Part 5 out of 8
before Judge Norton and Judge Hazen, both of whom you will acknowledge are
honest. In the second place, this case will be in my hands as Assistant
District Attorney. I myself shall do the prosecuting, and I promise you on
my honour that every effort will be made for a deserved and speedy
conviction. I acknowledge justice has sometimes gone wrong in the past; but
that has not been the fault of the law, but of the administration of the
law. If you have the least confidence in Judge Norton and Judge Hazen, and
if you can be brought to believe me, you will see that this one case of all
cases should not be taken from the constituted authorities or made the
basis for a movement outside the law."
"Well?" said King, half convinced.
"The _Bulletin_ has the greatest influence with these people. Use it. Give
the law, the honest law, a chance. Do not get back of any Vigilante
movement. In that way, I am convinced, you will be of the greatest public
Next day the _Bulletin_ came out vigorously counselling dependence on the
law, expressing confidence in the integrity of Hazen and Norton, and
enunciating a personal belief that the day had passed when it would be
necessary to resort to arbitrary measures. The mob's anger had possessed
vitality enough to keep it up all night; but the attitude of the
_Bulletin_, backed by responsible men like Ward, Coleman, Hossiros,
Bluxome, and others, averted a crisis. Nevertheless, King added a paragraph
Hang Billy Mulligan! That's the word! If Mr. Sheriff Scannell does not
remove Billy Mulligan from his present post as keeper of the county jail,
and Mulligan lets Cora escape, hang Billy Mulligan, and if necessary to get
rid of the sheriff, hang him--hang the sheriff!
The popular excitement gradually died. It had no leaders. Coleman and men
of his stamp, who had taken command of similar crises in former times,
counselled moderation. They were influenced, partly by the fact that
Richardson had been a public official and a popular one. Conviction seemed
Keith applied himself heart and soul to the case. Its preparation seemed to
him, at first an easy matter. It was open and shut. Although at the moment
of the murder the street had not been crowded, a half-dozen eye-witnesses
of the actual shooting were easily found, willing to testify to the
essential facts. No defence seemed possible, but Cora remained undisturbed.
He had retained one of the most brilliant lawyers of the time, James
McDougall. This fact in itself might have warned Keith, for McDougall had
the reputation of avoiding lost causes and empty purses. The lawyer
promptly took as counsel the most brilliant of the younger men, Jimmy Ware,
Allyn Lane, and Keith's friend, Calhoun Bennett. This meant money, and
plenty of it, for all of these were expensive men. The exact source of the
money was uncertain; but it was known that Belle was advancing liberally
for her lover, and that James Casey, bound by some mysterious obligation,
was active in taking up collections. Cora lived in great luxury at the
jail. He had long been a personal friend of Sheriff Webb and his first
deputy, Billy Mulligan.
Several months passed before the case could be forced to trial. All sorts
of legal and technical expedients were used to defer action. McDougall and
his legal assistants were skilful players at the game, and the points they
advanced had to be fought out according to the rules, each a separate
little case with plenty of its own technicalities. Some of Keith's
witnesses were difficult to hold; they had business elsewhere, and
naturally resented being compelled, through no fault of their own, to
remain. Keith had always looked on this play of legal rapiers as a part--an
interesting part--of the game; but heretofore he had always been on the
obstructing side. He worried a great deal. At length, by superhuman
efforts, he broke through the thicket of technicalities and brought the
matter to an issue. The day was set. He returned home so relieved in spirit
that Nan could not but remark on his buoyancy.
"Yes," he responded, "I've managed to drive that old rascal, McDougall,
into the open at last."
Nan caught at the epithet.
"But you don't mean that--quite--do you?" she asked. "The McDougalls are
such delightful people."
"No, of course not. Just law talk," said Keith, quite sincerely. "He's
handled his case well up to now. I'm just exasperated on that account,
But setting the day irrevocably was only a beginning. The jury had to be
selected. Sheriff Webb had in his hands the calling of the venire. While it
was true that the old-time, "professional jurymen"--men who hung around the
courthouse for no other purpose--were no longer in existence, it can be
readily seen that Webb was able, if it were worth while, to exercise a
judicious eye in the selection of "amenables." The early exhaustion of
Keith's quota of peremptory challenges was significant, for McDougall
rarely found it desirable to challenge at all! Keith displayed tremendous
resource in last-moment detective work concerning the records of the panel.
In this way he was enabled to challenge several for cause, after all his
peremptory challenges had been used. At first he had great difficulty in
getting results, for the police detectives proved supine. It was only after
he had hired private agents, paying for them from his own pocket, that he
obtained information on which he could act. The final result was a jury
better than he had dared hope for, but worse than he desired. He had gone
through a tremendous labour, and realized fully the difference between
being for or against the powers.
The case came to trial, Keith presented six witnesses--respectable, one of
them well-known. These testified to the same simple facts, and their
testimony remained unshaken under cross-examination. McDougall offered the
plea of self-defence. He brought a cloud of witnesses to swear that Cora
had drawn his weapon only after Richardson had produced and cocked a
pistol. By skilful technical delays Keith gained time for his detectives,
and succeeded in showing that two of these witnesses had been elsewhere at
the time of the killing, and therefore had perjured themselves. He recalled
his own witnesses, and found two willing to swear that Richardson's hands
had been empty and hanging at his sides, The defence did not trouble to
cross-examine this statement.
At last, with a perfunctory judicial charge, the case went to the jury.
Keith, weary to the bone, sat back in grateful relaxation. He had worked
hard, against odds, and had done a good job. He was willing now to spare a
little professional admiration for McDougall's skilful legal manoeuvring.
There could be no earthly doubt of the result. He idly watched the big
bland-faced clock, with its long second hand moving forward by spaced
jerks. The jury was out a very long time for so simple a verdict, but that
was a habit of California juries. It did not worry Keith. He was glad to
rest. The judge stared at the ceiling, his hands clasped over his stomach.
Cora's lawyers talked together in a low voice. Flies buzzed against dusty
window-panes. The spectators watched apathetically. Belle, in a ravishing
toilet, was there.
The opening of the door broke the spell almost rudely. Keith sat up,
listening to the formal questions and answers. They had disagreed!
For a moment the import of this did not penetrate to Keith's understanding.
Then he half rose, shouted "What!" and sank back stunned. His brain was in
confusion. Only dimly did he hear the judge dismissing the jury, remanding
Cora for retrial, adjourning court. Instantly Cora was surrounded by a
congratulatory crowd. Keith sat alone. McDougall, gathering up his papers
from the table assigned to counsel, made some facetious remark. Keith did
not reply. McDougall looked at him sharply, and as he went out he remarked
"Keith takes this hard."
"He does!" cried Casey, genuinely astonished. "They were trying to tell me
he was altogether too active in this matter; but I told them he was young
and had his way to make, and was playing to the gallery."
He sauntered across the room.
"Well, Milt," he cried in a jovial voice, but watching the young lawyer
narrowly, "the Lord's on the side of true virtue, as usual."
Keith came to himself, scowled, started to say something, but refrained
with an obvious effort.
Casey wandered back to McDougall.
"You're right, Mac," he said. "I guess he's got the swell head. We'll have
to call him off gently, or he'll make a nuisance of himself at the next
trial. He makes altogether too much trouble."
But McDougall was tolerant.
"Oh, let him alone, Jim. He's got his way to make. Let him alone. We can
handle the situation."
Keith left the courtroom in a daze of incredulity. This was his first
serious defeat; and he could not understand it. The case was absolutely
open and shut, a mere question of fact to which there were sufficient and
competent witnesses. For the moment he was completely routed.
As he emerged to the busy crowds on Kearney Street a sudden repugnance to
meeting acquaintances overcame him. He turned off toward the bay, making
his way by the back streets, alleys, and slums of that unsavoury quarter.
But even here he was not to escape. He had not gone two blocks before he
descried Krafft's slight and elegant figure sauntering toward him. Keith
braced himself for the inevitable question.
"Well," it came, "how goes the trial?"
The words released Keith's pent flood of bitterness. Here was an outlet;
Krafft was "safe." He poured out his disappointment, his suspicion, his
indignation. The little man listened to him in silence, a slight smile,
sketching his full, red lips. When Keith had somewhat run down, Krafft,
without a word, took him by the arm and led him by devious ways down to the
water-front portion of the city. There he planted him near the entrance of
a dark alley.
"Now you wait here," Keith was told.
Keith obeyed. The interval was long, but he had much to occupy his mind.
After a time Krafft returned in company with a slouching, drink-sodden
bummer of powerful build and lowering mien, the remains of a forceful
personality. This individual shambled along in the wake of the dapper
little Krafft quite meekly and submissively.
"Here you are," said the latter briskly, and with a sort of nonchalant
authority. "Come, now, Mex, tell Mr, Keith what you know about the Cora
trial. Go on!" he urged, as the man hesitated. "He's not going to 'use'
you--he doesn't even know who you are or where you're to be found, and I'm
not going to tell him. Speak up, Mex! I tell you I want him to know how
Keith by now was acquainted with many of Krafft's proteges, but he had
never met the delectable Mex. Evidently the latter had long known Krafft,
however, for he acknowledged his authority unquestioningly.
"It's like this, boss," he began in a hoarse voice. "You don't know me,
like Mr. Krafft says, but there's plenty that do. I got a lot of infloonce
down here, and when anybody wants anything they know where to come to get
it, which is right to headquarters--here," he slapped his great chest.
"Get on," interrupted Krafft impatiently. "We'll take it for granted that
you are a great man."
Mex looked at him reproachfully, but went on:
"About this Cora trial: they come to me for good, reliable witnesses, and I
got 'em, and drilled 'em. There ain't nobody in it with me for making any
"How many witnesses?" prompted Krafft.
"Eight," replied Mex promptly.
"Well, they give me five thousand fer to git the job done," admitted Mex,
with some reluctance.
"Hope they got some of it," commented Krafft.
"Who gave you the money?" demanded Keith.
But Krafft interposed.
"Hold on, my son, that isn't ethics at all! You mustn't ask questions like
that, must he, Mex? Very bad form!" He turned to Keith with a crisp air of
decision. "That's what was the matter with your trial; I just thought I'd
show you. Go on, Mex, get out," he commanded that individual, good-
humouredly. "I'm not particularly proud of you, but I suppose I've got to
stand you. Only remember this: Mr. Keith is my friend. Swear him out of the
high seats of heaven--if you can--because that's the nature of you; but let
him walk safely. In other words, no strong-arm work; do you understand?"
The man mumbled and growled something.
"Nonsense, Mex," interrupted Krafft sharply. "Do as I say.
"It's a matter of a tidy sum," blurted out Mex at last.
"You see, you were already marked for the slaughter," he told Keith; then
"Well, you let him alone; he's my friend."
"All right, if you say so," growled the man.
"You're safe--as far as Mex and all his people are concerned," said Krafft
to Keith. "Our word is always good, when given to a friend; isn't it, Mex?"
The man nodded, awkwardly and slouched away.
Keith's depression had given place to anger. He had been beaten by unfair
means; his opponent had cheated at the game, and his opponent enjoyed the
respect of the community as a high-minded, able, dignified member of the
bar. It was unthinkable! A man caught cheating at cards would most
certainly be expelled from any decent club.
"I'll disbar that man if it's the last act of my life!" He cried, "He's not
fit to practise among decent men!"
He left Krafft standing on the corner and smiling quietly, and hurried back
to his office.
It was unfortunate for everybody that Morrell should have chosen that
particular afternoon to pay one of his periodical calls. Morrell had been
tactful and judicious in his demands. Keith was not particularly afraid of
his story or the effect of it if told, but he disliked intensely the fuss
and bother of explanations and readjustments. It had seemed easier to let
things drift along. The transactions were skilfully veiled, notes were
always given, Morrell was shrewd enough to take care that it did not cost
too much. There existed not the slightest cordiality between the men, but a
tacit assumption of civil relations.
But this afternoon the sight of Morrell, seated with what seemed to Keith a
smug, superior, supercilious confidence in the best of the office chairs,
was more than Keith could stand. He was bursting with anger at the world in
"You here?" he barked at Morrell, without waiting for a greeting. "Well,
I'm sick of you! Get out!"
Morrell stared at him dumbfounded.
"I don't believe I understand," he objected.
"Get out! Get out! Get out! Is that plain enough?" shouted Keith.
Morrell arose with cold dignity.
"I cannot permit--" he began.
Keith turned on him abruptly.
"Look here, don't try to come that rot. I said, get out--and I mean it!"
So menacing was his aspect that Morrell drew back toward the door.
"I suppose you know what this means?" he threatened, an ugly note in his
"I don't give a damn what it means," rejoined Keith with deadly
earnestness, "and if you don't get out of here I'll throw you out!"
Morrell went hastily.
Keith slammed his papers into a drawer, locked it and his office door, and
went directly to the office of the _Bulletin_. There, seated in all the
chairs, perched on the tables and window ledges, he found a representative
group. He recognized most of them, including James King of William,
Coleman, Hossfros, Isaac Bluxome, Talbot Ward, and others. A dead silence
greeted his appearance. He stopped by the door.
"You have, of course, heard the news," he said. "I have come here to state
unequivocally, and for publication, that the Cora trial will be pushed as
rapidly and as strongly as is in the power of the District Attorney's
office. And if legal evidence of corruption can be obtained, proceedings
will at once be inaugurated to indict the bribe givers."
A short silence followed this speech. Several men looked toward one
another. The tension appeared to relax a trifle.
"I am glad to hear this, sir, from your own lips," at last said Coleman
formally, "and I wish you every success."
Another short and rather embarrassed silence fell.
"I should like to state privately to you gentlemen, and not for
publication"--Keith, paused and glanced toward King, who nodded
reassuringly--"that I have evidence, but unfortunately not legal, that
James McDougall has been guilty, either personally or through agents, of
bribery and corruption; and it is my intention to undertake his disbarment
if I can possibly get proper evidence."
"Whether he bribed or didn't bribe, he knew perfectly well that Cora was
guilty," stated King positively. "And he had no right to take the case."
But at that period this was an extreme view, as it still is in the legal
"I suppose every man has a moral right to a defence," said Coleman
doubtfully. "If every lawyer should refuse to take Cora's case, as you say
McDougall should have refused, why the man would have gone undefended!"
"That's all right," returned King, undaunted, "He ought to have a lawyer--
appointed by the court--to see merely that he gets a fair trial; not a
lawyer--hired, prostituted, at a great price--to try by every technical
means to get him off."
"A lawyer must, by the ethics of his profession, take every case brought
him, I suppose," some one enunciated the ancient doctrine.
"Well, if that is the case," rejoined King hotly, "the law warps the
thinking and the morals of any man who professes it. And if I had a son to
place in life, I most certainly should not put him in a calling that
deliberately trains his mind to see things that way!"
"I am sorry you have so low an opinion," spoke up Keith from the doorway.
"I am afraid I must hold the contrary as to the nobility of my chosen
profession. It can be disgraced, I admit. That it has been disgraced, I
agree. That it can be redeemed, I am going to prove."
He bowed and left the office.
Morrell went directly from Keith's office to Keith's house. He was not
particularly angry; for some time he had expected just this result, but
since he had threatened, he intended to accomplish. Finding Nan Keith at
home, he plunged directly at the subject in his most direct and English
fashion. She listened to him steadily until he had finished.
"Is that all?" she then asked him quietly,
"That's all," he acknowledged.
"Then I will say, Mr. Morrell, that I do not believe you. I know my husband
thoroughly, and I am beginning to know you. I believe that is my only
comment. Good afternoon."
He made a half attempt to point to her the way to corroborative evidence,
but she swept this superbly aside, Finally he took his correct leave, half
angry, half amused, wholly cynical, for to his mind the reason for her
indifference to the news he brought lay in what he supposed to be her
relations with Ben Sansome.
"Bally ass!" he apostrophized himself. "Might have known how she'd take
His reading of Nan's motives was, of course, incorrect. Her first feeling
was merely a white heat of anger against Morrell, whom she had never liked.
Perhaps after a little this emotion might have carried over into, not
distrust, but an uneasiness as to the main issue; but before she had
arrived at this point Keith came in to deliver an ill-timed warning. As ill
luck would have it, and as such coincidences often come about in the most
perverse fashion, Keith had, down the street, met some malicious fool who
had dropped a laughing remark about Sansome. It was nothing in itself.
Ordinarily, Keith would have paid no attention to it. To-day it clashed
with his mood. Even now his jealousy was not stirred in the least, but his
sense of appearances was irritated. By the time he had reached home he had
worked up a proper indignation.
"Look here, Nan," he blurted out as soon as he had closed the door behind
him, "you're seeing too much of Sansome. Everybody's talking."
"Who is everybody?" she asked very quietly.
"Of course I know it's all right," he blundered ahead tactlessly--the gleam
in her eye should have warned him that he might have omitted that
reassurance--"but just the looks of the thing. And he's such a weak and
wishy-washy little nonentity!"
Her sense of justice aroused by this, she sprang to the defence of Sansome.
"You are quite mistaken there," she said with dignity. "Men of that type
are never understood by men of yours. He is my friend--and yours. And he
has been very kind to both of us."
"Well, just the same, you ought not to get yourself talked about," repeated
"Do you distrust me?" she demanded.
"Heavens, no! But you don't realize how it looks to others. He's coming
here morning, noon, and night."
"It seems to me I may be the best judge of my own conduct."
"Well," said Keith deliberately, "I don't know that you are. You must
remember that you are my wife, and that you bear my name. I have something
to say about it. I'm telling you; but if you cannot manage the matter
properly, I'll just have to drop a hint to Sansome."
At that she blazed out.
"Do that and you will regret it to the last day of your life!" she flared.
"If you'd be as careful with the name of Keith as I am, it would not
"What do you mean by that?" he asked? after a blank pause.
She had not intended to use that weapon, but now she persisted placidly.
"I mean that if our name has been talked about, it has not been because of
any action of mine."
His heart was beating wildly. In the multiplicity of fighting interests he
had actually forgotten (for the moment) all about his office visitor. But
he, too, had pluck.
"I see you have had a call from our friend Morrell," he ventured.
"Well!" she challenged.
Her head was back, and her breath was short. This crisis had come upon them
swiftly, unexpectedly, unwanted by either. Now it loomed over them in a
terrible, because unknown, portent. Each realized that a misstep might mean
irreparable consequences, but each felt constrained to go on. The situation
must now be developed. Keith, faced with this new problem, lost his heat,
and became cool, careful, wary, as when in court his faculties marshalled
themselves. Nan, on the other hand, while well in control of her mind,
poised on a brink.
"I don't know what he told you," said Keith, the blood suffusing his face
and spreading over his ears and neck, "but I'm going to tell you everything
he would be justified in telling you. One evening a number of years ago, in
company with a crowd, I went inside the doors of a disreputable place, and
immediately came out again. It was part of a spree, and harmless. That was
all there was to it. You believe me?" In spite of his iron control, a deep
note of anxiety vibrated in his voice as he proffered the question.
Her heart gave a leap for pride as he made this confession, his face very
red, but his head back, She knew he spoke the truth, the whole truth.
"Of course I believe you," she said, trying to speak naturally, but with a
mad impulse to laugh or cry. She swallowed, gripped her nerves, and went
on. "But, naturally," she told him,
"I consider myself as good a custodian of the family reputation as
There the matter rested. By mutual but tacit consent they withdrew
cautiously from the debated ground, each curiously haunted by a feeling
that catastrophe had been fortunately and narrowly averted.
Keith immediately moved for a retrial, and began anew his heartbreaking
labours in forcing a way to definite action through the thorn thicket of
technicalities. At the same time, on his own account, and very secretly, he
commenced a search for evidence against the attorneys for the defence. By
now he possessed certain private agents of his own whom he considered
Early in his investigations he abandoned hope of getting direct evidence
against McDougall himself. That astute lawyer had been careful to have
nothing whatever to do with actual bribery or corruption, and he was crafty
enough to disassociate himself from direct dealing with agents. Indeed,
Keith himself was in some slight doubt as to whether McDougall had any
actual detailed knowledge of the underground workings at all. But
McDougall's. associates were a different matter. Here, little by little,
real evidence began to accumulate, until Keith felt that he could, with
reasonable excuse, move for an official investigation. To his genuine grief
Calhoun Bennett seemed to be heavily involved. He could not forget that the
young Southerner had been one of his earliest friends in the city, nor had
he ever tried to forget the real liking he had felt for him. It was not
difficult to recognize that according to his code Cal Bennett had merely
played the game as the game was played, carrying out zealously the
intentions of his superiors, availing himself of time-honoured methods,
wholeheartedly fighting for his own side. Yet there could be no doubt that
he had made himself criminally liable. Keith brooded much over the
situation, but got nowhere, and so resolutely pushed it into the back of
his mind in favour of the need of the moment.
But quietly as he conducted his investigations, some rumour of them
escaped. One afternoon he received a call from Bennett. The young man was
evidently a little embarrassed, but intent on getting at the matter.
"Look heah, Keith," he began, dropping into a chair, and leaning both arms
on the table opposite Keith, "I don't want to say anything offensive, or
make any disagreeable implications, or insult you by false suspicions, but
there are various persistent rumours about, and I thought I'd better come
to you direct."
"Fire away, Cal," said Keith.
"Well, it's just this: they do say yo're tryin' to fasten a criminal charge
of bribery on me. You and I have been friends--and still are, I hope--but
if yo're goin' gunnin' foh me, I want to know it."
His face was slightly flushed, but his fine dark eyes looked hopefully to
his friend for denial. Keith was genuinely distressed. He moved an inkwell
to and fro, and did not look up; but his voice was steady and determined as
"I'm not gunning for you, Cal, and I wish to heaven you weren't mixed up in
this mess." He looked up. "But I _am_ gunning for crooked work in this Cora
Bennett took his arms from the table, and sat erect.
"Do you mean to imply, suh, that I am guilty of crooked work?" he inquired,
a new edge of formality in his voice.
"No, no, of course not!" hastened Keith. "I hadn't thought of you in that
connection! I am just looking the whole matter up----"
"Well, suh, I strongly advise you to drop it," interrupted Bennett curtly.
"It isn't ethical. You will find great resentment among yo' colleagues of
the bar at the implication conveyed by yo' so-called investigation, suh."
Calhoun Bennett had become stiff and formal. Keith still tried desperately
to be reasonable and conciliatory.
"But if there proves to be nothing out of the way," he urged, "surely no
one could have anything to fear or object to."
"Nobody has anything to fear in any case," said Bennett, "but any
gentleman--and I, most decidedly--would object to the implication."
At this Keith, stiffened a little in his turn.
"I am sorry we differ on that point, I have good reason to believe there
has been crooked work somewhere in this Cora trial. I do not know who has
done it; I accuse nobody; but in the public office I hold it seems my plain
duty to investigate."
"Yo' public duty is to prosecute, that is all," argued Bennett. "It is the
duty of the grand jury to investigate or to order investigations."
Here spoke the spirit of the law, for technically Bennett was correct.
"Whatever the rigid interpretation"--Keith found himself uttering heresy--
"I still feel it my duty to deal personally with whatever seems to me
unjustly to interfere with, proper convictions." Then he stopped, aghast at
the tremendous step he had taken. For to a man trained as was Keith, in a
time when all men were created for the law, and not the law for men, in a
society where the lawyer was considered the greatest citizen, and subtle
technicality paramount to justice or commonsense, this was a tremendous
step. At that moment, and by that spontaneous and unconsidered statement,
Keith, unknown to himself, passed from one side to the other in the great
social struggle that was impending.
"I wa'n you, suh," Bennett was repeating, "yo' course will not meet with
the approval of the members of the bar."
"I am sorry, Cal," said Keith sadly.
Bennett rose, bowed stiffly, and turned to the door. But suddenly he
whirled back, his face alight with feeling,
"Oh, see heah, Milt, be sensible!" he cried. "I know just how yo're feelin'
now. Yo're sore, and I don't blame you. You put ap a hard fight, and though
you got licked, I don't mind tellin' you that the whole bar appreciates
yo're brilliant work. You must remember you had to play a lone hand against
pretty big men--the biggest we've got! We all appreciate the odds. Cora has
lots of friends. You'll never convict him, Milt; but go in again for
another trial, if it will do yo're feelin's any good, with our best wishes.
Only don't let gettin' licked make you so sore! Don't go buttin' yo're haid
at yo're friends! Be a spo't!"
A half hour ago this appeal might have gained a response if not a practical
effect, but the spiritual transformation in Keith was complete.
"I'm sorry," he replied simply, "but I must go ahead in my own way."
Calhoun Bennett's face lost its glow, and his tall figure stiffened.
"I must wa'n you not to bring my name into this," said he. "I do not intend
to have my reputation sacrificed to yo' strait-laced Yankee conscience. If
my name is ever mentioned, I shall hold you responsible, _personally_
responsible. You understand, suh?"
He stood stiff and straight, staring at Keith. Keith did not stir. After a
moment Calhoun Bennett went out.
After this interview Keith experienced a marked and formal coldness from
nearly all of his old associates, Those with whom he came into direct
personal contact showed him scrupulous politeness, but confined their
conversation to the briefest necessary words, and quit him as soon as
possible. He found himself very much alone, for at this period he had lost
the confidence of one faction and had not yet gained that of the other.
His investigations encountered always increasing difficulties. In his own
department he could obtain little assistance. A dead inertia opposed all
his efforts. Nevertheless, he went ahead doggedly, using Krafft and some of
Krafft's proteges to considerable effect.
But soon pressure was brought on him from a new direction: his opponents
struck at him through his home.
For some days Nan had been aware of a changed atmosphere in the society she
frequented and had heretofore led. The change was subtle, defied analysis,
but was to the woman's sensitive instincts indubitable. At first she had
been inclined to consider it subjective, to imagine that something wrong
with herself must be projecting itself through her imagination; but finally
she realized that the impression was well based. In people's attitude there
was nothing overt; it was rather a withdrawl of intimacy, a puzzling touch
of formality. She seemed overnight to have lost in popularity.
Truth to tell, she paid little attention to this. By now she was
experienced enough in human nature to understand and to be able to gauge
the slight fluctuations, the ebbs and flows of esteem, the kaleidoscopic
shiftings and realignments of the elements of frivolous and formal society.
Mrs. Brown had hired away Mrs. Smith's best servant; for an hour they
looked askance on Mrs. Brown; then, the episode forgotten, Mrs. Brown's
cork bobbed to the surface company of all the other corks. It was very
trivial. Besides, just at this moment, Nan was wholly occupied with
preparations for her first "afternoon" of the year. She intended as usual
to give three of these formal affairs, and from them the season took its
tone. The list was necessarily far from exclusive, but Nan made up for that
by the care she gave her most original arrangements. She prided herself on
doing things simply, but with a difference, calling heavily on her
resources of correspondence, her memory, and her very good imagination for
some novelty of food or entertainment. At the first of these receptions,
too, she wore always for the first time some new and marvellous toilet
straight from Paris, the style of which had not been shown to even her most
intimate friends. This year, for example, she had done the most obvious
and, therefore, the most unlikely thing: she had turned to the
contemporaneous Spanish for her theme. Nobody had thought of that. The
Colonial, the Moorish, the German, the Russian, the Hungarian--all the rest
of the individual or "picturesque"--but nobody had thought to look next
door. Nan had decorated the rooms with yellow and red, hung the walls with
riatas, strings of red peppers and the like, obtained Spanish guitar
players, and added enough fiery Mexican dishes to the more digestible
refreshments to emphasize the Spanish flavour. She wore a dress of golden
satin, a wreath of coral flowers about her hair, and morocco slippers
matched in hue.
The afternoon was fine. People were slow in coming. A few of the
nondescripts that must be invited on such occasions put in an appearance,
responded hastily to their hostess's greeting, and wandered about furtively
but interminably. Patricia Sherwood, who had come early, circulated nobly,
trying to break up the frozen little groups, but in vain. The time passed.
More non-descripts--and not a soul else! As five o'clock neared, a cold
fear clutched at Nan's heart. No one was coming!
She worked hard to cover with light graciousness the cold-hearted dismay
that filled her breast as the party dragged its weary length away. All her
elaborate preparations and decorations seemed to mock her. The Spanish
orchestra tinkled away gayly until she felt she could throw something at
them; the caterer's servants served solemnly the awed nondescripts. Nan's
cheeks burned and her throat choked with unshed tears. She could not bear
to look at Patsy Sherwood, who remained tactfully distant.
About five-thirty the door opened to admit a little group, at the sight of
whom Nan uttered a short, hysterical chuckle. Then she glided to meet them,
both hands outstretched in welcome, Mrs. Sherwood watched her with
admiration. Nan was game.
There were three in the party: Mrs. Morrell, Sally Warner, and Mrs.
Scattergood. Sally Warner was of the gushing type of tall, rather
desiccated femininity who always knows you so much better than you know
her, who cultivates you every moment for a week and forgets you for months
on end, who is hard up and worldly and therefore calculating, whose job is
to amuse people and who will therefore sacrifice her best, perhaps not most
useful, friend to an epigram, whose wit is barbed, who has a fine nose for
trouble, and who is always in at the death. Mrs. Scattergood was a small
blond woman, high voiced, precise in manner, very positive in her
statements which she delivered in a drawling tone, humourless, inquisitive
about petty affairs, the sort of "good woman" with whom no fault can be
found, but who drives men to crime. Mrs. Morrell we know.
These three, after greeting their hostess gushingly, circulated compactly,
talking to each other in low voices. Nan knew they were watching her, and
that they had come for the sole purpose of getting first-hand details of
her fiasco for later recounting in drawing-rooms where, undoubtedly, even
now awaited eager auditors. She came to a decision. The matter could not be
worse. When, the three came to make their farewells, she detained them.
"No, I'm not going to let you go yet," she told them, perhaps a little
imperiously. "I haven't had half a visit with you. Wait until this rabble
She hesitated a moment over Mrs. Sherwood, but finally let her go without
protest. When the last guest had departed she sank into a chair. As she was
already on the verge of hysterics, she easily kept up an air of gayety.
"Girls, what an awful party!" she cried. "I could tear my hair! It was a
perfect nightmare." Struggling to control her voice and keep back her
tears, she added abruptly: "Now tell me what it is all about."
Mrs. Morrell and Sally Warner were plainly uneasy and at a loss how to meet
this situation, but Mrs. Scattergood remained quite composed in her small,
"What's what all about, Nan, dear?" asked Sally Warner in her most
vivacious manner. She keenly felt the dramatic situation and was already
visualizing herself in the role of raconteuse.
"You know perfectly well. Why this funeral? Where are they all? Why did
they stay away? I have a right to know."
"I'm sure there's nothing _I_ can think of!" replied Sally artificially.
But Mrs. Scattergood, with all the relish of performing a noble and
disagreeable duty, broke in:
"You know, dear," she said in her didactic, slow voice, "as well as we do,
what the world is. Of course _we_ understand, but people will talk!"
"In heaven's name what are you driving at? What are they talking about?"
demanded Nan, as Mrs. Scattergood apparently came to a full stop.
A pause ensued while Sally and Mrs, Scattergood exchanged glances with Mrs.
"Well," at last said Sally, judicially, buttoning her glove, her head on
one side, "if I had a nice husband like yours, I wouldn't let him run
around getting himself disliked for nothing."
"You ought to use your influence with him before it is too late," added
Nan looked helplessly from one to the other, too uncertain of her ground
now to risk another step,
"So that's it," she ventured at last. "Some one has been telling lies about
"Oh, dear no!" disclaimed Mrs. Scattergood, "It is only that your friends
cannot understand your taking sides against them. Naturally they feel hurt.
Forgive me, dear--you know I say it with all affection--but don't you think
it a mistake?"
Nan was thoroughly dazed and mystified, but afraid to press the matter
further. She had a suspicion Mrs. Morrell was again responsible for her
difficulties, but was too uncertain to urge them to stay for further
elucidation. They arose. These were the days of hoop skirts, and the set of
the outer skirt had to be carefully adjusted before going out. As they
posed in turn before the hall pier glass they chattered. "How lovely the
house looks." "You certainly have worked hard, and must be tired, poor
dear!" "Well, we'll see you to-morrow at Mrs. Terry's. You're _not asked_?
Surely there is some mistake! Well, those things always happen in a big
affair, don't they?" "See you soon." "Good-bye." "Good-bye."
Outside the house they paused at the head of the steps.
"Well, what do you think of that?" said Sally. "I really believe the poor
thing doesn't know, I believe I'll just drop in for a minute at Mrs.
Caldwell's. Sorry you're not going my way."
After a fashion Nan felt relieved by this interview, for she thought she
discerned only Mrs. Morrell's influence, and this, she knew, she could
easily overcome. While she waited for Keith's return from whatever
inaccessible fastnesses he always occupied during these big afternoon
receptions, she reviewed the situation, her indignation mounting.
Downstairs, Wing Sam and his temporary assistants were clearing things
away. Usually Nan superintended this, but to-day she did not care. When
Keith finally entered the room, she burst out on him with a rapid and angry
account of the whole situation as she saw it; but to her surprise he did
not rise to it. His weary, spiritless, uninterested: acceptance of it
astonished her to the last degree. To him her entanglement with the Cora
affair--for at once he saw the trend of it all--seemed the last straw. Not
even his own home was sacred. His spirit was so bruised and wearied that he
actually could not rise to an explanation. He seemed to realize an utter
hopelessness of making her see his point of view. This was not so strange
when it is considered that this point of view, however firmly settled, was
still a new and unexplained fact with himself. He contented himself with
saying: "The Morrells had nothing whatever to do with it." It was the only
thing that occurred to him as worth saying; but it was unfortunate, for it
left Nan's irritation without logical support. Naturally that irritation
was promptly transferred to him.
"Then what, in heaven's name, is it?" she demanded. "My friends are all
treating me as if I had the smallpox."
"Cheerful lot of friends we've made in this town!" he said bitterly.
"What is the matter with them?" she persisted.
"The matter is they've taken me for a fool they could order around to suit
themselves. They found they couldn't. Now they're through with me, even Cal
Bennett," he added in a lower tone that revealed his hurt.
She paused, biting her underlip.
"Is the trouble anything to do with this Cora case?" she asked, suddenly
enlightened by some vague, stray recollection.
"Of course!" he replied crossly, exasperated at the nagging necessity of
arousing himself to explanations. "There's no use arguing about it. I'm
going to see it through in spite of that hound McDougall and his whole pack
"But why have you turned so against your friends?" she asked more gently,
struck by his careworn look as he sprawled in the easy chair under the
lamp. "I don't see! You'll get yourself disliked!"
She did not press the matter further for the moment, but three days later
she brought up the topic again. In the interim she had heard considerable
direct and indirect opinion. She selected after dinner as the most
propitious time for discussion. As a matter of fact, earlier in the day
would have been better, before Keith's soul had been rubbed raw by downtown
"I don't believe you quite realize how strongly people feel about the Cora
case," she began. "Isn't it possible to drop it or compromise it or
In the reaction from argument and--coldness downtown he felt he could stand
no more of it at home.
"I wish you'd let that matter drop!" he said decidedly. "You couldn't
She hesitated. A red spot appeared in either cheek.
"I must say I _don't_ understand!" she countered. "It is inconceivable to
me that a man like you should turn so easily against his class!"
"My class?" he echoed wearily.
"What do such creatures as Cora and Yankee Sullivan amount to?" she cried
hotly, "I suppose you'll say _they_ are in your class next! How you can
consider them of sufficient importance to go dead against your best friends
on their account!"
"It is because I am right and they are wrong."
She was a little carried beyond herself.
"Well, they all think the same way," she pointed out. "Aren't you a little
"Pig-headed," supplied Keith bitterly.
"--to put your opinion against theirs?" she finished.
Keith did not reply.
This was Nan's last attempt. She did not bring up the subject again. But
she withdrew proudly and completely from all participation in society. She
refused herself to callers. Once the situation was thoroughly defined, she
accepted it. If her husband decided to play the game in this way, she, too,
would follow, whether she approved or not. Nan was loyal and a
thoroughbred. And she was either too proud or too indifferent to fight it
out with the other women, in the rough and tumble of social ambition.
In this voluntary seclusion Nan saw laterally only two persons. One of
these was Mrs. Sherwood. The ex-gambler's wife called frequently; and, for
some reason, Nan never refused to see her, although she did not make her
visitor particularly welcome. Often an almost overmastering impulse seized
her to open her soul to this charming, sympathetic, tactful woman, but
something always restrained her. Her heart was too sore. And since an
inhibited impulse usually expresses itself by contraries, her attitude was
of studied and aloof politeness. Mrs. Sherwood never seemed to notice this.
She sat in the high-ceilinged "parlour," with its strange fresco of painted
fish-nets, and chatted on in a cheerful monologue, detailing small gossipy
items of news. She always said goodbye cordially, and went out with a
wonderful assumption of ignorance that anything was wrong. Her visits did
Nan good, although never could the latter break through the ice wall of
reserve. Nan's conscience often hurt her that she could answer this genuine
friendship with so little cordiality. She wondered dully how Mrs. Sherwood
could bring herself to be so good to so cross-grained a creature as
herself. As a matter of fact, the women were marking time in their
relations--Mrs. Sherwood consciously, Nan unconsciously--until better days.
The other regular caller was Ben Sansome. His attitude was in some sense
detached. He was quietly, deeply sympathetic in his manner, never
obtrusive, never even hinting in words at his knowledge of the state of
affairs, but managing in some subtle manner to convey the impression that
he alone fully understood. Nan found that, without her realization, almost
in spite of herself, Sansome had managed to isolate her with himself on a
little island of mutual understanding, apart from all the rest of the
Her life was now becoming circumscribed. Household, books, some small
individual charities, and long afternoon walks filled her days. At first
Sansome had accompanied her on these tramps, but the unfailing, almost
uncanny insight of the man told him that at such times her spirit really
craved solitude, so he soon tactfully ceased all attempts to join her. Her
usual walk was over the cliffs toward the bay, where, from some of the
elevations near Russian Hill, she could look out to the Golden Gate, or
across to Tamalpais or the Contra Costa shores. The crawl of the distant
blue water, the flash of wing or sail, the taste of salt rime, the canon
shadows of the hills, the flying murk, or the last majestic and magnificent
blotting out of the world as the legions of sea fog overtoiled it, all
answered or soothed moods in her spirit. Sometimes she forgot herself and
overstayed the daylight. At such times she scuttled home half fearfully for
the great city, like a jungle beast, was most dangerous at night.
One evening, returning thus in haste, she was lured aside by the clang of
bells and the glare of a fire. No child ever resisted that combination, and
Nan was still a good deal of a child. Almost before she knew, it she was
wedged fast in a crowd. The pressure was suffocating; and, to her alarm,
she found herself surrounded by a rough-looking set of men. They were
probably harmless workingmen, but Nan did not know that. She became
frightened, and tried to escape, but her strength was not equal to it.
Near the verge of panic, she was fairly on the point of struggling, when
she felt an arm thrown around her shoulder. She looked up with a cry, to
meet Ben Sansome's brown eyes.
"Don't be afraid; I'm here," he said soothingly.
In the revulsion Nan fairly thrilled under the touch of his manly,
protection. This impulse was followed instantly, by an instinct of
withdrawal from the embrace about her shoulder, which was in turn succeeded
by a fierce scorn of being prudish in such circumstances. Sansome
masterfully worked her out through the press. At the last tactful moment he
withdrew his arm. She thanked him, still a little frightened.
"It was certainly lucky you happened to be here!" she ended.
"Lucky!" he laughed briefly. "I knew that sooner or later you'd need me."
He stopped at that, but allowed her questions to elicit the fact that every
afternoon he had followed her at a discreet distance, scrupulously
respecting her privacy, but ready for the need that sooner or later must
surely arrive. Nan was touched.
"You have no right to endanger yourself this way!" he cried, as though
carried away. "It is not just to those who care for you!" and by the tone
of his voice, the look of his eye, the slight emphasizing pressure of his
hand he managed to convey to her, but in a manner to which she could not
possibly object, his belief that his last phrase referred more to himself
than to any one else in the world.
It was about this period that John Sherwood, dressing for dinner, remarked
to his wife:
"Patsy, the more I see of you the more I admire you. Do you remember that
Firemen's Ball when you started in to break up that Keith-Morrell affair?
He dropped her so far that I haven't heard her _plunk_ yet! I don't know
what made me think of it--it was a long time ago."
"Yes, that was all right," she replied thoughtfully, "but I'm not as
pleased as I might be with the Keith situation."
Sherwood stopped tying his cravat and turned to face her.
"He's perfectly straight, I assure you," he said earnestly. "I don't
believe he knows that any other woman but his wife exists. I _know_ that.
But I wish he'd go a little easier with the men."
"Oh, I wasn't thinking of him. She's the culprit now."
"What!" cried Sherwood, astonished, "that little innocent baby!"
"That 'little innocent baby' is seeing altogether too much of Ben Sansome."
Sherwood uttered a snort of masculine scorn.
"Ho! Ben Sansome?"
"Yes, Ben Sansome."
"Why, he's a notorious butterfly."
"Well, it looks now as though he intended to alight."
She nodded. Sherwood slowly went on with his dressing.
"I like that little creature," he said at last. "She's the sort that
strikes me as born to be treated well and to be happy. Some people are that
way, you know; just as others are born painters or plumbers." She nodded in
appreciation. "And if you give the word, Patsy, I'll go around and have a
word with Keith--or spoil Sansome--whichever you say----"
"You're a dear, Jack, but if you love me, keep your hands off here."
"Are you bossing this job?" he asked gravely.
"I'm bossing this job," she repeated, with equal gravity.
He said nothing more for a time, but his eyes twinkled.
Keith's investigations proceeded until at last he felt justified in
preferring before the Bar Association charges of irregular practice against
James Ware, Bernard Black, and--to his great regret--Calhoun Bennett. He
conceived he had enough evidence to convict these men legally, but he as
yet shrank from asking for an indictment against them, preferring at first
to try for their discipline before their fellow lawyers. If the Bar
Association failed, however, he had every intention of pressing the matter
in the courts.
Almost immediately after the filing of the complaint he was waited on in
his office by a man only slightly known to him, Major Marmaduke Miles. The
major's occupation in life was obscure. He was a red-faced, tightly
buttoned, full-jowled, choleric Southerner of the ultra-punctilious brand,
always well dressed in quaint and rather old-fashioned garments, with
charming manners, and the reminiscence of good looks lost in a florid and
apoplectic habit. This person entered Keith's office, greeted him formally,
declined a chair. Standing very erect before Keith's desk, his beaver hat
poised on his left forearm, he said:
"I am requested, suh, to enquiah of yo' the name of a friend with whom I
"If that means a challenge, Major, I must first ask the name of your
principal," returned Keith.
"I am actin' fo' Mr. Calhoun Bennett, suh," stated the major.
"Tell Cal Bennett I will not fight him," said Keith quietly.
The major was plainly flabbergasted, and for a moment puffed his red cheeks
in and out rapidly.
"You mean to tell me, suh, that yo' refuse the satisfaction due a gentleman
after affrontin' him?"
"I won't fight Cal Bennett," repeated Keith patiently.
The major turned even redder, and swelled so visibly that Keith, in spite
of his sad realization of the gravity of the affair, caught himself
guiltily in a boyish anticipation that some of the major's strained buttons
"I shall so repo't to my principal, suh. But I may add, suh, that in my
opinion, suh, yo' are conductin' yo'self in a manner unbecomin' to a
gentleman; and othuh gentlemen will say so, suh! They may go even farthah
and stigmatize yo' conduct as cowardly, suh! And it might even be that I,
suh, would agree with that expression, suh!"
The major glowered. Keith smiled wearily. It did not to him at the moment
that this would be so great a calamity.
"I am sorry to have forfeited your good opinion, Major," he contented
himself with saying.
The major marched straight back to the Monumental, where Bennett and a
number of friends were awaiting the result of his mission. The major's
angry passions had been rising, every foot of the way.
"He won't fight, suh!" he bellowed, slamming his cane across the table. "He
won't fight! And I stigmatized him to his face as a white-livered hound!"
Calhoun Bennett sank back pale, and speechless. His companions deluged him
"Horsewhip the craven publicly." "Warn him to go heeled, and then force the
issue!" "Shoot him down like the dog he is!"
But the major's mighty bellow dominated everything.
"I claim the privilege!" he roared. "Egad, I _demand_ the privilege! It is
my right! I am insulted by such a rebuff! Now that I have acquitted myself
of Cal's errand, I will call him out myself. Ain't that right, Cal? I'll
make the hound fight!"
The old major looked redder and fiercer than ever. There could be no doubt
that he would make any one fight, once he started out to do so, and that he
would carry the matter through. He was brave enough.
But little Jimmy Ware, who had been doing some thinking, here spoke up. It
seemed to him a good chance to get a reputation without any risk. Since
James King of William had uncompromisingly refused to fight duels, his
example had been followed. A strong party of those having conscientious
scruples against the practice had come into being. Keith's refusal to fight
Bennett, to Ware's mind, indicated that he belonged to this class. It
"Pardon me, Major," he broke in suavely; "but each in turn. I claim the
right. Cal had first chance because he had personally warned the man of the
consequences. But I am equally accused. You must admit my prior claim."
The major came off the boil. Puffing his red cheeks in and out he
"Yo're right, suh," he conceded reluctantly.
After considerable persuasion, and some flattery as to his familiarity with
the niceties of the Code, the major consented to bear Jimmy's defiance. He
entered Keith's office again, stiffer than a ramrod. Keith smiled at him.
"There's no use, Major, I won't fight Cal Bennett," he greeted his visitor.
"I am the bearer of a challenge from Mistah James Ware," he announced.
"What!" yelled Keith, so suddenly and violently that Major Miles recoiled a
"From Mistah James Ware," he repeated.
Keith laughed savagely.
"Oh, I'll fight him," he growled; "gladly; any time he wants it."
The major's face lit up.
"If you'll name yo' friend, suh," he suggested.
"Friend? Friend? What for? I'm capable of arranging this. I haven't time to
hunt up a friend."
"It's customary," objected the major.
"Look here," Keith swept on, "I'm the challenged party and I have the say-
so, haven't I?"
"Yo' can name the weapons," conceded Major Marmaduke Miles.
"All right, we'll call this revolvers, navy revolvers--biggest there are,
whatever that is. And close up. None of your half-mile shooting."
"Ten yards," suggested Major Miles with unholy joy.
"And right away--this afternoon," went on Keith. "If that little runt wants
trouble, egad he's going to have all his little skin will hold."
But the major would not have this. It was not done. He waived conducting
his negotiations through a second, but that was as far as his conventional
soul would go. He held out for three o'clock the following afternoon.
"And I wish to apologize, Mistah Keith," he said, on parting, "fo' my ill-
considered words of a short time ago. I misunderstood yo' reasons fo'
refusin' to fight Mistah Bennett."
He bowed his rotund, tightly buttoned little figure and departed, to strike
Jimmy Ware with complete consternation.
Duels in the fifties were almost an acknowledged public institution.
Although technically illegal, no one was ever convicted of any of the
consequences of such encounters. They were conducted quite openly. Indeed,
some of the more famous were actively advertised by steamboat men, who
carried excursions to the field. Keith's acceptance of Ware's challenge
aroused the keenest interest. Outside the prominence of the men involved, a
vague feeling was current that in their persons were symbolized opposing
forces in the city's growth. As yet these forces had not segregated to that
point where champions were demanded, or indeed would be recognized as such,
but vague feelings of antagonism, of alignments, were abroad. Those who
later would constitute the Law and Order class generally sympathized with
Ware; those whom history was to know as the Vigilantes felt stirrings of
partisanship for Keith. Therefore, the following afternoon a small flotilla
set sail for the Contra Costa shore, and a crowd of several hundred
spectators disembarked at the chosen duelling ground.
Nan knew nothing of all this. Keith was now in such depths of low spirits
that his wearied soul did not much care what became of him. He put his
affairs in shape, shrugged his shoulders, and went to the encounter with
The preliminaries were soon over. Keith found himself facing Jimmy Ware at
the distance he had himself chosen. A double line of spectators stood at a
respectful space on either side. Major Miles and an acquaintance of Keith's
who had volunteered to act for him were posted nearer at hand. Keith had
listened attentively to the instructions. The word was to be given--_one,
two, three. Fire!_ Between the first and last words the duellists were to
discharge the first shot from their weapons. After that they were to fire
at will. One shot would have sufficed Jimmy Ware; but Keith, without
emotion, filed with a dead indifference to any possible danger and a savage
contempt for the whole proceedings, had insisted on the full measure. He
was totally unaccustomed to weapons. At the word of command he raised the
revolver and fired, carelessly but coolly, and without result. One after
the other he discharged the six chambers of his weapon, aiming as well as
he knew how. It did not occur to him that Ware was firing at him. After the
sixth miss he threw the revolver away in cold disgust.
"This is a farce," said he, "and I'm not going to be fool enough to take
part in it any longer."
Jimmy Ware, delighted at finding himself unharmed, and confident now that
bluff would go, started to say something lofty and disdainful. Keith
whirled back on him.
"If you want 'satisfaction,' as you call it, you'll get it, and you'll get
it plenty! I'm sick of being made a fool of. Just open your ugly head to me
again, and I'll knock it off your shoulders!" His eye smouldered
dangerously, and Jimmy Ware, very uncertain in his mind, took refuge in a
haughty look. Keith glared at him moment, then turned to the crowd: "I'll
give all of you fair warning," said he. "I'm going to do my legal duty in
all things; and I'm not going to fight duels. Anybody who interferes with
me is going to get into trouble!"
An uproar ensued. All this was most irregular, unprecedented, a disgrace to
a gentlemen's meeting. The major roared like a bull. If a man would not
fight, would not defend his actions, how could a gentleman get at him
except by street brawling or assassination, and both of these were
repugnant to finer feelings. A dozen fire-eaters felt themselves personally
insulted. The crowd surrounded Keith, shouting at him, jostling him,
threatening. A cool, somewhat amused voice broke in.
"Gentlemen," said Talbot Ward, in so decided a tone that they turned to
hear. "I am a neutral non-partisan in this little war, I am for neither
party, for neither opinion, in the matter. I, like Mr, Keith, never fight
duels. But may I suggest--merely in the interest of fair play--that for the
moment you are forgetting yourselves? My opinion coincides with Mr. Keith's
that duelling is a foolish sort of game, but it is a game, and recognized;
and if you are going to play it, why not stick to its rules? Mr. Keith, and
Mr. Ware have exchanged shots. Mr. Ware has therefore had 'satisfaction.'
Now Mr. Keith and I going to walk--quietly--to the boat. We do not expect
to be molested."
"By God, Tal!" cried Major Miles in astonishment, "ye' don't mean to tell
me yo're linin' yourself up on the side of that blackleg!"
"Well," put in a new voice, a very cheerful voice, "I don't pretend to be
neutral, and I'd just as lief fight duels as not, and I'm willing to state
to you all that though I don't know a damn thing about this case nor its
merits, I like this man's style. And I'm ready to state that I'll take his
place and fight any--or all of you--right here and now. You, Major?"
All eyes turned to him. He was a dark, eager youth, standing with his
slouch hat in his hand, his head thrown back, his mop of shiny black hair
tossed from his forehead, his eyes glowing. The major hummed and fussed.
"I have absolutely no quarrel with you, suh!" he said.
"Nor with my friend yonder?" insisted the newcomer.
"I should esteem it beneath my dignity to fight with a craven and a coward,
suh!" the major saved his face.
The stranger glanced at Keith, an amused light in his eyes.
"We'll let it go at that," he conceded. "Anybody else?" he challenged,
Every one seemed busy getting ready to go home, and appeared not to hear
him. After a moment he put on his felt hat and joined Keith and Ward, who
were walking slowly toward the landing.
"Well," remarked a rough-looking Yankee--our old friend Graves of the
Eurekas to his friend Carter--"I didn't know anything would cool off the
major like that!"
"I reckon the major knew who he was talking to," replied Carter.
"Who is the cuss? I never saw him before."
"Don't you know him? I reckon you must have heard of him, anyway. He's just
down from the Sierra. That's the express rider, Johnny Fairfax--Diamond
Jack, they call him."
Graves whistled an enlightened whistle.
Johnny Fairfax accompanied Keith all the way back to his office, although
Talbot Ward said good-bye at the wharves. He bubbled over with conversation
and enthusiasm, and seemed to have taken a great fancy to the lawyer. The
theme of his glancing talk was the duel, over which he was immensely
amused; but from it he diverged on the slightest occasion to comment on
whatever for the moment struck his notice.
"That was certainly the rottenest shooting I ever saw!" he exclaimed over
and over, and then would go off into peals of laughter. "I don't see how
twelve shots at that distance could miss! After the second exchange I
concluded even the side line wasn't safe, and I got behind a tree. Pays to
be prompt In your decision; there were a hundred applicants for that tree a
moment later, The bloodless duel as a parlour amusement! You ought to have
charged that large and respectable audience an admission fee! That's a good
idea; I'll present it to you! If you ever have another due, you must have a
good manager! There's money in it!"
Keith laughed a trifle ruefully,
"I suppose it was funny," he acknowledged.
"Now don't get huffy," begged Johnny Fairfax. "What you ought to do is to
learn to shoot. You'll probably need to know how if you keep on living
around here," His eye fell on a shooting gallery. "Come in here," he urged
The proprietor was instructed to load his pistols and for a dozen shots
Keith was coached vehemently in the elementals of shooting--taught at least
the theory of pulling steadily, of coordinating various muscles and
psychological processes that were not at all used to cooerdination. He
learned that mere steady aiming was a small part of it.
"Anybody can do wonderful shooting with an empty pistol," said Johnny
contemptuously. "And anybody can hold as steady as a rock--until he pulls
"It's interesting," conceded Keith; "mighty interesting. I didn't know
there was so much to it."
"Of course it's interesting," said Johnny. "And you're only at the
rudiments. Look here!"
And, to the astonishment of Keith, the worshipful adoration of the
shooting-gallery proprietor, and the awe of the usual audience that
gathered at the sound of the reports, he proceeded to give an exhibition of
the skill that had made him famous. The shooting galleries of those days
used no puny twenty-twos. Derringers, pocket revolvers, and the huge
"navies" were at hand--with reduced loads, naturally--for those who in
habitual life affected these weapons. Johnny shot with all of them,
displaying the tricks of the gunman with all the naive enthusiasm of youth.
His manner throughout was that engaging mixture of modesty afraid of being
thought conceited and eager pride in showing his skill so attractive to
everybody. At first he shot deliberately, splitting cards, hitting marbles,
and devastating whole rows of clay pipes. Then he took to secreting the
weapons in various pockets from which he produced and discharged them in
lightning time. His hand darted with the speed and precision of a snake's
"I've just been fooling with shooting things tossed in the air," he said,
exuberant with enthusiasm. "But I'm afraid we can't try that here."
"I'm afraid not," agreed the proprietor regretfully.
"It really isn't very hard, once you get the knack."
"Oh, no," said the proprietor with elaborate sarcasm. "Say," he went on
earnestly, "I suppose it ain't no use trying to hire you--"
Johnny shook his head, smiling.
"I was afraid not," observed the proprietor disappointedly. "You'd be the
making of this place. Drop in any time you want practice. Won't cost you a
cent. Would you mind telling me your name?"
"Fairfax," replied Johnny, gruffly embarrassed.
"Not Diamond Jack?" hesitated the proprietor.
"I'm sometimes called that," conceded Johnny, still more gruffly. "How much
"Not one gosh-danged continental red cent," cried the man, "and I'm pleased
to meet you."
Johnny shook his extended hand, mumbled something, and bolted for the
street. Keith followed, laughing.
"It seems you're quite a celebrity," he observed.
But Johnny refused to pursue that subject.
"You come with me and buy you a pistol," he growled. "You ought not to be
allowed loose. You're as helpless as a baby."
Johnny picked out a small .31 calibre revolver and a supply of ammunition.
"Now you practise!" was his final warning and advice.
Keith went home with a new glow at his heart. He was ripe for a friend.
Johnny seemed to have little to do for the moment. He never volunteered
information as to his business or his plans, and Keith never inquired. But
the young express rider fell into the habit of dropping in at Keith's
office. He was always very apologetic and solicitous as to whether or no he
was interrupting, saying that he had stopped for only ten seconds; but he
invariably ended in the swivel chair with a good cigar. Keith was at this
time busy; but he was never too busy for Johnny Fairfax. The latter was a
luxury to which he treated himself. Johnny was not only welcome because he
was practically Keith's only friend, but also his frank and engaging
comments on men and things were gradually giving the harassed lawyer a new
point of view on the society in which he found himself. Keith, as a
newcomer in a community already established, had naturally accepted the
prominent figures in that community as he would have accepted prominent
figures anywhere: that is, as respectable, formidable, admirable, solid,
unquestioned pillars of society. He was of a modest disposition and
disinclined to question. He respected them as any modest young man respects
those older and more successful than himself. For the same reason he
accepted their views and their authority; or, if he questioned them, he did
so sadly, almost guiltily, with many heart-searchings.
But Johnny Fairfax held no such attitude. Not he! The city's great names
had scant respect from him! Not for an instant did he hesitate to criticise
or analyze the most renowned. It was not long before he learned all about
the Cora trial and Keith's subsequent efforts to discipline McDougall and
"I hope you get 'em!" said he; "the whole lot! I don't know much about this
McDougall; but I do know his friends, and most of 'em aren't worth thinkin'
about. They're big people here, but back where I came from, in old
Virginia, the best of 'em wouldn't be overseers on a plantation. That's why
they like it so much out here. Look at that gang! Casey has been in the
penitentiary, Rowlee ran some little blackleg sheet down South until they
run him out---I tell you, sir, as a Southerner I'm not proud of the
Southerners out here. They're a cheap lot, most of 'em. They were a cheap
lot home. The only difference is that back there everybody knew it, and out
here everybody thinks they're great people because they get up on their
hind legs and say so out loud. That old bluff, Major Miles, he was put out
of a Richmond club, sir, for cheatin' at cards--I know that for a fact!"
Somehow, this frank criticism was like a breeze of fresh air to Keith: it
put new courage into him. Johnny Fairfax had no interests in the city; he
had no fear; his viewpoint was free from all sham; he was newly in from the
outside. Through his eyes things fell into perspective. Suddenly San
Francisco upper society became to Keith what it really was: a welter of
cheap, bragging, venal, self-seeking men, with here and there an honest
fine character standing high above. And he began, but dimly, to see that
the real men of the place were not--as yet--well known. Probably one of the
most impressive and typical figures of the time was Justice of the Supreme
Court Terry. In the eyes of those too close to events to have a clear sense
of proportion, he was one of the great men of his period. Courtly,
handsome, with haughty manners, of aristocratic bearing, fiercely proud,
touchily quarrelsome on "points of honour," generous but a bitter hater, he
and his equally handsome, proud, and fiery wife were considered by many
people of the time as embodying the ideal of Southern chivalry. But Johnny
Fairfax would have none of it.
"He a typical Southern gentleman!" he laughed, "As being born in the South
myself, I repudiate that! I know too much about Terry. Why, look here: he's
a good sport, and he's got ability, and he makes friends, and he isn't
afraid of anything, But then you stop. He's not a gentleman! It shows most
particularly when he gets mad. Then he'll throw over anything--anything--to
have his own way. He's a big man now, but he won't be knee-high to a June
bug before he gets done."
Johnny's prediction was long in fulfilment, but a score of years later it
came to pass, and Judge Terry's reputation has sunk almost to the level of
that of his brother on the bench--Judge "Ned" McGowan.
"They're all a bad lot," Johnny finished, "and I hope you lick them! You
don't know all the good folks in this town yet!"
Calhoun Bennett dropped the matter, and contented himself with cutting
Keith dead whenever they happened to meet. Jimmy Ware and Black were men of
a different sort; indeed McDougall had made them his associates mainly
because of their knowledge of the city's darker phases and their
unscrupulousness. In the admirable organization thus sketched Calhoun
Bennett had acted as a sort of go-between.
After the duel these two precious citizens held many anxious consultations.
They could not tell just how much evidence Keith had succeeded in
gathering, but they knew that plenty of it existed. If the matter came to
an issue, they suspected the consequences might be serious. Either Keith or
his evidence must in some way be got rid of. Black, who was inclined by
instinct and training to be direct, was in favour of the simple expedient
of hiring assassins.
"Won't do," negatived the more astute Ware. "The thing will be traced back
to us--not legally, of course, but to a moral certainty, and while they
won't be able to prove anything on us, the state of the public mind is such
that hell would pop."
"He says he won't fight another duel," said Black doubtfully.
"We've got to kill him in a street quarrel, then."
"He's got to be killed in a street quarrel," amended Ware, "that's certain;
but nobody even remotely connected with this Cora trial must seem to have
anything to do with it. It must have the appearance of a private quarrel
from away outside. Otherwise----"
"Got anybody in mind?" asked the practical Black.
"Yes, and he ought to be here at any moment."
As though Jimmy Ware's words had been the cue for which he waited, Morrell
here entered the room.
At three o'clock in the afternoon of May 14, 1856, the current issue of the
_Bulletin_ was placed on sale. A very few minutes later a copy found its
way into the hands of James Casey. Casey at that time, in addition to his
political cares, was editor of a small sheet he called the _Sunday Times_.
With this he had strenuously supported the extreme wing of the Law party,
which, as has been explained, comprised also the gambling and lawless
element. It was suspected by some that his paper was more or less
subsidized for the purpose, though the probability is that Casey found his
reward merely in political support. This Casey it was who, to his own vast
surprise, had at a previous election been returned as elected supervisor;
although he was not a candidate, his name was not on the ticket, and no man
could be found who had voted for him. Indeed, he was not even a resident of
the district. However, Yankee Sullivan, who ran the election, said
officially the votes had been cast for him; so elected he was proclaimed.
Undoubtedly he proved useful; he had always proved useful at elections
elsewhere, seldom appearing in person, but adept at selecting suitable
agents. His methods were devious, dishonest, and rough. He was head of the
Crescent Fire Engine Company, and was personally popular. In appearance he
was a short, slight man, with a bright, keen face, a good forehead, a thin
but florid countenance, dark curly hair, and light blue eyes, a type of
unscrupulous Irish adventurer with a dash of romantic ideals. Like all the
gentlemen rovers of his time, he was exceedingly touchy on the subject of
In the _Bulletin_ of the date mentioned James Casey read these words,
apropos of the threat of one Bagby to shoot Casey on sight:
It does not matter how bad a man Casey had been, or how much benefit
it might be to the public to have him out of the way, we cannot accord
to any one citizen the right to kill him, or even beat him, without
justifiable provocation. The fact that Casey has been an inmate of
Sing Sing prison in New York is no offence against the laws of this
State; nor is the fact of his having stuffed himself through the
ballot box, as elected to the Board of Supervisors from a district
where it is said he was not even a candidate, any justification for
Mr. Bagby to shoot Casey, however richly the latter may deserve to
have his neck stretched for such fraud on the public.
Casey read this in the full knowledge that thousands of his fellow-citizens
would also read it. His thin face turned white with anger. He crumpled the
paper into a ball and hurled it violently into the gutter, settled his hat
more firmly on his head, and proceeded at once to the _Bulletin_ office
with the full intention of shooting King on sight. Probably he would have
done so, save for the accidental circumstance that King happened to be busy
at a table, his back squarely to the door. Casey could not shoot a man in
the back without a word. He was breathless and stuttering with excitement.
King was alone, but an open door into an adjoining office permitted two
witnesses to see and hear.
"What do you mean by that article?" cried Casey in a strangled voice.
King turned slowly, and examined his visitor for a moment.
"What article?" he inquired at last.
"That which says I was formerly an inmate of Sing Sing!"
King gazed at him with a depth of detached, patient sadness in his dark
"Is it not true?" he asked finally.
"That is not the question," retorted Casey, trying again to work himself up
to the rage in which he had entered. "I do not wish my past acts rated up:
on that point I am sensitive."
A faint smile came and went on King's lips.
"Are you done?" he asked still quietly; then, receiving no reply, he
turned in his chair and leaned forward with a sudden intensity. His next
words hit with the impact of bullets: "There's the door! Go! Never show
your face here again!" he commanded.
Casey found himself moving toward the open door. He did not want to do
this, he wanted to shoot King, or at least to provoke a quarrel, but he was
for the moment overcome by a stronger personality. At the door he gathered
himself together a little.
"I'll say in my paper what I please!" he asserted, with a show of bravado.
King was leaning back, watching him steadily.
"You have a perfect right to do so," he rejoined. "I shall never notice
Casey struck himself on the breast.
"And if necessary I shall defend myself!" he cried.
King's passivity broke. He bounded from his seat bristling with anger.
"Go!" he commanded sharply, and Casey went.
People had already read King's article in the _Bulletin_. People had seen
Casey heading for the _Bulletin_ office with blood in his eye. The news had
spread. When the Irishman emerged he found waiting for him a curious crowd.
His friends crowded around asking eager questions. Casey answered with
vague but bloodthirsty generalities: he wasn't a man to be trifled with,
and egad some people had to find that out! blackmailing was not a healthy
occupation when it was aimed at a gentleman! He left the impression that
King had recanted, had apologized, had even begged--there would be no more
trouble. Uttering brags of this sort, Casey led the way to the Bank
Exchange, a fashionable bar near at hand. Here he set up the drinks, and
was treated in turn. His bragging became more boastful. He made a fine
impression, but within his breast the taste of his interview with King
curdled into dangerous bitterness. Casey could never stand much alcohol.
The well-meant admiration and sympathy of his friends served only to
increase his hidden, smouldering rage. His eyes became bloodshot, and he
talked even more at random.
In the group that surrounded him was our old acquaintance, Judge Edward
McGowan--Ned McGowan--jolly, hard drinking, oily, but not as noisy as
usual. He was watching Casey closely. The Honourable Ned was himself a
fugitive from Pennsylvania justice. By dint of a gay life, a happy
combination of bullying and intrigue, he had made himself a place in the
new city, and at last had "risen" to the bench. He was apparently all on
the surface, but his schemes ran deep. Some historians claim that he had
furnished King the documents proving Casey an ex-convict! Now, when he
considered the moment opportune, he drew Casey from the noisy group at the
"All this talk is very well," he said contemptuously to the Irishman, "but
I see through it. What are you going to do about it?"
"I'll get even with the----, don't you worry about that!" promised Casey,
This McGowan brushed aside as irrelevant. "Are you armed?" he asked. "No,
that little weapon is too uncertain. Take this." He glanced about him, and
hastily passed to Casey a big "navy" revolver. "You can hide it under your
cloak--so!" He fixed Casey's eyes with his own, and brought to bear on the
little man all the force of his very vital personality, "Listen: King comes
by here every evening. Everybody knows that, and everybody knows what has
He stared at Casey significantly for a moment, then turned abruptly away.
Casey, become suddenly quiet, his blustering mood fallen from him, his face
thoughtful and white, his eyes dilated, said nothing. He returned to the
bar, took a solitary drink, and walked out the door, his right hand
concealed beneath his long cloak. McGowan watched him intently, following
to the door, and looking after the other's retreating form. Casey walked
across the street, but stopped behind a wagon, where he stood, apparently
waiting. McGowan, with a grunt of satisfaction, sauntered deliberately to
the corner of the Bank Exchange. There he leaned against the wall, also
For nearly an hoar the two thus remained: Casey shrouded in his cloak,
apparently oblivious to everything except the corner of Merchant and
Montgomery streets, on which he kept his eyes fixed; McGowan lounging
easily, occasionally speaking a low word to a passerby. Invariably the
person so addressed came to a stop. Soon a little group had formed, idling
with Judge McGowan. A small boy happening by was commandeered with a
message for Pete Wrightman, the deputy sheriff, and shortly Pete arrived
out of breath to join the group.
At just five o'clock the idlers stiffened to attention. King's figure was
seen to turn the corner of Merchant Street into Montgomery. Head bent, he
walked toward the corner of the Bankers' Exchange, the men on the corner
watching him. When nearly at that point he turned to cross the street
At the same instant Casey stepped forward from behind the wagon, throwing
back his cloak.
The same afternoon Johnny Fairfax and Keith were sitting together in the
Monumental's reading-room. They happened to be the only members in the
building with the exception of Bert Taylor, who was never anywhere else. Of
late Keith had acquired the habit of visiting the reading-room at this
empty hour. He was beginning to shrink from meeting his fellowmen. Johnny
Fairfax was a great comfort to him, for the express rider was never out of
spirits, had a sane outlook, and entertained a genuine friendship for the
young lawyer. Although yet under thirty years of age, he was already an
"old-timer," for he had come out in '49, and knew the city's early history
at first hand.
"This old bell of yours is historical," he told Keith. "Its tolling called
together the Vigilantes of '51."
They sat gossiping for an hour, half sleepy with reaction from the fatigues
of the day, smoking slowly, enjoying themselves. Everything was very
peaceful--the long slant of a sunbeam through dust motes, the buzz of an
early bluebottle, the half-heard activities of some of the servants in the
pantry beyond, preparing for the rush of the cocktail hour. Suddenly Johnny
raised his head and pricked up his ears.
"What the deuce is that!" he exclaimed.
They listened, then descended to the big open engine-room doors and
listened again. From the direction of Market Street came the dull sounds of
turmoil, shouting, the growl and roar of many people excited by something.
Across the Plaza a man appeared, running. As he came nearer, both could see
that his face had a very grim expression.
"Here!" called Johnny, as the man neared them. "Stop a minute! Tell us
what's the matter!"
The man ceased running, but did not stop. He was panting but evidently very
angry. His words came from between gritted teeth.
"Fight," he said briefly. "Casey and James King of William. King's shot."
At the words something seemed to be stilled in Keith's mind. Johnny seized
the man by the sleeve.
"Hold on," he begged. "I know that kind of a fight. Tell us."
"Casey went up close to King, said 'come on,' and instantly shot him before
King knew what he was saying."
"In jail--of course--where he's safe--with his friends."
"Where you headed for?"
"I'm going to get my gun!" said the man grimly, and began again to run.
They watched his receding figure until it swung around the corner and
disappeared. Without warning a white-hot wave of anger swept over Keith.
All the little baffling, annoying delays, enmities, technicalities,
chicaneries, personal antagonisms, evasions that had made up the Cora trial
were in it. He seemed to see clearly the inevitable outcome of this trial
also. It would be another Cora-Richardson case over again. A brave spirit
had been brutally blotted out by an outlaw who relied confidently on the
usual exoneration. With an exclamation Keith darted into the engine house
to where hung the rope ready for an alarm. An instant later the heavy
booming of the Monumental's bell smote the air.
Having given this alarm. Keith, Johnny at his elbow, started toward the
centre of disturbance, From it arose a dull, menacing roar, like the sound
of breakers on a rocky coast. Many people, with much excitement, shouting,
and vituperation, were converging toward the common centre. As this was
approached, it became more difficult, at last impossible, to proceed. The
streets were packed, jammed. All sorts of rumours were abroad--King, was
dead--King was only slightly hurt--Casey was not in jail at all--Casey had
escaped down the Peninsula--the United States warships had anchored off the
foot of Market Street and were preparing to bombard the city. There was
much rushing to and fro without cause. And over all the roar could be
distinguished occasionally single cries, as one may catch fragments of
conversation in a crowded room, and all of these were sinister: "Hang him!"
"Where is he?" "Run him up on a lamp post!" "Bring him out!" "He'll get
away if left to the officers!" And over all the cries, the shouts, the
curses, the noise of shuffling feet, the very sound of heavy breathing--
that--the numbers of the mob magnified to a muffled, formidable undernote,
pealed louder and louder the Monumental bell, which now Bert Taylor--or
some one else--was ringing like mad.
Keith's eyes had become grim and inscrutable, and his mouth had settled
into a hard, straight line. Johnny's interest had at first centred in the
mob, but after a few curious glances at his companion he transferred it
entirely to him, Johnny Fairfax was a judge of men and of crises; and now
he was invaded with a great curiosity to see how the one and the other were
here to work out. With a determination that would not be gainsaid, Keith
thrust himself through the crowd until he had gained an elevated coping.
Here he stood watching. Johnny, after a glance at his face, joined him.
Suddenly in the entrance of Dunbar Alley, next the city jail, a compact
group of men with drawn pistols appeared. They made their way rapidly to a
carriage standing near, jumped in, and the driver whipped up his horses.
With a yell of rage the crowd charged down, but recoiled instinctively
before the presented pistols. The horses reared and plunged, and before
anybody had gathered his wits sufficiently to seize the bridles, the whole
equipage had disappeared around the corner of Kearney Street.
"I must say that was well done," said Johnny.
"North and Charles Duane, with Casey, inside," commented Keith, as
dispassionately as though reading from a catalogue. "Billy Mulligan and his
deputies outside. That is to be remembered."
A great mob had surged after the disappearing vehicle, but at least fifty
yards in the rear. The remainder were following at a more leisurely pace.
Almost immediately the street was empty. Keith climbed slowly down from his
"What do you intend doing?" asked Johnny curiously.
"But they're getting him away!"
"No," said Keith, out of his local knowledge. "They're merely taking him to
the county jail; it's stronger."
They followed the crowd to the wide open space below the county jail. The
latter was at that period a solidly built one-story building situated atop
a low bluff. Below it the marshal had drawn up his officers. They stood
coolly at ease. The mob, very excited, vociferated, surged back and forth.
North and his men, busily and coolly, but emphatically, were warning them,
over and over again, not to approach nearer. A single, concerted rush would
have overwhelmed the few defenders; but the rush was not made.
Nevertheless, it could not be doubted that this time the temper of the
people was very determined. The excitement was growing with every minute.
Cries again took coherence.
"Hang him!" "Arrest the officers!" "Good, that's it!" "Let's take the
A man burst through the front ranks, clambered up the low bluff on which
stood the jail, turned, and attempted to harangue the crowd. He was
instantly torn down by the officers. He fought like a wild cat, and the
crowd, on the hair trigger as it was, howled and broke forward. But Marshal
North, who really handled the situation intelligently, sharply commanded
his men to desist, and instantly to release the orator. He knew better than
to allow the matter to come to an issue of strength. Intensely excited, the
man shouldered his way through the crowd, and, assisted by many hands,
mounted the balcony of a two-story house. Thence he began to harangue, but
so great was the confusion that he could not be heard.
"Who is he?" "Who is that man?" voices cried from a dozen points.
George Frank, a hotel keeper, possessed of a great voice, shouted back:
"That is Thomas King--"
An officer seized Frank hastily by the collar. "Stop or I'll arrest you!"
"--brother of James King of William!" bellowed Frank, undaunted.
"Bully for you!" muttered Johnny Fairfax, whose eyes were shining.
Keith was watching the whole scene from beneath the brim of his hat, his
eyes sombre and expressionless. Johnny glanced at him from time to time,
but said nothing.
From the balcony Thomas King continued to harangue the crowd. Little of
what he said could be heard, but he was at a white heat of excitement, and
those nearest him were greatly aroused. An officer made a movement to
arrest him, but a hasty message from the sapient North restrained that.
At that moment a great cheer burst out from the lower end of the street.
Over the heads of the crowd could be distinguished the glint of file after
file of bayonets.
"That's the ticket!" cried an enthusiast near Keith and Johnny. "Here come
the militia boys! Now we'll soon have the jail!"
The bayonets bobbed steadily through the crowd, deployed in front of the
jail, and turned to face the mob. A great groan went up.
"Sold!" cried the enthusiast.
These were volunteers from the Law and Order party, hastily armed from the
militia armouries, and thrown in front of the jail for its protection.
Immediately they had taken position the jail door opened, and there
appeared a rather short, carefully dressed man, with side whiskers,
carrying his hat in his hand. He stood for a moment, appealing for
attention, one arm upraised. Little by little the noise died down.
"Who is that?" inquired Johnny.
He received no reply from Keith, but the enthusiast informed him:
"That's our beloved mayor--Van Ness," said he.
When quiet had at length been restored, Van Ness addressed them:
"You are here creating an excitement," he said, "which may lead to
occurrences this night which will require years to wipe out. You are now
labouring under great excitement, and I advise you quietly to disperse. I
assure you the prisoner is safe. Let the law have its course and justice
will be done."
Up to this point Van Ness had been listened to with respect, but at the
last word he received such a chorus of jeers and cat calls that he retired
"How about Richardson?" they demanded of him. "Where's the law in Cora's
case?" "To hell with such justice!"
"Not the popular orator," observed Johnny Fairfax.
More soldiers came, and then more, at short intervals, until the square was
filled with shining bayonets. Johnny was frankly disgusted. As a man of
action he too well understood that this particular crisis was practically
over. From this mob the jail was safe.
"They lost their chance talking," he said. "They ought to have rushed the
jail first pop. Now the whole thing will fizzle out slowly. Let's go get
Without reply Keith descended from his perch. They hunted some time for a
restaurant. All were closed for the sufficient reason that their staffs
were on the streets. Finally they discovered a Chinese chop house prepared
to serve them, and here they ate. Johnny was voluble in his scorn for the
manner in which a golden opportunity had been allowed to slip by. Keith was
"Let's get out of here," he said abruptly at last. "Let's get some news."
They learned that King was still alive, though badly wounded in the left
breast; that he could not be moved; that he was attended by Dr. Beverly
Cole and a half score of the best surgeons of the city; that a mass meeting
had been called at the Plaza. Indeed, there could be no doubt that the
centre of excitement had been shifted to the Plaza. Men by thousands, all
armed, were marching in that direction. Johnny and Keith found the square
jammed, but the latter led the way by devious alleys to the rear of the
Monumental headquarters, and so out to a little second-story balcony.
Below them the faces of the packed mass of humanity showed white in the dim
light from the street lamps and the buildings. Arms gleamed. Every roof
top, every window, every balcony was crowded. From the latter vehement
orators held forth. All wanted to talk at once. Some of these people were,
as our chronicler of the time quaintly expresses it, "considerably tight."
Keith looked them all over with an appraising eye, listening at the same
time to incendiary speeches advising the battering down of the jail and the
hanging of all its inmates. Occasionally one of the cooler headed would get
in a few words, but invariably was interrupted by some well-meaning hot
There seemed to be a great diversity of opinion both among the people on
the balcony and those below. Keith listened attentively for a time, then,
with the abruptness that had characterized his movements and decisions
since the moment he had heard the news of King's assassination, he turned
"Let's go," he said briefly.
"Oh, hold on!" cried Johnny, aghast. "It's just the shank of the evening!
We'll miss all the fun."
"There'll be nothing done," said Keith with decision.