Part 2 out of 3
"You never had to shoot me," he stammered, "to make me tell you _that_."
I had looked forward to spending Christmas with some people in Suffolk,
and every one in London assured me that at their house there would be
the kind of a Christmas house party you hear about but see only in the
illustrated Christmas numbers. They promised mistletoe, snapdragon, and
Sir Roger de Coverley. On Christmas morning we would walk to church,
after luncheon we would shoot, after dinner we would eat plum pudding
floating in blazing brandy, dance with the servants, and listen to the
waits singing "God rest you, merry gentlemen, let nothing you dismay."
To a lone American bachelor stranded in London it sounded fine. And in
my gratitude I had already shipped to my hostess, for her children, of
whose age, number, and sex I was ignorant, half of Gamage's dolls,
skees, and cricket bats, and those crackers that, when you pull them,
sometimes explode. But it was not to be. Most inconsiderately my
wealthiest patient gained sufficient courage to consent to an
operation, and in all New York would permit no one to lay violent hands
upon him save myself. By cable I advised postponement. Having lived in
lawful harmony with his appendix for fifty years, I thought, for one
week longer he might safely maintain the _status quo_. But his cable in
reply was an ultimatum. So, on Christmas eve, instead of Hallam Hall and
a Yule log, I was in a gale plunging and pitching off the coast of
Ireland, and the only log on board was the one the captain kept to
I sat in the smoking-room, depressed and cross, and it must have been on
the principle that misery loves company that I forgathered with Talbot,
or rather that Talbot forgathered with me. Certainly, under happier
conditions and in haunts of men more crowded, the open-faced manner in
which he forced himself upon me would have put me on my guard. But,
either out of deference to the holiday spirit, as manifested in the
fictitious gayety of our few fellow passengers, or because the young man
in a knowing, impertinent way was most amusing, I listened to him from
dinner time until midnight, when the chief officer, hung with snow and
icicles, was blown in from the deck and wished all a merry Christmas.
Even after they unmasked Talbot I had neither the heart nor the
inclination to turn him down. Indeed, had not some of the passengers
testified that I belonged to a different profession, the smoking-room
crowd would have quarantined me as his accomplice. On the first night I
met him I was not certain whether he was English or giving an imitation.
All the outward and visible signs were English, but he told me that,
though he had been educated at Oxford and since then had spent most of
his years in India, playing polo, he was an American. He seemed to have
spent much time, and according to himself much money, at the French
watering-places and on the Riviera. I felt sure that it was in France I
had already seen him, but where I could not recall. He was hard to
place. Of people at home and in London well worth knowing he talked
glibly, but in speaking of them he made several slips. It was his taking
the trouble to cover up the slips that first made me wonder if his
talking about himself was not mere vanity, but had some special object.
I felt he was presenting letters of introduction in order that later he
might ask a favor. Whether he was leading up to an immediate loan, or in
New York would ask for a card to a club, or an introduction to a banker,
I could not tell. But in forcing himself upon me, except in
self-interest, I could think of no other motive. The next evening I
discovered the motive.
He was in the smoking-room playing solitaire, and at once I recalled
that it was at Aix-les-Bains I had first seen him, and that he held a
bank at baccarat. When he asked me to sit down I said: "I saw you last
summer at Aix-les-Bains."
His eyes fell to the pack in his hands and apparently searched it for
some particular card.
"What was I doing?" he asked.
"Dealing baccarat at the Casino des Fleurs."
With obvious relief he laughed.
"Oh, yes," he assented; "jolly place, Aix. But I lost a pot of money
there. I'm a rotten hand at cards. Can't win, and can't leave 'em
alone." As though for this weakness, so frankly confessed, he begged me
to excuse him, he smiled appealingly. "Poker, bridge, chemin de fer, I
like 'em all," he rattled on, "but they don't like me. So I stick to
solitaire. It's dull, but cheap." He shuffled the cards clumsily. As
though making conversation, he asked: "You care for cards yourself?"
I told him truthfully I did not know the difference between a club and a
spade and had no curiosity to learn. At this, when he found he had been
wasting time on me, I expected him to show some sign of annoyance, even
of irritation, but his disappointment struck far deeper. As though I had
hurt him physically, he shut his eyes, and when again he opened them I
saw in them distress. For the moment I believe of my presence he was
utterly unconscious. His hands lay idle upon the table; like a man
facing a crisis, he stared before him. Quite improperly, I felt sorry
for him. In me he thought he had found a victim; and that the loss of
the few dollars he might have won should so deeply disturb him showed
his need was great. Almost at once he abandoned me and I went on deck.
When I returned an hour later to the smoking-room he was deep in a game
As I passed he hailed me gayly.
"Don't scold, now," he laughed; "you know I can't keep away from it."
From his manner those at the table might have supposed we were friends
of long and happy companionship. I stopped behind his chair, but he
thought I had passed, and in reply to one of the players answered:
"Known him for years; he's set me right many a time. When I broke my
right femur 'chasin,' he got me back in the saddle in six weeks. All my
people swear by him."
One of the players smiled up at me, and Talbot turned. But his eyes met
mine with perfect serenity. He even held up his cards for me to see.
"What would you draw?" he asked.
His audacity so astonished me that in silence I could only stare at him
and walk on.
When on deck he met me he was not even apologetic. Instead, as though we
were partners in crime, he chuckled delightedly.
"Sorry," he said. "Had to do it. They weren't very keen at my taking a
hand, so I had to use your name. But I'm all right now," he assured me.
"They think you vouched for me, and to-night they're going to raise the
limit. I've convinced them I'm an easy mark."
"And I take it you are not," I said stiffly.
He considered this unworthy of an answer and only smiled. Then the smile
died, and again in his eyes I saw distress, infinite weariness, and
As though his thoughts drove him to seek protection, he came closer.
"I'm 'in bad,' doctor," he said. His voice was frightened, bewildered,
like that of a child. "I can't sleep; nerves all on the loose. I don't
think straight. I hear voices, and no one around. I hear knockings at
the door, and when I open it, no one there. If I don't keep fit I can't
work, and this trip I _got_ to make expenses. You couldn't help me,
could you--couldn't give me something to keep my head straight?"
The need of my keeping his head straight that he might the easier rob
our fellow passengers raised a pretty question of ethics. I meanly
dodged it. I told him professional etiquette required I should leave him
to the ship's surgeon.
"But I don't know _him_," he protested.
Mindful of the use he had made of my name, I objected strenuously:
"Well, you certainly don't know me."
My resentment obviously puzzled him.
"I know who you _are_," he returned. "You and I--" With a deprecatory
gesture, as though good taste forbade him saying who we were, he
stopped. "But the ship's surgeon!" he protested; "he's an awful bounder!
Besides," he added quite simply, "he's watching me."
"As a doctor," I asked, "or watching you play cards?"
"Play cards," the young man answered. "I'm afraid he was ship's surgeon
on the P. & O. I came home on. There was trouble that voyage, and I
fancy he remembers me."
His confidences were becoming a nuisance.
"But you mustn't tell me that," I protested. "I can't have you making
trouble on this ship, too. How do you know I won't go straight from
here to the captain?"
As though the suggestion greatly entertained him, he laughed.
He made a mock obeisance.
"I claim the seal of your profession," he said.
"Nonsense," I retorted. "It's a professional secret that your nerves are
out of hand, but that you are a card-sharp is _not_. Don't mix me up
with a priest."
For a moment Talbot, as though fearing he had gone too far, looked at me
sharply; he bit his lower lip and frowned.
"I got to make expenses," he muttered. "And, besides, all card games are
games of chance, and a card-sharp is one of the chances. Anyway," he
repeated, as though disposing of all argument, "I got to make expenses."
After dinner, when I came to the smoking-room, the poker party sat
waiting, and one of them asked if I knew where they could find "my
friend." I should have said then that Talbot was a steamer acquaintance
only; but I hate a row, and I let the chance pass.
"We want to give him his revenge," one of them volunteered.
"He's losing, then?" I asked.
The man chuckled complacently.
"The only loser," he said.
"I wouldn't worry," I advised. "He'll come for his revenge."
That night after I had turned in he knocked at my door. I switched on
the lights and saw him standing at the foot of my berth. I saw also that
with difficulty he was holding himself in hand.
"I'm scared," he stammered, "scared!"
I wrote out a requisition on the surgeon for a sleeping-potion and sent
it to him by the steward, giving the man to understand I wanted it for
myself. Uninvited, Talbot had seated himself on the sofa. His eyes were
closed, and as though he were cold he was shivering and hugging himself
in his arms.
"Have you been drinking?" I asked.
In surprise he opened his eyes.
"_I_ can't drink," he answered simply. "It's nerves and worry. I'm
He relaxed against the cushions; his arms fell heavily at his sides; the
fingers lay open.
"God," he whispered, "how tired I am!"
In spite of his tan--and certainly he had led the out-of-door life--his
face showed white. For the moment he looked old, worn, finished.
"They're crowdin' me," the boy whispered. "They're always crowdin' me."
His voice was querulous, uncomprehending, like that of a child
complaining of something beyond his experience. "I can't remember when
they haven't been crowdin' me. Movin' me on, you understand? Always
movin' me on. Moved me out of India, then Cairo, then they closed Paris,
and now they've shut me out of London. I opened a club there, very
quiet, very exclusive, smart neighborhood, too--a flat in Berkeley
Street--roulette and chemin de fer. I think it was my valet sold me out;
anyway, they came in and took us all to Bow Street. So I've plunged on
this. It's my last chance!"
"No; my family in New York. Haven't seen 'em in ten years. They paid me
to live abroad. I'm gambling on _them_; gambling on their takin' me
back. I'm coming home as the Prodigal Son, tired of filling my belly
with the husks that the swine do eat; reformed character, repentant and
all that; want to follow the straight and narrow; and they'll kill the
fatted calf." He laughed sardonically. "Like hell they will! They'd
rather see _me_ killed."
It seemed to me, if he wished his family to believe he were returning
repentant, his course in the smoking-room would not help to reassure
them. I suggested as much.
"If you get into 'trouble,' as you call it," I said, "and they send a
wireless to the police to be at the wharf, your people would hardly--"
"I know," he interrupted; "but I got to chance that. I _got_ to make
enough to go on with--until I see my family."
"If they won't see you?" I asked. "What then?"
He shrugged his shoulders and sighed lightly, almost with relief, as
though for him the prospect held no terror.
"Then it's 'Good night, nurse,'" he said. "And I won't be a bother to
anybody any more."
I told him his nerves were talking, and talking rot, and I gave him the
sleeping-draft and sent him to bed.
It was not until after luncheon the next day when he made his first
appearance on deck that I again saw my patient. He was once more a
healthy picture of a young Englishman of leisure; keen, smart, and fit;
ready for any exercise or sport. The particular sport at which he was so
expert I asked him to avoid.
"Can't be done!" he assured me. "I'm the loser, and we dock to-morrow
morning. So to-night I've got to make my killing."
It was the others who made the killing.
I came into the smoking-room about nine o'clock. Talbot alone was
seated. The others were on their feet, and behind them in a wider
semicircle were passengers, the smoking-room stewards, and the ship's
Talbot sat with his back against the bulkhead, his hands in the pockets
of his dinner coat; from the corner of his mouth his long
cigarette-holder was cocked at an impudent angle. There was a tumult of
angry voices, and the eyes of all were turned upon him. Outwardly at
least he met them with complete indifference. The voice of one of my
countrymen, a noisy pest named Smedburg, was raised in excited
"When the ship's surgeon first met you," he cried, "you called yourself
"I'll call myself anything I jolly well like," returned Talbot. "If I
choose to dodge reporters, that's _my_ pidgin. I don't have to give my
name to every meddling busybody that--"
"You'll give it to the police, all right," chortled Mr. Smedburg. In the
confident, bullying tone of the man who knows the crowd is with him, he
shouted: "And in the meantime you'll keep out of this smoking-room!"
The chorus of assent was unanimous. It could not be disregarded. Talbot
rose and with fastidious concern brushed the cigarette ashes from his
sleeve. As he moved toward the door he called back: "Only too delighted
to keep out. The crowd in this room makes a gentleman feel lonely."
But he was not to escape with the last word.
His prosecutor pointed his finger at him.
"And the next time you take the name of Adolph Meyer," he shouted, "make
sure first he hasn't a friend on board; some one to protect him from
sharpers and swindlers--"
Talbot turned savagely and then shrugged his shoulders.
"Oh, go to the devil!" he called, and walked out into the night.
The purser was standing at my side and, catching my eye, shook his head.
"Bad business," he exclaimed.
"What happened?" I asked.
"I'm told they caught him dealing from the wrong end of the pack," he
said. "I understand they suspected him from the first--seems our surgeon
recognized him--and to-night they had outsiders watching him. The
outsiders claim they saw him slip himself an ace from the bottom of the
pack. It's a pity! He's a nice-looking lad."
I asked what the excited Smedburg had meant by telling Talbot not to
call himself Meyer.
"They accused him of travelling under a false name," explained the
purser, "and he told 'em he did it to dodge the ship's news reporters.
Then he said he _really_ was a brother of Adolph Meyer, the banker; but
it seems Smedburg is a friend of Meyer's, and he called him hard! It was
a silly ass thing to do," protested the purser. "Everybody knows Meyer
hasn't a brother, and if he hadn't made _that_ break he might have got
away with the other one. But now this Smedburg is going to wireless
ahead to Mr. Meyer and to the police."
"Has he no other way of spending his money?" I asked.
"He's a confounded nuisance!" growled the purser. "He wants to show us
he knows Adolph Meyer; wants to put Meyer under an obligation. It means
a scene on the wharf, and newspaper talk; and," he added with disgust,
"these smoking-room rows never helped any line."
I went in search of Talbot; partly because I knew he was on the verge
of a collapse, partly, as I frankly admitted to myself, because I was
sorry the young man had come to grief. I searched the snow-swept decks,
and then, after threading my way through faintly lit tunnels, I knocked
at his cabin. The sound of his voice gave me a distinct feeling of
relief. But he would not admit me. Through the closed door he declared
he was "all right," wanted no medical advice, and asked only to resume
the sleep he claimed I had broken. I left him, not without uneasiness,
and the next morning the sight of him still in the flesh was a genuine
thrill. I found him walking the deck carrying himself nonchalantly and
trying to appear unconscious of the glances--amused, contemptuous,
hostile--that were turned toward him. He would have passed me without
speaking, but I took his arm and led him to the rail. We had long passed
quarantine and a convoy of tugs were butting us into the dock.
"What are you going to do?" I asked.
"Doesn't depend on me," he said. "Depends on Smedburg. He's a busy
The boy wanted me to think him unconcerned, but beneath the flippancy I
saw the nerves jerking. Then quite simply he began to tell me. He spoke
in a low, even monotone, dispassionately, as though for him the
incident no longer was of interest.
"They were watching me," he said. "But I _knew_ they were, and besides,
no matter how close they watched I could have done what they said I did
and they'd never have seen it. But I didn't."
My scepticism must have been obvious, for he shook his head.
"I didn't!" he repeated stubbornly. "I didn't have to! I was playing in
luck--wonderful luck--sheer, dumb luck. I couldn't _help_ winning. But
because I _was_ winning and because they were watching, I was careful
not to win on my own deal. I laid down, or played to lose. It was the
cards _they_ gave me I won with. And when they jumped me I told 'em
that. I could have proved it if they'd listened. But they were all up in
the air, shouting and spitting at me. They believed what they wanted to
believe; they didn't want the facts."
It may have been credulous of me, but I felt the boy was telling the
truth, and I was deeply sorry he had not stuck to it. So, rather
harshly, I said:
"They didn't want you to tell them you were a brother to Adolph Meyer,
either. Why did you think you could get away with anything like that?"
Talbot did not answer.
"Why?" I insisted.
The boy laughed impudently.
"How the devil was I to know he hadn't a brother?" he protested. "It was
a good name, and he's a Jew, and two of the six who were in the game are
Jews. You know how they stick together. I thought they might stick by
"But you," I retorted impatiently, "are not a Jew!"
"I am not," said Talbot, "but I've often _said_ I was. It's helped--lots
of times. If I'd told you my name was Cohen, or Selmsky, or Meyer,
instead of Craig Talbot, _you'd_ have thought I was a Jew." He smiled
and turned his face toward me. As though furnishing a description for
the police, he began to enumerate:
"Hair, dark and curly; eyes, poppy; lips, full; nose, Roman or Hebraic,
according to taste. Do you see?"
He shrugged his shoulders.
"But it didn't work," he concluded. "I picked the wrong Jew."
His face grew serious. "Do you suppose that Smedburg person _has_
wirelessed that banker?"
I told him I was afraid he had already sent the message.
"And what will Meyer do?" he asked. "Will he drop it or make a fuss?
What sort is he?"
Briefly I described Adolph Meyer. I explained him as the richest Hebrew
in New York; given to charity, to philanthropy, to the betterment of his
"Then maybe," cried Talbot hopefully, "he won't make a row, and my
family won't hear of it!"
He drew a quick breath of relief. As though a burden had been lifted,
his shoulders straightened.
And then suddenly, harshly, in open panic, he exclaimed aloud:
"Look!" he whispered. "There, at the end of the wharf--the little Jew in
I followed the direction of his eyes. Below us on the dock, protected by
two obvious members of the strong-arm squad, the great banker,
philanthropist, and Hebrew, Adolph Meyer, was waiting.
We were so close that I could read his face. It was stern, set; the face
of a man intent upon his duty, unrelenting. Without question, of a bad
business Mr. Smedburg had made the worst. I turned to speak to Talbot
and found him gone.
His silent slipping away filled me with alarm. I fought against a
growing fear. How many minutes I searched for him I do not know. It
seemed many hours. His cabin, where first I sought him, was empty and
dismantled, and by that I was reminded that if for any desperate purpose
Talbot were seeking to conceal himself there now were hundreds of other
empty, dismantled cabins in which he might hide. To my inquiries no one
gave heed. In the confusion of departure no one had observed him; no one
was in a humor to seek him out; the passengers were pressing to the
gangway, the stewards concerned only in counting their tips. From deck
to deck, down lane after lane of the great floating village, I raced
blindly, peering into half-opened doors, pushing through groups of men,
pursuing some one in the distance who appeared to be the man I sought,
only to find he was unknown to me. When I returned to the gangway the
last of the passengers was leaving it.
I was about to follow to seek for Talbot in the customs shed when a
white-faced steward touched my sleeve. Before he spoke his look told me
why I was wanted.
"The ship's surgeon, sir," he stammered, "asks you please to hurry to
the sick-bay. A passenger has shot himself!"
On the bed, propped up by pillows, young Talbot, with glazed, shocked
eyes, stared at me. His shirt had been cut away; his chest lay bare.
Against his left shoulder the doctor pressed a tiny sponge which quickly
I must have exclaimed aloud, for the doctor turned his eyes.
"It was _he_ sent for you," he said, "but he doesn't need you.
Fortunately, he's a damned bad shot!"
The boy's eyes opened wearily; before we could prevent it he spoke.
"I was so tired," he whispered. "Always moving me on. I was so tired!"
Behind me came heavy footsteps, and though with my arm I tried to bar
them out, the two detectives pushed into the doorway. They shoved me to
one side and through the passage made for him came the Jew in the sable
coat, Mr. Adolph Meyer.
For an instant the little great man stood with wide, owl-like eyes,
staring at the face on the pillow.
Then he sank softly to his knees. In both his hands he caught the hand
of the card-sharp.
"Heine!" he begged. "Don't you know me? It is your brother Adolph; your
little brother Adolph!"
BILLY AND THE BIG STICK
Had the Wilmot Electric Light people remained content only to make
light, had they not, as a by-product, attempted to make money, they need
not have left Hayti.
When they flooded with radiance the unpaved streets of Port-au-Prince no
one, except the police, who complained that the lights kept them awake,
made objection; but when for this illumination the Wilmot Company
demanded payment, every one up to President Hamilcar Poussevain was
surprised and grieved. So grieved was President Ham, as he was lovingly
designated, that he withdrew the Wilmot concession, surrounded the
power-house with his barefooted army, and in a proclamation announced
that for the future the furnishing of electric light would be a monopoly
of the government.
In Hayti, as soon as it begins to make money, any industry, native or
foreign, becomes a monopoly of the government. The thing works
automatically. It is what in Hayti is understood as _haut finance_. The
Wilmot people should have known that. Because they did not know that,
they stood to lose what they had sunk in the electric-light plant, and
after their departure to New York, which departure was accelerated as
far as the wharf by seven generals and twelve privates, they proceeded
to lose more money on lobbyists and lawyers who claimed to understand
international law; even the law of Hayti. And lawyers who understand
that are high-priced.
The only employee of the Wilmot force who was not escorted to the wharf
under guard was Billy Barlow. He escaped the honor because he was
superintendent of the power-house, and President Ham believed that
without him the lightning would not strike. Accordingly by an executive
order Billy became an employee of the government. With this arrangement
the Wilmot people were much pleased. For they trusted Billy, and they
knew while in the courts they were fighting to regain their property, he
would see no harm came to it.
Billy's title was Directeur General et Inspecteur Municipal de Luminaire
Electrique, which is some title, and his salary was fifty dollars a
week. In spite of Billy's color President Ham always treated his only
white official with courtesy and gave him his full title. About giving
him his full salary he was less particular. This neglect greatly annoyed
Billy. He came of sturdy New England stock and possessed that New
England conscience which makes the owner a torment to himself, and to
every one else a nuisance. Like all the other Barlows of Barnstable on
Cape Cod, Billy had worked for his every penny. He was no shirker. From
the first day that he carried a pair of pliers in the leg pocket of his
overalls, and in a sixty-knot gale stretched wires between ice-capped
telegraph poles, he had more than earned his wages. Never, whether on
time or at piece-work, had he by a slovenly job, or by beating the
whistle, robbed his employer. And for his honest toil he was determined
to be as honestly paid--even by President Hamilcar Poussevain. And
President Ham never paid anybody; neither the Armenian street peddlers,
in whose sweets he delighted, nor the Bethlehem Steel Company, nor the
house of Rothschild.
Why he paid Billy even the small sums that from time to time Billy wrung
from the president's strong box the foreign colony were at a loss to
explain. Wagner, the new American consul, asked Billy how he managed it.
As an American minister had not yet been appointed, to the duties of
the consul, as Wagner assured everybody, were added those of diplomacy.
But Haytian diplomacy he had yet to master. At the seaport in Scotland
where he had served as vice-consul, law and order were as solidly
established as the stone jetties, and by contrast the eccentricities of
the Black Republic baffled and distressed him.
"It can't be that you blackmail the president," said the consul,
"because I understand he boasts he has committed all the known crimes."
"And several he invented," agreed Billy.
"And you can't do it with a gun, because they tell me the president
isn't afraid of anything except a voodoo priestess. What is your
secret?" coaxed the consul. "If you'll only sell it, I know several
Powers that would give you your price."
Billy smiled modestly.
"It's very simple," he said. "The first time my wages were shy I went to
the palace and told him if he didn't come across I'd shut off the juice.
I think he was so stunned at anybody asking him for real money that
while he was still stunned he opened his safe and handed me two thousand
francs. I think he did it more in admiration for my nerve than because
he owed it. The next time pay-day arrived, and the pay did not, I didn't
go to the palace. I just went to bed, and the lights went to bed, too.
You may remember?"
The consul snorted indignantly.
"I was holding three queens at the time," he protested. "Was it _you_
"It was," said Billy. "The police came for me to start the current going
again, but I said I was too ill. Then the president's own doctor came,
old Gautier, and Gautier examined me with a lantern and said that in
Hayti my disease frequently proved fatal, but he thought if I turned on
the lights I might recover. I told him I was tired of life, anyway, but
that if I could see three thousand francs it might give me an incentive.
He reported back to the president and the three thousand francs arrived
almost instantly, and a chicken broth from Ham's own chef, with His
Excellency's best wishes for the recovery of the invalid. My recovery
was instantaneous, and I switched on the lights.
"I had just moved into the Widow Ducrot's hotel that week, and her
daughter Claire wouldn't let me eat the broth. I thought it was because,
as she's a dandy cook herself, she was professionally jealous. She put
the broth on the top shelf of the pantry and wrote on a piece of paper,
'Gare!' But the next morning a perfectly good cat, who apparently
couldn't read, was lying beside it dead."
The consul frowned reprovingly.
"You should not make such reckless charges," he protested. "I would call
it only a coincidence."
"You can call it what you please," said Billy, "but it won't bring the
cat back. Anyway, the next time I went to the palace to collect, the
president was ready for me. He said he'd been taking out information,
and he found if I shut off the lights again he could hire another man in
the States to turn them on. I told him he'd been deceived. I told him
the Wilmot Electric Lights were produced by a secret process, and that
only a trained Wilmot man could work them. And I pointed out to him if
he dismissed me it wasn't likely the Wilmot people would loan him
another expert; not while they were fighting him through the courts and
the State Department. That impressed the old man; so I issued my
ultimatum. I said if he must have electric lights he must have me, too.
Whether he liked it or not, mine was a life job."
"What did he say to that?" gasped the new consul.
"Said it _wasn't_ a life job, because he was going to have me shot at
"Then you said?"
"I said if he did that there wouldn't be any electric lights, and _you_
would bring a warship and shoot Hayti off the map."
The new consul was most indignant.
"You had no right to say that!" he protested. "You did very ill. My
instructions are to avoid all serious complications."
"That was what I was trying to avoid," said Billy. "Don't you call being
shot at sunset a serious complication? Or would that be just a
coincidence, too? You're a hellofa consul!"
Since his talk with the representative of his country four months had
passed and Billy still held his job. But each month the number of francs
he was able to wrest from President Hamilcar dwindled, and were won only
after verbal conflicts that each month increased in violence.
To the foreign colony it became evident that, in the side of President
Ham, Billy was a thorn, sharp, irritating, virulent, and that at any
moment Ham might pluck that thorn and Billy would leave Hayti in haste,
and probably in handcuffs. This was evident to Billy, also, and the
prospect was most disquieting. Not because he loved Hayti, but because
since he went to lodge at the cafe of the Widow Ducrot, he had learned
to love her daughter Claire, and Claire loved him.
On the two thousand dollars due him from Ham they plotted to marry. This
was not as great an adventure as it might appear. Billy knew that from
the Wilmot people he always was sure of a salary, and one which, with
such an excellent housekeeper as was Claire, would support them both.
But with his two thousand dollars as capital they could afford to
plunge; they could go upon a honeymoon; they need not dread a rainy day,
and, what was of greatest importance, they need not delay. There was
good reason against delay, for the hand of the beautiful Claire was
already promised. The Widow Ducrot had promised it to Paillard, he of
the prosperous commission business, the prominent _embonpoint_, and four
children. Monsieur Paillard possessed an establishment of his own, but
it was a villa in the suburbs; and so, each day at noon, for his
_dejeune_ he left his office and crossed the street to the Cafe Ducrot.
For five years this had been his habit. At first it was the widow's
cooking that attracted him, then for a time the widow herself; but when
from the convent Claire came to assist her mother in the cafe, and when
from a lanky, big-eyed, long-legged child she grew into a slim, joyous,
and charming young woman, she alone was the attraction, and the Widower
Paillard decided to make her his wife. Other men had made the same
decision; and when it was announced that between Claire and the widower
a marriage had been "arranged," the clerks in the foreign commission
houses and the agents of the steamship lines drowned their sorrow in rum
and ran the house flags to half-staff. Paillard himself took the
proposed alliance calmly. He was not an impetuous suitor. With Widow
Ducrot he agreed that Claire was still too young to marry, and to
himself kept the fact that to remarry he was in no haste. In his mind
doubts still lingered. With a wife, young enough to be one of his
children, disorganizing the routine of his villa, would it be any more
comfortable than he now found it? Would his eldest daughter and her
stepmother dwell together in harmony? The eldest daughter had assured
him that so far as she was concerned they would not; and, after all, in
marrying a girl, no matter how charming, without a dot, and the daughter
of a boarding-house keeper, no matter how respectable, was he not
disposing of himself too cheaply? These doubts assailed Papa Paillard;
these speculations were in his mind. And while he speculated Billy
"I know that in France," Billy assured Claire, "marriages are arranged
by the parents; but in _my_ country they are arranged in heaven. And who
are we to disregard the edicts of heaven? Ages and ages ago, before the
flood, before Napoleon, even before old Paillard with his four children,
it was arranged in heaven that you were to marry me. So, what little
plans your good mother may make don't cut enough ice to cool a green
mint. Now, we can't try to get married here," continued Billy, "without
your mother and Paillard knowing it. In this town as many people have to
sign the marriage contract as signed our Declaration of Independence:
all the civil authorities, all the clergy, all the relatives; if every
man in the telephone book isn't a witness, the marriage doesn't 'take.'
So, we must elope!"
Having been brought up in a convent, where she was taught to obey her
mother and forbidden to think of marriage, Claire was naturally
delighted with the idea of an elopement.
"To where will we elope to?" she demanded. Her English, as she learned
it from Billy, was sometimes confusing.
"To New York," said Billy. "On the voyage there I will put you in charge
of the stewardess and the captain; and there isn't a captain on the
Royal Dutch or the Atlas that hasn't known you since you were a baby.
And as soon as we dock we'll drive straight to the city hall for a
license and the mayor himself will marry us. Then I'll get back my old
job from the Wilmot folks and we'll live happy ever after!"
"In New York, also," asked Claire proudly, "are you directeur of the
"On Broadway alone," Billy explained reprovingly, "there is one sign
that uses more bulbs than there are in the whole of Hayti!"
"New York is a large town!" exclaimed Claire.
"It's a large sign," corrected Billy. "But," he pointed out, "with no
money we'll never see it. So to-morrow I'm going to make a social call
on Grandpa Ham and demand my ten thousand francs."
Claire grasped his arm.
"Be careful," she pleaded. "Remember the chicken soup. If he offers you
the champagne, refuse it!"
"He won't offer me the champagne," Billy assured her. "It won't be that
kind of a call."
Billy left the Cafe Ducrot and made his way to the water-front. He was
expecting some electrical supplies by the _Prinz der Nederlanden_, and
she had already come to anchor.
He was late, and save for a group of his countrymen, who with the
customs officials were having troubles of their own, the customs shed
was all but deserted. Billy saw his freight cleared and was going away
when one of those in trouble signalled for assistance.
He was a good-looking young man in a Panama hat and his manner seemed to
take it for granted that Billy knew who he was.
"They want us to pay duty on our trunks," he explained, "and we want to
leave them in bond. We'll be here only until to-night, when we're going
on down the coast to Santo Domingo. But we don't speak French, and we
can't make them understand that."
"You don't need to speak any language to give a man ten dollars," said
"Oh!" exclaimed the man in the Panama. "I was afraid if I tried that
they might arrest us."
"They may arrest you if you don't," said Billy.
Acting both as interpreter and disbursing agent, Billy satisfied the
demands of his fellow employees of the government, and his fellow
countrymen he directed to the Hotel Ducrot.
As some one was sure to take their money, he thought it might as well go
to his mother-in-law elect. The young man in the Panama expressed the
deepest gratitude, and Billy, assuring him he would see him later,
continued to the power-house, still wondering where he had seen him
At the power-house he found seated at his desk a large, bearded stranger
whose derby hat and ready-to-wear clothes showed that he also had but
just arrived on the _Prinz der Nederlanden_.
"You William Barlow?" demanded the stranger. "I understand you been
threatening, unless you get your pay raised, to commit sabotage on these
"Who the devil are you?" inquired Billy.
The stranger produced an impressive-looking document covered with seals.
"Contract with the president," he said. "I've taken over your job. You
better get out quiet," he advised, "as they've given me a squad of
nigger policemen to see that you do."
"Are you aware that these works are the property of the Wilmot Company?"
asked Billy, "and that if anything went wrong here they'd hold you
The stranger smiled complacently.
"I've run plants," he said, "that make these lights look like a stable
lantern on a foggy night."
"In that case," assented Billy, "should anything happen, you'll know
exactly what to do, and I can leave you in charge without feeling the
"That's just what you can do," the stranger agreed heartily, "and you
can't do it too quick!" From the desk he took Billy's favorite pipe and
loaded it from Billy's tobacco-jar. But when Billy had reached the door
he called to him. "Before you go, son," he said, "you might give me a
tip about this climate. I never been in the tropics. It's kind of
unhealthy, ain't it?"
His expression was one of concern.
"If you hope to keep alive," began Billy, "there are two things to
The stranger laughed knowingly.
"I got you!" he interrupted. "You're going to tell me to cut out wine
"I was going to tell you," said Billy, "to cut out hoping to collect any
wages and to avoid every kind of soup."
From the power-house Billy went direct to the palace. His anxiety was
great. Now that Claire had consented to leave Hayti, the loss of his
position did not distress him. But the possible loss of his back pay
would be a catastrophe. He had hardly enough money to take them both to
New York, and after they arrived none with which to keep them alive.
Before the Wilmot Company could find a place for him a month might
pass, and during that month they might starve. If he went alone and
arranged for Claire to follow, he might lose her. Her mother might marry
her to Paillard; Claire might fall ill; without him at her elbow to keep
her to their purpose the voyage to an unknown land might require more
courage than she possessed. Billy saw it was imperative they should
depart together, and to that end he must have his two thousand dollars.
The money was justly his. For it he had sweated and slaved; had given
his best effort. And so, when he faced the president, he was in no
conciliatory mood. Neither was the president.
By what right, he demanded, did this foreigner affront his ears with
demands for money; how dared he force his way into his presence and to
his face babble of back pay? It was insolent, incredible. With
indignation the president set forth the position of the government.
Billy had been discharged and, with the appointment of his successor,
the stranger in the derby hat, had ceased to exist. The government could
not pay money to some one who did not exist. All indebtedness to Billy
also had ceased to exist. The account had been wiped out. Billy had been
The big negro, with the chest and head of a gorilla, tossed his kinky
white curls so violently that the ringlets danced. Billy, he declared,
had been a pest; a fly that buzzed and buzzed and disturbed his
slumbers. And now when the fly thought he slept he had caught and
crushed it--so. President Ham clinched his great fist convulsively and,
with delight in his pantomime, opened his fingers one by one, and held
out his pink palm, wrinkled and crossed like the hand of a washerwoman,
as though to show Billy that in it lay the fly, dead.
"_C'est une chose jugee_!" thundered the president.
He reached for his quill pen.
But Billy, with Claire in his heart, with the injustice of it rankling
in his mind, did not agree.
"It is not an affair closed," shouted Billy in his best French. "It is
an affair international, diplomatic; a cause for war!"
Believing he had gone mad, President Ham gazed at him speechless.
"From here I go to the cable office," shouted Billy. "I cable for a
warship! If, by to-night, I am not paid my money, marines will surround
our power-house, and the Wilmot people will back me up, and my
government will back me up!"
It was, so Billy thought, even as he launched it, a tirade satisfying
and magnificent. But in his turn the president did not agree.
He rose. He was a large man. Billy wondered he had not previously
noticed how very large he was.
"To-night at nine o'clock," he said, "the German boat departs for New
York." As though aiming a pistol, he raised his arm and at Billy pointed
a finger. "If, after she departs, you are found in Port-au-Prince, you
will be shot!"
The audience-chamber was hung with great mirrors in frames of tarnished
gilt. In these Billy saw himself reproduced in a wavering line of
Billies that, like the ghost of Banquo, stretched to the disappearing
point. Of such images there was an army, but of the real Billy, as he
was acutely conscious, there was but one. Among the black faces scowling
from the doorways he felt the odds were against him. Without making a
reply he passed out between the racks of rusty muskets in the anteroom,
between the two Gatling guns guarding the entrance, and on the palace
steps, in indecision, halted.
As Billy hesitated an officer followed him from the palace and beckoned
to the guard that sat in the bare dust of the Champ de Mars playing
cards for cartridges. Two abandoned the game, and, having received
their orders, picked their muskets from the dust and stood looking
expectantly at Billy.
They were his escort, and it was evident that until nine o'clock, when
he sailed, his movements would be spied upon; his acts reported to the
Such being the situation, Billy determined that his first act to be
reported should be of a nature to cause the president active mental
anguish. With his guard at his heels he went directly to the cable
station, and to the Secretary of State of the United States addressed
this message: "President refuses my pay; threatens shoot; wireless
nearest war-ship proceed here full speed. William Barlow."
Billy and the director of telegraphs, who out of office hours was a
field-marshal, and when not in his shirt-sleeves always appeared in
uniform, went over each word of the cablegram together. When Billy was
assured that the field-marshal had grasped the full significance of it
he took it back and added, "Love to Aunt Maria." The extra words cost
four dollars and eighty cents gold, but, as they suggested ties of blood
between himself and the Secretary of State, they seemed advisable. In
the account-book in which he recorded his daily expenditures Billy
credited the item to "life-insurance."
The revised cablegram caused the field-marshal deep concern. He frowned
at Billy ferociously.
"I will forward this at once," he promised. "But, I warn you," he added,
"I deliver also a copy to _my_ president!"
Billy sighed hopefully.
"You might deliver the copy first," he suggested.
From the cable station Billy, still accompanied by his faithful
retainers, returned to the power-house. There he bade farewell to the
black brothers who had been his assistants, and upon one of them pressed
a sum of money.
As they parted, this one, as though giving the pass-word of a secret
society, chanted solemnly:
"_A huit heures juste_!"
And Billy clasped his hand and nodded.
At the office of the Royal Dutch West India Line Billy purchased a
ticket to New York and inquired were there many passengers.
"The ship is empty," said the agent.
"I am glad," said Billy, "for one of my assistants may come with me. He
also is being deported."
"You can have as many cabins as you want," said the agent. "We are so
sorry to see you go that we will try to make you feel you leave us on
your private yacht."
The next two hours Billy spent in seeking out those acquaintances from
whom he could borrow money. He found that by asking for it in
homoeopathic doses he was able to shame the foreign colony into loaning
him all of one hundred dollars. This, with what he had in hand, would
take Claire and himself to New York and for a week keep them alive.
After that he must find work or they must starve.
In the garden of the Cafe Ducrot Billy placed his guard at a table with
bottles of beer between them, and at an adjoining table with Claire
plotted the elopement for that night. The garden was in the rear of the
hotel and a door in the lower wall opened into the rue Cambon, that led
directly to the water-front.
Billy proposed that at eight o'clock Claire should be waiting in the rue
Cambon outside this door. They would then make their way to one of the
less frequented wharfs, where Claire would arrange to have a rowboat in
readiness, and in it they would take refuge on the steamer. An hour
later, before the flight of Claire could be discovered, they would have
started on their voyage to the mainland.
"I warn you," said Billy, "that after we reach New York I have only
enough to keep us for a week. It will be a brief honeymoon. After that
we will probably starve. I'm not telling you this to discourage you," he
explained; "only trying to be honest."
"I would rather starve with you in New York," said Claire, "than die
here without you."
At these words Billy desired greatly to kiss Claire, but the guards were
scowling at him. It was not until Claire had gone to her room to pack
her bag and the chance to kiss her had passed that Billy recognized that
the scowls were intended to convey the fact that the beer bottles were
empty. He remedied this and remained alone at his table considering the
outlook. The horizon was, indeed, gloomy, and the only light upon it,
the loyalty and love of the girl, only added to his bitterness. Above
all things he desired to make her content, to protect her from disquiet,
to convince her that in the sacrifice she was making she also was
plotting her own happiness. Had he been able to collect his ten thousand
francs his world would have danced in sunshine. As it was, the heavens
were gray and for the future the skies promised only rainy days. In
these depressing reflections Billy was interrupted by the approach of
the young man in the Panama hat. Billy would have avoided him, but the
young man and his two friends would not be denied. For the service Billy
had rendered them they wished to express their gratitude. It found
expression in the form of Planter's punch. As they consumed this Billy
explained to the strangers why the customs men had detained them.
"You told them you were leaving to-night for Santo Domingo," said Billy;
"but they knew that was impossible, for there is no steamer down the
coast for two weeks."
The one whose features seemed familiar replied:
"Still, we _are_ leaving to-night," he said; "not on a steamer, but on a
"A war-ship?" cried Billy. His heart beat at high speed. "Then," he
exclaimed, "you are a naval officer?"
The young man shook his head and, as though challenging Billy to make
another guess, smiled.
"Then," Billy complied eagerly, "you are a diplomat! Are you our new
One of the other young men exclaimed reproachfully:
"You know him perfectly well!" he protested. "You've seen his picture
thousands of times."
With awe and pride he placed his hand on Billy's arm and with the other
pointed at the one in the Panama hat.
"It's Harry St. Clair," he announced. "Harry St. Clair, the King of the
"The King of the Movies," repeated Billy. His disappointment was so keen
as to be embarrassing.
"Oh!" he exclaimed, "I thought you--" Then he remembered his manners.
"Glad to meet you," he said. "Seen you on the screen."
Again his own troubles took precedence. "Did you say," he demanded, "one
of our war-ships is coming here _to-day_?"
"Coming to take me to Santo Domingo," explained Mr. St. Clair. He spoke
airily, as though to him as a means of locomotion battle-ships were as
trolley-cars. The Planter's punch, which was something he had never
before encountered, encouraged the great young man to unbend. He
explained further and fully, and Billy, his mind intent upon his own
affair, pretended to listen.
The United States Government, Mr. St. Clair explained, was assisting him
and the Apollo Film Company in producing the eight-reel film entitled
"The Man Behind the Gun."
With it the Navy Department plotted to advertise the navy and encourage
recruiting. In moving pictures, in the form of a story, with love
interest, villain, comic relief, and thrills, it would show the life of
American bluejackets afloat and ashore, at home and abroad. They would
be seen at Yokohama playing baseball with Tokio University; in the
courtyard of the Vatican receiving the blessing of the Pope; at Waikiki
riding the breakers on a scrubbing-board; in the Philippines eating
cocoanuts in the shade of the sheltering palm, and in Brooklyn in the
Y.M.C.A. club, in the shadow of the New York sky-scrapers, playing
billiards and reading the sporting extras.
As it would be illustrated on the film the life of "The Man Behind the
Gun" was one of luxurious ease. In it coal-passing, standing watch in a
blizzard, and washing down decks, cold and unsympathetic, held no part.
But to prove that the life of Jack was not all play he would be seen
fighting for the flag. That was where, as "Lieutenant Hardy, U.S.A.,"
the King of the Movies entered.
"Our company arrived in Santo Domingo last week," he explained. "And
they're waiting for me now. I'm to lead the attack on the fortress. We
land in shore boats under the guns of the ship and I take the fortress.
First, we show the ship clearing for action and the men lowering the
boats and pulling for shore. Then we cut back to show the gun-crews
serving the guns. Then we jump to the landing-party wading through the
breakers. I lead them. The man who is carrying the flag gets shot and
drops in the surf. I pick him up, put him on my shoulder, and carry him
_and_ the flag to the beach, where I--"
Billy suddenly awoke. His tone was one of excited interest.
"You got a uniform?" he demanded.
"Three," said St. Clair impressively, "made to order according to
regulations on file in the Quartermaster's Department. Each absolutely
correct." Without too great a show of eagerness he inquired: "Like to
Without too great a show of eagerness Billy assured him that he would.
"I got to telephone first," he added, "but by the time you get your
trunk open I'll join you in your room."
In the cafe, over the telephone, Billy addressed himself to the
field-marshal in charge of the cable office. When Billy gave his name,
the voice of that dignitary became violently agitated.
"Monsieur Barlow," he demanded, "do you know that the warship for which
you cabled your Secretary of State makes herself to arrive?"
At the other end of the 'phone, although restrained by the confines of
the booth, Billy danced joyously. But his voice was stern.
"Naturally," he replied. "Where is she now?"
An hour before, so the field-marshal informed him, the battleship
_Louisiana_ had been sighted and by telegraph reported. She was
approaching under forced draught. At any moment she might anchor in the
outer harbor. Of this President Ham had been informed. He was grieved,
indignant; he was also at a loss to understand.
"It is very simple," explained Billy. "She probably was somewhere in the
Windward Passage. When the Secretary got my message he cabled
Guantanamo, and Guantanamo wirelessed the warship nearest
"President Poussevain," warned the field-marshal, "is greatly
"Tell him not to worry," said Billy. "Tell him when the bombardment
begins I will see that the palace is outside the zone of fire."
As Billy entered the room of St. Clair his eyes shone with a strange
light. His manner, which toward a man of his repute St. Clair had
considered a little too casual, was now enthusiastic, almost
"My dear St. Clair," cried Billy, "_I've fixed it_! But, until I was
_sure_, I didn't want to raise your hopes!"
"Hopes of what?" demanded the actor.
"An audience with the president!" cried Billy. "I've just called him up
and he says I'm to bring you to the palace at once. He's heard of you,
of course, and he's very pleased to meet you. I told him about 'The Man
Behind the Gun,' and he says you must come in your make-up as
'Lieutenant Hardy, U. S. A.,' just as he'll see you on the screen."
Mr. St. Clair stammered delightedly.
"In uniform," he protested; "won't that be--"
"White, special full dress," insisted Billy. "Medals, side-arms,
full-dress belt, _and_ gloves. What a press story! 'The King of the
Movies meets the President of Hayti!' Of course, he's only an ignorant
negro, but on Broadway they don't know that; and it will sound fine!"
St. Clair coughed nervously.
"_Don't_ forget," he stammered, "I can't speak French, or understand it,
The eyes of Billy became as innocent as those of a china doll.
"Then I'll interpret," he said. "And, oh, yes," he added, "he's sending
two of the palace soldiers to act as an escort--sort of guard of honor!"
The King of the Movies chuckled excitedly.
"Fine!" he exclaimed. "You _are_ a brick!"
With trembling fingers he began to shed his outer garments.
To hide his own agitation Billy walked to the window and turned his
back. Night had fallen and the electric lights, that once had been his
care, sprang into life. Billy looked at his watch. It was seven o'clock.
The window gave upon the harbor, and a mile from shore he saw the cargo
lights of the _Prinz der Nederlanden_, and slowly approaching, as though
feeling for her berth, a great battleship. When Billy turned from the
window his voice was apparently undisturbed.
"We've got to hurry," he said. "The _Louisiana_ is standing in. She'll
soon be sending a launch for you. We've just time to drive to the palace
and back before the launch gets here."
From his mind President Ham had dismissed all thoughts of the warship
that had been sighted and that now had come to anchor. For the moment he
was otherwise concerned. Fate could not harm him; he was about to dine.
But, for the first time in the history of his administration, that
solemn ceremony was rudely halted. An excited aide, trembling at his own
temerity, burst upon the president's solitary state.
In the anteroom, he announced, an officer from the battleship
_Louisiana_ demanded instant audience.
For a moment, transfixed in amazement, anger, and alarm President Ham
remained seated. Such a visit, uninvited, was against all tradition; it
was an affront, an insult. But that it was against all precedent argued
some serious necessity. He decided it would be best to receive the
officer. Besides, to continue his dinner was now out of the question.
Both appetite and digestion had fled from him.
In the anteroom Billy was whispering final instructions to St. Clair.
"Whatever happens," he begged, "don't _laugh_! Don't even smile
politely! He's very ignorant, you see, and he's sensitive. When he meets
foreigners and can't understand their language, he's always afraid if
they laugh that he's made a break and that they're laughing at _him_.
So, be solemn; look grave; look haughty!"
"I got you," assented St. Clair. "I'm to 'register' pride."
"Exactly!" said Billy. "The more pride you register, the better for
Inwardly cold with alarm, outwardly frigidly polite, Billy presented
"Lieutenant Hardy." He had come, Billy explained, in answer to the call
for help sent by himself to the Secretary of State, which by wireless
had been communicated to the _Louisiana_. Lieutenant Hardy begged him to
say to the president that he was desolate at having to approach His
Excellency so unceremoniously. But His Excellency, having threatened the
life of an American citizen, the captain of the _Louisiana_ was forced
to act quickly.
"And this officer?" demanded President Ham; "what does he want?"
"He says," Billy translated to St. Clair, "that he is very glad to meet
you, and he wants to know how much you earn a week."
The actor suppressed his surprise and with pardonable pride said that
his salary was six hundred dollars a week and royalties on each film.
Billy bowed to the president.
"He says," translated Billy, "he is here to see that I get my ten
thousand francs, and that if I don't get them in ten minutes he will
return to the ship and land marines."
To St. Clair it seemed as though the president received his statement
as to the amount of his salary with a disapproval that was hardly
flattering. With the heel of his giant fist the president beat upon the
table, his curls shook, his gorilla-like shoulders heaved.
In an explanatory aside Billy made this clear.
"He says," he interpreted, "that you get more as an actor than he gets
as president, and it makes him mad."
"I can see it does myself," whispered St. Clair. "And I don't understand
President Ham was protesting violently. It was outrageous, he exclaimed;
it was inconceivable that a great republic should shake the Big Stick
over the head of a small republic, and for a contemptible ten thousand
"I will not believe," he growled, "that this officer has authority to
threaten me. You have deceived him. If he knew the truth, he would
apologize. Tell him," he roared suddenly, "that I _demand_ that he
Billy felt like the man who, after jauntily forcing the fighting,
unexpectedly gets a jolt on the chin that drops him to the canvas.
While the referee might have counted three Billy remained upon the
Then again he forced the fighting. Eagerly he turned to St. Clair.
"He says," he translated, "you must recite something."
St. Clair exclaimed incredulously:
"Recite!" he gasped.
Than his indignant protest nothing could have been more appropriate.
"Wants to see you act out," insisted Billy. "Go on," he begged; "humor
him. Do what he wants or he'll put us in jail!"
"But what shall I--"
"He wants the curse of Rome from Richelieu," explained Billy. "He knows
it in French and he wants you to recite it in English. Do you know it?"
The actor smiled haughtily.
"I _wrote_ it!" he protested. "Richelieu's my middle name. I've done it
"Then do it now!" commanded Billy. "Give it to him hot. I'm Julie de
Mortemar. He's the villain Barabas. Begin where Barabas hands you the
cue, 'The country is the king! '"
In embarrassment St. Clair coughed tentatively.
"Whoever heard of Cardinal Richelieu," he protested, "in a navy
"Begin!" begged Billy.
"What'll I do with my cap?" whispered St. Clair.
In an ecstasy of alarm Billy danced from foot to foot.
"I'll hold your cap," he cried. "Go on!"
St. Clair gave his cap of gold braid to Billy and shifted his
"full-dress" sword-belt. Not without concern did President Ham observe
these preparations. For the fraction of a second, in alarm, his eyes
glanced to the exits. He found that the officers of his staff completely
filled them. Their presence gave him confidence and his eyes returned to
That gentleman heaved a deep sigh. Dejectedly, his head fell forward
until his chin rested upon his chest. Much to the relief of the
president, it appeared evident that Lieutenant Hardy was about to accede
to his command and apologize.
St. Clair groaned heavily.
"Ay, is it so?" he muttered. His voice was deep, resonant, vibrating
like a bell. His eyes no longer suggested apology. They were strange,
flashing; the eyes of a religious fanatic; and balefully they were fixed
upon President Ham.
"Then wakes the power," the deep voice rumbled, "that in the age of iron
burst forth to curb the great and raise the low." He flung out his left
arm and pointed it at Billy.
"Mark where she stands!" he commanded.
With a sweeping, protecting gesture he drew a round Billy an imaginary
circle. The pantomime was only too clear. To the aged negro, who feared
neither God nor man, but only voodoo, there was in the voice and gesture
that which caused his blood to chill.
"Around her form," shrieked St. Clair, "I draw the awful circle of our
solemn church! Set but one foot within that holy ground and on thy
head--" Like a semaphore the left arm dropped, and the right arm, with
the forefinger pointed, shot out at President Ham. "Yea, though it wore
a CROWN--I launch the CURSE OF ROME!"
No one moved. No one spoke. What terrible threat had hit him President
Ham could not guess. He did not ask. Stiffly, like a man in a trance, he
turned to the rusty iron safe behind his chair and spun the handle. When
again he faced them he held a long envelope which he presented to Hilly.
"There are the ten thousand francs," he said. "Ask him if he is
satisfied, and demand that he go at once!"
Billy turned to St. Clair.
"He says," translated Billy, "he's very much obliged and hopes we will
come again. Now," commanded Billy, "bow low and go out facing him. We
don't want him to shoot us in the back!"
Bowing to the president, the actor threw at Billy a glance full of
"Was I as bad as _that_?" he demanded.
On schedule time Billy drove up to the Hotel Ducrot and relinquished St.
Clair to the ensign in charge of the launch from the _Louisiana_. At
sight of St. Clair in the regalia of a superior officer, that young
gentleman showed his surprise.
"I've been giving a 'command' performance for the president," explained
the actor modestly. "I recited for him, and, though I spoke in English,
I think I made quite a hit."
"You certainly," Billy assured him gratefully, "made a terrible hit with
As the moving-picture actors, escorted by the ensign, followed their
trunks to the launch, Billy looked after them with a feeling of great
loneliness. He was aware that from the palace his carriage had been
followed; that drawn in a cordon around the hotel negro policemen
covertly observed him. That President Ham still hoped to recover his
lost prestige and his lost money was only too evident.
It was just five minutes to eight.
Billy ran to his room, and with his suitcase in his hand slipped down
the back stairs and into the garden. Cautiously he made his way to the
gate in the wall, and in the street outside found Claire awaiting him.
With a cry of relief she clasped his arm.
"You are safe!" she cried. "I was so frightened for you. That President
Ham, he is a beast, an ogre!" Her voice sank to a whisper. "And for
myself also I have been frightened. The police, they are at each corner.
They watch the hotel. They watch _me_! Why? What do they want?"
"They want something of mine," said Billy. "But I can't tell you what it
is until I'm sure it _is_ mine. Is the boat at the wharf?"
"All is arranged," Claire assured him. "The boatmen are our friends;
they will take us safely to the steamer."
With a sigh of relief Billy lifted her valise and his own, but he did
not move forward.
Anxiously Claire pulled at his sleeve.
"Come!" she begged. "For what it is that you wait?"
It was just eight o'clock.
Billy was looking up at the single electric-light bulb that lit the
narrow street, and following the direction of his eyes, Claire saw the
light grow dim, saw the tiny wires grow red, and disappear. From over
all the city came shouts, and cries of consternation, oaths, and
laughter, and then darkness.
"I was waiting for _this_!" cried Billy.
With the delight of a mischievous child Claire laughed aloud.
"_You_--you did it!" she accused.
"I did!" said Billy. "And now--we must run like the devil!"
The _Prinz der Nederlanden_ was drawing slowly out of the harbor.
Shoulder to shoulder Claire and Billy leaned upon the rail. On the
wharfs of Port-au-Prince they saw lanterns tossing and candles
twinkling; saw the _Louisiana_, blazing like a Christmas-tree, steaming
majestically south; in each other's eyes saw that all was well.
From his pocket Billy drew a long envelope.
"I can now with certainty," said Billy, "state that this is
He opened the envelope, and while Claire gazed upon many mille franc
notes Billy told how he had retrieved them.
"But what danger!" cried Claire. "In time Ham would have paid. Your
president at Washington would have _made_ him pay. Why take such risks?
You had but to wait!"
Billy smiled contentedly.
"Dear one!" he exclaimed, "the policy of watchful waiting is safer, but
the Big Stick acts quicker and gets results!"
THE BOY SCOUT
A rule of the Boy Scouts is every day to do some one a good turn. Not
because the copy-books tell you it deserves another, but in spite of
that pleasing possibility. If you are a true scout, until you have
performed your act of kindness your day is dark. You are as unhappy as
is the grown-up who has begun his day without shaving or reading the New
York _Sun_. But as soon as you have proved yourself you may, with a dear
conscience, look the world in the face and untie the knot in your
Jimmie Reeder untied the accusing knot in his scarf at just ten minutes
past eight on a hot August morning after he had given one dime to his
sister Sadie. With that she could either witness the first-run films at
the Palace, or by dividing her fortune patronize two of the nickel shows
on Lenox Avenue. The choice Jimmie left to her. He was setting out for
the annual encampment of the Boy Scouts at Hunter's Island, and in the
excitement of that adventure even the movies ceased to thrill. But Sadie
also could be unselfish. With a heroism of a camp-fire maiden she made
a gesture which might have been interpreted to mean she was returning
"I can't, Jimmie!" she gasped. "I can't take it off you. You saved it,
and you ought to get the fun of it."
"I haven't saved it yet," said Jimmie. "I'm going to cut it out of the
railroad fare. I'm going to get off at City Island instead of at Pelham
Manor and walk the difference. That's ten cents cheaper."
Sadie exclaimed with admiration:
"An' you carryin' that heavy grip!"
"Aw, that's nothin'," said the man of the family.
"Good-by, mother. So long, Sadie."
To ward off further expressions of gratitude he hurriedly advised Sadie
to take in "The Curse of Cain" rather than "The Mohawk's Last Stand,"
and fled down the front steps.
He wore his khaki uniform. On his shoulders was his knapsack, from his
hands swung his suitcase, and between his heavy stockings and his
"shorts" his kneecaps, unkissed by the sun, as yet unscathed by
blackberry vines, showed as white and fragile as the wrists of a girl.
As he moved toward the "L" station at the corner, Sadie and his mother
waved to him; in the street, boys too small to be Scouts hailed him
enviously; even the policeman glancing over the newspapers on the
news-stand nodded approval.
"You a Scout, Jimmie?" he asked.
"No," retorted Jimmie, for was not he also in uniform? "I'm Santa Claus
out filling Christmas stockings."
The patrolman also possessed a ready wit.
"Then get yourself a pair," he advised. "If a dog was to see your
Jimmie escaped the insult by fleeing up the steps of the Elevated.
* * * * *
An hour later, with his valise in one hand and staff in the other, he
was tramping up the Boston Post Road and breathing heavily. The day was
cruelly hot. Before his eyes, over an interminable stretch of asphalt,
the heat waves danced and flickered. Already the knapsack on his
shoulders pressed upon him like an Old Man of the Sea; the linen in the
valise had turned to pig iron, his pipe-stem legs were wabbling, his
eyes smarted with salt sweat, and the fingers supporting the valise
belonged to some other boy, and were giving that boy much pain. But as
the motor-cars flashed past with raucous warnings, or, that those who
rode might better see the boy with bare knees, passed at "half speed,"
Jimmie stiffened his shoulders and stepped jauntily forward. Even when
the joy-riders mocked with "Oh, you Scout!" he smiled at them. He was
willing to admit to those who rode that the laugh was on the one who
walked. And he regretted--oh, so bitterly--having left the train. He was
indignant that for his "one good turn a day" he had not selected one
less strenuous--that, for instance, he had not assisted a frightened old
lady through the traffic. To refuse the dime she might have offered, as
all true scouts refuse all tips, would have been easier than to earn it
by walking five miles, with the sun at ninety-nine degrees, and carrying
excess baggage. Twenty times James shifted the valise to the other hand,
twenty times he let it drop and sat upon it.
And then, as again he took up his burden, the good Samaritan drew near.
He drew near in a low gray racing-car at the rate of forty miles an
hour, and within a hundred feet of Jimmie suddenly stopped and backed
toward him. The good Samaritan was a young man with white hair. He wore
a suit of blue, a golf cap; the hands that held the wheel were disguised
in large yellow gloves. He brought the car to a halt and surveyed the
dripping figure in the road with tired and uncurious eyes.
"You a Boy Scout?" he asked.
With alacrity for the twenty-first time Jimmie dropped the valise,
forced his cramped fingers into straight lines, and saluted.
The young man in the car nodded toward the seat beside him.
"Get in," he commanded.
When James sat panting happily at his elbow the old young man, to
Jimmie's disappointment, did not continue to shatter the speed limit.
Instead, he seemed inclined for conversation, and the car, growling
"I never saw a Boy Scout before," announced the old young man. "Tell me
about it. First, tell me what you do when you're not scouting."
Jimmie explained volubly. When not in uniform he was an office boy, and
from peddlers and beggars guarded the gates of Carroll and Hastings,
stock-brokers. He spoke the names of his employers with awe. It was a
firm distinguished, conservative, and long established. The white-haired
young man seemed to nod in assent.
"Do you know them?" demanded Jimmie suspiciously. "Are you a customer of
"I know them," said the young man. "They are customers of mine."
Jimmie wondered in what way Carroll and Hastings were customers of the
white-haired young man. Judging him by his outer garments, Jimmie
guessed he was a Fifth Avenue tailor; he might be even a haberdasher.
Jimmie continued. He lived, he explained, with his mother at One Hundred
and Forty-sixth Street; Sadie, his sister, attended the public school;
he helped support them both, and he now was about to enjoy a well-earned
vacation camping out on Hunter's Island, where he would cook his own
meals, and, if the mosquitoes permitted, sleep in a tent.
"And you like that?" demanded the young man. "You call that fun?"
"Sure!" protested Jimmie. "Don't _you_ go camping out?"
"I go camping out," said the good Samaritan, "whenever I leave New
Jimmie had not for three years lived in Wall Street not to understand
that the young man spoke in metaphor.
"You don't look," objected the young man critically, "as though you were
built for the strenuous life."
Jimmie glanced guiltily at his white knees.
"You ought ter see me two weeks from now," he protested. "I get all
sunburnt and hard--hard as anything!"
The young man was incredulous.
"You were near getting sunstruck when I picked you up," he laughed. "If
you're going to Hunter's Island, why didn't you go to Pelham Manor?"
"That's right!" assented Jimmie eagerly. "But I wanted to save the ten
cents so's to send Sadie to the movies. So I walked."
The young man looked his embarrassment.
"I beg your pardon," he murmured.
But Jimmie did not hear him. From the back of the car he was dragging
excitedly at the hated suitcase.
"Stop!" he commanded. "I got ter get out. I got ter _walk_."
The young man showed his surprise.
"Walk!" he exclaimed. "What is it--a bet?"
Jimmie dropped the valise and followed it into the roadway. It took some
time to explain to the young man. First, he had to be told about the
Scout law and the one good turn a day, and that it must involve some
personal sacrifice. And, as Jimmie pointed out, changing from a slow
suburban train to a racing-car could not be listed as a sacrifice. He
had not earned the money, Jirnmie argued; he had only avoided paying it
to the railroad. If he did not walk he would be obtaining the gratitude
of Sadie by a falsehood. Therefore, he must walk.
"Not at all," protested the young man. "You've got it wrong. What good
will it do your sister to have you sunstruck? I think you _are_
sunstruck. You're crazy with the heat. You get in here, and we'll talk
it over as we go along."
Hastily Jimmie backed away. "I'd rather walk," he said.
The young man shifted his legs irritably.
"Then how'll this suit you?" he called. "We'll declare that first 'one
good turn' a failure and start afresh. Do _me_ a good turn."
Jimmie halted in his tracks and looked back suspiciously.
"I'm going to Hunter's Island Inn," called the young man, "and I've lost
my way. You get in here and guide me. That'll be doing me a good turn."
On either side of the road, blotting out the landscape, giant hands
picked out in electric-light bulbs pointed the way to Hunter's Island
Inn. Jimmie grinned and nodded toward them.
"Much obliged," he called. "I got ter walk." Turning his back upon
temptation, he waddled forward into the flickering heat waves.
* * * * *
The young man did not attempt to pursue. At the side of the road, under
the shade of a giant elm, he had brought the car to a halt and with his
arms crossed upon the wheel sat motionless, following with frowning eyes
the retreating figure of Jimmie. But the narrow-chested and knock-kneed
boy staggering over the sun-baked asphalt no longer concerned him. It
was not Jimmie, but the code preached by Jimmie, and not only preached
but before his eyes put into practise, that interested him. The young
man with white hair had been running away from temptation. At forty
miles an hour he had been running away from the temptation to do a
fellow mortal "a good turn." That morning, to the appeal of a drowning
Caesar to "Help me, Cassius, or I sink," he had answered: "Sink!" That
answer he had no wish to reconsider. That he might not reconsider he had
sought to escape. It was his experience that a sixty-horse-power
racing-machine is a jealous mistress. For retrospective, sentimental, or
philanthropic thoughts she grants no leave of absence. But he had not
escaped. Jimmie had halted him, tripped him by the heels, and set him
again to thinking. Within the half-hour that followed those who rolled
past saw at the side of the road a car with her engine running, and
leaning upon the wheel, as unconscious of his surroundings as though he
sat at his own fireplace, a young man who frowned and stared at nothing.
The half-hour passed and the young man swung his car back toward the
city. But at the first road-house that showed a blue-and-white telephone
sign he left it, and into the iron box at the end of the bar dropped a
nickel. He wished to communicate with Mr. Carroll, of Carroll and
Hastings; and when he learned Mr. Carroll had just issued orders that he
must not be disturbed, the young man gave his name.
The effect upon the barkeeper was instantaneous. With the aggrieved air
of one who feels he is the victim of a jest he laughed scornfully.
"What are you putting over?" he demanded.
The young man smiled reassuringly. He had begun to speak and, though
apparently engaged with the beer-glass he was polishing, the barkeeper
Down in Wall Street the senior member of Carroll and Hastings also
listened. He was alone in the most private of all his private offices,
and when interrupted had been engaged in what, of all undertakings, is
the most momentous. On the desk before him lay letters to his lawyer, to
the coroner, to his wife; and hidden by a mass of papers, but within
reach of his hand, was an automatic pistol. The promise it offered of
swift release had made the writing of the letters simple, had given him
a feeling of complete detachment, had released him, at least in thought,
from all responsibilities. And when at his elbow the telephone coughed
discreetly, it was as though some one had called him from a world from
which already he had made his exit.
Mechanically, through mere habit, he lifted the receiver.
The voice over the telephone came in brisk, staccato sentences.
"That letter I sent this morning? Forget it. Tear it up. I've been
thinking and I'm going to take a chance. I've decided to back you boys,
and I know you'll make good. I'm speaking from a road-house in the
Bronx; going straight from here to the bank. So you can begin to draw
against us within an hour. And--hello!--will three millions see you
From Wall Street there came no answer, but from the hands of the
barkeeper a glass crashed to the floor.
The young man regarded the barkeeper with puzzled eyes.
"He doesn't answer," he exclaimed. "He must have hung up."
"He must have fainted!" said the barkeeper.
The white-haired one pushed a bill across the counter. "To pay for
breakage," he said, and disappeared down Pelham Parkway.
Throughout the day, with the bill, for evidence, pasted against the
mirror, the barkeeper told and retold the wondrous tale.
"He stood just where you're standing now," he related, "blowing in
million-dollar bills like you'd blow suds off a beer. If I'd knowed it
was _him_, I'd have hit him once and hid him in the cellar for the
reward. Who'd I think he was? I thought he was a wire-tapper, working a
Mr. Carroll had not "hung up," but when in the Bronx the beer-glass
crashed, in Wall Street the receiver had slipped from the hand of the
man who held it, and the man himself had fallen forward. His desk hit
him in the face and woke him--woke him to the wonderful fact that he
still lived; that at forty he had been born again; that before him
stretched many more years in which, as the young man with the white hair
had pointed out, he still could make good.
The afternoon was far advanced when the staff of Carroll and Hastings
were allowed to depart, and, even late as was the hour, two of them were
asked to remain. Into the most private of the private offices Carroll
invited Gaskell, the head clerk; in the main office Hastings had asked
young Thorne, the bond clerk, to be seated.
Until the senior partner has finished with Gaskell young Thorne must
"Gaskell," said Mr. Carroll, "if we had listened to you, if we'd run
this place as it was when father was alive, this never would have
happened. It _hasn't_ happened, but we've had our lesson. And after this
we're going slow and going straight. And we don't need you to tell us
how to do that. We want you to go away--on a month's vacation. When I
thought we were going under I planned to send the children on a sea
voyage with the governess--so they wouldn't see the newspapers. But now
that I can look them in the eye again, I need them, I can't let them go.
So, if you'd like to take your wife on an ocean trip to Nova Scotia and
Quebec, here are the cabins I reserved for the kids. They call it the
royal suite--whatever that is--and the trip lasts a month. The boat
sails to-morrow morning. Don't sleep too late or you may miss her."
The head clerk was secreting the tickets in the inside pocket of his
waistcoat. His fingers trembled, and when he laughed his voice trembled.
"Miss the boat!" the head clerk exclaimed. "If she gets away from Millie
and me she's got to start now. We'll go on board to-night!"
A half-hour later Millie was on her knees packing a trunk, and her
husband was telephoning to the drug-store for a sponge-bag and a cure
Owing to the joy in her heart and to the fact that she was on her knees,
Millie was alternately weeping into the trunk-tray and offering up
incoherent prayers of thanksgiving. Suddenly she sank back upon the
"John!" she cried, "doesn't it seem sinful to sail away in a 'royal
suite' and leave this beautiful flat empty?"
Over the telephone John was having trouble with the drug clerk.
"No!" he explained, "I'm not seasick _now_. The medicine I want is to be
taken later. I _know_ I'm speaking from the Pavonia; but the Pavonia
isn't a ship; it's an apartment-house."
He turned to Millie. "We can't be in two places at the same time," he
"But, think," insisted Millie, "of all the poor people stifling to-night
in this heat, trying to sleep on the roofs and fire-escapes; and our
flat so cool and big and pretty--and no one in it."
John nodded his head proudly.
"I know it's big," he said, "but it isn't big enough to hold all the
people who are sleeping to-night on the roofs and in the parks."
"I was thinking of your brother--and Grace," said Millie. "They've been
married only two weeks now, and they're in a stuffy hall bedroom and
eating with all the other boarders. Think what our flat would mean to
them; to be by themselves, with eight rooms and their own kitchen and
bath, and our new refrigerator and the gramophone! It would be heaven!
It would be a real honeymoon!"
Abandoning the drug clerk, John lifted Millie in his arms and kissed
her, for, next to his wife, nearest his heart was the younger brother.
* * * * *
The younger brother and Grace were sitting on the stoop of the
boarding-house. On the upper steps, in their shirt-sleeves, were the
other boarders; so the bride and bridegroom spoke in whispers. The air
of the cross street was stale and stagnant; from it rose exhalations of
rotting fruit, the gases of an open subway, the smoke of passing
taxicabs. But between the street and the hall bedroom, with its odors of
a gas-stove and a kitchen, the choice was difficult.
"We've got to cool off somehow," the young husband was saying, "or you
won't sleep. Shall we treat ourselves to ice-cream sodas or a trip on
the Weehawken ferry-boat?"
"The ferry-boat!" begged the girl, "where we can get away from all these
A taxicab with a trunk in front whirled into the street, kicked itself
to a stop, and the head clerk and Millie spilled out upon the pavement.
They talked so fast, and the younger brother and Grace talked so fast,
that the boarders, although they listened intently, could make nothing
They distinguished only the concluding sentences:
"Why don't you drive down to the wharf with us," they heard the elder
brother ask, "and see our royal suite?"
But the younger brother laughed him to scorn.
"What's your royal suite," he mocked, "to our royal palace?"
An hour later, had the boarders listened outside the flat of the head
clerk, they would have heard issuing from his bathroom the cooling
murmur of running water and from his gramophone the jubilant notes of
"Alexander's Ragtime Band."
When in his private office Carroll was making a present of the royal
suite to the head clerk, in the main office Hastings, the junior
partner, was addressing "Champ" Thorne, the bond clerk. He addressed him
familiarly and affectionately as "Champ." This was due partly to the
fact that twenty-six years before Thorne had been christened Champneys
and to the coincidence that he had captained the football eleven of one
of the Big Three to the championship.
"Champ," said Mr. Hastings, "last month, when you asked me to raise your
salary, the reason I didn't do it was not because you didn't deserve it,
but because I believed if we gave you a raise you'd immediately get
The shoulders of the ex-football captain rose aggressively; he snorted
"And why should I _not_ get married?" he demanded. "You're a fine one to
talk! You're the most offensively happy married man I ever met."
"Perhaps I know I am happy better than you do," reproved the junior
partner; "but I know also that it takes money to support a wife."
"You raise me to a hundred a week," urged Champ, "and I'll make it
support a wife whether it supports me or not."
"A month ago," continued Hastings, "we could have _promised_ you a
hundred, but we didn't know how long we could pay it. We didn't want you
to rush off and marry some fine girl--"
"Some fine girl!" muttered Mr. Thorne. "The finest girl!"
"The finer the girl," Hastings pointed out, "the harder it would have
been for you if we had failed and you had lost your job."
The eyes of the young man opened with sympathy and concern.
"Is it as bad as that?" he murmured.
Hastings sighed happily.
"It _was_," he said, "but this morning the Young Man of Wall Street did
us a good turn--saved us--saved our creditors, saved our homes, saved
our honor. We're going to start fresh and pay our debts, and we agreed
the first debt we paid would be the small one we owe you. You've
brought us more than we've given, and if you'll stay with us we're
going to 'see' your fifty and raise it a hundred. What do you say?"
Young Mr. Thorne leaped to his feet. What he said was: "Where'n hell's
But by the time he had found the hat and the door he mended his manners.
"I say, 'Thank you a thousand times,'" he shouted over his shoulder.
"Excuse me, but I've got to go. I've got to break the news to--"
He did not explain to whom he was going to break the news; but Hastings
must have guessed, for again he sighed happily and then, a little
hysterically laughed aloud. Several months had passed since he had
In his anxiety to break the news Champ Thorne almost broke his neck. In
his excitement he could not remember whether the red flash meant the
elevator was going down or coming up, and sooner than wait to find out
he started to race down eighteen flights of stairs when fortunately the
elevator-door swung open.
"You get five dollars," he announced to the elevator man, "if you drop
to the street without a stop. Beat the speed limit! Act like the
building is on fire and you're trying to save me before the roof falls."
* * * * *
Senator Barnes and his entire family, which was his daughter Barbara,
were at the Ritz-Carlton. They were in town in August because there was
a meeting of the directors of the Brazil and Cuyaba Rubber Company, of
which company Senator Barnes was president. It was a secret meeting.
Those directors who were keeping cool at the edge of the ocean had been
summoned by telegraph; those who were steaming across the ocean, by
Up from the equator had drifted the threat of a scandal, sickening,
grim, terrible. As yet it burned beneath the surface, giving out only an
odor, but an odor as rank as burning rubber itself. At any moment it
might break into flame. For the directors, was it the better wisdom to
let the scandal smoulder, and take a chance, or to be the first to give
the alarm, the first to lead the way to the horror and stamp it out?
It was to decide this that, in the heat of August, the directors and the
president had forgathered.
Champ Thorne knew nothing of this; he knew only that by a miracle
Barbara Barnes was in town; that at last he was in a position to ask her
to marry him; that she would certainly say she would. That was all he
cared to know.
A year before he had issued his declaration of independence. Before he
could marry, he told her, he must be able to support a wife on what he
earned, without her having to accept money from her father, and until he
received "a minimum wage" of five thousand dollars they must wait.
"What is the matter with my father's money?" Barbara had demanded.
Thorne had evaded the direct question.
"There is too much of it," he said.
"Do you object to the way he makes it?" insisted Barbara. "Because
rubber is most useful. You put it in golf balls and auto tires and
galoches. There is nothing so perfectly respectable as galoches. And
what is there 'tainted' about a raincoat?"
Thorne shook his head unhappily.
"It's not the finished product to which I refer," he stammered; "it's
the way they get the raw material."
"They get it out of trees," said Barbara. Then she exclaimed with
enlightenment--"Oh!" she cried, "you are thinking of the Congo. There it
is terrible! _That_ is slavery. But there are no slaves on the Amazon.
The natives are free and the work is easy. They just tap the trees the
way the farmers gather sugar in Vermont. Father has told me about it
Thorne had made no comment. He could abuse a friend, if the friend were
among those present, but denouncing any one he disliked as heartily as
he disliked Senator Barnes was a public service he preferred to leave to
others. And he knew besides that if the father she loved and the man she
loved distrusted each other, Barbara would not rest until she learned
the reason why.
One day, in a newspaper, Barbara read of the Puju Mayo atrocities, of
the Indian slaves in the jungles and backwaters of the Amazon, who are
offered up as sacrifices to "red rubber." She carried the paper to her
father. What it said, her father told her, was untrue, and if it were
true it was the first he had heard of it.
Senator Barnes loved the good things of life, but the thing he loved
most was his daughter; the thing he valued the highest was her good
opinion. So when for the first time she looked at him in doubt, he