Part 5 out of 5
As they stood, drawn up on the three sides of the plaza, he rode
out before them and held up his hat for silence. They were there
with arms in their hands, he said, for two reasons: the greater
one, and the one which he knew actuated the native soldiers, was
their desire to preserve the Constitution of the Republic.
According to their own laws, the Vice-President must succeed when
the President's term of office had expired, or in the event of
his death. President Alvarez had been assassinated, and the
Vice-President, General Rojas, was, in consequence, his legal
successor. It was their duty, as soldiers of the Republic, to
rescue him from prison, to drive the man who had usurped his
place into exile, and by so doing uphold the laws which they had
themselves laid down. The second motive, he went on, was a less
worthy and more selfish one. The Olancho mines, which now gave
work to thousands and brought millions of dollars into the
country, were coveted by Mendoza, who would, if he could, convert
them into a monopoly of his government. If he remained in
power all foreigners would be driven out of the country, and the
soldiers would be forced to work in the mines without payment.
Their condition would be little better than that of the slaves in
the salt mines of Siberia. Not only would they no longer be paid
for their labor, but the people as a whole would cease to receive
that share of the earnings of the mines which had hitherto been
``Under President Rojas you will have liberty, justice, and
prosperity,'' Clay cried. ``Under Mendoza you will be ruled by
martial law. He will rob and overtax you, and you will live
through a reign of terror. Between them--which will you
The native soldiers answered by cries of ``Rojas,'' and breaking
ranks rushed across the plaza toward him, crowding around his
horse and shouting, ``Long live Rojas,'' ``Long live the
Constitution,'' ``Death to Mendoza.'' The Americans stood as
they were and gave three cheers for the Government.
They were still cheering and shouting as they advanced upon the
Palace, and the noise of their coming drove the people indoors,
so that they marched through deserted streets and between closed
doors and sightless windows. No one opposed them, and no one
encouraged them. But they could now see the facade of the
Palace and the flag of the Revolutionists hanging from the mast
in front of it.
Three blocks distant from the Palace they came upon the buildings
of the United States and English Legations, where the flags of
the two countries had been hung out over the narrow thoroughfare.
The windows and the roofs of each legation were crowded with
women and children who had sought refuge there, and the column
halted as Weimer, the Consul, and Sir Julian Pindar, the English
Minister, came out, bare-headed, into the street and beckoned to
Clay to stop.
``As our Minister was not here,'' Weimer said, ``I telegraphed to
Truxillo for the man-of-war there. She started some time ago,
and we have just heard that she is entering the lower harbor.
She should have her blue-jackets on shore in twenty minutes. Sir
Julian and I think you ought to wait for them.''
The English Minister put a detaining hand on Clay's bridle. ``If
you attack Mendoza at the Palace with this mob,'' he
remonstrated, ``rioting and lawlessness generally will break out
all over the city. I ask you to keep them back until we get your
sailors to police the streets and protect property.''
Clay glanced over his shoulder at the engineers and the
Irish workmen standing in solemn array behind him. ``Oh, you can
hardly call this a mob,'' he said. ``They look a little rough
and ready, but I will answer for them. The two other columns
that are coming up the streets parallel to this are Government
troops and properly engaged in driving a usurper out of the
Government building. The best thing you can do is to get down to
the wharf and send the marines and blue-jackets where you think
they will do the most good. I can't wait for them. And they
can't come too soon.''
The grounds of the Palace occupied two entire blocks; the
Botanical Gardens were in the rear, and in front a series of low
terraces ran down from its veranda to the high iron fence which
separated the grounds from the chief thoroughfare of the city.
Clay sent word to the left and right wing of his little army to
make a detour one street distant from the Palace grounds and form
in the street in the rear of the Botanical Gardens. When they
heard the firing of his men from the front they were to force
their way through the gates at the back and attack the Palace in
``Mendoza has the place completely barricaded,'' Weimer warned
him, ``and he has three field pieces covering each of these
streets. You and your men are directly in line of one of them
now. He is only waiting for you to get a little nearer
before he lets loose.''
From where he sat Clay could count the bars of the iron fence in
front of the grounds. But the boards that backed them prevented
his forming any idea of the strength or the distribution of
Mendoza's forces. He drew his staff of amateur officers to one
side and explained the situation to them.
``The Theatre National and the Club Union,'' he said, ``face the
Palace from the opposite corners of this street. You must get
into them and barricade the windows and throw up some sort of
shelter for yourselves along the edge of the roofs and drive the
men behind that fence back to the Palace. Clear them away from
the cannon first, and keep them away from it. I will be waiting
in the street below. When you have driven them back, we will
charge the gates and have it out with them in the gardens. The
Third and Fourth regiments ought to take them in the rear about
the same time. You will continue to pick them off from the
The two supporting columns had already started on their
roundabout way to the rear of the Palace. Clay gathered up his
reins, and telling his men to keep close to the walls, started
forward, his soldiers following on the sidewalks and leaving
the middle of the street clear. As they reached a point a
hundred yards below the Palace, a part of the wooden shield
behind the fence was thrown down, there was a puff of white smoke
and a report, and a cannon-ball struck the roof of a house which
they were passing and sent the tiles clattering about their
heads. But the men in the lead had already reached the stage-
door of the theatre and were opposite one of the doors to the
club. They drove these in with the butts of their rifles, and
raced up the stairs of each of the deserted buildings until they
reached the roof. Langham was swept by a weight of men across a
stage, and jumped among the music racks in the orchestra. He
caught a glimpse of the early morning sun shining on the tawdry
hangings of the boxes and the exaggerated perspective of the
scenery. He ran through corridors between two great statues of
Comedy and Tragedy, and up a marble stair case to a lobby in
which he saw the white faces about him multiplied in long
mirrors, and so out to an iron balcony from which he looked down,
panting and breathless, upon the Palace Gardens, swarming with
soldiers and white with smoke. Men poured through the windows of
the club opposite, dragging sofas and chairs out to the balcony
and upon the flat roof. The men near him were tearing down the
yellow silk curtains in the lobby and draping them along the
railing of the balcony to better conceal their movements from the
enemy below. Bullets spattered the stucco about their heads, and
panes of glass broke suddenly and fell in glittering particles
upon their shoulders. The firing had already begun from the
roofs near them. Beyond the club and the theatre and far along
the street on each side of the Palace the merchants were slamming
the iron shutters of their shops, and men and women were running
for refuge up the high steps of the church of Santa Maria.
Others were gathered in black masses on the balconies and roofs
of the more distant houses, where they stood outlined against the
soft blue sky in gigantic silhouette. Their shouts of
encouragement and anger carried clearly in the morning air, and
spurred on the gladiators below to greater effort. In the Palace
Gardens a line of Mendoza's men fought from behind the first
barricade, while others dragged tables and bedding and chairs
across the green terraces and tumbled them down to those below,
who seized them and formed them into a second line of defence.
Two of the assistant engineers were kneeling at Langham's feet
with the barrels of their rifles resting on the railing of the
balcony. Their eyes had been trained for years to judge
distances and to measure space, and they glanced along the
sights of their rifles as though they were looking through
the lens of a transit, and at each report their faces grew more
earnest and their lips pressed tighter together. One of them
lowered his gun to light a cigarette, and Langham handed him his
match-box, with a certain feeling of repugnance.
``Better get under cover, Mr. Langham,'' the man said, kindly.
``There's no use our keeping your mines for you if you're not
alive to enjoy them. Take a shot at that crew around the gun.''
``I don't like this long range business,'' Langham answered. ``I
am going down to join Clay. I don't like the idea of hitting a
man when he isn't looking at you.''
The engineer gave an incredulous laugh.
``If he isn't looking at you, he's aiming at the man next to you.
`Live and let Live' doesn't apply at present.''
As Langham reached Clay's side triumphant shouts arose from the
roof-tops, and the men posted there stood up and showed
themselves above the barricades and called to Clay that the
cannon were deserted.
Kirkland had come prepared for the barricade, and, running across
the street, fastened a dynamite cartridge to each gate post and
lit the fuses. The soldiers scattered before him as he came
leaping back, and in an instant later there was a racking
roar, and the gates were pitched out of their sockets and thrown
forward, and those in the street swept across them and surrounded
Langham caught it by the throat as though it were human, and did
not feel the hot metal burning the palms of his hands as he
choked it and pointed its muzzle toward the Palace, while the
others dragged at the spokes of the wheel. It was fighting at
close range now, close enough to suit even Langham. He found
himself in the front rank of it without knowing exactly how he
got there. Every man on both sides was playing his own hand, and
seemed to know exactly what to do. He felt neglected and very
much alone, and was somewhat anxious lest his valor might be
wasted through his not knowing how to put it to account. He saw
the enemy in changing groups of scowling men, who seemed to eye
him for an instant down the length of a gun-barrel and then
disappear behind a puff of smoke. He kept thinking that war made
men take strange liberties with their fellow-men, and it struck
him as being most absurd that strangers should stand up and try
to kill one another, men who had so little in common that they
did not even know one another's names. The soldiers who were
fighting on his own side were equally unknown to him, and he
looked in vain for Clay. He saw MacWilliams for a moment
through the smoke, jabbing at a jammed cartridge with his pen-
knife, and hacking the lead away to make it slip. He was
remonstrating with the gun and swearing at it exactly as though
it were human, and as Langham ran toward him he threw it away and
caught up another from the ground. Kneeling beside the wounded
man who had dropped it and picking the cartridges from his belt,
he assured him cheerfully that he was not so badly hurt as he
``You all right?'' Langham asked.
``I'm all right. I'm trying to get a little laddie hiding behind
that blue silk sofa over there. He's taken an unnatural dislike
to me, and he's nearly got me three times. I'm knocking horse-
hair out of his rampart, though.''
The men of Stuart's body-guard were fighting outside of the
breastworks and mattresses. They were using their swords as
though they were machetes, and the Irishmen were swinging their
guns around their shoulders like sledge-hammers, and beating
their foes over the head and breast. The guns at his own side
sounded close at Langham's ear, and deafened him, and those of
the enemy exploded so near to his face that he was kept
continually winking and dodging, as though he were being taken by
a flashlight photograph. When he fired he aimed where the
mass was thickest, so that he might not see what his bullet did,
but he remembered afterward that he always reloaded with the most
anxious swiftness in order that he might not be killed before he
had had another shot, and that the idea of being killed was of no
concern to him except on that account. Then the scene before him
changed, and apparently hundreds of Mendoza's soldiers poured out
from the Palace and swept down upon him, cheering as they came,
and he felt himself falling back naturally and as a matter of
course, as he would have stepped out of the way of a locomotive,
or a runaway horse, or any other unreasoning thing. His
shoulders pushed against a mass of shouting, sweating men, who in
turn pressed back upon others, until the mass reached the iron
fence and could move no farther. He heard Clay's voice shouting
to them, and saw him run forward, shooting rapidly as he ran, and
he followed him, even though his reason told him it was a useless
thing to do, and then there came a great shout from the rear of
the Palace, and more soldiers, dressed exactly like the others,
rushed through the great doors and swarmed around the two wings
of the building, and he recognized them as Rojas's men and knew
that the fight was over.
He saw a tall man with a negro's face spring out of the
first mass of soldiers and shout to them to follow him. Clay
gave a yell of welcome and ran at him, calling upon him in
Spanish to surrender. The negro stopped and stood at bay,
glaring at Clay and at the circle of soldiers closing in around
him. He raised his revolver and pointed it steadily. It was as
though the man knew he had only a moment to live, and meant to do
that one thing well in the short time left him.
Clay sprang to one side and ran toward him, dodging to the right
and left, but Mendoza followed his movements carefully with his
It lasted but an instant. Then the Spaniard threw his arm
suddenly across his face, drove the heel of his boot into the
turf, and spinning about on it fell forward.
``If he was shot where his sash crosses his heart, I know the man
who did it,'' Langham heard a voice say at his elbow, and turning
saw MacWilliams wetting his fingers at his lips and touching them
gingerly to the heated barrel of his Winchester.
The death of Mendoza left his followers without a leader and
without a cause. They threw their muskets on the ground and held
their hands above their heads, shrieking for mercy. Clay and his
officers answered them instantly by running from one group
to another, knocking up the barrels of the rifles and calling
hoarsely to the men on the roofs to cease firing, and as they
were obeyed the noise of the last few random shots was drowned in
tumultuous cheering and shouts of exultation, that, starting in
the gardens, were caught up by those in the streets and passed on
quickly as a line of flame along the swaying housetops.
The native officers sprang upon Clay and embraced him after their
fashion, hailing him as the Liberator of Olancho, as the
Preserver of the Constitution, and their brother patriot. Then
one of them climbed to the top of a gilt and marble table and
proclaimed him military President.
``You'll proclaim yourself an idiot, if you don't get down from
there,'' Clay said, laughing. ``I thank you for permitting me to
serve with you, gentlemen. I shall have great pleasure in
telling our President how well you acquitted yourself in this
row--battle, I mean. And now I would suggest that you store the
prisoners' weapons in the Palace and put a guard over them, and
then conduct the men themselves to the military prison, where you
can release General Rojas and escort him back to the city in a
triumphal procession. You'd like that, wouldn't you?''
But the natives protested that that honor was for him alone.
Clay declined it, pleading that he must look after his wounded.
``I can hardly believe there are any dead,'' he said to Kirkland.
``For, if it takes two thousand bullets to kill a man in European
warfare, it must require about two hundred thousand to kill a man
in South America.''
He told Kirkland to march his men back to the mines and to see
that there were no stragglers. ``If they want to celebrate, let
them celebrate when they get to the mines, but not here. They
have made a good record to-day and I won't have it spoiled by
rioting. They shall have their reward later. Between Rojas and
Mr. Langham they should all be rich men.''
The cheering from the housetops since the firing ceased had
changed suddenly into hand-clappings, and the cries, though still
undistinguishable, were of a different sound. Clay saw that the
Americans on the balconies of the club and of the theatre had
thrown themselves far over the railings and were all looking in
the same direction and waving their hats and cheering loudly, and
he heard above the shouts of the people the regular tramp of
men's feet marching in step, and the rattle of a machine gun as
it bumped and shook over the rough stones. He gave a shout of
pleasure, and Kirkland and the two boys ran with him up the
slope, crowding each other to get a better view. The mob
parted at the Palace gates, and they saw two lines of blue-
jackets, spread out like the sticks of a fan, dragging the gun
between them, the middies in their tight-buttoned tunics and
gaiters, and behind them more blue-jackets with bare, bronzed
throats, and with the swagger and roll of the sea in their legs
and shoulders. An American flag floated above the white helmets
of the marines. Its presence and the sense of pride which the
sight of these men from home awoke in them made the fight just
over seem mean and petty, and they took off their hats and
cheered with the others.
A first lieutenant, who felt his importance and also a sense of
disappointment at having arrived too late to see the fighting,
left his men at the gate of the Palace, and advanced up the
terrace, stopping to ask for information as he came. Each group
to which he addressed himself pointed to Clay. The sight of his
own flag had reminded Clay that the banner of Mendoza still hung
from the mast beside which he was standing, and as the officer
approached he was busily engaged in untwisting its halyards and
pulling it down.
The lieutenant saluted him doubtfully.
``Can you tell me who is in command here?'' he asked. He spoke
somewhat sharply, for Clay was not a military looking personage,
covered as he was with dust and perspiration, and with his
sombrero on the back of his head.
``Our Consul here told us at the landing-place,'' continued the
lieutenant in an aggrieved tone, ``that a General Mendoza was in
power, and that I had better report to him, and then ten minutes
later I hear that he is dead and that a General Rojas is
President, but that a man named Clay has made himself Dictator.
My instructions are to recognize no belligerents, but to report
to the Government party. Now, who is the Government party?''
Clay brought the red-barred flag down with a jerk, and ripped it
free from the halyards. Kirkland and the two boys were watching
him with amused smiles.
``I appreciate your difficulty,'' he said. ``President Alvarez
is dead, and General Mendoza, who tried to make himself Dictator,
is also dead, and the real President, General Rojas, is still in
jail. So at present I suppose that I represent the Government
party, at least I am the man named Clay. It hadn't occurred to
me before, but, until Rojas is free, I guess I am the Dictator of
Olancho. Is Madame Alvarez on board your ship?''
``Yes, she is with us,'' the officer replied, in some confusion.
``Excuse me--are you the three gentlemen who took her to the
yacht? I am afraid I spoke rather hastily just now, but you
are not in uniform, and the Government seems to change so quickly
down here that a stranger finds it hard to keep up with it.''
Six of the native officers had approached as the lieutenant was
speaking and saluted Clay gravely. ``We have followed your
instructions,'' one of them said, ``and the regiments are ready
to march with the prisoners. Have you any further orders for
us--can we deliver any messages to General Rojas?''
``Present my congratulations to General Rojas, and best wishes,''
said Clay. ``And tell him for me, that it would please me
greatly if he would liberate an American citizen named Burke, who
is at present in the cuartel. And that I wish him to promote all
of you gentlemen one grade and give each of you the Star of
Olancho. Tell him that in my opinion you have deserved even
higher reward and honor at his hands.''
The boy-lieutenants broke out into a chorus of delighted thanks.
They assured Clay that he was most gracious; that he overwhelmed
them, and that it was honor enough for them that they had served
under him. But Clay laughed, and drove them off with a paternal
wave of the hand.
The officer from the man-of-war listened with an uncomfortable
sense of having blundered in his manner toward this powder-
splashed young man who set American citizens at liberty, and
created captains by the half-dozen at a time.
``Are you from the States?'' he asked as they moved toward the
``I am, thank God. Why not?''
``I thought you were, but you saluted like an Englishman.''
``I was an officer in the English army once in the Soudan, when
they were short of officers.'' Clay shook his head and looked
wistfully at the ranks of the blue-jackets drawn up on either
side of them. The horses had been brought out and Langham and
MacWilliams were waiting for him to mount. ``I have worn several
uniforms since I was a boy,'' said Clay. ``But never that of my
The people were cheering him from every part of the square.
Women waved their hands from balconies and housetops, and men
climbed to awnings and lampposts and shouted his name. The
officers and men of the landing party took note of him and of
this reception out of the corner of their eyes, and wondered.
``And what had I better do?'' asked the commanding officer.
``Oh, I would police the Palace grounds, if I were you, and
picket that street at the right, where there are so many
wine shops, and preserve order generally until Rojas gets here.
He won't be more than an hour, now. We shall be coming over to
pay our respects to your captain to-morrow. Glad to have met
``Well, I'm glad to have met you,'' answered the officer,
heartily. ``Hold on a minute. Even if you haven't worn our
uniform, you're as good, and better, than some I've seen that
have, and you're a sort of a commander-in-chief, anyway, and I'm
damned if I don't give you a sort of salute.''
Clay laughed like a boy as he swung himself into the saddle. The
officer stepped back and gave the command; the middies raised
their swords and Clay passed between massed rows of his
countrymen with their muskets held rigidly toward him. The
housetops rocked again at the sight, and as he rode out into the
brilliant sunshine, his eyes were wet and winking.
The two boys had drawn up at his side, but MacWilliams had turned
in the saddle and was still looking toward the Palace, with his
hand resting on the hindquarters of his pony.
``Look back, Clay,'' he said. ``Take a last look at it, you'll
never see it after to-day. Turn again, turn again, Dictator of
The men laughed and drew rein as he bade them, and looked
back up the narrow street. They saw the green and white flag of
Olancho creeping to the top of the mast before the Palace, the
blue-jackets driving back the crowd, the gashes in the walls of
the houses, where Mendoza's cannonballs had dug their way through
the stucco, and the silk curtains, riddled with bullets, flapping
from the balconies of the opera-house.
``You had it all your own way an hour ago,'' MacWilliams said,
mockingly. ``You could have sent Rojas into exile, and made us
all Cabinet Ministers--and you gave it up for a girl. Now,
you're Dictator of Olancho. What will you be to-morrow? To-
morrow you will be Andrew Langham's son-in-law--Benedict, the
married man. Andrew Langham's son-in-law cannot ask his wife to
live in such a hole as this, so--Goodbye, Mr. Clay. We have been
Clay and Langham looked curiously at the boy to see if he were in
earnest, but MacWilliams would not meet their eyes.
``There were three of us,'' he said, ``and one got shot, and one
got married, and the third--? You will grow fat, Clay, and live
on Fifth Avenue and wear a high silk hat, and some day when
you're sitting in your club you'll read a paragraph in a
newspaper with a queer Spanish date-line to it, and this will all
come back to you,--this heat, and the palms, and the fever,
and the days when you lived on plantains and we watched our
trestles grow out across the canons, and you'll be willing to
give your hand to sleep in a hammock again, and to feel the sweat
running down your back, and you'll want to chuck your gun up
against your chin and shoot into a line of men, and the policemen
won't let you, and your wife won't let you. That's what you're
giving up. There it is. Take a good look at it. You'll never
see it again.''
The steamer ``Santiago,'' carrying ``passengers, bullion, and
coffee,'' was headed to pass Porto Rico by midnight, when she
would be free of land until she anchored at the quarantine
station of the green hills of Staten Island. She had not yet
shaken off the contamination of the earth; a soft inland breeze
still tantalized her with odors of tree and soil, the smell of
the fresh coat of paint that had followed her coaling rose from
her sides, and the odor of spilt coffee-grains that hung around
the hatches had yet to be blown away by a jealous ocean breeze,
or washed by a welcoming cross sea.
The captain stopped at the open entrance of the Social Hall.
``If any of you ladies want to take your last look at Olancho
you've got to come now,'' he said. ``We'll lose the Valencia
light in the next quarter hour.''
Miss Langham and King looked up from their novels and smiled, and
Miss Langham shook her head. ``I've taken three final farewells
of Olancho already,'' she said: ``before we went down to
dinner, and when the sun set, and when the moon rose. I have no
more sentiment left to draw on. Do you want to go?'' she asked.
``I'm very comfortable, thank you,'' King said, and returned to
the consideration of his novel.
But Clay and Hope arose at the captain's suggestion with
suspicious alacrity, and stepped out upon the empty deck, and
into the encompassing darkness, with a little sigh of relief.
Alice Langham looked after them somewhat wistfully and bit the
edges of her book. She sat for some time with her brows knitted,
glancing occasionally and critically toward King and up with
unseeing eyes at the swinging lamps of the saloon. He caught her
looking at him once when he raised his eyes as he turned a page,
and smiled back at her, and she nodded pleasantly and bent her
head over her reading. She assured herself that after all King
understood her and she him, and that if they never rose to
certain heights, they never sank below a high level of mutual
esteem, and that perhaps was the best in the end.
King had placed his yacht at the disposal of Madame Alvarez, and
she had sailed to Colon, where she could change to the steamers
for Lisbon, while he accompanied the Langhams and the wedding
party to New York.
Clay recognized that the time had now arrived in his life
when he could graduate from the position of manager-director and
become the engineering expert, and that his services in Olancho
were no longer needed.
With Rojas in power Mr. Langham had nothing further to fear from
the Government, and with Kirkland in charge and young Langham
returning after a few months' absence to resume his work, he felt
himself free to enjoy his holiday.
They had taken the first steamer out, and the combined efforts of
all had been necessary to prevail upon MacWilliams to accompany
them; and even now the fact that he was to act as Clay's best man
and, as Langham assured him cheerfully, was to wear a frock coat
and see his name in all the papers, brought on such sudden panics
of fear that the fast-fading coast line filled his soul with
regret, and a wilful desire to jump overboard and swim back.
Clay and Hope stopped at the door of the chief engineer's cabin
and said they had come to pay him a visit. The chief had but
just come from the depths where the contamination of the earth
was most evident in the condition of his stokers; but his chin
was now cleanly shaven, and his pipe was drawing as well as his
engine fires, and he had wrapped himself in an old P. & O. white
duck jacket to show what he had been before he sank to the
level of a coasting steamer. They admired the clerk-like
neatness of the report he had just finished, and in return he
promised them the fastest run on record, and showed them the
portrait of his wife, and of their tiny cottage on the Isle of
Wight, and his jade idols from Corea, and carved cocoanut gourds
from Brazil, and a picture from the ``Graphic'' of Lord
Salisbury, tacked to the partition and looking delightedly down
between two highly colored lithographs of Miss Ellen Terry and
the Princess May.
Then they called upon the captain, and Clay asked him why
captains always hung so much lace about their beds when they
invariably slept on a red velvet sofa with their boots on, and
the captain ordered his Chinese steward to mix them a queer drink
and offered them the choice of a six months' accumulation of
paper novels, and free admittance to his bridge at all hours.
And then they passed on to the door of the smoking-room and
beckoned MacWilliams to come out and join them. His manner as he
did so bristled with importance, and he drew them eagerly to the
``I've just been having a chat with Captain Burke,'' he said, in
an undertone. ``He's been telling Langham and me about a new
game that's better than running railroads. He says there's a
country called Macedonia that's got a native prince who
wants to be free from Turkey, and the Turks won't let him, and
Burke says if we'll each put up a thousand dollars, he'll
guarantee to get the prince free in six months. He's made an
estimate of the cost and submitted it to the Russian Embassy at
Washington, and he says they will help him secretly, and he knows
a man who has just patented a new rifle, and who will supply him
with a thousand of them for the sake of the advertisement. He
says it's a mountainous country, and all you have to do is to
stand on the passes and roll rocks down on the Turks as they come
in. It sounds easy, doesn't it?''
``Then you're thinking of turning professional filibuster
yourself?'' said Clay.
``Well, I don't know. It sounds more interesting than
engineering. Burke says I beat him on his last fight, and he'd
like to have me with him in the next one--sort of young-blood-in-
the-firm idea--and he calculates that we can go about setting
people free and upsetting governments for some time to come. He
says there is always something to fight about if you look for it.
And I must say the condition of those poor Macedonians does
appeal to me. Think of them all alone down there bullied by that
Sultan of Turkey, and wanting to be free and independent. That's
not right. You, as an American citizen, ought to be the
last person in the world to throw cold water on an
undertaking like that. In the name of Liberty now?''
``I don't object; set them free, of course,'' laughed Clay.
``But how long have you entertained this feeling for the enslaved
``Well, I never heard of them until a quarter of an hour ago, but
they oughtn't to suffer through my ignorance.''
``Certainly not. Let me know when you're going to do it, and
Hope and I will run over and look on. I should like to see you
and Burke and the Prince of Macedonia rolling rocks down on the
Hope and Clay passed on up the deck laughing, and MacWilliams
looked after them with a fond and paternal smile. The lamp in
the wheelhouse threw a broad belt of light across the forward
deck as they passed through it into the darkness of the bow,
where the lonely lookout turned and stared at them suspiciously,
and then resumed his stern watch over the great waters.
They leaned upon the rail and breathed the soft air which the
rush of the steamer threw in their faces, and studied in silence
the stars that lay so low upon the horizon line that they looked
like the harbor lights of a great city.
``Do you see that long line of lamps off our port bow?'' asked
``Those are the electric lights along the ocean drive at Long
Branch and up the Rumson Road, and those two stars a little
higher up are fixed to the mast-heads of the Scotland Lightship.
And that mass of light that you think is the Milky Way, is the
glare of the New York street lamps thrown up against the sky.''
``Are we so near as that?'' said Hope, smiling. ``And what lies
over there?'' she asked, pointing to the east.
``Over there is the coast of Africa. Don't you see the
lighthouse on Cape Bon? If it wasn't for Gibraltar being in the
way, I could show you the harbor lights of Bizerta, and the
terraces of Algiers shining like a cafe' chantant in the
``Algiers,'' sighed Hope, ``where you were a soldier of Africa,
and rode across the deserts. Will you take me there?''
``There, of course, but to Gibraltar first, where we will drive
along the Alameda by moonlight. I drove there once coming home
from a mess dinner with the Colonel. The drive lies between
broad white balustrades, and the moon shone down on us between
the leaves of the Spanish bayonet. It was like an Italian
garden. But he did not see it, and he would talk to me
about the Watkins range finder on the lower ramparts, and he
puffed on a huge cigar. I tried to imagine I was there on my
honeymoon, but the end of his cigar would light up and I would
see his white mustache and the glow on his red jacket, so I vowed
I would go over that drive again with the proper person. And we
won't talk of range finders, will we?
``There to the North is Paris; your Paris, and my Paris, with
London only eight hours away. If you look very closely, you can
see the thousands of hansom cab lamps flashing across the
asphalt, and the open theatres, and the fairy lamps in the
gardens back of the houses in Mayfair, where they are giving
dances in your honor, in honor of the beautiful American bride,
whom every one wants to meet. And you will wear the finest tiara
we can get on Bond Street, but no one will look at it; they will
only look at you. And I will feel very miserable and tease you
to come home.''
Hope put her hand in his, and he held her finger-tips to his lips
for an instant and closed his other hand upon hers.
``And after that?'' asked Hope.
``After that we will go to work again, and take long journeys to
Mexico and Peru or wherever they want me, and I will sit in
judgment on the work other chaps have done. And when we get
back to our car at night, or to the section house, for it will be
very rough sometimes,''--Hope pressed his hand gently in
answer,--``I will tell you privately how very differently your
husband would have done it, and you, knowing all about it, will
say that had it been left to me, I would certainly have
accomplished it in a vastly superior manner.''
``Well, so you would,'' said Hope, calmly.
``That's what I said you'd say,'' laughed Clay. ``Dearest,'' he
begged, ``promise me something. Promise me that you are going to
be very happy.''
Hope raised her eyes and looked up at him in silence, and had the
man in the wheelhouse been watching the stars, as he should have
been, no one but the two foolish young people on the bow of the
boat would have known her answer.
The ship's bell sounded eight times, and Hope moved slightly.
``So late as that,'' she sighed. ``Come. We must be going
A great wave struck the ship's side a friendly slap, and the wind
caught up the spray and tossed it in their eyes, and blew a
strand of her hair loose so that it fell across Clay's face, and
they laughed happily together as she drew it back and he took her
hand again to steady her progress across the slanting deck.
As they passed hand in hand out of the shadow into the light from
the wheelhouse, the lookout in the bow counted the strokes of the
bell to himself, and then turned and shouted back his measured
cry to the bridge above them. His voice seemed to be a part of
the murmuring sea and the welcoming winds.
``Listen,'' said Clay.
``Eight bells,'' the voice sang from the darkness. ``The for'ard
light's shining bright--and all's well.''