Part 6 out of 7
swept away by a sudden flood on the coast of Peru. He had accompanied his
comrades on the last marauding expedition previous to that remarkable
accident, but he had not returned with them. He had devised a little
scheme of his own, which had detained him longer than he had expected,
and he was not ready to go back with them. It would have been difficult
for him to reach the camp by himself, and, after what he had done, he did
not very much desire to go, there as he would probably have been shot as
a deserter; for Captain Raminez was a savage fellow, and more than
willing to punish transgressions against his orders. This deserter,
Banker by name, was an American, who had been a gold-digger, a gambler,
a rough, and a dead shot in California, and he was very well able to take
care of himself in any part of the world.
He had made his way up to Panama, and had stayed there as long as it was
safe for him to do so, and had eventually reached Paris. He did not like
this city half so well as he liked London, but in the latter city he
happened to be wanted, and he was not wanted in Paris. It was generally
the case that he stayed where he was not wanted.
Of course, Banker knew nothing of the destruction of his band, and the
fact that he had not heard from them since he left them gave him not the
slightest regret. But what did astonish him beyond bounds was to sit at a
table in the Black Cat, in Paris, and see before him, dressed like the
valet of a Spanish grandee, a coal-black negro who had once been his
especial and particular slave and drudge, a fellow whom he had kicked and
beaten and sworn at, and whom he no doubt would have shot had he stayed
much longer with his lawless companions, the Rackbirds. There was no
mistaking this black man. He well remembered his face, and even the tones
of his voice. He had never heard him sing, but he had heard him howl, and
it seemed almost impossible that he should meet him in Paris. And yet, he
was sure that the man who was bellowing and bawling to the delight of the
guests of the Black Cat was one of the African wretches who had been
entrapped and enslaved by the Rackbirds.
But if Banker had been astonished by Mok, he was utterly amazed and
confounded when, some five minutes later, the door of the brasserie was
suddenly opened, and another of the slaves of the Rackbirds, with whose
face he was also perfectly familiar, hurriedly entered.
Cheditafa, who had been sent on an errand that evening, had missed Mok
on his return. Ralph was away in Brussels with the professor, so that
his valet, having most of his time on his hands, had thought to take a
holiday during Cheditafa's absence, and had slipped off to the Black
Cat, whose pleasures he had surreptitiously enjoyed before, but never to
such an extent as on this occasion. Cheditafa knew he had been there,
and when he started out to look for him, it was to the Black Cat that he
Before he had quite reached the door, Cheditafa had been shocked and
angered to hear his favorite hymn sung in a beer-shop by that reprobate
and incompetent Mok, and he had rushed in, and in a minute seized the
blatant vocalist by the collar, and ordered him instantly to shut his
mouth and pay his reckoning. Then, in spite of the shouts of
disapprobation which arose on every side, he led away the negro as if he
had been a captured dog with his tail between his legs.
Mok could easily have thrown Cheditafa across the street, but his respect
and reverence for his elder and superior were so great that he obeyed his
commands without a word of remonstrance.
Now up sprang Banker, who was in such a hurry to go that he forgot to pay
for his beer, and when he performed this duty, after having been abruptly
reminded of it by a waiter, he was almost too late to follow the two
black men, but not quite too late. He was an adept in the tracking of
his fellow-beings, and it was not long before he was quietly following
Mok and Cheditafa, keeping at some distance behind them, but never
allowing them to get out of his sight.
In the course of a moderate walk he saw them enter the Hotel Grenade.
This satisfied the wandering Rackbird. If the negroes went into that
hotel at that time of night, they must live there, and he could suspend
operations until morning.
MR. BANKER'S SPECULATION
That night Banker was greatly disturbed by surmises and conjectures
concerning the presence of the two negroes in the French capital. He knew
Cheditafa quite as well as he knew Mok, and it was impossible that he
should be mistaken. It is seldom that any one sees a native African in
Paris, and he was positive that the men he had seen, dressed in expensive
garments, enjoying themselves like gentlemen of leisure, and living at a
grand hotel, were the same negroes he had last seen in rags and shreds,
lodged in a cave in the side of a precipice, toiling and shuddering under
the commands of a set of desperadoes on a desert coast in South America.
There was only one way in which he could explain matters, and that was
that the band had had some great success, and that one or more of its
members had come to Paris, and had brought the two negroes with them as
servants. But of one thing he had no doubts, and that was that he would
follow up the case. He had met with no successes of late, but if any of
his former comrades had, he wanted to meet those dear old friends. In
Paris he was not afraid of anything they might say about his desertion.
Very early in the morning Banker was in front of the Hotel Grenade. He
did not loiter there; he did not wander up and down like a vagrant, or
stand about like a spy. It was part of his business to be able to be
present in various places almost at the same time, and not to attract
notice in any of them. It was not until after ten o'clock that he saw
anything worthy of his observation, and then a carriage drove up to the
front entrance, and on the seat beside the driver sat Cheditafa, erect,
solemn, and respectable. Presently the negro got down and opened the door
of the carriage. In a few moments a lady, a beautiful lady, handsomely
dressed, came out of the hotel and entered the carriage. Then Cheditafa
shut the door and got up beside the driver again. It was a fine thing to
have such a footman as this one, so utterly different from the ordinary
groom or footman, so extremely _distingue_!
As the carriage rolled off, Banker walked after it, but not in such a way
as to attract attention, and then he entered a cab and told the _cocher_
to drive to the Bon Marche. Of course, he did not know where the lady was
going to, but at present she was driving in the direction of that
celebrated mart, and he kept his eye upon her carriage, and if she had
turned out of the Boulevard and away from the Seine, he would have
ordered his driver to turn also and go somewhere else. He did not dare to
tell the man to follow the carriage. He was shaved, and his clothes had
been put in as good order as possible, but he knew that he did not look
like a man respectable enough to give such an order without exciting
But the carriage did go to the Bon Marche, and there also went the cab,
the two vehicles arriving at almost the same time. Banker paid his fare
with great promptness, and was on the pavement in time to see the
handsomely dressed lady descend and enter the establishment. As she went
in, he took one look at the back of her bonnet. It had a little green
feather in it. Then he turned quickly upon Cheditafa, who had shut the
carriage door and was going around behind it in order to get up on the
"Look here," whispered Banker, seizing the clerical butler by the
shoulder, "who is that lady? Quick, or I'll put a knife in you."
At these words Cheditafa's heart almost stopped beating, and as he
quickly turned he saw that he looked into the face of a man, an awfully
wicked man, who had once helped to grind the soul out of him, in that
dreadful cave by the sea. The poor negro was so frightened that he
scarcely knew whether he was in Paris or Peru.
"Who is she?" whispered again the dreadful Rackbird.
"Come, come!" shouted the coachman from his seat, "we must move on."
"Quick! Who is she?" hissed Banker.
"She?" replied the quaking negro. "She is the captain's wife. She is--"
But he could say no more, for a policeman was ordering the carriage to
move on, for it stopped the way, and the coachman was calling
impatiently. Banker could not afford to meet a policeman. He released his
hold on Cheditafa and retired unnoticed. An instant afterward he entered
the Bon Marche.
Cheditafa climbed up to the side of the driver, but he missed his
foothold several times, and came near falling to the ground. In all Paris
there was no footman on a carriage who looked less upright, less sedate,
and less respectable than this poor, frightened black man.
Through the corridors and passageways of the vast establishment went
Banker. But he did not have to go far. He saw at a counter a little green
feather in the back of a bonnet. Quietly he approached that counter, and
no sooner had the attendant turned aside to get something that had been
asked for than Banker stepped close to the side of the lady, and leaning
forward, said in a very low but polite voice:
"I am so glad to find the captain's wife. I have been looking for her."
He was almost certain, from her appearance, that she was an American, and
so he spoke in English.
Edna turned with a start. She saw beside her a man with his hat off, a
rough-looking man, but a polite one, and a man who looked like a sailor.
"The captain!" she stammered. "Have you--do you bring me anything!
"Yes, madam," said he. "I have a letter and a message for you."
"Give them to me quickly!" said she, her face burning.
"I cannot," he said. "I cannot give them to you here. I have much to say
to you, and much to tell you, and I was ordered to say it in private."
Edna was astounded. Her heart sank. Captain Horn must be in trouble, else
why such secrecy? But she must know everything, and quickly. Where could
she meet the man? He divined her thought.
"The Gardens of the Tuileries," said he. "Go there now, please. I will
meet you, no matter in what part of it you are." And so saying, he
slipped away unnoticed.
When the salesman came to her, Edna did not remember what she had asked
to see, but whatever he brought she did not want, and going out, she had
her carriage called, and ordered her coachman to take her to the Gardens
of the Tuileries. She was so excited that she did not wait for Cheditafa
to get down, but opened the door herself, and stepped in quickly, even
before the porter of the establishment could attend to her.
When she reached the Gardens, and Cheditafa opened the carriage door for
her, she thought he must have a fit of chills and fever. But she had no
time to consider this, and merely told him that she was going to walk in
the Gardens, and the carriage must wait.
It was some time before Edna met the man with whom she had made this
appointment. He had seen her alight, and although he did not lose sight
of her, he kept away from her, and let her walk on until she was entirely
out of sight of the carriage. As soon as Edna perceived Banker, she
walked directly toward him. She had endeavored to calm herself, but he
could see that she was much agitated.
"How in the devil's name," he thought to himself, "did Raminez ever come
to marry such a woman as this? She's fit for a queen. But they say he
used to be a great swell in Spain before he got into trouble, and I
expect he's put on his old airs again, and an American lady will marry
anybody that's a foreign swell. And how neatly she played into my hand!
She let me know right away that she wanted a letter, which means, of
course, that Raminez is not with her."
"Give me the letter, if you please," said Edna.
"Madam," said Banker, with a bow, "I told you I had a letter and a
message. I must deliver the message first."
"Then be quick with it," said she.
"I will," said Banker. "Our captain has had great success lately, you
know, but he is obliged to keep a little in the background for the
present, as you will see by your letter, and as it is a very particular
letter, indeed, he ordered me to bring it to you."
Edna's heart sank. "What has happened?" said she. "Why--"
"Oh, you will find all that in the letter," said Banker. "The captain has
written out everything, full and clear. He told me so himself. But I must
get through with my message. It is not from him. It is from me. As I just
said, he ordered me to bring you this letter, and it was a hard thing to
do, and a risky thing to do. But I undertook the job of giving it to you,
in private, without anybody's knowing you had received it."
"What!" exclaimed Edna. "Nobody to know!"
"Oh, that is all explained," said he, hurriedly. "I can't touch on that.
My affair is this: The captain sent me with the letter, and I have been
to a lot of trouble to get it to you. Now, he is not going to pay me for
all this,--if he thanks me, it will be more than I expect,--and I am
going to be perfectly open and honest with you, and say that as the
captain won't pay me, I expect you to do it; or, putting it in another
way, before I hand you the letter I brought you, I want you to make me a
"You rascal!" exclaimed Edna. "How dare you impose on me in this way?"
It humiliated and mortified her to think that the captain was obliged to
resort to such a messenger as this. But all sorts of men become sailors,
and although her pride revolted against the attempted imposition, the man
had a letter written to her by Captain Horn, and she must have it.
"How much do you want?" said she.
"I don't mind your calling me names," said Banker. "The captain has made
a grand stroke, you know, and everything about you is very fine, while I
haven't three francs to jingle together. I want one thousand dollars."
"Five thousand francs!" exclaimed Edna. "Absurd! I have not that much
money with me. I haven't but a hundred francs, but that ought to
"Oh, no," said Banker, "not at all. But don't trouble yourself. You have
not the money, and I have not the letter. The letter is in my lodgings. I
was not fool enough to bring it with me, and have you call a policeman to
arrest me, and take it for nothing. But if you will be here in two hours,
with five thousand francs, and will promise me, upon your honor, that you
will bring no one with you, and will not call the police as soon as you
have the letter, I will be here with it."
"Yes," said Edna, "I promise."
She felt humbled and ashamed as she said it, but there was nothing
else to do. In spite of her feelings, in spite of the cost, she must
have the letter.
"Very good," said Banker, and he departed.
Banker had no lodgings in particular, but he went to a brasserie and
procured writing materials. He had some letters in his pocket,--old,
dirty letters which had been there for a long time,--and one of them was
from Raminez, which had been written when they were both in California,
and which Banker had kept because it contained an unguarded reference to
Raminez's family in Spain, and Banker had thought that the information
might some day be useful to him. He was a good penman, this
Rackbird,--he was clever in many ways,--and he could imitate handwriting
very well, and he set himself to work to address an envelope in the
handwriting of Raminez.
For some time he debated within himself as to what title he should use in
addressing the lady. Should it be "Senora" or "Madame"? He inclined to
the first appellation, but afterwards thought that as the letter was to
go to her in France, and that as most likely she understood French, and
not Spanish, Raminez would probably address her in the former language,
and therefore he addressed the envelope to "Madame Raminez, by private
hand." As to the writing of a letter he did not trouble himself at all.
He simply folded up two sheets of paper and put them in the envelope,
sealing it tightly. Now he was prepared, and after waiting until the
proper time had arrived he proceeded to the Gardens.
Edna drove to her hotel in great agitation. She was angry, she was
astounded, she was almost frightened. What could have happened to
But two things encouraged and invigorated her: he was alive, and he had
written to her. That was everything, and she would banish all
speculations and fears until she had read his letter, and, until she had
read it, she must keep the matter a secret--she must not let anybody
imagine that she had heard anything, or was about to hear anything. By
good fortune, she had five thousand francs in hand, and, with these in
her pocket-book, she ordered her carriage half an hour before the time
When Cheditafa heard the order, he was beset by a new consternation. He
had been greatly troubled when his mistress had gone to the Gardens the
first time--not because there was anything strange in that, for any lady
might like to walk in such a beautiful place, but because she was alone,
and, with a Rackbird in Paris, his lady ought never to be alone. She had
come out safely, and he had breathed again, and now, now she wanted to go
back! He must tell her about that Rackbird man. He had been thinking and
thinking about telling her all the way back to the hotel, but he had
feared to frighten her, and he had also been afraid to say that he had
done what he had been ordered not to do, and had told some one that she
was the captain's wife. But when he had reached the Gardens, he felt that
he must say something--she must not walk about alone. Accordingly, as
Edna stepped out of the carriage, he began to speak to her, but, contrary
to her usual custom, she paid no attention to him, simply telling him to
wait until she came back.
Edna was obliged to wander about for some time before Banker appeared.
"Now, then, madam," said he, "don't let us waste any time on this
business. Have you the money with you?"
"I have," said she. "But before I give it to you, I tell you that I do so
under protest, and that this conduct of yours shall be reported. I
consider it a most shameful thing, and I do not willingly pay you for
what, no doubt, you have been sufficiently paid before."
"That's all very well," said Banker. "I don't mind a bit what you say to
me. I don't mind your being angry--in fact, I think you ought to be. In
your place, I would be angry. But if you will hand me the money--"
"Silence!" exclaimed Edna. "Not another word. Where is my letter?"
"Here it is," said Banker, drawing the letter he had prepared from his
pocket, and holding it in such a position that she could read the
address. "You see, it is marked, 'by private hand,' and this is the
private hand that has brought it to you. Now, if you will count out the
money, and will hand it to me, I will give you the letter. That is
perfectly fair, isn't it?"
Edna leaned forward and looked at it. When she saw the superscription,
she was astonished, and stepped back.
"What do you mean?" she exclaimed, and was about to angrily assert that
she was not Madame Raminez, when Banker interrupted her. The sight of her
pocket-book within two feet of his hands threw him into a state of
"I want you to give me that money, and take your letter!" he said
savagely. "I can't stand here fooling."
[Illustration: "I want you to give me that money, and take your letter!"
he said savagely.]
Edna firmly gripped her pocket-book, and was about to scream, but there
was no occasion for it. It had been simply impossible for Cheditafa to
remain on the carriage and let her go into the Gardens alone; he had
followed her, and, behind some bushes, he had witnessed the interview
between her and Banker. He saw that the man was speaking roughly to her
and threatening her. Instantly he rushed toward the two, and at the very
top of his voice he yelled:
"Rackbird! Rackbird! Police!"
Startled out of her senses, Edna stepped back, while Banker turned in
fury toward the negro, and clapped his hand to his hip pocket. But
Cheditafa's cries had been heard, and down the broad avenue Banker saw
two gendarmes running toward him. It would not do to wait here and
"You devil!" he cried, turning to Cheditafa, "I'll have your blood before
you know it. As for you, madam, you have broken your word! I'll be even
with you!" And, with this, he dashed away.
When the gendarmes reached the spot, they waited to ask no questions, but
immediately pursued the flying Banker. Cheditafa was about to join in the
chase, but Edna stopped him.
"Come to the carriage--quick!" she said. "I do not wish to stay here and
talk to those policemen." Hurrying out of the Gardens, she drove away.
The ex-Rackbird was a very hard man to catch. He had had so much
experience in avoiding arrest that his skill in that direction was
generally more than equal to the skill, in the opposite direction, of the
ordinary detective. A good many people and two other gendarmes joined in
the chase after the man in the slouch-hat, who had disappeared like a
mouse or a hare around some shrubbery. It was not long before the
pursuers were joined by a man in a white cap, who asked several questions
as to what they were running after, but he did not seem to take a
sustained interest in the matter, and soon dropped out and went about his
business. He did not take his slouch-hat out of his pocket, for he
thought it would be better to continue to wear his white cap for a time.
When the police were obliged to give up the pursuit, they went back to
the Gardens to talk to the lady and her servant who, in such strange
words, had called to them, but they were not there.
Edna went home faint, trembling, and her head in a whirl. When she had
heard Cheditafa shout "Rackbird," the thought flashed into her mind that
the captain had been captured in the caves by some of these brigands who
had not been destroyed, that this was the cause of his silence, and that
he had written to her for help. But she considered that the letter could
not be meant for her, for under no circumstance would he have written to
her as Madame Raminez--a name of which she had never heard. This thought
gave her a little comfort, but not much. As soon as she reached the
hotel, she had a private talk with Cheditafa, and what the negro told her
reassured her greatly.
He did not make a very consecutive tale, but he omitted nothing. He told
her of his meeting with the Rackbird in front of the Bon Marche, and he
related every word of their short conversation. He accounted for this
Rackbird's existence by saying that he had not been at the camp when the
water came down. In answer to a question from Edna, he said that the
captain of the band was named Raminez, and that he had known him by that
name when he first saw him in Panama, though in the Rackbirds' camp he
was called nothing but "the captain."
"And you only told him I was the captain's wife?" asked Edna. "You didn't
say I was Captain Horn's wife?"
Cheditafa tried his best to recollect, and he felt very sure that he had
simply said she was the captain's wife.
When his examination was finished, Cheditafa burst into an earnest
appeal to his mistress not to go out again alone while she stayed in
Paris. He said that this Rackbird was an awfully wicked man, and that he
would kill all of them if he could. If the police caught him, he wanted
to go and tell them what a bad man he was. He did not believe the police
had caught him. This man could run like a wild hare, and policemen's
legs were so stiff.
Edna assured him that she would take good care of herself, and, after
enjoining upon him not to say a word to any one of what had happened
until she told him to, she sent him away.
When Edna sat in council with herself upon the events of the morning, she
was able to make some very fair conjectures as to what had happened. The
scoundrel she met had supposed her to be the wife of the Rackbirds'
captain. Having seen and recognized Cheditafa, it was natural enough for
him to suppose that the negro had been brought to Paris by some of the
band. All this seemed to be good reasoning, and she insisted to herself
over and over again that she was quite sure that Captain Horn had nothing
to do with the letter which the man had been intending to give her.
That assurance relieved her of one great trouble, but there were others
left. Here was a member of a band of bloody ruffians,--and perhaps he had
companions,--who had sworn vengeance against her and her faithful
servant, and Cheditafa's account of this man convinced her that he would
be ready enough to carry out such vengeance. She scarcely believed that
the police had caught him. For she had seen how he could run, and he had
the start of them. But even if they had, on what charge would he be held?
He ought to be confined or deported, but she did not wish to institute
proceedings and give evidence. She did not know what might be asked, or
said, or done, if she deposed that the man was a member of the Rackbird
band, and brought Cheditafa as a witness.
In all this trouble and perplexity she had no one to whom she could turn
for advice and assistance. If she told Mrs. Cliff there was a Rackbird in
Paris, and that he had been making threats, she was sure that good lady
would fly to her home in Plainton, Maine, where she would have iron bars
put to all the windows, and double locks to her doors.
In this great anxiety and terror--for, although Edna was a brave woman,
it terrified her to think that a wild and reckless villain, purple with
rage, had shaken his fist at her, and vowed he would kill Cheditafa--she
could not think of a soul she could trust.
Her brother, fortunately, was still in Belgium with his
tutor--fortunately, she thought, because, if he knew of the affair, he
would be certain to plunge himself into danger. And to whom could she
apply for help without telling too much of her story?
Mrs. Cliff felt there was something in the air. "You seem queer," said
she. "You seem unusually excited and ready to laugh. It isn't natural.
And Cheditafa looks very ashy. I saw him just a moment ago, and it seems
to me a dose of quinine would do him good. It may be that it is a sort of
spring fever which is affecting people, and I am not sure but that
something of the kind is the matter with me. At any rate, there is that
feeling in my spine and bones which I always have when things are about
to happen, or when there is malaria in the air."
Edna felt she must endeavor in all possible ways to prevent Mrs. Cliff
from finding out that the curses of a wicked Rackbird were in the air,
but she herself shuddered when she thought that one or more of the cruel
desperadoes, whose coming they had dreaded and waited for through that
fearful night in the caves of Peru, were now to be dreaded and feared in
the metropolis of France. If Edna shuddered at this, what would Mrs.
Cliff do if she knew it?
As for the man with the white cap, who had walked slowly away about his
business that morning when he grew tired of following the gendarmes, he
was in a terrible state of mind. He silently raged and stormed and
gnashed his teeth, and swore under his breath most awfully and
continuously. Never had he known such cursed luck. One thousand dollars
had been within two feet of his hand! He knew that the lady had that sum
in her pocket-book. He was sure she spoke truthfully. Her very
denunciation of him was a proof that she had not meant to deceive him.
She hesitated a moment, but she would have given him the money. In a few
seconds more he would have made her take the letter and give him the
price she promised. But in those few seconds that Gehenna-born baboon
had rushed in and spoiled everything. He was not enraged against the
lady, but he was enraged against himself because he had not snatched the
wallet before he ran, and he was infuriated to a degree which resembled
intoxication when he thought of Cheditafa and what he had done. The more
he thought, the more convinced he became that the lady had not brought
the negro with her to spy on him. If she had intended to break her word,
she would have brought a gendarme, not that ape.
No, the beastly blackamoor had done the business on his own account. He
had sneaked after the lady, and when he saw the gendarmes coming, he had
thought it a good chance to pay off old scores.
"Pay off!" growled Banker, in a tone which made a shop-girl, who was
walking in front of him carrying a band-box, jump so violently that she
dropped the box. "Pay off! I'll pay him!" And for a quarter of a mile he
vowed that the present purpose of his life was the annihilation, the
bloody annihilation, of that vile dog, whom he had trampled into the dirt
of the Pacific coast, and who now, decked in fine clothes, had arisen in
Paris to balk him of his fortune.
It cut Banker very deeply when he thought how neat and simple had been
the plan which had almost succeeded. He had had a notion, when he went
away to prepare the letter for the captain's wife, that he would write in
it a brief message which would mean nothing, but would make it necessary
for her to see him again and to pay him again. But he had abandoned this.
He might counterfeit an address, but it was wiser not to try his hand
upon a letter. The more he thought about Raminez, the less he desired to
run the risk of meeting him, even in Paris. So he considered that if he
made this one bold stroke and got five thousand francs, he would retire,
joyful and satisfied. But now! Well, he had a purpose: the annihilation
of Cheditafa was at present his chief object in life.
Banker seldom stayed in one place more than a day at a time, and before
he went to a new lodging, that night, he threw away his slouch-hat, which
he had rammed into his pocket, for he would not want it again. He had his
hair cut short and his face neatly shaved, and when he went to his room,
he trimmed his mustache in such a way that it greatly altered the cast of
his countenance. He was not the penniless man he had represented himself
to be, who had not three francs to jingle together, for he was a billiard
sharper and gambler of much ability, and when he appeared in the street,
the next morning, he was neatly dressed in a suit of second-hand clothes
which were as quiet and respectable as any tourist of limited means could
have desired. With Baedeker's "Paris" in his hand, and with a long knife
and a slung-shot concealed in his clothes, he went forth to behold the
wonders of the great city.
He did not seem to care very much whether he saw the sights by day or by
night, for from early morning until ten or eleven o'clock in the evening,
he was an energetic and interested wayfarer, confining his observations,
however, to certain quarters of the city which best suited his
investigations. One night he gawkily strolled into the Black Cat, and one
day he boldly entered the Hotel Grenade and made some inquiries of the
porter regarding the price of accommodations, which, however, he
declared were far above his means. That day he saw Mok in the courtyard,
and once, in passing, he saw Edna come out and enter her carriage with an
elderly lady, and they drove away, with Cheditafa on the box.
Under his dark sack-coat Banker wore a coarse blouse, and in the pocket
of this undergarment he had a white cap. He was a wonderful man to move
quietly out of people's way, and there were places in every neighborhood
where, even in the daytime, he could cast off the dark coat and the derby
hat without attracting attention.
It was satisfactory to think, as he briskly passed on, as one who has
much to see in a little time, that the incident in the Tuileries Gardens
had not yet caused the captain's wife to change her quarters.
It was a little more than a week after Edna's adventure in the Gardens,
and about ten o'clock in the morning, that something happened--something
which proved that Mrs. Cliff was entirely right when she talked about the
feeling in her bones. Edna received a letter from Captain Horn, which was
dated at Marseilles.
As she stood with the letter in her hand, every nerve tingling, every
vein throbbing, and every muscle as rigid as if it had been cast in
metal, she could scarcely comprehend that it had really come--that she
really held it. After all this waiting and hoping and trusting, here was
news from Captain Horn--news by his own hand, now, here, this minute!
Presently she regained possession of herself, and, still standing, she
tore open the letter. It was a long one of several sheets, and she read
it twice. The first time, standing where she had received it, she skimmed
over page after page, running her eye from top to bottom until she had
reached the end and the signature, but her quick glance found not what
she looked for. Then the hand holding the letter dropped by her side.
After all this waiting and hoping and trusting, to receive such a
letter! It might have been written by a good friend, a true and generous
friend, but that was all. It was like the other letters he had written.
Why should they not have been written to Mrs. Cliff?
Now she sat down to read it over again. She first looked at the envelope.
Yes, it was really directed to "Mrs. Philip Horn." That was something,
but it could not have been less. It had been brought by a messenger from
Wraxton, Fuguet & Co., and had been delivered to Mrs. Cliff. That lady
had told the messenger to take the letter to Edna's salon, and she was
now lying in her own chamber, in a state of actual ague. Of course, she
would not intrude upon Edna at such a moment as this. She would wait
until she was called. Whether her shivers were those of ecstasy,
apprehension, or that nervous tremulousness which would come to any one
who beholds an uprising from the grave, she did not know, but she surely
felt as if there were a ghost in the air.
The second reading of the letter was careful and exact. The captain had
written a long account of what had happened after he had left Valparaiso.
His former letter, he wrote, had told her what had happened before that
time. He condensed everything as much as possible, but the letter was a
very long one. It told wonderful things--things which ought to have
interested any one. But to Edna it was as dry as a meal of stale crusts.
It supported her in her fidelity and allegiance as such a meal would have
supported a half-famished man, but that was all. Her soul could not live
on such nutriment as this.
He had not begun the letter "My dear Wife," as he had done before. It
was not necessary now that his letters should be used as proof that she
was his widow! He had plunged instantly into the subject-matter, and had
signed it after the most friendly fashion. He was not even coming to her!
There was so much to do which must be done immediately, and could not be
done without him. He had telegraphed to his bankers, and one of the firm
and several clerks were already with him. There were great difficulties
yet before him, in which he needed the aid of financial counsellors and
those who had influence with the authorities. His vessel, the _Arato_,
had no papers, and he believed no cargo of such value had ever entered a
port of France as that contained in the little green-hulled schooner
which he had sailed into the harbor of Marseilles. This cargo must be
landed openly. It must be shipped to various financial centres, and what
was to be done required so much prudence, knowledge, and discretion that
without the aid of the house of Wraxton, Fuguet & Co., he believed his
difficulties would have been greater than when he stood behind the wall
of gold on the shore of the Patagonian island.
He did not even ask her to come to him. In a day or so, he wrote, it
might be necessary for him to go to Berlin, and whether or not he would
travel to London from the German capital, he could not say, and for this
reason he could not invite any of them to come down to him.
"Any of us!" exclaimed Edna.
For more than an hour Mrs. Cliff lay in the state of palpitation which
pervaded her whole organization, waiting for Edna to call her. And at
last she could wait no longer, and rushed into the salon where Edna sat
alone, the letter in her hand.
"What does he say?" she cried, "Is he well? Where is he? Did he get
Edna looked at her for a moment without answering. "Yes," she said
presently, "he is well. He is in Marseilles. The gold--" And for a moment
she did not remember whether or not the captain had it.
"Oh, do say something!" almost screamed Mrs. Cliff. "What is it? Shall I
read the letter? What does he say?"
This recalled Edna to herself. "No," said she, "I will read it to you."
And she read it aloud, from beginning to end, carefully omitting those
passages which Mrs. Cliff would have been sure to think should have been
written in a manner in which they were not written.
"Well!" exclaimed Mrs. Cliff, who, in alternate horror, pity, and
rapture, had listened, pale and open-mouthed, to the letter. "Captain
Horn is consistent to the end! Whatever happens, he keeps away from us!
But that will not be for long, and--oh, Edna!"--and, as she spoke, she
sprang from her chair and threw her arms around the neck of her
companion, "he's got the gold!" And, with this, the poor lady sank
insensible upon the floor.
"The gold!" exclaimed Edna, before she even stooped toward her fainting
friend. "Of what importance is that wretched gold!"
An hour afterwards Mrs. Cliff, having been restored to her usual
condition, came again into Edna's room, still pale and in a state of
"Now, I suppose," she exclaimed, "we can speak out plainly, and tell
everybody everything. And I believe that will be to me a greater delight
than any amount of money could possibly be."
"Speak out!" cried Edna, "of course we cannot. We have no more right to
speak out now than we ever had. Captain Horn insisted that we should not
speak of these affairs until he came, and he has not yet come."
"No, indeed!" said Mrs. Cliff, "that seems to be the one thing he cannot
do. He can do everything but come here. And are we to tell nobody that he
has arrived in France?--not even that much?"
"I shall tell Ralph," replied Edna. "I shall write to him to come here as
soon as possible, but that is all until the captain arrives, and we know
everything that has been done, and is to be done. I don't wish any one,
except you and me and Ralph, even to know that I have heard from him."
"Not Cheditafa? Not the professor? Nor any of your friends?"
"Of course not," said Edna, a little impatiently. "Don't you see how
embarrassing, how impossible it would be for me to tell them anything, if
I did not tell them everything? And what is there for me to tell them?
When we have seen Captain Horn, we shall all know who we are, and what we
are, and then we can speak out to the world, and I am sure I shall be
glad enough to do it."
"For my part," said Mrs. Cliff, "I think we all know who we are now. I
don't think anybody could tell us. And I think it would have been a great
"No, it wouldn't!" exclaimed Edna. "Whatever you were going to say, I
know it wouldn't have been better. We could have done nothing but what we
have done. We had no right to speak of Captain Horn's affairs, and having
accepted his conditions, with everything else that he has given us, we
are bound to observe them until he removes them. So we shall not talk any
more about that."
Poor Mrs. Cliff sighed. "So I must keep myself sealed and locked up, just
the same as ever?"
"Yes," replied Edna, "the same as ever. But it cannot be for long. As
soon as the captain has made his arrangements, we shall hear from him,
and then everything will be told."
"Made his arrangements!" repeated Mrs. Cliff. "That's another thing I
don't like. It seems to me that if everything were just as it ought to
be, there wouldn't be so many arrangements to make, and he wouldn't have
to be travelling to Berlin, and to London, and nobody knows where else. I
wonder if people are giving him any trouble about it! We have had all
sorts of troubles already, and now that the blessed end seems almost
under our fingers, I hope we are not going to have more of it."
"Our troubles," said Edna, "are nothing. It is Captain Horn who
should talk in that way. I don't think that, since the day we left
San Francisco, anybody could have supposed that we were in any sort
"I don't mean outside circumstances," said Mrs. Cliff. "But I suppose we
have all got souls and consciences inside of us, and when they don't know
what to do, of course we are bound to be troubled, especially as they
don't know what to tell us, and we don't know whether or not to mind
them when they do speak. But you needn't be afraid of me. I shall keep
quiet--that is, as long as I can. I can't promise forever."
Edna wrote to Ralph, telling him of the captain's letter, and urging him
to come to Paris as soon as possible. It was scarcely necessary to speak
to him of secrecy, for the boy was wise beyond his years. She did speak
of it, however, but very circumspectly. She knew that her brother would
never admit that there was any reason for the soul-rending anxiety with
which she waited the captain's return. But whatever happened, or whatever
he might think about what should happen, she wanted Ralph with her. She
felt herself more truly alone than she had ever been in her life.
During the two days which elapsed before Ralph reached Paris from
Brussels, Edna had plenty of time to think, and she did not lose any of
it. What Mrs. Cliff had said about people giving trouble, and about her
conscience, and all that, had touched her deeply. What Captain Horn had
said about the difficulties he had encountered on reaching Marseilles,
and what he had said about the cargo of the _Arato_ being probably more
valuable than any which had ever entered that port, seemed to put an
entirely new face upon the relations between her and the owner of this
vast wealth, if, indeed, he were able to establish that ownership. The
more she thought of this point, the more contemptible appeared her own
position--that is, the position she had assumed when she and the captain
stood together for the last time on the shore of Peru. If that gold truly
belonged to him, if he had really succeeded in his great enterprise,
what right had she to insist that he should accept her as a condition of
his safe arrival in a civilized land with this matchless prize, with no
other right than was given her by that very indefinite contract which had
been entered into, as she felt herself forced to believe, only for her
benefit in case he should not reach a civilized land alive?
The disposition of this great wealth was evidently an anxiety and a
burden, but in her heart she believed that the greatest of his anxieties
was caused by his doubt in regard to the construction she might now place
upon that vague, weird ceremony on the desert coast of Peru.
The existence of such a doubt was the only thing that could explain the
tone of his letters. He was a man of firmness and decision, and when he
had reached a conclusion, she knew he would state it frankly, without
hesitation. But she also knew that he was a man of a kind and tender
heart, and it was easy to understand how that disposition had influenced
his action. By no word or phrase, except such as were necessary to
legally protect her in the rights he wished to give her in case of his
death, had he written anything to indicate that he or she were not both
perfectly free to plan out the rest of their lives as best suited them.
In a certain way, his kindness was cruelty. It threw too much upon her.
She believed that if she were to assume that a marriage ceremony
performed by a black man from the wilds of Africa, was as binding, at
least, as a solemn engagement, he would accept her construction and all
its consequences. She also believed that if she declared that ceremony
to be of no value whatever, now that the occasion had passed, he would
agree with that conclusion. Everything depended upon her. It was too
hard for her.
To exist in this state of uncertainty was impossible for a woman of
Edna's organization. At any hour Captain Horn might appear. How should
she receive him? What had she to say to him?
For the rest of that day and the whole of the night, her mind never left
this question: "What am I to say to him?" She had replied to his letter
by a telegram, and simply signed herself "Edna." It was easy enough to
telegraph anywhere, and even to write, without assuming any particular
position in regard to him. But when he came, she must know what to do and
what to say. She longed for Ralph's coming, but she knew he could not
help her. He would say but one thing--that which he had always said. In
fact, he would be no better than Mrs. Cliff. But he was her own flesh and
blood, and she longed for him.
Since the affair with the Rackbird, Cheditafa had done his duty more
earnestly than ever before. He said nothing to Mok about the Rackbird. He
had come to look upon his fellow-African as a very low creature, not much
better than a chimpanzee. During Ralph's absence Mok had fallen into all
sorts of irregular habits, going out without leave whenever he got a
chance, and disporting himself generally in a very careless and
On the evening that Ralph was expected from Brussels, Mok was missing.
Cheditafa could not find him in any of the places where he ought to
have been, so he must be out of doors somewhere, and Cheditafa went to
look for him.
This was the first time that Cheditafa had gone into the streets alone at
night since the Rackbird incident in the Tuileries Gardens. As he was the
custodian of Mok, and responsible for him, he did not wish to lose sight
of him, especially on this evening.
It so happened that when Cheditafa went out of the hotel, his
appearance was noticed by Mr. Banker. There was nothing remarkable
about this, for the evening was the time when the ex-Rackbird gave
the most attention to the people who came out of the hotel. When he
saw Cheditafa, his soul warmed within him. Here was the reward of
patience and steadfastness--everything comes to those who wait.
A half-hour before, Banker had seen Mok leave the hotel and make his way
toward the Black Cat. He did not molest the rapidly walking negro. He
would not have disturbed him for anything. But his watchfulness became so
eager and intense that he almost, but not quite, exposed himself to the
suspicion of a passing gendarme. He now expected Cheditafa, for the
reason that the manner of the younger negro indicated that he was playing
truant. It was likely that the elder man would go after him, and this was
exactly what happened.
Banker allowed the old African to go his way without molestation, for the
brightly lighted neighborhood of the hotel was not adapted to his
projected performance. But he followed him warily, and, when they reached
a quiet street, Banker quickened his pace, passed Cheditafa, and,
suddenly turning, confronted him. Then, without a word having been said,
there flashed upon the mind of the African everything that had happened,
not only in the Tuileries Gardens, but in the Rackbirds' camp, and at the
same time a prophetic feeling of what was about to happen.
By a few quick pulls and jerks, Banker had so far removed his disguise
that Cheditafa knew him the instant that his eyes fell upon him. His
knees trembled, his eyeballs rolled so that nothing but their whites
could be seen, and he gave himself up to death. Then spoke out the
What he said need not be recorded here, but every word of superheated
vengeance, with which he wished to torture the soul of his victim before
striking him to the earth, went straight to the soul of Cheditafa, as if
it had been a white-hot iron. His chin fell upon his breast. He had but
one hope, and that was that he would be killed quickly. He had seen
people killed in the horrible old camp, and the man before him he
believed to be the worst Rackbird of them all.
When Banker had finished stabbing and torturing the soul of the
African, he drew a knife from under his coat, and down fell Cheditafa
on his knees.
The evening was rainy and dark, and the little street was nearly
deserted. Banker, who could look behind and before him without making
much show of turning his head, had made himself sure of this before he
stepped in front of Cheditafa. But while he had been pouring out his
torrent of heart-shrivelling vituperation, he had ceased to look before
and behind him, and had not noticed a man coming down the street in the
opposite direction to that in which they had been going.
This was Mok, who was much less of a fool than Cheditafa took him for. He
had calculated that he would have time to go to the Black Cat and drink
two glasses of beer before Ralph was likely to appear, and he also made
up his mind that two glasses were as much as he could dispose of without
exciting the suspicions of the young man. Therefore, he had attended to
the business that had taken him out of doors on that rainy night, and was
returning to the hotel with a lofty consciousness of having done wrong in
a very wise and satisfactory manner.
He wore india-rubber overshoes, because the pavements were wet, and also
because this sort of foot-gear suited him better than hard, unyielding
sole-leather. Had he had his own way, he would have gone bare-footed, but
that would have created comment in the streets of Paris--he had sense
enough to know that.
When he first perceived, by the dim light of a street lamp, two persons
standing together on his side of the street, his conscience, without any
reason for it, suggested that he cross over and pass by without
attracting attention. To wrong-doers attention is generally unwelcome.
Mok not only trod with the softness and swiftness of a panther, but he
had eyes like that animal, and if there were any light at all, those
eyes could make good use of it. As he neared the two men, he saw that
one was scolding the other. Then he saw the other man drop down on his
knees. Then, being still nearer, he perceived that the man on his knees
was Cheditafa. Then he saw the man in front of him draw a knife from
under his coat.
As a rule, Mok was a coward, but two glasses of beer were enough to turn
his nature in precisely the opposite direction. A glass less would have
left him timorous, a glass more would have made him foolhardy and silly.
He saw that somebody was about to stab his old friend. In five long,
noiseless steps, or leaps, he was behind that somebody, and had seized
the arm which held the knife.
With a movement as quick as the stroke of a rattlesnake, Banker turned
upon the man who had clutched his arm, and when he saw that it was Mok,
his fury grew tornado-like. With a great oath, and a powerful plunge
backward, he endeavored to free his arm from the grasp of the negro. But
he did not do it. Those black fingers were fastened around his wrist as
though they had been fetters forged to fit him. And in the desperate
struggle the knife was dropped.
In a hand-to-hand combat with a chimpanzee, a strong man would have but
little chance of success, and Mok, under the influence of two glasses of
beer, was a man-chimpanzee. When Banker swore, and when he turned so that
the light of the street lamp fell upon his face, Mok recognized him. He
knew him for a Rackbird of the Rackbirds--as the cruel, black-eyed savage
who had beaten him, trodden upon him, and almost crushed the soul out of
him, in that far-away camp by the sea. How this man should have suddenly
appeared in Paris, why he came there, and what he was going to do,
whether he was alone, or with his band concealed in the neighboring
doorways, Mok did not trouble his mind to consider. He held in his brazen
grip a creature whom he considered worse than the most devilish of
African devils, a villain who had been going to kill Cheditafa.
Every nerve under his black skin, every muscle that covered his bones,
and the two glasses of beer, sung out to him that the Rackbird could not
get away from him, and that the great hour of vengeance had arrived.
Banker had a pistol, but he had no chance to draw it. The arms of the
wild man were around him. His feet slipped from under him, and instantly
the two were rolling on the wet pavement. But only for an instant. Banker
was quick and light and strong to such a degree that no man but a
man-chimpanzee could have overpowered him in a struggle like that. Both
were on their feet almost as quickly as they went down, but do what he
would, Banker could not get out his pistol.
Those long black arms, one of them now bared to the shoulder, were about
him ever. He pulled, and tugged, and swerved. He half threw him one
instant, half lifted the next, but never could loosen the grasp of that
fierce creature, whose whole body seemed as tough and elastic as the
shoes he wore.
Together they fell, together they rolled in the dirty slime, together
they rose as if they had been shot up by a spring, and together they went
down again, rolling over each other, pulling, tearing, striking, gasping,
Cheditafa had gone. The moment of Mok's appearance, he had risen and
fled. There were now people in the street. Some had come out of their
houses, hearing the noise of the struggle, for Banker wore heavy shoes.
There were also one or two pedestrians who had stopped, unwilling to pass
men who were engaged in such a desperate conflict.
No one interfered. It would have seemed as prudent to step between two
tigers. Such a bounding, whirling, tumbling, rolling, falling, and rising
contest had never been seen in that street, except between cats. It
seemed that the creatures would dash themselves through the windows of
It was not long before Cheditafa came back with two policemen, all
running, and then the men who lay in the street, spinning about as if
moving on pivots, were seized and pulled apart. At first the officers
of the law appeared at a loss to know what had happened, and who had
been attacked. What was this black creature from the Jardin des
Plantes? But Banker's coat had been torn from his back, and his pistol
stood out in bold relief in his belt, and Cheditafa pointed to the
breathless bandit, and screamed: "Bad man! Bad man! Try to kill me!
This good Mok save my life!"
Two more policemen now came hurrying up, for other people had given the
alarm, and it was not considered necessary to debate the question as to
who was the aggressor in this desperate affair. Cheditafa, Mok, and
Banker were all taken to the police station.
As Cheditafa was known to be in the service of the American lady at the
Hotel Grenade, the _portier_ of that establishment was sent for, and
having given his testimony to the good character of the two negroes, they
were released upon his becoming surety for their appearance when wanted.
As for Banker, there was no one to go security. He was committed
* * * * *
When Ralph went to his room, that night, he immediately rang for his
valet. Mok, who had reached the hotel from the police station but a few
minutes before, answered the summons. When Ralph turned about and beheld
the black man, his hair plastered with mud, his face plastered with mud,
and what clothes he had on muddy, torn, and awry, with one foot wearing a
great overshoe and the other bare, with both black arms entirely denuded
of sleeves, with eyes staring from his head, and his whole form quivering
and shaking, the young man started as if some afrit of the "Arabian
Nights" had come at this dark hour to answer his call.
To the eager questions which poured upon him when his identity became
apparent, Mok could make no intelligible answer. He did not possess
English enough for that. But Cheditafa was quickly summoned, and he
explained everything. He explained it once, twice, three times, and then
he and Mok were sent away, and told to go to bed, and under no
circumstances to mention to their mistress what had happened, or to
anybody who might mention it to her. And this Cheditafa solemnly
promised for both.
The clock struck one as Ralph still sat in his chair, wondering what
all this meant, and what might be expected to happen next. To hear
that a real, live Rackbird was in Paris, that this outlaw had
threatened his sister, that the police had been watching for him, that
he had sworn to kill Cheditafa, and that night had tried to do it,
amazed him beyond measure.
At last he gave up trying to conjecture what it meant. It was foolish to
waste his thoughts in that way. To-morrow he must find out. He could
understand very well why his sister had kept him in ignorance of the
affair in the Gardens. She had feared danger to him. She knew that he
would be after that scoundrel more hotly than any policeman. But what the
poor girl must have suffered! It was terrible to think of.
The first thing he would do would be to take very good care that she
heard nothing of the attack on Cheditafa. He would go to the police
office early the next morning and look into this matter. He did not
think that it would be necessary for Edna to know anything about
it, except that the Rackbird had been arrested and she need no
longer fear him.
When Ralph reached the police station, the next day, he found there the
portier of the hotel, together with Cheditafa and Mok.
After Banker's examination, to which he gave no assistance by admissions
of any sort, he was remanded for trial, and he was held merely for his
affair with the negroes, no charge having been made against him for his
attempt to obtain money from their mistress, or his threats in her
direction. As the crime for which he had been arrested gave reason
enough for condign punishment of the desperado, Ralph saw, and made
Cheditafa see, it would be unnecessary as well as unpleasant to drag
Edna into the affair.
That afternoon Mr. Banker, who had recovered his breath and had collected
his ideas, sent for the police magistrate and made a confession. He said
he had been a member of a band of outlaws, but having grown disgusted
with their evil deeds, had left them. He had become very poor, and having
heard that the leader of the band had made a fortune by a successful
piece of rascality, and had married a fine lady, and was then in Paris,
he had come to this city to meet him, and to demand in the name of their
old comradeship some assistance in his need. He had found his captain's
wife. She had basely deceived him after having promised to help him, and
he had been insulted and vilely treated by that old negro, who was once a
slave in the Rackbirds' camp in Peru, and who had been brought here with
the other negro by the captain. He also freely admitted that he had
intended to punish the black fellow, though he had no idea whatever of
killing him. If he had had such an idea, it would have been easy enough
for him to put his knife into him when he met him in that quiet street.
But he had not done so, but had contented himself with telling him what
he thought of him, and with afterwards frightening him with his knife.
And then the other fellow had come up, and there had been a fight.
Therefore, although he admitted that his case was a great misdemeanor,
and that he had been very disorderly, he boldly asserted that he had
contemplated no murder. But what he wished particularly to say to the
magistrate was that the captain of the Rackbirds would probably soon
arrive in Paris, and that he ought to be arrested. No end of important
results might come from such an arrest. He was quite sure that the great
stroke of fortune which had enabled the captain's family to live in Paris
in such fine style ought to be investigated. The captain had never made
any money by simple and straightforward methods of business.
All this voluntary testimony was carefully taken down, and although the
magistrate did not consider it necessary to believe any of it, the
arrival of Captain Horn was thenceforth awaited with interest by the
police of Paris.
It was not very plain how Miss Markham of the Hotel Grenade, who was well
known as a friend of a member of the American legation, could be the wife
of a South American bandit. But then, there might be reasons why she
wished to retain her maiden name for the present, and she might not know
her husband as a bandit.
ENTER CAPTAIN HORN
It was less than a week after the tumbling match in the street between
Banker and Mok, and about eleven o'clock in the morning, when a brief
note, written on a slip of paper and accompanied by a card, was brought
to Edna from Mrs. Cliff. On the card was written the name of Captain
Philip Horn, and the note read thus:
"He is here. He sent his card to me. Of course, you
will see him. Oh, Edna! don't do anything foolish when
you see him! Don't go and throw away everything
worth living for in this world! Heaven help you!"
This note was hurriedly written, but Edna read it at a glance.
"Bring the gentleman here," she said to the man.
Now, with all her heart, Edna blessed herself and thanked herself that,
at last, she had been strong enough and brave enough to determine what
she ought to do when she met the captain. That very morning, lying awake
in her bed, she had determined that she would meet him in the same spirit
as that in which he had written to her. She would be very strong. She
would not assume anything. She would not accept the responsibility of
deciding the situation, which responsibility she believed he thought it
right she should assume. She would not have it. If he appeared before her
as the Captain Horn of his letters, he should go away as the man who had
written those letters. If he had come here on business, she would show
him that she was a woman of business.
As she stood waiting, with her eyes upon his card, which lay upon the
table, and Mrs. Cliffs note crumpled up in one hand, she saw the captain
for some minutes before it was possible for him to reach her. She saw him
on board the _Castor_, a tall, broad-shouldered sailor, with his hands in
the pockets of his pea-jacket. She saw him by the caves in Peru, his
flannel shirt and his belted trousers faded by the sun and water, torn
and worn, and stained by the soil on which they so often sat, with his
long hair and beard, and the battered felt hat, which was the last thing
she saw as his boat faded away in the distance, when she stood watching
it from the sandy beach. She saw him as she had imagined him after she
had received his letter, toiling barefooted along the sands, carrying
heavy loads upon his shoulders, living alone night and day on a dreary
desert coast, weary, perhaps haggard, but still indomitable. She saw him
in storm, in shipwreck, in battle, and as she looked upon him thus with
the eyes of her brain, there were footsteps outside her door.
As Captain Horn came through the long corridors and up the stairs,
following the attendant, he saw the woman he was about to meet, and saw
her before he met her. He saw her only in one aspect--that of a tall, too
thin, young woman, clad in a dark-blue flannel suit, unshapely,
streaked, and stained, her hair bound tightly round her head and covered
by an old straw hat with a faded ribbon. This picture of her as he had
left her standing on the beach, at the close of that afternoon when his
little boat pulled out into the Pacific, was as clear and distinct as
when he had last seen it.
A door was opened before him, and he entered Edna's salon. For a moment
he stopped in the doorway. He did not see the woman he had come to meet.
He saw before him a lady handsomely and richly dressed in a Parisian
morning costume--a lady with waving masses of dark hair above a lovely
face, a lady with a beautiful white hand, which was half raised as he
appeared in the doorway.
She stood with her hand half raised. She had never seen the man before
her. He was a tall, imposing gentleman, in a dark suit, over which he
wore a light-colored overcoat. One hand was gloved, and in the other he
held a hat. His slightly curling brown beard and hair were trimmed after
the fashion of the day, and his face, though darkened by the sun, showed
no trace of toil, or storm, or anxious danger. He was a tall,
broad-shouldered gentleman, with an air of courtesy, an air of dignity,
an air of forbearance, which were as utterly unknown to her as everything
else about him, except his eyes--those were the same eyes she had seen on
board the _Castor_ and on the desert sands.
Had it not been for the dark eyes which looked so steadfastly at him,
Captain Horn, would have thought that he had been shown into the wrong
room. But he now knew there was no mistake, and he entered. Edna raised
her hand and advanced to meet him.
He shook hands with her exactly as he had written to her, and she shook
hands with him just as she had telegraphed to him. Much of her natural
color had left her face. As he had never seen this natural color, under
the sun-brown of the Pacific voyage, he did not miss it.
Instantly she began to speak. How glad she was that she had prepared
herself to speak as she would have spoken to any other good friend! So
she expressed her joy at seeing him again, well and successful after
all these months of peril, toil, and anxiety, and they sat down near
He looked at her steadfastly, and asked her many things about Ralph, Mrs.
Cliff, and the negroes, and what had happened since he left San
Francisco. He listened with a questioning intentness as she spoke. She
spoke rapidly and concisely as she answered his questions and asked him
about himself. She said little about the gold. One might have supposed
that he had arrived at Marseilles with a cargo of coffee. At the same
time, there seemed to be, on Edna's part, a desire to lengthen out her
recital of unimportant matters. She now saw that the captain knew she did
not care to talk of these things. She knew that he was waiting for an
opportunity to turn the conversation into another channel,--waiting with
an earnestness that was growing more and more apparent,--and as she
perceived this, and as she steadily talked to him, she assured herself,
with all the vehemence of which her nature was capable, that she and this
man were two people connected by business interests, and that she was
ready to discuss that business in a business way as soon as he could
speak. But still she did not yet give him the chance to speak.
The captain sat there, with his blue eyes fixed upon her, and, as she
looked at him, she knew him to be the personification of honor and
magnanimity, waiting until he could see that she was ready for him to
speak, ready to listen if she should speak, ready to meet her on any
ground--a gentleman, she thought, above all the gentlemen in the world.
And still she went on talking about Mrs. Cliff and Ralph.
Suddenly the captain rose. Whether or not he interrupted her in the
middle of a sentence, he did not know, nor did she know. He put his hat
upon a table and came toward her. He stood in front of her and looked
down at her. She looked up at him, but he did not immediately speak. She
could not help standing silently and looking up at him when he stood and
looked down upon her in that way. Then he spoke.
"Are you my wife?" said he.
"By all that is good and blessed in heaven or earth, I am," she answered.
Standing there, and looking up into his eyes, there was no other answer
for her to make.
* * * * *
Seldom has a poor, worn, tired, agitated woman kept what was to her a
longer or more anxious watch upon a closed door than Mrs. Cliff kept that
day. If even Ralph had appeared, she would have decoyed him into her own
room, and locked him up there, if necessary.
In about an hour after Mrs. Cliff began her watch, a tall man walked
rapidly out of the salon and went down the stairs, and then a woman came
running across the hall and into Mrs. Cliff's room, closing the door
behind her. Mrs. Cliff scarcely recognized this woman. She had Edna's
hair and face, but there was a glow and a glory on her countenance such
as Mrs. Cliff had never seen, or expected to see until, in the hereafter,
she should see it on the face of an angel.
"He has loved me," said Edna, with her arms around her old friend's neck,
"ever since we had been a week on the _Castor_."
Mrs. Cliff shivered and quivered with joy. She could not say anything,
but over and over again she kissed the burning cheeks of her friend.
At last they stood apart, and, when Mrs. Cliff was calm enough to
speak, she said:
"Ever since we were on the _Castor!_ Well, Edna, you must admit that
Captain Horn is uncommonly good at keeping things to himself."
"Yes," said the other, "and he always kept it to himself. He never let it
go away from him. He had intended to speak to me, but he wanted to wait
until I knew him better, and until we were in a position where he
wouldn't seem to be taking advantage of me by speaking. And when you
proposed that marriage by Cheditafa, he was very much troubled and
annoyed. It was something so rough and jarring, and so discordant with
what he had hoped, that at first he could not bear to think of it. But he
afterwards saw the sense of your reasoning, and agreed simply because it
would be to my advantage in case he should lose his life in his
undertaking. And we will be married to-morrow at the embassy."
"To-morrow!" cried Mrs. Cliff. "So soon?"
"Yes," replied Edna. "The captain has to go away, and I am going
"That is all right," said Mrs. Cliff. "Of course I was a little surprised
at first. But how about the gold? How much was there of it? And what is
he going to do with it?"
"He scarcely mentioned the gold," replied Edna. "We had more precious
things to talk about. When he sees us all together, you and I and Ralph,
he will tell us what he has done, and what he is going to do, and--"
"And we can say what we please?" cried Mrs. Cliff.
"Yes," said Edna,--"to whomever we please."
"Thank the Lord!" exclaimed Mrs. Cliff. "That is almost as good as
* * * * *
On his arrival in Paris the night before, Captain Horn had taken
lodgings at a hotel not far from the Hotel Grenade, and the first thing
he did the next morning was to visit Edna. He had supposed, of course,
that she was at the same hotel in which Mrs. Cliff resided, which
address he had got from Wraxton, in Marseilles, and he had expected to
see the elderly lady first, and to get some idea of how matters stood
before meeting Edna. He was in Paris alone. He had left Shirley and
Burke, with the negroes, in Marseilles. He had wished to do nothing, to
make no arrangements for any one, until he had seen Edna, and had found
out what his future life was to be.
Now, as he walked back to his hotel, that future life lay before him
radiant and resplendent. No avenue in Paris, or in any part of the world,
blazing with the lights of some grand festival, ever shone with such
glowing splendor as the future life of Captain Horn now shone and
sparkled before him, as he walked and walked, on and on, and crossed the
river into the Latin Quarter, before he perceived that his hotel was a
mile or more behind him.
From the moment that the _Arato_ had left the Straits of Magellan, and
Captain Horn had had reason to believe that he had left his dangers
behind him, the prow of his vessel had been set toward the Strait of
Gibraltar, and every thought of his heart toward Edna. Burke and Shirley
both noticed a change in him. After he left the Rackbirds' cove, until he
had sailed into the South Atlantic, his manner had been quiet, alert,
generally anxious, and sometimes stern. But now, day by day, he appeared
to be growing into a different man. He was not nervous, nor apparently
impatient, but it was easy to see that within him there burned a steady
purpose to get on as fast as the wind would blow them northward.
Day by day, as he walked the deck of his little vessel, one might have
thought him undergoing a transformation from the skipper of a schooner
into the master of a great ship, into the captain of a swift Atlantic
liner, into the commander of a man-of-war, into the commodore on board a
line-of-battle ship. It was not an air of pride or assumed superiority
that he wore, it was nothing assumed, it was nothing of which he was not
entirely aware. It was the gradual growth within him, as health grows
into a man recovering from a sickness, of the consciousness of power.
The source of that consciousness lay beneath him, as he trod the deck of
This consciousness, involuntary, and impossible to resist, had nothing
definite about it. It had nothing which could wholly satisfy the soul of
this man, who kept his eyes and his thoughts so steadfastly toward the
north. He knew that there were but few things in the world that his power
could not give him, but there was one thing upon which it might have no
influence whatever, and that one thing was far more to him than all other
things in this world.
Sometimes, as he sat smoking beneath the stars, he tried to picture to
himself the person who might be waiting and watching for him in Paris,
and to try to look upon her as she must really be; for, after her life in
San Francisco and Paris, she could not remain the woman she had been at
the caves on the coast of Peru. But, do what he would, he could make no
transformation in the picture which was imprinted on the retina of his
soul. There he saw a woman still young, tall, and too thin, in a suit of
blue flannel faded and worn, with her hair bound tightly around her head
and covered by a straw hat with a faded ribbon. But it was toward this
figure that he was sailing, sailing, sailing, as fast as the winds of
heaven would blow his vessel onward.
A GOLDEN AFTERNOON
When Ralph met Captain Horn that afternoon, there rose within him a
sudden, involuntary appreciation of the captain's worthiness to possess a
ship-load of gold and his sister Edna. Before that meeting there had been
doubts in the boy's mind in regard to this worthiness. He believed that
he had thoroughly weighed and judged the character and capacities of the
captain of the _Castor_, and he had said to himself, in his moments of
reflection, that although Captain Horn was a good man, and a brave man,
and an able man in many ways, there were other men in the world who were
better fitted for the glorious double position into which this fortunate
mariner had fallen.
But now, as Ralph sat and gazed upon his sister's lover and heard him
talk, and as he turned from him to Edna's glowing eyes, he acknowledged,
without knowing it, the transforming power of those two great
alchemists,--gold and love,--and from the bottom of his heart he approved
Upon Mrs. Cliff the first sight of Captain Horn had been a little
startling, and had she not hastened to assure herself that the compact
with Edna was a thing fixed and settled, she might have been possessed
with the fear that perhaps this gentleman might have views for his
future life very different from those upon which she had set her heart.
But even if she had not known of the compact of the morning, all danger
of that fear would have passed in the moment that the captain took her
by the hand.
To find his three companions of the wreck and desert in such high state
and flourishing condition so cheered and uplifted the soul of the captain
that he could talk of nothing else. And now he called for Cheditafa and
Mok--those two good fellows whose faithfulness he should never forget.
But when they entered, bending low, with eyes upturned toward the lofty
presence to which they had been summoned, the captain looked inquiringly
at Edna. As he came in that afternoon, he had seen both the negroes in
the courtyard, and, in the passing thought he had given to them, had
supposed them to be attendants of some foreign potentate from Barbary or
Morocco. Cheditafa and Mok! The ragged, half-clad negroes of the
sea-beach--a parson-butler of sublimated respectability, a liveried
lackey of rainbow and gold! It required minutes to harmonize these
presentments in the mind of Captain Horn.
When the audience of the two Africans--for such it seemed to be--had
lasted long enough, Edna was thinking of dismissing them, when it became
plain to her that there was something which Cheditafa wished to say or
do. She looked at him inquiringly, and he came forward.
For a long time the mind of the good African had been exercised upon the
subject of the great deed he had done just before the captain had sailed
away from the Peruvian coast. In San Francisco and Paris he had asked
many questions quietly, and apparently without purpose, concerning the
marriage ceremonies of America and other civilized countries. He had not
learned enough to enable him, upon an emergency, to personate an orthodox
clergyman, but he had found out this and that--little things, perhaps,
but things which made a great impression upon him--which had convinced
him that in the ceremony he had performed there had been much
remissness--how much, he did not clearly know. But about one thing that
had been wanting he had no doubts.
Advancing toward Edna and the captain, who sat near each other, Cheditafa
took from his pocket a large gold ring, which he had purchased with his
savings. "There was a thing we didn't do," he said, glancing from one to
the other. "It was the ring part--nobody thinked of that. Will captain
take it now, and put it on the lady?"
Edna and the captain looked at each other. For a moment no one spoke.
Then Edna said, "Take it." The captain rose and took the ring from the
hand of Cheditafa, and Edna stood beside him. Then he took her hand, and
reverently placed the ring upon her fourth finger. Fortunately, it
fitted. It had not been without avail that Cheditafa had so often scanned
with a measuring eye the rings upon the hands of his mistress.
A light of pleasure shone in the eyes of the old negro. Now he had done
his full duty--now all things had been made right. As he had seen the
priests stand in the churches of Paris, he now stood for a moment with
his hands outspread. "Very good," he said, "that will do." Then, followed
by Mok, he bowed himself out of the room.
For some moments there was silence in the salon. Nobody thought of
laughing, or even smiling. In the eyes of Mrs. Cliff there were a few
tears. She was the first to speak. "He is a good man," said she, "and he
now believes that he has done everything that ought to be done. But you
will be married to-morrow, all the same, of course."
"Yes," said Edna. "But it will be with this ring."
"Yes," said the captain, "with that ring. You must always wear it."
"And now," said Mrs. Cliff, when they had all reseated themselves,
"you must really tell us your story, captain. You know I have heard
And so he told his story--much that Edna had heard before, a great deal
she had not heard. About the treasure, almost everything he said was new
to her. Mrs. Cliff was very eager on this point. She wanted every detail.
"How about the ownership of it?" she said. "After all, that is the
great point. What do people here think of your right to use that gold
as your own?"
The captain smiled. "That is not an easy question to answer, but I think
we shall settle it very satisfactorily. Of course, the first thing to do
is to get it safely entered and stored away in the great money centres
over here. A good portion of it, in fact, is to be shipped to
Philadelphia to be coined. Of course, all that business is in the hands
of my bankers. The fact that I originally sailed from California was a
great help to us. To ascertain my legal rights in the case was the main
object of my visit to London. There Wraxton and I put the matter before
three leading lawyers in that line of business, and although their
opinions differed somewhat, and although we have not yet come to a final
conclusion as to what should be done, the matter is pretty well
straightened out as far as we are concerned. Of course, the affair is
greatly simplified by the fact that there is no one on the other side to
be a claimant of the treasure, but we consider it as if there were a
claimant, or two of them, in fact. These can be no other than the present
government of Peru, and that portion of the population of the country
which is native to the soil, and the latter, if our suppositions are
correct, are the only real heirs to the treasure which I discovered. But
what are the laws of Peru in regard to treasure-trove, or what may be the
disposition of the government toward the native population and their
rights, of course we cannot find out now. That will take time. But of one
thing we are certain: I am entitled to a fair remuneration for the
discovery of this treasure, just the same as if I claimed salvage for
having brought a wrecked steamer into port. On this point the lawyers are
all agreed. I have, therefore, made my claim, and shall stand by it with
enough legal force behind me to support me in any emergency.
"But it is not believed that either the Peruvian government, or the
natives acting as a body, if it shall be possible for them to act in that
way, will give us any trouble. We have the matter entirely in our own
hands. They do not know of the existence of this treasure, or that they
have any rights to it, until we inform them of the fact, and without our
assistance it will be almost impossible for them to claim anything or
prove anything. Therefore, it will be good policy and common sense for
them to acknowledge that we are acting honestly, and, more than that,
generously, and to agree to take what we offer them, and that we shall
keep what is considered by the best legal authorities to be our rights.
"As soon as possible, an agent will be sent to Peru to attend to the
matter. But this matter is in the hands of my lawyers, although, of
course, I shall not keep out of the negotiations."
"And how much percentage, captain?" asked Mrs. Cliff. "What part do they
think you ought to keep?"
"We have agreed," said he, "upon twenty per cent. of the whole. After
careful consideration and advice, I made that claim. I shall retain it.
Indeed, it is already secured to me, no matter what may happen to the
rest of the treasure."
"Twenty per cent.!" exclaimed Mrs. Cliff. "And that is all that you get?"
"Yes," said the captain, "it is what I get--and by that is meant what is
to be divided among us all. I make the claim, but I make it for every one
who was on the _Castor_ when she was wrecked, and for the families of
those who are not alive--for every one, in fact, who was concerned in
The countenance of Mrs. Cliff had been falling, and now it went down,
down, again. After all the waiting, after all the anxiety, it had come to
this: barely twenty per cent., to be divided among ever so many
people--twenty-five or thirty, for all she knew. Only this, after the
dreams she had had, after the castles she had built! Of course, she had
money now, and she would have some more, and she had a great many useful
and beautiful things which she had bought, and she could go back to
Plainton in very good circumstances. But that was not what she had been
waiting for, and hoping for, and anxiously trembling for, ever since she
had found that the captain had really reached France with the treasure.
"Captain," she said, and her voice was as husky as if she had been
sitting in a draught, "I have had so many ups and so many downs, and have
been turned so often this way and that, I cannot stand this state of
uncertainty any longer. It may seem childish and weak, but I must know
something. Can you give me any idea how much you are to have, or, at
least, how much I shall have, and let me make myself satisfied with
whatever it is? Do you think that I shall be able to go back to Plainton
and take my place as a leading citizen there? I don't mind in the least
asking that before you three. I thought I was justified in making that my
object in life, and I have made it my object. Now, if I have been
mistaken all this time, I would like to know it. Don't find fault with
me. I have waited, and waited, and waited--"
"Well," interrupted the captain, "you need not wait any longer. The sum
that I have retained shall be divided as soon as possible, and I shall
divide it in as just a manner as I can, and I am ready to hear appeals
from any one who is not satisfied. Of course, I shall keep the largest
share of it--that is my right. I found it, and I secured it. And this
lady here," pointing to Edna, "is to have the next largest share in her
own right, because she was the main object which made me work so hard and
brave everything to get that treasure here. And then the rest will share
according to rank, as we say on board ship."
"Oh, dear! Oh, dear!" murmured Mrs. Cliff, "he never comes to any
point. We never know anything clear and distinct. This is not any
answer at all."
"The amount I claim," continued the captain, who did not notice that Mrs.
Cliff was making remarks to herself, "is forty million dollars."
Everybody started, and Mrs. Cliff sprang up as if a torpedo had been
fired beneath her.
"Forty million dollars!" she exclaimed. "I thought you said you would
only have twenty per cent.?"
"That is just what it is," remarked the captain, "as nearly as we can
calculate. Forty million dollars is about one fifth of the value of the
cargo I brought to France in the _Arato_. And as to your share, Mrs.
Cliff, I think, if you feel like it, you will be able to buy the town of
Plainton; and if that doesn't make you a leading citizen in it, I don't
know what else you can do."
A CASE OF RECOGNITION
Every one in our party at the Hotel Grenade rose very early the next
morning. That day was to be one of activity and event. Mrs. Cliff, who
had not slept one wink during the night, but who appeared almost
rejuvenated by the ideas which had come to her during her sleeplessness,
now entered a protest against the proposed marriage at the American
legation. She believed that people of the position which Edna and the
captain should now assume ought to be married in a church, with all
proper ceremony and impressiveness, and urged that the wedding be
postponed for a few days, until suitable arrangements could be made.
But Edna would not listen to this. The captain was obliged, by
appointment, to be in London on the morrow, and he could not know how
long he might be detained there, and now, wherever he went, she wished to
go with him. He wanted her to be with him, and she was going. Moreover,
she fancied a wedding at the legation. There were all sorts of
regulations concerning marriage in France, and to these neither she nor
the captain cared to conform, even if they had time enough for the
purpose. At the American legation they would be in point of law upon
American soil, and there they could be married as Americans, by an
After that Mrs. Cliff gave up. She was so happy she was ready to agree to
anything, or to believe in anything, and she went to work with heart and
hand to assist Edna in getting ready for the great event.
Mrs. Sylvester, the wife of the secretary, received a note from Edna
which brought her to the hotel as fast as horses were allowed to travel
in the streets of Paris, and arrangements were easily made for the
ceremony to take place at four o'clock that afternoon.
The marriage was to be entirely private. No one was to be present but
Mrs. Cliff, Ralph, and Mrs. Sylvester. Nothing was said to Cheditafa of
the intended ceremony. After what had happened, they all felt that it
would be right to respect the old negro's feelings and sensibilities.
Mrs. Cliff undertook, after a few days had elapsed, to explain the whole
matter to Cheditafa, and to tell him that what he had done had not been
without importance and real utility, but that it had actually united his
master and mistress by a solemn promise before witnesses, which in some
places, and under certain circumstances, would be as good a marriage as
any that could be performed, but that a second ceremony had taken place
in order that the two might be considered man and wife in all places and
under all circumstances.
The captain had hoped to see Shirley and Burke before he left Paris, but
that was now impossible, and, on his way to his hotel, after breakfasting
at the Hotel Grenade, he telegraphed to them to come to him in London.
He had just sent his telegram when he was touched on the arm, and,
turning, saw standing by him two police officers. Their manner was very
civil, but they promptly informed him, the speaker using very fair
English, that he must accompany them to the presence of a police
The captain was astounded. The officers could or would give him no
information in regard to the charge against him, or whether it was a
charge at all. They only said that he must come with them, and that
everything would be explained at the police station. The captain's brow
grew black. What this meant he could not imagine, but he had no time to
waste in imaginations. It would be foolish to demand explanations of the
officers, or to ask to see the warrant for their action. He would not
understand French warrants, and the quicker he went to the magistrate and
found out what this thing meant, the better. He only asked time to send a
telegram to Mr. Wraxton, urging him to attend him instantly at the police
station, and then he went with the officers.
On the way, Captain Horn turned over matters in his mind. He could think
of no cause for this detention, except it might be something which had
turned up in connection with his possession of the treasure, or perhaps
the entrance of the _Arato_, without papers, at the French port. But
anything of this kind Wraxton could settle as soon as he could be made
acquainted with it. The only real trouble was that he was to be married
at four o'clock, and it was now nearly two.
At the police station, Captain Horn met with a fresh annoyance. The
magistrate was occupied with important business and could not attend to
him at present. This made the captain very impatient, and he sent
message after message to the magistrate, but to no avail. And Wraxton did
not come. In fact, it was too soon to expect him.
The magistrate had good reason for delay. He did not wish to have
anything to do with the gentleman who had been taken in custody until his
accuser, Banker by name, had been brought to this station from his place
of confinement, where he was now held under a serious charge.
Ten minutes, twenty minutes, twenty-five minutes, passed, and the
magistrate did not appear. Wraxton did not come. The captain had never
been so fiercely impatient. He did not know to whom to apply in this
serious emergency. He did not wish Edna to know of his trouble until he
found out the nature of it, and if he sent word to the legation, he was
afraid that the news would speedily reach her. Wraxton was his man,
whatever the charge might be. He would be his security for any amount
which might be named, and the business might be settled afterwards, if,
indeed, it were not all a mistake of some sort.
But Wraxton did not appear. Suddenly the captain thought of one man who
might be of service to him in this emergency. There was no time for
delay. Some one must come, and come quickly, who could identify him, and
the only man he could think of was Professor Barre, Ralph's tutor. He had
met that gentleman the evening before. He could vouch for him, and he
could certainly be trusted not to alarm Edna unnecessarily. He believed
the professor could be found at the hotel, and he instantly sent a
messenger to him with a note.
It took a good deal of time to bring the prisoner Banker to the station,
and Professor Barre arrived there before him. The professor was amazed to
find Captain Horn under arrest, and unable to give any reason for this
state of things. But it was not long before the magistrate appeared, and
it so happened that he was acquainted with Barre, who was a well-known
man in Paris, and, after glancing at the captain, he addressed himself to
the professor, speaking in French. The latter immediately inquired the
nature of the charges against Captain Horn, using the same language.
"Ah! you know him?" said the magistrate. "He has been accused of being
the leader of a band of outlaws--a man who has committed murders and
outrages without number, one who should not be suffered to go at large,
one who should be confined until the authorities of Peru, where his
crimes were committed, have been notified."
The professor stared, but could not comprehend what he had heard.
"What is it?" inquired Captain Horn. "Can you not speak English?"
No, this Parisian magistrate could not speak English, but the professor
explained the charge.
"It is the greatest absurdity!" exclaimed the captain. "Ralph told me
that a man, evidently once one of that band of outlaws in Peru, had been
arrested for assaulting Cheditafa, and this charge must be part of his
scheme of vengeance for that arrest. I could instantly prove everything
that is necessary to know about me if my banker, Mr. Wraxton, were here.
I have sent for him, but he has not come. I have not a moment to waste
discussing this matter." The captain gazed anxiously toward the door,
and for a few moments the three men stood in silence.
The situation was a peculiar one. The professor thought of sending to the
Hotel Grenade, but he hesitated. He said to himself: "The lady's
testimony would be of no avail. If he is the man the bandit says he is,
of course she does not know it. His conduct has been very strange, and
for a long time she certainly knew very little about him. I don't see how
even his banker could become surety for him if he were here, and he
doesn't seem inclined to come. Anybody may have a bank-account."
The professor stood looking on the ground. The captain looked at him,
and, by that power to read the thoughts of others which an important
emergency often gives to a man, he read, or believed he did, the thoughts
of Barre. He did not blame the man for his doubts. Any one might have
such doubts. A stranger coming to France with a cargo of gold must expect
suspicion, and here was more--a definite charge.
At this moment there came a message from the banking house: Mr. Wraxton
had gone to Brussels that morning. Fuguet did not live in Paris, and the
captain had never seen him. There were clerks whom he had met in
Marseilles, but, of course, they could only say that he was the man known
as Captain Horn.
The captain ground his teeth, and then, suddenly turning, he interrupted
the conversation between the magistrate and Barre. He addressed the
latter and asked, "Will you tell me what this officer has been saying
"He says," answered Barre, "that he believes you know nobody in Paris
except the party at the Hotel Grenade, and that, of course, you may have
deceived them in regard to your identity--that they have been here a long
time, and you have been absent, and you have not been referred to by
them, which seems strange."
"Has he not found out that Wraxton knows me?"
"He says," answered Barre, "that you have not visited that banking house
since you came to Paris, and that seems strange also. Every traveller
goes to his banker as soon as he arrives."
"I did not need to go there," said the captain. "I was occupied with
other matters. I had just met my wife after a long absence."
"I don't wonder," said the professor, bowing, "that your time was
occupied. It is very unfortunate that your banker cannot come to
you or send."
The captain did not answer. This professor doubted him, and why should he
not? As the captain considered the case, it grew more and more serious.
That his marriage should be delayed on account of such a preposterous and
outrageous charge against him was bad enough. It would be a terrible blow
to Edna. For, although he knew that she would believe in him, she could
not deny, if she were questioned, that in this age of mail and telegraph
facilities she had not heard from him for nearly a year, and it would be
hard for her to prove that he had not deceived her. But the most
unfortunate thing of all was the meeting with the London lawyers the next
day. These men were engaged in settling a very important question
regarding the ownership of the treasure he had brought to France, and
his claims upon it, and if they should hear that he had been charged with
being the captain of a band of murderers and robbers, they might well
have their suspicions of the truth of his story of the treasure. In fact,
everything might be lost, and the affair might end by his being sent a
prisoner to Peru, to have the case investigated there. What might happen
then was too terrible to think of. He turned abruptly to the professor.
"I see that you don't believe in me," he said, "but I see that you are a
man, and I believe in you. You are acquainted with this magistrate. Use
your influence with him to have this matter settled quickly. Do as much
as that for me."
"What is it that you ask me to do?" said the other.
"It is this," replied the captain. "I have never seen this man who says
he was a member of the Rackbirds' band. In fact, I never saw any of those
wretches except dead ones. He has never met me. He knows nothing about
me. His charge is simply a piece of revenge. The only connection he can
make between me and the Rackbirds is that he knew two negroes were once
the servants of his band, and that they are now the servants of my wife.
Having never seen me, he cannot know me. Please ask the magistrate to
send for some other men in plain clothes to come into this room, and then
let the prisoner be brought here, and asked to point out the man he
charges with the crime of being the captain of the Rackbirds."
The professor's face brightened, and without answer he turned to the
magistrate, and laid this proposition before him. The officer shook his
head. This would be a very irregular method of procedure. There were
formalities which should not be set aside. The deposition of Banker
should be taken before witnesses. But the professor was interested in
Captain Horn's proposed plan. In an emergency of the sort, when time was
so valuable, he thought it should be tried before anything else was done.
He talked very earnestly to the magistrate, who at last yielded.
In a few minutes three respectable men were brought in from outside, and
then a policeman was sent for Banker.
When that individual entered the waiting-room, his eyes ran rapidly over
the company assembled there. After the first glance, he believed that he
had never seen one of them before. But he said nothing; he waited to hear
what would be said to him. This was said quickly. Banker spoke French,
and the magistrate addressed him directly.
"In this room," he said, "stands the man you have accused as a robber and
a murderer, as the captain of the band to which you admit you once
belonged. Point him out immediately."
Banker's heart was not in the habit of sinking, but it went down a little
now. Could it be possible that any one there had ever led him to deeds of
violence and blood? He looked again at each man in the room, very
carefully this time. Of course, that rascal Raminez would not come to
Paris without disguising himself, and no disguise could be so effectual
as the garb of a gentleman. But if Raminez were there, he should not
escape him by any such tricks. Banker half shut his eyes, and again went
over every countenance. Suddenly he smiled.
"My captain," he said presently, "is not dressed exactly as he was when
I last saw him. He is in good clothes now, and that made it a little hard
for me to recognize him at first. But there is no mistaking his nose and
his eyebrows. I know him as well as if we had been drinking together last
night. There he stands!" And, with his right arm stretched out, he
pointed directly to Professor Barre.
At these words there was a general start, and the face of the magistrate
grew scarlet with anger. As for the professor himself, he knit his brows,
and looked at Banker in amazement.
"You scoundrel! You liar! You beast!" cried the officer. "To accuse this
well-known and honorable gentleman, and say that he is a leader of a band
of robbers! You are an impostor, a villain, and if you had been
confronted with this other gentleman alone, you would have sworn that he
was a bandit chief!"
Banker made no answer, but still kept his eyes fixed upon the professor.
Now Captain Horn spoke: "That fellow had to say something, and he made a
very wild guess of it," he said to Barre. "I think the matter may now be
considered settled. Will you suggest as much to the magistrate? Truly, I
have not a moment to spare."
Banker listened attentively to these words, and his eyes sparkled.
"You needn't try any of your tricks on me, you scoundrel Raminez," he
said, shaking his fist at the professor. "I know you. I know you better
than I did when I first spoke. If you wanted to escape me, you ought to
have shaved off your eyebrows when you trimmed your hair and your
beard. But I will be after you yet. The tales you have told here won't
"Take him away!" shouted the magistrate. "He is a fiend!"
Banker was hurried from the room by two policemen.
To the profuse apologies of the magistrate Captain Horn had no time to
listen; he accepted what he heard of them as a matter of course, and only
remarked that, as he was not the man against whom the charges had been
brought, he must hurry away to attend to a most important appointment.
The professor went with him into the street.
"Sir," said the captain, addressing Barre, "you have been of the most
important service to me, and I heartily acknowledge the obligation. Had
it not been that you were good enough to exert your influence with the
magistrate, that rascal would have sworn through thick and thin that I
had been his captain."
Then, looking at his watch, he said, "It is twenty-five minutes to four.
I shall take a cab and go directly to the legation. I was on my way to my
hotel, but there is no time for that now," and, after shaking hands with
the professor, he hailed a cab.
Captain Horn reached the legation but a little while after the party from
the Hotel Grenade had arrived, and in due time he stood up beside Edna in
one of the parlors of the mansion, and he and she were united in marriage
by the American minister. The services were very simple, but the
congratulations of the little company assembled could not have been more
earnest and heartfelt.
"Now," said Mrs. Cliff, in the ear of Edna, "if we knew that that gold
was all to be sunk in the ocean to-morrow, we still ought to be the
happiest people on earth."
She was a true woman, Mrs. Cliff, and at that moment she meant
what she said.
It had been arranged that the whole party should return to the Hotel
Grenade, and from there the newly married couple should start for the
train which would take them to Calais; and, as he left the legation
promptly, the captain had time to send to his own hotel for his effects.
The direct transition from the police station to the bridal altar had
interfered with his ante-hymeneal preparations, but the captain was
accustomed to interference with preparations, and had long learned to
dispense with them when occasion required.
"I don't believe," said the minister's wife to her husband, when
the bridal party had left, "that you ever before married such a
"The fact is," said he, "that I never before saw standing together such a
fine specimen of a man and such a beautiful, glowing, radiant woman."
"I don't see why you need say that," said she, quickly. "You and I stood
"Yes," he replied, with a smile, "but I wasn't a spectator."
BANKER DOES SOME IMPORTANT BUSINESS
When Banker went back to the prison cell, he was still firmly convinced
that he had been overreached by his former captain, Raminez; and,
although he knew it not, there were good reasons for his convictions.
Often had he noticed, in the Rackbirds' camp, a peculiar form of the
eyebrows which surmounted the slender, slightly aquiline nose of his
chief. Whenever Raminez was anxious, or beginning to be angered, his
brow would slightly knit, and the ends of his eyebrows would approach
each other, curling upward and outward as they did so. This was an
action of the eyebrows which was peculiar to the Darcias of Granada,
from which family the professor's father had taken a wife, and had
brought her to Paris. A sister of this wife had afterwards married a
Spanish gentleman named Blanquote, whose second son, having fallen into
disgrace in Spain, had gone to America, where he changed his name to
Raminez, and performed a number of discreditable deeds, among which was
the deception of several of his discreditable comrades in regard to his
family. They could not help knowing that he came from Spain, and he made
them all believe that his real name was Raminez. There had been three
of them, besides Banker, who had made it the object of their lives to
wait for the opportunity to obtain blackmail from his family, by
threatened declarations of his deeds.
This most eminent scoundrel, whose bones now lay at the bottom of the
Pacific Ocean, had inherited from his grandfather that same trick of the
eyebrows above his thin and slightly aquiline nose which Banker had
observed upon the countenance of the professor in the police station, and
who had inherited it from the same Spanish gentleman.
The next day Banker received a visitor. It was Professor Barre. As this
gentleman entered the cell, followed by two guards, who remained near the
door, Banker looked up in amazement. He had expected a message, but had
not dreamed that he should see the man himself.
"Captain," he exclaimed, as he sprang to his feet, "this is truly good
of you. I see you are the same old trump as ever, and do not bear
malice." He spoke in Spanish, for such had been the language in common
use in camp.
The professor paid no attention to these words. "I came here," he said,
"to demand of you why you made that absurd and malicious charge against
me the other day. Such charges are not passed over in France, but I will
give you a chance to explain yourself."
Banker looked at him admiringly. "He plays the part well," he said to
himself. "He is a great gun. There is no use of my charging against him.
I will not try it, but I shall let him see where I stand."
"Captain," said he, "I have nothing to explain, except that I was
stirred up a good deal and lost my temper. I oughtn't to have made that
charge against you. Of course, it could not be of any good to me, and I
am perfectly ready to meet you on level ground. I will take back
everything I have already said, and, if necessary, I will prove that I
made a mistake and never saw you before, and I only ask in return that
you get me out of this and give me enough to make me comfortable. That
won't take much, you know, and you seem to be in first-class condition
these days. There! I have put it to you fair and square, and saved you
the trouble of making me any offers. You stand by me, and I'll stand by
you. I am ready to swear until I am black in the face that you never were
in Peru, and that I never saw you until the other day, when I made that
mistake about you on account of the queer fashion of your eyebrows, which