Part 2 out of 3
"Now," said Trenton, "that is unfair. If I am not to be allowed to speak
to you, you must not ask me any questions."
"I beg your pardon," said Miss Sommerton, curtly.
"But really I wanted to say something, and I wanted you to be the first
to break the contract imposed. May I say what I wish to? I have just
thought about something."
"If you have thought of anything that will help us out of our
difficulty, I shall be very glad to hear it indeed."
"I don't know that it will help us _out_ of our difficulties, but I
think it will help us now that we're _in_ them. You know, I presume,
that my camera, like John Brown's knapsack, was strapped on my back, and
that it is one of the few things rescued from the late disaster?"
He paused for a reply, but she said nothing. She evidently was not
interested in his camera.
"Now, that camera-box is water-tight. It is really a very natty
arrangement, although you regard it so scornfully."
He paused a second time, but there was no reply.
"Very well; packed in that box is, first the camera, then the dry
plates, but most important of all, there are at least two or three very
nice Three Rivers sandwiches. What do you say to our having supper?"
Miss Sommerton smiled in spite of herself, and Trenton busily unstrapped
the camera-box, pulled out the little instrument, and fished up from
the bottom a neatly-folded white table-napkin, in which were wrapped
"Now," he continued, "I have a folding drinking-cup and a flask of
sherry. It shows how absent-minded I am, for I ought to have thought of
the wine long ago. You should have had a glass of sherry the moment we
landed here. By the way, I wanted to say, and I say it now in case I
shall forget it, that when I ordered you so unceremoniously to go around
picking up sticks for the fire, it was not because I needed assistance,
but to keep you, if possible, from getting a chill."
"Very kind of you," remarked Miss Sommerton.
But the Englishman could not tell whether she meant just what she said
"I wish you would admit that you are hungry. Have you had anything to
"I had, I am ashamed to confess," she answered. "I took lunch with me
and I ate it coming down in the canoe. That was what troubled me about
you. I was afraid you had eaten nothing all day, and I wished to offer
you some lunch when we were in the canoe, but scarcely liked to. I
thought we would soon reach the settlement. I am very glad you have
sandwiches with you."
"How little you Americans really know of the great British nation, after
all. Now, if there is one thing more than another that an Englishman
looks after, it is the commissariat."
After a moment's silence he said--
"Don't you think, Miss Sommerton, that notwithstanding any accident or
disaster, or misadventure that may have happened, we might get back at
least on the old enemy footing again? I would like to apologise"--he
paused for a moment, and added, "for the letter I wrote you ever so many
"There seem to be too many apologies between us," she replied. "I shall
neither give nor take any more."
"Well," he answered, "I think after all that is the best way. You ought,
to treat me rather kindly though, because you are the cause of my being
"That is one of the many things I have apologised for. You surely do not
wish to taunt me with it again?"
"Oh, I don't mean the recent accident. I mean being here in America.
Your sketches of the Shawenegan Falls, and your description of the
Quebec district, brought me out to America; and, added to that--I
expected to meet you."
"To meet me?"
"Certainly. Perhaps you don't know that I called at Beacon Street, and
found you were from home--with friends in Canada, they said--and I want
to say, in self-defence, that I came very well introduced. I brought
letters to people in Boston of the most undoubted respectability, and
to people in New York, who are as near the social equals of the Boston
people as it is possible for mere New York persons to be. Among other
letters of introduction I had two to you. I saw the house in Beacon
Street. So, you see, I have no delusions about your being a backwoods
girl, as you charged me with having a short time since."
"I would rather not refer to that again, if you please."
"Very well. Now, I have one question to ask you--one request to
make. Have I your permission to make it?"
"It depends entirely on what your request is."
"Of course, in that case you cannot tell until I make it. So I shall now
make my request, and I want you to remember, before you refuse it, that
you are indebted to me for supper. Miss Sommerton, give me a plug of
Miss Sommerton stood up in dumb amazement.
"You see," continued the artist, paying no heed to her evident
resentment, "I have lost my tobacco in the marine disaster, but luckily
I have my pipe. I admit the scenery is beautiful here, if we could only
see it; but darkness is all around, although the moon is rising. It can
therefore be no desecration for me to smoke a pipeful of tobacco, and I
am sure the tobacco you keep will be the very best that can be bought.
Won't you grant my request, Miss Sommerton?"
At first Miss Sommerton seemed to resent the audacity of this request.
Then a conscious light came into her face, and instinctively her hand
pressed the side of her dress where her pocket was supposed to be.
"Now," said the artist, "don't deny that you have the tobacco. I told
you I was a bit of a mind reader, and besides, I have been informed that
young ladies in America are rarely without the weed, and that they only
keep the best."
The situation was too ridiculous for Miss Sommerton to remain very long
indignant about it. So she put her hand in her pocket and drew out a
plug of tobacco, and with a bow handed it to the artist.
"Thanks," he replied; "I shall borrow a pipeful and give you back the
remainder. Have you ever tried the English birdseye? I assure you it is
a very nice smoking tobacco."
"I presume," said Miss Sommerton, "the boatmen told you I always gave
them some tobacco when I came up to see the falls?"
"Ah, you will doubt my mind-reading gift. Well, honestly, they did tell
me, and I thought perhaps you might by good luck have it with you now.
Besides, you know, wasn't there the least bit of humbug about your
objection to smoking as we came up the river? If you really object to
smoking, of course I shall not smoke now."
"Oh, I haven't the least objection to it. I am sorry I have not a good
cigar to offer you."
"Thank you. But this is quite as acceptable. We rarely use plug tobacco
in England, but I find some of it in this country is very good indeed."
"I must confess," said Miss Sommerton, "that I have very little interest
in the subject of tobacco. But I cannot see why we should not have good
tobacco in this country. We grow it here."
"That's so, when you come to think of it," answered the artist.
Trenton sat with his back against the tree, smoking in a meditative
manner, and watching the flicker of the firelight on the face of his
companion, whose thoughts seemed to be concentrated on the embers.
"Miss Sommerton," he said at last, "I would like permission to ask you a
"You have it," replied that lady, without looking up.
"But to prevent disappointment, I may say this is all the tobacco I
have. The rest I left in the canoe when I went up to the falls."
"I shall try to bear the disappointment as well as I may. But in this
case the question is of a very different nature. I don't know just
exactly how to put it. You may have noticed that I am rather awkward
when it comes to saying the right thing at the right time. I have not
been much accustomed to society, and I am rather a blunt man."
"Many persons," said Miss Sommerton with some severity, "pride
themselves on their bluntness. They seem to think it an excuse for
saying rude things. There is a sort of superstition that bluntness and
honesty go together."
"Well, that is not very encouraging, However, I do not pride myself on
my bluntness, but rather regret it. I was merely stating a condition of
things, not making a boast. In this instance I imagine. I can show that
honesty is the accompaniment. The question I wished to ask was something
like this: Suppose I had had the chance to present to you my letters
of introduction, and suppose that we had known each other for some time,
and suppose that everything had been very conventional, instead of
somewhat unconventional; supposing all this, would you have deemed a
recent action of mine so unpardonable as you did a while ago?"
"You said you were not referring to smoking,"
"Neither am I. I am referring to my having kissed you. There's bluntness
"My dear sir," replied Miss Sommerton, shading her face with her hand,
"you know nothing whatever of me."
"That is rather evading the question."
"Well, then, I know nothing whatever of you."
"That is the second evasion. I am taking it for granted that we each
know something of the other."
"I should think it would depend entirely on how the knowledge influenced
each party in the case. It is such, a purely supposititious state of
things that I cannot see how I can answer your question. I suppose you
have heard the adage about not crossing a bridge until you come to
"I thought it was a stream."
"Well, a stream then. The principle is the same."'
"I was afraid I would not be able to put the question in a way to make
you understand it. I shall now fall back on my bluntness again, and with
this question, are you betrothed?"
"We generally call it engaged in this country."
"Then I shall translate my question into the language of the country,
and ask if----"
"Oh, don't ask it, please. I shall answer before you do ask it by
saying, No. I do not know why I should countenance your bluntness, as
you call it, by giving you an answer to such a question; but I do so on
condition that the question is the last."
"But the second question cannot be the last. There is always the third
reading of a bill. The auctioneer usually cries, 'Third and last time,'
not 'Second and last time,' and the banns of approaching marriage are
called out three times. So, you see, I have the right to ask you one
"Very well. A person may sometimes have the right to do a thing, and yet
be very foolish in exercising that right."
"I accept your warning," said the artist, "and reserve my right."
"What time is it, do you think?" she asked him.
"I haven't the least idea," he replied; "my watch has stopped. That case
was warranted to resist water, but I doubt if it has done so."
"Don't you think that if the men managed to save themselves they would
have been here by this time?"
"I am sure I don't know. I have no idea of the distance. Perhaps they
may have taken it for granted we are drowned, and so there is one chance
in a thousand that they may not come back at all."
"Oh, I do not think such a thing is possible. The moment Mr. Mason heard
of the disaster he would come without delay, no matter what he might
believe the result of the accident to be."
"Yes, I think you are right. I shall try to get out on this point and
see if I can discover anything of them. The moon now lights up the
river, and if they are within a reasonable distance I think I can see
them from this point of rock."
The artist climbed up on the point, which projected over the river. The
footing was not of the safest, and Miss Sommerton watched him with some
anxiety as he slipped and stumbled and kept his place by holding on to
the branches of the overhanging trees.
"Pray be careful, Mr. Trenton," she said; "remember you are over the
water there, and it is very swift."
"The rocks seem rather slippery with the dew," answered the artist; "but
I am reasonably surefooted."
"Well, please don't take any chances; for, disagreeable as you are, I
don't wish to be left here alone."
"Thank you, Miss Sommerton."
The artist stood on the point of rock, and, holding by a branch of a
tree, peered out over the river.
"Oh, Mr. Trenton, don't do that!" cried the young lady, with alarm.
"Please come back."
"Say 'John,' then," replied the gentleman.
"Oh, Mr. Trenton, don't!" she cried as he leaned still further over the
water, straining the branch to its utmost.
The branch cracked ominously as Trenton leaned yet a little further.
"John!" cried the young lady, sharply, "cease your fooling and come down
from that rock."
The artist instantly recovered his position, and, coming back, sprang
down to the ground again.
Miss Sommerton drew back in alarm; but Trenton merely put his hands in
his pockets, and said--
"Well, Eva, I came back because you called me."
"It was a case of coercion," she said. "You English are too fond of
coercion. We Americans are against it."
"Oh, I am a Home Ruler, if you are," replied the artist. "Miss Eva, I am
going to risk my third and last question, and I shall await the answer
with more anxiety than I ever felt before in my life. The question is
"Hello! there you are. Thank Heaven! I was never so glad to see anybody
in my life," cried the cheery voice of Ed. Mason, as he broke through
the bushes towards them.
Trenton looked around with anything but a welcome on his brow. If Mason
had never been so glad in his life to see anybody, it was quite evident
his feeling was not entirely reciprocated by the artist.
"How the deuce did you get here?" asked Trenton. "I was just looking for
you down the river."
"Well, you see, we kept pretty close to the shore. I doubt if you could
have seen us. Didn't you hear us shout?"
"No, we didn't hear anything. We didn't hear them shout, did we, Miss
"No," replied that young woman, looking at the dying fire, whose glowing
embers seemed to redden her face.
"Why, do you know," said Mason, "it looks as if you had been quarrelling.
I guess I came just in the nick of time."
"You are always just in time, Mr. Mason," said Miss Sommerton. "For we
were quarrelling, as you say. The subject of the quarrel is which of us
was rightful owner of that canoe."
Mason laughed heartily, while Miss Sommerton frowned at him with marked
"Then you found me out, did you? Well, I expected you would before the
day was over. You see, it isn't often that I have to deal with two such
particular people in the same day. Still, I guess the ownership of the
canoe doesn't amount to much now. I'll give it to the one who finds it."
"Oh, Mr. Mason," cried Miss Sommerton, "did the two men escape all
"Why, certainly, I have just been giving them 'Hail Columbia,' because
they didn't come back to you; but you see, a little distance down, the
bank gets very steep--so much so that it is impossible to climb it, and
then the woods here are thick and hard to work a person's way through.
So they thought it best to come down and tell me, and we have brought
two canoes up with us."
"Does Mrs. Mason know of the accident?"
"No, she doesn't; but she is just as anxious as if she did. She can't
think what in the world keeps you."
"She doesn't realise," said the artist, "what strong attractions the
Shawenegan Falls have for people alive to the beauties of nature."
"Well," said Mason, "we mustn't stand here talking. You must be about
frozen to death." Here he shouted to one of the men to come up and put
out the fire.
"Oh, don't bother," said the artist; "it will soon burn out."
"Oh yes," put in Ed. Mason; "and if a wind should happen to rise in the
night, where would my pine forest be? I don't propose to have a whole
section of the country burnt up to commemorate the quarrel between you
The half-breed flung the biggest brand into the river, and speedily
trampled out the rest, carrying up some water in his hat to pour on the
centre of the fire. This done, they stepped into the canoe and were soon
on their way down the river. Reaching the landing, the artist gave his
hand to Miss Sommerton and aided her out on the bank.
"Miss Sommerton," he whispered to her, "I intended to sail to-morrow. I
shall leave it for you to say whether I shall go or not."
"You will not sail," said Miss Sommerton promptly.
"Oh, thank you," cried the artist; "you do not know how happy that makes
"Why should it?"
"Well, you know what I infer from your answer."
"My dear sir, I said that you would not sail, and you will not, for this
reason: To sail you require to catch to-night's train for Montreal, and
take the train from there to New York to get your boat. You cannot catch
to-night's train, and, therefore, cannot get to your steamer. I never
before saw a man so glad to miss his train or his boat. Good-night, Mr.
Trenton. Good-night, Mr. Mason," she cried aloud to that gentleman, as
she disappeared toward the house.
"You two appear to be quite friendly," said Mr. Mason to the artist.
"Do we? Appearances are deceitful. I really cannot tell at this moment
whether we are friends or enemies."
"Well, not enemies, I am sure. Miss Eva is a very nice girl when you
"Do _you_ understand her?" asked the artist.
"I can't say that I do. Come to think of it, I don't think anybody
"In that case, then, for all practical purposes, she might just as well
not be a nice girl."
"Ah, well, you may change your opinion some day--when you get better
acquainted with her," said Mason, shaking hands with his friend. "And
now that you have missed your train, anyhow, I don't suppose you care
for a very early start to-morrow. Good-night."
After Trenton awoke next morning he thought the situation over very
calmly, and resolved to have question number three answered that day if
When called to breakfast he found Ed Mason at the head of the table.
"Shan't we wait for the ladies?" asked the artist.
"I don't think we'd better. You see we might have to wait quite a long
time. I don't know when Miss Sommerton will be here again, and it will
be a week at least before Mrs. Mason comes back. They are more than
half-way to Three Rivers by this time."
"Good gracious!" cried Trenton, abashed; "why didn't you call me? I
should have liked very much to have accompanied them."
"Oh, they wouldn't hear of your being disturbed; and besides, Mr.
Trenton, our American ladies are quite in the habit of looking after
themselves. I found that out long ago."
"I suppose there is nothing for it but get out my backboard and get back
to Three Rivers."
"Oh, I dismissed your driver long ago," said the lumberman. "I'll take
you there in my buggy. I am going out to Three Rivers to-day anyhow."
"No chance of overtaking the ladies?" asked Trenton.
"I don't think so. We may overtake Mrs. Mason but I imagine Miss
Sommerton will be either at Quebec or Montreal before we reach Three
Rivers. I don't know in which direction she is going. You seem to be
somewhat interested in that young lady. Purely artistic admiration, I
presume. She is rather a striking girl. Well, you certainly have made
the most of your opportunities. Let's see, you have known her now for
quite a long while. Must be nearly twenty-four hours."
"Oh, don't underestimate it, Mason; quite thirty-six hours at least."
"So long as that? Ah, well, I don't wish to discourage you; but I
wouldn't be too sure of her if I were you."
"Sure of her! Why, I am not sure of anything."
"Well, that is the proper spirit. You Englishmen are rather apt to take
things for granted. I think you would make a mistake in this case if
you were too sure. You are not the only man who has tried to awaken the
interest of Miss Sommerton of Boston."
"I didn't suppose that I was. Nevertheless, I am going to Boston."
"Well, it's a nice town," said Mason, with a noncommittal air. "It
hasn't the advantages of Three Rivers, of course; but still it is a very
attractive place in some respects."
"In some respects, yes," said the artist.
* * * * *
Two days later Mr. John Trenton called at the house on Beacon Street.
"Miss Sommerton is not at home," said the servant. "She is in Canada
And so Mr. Trenton went back to his hotel.
The artist resolved to live quietly in Boston until Miss Sommerton
returned. Then the fateful number three could be answered. He determined
not to present any of his letters of introduction. When he came to
Boston first, he thought he would like to see something of society,
of the art world in that city, if there was an art world, and of the
people; but he had come and gone without being invited anywhere, and
now he anticipated no trouble in living a quiet life, and thinking
occasionally over the situation. But during his absence it appeared
Boston had awakened to the fact that in its midst had resided a real
live artist of prominence from the other side, and nothing had been
done to overcome his prejudices, and show him that, after all, the real
intellectual centre of the world was not London, but the capital of
The first day he spent in his hotel he was called upon by a young
gentleman whose card proclaimed him a reporter on one of the large daily
"You are Mr. Trenton, the celebrated English artist, are you not?"
"My name is Trenton, and by profession I am an artist. But I do not
claim the adjective, 'celebrated.'"
"All right. You are the man I am after. Now, I should like to know what
you think of the art movement in America?"
"Well, really, I have been in America but a very short time, and during
that time I have had no opportunity of seeing the work of your artists
or of visiting any collections, so you see I cannot give an opinion."
"Met any of our American artists?"
"I have in Europe, yes. Quite a number of them, and very talented
gentlemen some of them are, too."
"I suppose Europe lays over this country in the matter of art, don't
"I beg your pardon."
"Knocks the spots out of us in pictures?"
"I don't know that I quite follow you. Do you mean that we produce
pictures more rapidly than you do here?"
"No, I just mean the whole _tout ensemble_ of the thing. They are 'way
ahead of us, are they not, in art?"
"Well, you see, as I said before--really, I am not in a position to make
any comparison, because I am entirely ignorant of American painting. It
seems to me that certain branches of art ought to flourish here. There
is no country in the world with grander scenery than America."
"Been out to the Rockies?"
"Where is that?"
"To the Rocky Mountains?"
"Oh no, no. You see I have been only a few weeks in this country. I have
confined my attention to Canada mainly, the Quebec region and around
there, although I have been among the White Mountains, and the
Catskills, and the Adirondacks."
"What school of art do you belong to?"
"School? Well, I don't know that I belong to any. May I ask if you are a
connoisseur in art matters. Are you the art critic of your journal?"
"Me? No--oh no. I don't know the first darn thing about it. That's why
they sent me."
"Well, I should have thought, if he wished to get anything worth
publishing, your editor would have sent somebody who was at least
familiar with the subject he has to write about."
"I dare say; but, that ain't the way to get snappy articles written. You
take an art man, now, for instance; he's prejudiced. He thinks one
school is all right, and another school isn't; and he is apt to work in
his own fads. Now, if our man liked the French school, and despised the
English school, or the German school, if there is one, or the Italian
school, whatever it happened to be, and you went against that; why,
don't you see, he would think you didn't know anything, and write you up
that way. Now, I am perfectly unprejudiced. I want to write a good
readable article, and I don't care a hang which school is the best or
the worst, or anything else about it."
"Ah! I see. Well, in that case, you certainly approach your work without
"You bet I do. Now, who do you think is the best painter in England?"
"In what line?"
"Well, in any line. Who stands ahead? Who's the leader? Who tops them
all? Who's the Raphael?"
"I don't know that we have any Raphael? We have good painters each in
his own branch."
"Isn't there one, in your opinion, that is 'way ahead of all the rest?"
"Well, you see, to make an intelligent comparison, you have to take into
consideration the specialty of the painter. You could hardly compare
Alma Tadema, for instance, with Sir John Millais, or Sir Frederic
Leighton with Hubert Herkomer, or any of them with some of your own
painters. Each has his specialty, and each stands at the head of it."
"Then there is no one man in England like Old Man Rubens, or Van Dyke,
or those other fellows, I forget their names, who are head and shoulders
above everybody else? Sort of Jay Gould in art, you know."
"No, I wouldn't like to say there is. In fact, all of your questions
require some consideration. Now, if you will write them down for me, and
give me time to think them over, I will write out such answers as occur
to me. It would be impossible for me to do justice to myself, or to art,
or to your paper, by attempting to answer questions off-hand in this
"Oh, that's too slow for our time here. You know this thing comes out
to-morrow morning, and I have got to do a column and a half of it.
Sometimes, you know, it is very difficult; but you are different from
most Englishmen I have talked with. You speak right out, and you talk to
a fellow. I can make a column and a half out of what you have said now."
"Dear me! Can you really? Well, now, I should be careful, if I were you.
I am afraid that, if you don't understand anything about art, you may
give the public some very erroneous impressions."
"Oh, the public don't care a hang. All they want is to read something
snappy and bright. That's what the public want. No, sir, we have catered
too long for the public not to know what its size is. You might print
the most learned article you could get hold of, it might be written by
What's-his-name De Vinci, and be full of art slang, and all that sort of
thing, but it wouldn't touch the general public at all."
"I don't suppose it would."
"What do you think of our Sunday papers here? You don't have any Sunday
papers over in London."
"Oh yes, we do. But none of the big dailies have Sunday editions."
"They are not as big, or as enterprising as ours, are they? One Sunday
paper, you know, prints about as much as two or three thirty-five cent
"What, the Sunday paper does?"
"Yes, the Sunday paper prints it, but doesn't sell for that. We give 'em
more for the money than any magazine you ever saw."
"You certainly print some very large papers."
With this the reporter took his leave, and next morning Mr. Trenton saw
the most astonishing account of his ideas on art matters imaginable.
What struck him most forcibly was, that an article written by a person
who admittedly knew nothing at all about art should be in general so
free from error. The interview had a great number of head lines, and
it was evident the paper desired to treat the artist with the utmost
respect, and that it felt he showed his sense in preferring Boston to
New York as a place of temporary residence; but what appalled him was
the free and easy criticisms he was credited with having made on his own
contemporaries in England. The principal points of each were summed
up with a great deal of terseness and force, and in many cases were
laughably true to life. It was evident that whoever touched up that
interview possessed a very clear opinion and very accurate knowledge of
the art movement in England.
Mr. Trenton thought he would sit down and write to the editor of the
paper, correcting some of the more glaring inaccuracies; but a friend
"Oh, it is no use. Never mind. Nobody pays any attention to that. It's
all right anyhow."
"Yes, but suppose the article should be copied in England, or suppose
some of the papers should get over there?"
"Oh, that'll be all right," said his friend, with easy optimism. "Don't
bother about it. They all know what a newspaper interview is; if they
don't, why, you can tell them when you get back."
It was not long before Mr. Trenton found himself put down at all the
principal clubs, both artistic and literary; and he also became, with
a suddenness that bewildered him, quite the social lion for the time
being. He was astonished to find that the receptions to which he was
invited, and where he was, in a way, on exhibition, were really very
grand occasions, and compared favourably with the finest gatherings he
had had experience of in London.
His hostess at one of these receptions said to him, "Mr. Trenton, I want
to introduce you to some of our art lovers in this city, whom I am sure
you will be pleased to meet. I know that as a general thing the real
artists are apt to despise the amateurs; but in this instance I hope you
will be kind enough not to despise them, for my sake. We think they
are really very clever indeed, and we like to be flattered by foreign
"Am I the foreign preference in this instance?"
"You are, Mr. Trenton."
"Now, I think it is too bad of you to say that, just when I have begun
to feel as much at home in Boston as I do in London. I assure you I do
not feel in the least foreign here. Neither do I maintain, like Mrs.
Brown, that you are the foreigners."
"How very nice of you to say so, Mr. Trenton. Now I hope you will say
something like that to the young lady I want you to meet. She is really
very charming, and I am sure you will like her; and I may say, in
parenthesis, that she, like the rest of us, is perfectly infatuated with
As the lady said this, she brought Mr. Trenton in her wake, as it were,
and said, "Miss Sommerton, allow me to present to you Mr. Trenton."
Miss Sommerton rose with graceful indolence, and held out her hand
frankly to the artist. "Mr. Trenton," she said, "I am very pleased
indeed to meet you. Have you been long in Boston?"
"Only a few days," replied Trenton. "I came up to Boston from Canada a
short time since."
"Up? You mean down. We don't say up from Canada."
"Oh, don't you? Well, in England, you know, we say up to London, no
matter from what part of the country we approach it. I think you are
wrong in saying down, I think it really ought to be up to Boston from
wherever you come."
His hostess appeared to be delighted with this bit of conversation,
and she said, "I shall leave you two together for a few moments to get
acquainted. Mr. Trenton, you know you are in demand this evening."
"Do you think that is true?" said Trenton to Miss Sommerton.
"Well, that I am in demand."
"I suppose it is true, if Mrs. Lennox says it is. You surely don't
intend to cast any doubt on the word of your hostess, do you?"
"Oh, not at all. I didn't mean in a general way, you know, I meant in
"I don't think I understand you, Mr. Trenton. By the way, you said you
had been in Canada. Do you not think it is a very charming country?"
"Charming, Miss Sommerton, isn't the word for it. It is the most
delightful country in the world."
"Ah, you say that because it belongs to England. I admit it is very
delightful; but then there are other places on the Continent quite as
beautiful as any part of Canada. You seem to have a prejudice in favour
of monarchical institutions."
"Oh, is Canada monarchical? I didn't know that. I thought Canada was
quite republican in its form of government."
"Well, it is a dependency; that's what I despise about Canada. Think
of a glorious country like that, with hundreds of thousands of square
miles, in fact, millions, I think, being dependent on a little island,
away there among the fogs and rains, between the North Sea and the
Atlantic Ocean. To be a dependency of some splendid tyrannical power
like Russia wouldn't be so bad; but to be dependent on that little
island--I lose all my respect for Canada when I think of it."
"Well, you know, the United States were colonies once."
"Ah, that is a very unfortunate comparison, Mr. Trenton. The moment the
colonies, as you call them, came to years of discretion, they soon shook
off their dependency. You must remember you are at Boston, and that the
harbour is only a short distance from here."
"Does that mean that I should take advantage of its proximity and
"Oh, not at all. I could not say anything so rude, Mr. Trenton.
Perhaps you are not familiar with the history of our trouble with
England? Don't you remember it commenced in Boston Harbour practically?"
"Oh yes, I recollect now. I had forgotten it. Something about tea, was
"Yes, something about tea."
"Well, talking of tea, Miss Sommerton, may I take you to the
conservatory and bring you a cup of it?"
"May I have an ice instead of the tea, if I prefer it, Mr, Trenton?"
"Why, certainly. You see how I am already dropping into the American
"Oh, I think you are improving wonderfully, Mr. Trenton."
When they reached the conservatory, Miss Sommerton said--
"This is really a very great breach of good manners on both your part
and mine. I have taken away the lion of the evening, and the lion has
forgotten his duty to his hostess and to the other guests."
"Well, you see, I wanted to learn more of your ideas in the matter of
dependencies. I don't at all agree with you on that. Now, I think if
a country is conquered, it ought to be a dependency of the conquering
people. It is the right of conquest. I--I am a thorough believer in the
right of conquest."
"You seem to have very settled opinions on the matter, Mr. Trenton."
"I have indeed, Miss Sommerton. It is said that an Englishman never
knows when he is conquered. Now I think that is a great mistake. There
is no one so quick as an Englishman to admit that he has met his match."
"Why, have you met your match already, Mr. Trenton? Let me congratulate
"Well, don't congratulate me just yet. I am not at all certain whether I
shall need any congratulations or not."
"I am sure I hope you will be very successful."
"Do you mean that?"
Miss Sommerton looked at him quietly for a moment.
"Do you think," she said, "I am in the habit of saying things I do not
"I think you are."
"Well, you are not a bit more complimentary than--than--you used to be."
"You were going to say than I was on the banks of the St. Maurice?"
"Oh, you visited the St. Maurice, did you? How far away from Boston that
seems, doesn't it?"
"It is indeed a great distance, Miss Sommerton. But apparently not
half as long as the round-about way we are traveling just now. Miss
Sommerton, I waited and waited in Boston for you to return. I want to be
a dependence. I admit the conquest. I wish to swear fealty to Miss Eva
Sommerton of Boston, and now I ask my third question, will you accept
Miss Sommerton was a little slow in replying, and before she had spoken
Mrs. Lennox bustled in, and said--
"Oh, Mr. Trenton, I have been looking everywhere for you. There are a
hundred people here who wish to be introduced, and all at once. May I
have him, Miss Sommerton?"
"Well, Mrs. Lennox, you know, if I said 'Yes,' that would imply a
certain ownership in him."
"I brought Miss Sommerton here to get her to accept an ice from me,
which as yet I have not had the privilege of bringing. Will you accept--
the ice, Miss Sommerton?"
The young lady blushed, as she looked at the artist.
"Yes," she said with a sigh; the tone was almost inaudible.
The artist hurried away to bring the refreshment.
"Why, Eva Sommerton," cried Mrs. Lennox, "you accept a plate of ice
cream as tragically as if you were giving the answer to a proposal."
Mrs. Lennox said afterward that she thought there was something very
peculiar about Miss Sommerton's smile in reply to her remark.
THE HERALDS OF FAME
Now, when each man's place in literature is so clearly defined, it seems
ridiculous to state that there was a time when Kenan Buel thought J.
Lawless Hodden a great novelist. One would have imagined that Buel's
keen insight into human nature would have made such a mistake
impossible, but it must be remembered that Buel was always more or
less of a hero-worshipper. It seems strange in the light of our
after-knowledge that there ever was a day when Hodden's books were
selling by the thousand, and Buel was tramping the streets of London
fruitlessly searching for a publisher. Not less strange is the fact
that Buel thought Hodden's success well deserved. He would have felt
honoured by the touch of Hodden's hand.
No convict ever climbed a treadmill with more hopeless despair than Buel
worked in his little room under the lofty roof. He knew no one; there
were none to speak to him a cheering or comforting word; he was ignorant
even of the names of the men who accepted the articles from his pen,
which appeared unsigned in the daily papers and in some of the weeklies.
He got cheques--small ones--with illegible and impersonal signatures
that told him nothing. But the bits of paper were honoured at the bank,
and this lucky fact enabled him to live and write books which publishers
would not look at.
Nevertheless, showing how all things are possible to a desperate and
resolute man, two of his books had already seen the light, if it could
be called light. The first he was still paying for, on the instalment
plan. The publishers were to pay half, and he was to pay half. This
seemed to him only a fair division of the risk at the time. Not a single
paper had paid the slightest attention to the book. The universal
ignoring of it disheartened him. He had been prepared for abuse, but not
for impenetrable silence.
He succeeded in getting another and more respectable publisher to take
up his next book on a royalty arrangement. This was a surprise to him,
and a gratification. His satisfaction did not last long after the book
came out. It was mercilessly slated. One paper advised him to read
"Hodden;" another said he had plagiarized from that popular writer. The
criticisms cut him like a whip. He wondered why he had rebelled at the
previous silence. He felt like a man who had heedlessly hurled a stone
at a snow mountain and had been buried by the resulting avalanche.
He got his third publisher a year after that. He thought he would never
succeed in getting the same firm twice, and wondered what would happen
when he exhausted the London list. It is not right that a man should go
on for ever without a word of encouragement. Fate recognised that there
would come a breaking-point, and relented in time. The word came from
an unexpected source. Buel was labouring, heavy-eyed, at the last
proof-sheets of his third book, and was wondering whether he would have
the courage not to look at the newspapers when the volume was published.
He wished he could afford to go to some wilderness until the worst was
over. He knew he could not miss the first notice, for experience had
taught him that Snippit & Co., a clipping agency, would send it to him,
with a nice type-written letter, saying--
"As your book is certain to attract
a great deal of attention from the
Press, we shall be pleased to send you
clippings similar to the enclosed at the
It struck him as rather funny that any company should expect a sane man
to pay so much good money for Press notices, mostly abusive. He never
The word of encouragement gave notice of its approach in a letter,
signed by a man of whom he had never heard. It was forwarded to him by
his publishers. The letter ran:--
"Can you make it convenient to lunch with me on Friday at the Metropole?
If you have an engagement for that day can you further oblige me by
writing and putting it off? Tell the other fellow you are ill or have
broken your leg, or anything, and charge up the fiction to me. I deal in
fiction, anyhow. I leave on Saturday for the Continent, not wishing to
spend another Sunday in London if I can avoid it. I have arranged to
get out your book in America, having read the proof-sheets at your
publisher's. All the business part of the transaction is settled, but I
would like to see you personally if you don't mind, to have a talk over
the future--always an interesting subject.
"Yours very truly,
"L. F. BRANT,
"Of Rainham Bros., Publishers, New York."
Buel read this letter over and over again. He had never seen anything
exactly like it. There was a genial flippancy about it that was new to
him, and he wondered what sort of a man the New Yorker was. Mr. Brant
wrote to a stranger with the familiarity of an old friend, yet the
letter warmed Buel's heart. He smiled at the idea the American evidently
had about a previous engagement. Invitations to lunch become frequent
when a man does not need them. No broken leg story would have to be
told. He wrote and accepted Mr. Brant's invitation.
"You're Mr Buel, I think?"
The stranger's hand rested lightly on the young author's shoulder. Buel
had just entered the unfamiliar precincts of the Metropole Hotel. The
tall man with the gold lace on his hat had hesitated a moment before he
swung open the big door, Buel was so evidently not a guest of the hotel.
"My name is Buel."
"Then you're my victim. I've been waiting impatiently for you. I am
L. F. Brant."
"I thought I was in time. I am sorry to have kept you waiting."
"Don't mention it. I have been waiting but thirty seconds. Come up in
the elevator. They call it a lift here, not knowing any better, but it
gets there ultimately, I have the title-deeds to a little parlour while
I am staying in this tavern, and I thought we could talk better if we
had lunch there. Lunch costs more on that basis, but I guess we can
A cold shudder passed over the thin frame of Kenan Buel. He did not know
but it was the custom in America to ask a man to lunch and expect him to
pay half. Brant's use of the plural lent colour to this view, and
Buel knew he could not pay his share. He regretted they were not in a
The table in the centre of the room was already set for two, and the
array of wine-glasses around each plate looked tempting. Brant pushed
the electric button, drew up his chair, and said--
"Sit down, Buel, sit down. What's your favourite brand of wine? Let's
settle on it now, so as to have no unseemly wrangle when the waiter
comes. I'm rather in awe of the waiter. It doesn't seem natural that any
mere human man should be so obviously superior to the rest of us mortals
as this waiter is. I'm going to give you only the choice of the first
wines. I have taken the champagne for granted, and it's cooling now in a
tub somewhere. We always drink champagne in the States, not because we
like it, but because it's expensive. I calculate that I pay the expenses
of my trip over here merely by ordering unlimited champagne. I save more
than a dollar a bottle on New York prices, and these saved dollars count
up in a month. Personally I prefer cider or lager beer, but in New York
we dare not own to liking a thing unless it is expensive."
"It can hardly be a pleasant place for a poor man to live in, if that is
"My dear Buel, no city is a pleasant place for a poor man to live in. I
don't suppose New York is worse than London in that respect. The poor
have a hard time of it anywhere. A man owes it to himself and family not
to be poor. Now, that's one thing I like about your book; you touch on
poverty in a sympathetic way, by George, like a man who had come through
it himself. I've been there, and I know how it is. When I first struck
New York I hadn't even a ragged dollar bill to my back. Of course every
successful man will tell you the same of himself, but it is mostly brag,
and in half the instances it isn't true at all; but in my case--well, I
wasn't subscribing to the heathen in those days. I made up my mind that
poverty didn't pay, and I have succeeded in remedying the state of
affairs. But I haven't forgotten how it felt to be hard up, and I
sympathise with those who are. Nothing would afford me greater pleasure
than to give a helping hand to a fellow--that is, to a clever fellow who
was worth saving--who is down at bed rock. Don't you feel that way too?"
"Yes," said Buel, with some hesitation, "it would be a pleasure."
"I knew when I read your book you felt that way--I was sure of it. Well,
I've helped a few in my time; but I regret to say most of them turned
out to be no good. That is where the trouble is. Those who are really
deserving are just the persons who die of starvation in a garret, and
never let the outside world know their trouble."
"I do not doubt such is often the case."
"Of course it is. It's always the case. But here's the soup. I hope you
have brought a good appetite. You can't expect such a meal here as
you would get in New York; but they do fairly well. I, for one, don't
grumble about the food in London, as most Americans do. Londoners manage
to keep alive, and that, after all, is the main thing."
Buel was perfectly satisfied with the meal, and thought if they produced
a better one in New York, or anywhere else, the art of cookery had
reached wonderful perfection. Brant, however, kept apologising for the
spread as he went along. The talk drifted on in an apparently aimless
fashion, but the publisher was a shrewd man, and he was gradually
leading it up to the point he had in view from the beginning, and all
the while he was taking the measure of his guest. He was not a man to
waste either his time or his dinners without an object. When he had once
"sized up" his man, as he termed it, he was either exceedingly frank and
open with him, or the exact opposite, as suited his purpose. He told
Buel that he came to England once a year, if possible, rapidly scanned
the works of fiction about to be published by the various houses in
London, and made arrangements for the producing of those in America that
he thought would go down with the American people.
"I suppose," said Buel, "that you have met many of the noted authors of
"All of them, I think; all of them, at one time or another. The
publishing business has its drawbacks like every other trade," replied
"Have you met Hodden?"
"Several times. Conceited ass!"
"You astonish me. I have never had the good fortune to become acquainted
with any of our celebrated writers. I would think it a privilege to know
Hodden and some of the others."
"You're lucky, and you evidently don't know it. I would rather meet
a duke any day than a famous author. The duke puts on less side and
patronises you less."
"I would rather be a celebrated author than a duke if I had my choice."
"Well, being a free and independent citizen of the Democratic United
States, I wouldn't. _No_, sir! I would rather be Duke Brant any day in
the week than Mr. Brant, the talented author of, etc., etc. The moment
an author receives a little praise and becomes talked about, he gets
what we call in the States 'the swelled head.' I've seen some of the
nicest fellows in the world become utterly spoiled by a little success.
And then think of the absurdity of it all. There aren't more than two
or three at the most of the present-day writers who will be heard of a
century hence. Read the history of literature, and you will find that
never more than four men in any one generation are heard of after.
Four is a liberal allowance. What has any writer to be conceited about
anyhow? Let him read his Shakespeare and be modest."
Buel said with a sigh, "I wish there was success in store for me. I
would risk the malady you call the 'swelled head.'"
"Success will come all right enough, my boy. 'All things come to him who
waits,' and while he is waiting puts in some good, strong days of work.
It's the working that tells, not the waiting. And now, if you will light
one of these cigars, we will talk of you for a while, if your modesty
will stand it. What kind of Chartreuse will you have? Yellow or green?"
"Take the green, then. Where the price is the same I always take the
green. It is the stronger, and you get more for your money. Now then, I
will be perfectly frank with you. I read your book in the proof-sheets,
and I ran it down in great style to your publisher."
"I am sorry you did not like it."
"I don't say I didn't like it. I ran it down because it was business. I
made up my mind when I read that book to give a hundred pounds for the
American rights. I got it for twenty."
Brant laughed, and Buel felt uncomfortable. He feared that after all he
did not like this frank American.
"Having settled about the book, I wanted to see you, and here you are.
Of course, I am utterly selfish in wanting to see you, for I wish you
to promise me that we will have the right of publishing your books in
America as long as we pay as much as any other publisher. There is
nothing unfair in that, is there?"
"No. I may warn you, however, that there has been no great competition,
so far, for the privilege of doing any publishing, either here or in
"That's all right. Unless I'm a Dutchman there will be, after your new
book is published. Of course, that is one of the things no fellow can
find out. If he could, publishing would be less of a lottery than it is.
A book is sometimes a success by the merest fluke; at other times, in
spite of everything, a good book is a deplorable failure. I think yours
will go; anyhow, I am willing to bet on it up to a certain amount, and
if it does go, I want to have the first look-in at your future books.
What do you say?"
"Do you wish me to sign a contract?"
"No, I merely want your word. You may write me a letter if you like,
that I could show to my partners, saying that we would have the first
refusal of your future books."
"I am quite willing to do that."
"Very good. That's settled. Now, you look fagged out. I wish you would
take a trip over to New York. I'll look after you when you get there. It
would do you a world of good, and would show in the pages of your next
book. What do you say to that? Have you any engagements that would
prevent you making the trip?"
Buel laughed, "I am perfectly free as far as engagements are concerned."
"That's all right, then. I wish I were in that position. Now, as I said,
I considered your book cheap at L100. I got it for L20. I propose to
hand over the L80 to you. I'll write out the cheque as soon as the
waiters clear away the _debris_. Then your letter to the firm would form
the receipt for this money, and--well, it need not be a contract, you
know, or anything formal, but just your ideas on any future business
that may crop up."
"I must say I think your offer is very generous."
"Oh, not at all. It is merely business. The L80 is on account of
royalties. If the book goes, as I think it will, I hope to pay you much
more than that. Now I hope you will come over and see me as soon as you
"Yes. As you say, the trip will do me good. I have been rather hard at
it for some time."
"Then I'll look out for you. I sail on the French line Saturday week.
When will you come?"
"As soon as my book is out here, and before any of the reviews appear."
"Sensible man. What's your cable address?"
"I haven't one."
"Well, I suppose a telegram to your publishers will find you. I'll cable
if anything turns up unexpectedly. You send me over a despatch saying
what steamer you sail on. My address is 'Rushing, New York.' Just cable
the name of the steamer, and I will be on the look-out for you."
It was doubtless the effect of the champagne, for Buel went back to his
squalid room with his mind in the clouds. He wondered if this condition
was the first indication of the swelled head Brant had talked about.
Buel worked harder than ever at his proofs, and there was some growling
at head-quarters because of the numerous corrections he made. These
changes were regarded as impudence on the part of so unknown a man.
He sent off to America a set of the corrected proofs, and received a
cablegram, "Proofs received. Too late. Book published today."
This was a disappointment. Still he had the consolation of knowing that
the English edition would be as perfect as he could make it. He secured
a berth on the _Geranium_, sailing from Liverpool, and cabled Brant to
that effect. The day before he sailed he got a cablegram that bewildered
him. It was simply, "She's a-booming." He regretted that he had never
learned the American language.
Kenan Buel received from his London publisher a brown paper parcel, and
on opening it found the contents to be six exceedingly new copies of his
book. Whatever the publisher thought of the inside of the work, he had
not spared pains to make the outside as attractive as it could be made
at the price. Buel turned it over and over, and could almost imagine
himself buying a book that looked so tastefully got up as this one. The
sight of the volume gave him a thrill, for he remembered that the Press
doubtless received its quota at about the same time his parcel came, and
he feared he would not be out of the country before the first extract
from the clipping agency arrived. However, luck was with the young man,
and he found himself on the platform of Euston Station, waiting for the
Liverpool express, without having seen anything about his book in the
papers, except a brief line giving its title, the price, and his own
name, in the "Books Received" column.
As he lingered around the well-kept bookstall before the train left, he
saw a long row of Hodden's new novel, and then his heart gave a jump as
he caught sight of two copies of his own work in the row labelled "New
Books." He wanted to ask the clerk whether any of them had been sold
yet, but in the first place he lacked the courage, and in the second
place the clerk was very busy. As he stood there, a comely young woman,
equipped for traveling, approached the stall, and ran her eye hurriedly
up and down the tempting array of literature. She bought several of the
illustrated papers, and then scanned the new books. The clerk, following
her eye, picked out Buel's book.
"Just out, miss. Three and sixpence."
"Who is the author?" asked the girl.
"Kenan Buel, a new man," answered the clerk, without a moment's
hesitation, and without looking at the title-page. "Very clever work."
Buel was astonished at the knowledge shown by the clerk. He knew that
W.H. Smith & Son never had a book of his before, and he wondered how the
clerk apparently knew so much of the volume and its author, forgetting
that it was the clerk's business. The girl listlessly ran the leaves of
the book past the edge of her thumb. It seemed to Buel that the fate of
the whole edition was in her hands, and he watched her breathlessly,
even forgetting how charming she looked. There stood the merchant eager
to sell, and there, in the form of a young woman, was the great public.
If she did not buy, why should any one else; and if nobody bought, what
chance had an unknown author?
She put the book down, and looked up as she heard some one sigh deeply
"Have you Hodden's new book?" she asked.
"Yes, miss. Six shillings."
The clerk quickly put Buel's book beside its lone companion, and took
"Thank you," said the girl, giving him a half sovereign; and, taking the
change, she departed with her bundle of literature to the train.
Buel said afterwards that what hurt him most in this painful incident
was the fact that if it were repeated often the bookstall clerk would
lose faith in the book. He had done so well for a man who could not
possibly have read a word of the volume, that Buel felt sorry on the
clerk's account rather than his own that the copy had not been sold. He
walked to the end of the platform, and then back to the bookstall.
"Has that new book of Buel's come out yet?" he asked the clerk in an
"Yes, sir. Here it is; three and sixpence, sir."
"Thank you," said Buel, putting his hand in his pocket for the money.
"How is it selling?"
"Well, sir, there won't be much call for it, not likely, till the
reviews begin to come out."
There, Mr. Buel, you had a lesson, if you had only taken it to heart, or
pondered on its meaning. Since then you have often been very scornful of
newspaper reviews, yet you saw yourself how the great public treats a
man who is not even abused. How were you to know that the column of
grossly unfair rancour which _The Daily Argus_ poured out on your book
two days later, when you were sailing serenely over the Atlantic, would
make that same clerk send in four separate orders to the "House" during
the week? Medicine may have a bad taste, and yet have beneficial
results. So Mr. Kenan Buel, after buying a book of which he had six
copies in his portmanteau, with no one to give them to, took his place
in the train, and in due time found himself at Liverpool and on board
The stewards being busy, Buel placed his portmanteau on the deck, and,
with his newly bought volume in his hand, the string and brown paper
still around it, he walked up and down on the empty side of the deck,
noticing how scrupulously clean the ship was. It was the first time
he had ever been on board a steamship, and he could not trust himself
unguided to explore the depths below, and see what kind of a state-room
and what sort of a companion chance had allotted to him. They had told
him when he bought his ticket that the steamer would be very crowded
that trip, so many Americans were returning; but his state-room had
berths for only two, and he had a faint hope the other fellow would not
turn up. As he paced the deck his thoughts wandered to the pretty girl
who did not buy his book. He had seen her again on the tender in company
with a serene and placid older woman, who sat unconcernedly, surrounded
by bundles, shawls, straps, valises, and hand-bags, which the girl
nervously counted every now and then, fruitlessly trying to convince the
elderly lady that something must have been left behind in the train, or
lost in transit from the station to the steamer. The worry of travel,
which the elderly woman absolutely refused to share, seemed to rest with
double weight on the shoulders of the girl.
As Buel thought of all this, he saw the girl approach him along the
deck with a smile of apparent recognition on her face. "She evidently
mistakes me for some one else," he said to himself. "Oh, thank you," she
cried, coming near, and holding out her hand. "I see you have found my
He helplessly held out the package to her, which she took.
"Is it yours?" he asked.
"Yes, I recognised it by the string. I bought it at Euston Station. I am
forever losing things," she added. "Thank you, ever so much."
Buel laughed to himself as she disappeared. "Fate evidently intends her
to read my book," he said to himself. "She will think the clerk has made
a mistake. I must get her unbiased opinion of it before the voyage
The voyage at that moment was just beginning, and the thud, thud of the
screw brought that fact to his knowledge. He sought a steward, and asked
him to carry the portmanteau to berth 159.
"You don't happen to know whether there is any one else in that room or
not, do you?" he asked.
"It's likely there is, sir. The ship's very full this voyage."
Buel followed him into the saloon, and along the seemingly interminable
passage; then down a narrow side alley, into which a door opened
marked 159-160. The steward rapped at the door, and, as there was no
response, opened it. All hopes of a room to himself vanished as Buel
looked into the small state-room. There was a steamer trunk on the
floor, a portmanteau on the seat, while the two bunks were covered
with a miscellaneous assortment of hand-bags, shawl-strap bundles, and
The steward smiled. "I think he wants a room to himself," he said.
On the trunk Buel noticed the name in white letters "Hodden," and
instantly there arose within him a hope that his companion was to be
the celebrated novelist. This hope was strengthened when he saw on the
portmanteau the letters "J.L.H.," which were the novelist's initials. He
pictured to himself interesting conversations on the way over, and hoped
he would receive some particulars from the novelist's own lips of his
early struggles for fame. Still, he did not allow himself to build too
much on his supposition, for there are a great many people in this
world, and the chances were that the traveller would be some commonplace
individual of the same name.
The steward placed Buel's portmanteau beside the other, and backed out
of the overflowing cabin. All doubt as to the identity of the other
occupant was put at rest by the appearance down the passage of a man
whom Buel instantly recognised by the portraits he had seen of him in
the illustrated papers. He was older than the pictures made him appear,
and there was a certain querulous expression on his face which was also
absent in the portraits. He glanced into the state-room, looked for a
moment through Buel, and then turned to the steward.
"What do you mean by putting that portmanteau into my room?"
"This gentleman has the upper berth, sir."
"Nonsense. The entire room is mine. Take the portmanteau out."
The steward hesitated, looking from one to the other.
"The ticket is for 159, sir," he said at last.
"Then there is some mistake. The room is mine. Don't have me ask you
again to remove the portmanteau."
"Perhaps you would like to see the purser, sir."
"I have nothing to do with the purser. Do as I tell you."
All this time he had utterly ignored Buel, whose colour was rising.
The young man said quietly to the steward, "Take out the portmanteau,
When it was placed in the passage, Hodden entered the room, shut and
bolted the door.
"Will you see the purser, sir?" said the steward in an awed whisper.
"I think so. There is doubtless some mistake, as he says."
The purser was busy allotting seats at the tables, and Buel waited
patiently. He had no friends on board, and did not care where he was
When the purser was at liberty, the steward explained to him the
difficulty which had arisen. The official looked at his list.
"159--Buel. Is that your name, sir? Very good; 160--Hodden. That is the
gentleman now in the room. Well, what is the trouble?"
"Mr Hodden says, sir, that the room belongs to him."
"Have you seen his ticket?"
"Then bring it to me."
"Mistakes sometimes happen, Mr. Buel," said the purser, when the steward
vanished. "But as a general thing I find that people simply claim what
they have no right to claim. Often the agents promise that if possible a
passenger shall have a room to himself, and when we can do so we let him
have it. I try to please everybody; but all the steamers crossing to
America are full at this season of the year, and it is not practicable
to give every one the whole ship to himself. As the Americans say, some
people want the earth for L12 or L15, and we can't always give it to
them. Ah, here is the ticket. It is just as I thought. Mr. Hodden is
entitled merely to berth 160."
The arrival of the ticket was quickly followed by the advent of Mr.
Hodden himself. He still ignored Buel.
"Your people in London," he said to the purser, "guaranteed me a room to
myself. Otherwise I would not have come on this line. Now it seems that
another person has been put in with me. I must protest against this kind
"Have you any letter from them guaranteeing the room?" asked the purser
"No. I supposed until now that their word was sufficient."
"Well, you see, I am helpless in this case. These two tickets are
exactly the same with the exception of the numbers. Mr. Buel has just as
much right to insist on being alone in the room as far as the tickets
go, and I have had no instructions in the matter."
"But it is an outrage that they should promise me one thing in London,
and then refuse to perform it, when I am helpless on the ocean."
"If they have done so--"
"_If_ they have done so? Do you doubt my word, sir?"
"Oh, not at all, sir, not at all," answered the purser in his most
conciliatory tone. "But in that case your ticket should have been marked
"I am not to suffer for their blunders."
"I see by this list that you paid L12 for your ticket. Am I right?"
"That was the amount, I believe. I paid what I was asked to pay."
"Quite so, sir. Well, you see, that is the price of one berth only. Mr.
Buel, here, paid the same amount."
"Come to the point. Do I understand you to refuse to remedy the mistake
(to put the matter in its mildest form) of your London people?"
"I do not refuse. I would be only too glad to give you the room to
yourself, if it were possible. Unfortunately, it is not possible. I
assure you there is not an unoccupied state-room on the ship."
"Then I will see the captain. Where shall I find him?"
"Very good, sir. Steward, take Mr. Hodden to the captain's room."
When they were alone again Buel very contritely expressed his sorrow at
having been the innocent cause of so much trouble to the purser.
"Bless you, sir, I don't mind it in the least. This is a very simple
case. Where both occupants of a room claim it all to themselves, and
where both are angry and abuse me at the same time, then it gets a bit
lively. I don't envy him his talk with the captain. If the old man
happens to be feeling a little grumpy today, and he most generally does
at the beginning of the voyage, Mr. Hodden will have a bad ten minutes.
Don't you bother a bit about it, sir, but go down to your room and make
yourself at home. It will be all right."
Mr. Hodden quickly found that the appeal to Caesar was not well timed.
The captain had not the suave politeness of the purser. There may be
greater and more powerful men on earth than the captain of an ocean
liner, but you can't get any seafaring man to believe it, and the
captains themselves are rarely without a due sense of their own
dignity. The man who tries to bluff the captain of a steamship like the
_Geranium_ has a hard row to hoe. Mr. Hodden descended to his state-room
in a more subdued frame of mind than when he went on the upper deck.
However, he still felt able to crush his unfortunate room-mate.
"You insist, then," he said, speaking to Buel for the first time, "on
occupying this room?"
"I have no choice in the matter."
"I thought perhaps you might feel some hesitation in forcing yourself in
where you were so evidently not wanted?"
The hero-worshipper in Buel withered, and the natural Englishman
"I have exactly the same right in this room that you have. I claim no
privilege which I have not paid for."
"Do you wish to suggest that I have made such a claim?"
"I suggest nothing; I state it. You _have_ made such a claim, and in a
most offensive manner."
"Do you understand the meaning of the language you are using, sir? You
are calling me a liar."
"You put it very tersely, Mr. Hodden. Thank you. Now, if you venture to
address me again during this voyage, I shall be obliged if you keep a
civil tongue in your head."
"Good heavens! _You_ talk of civility?" cried the astonished man,
His room-mate went to the upper deck. In the next state-room pretty
Miss Carrie Jessop clapped her small hands silently together. The
construction of staterooms is such that every word uttered in one above
the breath is audible in the next room; Miss Jessop could not help
hearing the whole controversy, from the time the steward was ordered
so curtly to remove the portmanteau, until the culmination of the
discussion and the evident defeat of Mr. Hodden. Her sympathy was all
with the other fellow, at that moment unknown, but a sly peep past the
edge of the scarcely opened door told her that the unnamed party in the
quarrel was the awkward young man who had found her book. She wondered
if the Hodden mentioned could possibly be the author, and, with a
woman's inconsistency, felt sure that she would detest the story, as if
the personality of the writer had anything whatever to do with his work.
She took down the parcel from the shelf and undid the string. Her eyes
opened wide as she looked at the title.
"Well I never!" she gasped. "If I haven't robbed that poor, innocent
young man of a book he bought for himself! Attempted eviction by his
room-mate, and bold highway robbery by an unknown woman! No, it's worse
than that; it's piracy, for it happened on the high seas." And the girl
laughed softly to herself.
Kenan Buel walked the deck alone in the evening light, and felt that
he ought to be enjoying the calmness and serenity of the ocean expanse
around him after the noise and squalor of London; but now that the
excitement of the recent quarrel was over, he felt the reaction, and his
natural diffidence led him to blame himself. Most of the passengers
were below, preparing for dinner, and he had the deck to himself. As he
turned on one of his rounds, he saw approaching him the girl of Euston
Station, as he mentally termed her. She had his book in her hand.
"I have come to beg your pardon," she said. "I see it was your own book
I took from you to day."
"My own book!" cried Buel, fearing she had somehow discovered his guilty
secret. "Yes. Didn't you buy this for yourself?" She held up the volume.
"Oh, certainly. But you are quite welcome to it, I am sure."
"I couldn't think of taking it away from you before you have read it."
"But I have read it," replied Buel, eagerly: "and I shall be very
pleased to lend it to you."
"Indeed? And how did you manage to read it without undoing the parcel?"
"That is to say I--I skimmed over it before it was done up," he said in
confusion. The clear eyes of the girl disconcerted him, and, whatever
his place in fiction is now, he was at that time a most unskilful liar.
"You see, I bought it because it is written by a namesake of mine. My
name is Buel, and I happened to notice that was the name on the book; in
fact, if you remember, when you were looking over it at the stall,
the clerk mentioned the author's name, and that naturally caught my
The girl glanced with renewed interest at the volume.
"Was this the book I was looking at? The story I bought was Hodden's
latest. I found it a moment ago down in my state-room, so it was not
lost after all."
They were now walking together as if they were old acquaintances, the
girl still holding the volume in her hand.
"By the way," she said innocently, "I see on the passenger list that
there is a Mr. Hodden on board. L>o you think he can be the novelist?"
"I believe he is," answered Buel, stiffly.
"Oh, that will be too jolly for anything. I would _so_ like to meet him.
I am sure he must be a most charming man. His books show such insight
into human nature, such sympathy and noble purpose. There could be
nothing petty or mean about such a man."
"Why, of course there couldn't. You have read his books, have you not?"
"All of them except his latest."
"Well, I'll lend you that, as you have been so kind as to offer me the
reading of this one."
"Thank you. After you have read it yourself."
"And when you have become acquainted with Mr. Hodden, I want you to
introduce him to me."
"With pleasure. And--and when I do so, who shall I tell him the young
The audacious girl laughed lightly, and, stepping back, made him a saucy
"You will introduce me as Miss Caroline Jessop, of New York. Be sure
that you say 'New York,' for that will account to Mr. Hodden for any
eccentricities of conduct or conversation he may be good enough to
notice. I suppose you think American girls are very forward? All
"On the contrary, I have always understood that they are very charming."
"Indeed? And so you are going over to see?"
Buel laughed. All the depression he felt a short time before had
"I had no such intention when I began the voyage, but even if I should
quit the steamer at Queenstown, I could bear personal testimony to the
truth of the statement."
"Oh, Mr. Buel, that is very nicely put. I don't think you can improve on
it, so I shall run down and dress for dinner. There is the first gong.
Thanks for the book."
The young man said to himself, "Buel, my boy, you're getting on;" and he
smiled as he leaned over the bulwark and looked at the rushing water.
He sobered instantly as he remembered that he would have to go to his
state-room and perhaps meet Hodden. It is an awkward thing to quarrel
with your room-mate at the beginning of a long voyage. He hoped Hodden
had taken his departure to the saloon, and he lingered until the second
gong rang. Entering the stateroom, he found Hodden still there. Buel
gave him no greeting. The other cleared his throat several times and
"I have not the pleasure of knowing your name."
"My name is Buel."
"Well, Mr. Buel, I am sorry that I spoke to you in the manner I did,
and I hope you will allow me to apologise for doing so. Various little
matters had combined to irritate me, and--Of course, that is no
"Don't say anything more. I unreservedly retract what I was heated
enough to say, and so we may consider the episode ended. I may add that
if the purser has a vacant berth anywhere, I shall be very glad to take
it, if the occupants of the room make no objection."
"You are very kind," said Hodden, but he did not make any show of
declining the offer.
"Very well, then, let us settle the matter while we are at it." And Buel
pressed the electric button.
The steward looked in, saying,--
"Dinner is ready, gentlemen."
"Yes, I know. Just ask the purser if he can step here for a moment."
The purser came promptly, and if he was disturbed at being called at
such a moment he did not show it. Pursers are very diplomatic persons.
"Have you a vacant berth anywhere, purser?"
An expression faintly suggestive of annoyance passed over the purser's
serene brow. He thought the matter had been settled. "We have several
berths vacant, but they are each in rooms that already contain three
"One of those will do for me; that is, if the occupants have no
"It will be rather crowded, sir."
"That doesn't matter, if the others are willing."
"Very good, sir. I will see to it immediately after dinner."
The purser was as good as his word, and introduced Buel and his
portmanteau to a room that contained three wild American collegians who
had been doing Europe "on the cheap" and on foot. They received the
new-comer with a hilariousness that disconcerted him.
"Hello, purser!" cried one, "this is an Englishman. You didn't tell us
you were going to run in an Englishman on us."
"Never, mind, we'll convert him on the way over."
"I say, purser, if you sling a hammock from the ceiling and put up a cot
on the floor you can put two more men in here. Why didn't you think of
"It's not too late yet. Why did you suggest it?"
"Gentlemen," said Buel, "I have no desire to intrude, if it is against
"Oh, that's all right. Never mind them. They have to talk or die. The
truth is, we were lonesome without a fourth man."
"What's his name, purser?"
"My name is Buel."
One of them shouted out the inquiry, "What's the matter with Buel?" and
all answered in concert with a yell that made the steamer ring, "_He's_
"You'll have to sing 'Hail Columbia' night and morning if you stay in
"Very good," said Buel, entering into the spirit of the occasion.
"Singing is not my strong point, and after you hear me at it once, you
will be glad to pay a heavy premium to have it stopped."
"Say, Buel, can you play poker?"
"No, but I can learn."
"That's business. America's just yearning for men who can learn. We have
had so many Englishmen who know it all, that we'll welcome a change. But
poker's an expensive game to acquire."
"Don't be bluffed, Mr. Buel. Not one of the crowd has enough money left
to buy the drinks all round. We would never have got home if we hadn't
"Say, boys, let's lock the purser out, and make Buel an American citizen
before he can call for help. You solemnly swear that you hereby and
hereon renounce all emperors, kings, princes, and potentates, and more
especially--how does the rest of it go!"
"He must give up his titles, honours, knighthoods, and things of that
"Say, Buel, you're not a lord or a duke by any chance? Because, if you
are, we'll call back the purser and have you put out yet."
"No, I haven't even the title esquire, which, I understand, all American
"Oh, you'll do. Now, I propose that Mr. Buel take his choice of the four
bunks, and that we raffle for the rest."
When Buel reached the deck out of this pandemonium, he looked around for
another citizen of the United States, but she was not there. He wondered
if she were reading his book, and how she liked it.
Next morning Mr. Buel again searched the deck for the fair American, and
this time he found her reading his book, seated very comfortably in her
deck chair. The fact that she was so engaged put out of Buel's mind
the greeting he had carefully prepared beforehand, and he stood there
awkwardly, not knowing what to say. He inwardly cursed his unreadiness,
and felt, to his further embarrassment, that his colour was rising. He
was not put more at his ease when Miss Jessop looked up at him coldly,
with a distinct frown on her pretty face.
"Mr. Buel, I believe?" she said pertly.
"I--I think so," he stammered.
She went on with her reading, ignoring him, and he stood there not
knowing how to get away. When he pulled himself together, after a few
moments' silence, and was about to depart, wondering at the caprice of
womankind, she looked up again, and said icily--
"Why don't you ask me to walk with you? Do you think you have no duties,
merely because you are on shipboard?"
"It isn't a duty, it is a pleasure, if you will come with me. I was
afraid I had offended you in some way."
"You have. That is why I want to walk with you. I wish to give you a
piece of my mind, and it won't be pleasant to listen to, I can assure
you. So there must be no listener but yourself."
"Is it so serious as that?"
"Quite. Assist me, please. Why do you have to be asked to do such a
thing? I don't suppose there is another man on the ship who would see a
lady struggling with her rugs, and never put out his hand."
Before the astonished young man could offer assistance the girl sprang
to her feet and stood beside him. Although she tried to retain her
severe look of displeasure, there was a merry twinkle in the corner of
her eye, as if she enjoyed shocking him.
"I fear I am very unready."
"Will you take my arm as we walk?"
"Certainly not," she answered, putting the tips of her fingers into the
shallow pockets of her pilot jacket. "Don't you know the United States
are long since independent of England?"
"I had forgotten for the moment. My knowledge of history is rather
limited, even when I try to remember. Still, independence and all, the
two countries may be friends, may they not?"
"I doubt it. It seems to be natural that an American should hate an
"Dear me, is it so bad as that? Why, may I ask? Is it on account of the
little trouble in 1770, or whenever it was?"
"1776, when we conquered you."
"Were we conquered? That is another historical fact which has been
concealed from me. I am afraid England doesn't quite realise her
unfortunate position. She has a good deal of go about her for a
conquered nation. But I thought the conquering, which we all admit, was
of much more recent date, when the pretty American girls began to come
over. Then Englishmen, at once capitulated."
"Yes," she cried scornfully. "And I don't know which to despise most,
the American girls who marry Englishmen, or the Englishmen they marry.
They are married for their money."
"Who? The Englishmen?"
The girl stamped her foot on the deck as they turned around.
"You know very well what I mean. An Englishman thinks of nothing but
"Really? I wonder where you got all your cut-and-dried notions about
Englishmen? You seem to have a great capacity for contempt. I don't
think it is good. My experience is rather limited, of course, but, as
far as it goes, I find good and bad in all nations. There are Englishmen
whom I find it impossible to like, and there are Americans whom I find
I admire in spite of myself. There are also, doubtless, good Englishmen
and bad Americans, if we only knew where to find them. You cannot sum
up a nation and condemn it in a phrase, you know."
"Can't you? Well, literary Englishmen have tried to do so in the case of
America. No English writer has ever dealt even fairly with the United
"Don't you think the States are a little too sensitive about the
"Sensitive? Bless you, we don't mind it a bit."
"Then where's the harm? Besides, America has its revenge in you. Your
scathing contempt more than balances the account."
"I only wish I could write. Then I would let you know what I think of
"Oh, don't publish a book about us. I wouldn't like to see war between
the two countries."
Miss Jessop laughed merrily for so belligerent a person.
"War?" she cried. "I hope yet to see an American army camped in London."
"If that is your desire, you can see it any day in summer. You will
find them tenting out at the Metropole and all the expensive hotels. I
bivouacked with an invader there some weeks ago, and he was enduring the
rigours of camp life with great fortitude, mitigating his trials with
"Why, Mr. Buel," cried the girl admiringly, "you're beginning to talk
just like an American yourself."
"Oh, now, you are trying to make me conceited."
Miss Jessop sighed, and shook her head.
"I had nearly forgotten," she said, "that I despised you. I remember now
why I began to walk with you. It was not to talk frivolously, but to
show you the depth of my contempt! Since yesterday you have gone down in
my estimation from 190 to 56."
"No, that was a Wall Street quotation. Your stock has 'slumped,' as we
say on the Street."
"Now you are talking Latin, or worse, for I can understand a little
"'Slumped' sounds slangy, doesn't it? It isn't a pretty word, but it is
expressive. It means going down with a run, or rather, all in a heap."
"What have I done?"
"Nothing you can say will undo it, so there is no use in speaking any
more about it. Second thoughts are best. My second thought is to say no
"I must know my crime. Give me a chance to, at least, reach par again,
even if I can't hope to attain the 90 above."
"I thought an Englishman had some grit. I thought he did not allow any
one to walk over him. I thought he stood by his guns when he knew he
was in the right. I thought he was a manly man, and a fighter against
"Dear me! Judging by your conversation of a few minutes ago, one would
imagine that you attributed exactly the opposite qualities to him."
"I say I thought all this--yesterday. I don't think so to-day."
"Oh, I see! And all on account of me?"
"All on account of you."
"Once more, what have I done?"
"What have you done? You have allowed that detestably selfish specimen
of your race, Hodden, to evict you from your room."
The young man stopped abruptly in his walk, and looked at the girl
with astonishment. She, her hands still coquettishly thrust in her
jacket-pockets, returned his gaze with unruffled serenity.
"What do you know about it?" he demanded at last.
"Everything. From the time you meekly told the steward to take out your
valise until the time you meekly apologised to Hodden for having told
him the truth, and then meekly followed the purser to a room containing
"But Hodden meekly, as you express it, apologised first. I suppose you
know that too, otherwise I would not have mentioned it."
"Certainly he did. That was because he found his overbearing tactics did
not work. He apologised merely to get rid of you, and did. That's what
put me out of patience with you. To think, you couldn't see through his
"Oh! I thought it was the lack of manly qualities you despised in me.
Now you are accusing me of not being crafty."
"How severely you say that! You quite frighten me! You will be making me
apologise by-and-by, and I don't want to do that."
Buel laughed, and resumed his walk.
"It's all right," he said; "Hodden's loss is my gain. I've got in with
a jolly lot, who took the trouble last night to teach me the great
American game at cards--and counters."
Miss Jessop sighed.
"Having escaped with my life," she said, "I think I shall not run any
more risks, but shall continue with your book. I had no idea you could
look so fierce. I have scarcely gotten over it yet. Besides, I am very
much interested in that book of yours."
"Why do you say so persistently 'that book of mine'?"
"Isn't it yours? You bought it, didn't you? Then it was written by your
relative, you know."
"I said my namesake."
"So you did. And now I'm going to ask you an impudent question. You will