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Blix by Frank Norris

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supplement of the "Times," with illustrations by one of the staff
artists. It attracted not the least attention.

Just before he went to bed the Sunday evening of its appearance,
Condy read it over again for the last time.

"It's a rotten failure," he muttered gloomily as he cast the paper
from him. "Simple drivel. I wonder what Blix will think of it.
I wonder if I amount to a hill of beans. I wonder WHAT she wants
to go East for, anyway."



Chapter IX


The old-fashioned Union Street cable car, with its low,
comfortable outside seats, put Blix and Condy down just inside the
Presidio Government Reservation. Condy asked a direction of a
sentry nursing his Krag-Jorgensen at the terminus of the track,
and then with Blix set off down the long board walk through the
tunnel of overhanging evergreens.

The day could not have been more desirable. It was a little after
ten of a Monday morning, Condy's weekly holiday. The air was
neither cool nor warm, effervescent merely, brisk and full of the
smell of grass and of the sea. The sky was a speckless sheen of
pale blue. To their right, and not far off, was the bay, blue as
indigo. Alcatraz seemed close at hand; beyond was the enormous
green, red, and purple pyramid of Tamalpais climbing out of the
water, head and shoulders above the little foothills, and looking
out to the sea and to the west.

The Reservation itself was delightful. There were rows of the
officers' houses, all alike, drawn up in lines like an assembly of
the staff; there were huge barracks, most like college
dormitories; and on their porches enlisted men in shirt sleeves
and overalls were cleaning saddles, and polishing the brass of
head-stalls and bridles, whistling the while or smoking corn-cob
pipes. Here on the parade-ground a soldier, his coat and vest
removed, was batting grounders and flies to a half-dozen of his
fellows. Over by the stables, strings of horses, all of the same
color, were being curried and cleaned. A young lieutenant upon a
bicycle spun silently past. An officer came from his front gate,
his coat unbuttoned and a briar in his teeth. The walks and roads
were flanked with lines of black-painted cannon-balls; inverted
pieces of abandoned ordnance stood at corners. From a distance
came the mellow snarling of a bugle.

Blix and Condy had planned a long walk for that day. They were to
go out through the Presidio Reservation, past the barracks and
officers' quarters, and on to the old fort at the Golden Gate.
Here they would turn and follow the shore-line for a way, then
strike inland across the hills for a short half-mile, and regain
the city and the street-car lines by way of the golf-links. Condy
had insisted upon wearing his bicycle outfit for the occasion,
and, moreover, carried a little satchel, which, he said, contained
a pair of shoes.

But Blix was as sweet as a rose that morning, all in tailor-made
black but for the inevitable bands of white satin wrapped high and
tight about her neck. The St. Bernard dog-collar did duty as a
belt. She had disdained a veil, and her yellow hair was already
blowing about her smooth pink cheeks. She walked at his side, her
step as firm and solid as his own, her round, strong arms
swinging, her little brown eyes shining with good spirits and
vigor, and the pure, clean animal joy of being alive on that fine
cool Western morning. She talked almost incessantly. She was
positively garrulous. She talked about the fine day that it was,
about the queer new forage caps of the soldiers, about the bare
green hills of the Reservation, about the little cemetery they
passed just beyond the limits of the barracks, about a rabbit she
saw, and about the quail they both heard whistling and calling in
the hollows under the bushes.

Condy walked at her side in silence, yet no less happy than she,
smoking his pipe and casting occasional glances at a great ship--a
four-master that was being towed out toward the Golden Gate. At
every moment and at every turn they noted things that interested
them, and to which they called each other's attention.

"Look, Blix!"

"Oh, Condy, look at that!"

They were soon out of the miniature city of the Post, and held on
down through the low reach of tules and sand-dunes that stretch
between the barracks and the old red fort.

"Look, Condy!" said Blix. "What's that building down there on the
shore of the bay--the one with the flagstaff?"

"I think that must be the lifeboat station."

"I wonder if we could go down and visit it. I think it would be
good fun."

"Idea!" exclaimed Condy.

The station was close at hand. To reach it they had but to leave
the crazy board walk that led on toward the fort, and cross a few
hundred yards of sand-dune. Condy opened the gate that broke the
line of evergreen hedge around the little two-story house, and
promptly unchained a veritable pandemonium of dogs.

Inside, the place was not without a certain charm of its own. A
brick wall, bordered with shells, led to the front of the station,
which gave directly upon the bay; a little well-kept lawn opened
to right and left, and six or eight gaily-painted old rowboats
were set about, half filled with loam in which fuchsias,
geraniums, and mignonettes were flowering. A cat or two dozed
upon the window-sills in the sun. Upon a sort of porch overhead,
two of the crew paced up and down in a manner that at once
suggested the poop. Here and there was a gleam of highly polished
red copper or brass trimmings. The bay was within two steps of
the front door, while a little further down the beach was the
house where the surf-boat was kept, and the long runway leading
down from it to the water. Condy rapped loudly at the front door.
It was opened by Captain Jack.

Captain Jack, and no other; only now he wore a blue sweater and a
leather-visored cap, with the letters U. S. L. B. S. around the
band.

Not an instant was given them for preparation. The thing had
happened with the abruptness of a transformation scene at a
theatre. Condy's knock had evoked a situation. Speech was
stricken from their mouths. For a moment they were bereft even of
action, and stood there on the threshold, staring open-mouthed and
open-eyed at the sudden reappearance of their "matrimonial
object." Condy was literally dumb; in the end it was Blix who
tided them over the crisis.

"We were just going by--just taking a walk," she explained, "and
we thought we'd like to see the station. Is it all right? Can we
look around?"

"Why, of course," assented the Captain with great cordiality.
"Come right in. This is visitors' day. You just happened to hit
it--only it's mighty few visitors we ever have," he added.

While Condy was registering for himself and Blix, they managed to
exchange a lightning glance. It was evident the Captain did not
recognize them. The situation readjusted itself, even promised to
be of extraordinary interest. And for that matter it made little
difference whether the captain remembered them or not.

"No, we don't get many visitors," the Captain went on, as he led
them out of the station and down the small gravel walk to the
house where the surf-boat was kept. "This is a quiet station.
People don't fetch out this way very often, and we're not called
out very often, either. We're an inside post, you see, and
usually we don't get a call unless the sea's so high that the
Cliff House station can't launch their boat. So, you see, we
don't go out much, but when we DO, it means business with a great
big B. Now, this here, you see," continued the Captain, rolling
back the sliding doors of the house, "is the surf-boat. By the
way, let's see; I ain't just caught your names yet."

"Well, my name's Rivers," said Condy, "and this is Miss Bessemer.
We're both from the city."

"Happy to know you, sir; happy to know you, miss," he returned,
pulling off his cap. "My name's Hoskins, but you can just call me
Captain Jack. I'm so used to it that I don't kind of answer to
the other. Well, now, Miss Bessemer, this here's the surf-boat;
she's self-rightin', self-bailin', she can't capsize, and if I was
to tell you how many thousands of dollars she cost, you wouldn't
believe me."

Condy and Blix spent a delightful half-hour in the boat-house
while Captain Jack explained and illustrated, and told them
anecdotes of wrecks, escapes, and rescues till they held their
breaths like ten-year-olds.

It did not take Condy long to know that he had discovered what the
story-teller so often tells of but so seldom finds, and what, for
want of a better name, he elects to call "a character."

Captain Jack had been everywhere, had seen everything, and had
done most of the things worth doing, including a great many things
that he had far better have left undone. But on this latter point
the Captain seemed to be innocently and completely devoid of a
moral sense of right and wrong. It was quite evident that he saw
no matter for conscience in the smuggling of Chinamen across the,
Canadian border at thirty dollars a head--a venture in which he
had had the assistance of the prodigal son of an American divine
of international renown. The trade to Peruvian insurgents of
condemned rifles was to be regretted only because the ring
manipulating it was broken up. The appropriation of a schooner in
the harbor of Callao was a story in itself; while the robbery of
thirty thousand dollars' worth of sea-otter skins from a Russian
trading-post in Alaska, accomplished chiefly through the agency of
a barrel of rum manufactured from sugar-cane, was a veritable
achievement.

He had been born, so he told them, in Winchester, in England, and--
Heaven save the mark!--had been brought up with a view of taking
orders. For some time he was a choir boy in the great Winchester
Cathedral; then, while yet a lad, had gone to sea. He had been
boat-steerer on a New Bedford whaler, and struck his first whale
when only sixteen. He had filibustered down to Chili; had acted
as ice pilot on an Arctic relief expedition; had captained a crew
of Chinamen shark-fishing in Magdalena Bay, and had been nearly
murdered by his men; had been a deep-sea diver, and had burst his
ear-drums at the business, so that now he could blow tobacco smoke
out of his ears; he had been shipwrecked in the Gilberts, fought
with the Seris on the lower California Islands, sold champagne--
made from rock candy, effervescent salts, and Reisling wine--to
the Coreans, had dreamed of "holding up" a Cunard liner, and had
ridden on the Strand in a hansom with William Ewart Gladstone.
But the one thing of which he was proud, the one picture of his
life he most delighted to recall, was himself as manager of a
negro minstrel troupe, in a hired drum-major's uniform, marching
down the streets of Sacramento at the head of the brass band in
burnt cork and regimentals.

"The star of the troupe," he told them, "was the lady with the
iron jore. We busted in Stockton, and she gave me her diamonds to
pawn. I pawned 'em, and kept back something in the hand for
myself and hooked it to San Francisco. Strike me straight if she
didn't follow me, that iron-jored piece; met me one day in front
of the Bush Street Theatre, and horsewhipped me properly. Now,
just think of that"--and he laughed as though it was the best kind
of a joke.

"But," hazarded Blix, "don't you find it rather dull out here--
lonesome? I should think you would want to have some one with you
to keep you company--to--to do your cooking for you?"

But Condy, ignoring her diplomacy and thinking only of possible
stories, blundered off upon another track.

"Yes," he said, "you've led such a life of action, I should think
this station would be pretty dull for you. How did you happen to
choose it?"

"Well, you see, answered the Captain, leaning against the smooth
white flank of the surf-boat, his hands in his pockets, "I'm lying
low just now. I got into a scrape down at Libertad, in Mexico,
that made talk, and I'm waiting for that to die down some. You
see, it was this way."

Mindful of their experience with the mate of the whaleback, Condy
and Blix were all attention in an instant. Blix sat down upon an
upturned box, her elbows on her knees, leaning forward, her little
eyes fixed and shining with interest and expectation; Condy, the
story-teller all alive and vibrant in him, stood at her elbow,
smoking cigarette after cigarette, his fingers dancing with
excitement and animation as the Captain spoke.

And then it was that Condy and Blix, in that isolated station, the
bay lapping at the shore within ear-shot, in that atmosphere
redolent of paint and oakum and of seaweed decaying upon the beach
outside, first heard the story of "In Defiance of Authority."

Captain Jack began it with his experience as a restaurant keeper
during the boom days in Seattle, Washington. He told them how he
was the cashier of a dining-saloon whose daily net profits
exceeded eight hundred dollars; how its proprietor suddenly died,
and how he, Captain Jack, continued the management of the
restaurant pending a settlement of the proprietor's affairs and an
appearance of heirs; how in the confusion and excitement of the
boom no settlement was ever made; and how, no heirs appearing, he
assumed charge of the establishment himself, paying bills, making
contracts, and signing notes, until he came to consider the
business and all its enormous profits as his own; and how at last,
when the restaurant was burned, he found himself some forty
thousand dollars "ahead of the game."

Then he told them of the strange club of the place, called "The
Exiles," made up chiefly of "younger sons" of English and British-
Canadian families, every member possessed of a "past" more or less
disreputable; men who had left their country for their country's
good, and for their family's peace of mind--adventurers,
wanderers, soldiers of fortune, gentlemen-vagabonds, men of
hyphenated names and even noble birth, whose appellations were
avowedly aliases. He told them of his meeting with Billy Isham,
one of the club's directors, and of the happy-go-lucky, reckless,
unpractical character of the man; of their acquaintance, intimacy,
and subsequent partnership; of how the filibustering project was
started with Captain Jack's forty thousand, and the never-to-be-
forgotten interview in San Francisco with Senora Estrada, the
agent of the insurgents; of the incident of her calling-card--how
she tore it in two and gave one-half to Isham; of their
outfitting, and the broken sextant that was to cause their
ultimate discomfiture and disaster, and of the voyage to the
rendezvous on a Panama liner.

"Strike me!" continued Captain Jack, "you should have seen Billy
Isham on that Panama dough-dish; a passenger ship she was, and
Billy was the life of her from stem to stern-post. There was a
church pulpit aboard that they were taking down to Mazatlan for
some chapel or other, and this here pulpit was lashed on deck aft.
Well, Billy had been most kinds of a fool in his life, and among
others a play-actor; called himself Gaston Maundeville, and was
clean daft on his knowledge of Shakespeare and his own power of
interpretin' the hidden meanin' of the lines. I ain't never going
to forgit the day he gave us Portia's speech. We were just under
the tropic, and the day was a scorcher. There was mostly men folk
aboard, and we lay around the deck in our pajamas, while Billy--
Gaston Maundeville, dressed in striped red and white pajamas--clum
up in that bally pulpit, with the ship's Shakespeare in his hands,
an' let us have--'The quality o' mercy isn't strained; it droppeth
as the genteel dew from heavun.' Laugh, I tell you I was sore with
it. Lord, how we guyed him! An' the more we guyed and the more we
laughed, the more serious he got and the madder he grew. He said
he was interpretin' the hidden meanin' of the lines."

And so the Captain ran through that wild, fiery tale--of fighting
and loving, buccaneering and conspiring; mandolins tinkling,
knives clicking; oaths mingling with sonnets, and spilled wine
with spilled blood. He told them of Isham's knife duel with the
Mexican lieutenant, their left wrists lashed together; of the
"battle of the thirty" in the pitch dark of the Custom House
cellar; of Senora Estrada's love for Isham; and all the roll and
plunge of action that make up the story of "In Defiance of
Authority."

At the end, Blix's little eyes were snapping like sparks; Condy's
face was flaming, his hands were cold, and he was shifting his
weight from foot to foot, like an excited thoroughbred horse.

"Heavens and earth, what a yarn!" he exclaimed almost in a
whisper.

Blix drew a long, tremulous breath and sat back upon the upturned
box, looking around her as though she had but that moment been
awakened.

"Yes, sir," said the Captain, rolling a cigarette. "Yes, sir,
those were great days. Get down there around the line in those
little, out-o'-the-way republics along the South American coast,
and things happen to you. You hold a man's life in the crook of
your forefinger, an' nothing's done by halves. If you hate a man,
you lay awake nights biting your mattress, just thinking how you
hate him; an' if you love a woman--good Lord, how you do LOVE
her!"

"But--but!" exclaimed Condy, "I don't see how you can want to do
anything else. Why, you're living sixty to the minute when you're
playing a game like that!"

"Oh, I ain't dead yet!" answered the Captain. "I got a few
schemes left that I could get fun out of."

"How can you wait a minute!" exclaimed Blix breathlessly. "Why
don't you get a ship right away--to-morrow--and go right off on
some other adventure?"

"Well, I can't just now," returned the Captain, blowing the smoke
from his cigarette through his ears. "There's a good many
reasons; one of 'em is that I've just been married."



Chapter X


Mum--mar--married! gasped Condy, swallowing something in his
throat.

Blix rose to her feet.

"Just been MARRIED!" she repeated, a little frightened. "Why--
why--why; how DELIGHTFUL!"

"Yes--yes," mumbled Condy. "How delightful. I congratulate you!"

"Come in--come back to the station," said the Captain jovially,
"and I'll introduce you to m' wife. We were married only last
Sunday."

"Why, yes--yes, of course, we'd be delighted," vociferated the two
conspirators a little hysterically.

"She's a mighty fine little woman," declared the Captain, as he
rolled the door of the boat-house to its place and preceded them
up the gravel walk to the station.

"Of course she is," responded Blix. Behind Captain Jack's back
she fixed Condy with a wide-eyed look, and nudged him fiercely
with an elbow to recall him to himself; for Condy's wits were
scattered like a flock of terrified birds, and he was gazing
blankly at the Captain's coat collar with a vacant, maniacal
smile.

"For Heaven's sake, Condy!" she had time to whisper before they
arrived in the hallway of the station.

But fortunately they were allowed a minute or so to recover
themselves and prepare for what was coming. Captain Jack ushered
them into what was either the parlor, office, or sitting-room of
the station, and left them with the words:

"Just make yourselves comfortable here, an' I'll go fetch the
little woman."

No sooner had he gone than the two turned to each other.

"Well!"

"WELL!"

"We're in for it now."

"But we must see it through, Condy; act just as natural as you
can, and we're all right."

"But supposing SHE recognizes us!"

"Supposing she does--what then. How ARE they to know that we
wrote the letters?"

"Sh, Blix, not so loud! They know by now that THEY didn't."

"But it seems that it hasn't made any difference to them; they are
married. And besides, they wouldn't speak about putting
'personals' in the paper to us. They would never let anybody know
that."

"Do you suppose they could possibly suspect?"

"I'm sure they couldn't."

"Here they come."

"Keep perfectly calm, and we're saved."

"Suppose it isn't K. D. B., after all?"

But it was, of course, and she recognized them in an instant. She
and the Captain--the latter all grins--came in from the direction
of the kitchen, K. D. B. wearing a neat blue calico gown and an
apron that was really a marvel of cleanliness and starch.

"Kitty!" exclaimed Captain Jack, seized again with an
unexplainable mirth, "here's some young folks come out to see the
place an' I want you to know 'em. Mr. Rivers, this is m' wife,
Kitty, and--lessee, miss, I don't rightly remember your name."

"Bessemer!" exclaimed Condy and Blix in a breath.

"Oh!" exclaimed K. D. B., "you were in the restaurant the night
that the Captain and I--I--that is--yes, I'm quite sure I've seen
you before." She turned from one to the other. beginning to blush
furiously.

"Yes, yes, in Luna's restaurant, wasn't it?" said Condy
desperately. "It seems to me I do just barely remember."

"And wasn't the Captain there?" Blix ventured.

"I forgot my stick, I remember," continued Condy. "I came back
for it; and just as I was going out it seems to me I saw you two
at a table near the door."

He thought it best to allow their "matrimonial objects" to believe
he had not seen them before.

"Yes, yes, we were there," answered K. D. B. tactfully. "We dine
there almost every Monday night."

Blix guessed that K. D. B. would prefer to have the real facts of
the situation ignored, and determined she should have the chance
to change the conversation if she wished.

"What a delicious supper one has there!" she said.

"Can't say I like Mexican cooking myself," answered K. D. B.,
forgetting that they dined there every Monday night. "Plain
United States is good enough for me."

Suddenly Captain Jack turned abruptly to Condy, exclaiming: "Oh,
you was the chap that called the picture of that schooner a
barkentine."

"Yes; WASN'T that a barkentine?" he answered innocently.

"Barkentine your EYE!" spluttered the Captain. "Why, that was a
schooner as plain as a pie plate."

But ten minutes later the ordeal was over, and Blix and Condy,
once more breathing easily, were on their walk again. The Captain
and K. D. B. had even accompanied them to the gate of the station,
and had strenuously urged them to "come in and see them again the
next time they were out that way."

"Married!" murmured Condy, putting both hands to his head. "We've
done it, we've done it now."

"Well, what of it?" declared Blix, a little defiantly. "I think
it's all right. You can see the Captain is in love with her, and
she with him. No, we've nothing to reproach ourselves with."

"But--but--but so sudden!" whispered Condy, all aghast. "That's
what makes me faint--the suddenness of it."

"It shows how much they are in love, how--how readily they--
adapted themselves to each other. No, it's all right."

"They seemed to like us--actually."

"Well, they had better--if they knew the truth. Without us they
never would have met."

"They both asked us to come out and see them again, did you notice
that? Let's do it, Blix," Condy suddenly exclaimed; "let's get to
know them!"

"Of course we must. Wouldn't it be fun to call on them--to get
regularly acquainted with them!"

"They might ask us to dinner some time."

"And think of the stories he could tell you!"

They enthused immediately upon this subject, both talking
excitedly at the same time, going over the details of the
Captain's yarns, recalling the incidents to each other.

"Fancy!" exclaimed Condy--"fancy Billy Isham in his pajamas, red
and white stripes, reading Shakespeare from that pulpit on board
the ship, and the other men guying him! Isn't that a SCENE for
you? Can't you just SEE it?

"I wonder if the Captain wasn't making all those things up as he
went along. He don't seem to have any sense of right and wrong at
all. He might have been lying, Condy."

"What difference would that make?"

And so they went along in that fine, clear, Western morning, on
the edge of the Continent, both of them young and strong and
vigorous, the Pacific under their eyes, the great clean Trades
blowing in their faces, the smell of the salt sea coming in long
aromatic whiffs to their nostrils. Young and strong and fresh,
their imaginations thronging with pictures of vigorous action and
adventure, buccaneering, filibustering, and all the swing, the
leap, the rush and gallop, the exuberant, strong life of the
great, uncharted world of Romance.

And all unknowingly they were a Romance in themselves. Cynicism,
old age, and the weariness of all things done had no place in the
world in which they walked. They still had their illusions, all
the keenness of their sensations, all the vividness of their
impressions. The simple things of the world, the great, broad,
primal emotions of the race stirred in them. As they swung along,
going toward the ocean, their brains were almost as empty of
thought or of reflection as those of two fine, clean animals.
They were all for the immediate sensation; they did not think--
they FELT. The intellect was dormant; they looked at things, they
heard things, they smelled the smell of the sea, and of the
seaweed, of the fat, rank growth of cresses in the salt marshes;
they turned their cheeks to the passing wind, and filled their
mouths and breasts with it. Their life was sweet to them; every
hour was one glad effervescence. The fact that the ocean was blue
was a matter for rejoicing. It was good to be alive on that royal
morning. Just to be young was an exhilaration; and everything was
young with them--the day was young, the country was young, and the
civilization to which they belonged, teeming there upon the green,
Western fringe of the continent, was young and heady and
tumultuous with the boisterous, red blood of a new race.

Condy even forgot, or rather disdained on such a morning as that,
to piece together and rearrange Captain Jack's yarns into story
form. To look at the sea and the green hills, to watch the pink
on Blix's cheek and her yellow hair blowing across her eyes and
lips, was better than thinking. Life was better than literature.
To live was better than to read; one live human being was better
than ten thousand Shakespeares; an act was better than a thought.
Why, just to love Blix, to be with her, to see the sweet, clean
flush of her cheek, to know that she was there at his side, and to
have the touch of her elbow as they walked, was better than the
best story, the greatest novel he could ever hope to write. Life
was better than literature, and love was the best thing in life.
To love Blix and to be near her--what else was worth while? Could
he ever think of finding anything in life sweeter and finer than
this dear young girl of nineteen?

Suddenly Condy came to himself with an abrupt start. What was
this he was thinking--what was this he was telling himself? Love
Blix! He loved Blix! Why, of COURSE he loved her--loved her so,
that with the thought of it there came a great, sudden clutch at
the heart and a strange sense of tenderness, so vague and yet so
great that it eluded speech and all expression. Love her! Of
course he loved her! He had, all unknowing, loved her even before
this wonderful morning: had loved her that day at the lake, and
that never-to-be-forgotten, delicious afternoon in the Chinese
restaurant; all those long, quiet evenings spent in the window of
the little dining-room, looking down upon the darkening city, he
had loved her. Why, all his days for the last few months had been
full of the love of her.

How else had he been so happy? how else did it come about that
little by little he was withdrawing from the society and influence
of his artificial world, as represented by such men as Sargeant?
how else was he slowly loosening the grip of the one evil and
vicious habit that had clutched him so long? how else was his
ambition stirring? how else was his hitherto aimless enthusiasm
hardening to energy and determination? She had not always so
influenced him. In the days when they had just known each other,
and met each other in the weekly course of their formal life, it
had not been so, even though they pretended a certain amount of
affection. He remembered the evening when Blix had brought those
days to an abrupt end, and how at the moment he had told himself
that after all he had never known the real Blix. Since then, in
the charming, unconventional life they had led, everything had
been changed. He had come to know her for what she was, to know
her genuine goodness, her sincerity, her contempt of affectations,
her comradeship, her calm, fine strength and unbroken good nature;
and day by day, here a little and there a little, his love for her
had grown so quietly, so evenly, that he had never known it, until
now, behold! it was suddenly come to flower, full and strong--a
flower whose fragrance had suddenly filled all his life and all
his world with its sweetness.

Half an hour after leaving the lifeboat station, Condy and Blix
reached the old, red-brick fort, deserted, abandoned, and rime-
incrusted, at the entrance of the Golden Gate. They turned its
angle, and there rolled the Pacific, a blue floor of shifting
water, stretching out there forever and forever over the curve of
the earth, over the shoulder of the world, with never a sail in
view and never a break from horizon to horizon.

They followed down the shore, sometimes upon the old and broken
flume that runs along the seaward face of the hills that rise from
the beach, or sometimes upon the beach itself, stepping from
bowlder to bowlder, or holding along at the edge of the water upon
reaches of white, hard sand.

The beach was solitary; not a soul was in sight. Close at hand,
to landward, great hills, bare and green, shut off the sky; and
here and there the land came tumbling down into the sea in great,
jagged, craggy rocks, knee-deep in swirling foam, and all black
with wet. The air was full of the prolonged thunder of the surf,
and at intervals sea-birds passed overhead with an occasional
piping cry. Wreckage was tumbled about here and there; and
innumerable cocoanut shards, huge, brown cups of fuzzy bark, lay
underfoot and in the crevices of the rocks. They found a jelly-
fish--a pulpy translucent mass; and once even caught a sight of a
seal in the hollow of a breaker, with sleek and shining head, his
barbels bristling, and heard his hoarse croaking bark as he hunted
the off-shore fish.

Blix refused to allow Condy to help her in the least. She was
quite as active and strong as he, and clambered from rock to rock
and over the shattered scantling of the flume with the vigor and
agility of a young boy. She muddied her shoes to the very tops
scratched her hands, tore her skirt, and even twisted her ankle;
but her little eyes were never so bright, nor was the pink flush
of her cheeks ever more adorable. And she was never done talking--
a veritable chatterbox. She saw everything and talked about
everything she saw, quite indifferent as to whether or no Condy
listened. Now it was a queer bit of seaweed, now it was a group
of gulls clamoring over a dead fish, now a purple starfish, now a
breaker of unusual size. Her splendid vitality carried her away.
She was excited, alive to her very finger-tips, vibrant to the
least sensation, quivering to the least impression.

"Let's get up here and sit down somewhere," said Condy, at length.

They left the beach and climbed up the slope of the hills, near a
point where a long arm of land thrust out into the sea and shut
off the wind; a path was there, and they followed it for a few
yards, till they had come to a little amphitheatre surrounded with
blackberry bushes.

Here they sat down, Blix settling herself on an old log with a
little sigh of contentment, Condy stretching himself out, a new-
lighted pipe in his teeth, his head resting on the little handbag
he had persistently carried ever since morning. Then Blix fell
suddenly silent, and for a long time the two sat there without
speaking, absorbed in the enjoyment of looking at the enormous
green hills rolling down to the sea, the breakers thundering at
the beach, the gashed pinnacles of rock, the vast reach of the
Pacific, and the distant prospect of the old fort at the entrance
of the Golden Gate.

"We might be a thousand miles away from the city, for all the
looks of it, mightn't we, Condy?" said Blix, after a while. "And
I'm that HUNGRY! It must be nearly noon."

For answer, Condy sat up with profound gravity, and with a great
air of nonchalance opened the handbag, and, instead of shoes took
out, first, a pint bottle of claret, then "devilish" ham
sandwiches in oiled paper, a bottle of stuffed olives, a great bag
of salted almonds, two little tumblers, a paper-covered novel, and
a mouth organ.

Blix fairly crowed with delight, clasping her hands upon her
knees, and rocking to and fro where she sat upon the log.

"Oh, Condy, and you thought of a LUNCH--you said it was shoes--and
you remembered I loved stuffed olives, too; and a book to read.
What is it--'The Seven Seas.' No, I never WAS so happy. But the
mouth organ--what's that for?"

"To play on. What did you think--think it was a can-opener?"

Blix choked with merriment over his foolery, and Condy added
proudly:

"Look there! I made those sandwiches!"

They looked as though he had--great, fat chunks of bread, the
crust still on; the "devilish" ham in thick strata between; and,
positively, he had BUTTERED the bread. But it was all one with
them; they ate as though at a banquet, and Blix even took off her
hat and hung it upon one of the nearby bushes. Of course Condy
had forgotten a corkscrew. He tried to dig out the cork of the
claret bottle with his knife, until he had broken both blades and
was about to give up in despair, when Blix, at the end of her
patience, took the bottle from him and pushed in the cork with her
finger.

"Wine, music, literature, and feasting," observed Condy. "We're
getting regularly luxurious, just like Sardine-apalus."

But Condy himself had suddenly entered into an atmosphere of
happiness, the like of which he had never known or dreamed of
before. He loved Blix--he had just discovered it. He loved her
because she was so genuine, so radiantly fresh and strong; loved
her because she liked the things that he liked, because they two
looked at the world from precisely the same point of view, hating
shams and affectations, happy in the things that were simple and
honest and natural. He loved her because she liked his books,
appreciating the things therein that he appreciated, liking what
he liked, disapproving of what he condemned. He loved her because
she was nineteen, and because she was so young and unspoiled and
was happy just because the ocean was blue and the morning fine.
He loved her because she was so pretty, because of the softness of
her yellow hair, because of her round, white forehead and pink
cheeks, because of her little, dark-brown eyes, with that look in
them as if she were just done smiling or just about to smile, one
could not say which; loved her because of her good, firm mouth and
chin, because of her full neck and its high, tight bands of white
satin. And he loved her because her arms were strong and round,
and because she wore the great dog-collar around her trim, firm-
corseted waist, and because there emanated from her with every
movement a barely perceptible, delicious, feminine odor, that was
in part perfume, but mostly a subtle, vague aroma, charming beyond
words, that came from her mouth, her hair, her neck, her arms, her
whole sweet personality. And he loved her because she was
herself, because she was Blix, because of that strange, sweet
influence that was disengaged from her in those quiet moments when
she seemed so close to him, when some unnamed, mysterious sixth
sense in him stirred and woke and told him of her goodness, of her
clean purity and womanliness; and that certain, vague tenderness
in him went out toward her, a tenderness not for her only, but for
all the good things of the world; and he felt his nobler side
rousing up and the awakening of the desire to be his better self.

Covertly he looked at her, as she sat near him, her yellow hair
rolling and blowing back from her forehead, her hands clasped over
her knee, looking out over the ocean, thoughtful, her eyes wide.

She had told him she did not love him. Condy remembered that
perfectly well. She was sincere in the matter; she did not love
him. That subject had been once and for all banished from their
intercourse. And it was because of that very reason that their
companionship of the last three or four months had been so
charming. She looked upon him merely as a chum. She had not
changed in the least from that time until now, whereas he--why,
all his world was new for him that morning! Why, he loved her so,
she had become so dear to him, that the very thought of her made
his heart swell and leap.

But he must keep all this to himself. If he spoke to her, told
her of how he loved her, it would spoil and end their
companionship upon the instant. They had both agreed upon that;
they had tried the other, and it had worked out. As lovers they
had wearied of each other; as chums they had been perfectly
congenial, thoroughly and completely happy.

Condy set his teeth. It was a hard situation. He must choose
between bringing an end to this charming comradeship of theirs, or
else fight back all show of love for her, keep it down and under
hand, and that at a time when every nerve of him quivered like a
smitten harp-string. It was not in him or in his temperament to
love her calmly, quietly, or at a distance; he wanted the touch of
her hand, the touch of her cool, smooth cheek, the delicious aroma
of her breath in his nostrils her lips against his, her hair and
all its fragrance in his face

"Condy, what's the matter?" Blix was looking at him with an
expression of no little concern. "What are you frowning so about,
and clinching your fists? And you're pale, too. What's gone
wrong?"

He shot a glance at her, and bestirred himself sharply.

"Isn't this a jolly little corner?" he said. "Blix, how long is
it before you go?"

"Six weeks from to-morrow."

"And you're going to be gone four years--four years! Maybe you
never will come back. Can't tell what will happen in four years.
Where's the blooming mouth-organ?"

But the mouth-organ was full of crumbs. Condy could not play on
it. To all his efforts it responded only by gasps, mournfulest
death-rattles, and lamentable wails. Condy hurled it into the
sea.

"Well, where's the blooming book, then?" he demanded. "You're
sitting on it, Blix. Here, read something in it. Open it
anywhere."

"No; you read to me."

"I will not. Haven't I done enough? Didn't I buy the book and get
the lunch, and make the sandwiches, and pay the car-fare? I think
this expedition will cost me pretty near three dollars before
we're through with the day. No; the least you can do is to read
to me. Here, we'll match for it."

Condy drew a dime from his pocket, and Blix a quarter from her
purse.

"You're matching me," she said.

Condy tossed the coin and lost, and Blix said, as he picked up the
book:

"For a man that has such unvarying bad luck as you, gambling is
just simple madness. You and I have never played a game of poker
yet that I've not won every cent of money you had."

"Yes; and what are you doing with it all?"

"Spending it," she returned loftily; "gloves and veils and lace
pins--all kinds of things."

But Condy knew the way she spoke that this was not true.

For the next hour or so he read to her from "The Seven Seas,"
while the afternoon passed, the wind stirring the chaparral and
blackberry bushes in the hollows of the huge, bare hills, the surf
rolling and grumbling on the beach below, the sea-birds wheeling
overhead. Blix listened intently, but Condy could not have told
of what he was reading. Living was better than reading, life was
better than literature, and his new-found love for her was poetry
enough for him. He read so that he might not talk to her or look
at her, for it seemed to him at times as though some second self
in him would speak and betray him in spite of his best efforts.
Never before in all his life had he been so happy; never before
had he been so troubled. He began to jumble the lines and words
as he read, over-running periods, even turning two pages at once.

"What a splendid line!" Blix exclaimed.

"What line--what--what are you talking about? Blix, let's always
remember to-day. Let's make a promise, no matter what happens or
where we are, let's always write to each other on the anniversary
of to-day. What do you say?"

"Yes; I'll promise--and you--"

"I'll promise faithfully. Oh, I'll never forget to-day nor--yes,
yes, I'll promise--why, to-day--Blix--where's that damn book
gone?"

"Condy!"

"Well, I can't find the book. You're sitting on it again.
Confound the book, anyway! Let's walk some more."

"We've a long ways to go if we're to get home in time for supper.
Let's go to Luna's for supper."

"I never saw such a girl as you to think of ways for spending
money. What kind of a purse-proud plutocrat do you think I am?
I've only seventy-five cents left. How much have you got?"

Blix had fifty-five cents in her purse, and they had a grave
council over their finances. They had just enough for car-fare
and two "suppers Mexican," with ten cents left over."

"That's for Richard's tip," said Blix.

"That's for my CIGAR," he retorted.

"You made ME give him fifty cents. You said it was the least I
could offer him--noblesse oblige."

"Well, then, I COULDN'T offer him a dime, don't you see? I'll tell
him we are broke this time."

They started home, not as they had come, but climbing the hill and
going across a breezy open down, radiant with blue iris, wild
heliotrope, yellow poppies, and even a violet here and there. A
little further on they gained one of the roads of the Reservation,
red earth smooth as a billiard table; and just at an angle where
the road made a sharp elbow and trended cityward, they paused for
a moment and looked down and back at the superb view of the ocean,
the vast half-moon of land, and the rolling hills in the
foreground tumbling down toward the beach and all spangled with
wild flowers.

Some fifteen minutes later they reached the golf-links.

"We can go across the links," said Condy, "and strike any number
of car lines on the other side."

They left the road and struck across the links, Condy smoking his
new-lighted pipe. But as they came around the edge of a long line
of eucalyptus trees near the teeing ground, a warning voice
suddenly called out:

"Fore!"

Condy and Blix looked up sharply, and there in a group not twenty
feet away, in tweeds and "knickers," in smart, short golfing
skirts and plaid cloaks, they saw young Sargeant and his sister,
two other girls whom they knew as members of the fashionable
"set," and Jack Carter in the act of swinging his driving iron.



Chapter XI


As the clock in the library of the club struck midnight, Condy
laid down his pen, shoved the closely written sheets of paper from
him, and leaned back in his chair, his fingers to his tired eyes.
He was sitting at a desk in one of the further corners of the room
and shut off by a great Japanese screen. He was in his shirt-
sleeves, his hair was tumbled, his fingers ink-stained, and his
face a little pale.

Since late in the evening he had been steadily writing. Three
chapters of "In Defiance of Authority" were done, and he was now
at work on the fourth. The day after the excursion to the
Presidio--that wonderful event which seemed to Condy to mark the
birthday of some new man within him--the idea had suddenly
occurred to him that Captain Jack's story of the club of the
exiles, the boom restaurant, and the filibustering expedition was
precisely the novel of adventure of which the Centennial Company
had spoken. At once he had set to work upon it, with an
enthusiasm that, with shut teeth, he declared would not be lacking
in energy. The story would have to be written out of his business
hours. That meant he would have to give up his evenings to it.
But he had done this, and for nearly a week had settled himself to
his task in the quiet corner of the club at eight o'clock, and
held to it resolutely until twelve.

The first two chapters had run off his pen with delightful ease.
The third came harder; the events and incidents of the story
became confused and contradictory; the character of Billy Isham
obstinately refused to take the prominent place which Condy had
designed for him; and with the beginning of the fourth chapter,
Condy had finally come to know the enormous difficulties, the
exasperating complications, the discouragements that begin anew
with every paragraph, the obstacles that refuse to be surmounted,
and all the pain, the labor, the downright mental travail and
anguish that fall to the lot of the writer of novels.

To write a short story with the end in plain sight from the
beginning was an easy matter compared to the upbuilding, grain by
grain, atom by atom, of the fabric of "In Defiance of Authority."
Condy soon found that there was but one way to go about the
business. He must shut his eyes to the end of his novel--that
far-off, divine event--and take his task chapter by chapter, even
paragraph by paragraph; grinding out the tale, as it were, by main
strength, driving his pen from line to line, hating the effort,
happy only with the termination of each chapter, and working away,
hour by hour, minute by minute, with the dogged, sullen, hammer-
and-tongs obstinacy of the galley-slave, scourged to his daily
toil.

At times the tale, apparently out of sheer perversity, would come
to a full stop. To write another word seemed beyond the power of
human ingenuity, and for an hour or more Condy would sit scowling
at the half-written page, gnawing his nails, scouring his hair,
dipping his pen into the ink-well, and squaring himself to the
sheet of paper, all to no purpose.

There was no pleasure in it for him. A character once fixed in
his mind, a scene once pictured in his imagination, and even
before he had written a word the character lost the charm of its
novelty, the scene the freshness of its original conception.
Then, with infinite painstaking and with a patience little short
of miraculous, he must slowly build up, brick by brick, the plan
his brain had outlined in a single instant. It was all work--
hard, disagreeable, laborious work; and no juggling with phrases,
no false notions as to the "delight of creation," could make it
appear otherwise. "And for what," he muttered as he rose, rolled
up his sheaf of manuscript, and put on his coat; "what do I do it
for, I don't know."

It was beyond question that, had he begun his novel three months
before this time, Condy would have long since abandoned the
hateful task. But Blix had changed all that. A sudden male force
had begun to develop in Condy. A master-emotion had shaken him,
and he had commenced to see and to feel the serious, more abiding,
and perhaps the sterner side of life. Blix had steadied him,
there was no denying that. He was not quite the same boyish,
hairbrained fellow who had made "a buffoon of himself" in the
Chinese restaurant, three months before.

The cars had stopped running by the time Condy reached the street.
He walked home and flung himself to bed, his mind tired, his
nerves unstrung, and all the blood of his body apparently
concentrated in his brain. Working at night after writing all day
long was telling upon him, and he knew it.

What with his work and his companionship with Blix, Condy soon
began to drop out of his wonted place in his "set." He was
obliged to decline one invitation after another that would take
him out in the evening, and instead of lunching at his club with
Sargeant or George Hands, as he had been accustomed to do at one
time, he fell into another habit of lunching with Blix at the flat
on Washington Street, and spending the two hours allowed to him in
the middle of the day in her company.

Condy's desertion of them was often spoken of by the men of his
club with whom he had been at one time so intimate, and the
subject happened to be brought up again one noon when Jack Carter
was in the club as George Hands' guest. Hands, Carter, and Eckert
were at one of the windows over their after-dinner cigars and
liqueurs.

"I say," said Eckert suddenly, "who's that girl across the street
there--the one in black, just going by that furrier's sign? I've
seen her somewhere before. Know who it is?"

"That's Miss Bessemer, isn't it?" said George Hands, leaning
forward. "Rather a stunning-looking girl."

"Yes, that's Travis Bessemer," assented Jack Carter; adding, a
moment later, "it's too bad about that girl."

"What's the matter?" asked Eckert.

Carter lifted a shoulder. "Isn't ANYTHING the matter as far as I
know, only somehow the best people have dropped her. She USED to
be received everywhere."

"Come to think, I HAVEN'T seen her out much this season," said
Eckert. "But I heard she had bolted from 'Society' with the big
S, and was going East--going to study medicine, I believe."

"I've always noticed," said Carter, with a smile, "that so soon as
a girl is declassee, she develops a purpose in life and gets
earnest, and all that sort of thing.

"Oh, well, come," growled George Hands, "Travis Bessemer is not
declassee."

"I didn't say she was," answered Carter; "but she has made herself
talked about a good deal lately. Going around with Rivers, as she
does, isn't the most discreet thing in the world. Of course, it's
all right, but it all makes talk, and I came across them by a
grove of trees out on the links the other day--"

"Yes," observed Sargeant, leaning on the back of Carter's
armchair; "yes; and I noticed, too, that she cut you dead. You
fellows should have been there," he went on, in perfect good
humor, turning to the others. "You missed a good little scene.
Rivers and Miss Bessemer had been taking a tramp over the
Reservation--and, by the way, it's a great place to walk, so my
sister tells me; she and Dick Forsythe take a constitutional out
there every Saturday morning--well, as I was saying, Rivers and
Miss Bessemer came upon our party rather unexpectedly. We were
all togged out in our golfing bags, and I presume we looked more
like tailor's models, posing for the gallery, than people who were
taking an outing; but Rivers and Miss Bessemer had been regularly
exercising; looked as though they had done their fifteen miles
since morning. They had their old clothes on, and they were dusty
and muddy.

"You would have thought that a young girl such as Miss Bessemer
is--for she's very young--would have been a little embarrassed at
running up against such a spick and span lot as we were. Not a
bit of it; didn't lose her poise for a moment. She bowed to my
sister and to me, as though from the top of a drag, by Jove! and
as though she were fresh from Redfern and Virot. You know a girl
that can manage herself that way is a thoroughbred. She even
remembered to cut little Johnnie Carter here, because Johnnie
forced himself upon her one night at a dance when he was drunk;
didn't she, Johnnie? Johnnie came up to her there, out on the
links, fresh as a daisy, and put out his hand, with, 'Why, how do
you do, Miss Bessemer?' and 'wherever did you come from?' and 'I
haven't seen you in so long'; and she says, 'No, not since our
last dance, I believe, Mr. Carter,' and looked at his hand as
though it was something funny.

"Little Johnnie mumbled and flushed and stammered and backed off;
and it was well that he did, because Rivers had begun to get red
around the wattles. I say the little girl is a thoroughbred, and
my sister wants to give her a dinner as soon as she comes out.
But Johnnie says she's declassee, so may be my sister had better
think it over."

"I didn't say she was declassee," exclaimed Carter. "I only said
she would do well to be more careful."

Sargeant shifted his cigar to the other corner of his mouth, one
eye shut to avoid the smoke.

"One might say as much of lots of people," he answered.

"I don't like your tone!" Carter flared out.

"Oh, go to the devil, Johnnie! Shall we all have a drink?"

On the Friday evening of that week, Condy set himself to his work
at his accustomed hour. But he had had a hard day on the "Times,"
Supplement, and his brain, like an overdriven horse, refused to
work. In half an hour he had not written a paragraph.

"I thought it would be better, in the end, to loaf for one
evening," he explained to Blix, some twenty minutes later, as they
settled themselves in the little dining-room. "I can go at it
better to-morrow. See how you like this last chapter."

Blix was enthusiastic over "In Defiance of Authority." Condy had
told her the outline of the story, and had read to her each
chapter as he finished it.

"It's the best thing you have ever done, Condy, and you know it.
I suppose it has faults, but I don't care anything about them.
It's the story itself that's so interesting. After that first
chapter of the boom restaurant and the exiles' club, nobody would
want to lay the book down. You're doing the best work of your
life so far, and you stick to it."

"It's grinding out copy for the Supplement at the same time that
takes all the starch out of me. You've no idea what it means to
write all day, and then sit down and write all evening."

"I WISH you could get off the 'Times,'" said Blix. "You're just
giving the best part of your life to hack work, and NOW it's
interfering with your novel. I know you could do better work on
your novel if you didn't have to work on the 'Times,' couldn't
you?"

"Oh, if you come to that, of course I could," he answered. "But
they won't give me a vacation. I was sounding the editor on it
day before yesterday. No; I'll have to manage somehow to swing
the two together."

"Well, let's not talk shop now. Condy. You need a rest. Do you
want to play poker?"

They played for upward of an hour that evening, and Condy, as
usual, lost. His ill-luck was positively astonishing. During the
last two months he had played poker with Blix on an average of
three or four evenings in the week. and at the close of every
game it was Blix who had all the chips.

Blix had come to know the game quite as well, if not better, than
he. She could almost invariably tell when Condy held a good hand,
but on her part could assume an air of indifference absolutely
inscrutable.

"Cards?" said Condy, picking up the deck after the deal.

"I'll stand pat, Condy."

"The deuce you say," he answered, with a stare. "I'll take
three."

"I'll pass it up to you," continued Blix gravely.

"Well--well, I'll bet you five chips."

"Raise you twenty."

Condy studied his hand, laid down the cards, picked them up again,
scratched his head, and moved uneasily in his place. Then he
threw down two high pairs.

"No," he said; "I won't see you. What did you have? Let's see,
just for the fun of it."

Blix spread her cards on the table.

"Not a blessed thing!" exclaimed Condy. "I might have known it.
There's my last dollar gone, too. Lend me fifty cents, Blix."

Blix shook her head.

"Why, what a little niggard!" he exclaimed aggrievedly. "I'll pay
them all back to you."

"Now, why should I lend you money to play against me? I'll not
give you a chip; and, besides, I don't want to play any more.
Let's stop."

"I've a mind to stop for good; stop playing even with you."

Blix gave a little cry of joy.

"Oh, Condy, will you, could you? and never, never touch a card
again? never play for money? I'd be so happy--but don't unless you
know you would keep your promise. I would much rather have you
play every night, down there at your club, than break your
promise."

Condy fell silent, biting thoughtfully at the knuckle of a
forefinger.

"Think twice about it, Condy," urged Blix; "because this would be
for always."

Condy hesitated; then, abstractedly and as though speaking to
himself:

"It's different now. Before we took that--three months ago, I
don't say. It was harder for me to quit then, but now--well,
everything is different now; and it would please you, Blixy!"

"More than anything else I can think of, Condy."

He gave her his hand.

"That settles it," he said quietly. "I'll never gamble again,
Blix."

Blix gripped his hand hard, then jumped up, and, with a quick
breath of satisfaction, gathered up the cards and chips and flung
them into the fireplace.

"Oh, I'm so glad that's over with," she exclaimed, her little eyes
dancing. "I've pretended to like it, but I've hated it all the
time. You don't know HOW I've hated it! What men can see in it to
make them sit up all night long is beyond me. And you truly mean,
Condy, that you never will gamble again? Yes, I know you mean it
this time. Oh, I'm so happy I could sing!"

"Good Heavens, don't do that!" he cried quickly. "You're a nice,
amiable girl, Blix, even if you're not pretty, and you--"

"Oh, bother you!" she retorted; "but you promise?"

"On my honor."

"That's enough," she said quietly.

But even when "loafing" as he was this evening, Condy could not
rid himself of the thought and recollection of his novel; resting
or writing, it haunted him. Otherwise he would not have been the
story-writer that he was. From now on until he should set down
the last sentence, the "thing" was never to let him alone, never
to allow him a moment's peace. He could think of nothing else,
could talk of nothing else; every faculty of his brain, every
sense of observation or imagination incessantly concentrated
themselves upon this one point.

As they sat in the bay window watching the moon rise, his mind was
still busy with it, and he suddenly broke out:

"I ought to work some kind of a TREASURE into the yarn. What's a
story of adventure without a treasure? By Jove, Blix, I wish I
could give my whole time to this stuff! It's ripping good
material, and it ought to be handled as carefully as glass. Ought
to be worked up, you know."

"Condy," said Blix, looking at him intently, "what is it stands in
your way of leaving the 'Times'? Would they take you back if you
left them long enough to write your novel? You could write it in a
month, couldn't you, if you had nothing else to do? Suppose you
left them for a month--would they hold your place for you?"

"Yes--yes, I think they would; but in the meanwhile, Blix--there's
the rub. I've never saved a cent out of my salary. When I stop,
my pay stops, and wherewithal would I be fed? What are you looking
for in that drawer--matches? Here, I've got a match."

Blix faced about at the sideboard, shutting the drawer by leaning
against it. In both hands she held one of the delft sugar-bowls.
She came up to the table, and emptied its contents upon the blue
denim table-cover--two or three gold pieces, some fifteen silver
dollars, and a handful of small change.

Disregarding all Condy's inquiries, she counted it, making little
piles of the gold and silver and nickel pieces.

"Thirty-five and seven is forty-two," she murmured, counting off
on her fingers, "and six is forty-eight, and ten is fifty-eight,
and ten is sixty-eight; and here is ten, twenty, thirty, fifty-
five cents in change." She thrust it all toward him, across the
table. "There," she said, "is your wherewithal."

Condy stared. "My wherewithal!" he muttered.

"It ought to be enough for over a month."

"Where did you get all that? Whose is it?"

"It's your money, Condy. You loaned it to me, and now it has come
in very handy."

"I LOANED it to you?"

"It's the money I won from you during the time you've been playing
poker with me. You didn't know it would amount to so much, did
you?"

"Pshaw, I'll not touch it!" he exclaimed, drawing back from the
money as though it was red-hot.

"Yes, you will," she told him. "I've been saving it up for you,
Condy, every penny of it, from the first day we played down there
at the lake; and I always told myself that the moment you made up
your mind to quit playing, I would give it back to you."

"Why, the very idea!" he vociferated, his hands deep in his
pockets, his face scarlet. "It's--it's preposterous, Blix! I
won't let you TALK about it even--I won't touch a nickel of that
money. But, Blix, you're--you're--the finest woman I ever knew.
You're a man's woman, that's what you are." He set his teeth. "If
you loved a man, you'd be a regular pal to him; you'd back him up,
you'd stand by him till the last gun was fired. I could do
ANYTHING if a WOMAN like you cared for me. Why, Blix, I--you
haven't any idea--" He cleared his throat, stopping abruptly.

"But you must take this money," she answered; "YOUR money. If you
didn't, Condy, it would make me out nothing more nor less than a
gambler. I wouldn't have dreamed of playing cards with you if I
had ever intended to keep one penny of your money. From the very
start I intended to keep it for you, and give it back to you so
soon as you would stop; and now you have a chance to put this
money to a good use. You don't have to stay on the 'Times' now.
You can't do your novel justice while you are doing your hack work
at the same time, and I do so want 'In Defiance of Authority' to
be a success. I've faith in you, Condy. I know if you got the
opportunity you would make a success."

"But you and I have played like two men playing," exclaimed Condy.
"How would it look if Sargeant, say, should give me back the money
he had won from me? What a cad I would be to take it!"

"That's just it--we've not played like two men. Then I WOULD have
been a gambler. I've played with you because I thought it would
make a way for you to break off with the habit; and knowing as I
did how fond you were of playing cards and how bad it was for you,
how wicked it would have been for me to have played with you in
any other spirit! Don't you see? And as it has turned out, you've
given up playing, and you've enough money to make it possible for
you to write your novel. The Centennial Company have asked you to
try a story of adventure for them, you've found one that is
splendid, you're just the man who could handle it, and now you've
got the money to make it possible. Condy," she exclaimed
suddenly, "don't you see your CHANCE? Aren't you a big enough man
to see your chance when it comes? And, besides, do you think I
would take MONEY from you? Can't you understand? If you don't take
this money that belongs to you, you would insult me. That is just
the way I would feel about it. You must see that. If you care
for me at all, you'll take it."

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

The editor of the Sunday Supplement put his toothpick behind his
ear and fixed Condy with his eyeglasses.

"Well, it's like this, Rivers," he said. "Of course, you know
your own business best. If you stay on here with us, it will be
all right. But I may as well tell you that I don't believe I can
hold your place for a month. I can't get a man in here to do your
work for just a month, and then fire him out at the end of that
time. I don't like to lose you, but if you have an opportunity to
get in on another paper during this vacation of yours, you're at
liberty to do so, for all of me."

"Then you think my chance of coming back here would be pretty slim
if I leave for a month now?"

"That's right."

There was a silence. Condy hesitated; then he rose.

"I'll take the chance," he announced.

To Blix, that evening, as he told her of the affair, he said:
"It's neck or nothing now, Blix."



Chapter XII


But did Blix care for him?

In the retired corner of his club, shut off by the Japanese
screen, or going up and down the city to and from his work, or
sitting with her in the bay window of the little dining-room
looking down upon the city, blurred in the twilight or radiant
with the sunset, Condy asked himself the question. A score of
times each day he came to a final, definite, negative decision;
and a score of times reopened the whole subject. Beyond the fact
that Blix had enjoyed herself in his company during the last
months, Condy could find no sign or trace of encouragement; and
for that matter he told himself that the indications pointed
rather in the other direction. She had no compunction in leaving
him to go away to New York, perhaps never to return. In less than
a month now all their companionship was to end, and he would
probably see the last of her.

He dared not let her know that at last he had really come to love
her--that it was no pretence now; for he knew that with such
declaration their "good times" would end even before she should go
away. But every day; every hour that they were together made it
harder for him to keep himself within bounds.

What with this trouble on his mind and the grim determination with
which he held to his work, Condy changed rapidly. Blix had
steadied him, and a certain earnestness and seriousness of
purpose, a certain STRENGTH he had not known before, came swiftly
into being.

Was Blix to go away, leave him, perhaps for all time, and not know
how much he cared? Would he speak before she went? Condy did not
know. It was a question that circumstances would help him to
decide. He would not speak, so he resolved, unless he was sure
that she cared herself; and if she did, she herself would give him
a cue, a hint whereon to speak. But days went by, the time set
for Blix's departure drew nearer and nearer, and yet she gave him
not the slightest sign.

These two interests had now absorbed his entire life for the
moment--his love for Blix, and his novel. Little by little "In
Defiance of Authority" took shape. The boom restaurant and the
club of the exiles were disposed of, Billy Isham began to come to
the front, the filibustering expedition and Senora Estrada (with
her torn calling card) had been introduced, and the expedition was
ready to put to sea. But here a new difficulty was encountered.

"What do I know about ships?" Condy confessed to Blix. "If Billy
Isham is going to command a filibustering schooner, I've got to
know something about a schooner--appear to, anyhow. I've got to
know nautical lingo, the real thing, you know. I don't believe a
REAL sailor ever in his life said 'belay there,' or 'avast.' We'll
have to go out and see Captain Jack; get some more technical
detail."

This move was productive of the most delightful results. Captain
Jack was all on fire with interest the moment that Condy and Blix
told him of the idea.

"An' you're going to put Billy Isham in a book. Well, strike me
straight, that's a snorkin' good idea. I've always said that all
Billy needed was a ticket seller an' an advance agent, an' he was
a whole show in himself."

"We're going to send it East," said Blix, "as soon as it's
finished, and have it published."

"Well, it ought to make prime readin', Miss; an' that's a good
fetchin' title, 'In Defiance of Authority.'"

Regularly Wednesday and Sunday afternoons, Blix and Condy came out
to the lifeboat station. Captain Jack received them in sweater
and visored cap, and ushered them into the front room.

"Well, how's the yarn getting on?" Captain Jack would ask.

Then Condy would read the last chapter while the Captain paced the
floor, frowning heavily, smoking cigars, listening to every word.
Condy told the story in the first person, as if Billy Isham's
partner were narrating scenes and events in which he himself had
moved. Condy called this protagonist "Burke Cassowan," and was
rather proud of the name. But the captain would none of it.
Cassowan, the protagonist, was simply "Our Mug."

"Now," Condy would say, notebook in hand, "now, Cap., we've got
down to Mazatlan. Now I want to sort of organize the expedition
in this next chapter."

"I see, I see," Captain Jack would exclaim, interested at once.
"Wait a bit till I take off my shoes. I can think better with my
shoes off"; and having removed his shoes, he would begin to pace
the room in his stocking feet, puffing fiercely on his cigar as he
warmed to the tale, blowing the smoke out through either ear,
gesturing savagely, his face flushed and his eyes kindling.

"Well, now, lessee. First thing Our Mug does when he gets to
Mazatlan is to communicate his arrival to Senora Estrada--
telegraphs, you know; and, by the way, have him use a cipher."

"What kind of cipher?"

"Count three letters on from the right letter, see. If you were
spelling 'boat,' for instance, you would begin with an E, the
third letter after B; then R for the O, being the third letter
from O. So you'd spell 'boat,' ERDW; and Senora Estrada knows
when she gets that despatch that she must count three letters BACK
from each letter to get the right ones. Take now such a cipher
word as ULIOH. That means RIFLE. Count three letters back from
each letter of ULIOH, and it'll spell RIFLE. You can make up a
lot of despatches like that, just to have the thing look natural;
savvy?"

"Out of sight!" muttered Condy, making a note.

"Then Our Mug and Billy Isham start getting a crew. And Our Mug,
he buys the sextant there in Mazatlan--the sextant, that got out
of order and spoiled everything. Or, no; don't have it a sextant;
have it a quadrant--an old-fashioned, ebony quadrant. Have Billy
Isham buy it because it was cheap."

"How did it get out of order, Captain Jack?" inquired Blix. "That
would be a good technical detail, wouldn't it, Condy?"

"Well, it's like this. Our Mug an' Billy get a schooner that's so
bally small that they have to do their cooking in the cabin;
quadrant's on a rack over the stove, and the heat warps the
joints, so when Our Mug takes his observation he gets fifty miles
off his course and raises the land where the government forces are
watching for him."

"And here's another point, Cap.," said Condy. "We ought to work
some kind of a treasure into this yarn; can't you think up
something new and original in the way of a treasure? I don't want
the old game of a buried chest of money. Let's have him get track
of something that's worth a fortune--something novel."

"Yes, yes; I see the idea," answered the Captain, striding over
the floor with great thuds of his stockinged feet. "Now, lessee;
let me think," he began, rubbing all his hair the wrong way. "We
want something new and queer, something that ain't ever been
written up before. I tell you what! Here it is! Have Our Mug get
wind of a little river schooner that sunk fifty years before his
time in one of the big South American rivers, during a flood--I
heard of this myself. Schooner went down and was buried twenty
feet under mud and sand; and since that time--you know how the big
rivers act--the whole blessed course of the river has changed at
that point, and the schooner is on dry land, or rather twenty feet
under it, and as sound as the day she was chartered."

"Well?"

"Well, have it that when she sank she had aboard of her a cargo of
five hundred cases of whiskey, prime stuff, seven thousand quart
bottles, sealed up tight as drums. Now Our Mug--nor Billy Isham
either--they ain't born yesterday. No, sir; they're right next to
themselves! They figure this way. This here whiskey's been kept
fifty years without being moved. Now, what do you suppose seven
thousand quart bottles of fifty-year-old whiskey would be worth?
Why, twenty dollars a quart wouldn't be too fancy. So there you
are; there's your treasure. Our Mug and Billy Isham have only got
to dig through twenty feet of sand to pick up a hundred thousand
dollars, IF THEY CAN FIND THE SCHOONER."

Blix clapped her hands with a little cry of delight, and Condy
smote a knee, exclaiming:

"By Jove! that's as good as Loudon Dodds' opium ship! Why, Cap.,
you're a treasure in yourself for a fellow looking for stories."

Then after the notes were taken and the story talked over, Captain
Jack, especially if the day happened to be Sunday, would insist
upon their staying to dinner--boiled beef and cabbage. smoking
coffee and pickles--that K. D. B. served in the little, brick-
paved kitchen in the back of the station. The crew messed in
their quarters overhead.

K. D. B. herself was not uninteresting. Her respectability
incased her like armor plate, and she never laughed without
putting three fingers to her lips. She told them that she had at
one time been a "costume reader."

"A costume reader?"

"Yes; reading extracts from celebrated authors in the appropriate
costume of the character. It used to pay very well, and it was
very refined. I used to do 'In a Balcony,' by Mister Browning,
and 'Laska,' the same evening! and it always made a hit. I'd do
'In a Balcony' first, and I'd put on a Louis-Quinze-the-fifteenth
gown and wig-to-match over a female cowboy outfit. When I'd
finished 'In a Balcony,' I'd do an exit, and shunt the gown and
wig-to-match, and come on as 'Laska,' with thunder noises off. It
was one of the strongest effects in my repertoire, and it always
got me a curtain call."

And Captain Jack would wag his head and murmur:

"Extraordinary! extraordinary!"

Blix and Condy soon noted that upon the occasion of each one of
their visits, K. D. B. found means to entertain them at great
length with long discussions upon certain subjects of curiously
diversified character. Upon their first visit she elected to talk
upon the Alps mountains. The Sunday following it was
bacteriology; on the next Wednesday it was crystals; while for two
hours during their next visit to the station, Condy and Blix were
obliged to listen to K. D. B.'s interminable discourse on the
origin, history, and development of the kingdom of Denmark. Condy
was dumfounded.

"I never met such a person, man or woman, in all my life. Talk
about education! Why, I think she knows everything!"

"In Defiance of Authority" soon began to make good progress, but
Condy, once launched upon technical navigation, must have Captain
Jack at his elbow continually, to keep him from foundering. In
some sea novel he remembered to have come across the expression
"garboard streak," and from the context guessed it was to be
applied to a detail of a vessel's construction. In an unguarded
moment he had written that his schooner's name "was painted in
showy gilt letters upon her garboard streak."

"What's the garboard streak, Condy?" Blix had asked, when he had
read the chapter to her.

"That's where they paint her name," he declared promptly. "I
don't know exactly, but I like the sound of it."

But the next day, when he was reading this same chapter to Captain
Jack, the latter suddenly interrupted with an exclamation as of
acute physical anguish.

"What's that? Read that last over again," he demanded.

"'When they had come within a few boat's lengths,'" read Condy,
"'they were able to read the schooner's name, painted in showy
gilt letters upon her garboard streak.'"

"My God!" gasped the Captain, clasping his head. Then, with a
shout: "Garboard streak! garboard streak? Don't you know that the
garboard streak is the last plank next the keel? You mean counter,
not garboard streak. That regularly graveled me, that did!"

They stayed to dinner with the couple that afternoon, and for half
an hour afterward K. D. B. told them of the wonders of the caves
of Elephantis. One would have believed that she had actually been
at the place. But when she changed the subject to the science of
fortification, Blix could no longer restrain herself.

"But it is really wonderful that you should know all these things!
Where did you find time to study so much?"

"One must have an education," returned K. D. B. primly.

But Condy had caught sight of a half-filled book-shelf against the
opposite wall, and had been suddenly smitten with an inspiration.
On a leaf of his notebook he wrote: "Try her on the G's and H's,"
and found means to show it furtively to Blix. But Blix was
puzzled, and at the earliest opportunity Condy himself said to the
retired costume reader:

"Speaking of fortifications, Mrs. Hoskins, Gibraltar now--that's a
wonderful rock, isn't it?"

"Rock!" she queried. "I thought it was an island."

"Oh, no; it's a fortress. They have a castle there--a castle,
something like--well, like the old Schloss at Heidelberg. Did you
ever hear about or read about Heidelberg University?"

But K. D. B. was all abroad now. Gibraltar and Heidelberg were
unknown subjects to her, as were also inoculation, Japan, and
Kosciusko. Above the G's she was sound; below that point her
ignorance was benighted.

"But what is it, Condy?" demanded Blix, as soon as they were
alone.

"I've the idea," he answered, chuckling. "Wait till after Sunday
to see if I'm right; then I'll tell you. It's a dollar to a paper
dime, K. D. B. will have something for us by Sunday, beginning
with an I."

And she had. It was Internal Revenue.

"Right! right!" Condy shouted gleefully, as he and Blix were on
their way home. "I knew it. She's done with Ash--Bol, Bol--Car,
and all those, and has worked through Cod--Dem, and Dem--Eve.
She's down to Hor--Kin now, and she'll go through the whole lot
before she's done--Kin--Mag, Mag--Mot, Mot--Pal, and all the
rest."

"The Encyclopaedia?"

"Don't you see it? No wonder she didn't know beans about
Gibraltar! She hadn't come to the G's by then."

"She's reading the Encyclopaedia."

"And she gets the volumes on the instahnent plan, don't you see?
Reads the leading articles, and then springs 'em on us. To know
things and talk about em, that's her idea of being cultured. 'One
must have an education.' Do you remember her saying that' Oh, our
matrimonial objects are panning out beyond all expectation!"

What a delicious, never-to-be-forgotten month it was for those
two! There in the midst of life they were as much alone as upon a
tropic island. Blix had deliberately freed herself from a world
that had grown distasteful to her; Condy little by little had
dropped away from his place among the men and the women of his
acquaintance, and the two came and went together, living in a
little world of their own creation, happy in each other's society,
living only in the present, and asking nothing better than to be
left alone and to their own devices.

They saw each other every day. In the morning from nine till
twelve, and in the afternoon until three, Condy worked away upon
his novel, but not an evening passed that did not see him and Blix
in the dining-room of the little flat. Thursdays and Sunday
afternoons they visited the life-boat station, and at other times
prowled about the unfrequented corners of the city, now passing an
afternoon along the water front, watching the departure of a China
steamer or the loading of the great, steel wheat ships; now
climbing the ladder-like streets of Telegraph Hill, or revisiting
the Plaza, Chinatown, and the restaurant; or taking long walks in
the Presidio Reservation, watching cavalry and artillery drills;
or sitting for hours on the rocks by the seashore, watching the
ceaseless roll and plunge of the surf, the wheeling sea-birds, and
the sleek-headed seals hunting the offshore fish, happy for a
half-hour when they surprised one with his prey in his teeth.

One day, some three weeks before the end of the year, toward two
in the afternoon, Condy sat in his usual corner of the club,
behind the screen, writing rapidly. His coat was off and the
stump of a cigar was between his teeth. At his elbow was the
rectangular block of his manuscript. During the last week the
story had run from him with a facility that had surprised and
delighted him; words came to him without effort, ranging
themselves into line with the promptitude of well-drilled
soldiery; sentences and paragraphs marched down the clean-swept
spaces of his paper, like companies and platoons defiling upon
review; his chapters were brigades that he marshaled at will,
falling them in one behind the other, each preceded by its
chapter-head, like an officer in the space between two divisions.
In the guise of a commander-in-chief sitting his horse upon an
eminence that overlooked the field of operations, Condy at last
took in the entire situation at a glance, and, with the force and
precision of a machine, marched his forces straight to the goal he
had set for himself so long a time before.

Then at length he took a fresh penful of ink, squared his elbows,
drew closer to the desk. and with a single swift spurt of the pen
wrote the last line of his novel, dropping the pen upon the
instant and pressing the blotter over the words as though setting
a seal of approval upon the completed task.

"There!" he muttered, between his teeth; "I've done for YOU!"

That same afternoon he read the last chapter to Blix, and she
helped him to prepare the manuscript for expressage. She insisted
that it should go off that very day, and herself wrote the
directions upon the outside wrapper. Then the two went down
together to the Wells Fargo office, and "In Defiance of Authority"
was sent on its journey across the continent.

"Now," she said, as they came out of the express office and stood
for a moment upon the steps, "now there's nothing to do but wait
for the Centennial Company. I do so hope we'll get their answer
before I go away. They OUGHT to take it. It's just what they
asked for. Don't you think they'll take it, Condy?"

"Oh, bother that!" answered Condy. "I don't care whether they
take it or not. How long now is it before you go, Blix?"



Chapter XIII


A week passed; then another. The year was coming to a close. In
ten days Blix would be gone. Letters had been received from Aunt
Kihm, and also an exquisite black leather traveling-case, a
present to her niece, full of cut-glass bottles, ebony-backed
brushes, and shell combs. Blix was to leave on the second day of
January. In the meanwhile she had been reading far into her
first-year text-books, underscoring and annotating, studying for
hours upon such subjects as she did not understand, so that she
might get hold of her work the readier when it came to class-room
routine and lectures. Hers was a temperament admirably suited to
the study she had chosen--self-reliant, cool, and robust.

But it was not easy for her to go. Never before had Blix been
away from her home; never for longer than a week had she been
separated from her father, nor from Howard and Snooky. That huge
city upon the Atlantic seaboard, with its vast, fierce life, where
beat the heart of the nation, and where beyond Aunt Kihm she knew
no friend, filled Blix with a vague sense of terror and of
oppression. She was going out into a new life, a life of work and
of study, a harsher life than she had yet known. Her father, her
friends, her home--all these were to be left behind. It was not
surprising that Blix should be daunted at the prospect of so great
a change in her life, now so close at hand. But if the tears did
start at times, no one ever saw them fall, and with a courage that
was all her own Blix watched the last days of the year trooping
past and the approach of the New Year that was to begin the new
life.

But Condy was thoroughly unhappy. Those wonderful three months
were at an end. Blix was going. In less than a week now she
would be gone. He would see the last of her. Then what? He
pictured himself--when he had said good-by to her and the train
had lessened to a smoky blur in the distance--facing about, facing
the life that must then begin for him, returning to the city
alone, picking up the routine again. There would be nothing to
look forward to then; he would not see Blix in the afternoon;
would not sit with her in the evening in the little dining-room of
the flat overlooking the city and the bay; would not wake in the
morning with the consciousness that before the sun would set he
would see her again, be with her, and hear the sound of her voice.
The months that were to follow would be one long ache, one long,
harsh, colorless grind without her. How was he to get through
that first evening that he must pass alone? And she did not care
for him. Condy at last knew this to be so. Even the poor solace
of knowing that she, too, was unhappy was denied him. She had
never loved him, and never would. He was a chum to her, nothing
more. Condy was too clear-headed to deceive himself upon this
point. The time was come for her to go away, and she had given
him no sign, no cue.

The last days passed; Blix's trunk was packed, her half section
engaged, her ticket bought. They said good-by to the old places
they had come to know so well--Chinatown, the Golden Balcony, the
water-front, the lake of San Andreas, Telegraph Hill, and Luna's--
and had bade farewell to Riccardo and to old Richardson. They had
left K. D. B. and Captain Jack until the last day. Blix was to go
on the second of January. On New Year's Day she and Condy were to
take their last walk, were to go out to the lifeboat station, and
then on around the shore to the little amphitheatre of blackberry
bushes--where they had promised always to write one another on the
anniversary of their first visit--and then for the last time climb
the hill, and go across the breezy downs to the city.

Then came the last day of the old year, the last day but one that
they would be together. They spent it in a long ramble along the
water-front, following the line of the shipping even as far as
Meiggs's Wharf. They had come back to the flat for supper, and
afterward, as soon as the family had left them alone, had settled
themselves in the bay window to watch the New Year in.

The little dining-room was dark, but for the indistinct blur of
light that came in through the window--a light that was a mingling
of the afterglow, the new-risen moon, and the faint haze that the
city threw off into the sky from its street lamps and electrics.
From where they sat they could look down, almost as from a tower,
into the city's streets. Here a corner came into view; further on
a great puff of green foliage--palms and pines side by side--over-
looked a wall. Here a street was visible for almost its entire
length, like a stream of asphalt flowing down the pitch of the
hill, dammed on either side by rows upon rows of houses; while
further on the vague confusion of roofs and facades opened out
around a patch of green lawn, the garden of some larger residence.

As they looked and watched, the afterglow caught window after
window, till all that quarter of the city seemed to stare up at
them from a thousand ruddy eyes. The windows seemed infinite in
number, the streets endless in their complications: yet everything
was deserted. At this hour the streets were empty, and would
remain so until daylight. Not a soul was stirring; no face looked
from any of those myriads of glowing windows; no footfall
disturbed the silence of those asphalt streets. There, almost
within call behind those windows, shut off from those empty
streets, a thousand human lives were teeming, each the centre of
its own circle of thoughts and words and actions; and yet the
solitude was profound, the desolation complete. the stillness
unbroken by a single echo.

The night--the last night of the old year--was fine; the white,
clear light from a moon they could not see grew wide and clear
over the city, as the last gleam of the sunset faded. It was just
warm enough for the window to be open, and for nearly three hours
Condy and Blix sat looking down upon the city in these last
moments of the passing year, feeling upon their faces an
occasional touch of the breeze, that carried with it the smell of
trees and flowers from the gardens below them, and the faint fine
taint of the ocean from far out beyond the Heads. But the scene
was not in reality silent. At times when they listened intently,
especially when they closed their eyes, there came to them a
subdued, steady bourdon, profound, unceasing, a vast, numb murmur,
like no other sound in all the gamut of nature--the sound of a
city at night, the hum of a great, conglomerate life, wrought out
there from moment to moment under the stars and under the moon,
while the last hours of the old year dropped quietly away.

A star fell.

Sitting in the window, the two noticed it at once, and Condy
stirred for the first time in fifteen minutes.

"That was a very long one," he said, in a low voice. "Blix, you
must write to me--we must write each other often."

"Oh, yes," she answered. "We must not forget each other; we have
had too good a time for that."

"Four years is a long time," he went on. "Lots can happen in four
years. Wonder what I'll be doing at the end of four years? We've
had a pleasant time while it lasted, Blix."

"Haven't we?" she said, her chin on her hand, the moonlight
shining in her little, dark-brown eyes.

Well, he was going to lose her. He had found out that he loved
her only in time to feel the wrench of parting from her all the
more keenly. What was he to do with himself after she was gone?
What could he turn to in order to fill up the great emptiness that
her going would leave in his daily life? And was she never to know
how dear she was to him? Why not speak to her, why not tell her
that he loved her? But Condy knew that Blix did not love him, and
the knowledge of that must keep him silent; he must hug his secret
to him, like the Spartan boy with his stolen fox, no matter how
grievously it hurt him to do so. He and Blix had lived through
two months of rarest, most untroubled happiness, with hardly more
self-consciousness than two young and healthy boys. To bring that
troublous, disquieting element of love between them--unrequited
love, of all things--would be a folly. She would tell him--must
in all honesty tell him that she did not love him, and all their
delicious camaraderie would end in a "scene." Condy, above
everything, wished to look back on those two months, after she had
gone, without being able to remember therein one single note that
jarred. If the memory of her was all that he was to have, he
resolved that at least that memory should be perfect.

And the love of her had made a man of him--he could not forget
that; had given to him just the strength that made it possible for
him to keep that resolute, grim silence now. In those two months
he had grown five years; he was more masculine, more virile. The
very set of his mouth was different; between the eye-brows the
cleft had deepened; his voice itself vibrated to a heavier note.
No, no; so long as he should live, he, man grown as he was, could
never forget this girl of nineteen who had come into his life so
quietly, so unexpectedly, who had influenced it so irresistibly
and so unmistakably for its betterment, and who had passed out of
it with the passing of the year.

For a few moments Condy had been absent-mindedly snapping the lid
of his cigarette case, while he thought; now he selected a
cigarette, returned the case to his pocket, and fumbled for a
match. But the little gun-metal case he carried was empty. Blix
rose and groped for a moment upon the mantel-shelf, then returned
and handed him a match, and stood over him while he scraped it
under the arm of the chair wherein he sat. Even when his
cigarette was lighted she still stood there, looking at him, the
fingers of her hands clasped in front of her, her hair, one side
of her cheek, her chin, and sweet, round neck outlined by the
faint blur of light that came from the open window. Then quietly
she said:

"Well, Condy?"

"Well, Blix?"

"Just 'well'?" she repeated. "Is that all? Is that all you have
to say to me?"

He gave a great start.

"Blix!" he exclaimed.

"Is that all? And you are going to let me go away from you for so
long, and say nothing more than that to me? You think you have
been so careful, think you have kept your secret so close! Condy,
don't you suppose I know? Do you suppose women are so blind? No,
you don't need to tell me; I know--I've known it--oh, for weeks!"

"You know--know--know what?" he exclaimed, breathless.

"That you have been pretending that you did not love me. I know
that you do love me--I know you have been trying to keep it from
me for fear it would spoil our good times, and because we had made
up our minds to be chums, and have 'no more foolishness.' Once--in
those days when we first knew each other--I knew you did not love
me when you said you did; but now, since--oh, since that afternoon
in the Chinese restaurant, remember?--I've known that you did love
me, although you pretended you didn't. It was the pretence I
wanted to be rid of; I wanted to be rid of it when you said you
loved me and didn't, and I want to be rid of it now when YOU
pretend not to love me and I KNOW you do," and Blix leaned back
her head as she spoke that "know," looking at him from under her
lids, a smile upon her lips. "It's the pretence that I won't
have," she added. "We must be sincere with each other, you and
I."

"Blix, do YOU love ME?"

Condy had risen to his feet, his breath was coming quick, his
cigarette was flung away, and his hands opened and shut swiftly.

"Oh, Blixy, little girl, do YOU love ME?"

They stood there for a moment in the half dark, facing one
another, their hearts beating, their breath failing them in the
tension of the instant. There in that room, high above the city,
a little climax had come swiftly to a head, a crisis in two lives
had suddenly developed. The moment that had been in preparation
for the last few months, the last few years, the last few
centuries, behold! it had arrived.

"Blix, do you love me?"

Suddenly it was the New Year. Somewhere close at hand a chorus of
chiming church bells sang together. Far off in the direction of
the wharves, where the great ocean steamships lay, came the glad,
sonorous shouting of a whistle; from a nearby street a bugle
called aloud. And then from point to point, from street to roof
top, and from roof to spire, the vague murmur of many sounds grew
and spread and widened, slowly, grandly; that profound and steady
bourdon, as of an invisible organ swelling, deepening, and

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