Part 2 out of 5
"Perhaps I should be going," said Jimmy.
"Good-night, Mr. Pitt," said Molly.
"I hope we shall meet again," said Jimmy.
"This way, Mr. Pitt," growled McEachern, holding the door.
"Please don't trouble," said Jimmy. He went to the window, and,
flinging his leg over the sill, dropped noiselessly to the ground.
He turned and put his head in at the window again.
"I did that rather well," he said, pleasantly. "I think I must take
up this--sort of thing as a profession. Good-night."
In the days before he began to expend his surplus energy in playing
Rugby football, the Welshman was accustomed, whenever the monotony
of his everyday life began to oppress him, to collect a few friends
and make raids across the border into England, to the huge
discomfort of the dwellers on the other side. It was to cope with
this habit that Dreever Castle, in the county of Shropshire, came
into existence. It met a long-felt want. In time of trouble, it
became a haven of refuge. From all sides, people poured into it,
emerging cautiously when the marauders had disappeared. In the whole
history of the castle, there is but one instance recorded of a
bandit attempting to take the place by storm, and the attack was an
emphatic failure. On receipt of a ladleful of molten lead, aimed to
a nicety by one John, the Chaplain (evidently one of those sporting
parsons), this warrior retired, done to a turn, to his mountain
fastnesses, and was never heard of again. He would seem, however, to
have passed the word around among his friends, for subsequent
raiding parties studiously avoided the castle, and a peasant who had
succeeded in crossing its threshold was for the future considered to
he "home" and out of the game.
Such was the Dreever of old. In later days, the Welshman having
calmed down considerably, it had lost its militant character. The
old walls still stood, gray, menacing and unchanged, hut they were
the only link with the past. The castle was now a very comfortable
country-house, nominally ruled over by Hildebrand Spencer Poynt de
Burgh John Hannasyde Coombe-Crombie, twelfth Earl of Dreever
("Spennie" to his relatives and intimates), a light-haired young
gentleman of twenty-four, but in reality the possession of his uncle
and aunt, Sir Thomas and Lady Julia Blunt.
Lord Dreever's position was one of some embarrassment. At no point
in their history had the Dreevers been what one might call a
parsimonious family. If a chance presented itself of losing money in
a particularly wild and futile manner, the Dreever of the period had
invariably sprung at it with the vim of an energetic blood-hound.
The South Sea Bubble absorbed two hundred thousand pounds of good
Dreever money, and the remainder of the family fortune was
squandered to the ultimate penny by the sportive gentleman who held
the title in the days of the Regency, when Watier's and the Cocoa
Tree were in their prime, and fortunes had a habit of disappearing
in a single evening. When Spennie became Earl of Dreever, there was
about one dollar and thirty cents in the family coffers.
This is the point at which Sir Thomas Blunt breaks into Dreever
history. Sir Thomas was a small, pink, fussy, obstinate man with a
genius for trade and the ambition of an Alexander the Great;
probably one of the finest and most complete specimens of the came-
me class of millionaires in existence. He had started almost
literally with nothing. By carefully excluding from his mind every
thought except that of making money, he had risen in the world with
a gruesome persistence which nothing could check. At the age of
fifty-one, he was chairman of Blunt's Stores, L't'd, a member of
Parliament (silent as a wax figure, but a great comfort to the party
by virtue of liberal contributions to its funds), and a knight. This
was good, but he aimed still higher; and, meeting Spennie's aunt,
Lady Julia Coombe-Crombie, just at the moment when, financially, the
Dreevers were at their lowest ebb, he had effected a very
satisfactory deal by marrying her, thereby becoming, as one might
say, Chairman of Dreever, L't'd. Until Spennie should marry money,
an act on which his chairman vehemently insisted, Sir Thomas held
the purse, and except in minor matters ordered by his wife, of whom
he stood in uneasy awe, had things entirely his own way.
One afternoon, a little over a year after the events recorded in the
preceding chapter, Sir Thomas was in his private room, looking out
of the window, from which the view was very beautiful. The castle
stood on a hill, the lower portion of which, between the house and
the lake, had been cut into broad terraces. The lake itself and its
island with the little boat-house in the center gave a glimpse of
But it was not altogether the beauty of the view that had drawn Sir
Thomas to the window. He was looking at it chiefly because the
position enabled him to avoid his wife's eye; and just at the moment
be was rather anxious to avoid his wife's eye. A somewhat stormy
board-meeting was in progress, and Lady Julia, who constituted the
board of directors, had been heckling the chairman. The point under
discussion was one of etiquette, and in matters of etiquette Sir
Thomas felt himself at a disadvantage.
"I tell you, my dear," he said to the window, "I am not easy in my
"Nonsense," snapped Lady Julia; "absurd--ridiculous!"
Lady Julia Blunt, when conversing, resembled a Maxim gun more than
"But your diamonds, my dear."
"We can take care of them."
"But why should we have the trouble? Now, if we--"
"It's no trouble."
"When we were married, there was a detective--"
"Don't be childish, Thomas. Detectives at weddings are quite
"I paid twenty thousand pounds for that rope of diamonds," said Sir
Thomas, obstinately. Switch things upon a cash basis, and he was
more at ease.
"May I ask if you suspect any of our guests of being criminals?"
inquired Lady Julia, with a glance of chill disdain.
Sir Thomas looked out of the window. At the moment, the sternest
censor could have found nothing to cavil at in the movements of such
of the house-party as were in sight. Some were playing tennis, some
clock-golf, and others were smoking.
"Why, no," he admitted.
"Of course. Absurd--quite absurd!"
"But the servants. We have engaged a number of new servants lately."
"With excellent recommendations."
Sir Thomas was on the point of suggesting that the recommendations
might be forged, but his courage failed him. Julia was sometimes so
abrupt in these little discussions! She did not enter into his point
of view. He was always a trifle inclined to treat the castle as a
branch of Blunt's Stores. As proprietor of the stores, he had made a
point of suspecting everybody, and the results had been excellent.
In Blunt's Stores, you could hardly move in any direction without
bumping into a gentlemanly detective, efficiently disguised. For the
life of him, Sir Thomas could not see why the same principle should
not obtain at Dreever. Guests at a country house do not as a rule
steal their host's possessions, but then it is only an occasional
customer at a store who goes in for shop-lifting. It was the
principle of the thing, he thought: Be prepared against every
emergency. With Sir Thomas Blunt, suspiciousness was almost a mania.
He was forced to admit that the chances were against any of his
guests exhibiting larcenous tendencies, but, as for the servants, he
thoroughly mistrusted them all, except Saunders, the butler. It had
seemed to him the merest prudence that a detective from a private
inquiry agency should be installed at the castle while the house was
full. Somewhat rashly, he had mentioned this to his wife, and Lady
Julia's critique of the scheme had been terse and unflattering.
"I suppose," said Lady Julia sarcastically, "you will jump to the
conclusion that this man whom Spennie is bringing down with him to-
day is a criminal of some sort?"
"Eh? Is Spennie bringing a friend?"
There was not a great deal of enthusiasm in Sir Thomas's voice. His
nephew was not a young man whom he respected very highly. Spennie
regarded his uncle with nervous apprehension, as one who would deal
with his short-comings with vigor and severity. Sir Thomas, for his
part, looked on Spennie as a youth who would get into mischief
unless under his uncle's eye.
"I had a telegram from him just now," Lady Julia explained.
"Who is his friend?"
"He doesn't say. He just says he's a man he met in London."
"And what does, 'H'm!' mean?" demanded Lady Julia.
"A man can pick up strange people in London," said Sir Thomas,
"Just as you say, my dear."
Lady Julia rose.
"As for what you suggest about the detective, it is of course
"Quite so, my dear."
"You mustn't think of it."
"Just as you say, my dear."
Lady Julia left the room.
What followed may afford some slight clue to the secret of Sir
Thomas Blunt's rise in the world. It certainly suggests singleness
of purpose, which is one of the essentials of success.
No sooner had the door closed behind Lady Julia than he went to his
writing-table, took pen and paper, and wrote the following letter:
To the Manager, Wragge's Detective Agency. Holborn Bars, London E.
SIR: With reference to my last of the 28th, ult., I should be glad
if you would send down immediately one of your best men. Am making
arrangements to receive him. Kindly instruct him to present himself
at Dreever Castle as applicant for position of valet to myself. I
will see and engage him on his arrival, and further instruct him in
P. S. I shall expect him to-morrow evening. There is a good train
leaving Paddington at 2:15.
Sir Thomas read this over, put in a comma, then placed it in an
envelope, and lighted a cigar with the air of one who can be
checked, yes, but vanquished, never.
FRIENDS, NEW AND OLD
On the night of the day on which Sir Thomas Blunt wrote and
dispatched his letter to Wragge's Detective Agency, Jimmy Pitt
chanced to stop at the Savoy.
If you have the money and the clothes, and do not object to being
turned out into the night just as you are beginning to enjoy
yourself, there are few things pleasanter than supper at the Savoy
Hotel, London. But, as Jimmy sat there, eying the multitude through
the smoke of his cigarette, he felt, despite all the brightness and
glitter, that this was a flat world, and that he was very much alone
A little over a year had passed since the merry evening at Police-
Captain McEachern's. During that time, he had covered a good deal of
new ground. His restlessness had reasserted itself. Somebody had
mentioned Morocco in his hearing, and a fortnight later he was in
Of the principals in that night's drama, he had seen nothing more.
It was only when, after walking home on air, rejoicing over the
strange chance that had led to his finding and having speech with
the lady of the Lusitania, he had reached Fifty-Ninth Street, that
he realized how he had also lost her. It suddenly came home to him
that not only did he not know her address, but he was ignorant of
her name. Spike had called the man with the revolver "boss"
throughout--only that and nothing more. Except that he was a police-
captain, Jimmy knew as little about the man as he had before their
meeting. And Spike, who held the key to the mystery, had vanished.
His acquaintances of that night had passed out of his life like
figures in a waking dream. As far as the big man with the pistol was
concerned, this did not distress him. He had known that massive
person only for about a quarter of an hour, but to his thinking that
was ample. Spike he would have liked to meet again, but he bore the
separation with much fortitude. There remained the girl of the ship;
and she had haunted him with unfailing persistence during every one
of the three hundred and eighty-four days that had passed since
It was the thought of her that had made New York seem cramped. For
weeks, Jimmy had patrolled the likely streets, the Park, and
Riverside Drive, in the hope of meeting her. He had gone to the
theaters and restaurants, but with no success. Sometimes, he had
wandered through the Bowery, on the chance of meeting Spike. He had
seen red heads in profusion, but never again that of his young
disciple in the art of burglary. In the end, he had wearied of the
other friends of the Strollers, had gone out again on his
wanderings. He was greatly missed, especially by that large section
of his circle which was in a perpetual state of wanting a little to
see it through till Saturday. For years, Jimmy had been to these
unfortunates a human bank on which they could draw at will. It
offended them that one of those rare natures which are always good
for two dollars at any hour of the day should be allowed to waste
itself on places like Morocco and Spain--especially Morocco, where,
by all accounts, there were brigands with almost a New York sense of
They argued earnestly with Jimmy. They spoke of Raisuli and Kaid
MacLean. But Jimmy was not to be stopped. The gad-fly was vexing
him, and he had to move.
For a year, he had wandered, realizing every day the truth of
Horace's philosophy for those who travel, that a man cannot change
his feelings with his climate, until finally he had found himself,
as every wanderer does, at Charing Cross.
At this point, he had tried to rally. Such running away, he told
himself, was futile. He would stand still and fight the fever in
He had been fighting it now for a matter of two weeks, and already
he was contemplating retreat. A man at luncheon had been talking
Watching the crowd, Jimmy had found his attention attracted chiefly
by a party of three, a few tables away. The party consisted of a
girl, rather pretty, a lady of middle age and stately demeanor,
plainly her mother, and a light-haired, weedy young man in the
twenties. It had been the almost incessant prattle of this youth and
the peculiarly high-pitched, gurgling laugh which shot from him at
short intervals that had drawn Jimmy's notice upon them. And it was
the curious cessation of both prattle and laugh that now made him
look again in their direction.
The young man faced Jimmy; and Jimmy, looking at him, could see that
all was not well with him. He was pale. He talked at random. A
slight perspiration was noticeable on his forhead.
Jimmy caught his eye. There was a hunted look in it.
Given the time and the place, there were only two things that could
have caused this look. Either the light-haired young man had seen a
ghost, or he had suddenly realized that he had not enough money to
pay the check.
Jimmy's heart went out to the sufferer. He took a card from his
case, scribbled the words, "Can I help?" on it, and gave it to a
waiter to take to the young man, who was now in a state bordering on
The next moment, the light-haired one was at his table, talking in a
"I say," he said, "it's frightfully good of you, old chap! It's
frightfully awkward. I've come out with too little money. I hardly
like to--you've never seen me before--"
"Don't rub in my misfortunes," pleaded Jimmy. "It wasn't my fault."
He placed a five-pound note on the table.
"Say when," he said, producing another.
"I say, thanks fearfully," the young man said. "I don't know what
I'd have done." He grabbed at the note. "I'll let you have it back
to-morrow. Here's my card. Is your address on your card? I can't
remember. Oh, by Jove, I've got it in my hand all the time." The
gurgling laugh came into action again, freshened and strengthened by
its rest. "Savoy Mansions, eh? I'll come round to-morrow. Thanks
frightfully again, old chap. I don't know what I should have done."
"It's been a treat," said Jimmy, deprecatingly.
The young man flitted back to his table, bearing the spoil. Jimmy
looked at the card he had left. "Lord Dreever," it read, and in the
corner the name of a well-known club. The name Dreever was familiar
to Jimmy. Everyone knew of Dreever Castle, partly because it was one
of the oldest houses in England, but principally because for
centuries it had been advertised by a particularly gruesome ghost-
story. Everyone had heard of the secret of Dreever, which was known
only to the earl and the family lawyer, and confided to the heir at
midnight on his twenty-first birthday. Jimmy had come across the
story in corners of the papers all over the States, from New York to
Onehorseville, Iowa. He looked with interest at the light-haired
young man, the latest depository of the awful secret. It was
popularly supposed that the heir, after hearing it, never smiled
again; but it did not seem to have affected the present Lord Dreever
to any great extent. His gurgling laugh was drowning the orchestra.
Probably, Jimmy thought, when the family lawyer had told the light-
haired young man the secret, the latter's comment had been, "No,
really? By Jove, I say, you know!"
Jimmy paid his bill, and got up to go.
It was a perfect summer night--too perfect for bed. Jimmy strolled
on to the Embankment, and stood leaning over the balustrade, looking
across the river at the vague, mysterious mass of buildings on the
He must have been standing there for some time, his thoughts far
away, when a voice spoke at his elbow.
"I say. Excuse me, have you--Hullo!" It was his light-haired
lordship of Dreever. "I say, by Jove, why we're always meeting!"
A tramp on a bench close by stirred uneasily in his sleep as the
gurgling laugh rippled the air.
"Been looking at the water?" inquired Lord Dreever. "I have. I often
do. Don't you think it sort of makes a chap feel--oh, you know. Sort
of--I don't know how to put it."
"Mushy?" said Jimmy.
"I was going to say poetical. Suppose there's a girl--"
He paused, and looked down at the water. Jimmy was sympathetic with
this mood of contemplation, for in his case, too, there was a girl.
"I saw my party off in a taxi," continued Lord Dreever, "and came
down here for a smoke; only, I hadn't a match. Have you--?"
Jimmy handed over his match-box. Lord Dreever lighted a cigar, and
fixed his gaze once more on the river.
"Ripping it looks," he said.
"Funny thing," said Lord Dreever. "In the daytime, the water here
looks all muddy and beastly. Damn' depressing, I call it. But at
night--" He paused. "I say," he went on after a moment, "Did you see
the girl I was with at the Savoy?"
"Yes," said Jimmy.
"She's a ripper," said Lord Dreever, devoutly.
On the Thames Embankment, in the small hours of a summer morning,
there is no such thing as a stranger. The man you talk with is a
friend, and, if he will listen--as, by the etiquette of the place,
he must--you may pour out your heart to him without restraint. It is
expected of you!
"I'm fearfully in love with her," said his lordship.
"She looked a charming girl," said Jimmy.
They examined the water in silence. From somewhere out in the
night came the sound of oars, as the police-boat moved on its
"Does she make you want to go to Japan?" asked Jimmy, suddenly.
"Eh?" said Lord Dreever, startled. "Japan?"
Jimmy adroitly abandoned the position of confidant, and seized that
"I met a girl a year ago--only really met her once, and even then--
oh, well! Anyway, it's made me so restless that I haven't been able
to stay in one place for more than a month on end. I tried Morocco,
and had to quit. I tried Spain, and that wasn't any good, either.
The other day, I heard a fellow say that Japan was a pretty
interesting sort of country. I was wondering whether I wouldn't give
it a trial."
Lord Dreever regarded this traveled man with interest.
"It beats me," he said, wonderingly. "What do you want to leg it
about the world like that for? What's the trouble? Why don't you
stay where the girl is?"
"I don't know where she is."
"Where did you see her last?" asked his lordship, as if Molly were a
"But how do you mean, disappeared? Don't you know her address?"
"I don't even know her name."
"But dash it all, I say, I mean! Have you ever spoken to her?"
"Only once. It's rather a complicated story. At any rate, she's
Lord Dreever said that it was a rum business. Jimmy conceded the
"Seems to me," said his lordship, "we're both in the cart."
"What's your trouble?"
Lord Dreever hesitated.
"Oh, well, it's only that I want to marry one girl, and my uncle's
dead set on my marrying another."
"Are you afraid of hurting your uncle's feelings?"
"It's not so much hurting his feelings. It's--oh, well, it's too
long to tell now. I think I'll be getting home. I'm staying at our
place in Eaton Square."
"How are you going? If you'll walk, I'll come some of the way with
"Right you are. Let's be pushing along, shall we?"
They turned up into the Strand, and through Trafalgar Square into
Piccadilly. Piccadilly has a restful aspect in the small hours. Some
men were cleaning the road with water from a long hose. The swishing
of the torrent on the parched wood was musical.
Just beyond the gate of Hyde Park, to the right of the road, stands
a cabmen's shelter. Conversation and emotion had made Lord Dreever
thirsty. He suggested coffee as a suitable conclusion to the night's
"I often go in here when I'm up in town," he said. "The cabbies
don't mind. They're sportsmen."
The shelter was nearly full when they opened the door. It was very
warm inside. A cabman gets so much fresh air in the exercise of his
professional duties that he is apt to avoid it in private life. The
air was heavy with conflicting scents. Fried onions seemed to be
having the best of the struggle for the moment, though plug tobacco
competed gallantly. A keenly analytical nose might also have
detected the presence of steak and coffee.
A dispute seemed to be in progress as they entered.
"You don't wish you was in Russher," said a voice.
"Yus, I do wish I wos in Russher," retorted a shriveled mummy of a
cabman, who was blowing patiently at a saucerful of coffee.
"Why do you wish you was in Russher?" asked the interlocutor,
introducing a Massa Bones and Massa Johnsing touch into the
"Because yer can wade over yer knees in bla-a-a-ad there," said the
"In bla-a-ad--ruddy bla-a-ad! That's why I wish I wos in Russher."
"Cheery cove that," said Lord Dreever. "I say, can you give us some
"I might try Russia instead of Japan," said Jimmy, meditatively.
The lethal liquid was brought. Conversation began again. Other
experts gave their views on the internal affairs of Russia. Jimmy
would have enjoyed it more if he had been less sleepy. His back was
wedged comfortably against the wall of the shelter, and the heat of
the room stole into his brain. The voices of the disputants grew
fainter and fainter.
He had almost dozed off when a new voice cut through the murmur and
woke him. It was a voice he knew, and the accent was a familiar
"Gents! Excuse me."
He looked up. The mists of sleep shredded away. A ragged youth with
a crop of fiery red hair was standing in the doorway, regarding the
occupants of the shelter with a grin, half-whimsical, half-defiant.
Jimmy recognized him. It was Spike Mullins.
"Excuse me," said Spike Mullins. "Is dere any gent in dis bunch of
professional beauts wants to give a poor orphan dat suffers from a
painful toist something to drink? Gents is courteously requested not
to speak all in a crowd."
"Shet that blanky door," said the mummy cabman, sourly.
"And 'op it," added his late opponent. "We don't want none of your
"Den you ain't my long-lost brudders after all," said the newcomer,
regretfully. "I t'ought youse didn't look handsome enough for dat.
Good-night to youse, gents."
"Shet that door, can't yer, when I'm telling yer!" said the mummy,
with increased asperity.
Spike was reluctantly withdrawing, when Jimmy rose.
"One moment," he said.
Never in his life had Jimmy failed to stand by a friend in need.
Spike was not, perhaps, exactly a friend, but even an acquaintance
could rely on Jimmy when down in the world. And Spike was manifestly
in that condition.
A look of surprise came into the Bowery Boy's face, followed by one
of stolid woodenness. He took the sovereign that Jimmy held out to
him with a muttered word of thanks, and shuffled out of the room.
"Can't see what you wanted to give him anything for," said Lord
Dreever. "Chap'll only spend it getting soused."
"Oh, he reminded me of a man I used to know."
"Did he? Barnum's what-is-it, I should think," said his lordship.
"Shall we be moving?"
JIMMY ADOPTS A LAME DOG
A black figure detached itself from the blacker shadows, and
shuffled stealthily to where Jimmy stood on the doorstep.
"That you, Spike?" asked Jimmy.
"Dat's right, boss."
"Come on in."
He led the way up to his rooms, switched on the electric light, and
shut the door. Spike stood blinking at the sudden glare. He twirled
his battered hat in his hands. His red hair shone fiercely.
Jimmy inspected him out of the corner of his eye, and came to the
conclusion that the Mullins finances must be at a low ebb. Spike's
costume differed in several important details from that of the
ordinary well-groomed man about town. There was nothing of the
flaneur about the Bowery Boy. His hat was of the soft black felt
fashionable on the East Side of New York. It was in poor condition,
and looked as if it had been up too late the night before. A black
tail-coat, burst at the elbows and stained with mud, was tightly
buttoned across his chest, this evidently with the idea of
concealing the fact that he wore no shirt--an attempt which was not
wholly successful. A pair of gray flannel trousers and boots out of
which two toes peeped coyly completed the picture.
Even Spike himself seemed to be aware that there were points in his
appearance which would have distressed the editor of a men's
"'Scuse these duds," he said. "Me man's bin an' mislaid de trunk
wit' me best suit in. Dis is me number two."
"Don't mention it, Spike," said Jimmy. "You look a perfect matinee
idol. Have a drink?"
Spike's eyes gleamed as he reached for the decanter. He took a seat.
"Sure. T'anks, boss."
Jimmy lighted his pipe. Spike, after a few genteel sips, threw off
his restraint, and finished the rest of his glass at a gulp.
"Try another," suggested Jimmy.
Spike's grin showed that the idea had been well received.
Jimmy sat and smoked in silence for a while. He was thinking the
thing over. He felt like a detective who has found a clue. At last,
he would be able to discover the name of the Lusitania girl. The
discovery would not take him very far certainly, but it would be
something. Possibly, Spike might even be able to fix the position of
the house they had broken into that night.
Spike was looking at Jimmy over his glass in silent admiration. This
flat which Jimmy had rented for a year, in the hope that the
possession of a fixed abode might help to tie him down to one spot,
was handsomely, even luxuriously, furnished. To Spike, every chair
and table in the room had a romance of its own, as having been
purchased out of the proceeds of that New Asiatic Bank robbery, or
from the revenue accruing from the Duchess of Havant's jewels. He
was dumb with reverence for one who could make burglary pay to this
extent. In his own case, the profession had rarely provided anything
more than bread and butter, and an occasional trip to Coney Island.
Jimmy caught his eye, and spoke.
"Well, Spike," he said. "Curious that we should meet like this?"
"De limit," agreed Spike.
"I can't imagine you three thousand miles from New York. How do you
know the cars still run both ways on Broadway?"
A wistful look came into Spike's eyes.
"I've been dis side t'ree months. I t'ought it was time I give old
Lunnon a call. T'ings was gettin' too fierce in Noo York. De cops
was layin' fer me. Dey didn't seem like as if they had any use fer
me. So, I beat it."
"Bad luck," said Jimmy.
"Fierce," agreed Spike.
"Say, Spike," said Jimmy, "do you know, I spent a whole heap of time
before I left New York looking for you?"
"Gee! I wish you'd found me! Did youse want me to help on some lay,
boss? Is it a bank, or--jools?"
"Well, no, not that. Do you remember that night we broke into that
house uptown--the police-captain's house?"
"What was his name?"
"What, de cop's? Why, McEachern, boss."
"McWhat? How do you spell it?"
"Search me," said Spike, simply.
"Say it again. Fill your lungs, and enunciate slowly and clearly. Be
"Ah! And where was the house? Can you remember that?"
Spike's forehead wrinkled.
"It's gone," he said, at last. "It was somewheres up some street up
"That's a lot of help," said Jimmy. "Try again."
"It'll come back some time, boss, sure."
"Then, I'm going to keep an eye on you till it does. Just for the
moment, you're the most important man in the world to me. Where are
"Me! Why, in de Park. Dat's right. One of dem swell detached benches
wit' a Southern exposure."
"Well, unless you prefer it, you needn't sleep in the Park any more.
You can pitch your moving tent with me."
"What, here, boss?"
"Unless we move."
"Me fer dis," said Spike, rolling luxuriously in his chair.
"You'll want some clothes," said Jimmy. "We'll get those to-morrow.
You're the sort of figure they can fit off the peg. You're not too
tall, which is a good thing."
"Bad t'ing fer me, boss. If I'd been taller, I'd have stood fer
being a cop, an' bin buyin' a brownstone house on Fifth Avenue by
dis. It's de cops makes de big money in little old Manhattan, dat's
who it is."
"The man who knows!" said Jimmy. "Tell me more, Spike. I suppose a
good many of the New York force do get rich by graft?"
"Sure. Look at old man McEachern."
"I wish I could. Tell me about him, Spike. You seemed to know him
"Me? Sure. Dere wasn't a woise old grafter dan him in de bunch. He
was out fer de dough all de time. But, say, did youse ever see his
"What's that?" said Jimmy, sharply.
"I seen her once." Spike became almost lyrical in his enthusiasm.
"Gee! She was a boid--a peach fer fair. I'd have left me happy home
fer her. Molly was her monaker. She--"
Jimmy was glaring at him.
"Cut it out!" he cried.
"What's dat, boss?" said Spike.
"Cut it out!" said Jimmy, savagely.
Spike looked at him, amazed.
"Sure," he said, puzzled, but realizing that his words had not
pleased the great man.
Jimmy chewed the stem of his pipe irritably, while Spike, full of
excellent intentions, sat on the edge of his chair, drawing
sorrowfully at his cigar and wondering what he had done to give
"Boss?" said Spike.
"Boss, what's doin' here? Put me next to de game. Is it de old lay?
Banks an' jools from duchesses? You'll be able to let me sit in at
de game, won't you?"
"I'd quite forgotten I hadn't told you about myself, Spike. I've
The horrid truth sank slowly into the other's mind.
"Say! What's dat, boss? You're cuttin' it out?"
"That's it. Absolutely."
"Ain't youse swiping no more jools?"
"Nor usin' de what's-its-name blow-pipe?"
"I have sold my oxy-acetylene blow-pipe, given away my anaesthetics,
and am going to turn over a new leaf, and settle down as a
Spike gasped. His world had fallen about his ears. His excursion
with. Jimmy, the master cracksman, in New York had been the highest
and proudest memory of his life; and, now that they had met again in
London, he had looked forward to a long and prosperous partnership
in crime. He was content that his own share in the partnership
should be humble. It was enough for him to be connected, however
humbly, with such a master. He had looked upon the richness of
London, and he had said with Blucher, "What a city to loot!"
And here was his idol shattering the visions with a word.
"Have another drink, Spike," said the lost leader sympathetically.
"It's a shock to you, I guess."
"I t'ought, boss--"
"I know, I know. These are life's tragedies. I'm very sorry for you.
But it can't be helped. I've made my pile, so why continue?"
Spike sat silent, with a long face. Jimmy slapped him on the
"Cheer up," he said. "How do you know that living honestly may not
be splendid fun? Numbers of people do it, you know, and enjoy
themselves tremendously. You must give it a trial, Spike."
"Me, boss! What, me, too?"
"Sure. You're my link with--I don't want to have you remembering
that address in the second month of a ten-year stretch at Dartmoor
Prison. I'm going to look after you, Spike, my son, like a lynx.
We'll go out together, and see life. Brace up, Spike. Be cheerful.
After a moment's reflection, the other grinned, albeit faintly.
"That's right," said Jimmy. "We'll go into society, Spike, hand in
hand. You'll be a terrific success in society. All you have to do is
to look cheerful, brush your hair, and keep your hands off the
spoons. For in the best circles they invariably count them after the
departure of the last guest."
"Sure," said Spike, as one who thoroughly understood this sensible
"And, now," said Jimmy, "we'll be turning in. Can you manage
sleeping on the sofa one night? Some fellows would give their bed up
to you. Not me, however. I'll have a bed made up for you tomorrow."
"Me!" said Spike. "Gee! I've been sleepin' in de Park all de last
week. Dis is to de good, boss."
AT THE TURN OF THE ROAD
Next morning, when Jimmy, having sent Spike off to the tailor's,
with instructions to get a haircut en route, was dealing with a
combination of breakfast and luncheon at his flat, Lord Dreever
"Thought I should find you in," observed his lordship. "Well,
laddie, how goes it? Having breakfast? Eggs and bacon! Great Scott!
I couldn't touch a thing."
The statement was borne out by his looks. The son of a hundred earls
was pale, and his eyes were markedly fish-like.
"A fellow I've got stopping with me--taking him down to Dreever with
me to-day--man I met at the club--fellow named Hargate. Don't know
if you know him? No? Well, he was still up when I got back last
night, and we stayed up playing billiards--he's rotten at billiards;
something frightful: I give him twenty--till five this morning. I
feel fearfully cheap. Wouldn't have got up at all, only I'm due to
catch the two-fifteen down to Dreever. It's the only good train." He
dropped into a chair.
"Sorry you don't feel up to breakfast," said Jimmy, helping himself
to marmalade. "I am generally to be found among those lining up when
the gong goes. I've breakfasted on a glass of water and a bag of
bird-seed in my time. That sort of thing makes you ready to take
whatever you can get. Seen the paper?"
Jimmy finished his breakfast, and lighted a pipe. Lord Dreever laid
down the paper.
"I say," he said, "what I came round about was this. What have you
got on just now?"
Jimmy had imagined that his friend had dropped in to return the
five-pound note he had borrowed, but his lordship maintained a
complete reserve on the subject. Jimmy was to discover later that
this weakness of memory where financial obligations were concerned
was a leading trait in Lord Dreever's character.
"To-day, do you mean?" said Jimmy.
"Well, in the near future. What I mean is, why not put off that
Japan trip you spoke about, and come down to Dreever with me?"
Jimmy reflected. After all, Japan or Dreever, it made very little
difference. And it would be interesting to see a place about which
he had read so much.
"That's very good of you," he said. "You're sure it will be all
right? It won't be upsetting your arrangements?"
"Not a bit. The more the merrier. Can you catch the two-fifteen?
It's fearfully short notice."
"Heavens, yes. I can pack in ten minutes. Thanks very much."
"Good business. There'll be shooting and all that sort of rot. Oh,
and by the way, are you any good at acting? I mean, there are going
to be private theatricals of sorts. A man called Charteris insisted
on getting them up--always getting up theatricals. Rot, I call it;
but you can't stop him. Do you do anything in that line?"
"Put me down for what you like, from Emperor of Morocco to Confused
Noise Without. I was on the stage once. I'm particularly good at
"Good for you. Well, so long. Two-fifteen from Paddington, remember.
I'll meet you there. I've got to go and see a fellow now."
"I'll look out for you."
A sudden thought occurred to Jimmy. Spike! He had forgotten Spike
for the moment. It was vital that the Bowery boy should not be lost
sight of again. He was the one link with the little house somewhere
beyond One Hundred and Fiftieth Street. He could not leave the
Bowery boy at the flat. A vision rose in his mind of Spike alone in
London, with Savoy Mansions as a base for his operations. No, Spike
must be transplanted to the country. But Jimmy could not seem to see
Spike in the country. His boredom would probably be pathetic. But it
was the only way.
Lord Dreever facilitated matters.
"By the way, Pitt," he said, "you've got a man of sorts, of course?
One of those frightful fellows who forgot to pack your collars?
Bring him along, of course."
"Thanks," said Jimmy. "I will."
The matter had scarcely been settled when the door opened, and
revealed the subject of discussion. Wearing a broad grin of mingled
pride and bashfulness, and looking very stiff and awkward in one of
the brightest tweed suits ever seen off the stage, Spike stood for a
moment in the doorway to let his appearance sink into the spectator,
then advanced into the room.
"How do dese strike you, boss?" he inquired genially, as Lord
Dreever gaped in astonishment at this bright being.
"Pretty nearly blind, Spike," said Jimmy. "What made you get those?
We use electric light here."
Spike was full of news.
"Say, boss, dat clothin'-store's a willy wonder, sure. De old mug
what showed me round give me de frozen face when I come in foist.
'What's doin'?' he says. 'To de woods wit' you. Git de hook!' But I
hauls out de plunks you give me, an' tells him how I'm here to get a
dude suit, an', gee! if he don't haul out suits by de mile. Give me
a toist, it did, watching him. 'It's up to youse,' says de mug.
'Choose somet'in'. You pays de money, an' we does de rest.' So, I
says dis is de one, an' I put down de plunks, an' here I am, boss."
"I noticed that, Spike," said Jimmy. "I could see you in the dark."
"Don't you like de duds, boss?" inquired Spike, anxiously.
"They're great," said Jimmy. "You'd make Solomon in all his glory
look like a tramp 'cyclist."
"Dat's right," agreed Spike. "Dey'se de limit."
And, apparently oblivious to the presence of Lord Dreever, who had
been watching him in blank silence since his entrance, the Bowery
boy proceeded to execute a mysterious shuffling dance on the carpet.
This was too much for the overwrought brain of his lordship.
"Good-bye, Pitt," he said, "I'm off. Got to see a man."
Jimmy saw his guest to the door.
Outside, Lord Dreever placed the palm of his right hand on his
"I say, Pitt," he said.
"Who the devil's that?"
"Who? Spike? Oh, that's my man."
"Your man! Is he always like that? I mean, going on like a frightful
music-hall comedian? Dancing, you know! And, I say, what on earth
language was that he was talking? I couldn't understand one word in
"Oh, that's American, the Bowery variety."
"Oh, well, I suppose it's all right if you understand it. I
can't. By gad," he broke off, with a chuckle, "I'd give something to
see him talking to old Saunders, our butler at home. He's got the
manners of a duke."
"Spike should revise those," said Jimmy.
"What do you call him?"
"Rummy name, isn't it?"
"Oh, I don't know. Short for Algernon."
"He seemed pretty chummy."
"That's his independent bringing-up. We're all like that in
"Well, so long."
On the bottom step, Lord Dreever halted.
"I say. I've got it!"
"Good for you. Got what?"
"Why, I knew I'd seen that chap's face somewhere before, only I
couldn't place him. I've got him now. He's the Johnny who came into
the shelter last night. Chap you gave a quid to."
Spike's was one of those faces that, without being essentially
beautiful, stamp themselves on the memory.
"You're quite right," said Jimmy. "I was wondering if you would
recognize him. The fact is, he's a man I once employed over in New
York, and, when I came across him over here, he was so evidently
wanting a bit of help that I took him on again. As a matter of fact,
I needed somebody to look after my things, and Spike can do it as
well as anybody else."
"I see. Not bad my spotting him, was it? Well, I must be off. Good-
bye. Two-fifteen at Paddington. Meet you there. Take a ticket for
Dreever if you're there before me."
Jimmy returned to the dining-room. Spike, who was examining as much
as he could of himself in the glass, turned round with his wonted
"Say, who's de gazebo, boss? Ain't he de mug youse was wit' last
"That's the man. We're going down with him to the country to-day,
Spike, so be ready."
"On your way, boss. What's dat?"
"He has invited us to his country house, and we're going."
"What? Bot'of us?"
"Yes. I told him you were my servant. I hope you aren't offended."
"Nit. What's dere to be raw about, boss?"
"That's all right. Well, we'd better be packing. We have to be at
the station at two."
"Did you get any other clothes besides what you've got on?"
"Nit. What do I want wit more dan one dude suit?"
"I approve of your rugged simplicity," said Jimmy, "but what you're
wearing is a town suit. Excellent for the Park or the Marchioness's
Thursday crush, but essentially metropolitan. You must get something
else for the country, something dark and quiet. I'll come and help
you choose it, now."
"Why, won't dis go in de country?"
"Not on your life, Spike. It would unsettle the rustic mind. They're
fearfully particular about that sort of thing in England."
"Dey's to de bad," said the baffled disciple of Beau Brummel, with
"And there's just one more thing, Spike. I know you'll excuse my
mentioning it. When we're at Dreever Castle, you will find yourself
within reach of a good deal of silver and other things. Would it be
too much to ask you to forget your professional instincts? I
mentioned this before in a general sort of way, but this is a
"Ain't I to get busy at all, den?" queried Spike.
"Not so much as a salt-spoon," said Jimmy, firmly. "Now, we'll
whistle a cab, and go and choose you some more clothes."
Accompanied by Spike, who came within an ace of looking almost
respectable in new blue serge ("Small Gent's"--off the peg), Jimmy
arrived at Paddington Station with a quarter of an hour to spare.
Lord Dreever appeared ten minutes later, accompanied by a man of
about Jimmy's age. He was tall and thin, with cold eyes and tight,
thin lips. His clothes fitted him in the way clothes do fit one man
in a thousand. They were the best part of him. His general
appearance gave one the idea that his meals did him little good, and
his meditations rather less. He had practically no conversation.
This was Lord Dreever's friend, Hargate. Lord Dreever made the
introductions; but, even as they shook hands, Jimmy had an
impression that he had seen the man before. Yet, where or in what
circumstances he could not remember. Hargate appeared to have no
recollection of him, so he did not mention the matter. A man who has
led a wandering life often sees faces that come back to him later
on, absolutely detatched from their context. He might merely have
passed Lord Dreever's friend on the street. But Jimmy had an idea
that the other had figured in some episode which at the moment had
had an importance. What that episode was had escaped him. He
dismissed the thing from his mind. It was not worth harrying his
Judicious tipping secured the three a compartment to themselves.
Hargate, having read the evening paper, went to sleep in the far
corner. Jimmy and Lord Dreever, who sat opposite each other, fell
into a desultory conversation.
After awhile, Lord Dreever's remarks took a somewhat intimate turn.
Jimmy was one of those men whose manner invites confidences. His
lordship began to unburden his soul of certain facts relating to the
"Have you ever met my Uncle Thomas?" he inquired. "You know Blunt's
Stores? Well, he's Blunt. It's a company now, but he still runs it.
He married my aunt. You'll meet him at Dreever."
Jimmy said he would be delighted.
"I bet you won't," said the last of the Dreevers, with candor. "He's
a frightful man--the limit. Always fussing round like a hen. Gives
me a fearful time, I can. tell you. Look here, I don't mind telling
you--we're pals--he's dead set on my marrying a rich girl."
"Well, that sounds all right. There are worse hobbies. Any
particular rich girl?"
"There's always one. He sicks me on to one after another. Quite nice
girls, you know, some of them; only, I want to marry somebody else,
that girl you saw me with at the Savoy."
"Why don't you tell your uncle?"
"He'd have a fit. She hasn't a penny; nor have I, except what I get
from him. Of course, this is strictly between ourselves."
"I know everybody thinks there's money attached to the title; but
there isn't, not a penny. When my Aunt Julia married Sir Thomas, the
whole frightful show was pretty well in pawn. So, you see how it
"Ever think of work?" asked Jimmy.
"Work?" said Lord Dreever, reflectively. "Well, you know, I
shouldn't mind work, only I'm dashed if I can see what I could do. I
shouldn't know how. Nowadays, you want a fearful specialized
education, and so on. Tell you what, though, I shouldn't mind the
diplomatic service. One of these days, I shall have a dash at asking
my uncle to put up the money. I believe I shouldn't be half-bad at
that. I'm rather a quick sort of chap at times, you know. Lots of
fellows have said so."
He cleared his throat modestly, and proceeded.
"It isn't only my Uncle Thomas," he said. "There's Aunt Julia, too.
She's about as much the limit as he is. I remember, when I was a
kid, she was always sitting on me. She does still. Wait till you see
her. Sort of woman who makes you feel that your hands are the color
of tomatoes and the size of legs of mutton, if you know what I mean.
And talks as if she were biting at you. Frightful!"
Having unburdened himself of these criticisms, Lord Dreever yawned,
leaned back, and was presently asleep.
It was about an hour later that the train, which had been taking
itself less seriously for some time, stopping at stations of quite
minor importance and generally showing a tendency to dawdle, halted
again. A board with the legend, "Dreever," in large letters showed
that they had reached their destination.
The station-master informed Lord Dreever that her ladyship had come
to meet the train in the motorcar, and was now waiting in the road
Lord Dreever's jaw fell.
"Oh, lord!" he said. "She's probably motored in to get the afternoon
letters. That means, she's come in the runabout, and there's only
room for two of us in that. I forgot to telegraph that you were
coming, Pitt. I only wired about Hargate. Dash it, I shall have to
His fears proved correct. The car at the station door was small. It
was obviously designed to seat four only.
Lord Dreever introduced Hargate and Jimmy to the statuesque lady in
the tonneau; and then there was an awkward silence.
At this point, Spike came up, chuckling amiably, with a magazine in
"Gee!" said Spike. "Say, boss, de mug what wrote dis piece must have
bin livin' out in de woods. Say, dere's a gazebo what wants to swipe
de heroine's jools what's locked in a drawer. So, dis mug, what 'do
you t'ink he does?" Spike laughed shortly, in professional scorn.
"Is this gentleman a friend of yours, Spennie?" inquired Lady
Julia politely, eying the red-haired speaker coldly.
"It's--" Spennie looked appealingly at Jimmy.
"It's my man," said Jimmy. "Spike," he added in an undertone, "to
the woods. Chase yourself. Fade away."
"Sure," said the abashed Spike. "Dat's right. It ain't up to me to
come buttin' in. Sorry, boss. Sorry, gents. Sorry loidy. Me for de
"There's a luggage-cart of sorts," said Lord Dreever, pointing.
"Sure," said Spike, affably. He trotted away.
"Jump in, Pitt," said Lord Dreever. "I'm going to walk."
"No, I'll walk," said Jimmy. "I'd rather. I want a bit of exercise.
Which way do I go?"
"Frightfully good of you, old chap," said Lord Dreever. "Sure you
don't mind? I do bar walking. Right-ho! You keep straight on."
He sat down in the tonneau by his aunt's side. The last Jimmy saw
was a hasty vision of him engaged in earnest conversation with Lady
Julia. He did not seem to be enjoying himself. Nobody is at his best
in conversation with a lady whom he knows to be possessed of a firm
belief in the weakness of his intellect. A prolonged conversation
with Lady Julia always made Lord Dreever feel as if he were being
tied into knots.
Jimmy watched them out of sight, and started to follow at a
leisurely pace. It certainly was an ideal afternoon for a country
walk. The sun was just hesitating whether to treat the time as
afternoon or evening. Eventually, it decided that it was evening,
and moderated its beams. After London, the country was deliciously
fresh and cool. Jimmy felt an unwonted content. It seemed to him
just then that the only thing worth doing in the world was to settle
down somewhere with three acres and a cow, and become pastoral.
There was a marked lack of traffic on the road. Once he met a cart,
and once a flock of sheep with a friendly dog. Sometimes, a rabbit
would dash out into the road, stop to listen, and dart into the
opposite hedge, all hind-legs and white scut. But, except for these,
he was alone in the world.
And, gradually, there began to be borne in upon him the conviction
that he had lost his way.
It is difficult to judge distance when one is walking, but it
certainly seemed to Jimmy that he must have covered five miles by
this time. He must have mistaken the way. He had doubtless come
straight. He could not have come straighter. On the other hand, it
would be quite in keeping with the cheap substitute which served the
Earl of Dreever in place of a mind that he should have forgotten to
mention some important turning. Jimmy sat down by the roadside.
As he sat, there came to him from down the road the sound of a
horse's feet, trotting. He got up. Here was somebody at last who
would direct him.
The sound came nearer. The horse turned the corner; and Jimmy saw
with surprise that it bore no rider.
"Hullo?" he said. "Accident? And, by Jove, a side-saddle!"
The curious part of it was that the horse appeared in no way a wild
horse. It gave the impression of being out for a little trot on its
own account, a sort of equine constitutional.
Jimmy stopped the horse, and led it back the way it had come. As he
turned the bend in the road, he saw a girl in a riding-habit running
toward him. She stopped running when she caught sight of him, and
slowed down to a walk.
"Thank you ever so much," she said, taking the reins from him.
"Dandy, you naughty old thing! I got off to pick up my crop, and he
Jimmy looked at her flushed, smiling face, and stood staring.
It was Molly McEachern.
MAKING A START
Self-possession was one of Jimmy's leading characteristics, but for
the moment he found himself speechless. This girl had been occupying
his thoughts for so long that--in his mind--he had grown very
intimate with her. It was something of a shock to come suddenly out
of his dreams, and face the fact that she was in reality practically
a stranger. He felt as one might with a friend whose memory has been
wiped out. It went against the grain to have to begin again from the
beginning after all the time they had been together.
A curious constraint fell upon him.
"Why, how do you do, Mr. Pitt?" she said, holding out her hand.
Jimmy began to feel better. It was something that she remembered his
"It's like meeting somebody out of a dream," said Molly. "I have
sometimes wondered if you were real. Everything that happened that
night was so like a dream."
Jimmy found his tongue.
"You haven't altered," he said, "you look just the same."
"Well," she laughed, "after all, it's not so long ago, is it?"
He was conscious of a dull hurt. To him, it had seemed years. But he
was nothing to her--just an acquaintance, one of a hundred. But what
more, he asked himself, could he have expected? And with the thought
came consolation. The painful sense of having lost ground left him.
He saw that he had been allowing things to get out of proportion. He
had not lost ground. He had gained it. He had met her again, and she
remembered him. What more had he any right to ask?
"I've crammed a good deal into the time," he explained. "I've been
traveling about a bit since we met."
"Do you live in Shropshire?" asked Molly.
"No. I'm on a visit. At least, I'm supposed to be. But I've lost the
way to the place, and I am beginning to doubt if I shall ever get
there. I was told to go straight on. I've gone straight on, and here
I am, lost in the snow. Do you happen to know whereabouts Dreever
"Why," she said, "I am staying at Dreever Castle, myself."
"So, the first person you meet turns out to be an experienced guide.
You're lucky, Mr. Pitt."
"You're right," said Jimmy slowly, "I am."
"Did you come down with Lord Dreever? He passed me in the car just
as I was starting out. He was with another man and Lady Julia Blunt.
Surely, he didn't make you walk?"
"I offered to walk. Somebody had to. Apparently, he had forgotten to
let them know he was bringing me."
"And then he misdirected you! He's very casual, I'm afraid."
"Inclined that way, perhaps."
"Have you known Lord Dreever long?"
"Since a quarter past twelve last night."
"We met at the Savoy, and, later, on the Embankment. We looked at
the river together, and told each other the painful stories of our
lives, and this morning he called, and invited me down here."
Molly looked at him with frank amusement.
"You must be a very restless sort of person," she said. "You seem to
do a great deal of moving about."
"I do," said Jimmy. "I can't keep still. I've got the go-fever, like
that man in Kipling's book."
"But he was in love."
"Yes," said Jimmy. "He was. That's the bacillus, you know."
She shot a quick glance at him. He became suddenly interesting to
her. She was at the age of dreams and speculations. From being
merely an ordinary young man with rather more ease of manner than
the majority of the young men she had met, he developed in an
instant into something worthy of closer attention. He took on a
certain mystery and romance. She wondered what sort of girl it was
that he loved. Examining him in the light of this new discovery, she
found him attractive. Something seemed to have happened to put her
in sympathy with him. She noticed for the first time a latent
forcefulness behind the pleasantness of his manner. His self-
possession was the self-possession of the man who has been tried and
has found himself.
At the bottom of her consciousness, too, there was a faint stirring
of some emotion, which she could not analyze, not unlike pain. It
was vaguely reminiscent of the agony of loneliness which she had
experienced as a small child on the rare occasions when her father
had been busy and distrait, and had shown her by his manner that she
was outside his thoughts. This was but a pale suggestion of that
misery; nevertheless, there was a resemblance. It was a rather
desolate, shut-out sensation, half-resentful.
It was gone in a moment. But it had been there. It had passed over
her heart as the shadow of a cloud moves across a meadow in the
For some moments, she stood without speaking. Jimmy did not break
the silence. He was looking at her with an appeal in his eyes. Why
could she not understand? She must understand.
But the eyes that met his were those of a child.
As they stood there, the horse, which had been cropping in a
perfunctory manner at the short grass by the roadside, raised its
head, and neighed impatiently. There was something so human about
the performance that Jimmy and the girl laughed simultaneously. The
utter materialism of the neigh broke the spell. It was a noisy
demand for food.
"Poor Dandy!" said Molly. "He knows he's near home, and he knows
it's his dinner-time."
"Are we near the castle, then?"
"It's a long way round by the road, but we can cut across the
fields. Aren't these English fields and hedges just perfect! I love
them. Of course, I loved America, but--"
"Have you left New York long?" asked Jimmy.
"We came over here about a month after you were at our house."
"You didn't spend much time there, then."
"Father had just made a good deal of money in Wall Street. He must
have been making it when I was on the Lusitania. He wanted to leave
New York, so we didn't wait. We were in London all the winter. Then,
we went over to Paris. It was there we met Sir Thomas Blunt and Lady
Julia. Have you met them? They are Lord Dreever's uncle and aunt."
"I've met Lady Julia."
"Do you like her?"
"Well, you see--"
"I know. She's your hostess, but you haven't started your visit yet.
So, you've just got time to say what you really think of her, before
you have to pretend she's perfect."
"I detest her," said Molly, crisply. "I think she's hard and
"Well, I can't say she struck me as a sort of female Cheeryble
Brother. Lord Dreever introduced me to her at the station. She
seemed to bear it pluckily, but with some difficulty."
"She's hateful," repeated Molly. "So is he, Sir Thomas, I mean. He's
one of those fussy, bullying little men. They both bully poor Lord
Dreever till I wonder he doesn't rebel. They treat him like a
school-boy. It makes me wild. It's such a shame--he's so nice and
good-natured! I am so sorry for him!"
Jimmy listened to this outburst with mixed feelings. It was sweet of
her to be so sympathetic, but was it merely sympathy? There had been
a ring in her voice and a flush on her cheek that had suggested to
Jimmy's sensitive mind a personal interest in the down-trodden peer.
Reason told him that it was foolish to be jealous of Lord Dreever, a
good fellow, of course, but not to be taken seriously. The primitive
man in him, on the other hand, made him hate all Molly's male
friends with an unreasoning hatred. Not that he hated Lord Dreever:
he liked him. But he doubted if he could go on liking him for long
if Molly were to continue in this sympathetic strain.
His affection for the absent one was not put to the test. Molly's
next remark had to do with Sir Thomas.
"The worst of it is," she said, "father and Sir Thomas are such
friends. In Paris, they were always together. Father did him a very
"How was that?"
"It was one afternoon, just after we arrived. A man got into Lady
Julia's room while we were all out except father. Father saw him go
into the room, and suspected something was wrong, and went in after
him. The man was trying to steal Lady Julia's jewels. He had opened
the box where they were kept, and was actually holding her rope of
diamonds in his hand when father found him. It's the most
magnificent thing I ever saw. Sir Thomas told father he gave a
hundred thousand dollars for it."
"But, surely," said Jimmy, "hadn't the management of the hotel a
safe for valuables?"
"Of course, they had; but you don't know Sir Thomas. He wasn't going
to trust any hotel safe. He's the sort of a man who insists on doing
everything in his own way, and who always imagines he can do things
better himself than anyone else can do them for him. He had had this
special box made, and would never keep the diamonds anywhere else.
Naturally, the thief opened it in a minute. A clever thief would
have no difficulty with a thing like that."
"Oh, the man saw father, and dropped the jewels, and ran off down
the corridor. Father chased him a little way, but of course it was
no good; so he went back and shouted, and rang every bell he could
see, and gave the alarm; but the man was never found. Still, he left
the diamonds. That was the great thing, after all. You must look at
them to-night at dinner. They really are wonderful. Are you a judge
of precious stones at all?"
"I am rather," said Jimmy. "In fact, a jeweler I once knew told me I
had a natural gift in that direction. And so, of course, Sir Thomas
was pretty grateful to your father?"
"He simply gushed. He couldn't do enough for him. You see, if the
diamonds had been stolen, I'm sure Lady Julia would have made Sir
Thomas buy her another rope just as good. He's terrified of her, I'm
certain. He tries not to show it, but he is. And, besides having to
pay another hundred thousand dollars, he would never have heard the
last of it. It would have ruined his reputation for being infallible
and doing everything better than anybody else."
"But didn't the mere fact that the thief got the jewels, and was
only stopped by a fluke from getting away with them, do that?"
Molly bubbled with laughter.
"She never knew. Sir Thomas got back to the hotel an hour before she
did. I've never seen such a busy hour. He had the manager up,
harangued him, and swore him to secrecy--which the poor manager was
only too glad to agree to, because it wouldn't have done the hotel
any good to have it known. And the manager harangued the servants,
and the servants harangued one another, and everybody talked at the
same time; and father and I promised not to tell a soul; so Lady
Julia doesn't know a word about it to this day. And I don't see why
she ever should--though, one of these days, I've a good mind to tell
Lord Dreever. Think what a hold he would have over them! They'd
never be able to bully him again."
"I shouldn't," said Jimmy, trying to keep a touch of coldness out of
his voice. This championship of Lord Dreever, however sweet and
admirable, was a little distressing.
She looked up quickly.
"You don't think I really meant to, do you?"
"No, no," said Jimmy, hastily. "Of course not."
"Well, I should think so!" said Molly, indignantly. "After I
promised not to tell a soul about it!"
"It's nothing," he said, in answer to her look of inquiry.
"You laughed at something."
"Well," said Jimmy apologetically, "it's only--it's nothing really--
only, what I mean is, you have just told one soul a good deal about
it, haven't you?"
Molly turned pink. Then, she smiled.
"I don't know how I came to do it," she declared. "It just rushed
out of its own accord. I suppose it is because I know I can trust
Jimmy flushed with pleasure. He turned to her, and half-halted, but
she continued to walk on.
"You can," he said, "but how do you know you can?"
She seemed surprised.
"Why--" she said. She stopped for a moment, and then went on
hurriedly, with a touch of embarrassment. "Why, how absurd! Of
course, I know. Can't you read faces? I can. Look," she said,
pointing, "now you can see the castle. How do you like it?"
They had reached a point where the fields sloped sharply downward. A
few hundred yards away, backed by woods, stood the gray mass of
stone which had proved such a kill-joy of old to the Welsh sportsmen
during the pheasant season. Even now, it had a certain air of
defiance. The setting sun lighted the waters of the lake. No figures
were to be seen moving in the grounds. The place resembled a palace
"Well?" said Molly.
"Isn't it! I'm so glad it strikes you like that. I always feel as if
I had invented everything round here. It hurts me if people don't
They went down the hill.
"By the way," said Jimmy, "are you acting in these theatricals they
are getting up?"
"Yes. Are you the other man they were going to get? That's why Lord
Dreever went up to London, to see if he couldn't find somebody. The
man who was going to play one of the parts had to go back to London
"Poor brute!" said Jimmy. It seemed to him at this moment that there
was only one place in the world where a man might be even reasonably
happy. "What sort of part is it? Lord Dreever said I should be
wanted to act. What do I do?"
"If you're Lord Herbert, which is the part they wanted a man for,
you talk to me most of the time."
Jimmy decided that the piece had been well cast.
The dressing-gong sounded just as they entered the hall. From a
door on the left, there emerged two men, a big man and a little one,
in friendly conversation. The big man's back struck Jimmy as
"Oh, father," Molly called. And Jimmy knew where he had seen the
The two men stopped.
"Sir Thomas," said Molly, "this is Mr. Pitt."
The little man gave Jimmy a rapid glance, possibly with the object
of detecting his more immediately obvious criminal points; then, as
if satisfied as to his honesty, became genial.
"I am very glad to meet you, Mr. Pitt, very glad," he said. "We have
been expecting you for some time."
Jimmy explained that he had lost his way.
"Exactly. It was ridiculous that you should be compelled to walk,
perfectly ridiculous. It was grossly careless of my nephew not to
let us know that you were coming. My wife told him so in the car."
"I bet she did," said Jimmy to himself. "Really," he said aloud, by
way of lending a helping hand to a friend in trouble, "I preferred
to walk. I have not been on a country road since I landed in
England." He turned to the big man, and held out his hand. "I don't
suppose you remember me, Mr. McEachern? We met in New York."
"You remember the night Mr. Pitt scared away our burglar, father,"
Mr. McEachern was momentarily silent. On his native asphalt, there
are few situations capable of throwing the New York policeman off
his balance. In that favored clime, savoir faire is represented by a
shrewd blow of the fist, and a masterful stroke with the truncheon
amounts to a satisfactory repartee. Thus shall you never take the
policeman of Manhattan without his answer. In other surroundings,
Mr. McEachern would have known how to deal with the young man whom
with such good reason he believed to be an expert criminal. But
another plan of action was needed here. First and foremost, of all
the hints on etiquette that he had imbibed since he entered this
more reposeful life, came the maxim: "Never make a scene." Scenes,
he had gathered, were of all things what polite society most
resolutely abhorred. The natural man in him must be bound in chains.
The sturdy blow must give way to the honeyed word. A cold, "Really!"
was the most vigorous retort that the best circles would
countenance. It had cost Mr. McEachern some pains to learn this
lesson, but he had done it. He shook hands, and gruffly acknowledged
"Really, really!" chirped Sir Thomas, amiably. "So, you find
yourself among old friends, Mr. Pitt."
"Old friends," echoed Jimmy, painfully conscious of the ex-
policeman's eyes, which were boring holes in him.
"Excellent, excellent! Let me take you to your room. It is just
opposite my own. This way."
In his younger days, Sir Thomas had been a floor-walker of no mean
caliber. A touch of the professional still lingered in his brisk
movements. He preceded Jimmy upstairs with the restrained suavity
that can be learned in no other school.
They parted from Mr. McEachern on the first landing, but Jimmy could
still feel those eyes. The policeman's stare had been of the sort
that turns corners, goes upstairs, and pierces walls.
Nevertheless, it was in an exalted frame of mind that Jimmy dressed
for dinner. It seemed to him that he had awakened from a sort of
stupor. Life, so gray yesterday, now appeared full of color and
possibilities. Most men who either from choice or necessity have
knocked about the world for any length of time are more or less
fatalists. Jimmy was an optimistic fatalist. He had always looked on
Fate, not as a blind dispenser at random of gifts good and bad, but
rather as a benevolent being with a pleasing bias in his own favor.
He had almost a Napoleonic faith in his star. At various periods of
his life (notably at the time when, as he had told Lord Dreever, he
had breakfasted on bird-seed), he had been in uncommonly tight
corners, but his luck had always extricated him. It struck him that
it would be an unthinkable piece of bad sportsmanship on Fate's part
to see him through so much, and then to abandon him just as he had
arrived in sight of what was by far the biggest thing of his life.
Of course, his view of what constituted the biggest thing in life
had changed with the years. Every ridge of the Hill of Supreme
Moments in turn had been mistaken by him for the summit; but this
last, he felt instinctively, was genuine. For good or bad, Molly was
woven into the texture of his life. In the stormy period of the
early twenties, he had thought the same of other girls, who were now
mere memories as dim as those of figures in a half-forgotten play.
In their case, his convalescence had been temporarily painful, but
brief. Force of will and an active life had worked the cure. He had
merely braced himself, and firmly ejected them from his mind. A week
or two of aching emptiness, and his heart had been once more in
readiness, all nicely swept and garnished, for the next lodger.
But, in the case of Molly, it was different. He had passed the age
of instantaneous susceptibility. Like a landlord who has been
cheated by previous tenants, he had become wary. He mistrusted his
powers of recuperation in case of disaster. The will in these
matters, just like the mundane "bouncer," gets past its work. For
some years now, Jimmy had had a feeling that the next arrival would
come to stay; and he had adopted in consequence a gently defensive
attitude toward the other sex. Molly had broken through this, and he
saw that his estimate of his will-power had been just. Methods that
had proved excellent in the past were useless now. There was no
trace here of the dimly consoling feeling of earlier years, that
there were other girls in the world. He did not try to deceive
himself. He knew that he had passed the age when a man can fall in
love with any one of a number of types.
This was the finish, one way or the other. There would be no second
throw. She had him. However it might end, he belonged to her.
There are few moments in a man's day when his brain is more
contemplative than during that brief space when he is lathering his
face, preparatory to shaving. Plying the brush, Jimmy reviewed the
situation. He was, perhaps, a little too optimistic. Not
unnaturally, he was inclined to look upon his luck as a sort of
special train which would convey him without effort to Paradise.
Fate had behaved so exceedingly handsomely up till now! By a series
of the most workmanlike miracles, it had brought him to the point of
being Molly's fellow-guest at a country-house. This, as reason
coldly pointed out a few moments later, was merely the beginning,
but to Jimmy, thoughtfully lathering, it seemed the end. It was only
when he had finished shaving, and was tying his cravat, that he
began to perceive obstacles in his way, and sufficiently big
obstacles, at that.
In the first place, Molly did not love him. And, he was bound to
admit, there was no earthly reason why she ever should. A man in
love is seldom vain about his personal attractions. Also, her father
firmly believed him to be a master-burglar.
"Otherwise," said Jimmy, scowling at his reflection in the glass,
"everything's splendid." He brushed his hair sadly.
There was a furtive rap at the door.
"Hullo?" said Jimmy. "Yes?"
The door opened slowly. A grin, surmounted by a mop of red hair,
appeared round the edge of it.
"Hullo, Spike. Come in. What's the matter?"
The rest of Mr. Mullins entered the room.
"Gee, boss! I wasn't sure was dis your room. Say, who do you t'ink I
nearly bumped me coco ag'inst out in de corridor downstairs? Why,
old man McEachern, de cop. Dat's right!"
"Sure. Say, what's he doin' on dis beat? I pretty near went down an'
out when I seen him. Dat's right. Me breath ain't got back home
"Did he recognize you?"
"Did he! He starts like an actor on top de stoige when he sees he's
up ag'inst de plot to ruin him, an' he gives me de fierce eye."
"I was wonderin' was I on Thoid Avenoo, or was I standin' on me
coco, or what was I doin' anyhow. Den I slips off, an' chases meself
up here. Say, boss, what's de game? What's old man McEachern doin'
stunts dis side fer?"
"It's all right, Spike. Keep calm. I can explain. He has retired--
like me! He's one of the handsome guests here."
"On your way, boss! What's dat?"
"He left the force just after that merry meeting of ours when you
frolicked with the bull-dog. He came over here, and butted into
society. So, here we are again, all gathered together under the same
roof, like a jolly little family party."
Spike's open mouth bore witness to his amazement.
"Den--" he stammered.
"Den, what's be goin' to do?"
"I couldn't say. I'm expecting to hear shortly. But we needn't worry
ourselves. The next move's with him. If he wants to comment on the
situation, he won't be backward. He'll come and do it."
"Sure. It's up to him," agreed Spike.
"I'm quite comfortable. Speaking for myself, I'm having a good time.
How are you getting along downstairs?"
"De limit, boss. Honest, it's to de velvet. Dey's an old gazebo, de
butler, Saunders his name is, dat's de best ever at handin' out long
woids. I sits an' listens. Dey calls me Mr. Mullins down dere," said
Spike, with pride.
"Good. I'm glad you're all right. There's no season why we shouldn't
have an excellent time here. I don't think that Mr. McEachern will
try to have us turned out, after he's heard one or two little things
I have to say to him--just a few reminiscences of the past which may
interest him. I have the greatest affection for Mr. McEachern--I
wish it were mutual--but nothing he can say is going to make me stir
"Not on your life," agreed Spike. "Say, boss, he must have got a lot
of plunks to be able to butt in here. An' I know how he got dem,
too. Dat's right. I comes from little old New York, meself."
"Hush, Spike, this is scandal!"
"Sure," said the Bowery boy doggedly, safely started now on his
favorite subject. "I knows, an' youse knows, boss. Gee! I wish I'd
bin a cop. But I wasn't tall enough. Dey's de fellers wit' de big
bank-rolls. Look at dis old McEachern. Money to boin a wet dog wit'
he's got, an' never a bit of woik fer it from de start to de finish.
An' look at me, boss."
"I do, Spike, I do."
"Look at me. Gittin' busy all de year round, woikin' to beat de
"In prisons oft," said Jimmy.
"Sure t'ing. An' chased all roun' de town. An' den what? Why, to de
bad at de end of it all. Say, it's enough to make a feller--"
"Turn honest," said Jimmy. "That's it, Spike. Reform. You'll be glad
Spike seemed to be doubtful. He was silent for a moment, then, as if
following up a train of thought, he said:
"Boss, dis is a fine big house."
"I've seen worse."
"Say, couldn't we--?"
"Spike!" said Jimmy, warningly.
"Well, couldn't we?" said Spike, doggedly. "It ain't often youse
butts into a dead-easy proposition like dis one. We shouldn't have
to do a t'ing excep' git busy. De stuff's just lyin' about, boss."
"I shouldn't wonder."
"Aw, it's a waste to leave it."
"Spike," said Jimmy, "I warned you of this. I begged you to be on
your guard, to fight against your professional instincts. Be a man!
Crush them. Try and occupy your mind. Collect butterflies."
Spike shuffled in gloomy silence.
"'Member dose jools youse swiped from de duchess?" he said,
"The dear duchess!" murmured Jimmy. "Ah, me!"
"An' de bank youse busted?"
"Those were happy days, Spike."
"Gee!" said the Bowery boy. And then, after a pause: "Dat was to de
good," he said, wistfully.
Jimmy arranged his tie at the mirror.
"Dere's a loidy here," continued Spike, addressing the chest of
drawers, "dat's got a necklace of jools what's wort' a hundred
t'ousand plunks. Honest, boss. A hundred t'ousand plunks. Saunders
told me dat--de old gazebo dat hands out de long woids. I says to
him, 'Gee!' an' he says, 'Surest t'ing youse know.' A hundred
"So I understand," said Jimmy.
"Shall I rubber around, an' find out where is dey kept, boss?"