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One Day's Courtship by Robert Barr

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not look wicked again, will you?"

"I won't promise. That depends entirely on the question."

"It is easily answered."

"I'm waiting."

"What is your Christian name, Mr. Buel?"

"My Christian name?" he repeated, uncomfortably.

"Yes, what is it?"

"Why do you wish to know?"

"A woman's reason--because."

They walked the length of the deck in silence.

"Come, now," she said, "confess. What is it?"


Miss Jessop laughed heartily, but quietly.

"You think John commonplace, I suppose?"

"Oh, it suits _you_, Mr. Buel. Goodbye."

As the young woman found her place in the book, she mused, "How blind
men are, after all--with his name in full on the passage list." Then she
said to herself, with a sigh, "I do wish I had bought this book instead
of Hodden's."


At first Mr. Hodden held somewhat aloof from his fellow-passengers; but,
finding perhaps that there was no general desire to intrude upon him, he
condescended to become genial to a select few. He walked the deck alone,
picturesquely attired. He was a man who paid considerable attention to
his personal appearance. As day followed day, Mr. Hodden unbent so far
as to talk frequently with Miss Jessop on what might almost be called
equal terms. The somewhat startling opinions and unexpected remarks of
the American girl appeared to interest him, and doubtless tended to
confirm his previous unfavourable impressions of the inhabitants of the
Western world. Mr. Buel was usually present during these conferences,
and his conduct under the circumstances was not admirable. He was
silent and moody, and almost gruff on some occasions. Perhaps Hodden's
persistent ignoring of him, and the elder man's air of conscious
superiority, irritated Buel; but if he had had the advantage of mixing
much in the society of his native land he would have become accustomed
to that. People thrive on the condescension of the great; they like it,
and boast about it. Yet Buel did not seem to be pleased. But the most
astounding thing was that the young man should actually have taken it
upon himself to lecture Miss Jessop once, when they were alone, for some
remarks she had made to Hodden as she sat in her deck-chair, with Hodden
loquacious on her right and Buel taciturn on her left. What right had
Buel to find fault with a free and independent citizen of another
country? Evidently none. It might have been expected that Miss Jessop,
rising to the occasion, would have taught the young man his place, and
would perhaps have made some scathing remark about the tendency of
Englishmen to interfere in matters that did not concern them. But she
did nothing of the kind. She looked down demurely on the deck, with the
faint flicker of a smile hovering about her pretty lips, and now and
then flashed a quick glance at the serious face of the young man. The
attitude was very sweet and appealing, but it was not what we have a
right to expect from one whose ruler is her servant towards one whose
ruler is his sovereign. In fact, the conduct of those two young people
at this time was utterly inexplicable.

"Why did you pretend to Hodden that you had never heard of him, and make
him state that he was a writer of books?" Buel had said.

"I did it for his own good. Do you want me to minister to his
insufferable vanity? Hasn't he egotism enough already? I saw in a paper
a while ago that his most popular book had sold to the extent of over
100,000 copies in America. I suppose that is something wonderful; but
what does it amount to after all? It leaves over fifty millions of
people who doubtless have never heard of him. For the time being I
merely went with the majority. We always do that in the States."

"Then I suppose you will not tell him you bought his latest book in
London, and so you will not have the privilege of bringing it up on-deck
and reading it?"

"No. The pleasure of reading that book must be postponed until I reach
New York. But my punishment does not end there. Would you believe that
authors are so vain that they actually carry with them the books they
have written?"

"You astonish me."

"I thought I should. And added to that, would you credit the statement
that they offer to lend their works to inoffensive people who may not be
interested in them and who have not the courage to refuse? Why do you
look so confused, Mr. Buel? I am speaking of Mr. Hodden. He kindly
offered me his books to read on the way over. He has a prettily bound
set with him. He gave me the first to-day, which I read ever so many
years ago."

"I thought you liked his books?"

"For the first time, yes; but I don't care to read them twice."

The conversation was here interrupted by Mr. Hodden himself, who sank
into the vacant chair beside Miss Jessop. Buel made as though he would
rise and leave them together, but with an almost imperceptible motion
of the hand nearest him, Miss Jessop indicated her wish that he should
remain, and then thanked him with a rapid glance for understanding. The
young man felt a glow of satisfaction at this, and gazed at the blue sea
with less discontent than usual in his eyes.

"I have brought you," said the novelist, "another volume."

"Oh, _thank_ you," cried Miss Duplicity, with unnecessary emphasis on
the middle word.

"It has been considered," continued Mr. Hodden, "by those whose opinions
are thought highly of in London, to be perhaps my most successful work.
It is, of course, not for me to pass judgment on such an estimate; but
for my own part I prefer the story I gave you this morning. An author's
choice is rarely that of the public."

"And was this book published in America?"

"I can hardly say it was published. They did me the honour to pirate
it in your most charming country. Some friend--or perhaps I should say
enemy--sent me a copy. It was a most atrocious production, in a paper
cover, filled with mistakes, and adorned with the kind of spelling,
which is, alas! prevalent there."

"I believe," said Buel, speaking for the first time, but with his eyes
still on the sea, "there is good English authority for much that we term
American spelling."

"English authority, indeed!" cried Miss Jessop; "as if we needed English
authority for anything. If we can't spell better than your great English
authority, Chaucer--well!" Language seemed to fail the young woman.

"Have you read Chaucer?" asked Mr. Hodden, in surprise.

"Certainly not; but I have looked at his poems, and they always remind
me of one of those dialect stories in the magazines."

Miss Jessop turned over the pages of the book which had been given her,
and as she did so a name caught her attention. She remembered a
problem that had troubled her when she read the book before. She cried
impulsively--"Oh, Mr. Hodden, there is a question I want to ask you
about this book. Was--" Here she checked herself in some confusion.

Buel, who seemed to realise the situation, smiled grimly.

"The way of the transgressor is hard," he whispered in a tone too low
for Hodden to hear.

"Isn't it?" cordially agreed the unblushing young woman.

"What did you wish to ask me?" inquired the novelist.

"Was it the American spelling or the American piracy that made you
dislike the United States?"

Mr. Hodden raised his eyebrows.

"Oh, I do not dislike the United States. I have many friends there, and
see much to admire in the country. But there are some things that do not
commend themselves to me, and those I ventured to touch upon lightly
on one or two occasions, much to the displeasure of a section of the
inhabitants--a small section, I hope."

"Don't you think," ventured Buel, "that a writer should rather touch on
what pleases him than on what displeases him, in writing of a foreign

"Possibly, Nations are like individuals; they prefer flattery to honest

"But a writer should remember that there is no law of libel to protect a

To this remark Mr. Hodden did not reply.

"And what did you object to most, Mr. Hodden?" asked the girl.

"That is a hard question to answer. I think, however, that one of the
most deplorable features of American life is the unbridled license of
the Press. The reporters make existence a burden; they print the most
unjustifiable things in their so-called interviews, and a man has no
redress. There is no escaping them. If a man is at all well known, they
attack him before he has a chance to leave the ship. If you refuse to
say anything, they will write a purely imaginative interview. The last
time I visited America, five of them came out to interview me--they
came out in the Custom House steamer, I believe."

"Why, I should feel flattered if they took all that trouble over me,
Mr. Hodden."

"All I ask of them is to leave me alone."

"I'll protect you, Mr. Hodden. When they come, you stand near me, and
I'll beat them off with my sunshade. I know two newspaper men--real nice
young men they are too--and they always do what I tell them."

"I can quite believe it, Miss Jessop."

"Well, then, have no fear while I'm on board."

Mr. Hodden shook his head. He knew how it would be, he said.

"Let us leave the reporters. What else do you object to? I want to
learn, and so reform my country when I get back."

"The mad passion of the people after wealth, and the unscrupulousness of
their methods of obtaining it, seem to me unpleasant phases of life over

"So they are. And what you say makes me sigh for dear old London. How
honest they are, and how little they care for money there! _They_ don't
put up the price 50 per cent. merely because a girl has an American
accent. Oh no. They think she likes to buy at New York prices. And they
are so honourable down in the city that nobody ever gets cheated. Why,
you could put a purse up on a pole in London, just as--as--was it Henry
the Eighth--?"

"Alfred, I think!" suggested Buel.

"Thanks! As Alfred the Great used to do."

Mr. Hodden looked askance at the young woman.

"Remember," he said, "that you asked me for my opinion. If what I have
said is offensive to one who is wealthy, as doubtless you are, Miss
Jessop, I most sincerely--"

"Me? Well, I never know whether I'm wealthy or not. I expect that before
long I shall have to take to typewriting. Perhaps, in that case, you
will give me some of your novels to do, Mr. Hodden. You see, my father
is on the Street."

"Dear me!" said Mr. Hodden, "I am sorry to hear that."

"Why? They are not all rogues on Wall Street, in spite of what the
papers say. Remember your own opinion of the papers. They are not to be
trusted when they speak of Wall Street men. When my father got very
rich once I made him give me 100,000 dollars, so that, should things go
wrong--they generally go wrong for somebody on Wall Street--we would
have something to live on, but, unfortunately, he always borrows
it again. Some day, I'm afraid, it will go, and then will come the
typewriter. That's why I took my aunt with me and saw Europe before it
was too late. I gave him a power of attorney before I left, so I've had
an anxious time on the Continent. My money was all right when we left
Liverpool, but goodness knows where it will be when I reach New York."

"How very interesting. I never heard of a situation just like it


The big vessel lay at rest in New York Bay waiting for the boat of the
health officers and the steamer with the customs men on board. The
passengers were in a state of excitement at the thought of being so near
home. The captain, who was now in excellent humour, walked the deck and
chatted affably with every one. A successful voyage had been completed.
Miss Jessop feared the coming of the customs boat as much as Hodden
feared the reporters. If anything, he was the more resigned of the two.
What American woman ever lands on her native shore without trembling
before the revenue laws of her country? Kenan Buel, his arms resting on
the bulwarks, gazed absently at the green hills he was seeing for the
first time, but his thoughts were not upon them. The young man was in a
quandary. Should he venture, or should he not, that was the question.
Admitting, for the sake of argument, that she cared for him, what had he
to offer? Merely himself, and the debt still unpaid on his first book.
The situation was the more embarrassing because of a remark she had made
about Englishmen marrying for money. He had resented that on general
principles when he heard it, but now it had a personal application that
seemed to confront him whichever way he turned. Besides, wasn't it all
rather sudden, from an insular point of view? Of course they did things
with great rapidity in America, so perhaps she would not object to the
suddenness. He had no one to consult, and he felt the lack of advice. He
did not want to make a mistake, neither did he wish to be laughed at.
Still, the laughing would not matter if everything turned out right.
Anyhow, Miss Jessop's laugh was very kindly. He remembered that if he
were in any other difficulty he would turn quite naturally to her for
advice, although he had known her so short a time, and he regretted that
in his present predicament he was debarred from putting the case before
her. And yet, why not? He might put the supposititious case of a friend,
and ask what the friend ought to do. He dismissed this a moment later.
It was too much like what people did in a novel, and besides, he could
not carry it through. She would see through the sham at once. At this
point he realised that he was just where he began.

"Dear me, Mr. Buel, how serious you look. I am afraid you don't approve
of America. Are you sorry the voyage is ended?"

"Yes, I am," answered Buel, earnestly. "I feel as if I had to begin life
over again."

"And are you afraid?"

"A little."

"I am disappointed in you. I thought you were not afraid of anything."

"You were disappointed in me the first day, you remember."

"So I was. I had forgotten."

"Will your father come on board to meet you?"

"It depends altogether on the state of the market. If things are dull,
he will very likely meet me out here. If the Street is brisk, I won't
see him till he arrives home to-night. If medium, he will be on the
wharf when we get in."

"And when you meet him I suppose you will know whether you are rich or

"Oh, certainly. It will be the second thing I ask him."

"When you know, I want you to tell me. Will you?"

"Are you interested in knowing?"

"Very much so."

"Then I hope I shall be rich."

Mr. Buel did not answer. He stared gloomily down at the water lapping
the iron side of the motionless steamer. The frown on his brow was deep.
Miss Jessop looked at him for a moment out of the corners of her eyes.
Then she said, impulsively--

"I know that was mean. I apologise. I told you I did not like to
apologise, so you may know how sorry I am. And, now that I have begun,
I also apologise for all the flippant things I have said during the
voyage, and for my frightful mendacity to poor Mr. Hodden, who sits
there so patiently and picturesquely waiting for the terrible reporters.
Won't you forgive me?"

Buel was not a ready man, and he hesitated just the smallest fraction of
a second too long.

"I won't ask you twice, you know," said Miss Jessop, drawing herself up
with dignity.

"Don't--don't go!" cried the young man, with sudden energy, catching her
hand. "I'm an unmannerly boor. But I'll risk everything and tell you
the trouble. I don't care a--I don't care whether you are rich or poor.

Miss Jessop drew away her hand.

"Oh, there's the boat, Mr. Buel, and there's my papa on the upper deck."

She waved her handkerchief in the air in answer to one that was
fluttering on the little steamer. Buel saw the boat cutting a rapid
semicircle in the bay as she rounded to, leaving in her wake a long,
curving track of foam. She looked ridiculously small compared with the
great ship she was approaching, and her deck seemed crowded.

"And there are the reporters!" she cried; "ever so many of them. I guess
Mr. Hodden will be sorry he did not accept my offer of protection. I know
that young man who is waving his hand. He was on the _Herald_ when I
left; but no one can say what paper he's writing for now."

As the boat came nearer a voice shouted--

"All well, Carrie?"

The girl nodded. Her eyes and her heart were too full for speech. Buel
frowned at the approaching boat, and cursed its inopportune arrival. He
was astonished to hear some one shout from her deck--

"Hello, Buel!"

"Why, there's some one who knows you!" said the girl, looking at him.

Buel saw a man wave his hand, and automatically he waved in return.
After a moment he realised that it was Brant the publisher. The customs
officers were first on board, for it is ordained by the law that no
foot is to tread the deck before theirs; but the reporters made a good

Miss Jessop rushed to the gangway, leaving Buel alone. "Hello, Cap!"
cried one of the young men of the Press, with that lack of respect for
the dignitaries of this earth which is characteristic of them. "Had a
good voyage?"

"Splendid," answered the captain, with a smile.

"Where's your celebrity? Trot him out."

"I believe Mr. Hodden is aft somewhere."

"Oh,--Hodden!" cried the young man, profanely; "he's a chestnut. Where's
Kenan Buel?"

The reporter did not wait for a reply, for he saw by the crowd around a
very flushed young man that the victim had been found and cornered.

"Really, gentlemen," said the embarrassed Englishman, "you have made a
mistake. It is Mr. Hodden you want to see. I will take you to him."

"Hodden's played," said one of the young men in an explanatory way,
although Buel did not understand the meaning of the phrase. "He's
petered out;" which addition did not make it any plainer. "You're the
man for our money every time."

"Break away there, break away!" cried the belated Brant, forcing his way
through them and taking Buel by the hand. "There's no rush, you know,
boys. Just let me have a minute's talk with Mr. Buel. It will be all
right. I have just set up the champagne down in the saloon. It's my
treat, you know. There's tables down there, and we can do things
comfortably. I'll guarantee to produce Buel inside of five minutes."

Brant linked arms with the young man, and they walked together down the

"Do you know what this means, Buel?" he said, waving his hand towards
the retreating newspaper men.

"I suppose it means that you have got them to interview me for business
purposes. I can think of no other reason."

"I've had nothing to do with it. That shows just how little you know
about the American Press. Why, all the money I've got wouldn't bring
those men out here to interview anybody who wasn't worth interviewing.
It means fame; it means wealth; it means that you have turned the
corner; it means you have the world before you; it means everything.
Those young men are not reporters to you; they are the heralds of fame,
my boy. A few of them may get there themselves some day, but it means
that you have got there _now_. Do you realise that?"

"Hardly. I suppose, then, the book has been a success?"

"A success? It's been a cyclone. I've been fighting pirates ever since
it came out. You see, I took the precaution to write some things in the
book myself."

Buel looked alarmed.

"And then I copyrighted the whole thing, and they can't tell which is
mine and which is yours until they get a hold of the English edition.
That's why I did not wait for your corrections."

"We are collaborators, then?"

"You bet. I suppose some of the English copies are on this steamer? I'm
going to try to have them seized by the customs if I can. I think I'll
make a charge of indecency against the book."

"Good heavens!" cried Buel, aghast. "There is nothing of that in it."

"I am afraid not," said Brant, regretfully. "But it will give us
a week more at least before it is decided. Anyhow, I'm ready for the
pirates, even if they do come out. I've printed a cheap paper edition,
100,000 copies, and they are now in the hands of all the news
companies--sealed up, of course--from New York to San Francisco. The
moment a pirate shows his head, I'll telegraph the word 'rip' all over
the United States, and they will rip open the packages and flood the
market with authorised cheap editions before the pirates leave New York.
Oh, L. F. Brant was not born the day before yesterday."

"I see he wasn't," said Buel, smiling.

"Now you come down and be introduced to the newspaper boys. You'll find
them jolly nice fellows."

"In a moment. You go down and open the champagne. I'll follow you. I--I
want to say a few words to a friend on board."

"No tricks now, Buel. You're not going to try to dodge them?"

"I'm a man of my word, Mr. Brant. Don't be afraid."

"And now," said the other, putting his hands on the young man's
shoulders, "you'll be kind to them. Don't put on too much side, you
know. You'll forgive me for mentioning this, but sometimes your
countrymen do the high and mighty act a little too much. It doesn't

"I'll do my best. But I haven't the slightest idea what to say. In fact,
I've nothing to say."

"Oh, that's all right. Don't you worry. Just have a talk with them,
that's all they want. You'll be paralysed when the interviews come out
to-morrow; but you'll get over that."

"You're sure the book is a success in its own merits, and not through
any newspaper puffing or that sort of thing, you know?"

"Why, certainly. Of course our firm pushed it. We're not the people to
go to sleep over a thing. It might not have done quite so well with any
other house; but I told you in London I thought it was bound to go. The
pushing was quite legitimate."

"In that case I shall be down to see the reporters in a very few
minutes." Although Buel kept up his end of the conversation with Brant,
his mind was not on it. Miss Jessop and her father were walking near
them; snatches of their talk came to him, and his attention wandered in
spite of himself. The Wall Street man seemed to be trying to reassure
his daughter, and impart to her some of the enthusiasm he himself felt.
He patted her affectionately on the shoulder now and then, and she
walked with springy step very close to his side.

"It's all right, Carrie," he said, "and as safe as the bank."

"Which bank, papa?"

Mr. Jessop laughed.

"The Chemical Bank, if you like; or, as you are just over from the other
side, perhaps I should say the Bank of England."

"And did you take put every cent?"

"Yes; and I wished there was double the amount to take. It's a sure
thing. There's no speculation about it. There isn't a bushel of wheat in
the country that isn't in the combination. It would have been sinful not
to have put every cent I could scrape together into it. Why, Carrie,
I'll give you a quarter of a million when the deal comes off."

Carrie shook her head.

"I've been afraid of wheat corners," she said, "ever since I was a baby.
Still, I've no right to say anything. It's all your money, anyway, and
I've just been playing that it was mine. But I do wish you had left a
hundred dollars for a typewriter."

Mr. Jessop laughed again in a very hearty and confident way.

"Don't you fret about that, Carrie. I've got four type machines down at
the office. I'll let you have your choice before the crash comes. Now
I'll go down and see those customs men. There won't be any trouble. I
know them."

It was when Mr. Jessop departed that Buel suddenly became anxious to get
rid of Brant. When he had succeeded, he walked over to where the girl
leaned on the bulwark.

"Well?" he said, taking his place beside her.

"Well!" she answered, without looking up at him.

"Which is it? Rich or poor?"

"Rich, I should say, by the way the reporters flocked about you. That
means, I suppose, that your book has been a great success, and that you
are going to make your fortune out of it. Let me congratulate you, Mr.

"Wait a minute. I don't know yet whether I am to be congratulated or
not; that will depend on you. Of course you know I was not speaking of
myself when I asked the question."

"Oh, you meant me, did you? Well, I can't tell for some time to come,
but I have my fears. I hear the click of the typewriter in the near

"Caroline, I am very serious about this. I don't believe you think, or
could think, that I care much about riches. I have been on too intimate
terms with poverty to be afraid of it. Of course my present apparent
success has given me courage, and I intend to use that courage while it
lasts. I have been rather afraid of your ridicule, but I think, whether
you were rich or poor, or whether my book was a success or a failure, I
would have risked it, and told you I loved you."

The girl did not look up at him, and did not answer for a moment. Then
she said, in a voice that he had to bend very close to hear--

"I--I would have been sorry all my life if you hadn't--risked it."


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