Part 2 out of 6
"Yes, my lord. They would not desert the chateau until they were sure
you were on board. They were extraordinarily faithful."
"I don't see it that way, leaving us like this. What's to become of the
place? Can't I get an injunction, or whatever you call it?"
"What _are_ we to do?" wailed Lady Agnes, sitting down suddenly upon the
edge of a fountain.
"You see, my lady, they take the position that you have no right here,"
"How absurd! I am heir to every foot of this island--"
"They are very foolish about it I'm sure. They've got the ridiculous
idea into their noddles that you can't be the heiress unless Lord
Deppingham passes away inside of a year, and--"
"I'm damned if I do!" roared the perspiring obstacle. "I'm not so
obliging as that, let me tell you. If it comes to that, what sort of an
ass do they think I'd be to come away out here to pass away? London's
good enough for any man to die in."
"You are not going to die, Deppy," said his wife consolingly. "Unless
you starve to death," she supplemented with an expressive moue.
"I daresay you'll find a quantity of tinned meats and vegetables in the
storehouse, my lady. You can't starve until the supply gives out.
American tinned meats," vouchsafed Mr. Bowles with his best English
"Come along, Aggy," said her liege lord resignedly. "Let's have a look
about the place."
Mr. Saunders met them at the grand entrance. He announced that four of
the native servants had been found, dead drunk, in the wine cellar.
"They can't move, sir. We thought they were dead."
"Keep 'em in that condition, for the good Lord's sake," exclaimed
Deppingham. "We'll make sure of four servants, even if we have to keep
'em drunk for six months."
"Good day, your lordship--my lady," said Bowles, edging away. "Perhaps I
can intercede for you when their solicitor comes on. He's due to-morrow,
I hear. It is possible that he may advise at least a score of the
servants to return."
"Send him up to me as soon as he lands," commanded Deppingham calmly.
"Very good, sir," said Mr. Bowles.
THE BROWNES ARRIVE
Contrary to all expectations, the Brownes arrived the next morning. The
Deppinghams and their miserably frightened servants were scarcely out of
bed when Saunders came in with the news that a steamer was standing off
the shallow harbour. Bowles had telephoned up that the American claimant
was on board.
Lady Agnes and her husband had not slept well. They heard noises from
one end of the night to the other, and they were most unusual noises at
that. The maids had flatly refused to sleep in the servants' wing, fully
a block away, so they were given the next best suite of rooms on the
floor, quite cutting off every chance the Brownes may have had for
choice of apartments. Pong howled all night long, but his howls were as
nothing compared to the screams of night birds in the trees close by.
The deepest gloom pervaded the household when Lady Deppingham discovered
that not one of their retinue knew how to make coffee or broil bacon.
Not that she cared for bacon, but that his lordship always asked for it
when they did not have it. The evening before they had philosophically
dined on tinned food. She brewed a delightful tea, and Antoine opened
three or four kinds of wine. Altogether it was not so bad. But in the
morning! Everything looked different in the morning. Everything always
does, one way or another.
Bromley upset the last peg of endurance by hoping that the Americans
were bringing a cook and a housemaid with them.
"The Americans always travel like lords," she concluded, forgetting that
she served a lord, and not in the least intending to be ironical.
"That will do, Bromley," said her mistress sharply. "If they're like
most Americans I've seen they'll have nothing but wet nurses and
chauffeurs. I can't eat this vile stuff." She had already burned her
fingers and dropped a slice of beechnut bacon on her sweet little
morning gown. "Come on, Deppy; let's go up and watch the approach of the
Dolefully they passed out of the culinary realm; it is of record that
they never looked into it from that hour forth. On the broad,
vine-covered gallery they sat in dour silence and in silence took turns
with Deppy's binoculars in the trying effort to make out what was going
on in the offing. The company's tug seemed unusually active. It bustled
about the big steamer with an industriousness that seemed almost
frantic. The laziness that had marked its efforts of the day before was
amazingly absent. At last they saw it turn for the shore, racing inward
with a great churning of waves and a vast ado in its smokestack.
From their elevated position, the occupants of the gallery could see the
distant pier. When the tug drew up to its moorings, the same motionless
horde of white-robed natives lined up along the dock building. Trunks,
boxes and huge crated objects were hustled off the boat with astonishing
rapidity. Deppingham stared hard and unbelieving at this evidence of
Five or six strangers stood upon the pier, very much as their party had
stood the day before. There were four women and--yes, two men. The men
seemed to be haranguing the natives, although no gesticulations were
visible. Suddenly there was a rush for the trunks and boxes and crates,
and, almost before the Lady Agnes could catch the breath she had lost,
the whole troupe was hurrying up the narrow street, luggage and all. The
once-sullen natives seemed to be fighting for the privilege of carrying
something. A half dozen of them dashed hither and thither and returned
with great umbrellas, which they hoisted above the heads of the
newcomers. Lady Agnes sank back, faint with wonder, as the concourse
lost itself among the houses of the agitated town.
Scarcely half an hour passed before the advance guard of the Browne
company came into view at the park gates below. Deppingham recalled the
fact that an hour and a half had been consumed in the accomplishment
yesterday. He was keeping a sharp lookout for the magic red jacket and
the Tommy Atkins lid. Quite secure from observation, he and his wife
watched the forerunners with the hand bags; then came the sweating trunk
bearers and then the crated objects in--what? Yes, by the Lord Harry, in
the very carts that had been their private chariots the day before!
Deppingham's wrath did not really explode until the two were gazing
open-mouthed upon Robert Browne and his wife and his maidservants and
his ass--for that was the name which his lordship subsequently applied,
with no moderation, to the unfortunate gentleman who served as Mr.
Browne's attorney. The Americans were being swiftly, cozily carried to
their new home in litters of oriental comfort and elegance, fanned
vigorously from both sides by eager boys. First came the Brownes,
eager-faced, bright-eyed, alert young people, far better looking than
their new enemies could conscientiously admit under the circumstances;
then the lawyer from the States; then a pert young lady in a pink shirt
waist and a sailor hat; then two giggling, utterly un-English maids--and
all of them lolling in luxurious ease. The red jacket was conspicuously
It is not to be wondered at that his lordship looked at his wife, gulped
in sympathy, and then said something memorable.
Almost before they could realise what had happened the newcomers were
chattering in the spacious halls below, tramping about the rooms, and
giving orders in high, though apparently efficacious voices. Trunks
rattled about the place, barefooted natives shuffled up and down the
corridors and across the galleries, quick American heels clattered on
the marble stairways; and all this time the English occupants sat in
cold silence, despising the earth and all that therein dwelt.
Mr. and Mrs. Browne evidently believed in the democratic first
principles of their native land: they did not put themselves above their
fellow-man. Close at their heels trooped the servants, all of whom took
part in the discussion incident to fresh discoveries. At last they came
upon the great balcony, pausing just outside the French windows to
exclaim anew in their delight.
"Great!" said the lawyer man, after a full minute. He was not at all
like Mr. Saunders, who looked on from an obscure window in the distant
left. "Finest I've ever seen. Isn't it a picture, Browne?"
"Glorious," said young Mr. Browne, taking a long breath. The
Deppinghams, sitting unobserved, saw that he was a tall, good-looking
fellow. They were unconscionably amused when he suddenly reached out and
took his wife's hand in his big fingers. Her face was flushed with
excitement, her eyes were wide and sparkling. She was very trim and
cool-looking in her white duck; moreover, she was of the type that looks
exceedingly attractive in evening dress--at least, that was Deppingham's
innermost reflection. It was not until after many weeks had passed,
however, that Lady Agnes admitted that Brasilia Browne was a very pretty
"Most American women are, after a fashion," she then confessed to
Deppingham, and not grudgingly.
"What does Baedeker say about it, Bobby?" asked Mrs. Browne. Her voice
was very soft and full--the quiet, well-modulated Boston voice and
"Baedeker?" whispered Deppingham, passing his hand over his brow in
bewilderment. His wife was looking serenely in the opposite direction.
The pert girl in the pink waist opened a small portfolio while the
others gathered around her. She read therefrom. The lawyer, when she had
concluded, drew a compass from his pocket, and, walking over to the
stone balustrade, set it down for observation. Then he pointed vaguely
into what proved to be the southwest.
"We must tell Lady Deppingham not to take the rooms at this end," was
the next thing that the listeners heard from Mrs. Browne's lips. Her
ladyship turned upon her husband with a triumphant sniff and a knowing
"What did I tell you?" she whispered. "I knew they'd want the best of
everything. Isn't it lucky I pounced upon those rooms? They shan't turn
us out. You won't let 'em, will you, Deppy?"
"The impudence of 'em!" was all that Deppy could sputter.
At that moment, the American party caught sight of the pair in the
corner. For a brief space of time the two parties stared at each other,
very much as the hunter and the hunted look when they come face to face
without previous warning. Then a friendly, half-abashed smile lighted
Browne's face. He came toward the Deppinghams, his straw hat in his
hand. His lordship retained his seat and met the smile with a cold stare
"I beg your pardon," said Browne. "This is Lord Deppingham?"
"Ya-as," drawled Deppy, with a look which was meant to convey the
impression that he did not know who the deuce he was addressing.
"Permit me to introduce myself. I am Robert Browne."
"Oh," said Deppy, as if that did not convey anything to him. Then as an
afterthought: "Glad to know you, I'm sure." Still he did not rise, nor
did he extend his hand. For a moment young Browne waited, a dull red
growing in his temples.
"Don't you intend to present me to Lady Deppingham?" he demanded
bluntly, without taking his eyes from Deppy's face.
"Oh--er--is that necess--"
"Lady Deppingham," interrupted Browne, turning abruptly from the man in
the chair and addressing the lady in azure blue who sat on the
balustrade, "I am Robert Browne, the man you are expected to marry.
Please don't be alarmed. You won't have to marry me. Our grandfathers
did not observe much ceremony in mating us, so I don't see why we should
stand upon it in trying to convince them of their error. We are here for
the same purpose, I suspect. We can't be married to each other. That's
out of the question. But we can live together as if we--"
"Good Lord!" roared Deppy, coming to his feet in a towering rage. Browne
smiled apologetically and lifted his hand.
"--as if we were serving out the prescribed period of courtship set down
in the will. Believe me, I am very happily married, as I hope you are.
The courtship, you will perceive, is neither here nor there. Please bear
with me, Lord Deppingham. It's the silly will that brings us together,
not an affinity. Our every issue is identical, Lady Deppingham. Doesn't
it strike you that we will be very foolish if we stand alone and against
[Illustration: "'Don't you intend to present me to Lady Deppingham?'"]
"My solicitor--" began Lady Deppingham, and then stopped. She was
smiling in spite of herself. This frank, breezy way of putting it had
not offended her, after all, much to her surprise.
"Your solicitor and mine can get together and talk it over," said Browne
blandly. "We'll leave it to them. I simply want you to know that I am
not here for the purpose of living at swords' points with you. I am
quite ready to be a friendly ally, not a foe."
"Let me understand you," began Deppingham, cooling off suddenly. "Do you
mean to say that you are not going to fight us in this matter?"
"Not at all, your lordship," said Browne coolly. "I am here to fight
Taswell Skaggs and John Wyckholme, deceased. I imagine, if you'll have a
talk with your solicitor, that that is precisely what you are here for,
too. As next nearest of kin, I think both of us will run no risk if we
smash the will. If we don't smash it, the islanders will cheerfully take
the legacy off our hands."
"By Jove," muttered Deppy, looking at his wife.
"Thank you, Mr. Browne, for being so frank with us," she said coolly.
"If you don't mind, I _will_ consult my solicitor." She bowed ever so
slightly, indicating that the interview was at an end, and, moreover,
that it had not been of her choosing.
"Any time, your ladyship," said Browne, also bowing. "I think Mrs.
Browne wants to speak to you about the rooms."
"We are quite settled, Mr. Browne, and very well satisfied," she said
pointedly, turning red with a fresh touch of anger.
"I trust you have not taken the rooms at this end."
"We have. We are occupying them." She arose and started away, Deppingham
hesitating between his duty to her and the personal longing to pull
"I'm sorry," said Browne. "We were warned not to take them. They are
said to be unbearable when the hot winds come in October."
"What's that?" demanded Deppingham.
"The book of instruction and description which we have secured sets all
that out," said the other. "Mr. Britt, my attorney, had his stenographer
take it all down in Bombay. It's our private Baedeker, you see. We
called on the Bombay agent for the Skaggs-Wyckholme Company. He lived
with them in this house for ten months. No one ever slept in this end of
the building. It's strange that the servants didn't warn you."
"The da--the confounded servants left us yesterday before we came--every
mother's son of 'em. There isn't a servant on the place."
"What? You don't mean it?"
"Are you coming?" called Lady Deppingham from the doorway.
"At once, my dear," replied Deppingham, shuffling uneasily. "By Jove,
we're in a pretty mess, don't you know. No servants, no food, no----"
"Wait a minute, please," interrupted Browne. "I say, Britt, come here a
moment, will you? Lord Deppingham says the servants have struck."
The American lawyer, a chubby, red-faced man of forty, with clear grey
eyes and a stubby mustache, whistled soulfully.
"What's the trouble? Cut their wages?" he asked.
"Wages? My good man, we've never laid eyes on 'em," said Deppingham,
drawing himself up.
"I'll see what I can do, Mr. Browne. Got to have cooks, eh, Lord
Deppingham?" Without waiting for an answer he dashed off. His lordship
observing that his wife had disappeared, followed Browne to the
balustrade, overlooking the upper terrace. The native carriers were
leaving the grounds, when Britt's shrill whistle brought them to a
standstill. No word of the ensuing conversation reached the ears of the
two white men on the balcony, but the pantomime was most entertaining.
Britt's stocky figure advanced to the very heart of the group. It was
quite evident that his opening sentences were listened to impassively.
Then, all at once, the natives began to gesticulate furiously and to
shake their heads. Whereupon Britt pounded the palm of his left hand
with an emphatic right fist, occasionally pointing over his shoulder
with a stubborn thumb. At last, the argument dwindled down to a force of
two--Britt and a tall, sallow Mohammedan. For two minutes they harangued
each other and then the native gave up in despair. The lawyer waved a
triumphant hand to his friends and then climbed into one of the litters,
to be borne off in the direction of the town.
"He'll have the servants back at work before two o'clock," said Browne
calmly. Deppingham was transfixed with astonishment.
"How--how the devil do you--does he bring 'em to time like that?" he
murmured. He afterward said that if he had had Saunders there at that
humiliating moment he would have kicked him.
"They're afraid of the American battleship," said Browne.
"But where is the American battleship?" demanded Deppingham, looking
wildly to sea.
"They understand that there will be one here in a day or two if we need
it," said Browne with a sly grin. "That's the bluff we've worked." He
looked around for his wife, and, finding that she had gone inside,
politely waved his hand to the Englishman and followed.
At three o'clock, Britt returned with the recalcitrant servants--or at
least the "pick" of them, as he termed the score he had chosen from the
hundred or more. He seemed to have an Aladdin-like effect over the
horde. It did not appear to depress him in the least that from among the
personal effects of more than one peeped the ominous blade of a kris, or
the clutch of a great revolver. He waved his hand and snapped his
fingers and they herded into the servants' wing, from which in a
twinkling they emerged ready to take up their old duties. They were not
a liveried lot, but they were swift and capable.
Calmly taking Lord Deppingham and his following into his confidence, he
said, in reply to their indignant remonstrances, later on in the day:
"I know that an American man-o'-war hasn't any right to fire upon
British possessions, but you just keep quiet and let well enough alone.
These fellows believe that the Americans can shoot straighter and with
less pity than any other set of people on earth. If they ever find out
the truth, we won't be able to control 'em a minute. It won't hurt you
to let 'em believe that we can blow the Island off the map in half a
day, and they won't believe you if you tell 'em anything to the
contrary. They just simply _know_ that I can send wireless messages and
that a cruiser would be out there to-morrow if necessary, pegging away
at these green hills with cannon balls so big that there wouldn't be
anything left but the horizon in an hour or two. You let me do the
talking. I've got 'em bluffed and I'll keep 'em that way. Look at that!
See those fellows getting ready to wash the front windows? They don't
need it, I'll confess, but it makes conversation in the servants' hall."
Over in the gorgeous west wing, Lord Deppingham later on tried to
convince his sulky little wife that the Americans were an amazing lot,
after all. Bromley tapped at the door.
"Tea is served in the hanging garden, my lady," she announced. Her
mistress looked up in surprise, red-eyed and a bit dishevelled.
"It's a very pretty place just outside the rooms of the American lady
and gentleman, my lady. It's on the shady side and quite under the shelf
of the mountain. There's a very cool breeze all the time, they say, from
Deppingham glanced at the sun-baked window ledges of their own rooms and
"Ask some one to bring the tea things in here, Bromley," she said
sternly, her piquant face as hard and set as it could possibly
be--which, as a matter of fact, was not noticeably adamantine. "Besides,
I want to give some orders. We must have system here, not Americanisms."
"Very well, my lady."
After she had retired Deppingham was so unwise as to run his finger
around the inside of his collar and utter the lamentation:
"By Jove, Aggie, it _is_ hot in these rooms." She transfixed him with a
"I find it delightfully cool, George." She called him George only when
it was impossible to call him just what she wanted to.
The tea things did not come in; in their stead came pretty Mrs. Browne.
She stood in the doorway, a pleading sincere smile on her face.
"Won't you _please_ join Mr. Browne and me in that dear little garden?
It's so cool up there and it must be dreadfully warm here. Really, you
should move at once into Mr. Wyckholme's old apartments across the court
from ours. They are splendid. But, now _do_ come and have tea with us."
Whether it was the English love of tea or the American girl's method of
making it, I do not know, but I am able to record the fact that Lord and
Lady Deppingham hesitated ever so briefly and--fell.
"Extraordinary, Browne," said Deppingham, half an hour later. "What
wonders you chaps can perform."
"Ho, ho!" laughed Browne. "We only strive to land on our feet, that's
all. Another cigarette, Lady Deppingham?"
"Thank you. They are delicious. Where do you get them, Mr. Browne?"
"From the housekeeper. Your grandfather brought them over from London.
My grandfather stored them away."
THE MAN FROM BRODNEY'S
It was quite forty-eight hours before the Deppinghams surrendered to the
Brownes. They were obliged to humbly admit, in the seclusion of their
own councils, that it was to the obnoxious but energetic Britt that they
owed their present and ever-growing comfort.
It is said that Mr. Saunders learned more law of a useful and purposeful
character during his first week of consultation with Britt than he could
have dreamed that the statutes of England contained. Britt's brain was a
whirlpool of suggestions, tricks, subterfuges and--yes, witticisms--that
Saunders never even pretended to appreciate, although he was obliging
enough to laugh at the right time quite as often as at the wrong. "He
talks about what Dan Webster said, how Dan Voorhees could handle a jury,
why Abe Lincoln and Andy Jackson were so--" Saunders would begin in a
dazzled sort of way.
"Mr. Saunders, will you be good enough to ask Bromley to take Pong out
for a walk?" her ladyship would interrupt languidly, and Saunders would
descend to the requirements of his position.
Late in the afternoon of the day following the advent of the Brownes,
Lord and Lady Deppingham were laboriously fanning themselves in the
midst of their stifling Marie Antoinette elegance.
"By Jove, Aggie, it's too beastly hot here for words," growled he for
the hundredth time. "I think we'd better move into your grandfather's
"Now, Deppy, don't let the Brownes talk you into everything they
suggest," she complained, determined to be stubborn to the end. "They
know entirely too much about the place already; please don't let them
know you as intimately."
"That's all very good, my dear, but you know quite as well as I that we
made a frightful mistake in choosing these rooms. It _is_ cooler on that
side of the house. I'm not too proud to be comfortable, don't you know.
Have you had a look at your grandfather's rooms?"
She was silent for a long time, pondering. "No, I haven't, Deppy, but I
don't mind going over there now with you--just for a look. We can do it
without letting them see us, you know."
Just as they were ready to depart stealthily for the distant wing, a
servant came up to their rooms with a note from Mrs. Browne. It was an
invitation to join the Americans at dinner that evening in the grand
banquet hall. Across the bottom of Mrs. Browne's formal little note, her
husband had jauntily scrawled: "_Just to see how small we'll feel in a
ninety by seventy dining-room_" Lady Deppingham flushed and her eyes
glittered as she handed the note to her husband.
"Rubbish!" she exclaimed. Paying no heed to the wistful look in his eyes
or to the appealing shuffle of his foot, she sent back a dignified
little reply to the effect that "A previous engagement would prevent,
etc." The polite lie made it necessary for them to venture forth at
dinner time to eat their solitary meal of sardines and wafers in the
grove below. The menu was limited to almost nothing because Deppy
refused to fill his pockets with "tinned things and biscuit."
The next day they moved into the west wing, and that evening they had
the Brownes to dine with them in the banquet hall. Deppingham awoke in
the middle of the night with violent cramps in his stomach. He suffered
in silence for a long time, but, the pain growing steadily worse, his
stoicism gave way to alarm. A sudden thought broke in upon him, and with
a shout that was almost a shriek he called for Antoine. The valet found
him groaning and in a cold perspiration.
"Don't say a word to Lady Deppingham," he grunted, sitting up in bed and
gazing wildly at the ceiling, "but I've been poisoned. The demmed
servants--ouch!--don't you know! Might have known. Silly ass! See what I
mean? Get something for me--quick!"
For two hours Antoine applied hot water bags and soothing syrups, and
his master, far from dying as he continually prophesied, dropped off
into a peaceful sleep.
The next morning Deppingham, fully convinced that the native servants
had tried to poison _him_, inquired of his wife if _she_ had felt the
alarming symptoms. She confessed to a violent headache, but laid it to
the champagne. Later on, the rather haggard victim approached Browne
with subtle inquiries. Browne also had a headache, but said he wasn't
surprised. Fifteen minutes later, Deppingham, taking the bit in his
quivering mouth, unconditionally discharged the entire force of native
servants. He was still in a cold perspiration when he sent Saunders to
tell his wife what he had done and what a narrow escape all of them had
had from the treacherous Moslems.
Of course, there was a great upheaval. Lady Agnes came tearing down to
the servants' hall, followed directly by the Brownes and Mr. Britt. The
natives were ready to depart, considerably nonplussed, but not a little
"Stop!" she cried. "Deppy, what are you doing? Discharging them after
we've had such a time getting them? Are you crazy?"
"They're a pack of snakes--I mean sneaks. They're assassins. They tried
to poison every one of us last--"
"Nonsense! You ate too much. Besides, what's the odds between being
poisoned and being starved to death? Where is Mr. Britt?" She gave a
sharp cry of relief as Britt came dashing down the corridor. "We must
engage them all over again," she lamented, after explaining the
situation. "Stand in the door, Deppy, and don't let them out until Mr.
Britt has talked with them," she called to the disgraced nobleman.
"They won't stop for me," he muttered, looking at the half-dozen krises
that were visible.
Britt smoothed the troubled waters with astonishing ease; the servants
returned to their duties, but not without grumbling and no end of savage
glances, all of which were levelled at the luckless Deppingham.
"By Jove, you'll see, sooner or later," he protested, like the
schoolboy, almost ready to hope that the servants would bear him out by
doling out ample quantities of strychnine that very night.
"Why poison?" demanded Britt. "They've got knives and guns, haven't
"My dear man, that would put them to no end of trouble, cleaning up
after us," said Deppingham, loftily.
The next day the horses were brought in from the valley, and the traps
were put to immediate use. A half-dozen excursions were planned by the
now friendly beneficiaries; life on the island, aside from certain legal
restraints, began to take on the colour of a real holiday.
Two lawyers, each clever in his own way, were watching every move with
the faithfulness of brooding hens. Both realised, of course, that the
great fight would take place in England; they were simply active as
outposts in the battle of wits. They posed amiably as common allies in
the fight to keep the islanders from securing a single point of vantage
during the year.
"If they hadn't been in such a hurry to get married," Britt would
"Do you know, I don't believe a man should marry before he's thirty, a
woman twenty-six," Saunders would observe in return.
"You're right, Saunders. I agree with you. I was married twice before I
was thirty," reflected Britt on one occasion.
"Ah," sympathised Saunders. "You left a wife at home, then?"
"Two of 'em," said Britt, puffing dreamily. "But they are other men's
wives now." Saunders was half an hour grasping the fact that Britt had
been twice divorced.
Meanwhile, it may be well to depict the situation from the enemy's point
of view--the enemy being the islanders as a unit. They were prepared to
abide by the terms of the will so long as it remained clear to them that
fair treatment came from the opposing interests. Rasula, the Aratat
lawyer, in mass meeting, had discussed the document. They understood its
requirements and its restrictions; they knew, by this time, that there
was small chance of the original beneficiaries coming into the property
under the provisions. Moreover, they knew that a bitter effort would be
made to break this remarkable instrument in the English courts. Their
attitude, in consequence, toward the grandchildren of their former lords
was inimical, to say the least.
"We can afford to wait a year," Rasula had said in another mass meeting
after the two months of suspense which preceded the discovery that
grandchildren really existed. "There is the bare possibility that they
may never marry each other," he added sententiously. Later came the news
that marriage between the heirs was out of the question. Then the
islanders laughed as they toiled. But they were not to be caught
napping. Jacob von Blitz, the superintendent, stolid German that he was,
saw far into the future. It was he who set the native lawyer
unceremoniously aside and urged competent representation in London. The
great law firm headed by Sir John Brodney was chosen; a wide-awake
representative of the distinguished solicitors was now on his way to the
island with the swarthy committee which had created so much interest in
the metropolis during its brief stay.
Jacob von Blitz came to the island when he was twenty years old. That
was twenty years before the death of Taswell Skaggs. He had worked in
the South African diamond fields and had no difficulty in securing
employment with Skaggs and Wyckholme. Those were the days when the two
Englishmen slaved night and day in the mines; they needed white men to
stand beside them, for they looked ahead and saw what the growing
discontent among the islanders was sure to mean in the end.
Von Blitz gradually lifted labour and responsibility from their
shoulders; he became a valued man, not alone because of his ability as
an overseer, but on account of the influence he had gained over the
natives. It was he who acted as intermediary at the time of the revolt,
many years before the opening of this tale. Through him the two issues
were pooled; the present co-operative plan was the result. For this he
was promptly accepted by both sides as deserving of a share
corresponding to that of each native. From that day, he cast his lot
with the islanders; it was to him that they turned in every hour of
Von Blitz was shrewd enough to see that the grandchildren were not
coming to the island for the mere pleasure of sojourning there; their
motive was plain. It was he who advised--even commanded--the horde of
servants to desert the chateau. If they had been able to follow his
advice, the new residents would have been without "help" to the end of
their stay. The end of their stay, he figured, would not be many weeks
from its beginning if they were compelled to dwell there without the
luxury of servants. Bowles often related the story of Von Blitz's rage
when he found that the recalcitrants had been persuaded to resume work
by the American lawyer.
He lived, with his three wives, in the hills just above and south of the
town itself. The Englishmen who worked in the bank, and the three Boer
foremen also, had houses up there where it was cooler, but Von Blitz was
the only one who practised polygamy. His wives were Persian women and
handsome after the Persian fashion.
There were many Persian, Turkish and Arabian women on the island, wives
of the more potential men. It was no secret that they had been purchased
from avaricious masters on the mainland, in Bagdad and Damascus and the
Persian gulf ports--sapphires passing in exchange. Marriages were
performed by the local priests. There were no divorces. Perhaps there
may have been a few more wife murders than necessary, but, if one
assumes to call wife murder a crime, he must be reminded that the
natives of Japat were fatalists. In contradiction to this belief,
however, it is related that one night a wife took it upon herself to
reverse the lever of destiny: she slew her husband. That, of course, was
a phase of fatalism that was not to be tolerated. The populace burned
her at a stake before morning.
One hot, dry afternoon about a week after the reopening of the chateau,
the siesta of a swarthy population was disturbed by the shouts of those
who kept impatient watch of the sea. Five minutes later the whole town
of Aratat knew that the smoke of a steamer lay low on the horizon. No
one doubted that it came from the stack of the boat that was bringing
Rasula and the English solicitor. Joy turned to exultation when the word
came down from Von Blitz that it was the long-looked-for steamship, the
Just before dusk the steamer, flying the British colours, hove to off
the town of Aratat and signalled for the company's tug. There was no one
in Aratat too old, too young or too ill to stay away from the pier and
its vicinity. Bowles telephoned the news to the chateau, and the
occupants, in no little excitement, had their tea served on the grand
colonnade overlooking the town.
Von Blitz stood at the landing place to welcome Rasula and his comrades,
and to be the first to clasp the hand of the man from London. For the
first time in his life his stolidity gave way to something resembling
exhilaration. He cast more than one meaning glance at the chateau, and
those near by him heard him chuckle from time to time. The horde of
natives seethed back and forth as the tug came running in; every eye was
strained to catch the first glimpse of--Rasula? No! Of the man from
At last his figure could be made out on the forward deck. His straw hat
was at least a head higher than the turban of Rasula, who was indicating
to him the interesting spots in the hills.
"He's big," commented Von Blitz, comfortably, more to himself than to
his neighbour. "And young," he added a few minutes later. Bowles,
standing at his side, offered the single comment:
As the tall stranger stepped from the boat to the pier, Von Blitz
suddenly started back, a look of wonder in his soggy eyes. Then, a
thrill of satisfaction shot through his brain. He turned a look of
triumph upon Britt, who had elbowed through the crowd a moment before
and was standing close by.
The newcomer was an American!
"I've sighted the Enemy," exclaimed Bobby Browne, coming up from
Neptune's Pool--the largest of the fountains. His wife and Lady
Deppingham were sitting in the cool retreat under the hanging garden.
"Would you care to have a peek at him?"
"I should think so," said his wife, jumping to her feet. "He's been on
the island three days, and we haven't had a glimpse of him. Come along,
Lady Deppingham arose reluctantly, stifling a yawn.
"I'm so frightfully lazy, my dear," she sighed. "But," with a slight
acceleration of speech, "anything in the shape of diversion is worth the
effort, I'm sure. Where is he?"
They had come to call the new American lawyer "The Enemy." No one knew
his name, or cared to know it, for that matter. Bowles, in answer to the
telephone inquiries of Saunders, said that the new solicitor had taken
temporary quarters above the bank and was in hourly consultation with
Von Blitz, Rasula and others. Much of his time was spent at the mines.
Later on, it was commonly reported, he was to take up his residence in
Wyckholme's deserted bungalow, far up on the mountain side, in plain
view from the chateau.
Life at the chateau had not been allowed to drag. The Deppinghams and
the Brownes confessed in the privacy of their chambers that there was
scant diplomacy in their "carryings-on," but without these indulgences
the days and nights would have been intolerable.
The white servants had become good friends, despite the natural disdain
that the trained English expert feels for the unpolished American
domestic. Antipathies were overlooked in the eager strife for
companionship; the fact that one of Mrs. Browne's maids was of Irish
extraction and the other a rosy Swede may have had something to do with
their admission into the exclusive set below stairs, but that is outside
the question. If the Suffolk maids felt any hesitancy about accepting
the hybrid combination as their equals, it was never manifested by word
or deed. Even the astute Antoine, who had lived long in the boulevards
of Paris, and who therefore knew an American when he saw one at any
distance or at any price, evinced no uncertainty in proclaiming them
Miss Pelham, the stenographer from West Twenty-third Street, might have
been included in the circle from the first had not her dignity stood in
the way. For six days she held resolutely aloof from everything except
her notebook and her machine, but her stock of novels beginning to run
low, and the prospect of being bored to extinction for six months to
come looming up before her, she concluded to wave the olive branch in
the face of social ostracism, assuming a genial attitude of
condescension, which was graciously overlooked by the others. As she
afterward said, there is no telling how low she might have sunk, had it
not entered her head one day to set her cap for the unsuspecting Mr.
Saunders. She had learned, in the wisdom of her sex, that he was fancy
free. Mr. Saunders, fully warned against the American typewriter girl as
a class, having read the most shocking jokes at her expense in the comic
papers, was rather shy at the outset, but Britt gallantly came to Miss
Pelham's defence and ultimate rescue by emphatically assuring Saunders
that she was a perfect lady, guaranteed to cause uneasiness to no man's
"But I have no wife," quickly protested Saunders, turning a dull red.
"The devil!" exclaimed Britt, apparently much upset by the revelation.
But of this more anon.
* * * * *
Browne conducted the two young women across the drawbridge and to the
sunlit edge of the terrace, where two servants awaited them with
"Isn't it extraordinary, the trouble one is willing to take for the
merest glimpse of a man?" sighed Lady Agnes. "At home we try to avoid
"Indeed?" said pretty Mrs. Browne, with a slight touch of irony. It was
the first sign of the gentle warfare which their wits were to wage.
"There he is! See him?" almost whispered Browne, as if the solitary,
motionless figure at the foot of the avenue was likely to hear his voice
and be frightened away.
The Enemy was sitting serenely on one of the broad iron benches just
inside the gates to the park, his arms stretched out along the back, his
legs extended and crossed. The great stone wall behind him afforded
shelter from the broiling sun; satinwood trees lent an appearance of
coolness that did not exist, if one were to judge by the absence of hat
and the fact that his soft shirt was open at the throat. He was not more
than two hundred yards away from the clump of trees which screened his
watchers from view. If he caught an occasional glimpse of dainty blue
and white fabrics, he made no demonstration of interest or
acknowledgment. It was quite apparent that he was lazily surveying the
chateau, puffing with consistent ease at the cigarette which drooped
from his lips. His long figure was attired in light grey flannels; one
could not see the stripe at that distance, yet one could not help
feeling that it existed--a slim black stripe, if any one should have
"Quite at home," murmured her ladyship, which was enough to show that
she excused the intruder on the ground that he was an American.
"Mr. Britt was right," said Mrs. Browne irrelevantly. She was peering at
the stranger through the binoculars. "He is _very_ good-looking."
"And you from Boston, too," scoffed Lady Deppingham. Mrs. Browne
flushed, and smiled deprecatingly.
"Wonder what he's doing here in the grounds?" puzzled Browne.
"It's plain to me that he is resting his audacious bones," said her
ladyship, glancing brightly at her co-legatee. The latter's wife, in a
sudden huff, deliberately left them, crossing the macadam driveway in
plain view of the stranger.
"She's not above an affair with him," was her hot, inward lament. She
was mightily relieved, however, when the others tranquilly followed her
across the road, and took up a new position under the substitute clump
The Enemy gave no sign of interest in these proceedings. If he was
conscious of being watched by these curious exiles, he was not in the
least annoyed. He did not change his position of indolence, nor did he
puff any more fretfully at his cigarette. Instead, his eyes were bent
lazily upon the white avenue, his thoughts apparently far away from the
view ahead. He came out of his lassitude long enough to roll and light a
fresh cigarette and to don his wide madras helmet.
Suddenly he looked to the right and then arose with some show of
alacrity. Three men were approaching by the path which led down from the
far-away stables. Browne recognised the dark-skinned men as servants in
the chateau--the major-domo, the chef, and the master of the stables.
"Lord Deppingham must have sent them down to pitch him over the wall,"
he said, with an excited grin.
"Impossible! My husband is hunting for sapphires in the ravine back
of--" She did not complete the sentence.
The Enemy was greeting the statuesque natives with a friendliness that
upset all calculations. It was evident that the meeting was prearranged.
There was no attempt at secrecy; the conference, whatever its portent,
had the merit of being quite above-board. In the end, the tall
solicitor, lifting his helmet with a gesture so significant that it left
no room for speculation, turned and sauntered through the broad gateway
and out into the forest road. The three servants returned as they had
come, by way of the bridle path along the wall.
"The nerve of him!" exclaimed Browne. "That graceful attention was meant
"He is like the polite robber who first beats you to death and then says
thank you for the purse," said Lady Deppingham. "What a strange
proceeding, Mr. Browne. Can you imagine what it means?"
"Mischief of some sort, I'll be bound. I admire his nerve in holding the
confab under our very noses. I'll have Britt interview those fellows at
once. Our kitchen, our stable and our domestic discipline are
They hastened to the chateau, and regaled the resourceful Britt with the
"I'll have it out of 'em in a minute," he said confidently. "Where's
Saunders? Where's Miss Pelham? Confound the girl, she's never around
when I want her these days. Hay, you!" to a servant. "Send Miss Pelham
to me. The one in pink, understand? Golden-haired one. Yes, yes, that's
right: the one who jiggles her fingers. Tell her to hurry."
But Miss Pelham was off in the wood, self-charged with the arousing of
Mr. Saunders; an hour passed before she could be found and brought into
the light of Mr. Britt's reflections. If her pert nose was capable of
elevating itself in silent disdain, Mr. Saunders was not able to emulate
its example. He was not so dazzled by the sunshine of her sprightly
recitals but that he could look sheep-faced in the afterglow of Britt's
Britt, with all his clever blustering, could elicit no information from
the crafty head-servants. All they would say was that the strange sahib
had intercepted them on their way to the town, to ask if there were any
rooms to rent in the chateau.
"That's what he told you to say, isn't it?" demanded Britt angrily.
"Confounded his impudence! Rooms to rent!"
That evening he dragged the reluctant Saunders into the privacy of the
hanging garden, and deliberately interrupted the game of bridge which
was going on. If Deppingham had any intention to resent the intrusion of
the solicitors, he was forestalled by the startling announcement of Mr.
Britt, who seldom stood on ceremony where duty was concerned.
"Ladies and gentlemen," said Mr. Britt, calmly dropping into a chair
near by, "this place is full of spies."
"Spies!" cried four voices in unison. Mr. Saunders nodded a plaintive
"Yes, sir, every native servant here is a spy. That's what the Enemy was
here for to-day. I've analysed the situation and I'm right. Ain't I, Mr.
Saunders? Of course, I am. He came here to tell 'em what to do and how
to report our affairs to him. See? Well, there you are. We've simply got
to be careful what we do and say in their presence. Leave 'em to me.
Just be careful, that's all."
"I don't intend to be watched by a band of sneaks--" began Lord
"You can't help yourself," interrupted Britt.
"I'll discharge every demmed one of them, that's--"
"Leave 'em to me--leave 'em to me," exclaimed Britt impatiently. His
lordship stiffened but could find no words for instant use. "Now let me
tell you something. This lawyer of theirs is a smooth party. He's here
to look out for their interests and they know it. It's not to their
interest to assassinate you or to do any open dirty work. He is too
clever for that. I've found out from Mr. Bowles just what the fellow has
done since he landed, three days ago. He has gone over all of the
company's accounts, in the office and at the mines, to see that we, as
agents for the executors, haven't put up any job to mulct the natives
out of their share of the profits. He has organised the whole population
into a sort of constabulary to protect itself against any shrewd move we
may contemplate. Moreover, he's getting the evidence of everybody to
prove that Skaggs and Wyckholme were men of sound mind up to the hour of
their death. He has the depositions of agents and dealers in Bombay,
Aden, Suez and three or four European cities, all along that line. He
goes over the day's business at the bank as often as we do as agents for
the executors. He knows just how many rubies and sapphires were washed
out yesterday, and how much they weigh. It's our business, as your
agents, to scrape up everything as far back as we can go to prove that
the old chaps were mentally off their base when they drew up that
agreement and will. I think we've got a shade the best of it, even
though the will looks good. The impulse that prompted it was a crazy one
in the first place." He hesitated a moment and then went on carefully.
"Of course, if we can prove that insanity has always run through the two
"Good Lord!" gasped Browne nervously.
"--it would be a great help. If we can show that you and Mrs.--er--Lady
Deppingham have queer spells occasionally, it--"
"Not for all the islands in the world," cried Lady Deppingham. "The
idea! Queer spells! See here, Mr. Britt, if I have any queer spells to
speak of, I won't have them treated publicly. If Lord Deppingham can
afford to overlook them, I daresay I can, also, even though it costs me
the inheritance to do so. Please be good enough to leave me out of the
insanity dodge, as you Americans call it."
"Madam, God alone provides that part of your inheritance--" began Britt
insistently, fearing that he was losing fair ground.
"Then leave it for God to discover. I'll not be a party to it. It's
utter nonsense," she cried scathingly.
"Rubbish!" asserted Mr. Saunders boldly.
"What?" exclaimed Britt, turning upon Saunders so abruptly that the
little man jumped, and immediately began to readjust his necktie.
"What's that? Look here; it's our only hope--the insanity dodge, I mean.
They've got to show in an English court that Skaggs and--"
"Let them show what they please about Skaggs," interrupted Bobby Browne,
"but, confound you, I can't have any one saying that I'm subject to fits
or spells or whatever you choose to call 'em. I don't have 'em, but even
if I did, I'd have 'em privately, not for the benefit of the public."
"Is it necessary to make my husband insane in order to establish the
fact that his grandfather was not of sound mind?" queried pretty Mrs.
Browne, with her calmest Boston inflection.
"It depends on your husband," said Britt coolly. "If he sticks at
anything which may help us to break that will, he's certainly insane.
That's all I've got to say about it."
"Well, I'm hanged if I'll pose as an insane man," roared Browne.
"Mr. Saunders hasn't asked _me_ to be insane, have you, Mr. Saunders?"
asked Lady Agnes in her sweetest, scorn.
"I don't apprehend--" began Saunders nervously.
"Saunders," said Britt, calculatingly and evenly, "next thing we'll have
to begin hunting for insanity in your family. We haven't heard anything
from you on this little point, Lord Deppingham."
"I don't know anything about Mr. Saunders's family," said Deppingham
stiffly. Britt looked at him for a moment, puzzled and uncertain. Then
he gave a short, hopeless laugh and said, under his breath:
He immediately altered the course of the discussion and harked back to
his original declaration that spies abounded in the chateau. When he
finally called the conference adjourned and prepared to depart, he
calmly turned to the stenographer.
"Did you get all this down, Miss Pelham?"
"Yes, Mr. Britt."
"Good!" Then he went away, leaving the quartette unconsciously depressed
by the emphasis he placed upon that single word.
The next day but one, it was announced that the Enemy had moved into the
bungalow. Signs of activity about the rambling place could be made out
from the hanging garden at the chateau. It was necessary, however, to
employ the binoculars in the rather close watch that was kept by the
interested aristocrats below. From time to time the grey, blue or
white-clad figure of the Enemy could be seen directing the operations of
the natives who were engaged in rehabilitating Wyckholme's "nest."
The chateau was now under the very eye of the Enemy.
THE AMERICAN BAR
"You're wanted at the 'phone, Mr. Britt," said Miss Pelham. It was late
in the evening a day or two afterward. Britt went into the booth. He was
not in there long, but when he came out he found that Miss Pelham had
disappeared. The coincidence was significant; Mr. Saunders was also
missing from his seat on the window-sill at the far end of the long
corridor. Britt looked his disgust, and muttered something
characteristic. Having no one near with whom he could communicate, he
boldly set off for the hanging garden, where Deppingham had installed
the long-idle roulette paraphernalia. The quartette were placing
prospective rubies and sapphires on the board, using gun-wads in lieu of
the real article.
Britt's stocky figure came down through the maze of halls, across the
vine-covered bridge and into the midst of a transaction which involved
perhaps a hundred thousand pounds in rubies.
"Say," he said, without ceremony, "the Enemy's in trouble. Bowles just
telephoned. There's a lot of excitement in the town. I don't know what
to make of it."
"Then why the devil are you breaking in here with it?" growled
Deppingham, who was growing to hate Britt with an ardour that was
"This'll interest you, never fear. There's been a row between Von Blitz
and the lawyer, and the lawyer has unmercifully threshed Von Blitz. Good
Lord, I'd like to have seen it, wouldn't you, Browne? Say, he's all
right, isn't he?"
"What was it all about?" demanded Browne. They, were now listening, all
"It seems that Von Blitz is in the habit of licking his wives," said
Britt. "Bowles was so excited he could hardly talk. It must have been
awful if it could get Bowles really awake."
"Miraculous!" said Deppingham conclusively.
"Well, as I get it, the lawyer has concluded to advance the American
idiosyncrasy known as reform. It's a habit with us, my lady. We'll try
to reform heaven if enough of us get there to form a club. Von Blitz
beats his Persian wives instead of his Persian rugs, therefore he needed
reforming. Our friend, the Enemy, met him this evening, and told him
that no white man could beat his wife, singular or plural, while he was
around. Von Blitz is a big, ugly chap, and he naturally resented the
interference with his divine might. He told the lawyer to go hang or
something equivalent. The lawyer knocked him down. By George, I'd like
to have seen it! From the way Bowles tells it, he must have knocked him
down so incessantly in the next five minutes that Von Blitz's attempts
to stand up were nothing short of a stutter. Moreover, he wouldn't let
Von Blitz stab him worth a cent. Bowles says he's got Von Blitz cowed,
and the whole town is walking in circles, it's so dizzy. Von Blitz's
wives threaten to kill the lawyer, but I guess they won't. Bowles says
that all the Persian and Turkish women on the island are crazy about the
"Mr. Britt!" protested Mrs. Browne.
"Beg pardon. Perhaps Bowles is wrong. Well, to make it short, the lawyer
has got Von Blitz to hating him secretly, and the German has a lot of
influence over the people. It may be uncomfortable for our good-looking
friend. If he didn't seem so well able to look out for himself, I'd feel
mighty uneasy about him. After all, he's a white man and a good fellow,
"If he should be in great danger down there," said her ladyship
firmly--perhaps consciously--"we must offer him a safe retreat in the
chateau." The others looked at her in surprise. "We can't stand off and
see him murdered, you know," she qualified hastily.
The next morning a messenger came up from the town with a letter
directed to Messrs. Britt and Saunders. It was from the Enemy, and
requested them to meet him in private conference at four that afternoon.
"I think it will be for the benefit of all concerned if we can get
together," wrote the Enemy in conclusion.
"He's weakening," mused Britt, experiencing a sense of disappointment
over his countryman's fallibility. "My word for it, Saunders, he's going
to propose an armistice of some sort. He can't keep up the bluff."
"Shocking bad form, writing to us like this," said Saunders
reflectively. "As if we'd go into any agreement with the fellow. I'm
sure Lady Deppingham wouldn't consider it for a moment."
The messenger carried back with him a dignified response in which the
counsellors for Mr. Browne and Lady Deppingham respectfully declined to
engage in any conference at this time.
At two o'clock that afternoon the entire force of native servants picked
up their belongings, and marched out of the chateau. Britt stormed and
threatened, but the inscrutable Mohammedans shook their heads and
hastened toward the gates. Despair reigned in the chateau; tears and
lamentations were no more effective than blasphemy. The major-domo,
suave and deferential, gravely informed Mr. Britt that they were leaving
at the instigation of their legal adviser, who had but that hour issued
"I hope you are not forgetting what I said about the American gunboats,"
said Britt ponderously.
"Ah," said Baillo, with a cunning smile, "our man is also a great
American. He can command the gunboats, too, sahib. We have told him that
you have the great power. He shows us that he can call upon the English
ships as well, for he comes last from London. He can have both, while
you have only one. Besides, he says you cannot send a message in the
air, without the wire, unless he give permission. He have a little
machine that catch all the lightning in the air and hold it till he
reads the message. Our man is a great man--next to Mohammed."
Britt passed his hand over his brow, staggered by these statements.
Gnawing at his stubby mustache, he was compelled to stand by helplessly,
while they crowded through the gates like a pack of hounds at the call
of the master. The deserters were gone; the deserted stood staring after
them with wonder in their eyes. Suddenly Britt laughed and clapped
Deppingham on the back.
"Say, he's smoother than I thought. Most men would have been damned
fools enough to say that it was all poppy-cock about me sending wireless
messages and calling out navies; but not he! And that machine for
tapping the air! Say, we'd better go slow with that fellow. If you say
so, I'll call him up and tell him we'll agree to his little old
conference. What say to that, Browne? And you, Deppy? Think we--"
"See here," roared Deppingham, red as a lobster, "I won't have you
calling me Deppy, confound your--"
"I'll take it all back, my lord. Slip of the tongue. Please overlook it.
But, say, shall I call him up on the 'phone and head off the strike?"
"Anything, Mr. Britt, to get back our servants," said Lady Deppingham,
who had come up with Mrs. Browne.
"I was just beginning to learn their names and to understand their
English," lamented Mrs. Browne.
When Britt reappeared after a brief stay in the telephone booth he was
perspiring freely, and his face was redder, if possible, than ever
"What did he say?" demanded Mrs. Browne, consumed by curiosity. Britt
fanned himself for a moment before answering.
"He was very peremptory at first and very agreeable in the end, Mrs.
Browne. I said we'd come down at four-thirty. He asked me to bring some
cigarettes. Say, he's a strenuous chap. He wouldn't haggle for a
Britt and Saunders found the Enemy waiting for them under the awning in
front of the bank. He was sitting in a long canvas lounging chair, his
feet stretched out, his hands clasped behind his head. There was a
far-away, discontented look in his eyes. A native was fanning him
industriously from behind. There was no uncertainty in their judgment of
him; he looked a man from the top of his head to the tips of his canvas
Every line of his long body indicated power, vitality, health. His lean,
masterful face, with its clear grey eyes (the suspicion of a sardonic
smile in their depths), struck them at once as that of a man who could
and would do things in the very teeth of the dogs of war.
He arose quickly as they came under the awning. A frank, even joyous,
smile now lighted his face, a smile that meant more than either of them
could have suspected. It was the smile of one who had almost forgotten
what it meant to have the companionship of his fellow-man. Both men were
surprised by the eager, sincere manner in which he greeted them. He
clasped their hands in a grip that belied his terse, uncompromising
manner at the telephone; his eyes were not those of the domineering
individual whom conjecture had appraised so vividly a short time before.
"Glad to see you, gentlemen," he said. He was a head taller than either,
coatless and hatless, a lean but brawny figure in white crash trousers.
His shirt sleeves were rolled up to the elbows, displaying hard, sinewy
forearms, browned by the sun and wind. "It's very good of you to come
down. I'm sure we won't have to call out the British or American
gunboats to preserve order in our midst. I know something a great deal
better than gunboats. If you'll come to my shack down the street, I'll
mix you a real American cocktail, a mint julep, a brandy smash or
anything you like in season. There's a fine mint bed up my way, just
back of the bungalow. It's more precious than a ruby mine, let me tell
you. And yet, I'll exchange three hundred carats of mint, Mr. Britt, for
a dozen boxes of your Egyptian deities."
Then as they sauntered off into a narrow side street: "Do you know,
gentlemen, I made the greatest mistake of my life in failing to bring a
ton of these little white sticks out with me? I thought of Gordon gin,
both kinds of vermouth, brandy, and all that sort of thing, and
completely forgot the staff of life. I happened to know that you have a
million packages of them, more or less, up at the chateau. My spies told
me. I daresay you know that I have spies up there all the time? Don't
pay any attention to them. You're at liberty to set spies on my trail at
any time. Here we are. This is the headquarters for the Mine-owners'
Association of Japat."
He led them down a flight of steps and into a long, cool-looking room
some distance below the level of the street. Narrow windows near the
ceiling let in the light of day and yet kept out much of the oppressive
heat. A huge ice chest stood at one end of the room. At the other end
was his desk; a couch, two chairs, and a small deal table were the only
other articles of furniture. The floor was covered with rugs; the walls
were hung with ancient weapons of offence and defence.
"The Mine-owners' Association, gentlemen, comprises the entire
population of Japat. Here is where I receive my clients; here is where
they receive their daily loaf, if you will pardon the simile. I sit in
the chairs; they squat on the rugs. We talk about rubies and sapphires
as if they were peanuts. Occasionally we talk about our neighbours.
Shall I make three mint juleps? Here, Selim! The ice, the mint and the
straws--and the bottles. Sit down, gentlemen. This is the American bar
that Baedeker tells you about--the one you've searched all over Europe
for, I daresay."
"Reminds me of home, just a little bit," said Britt, as the tall glasses
were set before them. The Englishman was still clothed in reticence. His
slim, pinched body seemed more drawn up than ever before; the part in
his thatch of straw-coloured hair was as straight and undeviating as if
it had been laid by rule; his eyes were set and uncompromising. Mr.
Saunders was determined that the two Americans should not draw him into
a trap; after what he had seen of their methods, and their amazing
similarity of operation, he was quite prepared to suspect collusion.
"They shan't catch me napping," was the sober reflection of Thomas
The Enemy planted the mint in its bed of chipped ice. "The sagacity that
Taswell Skaggs displayed in erecting an ice plant and cold storage house
here is equalled only by John Wyckholme's foresightedness in maintaining
a contemporaneous mint bed. I imagine that you, gentlemen, are hoping to
prove the old codgers insane. Between the three of us, and man to man,
how can you have the heart to propose anything so unkind when we look,
as we now do, upon the result of their extreme soundness of mind? Here's
Selim passed the straws and the three men took a long and simultaneous
"pull" at the refreshing julep. Mr. Saunders felt something melt as he
drew the subsequent long and satisfying breath. It was the outer rim of
his cautious reserve.
"I think we'll take you up on that proposition to trade mint for
cigarettes," said Mr. Britt. "Mr. Browne, my client, for one, will
sanction the deal. How about your client, Saunders?"
Saunders raised his eyes, but did not at once reply, for the very
significant reason that he had just begun a second "pull" at his straw.
"I can't say as to Lady Deppingham," he responded, after touching his
lips three or four times with his handkerchief, "but I'm quite sure his
lordship will make no objection."
"Then we'll consider the deal closed. I'll send one of my boys over
to-morrow with a bunch of mint. Telephone up to the bungalow when you
need more. By the way," dropping into a curiously reflective air, "may I
ask why Lady Deppingham is permitted to ride alone through the
unfrequented and perilous parts of the island?" The question was
directed to her solicitor, who stared hard for a moment before replying.
"Perilous? What do you mean?"
"Just this, Mr. Saunders," said the Enemy, leaning forward earnestly.
"I'm not responsible for the acts of these islanders. You'll admit that
there is some justification in their contention that the island and its
treasures may be snatched away from them, by some hook or crook. Well,
there are men among them who would not hesitate to dispose of one or
both of the heirs if they could do it without danger to their interests.
What could be more simple, Mr. Saunders, than the death of Lady
Deppingham if her horse should stumble and precipitate her to the bottom
of one of those deep ravines? She wouldn't be alive to tell how it
really happened and there would be no other witnesses. She's much too
young and beautiful to come to that sort of an end."
"My word!" was all that Saunders could say, forgetting his julep in
contemplation of the catastrophe.
"He's right," said Britt promptly. "I'll keep my own client on the
straight and public path. He's liable to tip over, too."
"Deuce take your Browne," said Saunders with mild asperity. "He never
"I've noticed that," said the Enemy coolly. "He's usually with Lady
Deppingham. It's lucky that Japat is free from gossips, gentlemen."
"Oh, I say," said Saunders, "none of that talk, you know."
"Don't lose your temper, Saunders," remonstrated Britt. "Browne's worth
two of Deppingham."
"Gentlemen," said the Enemy, "please remember that we are not to discuss
the habits of our clients. To change the subject, Britt, that was a--Oh,
Selim, please step over to the bank and ask what time it is." As Selim
departed, the Enemy remarked: "It won't do for him to hear too much. As
I was saying, that was a clever bluff of yours--I mean the gunboat
goblin. I have enlarged upon your story somewhat. You-----"
"Yes," said Britt, "you've added quite a bit to it."
"It's a sort of two-story affair now, don't you know," said Saunders,
feeling the effect of the drink. They all laughed heartily, two, at
least, in some surprise. Saunders never let an opportunity escape to
repeat the joke to his friends in after life; in fact, he made the
opportunity more often than not.
"There's another thing I want to speak of," said the Enemy, arising to
prepare the second round of juleps. "I hope you won't take my
suggestions amiss. They're intended for the peace and security of the
island, nothing else. Of course, I could sit back and say nothing,
thereby letting your clients cut off their own noses, but it's hardly
fair among white people. Besides, it can have nothing to do with the
legal side of the situation. Well, here it is: I hear that your clients
and their partners for life are in the habit of gambling like fury up
"Gambling?" said Britt. "What rot!"
"The servants say that they play Bridge every night for vast piles of
rubies, and turn the wheel daily for sapphires uncountable. Oh, I get it
"Why, man, it's all a joke. They use gun wads and simply play that they
"My word," said Saunders, "there isn't a ruby or sapphire in the party."
"That's all right," said the Enemy, standing before them with a bunch of
mint in one hand and the bowl of ice in the other. They could not but
see that his face was serious. "We know it's all right, but the servants
don't. How do they know that the stakes are not what they're said to be?
It may be a joke, but the people think you are playing for real stones,
using gun wads as they've seen poker chips used. I've heard that as much
as L50,000 in precious gems change hands in a night. Well, the situation
is obvious. Every man in Japat thinks that your people are gambling with
jewels that belong to the corporation. They think there's something
crooked, d'ye see? My advice to you is: Stop that sort of joking. It's
not a joke to the islanders, as you may find out to your sorrow. Take
the tip from me, gentlemen. Let 'em play for pins or peppermint drops,
but not for rubies red. Here's your julep, Mr. Saunders. Fresh straw?"
"By Jove," said Saunders, taking a straw, and at the same time staring
in open-mouthed wonder at the tall host; "you appal me! It's most
extraordinary. But I see your point clearly, quite clearly. Do you,
"Certainly," said Britt with a look of disdain. "I told 'em to lower the
limit long ago."
"This is all offered in a kindly spirit, you understand," said the
magnanimous Enemy. "We might as well live comfortably as to die
unseasonably here. Another little suggestion, Mr. Saunders. Please tell
Lord Deppingham that if he persists in snooping about the ravines in
search of rubies, he'll get an unmanageable bullet in the back of his
head some day soon. He's being watched all the time. The natives resent
his actions, foolish as they may seem to us. This is not child's play.
He has no right to a single ruby, even if he should see one and know
what it was. Just tell him that, please, Mr. Saunders."
"I shall, confound him," exploded Saunders, smiting the table mightily.
"He's too damned uppish anyhow. He needs taking down--"
"Ah, Selim," interrupted the Enemy, as the native boy entered, "no mail,
"No, excellency, the ship is not due to arrive for two weeks."
"Ah, but, Selim, you forget that I am expecting a letter from Von
Blitz's wives. They promised to let me know how soon he is able to
resume work at the mines."
"I hear you polished him off neatly," said Britt, with a grin.
"Just the rough edges, Mr. Britt. He is now a gem of purest ray serene.
By the way, I hope you'll not take my mild suggestions amiss."
"There's nothing I object to except your power to call strikes among our
servants. That seems to me to be rather high-handed," said Britt
"No doubt you're right," agreed the other, "but you must remember that I
needed the cigarettes."
"My word!" muttered Saunders admiringly.
"Look here, old man," said Britt, his cheeks glowing, "it's mighty good
of you to take this trouble for----"
"Don't mention it. I'd only ask in return that we three be a little more
sociable hereafter. We're not here to cut each other's throats, you
know, and we've got a deadly half year ahead of us. What say?"
For answer the two lawyers arose and shook hands with the excellent
Enemy. When they started for the chateau at seven o'clock, each with six
mint juleps about his person, they were too mellow for analysis. The
Enemy, who had drunk but little, took an arm of each and piloted them
sturdily through the town.
"I'd walk up to the chateau if I were you," he said, when they clamoured
for a jinriksha apiece. "It will help pass away the time."
"By Jove," said Saunders, hunting for the Enemy's hand. "I'm going to
'nform L-Lord Deppingham that he's 'nsufferable ass an'--an' I don't
care who knows it."
"Saunders," said Britt, with rare dignity, "take your hand out of my
THE SLOUGH OF TRANQUILLITY
Three months stole by with tantalising slowness. How the strangers on
the island of Japat employed those dull, simmering, idle weeks it would
not be difficult to relate. There was little or no incident to break the
monotony of their enforced residence among the surly Japatites; the same
routine obtained from day to day. Sultry, changeless, machine-like were
those hundred days and nights. They looked forward with hopeful, tired
eyes; never backward. There was nothing behind them but a dour waste, a
bog through which they had driven themselves with a lash of resolution.
Autumn passed on into winter without a change of expression in the
benign face of nature. Christmas day was as hot as if it had come in
midsummer; the natives were as naked, the trees as fully clad. The
curious sun closed his great eye for a few hours in the twenty-four; the
remainder of the time he glared down upon his victims with a malevolence
that knew no bounds. Soft, sweet winds came with the typhoon season,
else the poor whites must have shrivelled and died while nature
revelled. Rain fell often in fitful little bursts of joyousness, but the
hungry earth sipped its moisture through a million greedy lips, eager to
thwart the mischievous sun. Through it all, the chateau gleamed red and
purple and gray against the green mountainside, baked where the sun
could meet its face, cool where the caverns blew upon it with their
rich, damp breath.
The six months were passing away, however, in spite of themselves; ten
weeks were left before the worn, but determined heirs could cast off
their bonds and rush away to other climes. It mattered little whether
they went away rich or poor; they were to go! Go! That was the richest
thing the future held out to them--more precious than the wealth for
which they stayed. Whatever was being done for them in London and
Boston, it was no recompense for the weariness of heart and soul that
they had found in the green island of Japat.
True, they rode and played and swam and romped without restraint, but
beneath all of their abandon there lurked the ever-present pathos of the
jail, the asylum, the detention ward. The blue sky seemed streaked with
the bars of their prison; the green earth clanked as with the sombre
tread of feet crossing flagstones.
Not until the end of January was there a sign of revolt against the
ever-growing, insidious condition of melancholy. As they turned into the
last third of their exile, they found heart to rejoice in the thought
that release was coming nearer and nearer. The end of March! Eight weeks
off! Soon there would be but seven weeks--then six!
And, all this time, the islanders toiled as they had toiled for years;
they reckoned in years, while the strangers cast up Time's account in
weeks and called them years. Each day the brown men worked in the mines,
piling gems into the vaults with a resoluteness that never faltered.
They were the sons of Martha. The rubies of Mandalay and Mogok were
rivalled by the takings of these indifferent stockholders in the great
Japat corporation. Nothing short of a ruby as large as the Tibet gem
could have startled them out of their state of taciturnity. Gems
weighing ten and fifteen carats already had been taken from the "byon"
in the wash, and yet inspired no exaltation. Sapphires, nestling in the
soft ground near their carmine sisters, were rolling into the coffers of
the company, but they were treated as so many pebbles in this ceaseless
The tiniest child knew that the ruby would not lose its colour by fire,
while the blue of the sapphire would vanish forever if subjected to
heat. All these things and many more the white strangers learned; they
were surfeited with a knowledge that tired and bored them.
From London came disquieting news for all sides to the controversy. The
struggle promised to be drawn out for years, perhaps; the executors
would probably be compelled to turn over the affairs of the corporation
to agents of the Crown; in the meantime a battle royal, long drawn out,
would undoubtedly be fought for the vast unentailed estate left behind
by the two legators.
The lonely legatees, marooned in the far South Sea, began to realise
that even after they had spent their six months of probation, they would
still have months, even years, of waiting before they could touch the
fortune they laid claim to. The islanders also were vaguely awake to the
fact that everything might be tied up for years, despite the provisions
of the will; a restless, stubborn feeling of alarm spread among them.
This feeling gradually developed itself into bitter resentment; hatred
for the people who were causing this delay was growing deeper and
fiercer with each succeeding day of toil.
Their counsellor, the complacent Enemy, was in no sense immune to the
blandishments of the climate. His tremendous vitality waned; he slowly
drifted into the current with his fellows, although not beside them. For
some unaccountable reason, he held himself aloof from the men and women
that his charges were fighting. He met the two lawyers often, but
nothing passed between them that could have been regarded as the
slightest breach of trust. He lived like a rajah in his shady bungalow,
surrounded by the luxuries of one to whom all things are brought
indivisible. If he had any longing for the society of women of his own
race and kind, he carefully concealed it; his indifference to the subtle
though unmistakable appeals of the two gentlewomen in the chateau was
irritating in the extreme. When he deliberately, though politely,
declined their invitation to tea one afternoon, their humiliation knew
no bounds. They had, after weeks of procrastination, surrendered to the
inevitable. It was when they could no longer stand out against the
common enemy--Tranquillity! Lord Deppingham and Bobby Browne suffered in
silence; they even looked longingly toward the bungalow for the relief
that it contained and refused to extend.
Lady Deppingham and Mrs. Browne should not be misunderstood by the
reader. They loved their husbands--I am quite sure of that; but they
were tired of seeing no one else, tired of talking to no one else.
Moreover, in support of this one-sided assertion, they experienced from
time to time the most melancholy attacks of jealousy. The drag of time
hung so heavily upon them that any struggle to cast it off was
immediately noticeable. If Mrs. Browne, in plain despair, went off for a
day's ride with Lord Deppingham, that gentleman's wife was sick with
jealousy. If Lady Agnes strolled in the moonlit gardens with Mr. Browne,
the former Miss Bate of Boston could scarcely control her emotions. They
shed many tears of anguish over the faithlessness of husbands; tears of
hatred over the viciousness of temptresses. Their quarrels were fierce,
their upbraidings characteristic, but in the end they cried and kissed
and "made up"; they actually found some joy in creating these little
feuds and certainly there was great exhilaration in ending them.
They did not know, of course, that the wily Britt, despite his own
depression, was all the while accumulating the most astounding lot of
evidence to show that a decided streak of insanity existed in the two
heirs. He won Saunders over to his way of thinking, and that faithful
agent unconsciously found himself constantly on the watch for "signs,"
jotting them down in his memorandum book. Britt was firm in his purpose
to make them out as "mad as March hares" if needs be; he slyly patted
his typewritten "manifestations" and said that it would be easy sailing,
so far as he was concerned. One choice bit of evidence he secured in a
most canny manner. He was present when Miss Pelham, at the bank, was
"taking" a dictation for the Enemy--some matter pertaining to the output
of the mines. Lady Deppingham had just been guilty of a most astounding
piece of foolhardiness, and he was discussing it with the Enemy. She had
forced her horse to leap across a narrow fissure in the volcano the day
before. Falling, she would have gone to her death three hundred feet
"She must be an out and out lunatic," the Enemy had said. Britt looked
quickly at Miss Pelham and Mr. Bowles. The former took down the
statement in shorthand and Bowles was afterward required to sign "his
deposition." Such a statement as that, coming from the source it did,
would be of inestimable value in Court.
"If they could only be married in some way," was Britt's private lament
to Saunders, from time to time, when despair overcame confidence.
"I've got a ripping idea," Saunders said one day.
"Let's have it. You've always got 'em. Why not divide with me?"
"Can't do it just yet. I've been looking up a little matter. I'll spring
"How long have you been working on the idea?"
"Nearly four months," said Saunders, yawning.
"'Gad, this climate _is_ enervating," was Britt's caustic comment.
Saunders was heels over head in love with Miss Pelham at this time, so
it is not surprising that he had some sort of an idea about marriage, no
matter whom it concerned.
Night after night, the Deppinghams and Brownes gave dinners, balls,
musicales, "Bridges," masques and theatre suppers at the chateau. First
one would invite the other to a great ball, then the other would respond
by giving a sumptuous dinner. Their dinners were served with as much
punctiliousness as if the lordliest guests were present; their dancing
parties, while somewhat barren of guests, were never dull for longer
than ten minutes after they opened. Each lady danced twice and then
pleaded a headache. Whereupon the "function" came to a close.
For a while, the two hostesses were not in a position to ask any one
outside their immediate families to these functions, but one day Mrs.
Browne was seized by an inspiration. She announced that she was going to
send regular invitations to all of her friends at home.
"Regular written invitations, with five-cent stamps, my dear," she
explained enthusiastically. "Just like this: 'Mrs. Robert Browne
requests the pleasure of Miss So-and-so's company at dinner on the 17th
of Whatever-it-is. Please reply by return steamer.' Won't it be fun?
Bobby, please send down to the bank for the stamps. I'm going to make
out a list."
After that it was no unusual thing to see large packages of carefully
stamped envelopes going to sea in the ships that came for the mail.
"And I'd like so much to meet these native Americans that you are
asking," said Lady Agnes sweetly, and without malice. "I've always
wondered if the first families over there show any trace of their
wonderful, picturesque Indian blood."
"Our first families came from England, Lady Deppingham," said Drusilla,
biting her lips.
"Indeed? From what part of England?" Of course, that query killed every
chance for a sensible discussion.
One morning during the first week in February, the steamer from Aden
brought stacks of mail--the customary newspapers, magazines, novels,
telegrams and letters. It was noticed that her ladyship had several
hundred letters, many bearing crests or coats-of-arms.
At last, she came to a letter of many pages, covered with a scrawl that
looked preposterously fashionable.
"Nouveau riche," thought Drusilla Browne, looking up from her own
letters. Lady Agnes gave a sudden shriek, and, leaping to her feet,
performed a dance that set her husband and Bobby Browne to gasping.
"She's coming!" she cried ecstatically, repeating herself a dozen times.
"Who's coming, Aggie?" roared her husband for the sixth time.
"She may be a steamship for all I know, if--"
"The Princess! Deppy, I'm going to squeeze you! I must squeeze somebody!
Isn't it glorious? Now--now! Now life will be worth living in this
Her dearest friend, the Princess, had written to say that she was coming
to spend a month with her. Her dear schoolmate of the old days in
Paris--her chum of the dear Sacred Heart Convent when it flourished in
the Boulevard des Invalides--her roommate up to the day when that
institution was forced to leave Paris for less unfriendly fields!
"In her uncle's yacht, Deppy--the big one that came to Cowes last year,
don't you know? Of course, you do. Don't look so dazed. He's cruising
for a couple of months and is to set her down here until the yacht
returns from Borneo and the Philippines. She says she hopes it will be
quiet here! Quiet! She _hopes_ it will be _quiet_! Where are the
cigarettes, Deppy? Quick! I must do something devilish. Yes, I know I
swore off last week, but--please let me take 'em." The four of them
smoked in wondrous silence for two or three minutes. Then Browne spoke
up, as if coming from a dream:
"I say, Deppingham, you can take her out walking and pick up a crownful
of fresh rubies every day or so."
"Hang it all, Browne, I'm afraid to pluck a violet these days. Every
time I stoop over I feel that somebody's going to take a shot at me. I
wonder why the beggars select me to shoot at. They're not always popping
away at you, Browne. Why is it? I'm not looking for rubies every time I
stoop over. They shot at me the other day when I got down to pick up my
"It's all right so long as they don't kill you," was Browne's consoling
"By Jove!" said Deppingham, starting up with a look of horror in his
eyes, sudden comprehension rushing down upon him. "I wonder if they
think I am _you_, Browne! Horrible!"
WOMEN AND WOMEN
The Enemy's office hours were from three to five in the afternoon. It
was of no especial consequence to his clients that he frequently
transferred the placard from the front of the company's bank to the more
alluring doorway of the "American bar;" all was just and fair so long as
he was to be found where the placard listed. Twice a week, Miss Pelham
came down from the chateau in a gaily bedecked jinriksha to sit opposite
to him in his stuffy corner of the banking house, his desk between them,
her notebook trembling with propinquity. Mr. Britt generously loaned the
pert lady to the Enemy in exchange for what he catalogued as "happy
Miss Pelham made it a point to look as fascinating as possible on the
occasion of these interesting trips into the Enemy's territory.
The Enemy, doing his duty by his clients with a determination that
seemed incontestable, suffered in the end because of his very
zealousness. He took no time to analyse the personal side of his work;
he dealt with the situation from the aspect of a man who serves but one
interest, forgetting that it involved the weal of a thousand units. For
that reason, he was the last to realise that an intrigue was shaping
itself to combat his endeavours. Von Blitz, openly his friend and ally,
despite their sad encounter, was the thorn which pricked the natives
into a state of uneasiness and doubt as to their agent's sincerity.
Von Blitz, cunning and methodical, sowed the seed of distrust; it
sprouted at will in the minds of the uncouth, suspicious islanders. They
began to believe that no good could come out of the daily meetings of
the three lawyers. A thousand little things cropped out to prove that
the intimacy between their man and the shrewd lawyers for the opposition
was inimical to their best interests.
It was Von Blitz who told the leading men of the island that their
wives--the Persians, the Circassians, the Egyptians and the Turkish
houris--were in love with the tall stranger. It was he who advised them
to observe the actions, to study the moods of their women.
If he spoke to one of the women, beautiful or plain, the whole male
population knew of it, and smiled derisively upon the husband. Von Blitz
had turned an adder loose among these men; it stung swiftly and returned
to sting again.
The German knew the condition of affairs in his own household. His
overthrow at the hands of the American had cost him more than physical
ignominy; his wives openly expressed an admiration for their champion.
He knew too well the voluptuous nature of these creamy, unloved women,
who had come down to the island of Japat in exchange for the baubles
that found their way into the crowns of Persian potentates. He knew too
well that they despised the men who called them wives, even though fear
held them constantly in bond. Rebuffed, unnoticed, scorned, the women
themselves began to suspect and hate each other. If he spoke kindly to
one of them, be she fair and young or old and plain, the eyes of all the
others blazed with jealousy. Every eye in Japat was upon him; every hand
was turning against him.
It was Miss Pelham who finally took it upon herself to warn the lonely
American. The look of surprise and disgust that came into his face
brought her up sharply. She had been "taking" reports at his dictation;
it was during an intermission of idleness on his part that she broached
"Miss Pelham," he said coldly, "will you be kind enough to carry my
condolences to the ladies at court, and say that I recommend reading as
an antidote for the poison which idleness produces. I've no doubt that
they, with all the perspicacity of lonely and honest women, imagine that
I maintain a harem as well as a bar-room. Kindly set them right about
it. Neither my home nor my bar-room is open to ladies. If you don't mind
we'll go on with this report."
Miss Pelham flushed and looked very uncomfortable. She had more to say,
and yet hesitated about bearding the lion. He noticed the pain and
uncertainty in her erstwhile coquettish eyes, and was sorry.
"I beg your pardon," he said gently.
"You're wrong about Lady Deppingham and Mrs. Browne," she began
hurriedly. "They've never said anything mean about you. It was just my
miserable way of putting it. The talk comes from the islanders. Mr.
Bowles has told Mr. Britt and Mr. Saunders. He thinks Von Blitz is
working against you, and he is sure that all of the men are furiously
"My dear Miss Pelham, you are very good to warn me," said he easily. "I
have nothing to fear. The men are quite friendly and--" He stopped
abruptly, his eyes narrowing in thought. A moment later he arose and
walked to the little window overlooking the square. When he turned to
her again his face wore a more serious expression. "Perhaps there is
something in what you say. I'm grateful to you for preparing me." It had
suddenly come to mind that the night before he had seen a man skulking
in the vicinity of the bungalow. His body servant, Selim, had told him
that very morning that this same man, a native, had stood for hours
among the trees, apparently watching the house.
"I just thought I'd tell you," murmured Miss Pelham nervously, "I--we
don't want to see you get into trouble--none of us."
"Thank you," After a long pause, he went on, lowering his voice: "Miss
Pelham, I have had a hard time here, in more ways than I care to speak
of. It may interest you to know that I had decided to resign next month
and go home. I'm a living man, and a living man objects to a living
death. It's worse than I had thought, I came out here in the hope that
there would be excitement, life, interest. The only excitement I get is
when the ships call twice a month. I've even prayed that our beastly old
volcano might erupt and do all sorts of horrible things. It might, at
least, toss old Mr. Skaggs back into our midst; that would be a relief,
even if he came up as a chunk of lava. But nothing happens--nothing!
These Persian fairies you talk about--bah! I said I'd decided to resign,
to get out of the infernal place. But I've changed my mind. I'll stick
my time out. I've got three months longer to stay and I'll stay. If Von
Blitz thinks he can drive me out, he's mistaken. I'll be here after you
and your friends up there have sailed away, Miss Pelham--God bless you,
you're all white!--and I'll be here when Von Blitz and his wives are
dancing to the tunes I play. Now let's get back to work."
"All right; but please be careful," she urged. "Don't let them catch you
unprepared. If you need help, I know the men at the chateau will come at
One of those bright, enveloping smiles swept over his face--the smile
that always carried the little stenographer away with it. A merry
chuckle escaped his lips. "Thanks, but you forget that I can call out
the American and British navies."
She looked doubtful. "I know," she said, "but I'm afraid Von Blitz is
scuttling your ships."
"If poor little Bowles can conquer them with a red jacket that's too
small for him, to say nothing of the fit it would give to the British
army, I think I can scrape up a garment or two that will startle them in
another way. Please don't worry about me. I shall call my clients
together and have it out with them. If Von Blitz is working in the dark,
I'll compel him to show his hand. And, Miss Pelham," he concluded very
slowly, "I'll promise to use a club, if necessary, to drive the Persian
ladies away. So please rest easy on my account."
Poor little Miss Pelham left him soon afterward, her head and heart
ringing with the consciousness that she had at last driven him out of
his customary reserve. Mr. Saunders was pacing the street in the
neighbourhood of the bank. He had been waiting an hour or more, and he
was green with jealousy. She nodded sweetly to him and called him to the
side of her conveyance. "Don't you want to walk beside me?" she asked.
And he trotted beside her like a faithful dog, all the way to the
The next morning the town bustled with a new excitement. A trim,
beautiful yacht, flying strange colours, steamed into the little harbour
She came to anchor much closer in than ships usually ventured, and an
officer put off in the small boat, heading for the pier, which was
already crowded with the native women and children. Every one knew that
the yacht brought the Princess who was to visit her ladyship; nothing
else had been talked of among the women since the word first came down
from the chateau that she was expected.
The Enemy came down from his bungalow, attracted by the unusual and
inspiring spectacle of a ship at anchor. A line of anxiety marked his
brow. Two figures had watched his windows all night long, sinister
shadows that always met his eye when it penetrated the gloom of the
Lord and Lady Deppingham were on the pier before him. Excitement and joy
illumined her face; her eyes were sparkling with anticipation; he could
almost see that she trembled in her eagerness. He came quite close to
them before they saw him. Exhilaration no doubt was responsible for the
very agreeable smile of recognition that she bestowed upon him. Or,
perhaps it was inspired by womanly pity for the man whose loneliness was
even greater and graver than her own. The Enemy could do no less than go
to them with his pleasantest acknowledgment. His rugged face relaxed
into a most charming, winsome smile, half-diffident, half-assured.
He passed among the wives of his clients without so much as a sign of
recognition, coolly indifferent to the admiring glances that sought his
face. The dark, langourous eyes that flashed eager admiration a moment
before now turned sullen with disappointment. He had ignored their
owners; he had avoided them as if they were dust heaps in the path; he
had spurned them as if they were dogs by the roadside. And yet he smiled
upon the Englishwoman, he spoke with her, he admired her! The sharp
intake of breath that swept through the crowd told plainer than words
the story of the angry eyes that followed him to the end of the pier,
where the officer's boat was landing.
"I have heard that you expect a visitor," said the Enemy in his most
agreeable manner. Lady Deppingham had just told him that she had a
friend aboard the yacht.
"Won't you go aboard with us," asked Deppingham, at a loss for anything
better to say. The Enemy shook his head and smiled.
"You are very good, but I believe my place is here," he said, with a
swift, sardonic glance toward his herd of followers. Lady Deppingham
raised her delicate eyebrows and gave him the cool, intimate smile of
comprehension. He flushed. "I am one of the lowly and the despised," he
"The Princess is to be with me for a month. We expect more sunshine than
ever at the chateau," ventured her ladyship.
"I sincerely hope you may be disappointed," said he commiseratingly,
fanning himself with his hat. She laughed and understood, but Deppingham
was half way out to the yacht before it became clear to him that the
Enemy hoped literally, not figuratively.
The Enemy sauntered back toward the town, past and through the staring
crowd of women. Here and there in the curious throng the face of a
Persian or an Egyptian stared at him from among the brown Arabians.
There was no sign of love in the glittering eyes of these trafficked
women of Japat. One by one they lifted their veils to their eyes and
slowly faded into the side streets, each seeking the home she despised,
each filled with a hatred for the man who would not feast upon her
The man, all unconscious of the new force that was to oppose him from
that hour, saw the English people go aboard. He waited until the owner's
launch was ready to return to the pier with its merry company, and then
slowly wended his way to the "American bar," lonelier than ever before
in his life. He now knew what it was that he had missed more than all
Britt and Saunders were waiting for him under the awning outside. They
were never permitted to enter, except by the order or invitation of the
Enemy. Selim stood guard and Selim loved the tall American, who could be
and was kind to him.
"Hello," called Britt. "We saw you down there, but couldn't get near. By
ginger, old man, I had no idea your Persians were so beautiful. They are
Oriental gems of--"
"My Persians? What the devil do you mean, Britt? Come in and sit down; I
want to talk to you fellows. See here, this talk about these women has
got to be stopped. It's dangerous for you and it's dangerous for me. It
is so full of peril that I don't care to look at them, handsome as you
say they are. Do you know what I was thinking of as I came over here,
after leaving one of the most charming of women?--your Lady Deppingham.
I was thinking what a wretched famine there is in women. I'm speaking of
women like Lady Deppingham and Mrs. Browne--neither of whom I know and
yet I've known them all my life. The kind of women we love--not the kind
we despise or pity. Don't you see? I'm hungry for the very sight of a
"You see Miss Pelham often enough," said Saunders surlily. The Enemy was
making a pitcher of lemonade.
"My dear Saunders, you are quite right. I _do_ see Miss Pelham often
enough. In my present frame of mind I'd fall desperately in love with
her if I saw her oftener." Saunders blinked and glared at him through
his pale eyes.
"My word," he said. Then he got up abruptly and stalked out of the room.
Britt laughed immoderately.
"He's a lucky dog," reflected the Enemy. "You see, he loves her,
Britt--he loves little Miss Pelham. Do you know what that means? It
means everything is worth while. Hello! Here he is back! Come in,
Saunders. Here's your lemo!"
Saunders was excited. He stopped in the doorway, but looked over his
shoulder into the street.
"Come along," he exclaimed. "They're going up to the chateau--the
Princess and her party. My word, she's ripping!" He was off again,
followed more leisurely by the two Americans.
At the corner they stopped to await the procession of palanquins and
jinrikshas, which had started from the pier. The smart English victoria
from the chateau, drawn by Wyckholme's thoroughbreds, was coming on in
advance of the foot brigade. Half a dozen officers from the yacht, as
many men in civilian flannels, and a small army of servants were being
borne in the palanquins. In the rear seat of the victoria sat Lady
Deppingham and one who evidently was the Princess. Opposite to them sat
two older but no less smart-looking women.
Britt and the Enemy moved over to the open space in front of the mosque.