Part 9 out of 11
the straight, correctly cut lines of black and white. The mere change
of clothes had suddenly changed the man himself--had "done something
to him," Pearson put it. After his first glance at the mirror he had
straightened himself, as if recognizing the fault of his own carriage.
When he crossed the room it was with the action of a man who has been
trained to move well. The good looks, which had been almost hidden
behind a veil of uncertainty of expression and strained fearfulness,
became obvious. He was tall, and his lean limbs were splendidly hung
together. His head was perfectly set, and the bearing of his square
shoulders was a soldierly thing. It was an extraordinarily handsome
man Tembarom and Pearson found themselves gazing at. Each glanced
involuntarily at the other.
"Now that's first-rate! I'm glad you feel like coming," Tembarom
plunged in. He didn't intend to give him too much time to think.
"Thank you. It will be a change, as you said," Strangeways answered.
"One needs change."
His deep eyes looked somewhat deeper than usual, but his manner was
that of any well-bred man doing an accustomed thing. If he had been an
ordinary guest in the house, and his host had dropped into his room,
he would have comported himself in exactly the same way.
They went together down the corridor as if they had passed down it
together a dozen times before. On the stairway Strangeways looked at
the tapestries with the interest of a familiarized intelligence.
"It is a beautiful old place," he said, as they crossed the hall.
"That armor was worn by a crusader." He hesitated a moment when they
entered the library, but it was only for a moment. He went to the
hearth and took the chair his host offered him, and, lighting a cigar,
sat smoking it. If T. Tembarom had chanced to be a man of an
analytical or metaphysical order of intellect he would have found,
during the past month, many things to lead him far in mental argument
concerning the weird wonder of the human mind--of its power where its
possessor, the body, is concerned, its sometime closeness to the
surface of sentient being, its sometime remoteness. He would have
known--awed, marveling at the blackness of the pit into which it can
descend--the unknown shades that may enfold it and imprison its
gropings. The old Duke of Stone had sat and pondered many an hour over
stories his favorite companion had related to him. What curious and
subtle processes had the queer fellow not been watching in the closely
guarded quiet of the room where the stranger had spent his days; the
strange thing cowering in its darkness; the ray of light piercing the
cloud one day and seeming lost again the next; the struggles the
imprisoned thing made to come forth-- to cry out that it was but
immured, not wholly conquered, and that some hour would arrive when it
would fight its way through at last. Tembarom had not entered into
psychological research. He had been entirely uncomplex in his
attitude, sitting down before his problem as a besieger might have sat
down before a castle. The duke had sometimes wondered whether it was
not a good enough thing that he had been so simple about it, merely
continuing to believe the best with an unswerving obstinacy and
lending a hand when he could. A never flagging sympathy had kept him
singularly alive to every chance, and now and then he had
illuminations which would have done credit to a cleverer man, and
which the duke had rubbed his hands over in half-amused, half- touched
elation. How he had kept his head level and held to his purpose!
T. Tembarom talked but little as he sat in his big chair and smoked.
Best let him alone and give him time to get used to the newness, he
thought. Nothing must happen that could give him a jolt. Let things
sort of sink into him, and perhaps they'd set him to thinking and lead
him somewhere. Strangeways himself evidently did not want talk. He
never wanted it unless he was excited. He was not excited now, and had
settled down as if he was comfortable. Having finished one cigar he
took another, and began to smoke it much more slowly than he had
smoked his first. The slowness began to arrest Tembarom's attention.
This was the smoking of a man who was either growing sleepy or sinking
into deep thought, becoming oblivious to what he was doing. Sometimes
he held the cigar absently between his strong, fine fingers, seeming
to forget it. Tembarom watched him do this until he saw it go out, and
its white ash drop on the rug at his feet. He did not notice it, but
sat sinking deeper and deeper into his own being, growing more remote.
What was going on under his absorbed stillness? Tembarom would not
have moved or spoken "for a block of Fifth Avenue," he said
internally. The dark eyes seemed to become darker until there was only
a pin's point of light to be seen in their pupils. It was as if he
were looking at something at a distance--at a strangely long distance.
Twice he turned his head and appeared to look slowly round the room,
but not as normal people look-- as if it also was at the strange, long
distance from him, and he were somewhere outside its walls. It was an
uncanny thing to be a spectator to.
"How dead still the room is!" Tembarom found himself thinking.
It was "dead still." And it was a queer deal sitting, not daring to
move--just watching. Something was bound to happen, sure! What was it
going to be?
Strangeways' cigar dropped from his fingers and appeared to rouse him.
He looked puzzled for a moment, and then stooped quite naturally to
pick it up.
"I forgot it altogether. It's gone out," he remarked.
"Have another," suggested Tembarom, moving the box nearer to him.
"No, thank you." He rose and crossed the room to the wall of book-
shelves. And Tembarom's eye was caught again by the fineness of
movement and line the evening clothes made manifest. "What a swell he
looked when he moved about like that! What a swell, by jings!"
He looked along the line of shelves and presently took a book down and
opened it. He turned over its leaves until something arrested his
attention, and then he fell to reading. He read several minutes, while
Tembarom watched him. The silence was broken by his laughing a little.
"Listen to this," he said, and began to read something in a language
totally unknown to his hearer. "A man who writes that sort of thing
about a woman is an old bounder, whether he's a poet or not. There's a
small, biting spitefulness about it that's cattish."
"Who did it?" Tembarom inquired softly. It might be a good idea to
lead him on.
"Horace. In spite of his genius, he sometimes makes you feel he was
rather a blackguard."
"Horace!" For the moment T. Tembarom forgot himself. "I always heard
he was a sort of Y.M.C.A. old guy--old Horace Greeley. The Tribune was
no yellow journal when he had it."
He was sorry he had spoken the next moment. Strangeways looked
"The Tribune," he hesitated. "The Roman Tribune?"
"No, New York. He started it--old Horace did. But perhaps we're not
talking of the same man."
Strangeways hesitated again.
"No, I think we're not," he answered politely.
"I've made a break," thought Tembarom. "I ought to have kept my mouth
shut. I must try to switch him back."
Strangeways was looking down at the back of the book he held in his
"This one was the Latin poet, Quintus Horatius Flaccus, 65 B. C. You
know him," he said.
"Oh, that one!" exclaimed Tembarom, as if with an air of immense
relief. "What a fool I was to forget! I'm glad it's him. Will you go
on reading and let me hear some more? He's a winner from Winnersville-
- that Horace is."
Perhaps it was a sort of miracle, accomplished by his great desire to
help the right thing to happen, to stave off any shadow of the wrong
thing. Whatsoever the reason, Strangeways waited only a moment before
turning to his book again. It seemed to be a link in some chain slowly
forming itself to drag him back from his wanderings. And T. Tembarom,
lightly sweating as a frightened horse will, sat smoking another pipe
and listening intently to "Satires" and "Lampoons," read aloud in the
Latin of 65 B. C.
"By gee!" he said faithfully, at intervals, when he saw on the
reader's face that the moment was ripe. "He knew it all-- old Horace--
He had steered his charge back. Things were coming along the line to
him. He'd learned Latin at one of these big English schools. Boys
always learned Latin, the duke had told him. They just had to. Most of
them hated it like thunder, and they used to be caned when they didn't
recite it right. Perhaps if he went on he'd begin to remember the
school. A queer part of it was that he did not seem to notice that he
was not reading his own language.
He did not, in fact, seem to remember anything in particular, but went
on quite naturally for some minutes. He had replaced Horace on the
shelf and was on the point of taking down another volume when he
paused, as if recalling something else.
"Weren't we going to see the picture-gallery?" he inquired. "Isn't it
getting late? I should like to see the portraits."
"No hurry," answered T. Tembarom. "I was just waiting till you were
ready. But we'll go right away, if you like."
They went without further ceremony. As they walked through the hall
and down the corridors side by side, an imaginative person might have
felt that perhaps the eyes of an ancient darkling portrait or so
looked down at the pair curiously: the long, loosely built New Yorker
rather slouching along by the soldierly, almost romantic figure which,
in a measure, suggested that others not unlike it might have trod the
same oaken floor, wearing ruff and doublet, or lace jabot and sword.
There was a far cry between the two, but they walked closely in
friendly union. When they entered the picture-gallery Strangeways
paused a moment again, and stood peering down its length.
"It is very dimly lighted. How can we see?" he said.
"I told Pearson to leave it dim," Tembarom answered. "I wanted it just
that way at first."
He tried--and succeeded tolerably well--to say it casually, as he led
the way ahead of them. He and the duke had not talked the scheme over
for nothing. As his grace had said, they had "worked the thing up." As
they moved down the gallery, the men and women in their frames looked
like ghosts staring out to see what was about to happen.
"We'll turn up the lights after a while," T. Tembarom explained, still
casually. "There's a picture here I think a good deal of. I've stood
and looked at it pretty often. It reminded me of some one the first
day I set eyes on it; but it was quite a time before I made up my mind
who it was. It used to drive me half dotty trying to think it out."
"Which one was it?" asked Strangeways.
"We're coming to it. I want to see if it reminds you of any one. And I
want you to see it sudden." "It's got to be sudden," he had said to
the duke. "If it's going to pan out, I believe it's got to be sudden."
"That's why I had the rest of 'em left dim. I told Pearson to leave a
lamp I could turn up quick," he said to Strangeways.
The lamp was on a table near by and was shaded by a screen. He took it
from the shadow and lifted it suddenly, so that its full gleam fell
upon the portrait of the handsome youth with the lace collar and the
dark, drooping eyes. It was done in a second, with a dramatically
unexpected swiftness. His heart jumped up and down.
"Who's that?" he demanded, with abruptness so sharp-pitched that the
gallery echoed with the sound. "Who's that?"
He heard a hard, quick gasp, a sound which was momentarily a little
horrible, as if the man's soul was being jerked out of his body's
"Who is he?" he cried again. "Tell me."
After the gasp, Strangeways stood still and stared. His eyes were
glued to the canvas, drops of sweat came out on his forehead, and he
was shuddering. He began to back away with a look of gruesome
struggle. He backed and backed, and stared and stared. The gasp came
twice again, and then his voice seemed to tear itself loose from some
power that was holding it back.
"Th--at!" he cried. "It is--it--is Miles Hugo!"
The last words were almost a shout, and he shook as if he would have
fallen. But T. Tembarom put his hand on his shoulder and held him,
breathing fast himself. Gee! if it wasn't like a thing in a play!
"Page at the court of Charles the Second," he rattled off. "Died of
smallpox when he was nineteen. Miles Hugo! Miles Hugo! You hold on to
that for all your worth. And hold on to me. I'll keep you steady. Say
"Miles Hugo." The poor majestic-looking fellow almost sobbed it.
"Where am I? What is the name of this place?"
"It's Temple Barholm in the county of Lancashire, England. Hold on to
that, too--like thunder!"
Strangeways held the young man's arm with hands that clutched. He
dragged at him. His nightmare held him yet; Tembarom saw it, but
flashes of light were blinding him.
"Who"--he pleaded in a shaking and hollow whisper--"are you?"
Here was a stumper! By jings! By jings! And not a minute to think it
out. But the answer came all right--all right!
"My name's Tembarom. T. Tembarom." And he grinned his splendid grin
from sheer sense of relief. "I'm a New Yorker--Brooklyn. I was just
forked in here anyhow. Don't you waste time thinking over me. You sit
down here and do your durndest with Miles Hugo."
Tembarom did not look as though he had slept particularly well, Miss
Alicia thought, when they met the next morning; but when she asked him
whether he had been disappointed in his last night's experiment, he
answered that he had not. The experiment had come out all right, but
Strangeways had been a good deal worked up, and had not been able to
sleep until daylight. Sir Ormsby Galloway was to arrive in the
afternoon, and he'd probably give him some- thing quieting. Had the
coming downstairs seemed to help him to recall anything? Miss Alicia
naturally inquired. Tembarom thought it had. He drove to Stone Hover
and spent the morning with the duke; he even lunched with him. He
returned in time to receive Sir Ormsby Galloway, however, and until
that great personage left, they were together in Mr. Strangeways'
"I guess I shall get him up to London to the place where Sir Ormsby
wants him," he said rather nervously, after dinner. "I'm not going to
miss any chances. If he'll go, I can get him away quietly some time
when I can fix it so there's no one about to worry him."
She felt that he had no inclination to go much into detail. He had
never had the habit of entering into the details connected with his
strange charge. She believed it was because he felt the subject too
abnormal not to seem a little awesome to her sympathetic timidity. She
did not ask questions because she was afraid she could not ask them
intelligently. In fact, the knowledge that this unknown man was living
through his struggle with his lost past in the remote rooms of the
west wing, almost as though he were a secret prisoner, did seem a
little awesome when one awoke in the middle of the dark night and
thought of it.
During the passage of the next few weeks, Tembarom went up to London
several times. Once he seemed called there suddenly, as it was only
during dinner that he told her he was going to take a late train, and
should leave the house after she had gone to bed. She felt as though
something important must have happened, and hoped it was nothing
When he had said that Captain Palliser would return to visit them, her
private impression, despite his laugh, had been that it must surely be
some time before this would occur. But a little more than three weeks
later he appeared, preceded only half an hour by a telegram asking
whether he might not spend a night with them on his way farther north.
He could not at all understand why the telegram, which he said he had
sent the day before, had been delayed.
A certain fatigued haggardness in his countenance caused Miss Alicia
to ask whether he had been ill, and he admitted that he had at least
not been well, as a result of long and too hurried journeys, and the
strenuousness of extended and profoundly serious interviews with his
capitalist and magnates.
"No man can engineer gigantic schemes to success without feeling the
reaction when his load drops from his shoulders," he remarked.
"You've carried it quite through?" inquired Tembarom.
"We have set on foot one of the largest, most substantially
capitalized companies in the European business world," Palliser
replied, with the composure which is almost indifference.
"Good!" said Tembarom cheerfully.
He watched his guest a good deal during the day. He was a bad color
for a man who had just steered clear of all shoals and reached the
highest point of success. He had a haggard eye as well as a haggard
face. It was a terrified eye when its desperate determination to hide
its terrors dropped from it for an instant, as a veil might drop. A
certain restlessness was manifest in him, and he talked more than
usual. He was going to make a visit in Northumberland to an elderly
lady of great possessions. It was to be vaguely gathered that she was
somewhat interested in the great company--the Cedric. She was a
remarkable old person who found a certain agreeable excitement in
dabbling in stocks. She was rich enough to be in a position to regard
it as a sort of game, and he had been able on several occasions to
afford her entertainment. He would remain a few days, and spend his
time chiefly in telling her the details of the great scheme and the
manner in which they were to be developed.
"If she can play with things that way, she'll be sure to want stock in
it," Tembarom remarked.
"If she does, she must make up her mind quickly," Palliser smiled, "or
she will not be able to get it. It is not easy to lay one's hands on
Tembarom thought of certain speculators of entirely insignificant
standing of whom he had chanced to see and hear anecdotes in New York.
Most of them were youths of obscure origin who sold newspapers or
blacked boots, or "swapped" articles the value of which lay in the
desire they could excite in other persons to possess them. A popular
method known as "bluff" was their most trusted weapon, and even at
twelve and fifteen years of age Tembarom had always regarded it as
singularly obvious. He always detested "bluff," whatsoever its
disguise, and was rather mystified by its ingenious faith in itself.
"He's got badly stung," was his internal comment as he sucked at his
pipe and smiled urbanely at Palliser across the room as they sat
together. "He's come here with some sort of deal on that he knows he
couldn't work with any one but just such a fool as he thinks I am. I
guess," he added in composed reflectiveness, "I don't really know how
big a fool I do look."
Whatsoever the deal was, he would be likely to let it be known in
"He'll get it off his chest if he's going away to-morrow," decided
Tembarom. "If there's anything he's found out, he'll use it. If it
doesn't pan out as he thinks it will he'll just float away to his old
He gave Palliser every chance, talking to him and encouraging him to
talk, even asking him to let him look over the prospectus of the new
company and explain details to him, as he was going to explain them to
the old lady in Northumberland. He opened up avenues; but for a time
Palliser made no attempt to stroll down them. His walk would be a
stroll, Tembarom knew, being familiar with his methods. His aspect
would be that of a man but little concerned. He would be capable of a
slightly rude coldness if he felt that concern on his part was in any
degree counted as a factor. Tembarom was aware, among other things,
that innocent persons would feel that it was incumbent upon them to be
very careful in their treatment of him. He seemed to be thinking
things over before he decided upon the psychological moment at which
he would begin, if he began. When a man had a good deal to lose or to
win, Tembarom realized that he would be likely to hold back until he
felt something like solid ground under him.
After Miss Alicia had left them for the night, perhaps he felt, as a
result of thinking the matter over, that he had reached a foothold of
a firmness at least somewhat to be depended upon.
"What a change you have made in that poor woman's life!" he said,
walking to the side-table and helping himself to a brandy and soda.
"What a change!"
"It struck me that a change was needed just about the time I dropped
in," answered his host.
"All the same," suggested Palliser, tolerantly, "you were immensely
generous. She wasn't entitled to expect it, you know."
"She didn't expect anything, not a darned thing," said Tembarom. "That
was what hit me."
Palliser smiled a cold, amiable smile. His slim, neatly fitted person
looked a little shrunken and less straight than was its habit, and its
slackness suggested itself as being part of the harry and fatigue
which made his face and eyes haggard under his pale, smooth hair.
"Do you purpose to provide for the future of all your indigent
relatives even to the third and fourth generation, my dear chap?" he
"I won't refuse till I'm asked, anyhow," was the answer.
"Asked!" Palliser repeated. "I'm one of them, you know, and Lady
Mallowe is another. There are lots of us, when we come out of our
holes. If it's only a matter of asking, we might all descend on you."
Tembarom, smiling, wondered whether they hadn't descended already, and
whether the descent had so far been all that they had anticipated.
Palliser strolled down his opened avenue with an incidental air which
was entirely creditable to his training of himself. T. Tembarom
acknowledged that much.
"You are too generous," said Palliser. "You are the sort of fellow who
will always need all he has, and more. The way you go among the
villagers! You think you merely slouch about and keep it quiet, but
you don't. You've set an example no other landowner can expect to live
up to, or intends to. It's too lavish. It's pernicious, dear chap. I
have heard all about the cottage you are doing over for Pearson and
his bride. You had better invest in the Cedric."
Tembarom wanted him to go on, if there was anything in it. He made his
face look as he knew Palliser hoped it would look when the
psychological moment came. Its expression was not a deterrent; in
fact, it had a character not unlikely to lead an eager man, or one who
was not as wholly experienced as he believed he was, to rush down a
steep hill into the sea, after the manner of the swine in the parable.
Heaven knew Palliser did not mean to rush, and was not aware when the
rush began; but he had reason to be so much more eager than he
professed to be that momentarily he swerved, despite himself, and
ceased to be casual.
"It is an enormous opportunity," he said--"timber lands in Mexico, you
know. If you had spent your life in England, you would realize that
timber has become a desperate necessity, and that the difficulties
which exist in the way of supplying the demand are almost insuperable.
These forests are virtually boundless, and the company which controls
"That's a good spiel!" broke in Tembarom.
It sounded like the crudely artless interruption of a person whose
perceptions left much to be desired. T. Tembarom knew what it sounded
like. If Palliser lost his temper, he would get over the ground
faster, and he wanted him to get over the ground.
"I'm afraid I don't understand," he replied rather stiffly.
"There was a fellow I knew in New York who used to sell type-writers,
and he had a thing to say he used to reel off when any one looked like
a customer. He used to call it his 'spiel.'"
Palliser's quick glance at him asked questions, and his stiffness did
not relax itself.
"Is this New York chaff?" he inquired coldly.
"No," Tembarom said. "You're not doing it for ten per. He was"
"No, not exactly," said Palliser. "Neither would you be doing it for
ten per if you went into it." His voice changed. He became slightly
haughty. "Perhaps it was a mistake on my part to think you might care
to connect yourself with it. You have not, of course, been in the
position to comprehend such matters."
"If I was what I look like, that'd stir me up and make me feel bad,"
thought T. Tembarom, with cheerful comprehension of this, at least.
"I'd have to rush in and try to prove to him that I was as accustomed
to big business as he is, and that it didn't rattle me. The way to do
it that would come most natural would be to show I was ready to buy as
big a block of stock as any other fellow."
But the expression of his face did not change. He only gave a half-
awkward sort of laugh.
"I guess I can learn," he said.
Palliser felt the foothold become firmer. The bounder was interested,
but, after a bounder's fashion, was either nervous or imagined that a
show of hesitation looked shrewd. The slight hit made at his
inexperience in investment had irritated him and made him feel less
cock-sure of himself. A slightly offended manner might be the best
weapon to rely upon.
"I thought you might care to have the thing made clear to you," he
continued indifferently. "I meant to explain. You may take the chance
or leave it, as you like, of course. That is nothing to me at this
stage of the game. But, after all, we are as I said, relatives of a
sort, and it is a gigantic opportunity. Suppose we change the subject.
Is that the Sunday Earth I see by you on the table?" He leaned forward
to take the paper, as though the subject really were dropped; but,
after a seemingly nervous suck or two at his pipe, Tembarom came to
his assistance. It wouldn't do to let him quiet down too much.
"I'm no Van Morganbilt," he said hesitatingly, "but I can see that
it's a big opportunity--for some one else. Let's have a look over the
Palliser paused in his unconcerned opening of the copy of the Sunday
Earth. His manner somewhat disgustedly implied indecision as to
whether it was worth while to allow oneself to be dropped and taken up
"Do you really mean that?" he asked with a certain chill of voice.
"Yes. I don't mind trying to catch on to what's doing in any big
Palliser did not lay aside his suggestion of cold semi-reluctance more
readily than any man who knew his business would have laid it aside.
His manner at the outset was quite perfect. His sole ineptitude lay in
his feeling a too great confidence in the exact quality of his
companion's type, as he summed it up. He did not calculate on the
variations from all type sometimes provided by circumstances.
He produced his papers without too obvious eagerness. He spread them
upon the table, and coolly examined them himself before beginning his
explanation. There was more to explain to a foreigner and one unused
to investment than there would be to a man who was an Englishman and
familiar with the methods of large companies, he said. He went into
technicalities, so to speak, and used rapidly and lightly some
imposing words and phrases, to which T. Tembarom listened attentively,
but without any special air of illumination. He dealt with statistics
and the resulting probabilities. He made apparent the existing
condition of England's inability to supply an enormous and unceasing
demand for timber. He had acquired divers excellent methods of stating
his case to the party of the second part.
"He made me feel as if a fellow had better hold on to a box of matches
like grim death, and that the time wasn't out of sight when you'd have
to give fifty-seven dollars and a half for a toothpick," Tembarom
afterwards said to the duke.
What Tembarom was thinking as he listened to him was that he was not
getting over the ground with much rapidity, and that it was time
something was doing. He had not watched him for weeks without learning
divers of his idiosyncrasies.
"If he thought I wanted to know what he thinks I'd a heap rather NOT
know, he'd never tell me," he speculated. "If he gets a bit hot in the
collar, he may let it out. Thing is to stir him up. He's lost his
nerve a bit, and he'll get mad pretty easy."
He went on smoking and listening, and asking an unenlightened question
now and then, in a manner which was as far from being a deterrent as
the largely unilluminated expression of his face was.
"Of course money is wanted," Palliser said at length. "Money is always
wanted, and as much when a scheme is a success as when it isn't. Good
names, with a certain character, are wanted. The fact of your
inheritance is known everywhere; and the fact that you are an American
is a sort of guaranty of shrewdness."
"Is it?" said T. Tembarom. "Well," he added slowly, "I guess Americans
are pretty good business men."
Palliser thought that this was evolving upon perfectly natural lines,
as he had anticipated it would. The fellow was flattered and pleased.
You could always reach an American by implying that he was one of
those who specially illustrate enviable national characteristics.
He went on in smooth, casual laudation:
"No American takes hold of a scheme of this sort until he knows jolly
well what he's going to get out of it. You were shrewd enough," he
added significantly, "about Hutchinson's affair. You `got in on the
ground floor' there. That was New York forethought, by Jove!"
Tembarom shuffled a little in his chair, and grinned a faint, pleased
"I'm a man of the world, my boy--the business world," Palliser
commented, hoping that he concealed his extreme satisfaction. "I know
New York, though I haven't lived there. I'm only hoping to. Your air
of ingenuous ignorance is the cleverest thing about you," which
agreeable implication of the fact that he had been privately observant
and impressed ought to have fetched the bounder if anything would.
T. Tembarom's grin was no longer faint, but spread itself. Palliser's
first impression was that he had "fetched" him. But when he answered,
though the very crudeness of his words seemed merely the result of his
betrayal into utter tactlessness by soothed vanity, there was
something--a shade of something-- not entirely satisfactory in his
face and nasal twang.
"Well, I guess," he said, "New York DID teach a fellow not to buy a
gold brick off every con man that came along."
Palliser was guilty of a mere ghost of a start. Was there something in
it, or was he only the gross, blundering fool he had trusted to his
being? He stared at him a moment, and saw that there WAS something
under the words and behind his professedly flattered grin--something
which must be treated with a high hand.
"What do you mean?" he exclaimed haughtily. "I don't like your tone.
Do you take ME for what you call a `con man'?"
"Good Lord, no!" answered Tembarom; and he looked straight at Palliser
and spoke slowly. "You're a gentleman, and you're paying me a visit.
You could no more try on a game to do me in my own house than--well,
than I could TELL you if I'd got on to you if I saw you doing it.
You're a gentleman."
Palliser glared back into his infuriatingly candid eyes. He was a far
cry from being a dullard himself; he was sharp enough to "catch on" to
the revelation that the situation was not what he had thought it, the
type was more complex than he had dreamed. The chap had been playing a
part; he had absolutely been "jollying him along," after the New York
fashion. He became pale with humiliated rage, though he knew his only
defense was to control himself and profess not to see through the
trick. Until he could use his big lever, he added to himself.
"Oh, I see," he commented acridly. "I suppose you don't realize that
your figures of speech are unfortunate."
"That comes of New York streets, too," Tembarom answered with
deliberation. "But you can't live as I've lived and be dead easy--not
Palliser had left his chair, and stood in contemptuous silence.
"You know how a fellow hates to be thought DEAD easy"-- Tembarom
actually went to the insolent length of saying the words with a touch
of cheerful confidingness--"when he's NOT. And I'm not. Have another
There was a pause. Palliser began to see, or thought he began to see,
where he stood. He had come to Temple Barholm because he had been
driven into a corner and had a dangerous fight before him. In
anticipation of it he had been following a clue for some time, though
at the outset it had been one of incredible slightness. Only his
absolute faith in his theory that every man had something to gain or
lose, which he concealed discreetly, had led him to it. He held a card
too valuable to be used at the beginning of a game. Its power might
have lasted a long time, and proved an influence without limit. He
forbore any mental reference to blackmail; the word was absurd. One
used what fell into one's hands. If Tembarom had followed his lead
with any degree of docility, he would have felt it wiser to save his
ammunition until further pressure was necessary. But behind his
ridiculous rawness, his foolish jocularity, and his professedly candid
good humor, had been hidden the Yankee trickster who was fool enough
to think he could play his game through. Well, he could not.
During the few moments' pause he saw the situation as by a
photographic flashlight. He leaned over the table and supplied himself
with a fresh brandy and soda from the tray of siphons and decanters.
He gave himself time to take the glass up in his hand.
"No," he answered, "you are not `dead easy.' That's why I am going to
broach another subject to you."
Tembarom was refilling his pipe.
"Go ahead," he said.
"Who, by the way, is Mr. Strangeways?"
He was deliberate and entirely unemotional. So was T. Tembarom when,
with match applied to his tobacco, he replied between puffs as he
"You can search me. You can search him, too, for that matter. He
doesn't know who he is himself."
"Bad luck for him!" remarked Palliser, and allowed a slight pause
again. After it he added, "Did it ever strike you it might be good
luck for somebody else?"
"Somebody else?" Tembarom puffed more slowly, perhaps because his pipe
Palliser took some brandy in his soda.
"There are men, you know," he suggested, "who can be spared by their
relatives. I have some myself, by Jove!" he added with a laugh. "You
keep him rather dark, don't you?"
"He doesn't like to see people."
"Does he object to people seeing him? I saw him once myself."
"When you threw the gravel at his window?"
Palliser stared contemptuously.
"What are you talking about? I did not throw stones at his window," he
lied. "I'm not a school-boy."
"That's so," Tembarom admitted.
"I saw him, nevertheless. And I can tell you he gave me rather a
Palliser half laughed again. He did not mean to go too quickly; he
would let the thing get on Tembarom's nerves gradually.
"Well, I'm hanged if I didn't take him for a man who is dead."
"Enough to give any fellow a jolt," Tembarom admitted again.
"It gave me a `jolt.' Good word, that. But it would give you a bigger
one, my dear fellow, if he was the man he looked like."
"Why?" Tembarom asked laconically.
"He looked like Jem Temple Barholm."
He saw Tembarom start. There could be no denying it.
"You thought that? Honest?" he said sharply, as if for a moment he had
lost his head. "You thought that?"
"Don't be nervous. Perhaps I couldn't have sworn to it. I did not see
him very close."
T. Tembarom puffed rapidly at his pipe, and only, ejaculated:
"Of course he's dead. If he wasn't,"--with a shrug of his shoulders,--
"Lady Joan Fayre would be Lady Joan Temple Barholm, and the pair would
be bringing up an interesting family here." He looked about the room,
and then, as if suddenly recalling the fact, added, "By George! you'd
be selling newspapers, or making them--which was it?--in New York!"
It was by no means unpleasing to see that he had made his hit there.
T. Tembarom swung about and walked across the room with a suddenly
"Say," he put it to him, coming back, "are you in earnest, or are you
just saying it to give me a jolt?"
Palliser studied him. The American sharpness was not always so keen as
it sometimes seemed. His face would have betrayed his uneasiness to
the dullest onlooker.
"Have you any objection to my seeing him in his own room?" Palliser
"It does him harm to see people," Tembarom said, with nervous
brusqueness. "It worries him."
Palliser smiled a quiet but far from agreeable smile. He enjoyed what
he put into it.
"Quite so; best to keep him quiet," he returned. "Do you know what my
advice would be? Put him in a comfortable sanatorium. A lot of stupid
investigations would end in nothing, of course, but they'd be a
He thought it extraordinarily stupid in T. Tembarom to come nearer to
him with an anxious eagerness entirely unconcealed, if he really knew
what he was doing.
"Are you sure that if you saw him close you'd KNOW, so that you could
swear to him?" he demanded.
"You're extremely nervous, aren't you?" Palliser watched him with
smiling coolness. "Of course Jem Temple Barholm is dead; but I've no
doubt that if I saw this man of yours, I could swear he had remained
dead--if I were asked."
"If you knew him well, you could make me sure. You could swear one way
or another. I want to be SURE," said Tembarom.
"So should I in your place; couldn't be too sure. Well, since you ask
me, I COULD swear. I knew him well enough. He was one of my most
intimate enemies. What do you say to letting me see him?"
"I would if I could," Tembarom replied, as if thinking it over. "I
would if I could."
Palliser treated him to the far from pleasing smile again.
"But it's quite impossible at present?" he suggested. "Excitement is
not good for him, and all that sort of thing. You want time to think
Tembarom's slowly uttered answer, spoken as if he were still
considering the matter, was far from being the one he had expected.
"I want time; but that's not the reason you can't see him right now.
You can't see him because he's not here. He's gone."
Then it was Palliser who started, taken totally unaware in a manner
which disgusted him altogether. He had to pull himself up.
"He's gone!" he repeated. "You are quicker than I thought. You've got
him safely away, have you? Well, I told you a comfortable sanatorium
would be a good idea."
"Yes, you did." T. Tembarom hesitated, seeming to be thinking it over
again. "That's so." He laid his pipe aside because it had gone out.
He suddenly sat down at the table, putting his elbows on it and his
face in his hands, with a harried effect of wanting to think it over
in a sort of withdrawal from his immediate surroundings. This was as
it should be. His Yankee readiness had deserted him altogether.
"By Jove! you are nervous!" Palliser commented. "It's not surprising,
though. I can sympathize with you." With a markedly casual air he
himself sat down and drew his documents toward him. "Let us talk of
something else," he said. He preferred to be casual and incidental, if
he were allowed. It was always better to suggest things and let them
sink in until people saw the advantage of considering them and you. To
manage a business matter without open argument or too frank a display
of weapons was at once more comfortable and in better taste.
"You are making a great mistake in not going into this," he suggested
amiably. "You could go in now as you went into Hutchinson's affair,
`on the ground floor.' That's a good enough phrase, too. Twenty
thousand pounds would make you a million. You Americans understand
nothing less than millions."
But T. Tembarom did not take him up. He muttered in a worried way from
behind his shading hands, "We'll talk about that later."
"Why not talk about it now, before anything can interfere?" Palliser
persisted politely, almost gently.
Tembarom sprang up, restless and excited. He had plainly been planning
fast in his temporary seclusion.
"I'm thinking of what you said about Lady Joan," he burst forth. "Say,
she's gone through all this Jem Temple Barholm thing once; it about
half killed her. If any one raised false hopes for her, she'd go
through it all again. Once is enough for any woman."
His effect at professing heat and strong feeling made a spark of
amusement show itself in Palliser's eye. It struck him as being
peculiarly American in its affectation of sentiment and chivalry.
"I see," he said. "It's Lady Joan you're disturbed about. You want to
spare her another shock, I see. You are a considerate fellow, as well
as a man of business."
"I don't want her to begin to hope if--"
"Very good taste on your part." Palliser's polite approval was
admirable, but he tapped lightly on the paper after expressing it. "I
don't want to seem to press you about this, but don't you feel
inclined to consider it? I can assure you that an investment of this
sort would be a good thing to depend on if the unexpected happened. If
you gave me your check now, it would be Cedric stock to-morrow, and
quite safe. Suppose you--"
"I--I don't believe you were right--about what you thought." The
sharp- featured face was changing from pale to red. "You'd have to be
able to swear to it, anyhow, and I don't believe you can." He looked
at Palliser in eager and anxious uncertainty. "If you could," he
dragged out , "I shouldn't have a check-book. Where would you be
"I should be in comfortable circumstances, dear chap, and so would you
if you gave me the money to-night, while you possess a check-book. It
would be only a sort of temporary loan in any case, whatever turned
up. The investment would quadruple itself. But there is no time to be
lost. Understand that."
T. Tembarom broke out into a sort of boyish resentment.
"I don't believe he did look like him, anyhow," he cried. "I believe
it's all a bluff." His crude-sounding young swagger had a touch of
final desperation in it as he turned on Palliser. "I'm dead sure it's
a bluff. What a fool I was not to think of that! You want to bluff me
into going into this Cedric thing. You could no more swear he was like
him than --than I could."
The outright, presumptuous, bold stripping bare of his phrases
infuriated Palliser too suddenly and too much. He stepped up to him
and looked into his eyes.
"Bluff you, you young bounder!" he flung out at him. "You're losing
your head. You're not in New York streets here. You are talking to a
gentleman. No," he said furiously, "I couldn't swear that he was like
him, but what I can swear in any court of justice is that the man I
saw at the window was Jem Temple Barholm, and no other man on earth."
When he had said it, he saw the astonishing dolt change his expression
utterly again, as if in a flash. He stood up, putting his hands in his
pockets. His face changed, his voice changed.
"Fine!" he said. "First-rate! That's what I wanted to get on to."
After this climax the interview was not so long as it was interesting.
Two men as far apart as the poles, as remote from each other in mind
and body, in training and education or lack of it, in desires and
intentions, in points of view and trend of being, as nature and
circumstances could make them, talked in a language foreign to each
other of a wildly strange thing. Palliser's arguments and points of
aspect were less unknown to T. Tembarom than his own were to Palliser.
He had seen something very like them before, though they had developed
in different surroundings and had been differently expressed. The
colloquialism "You're not doing that for your health" can be made to
cover much ground in the way of the stripping bare of motives for
action. This was what, in excellent and well-chosen English, Captain
Palliser frankly said to his host. Of nothing which T. Tembarom said
to him in his own statement did he believe one word or syllable. The
statement in question was not long or detailed. It was, of course,
Palliser saw, a ridiculously impudent flinging together of a farrago
of nonsense, transparent in its effort beyond belief. Before he had
listened five minutes with the distinctly "nasty" smile, he burst out
"That is a good `spiel,' my dear chap," he said. "It's as good a
`spiel' as your typewriter friend used to rattle off when he thought
he saw a customer; but I'm not a customer."
Tembarom looked at him interestedly for about ten seconds. His hands
were thrust into his trousers pockets, as was his almost invariable
custom. Absorption and speculation, even emotion and excitement, were
usually expressed in this unconventional manner.
"You don't believe a darned word of it," was his sole observation.
"Not a darned word," Palliser smiled. "You are trying a `bluff,' which
doesn't do credit to your usual sharpness. It's a bluff that is
actually silly. It makes you look like an ass."
"Well, it's true," said Tembarom; "it's true."
Palliser laughed again.
"I only said it made you look like an ass," he remarked. "I don't
profess to understand you altogether, because you are a new species.
Your combination of ignorance and sharpness isn't easy to calculate
on. But there is one thing I have found out, and that is, that when
you want to play a particular sharp trick you are willing to let
people take you for a fool. I'll own you've deceived me once or twice,
even when I suspected you. I've heard that's one of the most
successful methods used in the American business world. That's why I
only say you look like an ass. You are an ass in some respects; but
you are letting yourself look like one now for some shrewd end. You
either think you'll slip out of danger by it when I make this
discovery public, or you think you'll somehow trick me into keeping my
"I needn't trick you into keeping your mouth shut," Tembarom
suggested. "There's a straightway to do that, ain't there?" And he
indelicately waved his hand toward the documents pertaining to the
It was stupid as well as gross, in his hearer's opinion. If he had
known what was good for him he would have been clever enough to ignore
the practical presentation of his case made half an hour or so
"No, there is not," Palliser replied, with serene mendacity. "No
suggestion of that sort has been made. My business proposition was
given out on an entirely different basis. You, of course, choose to
put your personal construction upon it."
"Gee whiz!" ejaculated T. Tembarom. "I was 'way off, wasn't I?"
"I told you that professing to be an ass wouldn't be good enough in
this case. Don't go on with it," said Palliser, sharply.
"You're throwing bouquets. Let a fellow be natural," said Tembarom.
"That is bluff, too," Palliser replied more sharply still. "I am not
taken in by it, bold as it is. Ever since you came here, you have been
playing this game. It was your fool's grin and guffaw and pretense of
good nature that first made me suspect you of having something up your
sleeve. You were too unembarrassed and candid."
"So you began to look out," Tembarom said, considering him curiously,
"just because of that." Then suddenly he laughed outright, the fool's
It somehow gave Palliser a sort of puzzled shock. It was so hearty
that it remotely suggested that he appeared more secure than seemed
possible. He tried to reply to him with a languid contempt of manner.
"You think you have some tremendously sharp `deal' in your hand," he
said, "but you had better remember you are in England where facts are
like sledge-hammers. You can't dodge from under them as you can in
America. I dare say you won't answer me, but I should like to ask you
what you propose to do."
"I don't know what I'm going to do any more than you do," was the
unilluminating answer. "I don't mind telling you that."
"And what do you think he will do?"
"I've got to wait till I find out. I'm doing it. That was what I told
you. What are you going to do?" he added casually.
"I'm going to Lincoln's Inn Fields to have an interview with Palford &
"That's a good enough move," commented Tembarom, "if you think you can
prove what you say. You've got to prove things, you know. I couldn't,
so I lay low and waited, just like I told you."
"Of course, of course," Palliser himself almost grinned in his
derision. "You have only been waiting."
"When you've got to prove a thing, and haven't much to go on, you've
got to wait," said T. Tembarom--"to wait and keep your mouth shut,
whatever happens, and to let yourself be taken for a fool or a horse-
thief isn't as gilt-edged a job as it seems. But proof's what it's
best to have before you ring up the curtain. You'd have to have it
yourself. So would Palford & Grimby before it'd be stone-cold safe to
rush things and accuse a man of a penitentiary offense."
He took his unconventional half-seat on the edge of the table, with
one foot on the floor and the other one lightly swinging.
"Palford & Grimby are clever old ducks, and they know that much. Thing
they'd know best would be that to set a raft of lies going about a man
who's got money enough to defend himself, and to make them pay big
damages for it afterward, would be pretty bum business. I guess they
know all about what proof stands for. They may have to wait; so may
you, same as I have."
Palliser realized that he was in the position of a man striking at an
adversary whose construction was of India-rubber. He struck home, but
left no bruise and drew no blood, which was an irritating thing. He
lost his temper.
"Proof!" he jerked out. "There will be proof enough, and when it is
made public, you will not control the money you threaten to use."
"When you get proof, just you let me hear about it," T. Tembarom said.
"And all the money I'm threatening on shall go where it belongs, and
I'll go back to New York and sell papers if I have to. It won't come
as hard as you think."
The flippant insolence with which he brazened out his pretense that he
had not lied, that his ridiculous romance was actual and simple truth,
suggested dangerous readiness of device and secret knowledge of power
which could be adroitly used.
"You are merely marking time," said Palliser, rising, with cold
determination to be juggled with no longer. "You have hidden him away
where you think you can do as you please with a man who is an invalid.
That is your dodge. You've got him hidden somewhere, and his friends
had better get at him before it is too late."
"I'm not answering questions this evening, and I'm not giving
addresses, though there are no witnesses to take them down. If he's
hidden away, he's where he won't be disturbed," was T. Tembarom's
rejoinder. "You may lay your bottom dollar on that."
Palliser walked toward the door without speaking. He had almost
reached it when he whirled about involuntarily, arrested by a shout of
"Say," announced Tembarom, "you mayn't know it, but this lay-out would
make a first-rate turn in a vaudeville. You think I'm lying, I look
like I'm lying, I guess every word I say sounds like I'm lying. To a
fellow like you, I guess it couldn't help but sound that way. And I'm
not lying. That's where the joke comes in. I'm not lying. I've not
told you all I know because it's none of your business and wouldn't
help; but what I have told you is the stone-cold truth."
He was keeping it up to the very end with a desperate determination
not to let go his hold of his pose until he had made his private
shrewd deal, whatsoever it was. At least, so it struck Palliser, who
"I 'm leaving the house by the first train to-morrow morning." He
fixed a cold gray eye on the fool's grin.
"Six forty-five," said T. Tembarom. "I'll order the carriage. I might
go up myself."
The door closed.
Tembarom was looking cheerful enough when he went into his bedroom. He
had become used to its size and had learned to feel that it was a good
sort of place. It had the hall bedroom at Mrs. Bowse's boarding-house
"beaten to a frazzle." There was about everything in it that any man
could hatch up an idea he'd like to have. He had slept luxuriously on
the splendid carved bed through long nights, he had lain awake and
thought out things on it, he had lain and watched the fire-light
flickering on the ceiling, as he thought about Ann and made plans, and
"fixed up" the Harlem flat which could be run on fifteen per. He had
picked out the pieces of furniture from the Sunday Earth advertisement
sheet, and had set them in their places. He always saw the six-dollar
mahogany-stained table set for supper, with Ann at one end and himself
at the other. He had grown actually fond of the old room because of
the silence and comfort of it, which tended to give reality to his
dreams. Pearson, who had ceased to look anxious, and who had acquired
fresh accomplishments in the form of an entirely new set of duties,
was waiting, and handed him a telegram.
"This just arrived, sir," he explained. "James brought it here because
he thought you had come up, and I didn't send it down because I heard
you on the stairs."
"That's right. Thank you, Pearson," his master said.
He tore the yellow envelop, and read the message. In a moment Pearson
knew it was not an ordinary message, and therefore remained more than
ordinarily impassive of expression. He did not even ask of himself
what it might convey.
Mr. Temple Barholm stood still a few seconds, with the look of a man
who must think and think rapidly.
"What is the next train to London, Pearson?" he asked.
"There is one at twelve thirty-six, sir," he answered. "It's the last
till six in the morning. You have to change at Crowley."
"You're always ready, Pearson," returned Mr. Temple Barholm. "I want
to get that train."
Pearson was always ready. Before the last word was quite spoken he had
turned and opened the bedroom door.
"I'll order the dog-cart; that's quickest, sir," he said. He was out
of the room and in again almost immediately. Then he was at the
wardrobe and taking out what Mr. Temple Barholm called his "grip," but
what Pearson knew as a Gladstone bag. It was always kept ready packed
for unexpected emergencies of travel.
Mr. Temple Barholm sat at the table and drew pen and paper toward him.
He looked excited; he looked more troubled than Pearson had seen him
"The wire's from Sir Ormsby Galloway, Pearson," he said.
"It's about Mr. Strangeways. He's done what I used to be always
watching out against: he's disappeared."
"Disappeared, sir!" cried Pearson, and almost dropped the Gladstone
bag. "I beg pardon, sir. I know there's no time to lose." He steadied
the bag and went on with his task without even turning round.
His master was in some difficulty. He began to write, and after
dashing off a few words, stopped, and tore them up.
"No," he muttered, "that won't do. There's no time to explain." Then
he began again, but tore up his next lines also.
"That says too much and not enough. It'd frighten the life out of
He wrote again, and ended by folding the sheet and putting it into an
"This is a message for Miss Alicia," he said to Pearson. "Give it to
her in the morning. I don't want her to worry because I had to go in a
hurry. Tell her everything's going to be all right; but you needn't
mention that anything's happened to Mr. Strangeways."
"Yes, sir," answered Pearson.
Mr. Temple Barholm was already moving about the room, doing odd things
for himself rapidly, and he went on speaking.
"I want you and Rose to know," he said, "that whatever happens, you
are both fixed all right--both of you. I've seen to that."
"Thank you, sir," Pearson faltered, made uneasy by something new in
his tone. "You said whatever happened, sir--"
"Whatever old thing happens," his master took him up.
"Not to you, sir. Oh, I hope, sir, that nothing--"
Mr. Temple Barholm put a cheerful hand on his shoulder.
"Nothing's going to happen that'll hurt any one. Things may change,
that's all. You and Rose are all right, Miss Alicia's all right, I'm
all right. Come along. Got to catch that train."'
In this manner he took his departure.
Miss Alicia had from necessity acquired the habit of early rising at
Rowcroft vicarage, and as the next morning was bright, she was
clipping roses on a terrace before breakfast when Pearson brought her
"Mr. Temple Barholm received a telegram from London last night,
ma'am," he explained, "and he was obliged to take the midnight train.
He hadn't time to do any more than leave a few lines for you, but he
asked me to tell you that nothing disturbing had occurred. He
specially mentioned that everything was all right."
"But how very sudden!" exclaimed Miss Alicia, opening her note and
beginning to read it. Plainly it had been written hurriedly indeed. It
read as though he had been in such haste that he hadn't had time to be
Dear little Miss Alicia:
I've got to light out of here as quick as I can make it. I can't even
stop to tell you why. There's just one thing-- don't get rattled, Miss
Alicia. Whatever any one says or does, just don't let yourself get
"Pearson," Miss Alicia exclaimed, again looking up, "are you sure
everything is all right?"
"That was what he said, ma'am. `All right,' ma'am."
"Thank you, Pearson. I am glad to hear it."
She walked to and fro in the sunshine, reading the note and rereading
"Of course if he said it was all right, it was all right," she
murmured. "It is only the phrasing that makes me slightly nervous. Why
should he ask me not to get rattled?" The term was by this time as
familiar to her as any in Dr. Johnson's dictionary. "Of course he
knows I do get rattled much too easily; but why should I be in danger
of getting rattled now if nothing has happened?" She gave a very small
start as she remembered something. "Could it be that Captain Palliser-
- But how could he? Though I do not like Captain Palliser."
Captain Palliser, her distaste for whom at the moment quite agitated
her, was this morning an early riser also, and as she turned in her
walk she found him coming toward her.
"I find I am obliged to take an early train to London this morning,"
he said, after their exchange of greetings. "It is quite unexpected. I
spoke to Mr. Temple Barholm about it last night."
Perhaps the unexpectedness, perhaps a certain suggestion of
coincidence, caused Miss Alicia's side ringlets to appear momentarily
"Then perhaps we had better go in to breakfast at once," she said.
"Is Mr. Temple Barholm down?" he inquired as they seated themselves at
"He is not here," she answered. "He, too, was called away
unexpectedly. He went to London by the midnight train."
She had never been so aware of her unchristian lack of liking for
Captain Palliser as she was when he paused a moment before he made any
comment. His pause was as marked as a start, and the smile he indulged
in was, she felt, most singularly disagreeable. It was a smile of the
order which conceals an unpleasant explanation of itself.
"Oh," he remarked, "he has gone first, has he?"
"Yes," she answered, pouring out his coffee for him. "He evidently had
business of importance."
They were quite alone, and she was not one of the women one need
disturb oneself about. She had been browbeaten into hypersensitive
timidity early in life, and did not know how to resent cleverly
managed polite bullying. She would always feel herself at fault if she
was tempted to criticize any one. She was innocent and nervous enough
to betray herself to any extent, because she would feel it rude to
refuse to answer questions, howsoever far they exceeded the limits of
polite curiosity. He had learned a good deal from her in the past. Why
not try what could be startled out of her now? Thus Captain Palliser
"I dare say you feel a little anxious at such an extraordinarily
sudden departure," he suggested amiably. "Bolting off in the middle of
the night was sudden, if he did not explain himself."
"He had no time to explain," she answered.
"That makes it appear all the more sudden. But no doubt he left you a
message. I saw you were reading a note when I joined you on the
Lightly casual as he chose to make the words sound, they were an
audacity he would have known better than to allow himself with any one
but a timid early-Victorian spinster whose politeness was
hypersensitive in its quality.
"He particularly desired that I should not be anxious," she said. "He
is always considerate."
"He would, of course, have explained everything if he had not been so
"Of course, if it had been necessary," answered Miss Alicia, nervously
sipping her tea.
"Naturally," said Captain Palliser. "His note no doubt mentioned that
he went away on business connected with his friend Mr. Strangeways?"
There was no question of the fact that she was startled.
"He had not time enough," she said. "He could only write a few lines.
"We had a long talk about him last night. He told me a remarkable
story," Captain Palliser went on. "I suppose you are quite familiar
with all the details of it?"
"I know how he found him in New York, and I know how generous he has
been to him."
"Have you been told nothing more?"
"There was nothing more to tell. If there was anything, I am sure he
had some good reason for not telling me," said Miss Alicia, loyally.
"His reasons are always good."
Palliser's air of losing a shade or so of discretion as a result of
astonishment was really well done.
"Do you mean to say that he has not even hinted that ever since he
arrived at Temple Barholm he has strongly suspected Strangeways'
identity--that he has even known who he is?" he exclaimed.
Miss Alicia's small hands clung to the table-cloth.
"He has not known at all. He has been most anxious to discover. He has
used every endeavor," she brought out with some difficulty.
"You say he has been trying to find out?" Palliser interposed.
"He has been more than anxious," she protested. "He has been to London
again and again; he has gone to great expense; he has even seen people
from Scotland Yard. I have sometimes almost thought he was assuming
more responsibility than was just to himself. In the case of a
relative or an old friend, but for an entire stranger--Oh, really, I
ought not to seem to criticize. I do not presume to criticize his
wonderful generosity and determination and goodness. No one should
presume to question him."
"If he knows that you feel like this--" Palliser began.
"He knows all that I feel," Miss Alicia took him up with a pretty,
rising spirit. "He knows that I am full of unspeakable gratitude to
him for his beautiful kindness to me; he knows that I admire and
respect and love him in a way I could never express, and that I would
do anything in the world he could wish me to do."
"Naturally," said Captain Palliser. "I was only about to express my
surprise that since he is aware of all this he has not told you who he
has proved Strangeways to be. It is a little odd, you know."
"I think "--Miss Alicia was even gently firm in her reply --"that you
are a little mistaken in believing Mr. Temple Barholm has proved Mr.
Strangeways to be anybody. When he has proof, he will no doubt think
proper to tell me about it. Until then I should prefer--"
Palliser laughed as he finished her sentence.
"Not to know. I was not going to betray him, Miss Alicia. He evidently
has one of his excellent reasons for keeping things to himself. I may
mention, however, that it is not so much he who has proof as I
"You!" How could she help quite starting in her seat when his gray
eyes fixed themselves on her with such a touch of finely amused
"I offered him the proof last night, and it rather upset him," he
said. "He thought no one knew but himself, and he was not inclined to
tell the world. He was upset because I said I had seen the man and
could swear to his identity. That was why he went away so hurriedly.
He no doubt went to see Strangeways and talk it over."
"See Mr. Strangeways? But Mr. Strangeways--" Miss Alicia rose and rang
"Tell Pearson I wish to see him at once," she said to the footman.
Palliser took in her mood without comment. He had no objection to
being present when she made inquiries of Pearson.
"I hear the wheels of the dog-cart," he remarked. "You see, I must
catch my train."
Pearson stood at the door.
"Is not Mr. Strangeways in his room, Pearson?" Miss Alicia asked.
"Mr. Temple Barholm took him to London when he last went, ma'am,"
answered Pearson. "You remember he went at night. The doctor thought
"He did not tell you that, either?" said Palliser, casually.
"The dog-cart is at the door, sir," announced Pearson.
Miss Alicia's hand was unsteady when the departing guest took it.
"Don't be disturbed," he said considerately, "but a most singular
thing has happened. When I asked so many questions about Temple
Barholm's Man with the Iron Mask I asked them for curious reasons.
That must be my apology. You will hear all about it later, probably
from Palford & Grimby."
When he had left the room Miss Alicia stood upon the hearth- rug as
the dog-cart drove away, and she was pale. Her simple and easily
disturbed brain was in a whirl. She could scarcely remember what she
had heard, and could not in the least comprehend what it had seemed
intended to imply, except that there had been concealed in the
suggestions some disparagement of her best beloved.
Singular as it was that Pearson should return without being summoned,
when she turned and found that he mysteriously stood inside the
threshold again, as if she had called him, she felt a great sense of
"Pearson," she faltered, "I am rather upset by certain things which
Captain Palliser has said. I am afraid I do not understand."
She looked at him helplessly, not knowing what more to say. She wished
extremely that she could think of something definite.
The masterly finish of Pearson's reply lay in its neatly restrained
hint of unobtrusively perceptive sympathy.
"Yes, Miss. I was afraid so. Which is why I took the liberty of
stepping into the room again. I myself do not understand, but of
course I do not expect to. If I may be so bold as to say it, Miss,
whatever we don't understand, we both understand Mr. Temple Barholm.
My instructions were to remind you, Miss, that everything would be all
Miss Alicia took up her letter from the table where she had laid it
"Thank you, Pearson," she said, her forehead beginning to clear itself
a little. "Of course, of course. I ought not to-- He told me not to--
get rattled," she added with plaintive ingenuousness, "and I ought not
to, above all things."
"Yes, Miss. It is most important that you should not."
The story of the adventures, experiences, and journeyings of Mr.
Joseph Hutchinson, his daughter, and the invention, if related in
detail, would prove reading of interest; but as this is merely a study
of the manner in which the untrained characteristics and varied
limitations of one man adjusted or failed to adjust themselves to
incongruous surroundings and totally unprepared-for circumstances,
such details, whatsoever their potential picturesqueness, can be
touched upon but lightly. No new idea of value to the world of
practical requirements is presented to the public at large without the
waking of many sleeping dogs, and the stirring of many snapping fish,
floating with open ears and eyes in many pools. An uneducated,
blustering, obstinate man of one idea, having resentfully borne
discouragement and wounded egotism for years, and suddenly confronting
immense promise of success, is not unlikely to be prey easily
harpooned. Joseph Hutchinson's rebound from despair to high and well-
founded hope made of him exactly what such a man is always made by
such rebound. The testimony to his genius and judgment which
acknowledgment of the value of his work implied was naturally, in his
opinion, only a proper tribute which the public had been a bull-headed
fool not to lay at his feet years before. So much time lost, and so
much money for it, as well as for him, and served 'em all damned well
right, he said. If Temple Barholm hadn't come into his money, and
hadn't had more sense than the rest of them, where would they all have
been? Perhaps they'd never have had the benefit of the thing he'd been
telling them about for years. He prided himself immensely on the
possession of a business shrewdness which was an absolute defense
against any desire on the part of the iniquitous to overreach him. He
believed it to be a peculiarly Lancashire characteristic, and kept it
in view constantly.
"Lancashire's not easy to do," he would say hilariously, "Them that
can do a Lancashire chap has got to look out that they get up early in
the morning and don't go to bed till late."
Smooth-mannered and astute men of business who knew how to make a man
talk were given diffuse and loud-voiced explanations of his methods
and long-acknowledged merits and characteristics. His life, his
morals, and his training, or rather lack ot it, were laid before them
as examples of what a man might work himself up to if "he had it in
him." Education didn't do it. He had never been to naught but a
village school, where he'd picked up precious little but the three
R's. It had to be born in a man. Look at him! His invention promised
to bring him in a fortune like a duke's, if he managed it right and
kept his eyes open for sharpers. This company and that company were
after him, but Lancashire didn't snap up things without going into
'em, and under 'em, and through 'em, for the matter of that.
The well-mannered gentlemen of business stimulated him greatly by
their appreciative attention. He sometimes lost his head a trifle and
almost bullied them, but they did not seem to mind it. Their
apparently old- time knowledge of and respect for Lancashire business
sagacity seemed invariably a marked thing. Men of genius and powerful
character combined with practical shrewdness of outlook they
intimated, were of enormous value to the business world. They were to
be counted upon as important factors. They could see and deal with
both sides of a proposal as those of weaker mind could not.
"That they can," Hutchinson would admit, rolling about in his chair
and thrusting his hands in his pockets. "They've got some bottom to
stand on." And he would feel amenable to reason.
Little Ann found her duties and responsibilities increasing daily.
Many persons seemed to think it necessary to come and talk business,
and father had so much to think of and reason out, so that he could be
sure that he didn't make any mistakes. In a quiet, remote, and
darkened corner of her mind, in which were stored all such things as
it was well to say little or nothing about, there was discreetly kept
for reference the secretly acquired knowledge that father did not know
so much about business ways and business people as he thought he did.
Mother had learned this somewhat important fact, and had secluded it
in her own private mental store-room with much affectionate delicacy.
"Father's a great man and a good man, Ann love," she had confided to
her, choosing an occasion when her husband was a hundred miles away,
"and he IS right-down Lancashire in his clever way of seeing through
people that think themselves sharp; but when a man is a genius and
noble-minded he sometimes can't see the right people's faults and
wickedness. He thinks they mean as honest as he does. And there's
times when he may get taken in if some one, perhaps not half as clever
as he is, doesn't look after him. When the invention's taken up, and
everybody's running after him to try to cheat him out of his rights,
if I'm not there, Ann, you must just keep with him and watch every
minute. I've seen these sharp, tricky ones right-down flinch and quail
when there was a nice, quiet-behaved woman in the room, and she just
fixed her eye steady and clear-like on them and showed she'd took in
every word and was like to remember. You know what I mean, Ann; you've
got that look in your own eye."
She had. The various persons who interviewed Mr. Hutchinson became
familiar with the fact that he had an unusual intimacy with and
affection for his daughter. She was present on all occasions. If she
had not been such a quiet and entirely unobtrusive little thing, she
might have been an obstacle to freedom of expression. But she seemed a
childish, unsophisticated creature, who always had a book with her
when she waited in an office, and a trifle of sewing to occupy herself
with when she was at home. At first she so obliterated herself that
she was scarcely noticed; but in course of time it became observed by
some that she was curiously pretty. The face usually bent over her
book or work was tinted like a flower, and she had quite magnificent
red hair. A stout old financier first remarked her eyes. He found one
day that she had quietly laid her book on her lap, and that they were
resting upon him like unflinching crystals as he talked to her father.
Their serenity made him feel annoyed and uncomfortable. It was a sort
of recording serenity. He felt as though she would so clearly remember
every word he had said that she would be able to write it down when
she went home; and he did not care to have it written down. So he
began to wander somewhat in his argument, and did not reach his
"I was glad, Father, to see how you managed that gentleman this
afternoon," Little Ann said that night when Hutchinson had settled
himself with his pipe after an excellent dinner.
"Eh?" he exclaimed. "Eh?"
"The one," she exclaimed, "that thought he was so sure he was going to
persuade you to sign that paper. I do wonder he could think you'd
listen to such a poor offer, and tie up so much. Why, even I could see
he was trying to take advantage, and I know nothing in the world about
The financier in question had been a brilliant and laudatory
conversationalist, and had so soothed and exhilarated Mr. Hutchinson
that such perils had beset him as his most lurid imaginings could
never have conceived in his darkest moments of believing that the
entire universe had ceased all other occupation to engage in that of
defrauding him of his rights and dues. He had been so uplifted by the
admiration of his genius so properly exhibited, and the fluency with
which his future fortunes had been described, that he had been huffed
when the arguments seemed to dwindle away. Little Ann startled him,
but it was not he who would show signs of dismay at the totally
unexpected expression of adverse opinion. He had got into the habit of
always listening, though inadvertently, as it were, to Ann as he had
inadvertently listened to her mother.
"Rosenthal?" he said. "Are you talking about him?"
"Yes, I am," Little Ann answeered, smiling approvingly over her bit of
sewing. "Father, I wish you'd try and teach me some of the things you
know about business. I've learned a little by just listening to you
talk; but I should so like to feel as if I could follow you when you
argue. I do so enjoy hearing you argue. It's just an education."
"Women are not up to much at business," reflected Hutchinson. "If
you'd been a boy, I'd have trained you same as I've trained myself.
You're a sharp little thing, Ann, but you're a woman. Not but what a
woman's the best thing on earth," he added almost severely in his
conviction--"the best thing on earth in her place. I don't know what
I'd ever have done without you, Ann, in the bad times."
He loved her, blundering old egotist, just as he had loved her mother.
Ann always knew it, and her own love for him warmed all the world
about them both. She got up and went to him to kiss him, and pat him,
and stuff a cushion behind his stout back.
"And now the good times have come," she said, bestowing on him two or
three special little pats which were caresses of her own invention,
"and people see what you are and always have been, as they ought to
have seen long ago, I don't want to feel as if I couldn't keep up with
you and understand your plans. Perhaps I've got a little bit of your
cleverness, and you might teach me to use it in small ways. I've got a
good memory you know, Father love, and I might recollect things people
say and make bits of notes of them to save you trouble. And I can
calculate. I once got a copy of Bunyan's `Pilgrim's Progress' for a
prize at the village school just for sums."
The bald but unacknowledged fact that Mr. Hutchinson had never
exhibited gifts likely to entitle him to receive a prize for "sums"
caused this suggestion to be one of some practical value. When
business men talked to him of per cents., and tenth shares or net
receipts, and expected him to comprehend their proportions upon the
spot without recourse to pencil and paper, he felt himself grow hot
and nervous and red, and was secretly terrified lest the party of the
second part should detect that he was tossed upon seas of horrible
uncertainty. T. Tembarom in the same situation would probably have
said, "This is the place where T. T. sits down a while to take breath
and count things up on his fingers. I am not a sharp on arithmetic,
and I need time--lots of it."
Mr. Hutchinson's way was to bluster irritatedly.
"Aye, aye, I see that, of course, plain enough. I see that." And feel
himself breaking into a cold perspiration. "Eh, this English climate
is a damp un," he would add when it became necessary to mop his red
forehead somewhat with his big clean handkerchief.
Therefore he found it easy to receive Little Ann's proposition with
"There's summat i' that," he acknowledged graciously, dropping into
Lancashire. "That's one of the little things a woman can do if she's
sharp at figures. Your mother taught me that much. She always said
women ought to look after the bits of things as was too small for a
man to bother with."
"Men have the big things to look after. That's enough for anybody,"
said Little Ann. "And they ought to leave something for women to do.
If you'll just let me keep notes for you and remember things and
answer your letters, and just make calculations you're too busy to
attend to, I should feel right-down happy, Father."
"Eh!" he said relievedly, "tha art like thy mother."
"That would make me happy if there was nothing else to do it," said
Ann, smoothing his shoulder.
"You're her girl," he said, warmed and supported.
"Yes, I'm her girl, and I'm yours. Now, isn't there some little thing
I could begin with? Would you mind telling me if I was right in what I
thought you thought about Mr. Rosenthal's offer?"
"What did you think I thought about it?" He was able to put
affectionate condescension into the question.
She went to her work-basket and took out a sheet of paper. She came
back and sat cozily on the arm of his chair.
"I had to put it all down when I came home," she said. "I wanted to
make sure I hadn't forgotten. I do hope I didn't make mistakes."
She gave it to him to look at, and as he settled himself down to its
careful examination, she kept her blue eyes upon him. She herself did
not know that it was a wonderful little document in its neatly jotted
down notes of the exact detail most important to his interests.
There were figures, there were calculations of profits, there were
records of the gist of his replies, there were things Hutchinson
himself could not possibly have fished out of the jumbled rag-bag of
his uncertain recollections.
"Did I say that?" he exclaimed once.
"Yes, Father love, and I could see it upset him. I was watching his
face because it wasn't a face I took to."
Joseph Hutchinson began to chuckle--the chuckle of a relieved and
gratified stout man.
"Tha kept thy eyes open, Little Ann," he said. "And the way tha's put
it down is a credit to thee. And I'll lay a sovereign that tha made no
mistakes in what tha thought I was thinking."
He was a little anxious to hear what it had been. The memorandum had
brought him up with a slight shock, because it showed him that he had
not remembered certain points, and had passed over others which were
of dangerous importance. Ann slipped her warm arm about his neck, as
she nearly always did when she sat on the arm of his chair and talked
things over with him. She had never thought, in fact she was not even
aware, that her soft little instincts made her treat him as the big,
good, conceited, blundering child nature had created him.
"What I was seeing all the time was the way you were taking in his
trick of putting whole lots of things in that didn't really matter,
and leaving out things that did," she explained. "He kept talking
about what the invention would make in England, and how it would make
it, and adding up figures and per cents. and royalties until my head
was buzzing inside. And when he thought he'd got your mind fixed on
England so that you'd almost forget there was any other country to
think of, he read out the agreement that said `All rights,' and he was
silly enough to think he could get you to sign it without reading it
over and over yourself, and showing it to a clever lawyer that would
know that as many tricks can be played by things being left out of a
paper as by things being put in."
Small beads of moisture broke out on the bald part of Joseph
Hutchinson's head. He had been first so flattered and exhilarated by
the quoting of large figures, and then so flustrated and embarrassed
by his inability to calculate and follow argument, and again so
soothed and elated and thrilled by his own importance in the scheme
and the honors which his position in certain companies would heap upon
him, that an abyss had yawned before him of which he had been wholly
unaware. He was not unaware of it now. He was a vainglorious, ignorant
man, whose life had been spent in common work done under the
supervision of those who knew what he did not know. He had fed himself
upon the comforting belief that he had learned all the tricks of any
trade. He had been openly boastful of his astuteness and experience,
and yet, as Ann's soft little voice went on, and she praised his
cleverness in seeing one point after another, he began to quake within
himself before the dawning realization that he had seen none of them,
that he had been carried along exactly as Rosenthal had intended that
he should be, and that if luck had not intervened, he had been on the
brink of signing his name to an agreement that would have implied a
score of concessions he would have bellowed like a bull at the thought
of making if he had known what he was doing.
"Aye, lass," he gulped out when he could speak--"aye, lass, tha wert
right enow. I'm glad tha wert there and heard it, and saw what I was
thinking. I didn't say much. I let the chap have rope enow to hang
himself with. When he comes back I'll give him a bit o' my mind as'll
startle him. It was right-down clever of thee to see just what I had
i' my head about all that there gab about things as didn't matter, an'
the leavin' out them as did--thinking I wouldn't notice. Many's the
time I've said, `It is na so much what's put into a contract as what's
left out.' I'll warrant tha'st heard me say it thysen."
"I dare say I have," answered Ann, "and I dare say that was why it
came into my mind."
"That was it," he answered. "Thy mother was always tellin' me of
things I'd said that I'd clean forgot myself."
He was beginning to recover his balance and self-respect. It would
have been so like a Lancashire chap to have seen and dealt shrewdly
with a business schemer who tried to outwit him that he was gradually
convinced that he had thought all that had been suggested, and had
comported himself with triumphant though silent astuteness. He even
began to rub his hands.
"I'll show him," he said, "I'll send him off with a flea in his ear."
"If you'll help me, I'll study out the things I've written down on
this paper," Ann said, "and then I'll write down for you just the
things you make up your mind to say. It will be such a good lesson for
me, if you don't mind, Father. It won't be much to write it out the
way you'll say it. You know how you always feel that in business the
fewer words the better, and that, however much a person deserves it,
calling names and showing you're angry is only wasting time. One of
the cleverest things you ever thought was that a thief doesn't mind
being called one if he's got what he wanted out of you; he'll only
laugh to see you in a rage when you can't help yourself. And if he
hasn't got what he wanted, it's only waste of strength to work
yourself up. It's you being what you are that makes you know that
temper isn't business."
"Well," said Hutchinson, drawing a long and deep breath, "I was almost
hot enough to have forgot that, and I'm glad you've reminded me. We'll
go over that paper now, Ann. I'd like to give you your lesson while
we've got a bit o' time to ourselves and what I've said is fresh in
your mind. The trick is always to get at things while they're fresh in
The little daughter with the red hair was present during Rosenthal's
next interview with the owner of the invention. The fellow, he told
himself, had been thinking matters over, had perhaps consulted a
lawyer; and having had time for reflection, he did not present a mass
of mere inflated and blundering vanity as a target for adroit aim. He
seemed a trifle sulky, but he did not talk about himself diffusely,
and lose his head when he was smoothed the right way. He had a set of
curiously concise notes to which he referred, and he stuck to his
points with a bulldog obstinacy which was not to be shaken. Something
had set him on a new tack. The tricks which could be used only with a
totally ignorant and readily flattered and influenced business amateur
were no longer in order. This was baffling and irritating.
The worst feature of the situation was that the daughter did not read
a book, as had seemed her habit at other times. She sat with a tablet
and pencil on her knee, and, still as unobtrusively as ever, jotted
"Put that down, Ann," her father said to her more than once. "There's
no objections to having things written down, I suppose?" he put it
bluntly to Rosenthal. "I've got to have notes made when I'm doing
business. Memory's all well enough, but black and white's better. No
one can go back of black and white. Notes save time."
There was but one attitude possible. No man of business could resent
the recording of his considered words, but the tablet and pencil and
the quietly bent red head were extraordinary obstacles to the fluidity
of eloquence. Rosenthal found his arguments less ready and his methods
modifying themselves. The outlook narrowed itself. When he returned to
his office and talked the situation over with his partner, he sat and
bit his nails in restless irritation.
"Ridiculous as it seems, outrageously ridiculous, I've an idea," he
said, "I've more than an idea that we have to count with the girl."
"Girl? What girl?"
"Daughter. Well-behaved, quiet bit of a thing, who sits in a corner
and listens while she pretends to sew or read. I'm certain of it.
She's taken to making notes now, and Hutchinson's turned stubborn. You
need not laugh, Lewis. She's in it. We've got to count with that girl,
little female mouse as she looks."
This view, which was first taken by Rosenthal and passed on to his
partner, was in course of time passed on to others and gradually
accepted, sometimes reluctantly and with much private protest,
sometimes with amusement. The well-behaved daughter went with
Hutchinson wheresoever his affairs called him. She was changeless in
the unobtrusiveness of her demeanor, which was always that of a
dutiful and obedient young person who attended her parent because he
might desire her humble little assistance in small matters.
"She's my secretary," Hutchinson began to explain, with a touch of
swagger. "I've got to have a secretary, and I'd rather trust my
private business to my own daughter than to any one else. It's safe
It was so safe with her steady demureness that Hutchinson found
himself becoming steady himself. The "lessons" he gave to Little Ann,
and the notes made as a result, always ostensibly for her own security
and instruction, began to form a singularly firm foundation for
statement and argument. He began to tell himself that his memory was
improving. Facts were no longer jumbled together in his mind. He could
better follow a line of logical reasoning. He less often grew red and
hot and flustered.
"That's the thing I've said so often--that temper's got naught to do
wi' business, and only upsets a man when he wants all his wits about
him. It's the truest thing I ever worked out," he not infrequently
congratulated himself. "If a chap can keep his temper, he'll be like
to keep his head and drive his bargain. I see it plainer every day o'
It was in the course of the "lessons" that he realized that he had
always argued that the best way to do business was to do it face to
face with people. To stay in England, and let another chap make your
bargains for you in France or Germany or some other outlandish
place, where frog-eating foreigners ran loose, was a fool's trick.
He'd said it often enough. "Get your eye on 'em, and let them know
you've got it on them, and they'd soon find out they were dealing with
Lancashire, and not with foreign knaves and nincompoops." So, when it
became necessary to deal with France, Little Ann packed him up neatly,
so to speak, and in the role of obedient secretarial companion took
him to that country, having for weeks beforehand mentally confronted
the endless complications attending the step. She knew, in the first
place, what the effect of the French language would be upon his
temper: that it would present itself to him as a wall deliberately
built by the entire nation as a means of concealing a deep duplicity
the sole object of which was the baffling, thwarting, and undoing of
Englishmen, from whom it wished to wrest their honest rights. Apoplexy
becoming imminent, as a result of his impotent rage during their first
few days in Paris, she paid a private visit to a traveler's agency,
and after careful inquiry discovered that it was not impossible to
secure the attendance and service of a well-mannered young man who
spoke most of the languages employed by most of the inhabitants of the
globe. She even found that she might choose from a number of such
persons, and she therefore selected with great care.
"One that's got a good temper, and isn't easy irritated," she said to
herself, in summing up the aspirants, "but not one that's easy-
tempered because he's silly. He must have plenty of common sense as
well as be willing to do what he's told."
When her father discovered that he himself had been considering the
desirability of engaging the services of such a person, and had,
indeed already, in a way, expressed his intention of sending her to
"the agency chap" to look him up, she was greatly relieved.
"I can try to teach him what you've taught me, Father," she said, "and
of course he'll learn just by being with you."
The assistant engaged was a hungry young student who had for weeks,
through ill luck, been endeavoring to return with some courage the
gaze of starvation, which had been staring him in the face.
His name was Dudevant, and with desperate struggles he had educated
himself highly, having cherished literary ambitions from his infancy.
At this juncture it had become imperative that he should, for a few
months at least, obtain food. Ann had chosen well by instinct. His
speech had told her that he was intelligent, his eyes had told her
that he would do anything on earth to earn his living.
From the time of his advent, Joseph Hutchinson had become calmer and
had ceased to be in peril of apoplectic seizure. Foreign nations
became less iniquitous and dangerous, foreign languages were less of a
barrier, easier to understand. A pleasing impression that through
great facility he had gained a fair practical knowledge of French,
German, and Italian, supported and exhilarated him immensely.
"It's right-down wonderful how a chap gets to understand these
fellows' lingo after he's listened to it a bit," he announced to Ann.
"I wouldn't have believed it of myself that I could see into it as
quick as I have. I couldn't say as I understand everything they say
just when they're saying it; but I understand it right enough when
I've had time to translate like. If foreigners didn't talk so fast and
run their words one into another, and jabber as if their mouths was
full of puddin', it'd be easier for them as is English. Now, there's
`wee' and `nong.' I know 'em whenever I hear 'em, and that's a good
bit of help."
"Yes," answered Ann, "of course that's the chief thing you want to
know in business, whether a person is going to say `yes' or `no.'"
He began to say "wee" and "nong" at meals, and once broke forth "Passy
mor le burr" in a tone so casually Parisian that Ann was frightened,
because she did not understand immediately, and also because she saw
looming up before her a future made perilous by the sudden
interjection of unexpected foreign phrases it would be incumbent upon
her and Dudevant to comprehend instantaneously without invidious
"Don't you understand? Pass the butter. Don't you understand a bit o'
French like that?" he exclaimed irritatedly. "Buy yourself one o'
these books full of easy sentences and learn some of 'em, lass. You
oughtn't to be travelin' about with your father in foreign countries
and learnin' nothin'. It's not every lass that's gettin' your
Ann had not mentioned the fact that she spent most of her rare leisure
moments in profound study of phrase-books and grammars, which she kept
in her trunk and gave her attention to before she got up in the
morning, after she went to her room at night, and usually while she
was dressing. You can keep a book open before you when you are
brushing your hair. Dudevant gave her a lesson or so whenever time
allowed. She was as quick to learn as her father thought he was, and
she was desperately determined. It was really not long before she
understood much more than "wee and nong" when she was present at a
"You are a wonderful young lady," Dudevant said, with that well-known
yearning in his eyes. "You are most wonderful."
"She's just a wonder," Mrs. Bowse and her boarders had said. And the
respectful yearning in the young Frenchman's eyes and voice were well
known to her because she had seen it often before, and remembered it,
in Jem Bowles and Julius Steinberger. That this young man had without
an hour of delay fallen abjectly in love with her was a circumstance