provided," he muttered, "that I can waken that cure."

He crept on, while the gale paused to take breath, and a moment
later cowered in the porch of a little yellow house.  He kicked the
door with his heel and then waited, with his ear to the great
keyhole.  Surely the cure must have been a good man to sleep in such
a night.  The street had naturally been deserted, for it was nearly
three o'clock in the morning, and dawn could not be far off.

"A one-armed man and a priest!" said the man to himself, with an
expressive jerk of the head.  And, indeed, all the men of Yport had
sailed for the Northern fisheries, leaving the village to the women
and children, and the maimed.

Within the house there were sounds of some one astir.

"One comes!" cried a cheery voice belonging assuredly to some one
who was brave, for none expects to be called from his bed to hear
good news.  A single bolt was drawn and the door thrown open.  The
cure--a little man--stood back, shading the candle with his hand.

"Ah, Jean Belfort! it is you."

"Yes, I and my one arm," replied the man, coming in and closing the
door.  The rain dripped from his oilskins to the clean floor.

"Ah, but this is no night to complain.  Better be on shore with one
arm than at sea with two to-night."

The little cure looked at his visitor with bright eyes, and a shake
of the head.  A quick-spoken man this, with a little square mouth, a
soft heart, a keen sense of humour.

"Why have you got me from my bed, malcontent?" he asked.

"Because there are some out there that want your prayers," replied
Belfort, jerking his head towards the sea.  He was an unbeliever,
this maimed sailor, who read the Petit Journal, and talked too
loudly in the Cafe de la Marine of an evening.  He spoke mockingly
now.

"One can pray in the morning.  Come with me while I get on some
clothes--if it is a wreck," said the priest, simply.

The man followed him to a little bare room, of which the walls were
decorated by two cheap sacred prints and a crucifix, such as may be
bought for ten sous at any fair on the coast.

"Never mind your hat," said the priest, seeing the man's fingers at
the strings of his sou'wester.  "Give me my great boots from the
cupboard.  A wreck is it?  The summer storms are always the worst.
Is it a boat?"

"Who knows?" replied the man.  "It is my wife who looked from the
window an hour ago, and saw a light at sea two points to the east of
north--a red light and then a green and then the masthead light."

"A steamer."

"So it would appear; and now there are no lights.  That is all."

The priest was dressed, and now pulled on a great oilskin coat.
There are men who seem compact in mind and body, impressing their
fellows with a sense of that restfulness which comes of assured
strength.  This little priest was one of these, and the mental
impress that he left upon all who came in contact with him was to
the effect that there is nothing in a human life that need appal, no
sorrow beyond the reach of consolation--no temptation too strong to
be resisted.  The children ran after him in the streets, their faces
expectant of a joke.  The women in the doorways gave a little sigh
as he passed.  A woman will often sigh at the thought of that which
another woman has lost, and this touches a whole gamut of thoughts
which are above the reach of a man's mind.

The priest tied the strings of a sou'wester under his pink chin.  He
was little more than a boy after all--or else he was the possessor
of a very young heart.

"Between us we make a whole man--you and I," he said cheerily.
"Perhaps we can do something."

They went out into the night, the priest locking the door and
pausing to hide the key under the mat in the porch.  They all keep
the house-door key under the mat at Yport.  In the narrow street,
which forms the whole village, running down the valley to the sea,
they met the full force of the gale, and stood for a moment
breathlessly fighting against it.  In a lull they pushed on.

"And the tide?" shouted the priest.

"It is high at four o'clock--a spring tide, and the wind in the
north-west--not standing room on the shore against the cliff for a
man from here to Glainval."

At high tide the waves beat against the towering cliff all along
this grim coast, and a man standing on the turf may not recognize
his son on the rocks below, while the human voice can only span the
distance in calmest weather.  There are spaces of three and four
miles between the gaps in the great and inaccessible bluffs.  An
evil lee-shore to have under one's quarter--one of the waste places
of the world which Nature has set apart for her own use.  When
Nature speaks it is with no uncertain voice.

"There is old Loisette," shouted the cure.  "He may have gone to bed
sober."

"There is no reason to suppose it," shouted the man in reply.  "No,
my father, if there is aught to be done, you and I must do it."

What with the wind and the flannel ear-flaps of the sou'wester, it
was hard to make one's self heard, and the two faces almost touched-
-the unbeliever who knew so little, and the priest who knew not only
books but men.  They made their way to the little quay, or, rather,
the few yards of sea-wall that protect the houses at the corner of
the street.  But here they could not stand, and were forced to
retire to the lee side of the Hotel de la Plage, which, as all know,
stands at the corner, with two timorous windows turned seaward, and
all the rest seeking the comfort of the street.

In a few words Belfort explained where the light had been seen, and
where, according to his judgment, the steamer must have taken the
rocks.

"If the good God has farther use for any of them, he will throw them
on the shore a kilometre to the east of us, where the wire rope
descends from the cliff to the shore for the seaweed," said the
priest.

The other nodded.

"What must be done must be done quickly.  Let us go," said the
little cure in his rather bustling manner, at which the great, slow-
limbed fishermen were wont to laugh.

"Where to?"

"Along the shore."

"With a rising tide racing in before a north-westerly wind?" said
Belfort, grimly, and shook his head.

"Why not?  You have your two legs, and there is Some One--up there!"

"I shouldn't have thought it," answered the man, glancing up at the
storm-driven clouds.  "However, where a priest can go a one-armed
man can surely follow.  We need lanterns and a bottle of brandy."

"Yes; I will wait and watch here while you fetch them."

The priest, left alone, peered round the corner, shading his eyes
with his soft, white hand, upon which the cold rain pattered.  To
the east of him he knew that there were three miles of almost
impassable shore, of unbroken, unscalable cliff.  To the west of him
the same.  On the one hand Fecamp, five miles away by a cliff path
that none would attempt by night, nine miles by road.  On the other
hand Etretat, still further by road and cliff path.  Inland a few
farms and many miles of forest.  He and Belfort had stumbled over
the fallen telegraph wires as they struggled down the village
street.  No; if there was a wreck out there in the darkness, and
men, clinging half-drowned to the rigging, were looking towards the
shore, they had better look elsewhere.  The sea, like the wind,
treated Yport as the mouth of a funnel, and a hundred cross currents
were piling up such waves as no boat could pass, though the Yport
women were skilful as any man with oar or sail.

Presently Belfort returned carrying two lanterns.

"I have told her that we will not quit the seawall," he said with a
short laugh.

And straightway they both clambered over the wall and down the iron
ladder to the beach.  A meandering, narrow pathway is worn on the
weed-grown chalk from the village to the washing-ground on the
beach, a mile to the eastward, where, at low tide, a spring of fresh
water wells up amid the shingle and the rock.  Along this pathway
the two men made their way, the cure following on his companion's
heel.  They stumbled and fell many times.  At every step they
slipped, for their boots were soaked, and the chalk was greasy and
half decomposed by the salt water.  At times they paused to listen,
and through the roar of the wind and sea came the distant note of a
bell clanging continuously.

"It is the bell on Fecamp pier," said Belfort.  "The mist is coming
before the dawn."

To the east the long arm of Fecamp light swung slowly round the
horizon, from the summit of the great bluff of Notre Dame du Salut,
as if sweeping the sea and elbowing away all that dared approach so
grim a coast.

"Ah!" exclaimed the priest, "I am in the water--the tide is coming
up."

To their left a wall of foam and spray shut off all view of the sea.
On the right the cliff rose, a vast barrier, and cut the sky in two.
These two men had nothing in common.  They had, indeed, standing
between them that sword which was brought into the world nineteen
hundred years ago, and is still unsheathed.  But neither thought of
turning back.  It had been agreed between them that they should make
what speed they could along the shore, and only turn back at the
last moment, searching the sea and beach as they returned in the
light of dawn.

Belfort, the leader, the expert in night and tide and wind, led the
way with one eye on the sea, the other on the eastern sky, which was
now showing grey through tossing clouds.

"Here we must turn," he said suddenly, "and the last half-mile to
the sea-wall we shall have to wade."

They paused and looked up to the sky.  In half an hour the day would
come, but in seventy minutes the breakers must beat against the
sheer cliff.

"None has reached the shore alive and with his senses," said
Belfort, looking out to sea.  "He would have seen our lights and
come to us, or called if he had broken limbs.  It is useless to
search the shore too closely.  We shall find them here at the edge,
half in, half out, especially those with life belts, such as we find
any winter morning after bad weather."

He spoke grimly, as one who knew that it is not the deep sea that
must be paid its toll, but the shoal water where the rocks and
quicksands and crabs and gulls are waiting.  They made their way
back in silence, and slowly a new grey day crept into life.  At last
they could see the horizon and read the face of the water still torn
into a seething chaos of foam.  There was no ship upon them.  If
there had been a wreck the storm had done its work thoroughly.
Belfort climbed to the summit of a rock, and looked back towards
Fecamp.  Then he turned and searched the shore towards Yport.

"There is one," he cried, "half in, half out, as I said.  We shall
cheat the crabs at all events, my father."

And clambering down, he stumbled on with a reckless haste that
contrasted strangely with his speech.  For, whatever our words may
be, a human life must ever command respect.  Any may (as some have
done) die laughing, but his last sight must necessarily be of grave
faces.

"This one is not dead," said the priest, when they had turned the
man over and dragged him to dry land.  Belfort cut away the life-
belt, examining it as he did so.

"No name," he said.  "They will have to wait over there in London,
till he can tell them what ship it was.  See, he has been struck on
the head.  But he is alive--a marvel."

He looked up, meeting the priest's eyes, and, remembering his words
spoken under the lee of the wall of the Hotel de la Plage, he
laughed as a fencer may laugh who has been touched beyond doubt by a
skilful adversary.

"He is a small-made man and light enough to carry--some town mouse
this, my father--who has never had a wet jacket before--see his face
how white it is, and his little arms and hands.  We can carry him,
turn and turn about, and shall reach the sea-wall before the tide is
up, provided we find no more."

It was full daylight when they at length reached the weed-grown
steps at the side of the sea-wall, and the smoke was already
beginning to rise from the chimneys of Yport.  The gale was waning
as the day came, but the sea was at its highest, and all the houses
facing northward had their wooden shutters up.  The waves were
breaking over the sea-wall, but the two men with their senseless
burden took no heed of it.  They were all past thinking of salt
water.

In answer to their summons, the Mother Senneville came hastily
enough to the back door of the Hotel de la Plage--a small inn of no
great promise.  The Mother Senneville was a great woman, six feet
high, with the carriage of a Grenadier, the calm eye of some
ruminating animal, the soft, deep voice, and perhaps the soft heart,
of a giant.

"Already!" she said simply, as she held the door back for them to
pass in.  "I thought there would likely be some this morning without
the money in their pockets."

"This one will not call too loud for his coffee," replied Belfort,
with a cynicism specially assumed for the benefit of the cure.  "And
now," he added, as they laid their burden on the wine-stained table,
"if he has papers that will tell us the name of the ship, I will
walk to Fecamp, to Lloyds' agents there, with the news.  It will be
a five-franc piece in my pocket."

They hastily searched the dripping clothing, and found a crumpled
envelope, which, however, told them all they desired to know.  It
was addressed to Mr. Albert Robinson, steamship Ocean Waif,
Southampton.

"That will suffice," said Belfort.  "I take this and leave the rest
to you and Mother Senneville."

"Send the doctor from Fecamp," said the woman--"the new one in the
Rue du Bac.  It is the young ones that work best for nothing, and
here is no payment for any of us."

"Not now," said the priest.

"Ah!" cried Belfort, tossing off the brandy, which the Mother
Senneville had poured out for him.  "You--you expect so much in the
Hereafter, Mr. the Cure."

"And you--you expect so much in the present, Mr. the one-armed
malcontent," replied the priest, with his comfortable little laugh.
"Come, Madame Senneville.  Let me get this man to bed."

"It is an Englishman, of course," said the Mother Senneville,
examining the placid white face.  "They throw their dead about the
world like cigar-ends."

By midday the news was in the London streets, and the talk was all
of storms and wrecks and gallant rescues.  And a few whose concern
it was noted the fact that the Ocean Waif, of London, on a voyage
from Antwerp and Southampton to the River Plate, had supposedly been
wrecked off the north coast of France.  Sole survivor, Albert
Robinson, apparently a fireman or a steward, who lay at the Hotel de
la Plage at Yport, unconscious, and suffering from a severe
concussion of the brain.  By midday, also, the cure was established
as sick nurse in the back bedroom of the little hotel with an
English conversation-book, borrowed from the schoolmaster,
protruding from the pocket of his soutane, awaiting the return of
Albert Robinson's inner consciousness.

"Are you feeling better?" the cure had all ready to fire off at him
as soon as he awoke.  To which the conversation-book made reply:
"Yes, but I have caught a severe chill on the mountain," which also
the cure had made ready to understand--with modifications.

But the day passed away without any use having been found for the
conversation-book.  And sundry persons, whose business it was, came
and looked at Albert Robinson, and talked to the priest and to Jean
Belfort--who, to tell the truth, made much capital and a number of
free glasses of red wine out of the incident--and went away again.

The cure passed that night on the second bed of the back bedroom of
the Hotel de la Plage, and awoke only at daylight, full of self-
reproach, to find his charge still unconscious, still placid like a
statue, with cheeks a little hollower, and lips a little whiter.
The young doctor came and shook his head, and discoursed of other
cases of a similar nature which he had read up since the previous
day, and pretended now to have remembered among his experiences.  He
also went away again, and Yport seemed to drop out of the world once
more into that oblivion to which a village with such a poor sea
front and no railway station, or lodging houses, or hotels where
there are waiters, must expect to be consigned.

The cure had just finished his dejeuner of fish and an omelette--the
day being Friday--when a carriage rattled down the village street,
leaving behind it doorways suddenly occupied by the female
population of Yport wiping its hands upon its apron.

"It is Francois Morin's carriage from Fecamp," said the Mother
Senneville, "with a Parisienne, who has a parasol, if you please."

"No," corrected the cure; "that is an Englishwoman.  I saw several
last year in Rouen."

And he hurried out, hatless, conversation-book in hand.  He was
rather taken aback--never having spoken to a person so well-dressed
as this English girl, who nodded quickly in answer to his
salutation.

"Is this the hotel?  Is he here?  Is he conscious yet?" she asked in
tolerable French.

"Yes--madam.  He is here, but he is not conscious yet.  The doctor--
"

"I am not madam--I am mademoiselle.  I am his sister," said the
girl, quickly descending from the carriage and frankly accepting the
assistance of the cure's rather timid hand.

He followed her meekly, wondering at her complete self-possession--
at an utter lack of ceremony--at a certain blunt frankness which was
new to Yport.  She nodded to Madame Senneville.

"Where is he?" she asked.

"Monsieur le Cure will show you.  It is he who has saved his life."

The young lady turned and looked into the priest's pink face, which
grew pinker.  This was not the material of which gallant rescuers
are usually made.

"Thank you, Monsieur le Cure," she said, with a sudden gentleness.
"Thank you.  It is so difficult--is it not?--to thank any one."

"There is not the necessity," murmured the little cure, rather
confusedly; and he led the way upstairs.

Once in the sick-room he found his tongue again, and explained
matters volubly enough.  Besides, she made it easy.  She was so
marvellously natural, so free from a certain constraint which in
some French circles is mistaken for good manners.  She asked every
detail, and made particular inquiry as to who had seen the patient.

"No one must be allowed to see him," she said, in her decisive way.
"He must be kept quite quiet.  No one must approach this room, only
you and I, Monsieur le Cure."

"Yes, mademoiselle," he said slowly.  "Yes."

"You have been so good--you have done such wonders, that I rely upon
you to help me;" and a sudden, sharp look of anxiety swept across
her face.  "We shall be good friends--n'est ce pas?" she said,
turning to look at him as he stood near the door.

"It will be easy, I think, mademoiselle."

Then he turned to Madame Senneville, who was carrying the baggage
upstairs.

"It is his sister, Madame Senneville," he said.  "She will, of
course, stay in the hotel."

"Yes, and I have no room ready," replied the huge woman,
pessimistically.  "One never knows what a summer storm may bring to
one."

"No, Mother Senneville, no; one never knows," he said rather
absently, and went out into the street.  He was thinking of the
strange young person upstairs, who was unlike any woman he had met
or imagined.  Those in her station in life whom he had seen during
his short thirty years were mostly dressed-up dolls, to whom one
made banal remarks without meaning.  The rest were almost men, doing
men's work, leading a man's life.

That same evening the injured man recovered consciousness, and it
was the cure who sent off the telegram to the doctor at Fecamp.  For
the wire had been repaired with the practical rapidity with which
they manage such affairs in France.

Through the slow recovery it was the cure who was ever at the beck
and call of the two strangers, divining their desires, making quite
easy a situation which otherwise might have been difficult enough.
Not only the cure, but the whole village soon became quite
reconciled to the hitherto unheard-of position assumed by this young
girl, without a guardian or a chaperon, who lived a frank, fearless
life among them, making every day terrible assaults upon that code
of feminine behaviour which hedges Frenchwomen about like a wall.

In the intimacy of the sick-room the little priest soon learnt to
talk with the Englishwoman and her brother quite freely, as man to
man, as he had talked to his bosom friend by selection at St. Omer.
And there was in his heart that ever-abiding wonder that a woman may
thus be a companion to a man, sharing his thoughts, nay, divining
them before he had shaped them in his own mind.  It was all very
wonderful and new to this little priest, who had walked, as it were,
on one side of the street of life since boyhood without a thought of
crossing the road.

When the three were together they were merry enough; indeed, the
Englishman's mistakes in French were sufficient to cause laughter in
themselves without that re-action which lightens the atmosphere of a
sick-room when the danger is past.  But while he was talking to the
Mother Senneville downstairs, or waiting a summons to come up, the
cure never heard laughter in the back bedroom.  There seemed to be
some shadow there which fled before his cheery smile when he went
upstairs.  When he and the girl were together when she walked on the
sea-wall with him for a breath of air, she was grave enough too, as
if now that she knew him better she no longer considered it
necessary to assume a light-heartedness she did not feel.

"Are you sure there is nothing I can do to make your life easier
here?" he asked suddenly one day.

"Quite sure," she answered without conviction.

"Have you all that you want, mademoiselle?"

"Oh yes."

But he felt that there was some anxiety weighing upon her.  He was
always at or near the Hotel de la Plage now, so that she could call
him from the window or the door.  One day--a day of cloud and
drizzle, which are common enough at Yport in the early summer--he
went into the little front room, which the Mother Senneville fondly
called her salon, to read the daily office from the cloth-bound book
he ever carried in his pocket.  He was engaged in this devout work
when the Englishwoman came hastily into the room, closing the door
and standing with her back against it.

"There is a gendarme in the street," she said, in little more than a
whisper, her eyes glittering.  She was breathless.

"What of it, mademoiselle?  It is my old friend the Sergeant Grall.
It is I who christen his children."

"Why is he here?"

"It is his duty, mademoiselle.  The village is peaceful enough now
that the men are away at the fisheries.  You have nothing to fear."

She glanced round the room with a hunted look in her eyes.

"Oh," she said, "I cannot keep it up any longer.  You must have
guessed--you who are so quick--that my brother is a great criminal.
He has ruined thousands of people.  He was escaping with the money
he had stolen when the steamer was wrecked."

The cure did not say whether this news surprised him or not, but
walked to the window and looked thoughtfully out to sea.  The
windows were dull and spray-ridden.

"Ah!" the girl cried, "you must not judge hastily.  You cannot know
his temptation."

"I will not judge at all, mademoiselle.  No man may judge of
another's temptation.  But--he can restore the money."

"No.  It was all lost in the steamer."

She had approached the other window, and stood beside the little
priest looking out over the grey sea.

"It was surely my duty to come here and help him, whatever he had
done."

"Assuredly, mademoiselle."

"But he says you can give him up if you like."

She glanced at him and caught her breath.  The priest shook his
head.

"Why not?  Because you are too charitable?" she whispered; and again
he shook his head.  "Then, why not?" she persisted with a strange
pertinacity.

"Because he is your brother, mademoiselle."

And they stood for some moments looking out over the sea, through
the rime-covered windows, in a breathless silence.  The cure spoke
at length.

"You must get him removed to Havre," he said, in his cheery way, "as
soon as possible.  There he can take a steamer to America.  I will
impress upon the doctor the necessity of an early departure."



It was not lately, but many years ago, that the Ocean Waif was
wrecked in a summer storm.  And any who penetrate to Yport to-day
will probably see in the sunlight on the sea-wall a cheery little
cure, who taps his snuff-box, while he exchanges jokes with the
idlers there.  Yport has slowly crept into the ken of the traveller,
and every summer sees English tourists pass that way.  They are not
popular with the rough natives, who, after all, are of the same
ancestry as ourselves; but the little cure is quick and kind with
information or assistance to all who seek it.  When the English
tongue is spoken he draws near and listens--snuff-box in hand; when
the travellers speak in French his eyes travel out to sea with a
queer look, as if the accent aroused some memory.

And in an obscure English watering-place there lives a queer little
old maid--churchy and prim--who does charitable work, gives her
opinion very freely concerning the administration of matters
parochial, thinks the vicar very self-indulgent and idle--and in her
own heart has the abiding conviction that there are none on earth
like the Roman clergy.



"GOLOSSA-A-L"



"Golossa-a-l!" I heard him say.  "Golossa-a-l, these Englishmen!
Are they not everywhere?"

A moment later I was introduced to him, and he rose to shake hands--
a tall, fair, good-natured German student.  Heavy if you will--but
clean withal, and of a cleanly mind.

"Honour," he muttered politely.  "It is not often we have an English
student at Gottingen--but perhaps we can teach you something--eh?"
And he broke into a boyish laugh.  "You will take beer?" he added,
drawing forward an iron chair--for we were in the Brauerei Garden.

"Thank you."

"A doctor of medicine--the Herr Professor tells me," he said
pleasantly.  "Prosit," he added, as he raised his great mug to his
lips.

"Prosit!  Yes, a doctor of medicine--of the army."

"Ah, of the army, that is good.  I also I hope, some day!  And you
come to pass our Gottingen examination.  Yes, but it is hard--ach
Gott!--devilish hard."

There was a restrained shyness about the man which I liked.  Shy men
are so rare.  And, although he could have cleared the Brauerei
Garden in five minutes, there was no bluster about this Teutonic
Hercules.  His loud, good-natured laugh was perhaps the most
striking characteristic of Carl von Mendebach.  Next to that, his
readiness to be surprised at everything or anything, and to class it
at once as colossal.  Hence the nickname by which he was known
amongst us.  The term was applied to me a thousand times--
figuratively.  For I am a small man, as I have had reason to deplore
more than once while carrying the wounded out of action.  It takes
so much longer if one is small.

I cannot exactly say why Carl von Mendebach and I became close
friends; but I do not think that Lisa von Mendebach had anything to
do with it.  I was never in love with Lisa, although I admired her
intensely, and I never see a blue-eyed, fair-haired girl to this day
without thinking of Lischen.  But I was not in love with her.  I was
never good-looking.  I did not begin by expecting much from the
other sex, and I have never been in love with anybody.  I wonder if
Lisa remembers me.

The students were pleasant enough fellows.  It must be recollected
that I speak of a period dating back before the war of 1870--before
there was a German Empire.  I soon made a sort of place for myself
at the University, and I was tolerated good-naturedly.  But Carl did
more than tolerate me.  He gave me all the friendship of his simple
heart.  Without being expansive--for he was a Hanoverian--he told me
all about himself, his thoughts and his aims, an open-hearted
ambition and a very Germanic contentment with a world which
contained beer and music.  Then at last he told me all about his
father, General von Mendebach, and Lisa.  Finally be took me to his
house one evening to supper.

"Father," he said in his loud, cheery way, "here is the Englishman--
a good friend of mine--a great scholar--golossa-a-l."

The General held out his hand and Lisa bowed, prettily formal, with
a quaint, prim smile which I can see still.

I went to the house often--as often, indeed, as I could.  I met the
Von Mendebachs at the usual haunts--the theatre, an occasional
concert, the band on Sunday afternoon, and at the houses of some of
the professors.  It was Lisa who told me that another young Briton
was coming to live in Gottingen--not, however, as a student at the
University.  He turned out to be a Scotsman--one Andrew Smallie, the
dissolute offspring of a prim Edinburgh family.  He had been shipped
off to Gottingen, in the hope that he might there drink himself
quietly to death.  The Scotch do not keep their skeletons at home in
a cupboard.  They ship them abroad and give them facilities.

Andrew Smallie soon heard that there was an English student in
Gottingen, and, before long, procured an introduction.  I disliked
him at once.  I took good care not to introduce him to any friends
of mine.

"Seem to lead a quiet life here," he said to me one day when I had
exhausted all conversation and every effort to get him out of my
rooms.

"Very," I replied.

"Don't you know anybody?  It's a deuced slow place.  I don't know a
soul to talk to except yourself.  Can't take to these beer-drinking,
sausage-eating Germans, you know.  Met that friend of yours, Carl
von Mendebach, yesterday, but he didn't seem to see me."

"Yes," I answered.  "It is possible he did not know you.  You have
never been introduced."

"No," he answered dubiously.  "Shouldn't think that would matter in
an out-of-the-way place like this."

"It may seem out of the way to you," I said, without looking up from
my book.  "But it does not do so to the people who live here."

"D---d slow lot, I call them," he muttered.  He lighted a cigar and
stood looking at me for some time and then he went away.

It was about this time that Carl von Mendebach fought his first
student duel, and he was kind enough to ask me to be his surgeon.
It was, of course, no quarrel of his own, but a point of honour
between two clubs; and Carl was selected to represent his "corps."
He was delighted, and the little slit in his cheek which resulted
from the encounter gave him infinite satisfaction.  I had been
elected to the "corps" too, and wore my cap and colours with
considerable pride.  But, being an Englishman, I was never asked to
fight.  I did not then, and I do not now, put forward any opinion on
student duelling.  My opinion would make no difference, and there is
much to be said on both sides.

It was a hard winter, and I know few colder places than Gottingen.
An ice fete was organized by the University.  I believe Carl and I
were among the most energetic of the organizers.  I wish I had never
had anything to do with it.

I remember to this day the pleasure of skating with Lisa's warmly
gloved little hands in my own--her small furred form touching me
lightly each time we swung over to the left on the outside edge.  I
saw Andrew Smallie once or twice.  Once he winked at me, knowingly,
as I passed him with Lisa--and I hated him for it.  That man almost
spoilt Gottingen for me.  Britons are no friends of mine out of
their own country.  They never get over the fallacy that everywhere
except London is an out-of-the-way place where nothing matters.

As the evening wore on, some of the revellers became noisy in a
harmless German way.  They began to sing part songs with a skill
which is not heard out of the Fatherland.  Parties of young men and
maidens joined hands and swung round the lake in waltz time to the
strain of the regimental band.

Lisa was tired, so she sought a seat with the General, leaving Carl
and me to practise complicated figures.  They found a seat close to
us--a seat somewhat removed from the lamps.  In the dusk it was
difficult to distinguish between the townspeople and the gentlefolk.

We were absorbed in our attempts when I heard a voice I knew--and
hated.

"Here, you, little girl in the fur jacket--come and have a turn with
me," it was saying in loud, rasping, intoxicated tones.

I turned sharply.  Smallie was standing in front of Lisa with a leer
in his eyes.  She was looking up at him--puzzled, frightened--not
understanding English.  The General was obesely dumfounded.

"Come along--my dear," Andrew Smallie went on.  He reached out his
hand, and, grasping her wrist, tried to drag her towards him.

Then I went for him.  I am, as I have confessed, a small man.  But
if a man on skates goes for another, he gathers a certain impetus.
I gave it to him with my left, and Andrew Smallie slid along the ice
after he had fallen.

The General hustled Lisa away, muttering oaths beneath his great
white moustache.

When Andrew Smallie picked himself up, Carl von Mendebach was
standing over him.

"Tell him," said Carl in German, "that that was my sister."

I told Smallie.

Then Carl von Mendebach slowly drew off his fur glove and boxed
Smallie heavily on the ear so that he rolled over sideways.

"Golossa-a-l," muttered Von Mendebach, as we went away hurriedly
together.

The next morning Carl sent an English-speaking student with a
challenge to Andrew Smallie.  I wrote a note to my compatriot,
telling him that although it was not our habit in England, he would
do well to accept the challenge or to leave Gottingen at once.  Carl
stood over me while I wrote the letter.

"Tell him," he said, "where he can procure fencing lessons."

I gave Smallie the name of the best fencing-master in Gottingen.
Then we called for beer and awaited the return of our messenger.
The student came back looking grave and pale.

"He accepts," he said.  "But--"

"Well!" we both exclaimed.

"He names pistols."

"What?" I cried.  Carl laughed suddenly.  We had never thought of
such a thing.  Duelling with pistols is forbidden.  It is never
dreamt of among German students.

"Ah--all right!" said Carl.  "If he wishes it."

I at once wrote a note to Smallie, telling him that the thing was
impossible.  My messenger was sent back without an answer.  I wrote,
offering to fight Carl myself with the usual light sword or the
sabre, in his name and for him.  To this I received no answer.  I
went round to his rooms and was refused admittance.

The next morning at five--before it was light--Carl and I started
off on foot for a little forest down by the river.  At six o'clock
Andrew Smallie arrived.  He was accompanied by an Einjahriger--a
German who had lived in England before he came home to serve his
year in the army.

We did not know much about it.  Carl laughed as I put him in
position.  The fresh pink of his cheek--like the complexion of a
healthy girl--never faded for a moment.

"When I've done with him," cried Smallie, "I'll fight you."

We placed our men.  The German soldier gave the word.  Carl von
Mendebach went down heavily.

He was still smiling--with a strange surprise on his simple face.

"Little man," he said, "he has hit me."

He lay quite still while I quickly loosened his coat.  Then suddenly
his breath caught.

"Golossa-a-l!" he muttered.  His eyes glazed.  He was dead.

I looked up and saw Smallie walking quickly away alone.  The
Einjahriger was kneeling beside me.

I have never seen or heard of Andrew Smallie since.  I am a grey-
haired man now.  I have had work to do in every war of my day.  I
have been wounded--I walk very lame.  But I still hope to see Andrew
Smallie--perhaps in a country where I can hold him to his threat; if
it is only for the remembrance of five minutes that I had with Lisa
when I went back to Gottingen that cold winter morning.



THE MULE



     "Si je vis, c'est bien; si je meurs, c'est bien."

"Ai-i-ieah," the people cried, as Juan Quereno passed--the cry of
the muleteers, in fact.  And this was considered an excellent joke.
It had been a joke in the country-side for nearly twenty years; one
of perhaps half a dozen, for the uneducated mind is slow to
comprehend, and slower to forget.  Some one had nicknamed Juan
Quereno the "Mule" when he was at school, and Spain, like Italy and
parts of Provence, is a country where men have two names--the
baptismal, and the so-called.  Indeed, the custom is so universal,
that official records must needs take cognizance of it, and grave
Government papers are made out in the name of so-and-so, "named the
monkey."

There were, after all, worse by-names in the village than the Mule,
which is, as many know, a willing enough beast if taken the right
way.  If taken in the wrong--well, one must not take him in the
wrong way, and there is an end of it!  A mule will suddenly stop
because, it would appear, he has something on his mind and desires
to think it out then and there.  And the man who raises a stick is,
of course, a fool.  Any one knows that.  There is nothing for it but
to stand and watch his ears, which are a little set back, and cry,
"Ai-i-ieah," patiently and respectfully, until the spirit moves him
to go on.  And then the mule will move on, slowly at first, without
enthusiasm, a quality which, by the way, is, of all the animals,
only to be found in the horse and the dog.

The quick-witted who had dealings with Quereno knew, therefore, by
his name what manner of man this was, and dealt with him
accordingly.  Juan Quereno was himself a muleteer, and in even such
a humble capacity as scrambling behind a beast of burden over a
rocky range of mountains and through a stream or two, a man may make
for himself a small reputation in his small world.  Juan Quereno
was, namely, a Government muleteer, and carried the mails over
nineteen chaotic miles of rock and river.  When the mails were
delayed owing, it was officially announced, to heavy snow or rain in
the mountains, the delay never occurred on Quereno's etapa.

For nine years, winter and summer, storm and shine, he got his mails
through, backwards and forwards, sleeping one night at San Celoni,
the next at Puente de Rey.  Such was Juan Quereno, "a stupid enough
fellow," the democratic schoolmaster of San Celoni said, with a
shrug of his shoulders and a wave of the cigarette which he always
carried half-smoked and unlighted in his fingers.

The schoolmaster was, nevertheless, pleasant enough when the Mule,
clean-shaven and shy, with a shrinking look in his steady, black
eyes, asked one evening if he could speak to him alone.

"But yes--amigo!" he replied; "but yes."  And he drew aside on the
bench that stands at the schoolhouse door.  "Sit down."

The Mule sat down, leant heavily against the wall, and thrust out
first one heavy foot and then the other.  Then he sat forward with
his elbows on his knees, and looked at his dusty boots.  His face
was tanned a deep brown--a stolid face--not indicative of much
intelligence perhaps, not spiritual, but not bad on the other hand,
which is something in a world that abounds in bad faces.  He glanced
sideways at the schoolmaster, and moistened his lips with his
tongue, openly, after the manner of the people.

"It is about Caterina, eh?" inquired the elder man.

"Yes," replied the Mule, with a sort of gasp.  If the Mule had ever
been afraid in his life, it was at that moment--afraid, if you
please, of a little democrat of a schoolmaster no bigger than the
first-class boys, blinking through a pair of magnifying spectacles
which must have made the world look very large, if one could judge
from the effect that they had upon his eyes.

The schoolmaster looked up towards the mountains, to the goats
poised there upon the broken ground, seeking a scanty herbage in the
crannies.

"How many beasts is it that you have--four or five?" he inquired
kindly enough, after a moment, and the Mule drew a deep breath.

"Five," he replied; and added, after a minute's deep and honest
thought, "and good ones, except Cristofero Colon, the big one.  He
eats much, and yet, when the moment comes"--he paused and looked
towards the mountains, which rose like a wall to the south, a wall
that the Mule must daily climb--"when the moment comes he will
sometimes refuse--especially in an east wind."

The schoolmaster smiled, thinking perhaps of that other Cristofero
Colon and the east wind that blew him to immortal fame.

"And Caterina," he asked.  "What does she think of it?"

"I don't know."

The schoolmaster looked at his companion with an upward jerk of the
head.  It was evident that he thought him a dull fellow.  But that
assuredly was Caterina's affair.  It was, on the other hand,
distinctly the affair of Caterina's father to remember those five
beasts of the Mule's, than which there were none better in the
country-side--to recollect that the Mule himself had a good name at
his trade, and was trusted by the authorities.  There was no match
so good in all the valley, and certainly none to compare with this
dull swain in the accursed village of San Celoni.  The schoolmaster
never spoke of the village without a malediction.  He had been
planted there in his youth with a promise of promotion, and
promotion had never come.  For a man of education it was exile--no
newspapers, no passing travellers at the Cafe.  The nearest town was
twenty miles away over the Sierra Nevada, and Malaga--the paved
Paradise of his rural dreams--forty rugged miles to the south.  No
wonder he was a democrat, this disappointed man.  In a Republic,
now, such as his father had schemed for in the forties, he would
have succeeded.  A Republic, it must be remembered, being a
community in which every man is not only equal, but superior to his
neighbour.

"You don't know?"

"No," answered the Mule, with a dull look of shame at his own faint-
heartedness.  Moreover, he was assuredly speaking an untruth.  The
man who fears to inquire--knows.

As a matter of fact, he had hardly spoken to Caterina.  Conversation
was not the Mule's strong point.  He had exchanged the usual
greetings with her at the fountain on a fiesta day.  He had nodded a
good morning to her, gruff and curt (for the Mule had no manners),
more times than he could count.  And Caterina had met his slow
glance with those solemn eyes of hers, and that, so to speak, had
settled the Mule's business.  Just as it would have settled the
business of five out of six men.  For Caterina had Moorish eyes--
dark and solemn and sad, which said a hundred things that Caterina
had never thought of--which seemed to have some history in them that
could hardly have been Caterina's history, for she was only
seventeen.  Though, as to this, one cannot always be sure.  Perhaps
the history was all to come.  Of course, the Mule knew none of these
things.  He was a hard-working, open-air Andalusian, and only knew
that he wanted Caterina, and, as the saying is, could not live
without her.  Meantime he lived on from day to day without that
which he wanted, and worked--just as the reader may be doing.  That,
in fact, is life--to live on without something or other, and work.
Than which there is one thing worse, namely, to live on and be idle.

"But--" said the schoolmaster, slowly, for Andalusian tongues are
slow, if the knives are quick--"but one may suppose that you would
make her a good husband."

And a sudden gruff laugh was the answer.  A woman would have
understood it; but Caterina had no mother.  And the schoolmaster was
thinking of the five beasts and the postal appointment.  The
muleteer's face slowly sank back into stolidity again.  The light
that had flashed across it had elevated that dull physiognomy for a
moment only.

"Yes," said the Mule slowly, at length.

"You can read and write?" inquired the man of education.

"Yes, but not quickly!"

"That," said the schoolmaster, "is a matter of practice.  You should
read the newspapers."

Which was bad advice, for the Mule was simple and might have
believed what he read.

The conversation was a long one; that is to say, it lasted a long
time; until, indeed, the sun had set and the mountains had faded
from blue to grey, while the far-off snow peaks reared their shadowy
heads into the very stars.  The schoolmaster had a few more
questions to ask, and the Mule answered them in monosyllables.  He
was tired, perhaps, after his day's journey; for he had come the
northward trip, which was always the hardest, entailing as it did a
rocky climb on the sunny side of the mountains.  He had nothing to
say in his own favour, which is not such a serious matter as some
might suspect.  The world does not always take us at our own
valuation, which is just as well--for the world.

Indeed, the schoolmaster only succeeded in confirming his own
suspicion that this was nothing but a dull fellow, and he finally
had to dismiss the Mule, who had not even the savoir faire to
perceive when conversation was ended.

"Vederemos," he said, judicially, "we shall see."

And the Mule went away with that heaviness of heart which must
surely follow a mean action.  For he knew that in applying to
Caterina's father he had placed Caterina at a disadvantage.  The
schoolmaster, be it remembered, was a democrat, and such are usually
autocrats in their own house.  He was, moreover, a selfish man, and
had long cherished the conviction that he was destined to be great.
He thought that he was an orator, and that gift, which is called by
those who do not possess it the gift of the gab, is the most
dangerous that a man can have.  There was no one in San Celoni to
listen to him.  And if Caterina were married and he were a free man,
he could give up the school and go to Malaga, where assuredly he
could make a name.

So the schoolmaster told Caterina the next morning that she was to
marry the Mule--that the matter was settled.  The dusky roses faded
from Caterina's cheek for a moment, and her great dark eyes had a
hunted look.  That look had often come there of late.  The priest
had noticed it, and one or two old women.

"Almost as if she were in the mountains," they said, which is a
local polite way of referring to those unfortunate gentlemen who,
for some reason or another, do not desire to meet the Guardia Civil,
and haunt the upper slopes of the Sierra Nevada, where they live, as
live the beasts of the forest, seeking their meat from God, while
the charitable, and, it is even whispered, the priest or the Alcalde
himself, will at times lay an old coat or a loaf of bread at the
roadside above the village, and never inquire who comes to take it.

The Mule himself, it is known, buys more matches than he can ever
burn, so much as six boxes at a time, of those cheap sulphurous
wooden matches that are made at Barcelona, and the next day will buy
more.  The Mule, however, is such a silent man that those who are
"in the mountains" make no concealment with him, but meet him (wild,
unkempt figures that appear quietly from behind a great rock) as he
passes on his journeys, and ask him if he has a match upon him.
They sometimes look at the mail-bags slung across the stubborn back
of Cristofero Colon with eyes that have the hunted, hungry look
which Caterina has.

"There is, perhaps, money in there," they say.

"Perhaps," answers the Mule, without afterthought.

"It may be a thousand pesetas."

"Perhaps."

And the Mule, who is brave enough where Caterina is not concerned,
quietly turns his back upon a man who carries a gun, and follows
Cristofero Colon.  It sometimes happens that he trudges his nineteen
miles without meeting any one, with no companion but his mules and
his dog.  This last-named animal is such as may be met in Spain or
even in France at any street corner--not a retriever, nor a
foxhound, nor anything at all but a dog as distinguished from a cat
or a goat, living a troubled and uncertain life in a world that will
always cringe to a pedigree, but has no respect for nondescripts.
It was on these journeys that the Mule had so much leisure for
thought.  For even he could think, according to his dim lights.  He
was only conscious, however, of an ever-increasing feeling of a
sickness--a physical nausea (for he was, of course, a mere earthy-
creature)--at the thought of a possible life without Caterina.  And
it was at the end of a grilling day that the schoolmaster beckoned
to him as he passed the school-house, and told him that it was
settled--that Caterina would marry him.

"Would you like to see her?  She is indoors," inquired the bearer of
the tidings.

"No," answered the Mule, after a dull pause.  "Not to-night.  I have
my mail-bags, as you see."

And he clattered on down the narrow street with a dazed look, as if
the brightness of Paradise had flashed across his vision.

So it was settled.  Caterina and the Mule were to be married, and
there had been no love-making, the old women said.  "And what," they
asked, "is youth for, if there is to be no love-making?"  "And God
knows they were right," said the priest who heard the remark, and
who was a very old man himself.

Two days after that, the Mule met Caterina as she was going to the
fountain.  He said "Good morning."  They both stopped, and the Mule
looked into Caterina's eyes and had nothing to say.  For he saw
something there which he did not understand, and which made him feel
that he was no better than Cristofero Colon, scraping and stumbling
up the narrow street with the mail-bags, in such a vile temper, by
the way, that the Mule had to hurry after him.

"It is a slow business," said the schoolmaster to Sergeant Nolveda,
of the Guardia Civil, who lived in San Celoni and trained one young
recruit after another according to the regulations of this admirable
corps.  For one never meets a Guardia Civil alone, but always in
company--an old head and a pair of young legs.  "A slow business.
He is not a lover such as I should choose were I a pretty girl like
Caterina; but one can never tell with women--eh?"

Indeed, matters did not progress very quickly.  The Mule appeared to
take so much for granted--to take as said so much that had not been
said.  Even the love-making seemed to him to have been understood,
and he appeared to be quite content to go his daily journeys with
the knowledge that Caterina was to be his wife.  There were, of
course, others in the valley who would have been glad enough to
marry Caterina, but she had shown no preference for any of these
swains, who knew themselves inferior, in a worldly sense, to the
Mule.  So the whole country-side gradually accustomed itself also to
the fact that Caterina was to marry Quereno.  The news even spread
to the mountains.  The Mule heard of it there one day when he had
accomplished fourteen daily journeys to the accompaniment of this
new happiness.

As he was nearing the summit of the pass he saw Pedro Casavel, who
had been "in the mountains" three years, seated on a stone awaiting
him.  Pedro Casavel was a superior man, who had injured another in a
dispute originating in politics.  His adversary was an old man, now
stricken with a mortal disease.  And it was said that Pedro Casavel
could safely return to the village, where his father owned a good
house and some land.  His enemy had forgiven him, and would not
prosecute.  But Casavel lingered in the mountains, distrusting so
Christian a spirit.

He rose as the Mule slowly approached.  He carried a gun always, and
was more daring than his companions in retreat.  The Mule
mechanically sought in his jacket pocket for a box of matches, which
he knew would be a welcome gift, and held them out silently as he
neared Casavel.  But Casavel did not take them.

"I hear that you are to marry Caterina," he said, with a half
disdainful laugh.  "Is it true?"

"It is true," answered the Mule.

"If you do," cried the other, passionately, with a bang on the stock
of his gun that startled Cristofero Colon--"if you do, I will shoot
you."

The Mule smiled slowly, just as he smiled when the people cried "Ai-
i-ieah" as he passed them.

"I am going to marry her," he said, with a shake of the head.  And
mechanically he handed the other the box of matches, which Casavel
took, though his eyes still flashed with anger and that terrible
jealousy which flows in Southern blood.  Then the Mule walked slowly
on, while his dog shambled after him, turning back once or twice to
glance apprehensively at the man left standing in the middle of the
rocky path.  Dogs, it is known, have a keener scent than human
beings--perhaps, also, they have a keener vision, and see more
written on the face of man than we can perceive.

The Mule turned at the summit of the pass, and looked down, as he
always did, at the village where Caterina lived, before turning his
face to the sunnier southern slope.  He saw Casavel standing where
he had left him, holding up the gun with a threatening gesture.  The
Mule had no eye for effect.  He did not even shrug his shoulders.

It was finally the schoolmaster who hurried matters to their natural
conclusion.  By his advice, the Mule, who had hitherto lodged in the
house of the postmaster, rented a cottage of his own and bought some
simple furniture.  He consulted Caterina on several points, and she
was momentarily aroused from a sort of apathy which had come over
her of late, by a very feminine interest in the kitchen fittings.
The best that could be said for Caterina was that she was resigned.
As for the Mule, like the animal from which he had acquired his
habits of thought as well as his name, he seemed to expect but
little from life.  So, one morning before departing on his daily
journey, the Mule was unobtrusively married to Caterina in the
little pink stucco chapel that broods over the village of San Celoni
like a hen over her chickens.  And Cristofero Colon and the dog
waited outside.

It was a commonplace ceremony, and at its conclusion the bridegroom
trudged off up the village street behind his mail-bags.  The Mule,
it must be admitted, was a deadly dull person--y nada mas--and
nothing more, as his fond father-in-law observed at the cafe that
same morning.

But when he returned on the second evening, he made it evident that
he had been thinking of Caterina in his absence, for he gave her,
half shyly and very awkwardly, some presents that he had brought
from a larger village than San Celoni, which he had passed on his
way.  There were shops in the village, and it was held in the
district that articles bought there were of superior quality to such
as came even from Granada or Malaga.  The Mule had expended nearly a
peseta on a coloured kerchief such as women wear on their heads, and
a brooch of blue glass.

"Thank you," said Caterina, taking the presents and examining them
with bright eyes.  She stood before him in a girlish attitude,
folding the kerchief across her hand, and holding it so that the
light of their new lamp fell upon it.  "It is very pretty."

The Mule had washed his face and hands at the fountain, as he came
into San Celoni, remembering that he was a bridegroom.  He stood,
sleek and sunburnt, looking down at her, and, if he had only had the
words, the love-making might have commenced then and there, at a
point where the world says it usually ends.

"There was nothing," he said slowly at length, "in the shops that
seemed to me pretty at all--"  He paused, and turned away to lay his
beret aside, then, with his back towards her, he finished the
sentence.  "Not pretty enough for you."

Caterina winced, as if he had hurt instead of pleased her.  She
busied herself with the preparations for their simple supper, and
the Mule sat silently watching her--as happy, perhaps, in his dull
way, as any king has ever been.  Then suddenly Caterina's fingers
began to falter, and she placed the plates on the table with a
clatter, as if her eyes were blinded.  She hesitated, and with a
sort of wail of despair, sat down and hid her face in her apron.
And the Mule's happiness was only human after all, for it was
transformed in the twinkling of an eye into abject misery.

He sat biting his lip, and looking at her as she sobbed.  Then at
length he rose slowly, and, going to her, laid his great, solid,
heavy hand upon her shoulder.  But he could not think of anything to
say.  He could only meet this as he had met other emergencies, with
that silence which he had acquired from the dumb beasts amid the
mountains.

At length, after a long pause, he spoke.  He had detected a
movement, made by Caterina and instantly restrained, to withdraw
from the touch of his hand, and this had set his slow brain
thinking.  He had dealt with animals more than with men, and was
less slow to read a movement than to understand a word.

"What is it?" he asked.  "Is it that you are sorry you married me?"

And Caterina, who belonged to a people saying yea, yea, and nay,
nay, nodded her head.

"Why?" asked the Mule, with a deadly economy of words.  And she did
not answer him.  "Is it because--there is another man?"

It was known in the valley that the Mule had never used his knife,
not even in self-defence.  Caterina did not dare, however, to answer
him.  She only whispered a prayer to the Virgin.

"Is it Pedro Casavel?" asked the Mule; and the question brought her
to her feet, facing him with white cheeks.

"No--no--no!" she cried.  "What made you think that?  Oh--no!"

Woman-like, she thought she could fool him.  The Mule turned away
from her and sat down again.  Woman-like, she had forgotten her own
danger at the mere thought that Casavel might suffer.

"And he--in the mountains," said the Mule, thinking aloud.  He was
beginning to see now, at last, when it was too late, as better men
than he have done before, and will continue to do hereafter.
Caterina could not have held out as an objection to her marriage the
fact that she loved a man who was in the mountains.  The
schoolmaster was not one to listen to such an argument as that,
especially from a girl who could not know her own mind.  For the
schoolmaster was, despite his radical tendencies, bigoted in his
adherence to the old mistakes.

Caterina might have told the Mule, perhaps, if he had asked her; for
she knew that he was gentle even with the stubborn Cristofero Colon.
But he had not asked her, failing the necessary courage to face the
truth.

It was, of course, the woman who spoke first, in a quiet voice, with
that philosophy of life which is better understood by women than by
men.

"You must, at all events, eat," she said, "after your journey.  It
is a cocida that I have made."

She busied herself among the new kitchen utensils with movements
hardly yet as certain as the movements of a woman, but rather those
of a child, hasty and yet deft enough.  The Mule watched her, seated
clumsily, with round shoulders, in the attitude of a field labourer
indoors.  When the steaming dish, which smelt of onions, was set
upon the table, he rose and dragged his chair forward.  He did not
think of setting a chair in place for Caterina, who brought one for
herself, and they sat down--to their wedding feast.

They appeared to accept the situation, as the poor and the hard-
worked have to accept the many drawbacks to their lot, without
further comment.  The Mule cultivated a more complete silence than
hitherto; but he was always kind to Caterina, treating her as he
would one of his beasts which had been injured, with a mutual silent
acceptance of the fact that she had a sorrow, a weak spot as it
were, which must not be touched.  With a stolid tact he never
mentioned the mountains, or those unfortunate men who dwelt therein.
If he met Pedro Casavel he did not mention the encounter to
Caterina.  Neither did he make any reference to Caterina when he
gave Pedro a box of matches.  Indeed, he rarely spoke to Casavel at
all, but nodded and passed on his way.  If Casavel approached from
behind he stopped without looking round, and waited for him just as
his mules stopped, and as mules always do when they hear any one
approaching from behind.

So time went on, and the schoolmaster, resigning his situation,
departed to Malaga, where, by the way, he came to no good; for of
talking there is too much in this world, and a wise man would not
say thank you for the gift of the gab.  The man whom Pedro Casavel
had injured died quietly in his bed.  Caterina went about her daily
work with her unspoken history in her eyes, while Pedro himself no
doubt ate his heart out in the mountains.  That he ate it out in
silence could scarcely be, for the tale got about the valley somehow
that he and Caterina had been lovers before his misfortune.

And as for the Mule, he trudged his daily score of miles, and said
nothing to any man.  It would be hard to say whether he noticed that
Pedro Casavel, when he showed himself now in the mountains, appeared
rather ostentatiously without his gun--harder still to guess whether
the Mule knew that as he passed across the summit Casavel would
sometimes lie amid the rocks, and cover him with that same gun for a
hundred yards or so, slowly following his movements with the steady
barrel so that the mail-carrier's life hung, as it were, on the
touch of a trigger for minutes together.  Pedro Casavel seemed to
shift his hiding place, as if he were seeking to perfect certain
details of light and range and elevation.  Perhaps it was only a
grim enjoyment which he gathered from thus holding the Mule's life
in his hand for five or six minutes two or three times a week;
perhaps, after all, he was that base thing, a coward, and lacked the
nerve to pull a trigger--to throw a bold stake upon life's table and
stand by the result.  Each day he crept a little nearer, grew more
daring; until he noticed a movement made by the lank, ill-fed dog,
that seemed to indicate that the beast, at all events, knew of his
presence in the rocks above the footpath.

Then one day, when there was no wind, and the light was good and the
range had been ascertained, Pedro Casavel pulled the trigger.  The
report and a puff of bluish smoke floated up to heaven, where they
were doubtless taken note of, and the Mule fell forward on his face.

"I have it," he muttered, in the curt, Andalusian dialect.  And then
and there the Mule died.

It happened to be Cristofero Colon's day to do the southward
journey, and despite the lank dog's most strenuous efforts, he
continued his way, gravely carrying the dusty mail-bags to their
destination.  The dog remained behind with the Mule, pessimistically
sniffing at his clothing, recognizing, no doubt, that which, next to
an earthquake, is the easiest thing to recognize in nature.  Then at
length he turned homewards, towards San Celoni, with hanging ears
and a loose tail.  He probably suspected that the Mule had long
stood between him and starvation--that none other would take his
place or remember to feed a dog of so unattractive an appearance and
no pedigree whatever.

Caterina did not expect the Mule to return that evening, which was
his night away from home at Puente de Rey.  She hurried to the door,
therefore, when she heard, after nightfall, the clatter of hoofs in
the narrow street, and the shuffling of iron heels at her very step.
She opened the door, and in the bright moonlight saw the cocked-hats
and long cloaks of the Guardia Civil.  There were other men behind
them, and a beast shuffled his feet as he was bidden to stand still.

"What is it?" she asked.  "An accident to the Mule?"

"Not exactly that," replied the Sergeant, grimly, as he made way for
two men who approached carefully, carrying a heavy weight.  It was
the Mule whom they brought in and laid on the table.

"Shot," said the Sergeant, curtly.  He had heard the gossip of the
valley, and doubted whether Caterina would need much pity or
consideration.  His companion-in-arms now appeared, leading by the
sleeve one who was evidently his captive.  Caterina looked up and
met his eyes.  It was Pedro Casavel, sullen, ill-clad, half a
barbarian, with the seal of the mountains upon him.  "The mail-bags
are missing," pursued the Sergeant, who in a way was the law-giver
of the valley.  "Robbery was doubtless the object.  We shall find
the mail-bags among the rocks.  The Mule must have shown fight; for
his pistol was in his pocket with one barrel discharged."

As he spoke he laid his hand upon the Mule's broad chest without
heeding the stained shirt.  That stain was no new sight to an old
soldier.

"Robbery," he repeated, with a glance at Casavel and Caterina, who
stood one on each side of the table that bore such a grim burden,
and looked at each other.  "Robbery and murder.  So we brought Pedro
Casavel, whose hiding-place we have known these last two years, with
us--on the chance, eh?--on the chance.  It was the dog that came and
told us.  Whoever shot the man should have shot the dog too--for
safety's sake."

As the Sergeant spoke, he mechanically made sure that the Mule's
pockets were empty.  Suddenly he stopped, and withdrew a folded
paper from the inside pocket of the jacket.  He turned towards the
lamp to read the writing on it.  It was the Mule's writing.  The
Sergeant turned, after a moment's thought, and faced Casavel again.

"You are free to go, Pedro," he said.  "I have made a mistake, and I
ask your pardon."

He held out the paper, which, however, Casavel did not take, but
stood stupidly staring, as if he did not understand.

Then the Sergeant turned to the lamp again.  He unfolded the paper,
which was crumpled as if with long friction in the pocket, and read
aloud -

"Let no one be accused of my death.  It is I, who, owing to private
trouble, shall shoot myself.  Juan Quereno, so-called the 'Mule.'"



IN LOVE AND WAR



     "Secret de deux, secret de Dieu."

"Guess anybody could be a soldier and swing a sword, while it takes
brains to make a doctor."

Now I was a doctor, and a very young one in those days, new to the
regiment and conscious of my inferiority to its merest subaltern.
The young person who made the above observation was, moreover,
pretty, with dark eyes and the most bewitching lips that ever gave
voice to an American accent.  My heart was young, and therefore
easily stirred by such vanities--nothing stirs it now but the cry of
the bugle and the sullen roar that rises from the ranks when, at
last, T. Atkins is allowed to get to the bayonet.

We were sitting in the verandah of the Residency in the capital of a
northern tributary state which need not be further specified here.
The Rajah was in difficulties and unable, without our aid, to
dispose of a claimant to his throne, whose hereditary right
originated somewhere in the lifetime of St. Paul.  General Elias J.
Watson, of Boston, U.S.A., was travelling for the enlargement of his
own and his daughter's mind.

"Pa is just going to write a book about things in general,"
explained Miss Bertha Watson, with a wise little smile, when her
father's thirst for information became irksome.

Hearing in Simla that an expeditionary force was about to be
despatched to the assistance of the Rajah of Oadpur, General Watson
hastened thither.  He had letters of introduction from sundry
persons who wished to get rid of him to sundry others who had no
desire to assist in any way.  But the old man's naivete and
characteristically simple interest in details soon made their way,
while Bertha's wise little smile carried all before it.  It somehow
conveyed the impression that she knew a thing or two of which we
were ignorant, and like one man we fell to desiring knowledge of
those things.  I was nowhere.  Doctors never are anywhere in
regimental competitions, for they are usually, like myself, deadly
poor.  Sometimes Bertha danced with me, as on this occasion, at the
impromptu entertainments given by the Resident.

"Say, shall we have another?" she observed before my heart had
recovered from the effect of the last remark.  And she handed me the
stationery department envelope which served as a programme on these
occasions.

I fumbled for my pencil in a seventh heaven of joy.  I had read
somewhere that women sometimes give their hearts to small and
insignificant men.  But it seemed unlikely that this referred to
such women as Bertha Watson.  I had never dreamt of cutting out the
other men:  Major Le Mesurier-Groselin, who had money, for instance,
or Austin Graham--especially Austin Graham.  There had been a rumour
in the air--planted there, no doubt, by some of the women who have a
marvellous scent for a light trail--that there was an understanding
between Graham and Bertha.  I noticed that she never looked at him
with her bewitching little smile as she did at the rest of us.  But
that was all I could detect.  Perhaps she thought that he was wiser
than herself.  Perhaps, moreover, she was right; for Graham was the
wisest man up there, and I think the bravest.  He meant business, he
told me, and had come to make his name in this little war.

He was a quiet-going, fair man, with that inestimable advantage of
looking at all times exactly what he was, namely, a gentleman by
long descent.  He was a great friend of mine, and we shared quarters
in a sort of gatehouse to the Rajah's palace, where I knew that he
worked night and day, for he was chief of the staff, and had a great
scheme of crushing the insurrection, at one blow, by a surprise
assault of the fortified town twenty miles away, where the claimant
lay with his forces.

"Seems to me," said Bertha, when I had duly inscribed my name on the
Government envelope, "that this is what you call a demonstration in
force.  This is not serious war.  You are not going to fight at all.
Things are much too quiet and orderly--with church parade, and
soirees-dansantes, and visiting cards."

She looked at me, and if I had had any secrets I should have told
them to her then and there.

"Then you think there'll be fighting," she added, with a calmness of
demeanour which was in itself unusual and fascinating enough.

She had no reason to arrive at such a conclusion, for I had not
uttered a sound.  I probably did not know, however, in those days
that the lies requiring the minutest care are the unspoken ones.

"You see, I'm only a doctor," I answered, "and, strange to say, the
Brigadier has not as yet taken me into his confidence."

"I know a lot about war," she went on after a momentary pause.  She
appeared to have some misgiving about one of the buttons on her long
glove which she had undone and was tentatively tugging at the
thread.

"May I button that?" I said hurriedly in my extreme youth, and with
a palpitating courage.

"Why, yes--if you have any ambition that way."  And she extended her
arm towards me.  "Now," she said, with a grave air of confidence
which I now distrust whenever it is tried upon me, "if I was the man
in charge of this show, I would just go on like this, giving balls
and private theatricals and exchanging visiting cards.  This place
is full of spies, of course.  The very servants who wait on the
General probably read all his letters and send copies of them to the
enemy.  The plan of campaign is probably as well known to What-'em-
you-call-it Khan as it is to the Brigadier."

"No, I am sure it isn't," I interrupted; "because Graham keeps it
locked up in a medical-comfort chest with his dressing-case locked,
which we screwed on ourselves."

"Ah, is that so, doctor?  Well, you can't be too careful, can you?
As I was saying, I should convey to the spies the impression that it
was only a demonstration in force.  Then one night I should start
off quietly, march twenty miles, and give What-'em-you-call-it Khan
Hail Columbia before sunrise."

She looked at me, gave a knowing little nod of the head, and began
fanning herself.

"That is my plan of campaign," she said.  "You know Pa is here on
purpose to see the British soldier fight.  We have been waiting here
a month now, and I hope you are going to ring up the curtain soon.
Pa has theories about the British soldier, and although he is a
General, you know he has never seen a fight.  I tell him if I was a
General who hadn't seen a fight, I'd just go out and sell myself
cheap!  What?"

"Nothing."

"I guess you spoke."

"I said you'd probably do that at any rate."

"Not cheap," she answered gravely, and then we changed the subject.
So far as I recollect, we returned to the discussion of doctors and
their trade, and before long I had the opportunity of airing my
special hobby at that time--the study of native drugs.  Miss Watson
was deeply interested--at least, she made me think so, and before we
parted I had promised to send round to her "diggings," as she called
them, a bottle of a perfectly harmless narcotic which I had made up
for the use of persons suffering from sea-sickness or toothache.  I
use it still, and have some always by me on service in a bottle
labelled "Bertha," for there is, after all, something in a name.

I went home to my quarters rather thoughtful that night; for Bertha
Watson's plan of campaign was Austin Graham's plan of campaign, and
I knew that Graham was not the man to divulge so much as a hint of
this secret.  I know now that if a woman loves a man she knows much
that he never tells her, but I was ignorant of this and many other
matters at the time when I made Bertha's acquaintance.

The days dragged on and we seemed to be no nearer solving the
Rajah's difficulties.  There were at that time no native newspapers,
and bazaar gossip, which is, by the way, surer and speedier than the
most enlightened press, made up for the want.  Bazaar gossip held
much the same opinion as Bertha Watson--namely, that we were only a
demonstration in force.  This opinion gained ground daily, and began
like a hardy weed to throw out tendrils in the shape of details.  We
were afraid of the claimant to the throne, it seemed.  We had
quarrelled with the Rajah, and would not risk a defeat on his
account.

Austin Graham came and went.  I sometimes found mysterious natives
waiting for him in our quarters.  One of these natives spoke
Hindustanee with a faint Scotch accent, and laughed when I told him
so.

"I'm all right in the dialects though," he said, in Glasgow English,
and asked for a cigarette.  We sat and talked for half an hour
awaiting Graham's arrival, but he never told me who he was.

One night, about midnight, I was aroused by Le Mesurier-Groselin,
who was in full fighting kit and had a queer light in his eyes which
was new to me, though heaven and the Horse Guards know that I have
seen it often enough since.

"Get up--Sawbones!" said Le Mesurier-Groselin.  "You'll be wanted at
any rate, but now I want you badly.  We're just off to smoke the old
Khan out, and something has gone wrong with Graham.  For God's sake,
man, hurry up!  It will be a pretty fight, and I would not miss it
for worlds."

I looked at Le Mesurier-Groselin as I hauled on my clothes.  He had
eight thousand a year, an Elizabethan manor in England, and the
certainty of a baronetcy; but the thought of these things never
brought to his eyes the light that was there now.

"What is wrong with Graham?"

"I don't know--wish I did.  Can't move him.  Seems quite stupid or
dead drunk," answered Le Mesurier-Groselin, handing me my belt.

We hurried upstairs to the room occupied by Austin Graham, and there
found him lying on the bed with his eyes almost, but not quite,
shut.

"Where was he to-night--dining with you at mess?" I asked, raising
one heavy lid with my finger.

"No, he dined with the Watsons."

"When did you last see him?"

"About ten o'clock at my quarters.  He was coming here to change in
time for the assembly at eleven forty-five--the column is just
marching.  I came here to hurry him up and found him like this.  The
whole attack is his planning.  It would have been the making of him.
He was to have led the ladders.  Gad! what a chance the man had--and
look at the poor devil now!"

I was examining Austin Graham with a thumping heart, for a queer
suspicion was in my mind.  Presently I ran downstairs and uncorked
the bottle which I now label "Bertha."  The smell was identical, and
I went upstairs again.

"Help me to get him into his boots and tunic," I said.

And Le Mesurier-Groselin and I huddled the man's fighting clothes on
to him by the light of a flickering candle.  Le Mesurier-Groselin
was a big man, and my trade had taught me a certain skill in the
handling of the dead.  We soon had Austin Graham in full uniform
sitting up in my arms, with the helmet crammed on his head at an
unseemly angle.  He was perfectly insensible, but his heart went
well.

"Now help me to get him on to his horse," I said.

Le Mesurier-Groselin dropped his eye-glass for the first and last
time on record, and looked at me with a surprised eye and a solemn
one.

"I'll obey orders," he said.  "But I take it that you are very drunk
or else mad."

We carried him downstairs and I climbed into Graham's saddle.  Le
Mesurier-Groselin lifted Graham, who must have weighed fourteen
stone, into the saddle in front of me, and I rode twenty miles that
night with him there.  He recovered consciousness an hour before we
reached the Khan's stronghold, and, as I expected, awoke, as if from
sleep, refreshed and ready for any exertion.  We had no time for
explanations.

"You were drugged," I said, "by some native spy, who must have got
wind of the intended attack to-night.  I knew that the stuff would
have to run its course, so I did not physic you, but brought you
along with the column."

I am glad to say he believed me.

Some one found me a restless field-artillery horse which was giving
the gunners a lot of trouble, and I rode back to Oadpur alone--not
having any business at the front.  As I approached the old Gate
House, the flutter of a white dress caught my eye.  It was almost
dawn, and a pink haze hung over the paddy-fields.  The world had
that appearance of peace and cleanliness which is left by the
passage of an Indian night.  My rooms were on the ground-floor, and
it seemed to me that, at the sound of my horse's feet, some one had
come out of them to pass up the stone stairs that led to Graham's
quarters.  As I slipped out of the saddle the sound of a distant
cannon broke the silence of the night, and my horse, despite his
forty miles accomplished in little more than five hours, pricked up
his ears.  I tied him up, and instead of going to my own rooms went
upstairs.

Miss Watson was standing in the first room I entered.  The quick
tropic dawn had come, and I saw the face of a woman who had not
slept.

"Major Graham's servant told me that he was ill.  I have--a--a right
to know how he is, and where he is," she said with her imperturbable
self-possession.

"Graham is at the front," I answered, and the sound of the cannon,
dull and distant, finished the sentence for me.

Bertha Watson bit her lip to hide its quivering, and looked at me,
breathing hard.

"We have rung up the curtain," I added, remembering our talk in the
verandah of the Residency.

"How did he get there?"

"Across my saddle in a state of insensibility, which passed off, as
I expected it would, an hour before the time fixed for the storming
of the fortifications.  Some one drugged him in order that he might
not take part in this action.  Some one who feared him--or for him.
Le Mesurier-Groselin called me to him, and only we three know of it.
I am the only medical man connected with the affair, and I can
certify that it was a native drug that was used, and that therefore
a native must have done this thing.  Probably a native spy, Miss
Watson, who, finding out the proposed surprise too late to warn the
rebels, attempted to disorganize the force by this means.  Do you
understand?"

She looked at me with all her keen wits in her eyes.

"No one would ever dream that another had done it--say some one who
was attached to Graham, and who, in a panic, gave way to temptation
and did him a great wrong, while saving him from danger."

I stood aside as I spoke and motioned her towards the door, for the
place would soon be astir.

"My!" she exclaimed.  "And I reckoned you were a fool--behind that
single eye-glass.  It is not you that is the fool, doctor."

Then suddenly she turned at the head of the stairs and whispered
hoarsely -

"And if he is killed?"

"That is what he is paid for, Miss Watson.  We can only wait and
hope that he isn't."

Austin Graham was not killed, but came back with, as the Brigadier
said, the Victoria Cross up his sleeve.  I happened to be near
Bertha Watson when they met, and there was that in her eyes when
they encountered his which was a revelation to me and makes me
realize even now what a lonely man I am.



TOMASO'S FORTUNE



"You talk of poor men, Senora--then you talk of me.  See, I have
nothing but the wits that are under my hat."

And Felipe Fortis spread himself out on the trellis-bordered bench
of the little Venta that stands at the junction of the Valdemosa
Road and the new road from Miramar to Palma in the island of
Majorca.

Felipe was, of course, known to be a young man of present position
and future prospects, or he would not have said such a thing.  It
was supposed, indeed, by some, to be a great condescension that he
should stop at the little Venta of the Break of Day and take his
half of wine on market-days.  And, of course, there were women who
eagerly sought the woman in it, and said that Felipe drank the widow
Navarro's sour wine to the bright eyes of the widow's daughter.

"No such luck for her," said Rosa's cousins and aunts, who were
dotted all up the slopes of the valley on either side in their
little stone cottages; right up from the river to the Val d'Erraha--
that sunny valley of repose which lies far above the capital of
Majorca, far above the hum of life and sound of the restless sea.

Felipe, who was a good-looking young fellow, threw his hat down on
the bench beside him.  He had fair hair and a white skin--both, he
understood, much admired by the dark-eyed daughters of the Baleares.
He shook his finger with a playful condescension at the widow
Navarro, with whom he was always kind enough to exchange a few light
pleasantries.  And she, womanlike, suited her fire to the calibre of
the foe, for she was an innkeeper.

"That is all--the wits that are under my hat," he repeated.

And Rosa, who was standing in the deep shadow of the doorway,
muttered to herself -

"Then you are indeed a poor man."

Felipe glanced towards her, and wondered whether the sun was shining
satisfactorily through the trellis on his fair hair.

Rosa looked at him with inscrutable eyes--deep as velvet, grave and
meditative.  She was slight and girlish, with dull blue-black hair,
and a face that might have been faithfully cut on a cameo.  It was
the colour of a sun-burnt peach, and usually wore that air of gentle
pride which the Moors seem to have left behind them in those lands
through which they passed, to the people upon whom they have
impressed an indelible mark.  But when she smiled, which was not
often, her lips tilted suddenly at the corners in a way to make an
old man young and a young man mad.

Tomaso of the Mill, who sat on the low wall across the road in the
shadow of a great fig-tree, was watching with steady eyes.  Tomaso
was always watching Rosa.  He had watched for years.  She had grown
up under that steady eye.  And now, staring into the deep shadow of
the cottage interior, he thought that he saw Rosa smile upon Felipe.
And Felipe, of course, concluded that she was smiling at him.  They
all did that.  And only Rosa knew the words she had whispered
respecting the gallant Felipe.

Tomaso of the Mill was a poor man if you like, and usually
considered a dull one to boot.  He only had the mill half-way up the
hill to the Val d'Erraha--a mill to which no grist came now that
there was steam communication between Palma and Barcelona, and it
paid better to ship the produce of the island to the mainland,
buying in return the adulterated produce of the Barcelona mills.
Tomaso's father had been a prosperous man almost to the day of his
death, but times had moved on, leaving Tomaso and his mill behind.
And there is no man who watches the times move past him with a
prouder silence than a Spaniard.  The mill hardly brought in ten
pesetas a month now, and that was from friends--poor men like
himself who were yet gentlemen, and found some carefully worded
reason why they preferred home-milled flour.  Tomaso, moreover, was
deadly simple:  there is nothing more fatal than simplicity in these
days.  It never occurred to him to sell his mill, or let it fall in
ruins and go elsewhere for work.  His world had always been bounded
on the south by the Val d'Erraha, on the north by the Valdemosa
road, on the west by the sea, and on the east by Rosa.  He had never
suffered from absolute hunger, and nothing but absolute hunger will
make a Spaniard leave his home.  So Tomaso of the Mill remained at
the mill, and, like his forefathers, only repaired the sluices and
conduit when the water-supply was no longer heavy enough to drive
the creaking wheel.

Since the death of his mother he had lived alone, cooking his own
food, washing his own clothes, and no man in the valley wore a
whiter shirt.  As to the food, perhaps there was not too much of it,
or it may have been badly cooked; for Tomaso had a lean and hungry
look, and his tanned cheek had diagonal lines drawn from the cheek-
bone to the corner of the clean-shaven mouth.  The lips were firm,
the chin was long.  It was a solemn face that looked out from
beneath the shadow of the great fig-tree.  And--there was no
mistaking it--it was the face of that which the world calls a
gentleman.

Felipe turned towards him in his good-natured grand way, and invited
him by a jerk of the head to come and partake of his half-bottle of
Majorcan wine.  There was a great gulf between these two men, for
Tomaso wore no jacket and Felipe was never seen without one.  Tomaso
therefore accepted the invitation with a grave courtesy.  Felipe
knew his manners also.  He poured a few drops into his own glass,
for fear the cork should have left a grain of dust, and then filled
his guest's little thick tumbler to the brim.  They touched glasses
gravely and drank, Felipe making a swinging gesture towards Rosa in
the dark doorway before raising the glass to his lips.

"And affairs at the mill?" inquired Felipe, with a movement of the
hand demanding pardon if the subject should be painful.

"The wheel is still," replied Tomaso, with that grand air of
indifference with which Spain must eventually go to the wall.  He
slowly unrolled and re-rolled a cheap cigarette, and sat down on the
bench opposite to Felipe.

Felipe looked at him with that bright and good-natured smile which
was known to be so deadly.  He spread out his arms in a gesture of
lofty indifference.

"What will you?" he asked, with a laugh.  "It will come--your
fortune."

And Tomaso smiled gravely.  He was quite convinced also, in his
simple way, that his fortune would come; for it had been predicted
by a gipsy from Granada at the Trinity Fair on the little crowded
market-place at Palma.  The prediction had caught the popular fancy.
Tomaso's poverty, it must be remembered, was a proverb all over the
island.  "As poor as Tomaso of the Mill," the people said; it being
understood that a church mouse failed to suggest such destitution.
Moreover, the gipsy foretold that Tomaso should make his own fortune
with his own two hands, which added to the joke, for no one in
Majorca is guilty of such manual energy as will lead to more than a
sufficiency.

"Now, I say," continued Felipe, turning to the widow with that
unconscious way of discussing some one who happens to be present
which is only understood in Southern worlds.  "Now, I say that when
it comes, it will have something to do with horses.  See how he sits
in the saddle!"

And Felipe sketched perfection with a little gesture of his brown
hand, which was generous of Felipe; for Tomaso was (by one of those
strange chances which lead the Spaniards to say that God gives nuts
to those who have no teeth) a born horseman, and sat in the saddle
like a god--one straight line from heel to shoulder.

Tomaso had risen from the bench and walked slowly across the road to
his former seat on the low wall.  He was a shy and rather modest
man, and felt, perhaps, that there was a suggestion of condescension
in Felipe's attitude.  If Felipe had come here to pay his addresses
to Rosa, he, Tomaso, was not the man to put difficulties in the way.
For he was one of those rare men who, in loving, place themselves in
the background.  He loved Rosa, in a word, better than he loved
himself.  And in the solitude of his life at the mill he had worked
out a grim problem in his own mind.  He had weighed himself
carefully in the balance, nothing extenuating.  He had taken as
precise a measure of Felipe Fortis with his present position and his
future prospects.  And, of course, the only solution was that Rosa
would do well to marry Felipe.  So Tomaso withdrew to the outer side
of the road and the shade of the fig-tree, while Felipe talked gaily
with Rosa's mother, and Rosa looked on from the doorway with deep,
dark eyes that said nothing at all.  For Felipe was wooing the
daughter through the mother, as men have often done before him; and
the widow smiled on Felipe's suit.  The whole business, it appeared,
was to be conducted in a sane and gentlemanly way, over a half of
the widow's wine, with clinking glasses and a grave politeness.
And, of course, Felipe had it all his own way.  The question of
rivalry did not so much as suggest itself to him, so he could the
more easily be kind to the quiet man with the steady eyes who
withdrew with such tact when he had finished his wine.

Of course, there was Tomaso's fortune to take into consideration.
No one seemed to think of doubting that the prediction must
eventually come true, but it was hardly likely to be verified in
time to convert Tomaso into a serious rival to Felipe Fortis.  There
were assuredly no fortunes to be made out of the half-ruined mill.
The trade had left that for ever.  There was no money in the whole
valley, and Tomaso did not seem disposed to go and seek it
elsewhere.  He passed his time between the mill and the low wall
opposite the Venta of the Break of Day, of which the stones beneath
the fig-tree were polished with his constant use of them.  He
usually came down from the mill, which is a mile above the Venta, as
any one may prove who seeks the Valley of Repose to-day, by the new
road recently cut on the hillside by a spasmodically active Town
Council--the road from Miramar to Palma.

It had been at one time supposed that Tomaso's fortune would come to
him through this new road, for the construction of which a portion
of the land attached to the mill must be purchased.  But it was a
very small portion, and the purchase-money a ridiculous little sum,
which was immediately swallowed up in repairs to the creaking wheel.
The road-makers, however, turned aside the stream below the mill,
and conducted it to a chasm in the rock, where it fell a great
height to a tunnel beneath the road.  And half the valley said they
could not sleep for the sound of it, and the other half said they
liked it.  And Rosa, whose bedroom window was nearer to it than any
other in the valley, said nothing at all.

Sitting beneath the fig-tree, Tomaso looked up suddenly towards the
mill.  He was so much accustomed to the roar of his own mill-stream
that his ears never heeded it, and heard through it softer and more
distant sounds.  He heard something now--the regular beat of
trotting horses on the road far above his home.  He looked up
towards the heights, though, of course, he could see nothing through
the pines, which are thickly planted here and almost as large as the
pines of Vizzavona, in the island of Corsica.  He listened to the
sound with that quiet interest which comes to those who live in
constant sunshine, and is in itself nearly akin to indifference.

"What is it?" asked the widow, noting his attitude.

"It is a carriage on the new road--some traveller from Miramar."

Travellers from Miramar were few and far between.  None had as yet
made use of the new road.  This was, therefore, a matter of
considerable interest to the four persons idling away the afternoon
at the Venta of the Break of Day.

"The horses will as likely as not take fright at the new waterfall
made by these mules of road-makers," said Tomaso, rising slowly and
throwing away the end of his cigarette.

He took his stand in the middle of the road, looking uphill with a
gleam of interest in his eyes.  He knew horses so well that his
opinion arrested the attention of his hearers.  Tomaso had always
said that the diversion of his mill-stream would be dangerous to the
traffic on the new road.  But it was nobody's business to consult
Tomaso.

He stood in the middle of the road, contemplatively biting his lower
lip--a lean, lithe man, who had lived a clean and simple life--and
never dreamt that this might be his fortune trotting down the new
Miramar road towards him.

"Ah!" he exclaimed, curtly.

The steady pace was suddenly broken, and at the same moment the
hollow roar of the wheels told that the carriage was passing over
the little tunnel through which the stream escaped to the valley
below.  Then came the clatter of frightened horses and the broken
cry of one behind them.  Felipe leapt to his feet and stood
irresolute.  The widow gave a little cry of fear, and Rosa came out
into the sunlight.  There the three stood, rigid, watching Tomaso
contemplatively biting his lip in the middle of the sun-lit road.

In a moment the suspense was over--the worst was realized.  A
carriage swung round the corner a quarter of a mile higher up the
road, with two horses stretched at a frantic gallop, and the driver
had no reins in his hand; for his reins had broken, and the loose
ends fluttered on either side.  He was stooping forward, with his
right hand at the screw-brake between his legs, and in his left hand
he swung his heavy whip.  He was a brave man, at all events, for he
kept his nerve and tried to guide the horses with his whip.  There
was just a bare chance that he might reach the Venta, but below it--
not a hundred yards below it--the road turned sharply to the right,
and everything failing to take that sharp turn would leap into space
and the rocky bed of the river five hundred feet below.

The man gave a shout as he came round the corner, and to his credit
it was always remembered that his gesture waved Tomaso aside.  But
Tomaso stood in the middle of the road, and his steady eyes suddenly
blazed with a fierce excitement.  His lips were apart.  He was
breathless, and Rosa found herself with her two hands at her throat,
watching him.

The carriage seemed to bear right down upon him, but he must have
stepped aside, for it passed on and left the road clear.  Tomaso was
somewhat in the dust, in the confusion of tossing heads and flying
reins.  Then his white shirt appeared against the black of the
horses' manes.

"Name of God!" cried Felipe; "he is on top!"

And Felipe Fortis forgot his fine clothes and superior manners.  He
was out on the road in an instant, running as he never ran before,
and shouting a hundred Catalonian oaths which cannot be transcribed
here, even in Catalonian.

It was difficult to see what happened during these moments which
were just those instants of time in which one man does well and
another badly.  But Rosa and her mother saw at length that Tomaso
was apparently half standing on the pole between the two horses.  He
was swinging and jerking from side to side, but all the while he was
gathering the scattered reins in his hands.  Then suddenly he threw
himself back, and the horses' heads went up as if they were being
strangled.  They jerked and tugged in vain.  Tomaso's arms were like
steel.  Already the pace was slackening--the gallop was broken.  And
a minute later the carriage was at a standstill in the ditch.

Already the driver was on the ground explaining excitedly to Tomaso
how it had happened, and Tomaso was smiling gravely as he wiped some
blood from his hand.  It was Felipe who, arriving at this moment,
thought of opening the carriage-door.  There was a pause while
Felipe looked into the carriage, and Rosa and her mother ran towards
him.  Rosa helped Felipe to assist an old man to alight.  He was a
very fat man, with grey and flaccid cheeks, with shiny black hair
and a good deal of gold chain and ring about him.  He seemed only
half-conscious of the assistance proffered to him, and walked slowly
across the road to the shade of the trees.  Here he sat down on the
low wall, with his elbows on his knees, his two hands to his head,
and looked thoughtfully at the ground between his feet.  It was
precisely the attitude of one who has had a purler at football.  And
the others looked on in the waiting silence which usually
characterizes such moments.

"The gentleman is not hurt?" suggested Felipe, who was always
affable and ready with his tongue.

But the gentleman was not prepared to confirm this optimistic view
of the case.  He simply sat staring at the ground between his feet.
At length he lifted his head and looked Felipe slowly up and down.

"Who stopped the horses?" he asked.  "A man in a white shirt."

"It was Tomaso of the Mill," answered the widow, who would have
spoken sooner if she had had her breath.  "He washes his own," she
added, anxious to say a good word for a neighbour.

Tomaso should, of course, have come forward and bowed.  But Tomaso's
manners were not of a showy description.  He was helping the driver
to repair the reins, and paused at this moment to remove the
perspiration from his forehead with two fingers, which he
subsequently wiped on the seam of his trousers.

"He!" cried the fat man sitting on the wall.

One could see that he was a business man; for he had the curt manner
of the counting-house.

"He, Tomaso!" added the widow Navarro, in a shrill voice.

And Tomaso came slowly forward.

"Your name?" said the man of business.

"Tomaso."

"Tomaso what?"

"Tomaso of the Mill."  And his face fell a little when the fat man
produced a pocket-book and wrote the name down with a shaking hand.
The action rather savoured of the police and the law, and Tomaso did
not like it.

The stout man leant forward with his chin in the palm of his hand
and reflected for some moments.  He was singularly reflective, and
seemed to be making a mental calculation.

"See here," he said at length, looking at Tomaso with quick
business-like eyes.  He was beginning to recover his colour now.
"See here, I am not going to give you money--between gentlemen, eh!
such things are not done.  You have saved my life.  Good!  You are a
brave man, and you risked your neck for a perfect stranger!  I
happen to be a rich man, and my life is of some value.  I came from
Barcelona to Majorca on business--business with a good profit.  If I
had gone over there"--he paused, and jerked his thumb towards the
blue and hazy space that lay below them--"the transaction would have
fallen through.  You have enabled me, by your prompt action, to
return to Palma this evening and sign the papers connected with this
affair.  Good!  You are therefore entitled to a commission on the
profit that I shall make.  I have reckoned it out.  It amounts to
ten thousand pesetas--a modest fortune, eh?"

Tomaso nodded his head.  He had always known that it would come.
The widow Navarro threw up her eyes, and in a whisper called the
attention of her own special black-letter saint to this business.
Rosa was glancing surreptitiously at Felipe, who, to do him justice,
was smiling on the old man with much appreciation.

"You see what I am," continued the man of business, tapping his
exuberant waistcoat; "I am fat and I am sixty-seven.  When I return
to Palma, I shall notify to a lawyer that I leave to you, 'Tomaso of
the Mill,' ten thousand pesetas, to be paid as soon after my death
as possible.  At Barcelona I shall put the matter into legal form
with my own notary there."

He rose from his seat on the wall and held out his thick white hand,
which Tomaso took, and they shook hands gravely.

"As between gentlemen, eh?" said he; "as between gentlemen."

Then he walked slowly to the other side of the road, where the
driver was engaged in drawing his carriage out of the ditch.

"I will enter your malediction of a carriage," he said, "but you
must lead the horses to the bottom of the hill."

The carriage went slowly on its way, while the others, after
watching it turn the corner, returned to the Venta.  In the
twinkling of an eye Tomaso's fortune had come.  And he had won it
with his own hands, precisely as the gipsy from Granada had
predicted.  The tale, moreover, is true, and any one can verify it
who will take the trouble to go to Palma de Mallorca, where half a
dozen independent witnesses heard the prediction made at a stall in
the crowded and narrow market-place nearly six months before the new
Miramar road was completed.

As it was getting dusk, Felipe Fortis mounted his horse and rode on
to his home in the valley far down the Valdemosa road.  And Tomaso,
with his handkerchief bound round his hand, walked thoughtfully up
to his solitary home.  The great problem which he had thought out so
carefully and brought to so grim and certain a conclusion had
suddenly been reopened.  And Rosa had noticed with the quickness of
her sex that Tomaso had carefully avoided looking at her from the
moment that his good fortune had been made known.  His manner, as he
bade mother and daughter a gruff good-night was rather that of a
malefactor than one who had just done a meritorious action, and Rosa
watched him go with an odd little wise smile tilting the corners of
her lips.

"Goodnight," she said.  "You--and your fortune."

And Tomaso turned the words over and over in his mind a hundred
times, and could make nothing of them.

Rosa was early astir the next morning, and happened to be at the
open door when Tomaso came down the road.  He was wearing his best
hat--a flat-brimmed black felt--which, no doubt, the girl noticed,
for it is by the piecing together of such trifles that women hold
their own in this world.  There was otherwise no change in Tomaso's
habiliments, which consisted, as usual, of dark trousers, a white
shirt, and a dark-blue faja or waistcloth.

"Where are you going?" cried Rosa, stepping out into the sunlight
with a haste called forth, perhaps, by the suspicion that Tomaso
would fain have passed by unnoticed.

He stopped, his bronzed face a deeper red, his steady eyes wavering
for once.  But he did not come towards the Venta, which stands on
the higher side of the road.

"I am going down to Palma--to make sure."

"Of your fortune?" inquired Rosa, looking at the cup she was drying
with the air of superior knowledge which so completely puzzled the
simple Tomaso.

"Yes," he answered, slowly turning on his heel as if to continue his
journey.

"And then--?" asked Rosa.

He looked up inquiringly.

"When you have made sure of your precious fortune?" she explained.

She had raised her hand to her hair, and was standing in a very
pretty, indifferent attitude.  Tomaso held his lower lip between his
teeth as he looked at her.

"I don't know what I shall do with it," he answered, and, turning,
he walked hurriedly down the sun-lit road.

"Come in on your way back and tell us about it," she called out
after him, and then stood watching him until he turned the corner
where he had picked up his fortune on the road the day before.

It was characteristic of the man that he never turned to look at
her, and the girl gave a little nod of the head as he disappeared.
She had apparently expected him not to look back, and yet wanted him
to do it, and at the same time would rather he did not do it.
Felipe Fortis would have turned half a dozen times, with a
salutation and a wave of the hat.

But the sun went down behind the tableland of the Val d'Erraha and
Tomaso did not return.  Then the moon rose, large and yellow, beyond
the Valdemosa Heights, and the widow Navarro, her day's work done,
walked slowly up the road to visit her sister, the road-keeper's
wife.  Rosa sat on the bench beneath the trellis, and thought those
long thoughts that belong to youth.  She heard Tomaso's step long
before he came in sight, for the valley is thinly populated and as
still as Sahara.  He was walking slowly, and dragged his feet as if
fatigued.  The moon was now well up, and the girl could distinguish
Tomaso's gleaming white shirt as he turned the corner.  As he
approached he kept on the left-hand side of the road.  It was
evident that he intended to call at the Venta.

"He--Tomaso!" cried Rosa, when he was almost at the steps.

"He--Rosa!" he answered.

"I am all alone," said Rosa.  "Mother has gone to see Aunt Luisa.
Have you your fortune in your pocket?"

He came up the steps and leant against the trellis, looking down at
her.  She could not see his face, but a woman does not always need
to do that.

"What is it--Tomaso?" she asked gravely.

"That poor man," he explained simply--for the Spaniards hold human
life but cheaply--"was found dead in his carriage when they reached
Palma.  The doctors say it was the shock--and he so fat.  At all
events he is dead."

Rosa crossed herself mechanically, and devoutly thought first of all
of the merchant's future state.

"His last action was a good one," she said.  "There is that to
remember."

"Yes," said Tomaso, in a queer voice.  And at the sound Rosa looked
up at him sharply; but she could see nothing, for his face was in
the shadow.

"And as for you," she said tentatively, "you will get your fortune
all the sooner."

"I shall never get it at all," answered Tomaso, with a curt laugh.
"I went down to Palma this morning with my head full of plans--in
the sunshine.  I came back with an empty brain--in the dark."

He stood motionless, looking down at her.  They are slow of tongue
in Majorca, and Rosa reflected for quite a minute before she spoke--
which is saying a good deal for a woman.

"Tell me," she said at length, gently, "why is it that you will not
get your fortune?"

"I went to the notary and told him what had happened, what the
merchant had said, and who had heard him--and the notary laughed.
'Where is your paper?' he asked; and, of course, I had no paper.  I
went to another notary, and at last I saw the Alcalde.  'You should
have asked for a paper properly signed,' he said.  But no gentleman
could have asked for that."

"No," replied Rosa, rather doubtfully.

"I found the driver of the carriage," continued Tomaso, "and took
him to the Alcalde, but that was no better.  The Alcalde and the
notaries laughed at us.  Such a story, they said, would make any
lawyer laugh."

"But there is Felipe Fortis, who heard it too."

"Yes," answered Tomaso, in a hollow voice, "there is Felipe Fortis.
He was in Palma, and I found him at the cafe.  But he said he had
not time to come to the Alcalde with me then, and he was sure that
if he did it would be useless."

"Ah!" said Rosa.

She got up and walked to the edge of the terrace, looking down into
the moonlit valley in silence for some minutes.  Then she came
slowly back, and stood before him looking up into his face.  He was
head and shoulders above her.

"So your fortune is gone?" she said.  And the moonlight shining on
her face betrayed the presence of that fleeting wise smile which
Tomaso had noticed more than once with wonder.

"Yes--it is gone.  And there is an end of it."

"Of what?" asked Rosa.

"Oh!--of everything," replied Tomaso, with a grim stoicism.

Rosa stood looking at him for a moment.  Then she took two
deliberate steps forward and leant against him just as he was
leaning against the trellis, as if he had been a tree or something
solid and reliable of that sort.  She laid her cheek, of a deeper
colour than a sunburnt peach, against his white shirt.  In a sort of
parenthesis of thought she took a sudden, half-maternal interest in
the middle button of his shirt, tested it, and found it more firmly
fixed than she had supposed.  Her dusky hair just brushed his chin.

"Then you are nothing but a stupid," she said.



STRANDED



     "Aucun chemin de fleurs ne conduit a la gloire."

It was nearly half-past eight when the Grandhaven ran into a fog-
bank, and the second officer sent a message to the captain's
steward, waiting at that great man's dinner-table in the saloon.

The captain's steward was a discreet man.  He gave the message in a
whisper as he swept the crumbs from the table with a jerk of his
napkin.  The second officer could not, of course, reduce speed on
his own responsibility.  The Grandhaven had been running through
fog-banks ever since she left Plymouth in the grey of a November
afternoon.

Every Atlantic traveller knows the Grandhaven.  She was so well
known that every berth was engaged despite the lateness of the
season.  It was considered a privilege to sail with Captain Dixon,
the most popular man on the wide seas.  A few millionaires
considered themselves honoured by his friendship.  One or two of
them called him Tom on shore.  He was an Englishman, though the
Grandhaven was technically an American ship.  His enemies said that
he owed his success in life to his manners, which certainly were
excellent.  Not too familiar with any one at sea, but unerringly
discriminating between man and man, between a real position and an
imaginary one.  For, in the greatest Republic the world has yet
seen, men are keenly alive to social distinctions.

On the other hand, his friends pointed to his record.  Captain Dixon
had never made a mistake in seamanship.

He was a handsome man, with a trim brown beard cut to a point in the
naval style, gay blue eyes, and a bluff way of carrying his head.
The lady passengers invariably fell into the habit of describing him
as a splendid man, and the word seemed to fit him like a glove.
Nature had certainly designed him to be shown somewhere in the front
of life, to be placed upon a dais and looked up to and admired by
the multitude.  She had written success upon his sunburnt face.

He had thousands of friends.  Every seat at his table was booked two
voyages ahead, and he knew the value of popularity.  He was never
carried off his feet, but enjoyed it simply and heartily.  He had
fallen in love one summer voyage with a tall and soft-mannered
Canadian girl, a Hebe with the face of a Madonna, with thoughtful,
waiting blue eyes.  She was only nineteen, and, of course, Captain
Dixon carried everything before him.  The girl was astonished at her
good fortune; for this wooer was a king on his own great decks.  No
princess could be good enough for him, had princesses been in the
habit of crossing the Atlantic.  Captain Dixon had now been married
some years.

His marriage had made a perceptible change in the personnel of his
intimates.  A bachelor captain appeals to a different world.  He was
still a great favourite with men.

Although the Grandhaven had only been one night at sea, the
captain's table had no vacant seats.  These were all old travellers,
and there had been libations poured to the gods, now made manifest
by empty bottles and not a little empty laughter.  Dixon, however,
was steady enough.  He had reluctantly accepted one glass of
champagne from the bottle of a Senator powerful in shipping circles.
He and his officers made a point of drinking water at table.  The
modern sailor is one of the startling products of these odd times.
He dresses for dinner, and when off duty may be found sitting on the
saloon stairs discussing with a lady passenger the respective merits
of Wagner and Chopin as set forth by the ship's band, when he ought
to be asleep in bed in preparation for the middle watch.

The captain received the message with a curt nod.  But he did not
rise from the table.  He knew that a hundred eyes were upon him,
watching his every glance.  If he jumped up and hurried from the
table, the night's rest of half a hundred ladies would inevitably
suffer.

He took his watch from his pocket and rose, laughing at some sally
made by a neighbour.  As he passed down the length of the saloon, he
paused to greet one and exchange a laughing word with another.  He
was a very gracious monarch.

On deck it was wet and cold.  A keen wind from the north-west seemed
to promise a heavy sea and a dirty night when the Lizard should be
passed and the protection of the high Cornish moorlands left behind.
The captain's cabin was at the head of the saloon stairs.  Captain
Dixon lost no time in changing his smart mess-jacket for a thicker
coat.  Oilskins and a sou'wester transformed him again to the seaman
that he was, and he climbed the narrow iron ladder into the howling
darkness of the upper bridge with a brisk readiness to meet any
situation.

The fog-bank was a thick one.  It was like a sheet of wet cotton-
wool laid upon the troubled breast of the sea.  The lights at the
forward end of the huge steamer were barely visible.  There was no
glare aloft where the masthead light stared unwinking into the mist.

Dixon exchanged a few words with the second officer, who stood,
rather restless, by the engine-room telegraph.  They spoke in
monosyllables.  The dial showed "Full speed ahead."  Captain Dixon
stood chewing the end of his golden moustache, which he had drawn in
between his teeth.  He looked forward and aft and up aloft in three
quick movements of the head.  Then he laid his two hands on the
engine-room telegraph and reduced the pace to half-speed.  There
were a hundred people on board who would take note of it with a
throb of uneasiness at their hearts, but that could not be helped.

The second officer stepped sideways into the chart-room, reluctant
to turn his eyes elsewhere than dead ahead into the wind and mist,
to make a note in two books that lay open on the table under the
shaded electric lamp.  It was twenty minutes to nine.

The Grandhaven was a quick ship, but she was also a safe one.  The
captain had laid a course close under the Lizard lights.  He
intended to alter it, but not yet.  The mist might lift.  There was
plenty of time, for by dead reckoning they could scarcely hope to
sight the twin lights before eleven o'clock.  The captain turned and
said a single word to his second officer, and a moment later the
great fog-horn above them in the darkness coughed out its deafening
note of warning.  A dead silence followed.  Captain Dixon nodded his
head with a curt grunt of satisfaction.  There was nothing near
them.  They could carry on, playing their game of blindman's-buff
with Fate, open-eared, steady, watchful.

There was no music to-night, though the band had played the
cheeriest items of its repertoire outside the saloon door during
dinner.  Many of the passengers were in their cabins already, for
the Grandhaven was rolling gently on the shoulder of the Atlantic
swell.  The sea was heavy, but not so heavy as they would certainly
encounter west of the Land's End.  Presently the Grandhaven crept
out into a clear space, leaving the fog-bank in rolling clouds like
cannon-smoke behind her.

"Ah!" said Captain Dixon, with a sigh of relief; he had never been
really anxious.

The face of the second officer, ruddy and glistening with wet,
lighted up suddenly, and sundry lines around his eyes were wiped
away as if by the passage of a sponge as he stooped over the
binnacle.  Almost at once his face clouded again.

"There is another light ahead," he muttered.  "Hang them."

The captain gave a short laugh to reassure his subordinate, whom he
knew to be an anxious, careful man, on his promotion.  Captain Dixon
was always self-confident.  That glass of champagne from the
Senator's hospitable bottle made him feel doubly capable to-night to
take his ship out into the open Atlantic, and then to bed with that
easy heart which a skipper only knows on the high seas.

Suddenly he turned to look sharply at his companion, whose eyes were
fixed on the fog-bank, which was now looming high above the bows.
There were stars above them, but no moon would be up for another
three hours.  Dixon seemed to be about to say something, but changed
his mind.  He raised his hands to the ear-flaps of his sou'wester,
and, loosening the string under his chin, pushed the flannel lappets
up within the cap.  The second officer wore the ordinary seafaring
cap known as a cheese-cutter.  He was much too anxious a man to
cover his ears even in clear weather, and said, with his nervous
laugh, that the colour did not come out of his hair, if any one
suggested that the warmer headgear would protect him from rain and
spray.

Dixon stood nearer to his companion, and they stood side by side,
looking into the fog-bank, which was now upon them.

"Any dogs on board?" he asked casually.

"No--why do you ask?"

"Thought I heard a little bell; such a thing as a lady's lap-dog
wears round his neck on a ribbon."

The second officer turned and glanced sharply up at the captain,
who, however, made no further comment, and seemed to be thinking of
something else.

"Couldn't have been a bell-buoy, I suppose?" he suggested, with a
tentative laugh as he pushed his cap upwards away from his ears.

"No bell-buoys out here," replied the captain, rather sharply, with
his usual self-confidence.

They stood side by side in silence for five minutes or more.  The
mist was a little thinner now, and Captain Dixon looked upwards to
the sky, hoping to see the stars.  He was looking up when the
steamer struck, and the shock threw him against the after rail of
the bridge.  The second officer was thrown to the ground and
struggled there for an instant before getting to his feet again.

"God Almighty!" he said, and that was all.

Captain Dixon was already at the engine-room telegraph wrenching the
pointer round to full speed ahead.  The quartermaster on watch was
at his side in a moment, and several men in shining oilskins swarmed
up the ladder to the bridge for their orders.

The Grandhaven was quite still now, but trembling like a horse that
had stumbled badly and recovered itself with dripping knees.
Already the seas were beating the bluff sides of the great vessel,
throwing pyramids of spray high above the funnels.

Captain Dixon grabbed the nearest man by the arm.

"The boats," he shouted in his ear.  "Tell Mr. Stoke to take charge.
Tell him it's the Manacles."

There seemed to be no danger, for the ship was quite steady, with
level decks.  Turning to another quartermaster, Dixon gave further
orders clearly and concisely.

"Keep her at that," he said to the second officer, indicating the
dial of the engine-room.

"Stay where you are!" he shouted to the two steersmen who were
preparing to quit the wheelhouse.

If Captain Dixon had never made a mistake in seamanship he must have
thought out the possibilities of this mistake in all their bearings.
For the situation was quite clear and compact in his mind.  The
orders he gave came in their proper sequence and were given to the
right men.

From the decks beneath arose a confused murmur like the stirring of
bees in an overturned hive.  Then a sharp order in one voice, clear
and strong, followed by a dead silence.

"Good!" said the captain.  "Stoke has got 'em in hand."

He broke off and looked sharply fore and aft and up above him at the
towering funnel.

"She is heeling," he said.  "Martin, she's heeling."

The ship was slowly turning on her side, like some huge and stricken
dumb animal laying itself down to die.

"Yes," said the captain with a bitter laugh, to the two steersmen
who had come a second time to the threshold of the wheel-house,
"yes, you can go."

He turned to the engine-room telegraph and rang the "Stand by."  But
there was no answer.  The engineers had come on deck.

"She's got to go," said Martin, the second officer, deliberately.

"You had better follow them," replied the captain, with a jerk of
his head towards the ladder down which the two steersmen had
disappeared.

"Go, be d---d," said Martin.  "My place is here."  There was no
nervousness about the man now.

The murmur on the decks had suddenly risen to shrieks and angry
shouts.  Some were getting ready to die in a most unseemly manner.
They were fighting for the boats.  The clear, strong voice had
ceased giving orders.  It afterwards transpired that the chief
officer, Stoke, was engaged at this time on the sloping decks in
tying lifebelts round the women and throwing them overboard, despite
their shrieks and struggles.  The coastguards found these women
strewn along the beach like wreckage below St. Keverne--some that
night, some at dawn--and only two were dead.

The captain snapped his finger and thumb, a gesture of annoyance
which was habitual to him.  Martin knew the meaning of the sound,
which he heard through the shouting and the roar of the wind and the
hissing of a cloud of steam.  He placed his hand on the deck of the
bridge as if to feel it.  He had only to stretch out his arm to
touch the timbers, for the vessel was lying over farther now.  There
was no vibration beneath his hand; the engines had ceased to work.

"Yes," said Dixon, who was holding to the rail in front of him with
both hands.  "Yes, she has got to go."

And as he spoke the Grandhaven slid slowly backwards and sideways
into the deep water.  The shrieks were suddenly increased, and then
died away in a confused gurgle.  Martin slid down on to the captain,
and together they shot into the sea.  They sank through a stratum of
struggling limbs.

The village of St. Keverne lies nearly two miles from the sea, high
above it on the bare tableland that juts out ten miles to the Lizard
lights.  It is a rural village far from railway or harbour.  Its men
are agriculturists, following the plough and knowing but little of
the sea, which is so far below them that they rarely descend to the
beach, and they do no business in the great waters.  But their
churchyard is full of drowned folk.  There are one hundred and four
in one grave, one hundred and twenty in another, one hundred and six
in a third.  An old St. Keverne man will slowly name thirty ships
and steamers wrecked in sight of the church steeple in the range of
his memory.

A quick-eared coastguard heard the sound of the escape of steam,
which was almost instantly silenced.  Then he heard nothing more.
He went back to the station and made his report.  He was so sure of
his own ears that he took a lantern and went down to the beach.
There he found nothing.  He stumbled on towards Cadgwith along the
unbroken beach.  At times he covered his lantern and peered out to
sea, but he saw nothing.  At last something white caught his eye.
It was half afloat amid the breakers.  He went knee-deep and dragged
a woman to the shore; she was quite dead.  He held his lantern above
his head and stared out to sea.  The face of the water was flecked
with dark shadows and white patches.  He was alone, two miles from
help up a steep combe and through muddy lanes, and as he turned to
trudge towards the cliffs his heart suddenly leapt to his throat.
There was some one approaching him across the shingle.

A strong deep voice called to him, with command and a certain
resolution in its tones.

"You, a coastguard?" it asked.

"Yes."

The man came up to him and gave him orders to go to the nearest
village for help, for lanterns and carts.

"What ship?" asked the coastguard.

"Grandhaven, London, New Orleans," was the answer.  "Hurry, and
bring as many men as you can.  Got a boat about here?"

"There is one on the beach half a mile along to the south'ard.  But
you cannot launch her through this."

"Oh yes, we can."

The coastguard glanced at the man with a sudden interest.

"Who are you?" he asked.

"Stoke--first mate," was the reply.

The rest of the story of the wreck has been told by abler pens in
the daily newspapers.  How forty-seven people were saved; how the
lifeboat from Cadgwith picked up some, floating insensible on the
ebbing tide with lifebuoys tied securely round them; how some men
proved themselves great, and some women greater; how a few proved
themselves very contemptible indeed; how the quiet chief officer,
Stoke, obeyed his captain's orders to take charge of the
passengers;--are not these things told by the newspapers?  Some of
them, especially the halfpenny ones, went further, and explained to
a waiting world how it had all come about, and how easily it might
have been avoided.  They, moreover, dealt out blame and praise with
a liberal hand, and condemned the owners or exonerated the captain
with the sublime wisdom which illumines Fleet Street.  One and all
agreed that because the captain was drowned he was not to blame, a
very common and washy sentiment which appealed powerfully to the
majority of their readers.  Some of the newspapers, while agreeing
that the first officer, having saved many lives by his great
exertions during the night, and perfect organization for relief and
help the next day, had made for himself an immortal name, hinted
darkly that the captain's was the better part, and that they
preferred to hear in such cases that all the officers had perished.

Stoke despatched the surviving passengers by train from Helston back
to London.  They were not enthusiastic about him, neither did they
subscribe to present him with a service of plate.  They thought him
stern and unsympathetic.  But before they had realized quite what
had happened they were back at their homes or with their friends.
Many of the dead were recovered, and went to swell the heavy crop of
God's seed sown in St. Keverne churchyard.  It was Stoke who
organized these quiet burials, and took a careful note of each name.
It was he to whom the friends of the dead made their complaint or
took their tearful reminiscences, to both of which alike he gave an
attentive hearing emphasized by the steady gaze of a pair of grey-
blue eyes which many remembered afterwards without knowing why.

"It is all right," said the director of the great steamship company
in London.  "Stoke is there."

And they sent him money, and left him in charge at St. Keverne.  The
newspaper correspondents hurried thither, and several of them
described the wrong man as Stoke, while others, having identified
him, weighed him, and found him wanting in a proper sense of their
importance.  There was no "copy" in him, they said.  He had no
conception of the majesty of the Press.

At length the survivors were all sent home and the dead thrown up by
the sea were buried.  Martin, the second officer, was among these.
They found the captain's pilot-jacket on the beach.  He must have
made a fight for his life, and thrown aside his jacket for greater
ease in swimming.  Twenty-nine of the crew, eleven passengers, and a
stewardess were never found.  The sea would never give them up now
until that day when she shall relinquish her hostages--mostly
Spaniards and English--to come from the deep at the trumpet call.

Stoke finished his business in St. Keverne and took the train to
London.  Never an expansive man, he was shut up now as the strong
are shut up by a sorrow.  The loss of the Grandhaven left a scar on
his heart which time could not heal.  She had come to his care from
the builder's yard.  She had never known another husband.

He was free now--free to turn to the hardest portion of his task.
He had always sailed with Dixon, his life-long friend.  They had
been boys together, had forced their way up the ladder together, had
understood each other all through.  His friend's wife, by virtue of
her office perhaps, had come nearer to this man's grim and lonely
heart than any other woman.  He had never defined this feeling; he
had not even gone back to its source as a woman would have done, or
he might have discovered that the gentle air of question or of
waiting in her eyes which was not always there, but only when he
looked for it, had been there long ago on a summer voyage before she
was Captain Dixon's wife at all.

All through his long swim to shore, all through the horrors of that
November night and the long-drawn pain of the succeeding days, he
had done his duty with a steady impassiveness which was in keeping
with the square jaw, the resolute eyes, the firm and merciful lips
of the man; but he had only thought of Mary Dixon.  His one thought
was that this must break her heart.

It was this thought that made him hard and impassive.  In the great
office in London he was received gravely.  With a dull surprise he
noted a quiver in the lips of the managing director when he shook
hands.  The great business man looked older and smaller and thinner
in this short time, for it is a terrible thing to have to deal in
human lives, even if you are paid heavily for so doing.

"There will be an official inquiry--you will have to face it,
Stoke."

"Yes," he answered, almost indifferently.

"And there is Dixon's wife.  You will have to go and see her.  I
have been.  She stays at home and takes her punishment quietly,
unlike some of them."

And two hours later he was waiting for Mary Dixon in the little
drawing-room of the house in a Kentish village which he had helped
Dixon to furnish for her.  She did not keep him long, and when she
came into the room he drew a sharp breath; but he had nothing to say
to her.  She was tall and strongly made, with fair hair and delicate
colouring.  She had no children, though she had been married six
years, and Nature seemed to have designed her to be the mother of
strong, quiet men.

Stoke looked into her eyes, and immediately the expectant look came
into them.  There was something else behind it, a sort of veiled
light.

"It was kind of you to come so soon," she said, taking a chair by
the fireside.  There was only one lamp in the room, and its light
scarcely reached her face.

But for all the good he did in coming it would seem that he might as
well have stayed away, for he had no comfort to offer her.  He drew
forward a chair and sat down with that square slowness of movement
which is natural to the limbs of men who deal exclusively with
Nature and action, and he looked into the fire without saying a
word.  Again it was she who spoke, and her words surprised the man,
who had only dealt with women at sea, where women are not seen at
their best.

"I do not want you to grieve for me," she said quietly.  "You have
enough trouble of your own without thinking of me.  You have lost
your friend and your ship."

He made a little movement of the lips, and glanced at her slowly,
holding his lip between his teeth as he was wont to hold it during
the moments of suspense before letting go the anchors in a crowded
roadstead as he stood at his post on the forecastle-head awaiting
the captain's signal.  She was the first to divine what the ship had
been to him.  Her eyes were waiting for his.  They were alight with
a gentle glow, which he took to be pity.  She spoke calmly, and her
voice was always low and quiet.  But he was quite sure that her
heart was broken, and the thought must have been conveyed to her by
the silent messenger that passes to and fro between kindred minds.
For she immediately took up his thought.

"It is not," she said, rather hurriedly, "as if it would break my
heart.  Long ago I used to think it would.  I was very proud of him
and of his popularity.  But--"

And she said no more.  But sat with dreaming eyes looking into the
fire.  After a long pause she spoke again.

"So you must not grieve for me," she said, returning persistently to
her point.

She was quite simple and honest.  Hers was that rare wisdom which is
given only to the pure in heart; for they see through into the soul
of man and sift out the honest from among the false.

It seemed that she had gained her object, for Stoke was visibly
relieved.  He told her many things which he had withheld from other
inquirers.  He cleared Dixon's good name from anything but that
liability to error which is only human, and spoke of the captain's
nerve and steadiness in the hour of danger.  Insensibly they lapsed
into a low-voiced discussion of Dixon as of the character of a lost
friend equally dear to them both.

Then he rose to take his leave before it was really necessary to go
in order to catch his train, impatient to meet her eyes--which were
waiting for his--for a moment as they said good-bye, as the man who
is the slave of a habit waits impatiently for the time when he can
give way to it.

He went home to the rooms he always occupied near his club in
London.  There he found a number of letters which had been sent on
from the steamship company's offices.  The first he opened bore the
postmark of St. Just in Cornwall.  It was from the coastguard
captain of that remote western station, and it had been originally
posted to St. Keverne.

"Dear Sir," he wrote.  "One of your crew or passengers has turned up
here on foot.  He must have been wandering about for nearly a week
and is destitute.  At times his mind is unhinged.  He began to write
a letter, but could not finish it, and gives no name.  Please come
over and identify him.  Meanwhile, I will take good care of him."

Stoke opened the folded paper, which had dropped from the envelope.

"Dear Jack," it began.  One or two sentences followed, but there was
no sequence or sense in them.  The writing was that of Captain Dixon
without its characteristic firmness or cohesion.

Stoke glanced at his watch and took up his bag--a new bag hurriedly
bought in Falmouth--stuffed full of a few necessities pressed upon
him by kind persons at St. Keverne when he stood among them in the
clothes in which he had swum ashore, which had dried upon him during
a long November night.  There was just time to catch the night mail
to Penzance.  Heaven was kind to him and gave him no time to think.

The coach leaves Penzance at nine in the morning for a two hours'
climb over bare moorland to St. Just--a little grey, remote town on
the western sea.  The loneliness of the hills is emphasized here and
there by the ruin of an abandoned mine.  St. Just itself, the very
acme of remoteness, is yearly diminishing in importance and
population, sending forth her burrowing sons to those places in the
world where silver and copper and gold lie hid.

The coastguard captain was awaiting Stoke's arrival in the little
deserted square where the Penzance omnibus deposits its passengers.
The two men shook hands with that subtle and silent fellowship which
draws together seamen of all classes and all nations.  They walked
away together in the calm speechlessness of Englishmen thrown
together on matters of their daily business.

"He doesn't pick up at all," said the coastguard captain, at length.
"Just sits mum all day.  My wife looks after him, but she can't stir
him up.  If anybody could, she could."  And the man walked on,
looking straight in front of him with a patient eye.  He spoke with
unconscious feeling.  "He is a gentleman, despite the clothes he
came ashore in.  Getting across to the Southern States under a
cloud, as likely as not," he said, presently.  "Some bank manager,
perhaps.  He must have changed clothes with some forecastle hand.
They were seaman's clothes, and he had been sleeping or hiding in a
ditch."

He led the way to his house, standing apart in the well-kept garden
of the station.  He opened the door of the simply furnished drawing-
room.

"Here is a friend come to see you," he said; and, standing aside, he
invited Stoke by a silent gesture of the head to pass in.

A man was sitting in front of the fire with his back towards the
door.  He did not move or turn his head.  Stoke closed the door
behind him as he entered the room, and went slowly towards the
fireplace.  Dixon turned and looked at him with shrinking eyes, like
the eyes of a dog that has been beaten.

"Let us get out on to the cliffs," he said in a whisper.  "We cannot
talk here."

He was clean-shaven, and his hair was grizzled at the temples.  His
face looked oddly weak; for he had an irresolute chin, hitherto
hidden by his smart beard.  Few would have recognized him.

By way of reply Stoke went back towards the door.

"Come on, then," he said rather curtly.

They did not speak until they had passed out beyond the town towards
the bare tableland that leads to the sea.

"Couldn't face it, Jack, that's the truth," said the captain, at
last.  "And if you or any others try to make me, I'll shoot myself.
How many was it?  Tell me quickly, man."

"Over a hundred and ninety," replied Stoke.

They walked out on to the bare tableland and sat down on a crumbling
wall.

"And what do the papers say?  I have not dared to ask for one."

Stoke shrugged his square shoulders.

"What does it matter what they say?" answered the man who had never
seen his own name in the newspapers.  Perhaps he failed to
understand Dixon's point of view.

"Have you seen Mary?" asked the captain.

"Yes."

Then they sat in silence for some minutes.  There was a heavy sea
running, and the rocks round the Land's End were black in a bed of
pure white.  The Longship's lighthouse stood up, a grey shadow in a
grey scene.

"Come," said Stoke.  "Be a man and face it."

There was no answer, and the speaker sat staring across the lashed
waters to the west, his square chin thrust forward, his resolute
lips pressed, his eyes impassive.  There was obviously only one
course through life for this seaman--the straight one.

"If it is only for Mary's sake," he added at length.

"Keeping the Gull Lightship east-south-east, and having the South
Foreland west by north, you should find six fathoms of water at a
neap tide," muttered Captain Dixon, in a low monotone.  His eyes
were fixed and far away.  He was unconscious of his companion's
presence, and spoke like one talking in his dreams.

Stoke sat motionless by him while he took his steamer in imagination
through the Downs and round the North Foreland.  But what he said
was mostly nonsense, and he mixed up the bearings of the inner and
outer channels into a hopeless jumble.  Then he sat huddled up on
the wall and lapsed again into a silent dream, with eyes fixed on
the western sea.  Stoke took him by the arm and led him back to the
town, this harmless, soft-speaking creature who had once been a
brilliant man, and had made but one mistake at sea.

Stoke wrote a long letter to Mary Dixon that afternoon.  He took
lodgings in a cottage outside St. Just, on the tableland that
overlooks the sea.  He told the captain of the coastguards that he
had been able to identify this man, and had written to his people in
London.

Dixon recognized her when she came, but he soon lapsed again into
his dreamy state of incoherence, and that which made him lose his
grip on his reason was again the terror of having to face the world
as the captain of the lost Grandhaven.  To humour him they left St.
Just and went to London.  They changed their name to that which Mary
had borne before her marriage, a French Canadian name, Baillere.  A
great London specialist held out a dim hope of ultimate recovery.

"It was brought on by some great shock," he suggested.

"Yes," said Stoke.  "By a great shock."

"A bereavement?"

"Yes," answered Stoke, slowly.


It is years since the loss of the Grandhaven, and her story was long
ago superseded and forgotten.  And the London specialist was wrong.

The Bailleres live now in the cottage westward of St. Just towards
the sea, where Stoke took lodgings.  It was the captain's wish to
return to this remote spot.  Whenever Captain Stoke is in England he
spends his brief leave of absence in journeying to the forgotten
mining town.  Baillere passes his days in his garden or sitting on
the low wall, looking with vacant eyes across the sea whereon his
name was once a household word.  His secret is still safe.  The
world still exonerates him because he was drowned.

"He sits and dreams all day," is the report that Mary always gives
to Stoke when she meets him in the town square, where the Penzance
omnibus, the only link with the outer world, deposits its rare
passengers.

"And you?" Stoke once asked her in a moment of unusual expansion,
his deep voice half muffled with suppressed suspense.

She glanced at him with that waiting look which he knows to be
there, but never meets.  For he is a hard man--hard to her, harder
to himself.

"I," she said, in a low voice, "I sit beside him."

And who shall gauge a woman's dream?



PUTTING THINGS RIGHT



"Want Berlyng," he seemed to be saying, though it was difficult to
catch the words, for we were almost within range, and the fight was
a sharp one.  It was the old story of India frontier warfare; too
small a force, and a foe foolishly underrated.

The man they had just brought in--laying him hurriedly on a bed of
pine-needles, in the shade of the conifers where I had halted my
little train--poor Charles Noon of the Sikhs, was done for.  His
right hand was off at the wrist, and the shoulder was almost
severed.

I bent my ear to his lips, and heard the words which sounded like
"Want Berlyng."

We had a man called Berlyng in the force--a gunner--who was round at
the other side of the fort that was to be taken before night, two
miles away at least.

"Do you want Berlyng?" I asked slowly and distinctly.

Noon nodded, and his lips moved.  I bent my head again till my ear
almost touched his lips.

"How long have I?" he was asking.

"Not long, I'm afraid, old chap."

His lips closed with a queer distressed look.  He was sorry to die.

"How long?" he asked again.

"About an hour."

But I knew it was less.  I attended to others, thinking all the
while of poor Noon.  His home life was little known, but there was
some story about an engagement at Poonah the previous warm weather.
Noon was rich, and he cared for the girl; but she did not return the
feeling.  In fact, there was some one else.  It appears that the
girl's people were ambitious and poor, and that Noon had promised
large settlements.  At all events, the engagement was a known
affair, and gossips whispered that Noon knew about the some one
else, and would not give her up.  He was, I know, thought badly of
by some, especially by the elders, who had found out the value of
money as regards happiness, or rather the complete absence of its
value.

However, the end of it all lay on the sheet beneath the pines, and
watched me with such persistence that I was at last forced to go to
him.

"Have you sent for Berlyng?" he asked, with a breathlessness which I
know too well.

Now I had not sent for Berlyng, and it requires more nerve than I
possess to tell unnecessary lies to a dying man.  The necessary ones
are quite different, and I shall not think of them when I go to my
account.

"Berlyng could not come if I sent for him," I replied soothingly.
"He is two miles away from here trenching the North Wall, and I have
nobody to send.  The messenger would have to run the gauntlet of the
enemy's earthworks."

"I'll give the man a hundred pounds who does it," replied Noon, in
his breathless whisper.  "Berlyng will come sharp enough if you say
it's from me.  He hates me too much."  He broke off with a laugh
which made me feel sick.  "Could he get here in time," he asked
after a pause, "if you sent for him?"

"Yes," I replied, with my hand inside his soaked tunic.

I found a wounded water-carrier--a fellow with a stray bullet in his
hand--who volunteered to find Berlyng, and then I returned to Noon
and told him what I had done.  I knew that Berlyng could not come.

He nodded, and I think he said, "God bless you."

"I want to put something right," he said, after an effort; "I've
been a blackguard."

I waited a little in case Noon wished to repose some confidence in
me.  Things are so seldom put right that it is wise to facilitate
such intentions.  But it appeared obvious that what Noon had to say
could only be said to Berlyng.  They had, it subsequently
transpired, not been on speaking terms for some months.

I was turning away when Noon suddenly cried out in his natural
voice, "There IS Berlyng."

I turned and saw one of my men, Swearney, carrying in a gunner.  It
might be Berlyng, for the uniform was that of a captain, but I could
not see his face.  Noon, however, seemed to recognize him.

I showed Swearney where to lay his man, close to me alongside Noon,
who at that moment required all my attention, for he had fainted.

In a moment Noon recovered, despite the heat, which was tremendous.
He lay quite still looking up at the patches of blue sky between the
dark motionless tops of the pine trees.  His face was livid under
the sunburn, and as I wiped the perspiration from his forehead he
closed his eyes with the abandon of a child.  Some men, I have
found, die like children going to sleep.

He slowly recovered, and I gave him a few drops of brandy.  I
thought he was dying, and decided to let Berlyng wait.  I did not
even glance at him as he lay, covered with dust and blackened by the
smoke of his beloved nine-pounders, a little to the left of Noon,
and behind me as I knelt at the latter's side.

After a while his eyes grew brighter, and he began to look about
him.  He turned his head, painfully, for the muscles of his neck
were injured, and caught sight of the gunner's uniform.

"Is that Berlyng?" he asked excitedly.

"Yes."

He dragged himself up and tried to get nearer to Berlyng.  And I
helped him.  They were close alongside each other.  Berlyng was
lying on his back, staring up at the blue patches between the pine
trees.

Noon turned on his left elbow and began whispering into the smoke-
grimed ear.

"Berlyng," I heard him say, "I was a blackguard.  I am sorry, old
man.  I played it very low down.  It was a dirty trick.  It was my
money--and her people were anxious for her to marry a rich man.  I
worked it through her people.  I wanted her so badly that I forgot
I--was supposed--to be a--gentleman.  I found out--that it was you--
she cared for.  But I couldn't make up my mind to give her up.  I
kept her--to her word.  And now it's all up with me--but you'll pull
through and it will all--come right.  Give her my--love--old chap.
You can now--because I'm--done.  I'm glad they brought you in--
because I've been able--to tell you--that it is you she cares for.
You--Berlyng, old chap, who used to be a chum of mine.  She cares
for you--God! you're in luck!  I don't know whether she's told you--
but she told me--and I was--a d---d blackguard."

His jaw suddenly dropped, and he rolled forward with his face
against Berlyng's shoulder.

Berlyng was dead when they brought him in.  He had heard nothing.
Or perhaps he had heard and understood--everything.



FOR JUANITA'S SAKE



Cartoner, of the Foreign Office, who is still biding his time, is
not tired of Spain yet--and it must be remembered that Cartoner
knows the Peninsula.  He began to know it twenty years ago, and his
knowledge is worthy of the name, inasmuch as it moves with the
times.  Some day there will be a war in Spain, and we shall fight
either for or against the Don, which exercise Englishmen have
already enjoyed more than once.  Cartoner hopes that it may come in
his time, when, as he himself puts it, he will be "there or
thereabouts."  Had not a clever man his opportunity when the Russian
war broke out, and he alone of educated Britons knew the Crimea?
That clever man had a queer temper, as we all know, and so lost his
opportunity; but, if he gets it, Cartoner will take his chance
coolly and steadily enough.  In the mean time he is, if one may
again borrow his own terse expression, "by no means nowhere," for in
the Foreign Office those who know Spain are a small handful; and
those who, like Cartoner, can cross the Pyrenees and submerge
themselves unheeded in the quiet, sleepy life of Andalusia, are to
be numbered on two fingers, and no more.  When a question of Spain
or of, say, Cuba, arises, a bell is rung in the high places of the
Foreign Office, and a messenger in livery is despatched for
Cartoner, who, as likely as not, will be discovered reading El
Imparcial in his room.  It is always pleasant to be able to ring a
bell and summon a man who knows the difference between Andalusia and
Catalonia--and can without a moment's hesitation say where Cuba is
and to what Power it belongs, such matters not always being quite
clear to the comprehension of a Cabinet Minister who has been
brought up to the exclusive knowledge of the Law, or the manufacture
of some article of daily domestic consumption.

While possessing his knowledge in patience, Cartoner naturally takes
a mean advantage of those in high places who have it not, nor yet
the shadow of it.  About once in six months he says that he thinks
he ought to go to Spain, and raps out a few technicalities relating
to the politics of the Peninsula.  A couple of days later he sets
off for the land of sun and sleep with what he calls his Spanish kit
in a portmanteau.  This he purchased in the "Sierpe" for forty
pesetas at a ready-made tailor's, where it was labelled "Fantasia."
It is merely a tweed suit, but, wearing it, Cartoner is safe from
the reproach that doggeth the step of the British tourist abroad.

It was during one of these expeditions that Cartoner, in his
unobtrusive way, found himself in Toledo, where, the guide-books
tell us, the traveller will obtain no fit accommodation.  It was
evening, and the company who patronized the Cafe of the New Gate
were mostly assembled at small tables in the garden of that house of
entertainment.  The moon was rising over the lower lands across the
Tagus, behind the gate which gives its name to this cafe.  It is
very rightly called the New Gate.  Did not Wemba build it in the
sixth century, as he has cheerfully written upon its topmost stone?

Cartoner sat at one of the outside tables, where the hydrangeas, as
large as a black currant bush, are ranged in square green boxes
against the city wall.  He was thoughtfully sipping his coffee when
a man crawled between his legs and hid himself like a sick dog
between Cartoner's chair and the hydrangea trees.  The hiding-place
was a good one, provided that the fugitive had the collusion of
whosoever sat in Cartoner's chair.

"His Excellency would not betray a poor unfortunate," whispered an
eager voice at Cartoner's elbow, while, with a sang-froid which had
been partly acquired south of the Pyrenees, the Briton sat and gazed
across the Tagus.

"That depends upon what the unfortunate has been after."

There was a silence while Truth wrestled with the Foe in the shadows
of the bush in the green box.

"His Excellency is not of Toledo."

"Nor yet of Spain," replied Cartoner, knowing that it is good to
speak the truth at times.

"They have chased me from Algodor.  They on horseback, I running
through the forest.  You will hear them rattling across the bridge
soon.  If I can only lie hidden here until they have ridden on into
the town, I can double and get away to Barcelona."

Cartoner was leaning forward on the little tin table, his chin in
the palm of his hand.

"You must not speak too loud," he said, "especially when the music
is still."

For the Cafe of the New Gate had the additional attraction of what
the proprietor called a concert.  The same consisting of a guitar
and a bright-coloured violin, the latter in the hands of a wandering
scoundrel, who must have had good in him somewhere--it peeped out in
the lower notes.

"Has his Excellency had coffee?" inquired the man behind Cartoner's
chair.

"Yes."

"Does any sugar remain?  I have not eaten since morning."

Cartoner dropped the two square pieces of sugar over his shoulder,
and there was a sound of grinding.

"His Excellency will not give me up.  I can slip a knife into his
Excellency's liver where I sit."

"I know that.  What have you been doing?"

"I killed Emmanuelo Dembaza, that is all."

"Indeed--but why kill Senor Dembaza?"

"I did it for Juanita's sake."

A queer smile flitted across Cartoner's face.  He was a philosopher
in his way, and knew that such things must be.

"He was a scoundrel, and had already ruined one poor girl," went on
the voice from the tree.  The cheap violin was speaking about good
and bad mixed together again--and to talk aloud was safe.  "But she
was no better than she should be--a tobacco-worker.  And tobacco for
work or pleasure ever ruins a woman, Senor.  Look at Seville.  But
Juanita is different.  She irons the fine linen.  She is good--as
good as his Excellency's mother--and beautiful.  Maria!  His
Excellency should see her eyes.  You know what eyes some Spanish
women have.  A history and something one does not understand."

"Yes," answered Cartoner again.  "I know."

"Juanita thought she liked him," went on the voice, bringing its
hearer suddenly back to Toledo; "she thought she liked him until she
found him out.  Then he turned upon her and said things that were
not true.  Such things, Senor, ruin a girl, whether they be true or
not--especially if the women begin to talk.  Is it not so?"

"Yes."

"She told me of it, and we decided that there was nothing to do but
kill Emmanuelo Dembaza.  She kissed me, Excellency, and every time
she did that I would kill a man if she asked me."

"Indeed."

"Yes, Excellency."

"And if you are taken and sent to prison for, say, twenty years?"
suggested Cartoner.

"Then Juanita will drown herself.  She has sworn it."

"And if I do not give you up?  If you escape?"

"She will follow me to Argentina, Excellency; and, Madre de Dios, we
shall get married."

At this moment the waiter came up, cigarette in mouth, after the
manner of Spain, and suggested a second cup of coffee, to which
Cartoner assented--with plenty of sugar.

"Have you money?" asked Cartoner, when they were alone again.

"No, Senor."

"In this world it is no use being a criminal unless you are rich.
If you are poor you must be honest.  That is the first rule of the
game."

"I am as poor as a street-dog," said the voice, unconcernedly.

"And you would not take a loan as from one gentleman to another?"

"No," answered Spanish pride, crouching in the bushes, "I could not
do that."

Cartoner reflected for some moments.  "In the country from which I
come," he said at length, "we have a very laudable reverence for
relics and a very delicate taste in such matters.  If one man shoots
another we like to see the gun, and we pay sixty centimes to look
upon it.  There are people who make an honest living by such
exhibitions.  If they cannot get the gun they put another in its
place, and it is all the same.  Now, your knife--the one the
Senorita sharpens with a kiss--in my country it will have its value.
Suppose I buy it; suppose we say five hundred pesetas?"

And Cartoner's voice was the voice of innocence.

There was silence for some time, and at last the knife came up
handlewise between the leaves of the hydrangea.  Spanish pride is
always ready to shut its eyes.

"But you must swear that what you tell me is true and that Juanita
will join you in Argentina.  Honour of a gentleman."

"Honour of a gentleman," repeated the voice; and the hand of a
blacksmith came through the leaves, seeking Cartoner's grasp.

"They are turning the lights out," said Cartoner, when the bargain
was concluded.  "But I will wait until it is safe to leave you here.
Your friends the guardia civile do not arrive."

"Pardon, Senor, I think I hear them."

And the fugitive's ears did not err.  For presently a tall man,
white with dust in his great swinging cloak, stalked suspiciously
among the tables, looking into each face.  He saluted Cartoner, who
was better dressed than the other frequenters of the Cafe of the New
Gate, and passed on.  A horrid moment.

"The good God will most likely remember that you have done this deed
to-night," said the voice, with a queer break in it.

"He may," answered Cartoner, who was lighting his cigarette before
going.  "On the other hand, I may get five years in a Spanish
prison."



AT THE FRONT



     "Some one who is not girlish now"

It was only yesterday that I saw her.  It happened that the string
of carriages was stopped at that moment, and I went to the door of
her comfortable-looking barouche.

"Do you ever feel that shoulder," I asked, raising my hat, "at the
changes of the weather, or when it is damp?"

She turned and looked at me in surprise.  Her face had altered
little.  It was the face of a happy woman, despite a few lines,
which were not the marks left by a life of gaiety and dissipation.
They were not quite the lines that Time had drawn on the faces of
the women in the carriages around her.  In some ways she looked
younger than most of them, and her eyes had an expression which was
lacking in the gas-wearied orbs of her fashionable sisters.  It was
the shadowy reflection of things seen.

She looked into my face--noting the wear and tear that life had left
there.  Then suddenly she smiled and held out her hand.

"You!" she said.  "You--how strange!"

She blushed suddenly and laughed with a pretty air of embarrassment
which was startlingly youthful.

"No," she went on, in answer to my question; "I never feel that
shoulder now--thanks to you."

There were a number of questions I wanted to ask her.  But I had
fallen into a habit, years ago, of restraining that inexpedient
desire; and she did not seem to expect interrogation.  Besides, I
could see many answers in her face.

"You limped just now," she said, leaning towards me with a little
grave air of sympathy which was quite familiar to me--like an old
friend forgotten until seen again.  "You limped as you crossed the
road."

"I shall limp until the end of the chapter."

"And you have been at that work ever since?"

"Yes."

She looked past me over the trees of the Park--as if looking back
into a bygone period of her life.

"Will you come and dine to-morrow night?" she said suddenly.  "Fred
will be. . . very pleased to see you.  And--I want to show you the
children."

The line of carriages moved on slowly towards the Park gate, and
left me baring a grizzled old bullet-head in answer to her smile and
nod.

As I limped along it all came back to me.  A good many years before-
-in the days when hard work was the salt of life--I was entrusted
with my first field hospital.  I was sent up to the front by the
cleverest surgeon and the poorest organizer that ever served the
Queen.

Ah, that WAS a field hospital!  My first!  We were within earshot of
the front--that is to say, we could hear the platoon firing.  And
when the wounded came in we thought only of patching them up
temporarily--sewing, bandaging, and plastering them into travelling
order, and sending them down to the headquarters at the coast.  It
was a weary journey across the desert, and I am afraid a few were
buried on the way.

Early one morning, I remember, they brought in Boulson, and I saw at
once that he had come to stay.  We could not patch him up and send
him off.  The jolting of the ambulance waggon had done its work, and
Boulson was insensible when they laid him on one of the field-cots.
He remained insensible while I got his things off.  The wound told
its own story.  He had been at the hand-to-hand work again, and a
bayonet never meets a broad-headed spear without trouble coming of
it.  Boulson meant to get on--consequently I had had him before.  I
had cut his shirt off him before this, and knew that it was marked
"F.L.G.M.," which does not stand for Boulson.

Boulson's name was not Boulson; but that was not our business at the
time.  We who patch up Thomas Atkins when he gets hurt in the
interests of his Queen and country are never surprised to find that
the initials on his underlinen do not tally with those in the
regimental books.  When the military millennium arrives, and
ambulance services are perfect, we shall report things more fully.
Something after this style--"Killed:  William Jones.  Coronet on his
razor-case.  Linen marked A. de M.F.G."

While I was busy with a sponge, Boulson opened his eyes and
recognized me.

"Soon got YOU back again," I remarked, with ghastly professional
cheeriness.

He smiled feebly.  "Must get into the despatches somehow," he
answered, and promptly fainted again.

I took especial care of Boulson, being mindful of a letter I had
received while he was recovering from his last wound.  It was a long
and rambling letter, dated from a place on the west coast of
Ireland.  It was signed with a name which surprised me, and the
writer, who addressed me as "Sir," and mentioned that he was my
humble servant, stated that he was Boulson's father.  At least he
said he thought he was Boulson's father--if Boulson was tall and
fair, with blue eyes, and a pepper-castor mark on his right arm,
where a charge of dust-shot had lodged from a horse-pistol.  There
had, he informed me, been family misunderstandings about a foolish
fancy formed by Boulson for a military career.  And Boulson had gone
off--God bless him--like the high-spirited Irishman that he was--to
enlist as a private soldier.  And then came the news of the serious
wound, and if there was a God in heaven (which I never doubted), any
kindness and care that I could bestow upon Boulson would not be
forgotten at the last reckoning.  And more to a like effect.

Moreover, Boulson pulled through and was duly sent down to the fine,
roomy convalescent hospital on the coast, where they have ice, and
newspapers, and female nurses fresh from Netley.

This second wound was, however, a more serious affair.  While others
came and went, Boulson seemed inclined to stay for ever.  At all
events he stayed for ten days, and made no progress worth
mentioning.

At the end of that time I was sitting at my table writing
perversions of God's truth to the old gentleman on the west coast of
Ireland when I heard the rumble of ambulance waggons.  I thought
that it was only a returned empty--there having been an informal
funeral that evening--so hardly disturbed myself.

Presently, however, some one came and stood in front of my table
outside the tent.  I looked up, and looked into the face of one of
the few women I have met who make me believe in love stories.

"Halloa!" I said, somewhat rudely.

"I beg to report myself," she answered quietly.  There was a
peculiar unsteadiness in her eyes.  It seemed to me that this woman
was labouring under great excitement.

"Did the Surgeon-Major send you?" I asked.

"I volunteered."

"Hum!  I think I ought to have been asked first.  This is no place
for women."

"Wherever there is nursing to be done, we can hardly be out of
place," she answered, with a determination which puzzled me.

"Theoretically," I answered; and, seeing that she had arrived, I
made a shift to find her suitable quarters and get her to work.

"Have you any serious cases?" she asked, while unpacking and setting
out for my inspection sundry stores she had brought.

"I have Boulson again," I answered.  "The man you had in the
spring."

She buried her head in the case, and did not answer for some
seconds.

When at length she did speak, her voice was indifferent and
careless.

"Badly hurt?" she asked.

"Yes."

She finished unpacking her stores rather hurriedly, and expressed
her readiness to go round the cots with me.

"Are you not too tired after your journey?"

"No, I--I should like to begin at once.  Please let me."

I took her round, and altogether I was pleased with her.

In a day or two I almost became resigned to her presence, though I
hate having women anywhere near the action.  It is always better to
get the nasty cases cleaned up before the women see them.

Then suddenly came bad news.  There was something wrong at the
front.  Our fellows were falling back upon us.  A final stand was to
be made at our position until reinforcements came up.

I sent for Nurse Fielding, and told her to get ready to leave for
headquarters at once.  I was extremely business-like and formal.
She was neither.  That is the worst of women.

"Please let me stay," she said.  "Please."

I shook my head.

"I would rather stay and be killed than go away and be safe."

That aroused my suspicions.  Perhaps they ought to have been aroused
before; but, then, I am only a man.  I saw how the Surgeon-Major had
been managed.

"Please," she repeated softly.

She laid her hand on my arm, and did not withdraw it when she found
that the sleeve was wet with something that was thicker than water.

"Please," she whispered.

"Oh, all right--stay!"

I was sorry for it the next day, when we had the old familiar music
of the bullets overhead.

Later in the morning matters became more serious.  The enemy had a
gun with which they dropped six-pound shot into us.  One of these
fell on to the corner of our hospital where Boulson lay.  It tore
the canvas, and almost closed Boulson's career.

Nurse Fielding was at him like a terrier, and lifted him bodily from
his cot.  She was one of those largely framed fair women who have
strength, both physical and mental.

She was carrying him across the tent when I heard the thud of a
bullet.  Nurse Fielding stopped for a moment and seemed to hesitate.
She laid Boulson tenderly down on the ground, and then fell across
him, while the blood ran from her cotton bodice over his face and
neck.

And that was what I meant when I asked the lady in the barouche at
the Park gate whether she ever felt that shoulder now.  And the man
I dine with to-night is not called Boulson, but he has a charge of
dust-shot--the result of a boyish experiment--in his right arm.



THE END OF THE "MOOROO"



"How long can you give us?"

The man who asked this question turned his head and looked up
through a maze of bright machinery.  But he did not rise from his
recumbent position.  He was, in fact, lying on his face on a steel-
bar grating--in his shirt-sleeves--his hands black with oil and
steel filings.

The captain of the Mooroo--far up above on the upper platform--leant
his elbow on the steel banister and reflected for exactly two
seconds.  He was in the habit of sleeping and thinking very quickly.

"I reckon that we will be on the rocks in about twenty minutes to
half an hour--unless you can get her going."

The chief engineer muttered something which was not audible above
the roar of the wind through the rigging and the wash of the green
seas that leapt over the bulwarks of the well-deck.

"What?" yelled the captain, leaning over the balustrade.

"D---n it," reiterated the chief, with his head hidden.

They were all down there--the whole engineer's staff of the Mooroo--
in their shirt-sleeves, lying among the bright steel rods--busy at
their craft--working against time for their lives.

It was unfortunate that the engines should have held good right
across the Arabian Sea, through the Red Sea, through the trying
"fast" and "slow" and "stand by" and "go ahead" of the Canal--right
through to the Pointe de Raz light, which was blinking down upon
them now.

The ship had been got round with difficulty.  Her sails, all black
with coal-dust and the smoke of many voyages, had been shaken out.
They served to keep the vessel's bluff prow pushing into the gale,
but that was all.  The Mooroo was drifting--drifting.

While the passengers were at dinner the engines had suddenly
stopped, and almost before the fact had been realized, the captain,
having exchanged glances with his officers, was out of the saloon.

"Something in the engine-room," said the doctor and the fifth
officer--left at table.  The engineer had probably stopped to
replace a worn washer or something similarly simple.

The stewards hurried to and fro with the dishes.  And the passengers
went on eating their last dinner on earth in that sublime ignorance
which is the prerogative of passengers.

Mrs. Judge Barrowby, who, in view of the captain's vacant chair on
her left hand, took, as it were, moral command of the ship, was
heard to state in a loud voice that she had every confidence in the
officers and the crew.

Young Skeen, of the Indian Intelligence, who sat within hearing of
Mrs. Judge Barrowby, for his own evil ends and purposes, thereafter
said that he could now proceed with his dinner--that his appetite
was beginning to return.

"Of course," he went on to say, "if Mrs. Judge Barrowby says that it
is all right--"

But he got no farther than this.  For a young lady with demure eyes
and twitching lips, who was sitting next to him, whispered that Mrs.
Judge Barrowby was looking, and that he must behave himself.

"I have every confidence in Mrs. Judge Barrowby," he, nevertheless,
managed to assure a grave-looking man across the table.

The truth was that Mrs. Judge Barrowby had had her eye on these two
young people all the voyage.  There was no reason that they should
not fall in love with each other, and marry and be happy ever
afterwards; but Mrs Judge Barrowby felt that it was incumbent upon
them to ask her first, or at all events to keep her posted as to the
progress of matters, so that she might have the satisfaction of
knowing more than her neighbours.  But the young people simply
ignored her.

Lady Crafer, the mother of the girl with the demure eyes, was a
foolish woman, who passed most of her days in her cabin; and Mrs.
Judge Barrowby felt, and went so far as to say to more than one
person, that the least that a nice-minded girl could, under the
circumstances, do was to place herself under the protection of some
experienced lady--possibly herself.  From the fact that Evelyn
Crafer had failed to do this, Mrs. Judge Barrowby intimated that
each might draw an individual inference.

While these thoughts were in course of lithography upon the
expressive countenance of the lady at the captain's end of the
saloon table, strange things were taking place on the deck of the
good steamship Mooroo.  The entire crew had, in fact, been summoned
on deck.  The boats were being pushed out--the davits swung round,
the tarpaulin covers removed, and the awnings unbent.  Life-belts
were being collected in the music-room on deck, and the purser had
given orders to the stewards to prolong dinner as much as possible.

"Let 'em have their dinner first," the captain had said
significantly.

And all the while the Mooroo was drifting.

Immediately over the stern rail a light came and went at regular
intervals on the horizon, while to eastward, at a higher elevation,
a great, yellow staring eye looked out into the night.  This was the
light on the westernmost point of Europe--the Pointe de Raz.  The
smaller beacon, low down on the horizon, was that of the Ile de
Sein, whose few inhabitants live by what the sea brings them in--be
it fish or wreckage.  There is enough of both.  A strong current
sets north and east, and it becomes almost a "race" in the narrow
channel between the Ile de Sein and the rock-bound mainland.  The
Mooroo was in this current.

The captain had said no more than the truth.  There are times when
nature is too strong for the strongest man and the keenest brain.
There was simply nothing to be done but to try and get the repair
completed in time--and on deck to send up rockets, and--to prepare
for the worst.  This the captain had done--even to unlacing his own
boots.  The latter is always a bad sign.  When the captain thinks of
his own boots it is time for others to try and remember the few good
deeds they may have done.

In ten minutes the passengers knew; for the captain went and told
them--before they had their dessert.  The result was confusion, and
a rush for the saloon stairs.  The boats were already lowered and
alongside the gangway steps in a terrible sea.

The old ladies did wonderfully well, considering their age and other
things.  Mrs. Judge Barrowby was heard to say that she would never
travel by anything but P. and O. in future, and that it was all her
husband's fault.  But she was third on the stairs, and in time to
select the roomiest life-belt.  Lady Crafer was a great believer in
stewards.  She clung to one, and, calling upon Evelyn to follow her,
made very good practice down the saloon.

There was no doubt whatever about young Skeen of the Indian
Intelligence.  He simply took charge of Evelyn Crafer.  He took
possession of her and told her what to do.  He even found time to
laugh at Mrs. Judge Barrowby's ankles as she leapt over a pile of
dirty plates.

"Stay here," he cried to Evelyn.  "It is useless going with that
rabble.  Our only chance is to stay."

She obeyed him.  Women sometimes do it still.  They stood in the
gaily lighted saloon, and witnessed the rush for the deck--a
humiliating sight.

When at length the stairs were clear, Skeen turned and looked into
her face.  Then suddenly he took her in his arms and kissed her.
They had been drifting towards this for some weeks past.
Circumstances had hurried it on.  That was all.

"Dear," he said, "will you stay here while I go on deck and see what
chances there are?  If you once get up there in the dark and the
confusion, I shall lose you."

"Yes," she answered; and as she spoke there was a great crash, which
threw her into his arms a second time, and made a clean sweep of the
tables.  They stood literally ankle-deep in wine-glasses, dessert,
and plates.  The Mooroo had taken the rocks.  There was a rolling
crash on the deck overhead, and a confused sound of shouting.

"You will stay?" cried Skeen again.

"Yes--dear."

He turned and left her there, alone.

On deck he found a crowd.  The passengers were being allowed to go
to the boats.  Taking into consideration the darkness, the roaring
sea, and the hopelessness of it all, the organization was wonderful.
The children were going first.  A quarter-master stood at the head
of the gangway steps and held the people in check.  When Skeen
arrived, Mrs. Judge Barrowby was giving this man a piece of what she
was pleased to call her mind.

"Man," she was saying, "let me pass!  You do not know who I am.  I
am the wife of Judge Barrowby."

"Marm, you may be the wife of the harkangel Gabriel as far as I
knows; but I've my orders.  Stand aside please.  Any more babies in
arms?" he cried.

But Mrs. Judge Barrowby knew the value of a good useful life, and
persistently blocked up the gangway.

"One woman is as good as another," she said.

"Ay, except the mothers, and they're better," said the man, pushing
her aside to let a lady and her child pass.

"THAT woman!" cried Mrs. Judge Barrowby.  "A woman who has been the
talk of the whole ship--before ME--a flirting grass widow!"

"Gawd knows," said the man, holding her back.  "It's little enough
to fight about."

"I will report you, man."

"Yes, marm, to the good God, and I ain't afraid o' HIM!  NOW you may
go!"

And, fuming, Mrs. Judge Barrowby went down to her death.  Not one
boat could reach the shore through such a surf, as captain and crew
well knew; but there are certain formalities vis-a-vis to human
lives which must be observed by ship-captains and doctors and
others.

Skeen ran to the other side.  Lights were twinkling through the
spray; the land was not two hundred yards off, but it was two
hundred yards of rock and surf.  There was only one chance.

Skeen kicked off his boots and ran back to the saloon.  It was all a
matter of seconds.  For a few moments the brilliant lights dazzled
him, and he looked round wildly for Evelyn Crafer.  A great fear
seized his heart as in a grip of cold iron--but only for a moment.
He saw her.  She was kneeling by the table, unaware of his presence.

"Oh God," she was praying aloud, "save him--save HIM from this
danger!"

He heard the words as he stopped to lift her like a child from her
knees--bringing her back from God to man.

And the end of the Mooroo was a girl sitting before a driftwood fire
in the cottage of the old cure of the Ile de Sein, while at her feet
knelt a man with his broken arm bound to his side.  And he was
stroking her hands softly and repeatedly.  He was trying to soothe
her and make her understand that she was safe.

"Give her time, my son," the old cure said, with his deep, wise
smile.  "She only requires time.  I have seen them before taken from
the sea like her.  They all require time.  It is in our nature to
recover from all things--in time."



IN A CARAVAN

     "Which means, I think, that go or stay
      Affects you nothing, either way."

"And that is where Parker sleeps."

We craned our necks, and, stooping low, saw beneath the vehicle a
parasitic square box like a huge barnacle fixed to the bottom of the
van.  A box about four feet by two.  The door of it was open, and
Parker's bedfellows--two iron buckets and a sack of potatoes--stood
confessed.

"Oh yes--very nice," we murmured.

"Oh, it's awfully jolly!" said the host-in-himself.

We looked at Parker, who was peeling potatoes on the off-shaft--
Parker, six feet two, with a soldier's bearing--and we drifted off
into thought.

"And who drives?" we asked, with an intelligent interest.

"Oh, Parker.  And we do all the rest, you know."

It was seven o'clock in the evening when we joined the caravan, in a
stackyard on the outskirts of an Eastern county town.

"That's 'im--that's Lord George Sanger," was said of the writer by
one of the crowd of small boys assembled at the stackyard gate.  A
travelling menagerie and circus was advertised in a somewhat
"voyant" manner on the town walls, and a fancied resemblance to the
aristocratic manager thereof accredited us with an honourable
connection in the enterprise.

"When do you open?" inquired an intelligent spectator, anxious to
show savoir faire.

"See small handbills," replied the host-in-himself, with equal
courtesy.

"'Oo are yer, at any rate?" inquired an enlightened voter.

"Who are YOU?" we replied with spirit; and, passing through the
gate, we closed it to keep out the draught.  Then we paid a
domiciliary visit, and were duly shown Parker's apartments.

In outward appearance the caravan suggested an overgrown bathing-
machine.  The interior resembled the cabin of a yacht.  The walls
were gaily decorated with painting on the panels; flowers bloomed in
vases fixed upon the wall; two prettily curtained windows--one a
bay, the other flat--gave a view of the surrounding country.  At the
forward end, against the bulkhead, so to speak, was a small but
enterprising chest of drawers, and above it a large looking-glass
which folded down, developed legs, and owned to the soft impeachment
of being a bed.  Beneath the starboard window a low and capacious
sofa, combining the capacity of a locker.  Under the port window was
fixed a table against the bulkhead, where four people could and did
dine sumptuously.  When en voyage and between meals, charts, maps,
and literature littered this table pleasantly.  A ship's clock hung
over it, and a corner cupboard did its duty in the port quarter.  A
heavy plush curtain closed off the kitchen and pantry, which were
roomy and of marvellous capacity.  Then the back door--in halves--
and the back step, brassbound, treacherous.

In front there was a little verandah with supporting columns of
bamboo.  Here we usually sat when travelling--Parker in the right-
hand corner handling the ribbons of the tandem cart-horses with
skill and discretion.

As dinner was not ready, we proceeded to pitch the small tent
wherein the two men were to sleep.  It was a singular tent, with a
vast number of pendent ropes which became entangled at the outset.
We began with zeal, but presently left the ropes and turned our
attention to the pegs.  These required driving in with a wooden
mallet and a correct eye.  Persons unaccustomed to such work strike
the peg on one side--the mallet goes off at a tangent and strikes
the striker with force upon the shin-bone.

Finally Parker said he would put up the tent "by'n-by."

There was a Bedlington terrier--Parker's dog--attached (literally)
to the caravan.  He was tied to one of the bamboo columns on the
forecastle, and when Parker absented himself for long he usually
leaped off the platform and sought death by strangulation--this we
discovered later.  When we abandoned the tent we thought we would
cheer up the dog.

"Don't touch him, sir; he'll bite you," said Parker.

Of course we touched him; no man who respects himself at all is
ready to admit that a dog bites HIM.  It was wonderful how that dog
and Parker understood each other.  But the bite was not serious.

At last dinner was ready, and we are prepared to take any horrid
oath required that no professional cook could set before a king
potatoes more mealy.  This only, of all the items in the menu, is
mentioned, because where potatoes are good the experienced know that
other things will never be amiss.

We waited on ourselves, and placed the dirty dishes, plates, and
forks upon the back step, where Parker replaced them in a few
minutes, clean.

"Oh!" exclaimed the hostess-in-herself, about 10 p.m., when we were
smoking the beatific pipe, "by the way--Parker's dinner!"

In response to united shouts Parker appeared, and learned with
apparent surprise that he had omitted to dine.  He looked pale and
worn, and told us that he had been blowing out the air-beds.  At
eleven o'clock we two men left the ladies and went out into the cold
moonlight, where our tent looked remarkably picturesque.  Of course
we fell over a tent-peg each, and the host lost his watchkey.
Parker came forward--dining--to explain where the ropes were, and
fell over one himself, losing a piece of cold boiled beef in the
grass.  We hunted for it with a lucifer match.  Its value was
enhanced by the knowledge that when the bed was shut down and had
developed its legs the larder was inaccessible.  After some time
Parker discovered that the dog had been let loose and had found the
beef some moments before.  He explained that it was a singular dog
and preferred to live by dishonesty.  Unstolen victuals had for him
no zest.  He added that the loss was of no consequence, as he never
had been very keen on that piece of beef.  We finally retired into
the tent, and left Parker still at work completing several contracts
he had undertaken to carry through "by'n-by."  He said he preferred
doing them overnight, as it was no good getting up BEFORE five on
these dark autumnal mornings.

As an interior the tent was a decided success.  We went inside and
hooked the flap laboriously from top to bottom.  Then we remembered
that the host's pyjamas were outside.  He undid two hooks only and
attempted to effect a sortie through the resultant interstice.  He
stuck.  The position was undignified, and conducive to weak and
futile laughter.  At last Parker had to leave the washing-up of the
saucepans to come to the rescue, while the dog barked and imagined
that he was attending a burglary.

It was nearly midnight before we made our first acquaintance with an
air-bed, and it took us until seven o'clock the next morning to get
on to speaking terms with it.  The air-bed, like the Bedlington
terrier, must be approached with caution.  Its manner is, to say the
least of it, repellent.  Unless the sleeper (save the mark!) lies
geometrically in the centre, the air rushes to one side, and the
ignorant roll off the other.  If there were no bedclothes one could
turn round easily, but the least movement throws the untucked
blanket incontinently into space, while the instability of the bed
precludes tucking in.  Except for these and a few other drawbacks,
the air-bed may safely be recommended.

The next morning showed a white frost on the grass, and washing in
the open, in water that had stood all night in a bucket, was, to say
the least of it, invigorating.  Parker browned our boots, put a
special edge of his own upon our razors, attended to the horses,
oiled the wheels, fetched the milk, filled the lamps of the paraffin
stove, bought a gallon of oil, and carried a can of water from a
neighbouring farm before breakfast, just by way--he explained--of
getting ready to start his day's work.

An early start had been projected, but owing to the fact that after
breakfast Parker had to beat the carpet, wash the dishes, plates,
cups and saucers, knives and forks, and his own face, strike the
tent, let the air out of the air-beds, roll up the waterproof
sheets, clean the saucepans, groom the horses, ship the shafts, send
off a parcel from the station, buy two loaves of bread, and thank
the owner of the stackyard--owing, I say, to the fact that Parker
had these things to accomplish while we "did the rest," it was
eleven o'clock before all hands were summoned to get "her" out of
the narrow gateway.  This was safely accomplished, by Parker, while
we walked round, looked knowingly at the wheels, sternly at the
gate-posts, and covertly at the spectators.

Then we clambered up, the host-in-himself cracked the whip, Parker
gathered up his reins.

"Come up, Squire!  Come up, Nancy!"

And the joy of the caravaneer was ours.

This joy is not like the joy of other men.  For the high-road, the
hedgerows, the birds, the changing sky, the ever-varying landscape,
belong to the caravaneer.  He sits in his moving home and is
saturated with the freedom of the gipsy without the haunting memory
of the police, which sits like Care on the roof of the gipsy van.
Book on lap, he luxuriates on the forecastle when the sun shines and
the breeze blows soft, noting idly the passing beauty of the scene,
returning peaceably to the printed page.  When rain comes, as it
sometimes does in an English summer, he goes inside and gives a
deeper attention to the book, while Parker drives and gets wet.
Getting wet is one of Parker's duties.  And through rain and
sunshine he moves on ever, through the peaceful and never dull--the
incomparable beauty of an English pastoral land.  The journey is
accomplished without fatigue, without anxiety; for the end of it can
only be the quiet corner of a moor, or some sleepy meadow.  Speed is
of no account--distance immaterial.  The caravaneer looks down with
indifference upon the dense curiosity of the smaller towns; the
larger cities he wisely avoids.

The writer occupied the humble post of brakesman--elected thereto in
all humility by an overpowering majority.  The duties are heavy, the
glory small.  A clumsy vehicle like a caravan can hardly venture
down the slightest incline without a skid under the wheel and a
chain round the spoke.  This necessitates the frequent handling of a
heavy piece of iron, which is black and greasy at the top of a hill,
and red-hot at the bottom.

A steep hill through the town dispelled the Lord George Sanger
illusion at one fell blow, the rustic-urban mind being incapable of
conceiving that that self-named nobleman could demean himself to the
laying of the skid.

Of the days that followed there remains the memory of pleasant sunny
days and cool evenings, of the partridge plucked and cleaned by the
roadside, fried deliciously over the paraffin flame, amidst fresh
butter and mushrooms with the dew still on them.  We look back with
pleasure to the quiet camp in a gravel-pit on a hill-top far from
the haunts of men--to the pitching of the tent by moonlight in a
meadow where the mushrooms gleamed like snow, to be duly gathered
for the frying-pan next morning by the host-in-himself, and in
pyjamas.  Nor are the sterner sides of caravan life to be forgotten-
-the calamity at the brow of a steep hill, where a nasty turn made
the steady old wheeler for once lose his head and his legs; the
hard-fought battle over a half-side of bacon between the Bedlington
terrier and the writer when that mistaken dog showed a marked
preference for the stolen Wiltshire over the partridge bone of
charity.

And there are pleasant recollections of friends made, and, alas!
lost so soon; of the merry evening in a country house, of which the
hospitable host, in his capacity of justice of the peace, gave us
short shrift in the choice between the county gaol and his
hospitality.  Unless we consented to sleep beneath his roof and eat
his salt, he vowed he would commit us for vagabonds without visible
means of support.  We chose the humiliation of a good dinner and a
sheeted bed.  The same open-handed squire hung partridges in our
larder, and came with us on the forecastle to pilot us through his
own intricate parish next day.

Also came the last camp and the last dinner, at which the writer
distinguished himself, and the host-in-himself was at last allowed
to manipulate (with accompanying lecture) a marvellous bivouac-tin
containing a compound called beef a la mode, which came provided
with its own spirits of wine and wick, both of which proved
ineffectual to raise the temperature of the beef above a mediocre
tepidity.  Parker, having heard that the remains of this toothsome
dish were intended for his breakfast, wisely hid it with such care
that the dog stole it and consumed it, with results which cannot be
dwelt upon here.

Of the vicissitudes of road travel we recollect but little.  The
incipient sea-sickness endured during the first day has now lost its
sting; the little differences about the relative virtues of devilled
partridge and beef a la mode are forgotten, and only the complete
novelty, the heedless happiness of it all, remains.  We did not even
know the day of the week or the date; which ignorance, my masters,
has a wealth of meaning nowadays.

"Date--oh, ask Parker!" we would say.

And Parker always knew.



IN THE TRACK OF THE WANDERING JEW



     What hope is ours--what hope?  To find no mercy
     After much war, and many travails done?

"Well, somebody must go; that is certain."

And more than one man looked at me.  It was not because I could
possibly be that somebody, although I was young enough and of little
enough consequence.  But Fortune had been busy with me.  She had
knocked all the interest out of my life, and then she had proceeded
to shower her fickle favours upon me.  I was by way of becoming a
success in that line of life wherein I had been cast.  I had been
mentioned in despatches, and somehow the bullets had passed by on
the other side.  Her gracious Majesty had written to me twice as her
dearly beloved Thomas, and I was well up in my profession.

In those days things were differently done in India.  There was less
telegraphing here and there for instructions.  There was more action
and less talk.  The native gentleman did not sit on a jury then.

"Yes," said young Martello, "somebody must go.  Question is--who?"

And they looked at me again.

"There be those in high places," I said, "who shall decide."

They laughed and made no answer.  They were pleased to think that I
should have to decide which doctor should go to Capoo, where a
sickness unknown and incomprehensible had broken out.  It was true
that I was senior surgeon of the division; indeed, I was surgeon-
major of a tract of country as big as Scotland.  It is India now,
but in the days of which I write the question had not been settled
with a turbulent native prince.  We were, in fact, settling that
question.

Capoo was right in the heart of the new country, while we were in
occupation of a border town.  Behind us lay India; in front, the
Unknown.  The garrison of Capoo was small and self-important, but
sickness made itself conspicuous among its members.  Their doctor--
poor young Barber--died, and the self-importance of the Capoo
garrison oozed out of their finger-ends.  They sent down post-haste
to us for help, and a special letter addressed to me detailed
symptoms of no human malady.

I had two men under me.  The question seemed simple enough.  One of
them would have to go.  As to which one there was really no doubt
whatever.  The duty fell upon Thurkow.  Thurkow was junior.  This
might prove to be Thurkow's opportunity, or--the other thing.

We all knew that he would be willing enough to go; nay, he would be
eager.  But Thurkow's father was in command, which made all the
difference.

While we were thinking over these things an orderly appeared at the
mess-room door.

"Brigadier would like to see you, sir," he said to me.  And I had to
throw away the better half of a first-class manilla.

The brigadier's quarters were across a square in the centre of a
long rambling palace, for which a handsome rent was duly paid.  We
were not making war.  On the contrary, we were forcing peace down
the throat of the native prince on the point of a sword.

Everything was upon a friendly footing.  We were not an invading
force.  Oh, no! we were only the escort of a political officer.  We
had been quartered in this border town for more than a year, and the
senior officers' lady-wives had brought their lares and penates in
three bullock-carts a-piece.

I suppose we were objects of envy.  We had all the excitement of
novelty without any of the penalties of active warfare.  We were
strong enough to make an awful example of the whole Principality at
a day's notice, and the Principality knew it, which kept bazaar
prices down and made the coloured brother remember the hue of his
cheek.

In the palace there were half a dozen officers' quarters, and these
had been apportioned to the married; consequently the palace had
that air of homeliness which is supposed to be lacking in the
quarters of single men.

As I was crossing the square I heard some one running after me, and,
turning, I faced Fitz.  Fitz Marner--usually called Fitz--was my
second in command and two years my junior.  He was quite a different
sort of man to myself, and, if I may say so, a much better man.
However, I am not going to talk about myself more than I can help
this time.  Some day I shall, and then I shall have a portrait on
the cover.  This is an age of portraits.  But some day the British
public will wake up and will refuse to read the works of a smug-
faced man in spectacles who tries to make them believe that he is
doughty, fearless, and beloved of beautiful damsels.  The bookstalls
are full to-day of works written in the first person singular, and
relating deeds of the utmost daring; while on the cover is a
portrait of the author--the aforesaid smug man in spectacles--who
has not the good sense to suppress himself.

Fitz was tall and lithe.  He had a large brown moustache and
pleasantly thoughtful eyes.  His smile was the kindliest I have ever
met.  Moreover, a modester man than Fitz never breathed.  He had a
way of carrying his chin rather low, so that when he looked at one
he had to raise his eyes, which imparted a pleasing suggestion of
attention to his face.  It always seemed to me that Fitz listened
more carefully to what was said to him than other men are in the
habit of doing.

"Say, doctor," he said, looking up at me in his peculiar thoughtful
way, "give me a chance."

I knew what he meant.  He wanted me to send him to a certain death
instead of young Thurkow.  Those little missions to that bourne from
whence no traveller returns are all in the work of a soldier's life,
and we two were soldiers, although ours was the task of repairing
instead of doing the damage.  Every soldier-man and most civilians
know that it is sometimes the duty of a red-coat to go and get
killed without pausing to ask whether it be expedient or not.  One
aide-de-camp may be sent on a mad attempt to get through the enemy's
lines, while his colleague rides quietly to the rear with a despatch
inside his tunic, the delivery of which to the commander-in-chief
will ensure promotion.  And in view of this the wholesome law of
seniority was invented.  The missions come in rotation, and
according to seniority the men step forward.

Fitz Marner's place was at my side, where, by the way, I never want
a better man, for his will was iron, and he had no nerves whatever.
Capoo, the stricken, was calling for help.  Fitz and I knew more
about cholera than we cared to discuss just then.  Some one must go
up to Capoo to fight a hopeless fight and die.  And old Fitz--God
bless him!--was asking to go.

In reply I laughed.

"Not if I can help it.  The fortune of war is the same for all."

Fitz tugged at his moustache and looked gravely at me.

"It is hard on the old man," he said.  "It is more than you can
expect."

"Much," I answered.  "I gave up expecting justice some years ago.  I
am sorry for the brigadier, of course.  He committed the terrible
mistake of getting his son into his own brigade, and this is the
result.  All that he does to-night he does on his own
responsibility.  I am not inclined to help him.  If it had been you,
I should not have moved an inch--you know that."

He turned half away, looking up speculatively at the yellow Indian
moon.

"Yes," he muttered, "I know that."

And without another word he went back to the mess-room.

I went on and entered the palace.  To reach the brigadier's quarters
I had to pass down the whole length of the building, and I was not
in the least surprised to see Elsie Matheson waiting for me in one
of the passage-like ante-rooms.  Elsie Matheson was bound to come
into this matter sooner or later--I knew that; but I did not quite
know in what capacity her advent might be expected.

"What is this news from Capoo?" she asked, without attempting to
disguise her anxiety.  Her father, assistant political officer in
this affair, was not at Capoo or near there.  He was upstairs
playing a rubber.

"Bad," I answered.

She winced, but turned no paler.  Women and horses are always
surprising me, and they never surprise me more than when in danger.
Elsie Matheson was by no means a masculine young person.  Had she
been so, I should not have troubled to mention her.  For me, men
cannot be too manly, nor women too womanly.

"What is the illness they have?" she asked.

"I really cannot tell you, Elsie," I answered.  "Old Simpson has
written me a long letter--he always had a fancy for symptoms, you
know--but I can make nothing of it.  The symptoms he describes are
quite impossible.  They are too scientific for me."

"You know it is cholera," she snapped out with a strange little
break in her voice which I did not like, for I was very fond of this
girl.

"Perhaps it is," I answered.

She gave a funny little helpless look round her as if she wanted
something to lean against.

"And who will go?" she asked.  She was watching me keenly.

"Ah--that does not rest with me."

"And if it did?"

"I should go myself."

Her face lighted up suddenly.  She had not thought of that.  I bore
her no ill-feeling, however.  I did not expect her to love ME.

"But they cannot spare you," she was kind enough to say.

"Everybody can always be spared--with alacrity," I answered; "but it
is not a question of that.  It is a question of routine.  One of the
others will have to go."

"Which one?" she asked with a suddenly assumed indifference.

It was precisely the question in my own mind, but relative to a very
different matter.  If the decision rested with Miss Matheson, which
of these two men would she send to Capoo?  Perhaps I looked rather
too keenly into her face, for she turned suddenly away and drew the
gauzy wrap she had thrown over her evening dress more closely round
her throat, for the passages were cold.

"That does not rest with me," I repeated, and I went on towards the
brigadier's quarters, leaving her--a white shadow in the dimly
lighted passage.

I found the chief at his own dinner-table with an untouched glass of
wine before him.

"This is a bad business," he said, looking at me with haggard eyes.
I had never quite realized before what an old man he was.  His trim
beard and moustache had been white for years, but he had always been
a hale man up to his work--a fine soldier but not a great leader.
There was a vein of indolence in Brigadier-General Thurkow's nature
which had the same effect on his career as that caused by barnacles
round a ship's keel.  This inherent indolence was a steady drag on
the man's life.  Only one interest thoroughly aroused him--only one
train of thought received the full gift of his mind.  This one
absorbing interest was his son Charlie, and it says much for Charlie
Thurkow that we did not hate him.

The brigadier had lost his wife years before.  All that belonged to
ancient history--to the old Company days before our time.  To say
that he was absorbed in his son is to state the case in the mildest
imaginable form.  The love in this old man's heart for his reckless,
happy-souled offspring was of that higher order which stops at
nothing.  There is a love that worketh wonders, and the same love
can make a villain of an honest man.

I looked at old Thurkow, sitting white-lipped behind the decanter,
and I knew that there was villainy in his upright, honest heart.  He
scarcely met my eyes.  He moved uneasily in his chair.  All through
a long life this man had carried nobly the noblest name that can be
given to any--the name of gentleman.  No great soldier, but a man of
dauntless courage.  No strategist, but a leader who could be trusted
with his country's honour.  Upright, honourable, honest, brave--and
it had come to this.  It had come to his sitting shamefaced before a
poor unknown sawbones--not daring to look him in the face.

His duty was plain enough.  Charlie Thurkow's turn had come.
Charlie Thurkow must be sent to Capoo--by his father's orders.  But
the old man--the soldier who had never turned his back on danger--
could not do it.

We were old friends, this man and I.  I owed him much.  He had made
my career, and I am afraid I had been his accomplice more than once.
But we had never wronged any other man.  Fitz had aided and abetted
more than once.  It had been an understood thing between Fitz and
myself that the winds of our service were to be tempered to Charlie
Thurkow, and I imagine we had succeeded in withholding the fact from
his knowledge.  Like most spoilt sons, Charlie was a little selfish,
with that convenient blindness which does not perceive how much
dirty work is done by others.

But we had never deceived the brigadier.  He was not easily deceived
in those matters which concerned his son.  I knew the old man very
well, and for years I had been content to sit by the hour together
and talk with him of Charlie.  To tell the honest truth, Master
Charlie was a very ordinary young man.  I take it that a solution of
all that was best in five Charles Thurkows would make up one Fitz
Marner.

There was something horribly pathetic in the blindness of this
usually keen old man on this one point.  He would sit there stiffly
behind the decanter fingering his wine-glass, and make statements
about Charlie which would have made me blush had that accomplishment
not belonged to my past.  A certain cheery impertinence which
characterized Charlie was fondly set down as savoir-faire and dash.
A cheap wit was held to be brilliancy and conversational finish.
And somehow we had all fallen into the way of humouring the
brigadier.  I never told him, for instance, that his son was a very
second-rate doctor and a nervous operator.  I never hinted that many
of the cures which had been placed to his credit were the work of
Fitz--that the men had no confidence in Charlie, and that they were
somewhat justified in their opinion.

"This is a bad business," repeated the brigadier, looking hard at
the despatch that lay on the table before him.

"Yes," I answered.

He tossed the paper towards me and pointed to a chair.

"Sit down!" he said sharply.  "Have you had any report from poor
Barber?"

In response I handed him the beginning of an official report.  I say
the beginning, because it consisted of four lines only.  It was in
Barber's handwriting, and it broke off suddenly in the middle of a
word before it began to tell me anything.  In its way it was a
tragedy.  Death had called for Barber while he was wondering how to
spell "nauseous."  I also gave him Colonel Simpson's letter, which
he read carefully.

"What is it?" he asked suddenly, as he laid the papers aside.

"Officially--I don't know."

"And unofficially?"

"I am afraid it is cholera."

The brigadier raised his glass of claret a few inches from the
table, but his hand was too unsteady, and he set the glass down
again untouched.  I was helplessly sorry for him.  There was
something abject and humiliating in his averted gaze.  Beneath his
white moustache his lips were twitching nervously.

For a few moments there was silence, and I dreaded his next words.
I was trembling for his manhood.

"I suppose something must be done for them," he said at length,
hoarsely, and it was hard to believe that the voice was the voice of
our leader--a man dreaded in warfare, respected in peace.

"Yes," I answered uncompromisingly.

"Some one must go to them--"

"Yes."

Again there was that horrid silence, broken only by the tramp of the
sentinel outside the glassless windows.

"Who?" asked the brigadier, in little more than a whisper.

I suppose he expected it of me--I suppose he knew that even for him,
even in mercy to an old man whose only joy in life trembled at that
moment in the balance, I could not perpetrate a cruel injustice.

"It devolves on Charlie," I answered.

He gave one quick glance beneath his lashes, and again lowered his
eyes.  I heard a long gasping sound, as if he found difficulty in
breathing.  He sat upright, and threw back his shoulders with a
pitiable effort to be strong.

"Is he up to the work?" he asked quietly.

"I cannot conscientiously say that he is not."

"D---n it, man," he burst out suddenly, "is there no way out of it?"

"Yes--one way!"

"What is it?"

"I will go."

"That is impossible," he answered with a sublime unconsciousness of
his own huge selfishness which almost made me laugh.  This man would
have asked nothing for himself.  For his son he had no shame in
asking all.  He would have accepted my offer, I could see that, had
it been possible.

At this moment the door opened, and Charlie Thurkow came in.  His
eyes were bright with excitement, and he glanced at us both quickly.
He was quite well aware of his father's weakness in regard to
himself, and I am afraid he sometimes took advantage of it.  He
often ignored discipline entirely, as he did in coming into the room
at that moment.

I suppose there is in every one a sense of justice which accounts
for the subtle annoyance caused by the devotion of parents and
others--a devotion which has not the good sense to hide itself.
There are few things more annoying than an exhibition of unjust
love.  I rose at once.  The coming interview would be either painful
or humiliating, and I preferred not to assist at it.

As I went down the dark passages a man in a staff uniform, wearing
spurs, clanked past me.  I did not know until later that it was
Fitz, for I could not see his face.

I went back to my quarters, and was busy for some time with certain
technicalities of my trade which are not worth detailing here.
While I and my two dispensers were still measuring out and mixing
drugs, Fitz came to us.

"I am going to Capoo," he said quietly.

In his silent, quick way he was taking in all that we were doing.
We were packing medical stores for Capoo.  I did not answer him, but
waited for further details.  We could not speak openly before the
two assistants at that moment, and somehow we never spoke about it
at all.  I glanced up at him.  His face was pale beneath the
sunburn.  There was a drawn look just above his moustache, as if his
lips were held tightly.

"I volunteered," he said, "and the brigadier accepted my offer."

Whenever the word "duty" is mentioned, I think of Fitz to this day.

I said nothing, but went on with my work.  The whole business was
too disgusting, too selfish, too unjust, to bear speaking of.

I had long known that Fitz loved Elsie Matheson.  In my feeble way,
according to my scanty opportunity, I had endeavoured to assist him.
But her name had never been mentioned between us except carelessly
in passing conversation.  I knew no details.  I did not even know
whether Elsie knew of his love; but it was exceedingly likely that
if she did, he had not told her.  As to her feelings, I was
ignorant.  She loved somebody, that much I knew.  One can generally
tell that.  One sees it in a woman's eyes.  But it is one thing to
know that a woman loves, and quite another to find out whom she
loves.  I have tried in vain more than once.  I once thought that I
was the favoured person--not with Elsie, with quite another woman--
but I was mistaken.  I only know that those women who have that in
their eyes which I have learnt to recognize are better women than
those who lack it.

Fitz was the first to speak.

"Don't put all of that into one case," he said to one of the
dispensers, indicating a row of bottles that stood on the floor.
"Divide the different drugs over the cases, so that one or two of
them can be lost without doing much harm."

His voice was quite calm and practical.

"When do you go?" I asked curtly.  I was rather afraid of trusting
my voice too long, for Fitz was one of the few men who have really
entered into my life sufficiently to leave a blank space behind
them.  I have been a rolling stone, and what little moss I ever
gathered soon got knocked off, but it left scars.  Fitz left a scar.

"My orders are to start to-night--with one trooper," he answered.

"What time?"

"In half an hour."

"I will ride with you a few miles," I said.

He turned and went to his quarters, which were next to mine.  I was
still at work when Charlie Thurkow came in.  He had changed his
dress clothes for an old working suit.  I was working in my evening
dress--a subtle difference.

"Do you want any help?" he asked.  I could hear a grievance in his
voice.

"Of course; get on packing that case; plenty of straw between the
bottles."

He obeyed me, working slowly, badly, without concentration, as he
always did.

"It's a beastly shame, isn't it?" he muttered presently.

"Yes," I answered, "it is."

I suppose he did not detect the sarcasm.

"Makes me look a fool," he said heatedly.  "Why couldn't the
governor let me go and take my chance?"

The answer to this question being beyond my ken, I kept a discreet
silence.  Giving him further instructions, I presently left my
junior to complete the task of packing up the necessary medicaments
for Capoo.

In less than half an hour Fitz and I mounted our horses.  A few of
the fellows came out of the messroom, cigar in mouth, to say good-
bye to Fitz.  One or two of them called out "Good luck" as we left
them.  Each wish was followed by a little laugh, as if the wisher
was ashamed of showing even so minute an emotion.  It was, after
all, all in the way of our business.  Many a time Fitz and I had
stood idle while these same men rode out to face death.  It was
Fitz's turn now--that was all.

The Sikh trooper was waiting for us in the middle of the square--in
the moonlight--a grand picturesque figure.  A long-faced, silent
man, with deep eyes and a grizzled moustache.  He wheeled his horse,
and dropped ten paces in our rear.

In the course of a varied experience Fitz and I had learnt to ride
hard.  We rode hard that night beneath the yellow moon, through the
sleeping, odorous country.  We both knew too well that cholera under
canvas is like a fire in a timber-yard.  You may pump your drugs
upon it, but without avail unless the pumping be scientific.  Fitz
represented science.  Every moment meant a man's life.  Our horses
soon settled into their stride with a pleasant creaking sound of
warm leather and willing lungs.

The moon was above and behind us; we each had a galloping shadow
beneath our horse's forefeet.  It was a sandy country, and the hoofs
only produced a dull thud.  There was something exhilarating in the
speed--in the shimmering Indian atmosphere.  A sense of envy came
over me, and I dreaded the moment when I should have to turn and
ride soberly home, leaving Fitz to complete his forty-five miles
before daylight.

We were riding our chargers.  They had naturally fallen into step,
and bounded beneath us with a regular, mechanical rhythm.  Both
alike had their heads down, their shoulders forward, with that
intelligent desire to do well which draws a man's heart towards a
horse in preference to any other animal.  I looked sideways at Fitz,
and waited for him to speak.  But he was staring straight in front
of him, and seemed lost in thought.

"You know," I said at length, "you have done that old man an ill-
turn.  Even if you come back he will never forgive himself.  He will
never look either of us straight in the face again."

"Can't help that," replied Fitz.  "The thing--"  He paused, as if
choosing his words.  "If," he went on rather quickly, "the worst
comes to the worst, don't let people--ANY ONE--think that I did it
because I didn't care, because I set no value on my life.  The thing
was forced upon me.  I was asked to volunteer for it."

"All right," I answered, rather absent-mindedly perhaps.  I was
wondering who "any one" might be, and also who had asked him to
throw away his life.  The latter might, of course, be the brigadier.
Surely it could not have been Elsie.  But, as I said before, I
always was uncertain about women.

I did not say anything about hoping for the best.  Fitz and I had
left all that nonsense behind us years before.  We did our business
amidst battle, murder, and sudden death.  Perhaps we were callous,
perhaps we had only learnt to value the thing at its true worth, and
did not set much fear on death.

And then, I must ask you to believe, we fell to talking "shop."  I
knew a little more about cholera than did Fitz, and we got quite
interested in our conversation.  It is, I have found, only in books
that men use the last moment to advantage.  Death has been my road-
fellow all through life, and no man has yet died in my arms saying
quite the right thing.  Some of them made a joke, others were merely
commonplace, as all men really are whether living or dying.

When the time came for me to turn back, Fitz had said nothing fit
for post-mortem reproduction.  We had talked unmitigated "shop,"
except the few odd observations I have set down.

We shook hands, and I turned back at once.  As I galloped I looked
back, and in the light of the great tropical moon I saw Fitz sitting
forward in his saddle as the horse rose to the slope of a hill,
galloping away into the night, into the unknown, on his mission of
mercy.  At his heels rode the Sikh, enormous, silent, soldierly.

During my steady run home I thought of those things concerning my
craft which required immediate consideration.  Would it be necessary
to send down to India for help?  Cholera at Capoo might mean cholera
everywhere in this new unknown country.  What about the women and
children?  The Wandering Jew was abroad; would he wander in our
direction, with the legendary curse following on his heels?  Was I
destined to meet this dread foe a third time?  I admit that the very
thought caused a lump to rise in my throat.  For I love Thomas
Atkins.  He is manly and honest according to his lights.  It does
not hurt me very much to see him with a bullet through his lungs or
a sabre cut through the collar-bone down to the same part of his
anatomy.  But it does hurt me exceedingly to see honest Thomas die
between the sheets--the death of any common civilian beggar.  Thomas
is too good for that.

It was nearly three o'clock in the morning when I rode into the
palace square.  All round I saw the sentinels, their bayonets
gleaming in the moonlight.  A man was walking backwards and forwards
in the middle of the square by himself.  When he heard me he came
towards me.  At first I thought that it was my servant waiting to
take the horse, but a moment later I recognized Charlie Thurkow--
recognized him by his fair hair, for he was hatless.  At the same
time my syce roused himself from slumber in the shadow of an arch,
and ran forward to my stirrup.

"Come to the hospital!" said Thurkow, the moment I alighted.  His
voice was dull and unnatural.  I once heard a man speak in the same
voice while collecting his men for a rush which meant certain death.
The man was duly killed, and I think he was trembling with fear when
he ran to his death.

"What is it?" I asked.

"I don't know."

We walked--almost ran--to the hospital, a long low building in the
palace compound.  Charlie Thurkow led the way to a ward which we had
never used--a ward I had set apart for infectious cases.  A man was
dozing in a long chair in the open window.  As we entered he rose
hastily and brought a lamp.  We bent over a bed--the only one
occupied.  The occupant was a man I did not know.  He looked like a
Goorkha, and he was dying.  In a few moments I knew all that there
was to know.  I knew that the Wandering Jew had passed our way.

"Yes," I said, rising from my knees at the bedside; "we have it."

Of the days that followed it is not my intention to say much.  A
woman once told me that I was afraid of nothing.  She was mistaken.
If she chance to read this and recognize it, I hope she will believe
the assertion:  I am, and always have been, afraid of cholera--in
India.  In Europe it is a different matter.  The writing of those
days would be unpleasant to me; the reading would be still less
pleasant to the reader.

Brigadier-General Thurkow rose to the occasion, as we all expected
him to do.  It is one thing to send a man to a distant danger, and
quite another to go with him into a danger which is close at hand.
Charlie Thurkow and I were the only two doctors on the spot, and
before help could reach us we should probably all be dead or cured.
There was no shirking now.  Charlie and I were at work night and
day, and in the course of thirty-six hours Charlie got interested in
it.  He reached the fighting point--that crisis in an epidemic of
which doctors can tell--that point where there is a certain glowing
sense of battle over each bed--where death and the doctor see each
other face to face--fight hand to hand for the life.

The doctor loses his interest in the patient as a friend or a
patient; all his attention is centred on the life as a life, and a
point to be scored against the adversary Death.

We had a very bad time for two days.  At the end of that time I had
officers bearing Her Majesty's commission serving under me as
assistant nurses, and then the women came into it.  The first to
offer herself was the wife of a non-commissioned officer in the
Engineers, who had been through Netley.  I accepted her.  The second
woman was Elsie Matheson.  I refused point blank.

"Sooner or later," she said, looking at me steadily with something
in her eyes which I could not make out, "you will have to take me."

"Does your father know you have come to me?" I retorted.

"Yes; I came with his consent."

I shook my head and returned to my writing.  I was filling in a list
of terrific length.  She did not go away, but stood in front of me
with a certain tranquillity which was unnatural under the
circumstances.

"Do you want help?" she asked calmly.

"God knows I do."

"But not mine--?"

"Not yet, Elsie.  I have not got so far as that yet."

I did not look up, and she stood quite still over me--looking down
at me--probably noting that the hair was getting a little thin on
the top of my head.  This is not a joke.  I repeat she was probably
noting that.  People do note such things at such moments.

"If you do not take me," she said, in a singularly even voice, "I
shall go up to Capoo.  Can you not see that that is the only thing
that can save me from going to Capoo--or going mad?"

I laid aside my pen, and looked up into her face, which she made no
pretence of hiding from me.  And I saw that it was as she said.

"You can go to work at once," I said, "under Mrs. Martin, in ward
number four."

When she had left me I did not go on filling in the list from the
notes in my pocket-book.  I fell to wasting time instead.  So it was
Fitz.  I was not surprised, but I was very pleased.  I was not
surprised, because I have usually found that the better sort of
woman has as keen a scent for the good men as we have.  And I
thought of old Fitz--the best man I ever served with--fighting up at
Capoo all alone, while I fought down in the valley.  There was a
certain sense of companionship in the thought, though my knowledge
and experience told me that our chances of meeting again were very
small indeed.

We had not heard from Capoo.  The conclusion was obvious:  they had
no one to send.

Elsie Matheson soon became a splendid nurse.  She was quite
fearless--not with dash, but with the steady fearlessness that comes
from an ever-present sense of duty, which is the best.  She was kind
and tender, but she was a little absent.  In spirit she was nursing
at Capoo; with us she was only in the body.

When Charlie Thurkow heard that she had gone into ward number four,
he displayed a sudden, singular anger.

"It's not fit for her," he said.  "How could you do it?"

And I noticed that, so far as lay in his power, he kept the worst
cases away from number four.

It occasionally happens in life that duty is synonymous with
inclination; not often, of course, but occasionally.  I twisted
inclination round into duty, and put Elsie to night work, while
Charlie Thurkow kept the day watches.  I myself was forced to keep
both as best I could.

Whenever I went into number four ward at night before (save the
mark) going to bed, I found Elsie Matheson waiting for me.  It must
be remembered that she was quite cut off from the little world that
surrounded us in the palace.  She had no means of obtaining news.
Her only link with the outer universe was an occasional patient
brought in more dead than alive, and too much occupied with his own
affairs to trouble about those of other people.

"Any news?" she would whisper to me as we went round the beds
together; and I knew that she meant Capoo.  Capoo was all the world
for her.  It is strange how some little unknown spot on the earth
will rise up and come into our lives never to leave the memory
again.

"Nothing," I replied with a melancholy regularity.

Once only she broke through her reserve--through the habit of
bearing pain in silence which she had acquired by being so much
among dying men.

"Have you no opinion?" she asked, with a sharpness in her voice
which I forgave as I heard it.

"Upon what subject?"

"Upon. . . the chances."

I shrugged my shoulders.

"He is a good man--there is no better in India--that is all I can
say.  Just hold the candle a little closer, will you, please?
Thanks--yes--he is quite dead."

We passed on to the next bed.

"It is both his duty and his inclination to take care of himself," I
said as we went--going back with her in the spirit to Capoo.

"How do you know it is his inclination?" she asked guardedly.

And I knew that I was on the right path.  The vague message given to
"any one" by Fitz as he rode by my side that night--only a week
before, although it seemed to be months--that message was intended
for Elsie.  It referred to something that had gone before, of which
I had no knowledge.

"Because he told me so," I answered.

And then we went on with our work.  Charlie Thurkow was quite right.
I knew that all along.  It was not fit for her.  Elsie was too
young, too gentle and delicate for such a place as ward number four.
I make no mention of her beauty, for I took no heed of it then.  It
was there--but it had nothing to do with this matter.  Also I have
never seen why women who are blessed or cursed by beauty should be
more considered in such matters, as they undoubtedly are.

I was up and about all that night.  The next morning rose gloomily,
as if the day was awakening unrefreshed by a feverish sleep.  The
heat had been intense all night, and we could look for nothing but
an intensification of it when the sun rose with a tropical
aggressiveness.  I wanted to get my reports filled in before lying
down to snatch a little rest, and was still at work when Charlie
Thurkow came in to relieve me.  He looked ghastly, but we all did
that, and I took no notice.  He took up the ward-sheets and glanced
down the columns.

"Wish I had gone to Capoo," he muttered.  "It couldn't have been
worse than this."

I had finished my writing, and I rose.  As I did so Charlie suddenly
clapped his hand to his hip.

"I say!" he exclaimed, "I say!"

He looked at me in a stupid way, and then suddenly he tottered
towards me, and I caught him.

"Old chap!" he exclaimed thickly, with his face against my shoulder,
"I've got it.  Take me to number four."

He had seen by the list that there was a vacant cot in number four.

I carried him there, stumbling as I went, for I was weak from want
of sleep.

Elsie had just gone to her room, and Mrs. Martin was getting the
vacant bed ready.  I was by that bedside all day.  All that I knew I
did for Charlie Thurkow.  I dosed myself with more than one Indian
drug to stimulate the brain--to keep myself up to doing and
thinking.  This was a white man's life, and God forgive me if I set
undue store upon it as compared with the black lives we were losing
daily.  This was a brain that could think for the rest.  There was
more than one man's life wrapped up in Charlie Thurkow's.  One can
never tell.  My time might come at any moment, and the help we had
sent for could not reach us for another fortnight.

Charlie said nothing.  He thanked me at intervals for some little
service rendered, and nearly all the time his eyes were fixed upon
the clock.  He was reckoning with his own life.  He did not want to
die in the day, but in the night.  He was deliberately spinning out
his life till the night nurse came on duty.  I suppose that in his
superficial, happy-go-lucky way he loved her.

I pulled him through that day, and we managed to refrain from waking
Elsie up.  At nightfall she came to her post.  When she came into
the room I was writing a note to the brigadier.  I watched her face
as she came towards us.  There was only distress upon it--nothing
else.  Even women--even beautiful women grow callous; thank Heaven!
Charlie Thurkow gave a long sigh of relief when she came.

My note was duly sent to the brigadier, and five minutes afterwards
I went out on to the verandah to speak to him.  I managed to keep
him out of the room by a promise that he should be sent for later.
I made no pretence about it, and he knew that it was only the
question of a few hours when he walked back across the palace square
to his quarters.  I came back to the verandah, and found Elsie
waiting to speak to me.

"Will he die?" she asked.

"Yes."

"Quite sure?"

There was a strange glitter in her eyes which I could not
understand.

"Quite," I answered, forgetting to be professional.  She looked at
me for a moment as if she were about to say something, and then she
apparently decided not to say it.

I went towards a long chair which stood on the verandah.

"I shall lie down here," I said, "and sleep for an hour."

"Yes, do," she answered almost gratefully.

"You will wake me if you want me?"

"Yes."

"Wake me when. . . the change comes."

"Yes."

In a few moments I was asleep.  I do not know what woke me up.  It
seemed to be very late.  All the sounds of barrack life were hushed.
The moon was just up.  I rose to my feet and turned to the open
window.  But there I stopped.

Elsie was kneeling by Charlie Thurkow's bed.  She was leaning over
him, and I could see that she was kissing him.  And I knew that she
did not love him.

I kicked against the chair purposely.  Elsie turned and looked
towards me, with her hand still resting on Charlie Thurkow's
forehead.  She beckoned me to go to them, and I saw at once that he
was much weaker.  She was stroking his hair gently.  She either gave
me credit for great discernment, or she did not care what I thought.

I saw that the time had come for me to fulfil my promise to the
brigadier, and went out of the open window to send one of the
sentinels for him.  As I was speaking to the man I heard the clatter
of a horse's feet, and a Sikh rode hard into the palace square.  I
went towards him, and he, recognizing me, handed me a note which he
extracted from the folds of his turban.  I opened the paper and read
it by the light of the moon.  My heart gave a leap in my throat.  It
was from Fitz.  News at last from Capoo.

"We have got it under," he wrote.  "I am coming down to help you.
Shall be with you almost as soon as the bearer."

As I walked back towards the hospital the brigadier came running
behind me, and caught me up as I stepped in by the window.  I had
neither time nor inclination just then to tell him that I had news
from Capoo.  The Sikh no doubt brought official news which would
reach their destination in due course.  And in the mean time Charlie
Thurkow was dying.

We stood round that bed and waited silent, emotionless for the
angel.  Charlie knew only too well that the end was very near.  From
time to time he smiled rather wearily at one or the other of us, and
once over his face there came that strange look of a higher
knowledge which I have often noted, as if he knew something that we
did not--something which he had been forbidden to tell us.

While we were standing there the matting of the window was pushed
aside, and Fitz came softly into the dimly lighted room.  He glanced
at me, but attempted no sort of salutation.  I saw him exchange a
long silent look with Elsie, and then he took his station at the
bedside next to Elsie, and opposite to the brigadier, who never
looked up.

Charlie Thurkow recognized him, and gave him one of those strangely
patronizing smiles.  Then he turned his sunken eyes towards Elsie.
He looked at her with a gaze that became more and more fixed.  We
stood there for a few minutes--then I spoke.

"He is dead," I said.

The brigadier raised his eyes and looked across to Fitz.  For a
second these two men looked down into each other's souls, and I
suppose Fitz had his reward.  I suppose the brigadier had paid his
debt in full.  I had been through too many painful scenes to wish to
prolong this.  So I turned away, and a general move was the result.

Then I saw that Elsie and Fitz had been standing hand-in-hand all
the while.

So wags the world.



THROUGH THE GATE OF TEARS



     Give us--ah! give us--but Yesterday!

In the old days, when the Mahanaddy was making her reputation, she
had her tragedy.  And Dr. Mark Ruthine has not forgotten it, nor
forgiven himself yet.  Doctors, like the rest of us, are apt to make
a hideous mistake or two which resemble the stream anchors of a big
steamer warping out into the Hooghly.  We leave them behind, but we
do not let go of them.  They make a distinct difference to the
course of our journey down the stream.  Sometimes they hold us back;
occasionally they swing us into the middle of the current, where
there is no shoal.  Like the stream anchors, they are always there,
behind us, for our good.

Some few of the Mahanaddy passengers have remarked that Mark Ruthine
invariably locks his cabin-door whenever he leaves the little den
that serves him for surgery and home.  This is the outward sign of
an inward unforgotten sore.

This, by the way, is not a moral tale.  Virtue does not triumph, nor
will vice be crushed.  It is the mere record of a few mistakes,
culminating in Mark Ruthine's blunder--a little note on human nature
without vice in it; for there is little vice in human nature if one
takes the trouble to sift that which masquerades as such.

It was, therefore, in old days, long ago, on an outward voyage to
Madras, that Miss Norah Hood was placed under the care of the
captain, hedged safely round by an engagement to an old playmate,
and shipped off to the land where the Anglo-Saxon dabbles in
tragedy.

Norah is fortunately not a common name.  Mark Ruthine's countenance-
-a still one--changes ever so slightly whenever he hears the name or
sees it in print.  Another outward sign, and, as such, naturally
small.

When the captain was introduced by a tall and refined old clergyman
to Miss Norah Hood, he found himself shaking hands with a grave
young person of unassertive beauty.  Hers was the loveliness of the
violet, which is apt to pall in this modern day--to aggravate, and
to suggest wanton waste.  For feminine loveliness is on the wane--
marred, like many other good things, by over-education.  Norah Hood
was a typical country parson's daughter, who knew the right and did
it, ignored the wrong and refused to believe in it.

The captain was busy with his Mahanaddy.  He looked over his
shoulder, and, seeing Mark Ruthine, called him by a glance.

"This is my doctor," he said, to the scholarly parson.  "He will be
happy to see that Miss Hood is comfortably settled among us.  I am
naturally rather a busy man until we leave the Start Light behind
us."

So Mark Ruthine hovered about, and discreetly looked the other way
when the moment of parting came.  He suspected, shrewdly enough,
that Norah was the eldest of a large family--one less to feed and
clothe.  An old story.  As the great ship glided gently away from
the quay--in those days the Mahanaddy loaded at Southampton--he went
and stood beside Norah Hood.  Not that he had anything to say to
her; but his calling of novelist, his experience of doctor, taught
him that a silent support is what women sometimes want.  They deal
so largely in words that a few unexplained deeds sometimes refresh
them.

He stood there until the tall, slim form in the rusty black coat was
no longer discernible.  Then he made a little movement and spoke.

"Have you been to your cabin?" he asked.  "Do you know where it is?"

"I have not seen it," she answered composedly.  "The number of my
berth is seventy-seven."

There was a singular lack of fluster.  It was impossible to divine
that she had never trod the deck of a big steamer before--that her
walk in life had been limited to the confines of a tiny, remote
parish in the eastern counties.  Ruthine glanced at her.  He saw
that she was quite self-possessed, with something more complete than
the self-possession of good breeding.  It was quite obvious that
this woman--for Norah Hood was leaving girlhood behind--had led a
narrow, busy life.  She had obviously lost the habit of attaching
much importance to her own feelings, her own immediate fate or
passing desires, because more pressing matters had so long absorbed
her.  There was a faint suggestion of that self-neglect, almost
amounting to self-contempt, which characterizes the manner of
overburdened motherhood.  This would account for her apparent
ignorance of the fact that she was beautiful.

As he led the way down below Ruthine glanced at her again.  He had
an easy excuse for so doing on the brass-bound stairs, where
landsmen feet may slip.  He was, above all things, a novelist,
although he wrote under another and greater name, and those around
him knew him not.  He looked more at human minds than human bodies,
and he was never weary of telling his friends that he was a poor
doctor.  He concluded--indeed, her father had almost told him--that
she was going out to be married.  But he needed not to be told that
she was going to marry a man whom she did not love.  He found that
out for himself in a flash of his quiet grey eyes.  An expert less
skilful than himself could see that Norah Hood did not know what
love was.  Some women are thus--some few, God help them! go through
life in the same ignorance.

He took her down to her cabin--a small one, which she was fortunate
enough to have to herself.  He told her the hours of the meals, the
habits of the ship, and the customs of the ocean.  He had a grave
way with him, this doctor, and could put on a fatherly manner when
the moment needed it.  Norah listened with a gravity equal to his
own.  She listened, moreover, with an intelligence which he noted.

"If you will come," he said, "on deck again, I will introduce you to
a very kind friend of mine--Mrs. Stellasis.  You have heard of John
Stellasis?"

"No," answered Norah, rather indifferently.

"You will some day--all the world will.  Stellasis is one of our
great men in India.  Mrs. Stellasis is a great lady."

This was a prophecy.

They went on deck, and Mark Ruthine effected the introduction.  He
stayed beside them for a few moments, and did not leave them until
they were deeply engrossed in a conversation respecting babies in
general, and in particular a small specimen which Mrs. Stellasis had
lately received.

An Indian-going steamer is rather like a big box of toys.  She goes
bumping down Channel, rolling through the Bay, and, by the time that
Gibraltar is left behind, she has shaken her passengers into their
places.

Norah Hood shook down very quietly into the neighbourhood of Mrs.
Stellasis, who liked her and began to understand her.  Mrs.
Stellasis--a good woman and a mother--pitied Norah Hood with an
increasing pity; for as the quiet Mediterranean days wore to a close
she had established without doubt the fact that the engagement to
the old playmate was a sordid contract entered into in all innocence
by a girl worthy of a better fate.  But Mrs. Stellasis hoped for the
best.  She thought of the "specimen" slumbering in a berth six sizes
too large for it, and reflected that Norah Hood might snatch
considerable happiness out of the contract after all.

"Do you know anything of the old playmate?" Mrs. Stellasis asked Dr.
Ruthine suddenly one afternoon in the Red Sea.

Mark Ruthine looked into the pleasant face and saw a back to the
question--many backs, extending away into a perspective of feminine
speculation.

"No," he answered slowly.

They lapsed into a little silence.  And then they both looked up,
and saw Norah Hood walking slowly backwards and forwards with Manly
Fenn of the Guides.

After all, it was only natural that these two young persons should
drift together.  They were both so "quiet and stupid."  Neither had
much to say to the world, and they both alike heard what the world
had to say with that somewhat judicial calm which knocks down feeble
wit.

There was no sparkle about either of them, and the world is given to
preferring bad champagne to good burgundy because of the sparkle.
The world therefore left Manly Fenn alone; and Manly Fenn, well
pleased, went about his own business.  It has been decreed that men
who go about their own business very carefully find that it is a
larger affair than they at first took it to be.  Manly Fenn had
never been aware until quite lately that these things which he took
to be his own affairs were in reality the business of an Empire.
The Empire found it out before Manly Fenn--found it out, indeed,
when its faithful servant was hiring himself out as assistant-
herdsman to a large farmer on the Beloochistan frontier.

And Major Fenn had to buy a new uniform, had to interview many high-
placed persons, and had, finally, to present himself before his
Gracious Sovereign, who hooked a little cross into the padding of
his tunic--all of which matters were extremely disagreeable to Manly
Fenn.

Finally, the devil--as the captain bluffly affirmed--brought it to
pass that he, Manly Fenn, should take passage in the Mahanaddy on
the voyage of which we have to do.

It was very sudden, and many thorough things are so.  It happened
somewhere in the Red Sea, and Mrs. Stellasis was probably the first
to sniff danger in the breeze.  That was why she asked Mark Ruthine
if he knew anything about the old playmate to whom Norah Hood was
engaged.  That was why Mark Ruthine looked for the back of the
question; for he was almost as expert as a woman among the
humanities.

Somewhere between Ismailia and the Gate of Tears, Love came on board
the Mahanaddy--a sorry pilot--and took charge of Manly Fenn and the
girl who was going out to marry her old playmate.

It was a serious matter from the first--like a fever that takes a
man of middle age who has never been ill before.

There was a consultation of the authorities--Mrs Stellasis, namely,
and the captain, and Mark Ruthine.

The captain disgraced himself early in the proceedings.

"Perhaps it is only a flirtation," he said.

Whereupon Mrs. Stellasis laughed scornfully, and the mariner
collapsed.  Moreover, the consultation resulted in nothing, although
Stellasis himself joined it, looking grave and thoughtful behind his
great grey moustache.

"Known Manly Fenn for ten years," he said; "but I am afraid of him
still.  I cannot speak to him.  Can you not say something to the
girl?"

But Mrs. Stellasis shook her head with determination.  That was the
worst of it--they were not the sort of persons to whom one can say
such things.  The captain was technically responsible, but he had
proved himself utterly incompetent.  "No," said Mrs. Stellasis
finally.  There was nothing to be done but hope for the best.  Of
course, Mrs. Stellasis was without conscience--quite without
justice.  It is to be feared that nearly all women are.  She was all
for Manly Fenn and dead against the old playmate, whom she
intuitively described as "that stupid."

In the mean time all the ship knew it.  In some ways the two
culprits were singularly innocent.  It is possible that they did not
know that the world is never content unless it is elbow-deep in its
neighbour's pie--that their affairs were the talk of the Mahanaddy.
It is also possible that they knew and did not care.

The good steamer pounded out of the Gate of Tears and struck a bee-
line across the Arabian Sea.  The passengers settled down to await
the sequel which would be delivered to them at Madras.

Norah Hood and Fenn were together from morning till night.  They
seemed to ignore the sequel, which made it all the more exciting for
the lookers-on.  Norah still saw a good deal of Mrs. Stellasis.  She
still took a great interest in the "specimen," whose small ailments
received her careful attention.  With Mark Ruthine she was almost
familiar, in her quiet way.  She came to his little surgery to get
such minute potions as the "specimen" might require.  She even got
to know the bottles, and mixed the drugs herself while he laughingly
watched her.  She had dispensed for a village population at home,
and knew a little medicine.

Ruthine encouraged her to come, gave her the freedom of his medicine
chests, and all the while he watched her.  She interested him.
There were so many things which he could not reconcile.

In some ways she was quite a different woman.  This love which had
come to her suddenly--rather late in her life--had made a strange
being of her.  She was still gentle, and rather prim and quite self-
possessed.  She looked Ruthine in the face, and knew that he knew
all about her; but she was not in the least discomposed.  She was
astonishingly daring.  She defied him and the whole world--gently.

The little Dutch lighthouse at Galle was duly sighted, and the
Mahanaddy was in the Bay of Bengal.  The last dinner was duly
consumed, and the usual speech made by the usual self-assertive old
civilian.  And, for the last time, the Mahanaddy passengers said
good night to each other, seeking their cabins with a pleasant sense
of anticipation.  The next day would bring the sequel.

A stewardess awoke Mark Ruthine up before it was light.  He followed
the woman to number seventy-seven cabin.  There he found Norah Hood,
dressed, lying quietly on her berth--dead.

A bottle--one of his bottles from the medicine-chest--stood on the
table beside her.



A PARIAH



     "I have heard that there is corn in Egypt."

Slyne's Chare is in South Shields, and Mason's Chop House stands at
the lower corner of Slyne's Chare--Mason's Chop House, where
generations of honest Tyneside sailors have consumed pounds of
honest mutton and beef, and onions therewith.  For your true salt
loves an onion ashore, which makes him a pleasanter companion at
sea.  Mason's Chop House is a low-roofed, red-tiled, tarred cottage
with a balcony--a "balcohny" overhanging the river.  It is quite
evident that the "balcohny" was originally built, and has
subsequently been kept in repair, by ships' carpenters.  It is so
glaringly ship-shape, so redolent of tar, so ridiculously strong.

The keen fresh breeze--and there is nothing keener, fresher,
stronger, and wholesomer in the world than that which comes roaring
up between the two piers of the Tyne--this breeze blows right
through Mason's, and blows the fume of cooking out into Slyne's
Chare.

It is evening--tea-time--and the day's work is almost done; for
Mason's does little in suppers.  A bullet-headed boy is rubbing
pewter pots at the door.  Mrs. Mason, comfortably somnolent at the
entrance of the little kitchen, watches her daughter--comely, grave-
faced Annie Mason--"our Annie," as she is called, who is already
folding the table-cloths.  A few belated customers linger in the
partitioned loose-boxes which lend a certain small privacy to the
tables, and often save a fight.  They are talking in gruff, North-
country voices, which are never harsh.

A man comes in, after a moment's awkward pause at the open door, and
seeks a secluded seat where the gas overhead hardly affords
illumination.  He is a broad-built man--a Tynesider; not so very big
for South Shields; a matter of six feet one, perhaps.  He carries a
blue spotted handkerchief against his left cheek, and the boy with
the pewter pots stares eagerly at the other.  A boy of poor tact
this; for the customer's right cheek is horribly disfigured.  It is
all bruised and battered in from the curve of a square jaw to the
cheek-bone, which is broken.  But the eye is intact; a shrewd, keen
eye, accustomed to the penetration of a Northern mist--accustomed to
a close scrutiny of men's faces.  It is painfully obvious that this
sailor--for gait and clothes and manner set aside all other crafts--
is horribly conscious of his deformity.

"Got the toothache?" inquires the tactless youth.

The new-comer replies in the negative and orders a cup of tea and a
herring.  It is Annie who brings the simple meal and sets it down
without looking at the man.

"Thanks," he growls in his brown beard, and the woman pauses
suddenly.  She listens, as if hearing some distant sound.  Then she
slowly turns--for she has gone a step or two from the table--and
makes a pretence of setting the salt and pepper closer to him.

Three ships had come up with the afternoon tide--a coaster, a
Norwegian barque in ballast, and a full-rigged ship with nitrate
from the West Coast of South America.

"Just ashore?" inquired Annie--economical with her words, as they
mostly are round the Northern river.

"Ay!"

"From the West Coast?"

"Ay," grumbles the man.  He holds the handkerchief to his cheek, and
turns the herring tentatively with a fork.

"You'll find it's a good enough fish," says the woman, bluntly.  Her
two hands are pressed to her comely bosom in a singular way.

"Ay!" says the man again, as if he had no other word.

The clock strikes six, and the boy, more mindful of his own tea than
his neighbour's ailments, slips on his jacket and goes home.  The
last customers dawdle out with a grunt intended for a salutation.
Mrs. Mason is softly heard to snore.  And all the while Annie Mason-
-all the colour vanished from her wholesome face--stands with her
hands clutching her dress, gazing down at the man, who still
examines the herring with a self-conscious awkwardness.

"Geordie!" she says.  They are all called Geordie in South Shields.

"Ay, lass!" he answers, shamefacedly.

Annie Mason sits down suddenly--opposite to him.  He does not look
up but remains, his face half hidden by the spotted blue
handkerchief, a picture of self-conscious guilt and shame.

"What did ye did it for, Geordie?" she asks, breathlessly.  "Eleven
years, come March--oh, it was cruel!"

"What did I do it for?" he repeats.  "What did I do it for?  Why,
lass, can't ye see my face?"

He drops the handkerchief, and holds up his poor scarred
countenance.  He does not look at her, but away past her with the
pathetic shame of a maimed dog.  The cheek thus suddenly exposed to
view is whole and brown and healthy.  Beneath the mahogany-coloured
skin there is a glow singularly suggestive of a blush.

"Ay, I see your face," she answers, with a note of tenderness for
the poor scarred cheek.  "I hope you haven't been at the drink."

He shakes his head with a little sad smile that twists up his one-
sided mouth.

"Is it because you wanted to get shot of me?" asks the woman, with a
sort of breathlessness.  She has large grey-blue eyes with a look of
constant waiting in them--a habit of looking up at the open door at
the sound of every footstep.

"D---n it, Annie.  Could I come back to you with a face like this;
and you the prettiest lass on the Tyneside?"

She is fumbling with her apron string.  There is a half-coquettish
bend of her head--with the grey hairs already at the temple--
awakened perhaps by some far-off echo in his passionate voice.  She
looks up slowly, and does not answer his question.

"Tell us," she says slowly.  "Tell us where ye've been."

"Been?--oh, I don't know, lass!  I don't rightly remember.  Not that
it matters.  Up the West Coast, trading backwards and forwards.
I've got my master's certificate now.  Serving first mate on board
the Mallard to Falmouth for orders, and they ordered us to the Tyne.
I brought her round--I knew the way.  I thought you'd be married,
lass.  But maybe ye are?"

"Maybe I'm daft," puts in Annie coolly.

"I greatly feared," the man goes on with the slow self-consciousness
of one unaccustomed to talk of himself.  "I greatly feared I'd meet
up with a bairn of yours playing in the doorway.  Losh! I could not
have stood THAT!  But that's why I stayed away, Annie, lass!  So
that you might marry a man with a face on him.  I thought you would
not know me if I held up my handkerchief over my other cheek!"

There is a strange gleam in the woman's eyes--a gleam that one or
two of the old masters have succeeded in catching and imparting to
the face of their Madonnas, but only one or two.

"How did you come by your hurt?" she asks in her low voice.

"Board the old Walleroo going out.  You mind the old ship?  We had a
fire in the hold, and the skipper he would go down alone to locate
it before we cut a hole in the deck and shipped the hose in.  The
old man did not come up again.  Ye mind him.  Old Rutherford of
Jarrow.  And I went down and looked for him.  It was a hell of smoke
and fire, and something in the cargo stinking like--like hell fire
as it burnt.  I got a hold of the old man, and was fetching him out
on my hands and knees, when something busts up and sends us all
through the deck.  I had three months in Valparaiso hospital; but I
saved old Jack Rutherford of Jarrow.  And when I got up and looked
at my face I saw that it was not in the nature of things that I
could ever ask a lass to have me.  So I just stayed away and made
believe that--that I had changed my mind."

The man pauses.  He is not glib of speech, though quick enough at
sea.  As he takes up the little teapot and shakes it roundwise,
after the manner of the galley, his great brown hand shakes too.

"I would not have come back here," he goes on after a silence; "but
the Mallard was ordered to the Tyne.  And a chap must do his duty by
his shipmates and his owners.  And I thought it would be safe--after
eleven years.  When I saw the old place and smelt the smell of the
old woman's frying-pan, I could not get past the door.  But I hung
around, looking to make sure there were no bairns playing on the
floor.  I have only come in, lass, to pass the time of day and to
tell you ye're a free woman."

He is not looking at her.  He seems to find that difficult.  So he
does not see the queer little smile--rather sadder, in itself, than
tears.

"And you stayed away eleven years--because o' THAT?" says the woman,
slowly.

"Ay, you know, lass, I'm no great hand at the preaching and Bibles
and the like; but it seems pretty clear that them who's working
things did not think it fit that we should marry.  And so it was
sent.  I got to think it so in time--least, I think it's that
sometimes.  And no woman would like to say, 'That's my man--him with
only half a face.'  So I just stayed away."

"All for that?" asks the woman, her face, which is still, pretty and
round and rosy, working convulsively.

"Ay, lass."

"Then, honey," she cries softly, "you dinna understand us women!"



THE PRODIGAL'S RETURN



"Yes, mother, he will come.  Of course he will come!"  And the girl
turned her drawn and anxious young face towards the cottage door,
just as if her blind mother could see the action.

It is probable that the old woman divined the longing glance from
the change in the girl's tone, for she, too, half turned towards the
door.  It was a habit these two women had acquired.  They constantly
looked towards the door for the arrival of one who never came
through the long summer days, through the quiet winter evenings;
moreover, they rarely spoke of other things, this arrival was the
topic of their lives.  And now the old woman's life was drawing to a
close, as some lives do, without its object.  She herself felt it,
and her daughter knew it.

There was in both of them a subtle sense of clinging.  It was hard
to die without touching the reward of a wondrous patience.  It was
cruel to deprive the girl of this burden, for in most burdens there
is a safeguard, in all a duty, and in some the greatest happiness
allotted to human existence.

It was no new thing, this waiting for the scapegrace son; the girl
had grown up to it, for she would not know her brother should she
meet him in the street.  Since sight had left the old mother's eyes,
she had fed her heart upon this hope.

He had left them eighteen years before in a fit of passionate
resentment against his father, whose only fault had been too great
an indulgence for the son of his old age.  Nothing had been too good
for dear Stephen--hardly anything had been good enough.  Educated at
a charity school himself, the simple old clergyman held the mistaken
view that no man can be educated above his station.

There are some people who hold this view still, but they cannot do
so much longer.  Strikes, labour troubles, and the difficulties of
domestic service, so called gentleman farmers, gentleman shopkeepers
and lady milliners--above all, a few colonies peopled by University
failures, will teach us in time that to educate our sons above their
station is to handicap them cruelly in the race of life.

Stephen Leach was one of the early victims to this craze.  His
father, having risen by the force of his own will and the
capabilities of his own mind from the People to the Church, held, as
such men do, that he had only to give his son a good education to
ensure his career in life.  So everything--even to the old parson's
sense of right and wrong--was sacrificed to the education of Stephen
Leach at public school and University.  Here he met and selected for
his friends youths whose futures were ensured, and who were only
passing through the formula of an education so that no one could say
they were unfit for the snug Government appointment, living, or
inheritance of a more substantial sort, that might be waiting for
them.  Stephen acquired their ways of life without possessing their
advantages, and the consequence was something very nearly
approaching to ruin for the little country rectory.  Not having been
a University man himself, the rector did not know that at Oxford or
Cambridge, as in the army, one may live according to one's taste.
Stephen Leach had expensive tastes, and he unscrupulously traded on
his father's ignorance.  He was good-looking, and had a certain
brilliancy of manner which "goes down" well at the 'Varsity.
Everything was against him, and at last the end came.  At last the
rector's eyes were opened, and when a narrow-minded man's eyes are
once opened he usually becomes stony at heart.

Stephen Leach left England, and before he landed in America his
father had departed on a longer journey.  The ne'er-do-well had the
good grace to send back the little sums of money saved by his mother
in her widowhood, and gradually his letters ceased.  It was known
that he was in Chili, and there was war going on there, and yet the
good old lady's faith never wavered.

"He will come, Joyce," she would say; "he will surely come."

And somehow it came to be an understood thing that he was to come in
the afternoon when they were all ready for him--when Joyce had clad
her pretty young form in a dark dress, and when the old lady was up
and seated in her chair by the fire in winter, by the door in
summer.  They had never imagined his arrival at another time.  It
would not be quite the same should he make a mistake and come in the
morning, before Joyce had got the house put right.

Yet, he never came.  A greater infirmity came instead, and at last
Joyce suggested that her mother should not get up in bad weather.
They both knew what this meant, but the episode passed as others do,
and Mrs. Leach was bedridden.  Still she said -

"He will come, Joyce!  He will surely come."

And the girl would go to the window and draw aside the curtain,
looking down the quiet country road towards the village.

"Yes, mother, he will come!" was her usual answer; and one day she
gave a little exclamation of surprise and almost of fear.

"Mother," she exclaimed, "there is some one coming along the road."

The old lady was already sitting up in bed, staring with her
sightless orbs towards the window.

Thus they waited.  The man stopped opposite the cottage, and the two
women heard the latch of the gate.  Then Joyce, turning, saw that
her mother had fainted.  But it was only momentary.  By the time she
reached the bed her mother had recovered consciousness.

"Go," said the old lady, breathlessly; "go and let him in yourself."

Downstairs, on the doorstep, the girl found a tall man of thirty or
thereabouts with a browner face than English suns could account for.
He looked down into her eager eyes with a strange questioning
wonder.

"Am I too late?" he asked in a voice which almost seemed to indicate
a hope that it might be so.

"No, Stephen," she answered.  "But mother cannot live much longer.
You are just in time."

The young man made a hesitating little movement with his right hand
and shuffled uneasily on the clean stone step.  He was like an actor
called suddenly upon the stage having no knowledge of his part.  The
return of this prodigal was not a dramatic success.  No one seemed
desirous of learning whether he had lived upon husks or otherwise
and with whom he had eaten.  The quiet dignity of the girl, who had
remained behind to do all the work and bear all the burden seemed in
some subtle manner to deprive him of any romance that might have
attached itself to him.  She ignored his half-proffered hand, and
turning into the little passage, led the way upstairs.

Stephen Leach followed silently.  He was rather large for the house,
and especially for the stairs; moreover, he had a certain burliness
of walk, such as is acquired by men living constantly in the open.
There was a vaguely-pained look in his blue eyes, as if they had
suddenly been opened to his own shortcomings.  His attitude towards
Joyce was distinctly apologetic.

When he followed the girl across the threshold of their mother's
bedroom the old lady was sitting up in bed, holding out trembling
arms towards the door.

Here Stephen Leach seemed to know better what to do.  He held his
mother in his arms while she sobbed and murmured out her joy.  He
had no words, but his arms meant more than his lips could ever have
told.

It would seem that the best part of happiness is the sharing of it
with some one else.

"Joyce," was the first distinct word the old lady spoke, "Joyce, he
has come at last.  He has come!  Come here, dear.  Kiss your
brother.  This is my firstborn--my little Steve."

The young man had sunk upon his knees at the bedside, probably
because it was the most convenient position.  He did not second his
mother's proposal with much enthusiasm.  Altogether he did not seem
to have discovered much sympathy with the sister whom he had left in
her cradle.

Joyce came forward and leaned over the bed to kiss her brother while
the old lady's hands joined theirs.  Just as her fresh young lips
came within reach he turned his face aside, so that the kiss fell on
barren ground on his tanned cheek.

"Joyce," continued the old lady, feverishly, "I am not afraid to die
now, for Stephen is here.  Your brother will take care of you, dear,
when I am gone."

It was strange that Stephen had not spoken yet; and it was perhaps
just as well, because there are occasions in life when men do wisely
to keep silent.

"He is strong," the proud mother went on.  "I can feel it.  His
hands are large and steady and quiet, and his arms are big and very
hard."

The young man knelt upright and submitted gravely to this maternal
inventory.

"Yes," she said, "I knew he would grow to be a big man.  His little
fingers were so strong--he hurt me sometimes.  What a great
moustache!  I knew you had been a soldier.  And the skin of your
face is brown and a little rough.  What is this? what is this,
Stephen dear?  Is this a wound?"

"Yes," answered the Prodigal, speaking for the first time.  "That is
a sword cut.  I got that in the last war.  I am a colonel in the
Chilian army, or was, before I resigned."

The old lady's sightless eyes were fixed on his face, as if
listening for the echo of another voice in his deep quiet tones.

"Your voice is deeper than your father's ever was," she said; and
all the while her trembling fingers moved lovingly over his face,
touching the deep cut from cheek-bone to jaw with soft inquiry.
"This must have been very near your eye, Stephen.  Promise me, dear,
no more soldiering."

"I promise that," he replied, without raising his eyes.

Such was the home-coming of the Prodigal.  After all, he arrived at
the right moment in the afternoon, when the house was ready.  It
sometimes does happen so in real life, and not only in books.  There
is a great deal that might be altered in this world, but sometimes,
by a mere chance, things come about rightly.  And yet there was
something wrong, something subtle, which the dying woman's duller
senses failed to detect.  Her son, her Stephen, was quiet, and had
not much to say for himself.  He apparently had the habit of taking
things as they came.  There was no enthusiasm, but rather a
restraint in his manner, more especially towards Joyce.

The girl noticed it, but even her small experience of human kind had
taught her that large, fair-skinned men are often thus.  They are
not "de ceux qui s'expliquent," but go through life placidly,
leaving unsaid and undone many things which some think they ought to
say and do.

After the first excitement of the return was over it became
glaringly apparent that Stephen had arrived just in time.  His
mother fell into a happy sleep before sunset; and when the active
young doctor came a little later in the evening he shook his head.

"Yes," he said, "I see that she is asleep and quiet--too quiet.  It
is a foretaste of a longer sleep; some old people have it."

For the first time Joyce's courage seemed to give way.  When she had
been alone she was brave enough, but now that her brother was there,
woman-like, she seemed to turn to him with a sudden fear.  They
stood side by side near the bed; and the young doctor involuntarily
watched them.  Stephen had taken her hand in his with that silent
sympathy which was so natural and so eloquent.  He said nothing,
this big, sun-tanned youth; he did not even glance down at his
sister, who stood small, soft-eyed, and gentle at his side.

The doctor knew something of the history of the small family thus
momentarily united, and he had always feared that if Stephen Leach
did return it would only kill his mother.  This, indeed, seemed to
be the result about to follow.

Presently the doctor took his leave.  He was a young man engaged in
getting together a good practice, and in his own interest he had
been forced to give up waiting for his patients to finish dying.

"I am glad you are here," he said to Stephen, who accompanied him to
the door.  "It would not do for your sister to be alone; this may go
on for a couple of days."

It did not go on for a couple of days, but Mrs. Leach lived through
that night in the same semi-comatose state.  The two watchers sat in
her room until supper-time, when they left their mother in charge of
a hired nurse, whose services Joyce had been forced to seek.

After supper Stephen Leach seemed at last to find his tongue, and he
talked in his quiet, almost gentle voice, such as some big men
possess, not about himself or the past, but about Joyce and the
future.  In a deliberate business-like way, he proceeded to
investigate the affairs of the dying woman and the prospects of her
daughter; in a word, he asserted his authority as a brother, and
Joyce was relieved and happy to obey him.

It is not in times of gaiety that friendships are formed, but in
sorrow or suspense.  During that long evening this brother and
sister suddenly became intimate, more so than months of prosperous
intercourse could have made them.  At ten o'clock Stephen quietly
insisted that Joyce should go to bed while he lay down, all dressed,
on the sofa in the dining-room.

"I shall sleep perfectly; it is not the first time I have slept in
my clothes," he said simply.

They went upstairs together and told the nurse of this arrangement.
Joyce remained for some moments by the bedside watching her mother's
peaceful sleep, and when she turned she found that Stephen had
quietly slipped away.  Wondering vaguely whether he had
intentionally solved her difficulty as to the fraternal good-night,
she went to her own room.

The next morning Mrs. Leach was fully conscious, and appeared to be
stronger; nevertheless, she knew that the end was near.  She called
her two children to her bedside, and, turning her blind eyes towards
them, spoke in broken sentences.

"I am ready now--I am ready," she said.  "Dears, I am going to your
father--and. . . thank God, I can tell him that I have left you
together.  I always knew Stephen would come back.  I found it
written everywhere in the Bible.  Stephen--kiss me, dear!"

The man leant over the bed and kissed her.

"Ah!" she sighed, "how I wish I could see you--just once before I
die.  Joyce!" she added, suddenly turning to her daughter, who stood
at the other side of the bed, "tell me what he is like.  But--I know
. . I KNOW--I feel it.  Listen!  He is tall and spare, like his
father.  His hair is black, like--like his father's--it was black
before he went away.  His eyes, I know, are dark--almost black.  He
is pale--like a Spaniard!" . . .

Joyce, looking across the bed with slow horror dawning in her face,
looked into a pair of blue eyes beneath tawny hair, cut short as a
soldier's hair should be.  She looked upon a man big, broad, fair--
English from crown to toe--and the quiet command of his lips and
eyes made her say -

"Yes, mother, yes."

For some moments there was silence.  Joyce stood pale and
breathless, wondering what this might mean.  Then the dying woman
spoke again.

"Kiss me," she said.  "I. . . am going.  Stephen first--my
firstborn!  And now, Joyce. . . and now kiss each other--across the
bed!  I want to hear it. . .  I want. . . to tell. . . your. . .
father."

With a last effort she raised her hands, seeking their heads.  At
first Joyce hesitated, then she leant forward, and the old woman's
chilled fingers pressed their lips together.  That was the end.

Half an hour afterwards Joyce and this man stood facing each other
in the little dining-room.  He began his explanation at once.

"Stephen," he said, "was shot--out there--as a traitor.  I could not
tell her that!  I did not mean to do this, but what else could I
do?"

He paused, moved towards the door with that same strange hesitation
which she had noticed on his arrival.  At the door he turned, to
justify himself.

"I still think," he said gravely, "that it was the best thing to
do."

Joyce made no answer.  The tears stood in her eyes.  There was
something very pathetic in the distress of this strong man, facing,
as it were, an emergency of which he felt the delicacy to be beyond
his cleverness to handle.

"Last night," he went on, "I made all the necessary arrangements for
your future just as Stephen would have made them--as a brother might
have done.  I. . . he and I were brother officers in a very wild
army.  Your brother--was not a good man.  None of us were."  His
hand was on the door.  "He asked me to come and tell you," he added.
"I shall go back now. . . ."

They stood thus:  he watching her face with his honest soft blue
eyes, she failing to meet his glance.

"May I come back again?" he asked suddenly.

She gave a little gasp, but made no answer.

"I will come back in six months," he announced quietly, and then he
closed the door behind him.





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