Tantissimi classici della letteratura e della cultura politica,
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Abbe Prevost - MANON LESCAUT
Alcott, Louisa M. - AN OLDFASHIONED GIRL
Alcott, Louisa M. - LITTLE MEN
Alcott, Louisa M. - LITTLE WOMEN
Alcott, Louisa May - JACK AND JILL
Alcott, Louisa May - LIFE LETTERS AND JOURNALS
Andersen, Hans Christian - FAIRY TALES
Anonimo - BEOWULF
Ariosto, Ludovico - ORLANDO ENRAGED
Aurelius, Marcus - MEDITATIONS
Austen, Jane - EMMA
Austen, Jane - MANSFIELD PARK
Austen, Jane - NORTHANGER ABBEY
Austen, Jane - PERSUASION
Austen, Jane - PRIDE AND PREJUDICE
Austen, Jane - SENSE AND SENSIBILITY
Authors, Various - LETTERS OF ABELARD AND HELOISE
Authors, Various - SELECTED ENGLISH LETTERS
Autori Vari - THE WORLD ENGLISH BIBLE
Bacon, Francis - THE ADVANCEMENT OF LEARNING
Balzac, Honore de - EUGENIE GRANDET
Balzac, Honore de - FATHER GORIOT
Baroness Orczy - THE SCARLET PIMPERNEL
Barrie, J. M. - PETER AND WENDY
Barrie, James M. - PETER PAN
Bierce, Ambrose - THE DEVIL'S DICTIONARY
Blake, William - SONGS OF INNOCENCE AND EXPERIENCE
Boccaccio, Giovanni - DECAMERONE
Brent, Linda - INCIDENTS IN THE LIFE OF A SLAVE GIRL
Bronte, Charlotte - JANE EYRE
Bronte, Charlotte - VILLETTE
Buchan, John - GREENMANTLE
Buchan, John - MR STANDFAST
Buchan, John - THE 39 STEPS
Bunyan, John - THE PILGRIM'S PROGRESS
Burckhardt, Jacob - THE CIVILIZATION OF THE RENAISSANCE IN ITALY
Burnett, Frances H. - A LITTLE PRINCESS
Burnett, Frances H. - LITTLE LORD FAUNTLEROY
Burnett, Frances H. - THE SECRET GARDEN
Butler, Samuel - EREWHON
Carlyle, Thomas - PAST AND PRESENT
Carlyle, Thomas - THE FRENCH REVOLUTION
Cellini, Benvenuto - AUTOBIOGRAPHY
Cervantes - DON QUIXOTE
Chaucer, Geoffrey - THE CANTERBURY TALES
Chesterton, G. K. - A SHORT HISTORY OF ENGLAND
Chesterton, G. K. - THE BALLAD OF THE WHITE HORSE
Chesterton, G. K. - THE INNOCENCE OF FATHER BROWN
Chesterton, G. K. - THE MAN WHO KNEW TOO MUCH
Chesterton, G. K. - THE MAN WHO WAS THURSDAY
Chesterton, G. K. - THE WISDOM OF FATHER BROWN
Chesterton, G. K. - TWELVE TYPES
Chesterton, G. K. - WHAT I SAW IN AMERICA
Chesterton, Gilbert K. - HERETICS
Chopin, Kate - AT FAULT
Chopin, Kate - BAYOU FOLK
Chopin, Kate - THE AWAKENING AND SELECTED SHORT STORIES
Clark Hall, John R. - A CONCISE ANGLOSAXON DICTIONARY
Clarkson, Thomas - AN ESSAY ON THE SLAVERY AND COMMERCE OF THE HUMAN SPECIES
Clausewitz, Carl von - ON WAR
Coleridge, Herbert - A DICTIONARY OF THE FIRST OR OLDEST WORDS IN THE ENGLISH
Coleridge, S. T. - COMPLETE POETICAL WORKS
Coleridge, S. T. - HINTS TOWARDS THE FORMATION OF A MORE COMPREHENSIVE THEORY
Coleridge, S. T. - THE RIME OF THE ANCIENT MARINER
Collins, Wilkie - THE MOONSTONE
Collodi - PINOCCHIO
Conan Doyle, Arthur - A STUDY IN SCARLET
Conan Doyle, Arthur - MEMOIRS OF SHERLOCK HOLMES
Conan Doyle, Arthur - THE HOUND OF THE BASKERVILLES
Conan Doyle, Arthur - THE RETURN OF SHERLOCK HOLMES
Conan Doyle, Arthur - THE SIGN OF THE FOUR
Conrad, Joseph - HEART OF DARKNESS
Conrad, Joseph - LORD JIM
Conrad, Joseph - NOSTROMO
Conrad, Joseph - THE NIGGER OF THE NARCISSUS
Conrad, Joseph - TYPHOON
Crane, Stephen - LAST WORDS
Crane, Stephen - MAGGIE
Crane, Stephen - THE RED BADGE OF COURAGE
Crane, Stephen - WOUNDS IN THE RAIN
Dante - THE DIVINE COMEDY: HELL
Dante - THE DIVINE COMEDY: PARADISE
Dante - THE DIVINE COMEDY: PURGATORY
Darwin, Charles - THE AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF CHARLES DARWIN
Darwin, Charles - THE ORIGIN OF SPECIES
Defoe, Daniel - A GENERAL HISTORY OF THE PYRATES
Defoe, Daniel - A JOURNAL OF THE PLAGUE YEAR
Defoe, Daniel - CAPTAIN SINGLETON
Defoe, Daniel - MOLL FLANDERS
Defoe, Daniel - ROBINSON CRUSOE
Defoe, Daniel - THE COMPLETE ENGLISH TRADESMAN
Defoe, Daniel - THE FURTHER ADVENTURES OF ROBINSON CRUSOE
Deledda, Grazia - AFTER THE DIVORCE
Dickens, Charles - A CHRISTMAS CAROL
Dickens, Charles - A TALE OF TWO CITIES
Dickens, Charles - BLEAK HOUSE
Dickens, Charles - DAVID COPPERFIELD
Dickens, Charles - DONBEY AND SON
Dickens, Charles - GREAT EXPECTATIONS
Dickens, Charles - HARD TIMES
Dickens, Charles - LETTERS VOLUME 1
Dickens, Charles - LITTLE DORRIT
Dickens, Charles - MARTIN CHUZZLEWIT
Dickens, Charles - NICHOLAS NICKLEBY
Dickens, Charles - OLIVER TWIST
Dickens, Charles - OUR MUTUAL FRIEND
Dickens, Charles - PICTURES FROM ITALY
Dickens, Charles - THE MYSTERY OF EDWIN DROOD
Dickens, Charles - THE OLD CURIOSITY SHOP
Dickens, Charles - THE PICKWICK PAPERS
Dickinson, Emily - POEMS
Dostoevsky, Fyodor - CRIME AND PUNISHMENT
Dostoyevsky, Fyodor - THE BROTHERS KARAMAZOV
Du Maurier, George - TRILBY
Dumas, Alexandre - THE COUNT OF MONTE CRISTO
Dumas, Alexandre - THE MAN IN THE IRON MASK
Dumas, Alexandre - THE THREE MUSKETEERS
Eliot, George - DANIEL DERONDA
Eliot, George - MIDDLEMARCH
Eliot, George - SILAS MARNER
Eliot, George - THE MILL ON THE FLOSS
Engels, Frederick - THE CONDITION OF THE WORKING-CLASS IN ENGLAND IN 1844
Equiano - AUTOBIOGRAPHY
Esopo - FABLES
Fenimore Cooper, James - THE LAST OF THE MOHICANS
Fielding, Henry - TOM JONES
France, Anatole - THAIS
France, Anatole - THE GODS ARE ATHIRST
France, Anatole - THE LIFE OF JOAN OF ARC
France, Anatole - THE SEVEN WIVES OF BLUEBEARD
Frank Baum, L. - THE PATCHWORK GIRL OF OZ
Frank Baum, L. - THE WONDERFUL WIZARD OF OZ
Franklin, Benjamin - AUTOBIOGRAPHY
Frazer, James George - THE GOLDEN BOUGH
Freud, Sigmund - DREAM PSYCHOLOGY
Galsworthy, John - COMPLETE PLAYS
Galsworthy, John - STRIFE
Galsworthy, John - STUDIES AND ESSAYS
Galsworthy, John - THE FIRST AND THE LAST
Galsworthy, John - THE FORSYTE SAGA
Galsworthy, John - THE LITTLE MAN
Galsworthy, John - THE SILVER BOX
Galsworthy, John - THE SKIN GAME
Gaskell, Elizabeth - CRANFORD
Gaskell, Elizabeth - MARY BARTON
Gaskell, Elizabeth - NORTH AND SOUTH
Gaskell, Elizabeth - THE LIFE OF CHARLOTTE BRONTE
Gay, John - THE BEGGAR'S OPERA
Gentile, Maria - THE ITALIAN COOK BOOK
Gilbert and Sullivan - PLAYS
Goethe - FAUST
Gogol - DEAD SOULS
Goldsmith, Oliver - SHE STOOPS TO CONQUER
Goldsmith, Oliver - THE VICAR OF WAKEFIELD
Grahame, Kenneth - THE WIND IN THE WILLOWS
Grimm, Brothers - FAIRY TALES
Harding, A. R. - GINSENG AND OTHER MEDICINAL PLANTS
Hardy, Thomas - A CHANGED MAN AND OTHER TALES
Hardy, Thomas - FAR FROM THE MADDING CROWD
Hardy, Thomas - JUDE THE OBSCURE
Hardy, Thomas - TESS OF THE D'URBERVILLES
Hardy, Thomas - THE MAYOR OF CASTERBRIDGE
Hartley, Cecil B. - THE GENTLEMEN'S BOOK OF ETIQUETTE
Hawthorne, Nathaniel - LITTLE MASTERPIECES
Hawthorne, Nathaniel - THE SCARLET LETTER
Henry VIII - LOVE LETTERS TO ANNE BOLEYN
Henry, O. - CABBAGES AND KINGS
Henry, O. - SIXES AND SEVENS
Henry, O. - THE FOUR MILLION
Henry, O. - THE TRIMMED LAMP
Henry, O. - WHIRLIGIGS
Hindman Miller, Gustavus - TEN THOUSAND DREAMS INTERPRETED
Hobbes, Thomas - LEVIATHAN
Homer - THE ILIAD
Homer - THE ODYSSEY
Hornaday, William T. - THE EXTERMINATION OF THE AMERICAN BISON
Hume, David - A TREATISE OF HUMAN NATURE
Hume, David - AN ENQUIRY CONCERNING HUMAN UNDERSTANDING
Hume, David - DIALOGUES CONCERNING NATURAL RELIGION
Ibsen, Henrik - A DOLL'S HOUSE
Ibsen, Henrik - AN ENEMY OF THE PEOPLE
Ibsen, Henrik - GHOSTS
Ibsen, Henrik - HEDDA GABLER
Ibsen, Henrik - JOHN GABRIEL BORKMAN
Ibsen, Henrik - ROSMERHOLM
Ibsen, Henrik - THE LADY FROM THE SEA
Ibsen, Henrik - THE MASTER BUILDER
Ibsen, Henrik - WHEN WE DEAD AWAKEN
Irving, Washington - THE LEGEND OF SLEEPY HOLLOW
James, Henry - ITALIAN HOURS
James, Henry - THE ASPERN PAPERS
James, Henry - THE BOSTONIANS
James, Henry - THE PORTRAIT OF A LADY
James, Henry - THE TURN OF THE SCREW
James, Henry - WASHINGTON SQUARE
Jerome, Jerome K. - THREE MEN IN A BOAT
Jerome, Jerome K. - THREE MEN ON THE BUMMEL
Jevons, Stanley - POLITICAL ECONOMY
Johnson, Samuel - A GRAMMAR OF THE ENGLISH TONGUE
Jonson, Ben - THE ALCHEMIST
Jonson, Ben - VOLPONE
Joyce, James - A PORTRAIT OF THE ARTIST AS A YOUNG MAN
Joyce, James - CHAMBER MUSIC
Joyce, James - DUBLINERS
Joyce, James - ULYSSES
Keats, John - ENDYMION
Keats, John - POEMS PUBLISHED IN 1817
Keats, John - POEMS PUBLISHED IN 1820
King James - THE BIBLE
Kipling, Rudyard - CAPTAINS COURAGEOUS
Kipling, Rudyard - INDIAN TALES
Kipling, Rudyard - JUST SO STORIES
Kipling, Rudyard - KIM
Kipling, Rudyard - THE JUNGLE BOOK
Kipling, Rudyard - THE MAN WHO WOULD BE KING
Kipling, Rudyard - THE SECOND JUNGLE BOOK
Lawrence, D. H - THE RAINBOW
Lawrence, D. H - THE WHITE PEACOCK
Lawrence, D. H - TWILIGHT IN ITALY
Lawrence, D. H. - AARON'S ROD
Lawrence, D. H. - SONS AND LOVERS
Lawrence, D. H. - THE LOST GIRL
Lawrence, D. H. - WOMEN IN LOVE
Lear, Edward - BOOK OF NONSENSE
Lear, Edward - LAUGHABLE LYRICS
Lear, Edward - MORE NONSENSE
Lear, Edward - NONSENSE SONG
Leblanc, Maurice - ARSENE LUPIN VS SHERLOCK HOLMES
Leblanc, Maurice - THE ADVENTURES OF ARSENE LUPIN
Leblanc, Maurice - THE CONFESSIONS OF ARSENE LUPIN
Leblanc, Maurice - THE HOLLOW NEEDLE
Leblanc, Maurice - THE RETURN OF ARSENE LUPIN
Lehmann, Lilli - HOW TO SING
Leroux, Gaston - THE MAN WITH THE BLACK FEATHER
Leroux, Gaston - THE MYSTERY OF THE YELLOW ROOM
Leroux, Gaston - THE PHANTOM OF THE OPERA
London, Jack - MARTIN EDEN
London, Jack - THE CALL OF THE WILD
London, Jack - WHITE FANG
Machiavelli, Nicolo' - THE PRINCE
Malthus, Thomas - PRINCIPLE OF POPULATION
Mansfield, Katherine - THE GARDEN PARTY AND OTHER STORIES
Marlowe, Christopher - THE JEW OF MALTA
Marryat, Captain - THE CHILDREN OF THE NEW FOREST
Maupassant, Guy De - BEL AMI
Melville, Hermann - MOBY DICK
Melville, Hermann - TYPEE
Mill, John Stuart - PRINCIPLES OF POLITICAL ECONOMY
Milton, John - PARADISE LOST
Mitra, S. M. - HINDU TALES FROM THE SANSKRIT
Montaigne, Michel de - ESSAYS
Montgomery, Lucy Maud - ANNE OF GREEN GABLES
More, Thomas - UTOPIA
Nesbit, E. - FIVE CHILDREN AND IT
Nesbit, E. - THE PHOENIX AND THE CARPET
Nesbit, E. - THE RAILWAY CHILDREN
Nesbit, E. - THE STORY OF THE AMULET
Newton, Isaac - OPTICKS
Nietsche, Friedrich - BEYOND GOOD AND EVIL
Nietsche, Friedrich - THUS SPAKE ZARATHUSTRA
Nightingale, Florence - NOTES ON NURSING
Owen, Wilfred - POEMS
Ozaki, Yei Theodora - JAPANESE FAIRY TALES
Pascal, Blaise - PENSEES
Pellico, Silvio - MY TEN YEARS IMPRISONMENT
Perrault, Charles - FAIRY TALES
Pirandello, Luigi - THREE PLAYS
Plato - THE REPUBLIC
Poe, Edgar Allan - THE COMPLETE POETICAL WORKS 1
Poe, Edgar Allan - THE COMPLETE POETICAL WORKS 2
Poe, Edgar Allan - THE COMPLETE POETICAL WORKS 3
Poe, Edgar Allan - THE COMPLETE POETICAL WORKS 4
Poe, Edgar Allan - THE COMPLETE POETICAL WORKS 5
Poe, Edgar Allan - THE FALL OF THE HOUSE OF USHER
Potter, Beatrix - THE TALE OF PETER RABBIT
Proust, Marcel - SWANN'S WAY
Radcliffe, Ann - A SICILIAN ROMANCE
Ricardo, David - ON THE PRINCIPLES OF POLITICAL ECONOMY AND TAXATION
Richardson, Samuel - PAMELA
Rider Haggard, H. - ALLAN QUATERMAIN
Rider Haggard, H. - KING SOLOMON'S MINES
Rousseau, J. J. - THE ORIGIN AND FOUNDATION OF INEQUALITY AMONG MANKIND
Ruskin, John - THE SEVEN LAMPS OF ARCHITECTURE
Schiller, Friedrich - THE DEATH OF WALLENSTEIN
Schiller, Friedrich - THE PICCOLOMINI
Schopenhauer, Arthur - THE ART OF CONTROVERSY
Schopenhauer, Arthur - THE WISDOM OF LIFE
Scott Fitzgerald, F. - FLAPPERS AND PHILOSOPHERS
Scott Fitzgerald, F. - TALES OF THE JAZZ AGE
Scott Fitzgerald, F. - THE BEAUTIFUL AND DAMNED
Scott Fitzgerald, F. - THIS SIDE OF PARADISE
Scott, Walter - IVANHOE
Scott, Walter - QUENTIN DURWARD
Scott, Walter - ROB ROY
Scott, Walter - THE BRIDE OF LAMMERMOOR
Scott, Walter - WAVERLEY
Sedgwick, Anne Douglas - THE THIRD WINDOW
Sewell, Anna - BLACK BEAUTY
Shakespeare, William - COMPLETE WORKS
Shakespeare, William - HAMLET
Shakespeare, William - OTHELLO
Shakespeare, William - ROMEO AND JULIET
Shelley, Mary - FRANKENSTEIN
Shelley, Percy Bysshe - A DEFENCE OF POETRY AND OTHER ESSAYS
Shelley, Percy Bysshe - COMPLETE POETICAL WORKS
Sheridan, Richard B. - THE SCHOOL FOR SCANDAL
Sienkiewicz, Henryk - QUO VADIS
Smith, Adam - THE WEALTH OF NATIONS
Smollett, Tobias - TRAVELS THROUGH FRANCE AND ITALY
Spencer, Herbert - ESSAYS ON EDUCATION AND KINDRED SUBJECTS
Spyri, Johanna - HEIDI
Sterne, Laurence - A SENTIMENTAL JOURNEY
Sterne, Laurence - TRISTRAM SHANDY
Stevenson, Robert Louis - A CHILD'S GARDEN OF VERSES
Stevenson, Robert Louis - ESSAYS IN THE ART OF WRITING
Stevenson, Robert Louis - KIDNAPPED
Stevenson, Robert Louis - NEW ARABIAN NIGHTS
Stevenson, Robert Louis - THE BLACK ARROW
Stevenson, Robert Louis - THE STRANGE CASE OF DR. JEKYLL AND MR. HYDE
Stevenson, Robert Louis - TREASURE ISLAND
Stoker, Bram - DRACULA
Strindberg, August - LUCKY PEHR
Strindberg, August - MASTER OLOF
Strindberg, August - THE RED ROOM
Strindberg, August - THE ROAD TO DAMASCUS
Strindberg, August - THERE ARE CRIMES AND CRIMES
Swift, Jonathan - A MODEST PROPOSAL
Swift, Jonathan - A TALE OF A TUB
Swift, Jonathan - GULLIVER'S TRAVELS
Swift, Jonathan - THE BATTLE OF THE BOOKS AND OTHER SHORT PIECES
Tagore, Rabindranath - FRUIT GATHERING
Tagore, Rabindranath - THE GARDENER
Tagore, Rabindranath - THE HUNGRY STONES AND OTHER STORIES
Thackeray, William - BARRY LYNDON
Thackeray, William - VANITY FAIR
Thackeray, William Makepeace - THE BOOK OF SNOBS
Thackeray, William Makepeace - THE ROSE AND THE RING
Thackeray, William Makepeace - THE VIRGINIANS
Thoreau, Henry David - WALDEN
Tolstoi, Leo - A LETTER TO A HINDU
Tolstoy, Lev - ANNA KARENINA
Tolstoy, Lev - WAR AND PEACE
Trollope, Anthony - AN AUTOBIOGRAPHY
Trollope, Anthony - BARCHESTER TOWERS
Trollope, Anthony - FRAMLEY PARSONAGE
Trollope, Anthony - THE EUSTACE DIAMONDS
Trollope, Anthony - THE MAN WHO KEPT HIS MONEY IN A BOX
Trollope, Anthony - THE WARDEN
Trollope, Anthony - THE WAY WE LIVE NOW
Twain, Mark - LIFE ON THE MISSISSIPPI
Twain, Mark - SPEECHES
Twain, Mark - THE ADVENTURES OF HUCKLEBERRY FINN
Twain, Mark - THE ADVENTURES OF TOM SAWYER
Twain, Mark - THE PRINCE AND THE PAUPER
Vari, Autori - THE MAGNA CARTA
Verga, Giovanni - SICILIAN STORIES
Verne, Jules - 20000 LEAGUES UNDER THE SEAS
Verne, Jules - A JOURNEY TO THE CENTRE OF THE EARTH
Verne, Jules - ALL AROUND THE MOON
Verne, Jules - AROUND THE WORLD IN 80 DAYS
Verne, Jules - FIVE WEEKS IN A BALLOON
Verne, Jules - FROM THE EARTH TO THE MOON
Verne, Jules - MICHAEL STROGOFF
Verne, Jules - THE MYSTERIOUS ISLAND
Voltaire - PHILOSOPHICAL DICTIONARY
Vyasa - MAHABHARATA
Wallace, Edgar - SANDERS OF THE RIVER
Wallace, Edgar - THE DAFFODIL MYSTERY
Wallace, Lew - BEN HUR
Webster, Jean - DADDY LONG LEGS
Wedekind, Franz - THE AWAKENING OF SPRING
Wells, H. G. - KIPPS
Wells, H. G. - THE INVISIBLE MAN
Wells, H. G. - THE ISLAND OF DOCTOR MOREAU
Wells, H. G. - THE STOLEN BACILLUS AND OTHER INCIDENTS
Wells, H. G. - THE TIME MACHINE
Wells, H. G. - THE WAR OF THE WORLDS
Wells, H. G. - WHAT IS COMING
Wharton, Edith - THE AGE OF INNOCENCE
White, Andrew Dickson - FIAT MONEY INFLATION IN FRANCE
Wilde, Oscar - A WOMAN OF NO IMPORTANCE
Wilde, Oscar - AN IDEAL HUSBAND
Wilde, Oscar - DE PROFUNDIS
Wilde, Oscar - LADY WINDERMERE'S FAN
Wilde, Oscar - SALOME
Wilde, Oscar - SELECTED POEMS
Wilde, Oscar - THE BALLAD OF READING GAOL
Wilde, Oscar - THE CANTERVILLE GHOST
Wilde, Oscar - THE HAPPY PRINCE AND OTHER TALES
Wilde, Oscar - THE IMPORTANCE OF BEING EARNEST
Wilde, Oscar - THE PICTURE OF DORIAN GREY
Wilde, Oscar - THE SOUL OF MAN
Wilson, Epiphanius - SACRED BOOKS OF THE EAST
Wollstonecraft, Mary - A VINDICATION OF THE RIGHTS OF WOMAN
Woolf, Virgina - NIGHT AND DAY
Woolf, Virgina - THE VOYAGE OUT
Woolf, Virginia - JACOB'S ROOM
Woolf, Virginia - MONDAY OR TUESDAY
Wordsworth, William - POEMS
Wordsworth, William - PROSE WORKS
Zola, Emile - THERESE RAQUIN
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ISTRUZIONI D'USO DETTAGLIATE
by O. HENRY
I. THE WORLD AND THE DOOR
II. THE THEORY AND THE HOUND
III. THE HYPOTHESES OF FAILURE
IV. CALLOWAY'S CODE
V. A MATTER OF MEAN ELEVATION
VII. SOCIOLOGY IN SERGE AND STRAW
VIII. THE RANSOM OF RED CHIEF
IX. THE MARRY MONTH OF MAY
X. A TECHNICAL ERROR
XI. SUITE HOMES AND THEIR ROMANCE
XII. THE WHIRLIGIG OF LIFE
XIII. A SACRIFICE HIT
XIV. THE ROADS WE TAKE
XV. A BLACKJACK BARGAINER
XVI. THE SONG AND THE SERGEANT
XVII. ONE DOLLAR'S WORTH
XVIII. A NEWSPAPER STORY
XIX. TOMMY'S BURGLAR
XX. A CHAPARRAL CHRISTMAS
XXI. A LITTLE LOCAL COLOUR
XXII. GEORGIA'S RULING
XXIII. BLIND MAN'S HOLIDAY
XXIV. MADAME BO-PEEP, OF THE RANCHES
THE WORLD AND THE DOOR
A favourite dodge to get your story read by the public is to assert
that it is true, and then add that Truth is stranger than Fiction.
I do not know if the yarn I am anxious for you to read is true; but
the Spanish purser of the fruit steamer "El Carrero" swore to me by
the shrine of Santa Guadalupe that he had the facts from the U. S.
vice-consul at La Paz--a person who could not possibly have been
cognizant of half of them.
As for the adage quoted above, I take pleasure in puncturing it by
affirming that I read in a purely fictional story the other day the
line: "'Be it so,' said the policeman." Nothing so strange has yet
cropped out in Truth.
When H. Ferguson Hedges, millionaire promoter, investor and
man-about-New-York, turned his thoughts upon matters convivial, and
word of it went "down the line," bouncers took a precautionary turn
at the Indian clubs, waiters put ironstone china on his favourite
tables, cab drivers crowded close to the curbstone in front of
all-night cafés, and careful cashiers in his regular haunts charged
up a few bottles to his account by way of preface and introduction.
As a money power a one-millionaire is of small account in a city where
the man who cuts your slice of beef behind the free-lunch counter
rides to work in his own automobile. But Hedges spent his money as
lavishly, loudly and showily as though he were only a clerk
squandering a week's wages. And, after all, the bartender takes no
interest in your reserve fund. He would rather look you up on his
cash register than in Bradstreet.
On the evening that the material allegation of facts begins, Hedges
was bidding dull care begone in the company of five or six good
fellows--acquaintances and friends who had gathered in his wake.
Among them were two younger men--Ralph Merriam, a broker, and Wade,
Two deep-sea cabmen were chartered. At Columbus Circle they hove
to long enough to revile the statue of the great navigator,
unpatriotically rebuking him for having voyaged in search of land
instead of liquids. Midnight overtook the party marooned in the rear
of a cheap café far uptown.
Hedges was arrogant, overriding and quarrelsome. He was burly and
tough, iron-gray but vigorous, "good" for the rest of the night. There
was a dispute--about nothing that matters--and the five-fingered words
were passed--the words that represent the glove cast into the lists.
Merriam played the rôle of the verbal Hotspur.
Hedges rose quickly, seized his chair, swung it once and smashed
wildly down at Merriam's head. Merriam dodged, drew a small revolver
and shot Hedges in the chest. The leading roysterer stumbled, fell in
a wry heap, and lay still.
Wade, a commuter, had formed that habit of promptness. He juggled
Merriam out a side door, walked him to the corner, ran him a block and
caught a hansom. They rode five minutes and then got out on a dark
corner and dismissed the cab. Across the street the lights of a small
saloon betrayed its hectic hospitality.
"Go in the back room of that saloon," said Wade, "and wait. I'll go
find out what's doing and let you know. You may take two drinks while
I am gone--no more."
At ten minutes to one o'clock Wade returned. "Brace up, old chap," he
said. "The ambulance got there just as I did. The doctor says he's
dead. You may have one more drink. You let me run this thing for
you. You've got to skip. I don't believe a chair is legally a deadly
weapon. You've got to make tracks, that's all there is to it."
Merriam complained of the cold querulously, and asked for another
drink. "Did you notice what big veins he had on the back of his
hands?" he said. "I never could stand--I never could--"
"Take one more," said Wade, "and then come on. I'll see you through."
Wade kept his promise so well that at eleven o'clock the next morning
Merriam, with a new suit case full of new clothes and hair-brushes,
stepped quietly on board a little 500-ton fruit steamer at an East
River pier. The vessel had brought the season's first cargo of limes
from Port Limon, and was homeward bound. Merriam had his bank balance
of $2,800 in his pocket in large bills, and brief instructions to pile
up as much water as he could between himself and New York. There was
no time for anything more.
From Port Limon Merriam worked down the coast by schooner and sloop to
Colon, thence across the isthmus to Panama, where he caught a tramp
bound for Callao and such intermediate ports as might tempt the
discursive skipper from his course.
It was at La Paz that Merriam decided to land--La Paz the Beautiful,
a little harbourless town smothered in a living green ribbon that
banded the foot of a cloud-piercing mountain. Here the little
steamer stopped to tread water while the captain's dory took him
ashore that he might feel the pulse of the cocoanut market. Merriam
went too, with his suit case, and remained.
Kalb, the vice-consul, a Græco-Armenian citizen of the United States,
born in Hessen-Darmstadt, and educated in Cincinnati ward primaries,
considered all Americans his brothers and bankers. He attached
himself to Merriam's elbow, introduced him to every one in La Paz who
wore shoes, borrowed ten dollars and went back to his hammock.
There was a little wooden hotel in the edge of a banana grove, facing
the sea, that catered to the tastes of the few foreigners that had
dropped out of the world into the "triste" Peruvian town. At Kalb's
introductory: "Shake hands with ----," he had obediently exchanged
manual salutations with a German doctor, one French and two Italian
merchants, and three or four Americans who were spoken of as gold men,
rubber men, mahogany men--anything but men of living tissue.
After dinner Merriam sat in a corner of the broad front "galeria" with
Bibb, a Vermonter interested in hydraulic mining, and smoked and drank
Scotch "smoke." The moonlit sea, spreading infinitely before him,
seemed to separate him beyond all apprehension from his old life. The
horrid tragedy in which he had played such a disastrous part now
began, for the first time since he stole on board the fruiter, a
wretched fugitive, to lose its sharper outlines. Distance lent
assuagement to his view. Bibb had opened the flood-gates of a stream
of long-dammed discourse, overjoyed to have captured an audience that
had not suffered under a hundred repetitions of his views and
"One year more," said Bibb, "and I'll go back to God's country. Oh, I
know it's pretty here, and you get "dolce far niente" handed to you in
chunks, but this country wasn't made for a white man to live in.
You've got to have to plug through snow now and then, and see a game
of baseball and wear a stiff collar and have a policeman cuss you.
Still, La Paz is a good sort of a pipe-dreamy old hole. And Mrs.
Conant is here. When any of us feels particularly like jumping into
the sea we rush around to her house and propose. It's nicer to be
rejected by Mrs. Conant than it is to be drowned. And they say
drowning is a delightful sensation."
"Many like her here?" asked Merriam.
"Not anywhere," said Bibb, with a comfortable sigh. "She's the only
white woman in La Paz. The rest range from a dappled dun to the
colour of a b-flat piano key. She's been here a year. Comes
from--well, you know how a woman can talk--ask 'em to say 'string'
and they'll say 'crow's foot' or 'cat's cradle.' Sometimes you'd think
she was from Oshkosh, and again from Jacksonville, Florida, and the
next day from Cape Cod."
"Mystery?" ventured Merriam.
"M--well, she looks it; but her talk's translucent enough. But
that's a woman. I suppose if the Sphinx were to begin talking she'd
merely say: 'Goodness me! more visitors coming for dinner, and nothing
to eat but the sand which is here.' But you won't think about that
when you meet her, Merriam. You'll propose to her too."
To make a hard story soft, Merriam did meet her and propose to her.
He found her to be a woman in black with hair the colour of a bronze
turkey's wings, and mysterious, "remembering" eyes that--well, that
looked as if she might have been a trained nurse looking on when Eve
was created. Her words and manner, though, were translucent, as Bibb
had said. She spoke, vaguely, of friends in California and some of
the lower parishes in Louisiana. The tropical climate and indolent
life suited her; she had thought of buying an orange grove later on;
La Paz, all in all, charmed her.
Merriam's courtship of the Sphinx lasted three months, although be did
not know that he was courting her. He was using her as an antidote
for remorse, until he found, too late, that he had acquired the habit.
During that time he had received no news from home. Wade did not know
where he was; and he was not sure of Wade's exact address, and was
afraid to write. He thought he had better let matters rest as they
were for a while.
One afternoon he and Mrs. Conant hired two ponies and rode out along
the mountain trail as far as the little cold river that came tumbling
down the foothills. There they stopped for a drink, and Merriam spoke
his piece--he proposed, as Bibb had prophesied.
Mrs. Conant gave him one glance of brilliant tenderness, and then her
face took on such a strange, haggard look that Merriam was shaken out
of his intoxication and back to his senses.
"I beg your pardon, Florence," he said, releasing her hand; "but I'll
have to hedge on part of what I said. I can't ask you to marry me, of
course. I killed a man in New York--a man who was my friend--shot
him down--in quite a cowardly manner, I understand. Of course, the
drinking didn't excuse it. Well, I couldn't resist having my say; and
I'll always mean it. I'm here as a fugitive from justice, and--I
suppose that ends our acquaintance."
Mrs. Conant plucked little leaves assiduously from the low-hanging
branch of a lime tree.
"I suppose so," she said, in low and oddly uneven tones; "but that
depends upon you. I'll be as honest as you were. I poisoned my
husband. I am a self-made widow. A man cannot love a murderess. So
I suppose that ends our acquaintance."
She looked up at him slowly. His face turned a little pale, and he
stared at her blankly, like a deaf-and-dumb man who was wondering what
it was all about.
She took a swift step toward him, with stiffened arms and eyes
"Don't look at me like that!" she cried, as though she were in acute
pain. "Curse me, or turn your back on me, but don't look that way.
Am I a woman to be beaten? If I could show you--here on my arms,
and on my back are scars--and it has been more than a year--scars
that he made in his brutal rages. A holy nun would have risen and
struck the fiend down. Yes, I killed him. The foul and horrible
words that he hurled at me that last day are repeated in my ears every
night when I sleep. And then came his blows, and the end of my
endurance. I got the poison that afternoon. It was his custom to
drink every night in the library before going to bed a hot punch made
of rum and wine. Only from my fair hands would he receive it--
because he knew the fumes of spirits always sickened me. That night
when the maid brought it to me I sent her downstairs on an errand.
Before taking him his drink I went to my little private cabinet and
poured into it more than a tea-spoonful of tincture of aconite--
enough to kill three men, so I had learned. I had drawn $6,000 that I
had in bank, and with that and a few things in a satchel I left the
house without any one seeing me. As I passed the library I heard him
stagger up and fall heavily on a couch. I took a night train for New
Orleans, and from there I sailed to the Bermudas. I finally cast
anchor in La Paz. And now what have you to say? Can you open your
Merriam came back to life.
"Florence," he said earnestly, "I want you. I don't care what you've
done. If the world--"
"Ralph," she interrupted, almost with a scream, "be my world!"
Her eyes melted; she relaxed magnificently and swayed toward Merriam
so suddenly that he had to jump to catch her.
Dear me! in such scenes how the talk runs into artificial prose. But
it can't be helped. It's the subconscious smell of the footlights'
smoke that's in all of us. Stir the depths of your cook's soul
sufficiently and she will discourse in Bulwer-Lyttonese.
Merriam and Mrs. Conant were very happy. He announced their
engagement at the Hotel Orilla del Mar. Eight foreigners and four
native Astors pounded his back and shouted insincere congratulations
at him. Pedrito, the Castilian-mannered barkeep, was goaded to extra
duty until his agility would have turned a Boston cherry-phosphate
clerk a pale lilac with envy.
They were both very happy. According to the strange mathematics of
the god of mutual affinity, the shadows that clouded their pasts when
united became only half as dense instead of darker. They shut the
world out and bolted the doors. Each was the other's world. Mrs.
Conant lived again. The remembering look left her eyes. Merriam was
with her every moment that was possible. On a little plateau under a
grove of palms and calabash trees they were going to build a fairy
bungalow. They were to be married in two months. Many hours of the
day they had their heads together over the house plans. Their joint
capital would set up a business in fruit or woods that would yield a
comfortable support. "Good night, my world," would say Mrs. Conant
every evening when Merriam left her for his hotel. They were very
happy. Their love had, circumstantially, that element of melancholy
in it that it seems to require to attain its supremest elevation. And
it seemed that their mutual great misfortune or sin was a bond that
nothing could sever.
One day a steamer hove in the offing. Bare-legged and bare-shouldered
La Paz scampered down to the beach, for the arrival of a steamer was
their loop-the-loop, circus, Emancipation Day and four-o'clock tea.
When the steamer was near enough, wise ones proclaimed that she was
the "Pajaro", bound up-coast from Callao to Panama.
The "Pajaro" put on brakes a mile off shore. Soon a boat came bobbing
shoreward. Merriam strolled down on the beach to look on. In the
shallow water the Carib sailors sprang out and dragged the boat with a
mighty rush to the firm shingle. Out climbed the purser, the captain
and two passengers, ploughing their way through the deep sand toward
the hotel. Merriam glanced toward them with the mild interest due to
strangers. There was something familiar to him in the walk of one of
the passengers. He looked again, and his blood seemed to turn to
strawberry ice cream in his veins. Burly, arrogant, debonair as ever,
H. Ferguson Hedges, the man he had killed, was coming toward him ten
When Hedges saw Merriam his face flushed a dark red. Then he shouted
in his old, bluff way: "Hello, Merriam. Glad to see you. Didn't
expect to find you out here. Quinby, this is my old friend Merriam,
of New York--Merriam, Mr. Quinby."
Merriam gave Hedges and then Quinby an ice-cold hand. "Br-r-r-r!" said
Hedges. "But you've got a frappéd flipper! Man, you're not well.
You're as yellow as a Chinaman. Malarial here? Steer us to a bar if
there is such a thing, and let's take a prophylactic."
Merriam, still half comatose, led them toward the Hotel Orilla del
"Quinby and I," explained Hedges, puffing through the slippery sand,
"are looking out along the coast for some investments. We've just
come up from Concepción and Valparaiso and Lima. The captain of this
subsidized ferry boat told us there was some good picking around
here in silver mines. So we got off. Now, where is that café,
Merriam? Oh, in this portable soda water pavilion?"
Leaving Quinby at the bar, Hedges drew Merriam aside.
"Now, what does this mean?" he said, with gruff kindness. "Are you
sulking about that fool row we had?"
"I thought," stammered Merriam--"I heard--they told me you were--
that I had--"
"Well, you didn't, and I'm not," said Hedges. "That fool young
ambulance surgeon told Wade I was a candidate for a coffin just
because I'd got tired and quit breathing. I laid up in a private
hospital for a month; but here I am, kicking as hard as ever. Wade
and I tried to find you, but couldn't. Now, Merriam, shake hands and
forget it all. I was as much to blame as you were; and the shot
really did me good--I came out of the hospital as healthy and fit as
a cab horse. Come on; that drink's waiting."
"Old man," said Merriam, brokenly, "I don't know how to thank you--I
--well, you know--"
"Oh, forget it," boomed Hedges. "Quinby'll die of thirst if we don't
Bibb was sitting on the shady side of the gallery waiting for the
eleven-o'clock breakfast. Presently Merriam came out and joined him.
His eye was strangely bright.
"Bibb, my boy," said he, slowly waving his hand, "do you see those
mountains and that sea and sky and sunshine?--they're mine, Bibbsy
"You go in," said Bibb, "and take eight grains of quinine, right away.
It won't do in this climate for a man to get to thinking he's
Rockefeller, or James O'Neill either."
Inside, the purser was untying a great roll of newspapers, many of
them weeks old, gathered in the lower ports by the "Pajaro" to be
distributed at casual stopping-places. Thus do the beneficent voyagers
scatter news and entertainment among the prisoners of sea and
Tio Pancho, the hotel proprietor, set his great silver-rimmed "anteojos"
upon his nose and divided the papers into a number of smaller rolls.
A barefooted "muchacho" dashed in, desiring the post of messenger.
""Bien venido"," said Tio Pancho. "This to Señora Conant; that to el
Doctor S-S-Schlegel--"Dios"! what a name to say!--that to Señor Davis
--one for Don Alberto. These two for the "Casa de Huespedes, Numero
6, en la calle de las Buenas Gracias". And say to them all, "muchacho",
that the "Pajaro" sails for Panama at three this afternoon. If any have
letters to send by the post, let them come quickly, that they may
first pass through the "correo"."
Mrs. Conant received her roll of newspapers at four o'clock. The boy
was late in delivering them, because he had been deflected from his
duty by an iguana that crossed his path and to which he immediately
gave chase. But it made no hardship, for she had no letters to send.
She was idling in a hammock in the patio of the house that she
occupied, half awake, half happily dreaming of the paradise that she
and Merriam had created out of the wrecks of their pasts. She was
content now for the horizon of that shimmering sea to be the horizon
of her life. They had shut out the world and closed the door.
Merriam was coming to her house at seven, after his dinner at the
hotel. She would put on a white dress and an apricot-coloured lace
mantilla, and they would walk an hour under the cocoanut palms by the
lagoon. She smiled contentedly, and chose a paper at random from the
roll the boy had brought.
At first the words of a certain headline of a Sunday newspaper meant
nothing to her; they conveyed only a visualized sense of familiarity.
The largest type ran thus: "Lloyd B. Conant secures divorce." And then
the subheadings: "Well-known Saint Louis paint manufacturer wins
suit, pleading one year's absence of wife." "Her mysterious
disappearance recalled." "Nothing has been heard of her since."
Twisting herself quickly out of the hammock, Mrs. Conant's eye soon
traversed the half-column of the "Recall." It ended thus: "It will be
remembered that Mrs. Conant disappeared one evening in March of last
year. It was freely rumoured that her marriage with Lloyd B. Conant
resulted in much unhappiness. Stories were not wanting to the effect
that his cruelty toward his wife had more than once taken the form of
physical abuse. After her departure a full bottle of tincture of
aconite, a deadly poison, was found in a small medicine cabinet in her
bedroom. This might have been an indication that she meditated
suicide. It is supposed that she abandoned such an intention if she
possessed it, and left her home instead."
Mrs. Conant slowly dropped the paper, and sat on a chair, clasping her
"Let me think--O God!--let me think," she whispered. "I took
the bottle with me . . . I threw it out of the window of the train
. . . I-- . . . there was another bottle in the cabinet . . .
there were two, side by side--the aconite--and the valerian that I
took when I could not sleep . . . If they found the aconite bottle
full, why--but, he is alive, of course--I gave him only a
harmless dose of valerian . . . I am not a murderess in fact . . .
Ralph, I--O God, don't let this be a dream!"
She went into the part of the house that she rented from the old
Peruvian man and his wife, shut the door, and walked up and down her
room swiftly and feverishly for half an hour. Merriam's photograph
stood in a frame on a table. She picked it up, looked at it with a
smile of exquisite tenderness, and--dropped four tears on it. And
Merriam only twenty rods away! Then she stood still for ten minutes,
looking into space. She looked into space through a slowly opening
door. On her side of the door was the building material for a castle
of Romance--love, an Arcady of waving palms, a lullaby of waves on
the shore of a haven of rest, respite, peace, a lotus land of dreamy
ease and security--a life of poetry and heart's ease and refuge.
Romanticist, will you tell me what Mrs. Conant saw on the other side
of the door? You cannot?--that is, you will not? Very well; then
"She saw herself go into a department store and buy five spools of
silk thread and three yards of gingham to make an apron for the cook.
"Shall I charge it, ma'am?" asked the clerk. As she walked out a
lady whom she met greeted her cordially. "Oh, where did you get the
pattern for those sleeves, dear Mrs. Conant?" she said. At the corner
a policeman helped her across the street and touched his helmet. "Any
callers?" she asked the maid when she reached home. "Mrs. Waldron,"
answered the maid, "and the two Misses Jenkinson." "Very well," she
said. "You may bring me a cup of tea, Maggie.""
Mrs. Conant went to the door and called Angela, the old Peruvian
woman. "If Mateo is there send him to me." Mateo, a half-breed,
shuffling and old but efficient, came.
"Is there a steamer or a vessel of any kind leaving this coast
to-night or to-morrow that I can get passage on?" she asked.
"At Punta Reina, thirty miles down the coast, señora," he answered,
"there is a small steamer loading with cinchona and dyewoods. She
sails for San Francisco to-morrow at sunrise. So says my brother, who
arrived in his sloop to-day, passing by Punta Reina."
"You must take me in that sloop to that steamer to-night. Will you do
"Perhaps--" Mateo shrugged a suggestive shoulder. Mrs. Conant
took a handful of money from a drawer and gave it to him.
"Get the sloop ready behind the little point of land below the town,"
she ordered. "Get sailors, and be ready to sail at six o'clock. In
half an hour bring a cart partly filled with straw into the patio
here, and take my trunk to the sloop. There is more money yet. Now,
For one time Mateo walked away without shuffling his feet.
"Angela," cried Mrs. Conant, almost fiercely, "come and help me pack.
I am going away. Out with this trunk. My clothes first. Stir
yourself. Those dark dresses first. Hurry."
From the first she did not waver from her decision. Her view was clear
and final. Her door had opened and let the world in. Her love for
Merriam was not lessened; but it now appeared a hopeless and
unrealizable thing. The visions of their future that had seemed so
blissful and complete had vanished. She tried to assure herself that
her renunciation was rather for his sake than for her own. Now that
she was cleared of her burden--at least, technically--would not
his own weigh too heavily upon him? If she should cling to him, would
not the difference forever silently mar and corrode their happiness?
Thus she reasoned; but there were a thousand little voices calling to
her that she could feel rather than hear, like the hum of distant,
powerful machinery--the little voices of the world, that, when
raised in unison, can send their insistent call through the thickest
Once while packing, a brief shadow of the lotus dream came back to
her. She held Merriam's picture to her heart with one hand, while she
threw a pair of shoes into the trunk with her other.
At six o'clock Mateo returned and reported the sloop ready. He and
his brother lifted the trunk into the cart, covered it with straw and
conveyed it to the point of embarkation. From there they transferred
it on board in the sloop's dory. Then Mateo returned for additional
Mrs. Conant was ready. She had settled all business matters with
Angela, and was impatiently waiting. She wore a long, loose black-silk
duster that she often walked about in when the evenings were chilly.
On her head was a small round hat, and over it the apricot-coloured
Dusk had quickly followed the short twilight. Mateo led her by dark
and grass-grown streets toward the point behind which the sloop was
anchored. On turning a corner they beheld the Hotel Orilla del Mar
three streets away, nebulously aglow with its array of kerosene lamps.
Mrs. Conant paused, with streaming eyes. "I must, I "must" see him
once before I go," she murmured in anguish. But even then she did not
falter in her decision. Quickly she invented a plan by which she might
speak to him, and yet make her departure without his knowing. She
would walk past the hotel, ask some one to call him out and talk a few
moments on some trivial excuse, leaving him expecting to see her at
her home at seven.
She unpinned her hat and gave it to Mateo. "Keep this, and wait here
till I come," she ordered. Then she draped the mantilla over her head
as she usually did when walking after sunset, and went straight to the
Orilla del Mar.
She was glad to see the bulky, white-clad figure of Tio Pancho
standing alone on the gallery.
"Tio Pancho," she said, with a charming smile, "may I trouble you to
ask Mr. Merriam to come out for just a few moments that I may speak
Tio Pancho bowed as an elephant bows.
"Buenas tardes, Señora Conant," he said, as a cavalier talks. And
then he went on, less at his ease:
"But does not the señora know that Señor Merriam sailed on the "Pajaro"
for Panama at three o'clock of this afternoon?"
THE THEORY AND THE HOUND
Not many days ago my old friend from the tropics, J. P. Bridger,
United States consul on the island of Ratona, was in the city. We
had wassail and jubilee and saw the Flatiron building, and missed
seeing the Bronxless menagerie by about a couple of nights. And
then, at the ebb tide, we were walking up a street that parallels and
A woman with a comely and mundane countenance passed us, holding in
leash a wheezing, vicious, waddling, brute of a yellow pug. The dog
entangled himself with Bridger's legs and mumbled his ankles in a
snarling, peevish, sulky bite. Bridger, with a happy smile, kicked
the breath out of the brute; the woman showered us with a quick rain
of well-conceived adjectives that left us in no doubt as to our place
in her opinion, and we passed on. Ten yards farther an old woman
with disordered white hair and her bankbook tucked well hidden
beneath her tattered shawl begged. Bridger stopped and disinterred
for her a quarter from his holiday waistcoat.
On the next corner a quarter of a ton of well-clothed man with a
rice-powdered, fat, white jowl, stood holding the chain of a
devil-born bulldog whose forelegs were strangers by the length of a
dachshund. A little woman in a last-season's hat confronted him and
wept, which was plainly all she could do, while he cursed her in low
sweet, practised tones.
Bridger smiled again--strictly to himself--and this time he took out
a little memorandum book and made a note of it. This he had no right
to do without due explanation, and I said so.
"It's a new theory," said Bridger, "that I picked up down in Ratona.
I've been gathering support for it as I knock about. The world isn't
ripe for it yet, but--well I'll tell you; and then you run your
mind back along the people you've known and see what you make of it."
And so I cornered Bridger in a place where they have artificial palms
and wine; and he told me the story which is here in my words and on
One afternoon at three o'clock, on the island of Ratona, a boy raced
along the beach screaming, ""Pajaro", ahoy!"
Thus he made known the keenness of his hearing and the justice of his
discrimination in pitch.
He who first heard and made oral proclamation concerning the toot
of an approaching steamer's whistle, and correctly named the steamer,
was a small hero in Ratona--until the next steamer came. Wherefore,
there was rivalry among the barefoot youth of Ratona, and many fell
victims to the softly blown conch shells of sloops which, as they
enter harbour, sound surprisingly like a distant steamer's signal.
And some could name you the vessel when its call, in your duller
ears, sounded no louder than the sigh of the wind through the
branches of the cocoanut palms.
But to-day he who proclaimed the "Pajaro" gained his honours. Ratona
bent its ear to listen; and soon the deep-tongued blast grew louder
and nearer, and at length Ratona saw above the line of palms on the
low "point" the two black funnels of the fruiter slowly creeping
toward the mouth of the harbour.
You must know that Ratona is an island twenty miles off the south of
a South American republic. It is a port of that republic; and it
sleeps sweetly in a smiling sea, toiling not nor spinning; fed by the
abundant tropics where all things "ripen, cease and fall toward the
Eight hundred people dream life away in a green-embowered village
that follows the horseshoe curve of its bijou harbour. They are
mostly Spanish and Indian "mestizos", with a shading of San Domingo
Negroes, a lightening of pure-blood Spanish officials and a slight
leavening of the froth of three or four pioneering white races. No
steamers touch at Ratona save the fruit steamers which take on their
banana inspectors there on their way to the coast. They leave Sunday
newspapers, ice, quinine, bacon, watermelons and vaccine matter at
the island and that is about all the touch Ratona gets with the
The "Pajaro" paused at the mouth of the harbour, rolling heavily in
the swell that sent the whitecaps racing beyond the smooth water
inside. Already two dories from the village--one conveying fruit
inspectors, the other going for what it could get--were halfway out
to the steamer.
The inspectors' dory was taken on board with them, and the "Pajaro"
steamed away for the mainland for its load of fruit.
The other boat returned to Ratona bearing a contribution from the
"Pajaro's" store of ice, the usual roll of newspapers and one
passenger--Taylor Plunkett, sheriff of Chatham County, Kentucky.
Bridger, the United States consul at Ratona, was cleaning his rifle
in the official shanty under a bread-fruit tree twenty yards from the
water of the harbour. The consul occupied a place somewhat near the
tail of his political party's procession. The music of the band
wagon sounded very faintly to him in the distance. The plums of
office went to others. Bridger's share of the spoils--the
consulship at Ratona--was little more than a prune--a dried prune
from the boarding-house department of the public crib. But $900
yearly was opulence in Ratona. Besides, Bridger had contracted a
passion for shooting alligators in the lagoons near his consulate,
and was not unhappy.
He looked up from a careful inspection of his rifle lock and saw a
broad man filling his doorway. A broad, noiseless, slow-moving man,
sunburned almost to the brown of Vandyke. A man of forty-five,
neatly clothed in homespun, with scanty light hair, a close-clipped
brown-and-gray beard and pale-blue eyes expressing mildness and
"You are Mr. Bridger, the consul," said the broad man. "They
directed me here. Can you tell me what those big bunches of things
like gourds are in those trees that look like feather dusters along
the edge of the water?"
"Take that chair," said the consul, reoiling his cleaning rag.
"No, the other one--that bamboo thing won't hold you. Why, they're
cocoanuts--green cocoanuts. The shell of 'em is always a light
green before they're ripe."
"Much obliged," said the other man, sitting down carefully. "I
didn't quite like to tell the folks at home they were olives unless I
was sure about it. My name is Plunkett. I'm sheriff of Chatham
County, Kentucky. I've got extradition papers in my pocket
authorizing the arrest of a man on this island. They've been signed
by the President of this country, and they're in correct shape. The
man's name is Wade Williams. He's in the cocoanut raising
business. What he's wanted for is the murder of his wife two years
ago. Where can I find him?"
The consul squinted an eye and looked through his rifle barrel.
"There's nobody on the island who calls himself 'Williams,'" he
"Didn't suppose there was," said Plunkett mildly. "He'll do by any
"Besides myself," said Bridger, "there are only two Americans on
Ratona--Bob Reeves and Henry Morgan."
"The man I want sells cocoanuts," suggested Plunkett.
"You see that cocoanut walk extending up to the point?" said the
consul, waving his hand toward the open door. "That belongs to Bob
Reeves. Henry Morgan owns half the trees to loo'ard on the island."
"One, month ago," said the sheriff, "Wade Williams wrote a
confidential letter to a man in Chatham county, telling him where he
was and how he was getting along. The letter was lost; and the person
that found it gave it away. They sent me after him, and I've got the
papers. I reckon he's one of your cocoanut men for certain."
"You've got his picture, of course," said Bridger. "It might be
Reeves or Morgan, but I'd hate to think it. They're both as fine
fellows as you'd meet in an all-day auto ride."
"No," doubtfully answered Plunkett; "there wasn't any picture of
Williams to be had. And I never saw him myself. I've been sheriff
only a year. But I've got a pretty accurate description of him. About
5 feet 11; dark-hair and eyes; nose inclined to be Roman; heavy about
the shoulders; strong, white teeth, with none missing; laughs a good
deal, talkative; drinks considerably but never to intoxication; looks
you square in the eye when talking; age thirty-five. Which one of
your men does that description fit?"
The consul grinned broadly.
"I'll tell you what you do," he said, laying down his rifle and
slipping on his dingy black alpaca coat. "You come along, Mr.
Plunkett, and I'll take you up to see the boys. If you can tell
which one of 'em your description fits better than it does the
other you have the advantage of me."
Bridger conducted the sheriff out and along the hard beach close to
which the tiny houses of the village were distributed. Immediately
back of the town rose sudden, small, thickly wooded hills. Up one of
these, by means of steps cut in the hard clay, the consul led
Plunkett. On the very verge of an eminence was perched a two-room
wooden cottage with a thatched roof. A Carib woman was washing
clothes outside. The consul ushered the sheriff to the door of the
room that overlooked the harbour.
Two men were in the room, about to sit down, in their shirt sleeves,
to a table spread for dinner. They bore little resemblance one to
the other in detail; but the general description given by Plunkett
could have been justly applied to either. In height, colour of hair,
shape of nose, build and manners each of them tallied with it. They
were fair types of jovial, ready-witted, broad-gauged Americans who
had gravitated together for companionship in an alien land.
"Hello, Bridger" they called in unison at sight Of the consul. "Come
and have dinner with us!" And then they noticed Plunkett at his
heels, and came forward with hospitable curiosity.
"Gentlemen," said the consul, his voice taking on unaccustomed
formality, "this is Mr. Plunkett. Mr. Plunkett--Mr. Reeves and Mr.
The cocoanut barons greeted the newcomer joyously. Reeves seemed
about an inch taller than Morgan, but his laugh was not quite as
loud. Morgan's eyes were deep brown; Reeves's were black. Reeves
was the host and busied himself with fetching other chairs and
calling to the Carib woman for supplemental table ware. It was
explained that Morgan lived in a bamboo shack to "loo'ard," but that
every day the two friends dined together. Plunkett stood still
during the preparations, looking about mildly with his pale-blue
eyes. Bridger looked apologetic and uneasy.
At length two other covers were laid and the company was assigned to
places. Reeves and Morgan stood side by side across the table from
the visitors. Reeves nodded genially as a signal for all to seat
themselves. And then suddenly Plunkett raised his hand with a
gesture of authority. He was looking straight between Reeves and
"Wade Williams," he said quietly, "you are under arrest for murder."
Reeves and Morgan instantly exchanged a quick, bright glance, the
quality of which was interrogation, with a seasoning of surprise.
Then, simultaneously they turned to the speaker with a puzzled and
frank deprecation in their gaze.
"Can't say that we understand you, Mr. Plunkett," said Morgan,
cheerfully. "Did you say 'Williams'?"
"What's the joke, Bridgy?" asked Reeves, turning, to the consul with
Before Bridger could answer Plunkett spoke again.
"I'll explain," he said, quietly. "One of you don't need any
explanation, but this is for the other one. One of you is Wade
Williams of Chatham County, Kentucky. You murdered your wife on May
5, two years ago, after ill-treating and abusing her continually for
five years. I have the proper papers in my pocket for taking you
back with me, and you are going. We will return on the fruit steamer
that comes back by this island to-morrow to leave its inspectors. I
acknowledge, gentlemen, that I'm not quite sure which one of you is
Williams. But Wade Williams goes back to Chatham County to-morrow. I
want you to understand that."
A great sound of merry laughter from Morgan and Reeves went out over
the still harbour. Two or three fishermen in the fleet of sloops
anchored there looked up at the house of the diablos Americanos on
the hill and wondered.
"My dear Mr. Plunkett," cried Morgan, conquering his mirth, "the
dinner is getting, cold. Let us sit down and eat. I am anxious to
get my spoon into that shark-fin soup. Business afterward."
"Sit down, gentlemen, if you please," added Reeves, pleasantly. "I
am sure Mr. Plunkett will not object. Perhaps a little time may be of
advantage to him in identifying--the gentleman he wishes to
"No objections, I'm sure," said Plunkett, dropping into his chair
heavily. "I'm hungry myself. I didn't want to accept the
hospitality of you folks without giving you notice; that's all."
Reeves set bottles and glasses on the table.
"There's cognac," he said, "and anisada, and Scotch 'smoke,' and rye.
Take your choice."
Bridger chose rye, Reeves poured three fingers of Scotch for himself,
Morgan took the same. The sheriff, against much protestation, filled
his glass from the water bottle.
"Here's to the appetite," said Reeves, raising his glass, "of Mr.
Williams!" Morgan's laugh and his drink encountering sent him into a
choking splutter. All began to pay attention to the dinner, which
was well cooked and palatable.
"Williams!" called Plunkett, suddenly and sharply.
All looked up wonderingly. Reeves found the sheriff's mild eye
resting upon him. He flushed a little.
"See here," he said, with some asperity, "my name's Reeves, and I
don't want you to--" But the comedy of the thing came to his rescue,
and he ended with a laugh.
"I suppose, Mr. Plunkett," said Morgan, carefully seasoning an
alligator pear, "that you are aware of the fact that you will import
a good deal of trouble for yourself into Kentucky if you take back
the wrong man--that is, of course, if you take anybody back?"
"Thank you for the salt," said the sheriff. "Oh, I'll take somebody
back. It'll be one of you two gentlemen. Yes, I know I'd get stuck
for damages if I make a mistake. But I'm going to try to get the
"I'll tell you what you do," said Morgan, leaning forward with a
jolly twinkle in his eyes. "You take me. I'll go without any
trouble. The cocoanut business hasn't panned out well this year, and
I'd like to make some extra money out of your bondsmen."
"That's not fair," chimed in Reeves. "I got only $16 a thousand for
my last shipment. Take me, Mr. Plunkett."
"I'll take Wade Williams," said the sheriff, patiently, "or I'll come
pretty close to it."
"It's like dining with a ghost," remarked Morgan, with a pretended
shiver. "The ghost of a murderer, too! Will somebody pass the
toothpicks to the shade of the naughty Mr. Williams?"
Plunkett seemed as unconcerned as if he were dining at his own table
in Chatham County. He was a gallant trencherman, and the strange
tropic viands tickled his palate. Heavy, commonplace, almost
slothful in his movements, he appeared to be devoid of all the
cunning and watchfulness of the sleuth. He even ceased to observe,
with any sharpness or attempted discrimination, the two men, one of
whom he had undertaken with surprising self-confidence, to drag
away upon the serious charge of wife-murder. Here, indeed, was a
problem set before him that if wrongly solved would have amounted to
his serious discomfiture, yet there he sat puzzling his soul (to all
appearances) over the novel flavour of a broiled iguana cutlet.
The consul felt a decided discomfort. Reeves and Morgan were his
friends and pals; yet the sheriff from Kentucky had a certain right
to his official aid and moral support. So Bridger sat the silentest
around the board and tried to estimate the peculiar situation. His
conclusion was that both Reeves and Morgan, quickwitted, as he knew
them to be, had conceived at the moment of Plunkett's disclosure of
his mission--and in the brief space of a lightning flash--the
idea that the other might be the guilty Williams; and that each of
them had decided in that moment loyally to protect his comrade
against the doom that threatened him. This was the consul's theory
and if he had been a bookmaker at a race of wits for life and liberty
he would have offered heavy odds against the plodding sheriff from
Chatham County, Kentucky.
When the meal was concluded the Carib woman came and removed the
dishes and cloth. Reeves strewed the table with excellent cigars,
and Plunkett, with the others, lighted one of these with evident
"I may be dull," said Morgan, with a grin and a wink at Bridger; "but
I want to know if I am. Now, I say this is all a joke of Mr.
Plunkett's, concocted to frighten two babes-in-the-woods. Is this
Williamson to be taken seriously or not?"
"'Williams,'" corrected Plunkett gravely. "I never got off any jokes
in my life. I know I wouldn't travel 2,000 miles to get off a poor
one as this would be if I didn't take Wade Williams back with me.
Gentlemen!" continued the sheriff, now letting his mild eyes travel
impartially from one of the company to another, "see if you can find
any joke in this case. Wade Williams is listening to the words I
utter now; but out of politeness, I will speak of him as a third
person. For five years he made his wife lead the life of a dog--No;
I'll take that back. No dog in Kentucky was ever treated as she
was. He spent the money that she brought him--spent it at races, at
the card table and on horses and hunting. He was a good fellow to
his friends, but a cold, sullen demon at home. He wound up the five
years of neglect by striking her with his closed hand--a hand as
hard as a stone--when she was ill and weak from suffering. She
died the next day; and he skipped. That's all there is to it. It's
enough. I never saw Williams; but I knew his wife. I'm not a man to
tell half. She and I were keeping company when she met him. She
went to Louisville on a visit and saw him there. I'll admit that he
spoilt my chances in no time. I lived then on the edge of the
Cumberland mountains. I was elected sheriff of Chatham County a year
after Wade Williams killed his wife. My official duty sends me out
here after him; but I'll admit that there's personal feeling, too.
And he's going back with me. Mr.--er--Reeves, will you pass me a
"Awfully imprudent of Williams," said Morgan, putting his feet up
against the wall, "to strike a Kentucky lady. Seems to me I've heard
they were scrappers."
"Bad, bad Williams," said Reeves, pouring out more Scotch.
The two men spoke lightly, but the consul saw and felt the tension
and the carefulness in their actions and words. "Good old fellows,"
he said to himself; "they're both all right. Each of 'em is standing
by the other like a little brick church."
And then a dog walked into the room where they sat--a black-and-tan
hound, long-eared, lazy, confident of welcome.
Plunkett turned his head and looked at the animal, which halted,
confidently, within a few feet of his chair.
Suddenly the sheriff, with a deep-mouthed oath, left his seat and,
bestowed upon the dog a vicious and heavy kick, with his ponderous
The hound, heartbroken, astonished, with flapping ears and incurved
tail, uttered a piercing yelp of pain and surprise.
Reeves and the consul remained in their chairs, saying nothing, but
astonished at the unexpected show of intolerance from the easy-going
man from Chatham county.
But Morgan, with a suddenly purpling face, leaped, to his feet and
raised a threatening arm above the guest.
"You--brute!" he shouted, passionately; "why did you do that?"
Quickly the amenities returned, Plunkett muttered some indistinct
apology and regained his seat. Morgan with a decided effort
controlled his indignation and also returned to his chair.
And then Plunkett with the spring of a tiger, leaped around the
corner of the table and snapped handcuffs on the paralyzed Morgan's
"Hound-lover and woman-killer!" he cried; "get ready to meet your
When Bridger had finished I asked him:
"Did he get the right man?"
"He did," said the Consul.
"And how did he know?" I inquired, being in a kind of bewilderment.
"When he put Morgan in the dory," answered Bridger, "the next day to
take him aboard the "Pajaro", this man Plunkett stopped to shake hands
with me and I asked him the same question."
"'Mr. Bridger,' said he, 'I'm a Kentuckian, and I've seen a great
deal of both men and animals. And I never yet saw a man that was
overfond of horses and dogs but what was cruel to women.'"
THE HYPOTHESES OF FAILURE
Lawyer Gooch bestowed his undivided attention upon the engrossing arts
of his profession. But one flight of fancy did he allow his mind to
entertain. He was fond of likening his suite of office rooms to the
bottom of a ship. The rooms were three in number, with a door
opening from one to another. These doors could also be closed.
"Ships," Lawyer Gooch would say, "are constructed for safety, with
separate, water-tight compartments in their bottoms. If one
compartment springs a leak it fills with water; but the good ship goes
on unhurt. Were it not for the separating bulkheads one leak would
sink the vessel. Now it often happens that while I am occupied with
clients, other clients with conflicting interests call. With the
assistance of Archibald--an office boy with a future--I cause the
dangerous influx to be diverted into separate compartments, while I
sound with my legal plummet the depth of each. If necessary, they
may be baled into the hallway and permitted to escape by way of the
stairs, which we may term the lee scuppers. Thus the good ship of
business is kept afloat; whereas if the element that supports her were
allowed to mingle freely in her hold we might be swamped--ha, ha, ha!"
The law is dry. Good jokes are few. Surely it might be permitted
Lawyer Gooch to mitigate the bore of briefs, the tedium of torts and
the prosiness of processes with even so light a levy upon the good
property of humour.
Lawyer Gooch's practice leaned largely to the settlement of marital
infelicities. Did matrimony languish through complications, he
mediated, soothed and arbitrated. Did it suffer from implications,
he readjusted, defended and championed. Did it arrive at the
extremity of duplications, he always got light sentences for his
But not always was Lawyer Gooch the keen, armed, wily belligerent,
ready with his two-edged sword to lop off the shackles of Hymen. He
had been known to build up instead of demolishing, to reunite instead
of severing, to lead erring and foolish ones back into the fold
instead of scattering the flock. Often had he by his eloquent and
moving appeals sent husband and wife, weeping, back into each other's
arms. Frequently he had coached childhood so successfully that, at
the psychological moment (and at a given signal) the plaintive pipe of
"Papa, won't you tum home adain to me and muvver?" had won the day
and upheld the pillars of a tottering home.
Unprejudiced persons admitted that Lawyer Gooch received as big fees
from these reyoked clients as would have been paid him had the cases
been contested in court. Prejudiced ones intimated that his fees were
doubled, because the penitent couples always came back later for the
There came a season in June when the legal ship of Lawyer Gooch (to
borrow his own figure) was nearly becalmed. The divorce mill grinds
slowly in June. It is the month of Cupid and Hymen.
Lawyer Gooch, then, sat idle in the middle room of his clientless
suite. A small anteroom connected--or rather separated--this
apartment from the hallway. Here was stationed Archibald, who wrested
from visitors their cards or oral nomenclature which he bore to his
master while they waited.
Suddenly, on this day, there came a great knocking at the outermost
Archibald, opening it, was thrust aside as superfluous by the visitor,
who without due reverence at once penetrated to the office of Lawyer
Gooch and threw himself with good-natured insolence into a comfortable
chair facing that gentlemen.
"You are Phineas C. Gooch, attorney-at-law?" said the visitor, his
tone of voice and inflection making his words at once a question, an
assertion and an accusation.
Before committing himself by a reply, the lawyer estimated his
possible client in one of his brief but shrewd and calculating
The man was of the emphatic type--large-sized, active, bold and
debonair in demeanour, vain beyond a doubt, slightly swaggering, ready
and at ease. He was well-clothed, but with a shade too much
ornateness. He was seeking a lawyer; but if that fact would seem to
saddle him with troubles they were not patent in his beaming eye and
"My name is Gooch," at length the lawyer admitted. Upon pressure he
would also have confessed to the Phineas C. But he did not consider it
good practice to volunteer information. "I did not receive your
card," he continued, by way of rebuke, "so I--"
"I know you didn't," remarked the visitor, coolly; "And you won't just
yet. Light up?" He threw a leg over an arm of his chair, and tossed
a handful of rich-hued cigars upon the table. Lawyer Gooch knew the
brand. He thawed just enough to accept the invitation to smoke.
"You are a divorce lawyer," said the cardless visitor. This time there
was no interrogation in his voice. Nor did his words constitute a
simple assertion. They formed a charge--a denunciation--as one would
say to a dog: "You are a dog." Lawyer Gooch was silent under the
"You handle," continued the visitor, "all the various ramifications of
busted-up connubiality. You are a surgeon, we might saw, who extracts
Cupid's darts when he shoots 'em into the wrong parties. You furnish
patent, incandescent lights for premises where the torch of Hymen has
burned so low you can't light a cigar at it. Am I right, Mr. Gooch?"
"I have undertaken cases," said the lawyer, guardedly, "in the line to
which your figurative speech seems to refer. Do you wish to consult me
professionally, Mr.--" The lawyer paused, with significance.
"Not yet," said the other, with an arch wave of his cigar, "not just
yet. Let us approach the subject with the caution that should have
been used in the original act that makes this pow-wow necessary.
There exists a matrimonial jumble to be straightened out. But before
I give you names I want your honest--well, anyhow, your professional
opinion on the merits of the mix-up. I want you to size up the
catastrophe--abstractly--you understand? I'm Mr. Nobody; and I've got
a story to tell you. Then you say what's what. Do you get my
"You want to state a hypothetical case?" suggested Lawyer Gooch.
"That's the word I was after. 'Apothecary' was the best shot I could
make at it in my mind. The hypothetical goes. I'll state the case.
Suppose there's a woman--a deuced fine-looking woman--who has run
away from her husband and home? She's badly mashed on another man who
went to her town to work up some real estate business. Now, we may as
well call this woman's husband Thomas R. Billings, for that's his
name. I'm giving you straight tips on the cognomens. The Lothario
chap is Henry K. Jessup. The Billingses lived in a little town called
Susanville--a good many miles from here. Now, Jessup leaves
Susanville two weeks ago. The next day Mrs. Billings follows him.
She's dead gone on this man Jessup; you can bet your law library on
Lawyer Gooch's client said this with such unctuous satisfaction that
even the callous lawyer experienced a slight ripple of repulsion. He
now saw clearly in his fatuous visitor the conceit of the lady-killer,
the egoistic complacency of the successful trifler.
"Now," continued the visitor, "suppose this Mrs. Billings wasn't happy
at home? We'll say she and her husband didn't gee worth a cent.
They've got incompatibility to burn. The things she likes, Billings
wouldn't have as a gift with trading-stamps. It's Tabby and Rover
with them all the time. She's an educated woman in science and
culture, and she reads things out loud at meetings. Billings is not
on. He don't appreciate progress and obelisks and ethics, and
things of that sort. Old Billings is simply a blink when it comes to
such things. The lady is out and out above his class. Now, lawyer,
don't it look like a fair equalization of rights and wrongs that a
woman like that should be allowed to throw down Billings and take the
man that can appreciate her?
"Incompatibility," said Lawyer Gooch, "is undoubtedly the source of
much marital discord and unhappiness. Where it is positively proved,
divorce would seem to be the equitable remedy. Are you--excuse me--is
this man Jessup one to whom the lady may safely trust her future?"
"Oh, you can bet on Jessup," said the client, with a confident wag of
his head. "Jessup's all right. He'll do the square thing. Why, he
left Susanville just to keep people from talking about Mrs. Billings.
But she followed him up, and now, of course, he'll stick to her.
When she gets a divorce, all legal and proper, Jessup will do the
"And now," said Lawyer Gooch, "continuing the hypothesis, if you
prefer, and supposing that my services should be desired in the case,
The client rose impulsively to his feet.
"Oh, dang the hypothetical business," he exclaimed, impatiently.
"Let's let her drop, and get down to straight talk. You ought to know
who I am by this time. I want that woman to have her divorce. I'll
pay for it. The day you set Mrs. Billings free I'll pay you five
Lawyer Gooch's client banged his fist upon the table to punctuate his
"If that is the case--" began the lawyer.
"Lady to see you, sir," bawled Archibald, bouncing in from his
anteroom. He had orders to always announce immediately any client
that might come. There was no sense in turning business away.
Lawyer Gooch took client number one by the arm and led him suavely
into one of the adjoining rooms. "Favour me by remaining here a few
minutes, sir," said he. "I will return and resume our consultation
with the least possible delay. I am rather expecting a visit from a
very wealthy old lady in connection with a will. I will not keep you
The breezy gentleman seated himself with obliging acquiescence, and
took up a magazine. The lawyer returned to the middle office,
carefully closing behind him the connecting door.
"Show the lady in, Archibald," he said to the office boy, who was
awaiting the order.
A tall lady, of commanding presence and sternly handsome, entered
the room. She wore robes--robes; not clothes--ample and fluent.
In her eye could be perceived the lambent flame of genius and soul.
In her hand was a green bag of the capacity of a bushel, and an
umbrella that also seemed to wear a robe, ample and fluent. She
accepted a chair.
"Are you Mr. Phineas C. Gooch, the lawyer?" she asked, in formal and
"I am," answered Lawyer Gooch, without circumlocution. He never
circumlocuted when dealing with a woman. Women circumlocute. Time is
wasted when both sides in debate employ the same tactics.
"As a lawyer, sir," began the lady, "you may have acquired some
knowledge of the human heart. Do you believe that the pusillanimous
and petty conventions of our artificial social life should stand as an
obstacle in the way of a noble and affectionate heart when it finds
its true mate among the miserable and worthless wretches in the world
that are called men?"
"Madam," said Lawyer Gooch, in the tone that he used in curbing his
female clients, "this is an office for conducting the practice of law.
I am a lawyer, not a philosopher, nor the editor of an 'Answers to the
Lovelorn' column of a newspaper. I have other clients waiting. I
will ask you kindly to come to the point."
"Well, you needn't get so stiff around the gills about it," said the
lady, with a snap of her luminous eyes and a startling gyration of her
umbrella. "Business is what I've come for. I want your opinion in
the matter of a suit for divorce, as the vulgar would call it, but
which is really only the readjustment of the false and ignoble
conditions that the short-sighted laws of man have interposed between
"I beg your pardon, madam," interrupted Lawyer Gooch, with some
impatience, "for reminding you again that this is a law office.
Perhaps Mrs. Wilcox--"
"Mrs. Wilcox is all right," cut in the lady, with a hint of asperity.
"And so are Tolstoi, and Mrs. Gertrude Atherton, and Omar Khayyam, and
Mr. Edward Bok. I've read 'em all. I would like to discuss with you
the divine right of the soul as opposed to the freedom-destroying
restrictions of a bigoted and narrow-minded society. But I will
proceed to business. I would prefer to lay the matter before you in
an impersonal way until you pass upon its merits. That is to describe
it as a supposable instance, without--"
"You wish to state a hypothetical case?" said Lawyer Gooch.
"I was going to say that," said the lady, sharply. "Now, suppose there
is a woman who is all soul and heart and aspirations for a complete
existence. This woman has a husband who is far below her in intellect,
in taste--in everything. Bah! he is a brute. He despises literature.
He sneers at the lofty thoughts of the world's great thinkers. He
thinks only of real estate and such sordid things. He is no mate for a
woman with soul. We will say that this unfortunate wife one day meets
with her ideal--a man with brain and heart and force. She loves him.
Although this man feels the thrill of a new-found affinity he is too
noble, too honourable to declare himself. He flies from the presence
of his beloved. She flies after him, trampling, with superb
indifference, upon the fetters with which an unenlightened social
system would bind her. Now, what will a divorce cost? Eliza Ann
Timmins, the poetess of Sycamore Gap, got one for three hundred and
forty dollars. Can I--I mean can this lady I speak of get one that
"Madam," said Lawyer Gooch, "your last two or three sentences delight
me with their intelligence and clearness. Can we not now abandon the
hypothetical and come down to names and business?"
"I should say so," exclaimed the lady, adopting the practical with
admirable readiness. "Thomas R. Billings is the name of the low
brute who stands between the happiness of his legal--his legal, but
not his spiritual--wife and Henry K. Jessup, the noble man whom
nature intended for her mate. I," concluded the client, with an air
of dramatic revelation, "am Mrs. Billings!"
"Gentlemen to see you, sir," shouted Archibald, invading the room
almost at a handspring. Lawyer Gooch arose from his chair.
"Mrs. Billings," he said courteously, "allow me to conduct you into
the adjoining office apartment for a few minutes. I am expecting a
very wealthy old gentleman on business connected with a will. In a
very short while I will join you, and continue our consultation."
With his accustomed chivalrous manner, Lawyer Gooch ushered his
soulful client into the remaining unoccupied room, and came out,
closing the door with circumspection.
The next visitor introduced by Archibald was a thin, nervous,
irritable-looking man of middle age, with a worried and apprehensive
expression of countenance. He carried in one hand a small satchel,
which he set down upon the floor beside the chair which the lawyer
placed for him. His clothing was of good quality, but it was worn
without regard to neatness or style, and appeared to be covered with
the dust of travel.
"You make a specialty of divorce cases," he said, in, an agitated but
"I may say," began Lawyer Gooch, "that my practice has not
"I know you do," interrupted client number three. "You needn't tell
me. I've heard all about you. I have a case to lay before you
without necessarily disclosing any connection that I might have with
"You wish," said Lawyer Gooch, "to state a hypothetical case.
"You may call it that. I am a plain man of business. I will be as
brief as possible. We will first take up hypothetical woman. We will
say she is married uncongenially. In many ways she is a superior
woman. Physically she is considered to be handsome. She is devoted
to what she calls literature--poetry and prose, and such stuff. Her
husband is a plain man in the business walks of life. Their home has
not been happy, although the husband has tried to make it so. Some
time ago a man--a stranger--came to the peaceful town in which
they lived and engaged in some real estate operations. This woman met
him, and became unaccountably infatuated with him. Her attentions
became so open that the man felt the community to be no safe place for
him, so he left it. She abandoned husband and home, and followed him.
She forsook her home, where she was provided with every comfort, to
follow this man who had inspired her with such a strange affection.
Is there anything more to be deplored," concluded the client, in a
trembling voice, "than the wrecking of a home by a woman's
Lawyer Gooch delivered the cautious opinion that there was not.
"This man she has gone to join," resumed the visitor, "is not the man
to make her happy. It is a wild and foolish self-deception that makes
her think he will. Her husband, in spite of their many disagreements,
is the only one capable of dealing with her sensitive and peculiar
nature. But this she does not realize now."
"Would you consider a divorce the logical cure in the case you
present?" asked Lawyer Gooch, who felt that the conversation was
wandering too far from the field of business.
"A divorce!" exclaimed the client, feelingly--almost tearfully.
"No, no--not that. I have read, Mr. Gooch, of many instances where
your sympathy and kindly interest led you to act as a mediator
between estranged husband and wife, and brought them together again.
Let us drop the hypothetical case--I need conceal no longer that it
is I who am the sufferer in this sad affair--the names you shall
have--Thomas R. Billings and wife--and Henry K. Jessup, the man
with whom she is infatuated."
Client number three laid his hand upon Mr. Gooch's arm. Deep emotion
was written upon his careworn face. "For Heaven's sake", he said
fervently, "help me in this hour of trouble. Seek out Mrs. Billings,
and persuade her to abandon this distressing pursuit of her lamentable
folly. Tell her, Mr. Gooch, that her husband is willing to receive
her back to his heart and home--promise her anything that will
induce her to return. I have heard of your success in these matters.
Mrs. Billings cannot be very far away. I am worn out with travel
and weariness. Twice during the pursuit I saw her, but various
circumstances prevented our having an interview. Will you undertake
this mission for me, Mr. Gooch, and earn my everlasting gratitude?"
"It is true," said Lawyer Gooch, frowning slightly at the other's last
words, but immediately calling up an expression of virtuous
benevolence, "that on a number of occasions I have been successful in
persuading couples who sought the severing of their matrimonial bonds
to think better of their rash intentions and return to their homes
reconciled. But I assure you that the work is often exceedingly
difficult. The amount of argument, perseverance, and, if I may be
allowed to say it, eloquence that it requires would astonish you. But
this is a case in which my sympathies would be wholly enlisted. I
feel deeply for you sir, and I would be most happy to see husband and
wife reunited. But my time," concluded the lawyer, looking at his
watch as if suddenly reminded of the fact, "is valuable."
"I am aware of that," said the client, "and if you will take the case
and persuade Mrs. Billings to return home and leave the man alone that
she is following--on that day I will pay you the sum of one thousand
dollars. I have made a little money in real estate during the recent
boom in Susanville, and I will not begrudge that amount."
"Retain your seat for a few moments, please," said Lawyer Gooch,
arising, and again consulting his watch. "I have another client
waiting in an adjoining room whom I had very nearly forgotten. I will
return in the briefest possible space."
The situation was now one that fully satisfied Lawyer Gooch's love of
intricacy and complication. He revelled in cases that presented such
subtle problems and possibilities. It pleased him to think that he
was master of the happiness and fate of the three individuals who sat,
unconscious of one another's presence, within his reach. His old
figure of the ship glided into his mind. But now the figure failed,
for to have filled every compartment of an actual vessel would have
been to endanger her safety; with his compartments full, his ship of
affairs could but sail on to the advantageous port of a fine, fat fee.
The thing for him to do, of course, was to wring the best bargain he
could from some one of his anxious cargo.
First he called to the office boy: "Lock the outer door, Archibald,
and admit no one." Then he moved, with long, silent strides into the
room in which client number one waited. That gentleman sat, patiently
scanning the pictures in the magazine, with a cigar in his mouth and
his feet upon a table.
"Well," he remarked, cheerfully, as the lawyer entered, "have you made
up your mind? Does five hundred dollars go for getting the fair lady
"You mean that as a retainer?" asked Lawyer Gooch, softly
"Hey? No; for the whole job. It's enough, ain't it?"
"My fee," said Lawyer Gooch, "would be one thousand five hundred
dollars. Five hundred dollars down, and the remainder upon issuance
of the divorce."
A loud whistle came from client number one. His feet descended to the
"Guess we can't close the deal," he said, arising, "I cleaned up five
hundred dollars in a little real estate dicker down in Susanville.
I'd do anything I could to free the lady, but it out-sizes my pile."
"Could you stand one thousand two hundred dollars?" asked the lawyer,
"Five hundred is my limit, I tell you. Guess I'll have to hunt up a
cheaper lawyer." The client put on his hat.
"Out this way, please," said Lawyer Gooch, opening the door that led
into the hallway.
As the gentleman flowed out of the compartment and down the stairs,
Lawyer Gooch smiled to himself. "Exit Mr. Jessup," he murmured, as he
fingered the Henry Clay tuft of hair at his ear. "And now for the
forsaken husband." He returned to the middle office, and assumed a
"I understand," he said to client number three, "that you agree to pay
one thousand dollars if I bring about, or am instrumental in bringing
about, the return of Mrs. Billings to her home, and her abandonment of
her infatuated pursuit of the man for whom she has conceived such a
violent fancy. Also that the case is now unreservedly in my hands on
that basis. Is that correct?"
"Entirely", said the other, eagerly. "And I can produce the cash any
time at two hours' notice."
Lawyer Gooch stood up at his full height. His thin figure seemed to
expand. His thumbs sought the arm-holes of his vest. Upon his face
was a look of sympathetic benignity that he always wore during such
"Then, sir," he said, in kindly tones, "I think I can promise you an
early relief from your troubles. I have that much confidence in my
powers of argument and persuasion, in the natural impulses of the
human heart toward good, and in the strong influence of a husband's
unfaltering love. Mrs. Billings, sir, is here--in that room--" the
lawyer's long arm pointed to the door. "I will call her in at once;
and our united pleadings--"
Lawyer Gooch paused, for client number three had leaped from his chair
as if propelled by steel springs, and clutched his satchel.
"What the devil," he exclaimed, harshly, "do you mean? That woman in
there! I thought I shook her off forty miles back."
He ran to the open window, looked out below, and threw one leg over
"Stop!" cried Lawyer Gooch, in amazement. "What would you do? Come,
Mr. Billings, and face your erring but innocent wife. Our combined
entreaties cannot fail to--"
"Billings!" shouted the now thoroughly moved client. "I'll Billings
you, you old idiot!"
Turning, he hurled his satchel with fury at the lawyer's head. It
struck that astounded peacemaker between the eyes, causing him to
stagger backward a pace or two. When Lawyer Gooch recovered his wits
he saw that his client had disappeared. Rushing to the window, he
leaned out, and saw the recreant gathering himself up from the top of
a shed upon which he had dropped from the second-story window.
Without stopping to collect his hat he then plunged downward the
remaining ten feet to the alley, up which he flew with prodigious
celerity until the surrounding building swallowed him up from view.
Lawyer Gooch passed his hand tremblingly across his brow. It was a
habitual act with him, serving to clear his thoughts. Perhaps also it
now seemed to soothe the spot where a very hard alligator-hide satchel
The satchel lay upon the floor, wide open, with its contents spilled
about. Mechanically, Lawyer Gooch stooped to gather up the articles.
The first was a collar; and the omniscient eye of the man of law
perceived, wonderingly, the initials H. K. J. marked upon it. Then
came a comb, a brush, a folded map, and a piece of soap. Lastly, a
handful of old business letters, addressed--every one of them--to
"Henry K. Jessup, Esq."
Lawyer Gooch closed the satchel, and set it upon the table. He
hesitated for a moment, and then put on his hat and walked into the
office boy's anteroom.
"Archibald," he said mildly, as he opened the hall door, "I am going
around to the Supreme Court rooms. In five minutes you may step into
the inner office, and inform the lady who is waiting there that"--
here Lawyer Gooch made use of the vernacular--"that there's nothing
The New York "Enterprise" sent H. B. Calloway as special correspondent
to the Russo-Japanese-Portsmouth war.
For two months Calloway hung about Yokohama and Tokio, shaking dice
with the other correspondents for drinks of 'rickshaws--oh, no,
that's something to ride in; anyhow, he wasn't earning the salary
that his paper was paying him. But that was not Calloway's fault.
The little brown men who held the strings of Fate between their
fingers were not ready for the readers of the "Enterprise" to season
their breakfast bacon and eggs with the battles of the descendants of
But soon the column of correspondents that were to go out with the
First Army tightened their field-glass belts and went down to the
Yalu with Kuroki. Calloway was one of these.
Now, this is no history of the battle of the Yalu River. That has
been told in detail by the correspondents who gazed at the shrapnel
smoke rings from a distance of three miles. But, for justice's sake,
let it be understood that the Japanese commander prohibited a nearer
Calloway's feat was accomplished before the battle. What he did was
to furnish the "Enterprise" with the biggest beat of the war. That
paper published exclusively and in detail the news of the attack on
the lines of the Russian General on the same day that it was made.
No other paper printed a word about it for two days afterward, except
a London paper, whose account was absolutely incorrect and untrue.
Calloway did this in face of the fact that General Kuroki was making
his moves and laying his plans with the profoundest secrecy as far
as the world outside his camps was concerned. The correspondents
were forbidden to send out any news whatever of his plans; and every
message that was allowed on the wires was censored with rigid
The correspondent for the London paper handed in a cablegram
describing Kuroki's plans; but as it was wrong from beginning to end
the censor grinned and let it go through.
So, there they were--Kuroki on one side of the Yalu with forty-two
thousand infantry, five thousand cavalry, and one hundred and
twenty-four guns. On the other side, Zassulitch waited for him with
only twenty-three thousand men, and with a long stretch of river to
guard. And Calloway had got hold of some important inside information
that he knew would bring the "Enterprise" staff around a cablegram as
thick as flies around a Park Row lemonade stand. If he could only get
that message past the censor--the new censor who had arrived and
taken his post that day!
Calloway did the obviously proper thing. He lit his pipe and sat down
on a gun carriage to think it over. And there we must leave him; for
the rest of the story belongs to Vesey, a sixteen-dollar-a-week
reporter on the "Enterprise".
Calloway's cablegram was handed to the managing editor at four
o'clock in the afternoon. He read it three times; and then drew a
pocket mirror from a pigeon-hole in his desk, and looked at his
reflection carefully. Then he went over to the desk of Boyd, his
assistant (he usually called Boyd when he wanted him), and laid the
cablegram before him.
"It's from Calloway," he said. "See what you make of it."
The message was dated at Wi-ju, and these were the words of it:
Foregone preconcerted rash witching goes muffled rumour mine dark
silent unfortunate richmond existing great hotly brute select
mooted parlous beggars ye angel incontrovertible.
Boyd read it twice.
"It's either a cipher or a sunstroke," said he.
"Ever hear of anything like a code in the office--a secret code?"
asked the m. e., who had held his desk for only two years. Managing
editors come and go.
"None except the vernacular that the lady specials write in," said
Boyd. "Couldn't be an acrostic, could it?"
"I thought of that," said the m. e., "but the beginning letters
contain only four vowels. It must be a code of some sort."
"Try em in groups," suggested Boyd. "Let's see--'Rash witching
goes'--not with me it doesn't. 'Muffled rumour mine'--must
have an underground wire. 'Dark silent unfortunate richmond'--no
reason why he should knock that town so hard. 'Existing great
hotly'--no it doesn't pan out. I'll call Scott."
The city editor came in a hurry, and tried his luck. A city editor
must know something about everything; so Scott knew a little about
"It may be what is called an inverted alphabet cipher," said he.
"I'll try that. 'R' seems to be the oftenest used initial letter,
with the exception of 'm.' Assuming 'r' to mean 'e', the most
frequently used vowel, we transpose the letters--so."
Scott worked rapidly with his pencil for two minutes; and then showed
the first word according to his reading--the word "Scejtzez."
"Great!" cried Boyd. "It's a charade. My first is a Russian
general. Go on, Scott."
"No, that won't work," said the city editor. "It's undoubtedly a
code. It's impossible to read it without the key. Has the office
ever used a cipher code?"
"Just what I was asking," said the m.e. "Hustle everybody up that
ought to know. We must get at it some way. Calloway has evidently
got hold of something big, and the censor has put the screws on, or
he wouldn't have cabled in a lot of chop suey like this."
Throughout the office of the "Enterprise" a dragnet was sent, hauling
in such members of the staff as would be likely to know of a code,
past or present, by reason of their wisdom, information, natural
intelligence, or length of servitude. They got together in a group
in the city room, with the m. e. in the centre. No one had heard
of a code. All began to explain to the head investigator that
newspapers never use a code, anyhow--that is, a cipher code. Of
course the Associated Press stuff is a sort of code--an abbreviation,
The m. e. knew all that, and said so. He asked each man how long he
had worked on the paper. Not one of them had drawn pay from an
"Enterprise" envelope for longer than six years. Calloway had been on
the paper twelve years.
"Try old Heffelbauer," said the m. e. "He was here when Park Row was
a potato patch."
Heffelbauer was an institution. He was half janitor, half handy-man
about the office, and half watchman--thus becoming the peer of
thirteen and one-half tailors. Sent for, he came, radiating his
"Heffelbauer," said the m. e., "did you ever hear of a code belonging
to the office a long time ago--a private code? You know what a code
is, don't you?"
"Yah," said Heffelbauer. "Sure I know vat a code is. Yah, apout
dwelf or fifteen year ago der office had a code. Der reborters in der
city-room haf it here."
"Ah!" said the m. e. "We're getting on the trail now. Where was it
kept, Heffelbauer? What do you know about it?"
"Somedimes," said the retainer, "dey keep it in der little room
behind der library room."
"Can you find it?" asked the m. e. eagerly. "Do you know where it is?"
"Mein Gott!" said Heffelbauer. "How long you dink a code live? Der
reborters call him a maskeet. But von day he butt mit his head der
"Oh, he's talking about a goat," said Boyd. "Get out, Heffelbauer."
Again discomfited, the concerted wit and resource of the "Enterprise"
huddled around Calloway's puzzle, considering its mysterious words
Then Vesey came in.
Vesey was the youngest reporter. He had a thirty-two-inch chest and
wore a number fourteen collar; but his bright Scotch plaid suit gave
him presence and conferred no obscurity upon his whereabouts. He
wore his hat in such a position that people followed him about to see
him take it off, convinced that it must be hung upon a peg driven
into the back of his head. He was never without an immense, knotted,
hard-wood cane with a German-silver tip on its crooked handle. Vesey
was the best photograph hustler in the office. Scott said it was
because no living human being could resist the personal triumph it
was to hand his picture over to Vesey. Vesey always wrote his own
news stories, except the big ones, which were sent to the rewrite
men. Add to this fact that among all the inhabitants, temples, and
groves of the earth nothing existed that could abash Vesey, and his
dim sketch is concluded.
Vesey butted into the circle of cipher readers very much as
Heffelbauer's "code" would have done, and asked what was up. Some
one explained, with the touch of half-familiar condescension that
they always used toward him. Vesey reached out and took the
cablegram from the m. e.'s hand. Under the protection of some
special Providence, he was always doing appalling things like that,
and coming, off unscathed.
"It's a code," said Vesey. "Anybody got the key?"
"The office has no code," said Boyd, reaching for the message. Vesey
held to it.
"Then old Calloway expects us to read it, anyhow," said he. "He's up
a tree, or something, and he's made this up so as to get it by the
censor. It's up to us. Gee! I wish they had sent me, too. Say--we
can't afford to fall down on our end of it. 'Foregone, preconcerted
Vesey sat down on a table corner and began to whistle softly,
frowning at the cablegram.
"Let's have it, please," said the m. e. "We've got to get to work on
"I believe I've got a line on it," said Vesey. "Give me ten
He walked to his desk, threw his hat into a waste-basket, spread out
flat on his chest like a gorgeous lizard, and started his pencil
going. The wit and wisdom of the "Enterprise" remained in a loose
group, and smiled at one another, nodding their heads toward Vesey.
Then they began to exchange their theories about the cipher.
It took Vesey exactly fifteen minutes. He brought to the m. e. a pad
with the code-key written on it.
"I felt the swing of it as soon as I saw it," said Vesey. "Hurrah for
old Calloway! He's done the Japs and every paper in town that prints
literature instead of news. Take a look at that."
Thus had Vesey set forth the reading of the code:
Foregone - conclusion
Preconcerted - arrangement
Rash - act
Witching - hour of midnight
Goes - without saying
Muffled - report
Rumour - hath it
Mine - host
Dark - horse
Silent - majority
Unfortunate - pedestrians*
Richmond - in the field
Existing - conditions
Great - White Way
Hotly - contested
Brute - force
Select - few
Mooted - question
Parlous - times
Beggars - description
Ye - correspondent
Angel - unawares
Incontrovertible - fact
*Mr. Vesey afterward explained that the logical journalistic
complement of the word "unfortunate" was once the word
"victim." But, since the automobile became so popular, the
correct following word is now "pedestrians." Of course, in
Calloway's code it meant infantry.
"It's simply newspaper English," explained Vesey. "I've been
reporting on the "Enterprise" long enough to know it by heart. Old
Calloway gives us the cue word, and we use the word that naturally
follows it just as we use 'em in the paper. Read it over, and you'll
see how pat they drop into their places. Now, here's the message he
intended us to get."
Vesey handed out another sheet of paper.
Concluded arrangement to act at hour of midnight
without saying. Report hath it that a large body of
cavalry and an overwhelming force of infantry will be
thrown into the field. Conditions white. Way contested
by only a small force. Question the Times description.
Its correspondent is unaware of the facts.
"Great stuff!" cried Boyd excitedly. "Kuroki crosses the Yalu
to-night and attacks. Oh, we won't do a thing to the sheets that make
up with Addison's essays, real estate transfers, and bowling scores!"
"Mr. Vesey," said the m. e., with his jollying-which-you-should-regard-
as-a-favour manner, "you have cast a serious reflection upon the
literary standards of the paper that employs you. You have also
assisted materially in giving us the biggest 'beat' of the year. I
will let you know in a day or two whether you are to be discharged or
retained at a larger salary. Somebody send Ames to me."
Ames was the king-pin, the snowy-petalled Marguerite, the star-bright
looloo of the rewrite men. He saw attempted murder in the pains of
green-apple colic, cyclones in the summer zephyr, lost children in
every top-spinning urchin, an uprising of the down-trodden masses in
every hurling of a derelict potato at a passing automobile. When not
rewriting, Ames sat on the porch of his Brooklyn villa playing
checkers with his ten-year-old son.
Ames and the "war editor" shut themselves in a room. There was a map
in there stuck full of little pins that represented armies and
divisions. Their fingers had been itching for days to move those
pins along the crooked line of the Yalu. They did so now; and in
words of fire Ames translated Calloway's brief message into a front
page masterpiece that set the world talking. He told of the secret
councils of the Japanese officers; gave Kuroki's flaming speeches in
full; counted the cavalry and infantry to a man and a horse;
described the quick and silent building, of the bridge at Suikauchen,
across which the Mikado's legions were hurled upon the surprised
Zassulitch, whose troops were widely scattered along the river. And
the battle!--well, you know what Ames can do with a battle if you give
him just one smell of smoke for a foundation. And in the same story,
with seemingly supernatural knowledge, he gleefully scored the most
profound and ponderous paper in England for the false and misleading
account of the intended movements of the Japanese First Army printed
in its issue of "the same date".
Only one error was made; and that was the fault of the cable operator
at Wi-ju. Calloway pointed it out after he came back. The word
"great" in his code should have been "gage," and its complemental
words "of battle." But it went to Ames "conditions white," and of
course he took that to mean snow. His description of the Japanese
army struggling through the snowstorm, blinded by the whirling flakes,
was thrillingly vivid. The artists turned out some effective
illustrations that made a hit as pictures of the artillery dragging
their guns through the drifts. But, as the attack was made on the
first day of May, "conditions white" excited some amusement. But it
in made no difference to the "Enterprise", anyway.
It was wonderful. And Calloway was wonderful in having made the new
censor believe that his jargon of words meant no more than a
complaint of the dearth of news and a petition for more expense
money. And Vesey was wonderful. And most wonderful of all are
words, and how they make friends one with another, being oft
associated, until not even obituary notices them do part.
On the second day following, the city editor halted at Vesey's desk
where the reporter was writing the story of a man who had broken his
leg by falling into a coal-hole--Ames having failed to find a
murder motive in it.
"The old man says your salary is to be raised to twenty a week," said
"All right," said Vesey. "Every little helps. Say--Mr. Scott,
which would you say--'We can state without fear of successful
contradiction,' or, 'On the whole it can be safely asserted'?"
A MATTER OF MEAN ELEVATION
One winter the Alcazar Opera Company of New Orleans made a speculative
trip along the Mexican, Central American and South American coasts.
The venture proved a most successful one. The music-loving,
impressionable Spanish-Americans deluged the company with dollars and
"vivas." The manager waxed plump and amiable. But for the
prohibitive climate he would have put forth the distinctive flower of
his prosperity--the overcoat of fur, braided, frogged and opulent.
Almost was he persuaded to raise the salaries of his company. But
with a mighty effort he conquered the impulse toward such an
unprofitable effervescence of joy.
At Macuto, on the coast of Venezuela, the company scored its greatest
success. Imagine Coney Island translated into Spanish and you will
comprehend Macuto. The fashionable season is from November to March.
Down from La Guayra and Caracas and Valencia and other interior towns
flock the people for their holiday season. There are bathing and
fiestas and bull fights and scandal. And then the people have a
passion for music that the bands in the plaza and on the sea beach
stir but do not satisfy. The coming of the Alcazar Opera Company
aroused the utmost ardour and zeal among the pleasure seekers.
The illustrious Guzman Blanco, President and Dictator of Venezuela,
sojourned in Macuto with his court for the season. That potent ruler
--who himself paid a subsidy of 40,000 pesos each year to grand opera
in Caracas--ordered one of the Government warehouses to be cleared
for a temporary theatre. A stage was quickly constructed and rough
wooden benches made for the audience. Private boxes were added for
the use of the President and the notables of the army and Government.
The company remained in Macuto for two weeks. Each performance filled
the house as closely as it could be packed. Then the music-mad people
fought for room in the open doors and windows, and crowded about,
hundreds deep, on the outside. Those audiences formed a brilliantly
diversified patch of colour. The hue of their faces ranged from the
clear olive of the pure-blood Spaniards down through the yellow and
brown shades of the Mestizos to the coal-black Carib and the Jamaica
Negro. Scattered among them were little groups of Indians with faces
like stone idols, wrapped in gaudy fibre-woven blankets--Indians
down from the mountain states of Zamora and Los Andes and Miranda to
trade their gold dust in the coast towns.
The spell cast upon these denizens of the interior fastnesses was
remarkable. They sat in petrified ecstasy, conspicuous among the
excitable Macutians, who wildly strove with tongue and hand to give
evidence of their delight. Only once did the sombre rapture of these
aboriginals find expression. During the rendition of "Faust," Guzman
Blanco, extravagantly pleased by the "Jewel Song," cast upon the stage
a purse of gold pieces. Other distinguished citizens followed his lead
to the extent of whatever loose coin they had convenient, while some
of the fair and fashionable señoras were moved, in imitation, to
fling a jewel or a ring or two at the feet of the Marguerite--who
was, according to the bills, Mlle. Nina Giraud. Then, from different
parts of the house rose sundry of the stolid hillmen and cast upon the
stage little brown and dun bags that fell with soft "thumps" and did
not rebound. It was, no doubt, pleasure at the tribute to her art
that caused Mlle. Giraud's eyes to shine so brightly when she opened
these little deerskin bags in her dressing room and found them to
contain pure gold dust. If so, the pleasure was rightly hers, for her
voice in song, pure, strong and thrilling with the feeling of the
emotional artist, deserved the tribute that it earned.
But the triumph of the Alcazar Opera Company is not the theme--it
but leans upon and colours it. There happened in Macuto a tragic
thing, an unsolvable mystery, that sobered for a time the gaiety of
the happy season.
One evening between the short twilight and the time when she should
have whirled upon the stage in the red and black of the ardent Carmen,
Mlle. Nina Giraud disappeared from the sight and ken of 6,000 pairs
of eyes and as many minds in Macuto. There was the usual turmoil and
hurrying to seek her. Messengers flew to the little French-kept hotel
where she stayed; others of the company hastened here or there where
she might be lingering in some tienda or unduly prolonging her bath
upon the beach. All search was fruitless. Mademoiselle had
Half an hour passed and she did not appear. The dictator, unused to
the caprices of prime donne, became impatient. He sent an aide from
his box to say to the manager that if the curtain did not at once rise
he would immediately hale the entire company to the calabosa, though
it would desolate his heart, indeed, to be compelled to such an act.
Birds in Macuto could be made to sing.
The manager abandoned hope for the time of Mlle. Giraud. A member of
the chorus, who had dreamed hopelessly for years of the blessed
opportunity, quickly Carmenized herself and the opera went on.
Afterward, when the lost cantatrice appeared not, the aid of the
authorities was invoked. The President at once set the army, the
police and all citizens to the search. Not one clue to Mlle. Giraud's
disappearance was found. The Alcazar left to fill engagements farther
down the coast.
On the way back the steamer stopped at Macuto and the manager made
anxious inquiry. Not a trace of the lady had been discovered. The
Alcazar could do no more. The personal belongings of the missing lady
were stored in the hotel against her possible later reappearance and
the opera company continued upon its homeward voyage to New Orleans.
* * * * *
On the camino real along the beach the two saddle mules and the four
pack mules of Don Señor Johnny Armstrong stood, patiently awaiting the
crack of the whip of the "arriero", Luis. That would be the signal for
the start on another long journey into the mountains. The pack mules
were loaded with a varied assortment of hardware and cutlery. These
articles Don Johnny traded to the interior Indians for the gold dust
that they washed from the Andean streams and stored in quills and bags
against his coming. It was a profitable business, and Señor Armstrong
expected soon to be able to purchase the coffee plantation that he
Armstrong stood on the narrow sidewalk, exchanging garbled Spanish
with old Peralto, the rich native merchant who had just charged him
four prices for half a gross of pot-metal hatchets, and abridged
English with Rucker, the little German who was Consul for the United
"Take with you, señor," said Peralto, "the blessings of the saints
upon your journey."
"Better try quinine," growled Rucker through his pipe. "Take two
grains every night. And don't make your trip too long, Johnny,
because we haf needs of you. It is ein villainous game dot Melville
play of whist, and dere is no oder substitute. "Auf wiedersehen", und
keep your eyes dot mule's ears between when you on der edge of der
The bells of Luis's mule jingled and the pack train filed after the
warning note. Armstrong, waved a good-bye and took his place at the
tail of the procession. Up the narrow street they turned, and passed
the two-story wooden Hotel Ingles, where Ives and Dawson and Richards
and the rest of the chaps were dawdling on the broad piazza, reading
week-old newspapers. They crowded to the railing and shouted many
friendly and wise and foolish farewells after him. Across the plaza
they trotted slowly past the bronze statue of Guzman Blanco, within
its fence of bayoneted rifles captured from revolutionists, and out
of the town between the rows of thatched huts swarming with the
unclothed youth of Macuto. They plunged into the damp coolness of
banana groves at length to emerge upon a bright stream, where brown
women in scant raiment laundered clothes destructively upon the rocks.
Then the pack train, fording the stream, attacked the sudden ascent,
and bade adieu to such civilization as the coast afforded.
For weeks Armstrong, guided by Luis, followed his regular route among
the mountains. After he had collected an arroba of the precious
metal, winning a profit of nearly $5,000, the heads of the lightened
mules were turned down-trail again. Where the head of the Guarico
River springs from a great gash in the mountain-side, Luis halted the
"Half a day's journey from here, Señor," said he, "is the village of
Tacuzama, which we have never visited. I think many ounces of gold may
be procured there. It is worth the trial."
Armstrong concurred, and they turned again upward toward Tacuzama.
The trail was abrupt and precipitous, mounting through a dense
forest. As night fell, dark and gloomy, Luis once more halted.
Before them was a black chasm, bisecting the path as far as they could
Luis dismounted. "There should be a bridge," he called, and ran along
the cleft a distance. "It is here," he cried, and remounting, led the
way. In a few moments Armstrong, heard a sound as though a thunderous
drum were beating somewhere in the dark. It was the falling of the
mules' hoofs upon the bridge made of strong hides lashed to poles and
stretched across the chasm. Half a mile further was Tacuzama. The
village was a congregation of rock and mud huts set in the
profundity of an obscure wood. As they rode in a sound inconsistent
with that brooding solitude met their ears. From a long, low mud hut
that they were nearing rose the glorious voice of a woman in song.
The words were English, the air familiar to Armstrong's memory, but
not to his musical knowledge.
He slipped from his mule and stole to a narrow window in one end of
the house. Peering cautiously inside, he saw, within three feet of
him, a woman of marvellous, imposing beauty, clothed in a splendid
loose robe of leopard skins. The hut was packed close to the small
space in which she stood with the squatting figures of Indians.
The woman finished her song and seated herself close to the little
window, as if grateful for the unpolluted air that entered it.
When she had ceased several of the audience rose and cast little
softly-falling bags at her feet. A harsh murmur--no doubt a
barbarous kind of applause and comment--went through the grim
Armstrong, was used to seizing opportunities promptly. Taking
advantage of the noise he called to the woman in a low but distinct
voice: "Do not turn your head this way, but listen. I am an American.
If you need assistance tell me how I can render it. Answer as briefly
as you can."
The woman was worthy of his boldness. Only by a sudden flush of her
pale cheek did she acknowledge understanding of his words. Then she
spoke, scarcely moving her lips.
"I am held a prisoner by these Indians. God knows I need help. In
two hours come to the little hut twenty yards toward the Mountainside.
There will be a light and a red curtain in the window. There is
always a guard at the door, whom you will have to overcome. For the
love of heaven, do not fail to come."
The story seems to shrink from adventure and rescue and mystery. The
theme is one too gentle for those brave and quickening tones. And yet
it reaches as far back as time itself. It has been named
"environment," which is as weak a word as any to express the
unnameable kinship of man to nature, that queer fraternity that causes
stones and trees and salt water and clouds to play upon our emotions.
Why are we made serious and solemn and sublime by mountain heights,
grave and contemplative by an abundance of overhanging trees,
reduced to inconstancy and monkey capers by the ripples on a sandy
beach? Did the protoplasm--but enough. The chemists are looking
into the matter, and before long they will have all life in the table
of the symbols.
Briefly, then, in order to confine the story within scientific bounds,
John Armstrong, went to the hut, choked the Indian guard and carried
away Mlle. Giraud. With her was also conveyed a number of pounds of
gold dust she had collected during her six months' forced engagement
in Tacuzama. The Carabobo Indians are easily the most enthusiastic
lovers of music between the equator and the French Opera House in New
Orleans. They are also strong believers that the advice of Emerson
was good when he said: "The thing thou wantest, O discontented man
--take it, and pay the price." A number of them had attended the
performance of the Alcazar Opera Company in Macuto, and found Mlle.
Giraud's style and technique satisfactory. They wanted her, so they
took her one evening suddenly and without any fuss. They treated her
with much consideration, exacting only one song recital each day. She
was quite pleased at being rescued by Mr. Armstrong. So much for
mystery and adventure. Now to resume the theory of the protoplasm.
John Armstrong and Mlle. Giraud rode among the Andean peaks, enveloped
in their greatness and sublimity. The mightiest cousins, furthest
removed, in nature's great family become conscious of the tie. Among
those huge piles of primordial upheaval, amid those gigantic silences
and elongated fields of distance the littlenesses of men are
precipitated as one chemical throws down a sediment from another.
They moved reverently, as in a temple. Their souls were uplifted in
unison with the stately heights. They travelled in a zone of majesty
To Armstrong the woman seemed almost a holy thing. Yet bathed in the
white, still dignity of her martyrdom that purified her earthly beauty
and gave out, it seemed, an aura of transcendent loveliness, in those
first hours of companionship she drew from him an adoration that was
half human love, half the worship of a descended goddess.
Never yet since her rescue had she smiled. Over her dress she still
wore the robe of leopard skins, for the mountain air was cold. She
looked to be some splendid princess belonging to those wild and
awesome altitudes. The spirit of the region chimed with hers. Her
eyes were always turned upon the sombre cliffs, the blue gorges and
the snow-clad turrets, looking a sublime melancholy equal to their
own. At times on the journey she sang thrilling te deums and
misereres that struck the true note of the hills, and made their
route seem like a solemn march down a cathedral aisle. The rescued
one spoke but seldom, her mood partaking of the hush of nature that
surrounded them. Armstrong looked upon her as an angel. He could not
bring himself to the sacrilege of attempting to woo her as other
women may be wooed.
On the third day they had descended as far as the "tierra templada",
the zona of the table lands and foot hills. The mountains were
receding in their rear, but still towered, exhibiting yet impressively
their formidable heads. Here they met signs of man. They saw the
white houses of coffee plantations gleam across the clearings. They
struck into a road where they met travellers and pack-mules. Cattle
were grazing on the slopes. They passed a little village where the
round-eyed "niños" shrieked and called at sight of them.
Mlle. Giraud laid aside her leopard-skin robe. It seemed to be a
trifle incongruous now. In the mountains it had appeared fitting
and natural. And if Armstrong was not mistaken she laid aside with
it something of the high dignity of her demeanour. As the country
became more populous and significant of comfortable life he saw, with
a feeling of joy, that the exalted princess and priestess of the
Andean peaks was changing to a woman--an earth woman, but no less
enticing. A little colour crept to the surface of her marble cheek.
She arranged the conventional dress that the removal of the robe now
disclosed with the solicitous touch of one who is conscious of the
eyes of others. She smoothed the careless sweep of her hair. A
mundane interest, long latent in the chilling atmosphere of the
ascetic peaks, showed in her eyes.
This thaw in his divinity sent Armstrong's heart going faster. So
might an Arctic explorer thrill at his first ken of green fields and
liquescent waters. They were on a lower plane of earth and life and
were succumbing to its peculiar, subtle influence. The austerity of
the hills no longer thinned the air they breathed. About them was the
breath of fruit and corn and builded homes, the comfortable smell of
smoke and warm earth and the consolations man has placed between
himself and the dust of his brother earth from which he sprung.
While traversing those awful mountains, Mile. Giraud had seemed to
be wrapped in their spirit of reverent reserve. Was this that same
woman--now palpitating, warm, eager, throbbing with conscious life and
charm, feminine to her finger-tips? Pondering over this, Armstrong
felt certain misgivings intrude upon his thoughts. He wished he could
stop there with this changing creature, descending no farther. Here
was the elevation and environment to which her nature seemed to
respond with its best. He feared to go down upon the man-dominated
levels. Would her spirit not yield still further in that artificial
zone to which they were descending?
Now from a little plateau they saw the sea flash at the edge of the
green lowlands. Mile. Giraud gave a little, catching sigh.
"Oh! look, Mr. Armstrong, there is the sea! Isn't it lovely? I'm so
tired of mountains." She heaved a pretty shoulder in a gesture of
repugnance. "Those horrid Indians! Just think of what I suffered!
Although I suppose I attained my ambition of becoming a stellar
attraction, I wouldn't care to repeat the engagement. It was very
nice of you to bring me away. Tell me, Mr. Armstrong--honestly, now
--do I look such an awful, awful fright? I haven't looked into a
mirror, you know, for months."
Armstrong made answer according to his changed moods. Also he laid
his hand upon hers as it rested upon the horn of her saddle. Luis was
at the head of the pack train and could not see. She allowed it to
remain there, and her eyes smiled frankly into his.
Then at sundown they dropped upon the coast level under the palms and
lemons among the vivid greens and scarlets and ochres of the "tierra
caliente". They rode into Macuto, and saw the line of volatile bathers
frolicking in the surf. The mountains were very far away.
Mlle. Giraud's eyes were shining with a joy that could not have
existed under the chaperonage of the mountain-tops. There were other
spirits calling to her--nymphs of the orange groves, pixies from the
chattering surf, imps, born of the music, the perfumes, colours and
the insinuating presence of humanity. She laughed aloud, musically,
at a sudden thought.
"Won't there be a sensation?" she called to Armstrong. "Don't I wish
I had an engagement just now, though! What a picnic the press agent
would have! 'Held a prisoner by a band of savage Indians subdued by
the spell of her wonderful voice'--wouldn't that make great stuff?
But I guess I quit the game winner, anyhow--there ought to be a
couple of thousand dollars in that sack of gold dust I collected as
encores, don't you think?"
He left her at the door of the little Hotel de Buen Descansar, where
she had stopped before. Two hours later he returned to the hotel. He
glanced in at the open door of the little combined reception room and
Half a dozen of Macuto's representative social and official
"caballeros" were distributed about the room. Señor Villablanca, the
wealthy rubber concessionist, reposed his fat figure on two chairs,
with an emollient smile beaming upon his chocolate-coloured face.
Guilbert, the French mining engineer, leered through his polished
nose-glasses. Colonel Mendez, of the regular army, in gold-laced
uniform and fatuous grin, was busily extracting corks from champagne
bottles. Other patterns of Macutian gallantry and fashion pranced and
posed. The air was hazy with cigarette smoke. Wine dripped upon the
Perched upon a table in the centre of the room in an attitude of easy
preëminence was Mlle. Giraud. A chic costume of white lawn and cherry
ribbons supplanted her travelling garb. There was a suggestion of
lace, and a frill or two, with a discreet, small implication of
hand-embroidered pink hosiery. Upon her lap rested a guitar. In her
face was the light of resurrection, the peace of elysium attained
through fire and suffering. She was singing to a lively accompaniment
a little song:
"When you see de big round moon
Comin' up like a balloon,
Dis nigger skips fur to kiss de lips
Ob his stylish, black-faced coon."
The singer caught sight of Armstrong.
"Hi! there, Johnny," she called; "I've been expecting you for an
hour. What kept you? Gee! but these smoked guys are the slowest you
ever saw. They ain't on, at all. Come along in, and I'll make this
coffee-coloured old sport with the gold epaulettes open one for you
right off the ice."
"Thank you," said Armstrong; "not just now, I believe. I've several
things to attend to."
He walked out and down the street, and met Rucker coming up from the
"Play you a game of billiards," said Armstrong. "I want something to
take the taste of the sea level out of my mouth."
In gilt letters on the ground glass of the door of room No. 962 were
the words: "Robbins & Hartley, Brokers." The clerks had gone. It was
past five, and with the solid tramp of a drove of prize Percherons,
scrub-women were invading the cloud-capped twenty-story office
building. A puff of red-hot air flavoured with lemon peelings,
soft-coal smoke and train oil came in through the half-open windows.
Robbins, fifty, something of an overweight beau, and addicted to first
nights and hotel palm-rooms, pretended to be envious of his partner's
"Going to be something doing in the humidity line to-night," he said.
"You out-of-town chaps will be the people, with your katydids and
moonlight and long drinks and things out on the front porch."
Hartley, twenty-nine, serious, thin, good-looking, nervous, sighed
and frowned a little.
"Yes," said he, "we always have cool nights in Floralhurst, especially
in the winter."
A man with an air of mystery came in the door and went up to Hartley.
"I've found where she lives," he announced in the portentous
half-whisper that makes the detective at work a marked being to his
Hartley scowled him into a state of dramatic silence and quietude.
But by that time Robbins had got his cane and set his tie pin to his
liking, and with a debonair nod went out to his metropolitan
"Here is the address," said the detective in a natural tone, being
deprived of an audience to foil.
Hartley took the leaf torn out of the sleuth's dingy memorandum book.
On it were pencilled the words "Vivienne Arlington, No. 341 East
----th Street, care of Mrs. McComus."
"Moved there a week ago," said the detective. "Now, if you want any
shadowing done, Mr. Hartley, I can do you as fine a job in that line
as anybody in the city. It will be only $7 a day and expenses. Can
send in a daily typewritten report, covering--"
"You needn't go on," interrupted the broker. "It isn't a case of that
kind. I merely wanted the address. How much shall I pay you?"
"One day's work," said the sleuth. "A tenner will cover it."
Hartley paid the man and dismissed him. Then he left the office and
boarded a Broadway car. At the first large crosstown artery of travel
he took an eastbound car that deposited him in a decaying avenue,
whose ancient structures once sheltered the pride and glory of the
Walking a few squares, he came to the building that he sought. It was
a new flathouse, bearing carved upon its cheap stone portal its
sonorous name, "The Vallambrosa." Fire-escapes zigzagged down its
front--these laden with household goods, drying clothes, and
squalling children evicted by the midsummer heat. Here and there a
pale rubber plant peeped from the miscellaneous mass, as if wondering
to what kingdom it belonged--vegetable, animal or artificial.
Hartley pressed the "McComus" button. The door latch clicked
spasmodically--now hospitably, now doubtfully, as though in
anxiety whether it might be admitting friends or duns. Hartley
entered and began to climb the stairs after the manner of those who
seek their friends in city flat-houses--which is the manner of a boy
who climbs an apple-tree, stopping when he comes upon what he wants.
On the fourth floor he saw Vivienne standing in an open door. She
invited him inside, with a nod and a bright, genuine smile. She
placed a chair for him near a window, and poised herself gracefully
upon the edge of one of those Jekyll-and-Hyde pieces of furniture that
are masked and mysteriously hooded, unguessable bulks by day and
inquisitorial racks of torture by night.
Hartley cast a quick, critical, appreciative glance at her before
speaking, and told himself that his taste in choosing had been
Vivienne was about twenty-one. She was of the purest Saxon type. Her
hair was a ruddy golden, each filament of the neatly gathered mass
shining with its own lustre and delicate graduation of colour. In
perfect harmony were her ivory-clear complexion and deep sea-blue eyes
that looked upon the world with the ingenuous calmness of a mermaid or
the pixie of an undiscovered mountain stream. Her frame was strong
and yet possessed the grace of absolute naturalness. And yet with all
her Northern clearness and frankness of line and colouring, there
seemed to be something of the tropics in her--something of languor
in the droop of her pose, of love of ease in her ingenious complacency
of satisfaction and comfort in the mere act of breathing--something
that seemed to claim for her a right as a perfect work of nature to
exist and be admired equally with a rare flower or some beautiful,
milk-white dove among its sober-hued companions.
She was dressed in a white waist and dark skirt--that discreet
masquerade of goose-girl and duchess.
"Vivienne," said Hartley, looking at her pleadingly, "you did not
answer my last letter. It was only by nearly a week's search that I
found where you had moved to. Why have you kept me in suspense when
you knew how anxiously I was waiting to see you and hear from you?"
The girl looked out the window dreamily.
"Mr. Hartley," she said hesitatingly, "I hardly know what to say to
you. I realize all the advantages of your offer, and sometimes I feel
sure that I could be contented with you. But, again, I am doubtful.
I was born a city girl, and I am afraid to bind myself to a quiet
"My dear girl," said Hartley, ardently, "have I not told you that you
shall have everything that your heart can desire that is in my power
to give you? You shall come to the city for the theatres, for
shopping and to visit your friends as often as you care to. You can
trust me, can you not?"
"To the fullest," she said, turning her frank eyes upon him with a
smile. "I know you are the kindest of men, and that the girl you get
will be a lucky one. I learned all about you when I was at the
"Ah!" exclaimed Hartley, with a tender, reminiscent light in his eye;
"I remember well the evening I first saw you at the Montgomerys'.
Mrs. Montgomery was sounding your praises to me all the evening.
And she hardly did you justice. I shall never forget that supper.
Come, Vivienne, promise me. I want you. You'll never regret coming
with me. No one else will ever give you as pleasant a home."
The girl sighed and looked down at her folded hands.
A sudden jealous suspicion seized Hartley.
"Tell me, Vivienne," he asked, regarding her keenly, "is there
another--is there some one else?"
A rosy flush crept slowly over her fair cheeks and neck.
"You shouldn't ask that, Mr. Hartley," she said, in some confusion.
"But I will tell you. There is one other--but he has no right--I
have promised him nothing."
"His name?" demanded Hartley, sternly.
"Rafford Townsend!" exclaimed Hartley, with a grim tightening of his
jaw. "How did that man come to know you? After all I've done for
"His auto has just stopped below," said Vivienne, bending over the
window-sill. "He's coming for his answer. Oh I don't know what to
The bell in the flat kitchen whirred. Vivienne hurried to press the
"Stay here," said Hartley. "I will meet him in the hall."
Townsend, looking like a Spanish grandee in his light tweeds, Panama
hat and curling black mustache, came up the stairs three at a time.
He stopped at sight of Hartley and looked foolish.
"Go back," said Hartley, firmly, pointing downstairs with his
"Hullo!" said Townsend, feigning surprise. "What's up? What are you
doing here, old man?"
"Go back," repeated Hartley, inflexibly. "The Law of the Jungle. Do
you want the Pack to tear you in pieces? The kill is mine."
"I came here to see a plumber about the bathroom connections," said
"All right," said Hartley. "You shall have that lying plaster to
stick upon your traitorous soul. But, go back." Townsend went
downstairs, leaving a bitter word to be wafted up the draught of the
staircase. Hartley went back to his wooing.
"Vivienne," said he, masterfully. "I have got to have you. I will
take no more refusals or dilly-dallying."
"When do you want me?" she asked.
"Now. As soon as you can get ready."
She stood calmly before him and looked him in the eye.
"Do you think for one moment," she said, "that I would enter your home
while Héloise is there?"
Hartley cringed as if from an unexpected blow. He folded his arms and
paced the carpet once or twice.
"She shall go," he declared grimly. Drops stood upon his brow. "Why
should I let that woman make my life miserable? Never have I seen one
day of freedom from trouble since I have known her. You are right,
Vivienne. Héloise must be sent away before I can take you home. But
she shall go. I have decided. I will turn her from my doors."
"When will you do this?" asked the girl.
Hartley clinched his teeth and bent his brows together.
"To-night," he said, resolutely. "I will send her away to-night."
"Then," said Vivienne, "my answer is 'yes.' Come for me when you
She looked into his eyes with a sweet, sincere light in her own.
Hartley could scarcely believe that her surrender was true, it was
so swift and complete.
"Promise me," he said feelingly, "on your word and honour."
"On my word and honour," repeated Vivienne, softly.
At the door he turned and gazed at her happily, but yet as one who
scarcely trusts the foundations of his joy.
"To-morrow," he said, with a forefinger of reminder uplifted.
"To-morrow," she repeated with a smile of truth and candour.
In an hour and forty minutes Hartley stepped off the train at
Floralhurst. A brisk walk of ten minutes brought him to the gate of a
handsome two-story cottage set upon a wide and well-tended lawn.
Halfway to the house he was met by a woman with jet-black braided hair
and flowing white summer gown, who half strangled him without apparent
When they stepped into the hall she said:
"Mamma's here. The auto is coming for her in half an hour. She came
to dinner, but there's no dinner."
"I've something to tell you," said Hartley. "I thought to break it to
you gently, but since your mother is here we may as well out with it."
He stooped and whispered something at her ear.
His wife screamed. Her mother came running into the hall. The
dark-haired woman screamed again--the joyful scream of a well-beloved
and petted woman.
"Oh, mamma!" she cried ecstatically, "what do you think? Vivienne is
coming to cook for us! She is the one that stayed with the
Montgomerys a whole year. And now, Billy, dear," she concluded, "you
must go right down into the kitchen and discharge Héloise. She has
been drunk again the whole day long."
SOCIOLOGY IN SERGE AND STRAW
The season of irresponsibility is at hand. Come, let us twine round
our brows wreaths of poison ivy (that is for idiocy), and wander hand
in hand with sociology in the summer fields.
Likely as not the world is flat. The wise men have tried to prove
that it is round, with indifferent success. They pointed out to us a
ship going to sea, and bade us observe that, at length, the convexity
of the earth hid from our view all but the vessel's topmast. But we
picked up a telescope and looked, and saw the decks and hull again.
Then the wise men said: "Oh, pshaw! anyhow, the variation of the
intersection of the equator and the ecliptic proves it." We could not
see this through our telescope, so we remained silent. But it stands
to reason that, if the world were round, the queues of Chinamen
would stand straight up from their heads instead of hanging down their
backs, as travellers assure us they do.
Another hot-weather corroboration of the flat theory is the fact that
all of life, as we know it, moves in little, unavailing circles.
More justly than to anything else, it can be likened to the game
of baseball. Crack! we hit the ball, and away we go. If we earn a
run (in life we call it success) we get back to the home plate and
sit upon a bench. If we are thrown out, we walk back to the home
plate--and sit upon a bench.
The circumnavigators of the alleged globe may have sailed the rim of a
watery circle back to the same port again. The truly great return at
the high tide of their attainments to the simplicity of a child. The
billionaire sits down at his mahogany to his bowl of bread and milk.
When you reach the end of your career, just take down the sign "Goal"
and look at the other side of it. You will find "Beginning Point"
there. It has been reversed while you were going around the track.
But this is humour, and must be stopped. Let us get back to the
serious questions that arise whenever Sociology turns summer boarder.
You are invited to consider the scene of the story--wild, Atlantic
waves, thundering against a wooded and rock-bound shore--in the
Greater City of New York.
The town of Fishampton, on the south shore of Long Island, is noted
for its clam fritters and the summer residence of the Van Plushvelts.
The Van Plushvelts have a hundred million dollars, and their name is a
household word with tradesmen and photographers.
On the fifteenth of June the Van Plushvelts boarded up the front door
of their city house, carefully deposited their cat on the sidewalk,
instructed the caretaker not to allow it to eat any of the ivy on the
walls, and whizzed away in a 40-horse-power to Fishampton to stray
alone in the shade--Amaryllis not being in their class. If you are a
subscriber to the "Toadies' Magazine", you have often--You say you are
not? Well, you buy it at a news-stand, thinking that the newsdealer
is not wise to you. But he knows about it all. HE knows--HE knows!
I say that you have often seen in the "Toadies' Magazine" pictures of
the Van Plushvelts' summer home; so it will not be described here.
Our business is with young Haywood Van Plushvelt, sixteen years old,
heir to the century of millions, darling of the financial gods and
great grandson of Peter Van Plushvelt, former owner of a particularly
fine cabbage patch that has been ruined by an intrusive lot of
One afternoon young Haywood Van Plushvelt strolled out between the
granite gate posts of "Dolce far Niente"--that's what they called
the place; and it was an improvement on dolce Far Rockaway, I can
Haywood walked down into the village. He was human, after all, and
his prospective millions weighed upon him. Wealth had wreaked upon
him its direfullest. He was the product of private tutors. Even under
his first hobby-horse had tan bark been strewn. He had been born with
a gold spoon, lobster fork and fish-set in his mouth. For which I
hope, later, to submit justification, I must ask your consideration of
his haberdashery and tailoring.
Young Fortunatus was dressed in a neat suit of dark blue serge, a
neat, white straw hat, neat low-cut tan shoes, of the well-known
"immaculate" trade mark, a neat, narrow four-in-hand tie, and carried
a slender, neat, bamboo cane.
Down Persimmon Street (there's never tree north of Hagerstown, Md.)
came from the village "Smoky" Dodson, fifteen and a half, worst boy in
Fishampton. "Smoky" was dressed in a ragged red sweater, wrecked and
weather-worn golf cap, run-over shoes, and trousers of the
"serviceable" brand. Dust, clinging to the moisture induced by free
exercise, darkened wide areas of his face. "Smoky" carried a baseball
bat, and a league ball that advertised itself in the rotundity of his
trousers pocket. Haywood stopped and passed the time of day.
"Going to play ball?" he asked.
"Smoky's" eyes and countenance confronted him with a frank
"Me?" he said, with deadly mildness; "sure not. Can't you see I've
got a divin' suit on? I'm goin' up in a submarine balloon to catch
butterflies with a two-inch auger.
"Excuse me," said Haywood, with the insulting politeness of his
caste, "for mistaking you for a gentleman. I might have known
"How might you have known better if you thought I was one?" said
"Smoky," unconsciously a logician.
"By your appearance," said Haywood. "No gentleman is dirty, ragged
and a liar."
"Smoky" hooted once like a ferry-boat, spat on his hand, got a firm
grip on his baseball bat and then dropped it against the fence.
"Say," said he, "I knows you. You're the pup that belongs in that
swell private summer sanitarium for city-guys over there. I seen you
come out of the gate. You can't bluff nobody because you're rich.
And because you got on swell clothes. Arabella! Yah!"
"Ragamuffin!" said Haywood.
"Smoky" picked up a fence-rail splinter and laid it on his shoulder.
"Dare you to knock it off," he challenged.
"I wouldn't soil my hands with you," said the aristocrat.
"'Fraid," said "Smoky" concisely. "Youse city-ducks ain't got the I
sand. I kin lick you with one-hand."
"I don't wish to have any trouble with you," said Haywood. "I asked
you a civil question; and you replied, like a--like a--a cad."
"Wot's a cad?" asked "Smoky."
"A cad is a disagreeable person," answered Haywood, "who lacks manners
and doesn't know his place. They sometimes play baseball."
"I can tell you what a mollycoddle is," said "Smoky." "It's a monkey
dressed up by its mother and sent out to pick daisies on the lawn."
"When you have the honour to refer to the members of my family," said
Haywood, with some dim ideas of a code in his mind, "you'd better
leave the ladies out of your remarks."
"Ho! ladies!" mocked the rude one. "I say ladies! I know what them
rich women in the city does. They, drink cocktails and swear and give
parties to gorillas. The papers say so."
Then Haywood knew that it must be. He took off his coat, folded it
neatly and laid it on the roadside grass, placed his hat upon it and
began to unknot his blue silk tie.
"Hadn't yer better ring fer yer maid, Arabella?" taunted "Smoky."
"Wot yer going to do--go to bed?"
"I'm going to give you a good trouncing," said the hero. He did not
hesitate, although the enemy was far beneath him socially. He
remembered that his father once thrashed a cabman, and the papers gave
it two columns, first page. And the "Toadies' Magazine" had a special
article on Upper Cuts by the Upper Classes, and ran new pictures of
the Van Plushvelt country seat, at Fishampton.
"Wot's trouncing?" asked "Smoky," suspiciously. "I don't want your
old clothes. I'm no--oh, you mean to scrap! My, my! I won't do a
thing to mamma's pet. Criminy! I'd hate to be a hand-laundered thing
"Smoky" waited with some awkwardness for his adversary to prepare for
battle. His own decks were always clear for action. When he should
spit upon the palm of his terrible right it was equivalent to "You may
fire now, Gridley."
The hated patrician advanced, with his shirt sleeves neatly rolled up.
"Smoky" waited, in an attitude of ease, expecting the affair to be
conducted according to Fishampton's rules of war. These allowed
combat to be prefaced by stigma, recrimination, epithet, abuse and
insult gradually increasing in emphasis and degree. After a round of
these "you're anothers" would come the chip knocked from the shoulder,
or the advance across the "dare" line drawn with a toe on the ground.
Next light taps given and taken, these also increasing in force until
finally the blood was up and fists going at their best.
But Haywood did not know Fishampton's rules. Noblesse oblige kept a
faint smile on his face as he walked slowly up to "Smoky" and said:
"Going to play ball?"
"Smoky" quickly understood this to be a putting of the previous
question, giving him the chance to make practical apology by answering
it with civility and relevance.
"Listen this time," said he. "I'm goin' skatin' on the river. Don't
you see me automobile with Chinese lanterns on it standin' and waitin'
Haywood knocked him down.
"Smoky" felt wronged. To thus deprive him of preliminary wrangle and
objurgation was to send an armoured knight full tilt against a
crashing lance without permitting him first to caracole around the
list to the flourish of trumpets. But he scrambled up and fell upon
his foe, head, feet and fists.
The fight lasted one round of an hour and ten minutes. It was
lengthened until it was more like a war or a family feud than a fight.
Haywood had learned some of the science of boxing and wrestling from
his tutors, but these he discarded for the more instinctive methods of
battle handed down by the cave-dwelling Van Plushvelts.
So, when he found himself, during the mêlée, seated upon the kicking
and roaring "Smoky's" chest, he improved the opportunity by vigorously
kneading handfuls of sand and soil into his adversary's ears, eyes
and mouth, and when "Smoky" got the proper leg hold and "turned" him,
he fastened both hands in the Plushvelt hair and pounded the Plushvelt
head against the lap of mother earth. Of course, the strife was not
incessantly active. There were seasons when one sat upon the other,
holding him down, while each blew like a grampus, spat out the more
inconveniently large sections of gravel and earth and strove to subdue
the spirit of his opponent with a frightful and soul-paralyzing glare.
At last, it seemed that in the language of the ring, their efforts
lacked steam. They broke away, and each disappeared in a cloud as he
brushed away the dust of the conflict. As soon as his breath
permitted, Haywood walked close to "Smoky" and said:
"Going to play ball?"
"Smoky" looked pensively at the sky, at his bat lying on the ground,
and at the "leaguer" rounding his pocket.
"Sure," he said, offhandedly. "The 'Yellowjackets' plays the 'Long
Islands.' I'm cap'n of the 'Long Islands.'"
"I guess I didn't mean to say you were ragged," said Haywood. "But
you are dirty, you know."
"Sure," said "Smoky." "Yer get that way knockin' around. Say, I
don't believe them New York papers about ladies drinkin' and havin'
monkeys dinin' at the table with 'em. I guess they're lies, like they
print about people eatin' out of silver plates, and ownin' dogs that
"Certainly," said Haywood. "What do you play on your team?"
"Ketcher. Ever play any?"
"Never in my life," said Haywood. "I've never known any fellows
except one or two of my cousins."
"Jer like to learn? We're goin' to have a practice-game before the
match. Wanter come along? I'll put yer in left-field, and yer won't
be long ketchin' on."
"I'd like it bully," said Haywood. "I've always wanted to play
The ladies' maids of New York and the families of Western mine owners
with social ambitions will remember well the sensation that was
created by the report that the young multi-millionaire, Haywood Van
Plushvelt, was playing ball with the village youths of Fishampton. It
was conceded that the millennium of democracy had come. Reporters and
photographers swarmed to the island. The papers printed half-page
pictures of him as short-stop stopping a hot grounder. The "Toadies'
Magazine" got out a Bat and Ball number that covered the subject
historically, beginning with the vampire bat and ending with the
Patriarchs' ball--illustrated with interior views of the Van
Plushvelt country seat. Ministers, educators and sociologists
everywhere hailed the event as the tocsin call that proclaimed the
universal brotherhood of man.
One afternoon I was reclining under the trees near the shore at
Fishampton in the esteemed company of an eminent, bald-headed young
sociologist. By way of note it may be inserted that all sociologists
are more or less bald, and exactly thirty-two. Look 'em over.
The sociologist was citing the Van Plushvelt case as the most
important "uplift" symptom of a generation, and as an excuse for his
Immediately before us were the village baseball grounds. And now came
the sportive youth of Fishampton and distributed themselves, shouting,
about the diamond.
"There," said the sociologist, pointing, "there is young Van
I raised myself (so far a cosycophant with Mary Ann) and gazed.
Young Van Plushvelt sat upon the ground. He was dressed in a ragged
red sweater, wrecked and weather-worn golf cap, run-over shoes, and
trousers of the "serviceable" brand. Dust clinging to the moisture
induced by free exercise, darkened wide areas of his face.
"That is he," repeated the sociologist. If he had said "him" I could
have been less vindictive.
On a bench, with an air, sat the young millionaire's chum.
He was dressed in a neat suit of dark blue serge, a neat white straw
hat, neat low-cut tan shoes, linen of the well-known "immaculate"
trade mark, a neat, narrow four-in-hand tie, and carried a slender,
neat bamboo cane.
I laughed loudly and vulgarly.
"What you want to do," said I to the sociologist, "is to establish a
reformatory for the Logical Vicious Circle. Or else I've got wheels.
It looks to me as if things are running round and round in circles
instead of getting anywhere."
"What do you mean?" asked the man of progress.
"Why, look what he has done to 'Smoky'," I replied.
"You will always be a fool," said my friend, the sociologist,
getting up and walking away.
THE RANSOM OF RED CHIEF
It looked like a good thing: but wait till I tell you. We were down
South, in Alabama--Bill Driscoll and myself--when this kidnapping
idea struck us. It was, as Bill afterward expressed it, "during a
moment of temporary mental apparition"; but we didn't find that out
There was a town down there, as flat as a flannel-cake, and called
Summit, of course. It contained inhabitants of as undeleterious and
self-satisfied a class of peasantry as ever clustered around a
Bill and me had a joint capital of about six hundred dollars, and
we needed just two thousand dollars more to pull off a fraudulent
town-lot scheme in Western Illinois with. We talked it over on the
front steps of the hotel. Philoprogenitiveness, says we, is strong
in semi-rural communities; therefore and for other reasons, a
kidnapping project ought to do better there than in the radius of
newspapers that send reporters out in plain clothes to stir up talk
about such things. We knew that Summit couldn't get after us with
anything stronger than constables and maybe some lackadaisical
bloodhounds and a diatribe or two in the "Weekly Farmers' Budget".
So, it looked good.
We selected for our victim the only child of a prominent citizen named
Ebenezer Dorset. The father was respectable and tight, a mortgage
fancier and a stern, upright collection-plate passer and forecloser.
The kid was a boy of ten, with bas-relief freckles, and hair the
colour of the cover of the magazine you buy at the news-stand when you
want to catch a train. Bill and me figured that Ebenezer would melt
down for a ransom of two thousand dollars to a cent. But wait till I
About two miles from Summit was a little mountain, covered with a
dense cedar brake. On the rear elevation of this mountain was a cave.
There we stored provisions. One evening after sundown, we drove in a
buggy past old Dorset's house. The kid was in the street, throwing
rocks at a kitten on the opposite fence.
"Hey, little boy!" says Bill, "would you like to have a bag of candy
and a nice ride?"
The boy catches Bill neatly in the eye with a piece of brick.
"That will cost the old man an extra five hundred dollars," says Bill,
climbing over the wheel.
That boy put up a fight like a welter-weight cinnamon bear; but, at
last, we got him down in the bottom of the buggy and drove away. We
took him up to the cave and I hitched the horse in the cedar brake.
After dark I drove the buggy to the little village, three miles away,
where we had hired it, and walked back to the mountain.
Bill was pasting court-plaster over the scratches and bruises on his
features. There was a fire burning behind the big rock at the entrance
of the cave, and the boy was watching a pot of boiling coffee, with
two buzzard tail-feathers stuck in his red hair. He points a stick
at me when I come up, and says:
"Ha! cursed paleface, do you dare to enter the camp of Red Chief, the
terror of the plains?
"He's all right now," says Bill, rolling up his trousers and examining
some bruises on his shins. "We're playing Indian. We're making
Buffalo Bill's show look like magic-lantern views of Palestine in the
town hall. I'm Old Hank, the Trapper, Red Chief's captive, and I'm to
be scalped at daybreak. By Geronimo! that kid can kick hard."
Yes, sir, that boy seemed to be having the time of his life. The fun
of camping out in a cave had made him forget that he was a captive
himself. He immediately christened me Snake-eye, the Spy, and
announced that, when his braves returned from the warpath, I was to be
broiled at the stake at the rising of the sun.
Then we had supper; and he filled his mouth full of bacon and bread
and gravy, and began to talk. He made a during-dinner speech
something like this:
"I like this fine. I never camped out before; but I had a pet 'possum
once, and I was nine last birthday. I hate to go to school. Rats ate
up sixteen of Jimmy Talbot's aunt's speckled hen's eggs. Are there
any real Indians in these woods? I want some more gravy. Does the
trees moving make the wind blow? We had five puppies. What makes your
nose so red, Hank? My father has lots of money. Are the stars hot? I
whipped Ed Walker twice, Saturday. I don't like girls. You dassent
catch toads unless with a string. Do oxen make any noise? Why are
oranges round? Have you got beds to sleep on in this cave? Amos Murray
has got six toes. A parrot can talk, but a monkey or a fish can't.
How many does it take to make twelve?"
Every few minutes he would remember that he was a pesky redskin, and
pick up his stick rifle and tiptoe to the mouth of the cave to rubber
for the scouts of the hated paleface. Now and then he would let out a
war-whoop that made Old Hank the Trapper shiver. That boy had Bill
terrorized from the start.
"Red Chief," says I to the kid, "would you like to go home?"
"Aw, what for?" says he. "I don't have any fun at home. I hate to
go to school. I like to camp out. You won't take me back home again,
Snake-eye, will you?"
"Not right away," says I. "We'll stay here in the cave a while."
"All right!" says he. "That'll be fine. I never had such fun in all
We went to bed about eleven o'clock. We spread down some wide
blankets and quilts and put Red Chief between us. We weren't afraid
he'd run away. He kept us awake for three hours, jumping up and
reaching for his rifle and screeching: "Hist! pard," in mine and
Bill's ears, as the fancied crackle of a twig or the rustle of a leaf
revealed to his young imagination the stealthy approach of the outlaw
band. At last, I fell into a troubled sleep, and dreamed that I had
been kidnapped and chained to a tree by a ferocious pirate with red
Just at daybreak, I was awakened by a series of awful screams from
Bill. They weren't yells, or howls, or shouts, or whoops, or yawps,
such as you'd expect from a manly set of vocal organs--they were
simply indecent, terrifying, humiliating screams, such as women emit
when they see ghosts or caterpillars. It's an awful thing to hear a
strong, desperate, fat man scream incontinently in a cave at daybreak.
I jumped up to see what the matter was. Red Chief was sitting on
Bill's chest, with one hand twined in Bill's hair. In the other he
had the sharp case-knife we used for slicing bacon; and he was
industriously and realistically trying to take Bill's scalp, according
to the sentence that had been pronounced upon him the evening before.
I got the knife away from the kid and made him lie down again. But,
from that moment, Bill's spirit was broken. He laid down on his side
of the bed, but he never closed an eye again in sleep as long as that
boy was with us. I dozed off for a while, but along toward sun-up I
remembered that Red Chief had said I was to be burned at the stake
at the rising of the sun. I wasn't nervous or afraid; but I sat up
and lit my pipe and leaned against a rock.
"What you getting up so soon for, Sam?" asked Bill.
"Me?" says I. "Oh, I got a kind of a pain in my shoulder. I thought
sitting up would rest it."
"You're a liar!" says Bill. "You're afraid. You was to be burned at
sunrise, and you was afraid he'd do it. And he would, too, if he
could find a match. Ain't it awful, Sam? Do you think anybody will pay
out money to get a little imp like that back home?"
"Sure," said I. "A rowdy kid like that is just the kind that parents
dote on. Now, you and the Chief get up and cook breakfast, while I go
up on the top of this mountain and reconnoitre."
I went up on the peak of the little mountain and ran my eye over the
contiguous vicinity. Over toward Summit I expected to see the sturdy
yeomanry of the village armed with scythes and pitchforks beating the
countryside for the dastardly kidnappers. But what I saw was a
peaceful landscape dotted with one man ploughing with a dun mule.
Nobody was dragging the creek; no couriers dashed hither and yon,
bringing tidings of no news to the distracted parents. There was a
sylvan attitude of somnolent sleepiness pervading that section of the
external outward surface of Alabama that lay exposed to my view.
"Perhaps," says I to myself, "it has not yet been discovered that
the wolves have borne away the tender lambkin from the fold. Heaven
help the wolves!" says I, and I went down the mountain to breakfast.
When I got to the cave I found Bill backed up against the side of it,
breathing hard, and the boy threatening to smash him with a rock half
as big as a cocoanut.
"He put a red-hot boiled potato down my back," explained Bill, "and
then mashed it with his foot; and I boxed his ears. Have you got a gun
about you, Sam?"
I took the rock away from the boy and kind of patched up the argument.
"I'll fix you," says the kid to Bill. "No man ever yet struck the Red
Chief but what he got paid for it. You better beware!"
After breakfast the kid takes a piece of leather with strings wrapped
around it out of his pocket and goes outside the cave unwinding it.
"What's he up to now?" says Bill, anxiously. "You don't think he'll
run away, do you, Sam?"
"No fear of it," says I. "He don't seem to be much of a home body.
But we've got to fix up some plan about the ransom. There don't seem
to be much excitement around Summit on account of his disappearance;
but maybe they haven't realized yet that he's gone. His folks may
think he's spending the night with Aunt Jane or one of the neighbours.
Anyhow, he'll be missed to-day. To-night we must get a message to his
father demanding the two thousand dollars for his return."
Just then we heard a kind Of war-whoop, such as David might have
emitted when he knocked out the champion Goliath. It was a sling that
Red Chief had pulled out of his pocket, and he was whirling it around
I dodged, and heard a heavy thud and a kind of a sigh from Bill, like
a horse gives out when you take his saddle off. A niggerhead rock the
size of an egg had caught Bill just behind his left ear. He loosened
himself all over and fell in the fire across the frying pan of hot
water for washing the dishes. I dragged him out and poured cold water
on his head for half an hour.
By and by, Bill sits up and feels behind his ear and says: "Sam, do
you know who my favourite Biblical character is?"
"Take it easy," says I. "You'll come to your senses presently."
"King Herod," says he. "You won't go away and leave me here alone,
will you, Sam?"
I went out and caught that boy and shook him until his freckles
"If you don't behave," says I, "I'll take you straight home. Now, are
you going to be good, or not?"
"I was only funning," says he sullenly. "I didn't mean to hurt Old
Hank. But what did he hit me for? I'll behave, Snake-eye, if you
won't send me home, and if you'll let me play the Black Scout to-day."
"I don't know the game," says I. "That's for you and Mr. Bill to
decide. He's your playmate for the day. I'm going away for a while,
on business. Now, you come in and make friends with him and say you
are sorry for hurting him, or home you go, at once."
I made him and Bill shake hands, and then I took Bill aside and told
him I was going to Poplar Cove, a little village three miles from the
cave, and find out what I could about how the kidnapping had been
regarded in Summit. Also, I thought it best to send a peremptory
letter to old man Dorset that day, demanding the ransom and dictating
how it should be paid.
"You know, Sam," says Bill, "I've stood by you without batting an
eye in earthquakes, fire and flood--in poker games, dynamite
outrages, police raids, train robberies and cyclones. I never lost my
nerve yet till we kidnapped that two-legged skyrocket of a kid. He's
got me going. You won't leave me long with him, will you, Sam?"
"I'll be back some time this afternoon," says I. "You must keep the
boy amused and quiet till I return. And now we'll write the letter to
Bill and I got paper and pencil and worked on the letter while Red
Chief, with a blanket wrapped around him, strutted up and down,
guarding the mouth of the cave. Bill begged me tearfully to make the
ransom fifteen hundred dollars instead of two thousand. "I ain't
attempting," says he, "to decry the celebrated moral aspect of
parental affection, but we're dealing with humans, and it ain't human
for anybody to give up two thousand dollars for that forty-pound chunk
of freckled wildcat. I'm willing to take a chance at fifteen hundred
dollars. You can charge the difference up to me."
So, to relieve Bill, I acceded, and we collaborated a letter that ran
"Ebenezer Dorset, Esq.:"
We have your boy concealed in a place far from Summit. It is useless
for you or the most skilful detectives to attempt to find him.
Absolutely, the only terms on which you can have him restored to you
are these: We demand fifteen hundred dollars in large bills for his
return; the money to be left at midnight to-night at the same spot
and in the same box as your reply--as hereinafter described. If
you agree to these terms, send your answer in writing by a solitary
messenger to-night at half-past eight o'clock. After crossing Owl
Creek, on the road to Poplar Cove, there are three large trees about
a hundred yards apart, close to the fence of the wheat field on the
right-hand side. At the bottom of the fence-post, opposite the
third tree, will be found a small pasteboard box.
The messenger will place the answer in this box and return
immediately to Summit.
If you attempt any treachery or fail to comply with our demand as
stated, you will never see your boy again.
If you pay the money as demanded, he will be returned to you safe
and well within three hours. These terms are final, and if you do
not accede to them no further communication will be attempted.
TWO DESPERATE MEN.
I addressed this letter to Dorset, and put it in my pocket. As I was
about to start, the kid comes up to me and says:
"Aw, Snake-eye, you said I could play the Black Scout while you was
"Play it, of course," says I. "Mr. Bill will play with you. What
kind of a game is it?"
"I'm the Black Scout," says Red Chief, "and I have to ride to the
stockade to warn the settlers that the Indians are coming. I'm tired
of playing Indian myself. I want to be the Black Scout."
"All right," says I. "It sounds harmless to me. I guess Mr. Bill will
help you foil the pesky savages."
"What am I to do?" asks Bill, looking at the kid suspiciously.
"You are the hoss," says Black Scout. "Get down on your hands and
knees. How can I ride to the stockade without a hoss?"
"You'd better keep him interested," said I, "till we get the scheme
going. Loosen up."
Bill gets down on his all fours, and a look comes in his eye like a
rabbit's when you catch it in a trap.
"How far is it to the stockade, kid?" he asks, in a husky manner of
"Ninety miles," says the Black Scout. "And you have to hump yourself
to get there on time. Whoa, now!"
The Black Scout jumps on Bill's back and digs his heels in his side.
"For Heaven's sake," says Bill, "hurry back, Sam, as soon as you can.
I wish we hadn't made the ransom more than a thousand. Say, you quit
kicking me or I'll get up and warm you good."
I walked over to Poplar Cove and sat around the postoffice and
store, talking with the chawbacons that came in to trade. One
whiskerando says that he hears Summit is all upset on account of Elder
Ebenezer Dorset's boy having been lost or stolen. That was all I
wanted to know. I bought some smoking tobacco, referred casually to
the price of black-eyed peas, posted my letter surreptitiously and
came away. The postmaster said the mail-carrier would come by in an
hour to take the mail on to Summit.
When I got back to the cave Bill and the boy were not to be found. I
explored the vicinity of the cave, and risked a yodel or two, but
there was no response.
So I lighted my pipe and sat down on a mossy bank to await
In about half an hour I heard the bushes rustle, and Bill wabbled out
into the little glade in front of the cave. Behind him was the kid,
stepping softly like a scout, with a broad grin on his face. Bill
stopped, took off his hat and wiped his face with a red handkerchief.
The kid stopped about eight feet behind him.
"Sam," says Bill, "I suppose you'll think I'm a renegade, but I
couldn't help it. I'm a grown person with masculine proclivities and
habits of self-defense, but there is a time when all systems of
egotism and predominance fail. The boy is gone. I have sent him
home. All is off. There was martyrs in old times," goes on Bill,
"that suffered death rather than give up the particular graft they
enjoyed. None of 'em ever was subjugated to such supernatural
tortures as I have been. I tried to be faithful to our articles of
depredation; but there came a limit."
"What's the trouble, Bill?" I asks him.
"I was rode," says Bill, "the ninety miles to the stockade, not
barring an inch. Then, when the settlers was rescued, I was given
oats. Sand ain't a palatable substitute. And then, for an hour I
had to try to explain to him why there was nothin' in holes, how
a road can run both ways and what makes the grass green. I tell
you, Sam, a human can only stand so much. I takes him by the neck
of his clothes and drags him down the mountain. On the way he
kicks my legs black-and-blue from the knees down; and I've got to
have two or three bites on my thumb and hand cauterized.
"But he's gone"--continues Bill--"gone home. I showed him the
road to Summit and kicked him about eight feet nearer there at one
kick. I'm sorry we lose the ransom; but it was either that or Bill
Driscoll to the madhouse."
Bill is puffing and blowing, but there is a look of ineffable peace
and growing content on his rose-pink features.
"Bill," says I, "there isn't any heart disease in your family, is
"No," says Bill, "nothing chronic except malaria and accidents. Why?"
"Then you might turn around," says I, "and have a took behind you."
Bill turns and sees the boy, and loses his complexion and sits down
plump on the round and begins to pluck aimlessly at grass and little
sticks. For an hour I was afraid for his mind. And then I told him
that my scheme was to put the whole job through immediately and that
we would get the ransom and be off with it by midnight if old Dorset
fell in with our proposition. So Bill braced up enough to give the
kid a weak sort of a smile and a promise to play the Russian in a
Japanese war with him is soon as he felt a little better.
I had a scheme for collecting that ransom without danger of being
caught by counterplots that ought to commend itself to professional
kidnappers. The tree under which the answer was to be left--and the
money later on--was close to the road fence with big, bare fields on
all sides. If a gang of constables should be watching for any one to
come for the note they could see him a long way off crossing the
fields or in the road. But no, sirree! At half-past eight I was up in
that tree as well hidden as a tree toad, waiting for the messenger to
Exactly on time, a half-grown boy rides up the road on a bicycle,
locates the pasteboard box at the foot of the fence-post, slips a
folded piece of paper into it and pedals away again back toward
I waited an hour and then concluded the thing was square. I slid down
the tree, got the note, slipped along the fence till I struck the
woods, and was back at the cave in another half an hour. I opened the
note, got near the lantern and read it to Bill. It was written with a
pen in a crabbed hand, and the sum and substance of it was this:
"Two Desperate Men.
Gentlemen:" I received your letter to-day by post, in regard to the
ransom you ask for the return of my son. I think you are a little
high in your demands, and I hereby make you a counter-proposition,
which I am inclined to believe you will accept. You bring Johnny
home and pay me two hundred and fifty dollars in cash, and I agree
to take him off your hands. You had better come at night, for the
neighbours believe he is lost, and I couldn't be responsible for
what they would do to anybody they saw bringing him back. Very
"Great pirates of Penzance!" says I; "of all the impudent--"
But I glanced at Bill, and hesitated. He had the most appealing look
in his eyes I ever saw on the face of a dumb or a talking brute.
"Sam," says he, "what's two hundred and fifty dollars, after all?
We've got the money. One more night of this kid will send me to a bed
in Bedlam. Besides being a thorough gentleman, I think Mr. Dorset is
a spendthrift for making us such a liberal offer. You ain't going
to let the chance go, are you?"
"Tell you the truth, Bill," says I, "this little he ewe lamb has
somewhat got on my nerves too. We'll take him home, pay the ransom
and make our get-away."
We took him home that night. We got him to go by telling him that his
father had bought a silver-mounted rifle and a pair of moccasins for
him, and we were going to hunt bears the next day.
It was just twelve o'clock when we knocked at Ebenezer's front door.
Just at the moment when I should have been abstracting the fifteen
hundred dollars from the box under the tree, according to the original
proposition, Bill was counting out two hundred and fifty dollars into
When the kid found out we were going to leave him at home he started
up a howl like a calliope and fastened himself as tight as a leech to
Bill's leg. His father peeled him away gradually, like a porous
"How long can you hold him?" asks Bill.
"I'm not as strong as I used to be," says old Dorset, "but I think I
can promise you ten minutes."
"Enough," says Bill. "In ten minutes I shall cross the Central,
Southern and Middle Western States, and be legging it trippingly for
the Canadian border."
And, as dark as it was, and as fat as Bill was, and as good a runner
as I am, he was a good mile and a half out of Summit before I could
catch up with him.
THE MARRY MONTH OF MAY
Prithee, smite the poet in the eye when he would sing to you praises
of the month of May. It is a month presided over by the spirits of
mischief and madness. Pixies and flibbertigibbets haunt the budding
woods: Puck and his train of midgets are busy in town and country.
In May nature holds up at us a chiding finger, bidding us remember
that we are not gods, but overconceited members of her own great
family. She reminds us that we are brothers to the chowder-doomed
clam and the donkey; lineal scions of the pansy and the chimpanzee,
and but cousins-german to the cooing doves, the quacking ducks and the
housemaids and policemen in the parks.
In May Cupid shoots blindfolded--millionaires marry stenographers;
wise professors woo white-aproned gum-chewers behind quick-lunch
counters; schoolma'ams make big bad boys remain after school; lads
with ladders steal lightly over lawns where Juliet waits in her
trellissed window with her telescope packed; young couples out for a
walk come home married; old chaps put on white spats and promenade
near the Normal School; even married men, grown unwontedly tender and
sentimental, whack their spouses on the back and growl: "How goes it,
This May, who is no goddess, but Circe, masquerading at the dance
given in honour of the fair débutante, Summer, puts the kibosh on us
Old Mr. Coulson groaned a little, and then sat up straight in his
invalid's chair. He had the gout very bad in one foot, a house near
Gramercy Park, half a million dollars and a daughter. And he had a
housekeeper, Mrs. Widdup. The fact and the name deserve a sentence
each. They have it.
When May poked Mr. Coulson he became elder brother to the turtle-dove.
In the window near which he sat were boxes of jonquils, of hyacinths,
geraniums and pansies. The breeze brought their odour into the room.
Immediately there was a well-contested round between the breath of the
flowers and the able and active effluvium from gout liniment. The
liniment won easily; but not before the flowers got an uppercut to
old Mr. Coulson's nose. The deadly work of the implacable, false
enchantress May was done.
Across the park to the olfactories of Mr. Coulson came other
unmistakable, characteristic, copyrighted smells of spring that belong
to the-big-city-above-the-Subway, alone. The smells of hot asphalt,
underground caverns, gasoline, patchouli, orange peel, sewer gas,
Albany grabs, Egyptian cigarettes, mortar and the undried ink on
newspapers. The inblowing air was sweet and mild. Sparrows wrangled
happily everywhere outdoors. Never trust May.
Mr. Coulson twisted the ends of his white mustache, cursed his foot,
and pounded a bell on the table by his side.
In came Mrs. Widdup. She was comely to the eye, fair, flustered,
forty and foxy.
"Higgins is out, sir," she said, with a smile suggestive of vibratory
massage. "He went to post a letter. Can I do anything for you, sir?"
"It's time for my aconite," said old Mr. Coulson. "Drop it for me.
The bottle's there. Three drops. In water. D---- that is, confound
Higgins! There's nobody in this house cares if I die here in this
chair for want of attention."
Mrs. Widdup sighed deeply.
"Don't be saying that, sir," she said. "There's them that would care
more than any one knows. Thirteen drops, you said, sir?"
"Three," said old man Coulson.
He took his dose and then Mrs. Widdup's hand. She blushed. Oh, yes,
it can be done. Just hold your breath and compress the diaphragm.
"Mrs. Widdup," said Mr. Coulson, "the springtime's full upon us."
"Ain't that right?" said Mrs. Widdup. "The air's real warm. And
there's bock-beer signs on every corner. And the park's all yaller and
pink and blue with flowers; and I have such shooting pains up my legs
"'In the spring,'" quoted Mr. Coulson, curling his mustache, "'a y----
that is, a man's--fancy lightly turns to thoughts of love.'"
"Lawsy, now!" exclaimed Mrs. Widdup; "ain't that right? Seems like
it's in the air."
"'In the spring,'" continued old Mr. Coulson, "'a livelier iris shines
upon the burnished dove.'"
"They do be lively, the Irish," sighed Mrs. Widdup pensively.
"Mrs. Widdup," said Mr. Coulson, making a face at a twinge of his gouty
foot, "this would be a lonesome house without you. I'm an--that is,
I'm an elderly man--but I'm worth a comfortable lot of money. If half
a million dollars' worth of Government bonds and the true affection of
a heart that, though no longer beating with the first ardour of youth,
can still throb with genuine--"
The loud noise of an overturned chair near the portières of the
adjoining room interrupted the venerable and scarcely suspecting
victim of May.
In stalked Miss Van Meeker Constantia Coulson, bony, durable, tall,
high-nosed, frigid, well-bred, thirty-five, in-the-neighbourhood-of-
Gramercy-Parkish. She put up a lorgnette. Mrs. Widdup hastily
stooped and arranged the bandages on Mr. Coulson's gouty foot.
"I thought Higgins was with you," said Miss Van Meeker Constantia.
"Higgins went out," explained her father, "and Mrs. Widdup answered
the bell. That is better now, Mrs. Widdup, thank you. No; there is
nothing else I require."
The housekeeper retired, pink under the cool, inquiring stare of Miss
"This spring weather is lovely, isn't it, daughter?" said the old man,
"That's just it," replied Miss Van Meeker Constantia Coulson, somewhat
obscurely. "When does Mrs. Widdup start on her vacation, papa?"
"I believe she said a week from to-day," said Mr. Coulson.
Miss Van Meeker Constantia stood for a minute at the window gazing,
toward the little park, flooded with the mellow afternoon sunlight.
With the eye of a botanist she viewed the flowers--most potent
weapons of insidious May. With the cool pulses of a virgin of
Cologne she withstood the attack of the ethereal mildness. The arrows
of the pleasant sunshine fell back, frostbitten, from the cold panoply
of her unthrilled bosom. The odour of the flowers waked no soft
sentiments in the unexplored recesses of her dormant heart. The chirp
of the sparrows gave her a pain. She mocked at May.
But although Miss Coulson was proof against the season, she was
keen enough to estimate its power. She knew that elderly men and
thick-waisted women jumped as educated fleas in the ridiculous train
of May, the merry mocker of the months. She had heard of foolish old
gentlemen marrying their housekeepers before. What a humiliating
thing, after all, was this feeling called love!
The next morning at 8 o'clock, when the iceman called, the cook told
him that Miss Coulson wanted to see him in the basement.
"Well, ain't I the Olcott and Depew; not mentioning the first name at
all?" said the iceman, admiringly, of himself.
As a concession he rolled his sleeves down, dropped his icehooks on a
syringa and went back. When Miss Van Meeker Constantia Coulson
addressed him he took off his hat.
"There is a rear entrance to this basement," said Miss Coulson, "which
can be reached by driving into the vacant lot next door, where they
are excavating for a building. I want you to bring in that way within
two hours 1,000 pounds of ice. You may have to bring another man or
two to help you. I will show you where I want it placed. I also want
1,000 pounds a day delivered the same way for the next four days.
Your company may charge the ice on our regular bill. This is for your
Miss Coulson tendered a ten-dollar bill. The iceman bowed, and held
his hat in his two hands behind him.
"Not if you'll excuse me, lady. It'll be a pleasure to fix things up
for you any way you please."
Alas for May!
About noon Mr. Coulson knocked two glasses off his table, broke the
spring of his bell and yelled for Higgins at the same time.
"Bring an axe," commanded Mr. Coulson, sardonically, "or send out
for a quart of prussic acid, or have a policeman come in and shoot me.
I'd rather that than be frozen to death."
"It does seem to be getting cool, Sir," said Higgins. "I hadn't
noticed it before. I'll close the window, Sir."
"Do," said Mr. Coulson. "They call this spring, do they? If it keeps
up long I'll go back to Palm Beach. House feels like a morgue."
Later Miss Coulson dutifully came in to inquire how the gout was
"'Stantia," said the old man, "how is the weather outdoors?"
"Bright," answered Miss Coulson, "but chilly."
"Feels like the dead of winter to me," said Mr. Coulson.
"An instance," said Constantia, gazing abstractedly out the window,
"of 'winter lingering in the lap of spring,' though the metaphor is
not in the most refined taste."
A little later she walked down by the side of the little park and on
westward to Broadway to accomplish a little shopping.
A little later than that Mrs. Widdup entered the invalid's room.
"Did you ring, Sir?" she asked, dimpling in many places. "I asked
Higgins to go to the drug store, and I thought I heard your bell."
"I did not," said Mr. Coulson.
"I'm afraid," said Mrs. Widdup, "I interrupted you sir, yesterday when
you were about to say something."
"How comes it, Mrs. Widdup," said old man Coulson sternly, "that I
find it so cold in this house?"
"Cold, Sir?" said the housekeeper, "why, now, since you speak of it
it do seem cold in this room. But, outdoors it's as warm and fine
as June, sir. And how this weather do seem to make one's heart jump
out of one's shirt waist, sir. And the ivy all leaved out on the side
of the house, and the hand-organs playing, and the children dancing on
the sidewalk--'tis a great time for speaking out what's in the
heart. You were saying yesterday, sir--"
"Woman!" roared Mr. Coulson; "you are a fool. I pay you to take care
of this house. I am freezing to death in my own room, and you come in
and drivel to me about ivy and hand-organs. Get me an overcoat at
once. See that all doors and windows are closed below. An old, fat,
irresponsible, one-sided object like you prating about springtime
and flowers in the middle of winter! When Higgins comes back, tell him
to bring me a hot rum punch. And now get out!"
But who shall shame the bright face of May? Rogue though she be and
disturber of sane men's peace, no wise virgins cunning nor cold
storage shall make her bow her head in the bright galaxy of months.
Oh, yes, the story was not quite finished.
A night passed, and Higgins helped old man Coulson in the morning to
his chair by the window. The cold of the room was gone. Heavenly
odours and fragrant mildness entered.
In hurried Mrs. Widdup, and stood by his chair. Mr. Coulson reached
his bony hand and grasped her plump one.
"Mrs. Widdup," he said, "this house would be no home without you. I
have half a million dollars. If that and the true affection of a
heart no longer in its youthful prime, but still not cold, could--"
"I found out what made it cold," said Mrs. Widdup, leanin' against his
chair. "'Twas ice--tons of it--in the basement and in the furnace
room, everywhere. I shut off the registers that it was coming through
into your room, Mr. Coulson, poor soul! And now it's Maytime again."
"A true heart," went on old man Coulson, a little wanderingly, "that
the springtime has brought to life again, and--but what will my
daughter say, Mrs. Widdup?"
"Never fear, sir," said Mrs. Widdup, cheerfully. "Miss Coulson, she
ran away with the iceman last night, sir!"
A TECHNICAL ERROR
I never cared especially for feuds, believing them to be even more
overrated products of our country than grapefruit, scrapple, or
honeymoons. Nevertheless, if I may be allowed, I will tell you of an
Indian Territory feud of which I was press-agent, camp-follower, and
inaccessory during the fact.
I was on a visit to Sam Durkee's ranch, where I had a great time
falling off unmanicured ponies and waving my bare hand at the lower
jaws of wolves about two miles away. Sam was a hardened person of
about twenty-five, with a reputation for going home in the dark with
perfect equanimity, though often with reluctance.
Over in the Creek Nation was a family bearing the name of Tatum. I
was told that the Durkees and Tatums had been feuding for years.
Several of each family had bitten the grass, and it was expected that
more Nebuchadnezzars would follow. A younger generation of each
family was growing up, and the grass was keeping pace with them. But I
gathered that they had fought fairly; that they had not lain in
cornfields and aimed at the division of their enemies' suspenders in
the back--partly, perhaps, because there were no cornfields, and
nobody wore more than one suspender. Nor had any woman or child of
either house ever been harmed. In those days--and you will find it
so yet--their women were safe.
Sam Durkee had a girl. (If it were an all-fiction magazine that I
expect to sell this story to, I should say, "Mr. Durkee rejoiced in a
fiancée.") Her name was Ella Baynes. They appeared to be devoted to
each other, and to have perfect confidence in each other, as all
couples do who are and have or aren't and haven't. She was tolerably
pretty, with a heavy mass of brown hair that helped her along. He
introduced me to her, which seemed not to lessen her preference for
him; so I reasoned that they were surely soul-mates.
Miss Baynes lived in Kingfisher, twenty miles from the ranch. Sam
lived on a gallop between the two places.
One day there came to Kingfisher a courageous young man, rather small,
with smooth face and regular features. He made many inquiries about
the business of the town, and especially of the inhabitants
cognominally. He said he was from Muscogee, and he looked it, with
his yellow shoes and crocheted four-in-hand. I met him once when I
rode in for the mail. He said his name was Beverly Travers, which
seemed rather improbable.
There were active times on the ranch, just then, and Sam was too busy
to go to town often. As an incompetent and generally worthless guest,
it devolved upon me to ride in for little things such as post cards,
barrels of flour, baking-powder, smoking-tobacco, and--letters from
One day, when I was messenger for half a gross of cigarette papers
and a couple of wagon tires, I saw the alleged Beverly Travers in a
yellow-wheeled buggy with Ella Baynes, driving about town as
ostentatiously as the black, waxy mud would permit. I knew that
this information would bring no balm of Gilead to Sam's soul, so I
refrained from including it in the news of the city that I retailed
on my return. But on the next afternoon an elongated ex-cowboy of
the name of Simmons, an old-time pal of Sam's, who kept a feed store
in Kingfisher, rode out to the ranch and rolled and burned many
cigarettes before he would talk. When he did make oration, his words
"Say, Sam, there's been a description of a galoot miscallin' himself
Bevel-edged Travels impairing the atmospheric air of Kingfisher for
the past two weeks. You know who he was? He was not otherwise than
Ben Tatum, from the Creek Nation, son of old Gopher Tatum that your
Uncle Newt shot last February. You know what he done this morning?
He killed your brother Lester--shot him in the co't-house yard."
I wondered if Sam had heard. He pulled a twig from a mesquite bush,
chewed it gravely, and said:
"He did, did he? He killed Lester?"
"The same," said Simmons. "And he did more. He run away with your
girl, the same as to say Miss Ella Baynes. I thought you might like
to know, so I rode out to impart the information."
"I am much obliged, Jim," said Sam, taking the chewed twig from his
mouth. "Yes, I'm glad you rode Out. Yes, I'm right glad."
"Well, I'll be ridin' back, I reckon. That boy I left in the feed
store don't know hay from oats. He shot Lester in the back."
"Shot him in the back?"
"Yes, while he was hitchin' his hoss."
"I'm much obliged, Jim."
"I kind of thought you'd like to know as soon as you could."
"Come in and have some coffee before you ride back, Jim?"
"Why, no, I reckon not; I must get back to the store."
"And you say--"
"Yes, Sam. Everybody seen 'em drive away together in a buckboard,
with a big bundle, like clothes, tied up in the back of it. He was
drivin' the team he brought over with him from Muscogee. They'll be
hard to overtake right away."
"I was goin' on to tell you. They left on the Guthrie road; but
there's no tellin' which forks they'll take--you know that."
"All right, Jim; much obliged."
"You're welcome, Sam."
Simmons rolled a cigarette and stabbed his pony with both heels.
Twenty yards away he reined up and called back:
"You don't want no--assistance, as you might say?"
"Not any, thanks."
"I didn't think you would. Well, so long!"
Sam took out and opened a bone-handled pocket-knife and scraped a
dried piece of mud from his left boot. I thought at first he was
going to swear a vendetta on the blade of it, or recite "The Gipsy's
Curse." The few feuds I had ever seen or read about usually opened
that way. This one seemed to be presented with a new treatment.
Thus offered on the stage, it would have been hissed off, and one of
Belasco's thrilling melodramas demanded instead.
"I wonder," said Sam, with a profoundly thoughtful expression, "if the
cook has any cold beans left over!"
He called Wash, the Negro cook, and finding that he had some, ordered
him to heat up the pot and make some strong coffee. Then we went into
Sam's private room, where he slept, and kept his armoury, dogs, and the
saddles of his favourite mounts. He took three or four six-shooters
out of a bookcase and began to look them over, whistling "The Cowboy's
Lament" abstractedly. Afterward he ordered the two best horses on the
ranch saddled and tied to the hitching-post.
Now, in the feud business, in all sections of the country, I have
observed that in one particular there is a delicate but strict
etiquette belonging. You must not mention the word or refer to the
subject in the presence of a feudist. It would be more reprehensible
than commenting upon the mole on the chin of your rich aunt. I found,
later on, that there is another unwritten rule, but I think that
belongs solely to the West.
It yet lacked two hours to supper-time; but in twenty minutes Sam and
I were plunging deep into the reheated beans, hot coffee, and cold
"Nothing like a good meal before a long ride," said Sam. "Eat hearty."
I had a sudden suspicion.
"Why did you have two horses saddled?" I asked.
"One, two--one, two," said Sam. "You can count, can't you?"
His mathematics carried with it a momentary qualm and a lesson. The
thought had not occurred to him that the thought could possibly occur
to me not to ride at his side on that red road to revenge and justice.
It was the higher calculus. I was booked for the trail. I began to
eat more beans.
In an hour we set forth at a steady gallop eastward. Our horses were
Kentucky-bred, strengthened by the mesquite grass of the west. Ben
Tatum's steeds may have been swifter, and he had a good lead; but if
he had heard the punctual thuds of the hoofs of those trailers of
ours, born in the heart of feudland, he might have felt that
retribution was creeping up on the hoof-prints of his dapper nags.
I knew that Ben Tatum's card to play was flight--flight until he
came within the safer territory of his own henchmen and supporters.
He knew that the man pursuing him would follow the trail to any end
where it might lead.
During the ride Sam talked of the prospect for rain, of the price of
beef, and of the musical glasses. You would have thought he had never
had a brother or a sweetheart or an enemy on earth. There are some
subjects too big even for the words in the "Unabridged." Knowing
this phase of the feud code, but not having practised it sufficiently,
I overdid the thing by telling some slightly funny anecdotes. Sam
laughed at exactly the right place--laughed with his mouth. When I
caught sight of his mouth, I wished I had been blessed with enough
sense of humour to have suppressed those anecdotes.
Our first sight of them we had in Guthrie. Tired and hungry, we
stumbled, unwashed, into a little yellow-pine hotel and sat at a
table. In the opposite corner we saw the fugitives. They were bent
upon their meal, but looked around at times uneasily.
The girl was dressed in brown--one of these smooth, half-shiny,
silky-looking affairs with lace collar and cuffs, and what I believe
they call an accordion-plaited skirt. She wore a thick brown veil down
to her nose, and a broad-brimmed straw hat with some kind of feathers
adorning it. The man wore plain, dark clothes, and his hair was
trimmed very short. He was such a man as you might see anywhere.
There they were--the murderer and the woman he had stolen. There we
were--the rightful avenger, according to the code, and the
supernumerary who writes these words.
For one time, at least, in the heart of the supernumerary there rose
the killing instinct. For one moment he joined the force of
"What are you waiting for, Sam?" I said in a whisper. "Let him have
Sam gave a melancholy sigh.
"You don't understand; but "he" does," he said. ""He" knows. Mr.
Tenderfoot, there's a rule out here among white men in the Nation that
you can't shoot a man when he's with a woman. I never knew it to be
broke yet. You "can't" do it. You've got to get him in a gang of men or
by himself. That's why. He knows it, too. We all know. So, that's
Mr. Ben Tatum! One of the 'pretty men'! I'll cut him out of the herd
before they leave the hotel, and regulate his account!"
After supper the flying pair disappeared quickly. Although Sam haunted
lobby and stairway and halls half the night, in some mysterious way
the fugitives eluded him; and in the morning the veiled lady in the
brown dress with the accordion-plaited skirt and the dapper young man
with the close-clipped hair, and the buckboard with the prancing nags,
It is a monotonous story, that of the ride; so it shall be
curtailed. Once again we overtook them on a road. We were about
fifty yards behind. They turned in the buckboard and looked at us;
then drove on without whipping up their horses. Their safety no
longer lay in speed. Ben Tatum knew. He knew that the only rock of
safety left to him was the code. There is no doubt that, had he
been alone, the matter would have been settled quickly with Sam
Durkee in the usual way; but he had something at his side that
kept still the trigger-finger of both. It seemed likely that he
was no coward.
So, you may perceive that woman, on occasions, may postpone instead of
precipitating conflict between man and man. But not willingly or
consciously. She is oblivious of codes.
Five miles farther, we came upon the future great Western city of
Chandler. The horses of pursuers and pursued were starved and weary.
There was one hotel that offered danger to man and entertainment to
beast; so the four of us met again in the dining room at the ringing
of a bell so resonant and large that it had cracked the welkin long
ago. The dining room was not as large as the one at Guthrie.
Just as we were eating apple pie--how Ben Davises and tragedy
impinge upon each other!--I noticed Sam looking with keen
intentness at our quarry where they were seated at a table across the
room. The girl still wore the brown dress with lace collar and cuffs,
and the veil drawn down to her nose. The man bent over his plate,
with his close cropped head held low.
"There's a code," I heard Sam say, either to me or to himself, "that
won't let you shoot a man in the company of a woman; but, by thunder,
there ain't one to keep you from killing a woman in the company of a
And, quicker than my mind could follow his argument, he whipped a
Colt's automatic from under his left arm and pumped six bullets into
the body that the brown dress covered--the brown dress with the lace
collar and cuffs and the accordion-plaited skirt.
The young person in the dark sack suit, from whose head and from whose
life a woman's glory had been clipped, laid her head on her arms
stretched upon the table; while people came running to raise Ben Tatum
from the floor in his feminine masquerade that had given Sam the
opportunity to set aside, technically, the obligations of the code.
SUITE HOMES AND THEIR ROMANCE
Few young couples in the Big-City-of-Bluff began their married
existence with greater promise of happiness than did Mr. and Mrs.
Claude Turpin. They felt no especial animosity toward each other;
they were comfortably established in a handsome apartment house that
had a name and accommodations like those of a sleeping-car; they were
living as expensively as the couple on the next floor above who had
twice their income; and their marriage had occurred on a wager, a
ferry-boat and first acquaintance, thus securing a sensational
newspaper notice with their names attached to pictures of the Queen of
Roumania and M. Santos-Dumont.
Turpin's income was $200 per month. On pay day, after calculating the
amounts due for rent, instalments on furniture and piano, gas, and
bills owed to the florist, confectioner, milliner, tailor, wine
merchant and cab company, the Turpins would find that they still had
$200 left to spend. How to do this is one of the secrets of
The domestic life of the Turpins was a beautiful picture to see. But
you couldn't gaze upon it as you could at an oleograph of "Don't Wake
Grandma," or "Brooklyn by Moonlight."
You had to blink when looked at it; and you heard a fizzing sound just
like the machine with a "scope" at the end of it. Yes; there wasn't
much repose about the picture of the Turpins' domestic life. It was
something like "Spearing Salmon in the Columbia River," or "Japanese
Artillery in Action."
Every day was just like another; as the days are in New York. In the
morning Turpin would take bromo-seltzer, his pocket change from under
the clock, his hat, no breakfast and his departure for the office. At
noon Mrs. Turpin would get out of bed and humour, put on a kimono,
airs, and the water to boil for coffee.
Turpin lunched downtown. He came home at 6 to dress for dinner. They
always dined out. They strayed from the chop-house to chop-sueydom,
from terrace to table d'hôte, from rathskeller to roadhouse, from café
to casino, from Maria's to the Martha Washington. Such is domestic
life in the great city. Your vine is the mistletoe; your fig tree
bears dates. Your household gods are Mercury and John Howard Payne.
For the wedding march you now hear only "Come with the Gypsy Bride."
You rarely dine at the same place twice in succession. You tire of
the food; and, besides, you want to give them time for the question of
that souvenir silver sugar bowl to blow over.
The Turpins were therefore happy. They made many warm and delightful
friends, some of whom they remembered the next day. Their home life
was an ideal one, according to the rules and regulations of the Book
There came a time when it dawned upon Turpin that his wife was getting
away with too much money. If you belong to the near-swell class in the
Big City, and your income is $200 per month, and you find at the end
of the month, after looking over the bills for current expenses, that
you, yourself, have spent $150, you very naturally wonder what has
become of the other $50. So you suspect your wife. And perhaps you
give her a hint that something needs explanation.
"I say, Vivien," said Turpin, one afternoon when they were enjoying in
rapt silence the peace and quiet of their cozy apartment, "you've been
creating a hiatus big enough for a dog to crawl through in this
month's honorarium. You haven't been paying your dressmaker
anything on account, have you?"
There was a moment's silence. No sounds could be heard except the
breathing of the fox terrier, and the subdued, monotonous sizzling of
Vivien's fulvous locks against the insensate curling irons. Claude
Turpin, sitting upon a pillow that he had thoughtfully placed upon the
convolutions of the apartment sofa, narrowly watched the riante,
lovely face of his wife.
"Claudie, dear," said she, touching her finger to her ruby tongue and
testing the unresponsive curling irons, "you do me an injustice. Mme.
Toinette has not seen a cent of mine since the day you paid your
tailor ten dollars on account."
Turpin's suspicions were allayed for the time. But one day soon there
came an anonymous letter to him that read:
"Watch your wife. She is blowing in your money secretly. I was
a sufferer just as you are. The place is No. 345 Blank Street.
A word to the wise, etc.
A MAN WHO KNOWS"
Turpin took this letter to the captain of police of the precinct that
he lived in.
"My precinct is as clean as a hound's tooth," said the captain. "The
lid's shut down as close there as it is over the eye of a Williamsburg
girl when she's kissed at a party. But if you think there's anything
queer at the address, I'll go there with ye."
On the next afternoon at 3, Turpin and the captain crept softly up the
stairs of No. 345 Blank Street. A dozen plain-clothes men, dressed in
full police uniforms, so as to allay suspicion, waited in the hall
At the top of the stairs was a door, which was found to be locked.
The captain took a key from his pocket and unlocked it. The two men
They found themselves in a large room, occupied by twenty or
twenty-five elegantly clothed ladies. Racing charts hung against the
walls, a ticker clicked in one corner; with a telephone receiver to
his ear a man was calling out the various positions of the horses in
a very exciting race. The occupants of the room looked up at the
intruders; but, as if reassured by the sight of the captain's uniform,
they reverted their attention to the man at the telephone.
"You see," said the captain to Turpin, "the value of an anonymous
letter! No high-minded and self-respecting gentleman should
consider one worthy of notice. Is your wife among this assembly, Mr.
"She is not," said Turpin.
"And if she was," continued the captain, "would she be within the
reach of the tongue of slander? These ladies constitute a Browning
Society. They meet to discuss the meaning of the great poet. The
telephone is connected with Boston, whence the parent society
transmits frequently its interpretations of the poems. Be ashamed of
yer suspicions, Mr. Turpin."
"Go soak your shield," said Turpin. "Vivien knows how to take care of
herself in a pool-room. She's not dropping anything on the ponies.
There must be something queer going on here."
"Nothing but Browning," said the captain. "Hear that?"
"Thanatopsis by a nose," drawled the man at the telephone.
"That's not Browning; that's Longfellow," said Turpin, who sometimes
"Back to the pasture!" exclaimed the captain. "Longfellow made the
pacing-to-wagon record of 7.53 'way back in 1868."
"I believe there's something queer about this joint," repeated Turpin.
"I don't see it," said the captain.
"I know it looks like a pool-room, all right," persisted Turpin, "but
that's all a blind. Vivien has been dropping a lot of coin somewhere.
I believe there's some under-handed work going on here."
A number of racing sheets were tacked close together, covering a large
space on one of the walls. Turpin, suspicious, tore several of them
down. A door, previously hidden, was revealed. Turpin placed an
ear to the crack and listened intently. He heard the soft hum of many
voices, low and guarded laughter, and a sharp, metallic clicking and
scraping as if from a multitude of tiny but busy objects.
"My God! It is as I feared!" whispered Turpin to himself. "Summon
your men at once!" he called to the captain. "She is in there, I
At the blowing of the captain's whistle the uniformed plain-clothes
men rushed up the stairs into the pool-room. When they saw the
betting paraphernalia distributed around they halted, surprised and
puzzled to know why they had been summoned.
But the captain pointed to the locked door and bade them break it
down. In a few moments they demolished it with the axes they carried.
Into the other room sprang Claude Turpin, with the captain at his
The scene was one that lingered long in Turpin's mind. Nearly a score
of women--women expensively and fashionably clothed, many beautiful
and of refined appearance--had been seated at little marble-topped
tables. When the police burst open the door they shrieked and ran
here and there like gayly plumed birds that had been disturbed in a
tropical grove. Some became hysterical; one or two fainted; several
knelt at the feet of the officers and besought them for mercy on
account of their families and social position.
A man who had been seated behind a desk had seized a roll of currency
as large as the ankle of a Paradise Roof Gardens chorus girl and
jumped out of the window. Half a dozen attendants huddled at one end
of the room, breathless from fear.
Upon the tables remained the damning and incontrovertible evidences
of the guilt of the habituées of that sinister room--dish after dish
heaped high with ice cream, and surrounded by stacks of empty ones,
scraped to the last spoonful.
"Ladies," said the captain to his weeping circle of prisoners, "I'll
not hold any of yez. Some of yez I recognize as having fine houses and
good standing in the community, with hard-working husbands and childer
at home. But I'll read ye a bit of a lecture before ye go. In the
next room there's a 20-to-1 shot just dropped in under the wire three
lengths ahead of the field. Is this the way ye waste your husbands'
money instead of helping earn it? Home wid yez! The lid's on the
ice-cream freezer in this precinct."
Claude Turpin's wife was among the patrons of the raided room. He led
her to their apartment in stern silence. There she wept so
remorsefully and besought his forgiveness so pleadingly that he forgot
his just anger, and soon he gathered his penitent golden-haired Vivien
in his arms and forgave her.
"Darling," she murmured, half sobbingly, as the moonlight drifted
through the open window, glorifying her sweet, upturned face, "I know
I done wrong. I will never touch ice cream again. I forgot you were
not a millionaire. I used to go there every day. But to-day I felt
some strange, sad presentiment of evil, and I was not myself. I ate
only eleven saucers."
"Say no more," said Claude, gently as he fondly caressed her waving
"And you are sure that you fully forgive me?" asked Vivien, gazing at
him entreatingly with dewy eyes of heavenly blue.
"Almost sure, little one," answered Claude, stooping and lightly
touching her snowy forehead with his lips. "I'll let you know
later on. I've got a month's salary down on Vanilla to win the
three-year-old steeplechase to-morrow; and if the ice-cream hunch
is to the good you are It again--see?"
THE WHIRLIGIG OF LIFE
Justice-of-the-Peace Benaja Widdup sat in the door of his office
smoking his elder-stem pipe. Half-way to the zenith the Cumberland
range rose blue-gray in the afternoon haze. A speckled hen swaggered
down the main street of the "settlement," cackling foolishly.
Up the road came a sound of creaking axles, and then a slow cloud of
dust, and then a bull-cart bearing Ransie Bilbro and his wife. The
cart stopped at the Justice's door, and the two climbed down. Ransie
was a narrow six feet of sallow brown skin and yellow hair. The
imperturbability of the mountains hung upon him like a suit of armour.
The woman was calicoed, angled, snuff-brushed, and weary with unknown
desires. Through it all gleamed a faint protest of cheated youth
unconscious of its loss.
The Justice of the Peace slipped his feet into his shoes, for the sake
of dignity, and moved to let them enter.
"We-all," said the woman, in a voice like the wind blowing through pine
boughs, "wants a divo'ce." She looked at Ransie to see if he noted any
flaw or ambiguity or evasion or partiality or self-partisanship in her
statement of their business.
"A divo'ce," repeated Ransie, with a solemn nod. "We-all can't git
along together nohow. It's lonesome enough fur to live in the
mount'ins when a man and a woman keers fur one another. But when
she's a-spittin' like a wildcat or a-sullenin' like a hoot-owl in the
cabin, a man ain't got no call to live with her."
"When he's a no-'count varmint," said the woman, "without any especial
warmth, a-traipsin' along of scalawags and moonshiners and a-layin' on
his back pizen 'ith co'n whiskey, and a-pesterin' folks with a pack o'
hungry, triflin' houn's to feed!"
"When she keeps a-throwin' skillet lids," came Ransie's antiphony,
"and slings b'ilin' water on the best coon-dog in the Cumberlands, and
sets herself agin' cookin' a man's victuals, and keeps him awake o'
nights accusin' him of a sight of doin's!"
"When he's al'ays a-fightin' the revenues, and gits a hard name in the
mount'ins fur a mean man, who's gwine to be able fur to sleep o'
The Justice of the Peace stirred deliberately to his duties. He
placed his one chair and a wooden stool for his petitioners. He
opened his book of statutes on the table and scanned the index.
Presently he wiped his spectacles and shifted his inkstand.
"The law and the statutes," said he, "air silent on the subjeck of
divo'ce as fur as the jurisdiction of this co't air concerned. But,
accordin' to equity and the Constitution and the golden rule, it's a
bad barg'in that can't run both ways. If a justice of the peace can
marry a couple, it's plain that he is bound to be able to divo'ce 'em.
This here office will issue a decree of divo'ce and abide by the
decision of the Supreme Co't to hold it good."
Ransie Bilbro drew a small tobacco-bag from his trousers pocket. Out
of this he shook upon the table a five-dollar note. "Sold a b'arskin
and two foxes fur that," he remarked. "It's all the money we got."
"The regular price of a divo'ce in this co't," said the Justice, "air
five dollars." He stuffed the bill into the pocket of his homespun
vest with a deceptive air of indifference. With much bodily toil
and mental travail he wrote the decree upon half a sheet of foolscap,
and then copied it upon the other. Ransie Bilbro and his wife
listened to his reading of the document that was to give them freedom:
"Know all men by these presents that Ransie Bilbro and his wife,
Ariela Bilbro, this day personally appeared before me and promises
that hereinafter they will neither love, honour, nor obey each other,
neither for better nor worse, being of sound mind and body, and accept
summons for divorce according to the peace and dignity of the State.
Herein fail not, so help you God. Benaja Widdup, justice of the peace
in and for the county of Piedmont, State of Tennessee."
The Justice was about to hand one of the documents to Ransie. The
voice of Ariela delayed the transfer. Both men looked at her. Their
dull masculinity was confronted by something sudden and unexpected in
"Judge, don't you give him that air paper yit. 'Tain't all settled,
nohow. I got to have my rights first. I got to have my ali-money.
'Tain't no kind of a way to do fur a man to divo'ce his wife 'thout
her havin' a cent fur to do with. I'm a-layin' off to be a-goin' up
to brother Ed's up on Hogback Mount'in. I'm bound fur to hev a pa'r
of shoes and some snuff and things besides. Ef Rance kin affo'd a
divo'ce, let him pay me ali-money."
Ransie Bilbro was stricken to dumb perplexity. There had been no
previous hint of alimony. Women were always bringing up startling and
Justice Benaja Widdup felt that the point demanded judicial decision.
The authorities were also silent on the subject of alimony. But the
woman's feet were bare. The trail to Hogback Mountain was steep and
"Ariela Bilbro," he asked, in official tones, "how much did you 'low
would be good and sufficient ali-money in the case befo' the co't."
"I 'lowed," she answered, "fur the shoes and all, to say five dollars.
That ain't much fur ali-money, but I reckon that'll git me to up
"The amount," said the Justice, "air not onreasonable. Ransie Bilbro,
you air ordered by the co't to pay the plaintiff the sum of five
dollars befo' the decree of divo'ce air issued."
"I hain't no mo' money," breathed Ransie, heavily. "I done paid you
all I had."
"Otherwise," said the Justice, looking severely over his spectacles,
"you air in contempt of co't."
"I reckon if you gimme till to-morrow," pleaded the husband, "I mout
be able to rake or scrape it up somewhars. I never looked for to be
a-payin' no ali-money."
"The case air adjourned," said Benaja Widdup, "till to-morrow, when
you-all will present yo'selves and obey the order of the co't.
Followin' of which the decrees of divo'ce will be delivered." He sat
down in the door and began to loosen a shoestring.
"We mout as well go down to Uncle Ziah's," decided Ransie, "and spend
the night." He climbed into the cart on one side, and Ariela climbed
in on the other. Obeying the flap of his rope, the little red bull
slowly came around on a tack, and the cart crawled away in the nimbus
arising from its wheels.
Justice-of-the-peace Benaja Widdup smoked his elder-stem pipe. Late
in the afternoon he got his weekly paper, and read it until the
twilight dimmed its lines. Then he lit the tallow candle on his
table, and read until the moon rose, marking the time for supper. He
lived in the double log cabin on the slope near the girdled poplar.
Going home to supper he crossed a little branch darkened by a laurel
thicket. The dark figure of a man stepped from the laurels and
pointed a rifle at his breast. His hat was pulled down low, and
something covered most of his face.
"I want yo' money," said the figure, "'thout any talk. I'm gettin'
nervous, and my finger's a-wabblin' on this here trigger."
"I've only got f-f-five dollars," said the Justice, producing it
from his vest pocket.
"Roll it up," came the order, "and stick it in the end of this here
The bill was crisp and new. Even fingers that were clumsy and
trembling found little difficulty in making a spill of it and
inserting it (this with less ease) into the muzzle of the rifle.
"Now I reckon you kin be goin' along," said the robber.
The Justice lingered not on his way.
The next day came the little red bull, drawing the cart to the
office door. Justice Benaja Widdup had his shoes on, for he was
expecting the visit. In his presence Ransie Bilbro handed to his
wife a five-dollar bill. The official's eye sharply viewed it.
It seemed to curl up as though it had been rolled and inserted into
the end of a gun-barrel. But the Justice refrained from comment.
It is true that other bills might be inclined to curl. He handed
each one a decree of divorce. Each stood awkwardly silent, slowly
folding the guarantee of freedom. The woman cast a shy glance
full of constraint at Ransie.
"I reckon you'll be goin' back up to the cabin," she said, "along
'ith the bull-cart. There's bread in the tin box settin' on the
shelf. I put the bacon in the b'ilin'-pot to keep the hounds from
gittin' it. Don't forget to wind the clock to-night."
"You air a-goin' to your brother Ed's?" asked Ransie, with fine
"I was 'lowin' to get along up thar afore night. I ain't sayin' as
they'll pester theyselves any to make me welcome, but I hain't nowhar
else fur to go. It's a right smart ways, and I reckon I better be
goin'. I'll be a-sayin' good-bye, Ranse--that is, if you keer fur to
"I don't know as anybody's a hound dog," said Ransie, in a martyr's
voice, "fur to not want to say good-bye--'less you air so anxious to
git away that you don't want me to say it."
Ariela was silent. She folded the five-dollar bill and her decree
carefully, and placed them in the bosom of her dress. Benaja Widdup
watched the money disappear with mournful eyes behind his spectacles.
And then with his next words he achieved rank (as his thoughts ran)
with either the great crowd of the world's sympathizers or the little
crowd of its great financiers.
"Be kind o' lonesome in the old cabin to-night, Ranse," he said.
Ransie Bilbro stared out at the Cumberlands, clear blue now in the
sunlight. He did not look at Ariela.
"I 'low it might be lonesome," he said; "but when folks gits mad and
wants a divo'ce, you can't make folks stay."
"There's others wanted a divo'ce," said Ariela, speaking to the wooden
stool. "Besides, nobody don't want nobody to stay."
"Nobody never said they didn't."
"Nobody never said they did. I reckon I better start on now to
"Nobody can't wind that old clock."
"Want me to go back along 'ith you in the cart and wind it fur you,
The mountaineer's countenance was proof against emotion. But he
reached out a big hand and enclosed Ariela's thin brown one. Her soul
peeped out once through her impassive face, hallowing it.
"Them hounds shan't pester you no more," said Ransie. "I reckon I
been mean and low down. You wind that clock, Ariela."
"My heart hit's in that cabin, Ranse," she whispered, "along 'ith you.
I ai'nt a-goin' to git mad no more. Le's be startin', Ranse, so's we
kin git home by sundown."
Justice-of-the-peace Benaja Widdup interposed as they started for the
door, forgetting his presence.
"In the name of the State of Tennessee," he said, "I forbid you-all to
be a-defyin' of its laws and statutes. This co't is mo' than willin'
and full of joy to see the clouds of discord and misunderstandin'
rollin' away from two lovin' hearts, but it air the duty of the co't
to p'eserve the morals and integrity of the State. The co't reminds
you that you air no longer man and wife, but air divo'ced by regular
decree, and as such air not entitled to the benefits and 'purtenances
of the mattermonal estate."
Ariela caught Ransie's arm. Did those words mean that she must lose
him now when they had just learned the lesson of life?
"But the co't air prepared," went on the Justice, "fur to remove the
disabilities set up by the decree of divo'ce. The co't air on hand to
perform the solemn ceremony of marri'ge, thus fixin' things up and
enablin' the parties in the case to resume the honour'ble and
elevatin' state of mattermony which they desires. The fee fur
performin' said ceremony will be, in this case, to wit, five dollars."
Ariela caught the gleam of promise in his words. Swiftly her hand went
to her bosom. Freely as an alighting dove the bill fluttered to the
Justice's table. Her sallow cheek coloured as she stood hand in hand
with Ransie and listened to the reuniting words.
Ransie helped her into the cart, and climbed in beside her. The
little red bull turned once more, and they set out, hand-clasped, for
Justice-of-the-peace Benaja Widdup sat in his door and took off his
shoes. Once again he fingered the bill tucked down in his vest
pocket. Once again he smoked his elder-stem pipe. Once again the
speckled hen swaggered down the main street of the "settlement,"
A SACRIFICE HIT
The editor of the "Hearthstone Magazine" has his own ideas about the
selection of manuscript for his publication. His theory is no secret;
in fact, he will expound it to you willingly sitting at his mahogany
desk, smiling benignantly and tapping his knee gently with his
"The "Hearthstone"," he will say, "does not employ a staff of
readers. We obtain opinions of the manuscripts submitted to us
directly from types of the various classes of our readers."
That is the editor's theory; and this is the way he carries it out:
When a batch of MSS. is received the editor stuffs every one of his
pockets full of them and distributes them as he goes about during the
day. The office employees, the hall porter, the janitor, the elevator
man, messenger boys, the waiters at the café where the editor has
luncheon, the man at the news-stand where he buys his evening paper,
the grocer and milkman, the guard on the 5.30 uptown elevated train,
the ticket-chopper at Sixty ----th street, the cook and maid at his
home--these are the readers who pass upon MSS. sent in to the
"Hearthstone Magazine". If his pockets are not entirely emptied by
the time he reaches the bosom of his family the remaining ones are
handed over to his wife to read after the baby goes to sleep. A few
days later the editor gathers in the MSS. during his regular rounds
and considers the verdict of his assorted readers.
This system of making up a magazine has been very successful; and the
circulation, paced by the advertising rates, is making a wonderful
record of speed.
The "Hearthstone" Company also publishes books, and its imprint is to
be found on several successful works--all recommended, says the
editor, by the "Hearthstone's" army of volunteer readers. Now and
then (according to talkative members of the editorial staff) the
"Hearthstone" has allowed manuscripts to slip through its fingers on
the advice of its heterogeneous readers, that afterward proved to be
famous sellers when brought out by other houses.
For instance (the gossips say), "The Rise and Fall of Silas Latham"
was unfavourably passed upon by the elevator-man; the office-boy
unanimously rejected "The Boss"; "In the Bishop's Carriage" was
contemptuously looked upon by the street-car conductor; "The
Deliverance" was turned down by a clerk in the subscription department
whose wife's mother had just begun a two-months' visit at his home;
"The Queen's Quair" came back from the janitor with the comment: "So
is the book."
But nevertheless the "Hearthstone" adheres to its theory and system,
and it will never lack volunteer readers; for each one of the widely
scattered staff, from the young lady stenographer in the editorial
office to the man who shovels in coal (whose adverse decision lost to
the "Hearthstone" Company the manuscript of "The Under World"), has
expectations of becoming editor of the magazine some day.
This method of the "Hearthstone" was well known to Allen Slayton when
he wrote his novelette entitled "Love Is All." Slayton had hung about
the editorial offices of all the magazines so persistently that he was
acquainted with the inner workings of every one in Gotham.
He knew not only that the editor of the Hearthstone handed his MSS.
around among different types of people for reading, but that the
stories of sentimental love-interest went to Miss Puffkin, the
editor's stenographer. Another of the editor's peculiar customs was to
conceal invariably the name of the writer from his readers of MSS. so
that a glittering name might not influence the sincerity of their
Slayton made "Love Is All" the effort of his life. He gave it six
months of the best work of his heart and brain. It was a pure
love-story, fine, elevated, romantic, passionate--a prose poem that
set the divine blessing of love (I am transposing from the manuscript)
high above all earthly gifts and honours, and listed it in the
catalogue of heaven's choicest rewards. Slayton's literary ambition
was intense. He would have sacrificed all other worldly possessions
to have gained fame in his chosen art. He would almost have cut off
his right hand, or have offered himself to the knife of the
appendicitis fancier to have realized his dream of seeing one of his
efforts published in the "Hearthstone".
Slayton finished "Love Is All," and took it to the "Hearthstone" in
person. The office of the magazine was in a large, conglomerate
building, presided under by a janitor.
As the writer stepped inside the door on his way to the elevator a
potato masher flew through the hall, wrecking Slayton's hat, and
smashing the glass of the door. Closely following in the wake of the
utensil flew the janitor, a bulky, unwholesome man, suspenderless and
sordid, panic-stricken and breathless. A frowsy, fat woman with
flying hair followed the missile. The janitor's foot slipped on the
tiled floor, he fell in a heap with an exclamation of despair. The
woman pounced upon him and seized his hair. The man bellowed lustily.
Her vengeance wreaked, the virago rose and stalked triumphant as
Minerva, back to some cryptic domestic retreat at the rear. The
janitor got to his feet, blown and humiliated.
"This is married life," he said to Slayton, with a certain bruised
humour. "That's the girl I used to lay awake of nights thinking
about. Sorry about your hat, mister. Say, don't snitch to the tenants
about this, will yer? I don't want to lose me job."
Slayton took the elevator at the end of the hall and went up to the
offices of the "Hearthstone". He left the MS. of "Love Is All" with
the editor, who agreed to give him an answer as to its availability
at the end of a week.
Slayton formulated his great winning scheme on his way down. It
struck him with one brilliant flash, and he could not refrain from
admiring his own genius in conceiving the idea. That very night he
set about carrying it into execution.
Miss Puffkin, the "Hearthstone" stenographer, boarded in the same house
with the author. She was an oldish, thin, exclusive, languishing,
sentimental maid; and Slayton had been introduced to her some time
The writer's daring and self-sacrificing project was this: He knew
that the editor of the "Hearthstone" relied strongly upon Miss
Puffkin's judgment in the manuscript of romantic and sentimental
fiction. Her taste represented the immense average of mediocre women
who devour novels and stories of that type. The central idea and
keynote of "Love Is All" was love at first sight--the enrapturing,
irresistible, soul-thrilling feeling that compels a man or a woman
to recognize his or her spirit-mate as soon as heart speaks to heart.
Suppose he should impress this divine truth upon Miss Puffkin
personally!--would she not surely indorse her new and rapturous
sensations by recommending highly to the editor of the "Hearthstone"
the novelette "Love Is All"?
Slayton thought so. And that night he took Miss Puffkin to the
theatre. The next night he made vehement love to her in the dim
parlour of the boarding-house. He quoted freely from "Love Is All";
and he wound up with Miss Puffkin's head on his shoulder, and visions
of literary fame dancing in his head.
But Slayton did not stop at love-making. This, he said to himself,
was the turning point of his life; and, like a true sportsman, he
"went the limit." On Thursday night he and Miss Puffkin walked over
to the Big Church in the Middle of the Block and were married.
Brave Slayton! Châteaubriand died in a garret, Byron courted a widow,
Keats starved to death, Poe mixed his drinks, De Quincey hit the pipe,
Ade lived in Chicago, James kept on doing it, Dickens wore white
socks, De Maupassant wore a strait-jacket, Tom Watson became a
Populist, Jeremiah wept, all these authors did these things for the
sake of literature, but thou didst cap them all; thou marriedst a wife
for to carve for thyself a niche in the temple of fame!
On Friday morning Mrs. Slayton said she would go over to the
"Hearthstone" office, hand in one or two manuscripts that the editor
had given to her to read, and resign her position as stenographer.
"Was there anything--er--that--er--you particularly fancied
in the stories you are going to turn in?" asked Slayton with a
"There was one--a novelette, that I liked so much," said his wife. "I
haven't read anything in years that I thought was half as nice and
true to life."
That afternoon Slayton hurried down to the "Hearthstone" office. He
felt that his reward was close at hand. With a novelette in the
"Hearthstone", literary reputation would soon be his.
The office boy met him at the railing in the outer office. It was not
for unsuccessful authors to hold personal colloquy with the editor
except at rare intervals.
Slayton, hugging himself internally, was nursing in his heart the
exquisite hope of being able to crush the office boy with his
He inquired concerning his novelette. The office boy went into the
sacred precincts and brought forth a large envelope, thick with more
than the bulk of a thousand checks.
"The boss told me to tell you he's sorry," said the boy, "but your
manuscript ain't available for the magazine."
Slayton stood, dazed. "Can you tell me," he stammered, "whether or
no Miss Puff--that is my--I mean Miss Puffkin--handed in a novelette
this morning that she had been asked to read?"
"Sure she did," answered the office boy wisely. "I heard the old man
say that Miss Puffkin said it was a daisy. The name of it was,
'Married for the Mazuma, or a Working Girl's Triumph.'"
"Say, you!" said the office boy confidentially, "your name's Slayton,
ain't it? I guess I mixed cases on you without meanin' to do it. The
boss give me some manuscript to hand around the other day and I got
the ones for Miss Puffkin and the janitor mixed. I guess it's all
And then Slayton looked closer and saw on the cover of his manuscript,
under the title "Love Is All," the janitor's comment scribbled with a
piece of charcoal:
"The ---- you say!"
THE ROADS WE TAKE
Twenty miles west of Tucson, the "Sunset Express" stopped at a tank to
take on water. Besides the aqueous addition the engine of that famous
flyer acquired some other things that were not good for it.
While the fireman was lowering the feeding hose, Bob Tidball, "Shark"
Dodson and a quarter-bred Creek Indian called John Big Dog climbed on
the engine and showed the engineer three round orifices in pieces of
ordnance that they carried. These orifices so impressed the engineer
with their possibilities that he raised both hands in a gesture such
as accompanies the ejaculation "Do tell!"
At the crisp command of Shark Dodson, who was leader of the attacking
force the engineer descended to the ground and uncoupled the engine
and tender. Then John Big Dog, perched upon the coal, sportively held
two guns upon the engine driver and the fireman, and suggested that
they run the engine fifty yards away and there await further orders.
Shark Dodson and Bob Tidball, scorning to put such low-grade ore as
the passengers through the mill, struck out for the rich pocket of the
express car. They found the messenger serene in the belief that the
"Sunset Express" was taking on nothing more stimulating and dangerous
than aqua pura. While Bob was knocking this idea out of his head with
the butt-end of his six-shooter Shark Dodson was already dosing the
express-car safe with dynamite.
The safe exploded to the tune of $30,000, all gold and currency. The
passengers thrust their heads casually out of the windows to look for
the thunder-cloud. The conductor jerked at the bell-rope, which
sagged down loose and unresisting, at his tug. Shark Dodson and Bob
Tidball, with their booty in a stout canvas bag, tumbled out of the
express car and ran awkwardly in their high-heeled boots to the
The engineer, sullenly angry but wise, ran the engine, according to
orders, rapidly away from the inert train. But before this was
accomplished the express messenger, recovered from Bob Tidball's
persuader to neutrality, jumped out of his car with a Wincheste
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