Part 4 out of 5
cramped and confined, seat in a stage coach. He loved the free air of
the heights and the quiet stillness of the valleys.
It was in the days of highwaymen, and travelling by coach was not
considered any too safe. The Bruiser was afraid of no man that lived,
if he met him in the open with a stick in his hand, or with nature's
weapons, but he feared the muzzle of a pistol held at his head in the
dark by a man with a mask over his face. So he buckled his belt around
him with all his worldly gear in gold, took his own almost forgotten
name, Abel Trenchon, set his back to the sun and his face to the north
wind, and journeyed on foot along the king's highway. He stopped at
night in the wayside inns, taking up his quarters before the sun had
set, and leaving them when it was broad daylight in the morning. He
disputed his reckonings like a man who must needs count the pennies,
and no one suspected the sturdy wayfarer of carrying a fortune around
As his face turned toward the North his thought went to the Border town
where he had spent his childhood. His father and mother were dead, and
he doubted now if anyone there remembered him, or would have a welcome
for him. Nevertheless no other spot on earth was so dear to him, and it
had always been his intention, when he settled down and took a wife, to
retire to the quiet little town.
The weather, at least, gave him a surly welcome. On the last day's
tramp the wind howled and the rain beat in gusts against him, but he
was a man who cared little for the tempest, and he bent his body to the
blast, trudging sturdily on. It was evening when he began to recognize
familiar objects by the wayside, and he was surprised to see how little
change there had been in all the years he was away. He stopped at an
inn for supper, and, having refreshed himself, resolved to break the
rule he had made for himself throughout the journey. He would push on
through the night, and sleep in his native village.
The storm became more pitiless as he proceeded, and he found himself
sympathizing with those poor creatures who were compelled to be out in
it, but he never gave a thought to himself.
It was nearly midnight when he saw the square church tower standing
blackly out against the dark sky; and when he began to descend the
valley, on the other side of which the town stood, a thrill of fear
came over him, as he remembered what he had so long forgotten--that the
valley was haunted, and was a particularly dangerous place about the
hour of midnight. To divert his thoughts he then began to wonder who
the woman was he would marry. She was doubtless now sleeping calmly in
the village on the hill, quite unconscious of the approach of her lover
and her husband. He could not conceal from himself the fact that he
would be reckoned a good match when his wealth was known, for,
excepting the Squire, he would probably be the richest man in the
place. However, he resolved to be silent about his riches, so that the
girl he married would little dream of the good fortune that awaited
her. He laughed aloud as he thought of the pleasure he would have in
telling his wife of her luck, but the laugh died on his lips as he saw,
or thought he saw, something moving stealthily along the hedge.
He was now in the depth of the valley in a most lonesome and eerie
spot. The huge trees on each side formed an arch over the roadway and
partially sheltered it from the rain.
He stood in his tracks, grasped his stick with firmer hold, and shouted
valiantly, "Who goes there?"
There was no answer, but in the silence which followed he thought he
heard a woman's sob.
"Come out into the road," he cried, "or I shall fire."
His own fear of pistols was so great that he expected everyone else to
be terrorized by the threat of using them; and yet he had never
possessed nor carried a pistol in his life.
"Please--please don't fire," cried a trembling voice, from out the
darkness. "I will do as you tell me." And so saying the figure moved
out upon the road.
Trenchon peered at her through the darkness, but whether she was old or
young he could not tell. Her voice seemed to indicate that she was
"Why, lass," said Trenchon, kindly, "what dost thou here at such an
hour and in such a night?"
"Alas!" she cried, weeping; "my father turned me out, as he has often
done before, but to-night is a bitter night, and I had nowhere to go,
so I came here to be sheltered from the rain. He will be asleep ere
long, and he sleeps soundly. I may perhaps steal in by a window,
although sometimes he fastens them down."
"God's truth!" cried Trenchon, angrily. "Who is thy brute of a father?"
The girl hesitated, and then spoke as if to excuse him, but again
Trenchon demanded his name.
"He is the blacksmith of the village, and Cameron is his name."
"I remember him," said Trenchon. "Is thy mother, then, dead?"
"Yes," answered the girl, weeping afresh. "She has been dead these five
"I knew her when I was a boy," said Trenchon. "Thy father also, and
many a grudge I owe him, although I had forgotten about them. Still, I
doubt not but as a boy I was as much in fault as he, although he was
harsh to all of us, and now it seems he is harsh to thee. My name is
Trenchon. I doubt if any in the village now remember me, although,
perhaps, they may have heard of me from London," he said, with some
pride, and a hope that the girl would confirm his thoughts. But she
shook her head.
"I have never heard thy name," she said.
Trenchon sighed. This, then, was fame!
"Ah, well!" he cried, "that matters not; they shall hear more of me
later. I will go with thee to thy father's house and demand for thee
admittance and decent usage."
But the girl shrank back. "Oh, no, no!" she cried; "that will never do.
My father is a hard man to cross. There are none in the village who
dare contend with him."
"That is as it may be," said Trenchon, with easy confidence. "I, for
one, fear him not. Come, lass, with me, and see if I cannot, after all
these years, pick out thy father's dwelling. Come, I say, thou must not
longer tarry here; the rain is coming on afresh, and these trees, thick
as they are, form scant protection. It is outrageous that thou should
wander in this storm, while thy brutal father lies in shelter. Nay, do
not fear harm for either thee or me; and as for him, he shall not
suffer if thou but wish it so." And, drawing the girl's hand through
his arm, he took her reluctantly with him, and without direction from
her soon stood before the blacksmith's house.
"You see," he said, triumphantly, "I knew the place, and yet I have not
seen the town for years."
Trenchon rapped soundly on the oaken door with his heavy stick, and the
blows re-echoed through the silent house. The girl shrank timidly
behind him, and would have fled, but that he held her firmly by the
"Nay, nay," he said: "believe me there is naught to fear. I will see
that thou art not ill-used."
As he spoke the window above was thrown up, and a string of fearful
oaths greeted the two, whereat the girl once more tried to release her
imprisoned wrist, but Trenchon held it lightly, though with a grip like
The stout old man thrust his head through the open window.
"God's blight on thee!" he cried, "thou pair of fools who wish to wed
so much that ye venture out in such a night as this. Well, have your
way, and let me have my rest. In the name of the law of Scotland I
pronounce ye man and wife. There, that will bind two fools together as
strongly as if the Archbishop spoke the words. Place thou the money on
the steps. I warrant none will venture to touch it when it belongs to
me." And with that he closed the window.
"Is he raving mad or drunk?" cried Trenchon.
The girl gave a wailing cry. "Alas! alas!" she said; "he is neither. He
is so used to marrying folk who come from England across the Border
that he thinks not it his daughter who came with thee, but two who
wished to wed. They come at all hours of the night and day, and he has
married us. I am thy wife."
The astonished man dropped her wrist, and she put her hands before her
eyes and wept.
"Married!" cried Trenchon. "We two married!"
He looked with interest at the girl, but in the darkness could see
nothing of her. The unheeded rain pelted on them both.
"Hast thou "--he hesitated--"hast thou some other lover, since you
The girl shook her head. "No one," she said, "comes near us. They fear
"Then, if this be true, why dost thou weep? I am not considered so bad
"I weep not for myself, but for thee, who through the kindness of thy
heart hast been led into this trap. Believe me, it was not my
"Judging from thy voice, my girl, and if thou favorest thy mother, as I
think, whom I remember well, this is a trap that I shall make little
effort to get my foot out of. But thou art dripping, and I stand
chattering here. Once more I will arouse my father-in-law."
So saying, he stoutly rapped again with his stick upon the door.
Once more the window was pushed up, and again the angry head appeared.
"Get you gone!" cried the maddened blacksmith, but before he could say
anything further Trenchon cried out:
"It is thy daughter here who waits. Open the door, thou limb of hell,
or I will burst it in and cast thee out as thou hast done thy
The blacksmith, who had never in his life been spoken to in tones or
words like these, was so amazed that he could neither speak nor act,
but one stout kick against the door so shook the fabric that he
speedily saw another such would break into his domicile; so, leaving
the window open that his curses might the better reach them, the
blacksmith came down and threw the barrier from the door, flinging it
open and standing on the threshold so as to bar all ingress.
"Out of the way," cried Trenchon, roughly placing his hand on the
other's breast with apparent lightness, but with a push that sent him
staggering into the room.
The young man pulled the girl in after him and closed the door.
"Thou knowest the way," he whispered. "Strike thou a light."
The trembling girl lit a candle, and as it shone upon her face Trenchon
gave a deep sigh of happiness and relief. No girl in the village could
be more fair.
The blacksmith stood, his fingers clenched with rage; but he looked
with hesitation and respect upon the burly form of the prizefighter.
Yet the old man did not flinch. "Throw aside thy stick," he cried, "or
wait until I can get me another."
Trenchon flung his stick into the corner.
"Oh! oh!" cried the girl, clasping her hands. "You must not fight." But
she appealed to her husband and not to her father, which caused a glow
of satisfaction to rise from the heart of the young man.
"Get thee out of this house," cried her father, fiercely, turning upon
"Talk not thus to my wife," said Trenchon, advancing upon him.
"Thy wife?" cried the blacksmith, in amaze.
"My wife," repeated the young man with emphasis. "They tell me,
blacksmith, that thou art strong. That thou art brutal I know, but thy
strength I doubt. Come to me and test it."
The old man sprang upon him, and the Bruiser caught him by the elbows
and held him helpless as a child. He pressed him up against the wall,
pushed his wrists together, and clasped them both in his one gigantic
hand. Then, placing the other on the blacksmith's shoulder, he put his
weight upon him, and the black-smith, cursing but helpless, sank upon
"Now, thou hardened sinner," cried the Bruiser, bending over him. "Beg
from thy daughter on thy knees for a night's shelter in this house.
Beg, or I will thrust thy craven face against the floor."
The girl clung to her newly-found husband, and entreated him not to
hurt her father.
"I shall not hurt him if he do but speak. If he has naught but curses
on his lips, why then those lips must kiss the flags that are beneath
him. Speak out, blacksmith: what hast thou to say?"
"I beg for shelter," said the conquered man.
Instantly the Bruiser released him. "Get thee to bed," he said, and the
old man slunk away.
"Wife," said Abel Trenchon, opening his arms, "I have come all the way
from London for thee. I knew not then what drew me north, but now I
know that One wiser than me led my steps hither. As far as erring man
may promise I do promise thee that thou shalt ne'er regret being cast
out this night into the storm."
THE RAID ON MELLISH.
Some newspapers differ from others. One peculiarity about the Argus was
the frequency with which it changed its men. Managing editors came who
were going to revolutionize the world and incidentally the Argus, but
they were in the habit of disappearing to give place to others who also
disappeared. Newspaper men in that part of the country never considered
themselves full-fledged unless they had had a turn at managing the
Argus. If you asked who was at the head of the Argus the answer would
very likely be: "Well, So-and-so was managing it this morning. I don't
know who is running it this afternoon."
Perhaps the most weird period in the history of the Argus was when the
owners imported a crank from Pittsburg and put him in as local editor,
over the heads of the city staff. His name was McCrasky, christened
Angus or Archie, I forget which, at this period of time. In fact, his
Christian name was always a moot point; some of the reporters saying it
was Angus and others Archie, no one having the courage to ask him.
Anyhow, he signed himself A. McCrasky. He was a good man, which was
rather an oddity on the staff, and puzzled the reporters not a little.
Most of his predecessors had differed much from each other, but they
were all alike in one thing, and that was profanity. They expressed
disapproval in language that made the hardened printers' towel in the
composing room shrink.
McCrasky's great point was that the local pages of the paper should
have a strong moral influence on the community. He knocked the sporting
editor speechless by telling him that they would have no more reports
of prize-fights. Poor Murren went back to the local room, sat down at
his table and buried his head in his hands. Every man on a local staff
naturally thinks the paper is published mainly to give his department a
show, and Murren considered a fight to a finish as being of more real
importance to the world than a presidential election. The rest of the
boys tried to cheer him up. "A fine state of things," said Murren
bitterly. "Think of the scrap next week between the California Duffer
and Pigeon Billy and no report of it in the Argus! Imagine the walk-
over for the other papers. What in thunder does he think people want to
But there was another surprise in store for the boys. McCrasky
assembled them all in his room and held forth to them. He suddenly
sprung a question on the criminal reporter--so suddenly that Thompson,
taken unawares, almost spoke the truth.
"Do you know of any gambling houses in this city?"
Thompson caught his breath and glanced quickly at Murren.
"No," he said at last. "I don't, but perhaps the religious editor does.
Better ask him."
The religious editor smiled and removed his corn-cob pipe.
"There aren't any," he said. "Didn't you know it was against the law to
keep a gambling house in this state? Yes, sir!" Then he put his corn-
cob pipe back in its place.
McCrasky was pleased to see that his young men knew so little of the
wickedness of a great city; nevertheless he was there to give them some
information, so he said quietly:
"Certainly it is against the law; but many things that are against the
law flourish in a city like this. Now I want you to find out before the
week is past how many gambling houses there are and where they are
located. When you are sure of your facts we will organize a raid and
the news will very likely be exclusive, for it will be late at night
and the other papers may not hear of it."
"Suppose," said the religious editor, with a twinkle in his eye, as he
again removed his corn-cob, "that--assuming such places to exist--you
found some representatives of the other papers there? They are a bad
lot, the fellows on the other papers."
"If they are there," said the local editor, "they will go to prison."
"They won't mind that, if they can write something about it," said
Murren gloomily. In his opinion the Argus was going to the dogs.
"Now, Thompson," said McCrasky, "you as criminal reporter must know a
lot of men who can give you particulars for a first-rate article on the
evils of gambling. Get it ready for Saturday's paper--a column and a
half, with scare heads. We must work up public opinion."
When the boys got back into the local room again, Murren sat with his
head in his hands, while Thompson leaned back in his chair and laughed.
"Work up public opinion," he said. "Mac had better work up his own
knowledge of the city streets, and not put Bolder avenue in the East
End, as he did this morning."
The religious editor was helping himself to tobacco from Murren's
drawer. "Are you going to put Mellish on his guard?" he asked Thompson.
"I don't just know what I'm going to do," said Thompson; "are you?"
"I'll think about it," replied the R. E. "Beastly poor tobacco, this of
yours, Murren. Why don't you buy cut plug?"
"You're not compelled to smoke it," said the sporting editor, without
raising his head.
"I am when mine is out, and the other fellows keep their drawers
Thompson dropped in on Mellish, the keeper of the swell gambling rooms,
to consult with him on the article for Saturday's paper. Mellish took a
great interest in it, and thought it would do good. He willingly gave
Thompson several instances where the vice had led to ruin of promising
"All men gamble in some way or another," said Mellish meditatively.
"Some take it one way and some another. It is inherent in human nature,
like original sin. The beginning of every business is a gamble. If I
had $30,000 I would rather run my chance of doubling it at these tables
here than I would, for instance, by starting a new newspaper or putting
it on wheat or in railway stocks. Take a land boom, for instance, such
as there was in California or at Winnipeg--the difference between
putting your money in a thing like that or going in for legitimate
gambling is that, in the one case, you are sure to lose your cash,
while in the other you have a chance of winning some. I hold that all
kinds of gambling are bad, unless a man can easily afford to lose what
he stakes. The trouble is that gambling affects some people like
liquor. I knew a man once who--" but you can read the whole article if
you turn up the back numbers of the Argus.
Thompson told Mellish about McCrasky. Mellish was much interested, and
said he would like to meet the local editor. He thought the papers
should take more interest in the suppression of gambling dens than they
did, and for his part he said he would like to see them all stopped,
his own included. "Of course," he added, "I could shut up my shop, but
it would simply mean that someone else would open another, and I don't
think any man ever ran such a place fairer than I do."
McCrasky called on the chief of police, and introduced himself as the
local editor of the Argus.
"Oh," said the chief, "has Gorman gone, then?"
"I don't know about Gorman," said McCrasky; "the man I succeeded was
Finnigan. I believe he is in Cincinnati now."
When the chief learned the purport of the local editor's visit he
became very official and somewhat taciturn. He presumed that there were
gambling houses in the city. If there were, they were very quiet and no
complaints ever reached his ears. There were many things, he said, that
it was impossible to suppress, and the result of attempted suppression
was to drive the evil deeper down. He seemed to be in favor rather of
regulating, than of attempting the impossible; still, if McCrasky
brought him undoubted evidence that a gambling house was in operation,
he would consider it his duty to make a raid on it. He advised McCrasky
to go very cautiously about it, as the gamblers had doubtless many
friends who would give a tip and so frustrate a raid, perhaps letting
somebody in for damages. McCrasky said he would be careful.
Chance played into the hands of McCrasky and "blew in" on him a man who
little recked what he was doing when he entered the local editor's
room. Gus Hammerly, sport and man-about-town, dropped into the Argus
office late one night to bring news of an "event" to the sporting
editor. He knew his way about in the office, and, finding Murren was
not in, he left the item on his table. Then he wandered into the local
editor's room. The newspaper boys all liked Hammerly, and many a good
item they got from him. They never gave him away, and he saw that they
never got left, as the vernacular is.
"Good-evening. You're the new local editor, I take it. I've just left a
little item for Murren, I suppose he's not in from the wrestle yet. My
name's Hammerly. All the boys know me and I've known in my time
fourteen of your predecessors, so I may as well know you. You're from
Pittsburg, I hear."
"Yes. Sit down, Mr. Hammerly. Do you know Pittsburg at all?"
"Oh, yes. Borden, who keeps the gambling den on X street, is an old
friend of mine. Do you happen to know how old Borden's getting along?"
"Yes, his place was raided and closed up by the police."
"That's just the old man's luck. Same thing in Kansas City."
"By the way, Mr. Hammerly, do you know of any gambling houses in this
"Why, bless you, haven't the boys taken you round yet? Well, now,
that's inhospitable. Mellish's is the best place in town. I'm going up
there now. If you come along with me I'll give you the knock-down at
the door and you'll have no trouble after that."
"I'll go with you," said McCrasky, reaching for his hat, and so the
innocent Hammerly led the lamb into the lion's den.
McCrasky, unaccustomed to the sight, was somewhat bewildered with the
rapidity of the play. There was a sort of semicircular table, around
the outside rim of which were sitting as many men as could be
comfortably placed there. A man at the inside of the table handled the
cards. He flicked out one to each player, face downward, with an
expertness and speed that dazzled McCrasky. Next he dealt out one to
each player face upward and people put sums of money on the table
beside their cards, after looking at them. There was another deal and
so on, but the stranger found it impossible to understand or follow the
game. He saw money being raked in and paid out rapidly and over the
whole affair was a solemn decorum that he had not been prepared for. He
had expected fierce oaths and the drawing of revolvers.
"Here, Mellish," said the innocent Hammerly, "let me introduce you to
the new local editor of the Argus. I didn't catch your name," he said
in a whisper. "My name's McCrasky."
"Mr. McCrasky; Mr. Mellish. Mellish is proprietor here and you'll find
him a first-rate fellow."
"I am pleased to meet you," said Mellish quietly; "any friend of
Hammerly's is welcome. Make yourself at home."
Edging away from the two, Mellish said in a quick whisper to Sotty, the
bartender: "Go and tell the doorkeeper to warn Thompson, or any of the
rest of the Argus boys, that their boss is in here."
At 12 o'clock that night the local editor sat in his room. "Is that
you, Thompson?" he shouted, as he heard a step.
"Yes, sir;" answered Thompson, coming into the presence.
"Shut the door, Thompson. Now I have a big thing on for to-night, but
it must be done quietly. I've unearthed a gambling den in full blast.
It will be raided to-night at 2 o'clock. I want you to be on the ground
with Murren; will you need anybody else?"
"Depends on how much you wish to make of it."
"I want to make it the feature of to-morrow's paper. I think we three
can manage, but bring some of the rest if you like. The place is run by
a man named Mellish. Now, if you boys kept your eyes open you would
know more of what is going on in your own city than you do."
"We haven't all had the advantage of metropolitan training," said
"I will go there with the police. You and Murren had better be on the
ground, but don't go too soon, and don't make yourselves conspicuous or
they might take alarm. Here is the address. You had better take it
"Oh, I'll find the place all--" Then Thompson thought a moment and
pulled himself together. "Thanks," he said, carefully noting down the
street and number.
The detachment of police drew up in front of the place a few minutes
before 2 o'clock. The streets were deserted, and so silent were the
blue coats that the footsteps of a belated wayfarer sounded sharply in
the night air from the stone pavement of a distant avenue.
"Are you sure," said McCrasky to the man in charge of the police, "that
there is not a private entrance somewhere?"
"Certainly there is," was the impatient reply: "Sergeant McCollum and
four men are stationed in the alley behind. We know our business, sir."
McCrasky thought this was a snub, and he was right. He looked around in
the darkness for his reporters. He found them standing together in a
doorway on the opposite side of the street.
"Been here long?" he whispered.
Murren was gloomy and did not answer. The religious editor removed his
corn-cob and said briefly; "About ten minutes, sir." Thompson was
gazing with interest at the dark building across the way.
"You've seen nobody come out?"
"Nobody. On the contrary, about half a dozen have gone up that
"Is that the place, sir?" asked Thompson with the lamb-like innocence
of the criminal reporter.
"Yes, upstairs there."
"What did I tell you?" said the religious editor. "Thompson insisted it
was next door."
"Come along," said McCrasky, "the police are moving at last."
A big bell in the neighborhood solemnly struck two slow strokes, and
all over the city the hour sounded in various degrees of tone and
speed. A whistle rang out and was distantly answered. The police moved
quickly and quietly up the stairway.
"Have you tickets, gentlemen," asked the man at the door politely;
"this is a private assembly."
"The police," said the sergeant shortly, "stand aside."
If the police were astonished at the sight which met their gaze, their
faces did not show it. But McCrasky had not such control over his
features and he looked dumbfounded. The room was the same, undoubtedly,
but there was not the vestige of a card to be seen. There were no
tables, and even the bar had disappeared. The chairs were nicely
arranged and most of them were occupied. At the further end of the room
Pony Rowell stood on a platform or on a box or some elevation, and his
pale, earnest face was lighted up with the enthusiasm of the public
speaker. He was saying: "On the purity of the ballot, gentlemen,
depends the very life of the republic. That every man should be
permitted, without interference or intimidation, to cast his vote, and
that every vote so cast should be honestly counted is, I take it, the
desire of all who now listen to my words." (Great applause, during
which Pony took a sip from a glass that may have contained water.)
The police had come in so quietly that no one, apparently, had noticed
their entrance, except that good man Mellish, who hurried forward to
welcome the intruders.
"Will you take a seat?" he asked. "We are having a little political
talk from Mr. Rowell, sergeant."
"Rather an unusual hour, Mr. Mellish," said the sergeant grimly.
"It is a little late," admitted Mellish, as if the idea had not
occurred to him before.
The police who had come in by the back entrance appeared at the other
end of the room and it was evident that Rowell's oration had come to an
untimely end. Pony looked grieved and hurt, but said nothing.
"We will have to search the premises, Mr. Mellish," said the sergeant.
Mellish gave them every assistance, but nothing was found.
As the four men walked back together to the Argus office, McCrasky was
"We will expose the police to-morrow," he said. "They evidently gave
Mellish the tip."
"I don't think so," said Thompson. "We will say nothing about it."
George Streeter was in Paris, because he hoped and expected to meet
Alfred Davison there. He knew that Davison was going to be in Paris for
at least a fortnight, and he had a particular reason for wishing to
come across him in the streets of that city rather than in the streets
Streeter was a young author who had published several books, and who
was getting along as well as could be expected, until suddenly he met a
check. The check was only a check as far as his own self-esteem was
concerned; for it did not in the least retard the sale of his latest
book, but rather appeared to increase it. The check was unexpected, for
where he had looked for a caress, he received a blow. The blow was so
well placed, and so vigorous, that at first it stunned him. Then he
became unreasonably angry. He resolved to strike back.
The review of his book in the Argus was vigorously severe, and perhaps
what maddened him more than anything else was the fact that, in spite
of his self-esteem he realized the truth of the criticism. If his books
had been less successful, or if he had been newer as an author, he
might possibly have set himself out to profit by the keen thrusts given
him by the Argus. He might have remembered that although Tennyson
struck back at Christopher North, calling him rusty, crusty, and musty,
yet the poet eliminated from later editions all blemishes which musty
Christopher had pointed out.
Streeter resolved to strike back with something more tangible than a
sarcastic verse. He quite admitted, even to himself, that a critic had
every right to criticise--that was what he was for--but he claimed that
a man who pretended to be an author's friend and who praised his books
to his face, had no right to go behind his back and pen a criticism so
scathing as that which appeared in the Argus: for Streeter knew that
Alfred Davison had written the criticism in the Argus, and Davison had
posed as his friend; and had pretended as well, that he had a great
admiration for Streeter's books.
As Streeter walked down the Boulevard des Italians, he saw, seated in
front of a cafe, the man whom he hoped to meet: and furthermore, he was
pleased to see that the man had a friend with him. The recognition of
author and critic was mutual.
"Hallo, Streeter," cried Davison; "when did you come over?"
"I left London yesterday," answered Streeter.
"Then sit down and have something with us," said Davison, cordially.
"Streeter, this is my friend Harmon. He is an exile and a resident in
Paris, and, consequently, likes to meet his countrymen."
"In that case," said Streeter, "he is probably well acquainted with the
customs of the place?"
"Rather!" returned Davison; "he has become so much of a Frenchman--he
has been so contaminated, if I may put it that way--that I believe
quite recently he was either principal or second in a duel. By the way,
which was it, Harmon?"
"Merely a second," answered the other.
"I don't believe in duelling myself," continued Davison: "it seems to
me an idiotic custom, and so futile."
"I don't agree with you," replied Streeter, curtly; "there is no reason
why a duel should be futile, and there seem to be many reasons why a
duel might be fought. There are many things, worse than crimes, which
exist in all countries, and for which there is no remedy except calling
a man out; misdemeanors, if I may so term them, that the law takes no
cognisance of; treachery, for instance;--a person pretending to be a
man's friend, and then the first chance he gets, stabbing him in the
Harmon nodded his approval of these sentiments, while Davison said
"Oh, I don't know about that! It seems to me these things, which I
suppose undoubtedly exist, should not be made important by taking much
notice of them. What will you have to drink, Streeter?"
"Bring me a liqueur of brandy," said Streeter to the garcon who stood
ready to take the order.
When the waiter returned with a small glass, into which he poured the
brandy with the deftness of a Frenchman; filling it so that not a drop
more could be added, and yet without allowing the glass to overflow,
Streeter pulled out his purse.
"No, no!" cried Davison; "you are not going to pay for this--you are
drinking with me."
"I pay for my own drinks," said Streeter, surlily.
"Not when I invite you to drink with me," protested the critic. "I pay
for this brandy."
"Very well, take it, then!" said Streeter. picking up the little glass
and dashing the contents in the face of Davison.
Davison took out his handkerchief. "What the devil do you mean by that,
Streeter?" he asked, as the color mounted to his brow.
Streeter took out his card and pencilled a word or two on the
"There," he said, "is my Paris address. If you do not know what I mean
by that, ask your friend here; he will inform you."
And with that the novelist arose, bowed to the two, and departed.
When he returned to his hotel, after a stroll along the brilliantly-
lighted Boulevards, he found waiting for him Mr. Harmon and a
"I had no idea you would come so soon," said Streeter, "otherwise I
would not have kept you waiting."
"It does not matter," replied Harmon; "we have not waited long. Affairs
of this kind require prompt action. An insult lasts but twenty-four
hours, and my friend and principal has no desire to put you to the
inconvenience of repeating your action of this evening. We are taking
it for granted that you have a friend prepared to act for you; for your
conduct appeared to be premeditated."
"You are quite right," answered Streeter; "I have two friends to whom I
shall be pleased to introduce you. Come this way, if you will be so
The preliminaries were speedily arranged, and the meeting was to take
place next morning at daylight, with pistols.
Now that everything was settled, the prospect did not look quite so
pleasant to Streeter as it had done when he left London. Davison had
asked for no explanation; but that, of course, could be accounted for,
because this critical sneak must be well aware of the reason for the
insult. Still, Streeter had rather expected that he would perhaps have
simulated ignorance, and on receiving enlightenment might have avoided
a meeting to apologizing.
Anyhow, Streeter resolved to make a night of it. He left his friends to
arrange for a carriage, and see to all that was necessary, while he
donned his war-paint and departed for a gathering to which he had been
invited, and where he was to meet many of his countrymen and
countrywomen, in a fashionable part of Paris.
His hostess appeared to be overjoyed at seeing him.
"You are so late," she said, "that I was afraid something had occurred
to keep you from coming altogether."
"Nothing could have prevented me from coming," said Streeter,
gallantly, "where Mrs. Woodford is hostess!"
"Oh, that is very nice of you, Mr. Streeter!" answered the lady; "but I
must not stand, here talking with you, for I have promised to introduce
you to Miss Neville, who wishes very much to meet you. She is a great
admirer of yours, and has read all your books."
"There are not very many of them," said Streeter, with a laugh; "and
such as they are, I hope Miss Neville thinks more of them than I do
"Oh, we all know how modest authors are!" replied his hostess, leading
him away to be introduced.
Miss Neville was young and pretty, and she was evidently pleased to
meet the rising young author.
"I have long wanted to see you," she said, "to have a talk with you
about your books."
"You are very kind," said Streeter, "but perhaps we might choose
something more profitable to talk about?"
"I am not so sure of that. Doubtless you have been accustomed to hear
only the nice things people say about you. That is the misfortune of
"It is a misfortune," answered Streeter.
"What a writer needs is somebody to tell him the truth."
"Ah!" said Miss Neville, "that is another thing I am not so sure about.
Mrs. Woodford has told you, I suppose, that I have read all your books?
Did she add that I detested them?"
Even Streeter was not able to conceal the fact that this remark caused
him some surprise. He laughed uneasily, and said:
"On the contrary, Mrs. Woodford led me to believe that you had liked
The girl leaned back in her chair, and looked at him with half-closed
"Of course," she said, "Mrs. Woodford does not know. It is not likely
that I would tell her I detested your books while I asked for an
introduction to you. She took it for granted that I meant to say
pleasant things to you, whereas I had made up my mind to do the exact
reverse. No one would be more shocked than Mrs. Woodford--unless,
perhaps, it is yourself--if she knew I was going to speak frankly with
"I am not shocked," said the young man, seriously; "I recognize that
there are many things in my books that are blemishes."
"Of course you don't mean that," said the frank young woman; "because
if you did you would not repeat the faults in book after book."
"A man can but do his best," said Streeter, getting annoyed in spite of
himself, for no man takes kindly to the candid friend. "A man can but
do his best, as Hubert said, whose grandsire drew a longbow at
"Yes," returned Miss Neville, "a man can but do his best, although we
should remember that the man who said that, said it just before he was
defeated. What I feel is that you are not doing your best, and that you
will not do your best until some objectionable person like myself has a
good serious talk with you."
"Begin the serious talk," said Streeter; "I am ready and eager to
"Did you read the review of your latest book which appeared in the
"Did I?" said Streeter, somewhat startled--the thought of the meeting
that was so close, which he had forgotten for the moment, flashing over
him. "Yes, I did; and I had the pleasure of meeting the person who
wrote it this evening."
Miss Neville almost jumped in her chair.
"Oh, I did not intend you to know that!" she said. "Who told you? How
did you find out that I wrote reviews for the Argus?"
"You!" cried Streeter, astonished in his turn.
"Do you mean to say that you wrote that review?"
Miss Neville sank back in her chair with a sigh.
"There!" she said, "my impetuosity has, as the Americans say, given me
away. After all, you did not know I was the writer!"
"I thought Davison was the writer. I had it on the very best
"Poor Davison!" said Miss Neville, laughing, "why, he is one of the
best and staunchest friends you have: and so am I, for that matter--
indeed, I am even more your friend than Mr. Davison; for I think you
can do good work, while Mr. Davison is foolish enough to believe you
are doing; it."
At this point in the conversation Streeter looked hurriedly at his
"Ah! I see," said Miss Neville; "this conversation is not to your
taste. You are going to plead an appointment--as if anyone could have
an appointment at this hour in the morning!"
"Nevertheless," said Streeter, "I have; and I must bid you good-bye.
But I assure you that my eyes have been opened, and that I have learned
a lesson to-night which I will not soon forget. I hope I may have the
pleasure of meeting you again, and continuing this conversation.
Perhaps some time I may tell you why I have to leave."
Streeter found his friends waiting for him. He knew it was no use
trying to see Davison before the meeting. There was a long drive ahead
of them, and it was grey daylight when they reached the ground, where
they found the other party waiting.
Each man took his place and the pistol that was handed to him. When the
word "Fire!" was given, Streeter dropped his hand to his side. Davison
stood with his pistol still pointed, but he did not fire.
"Why don't you shoot, George?" said Davison.
Harmon, at this point, rebuked his principal, and said he must have no
communication with the other except through a second.
"Oh!" said Davison, impatiently, "I don't pretend to know the rules of
this idiotic game!"
Streeter stepped forward.
"I merely wished to give you the opportunity of firing at me if you
cared to do so," he said; "and now I desire to apologize for my action
at the cafe. I may say that what I did was done under a
misapprehension. Anything that I can do to make reparation I am willing
"Oh, that's all right!" said Davison; "nothing more need be said. I am
perfectly satisfied. Let us get back to the city; I find it some-what
chilly out here."
"And yet," said Harmon, with a sigh, "Englishmen have the cheek to talk
of the futility of French duels!"
John Crandall sat at his office desk and thought the situation over.
Everybody had gone and he was in the office alone. Crandall was rather
tired and a little sleepy, so he was inclined to take a gloomy view of
things. Not that there was anything wrong with his business; in fact,
it was in a first-rate condition so far as it went, but it did not go
far enough; that was what John thought as he brooded over his affairs.
He was making money, of course, but the trouble was that he was not
making it fast enough.
As he thought of these things John gradually and imperceptibly went to
sleep, and while he slept he dreamt a dream. It would be quite easy to
pretend that the two persons who came to him in the vision, actually
entered the office and that he thought them regular customers or
something of that sort, while at the end of the story, when everybody
was bewildered, the whole matter might be explained by announcing the
fact that it was all a dream, but this account being a true and honest
one, no such artifice will be used and at the very beginning the
admission is made that John was the victim of a vision.
In this dream two very beautiful ladies approached him. One was richly
dressed and wore the most dazzling jewelry. The other was clad in plain
attire. At first, the dreaming Mr. Crandall thought, or dreamt he
thought, that the richly dressed one was the prettier. She was
certainly very attractive, but, as she came closer, John imagined that
much of her beauty was artificial. He said to himself that she painted
artistically perhaps, but at any rate she laid it on rather thick.
About the other there was no question. She was a beauty, and what
loveliness she possessed was due to the bounties of Providence and not
to the assistance of the chemist. She was the first to speak.
"Mr. Crandall," she said, in the sweetest of voices, "we have come here
together so that you may choose between us. Which one will you have?"
"Bless me," said Crandall, so much surprised at the unblushing proposal
that he nearly awoke himself, "bless me, don't you know that I am
"Oh, _that_ doesn't matter," answered the fair young lady, with
the divinest of smiles.
"Doesn't it?" said Mr. Crandall. "If you had the pleasure of meeting
Mrs. Crandall I think you would find that it did--very much indeed."
"But we are not mortals; we are spirits."
"Oh, are you? Well, of course that makes a difference," replied Mr.
Crandall much relieved, for he began to fear from the turn the
conversation had taken that he was in the presence of two writers of
"This lady," continued the first speaker, "is the spirit of wealth. If
you choose her you will be a very rich man before you die."
"Oh, ho!" cried Crandall. "Are you sure of that?"
"Well, then I won't be long making my choice. I choose her, of course."
"But you don't know who I am. Perhaps when you know, you may wish to
reverse your decision."
"I suppose you are the spirit of power or of fame or something of that
sort. I am not an ambitious person; money is good enough for me."
"No, I am the spirit of health. Think well before you make your choice.
Many have rejected me, and afterwards, have offered all their
possessions fruitlessly, hoping to lure me to them."
"Ah," said Mr. Crandall, with some hesitation. "You are a very pleasant
young person to have around the house. But why cannot I have both of
you? How does _that_ strike you?"
"I am very sorry, but I am not permitted to give you the choice of
"Why is that? Many people are allowed to choose both."
"I know that; still we must follow our instructions."
"Well, if that is the case, without wishing to offend you in the least,
I think I will stand by my first choice. I choose wealth."
As he said this the other lady advanced toward him and smiled somewhat
triumphantly as she held out her hand. Crandall grasped it and the
first spirit sighed. Just as the spirit of wealth seemed about to
speak, there was a shake at the office door, and Mr. John Crandall saw
the spirits fade away. He rubbed his eyes and said to himself: "By
George! I have been asleep. What a remarkably vivid dream that was."
As he yawned and stretched his arms above his head, the impatient
rattle at the door told him that at least was not a part of the dream.
He arose and unlocked the door. "Hello, Mr. Bullion," he said, as that
solid man came in. "You're late, aren't you."
"Why, for that matter, so are you. You must have been absorbed in your
accounts or you would have heard me sooner. I thought I would have to
shake the place down."
"Well, you know, the policeman sometimes tries the door and I thought
at first it was he. Won't you sit down?"
"Thanks! Don't care if I do. Busy tonight?"
"Just got through."
"Well, how are things going?"
"Oh, slowly as usual. Slowly because we have not facilities enough, but
we've got all the work we can do."
"Does it pay you for what work you do?"
"Certainly. I'm not in this business as a philanthropist, you know."
"No. I didn't suppose you were. Now, see here, Crandall, I think you
have a good thing of it here and one of the enterprises that if
extended would develop into a big business."
"I know it. But what am I to do? I've practically no capital to enlarge
the business, and I don't care to mortgage what I have and pay a high
rate of interest when, just at the critical moment, we might have a
commercial crisis and I would then lose everything."
"Quite right; quite right, and a safe principle. Well, that's what I
came to see you about. I have had my eye on you and this factory for
some time. Now, if you want capital I will furnish it on the condition
that an accountant of mine examines the books and finds everything
promising a fair return for enlarging the business. Of course I take
your word for the state of affairs all right enough, but business is
business, you know, and besides I want to get an expert opinion on how
much enlargement it will stand. I suppose you could manage a
manufactory ten or twenty times larger as easily as you do this one."
"Quite," said Mr. Crandall.
"Then what do you say to my coming round to-morrow at 9 with my man?"
"That would suit me all right."
Mr. John Crandall walked home a very much elated man that night.
* * * * *
"Well, doctor." said the patient in a very weak voice, "what is the
"It is just as I said before. You will have to take a rest. You know I
predicted this breakdown."
"Can't you give me something that will fix me up temporarily? It is
almost imperative that I should stay on just now."
"Of course it is. It has been so for the last five years. You forget
that in that time you have been fixed up temporarily on several
occasions. Now, I will get you 'round so that you can travel in a few
days and then I insist on a sea voyage or a quiet time somewhere on the
continent. You will have to throw off business cares entirely. There
are no ifs or buts about it."
"Look here, doctor. I don't see how I am to leave at this time. I have
been as bad as this a dozen times before. _You_ know that. I'm
just a little fagged out and when I go back to the office I can take
things easier. You see, we have a big South American contract on hand
that I am very anxious about. New business, you know."
"I suppose you could draw your cheque for a pretty large amount, Mr.
"Yes, I can. If money can bridge the thing over, I will arrange it."
"Well, money can't. What I wanted to say was that if, instead of having
a large sum in the bank, you had overdrawn your account about as much
as the bank would stand, would you be surprised if your cheque were not
"No, I wouldn't."
"Well, that is your state physically. You've overdrawn your vitality
account. You've got to make a deposit. You must take a vacation."
"Any other time, doctor. I'll go sure, as soon as this contract is off.
Upon my word I will. You needn't shake your head. A vacation just now
would only aggravate the difficulty. I wouldn't have a moment's peace
knowing this South American business might be bungled. I'd worry myself
* * * * *
The funeral of Mr. Crandall was certainly one of the most splendid
spectacles the city had seen for many a day. The papers all spoke
highly of the qualities of the dead manufacturer, whose growth had been
typical of the growth of the city. The eloquent minister spoke of the
inscrutable ways of Providence in cutting off a man in his prime, and
in the very height of his usefulness.
THE FAILURE OF BRADLEY.
The skater lightly laughs and glides,
Unknowing that beneath the ice
On which he carves his fair device
A stiffened corpse in silence glides.
It glareth upward at his play;
Its cold, blue, rigid fingers steal
Beneath the tracings of his heel.
It floats along and floats away.
"If I only had the courage," said Bradley, as he looked over the stone
parapet of the embankment at the dark waters of the Thames as they
flashed for a moment under the glitter of the gaslight and then
disappeared in the black night to flash again farther down.
"Very likely I would struggle to get out again the moment I went over,"
he muttered to himself. "But if no help came it would all be done with,
in a minute. Two minutes perhaps. I'll warrant those two minutes would
seem an eternity. I would see a hundred ways of making a living, if I
could only get out again. Why can't I see one now while I am out. My
father committed suicide, why shouldn't I? I suppose it runs in the
family. There seems to come a time when it is the only way out, I
wonder if he hesitated? I'm a coward, that's the trouble."
After a moment's hesitation the man slowly climbed on the top of the
stone wall and then paused again. He looked with a shudder at the
"I'll do it," he cried aloud, and was about to slide down, when a hand
grasped his arm and a voice said:
"What will you do?"
In the light of the gas-lamp Bradley saw a man whose face seemed
familiar and although he thought rapidly, "Where have I seen that man
before?" he could not place him.
"Nothing," answered Bradley sullenly.
"That's right," was the answer. "I'd do nothing of that kind, if I were
"Of course you wouldn't. You have everything that I haven't--food,
clothes, shelter. Certainly you wouldn't. Why should you?"
"Why should you, if it comes to that?"
"Because ten shillings stands between me and a job. That's why, if you
want to know. There's eight shillings railway fare, a shilling for
something to eat to-night and a shilling for something in the morning.
But I haven't the ten shillings. So that's why."
"If I give you the ten shillings what assurance have I that you will
not go and get drunk on it?"
"None at all. I have not asked you for ten shillings, nor for one. I
have simply answered your question."
"That is true. I will give you a pound if you will take it, and so if
unfortunately you spent half of it in cheering yourself, you will still
have enough left to get that job. What is the job?"
"I am a carpenter."
"You are welcome to the pound."
"I will take it gladly. But, mind you, I am not a beggar. I will take
it if you give me your address, so that I may send it back to you when.
I earn it."
By this time Bradley had come down on the pavement. The other man
"I cannot agree to that. You are welcome to the money. More if you
like. I merely doubled the sum you mentioned to provide for anything
"Unless you let me return it, I will not take the money."
"I have perfect confidence in your honesty. If I had not, I would not
offer the money. I cannot give you my address, or, rather, I will not.
If you will pay the pound to some charity or will give it to someone
who is in need, I am more than satisfied. If you give it to the right
man and tell him to do the same, the pound will do more good than ever
it will in my pocket or in my usual way of spending it."
"But how are you to know I will do that?"
"I am considered rather a good judge of men. I am certain you will do
what you say."
"I'll take the money. I doubt if there is anyone in London to-night who
needs it much worse than I do."
Bradley looked after the disappearing figure of the man who had
"I have seen that man somewhere before," he said to himself. But in
that he was wrong. He hadn't.
* * * * *
Wealth is most unevenly and most unfairly divided. All of us admit
that, but few of us agree about the remedy. Some of the best minds of
the century have wrestled with this question in vain. "The poor ye have
always with you" is as true to-day as it was 1800 years ago. Where so
many are in doubt, it is perhaps a comfort to meet men who have no
uncertainty as to the cause and the remedy. Such a body of men met in a
back room off Soho Square.
"We are waiting for you, Bradley," said the chairman, as the carpenter
took his place and the doors were locked. He looked better than he had
done a year before on the Thames embankment.
"I know I'm late, but I couldn't help it. They are rushing things at
the exhibition grounds. The time is short now, and they are beginning
to be anxious for fear everything will not be ready in time."
"That's it," said one of the small group, "we are slaves and must be
late or early as our so-called masters choose."
"Oh, there is extra pay," said Bradley with a smile, as he took a seat.
"Comrades," said the chairman, rapping on the desk, "we will now
proceed to business. The secret committee has met and made a
resolution. After the lots are drawn it will be my task to inform the
man chosen what the job is. It is desirable that as few as possible,
even among ourselves, should know who the man is, who has drawn the
marked paper. Perhaps it may be my own good fortune to be the chosen
man. One of the papers is marked with a cross. Whoever draws that paper
is to communicate with me at my room within two days. He is to come
alone. It is commanded by the committee that no man is to look at his
paper until he leaves this room and then to examine it in secret. He is
bound by his oath to tell no one at any time whether or not he is the
The papers were put into a hat and each man in the room drew one. The
chairman put his in his pocket, as did the others. The doors were
unlocked and each man went to his home, if he had one.
Next evening Bradley called at the room of the chairman and said:
"There is the marked paper I drew last night."
* * * * *
The exhibition building was gay with bunting and was sonorous with the
sounds of a band of music. The machinery that would not stop for six
months was still motionless, for it was to be started in an hour's time
by His Highness. His Highness and suite had not yet arrived but the
building was crowded by a well-dressed throng of invited guests--the
best in the land as far as fame, title or money was concerned.
Underneath the grand stand where His Highness and the distinguished
guests were to make speeches and where the finger of nobility was to
press the electric button, Bradley walked anxiously about, with the
same haggard look on his face that was there the night he thought of
slipping into the Thames. The place underneath was a wilderness of
beams and braces. Bradley's wooden tool chest stood on the ground
against one of the timbers. The foremen came through and struck a beam
or a brace here and there.
"Everything is all right," he said to Bradley. "There will be no
trouble, even if it was put up in a hurry, and in spite of the strain
that will be on it to-day."
Bradley was not so sure of that, but he said nothing. When the foreman
left him alone, he cautiously opened the lid of his tool chest and
removed the carpenter's apron which covered something in the bottom.
This something was a small box with a clockwork arrangement and a
miniature uplifted hammer that hung like the sword of Damocles over a
little copper cap. He threw the apron over it again, closed the lid of
the chest, leaned against one of the timbers, folded his arms and
Presently there was a tremendous cheer and the band struck up, "He is
coming," said Bradley to himself, closing his lips tighter.
"Carpenter," cried the policeman putting in his head through the little
wooden door at the foot of the stage, "come here, quick. You can get a
splendid sight of His Highness as he comes up the passage." Bradley
walked to the opening and gazed at the distinguished procession coming
toward him. Suddenly he grasped the arm of the policeman like a vice.
"Who is that man in the robes--at the head of the procession?"
"Don't you know? That is His Highness."
Bradley gasped for breath. He recognized His Highness as the man he had
met on the embankment.
"Thank you," he said to the policeman, who looked at him curiously.
Then he went under the grand stand among the beams and braces and
leaned against one of the timbers with knitted brows.
After a few moments he stepped to his chest, pulled off the apron and
carefully lifted out the machine. With a quick jerk he wrenched off the
little hammer and flung it from him. The machinery inside whirred for a
moment with a soft purr like a clock running down. He opened the box
and shook out into his apron a substance like damp sawdust. He seemed
puzzled for a moment what to do with it. Finally he took it out and
scattered it along the grass-grown slope of a railway cutting. Then he
returned to his tool chest, took out a chisel and grimly felt its edge
with his thumb.
* * * * *
It was admitted on all hands that His Highness never made a better
speech in his life than on the occasion of the opening of that
exhibition. He touched lightly on the country's unexampled prosperity,
of which the marvelous collection within those walls was an indication.
He alluded to the general contentment that reigned among the classes to
whose handiwork was due the splendid examples of human skill there
exhibited. His Highness was thankful that peace and contentment reigned
over the happy land and he hoped they would long continue so to reign.
Then there were a good many light touches of humor in the discourse--
touches that are so pleasing when they come from people in high places.
In fact, the chairman said at the club afterwards (confidentially, of
course) that the man who wrote His Highness's speeches had in that case
quite outdone himself.
* * * * *
The papers had very full accounts of the opening of the exhibition next
morning, and perhaps because these graphic articles occupied so much
space, there was so little room for the announcement about the man who
committed suicide. The papers did not say where the body was found,
except that it was near the exhibition buildings, and His Highness
never knew that he made that excellent speech directly over the body of
a dead man.
Mr. Johnson Ringamy, the author, sat in his library gazing idly out of
the window. The view was very pleasant, and the early morning sun
brought out in strong relief the fresh greenness of the trees that now
had on their early spring suits of foliage. Mr. Ringamy had been a busy
man, but now, if he cared to take life easy, he might do so, for few
books had had the tremendous success of his latest work. Mr. Ringamy
was thinking about this, when the door opened, and a tall,
intellectual-looking young man entered from the study that communicated
with the library. He placed on the table the bunch of letters he had in
his hand, and, drawing up a chair, opened a blank notebook that had,
between the leaves, a lead pencil sharpened at both ends.
"Good morning, Mr. Scriver," said the author, also hitching up his
chair towards the table. He sighed as he did so, for the fair spring
prospect from the library window was much more attractive than the task
of answering an extensive correspondence.
"Is there a large mail this morning, Scriver?"
"A good-sized one, sir. Many of them, however, are notes asking for
"Enclose stamps, do they?"
"Most of them, sir; those that did not, I threw in the waste basket."
"Quite right. And as to the autographs you might write them this
afternoon, if you have time."
"I have already done so, sir. I flatter myself that even your most
intimate friend could not tell my version of your autograph from your
As he said this, the young man shoved towards the author a letter which
he had written, and Mr. Ringamy looked at it critically.
"Very good, Scriver, very good indeed. In fact, if I were put in the
witness-box I am not sure that I would be able to swear that this was
not my signature. What's this you have said in the body of the letter
about sentiment? Not making me write anything sentimental, I hope. Be
careful, my boy, I don't want the newspapers to get hold of anything
that they could turn into ridicule. They are too apt to do that sort of
thing if they get half a chance."
"Oh, I think you will find that all right," said the young man; "still
I thought it best to submit it to you before sending it off. You see
the lady who writes has been getting up a 'Ringamy Club' in Kalamazoo,
and she asks you to give her an autographic sentiment which they will
cherish as the motto of the club. So I wrote the sentence, 'All classes
of labor should have equal compensation.' If that won't do, I can
easily change it.'
"Oh, that will do first rate--first rate."
"Of course it is awful rot, but I thought it would please the feminine
"Awful _what_ did you say, Mr. Scriver?"
"Well, slush--if that expresses it better. Of course, you don't believe
any such nonsense."
Mr. Johnson Ringamy frowned as he looked at his secretary.
"I don't think I understand you," he said, at last.
"Well, look here, Mr. Ringamy, speaking now, not as a paid servant to
his master, but--"
"Now, Scriver, I won't have any talk like that. There is no master or
servant idea between us. There oughtn't to be between anybody. All men
are free and equal."
"They are in theory, and in my eye, as I might say if I wanted to make
it more expressive."
"Scriver, I cannot congratulate you on your expressive language, if I
may call it so. But we are wandering from the argument. You were going
to say that speaking as--Well, go on."
"I was going to say that, speaking as one reasonably sensible man to
another, without any gammon about it; don't you think it is rank
nonsense to hold that one class of labor should be as well compensated
as another. Honestly now?"
The author sat back in his chair and gazed across the table at his
secretary. Finally, he said:
"My dear Scriver, you can't really mean what you say. You know that I
hold that all classes of labor should have exactly the same
compensation. The miner, the blacksmith, the preacher, the postal
clerk, the author, the publisher, the printer--yes, the man who sweeps
out the office, or who polishes boots, should each share alike, if this
world were what it should be--yes, and what it _will_ be. Why,
Scriver, you surely couldn't have read my book--"
"Read it? why, hang it, I _wrote_ it."
"You wrote it? The deuce you did! I always thought I was the author of
"So you are. But didn't I take it all down in shorthand, and didn't I
whack it out on the type-writer, and didn't I go over the proof sheets
with you. And yet you ask me if I have read it!"
"Oh, yes, quite right, I see what you mean. Well, if you paid as much
attention to the arguments as you did to the mechanical production of
the book, I should think you would not ask if I really meant what I
"Oh, I suppose you meant it all right enough--in a way--in theory,
"My dear sir, allow me to say that a theory which is not practical, is
simply no theory at all. The great success of 'Gazing Upward,' has been
due to the fact that it is an eminently practical work. The
nationalization of everything is not a matter of theory. The ideas
advocated in that book, can be seen at work at any time. Look at the
Army, look at the Post Office."
"Oh, that's all right, looking at things in bulk. Let us come down to
practical details. Detail is the real test of any scheme. Take this
volume, 'Gazing Upward.' Now, may I ask how much this book has netted
you up to date?"
"Oh, I don't know exactly. Somewhere in the neighborhood of L20,000."
"Very well then. Now let us look for a moment at the method by which
that book was produced. You walked up and down this room with your
hands behind your back, and dictated chapter after chapter, and I sat
at this table taking it all down in shorthand. Then you went out and
took the air while I industriously whacked it out on the type-writer."
"I wish you wouldn't say 'whacked,' Scriver. That's twice you've used
"All right:--typographical error--For 'whacked' read 'manipulated.'
Then you looked over the type-written pages, and I erased and wrote in
and finally got out a perfect copy. Now I worked as hard--probably
harder--than you did, yet the success of that book was entirely due to
you, and not to me. Therefore it is quite right that you should get
L20,000 and that I should get two pounds a week. Come now, isn't it?
Speaking as a man of common sense."
"Speaking exactly in that way I say no it is not right. If the world
were properly ruled the compensation of author and secretary would have
been exactly the same."
"Oh, well, if you go so far as that," replied the Secretary, "I have
nothing more to say."
The author laughed, and the two men bent their energies to the
correspondence. When the task was finished, Scriver said:
"I would like to get a couple of days off, Mr. Ringamy. I have some
private business to attend to."
"When could you get back?"
"I'll report to you on Thursday morning."
"Very well, then. Not later than Thursday. I think I'll take a couple
of days off myself."
* * * * *
On Thursday morning Mr. Johnson Ringamy sat in his library looking out
of the window, but the day was not as pleasant as when he last gazed at
the hills, and the woods, and green fields. A wild spring storm lashed
the landscape, and rattled the raindrops against the pane. Mr. Ringamy
waited for some time and then opened the study door and looked in. The
little room was empty. He rang the bell, and the trim servant-girl
"Has Mr. Scriver come in yet?"
"No, sir, he haven't"
"Perhaps the rain has kept him."
"Mr. Scriver said that when you come back, sir, there was a letter on
the table as was for you."
"Ah, so there is. Thank you, that will do." The author opened the
letter and read as follows:
"MY DEAR MR. RINGAMY,--Your arguments the other day fully convinced me
that you were right, and I was wrong ("Ah! I thought they would,"
murmured the author). I have therefore taken a step toward putting your
theories into practice. The scheme is an old one in commercial life,
but new in its present application, so much so that I fear it will find
no defenders except yourself, and I trust that now when I am far away
("Dear me, what does this mean!" cried the author) you will show any
doubters that I acted on the principles which will govern the world
when the theories of 'Gazing Upward' are put into practice. For fear
that all might not agree with you at present, I have taken the
precaution of going to that undiscovered country, from whose bourne no
extradition treaty forces the traveler to return--sunny Spain. You said
you could not tell my rendition of your signature from your own.
Neither could the bank cashier. My exact mutation of your signature has
enabled me to withdraw L10,000 from your bank account. Half the
profits, you know. You can send future accumulations, for the book will
continue to sell, to the address of
_"Poste Restant, Madrid, Spain"_
Mr. Ringamy at once put the case in the hands of the detectives, where
it still remains.
A SLIPPERY CUSTOMER.
When John Armstrong stepped off the train at the Union Station, in
Toronto, Canada, and walked outside, a small boy accosted him.
"Carry your valise up for you, sir?"
"No, thank you," said Mr. Armstrong.
"Carry it up for ten cents, sir?"
"Take it up for five cents, sir?"
"Get out of my way, will you?"
The boy got out of the way, and John Armstrong carried the valise
There was nearly half a million dollars in it, so Mr. Armstrong thought
it best to be his own porter.
* * * * *
In the bay window of one of the handsomest residences in Rochester, New
York, sat Miss Alma Temple, waiting for her father to come home from
the bank. Mr. Horace Temple was one of the solid men of Rochester, and
was president of the Temple National Bank. Although still early in
December, the winter promised to be one of the most severe for many
years, and the snow lay crisp and hard on the streets, but not enough
for sleighing. It was too cold for snow, the weatherwise said. Suddenly
Miss Alma drew back from the window with a quick flush on her face that
certainly was not caused by the coming of her father. A dapper young
man sprang lightly up the steps, and pressed the electric button at the
door. When the young man entered the room a moment later Miss Alma was
sitting demurely by the open fire. He advanced quickly toward her, and
took both her outstretched hands in his. Then, furtively looking around
the room, he greeted her still more affectionately, in a manner that
the chronicler of these incidents, is not bound to particularize.
However, the fact may be mentioned that whatever resistance the young
woman thought fit to offer was of the faintest and most futile kind,
and so it will be understood, at the beginning, that these two young
persons had a very good understanding with each other.
"You seem surprised to see me," he began.
"Well, Walter, I understood that you left last time with some
energetically expressed resolutions never to darken our doors again."
"Well, you see, my dear, I am sometimes a little hasty; and, in fact,
the weather is so dark nowadays, anyhow, that a little extra darkness
does not amount to much, and so I thought I would take the risk of
darkening them once more."
"But I also understood that my father made you promise, or that you
promised voluntarily, not to see me again without his permission?"
"Not voluntarily. Far from it. Under compulsion, I assure you. But I
didn't come to see you at all. That's where you are mistaken. The
seeing you is merely an accident, which I have done my best to avoid.
Fact! The girl said, 'Won't you walk into the drawing-room,' and
naturally I did so. Never expected to find you here. I thought I saw a
young lady at the window as I came up, but I got such a momentary
glimpse that I might have been mistaken."
"Then I will leave you and not interrupt--"
"Not at all. Now I beg of you not to leave on my account, Alma. You
know I would not put you to any trouble for the world."
"You are very kind, I am sure, Mr. Brown."
"I am indeed, Miss Temple. All my friends admit that. But now that you
are here--by the way, I came to see Mr. Temple. Is he at home?"
"I am expecting him every moment."
"Oh, well, I'm disappointed; but I guess I will bear up for awhile--
until he comes, you know."
"I thought your last interview with him was not so pleasant that you
would so soon seek another."
"The fact is, Alma, we both lost our tempers a bit, and no good ever
comes of that. You can't conduct business in a heat, you know."
"Oh, then the asking of his daughter's hand was business--a mere
business proposition, was it?"
"Well, I confess he put it that way--very strongly, too. Of course,
with me there would have been pleasure mixed with it if he had--but he
didn't. See here, Alma--tell me frankly (of course he talked with you
about it) what objection he has to me anyhow."
"I suppose you consider yourself such a desirable young man that it
astonishes you greatly that any person should have any possible
objection to you?"
"Oh, come now, Alma; don't hit a fellow when he's down, you know. I
don't suppose I have more conceit than the average young man; but then,
on the other hand, I am not such a fool, despite appearances, as not to
know that I am considered by some people as quite an eligible
individual. I am not a pauper exactly, and your father knows that. I
don't think I have many very bad qualities. I don't get drunk; I don't
--oh, I could give quite a list of the things I don't do."
"You are certainly frank enough, my eligible young man. Still you must
not forget that my papa is considered quite an eligible father-in-law,
if it comes to that."
"Why, of course, I admit it. How could it be otherwise when he has such
a charming daughter?"
"You know I don't mean that, Walter. You were speaking of wealth and so
was I. Perhaps we had better change the subject."
"By the way, that reminds me of what I came to see you about. What do--"
"To see me? I thought you came to see my father."
"Oh, yes--certainly--I did come to see him, of course, but in case I
saw you, I thought I would ask you for further particulars in the case.
I have asked you the question but you have evaded the answer. You did
not tell me why he is so prejudiced against me. Why did he receive me
in such a gruff manner when I spoke to him about it? It is not a
criminal act to ask a man for his daughter. It is not, I assure you. I
looked up the law on the subject, and a young friend of mine, who is a
barrister, says there is no statute in the case made and provided. The
law of the State of New York does not recognize my action as against
the peace and prosperity of the commonwealth. Well, he received me as
if I had been caught robbing the bank. Now I propose to know what the
objection is. I am going to hear--"
"Hush! Here is papa now."
Miss Alma quickly left the room, and met her father in the hall. Mr.
Brown stood with his hands in his pockets and his back to the fire. He
heard the gruff voice of Mr. Temple say, apparently in answer to some
information given him by his daughter: "Is he? What does he want?"
There was a moment's pause, and then the same voice said:
"Very well, I will see him in the library in a few minutes."
Somehow the courage of young Mr. Brown sank as he heard the banker's
voice, and the information he had made up his mind to demand with some
hauteur, he thought he would ask, perhaps, in a milder manner.
Mr. Brown brightened up as the door opened, but it was not Miss Alma
who came in. The servant said to him:
"Mr. Temple is in the library, sir. Will you come this way!"
He followed and found the banker seated at his library table, on which
he had just placed some legal-looking papers, bound together with a
thick rubber band. It was evident that his work did not stop when he
left the bank. Young Brown noticed that Mr. Temple looked careworn and
haggard, and that his manner was very different from what it had been
on the occasion of the last interview.
"Good evening, Mr. Brown. I am glad you called. I was on the point of
writing to you, but the subject of our talk the other night was crowded
from my mind by more important matters."
Young Mr. Brown thought bitterly that there ought not to be matters
more important to a father than his daughter's happiness, but he had
the good sense not to say so.
"I spoke to you on that occasion with a--in a manner that was--well,
hardly excusable, and I wish to say that I am sorry I did so. What I
had to state might have been stated with more regard for your
"Then may I hope, Mr. Temple, that you have changed your mind with--"
"No, sir. What I said then--that is, the substance of what I said, not
the manner of saying it--I still adhere to."
"May I ask what objection you have to me?"
"Certainly. I have the same objection that I have to the majority of
the society young men of the present day. If I make inquiries about
you, what do I find? That you are a noted oarsman--that you have no
profession--that your honors at college consisted in being captain of
the football team, and--"
"No, no, the baseball club."
"Same thing, I suppose."
"Quite different, I assure you, Mr. Temple."
"Well, it is the same to me at any rate. Now, in my time young men had
a harder row to hoe, and they hoed it. I am what they call a self-made
man and probably I have a harsher opinion of the young men of the
present day than I should have. But if I had a son I would endeavor to
have him know how to do something, and then I would see that he did
"I am obliged to you for stating your objection, Mr. Temple. I have
taken my degree in Harvard law school, but I have never practiced,
because, as the little boy said, I didn't have to. Perhaps if some one
had spoken to me as you have done I would have pitched in and gone to
work. It is not too late yet. Will you give me a chance? The position
of cashier in your bank, for instance?"
The effect of these apparently innocent words on Mr. Temple was
startling. He sprang to his feet and brought down his clenched fist on
the table with a vehemence that made young Mr. Brown jump. "What do you
mean, sir?" he cried, sternly. "What do you mean by saying such a
"Why, I--I--I--mean--" stammered Brown, but he could get no further. He
thought the old man had suddenly gone crazy. He glared across the
library table at Brown as if the next instant he would spring at his
throat. Then the haggard look came into his face again, he passed his
hand across his brow, and sank into his chair with a groan.
"My dear sir," said Brown, approaching him, "what is the matter? Is
there anything I can--"
"Sit down, please," answered the banker, melancholy. "You will excuse
me I hope, I am very much troubled. I did not intend to speak of it,
but some explanation is due to you. A month from now, if you are the
kind of man that most of your fellows are, you will not wish to marry
my daughter. There is every chance that at that time the doors of my
bank will be closed."
"You astonish me, sir. I thought--"
"Yes, and so every one thinks. I have seldom in my life trusted the
wrong man, but this time I have done so, and the one mistake seems
likely to obliterate all that I have succeeded in doing in a life of
"If I can be of any financial assistance I will be glad to help you."
"Well, I don't know--50,000 dollars perhaps or--"
"I must have 250,000 dollars before the end of this month."
"Two hundred and fifty thousand!"
"Yes, sir. William L. Staples, the cashier of our bank, is now in
Canada with half a million of the bank funds. No one knows it but
myself and one or two of the directors. It is generally supposed that
he has gone to Washington on a vacation."
"But can't you put detectives on his track?"
"Certainly. Then the theft would be made public at once. The papers
would be full of it. There might be a run on the bank, and we would
have to close the doors the next day. To put the detectives on his
track would merely mean bringing disaster on our own heads. Staples is
quite safe, and he knows it. Thanks to an idiotic international
arrangement he is as free from danger of arrest in Canada as you are
here. It is impossible to extradite him for stealing."
"But I think there is a law against bringing stolen money into Canada."
"Perhaps there is. It would not help us at the present moment. We must
compromise with him, if we can find him in time. Of course, even if the
bank closed, we would pay everything when there was time to realize.
But that is not the point. It would mean trouble and disaster, and
would probably result in other failures all through one man's
"Then it all resolves itself to this. Staples must be found quietly and
negotiated with. Mr. Temple, let me undertake the finding of him, and
the negotiating, also, if you will trust me."
"Do you know him?"
"Never saw him in my life."
"Here is his portrait. He is easily recognized from that. You couldn't
mistake him. He is probably living at Montreal under an assumed name.
He may have sailed for Europe. You will say nothing of this to
"Certainly not. I will leave on to-night's train for Montreal, or on
the first train that goes."
Young Mr. Brown slipped the photograph into his pocket and shook hands
with the banker. Somehow his confident, alert bearing inspired the old
man with more hope than he would have cared to admit, for, as a general
thing, he despised the average young man.
"How long can you hold out if this does not become public?"
"For a month at least; probably for two or three."
"Well, don't expect to hear from me too soon. I shall not risk writing.
If there is anything to communicate, I will come myself."
"It is very good of you to take my trouble on your shoulders like this.
I am very much obliged to you."
"I am not a philanthropist, Mr. Temple," replied young Brown.
* * * * *
When young Mr. Brown stepped off the train at the Central Station in
Toronto, a small boy accosted him.
"Carry your valise up for you, sir?"
"Certainly," said Brown, handing it to him.
"How much do I owe you?" he asked at the lobby of the hotel.
"Twenty-five cents," said the boy promptly, and he got it.
Brown registered on the books of the hotel as John A. Walker, of
* * * * *
Mr. Walter Brown, of Rochester, was never more discouraged in his life
than at the moment he wrote on the register the words, "John A. Walker,
Montreal." He had searched Montreal from one end to the other, but had
found no trace of the man for whom he was looking. Yet, strange to say,
when he raised his eyes from the register they met the face of William
L. Staples, ex-cashier. It was lucky for Brown that Staples was looking
at the words he had written, and not at himself, or he would have
noticed Brown's involuntary start of surprise, and flush of pleasure.
It was also rather curious that Mr. Brown had a dozen schemes in his
mind for getting acquainted with Staples when he met him, and yet that
the first advance should be made by Staples himself.
"You are from Montreal," said Mr. Staples, alias John Armstrong.
"That's my town," said Mr. Brown.
"What sort of a place is it in winter? Pretty lively?"
"Oh, yes. Good deal of a winter city, Montreal is. How do you mean,
business or sport?"
"Well, both. Generally where there's lots of business there's lots of
"Yes, that's so," assented Brown. He did not wish to prolong the
conversation. He had some plans to make, so he followed his luggage up
to his room. It was evident that he would have to act quickly. Staples
was getting tired of Toronto.
Two days after Brown had his plans completed. He met Staples one
evening in the smoking-room of the hotel.
"Think of going to Montreal?" asked Brown.
"I did think of it. I don't know, though. Are you in business there?"
"Yes. If you go, I could give you some letters of introduction to a lot
of fellows who would show you some sport, that is, if you care for
snow-shoeing, toboganning, and the like of that."
"I never went in much for athletics," said Staples.
"I don't care much for exertion myself," answered Brown. "I come up
here every winter for some ice-yachting. That's my idea of sport. I own
one of the fastest ice-boats on the bay. Ever been out?"
"No, I haven't. I've seen them at it a good deal. Pretty cold work such
weather as we've been having, isn't it?"
"I don't think so. Better come out with me tomorrow?"
"Well, I don't care if I do."
The next day and the next they spun around the bay on the ice-boat.
Even Staples, who seemed to be tired of almost everything, liked the
swiftness and exhilaration of the iceboat.
One afternoon, Brown walked into the bar of the hotel, where he found
"See here, Armstrong." he cried, slapping that gentleman on the
shoulder. "Are you in for a bit of sport? It's a nice moonlight night,
and I'm going to take a spin down to Hamilton to meet some chaps, and
we can come back on the iceboat, or if you think it too late, you can
stay over, and come back on the train."
"Hamilton? That's up the lake, isn't it?"
"Yes, just a nice run from here. Come along--I counted on you."
An hour later they were skimming along the frozen surface of the lake.
"Make yourself warm and snug," said Brown. "That's what the buffalo
robes are for. I must steer, so I have to keep in the open. If I were
you I'd wrap up in those robes and go to sleep. I'll wake you when
"All right," answered Staples. "That's not a bad idea."
"General George Washington!" said young Brown to himself. "This is too
soft a snap altogether. I'm going to run him across the lake like a
lamb. Before he opens his eyes we'll have skimmed across the frozen
lake, and he'll find himself in the States again when he wakes up. The
only thing now to avoid are the air-holes and ice-hills, and I'm all
He had been over the course before and knew pretty well what was ahead
of him. The wind was blowing stiffly straight up the lake and the boat
silently, and swifter than the fastest express, was flying from Canada
and lessening the distance to the American shore.
"How are you getting along, Walker," cried Staples, rousing himself up.
"First rate," answered Brown. "We'll soon be there, Staples."
That unfortunate slip of the tongue almost cost young Mr. Brown his
life. He had been, thinking of the man under his own name, and the name
had come out unconsciously. He did not even notice it himself in time
to prepare, and the next instant the thief flung himself upon him and
jammed his head against the iron rod that guided the rudder, with such
a force that the rudder stayed in its place and the boat flew along the
ice without a swerve.
"You scoundrel!" roared the bank-robber. "That's your game, is it? By