Part 7 out of 9
Lady Firth glanced up inquiringly.
"Have you met Mrs. Adair already?" she asked.
"No," said Hemingway, "but I have been trying to meet her for
Perplexed, the Englishwoman frowned, and then, with delight at
her own perspicuity, laughed aloud.
"I know," she cried, "in your country you are what they call a
'hustler'! Is that right?" She waved them away. "Take Mrs. Adair
over there," she commanded, "and tell her all the news from home.
Tell her about the railroad accidents and 'washouts' and the
latest thing in lynching."
The young people stretched out in long wicker chairs in the shade
of a tree covered with purple flowers. On a perch at one side of
them an orang-outang in a steel belt was combing the whiskers of
her infant daughter; at their feet what looked like two chow puppies,
but which happened to be Lady Firth's pet lions, were chewing each
other's toothless gums; and in the immediate foreground the hospital
nurses were defying the sun at tennis while the Sultan's band played
selections from a Gaiety success of many years in the past. With these
surroundings it was difficult to talk of home. Nor on any later occasions,
except through inadvertence, did they talk of home.
For the reasons already stated, it amused Hemingway to volunteer
no confidences. On account of what that same evening Harris told
him of Mrs. Adair, he asked none.
Harris himself was a young man in no way inclined to withhold
confidences. He enjoyed giving out information. He enjoyed
talking about himself, his duties, the other consuls, the Zanzibaris,
and his native State of Iowa. So long as he was permitted to talk,
the listener could select the subject. But, combined with his loquacity,
Hemingway had found him kind-hearted, intelligent, observing, and
the call of a common country had got them quickly together.
Hemingway was quite conscious that the girl he had seen but once
had impressed him out of all proportion to what he knew of her.
She seemed too good to be true. And he tried to persuade himself
that after eight months in the hinterland among hippos and zebras
any reasonably attractive girl would have proved equally disturbing.
But he was not convinced. He did not wish to be convinced. He
assured himself that had he met Mrs. Adair at home among hundreds
of others he would have recognized her as a woman of exceptional
character, as one especially charming. He wanted to justify this
idea of her; he wanted to talk of Mrs. Adair to Harris, not to learn
more concerning her, but just for the pleasure of speaking her name.
He was much upset at that, and the discovery that on meeting a
woman for the first time he still could be so boyishly and ingenuously
moved greatly pleased him. It was a most delightful secret. So he acted
on the principle that when a man immensely admires a woman and
wishes to conceal that fact from every one else he can best do so by
declaring his admiration in the frankest and most open manner. After
the tea-party, as Harris and himself sat in the consulate, he so expressed
"What an extraordinary nice girl," he exclaimed, "is that Mrs. Adair!
I had a long talk with her. She is most charming. However did a
woman like that come to be in a place like this?"
Judging from his manner, it seemed to Hemingway that at the
mention of Mrs. Adair's name he had found Harris mentally on
guard, as though the consul had guessed the question would come
and had prepared for it.
"She just dropped in here one day," said Harris, "from no place
in particular. Personally, I always have thought from heaven."
"It's a good address," said Hemingway.
"It seems to suit her," the consul agreed. "Anyway, if she doesn't come
from there, that's where she's going--just on account of the good she's
done us while she's been here. She arrived four months ago with a
typewriting-machine and letters to me from our consuls in Cape Town
and Durban. She had done some typewriting for them. It seems that
after her husband died, which was a few months after they were married,
she learned to make her living by typewriting. She worked too hard
and broke down, and the doctor said she must go to hot countries, the
'hotter the better.' So she's worked her way half around the world
typewriting. She worked chiefly for her own consuls or for the American
commission houses. Sometimes she stayed a month, sometimes only over
one steamer day. But when she got here Lady Firth took such a fancy to
her that she made Sir George engage her as his private secretary, and she's
been here ever since."
In a community so small as was that of Zanzibar the white residents
saw one another every day, and within a week Hemingway had met
Mrs. Adair many times. He met her at dinner, at the British agency;
he met her in the country club, where the white exiles gathered for
tea and tennis. He hired a launch and in her honor gave a picnic
on the north coast of the island, and on three glorious and memorable
nights, after different dinner-parties had ascended to the roof, he sat
at her side and across the white level of the housetops looked down
into the moonlit harbor.
What interest the two young people felt in each other was in no
way discouraged by their surroundings. In the tropics the tender
emotions are not winter killed. Had they met at home, the
conventions, his own work, her social duties would have kept the
progress of their interest within a certain speed limit. But they
were in a place free of conventions, and the preceding eight
months which Hemingway had spent in the jungle and on the plain
had made the society of his fellow man, and of Mrs. Adair in
particular, especially attractive.
Hemingway had no work to occupy his time, and he placed it
unreservedly at the disposition of his countrywoman. In doing so
it could not be said that Mrs. Adair encouraged him. Hemingway
himself would have been the first to acknowledge this. From the
day he met her he was conscious that always there was an intangible
barrier between them. Even before she possibly could have guessed
that his interest in her was more than even she, attractive as she was,
had the right to expect, she had wrapped around herself an invisible
mantle of defense.
There were certain speeches of his which she never heard, certain tones
to which she never responded. At moments when he was complimenting
himself that at last she was content to be in his company, she would
suddenly rise and join the others, and he would be left wondering in
what way he could possibly have offended.
He assured himself that a woman, young and attractive, in a
strange land in her dependent position must of necessity be
discreet, but in his conduct there certainly had been nothing
that was not considerate, courteous, and straightforward.
When he appreciated that he cared for her seriously, that he was
gloriously happy in caring, and proud of the way in which he
cared, the fact that she persistently held him at arm's length
puzzled and hurt. At first when he had deliberately set to work
to make her like him he was glad to think that, owing to his
reticence about himself, if she did like him it would be for himself
alone and not for his worldly goods. But when he knew her better
he understood that if once Mrs. Adair made up her mind to take
a second husband, the fact that he was a social and financial
somebody, and not, as many in Zanzibar supposed Hemingway
to be, a social outcast, would make but little difference.
Nor was her manner to be explained by the fact that the majority
of women found him unattractive. As to that, the pleasant burden
of his experience was to the contrary. He at last wondered if
there was some one else, if he had come into her life too late.
He set about looking for the man and so, he believed, he soon
Of the little colony, Arthur Fearing was the man of whom Hemingway
had seen the least. That was so because Fearing wished it. Like
himself, Fearing was an American, young, and a bachelor, but,
very much unlike Hemingway, a hermit and a recluse.
Two years before he had come to Zanzibar looking for an
investment for his money. In Zanzibar there were gentlemen
adventurers of every country, who were welcome to live in any
country save their own.
To them Mr. Fearing seemed a heaven-sent victim. But to him their
alluring tales of the fortunes that were to rise from buried treasures,
lost mines, and pearl beds did not appeal. Instead he conferred
with the consuls, the responsible merchants, the partners in the
prosperous trading houses. After a month of "looking around" he
had purchased outright the goodwill and stock of one of the oldest
of the commission houses, and soon showed himself to be a most
capable man of business. But, except as a man of business, no one
knew him. From the dim recesses of his warehouse he passed each
day to the seclusion of his bungalow in the country. And, although
every one was friendly to him, he made no friends.
It was only after the arrival of Mrs. Adair that he consented to show
himself, and it was soon noted that it was only when she was invited
that he would appear, and that on these occasions he devoted himself
entirely to her. In the presence of others, he still was shy, gravely
polite, and speaking but little, and never of himself; but with
Mrs. Adair his shyness seemed to leave him, and when with her
he was seen to talk easily and eagerly. And, on her part, to what
he said, Polly Adair listened with serious interest.
Lady Firth, who, at home, was a trained and successful match-maker,
and who, in Zanzibar, had found but a limited field for her activities,
decided that if her companion and protegee must marry, she should
Fearing was no gentleman adventurer, remittance-man, or humble
clerk serving his apprenticeship to a steamship line or an ivory
house. He was one of the pillars of Zanzibar society. The trading
house he had purchased had had its beginnings in the slave-trade,
and now under his alert direction was making a turnover equal to
that of any of its ancient rivals. Personally, Fearing was a most
desirable catch. He was well-mannered, well-read, of good
appearance, steady, and, in a latitude only six degrees removed
from the equator, of impeccable morals.
It is said that it is the person who is in love who always is the
first to discover his successful rival. It is either an instinct
or because his concern is deeper than that of others.
And so, when Hemingway sought for the influence that separated
him from Polly Adair, the trail led to Fearing. To find that the
obstacle in the path of his true love was a man greatly relieved
him. He had feared that what was in the thoughts of Mrs. Adair
was the memory of her dead husband. He had no desire to cross
swords with a ghost. But to a living rival he could afford to be
For he was sure no one could care for Polly Adair as he cared,
and, like every other man in love, he believed that he alone had
discovered in her beauties of soul and character that to the rest
of mankind were hidden. This knowledge, he assured himself, had
aroused in him a depth of devotion no one else could hope to
imitate, and this depth of devotion would in time so impress her,
would become so necessary to her existence, that it would force
her at last into the arms of the only man who could offer it.
Having satisfied himself in this fashion, he continued cheerfully
on his way, and the presence of a rival in no way discouraged
him. It only was Polly Adair who discouraged him. And this,
in spite of the fact that every hour of the day he tried to bring
himself pleasantly to her notice. All that an idle young man in
love, aided and abetted by imagination and an unlimited letter of
credit, could do, Hemingway did. But to no end.
The treasures he dug out of the bazaars and presented to her,
under false pretenses as trinkets he happened at that moment
to find in his pockets, were admired by her at their own great
value, and returned also under false pretenses, as having been
offered her only to examine.
"It is for your sister at home, I suppose," she prompted. "It's
quite lovely. Thank you for letting me see it."
After having been several times severely snubbed in this fashion,
Hemingway remarked grimly as he put a black pearl back into his
"At this rate sister will be mighty glad to see me when I get
home. It seems almost a pity I haven't got a sister."
The girl answered this only with a grave smile.
On another occasion she admired a polo pony that had been
imported for the stable of the boy Sultan. But next morning
Hemingway, after much diplomacy, became the owner of it and
proudly rode it to the agency. Lady Firth and Polly Adair walked
out to meet him arm in arm, but at sight of the pony there came
into the eyes of the secretary a look that caused Hemingway to
wish himself and his mount many miles in the jungle. He saw
that before it had been proffered, his gift-horse had been rejected.
He acted promptly.
"Lady Firth," he said, "you've been so awfully kind to me, made this
place so like a home to me, that I want you to put this mare in your
stable. The Sultan wanted her, but when he learned I meant to turn
her over to you, he let her go. We both hope you'll accept."
Lady Firth had no scruples. In five minutes she had accepted, had
clapped a side-saddle on her rich gift, and was cantering joyously
down the Pearl Road.
Polly Adair looked after her with an expression that was
distinctly wistful. Thus encouraged, Hemingway said:
"I'm glad you are sorry. I hope every time you see that pony
you'll be sorry."
"Why should I be sorry?" asked the girl.
"Because you have been unkind," said Hemingway, "and it is not your
character to be unkind. And that you have shown lack of character
ought to make you sorry."
"But you know perfectly well," said Mrs. Adair, "that if I were
to take any one of these wonderful things you bring me, I wouldn't
have any character left."
She smiled at him reassuringly. "And you know," she added, "that
that is not why I do not take them. It isn't because I can't afford to,
or because I don't want them, because I do; but it's because I don't
deserve them, because I can give you nothing in return."
"As the copy-book says," returned Hemingway, "'the pleasure is in
the giving.' If the copy-book don't say that, I do. And to pretend
that you give me nothing, that is ridiculous!"
It was so ridiculous that he rushed on vehemently. "Why, every
minute you give me something," he exclaimed. "Just to see you,
just to know you are alive, just to be certain when I turn in at
night that when the world wakes up again you will still be a part
of it; that is what you give me. And its name is--Happiness!"
He had begun quite innocently; he had had no idea that it would
come. But he had said it. As clearly as though he had dropped
upon one knee, laid his hand over his heart and exclaimed: "Most
beautiful of your sex, I love you! Will you marry me?" His eyes
and the tone of his voice had said it. And he knew that he had
said it, and that she knew.
Her eyes were filled with sudden tears, and so wonderful was the
light in them that for one mad moment Hemingway thought they were
tears of happiness. But the light died, and what had been tears
became only wet drops of water, and he saw to his dismay that she
was most miserable.
The girl moved ahead of him to the cliff on which the agency
stood, and which overhung the harbor and the Indian Ocean. Her
eyes were filled with trouble. As she raised them to his they begged
of him to be kind.
"I am glad you told me," she said. "I have been afraid it was
coming. But until you told me I could not say anything. I tried
to stop you. I was rude and unkind--"
"You certainly were," Hemingway agreed cheerfully. "And the more
you would have nothing to do with me, the more I admired you. And
then I learned to admire you more, and then to love you. It seems now
as though I had always known and always loved you. And now this
is what we are going to do."
He wouldn't let her speak; he rushed on precipitately.
"We are first going up to the house to get your typewriting-machine,
and we will bring it back here and hurl it as far as we can off this cliff.
I want to see the splash! I want to hear it smash when it hits that rock.
It has been my worst enemy, because it helped you to be independent
of me, because it kept you from me. Time after time, on the veranda,
when I was pretending to listen to Lady Firth, I was listening to that
damned machine banging and complaining and tiring your pretty
fingers and your dear eyes. So first it has got to go. You have been
its slave, now I am going to be your slave. You have only to rub
the lamp and things will happen. And because I've told you nothing
about myself, you mustn't think that the money that helps to make
them happen is 'tainted.' It isn't. Nor am I, nor my father, nor my
father's father. I am asking you to marry a perfectly respectable
young man. And, when you do--"
Again he gave her no opportunity to interrupt, but rushed on
impetuously: "We will sail away across that ocean to wherever
you will take me. To Ceylon and Tokio and San Francisco, to Naples
and New York, to Greece and Athens. They are all near. They are
all yours. Will you accept them and me?" He smiled appealingly,
but most miserably. For though he had spoken lightly and with
confidence, it was to conceal the fact that he was not at all confident.
As he had read in her eyes her refusal of his pony, he had read, even
as he spoke, her refusal of himself. When he ceased speaking the girl
"If I say that what you tell me makes me proud, I am saying too little."
She shook her head firmly, with an air of finality that frightened
Hemingway. "But what you ask--what you suggest is impossible."
"You don't like me?" said Hemingway.
"I like you very much," returned the girl, "and, if I don't seem
unhappy that it can't be, it is because I always have known it can't
"Why can't it be?" rebelled Hemingway. "I don't mean that I can't
understand your not wanting to marry me, but if I knew your
objection, maybe, I could beat it down."
Again, with the same air of finality, the girl moved her head
slowly, as though considering each word; she began cautiously.
"I cannot tell you the reason," she said, "because it does not
concern only myself."
"If you mean you care for some one else," pleaded Hemingway,
"that does not frighten me at all." It did frighten him extremely,
but, believing that a faint heart never won anything, he pretended
to be brave.
"For you," he boasted, "I would go down into the grave as deep as
any man. He that hath more let him give. I know what I offer. I
know I love you as no other man--"
The girl backed away from him as though he had struck her. "You
must not say that," she commanded.
For the first time he saw that she was moved, that the fingers
she laced and unlaced were trembling. "It is final!" exclaimed
the girl. "I cannot marry--you, or any one. I--I have promised.
I am not free."
"Nothing in the world is final," returned Hemingway sharply,
"except death." He raised his hat and, as though to leave her,
moved away. Not because he admitted defeat, but because he
felt that for the present to continue might lose him the chance to
fight again. But, to deliver an ultimatum, he turned back.
"As long as you are alive, and I am alive," he told her, "all
things are possible. I don't give up hope. I don't give up you."
The girl exclaimed with a gesture of despair. "He won't understand!"
Hemingway advanced eagerly.
"Help me to understand," he begged.
"You won't understand," explained the girl, "that I am speaking
the truth. You are right that things can change in the future,
but nothing can change the past. Can't you understand that?"
"What do I care for the past?" cried the young man scornfully. "I
know you as well as though I had known you for a thousand years
and I love you."
The girl flushed crimson.
"Not my past," she gasped. "I meant--"
"I don't care what you meant," said Hemingway. "I'm not prying
into your little secrets. I know only one thing--two things, that
I love you and that, until you love me, I am going to make your
He caught at her hands, and for an instant she let him clasp them
in both of his, while she looked at him.
Something in her face, other than distress and pity, caused his
heart to leap. But he was too wise to speak, and, that she might
not read the hope in his eyes, turned quickly and left her. He
had not crossed the grounds of the agency before he had made up
his mind as to the reason for her repelling him.
"She is engaged to Fearing!" he told himself. "She has promised
to marry Fearing! She thinks that it is too late to consider another
man!" The prospect of a fight for the woman he loved thrilled him
greatly. His lower jaw set pugnaciously.
"I'll show her it's not too late," he promised himself. "I'll show her
which of us is the man to make her happy. And, if I am not the
man, I'll take the first outbound steamer and trouble them no more.
But before that happens," he also promised himself, "Fearing must
show he is the better man."
In spite of his brave words, in spite of his determination, within the
day Hemingway had withdrawn in favor of his rival, and, on the
Crown Prince Eitel, bound for Genoa and New York, had booked his
On the afternoon of the same day he had spoken to Polly Adair,
Hemingway at the sunset hour betook himself to the consulate. At
that hour it had become his custom to visit his fellow countryman
and with him share the gossip of the day and such a cocktail as
only a fellow countryman could compose. Later he was to dine at
the house of the Ivory Company and, as his heart never ceased
telling him, Mrs. Adair also was to be present.
"It will be a very pleasant party," said Harris. "They gave me a
bid, too, but it's steamer day to-morrow, and I've got to get my
mail ready for the Crown Prince Eitel. Mrs. Adair is to be
Hemingway nodded, and with pleasant anticipation waited. Of Mrs.
Adair, Harris always spoke with reverent enthusiasm, and the man
who loved her delighted to listen. But this time Harris disappointed
"And Fearing, too," he added.
Again Hemingway nodded. The conjunction of the two names surprised
him, but he made no sign. Loquacious as he knew Harris to be, he never
before had heard his friend even suggest the subject that to Zanzibar
had become of acute interest.
Harris filled the two glasses, and began to pace the room. When
he spoke it was in the aggrieved tone of one who feels himself
placed in a false position.
"There's no one," he complained suddenly, "so popularly unpopular
as the man who butts in. I know that, but still I've always taken his
side. I've always been for him." He halted, straddling with legs
apart and hands deep in his trousers pockets, and frowned down
upon his guest.
"Suppose," he began aggressively, "I see a man driving his car
over a cliff. If I tell him that road will take him over a cliff,
the worst that can happen to me is to be told to mind my own
business, and I can always answer back: 'I was only trying to
help you.' If I don't speak, the man breaks his neck. Between
the two, it seems to me, sooner than have any one's life on my
hands, I'd rather be told to mind my own business."
Hemingway stared into his glass. His expression was distinctly
disapproving, but, undismayed, the consul continued.
"Now, we all know that this morning you gave that polo pony
to Lady Firth, and one of us guesses that you first offered it to
some one else, who refused it. One of us thinks that very soon,
to-morrow, or even to-night, at this party you may offer that
same person something else, something worth more than a polo
pony, and that if she refuses that, it is going to break you all
up, is going to hurt you for the rest of your life."
Lifting his eyes from his glass, Hemingway shot at his friend a
glance of warning. In haste, Harris continued:
"I know," he protested, answering the look, "I know that this is
where Mr. Buttinsky is told to mind his business. But I'm going
right on. I'm going to state a hypothetical case with no names
mentioned and no questions asked, or answered. I'm going to
state a theory, and let you draw your own deductions."
He slid into a chair, and across the table fastened his eyes on those
of his friend. Confidently and undisturbed, but with a wry smile
of dislike, Hemingway stared fixedly back at him.
"What," demanded Harris, "is the first rule in detective work?"
Hemingway started. He was prepared for something unpleasant, but
not for that particular form of unpleasantness. But his faith was
unshaken, and he smiled confidently. He let the consul answer his
"It is to follow the woman," declared Harris. "And, accordingly,
what should be the first precaution of a man making his get-away?
To see that the woman does not follow. But suppose we are dealing
with a fugitive of especial intelligence, with a criminal who has
imagination and brains? He might fix it so that the woman could
follow him without giving him away, he might plan it so that no one
would suspect. She might arrive at his hiding-place only after many
months, only after each had made separately a long circuit of the
globe, only after a journey with a plausible and legitimate object.
She would arrive disguised in every way, and they would meet as
total strangers. And, as strangers under the eyes of others, they
would become acquainted, would gradually grow more friendly,
would be seen more frequently together, until at last people would
say: 'Those two mean to make a match of it.' And then, one day,
openly, in the sight of all men, with the aid of the law and the
church, they would resume those relations that existed before the
man ran away and the woman followed."
There was a short silence.
Hemingway broke it in a tone that would accept no denial.
"You can't talk like that to me," he cried. "What do you mean?"
Without resentment, the consul regarded him with grave solicitude.
His look was one of real affection, and, although his tone held the
absolute finality of the family physician who delivers a sentence
of death, he spoke with gentleness and regret.
"I mean," he said, "that Mrs. Adair is not a widow, that the man
she speaks of as her late husband is not dead; that that man is
Hemingway felt afraid. A month before a rhinoceros had charged
him and had dropped at his feet. At another time a wounded lioness
had leaped into his path and crouched to spring. Then he had not
been afraid. Then he had aimed as confidently as though he were
firing at a straw target. But now he felt real fear: fear of something
he did not comprehend, of a situation he could not master, of an
adversary as strong as Fate. By a word something had been snatched
from him that he now knew was as dear to him as life, that was life,
that was what made it worth continuing. And he could do nothing
to prevent it; he could not help himself. He was as impotent as the
prisoner who hears the judge banish him into exile. He tried to adjust
his mind to the calamity. But his mind refused. As easily as with his
finger a man can block the swing of a pendulum and halt the progress
of the clock, Harris with a word had brought the entire world to a full
And then, above his head, Hemingway heard the lazy whisper of the
punka, and from the harbor the raucous whistle of the Crown Prince
Eitel, signalling her entrance. The world had not stopped; for the
punka-boy, for the captain of the German steamer, for Harris seated
with face averted, the world was still going gayly and busily forward.
Only for him had it stopped.
In spite of the confident tone in which Harris had spoken, in spite of
the fact that unless he knew it was the truth, he would not have spoken,
Hemingway tried to urge himself to believe there had been some
hideous, absurd error. But in answer came back to him snatches
of talk or phrases the girl had last addressed to him: "You can
command the future, but you cannot change the past. I cannot
marry you, or any one! I am not free!"
And then to comfort himself, he called up the look he had surprised
in her eyes when he stood holding her hands in his. He clung to it,
as a drowning man will clutch even at a piece of floating seaweed.
When he tried to speak he found his voice choked and stifled, and
that his distress was evident, he knew from the pity he read in the
eyes of Harris.
In a voice strange to him, he heard himself saying: "Why do you
think that? You've got to tell me. I have a right to know. This
morning I asked Mrs. Adair to marry me."
The consul exclaimed with dismay and squirmed unhappily. "I
didn't know," he protested. "I thought I was in time. I ought to
have told you days ago, but--"
"Tell me now," commanded Hemingway.
"I know it in a thousand ways," began Harris.
Hemingway raised his eyes hopefully.
But the consul shook his head. "But to convince you," he went on,
"I need tell you only one. The thousand other proofs are looks they
have exchanged, sentences I have chanced to overhear, and that each
of them unknown to the other has told me of little happenings and
incidents which I found were common to both. Each has described
the house in which he or she lived, and it was the same house. They
claim to come from different cities in New England, they came from
the same city. They claim--"
"That is no proof," cried Hemingway, "either that they are married,
or that the man is a criminal."
For a moment Harris regarded the other in silence. Then he said:
"You're making it very hard for me. I see I've got to show you.
It's kindest, after all, to cut quick." He leaned farther forward,
and his voice dropped. Speaking quickly, he said:
"Last summer I lived outside the town in a bungalow on the Pearl
Road. Fearing's house was next to mine. This was before Mrs.
Adair went to live at the agency, and while she was alone in
another bungalow farther down the road. I was ill that summer;
my nerves went back on me. I couldn't sleep. I used to sit all night
on my veranda and pray for the sun to rise. From where I sat it was
dark and no one could see me, but I could see the veranda of Fearing's
house and into his garden. And night after night I saw Mrs. Adair
creep out of Fearing's house, saw him walk with her to the gate, saw
him in the shadow of the bushes take her in his arms, and saw them
kiss." The voice of the consul rose sharply. "No one knows that but
you and I, and," he cried defiantly, "it is impossible for us to believe
ill of Polly Adair. The easy explanation we refuse. It is intolerable.
And so you must believe as I believe; that when she visited Fearing
by night she went to him because she had the right to go to him,
because already she was his wife. And now when every one here
believes they met for the first time in Zanzibar, when no one will be
surprised if they should marry, they will go through the ceremony
again, and live as man and wife, as they are, as they were before he
fled from America!"
Hemingway was seated with his elbows on the table and his face in
his hands. He was so long silent that Harris struck the table roughly
with his palm.
"Well," he demanded, "why don't you speak? Do you doubt her?
Don't you believe she is his wife?"
"I refuse to believe anything else!" said Hemingway. He rose, and
slowly and heavily moved toward the door. "And I will not trouble
them any more," he added. "I'll leave at sunrise on the Eitel."
Harris exclaimed in dismay, but Hemingway did not hear him. In
the doorway he halted and turned back. From his voice all trace
of emotion had departed. "Why," he asked dully, "do you think
Fearing is a fugitive? Not that it matters to her, since she loves
him, or that it matters to me. Only I would like to think you were
wrong. I want her to have only the best."
Again the consul moved unhappily.
"I oughtn't to tell you," he protested, "and if I do I ought to tell the
State Department, and a detective agency first. They have the call.
They want him, or a man damned like him." His voice dropped to a
whisper. "The man wanted is Henry Brownell, a cashier of a bank in
Waltham, Mass., thirty-five years of age, smooth-shaven, college-bred,
speaking with a marked New England accent, and--and with other
marks that fit Fearing like the cover on a book. The department and
the Pinkertons have been devilling the life out of me about it for nine
months. They are positive he is on the coast of Africa. I put them off.
I wasn't sure."
"You've been protecting them," said Hemingway.
"I wasn't sure," reiterated Harris. "And if I were, the Pinkertons can do
their own sleuthing. The man's living honestly now, anyway, isn't he?"
he demanded; "and she loves him. At least she's stuck by him. Why
should I punish her?"
His tone seemed to challenge and upbraid.
"Good God!" cried the other, "I'm not blaming you! I'd be proud of the
chance to do as much. I asked because I'd like to go away thinking she's
content, thinking she's happy with him."
"Doesn't it look as though she were?" Harris protested. "She's followed
him--followed him half around the globe. If she'd been happier away
from him, she'd have stayed away from him."
So intent had been the men upon their talk that neither had noted
the passing of the minutes or, what at other times was an event
of moment, that the mail steamer had distributed her mail and
passengers; and when a servant entered bearing lamps, and from
the office the consul's clerk appeared with a bundle of letters
from the Eitel, both were taken by surprise.
"So late?" exclaimed Hemingway. "I must go. If I'm to sail with
the Eitel at daybreak, I've little time!"
But he did not go.
As he advanced toward Harris with his hand outstretched in adieu,
the face of the consul halted him. With the letters, the clerk
had placed upon the table a visiting-card, and as it lay in the
circle of light from the lamp the consul, as though it were alive
and menacing, stared at it in fascination. Moving stiffly, he
turned it so that Hemingway could see. On it Hemingway read,
"George S. Sheyer," and, on a lower line, "Representing William
To the woman he loved the calamity they dreaded had come, and
Hemingway, with a groan of dismay, exclaimed aloud:
"It is the end!"
From the darkness of the outer office a man stepped softly into
the circle of the lamp. They could see his figure only from the
waist down; the rest of him was blurred in shadows.
"'It is the end'?" he repeated inquiringly. He spoke the phrase
with peculiar emphasis, as though to impress it upon the memory
of the two others. His voice was cool, alert, authoritative. "The
end of what?" he demanded sharply.
The question was most difficult. In the silence the detective
moved into the light. He was tall and strongly built, his face
was shrewd and intelligent. He might have been a prosperous man
"Which of you is the consul?" he asked. But he did not take his
eyes from Hemingway.
"I am the consul," said Harris. But still the detective did not
turn from Hemingway.
"Why," he asked, "did this gentleman, when he read my card, say,
'It is the end'? The end of what? Has anything been going on here
that came to an end when he saw my card?"
Disconcerted, in deep embarrassment, Harris struggled for a word.
But his distress was not observed by the detective. His eyes,
suspicious and accusing, still were fixed upon Hemingway, and
under their scrutiny Harris saw his friend slowly retreat, slowly
crumple up into a chair, slowly raise his hands to cover his
face. As though in a nightmare, he heard him saying savagely:
"It is the end of two years of hell, it is the end of two years
of fear and agony! Now I shall have peace. Now I shall sleep!
I thank God you've come! I thank God I can go back!"
Harris broke the spell by leaping to his feet. He sprang between
the two men.
"What does this mean?" he commanded.
Hemingway raised his eyes and surveyed him steadily.
"It means," he said, "that I have deceived you, Harris--that I am
the man you told me of, I am the man they want." He turned to the
"I fooled him for four months," he said. "I couldn't fool you for
The eyes of the detective danced with sudden excitement, joy, and
triumph. He shot an eager glance from Hemingway to the consul.
"This man," he demanded; "who is he?"
With an impatient gesture Hemingway signified Harris.
"He doesn't know who I am," he said. "He knows me as Hemingway.
I am Henry Brownell, of Waltham, Mass." Again his face sank into
the palms of his hands. "And I'm tired--tired," he moaned. "I am
sick of not knowing, sick of running away. I give myself up."
The detective breathed a sigh of relief that seemed to issue from
"My God," he sighed, "you've given me a long chase! I've had
eleven months of you, and I'm as sick of this as you are." He
recovered himself sharply. As though reciting an incantation, he
addressed Hemingway in crisp, emotionless notes.
"Henry Brownell," he chanted, "I arrest you in the name of the
commonwealth of Massachusetts for the robbery, on October the
eleventh, nineteen hundred and nine, of the Waltham Title and
Trust Company. I understand," he added, "you waive extradition
and return with me of your own free will?"
With his face still in his hands, Hemingway murmured assent. The
detective stepped briskly and uninvited to the table and seated himself.
He was beaming with triumph, with pleasurable excitement.
"I want to send a message home, Mr. Consul," he said. "May I use
your cable blanks?"
Harris was still standing in the centre of the room looking down
upon the bowed head and shoulders of Hemingway. Since, in
amazement, he had sprung toward him, he had not spoken. And
he was still silent.
Inside the skull of Wilbur Harris, of Iowa, U. S. A., American
consul to Zanzibar, East Africa, there was going forward a mighty
struggle that was not fit to put into words. For Harris and his
conscience had met and were at odds. One way or the other the
fight must be settled at once, and whatever he decided must be
for all time. This he understood, and as his sympathies and
conscience struggled for the mastery the pen of the detective,
scratching at racing speed across the paper, warned him that only
a few seconds were left him in which to protest or else to forever
after hold his peace.
So realistic had been the acting of Hemingway that for an instant
Harris himself had been deceived. But only for an instant. With
his knowledge of the circumstances he saw that Hemingway was not
confessing to a crime of his own, but drawing across the trail of the
real criminal the convenient and useful red herring. He knew that
already Hemingway had determined to sail the next morning. In
leaving Zanzibar he was making no sacrifice. He merely was
carrying out his original plan, and by taking away with him the
detective was giving Brownell and his wife at least a month in
which to again lose themselves.
What was his own duty he could not determine. That of Hemingway
he knew nothing, he could truthfully testify. And if now Hemingway
claimed to be Henry Brownell, he had no certain knowledge to the
contrary. That through his adventure Hemingway would come to
harm did not greatly disturb him. He foresaw that his friend need
only send a wireless from Nantucket and at the wharf witnesses
would swarm to establish his identity and make it evident the
detective had blundered. And in the meanwhile Brownell and
his wife, in some settlement still further removed from observation,
would for the second time have fortified themselves against pursuit
and capture. He saw the eyes of Hemingway fixed upon him in appeal
The brisk voice of the detective broke the silence.
"You will testify, if need be, Mr. Consul," he said, "that you
heard the prisoner admit he was Henry Brownell and that he
surrendered himself of his own free will?"
For an instant the consul hesitated, then he nodded stiffly.
"I heard him," he said.
Three hours later, at ten o' clock of the same evening, the detective
and Hemingway leaned together on the rail of the Crown Prince
Eitel. Forward, in the glare of her cargo lights, to the puffing and
creaking of derricks and donkey engines, bundles of beeswax, of
rawhides, and precious tusks of ivory were being hurled into the
hold; from the shore-boats clinging to the ship's sides came the
shrieks of the Zanzibar boys, from the smoking-room the blare of
the steward's band and the clink of glasses. Those of the youth of
Zanzibar who were on board, the German and English clerks and
agents, saw in the presence of Hemingway only a purpose similar
to their own; the desire of a homesick exile to gaze upon the mirrored
glories of the Eitel's saloon, at the faces of white men and women, to
listen to home-made music, to drink home-brewed beer. As he passed
the smoking-room they called to him, and to the stranger at his elbow,
but he only nodded smiling and, avoiding them, ascended to the shadow
of the deserted boat-deck.
"You are sure," he said, "you told no one?"
"No one," the detective answered. "Of course your hotel proprietor
knows you're sailing, but he doesn't know why. And, by sunrise,
we'll be well out at sea."
The words caught Hemingway by the throat. He turned his eyes to
the town lying like a field of snow in the moonlight. Somewhere
on one of its flat roofs a merry dinner-party was laughing, drinking,
perhaps regretting his absence, wondering at his excuse of sudden
illness. She was there, and he with the detective like a shadow at
his elbow, was sailing out of her life forever. He had seen her for
the last time: that morning for the last time had looked into her
eyes, had held her hands in his. He saw the white beach, the white
fortress-like walls, the hanging gardens, the courtesying palms,
dimly. It was among those that he who had thought himself content,
had found happiness, and had then seen it desert him and take out of
his life pleasure in all other things. With a pain that seemed impossible
to support, he turned his back upon Zanzibar and all it meant to him.
And, as he turned, he faced, coming toward him, across the moonlit deck,
His instinct was to cry out to the man in warning, but his second
thought showed him that through his very effort to protect the other,
he might bring about his undoing. So, helpless to prevent, in agitation
and alarm, he waited in silence. Of the two men, Fearing appeared the
least disturbed. With a polite but authoritative gesture he turned to the
detective. "I have something to say to this gentleman before he sails,"
he said; "would you kindly stand over there?"
He pointed across the empty deck at the other rail.
In the alert, confident young man in the English mess-jacket,
clean-shaven and bronzed by the suns of the equator, the detective
saw no likeness to the pale, bearded bank clerk of the New England
city. This, he guessed, must be some English official, some friend
of Brownell's who generously had come to bid the unfortunate fugitive
Assured of this, the detective also bowed politely, and, out of
hearing, but with his prisoner in full view, took up a position
against the rail opposite.
Turning his back upon the detective, and facing Hemingway with
his eyes close to his, Fearing began abruptly. His voice was sunk
to a whisper, but he spoke without the slightest sign of trepidation,
without the hesitation of an instant.
"Two years ago, when I was indicted," he whispered, "and ran
away, Polly paid back half of the sum I stole. That left her
without a penny; that's why she took to this typewriting. Since
then, I have paid back nearly all the rest. But Polly was not
satisfied. She wanted me to take my punishment and start fresh.
She knew they were watching her so she couldn't write this to me,
but she came to me by a roundabout way, taking a year to get
here. And all the time she's been here, she's been begging me to
go back and give myself up. I couldn't see it. I knew in a few
months I'd have paid back all I took, and I thought that was enough.
I wanted to keep out of jail. But she said I must take my medicine
in our own country, and start square with a clean slate. She's done
a lot for me, and whether I'd have done that for her or not, I don't
know. But now, I must! What you did to-night to save me, leaves
me no choice. So, I'll sail--"
With an exclamation of anger, Hemingway caught the other by the
shoulder and dragged him closer.
"To save you!" he whispered. "No one's thinking of you. I didn't
do it for you. I did it, that you both could escape together, to
give you time--"
"But I tell you," protested Fearing, "she doesn't want me to escape.
And maybe she's right. Anyway, we're sailing with you at--"
"We?" echoed Hemingway.
That again he was to see the woman he loved, that for six weeks
through summer seas he would travel in her company, filled him
with alarm, with distress, with a wonderful happiness.
"We?" he whispered, steadying his voice. "Then--then your wife is
going with you?"
Fearing gazed at him as though the other had suddenly gone mad.
"My wife!" he exclaimed. "I haven't got a wife!" If you mean
Polly--Mrs. Adair, she is my sister! And she wants to thank you.
He was not allowed to finish. Hemingway had flung him to one
side, and was racing down the deck.
The detective sprang in pursuit.
"One moment, there!" he shouted.
But the man in the white mess-jacket barred his way.
In the moonlight the detective saw that the alert, bronzed young man
"That's all right," said Fearing. "He'll be back in a minute. Besides,
you don't want him. I'm the man you want."
THE LONG ARM
The safe was an old one that opened with a key. As adjutant,
Captain Swanson had charge of certain funds of the regiment and
kept in the safe about five thousand dollars. No one but himself
and Rueff, his first sergeant, had access to it. And as Rueff proved
an alibi, the money might have been removed by an outsider. The
court-martial gave Swanson the benefit of the doubt, and a reprimand
for not taking greater care of the keys, and Swanson made good the
Swanson did not think it was a burglar who had robbed the safe.
He thought Rueff had robbed it, but he could not possibly prove
that. At the time of the robbery Rueff was outside the Presidio,
in uniform, at a moving-picture show in San Francisco. A dozen
people saw him there. Besides, Rueff held an excellent record.
He was a silent, clerk-like young man, better at "paper work" than
campaigning, but even as a soldier he had never come upon the books.
And he had seen service in two campaigns, and was supposed to
cherish ambitions toward a commission. But, as he kept much to
himself, his fellow non-coms could only guess that.
On his captain's account he was loyally distressed over the
court-martial, and in his testimony tried to shield Swanson, by
agreeing heartily that through his own carelessness the keys
might have fallen into the hands of some one outside the post.
But his loyalty could not save his superior officer from what was
a verdict virtually of "not proven."
It was a most distressing affair, and, on account of the social
prominence of Swanson's people, his own popularity, and the name
he had made at Batangas and in the Boxer business, was much
commented upon, not only in the services, but by the newspapers
all over the United States.
Every one who knew Swanson knew the court-martial was only a
matter of form. Even his enemies ventured only to suggest that
overnight he might have borrowed the money, meaning to replace it
the next morning. And the only reason for considering this explanation
was that Swanson was known to be in debt. For he was a persistent
gambler. Just as at Pekin he had gambled with death for his number,
in times of peace he gambled for money. It was always his own money.
From the start Swanson's own attitude toward the affair was one
of blind, unreasoning rage. In it he saw no necessary routine of
discipline, only crass, ignorant stupidity. That any one should
suspect him was so preposterous, so unintelligent, as to be nearly
comic. And when, instantly, he demanded a court of inquiry, he
could not believe it when he was summoned before a court-martial.
It sickened, wounded, deeply affronted him; turned him quite savage.
On his stand his attitude and answers were so insolent that his
old friend and classmate, Captain Copley, who was acting as his
counsel, would gladly have kicked him. The findings of the
court-martial, that neither cleared nor condemned, and the
reprimand, were an intolerable insult to his feelings, and, in a
fit of bitter disgust with the service and every one in it, Swanson
resigned. Of course, the moment he had done so he was sorry.
Swanson's thought was that he could no longer associate with
any one who could believe him capable of theft. It was his
idea of showing his own opinion of himself and the army.
But no one saw it in that light. On the contrary, people said:
"Swanson has been allowed to resign." I n the army, voluntarily
resigning and being "allowed to resign" lest greater evils befall,
are two vastly different things. And when it was too late no one
than Swanson saw that more clearly. His anger gave way to extreme
morbidness. He believed that in resigning he had assured every one
of his guilt. In every friend and stranger he saw a man who doubted
him. He imagined snubs, rebuffs, and coldnesses. His morbidness
fastened upon his mind like a parasite upon a tree, and the brain
sickened. When men and women glanced at his alert, well-set-up
figure and shoulders, that even when he wore "cits" seemed to support
epaulets, and smiled approvingly, Swanson thought they sneered. In
a week he longed to be back in the army with a homesickness that made
every one who belonged to it his enemy.
He left San Francisco, where he was known to all, and travelled
south through Texas, and then to New Orleans and Florida. He
never could recall this period with clearness. He remembered
changing from one train to another, from one hotel to the next.
Nothing impressed itself upon him. For what he had lost nothing
could give consolation. Without honor life held no charm. And
he believed that in the eyes of all men he was a thief, a pariah,
and an outcast.
He had been in Cuba with the Army of Occupation, and of that
beautiful island had grown foolishly fond. He was familiar with
every part of it, and he believed in one or another of its pretty
ports he could so completely hide himself that no one could
intrude upon his misery. In the States, in the newspapers he
seemed to read only of those places where he had seen service, of
those places and friends and associates he most loved. In the
little Cuban village in which he would bury himself he would cut
himself off from all newspapers, from all who knew him; from
those who had been his friends, and those who knew his name only
to connect it with a scandal.
On his way from Port Tampa to Cuba the boat stopped at Key West,
and for the hour in which she discharged cargo Swanson went
ashore and wandered aimlessly. The little town, reared on a flat
island of coral and limestone, did not long detain him. The main
street of shops, eating-houses, and saloons, the pretty residences
with overhanging balconies, set among gardens and magnolia-trees,
were soon explored, and he was returning to the boat when the martial
music of a band caused him to halt. A side street led to a great gateway
surmounted by an anchor. Beyond it Swanson saw lawns of well-kept
grass, regular paths, pretty cottages, the two-starred flag of an admiral,
and, rising high above these, like four Eiffel towers, the gigantic masts
of a wireless. He recognized that he was at the entrance to the Key
West naval station, and turned quickly away.
He walked a few feet, the music of the band still in his ears. In
an hour he would be steaming toward Cuba, and, should he hold to
his present purpose, in many years this would be the last time he
would stand on American soil, would see the uniform of his country,
would hear a military band lull the sun to sleep. It would hurt, but
he wondered if it were not worth the hurt. A smart sergeant of marines,
in passing, cast one glance at the man who seemed always to wear
epaulets, and brought his hand sharply to salute. The act determined
Swanson. He had obtained the salute under false pretenses, but it had
pleased, not hurt him. He turned back and passed into the gate of the
From the gate a grass-lined carriage drive led to the waters of
the harbor and the wharfs. At its extreme end was the band-stand,
flanked on one side by the cottage of the admiral, on the other
by a sail-loft with iron-barred windows and whitewashed walls.
Upon the turf were pyramids of cannon-balls and, laid out in rows
as though awaiting burial, old-time muzzle-loading guns. Across
the harbor the sun was sinking into the coral reefs, and the spring
air, still warm from its caresses, was stirred by the music of the
band into gentle, rhythmic waves. The scene was one of peace,
order, and content.
But as Swanson advanced, the measure of the music was instantly
shattered by a fierce volley of explosions. They came so suddenly
and sharply as to make him start. It was as though from his flank
a quick-firing gun in ambush had opened upon him. Swanson smiled
at having been taken unawares. For in San Francisco he often had
heard the roar and rattle of the wireless. But never before had he
listened to an attack like this.
From a tiny white-and-green cottage, squatting among the four
giant masts, came the roar of a forest fire. One could hear the
crackle of the flames, the crash of the falling tree-trunks. The
air about the cottage was torn into threads; beneath the shocks
of the electricity the lawn seemed to heave and tremble. It was
like some giant monster, bound and fettered, struggling to be
free. Now it growled sullenly, now in impotent rage it spat and
spluttered, now it lashed about with crashing, stunning blows. It
seemed as though the wooden walls of the station could not
From the road Swanson watched, through the open windows of the
cottage, the electric bolts flash and flare and disappear. The thing
appealed to his imagination. Its power, its capabilities fascinated
him. In it he saw a hungry monster reaching out to every corner
of the continent and devouring the news of the world; feeding
upon tales of shipwreck and disaster, lingering over some dainty
morsel of scandal, snatching from ships and cities two thousand
miles away the thrice-told tale of a conflagration, the score of a
baseball match, the fall of a cabinet, the assassination of a king.
In a sudden access of fierceness, as though in an ecstasy over
some fresh horror just received, it shrieked and chortled. And
then, as suddenly as it had broken forth, it sank to silence, and
from the end of the carriage drive again rose, undisturbed, the
music of the band.
The musicians were playing to a select audience. On benches
around the band-stand sat a half dozen nurse-maids with knitting
in their hands, the baby-carriages within arm's length. On the
turf older children of the officers were at play, and up and down
the paths bareheaded girls, and matrons, and officers in uniform
strolled leisurely. From the vine-covered cottage of Admiral
Preble, set in a garden of flowering plants and bending palmettos,
came the tinkle of tea-cups and the ripple of laughter, and at a
respectful distance, seated on the dismantled cannon, were
marines in khaki and bluejackets in glistening white.
It was a family group, and had not Swanson recognized among the
little audience others of the passengers from the steamer and
natives of the town who, like himself, had been attracted by the
music, he would have felt that he intruded. He now wished to
remain. He wanted to carry with him into his exile a memory of
the men in uniform, of the music, and pretty women, of the gorgeous
crimson sunset. But, though he wished to remain, he did not wish
to be recognized.
From the glances already turned toward him, he saw that in this
little family gathering the presence of a stranger was an event,
and he was aware that during the trial the newspapers had made
his face conspicuous. Also it might be that stationed at the post
was some officer or enlisted man who had served with him in Cuba,
China, or the Philippines, and who might point him out to others.
Fearing this, Swanson made a detour and approached the band-stand
from the wharf, and with his back to a hawser-post seated himself
upon the string-piece.
He was overcome with an intolerable melancholy. From where he
sat he could see, softened into shadows by the wire screens of the
veranda, Admiral Preble and his wife and their guests at tea. A
month before, he would have reported to the admiral as the
commandant of the station, and paid his respects. Now he could
not do that; at least not without inviting a rebuff. A month
before, he need only have shown his card to the admiral's orderly,
and the orderly and the guard and the officers' mess and the
admiral himself would have turned the post upside down to do
him honor. But of what avail now was his record in three
campaigns? Of what avail now was his medal of honor? They
now knew him as Swanson, who had been court-martialled, who
had been allowed to resign, who had left the army for the army's
good; they knew him as a civilian without rank or authority, as an
ex-officer who had robbed his brother officers, as an outcast.
His position, as his morbid mind thus distorted it, tempted
Swanson no longer. For being in this plight he did not feel that
in any way he was to blame. But with a flaming anger he still
blamed his brother officers of the court-martial who had not
cleared his name and with a clean bill of health restored him to
duty. Those were the men he blamed; not Rueff, the sergeant, who
he believed had robbed him, nor himself, who, in a passion of
wounded pride, had resigned and so had given reason for gossip;
but the men who had not in tones like a bugle-call proclaimed his
innocence, who, when they had handed him back his sword, had
given it grudgingly, not with congratulation.
As he saw it, he stood in a perpetual pillory. When they had
robbed him of his honor they had left him naked, and life without
honor had lost its flavor. He could eat, he could drink, he could
exist. He knew that in many corners of the world white arms would
reach out to him and men would beckon him to a place at table.
But he could not cross that little strip of turf between him and
the chattering group on the veranda and hand his card to the
admiral's orderly. Swanson loved life. He loved it so that
without help, money, or affection he could each morning have
greeted it with a smile. But life without honor! He felt a sudden
hot nausea of disgust. Why was he still clinging to what had
lost its purpose, to what lacked the one thing needful?
"If life be an ill thing," he thought, "I can lay it down!"
The thought was not new to him, and during the two past weeks of
aimless wandering he had carried with him his service automatic.
To reassure himself he laid his fingers on its cold smooth surface.
He would wait, he determined, until the musicians had finished
their concert and the women and children had departed, and then--
Then the orderly would find him where he was now seated, sunken
against the hawser-post with a hole through his heart. To his disordered
brain his decision appeared quite sane. He was sure he never had been
more calm. And as he prepared himself for death he assured himself
that for one of his standard no other choice was possible. Thoughts
of the active past, or of what distress in the future his act would bring
to others, did not disturb him. The thing had to be, no one lost more
heavily than himself, and regrets were cowardly.
He counted the money he had on his person and was pleased to find
there was enough to pay for what services others soon must render
him. In his pockets were letters, cards, a cigarette-case, each of
which would tell his identity. He had no wish to conceal it, for of
what he was about to do he was not ashamed. It was not his act.
He would not have died "by his own hand." To his unbalanced
brain the officers of the court-martial were responsible. It was
they who had killed him. As he saw it, they had made his death
as inevitable as though they had sentenced him to be shot at
A line from "The Drums of the Fore and Aft" came back to him.
Often he had quoted it, when some one in the service had suffered
through the fault of others. It was the death-cry of the boy officer,
Devlin. The knives of the Ghazi had cut him down, but it was his
own people's abandoning him in terror that had killed him. And so,
with a sob, he flung the line at the retreating backs of his comrades:
"You've killed me, you cowards!"
Swanson, nursing his anger, repeated this savagely. He wished he
could bring it home to those men of the court-martial. He wished
he could make them know that his death lay at their door. He
determined that they should know. On one of his visiting-cards he
"To the Officers of my Court-Martial: 'You've killed me, you
He placed the card in the pocket of his waistcoat. They would
find it just above the place where the bullet would burn the cloth.
The band was playing "Auf Wiedersehen," and the waltz carried
with it the sadness that had made people call the man who wrote
it the waltz king. Swanson listened gratefully. He was glad that
before he went out, his last mood had been of regret and gentleness.
The sting of his anger had departed, the music soothed and sobered
him. It had been a very good world. Until he had broken the spine
of things it had treated him well, far better, he admitted, than he
deserved. There were many in it who had been kind, to whom he
was grateful. He wished there was some way by which he could let
them know that. As though in answer to his wish, from across the
parade-ground the wireless again began to crash and crackle; but now
Swanson was at a greater distance from it, and the sighing rhythm of
the waltz was not interrupted.
Swanson considered to whom he might send a farewell message, but
as in his mind he passed from one friend to another, he saw that to
each such a greeting could bring only distress. He decided it was
the music that had led him astray. This was no moment for false
sentiment. He let his hand close upon the pistol.
The audience now was dispersing. The nurse-maids had collected
their charges, the musicians were taking apart their music-racks,
and from the steps of the vine-covered veranda Admiral Preble was
bidding the friends of his wife adieu. At his side his aide, young,
alert, confident, with ill-concealed impatience awaited their departure.
Swanson found that he resented the aide. He resented the manner in
which he speeded the parting guests. Even if there were matters of
importance he was anxious to communicate to his chief, he need not
make it plain to the women folk that they were in the way.
When, a month before, he had been adjutant, in a like situation he
would have shown more self-command. He disapproved of the aide
entirely. He resented the fact that he was as young as himself,
that he was in uniform, that he was an aide. Swanson certainly
hoped that when he was in uniform he had not looked so much the
conquering hero, so self-satisfied, so supercilious. With a smile
he wondered why, at such a moment, a man he had never seen
before, and never would see again, should so disturb him.
In his heart he knew. The aide was going forward just where he
was leaving off. The ribbons on the tunic of the aide, the straps
on his shoulders, told Swanson that they had served in the same
campaigns, that they were of the same relative rank, and that
when he himself, had he remained in the service, would have been
a brigadier-general the aide would command a battle-ship. The
possible future of the young sailor filled Swanson with honorable
envy and bitter regret. With all his soul he envied him the right
to look his fellow man in the eye, his right to die for his country,
to give his life, should it be required of him, for ninety million
people, for a flag. Swanson saw the two officers dimly, with eyes
of bitter self-pity. He was dying, but he was not dying gloriously
for a flag. He had lost the right to die for it, and he was dying
because he had lost that right.
The sun had sunk and the evening had grown chill. At the wharf
where the steamer lay on which he had arrived, but on which he
was not to depart, the electric cargo lights were already burning.
But for what Swanson had to do there still was light enough.
From his breast-pocket he took the card on which he had
written his message to his brother officers, read and reread it,
and replaced it.
Save for the admiral and his aide at the steps of the cottage,
and a bareheaded bluejacket who was reporting to them, and the
admiral's orderly, who was walking toward Swanson, no one was
in sight. Still seated upon the stringpiece of the wharf, Swanson
so moved that his back was toward the four men. The moment
seemed propitious, almost as though it had been prearranged. For
with such an audience, for his taking off no other person could be
blamed. There would be no question but that death had been
Approaching from behind him Swanson heard the brisk steps of the
orderly drawing rapidly nearer. He wondered if the wharf were
government property, if he were trespassing, and if for that reason
the man had been sent to order him away. He considered bitterly
that the government grudged him a place even in which to die.
Well, he would not for long be a trespasser. His hand slipped
into his pocket, with his thumb he lowered the safety-catch of
But the hand with the pistol in it did not leave his pocket. The
steps of the orderly had come to a sudden silence. Raising his
head heavily, Swanson saw the man, with his eyes fixed upon him,
standing at salute. They had first made his life unsupportable,
Swanson thought, now they would not let him leave it.
"Captain Swanson, sir?" asked the orderly.
Swanson did not speak or move.
"The admiral's compliments, sir," snapped the orderly, "and will
the captain please speak with him?"
Still Swanson did not move.
He felt that the breaking-point of his self-control had come.
This impertinent interruption, this thrusting into the last few
seconds of his life of a reminder of all that he had lost, this
futile postponement of his end, was cruel, unhuman, unthinkable.
The pistol was still in his hand. He had but to draw it and
press it close, and before the marine could leap upon him he
would have escaped.
From behind, approaching hurriedly, came the sound of
The orderly stiffened to attention. "The admiral!" he warned.
Twelve years of discipline, twelve years of recognition of authority,
twelve years of deference to superior officers, dragged Swanson's
hand from his pistol and lifted him to his feet. As he turned,
Admiral Preble, the aide, and the bareheaded bluejacket were
close upon him. The admiral's face beamed, his eyes were young
with pleasurable excitement; with the eagerness of a boy he waved
aside formal greetings.
"My dear Swanson," he cried, "I assure you it's a most astonishing,
most curious coincidence! See this man?" He flung out his arm at
the bluejacket. "He's my wireless chief. He was wireless operator
on the transport that took you to Manila. When you came in here
this afternoon he recognized you. Half an hour later he picks up
a message--picks it up two thousand miles from here--from San
Francisco--Associated Press news--it concerns you; that is, not
really concerns you, but I thought, we thought"-as though
signalling for help, the admiral glanced unhappily at his aide-
"we thought you'd like to know. Of course, to us," he added
hastily, "it's quite superfluous--quite superfluous, but--"
The aide coughed apologetically. "You might read, sir," he
"What? Exactly! Quite so!" cried the admiral.
In the fading light he held close to his eyes a piece of paper.
"San Francisco, April 20," he read. "Rueff, first sergeant, shot
himself here to-day, leaving written confession theft of regimental
funds for which Swanson, captain, lately court-martialled. Money
found intact in Rueff's mattress. Innocence of Swanson never
questioned, but dissatisfied with findings of court-martial has
left army. Brother officers making every effort to find him and
The admiral sighed happily. "And my wife," he added, with an
impressiveness that was intended to show he had at last arrived
at the important part of his message, "says you are to stay to
Abruptly, rudely, Swanson swung upon his heel and turned his face
from the admiral. His head was thrown back, his arms held rigid
at his sides. In slow, deep breaths, like one who had been dragged
from drowning, he drank in the salt, chill air. After one glance the
four men also turned, and in the falling darkness stood staring at
nothing, and no one spoke.
The aide was the first to break the silence. In a polite tone, as
though he were continuing a conversation which had not been
interrupted, he addressed the admiral. "Of course, Rueff's written
confession was not needed," he said.
"His shooting himself proved that he was guilty."
Swanson started as though across his naked shoulders the aide had
drawn a whip.
In penitence and gratitude he raised his eyes to the stars. High
above his head the strands of the wireless, swinging from the
towering masts like the strings of a giant Aeolian harp, were
swept by the wind from the ocean. To Swanson the sighing and
whispering wires sang in praise and thanksgiving.
THE GOD OF COINCIDENCE
The God of Coincidence is fortunate in possessing innumerable
press agents. They have made the length of his arm a proverb. How
at exactly the right moment he extends it across continents and
drags two and two together, thus causing four to result where but
for him sixes and sevens would have obtained, they have made
known to the readers of all of our best magazines. For instance,
Holworthy is leaving for the Congo to find a cure for the sleeping
sickness, and for himself any sickness from which one is warranted
never to wake up. This is his condition because the beautiful
million-heiress who is wintering at the Alexander Young Hotel
in Honolulu has refused to answer his letters, cables, and appeals.
He is leaning upon the rail taking his last neck-breaking look at
the Woolworth Building. The going-ashore bugle has sounded,
pocket-handkerchiefs are waving; and Joe Hutton, the last visitor
to leave the ship, is at the gangway.
"Good-by, Holworthy!" he calls. "Where do you keep yourself?
Haven't seen you at the club in a year!"
"Haven't been there in a year--nor mean to!" is the ungracious
reply of our hero.
"Then, for Heaven's sake," exclaims Hutton, "send some one to
take your mail out of the H box! Every time I look for letters
I wade through yours."
"Tear them up!" calls Holworthy. "They're bills."
Hutton now is half-way down the gangplank.
"Then your creditors," he shouts back, "must all live at the
Alexander Young Hotel in Honolulu!"
That night an express train shrieking through the darkness
carried with it toward San Francisco--
In this how evident is the fine Italian hand of the God of
Had Hutton's name begun with an M; had the H in Hutton been
silent; had he not carried to the Mauretania a steamer basket for
his rich aunt; had he not resented the fact that since Holworthy's
election to the Van Sturtevant Club he had ceased to visit the
Grill Club--a cure for sleeping sickness might have been discovered;
but two loving hearts never would have been reunited and that story
would not have been written.
Or, Mrs. Montclair, with a suit-case, is leaving her home forever
to join handsome Harry Bellairs, who is at the corner with a
racing-car and all the money of the bank of which he has been
cashier. As the guilty woman places the farewell letter against
the pin-cushion where her husband will be sure to find it, her
infant son turns in his sleep and jabs himself with a pin. His
howl of anguish resembles that of a puppy on a moonlight night.
The mother recognizes her master's voice. She believes her child
dying, flies to the bedside, tears up the letter, unpacks the suit-case.
The next morning at breakfast her husband, reading the newspaper,
"Harry Bellairs," he cries, "has skipped with the bank's money! I
always told you he was not a man you ought to know."
"His manner to me," she says severely, "always was that of a
Again coincidence gets the credit. Had not the child tossed--had
not at the critical moment the safety pin proved untrue to the man
who invented it--that happy family reunion would have been
Or, it might be told this way:
Old Man McCurdy, the Pig-Iron King, forbids his daughter Gwendolyn
even to think of marrying poor but honest Beef Walters, the baseball
pitcher, and denies him his house. The lovers plan an elopement.
At midnight Beef is to stand at the tradesman's entrance and whistle
"Waiting at the Church"; and down the silent stairs Gwendolyn is to
steal into his arms. At the very same hour the butler has planned with
the policeman on fixed post to steal Mother McCurdy's diamonds
and pass them to a brother of the policeman, who is to wait at the
tradesman's entrance and whistle "Waiting for the Robert E. Lee."
This sounds improbable--especially that the policeman would
allow even his brother to get the diamonds before he did; but,
with the God of Coincidence on the job, you shall see that it
will all come out right. Beef is first at the door. He whistles.
The butler--an English butler--with no ear for music, shoves into
his hands tiaras and sunbursts. Honest Beef hands over the butler
to the policeman and the tiaras to Mother McCurdy.
"How can I reward you?" exclaims the grateful woman.
"Your daughter's hand!"
Again the God of Coincidence scores and Beef Walters is credited
with an assist. And for preventing the robbery McCurdy has the
peg-post cop made a captain; thus enabling him to wear diamonds
of his own and raising him above the need of taking them from
These examples of what the god can do are mere fiction; the story
that comes now really happened. It also is a story of coincidence.
It shows how this time the long arm was stretched out to make two
young people happy; it again illustrates that, in the instruments he
chooses, the God of Coincidence works in a mysterious way his
wonders to perform. This time the tool he used was a hat of green felt.
The story really should be called "The Man in the Green Hat."
At St. James's Palace the plenipotentiaries of the Allies and of Turkey
were trying to bring peace to Europe; in Russell Square, Bloomsbury,
Sam Lowell was trying to arrange a peace with Mrs. Wroxton, his
landlady. The ultimatum of the Allies was: "Adrianople or fight!"
The last words of Mrs. Wroxton were: "Five pounds or move out!"
Sam did not have five pounds. He was a stranger in London; he had
lost his position in New York and that very morning had refused to
marry the girl he loved--Polly Seward, the young woman the Sunday
papers called "The Richest Girl in America."
For any man--for one day--that would seem to be trouble enough; but
to the Sultan of Turkey that day brought troubles far more serious.
And, as his losses were Sam's gain, we must follow the troubles of
the Sultan. Until, with the aid of a green felt hat, the God of
Coincidence turns the misfortunes of the Sultan into a fortune
for Sam, Sam must wait.
From the first days of the peace conference it was evident there
was a leak. The negotiations had been opened under a most solemn
oath of secrecy. As to the progress of the conference, only such
information or misinformation--if the diplomats considered it better-
as was mutually agreed upon by the plenipotentiaries was given to
a waiting world. But each morning, in addition to the official report
of the proceedings of the day previous, one newspaper, the Times,
published an account which differed from that in every other paper,
and which undoubtedly came from the inside. In details it was far
more generous than the official report; it gave names, speeches,
arguments; it described the wordy battles of the diplomats, the
concessions, bluffs, bargains.
After three days the matter became public scandal. At first, the
plenipotentiaries declared the events described in the Times were
invented each evening in the office of the Times; but the proceedings
of the day following showed the public this was not so.
Some one actually present at the conference was telling tales out
of school. These tales were cabled to Belgrade, Sofia, Athens,
Constantinople; and hourly from those capitals the plenipotentiaries
were assailed by advice, abuse, and threats. The whole world began
to take part in their negotiations; from every side they were attacked;
from home by the Young Turks, or the On to Constantinople Party;
and from abroad by peace societies, religious bodies, and chambers
of commerce. Even the armies in the field, instead of waiting for the
result of their deliberations, told them what to do, and that unless
they did it they would better remain in exile. To make matters worse,
in every stock exchange gambling on the news furnished by the Times
threatened the financial peace of Europe. To work under such
conditions of publicity was impossible. The delegates appealed to
their hosts of the British Foreign Office.
Unless the chiel amang them takin' notes was discovered and the
leak stopped, they declared the conference must end. Spurred on
by questions in Parliament, by appeals from the great banking world,
by criticisms not altogether unselfish from the other newspapers,
the Foreign Office surrounded St. James's Palace and the office
of the Times with an army of spies. Every secretary, stenographer,
and attendant at the conference was under surveillance, his past
record looked into, his present comings and goings noted. Even
the plenipotentiaries themselves were watched; and employees of
the Times were secretly urged to sell the government the man who
was selling secrets to them. But those who were willing to be "urged"
did not know the man; those who did know him refused to be bought.
By a process of elimination suspicion finally rested upon one
Adolf Hertz, a young Hungarian scholar who spoke and wrote all
the mongrel languages of the Balkans; who for years, as a copying
clerk and translator, had been employed by the Foreign Office,
and who now by it had been lent to the conference. For the reason
that when he lived in Budapest he was a correspondent of the
Times, the police, in seeking for the leak, centred their attention
upon Hertz. But, though every moment he was watched, and though
Hertz knew he was watched, no present link between him and the
Times had been established- and this in spite of the fact that the
hours during which it was necessary to keep him under closest
observation were few. Those were the hours between the closing
of the conference, and midnight, when the provincial edition of the
Times went to press. For the remainder of the day, so far as the
police cared, Hertz could go to the devil! But for those hours,
except when on his return from the conference he locked himself
in his lodgings in Jermyn Street, detectives were always at his elbow.
It was supposed that it was during this brief period when he was
locked in his room that he wrote his report; but how, later, he
conveyed it to the Times no one could discover. In his rooms there
was no telephone; his doors and windows were openly watched;
and after leaving his rooms his movements were--as they always
had been--methodical, following a routine open to observation.
His programme was invariably the same. Each night at seven from
his front door he walked west. At Regent Street he stopped to buy
an evening paper from the aged news-vender at the corner; he then
crossed Piccadilly Circus into Coventry Street, skirted Leicester
Square, and at the end of Green Street entered Pavoni's Italian
restaurant. There he took his seat always at the same table, hung
his hat always on the same brass peg, ordered the same Hungarian
wine, and read the same evening paper. He spoke to no one; no one
spoke to him.
When he had finished his coffee and his cigarette he returned to
his lodgings, and there he remained until he rang for breakfast.
From the time at which he left his home until his return to it he
spoke to only two persons--the news-vender to whom he handed
a halfpenny; the waiter who served him the regular table d'hote
dinner--between whom and Hertz nothing passed but three and six
for the dinner and sixpence for the waiter himself.
Each evening, the moment he moved into the street a plain-clothes
man fell into step beside him; another followed at his heels; and
from across the street more plain-clothes men kept their eyes on
every one approaching him in front or from the rear. When he
bought his evening paper six pairs of eyes watched him place a
halfpenny in the hand of the news-vender, and during the entire
time of his stay in Pavoni's every mouthful he ate was noted-
every direction he gave the waiter was overheard.
Of this surveillance Hertz was well aware. To have been ignorant
of it would have argued him blind and imbecile. But he showed no
resentment. With eyes grave and untroubled, he steadily regarded
his escort; but not by the hastening of a footstep or the acceleration
of a gesture did he admit that by his audience he was either distressed
or embarrassed. That was the situation on the morning when the
Treaty of London was to be signed and sealed.
In spite of the publicity given to the conference by the Times,
however, what the terms of the treaty might be no one knew. If
Adrianople were surrendered; if Salonika were given to Greece; if
Servia obtained a right-of-way to the Adriatic--peace was assured;
but, should the Young Turks refuse--should Austria prove obstinate-
not only would the war continue, but the Powers would be involved,
and that greater, more awful war--the war dreaded by all the Christian
world--might turn Europe into a slaughter-house.
Would Turkey and Austria consent and peace ensue? Would they
refuse and war follow? That morning those were the questions on
the lips of every man in London save one. He was Sam Lowell; and
he was asking himself another and more personal question: "How
can I find five pounds and pacify Mrs. Wroxton?"
He had friends in New York who would cable him money to pay his
passage home; but he did not want to go home. He preferred to
starve in London than be vulgarly rich anywhere else. That was
not because he loved London, but because above everything in life
he loved Polly Seward--and Polly Seward was in London. He had
begun to love her on class day of his senior year; and, after his
father died and left him with no one else to care for, every day
he had loved her more.
Until a month before he had been in the office of Wetmore &
Hastings, a smart brokers' firm in Wall Street. He had obtained
the position not because he was of any use to Wetmore & Hastings,
but because the firm was the one through which his father had
gambled the money that would otherwise have gone to Sam. In
giving Sam a job the firm thought it was making restitution. Sam
thought it was making the punishment fit the crime; for he knew
nothing of the ways of Wall Street, and having to learn them bored
him extremely. He wanted to write stories for the magazines. He
wanted to bind them in a book and dedicate them to Polly. And
in this wish editors humored him--but not so many editors or with
such enthusiasm as to warrant his turning his back on Wall Street.
That he did later when, after a tour of the world that had begun
from the San Francisco side, Polly Seward and her mother and
Senator Seward reached Naples. There Senator Seward bought
old Italian furniture for his office on the twenty-fifth floor of the
perfectly new Seward building. Mrs. Seward tried to buy for Polly
a prince nearly as old as the furniture, and Polly bought picture
post-cards which she sent to Sam.
Polly had been absent six months, and Sam's endurance had been so
timed as just to last out the half-year. It was not guaranteed to
withstand any change of schedule, and the two months' delay in
Italy broke his heart. It could not run overtime on a starvation
diet of post-cards; so when he received a cable reading, "Address
London, Claridge's," his heart told him it could no longer wait-
and he resigned his position and sailed.
On her trip round the world Polly had learned many things. She
was observant, alert, intent on asking questions, hungering for
facts. And a charming young woman who seeks facts rather than
attention will never lack either. But of all the facts Polly collected,
the one of surpassing interest, and which gave her the greatest
happiness, was that she could not live without Sam Lowell. She
had suspected this, and it was partly to make sure that she had
consented to the trip round the world. Now that she had made
sure, she could not too soon make up for the days lost. Sam had
spent his money, and he either must return to New York and earn
more or remain near Polly and starve. It was an embarrassing
choice. Polly herself made the choice even more difficult.
One morning when they walked in St. James's Park to feed the
ducks she said to him:
"Sam, when are we to be married?"
When for three years a man has been begging a girl to marry him,
and she consents at the exact moment when, without capitulation
to all that he holds honorable, he cannot marry anybody, his
position deserves sympathy.
"My dear one," exclaimed the unhappy youth, "you make me the
most miserable of men! I can't marry! I'm in an awful place! If I
married you now I'd be a crook! It isn't a question of love in a
cottage, with bread and cheese. If cottages were renting for a
dollar a year I couldn't rent one for ten minutes. I haven't cheese
enough to bait a mouse-trap. It's terrible! But we have got to wait."
"Wait!" cried Polly. "I thought you had been waiting! Have I been
away too long? Do you love some one else?"
"Don't be ridiculous!" said Sam crossly. "Look at me," he
commanded, "and tell me whom I love!"
Polly did not take time to look.
"But I," she protested, "have so much money!"
"It's not your money," explained Sam. "It's your mother's money
or your father's, and both of them dislike me. They even have told
me so. Your mother wants you to marry that Italian; and your
father, having half the money in America, naturally wants to
marry you to the other half. If I were selfish and married you
I'd be all the things they think I am."
"You are selfish!" cried Polly. "You're thinking of yourself and
of what people will say, instead of how to make me happy. What's
the use of money if you can't buy what you want?"
"Are you suggesting you can buy me?" demanded Sam.
"Surely," said Polly--"if I can't get you any other way. And you
may name your own price, too."
"When I am making enough to support myself without sponging on
you," explained Sam, "you can have as many millions as you like;
but I must first make enough to keep me alive. A man who can't do
that isn't fit to marry."
"How much," demanded Polly, "do you need to keep you alive? Maybe
I could lend it to you."
Sam was entirely serious.
"Three thousand a year," he said.
Polly exclaimed indignantly.
"I call that extremely extravagant!" she cried. "If we wait until you
earn three thousand a year we may be dead. Do you expect to earn
that writing stories?"
"I can try," said Sam--"or I will rob a bank."
Polly smiled upon him appealingly.
"You know how I love your stories," she said, "and I wouldn't
hurt your feelings for the world; but, Sam dear, I think you had
better rob a bank!"
Addressing an imaginary audience, supposedly of men, Sam
"Isn't that just like a woman? She wouldn't care," he protested,
"how I got the money!"
Polly smiled cheerfully.
"Not if I got you!" she said. In extenuation, also, she addressed
an imaginary audience, presumably of women. "That's how I love
him!" she exclaimed. "And he asks me to wait! Isn't that just like
a man? Seriously," she went on, "if we just go ahead and get married
father would have to help us. He'd make you a vice-president or
At this suggestion Sam expressed his extreme displeasure.
"The last time I talked to your father," he said, "I was in a position
to marry, and I told him I wanted to marry you. What he said to
that was: 'Don't be an ass!' Then I told him he was unintelligent--
and I told him why. First, because he could not see that a man
might want to marry his daughter in spite of her money; and
second, because he couldn't see that her money wouldn't make
up to a man for having him for a father-in-law."
"Did you have to tell him that?" asked Polly.
"Some one had to tell him," said Sam gloomily. "Anyway, as a
source of revenue father is eliminated. I have still one chance
in London. If that fails I must go home. I've been promised a job
in New York reporting for a Wall Street paper--and I'll write stories
on the side. I've cabled for money, and if the London job falls
through I shall sail Wednesday."
"Wednesday!" cried Polly. "When you say things like 'Wednesday'
you make the world so dark! You must stay here! It has been such
a long six months; and before you earn three thousand dollars I
shall be an old, old maid. But if you get work here we could see
each other every day."
They were in the Sewards' sitting-room at Claridge's. Sam took up
the desk telephone.
"In London," he said, "my one best and only bet is a man named
Forsythe, who helps edit the Pall Mall. I'll telephone him now.
If he can promise me even a shilling a day I'll stay on and starve--
but I'll be near you. If Forsythe fails me I shall sail Wednesday."
The telephone call found Forsythe at the Pall Mall office. He would
be charmed to advise Mr. Lowell on a matter of business. Would he
that night dine with Mr. Lowell? He would. And might he suggest
that they dine at Pavoni's? He had a special reason for going there,
and the dinner would cost only three and six.
"That's reason enough!" Sam told him.
"And don't forget," said Polly when, for the fifth time, Sam rose
to go, "that after your dinner you are to look for me at the Duchess
of Deptford's dance. I asked her for a card and you will find it at
your lodgings. Everybody will be there; but it is a big place-full
of dark corners where we can hide."
"Don't hide until I arrive," said Sam. "I shall be very late, as
I shall have to walk. After I pay for Forsythe's dinner and for
white gloves for your dance I shall not be in a position to hire
a taxi. But maybe I shall bring good news. Maybe Forsythe will
give me the job. If he does we will celebrate in champagne.
"You will let me at least pay for the champagne?" begged Polly.
"No," said Sam firmly--"the duchess will furnish that."
When Sam reached his lodgings in Russell Square, which he
approached with considerable trepidation, he found Mrs. Wroxton
awaiting him. But her attitude no longer was hostile. On the
contrary, as she handed him a large, square envelope, decorated
with the strawberry leaves of a duke, her manner was humble.
Sam opened the envelope and, with apparent carelessness, stuck it
over the fireplace.
"About that back rent," he said; "I have cabled for money, and as
"I know," said Mrs. Wroxton. "I read the cable." She was reading
the card of invitation also. "There's no hurry, sir," protested Mrs.
Wroxton. "Any of my young gentlemen who is made welcome at
Deptford House is made welcome here!"
"Credit, Mrs. Wroxton," observed Sam, "is better than cash. If
you have only cash you spend it and nothing remains. But with
credit you can continue indefinitely to-to-"
"So you can!" exclaimed Mrs. Wroxton enthusiastically. "Stay as
long as you like, Mr. Lowell."
At Pavoni's Sam found Forsythe already seated and, with evident
interest, observing the scene of gayety before him. The place was
new to Sam, and after the darkness and snow of the streets it
appeared both cheerful and resplendent. It was brilliantly lighted;
a ceiling of gay panels picked out with gold, and red plush sofas,
backed against walls hung with mirrors and faced by rows of
marble-topped tables, gave it an air of the Continent.
Sam surrendered his hat and coat to the waiter. The hat was a
soft Alpine one of green felt. The waiter hung it where Sam
could see it, on one of many hooks that encircled a gilded pillar.
After two courses had been served Forsythe said:
"I hope you don't object to this place. I had a special reason
for wishing to be here on this particular night. I wanted to be
in at the death!"
"Whose death?" asked Sam. "Is the dinner as bad as that?"
Forsythe leaned back against the mirror behind them and, bringing
his shoulder close to Sam's, spoke in a whisper.
"As you know," he said, "to-day the delegates sign the Treaty of
London. It still must receive the signatures of the Sultan and
the three kings; and they will sign it. But until they do, what
the terms of the treaty are no one can find out."
"I'll bet the Times finds out!" said Sam.
"That's it!" returned Forsythe. "Hertz, the man who is supposed to
be selling the secrets of the conference to the Times, dines here.
To-night is his last chance. If to-night he can slip the Times a
copy of the Treaty of London without being caught, and the
Times has the courage to publish it, it will be the biggest
newspaper sensation of modern times; and it will either cause
a financial panic all over Europe--or prevent one. The man they
suspect is facing us. Don't look now, but in a minute you will
see him sitting alone at a table on the right of the middle pillar.
The people at the tables nearest him--even the women--are
detectives. His waiter is in the employ of Scotland Yard. The
maitre d'hotel, whom you will see always hovering round his
table, is a police agent lent by Bulgaria. For the Allies are even
more anxious to stop the leak than we are. We are interested
only as their hosts; with them it is a matter of national life or
death. A week ago one of our own inspectors tipped me off to
what is going on, and every night since then I've dined here,
hoping to see something suspicious."
"Have you?" asked Sam.
"Only this," whispered Forsythe--"on four different nights I've
recognized men I know are on the staff of the Times, and on the
other nights men I don't know may have been here. But after all
that proves nothing, for this place is a resort of newspaper writers
and editors--and the Times men's being here may have been only
"And Hertz?" asked Sam--"what does he do?"
The Englishman exclaimed with irritation.
"Just what you see him doing now!" he protested. "He eats his
dinner! Look at him!" he commanded. "Of all in the room he's the
Sam looked and saw the suspected Adolf Hertz dangling a mass
of macaroni on the end of his fork. Sam watched him until it
"Maybe that's a signal!" suggested Sam. "Maybe everything he does
is part of a cipher code! He gives the signals and the Times men
read them and write them down."
"A man would have a fine chance to write anything down in this
room!" said Forsythe.
"But maybe," persisted Sam, "when he makes those strange
movements with his lips he is talking to a confederate who can
read the lip language. The confederate writes it down at the
"Fantastic and extremely improbable!" commented Forsythe. "But,
nevertheless, the fact remains, the fellow does communicate with
some one from the Times; and the police are positive he does it
here and that he is doing it now!"
The problem that so greatly disturbed his friend would have more