Full Text Archive logoFull Text Archive — Free Classic E-books

The Night-Born by Jack London*

Part 2 out of 4

Adobe PDF icon
Download this document as a .pdf
File size: 0.4 MB
What's this? light bulb idea Many people prefer to read off-line or to print out text and read from the real printed page. Others want to carry documents around with them on their mobile phones and read while they are on the move. We have created .pdf files of all out documents to accommodate all these groups of people. We recommend that you download .pdfs onto your mobile phone when it is connected to a WiFi connection for reading off-line.

growling, the sound of blows being struck and a smashing and
crashing of underbrush by heavy bodies.

The tide of battle swept out from among the trees and upon the
driveway just beneath the onlookers. Then they saw. Mrs.
Gersdale cried out and clung fainting to her son. Lilian,
clutching the railing so spasmodically that a bruising hurt was
left in her finger-ends for days, gazed horror-stricken at a
yellow-haired, wild-eyed giant whom she recognized as the man
who was to be her husband. He was swinging a great club, and
fighting furiously and calmly with a shaggy monster that was
bigger than any bear she had ever seen. One rip of the beast's
claws had dragged away Ward's pajama-coat and streaked his
flesh with blood.

While most of Lilian Gersdale's fright was for the man beloved,
there was a large portion of it due to the man himself. Never
had she dreamed so formidable and magnificent a savage lurked
under the starched shirt and conventional garb of her
betrothed. And never had she had any conception of how a man
battled. Such a battle was certainly not modern; nor was she
there beholding a modern man, though she did not know it. For
this was not Mr. James J. Ward, the San Francisco business man,
but one, unnamed and unknown, a crude, rude savage creature
who, by some freak of chance, lived again after thrice a
thousand years.

The hounds, ever maintaining their mad uproar, circled about
the fight, or dashed in and out, distracting the bear. When the
animal turned to meet such flanking assaults, the man leaped in
and the club came down. Angered afresh by every such blow, the
bear would rush, and the man, leaping and skipping, avoiding
the dogs, went backwards or circled to one side or the other.
Whereupon the dogs, taking advantage of the opening, would
again spring in and draw the animal's wrath to them.

The end came suddenly. Whirling, the grizzly caught a hound
with a wide sweeping cuff that sent the brute, its ribs caved
in and its back broken, hurtling twenty feet. Then the human
brute went mad. A foaming rage flecked the lips that parted
with a wild inarticulate cry, as it sprang in, swung the club
mightily in both hands, and brought it down full on the head of
the uprearing grizzly. Not even the skull of a grizzly could
withstand the crushing force of such a blow, and the animal
went down to meet the worrying of the hounds. And through their
scurrying leaped the man, squarely upon the body, where, in the
white electric light, resting on his club, he chanted a triumph
in an unknown tongue--a song so ancient that Professor Wertz
would have given ten years of his life for it.

His guests rushed to possess him and acclaim him, but James
Ward, suddenly looking out of the eyes of the early Teuton, saw
the fair frail Twentieth Century girl he loved, and felt
something snap in his brain. He staggered weakly toward her,
dropped the club, and nearly fell. Something had gone wrong
with him. Inside his brain was an intolerable agony. It seemed
as if the soul of him were flying asunder. Following the
excited gaze of the others, he glanced back and saw the carcass
of the bear. The sight filled him with fear. He uttered a cry
and would have fled, had they not restrained him and led him
into the bungalow.

. . . . . .

James J. Ward is still at the head of the firm of Ward, Knowles
& Co. But he no longer lives in the country; nor does he run of
nights after the coyotes under the moon. The early Teuton in
him died the night of the Mill Valley fight with the bear.
James J. Ward is now wholly James J. Ward, and he shares no
part of his being with any vagabond anachronism from the
younger world. And so wholly is James J. Ward modern, that he
knows in all its bitter fullness the curse of civilized fear.
He is now afraid of the dark, and night in the forest is to him
a thing of abysmal terror. His city house is of the spick and
span order, and he evinces a great interest in burglarproof
devices. His home is a tangle of electric wires, and after
bed-time a guest can scarcely breathe without setting off an
alarm. Also, he had invented a combination keyless door-lock
that travelers may carry in their vest pockets and apply
immediately and successfully under all circumstances. But his
wife does not deem him a coward. She knows better. And, like
any hero, he is content to rest on his laurels. His bravery is
never questioned by those friends who are aware of the Mill
Valley episode.


CARTER WATSON, a current magazine under his arm, strolled
slowly along, gazing about him curiously. Twenty years had
elapsed since he had been on this particular street, and the
changes were great and stupefying. This Western city of three
hundred thousand souls had contained but thirty thousand, when,
as a boy, he had been wont to ramble along its streets. In
those days the street he was now on had been a quiet residence
street in the respectable workingclass quarter. On this late
afternoon he found that it had been submerged by a vast and
vicious tenderloin. Chinese and Japanese shops and dens
abounded, all confusedly intermingled with low white resorts
and boozing dens. This quiet street of his youth had become the
toughest quarter of the city.

He looked at his watch. It was half-past five. It was the slack
time of the day in such a region, as he well knew, yet he was
curious to see. In all his score of years of wandering and
studying social conditions over the world, he had carried with
him the memory of his old town as a sweet and wholesome place.
The metamorphosis he now beheld was startling. He certainly
must continue his stroll and glimpse the infamy to which his
town had descended.

Another thing: Carter Watson had a keen social and civic
consciousness. Independently wealthy, he had been loath to
dissipate his energies in the pink teas and freak dinners of
society, while actresses, race-horses, and kindred diversions
had left him cold. He had the ethical bee in his bonnet and was
a reformer of no mean pretension, though his work had been
mainly in the line of contributions to the heavier reviews and
quarterlies and to the publication over his name of brightly,
cleverly written books on the working classes and the
slum-dwellers. Among the twenty-seven to his credit occurred
titles such as, "If Christ Came to New Orleans," " The
Worked-out Worker," "Tenement Reform in Berlin," "The Rural
Slums of England," "The people of the East Side," "Reform
Versus Revolution," "The University Settlement as a Hot Bed of
Radicalism' and "The Cave Man of Civilization."

But Carter Watson was neither morbid nor fanatic. He did not
lose his head over the horrors he encountered, studied, and
exposed. No hair brained enthusiasm branded him. His humor
saved him, as did his wide experience and his con. conservative
philosophic temperament. Nor did he have any patience with
lightning change reform theories. As he saw it, society would
grow better only through the painfully slow and arduously
painful processes of evolution. There were no short cuts, no
sudden regenerations. The betterment of mankind must be worked
out in agony and misery just as all past social betterments had
been worked out.

But on this late summer afternoon, Carter Watson was curious.
As he moved along he paused before a gaudy drinking place. The
sign above read, "The Vendome." There were two entrances. One
evidently led to the bar. This he did not explore. The other
was a narrow hallway. Passing through this he found himself in
a huge room, filled with chair-encircled tables and quite
deserted. In the dim light he made out a piano in the distance.
Making a mental note that he would come back some time and
study the class of persons that must sit and drink at those
multitudinous tables, he proceeded to circumnavigate the room.

Now, at the rear, a short hallway led off to a small kitchen,
and here, at a table, alone, sat Patsy Horan, proprietor of the
Vendome, consuming a hasty supper ere the evening rush of
business. Also, Patsy Horan was angry with the world. He had
got out of the wrong side of bed that morning, and nothing had
gone right all day. Had his barkeepers been asked, they would
have described his mental condition as a grouch. But Carter
Watson did not know this. As he passed the little hallway,
Patsy Horan's sullen eyes lighted on the magazine he carried
under his arm. Patsy did not know Carter Watson, nor did he
know that what he carried under his arm was a magazine. Patsy,
out of the depths of his grouch, decided that this stranger was
one of those pests who marred and scarred the walls of his back
rooms by tacking up or pasting up advertisements. The color on
the front cover of the magazine convinced him that it was such
an advertisement. Thus the trouble began. Knife and fork in
hand, Patsy leaped for Carter Watson.

"Out wid yeh!" Patsy bellowed. "I know yer game!"

Carter Watson was startled. The man had come upon him like the
eruption of a jack-in-the-box.

"A defacin' me walls," cried Patsy, at the same time emitting a
string of vivid and vile, rather than virile, epithets of

"If I have given any offense I did not mean to--"

But that was as far as the visitor got. Patsy interrupted.

"Get out wid yeh; yeh talk too much wid yer mouth," quoted
Patsy, emphasizing his remarks with flourishes of the knife and

Carter Watson caught a quick vision of that eating-fork
inserted uncomfortably between his ribs, knew that it would be
rash to talk further with his mouth, and promptly turned to go.
The sight of his meekly retreating back must have further
enraged Patsy Horan, for that worthy, dropping the table
implements, sprang upon him.

Patsy weighed one hundred and eighty pounds. So did Watson. In
this they were equal. But Patsy was a rushing, rough-and-tumble
saloon-fighter, while Watson was a boxer. In this the latter
had the advantage, for Patsy came in wide open, swinging his
right in a perilous sweep. All Watson had to do was to
straight-left him and escape. But Watson had another advantage.
His boxing, and his experience in the slums and ghettos of the
world, had taught him restraint.

He pivoted on his feet, and, instead of striking, ducked the
other's swinging blow and went into a clinch. But Patsy,
charging like a bull, had the momentum of his rush, while
Watson, whirling to meet him, had no momentum. As a result, the
pair of them went down, with all their three hundred and sixty
pounds of weight, in a long crashing fall, Watson underneath.
He lay with his head touching the rear wall of the large room.
The street was a hundred and fifty feet away, and he did some
quick thinking. His first thought was to avoid trouble. He had
no wish to get into the papers of this, his childhood town,
where many of his relatives and family friends still lived.

So it was that he locked his arms around the man on top of him,
held him close, and waited for the help to come that must come
in response to the crash of the fall. The help came--that is,
six men ran in from the bar and formed about in a semi-circle.

'Take him off, fellows," Watson said. "I haven't struck him,
and I don't want any fight."

But the semi-circle remained silent. Watson held on and waited.
Patsy, after various vain efforts to inflict damage, made an

"Leggo o' me an' I'll get off o' yeh," said he.

Watson let go, but when Patsy scrambled to his feet he stood
over his recumbent foe, ready to strike.

"Get up," Patsy commanded.

His voice was stern and implacable, like the voice of God
calling to judgment, and Watson knew there was no mercy there.

"Stand back and I'll get up," he countered.

"If yer a gentleman, get up," quoth Patsy, his pale blue eyes
aflame with wrath, his fist ready for a crushing blow.

At the same moment he drew his foot back to kick the other in
the face. Watson blocked the kick with his crossed arms and
sprang to his feet so quickly that he was in a clinch with his
antagonist before the latter could strike. Holding him, Watson
spoke to the onlookers:

"Take him away from me, fellows. You see I am not striking him.
I don't want to fight. I want to get out of here."

The circle did not move nor speak. Its silence was ominous and
sent a chill to Watson's heart.

Patsy made an effort to throw him, which culminated in his
putting Patsy on his back. Tearing loose from him, Watson
sprang to his feet and made for the door. But the circle of men
was interposed a wall. He noticed the white, pasty faces, the
kind that never see the sun, and knew that the men who barred
his way were the nightprowlers and preying beasts of the city
jungle. By them he was thrust back upon the pursuing,
bull-rushing Patsy.

Again it was a clinch, in which, in momentary safety, Watson
appealed to the gang. And again his words fell on deaf ears.
Then it was that he knew of many similar knew fear. For he had
known of many similar situations, in low dens like this, when
solitary men were man-handled, their ribs and features caved
in, themselves beaten and kicked to death. And he knew,
further, that if he were to escape he must neither strike his
assailant nor any of the men who opposed him.

Yet in him was righteous indignation. Under no circumstances
could seven to one be fair. Also, he was angry, and there
stirred in him the fighting beast that is in all men. But he
remembered his wife and children, his unfinished book, the ten
thousand rolling acres of the up-country ranch he loved so
well. He even saw in flashing visions the blue of the sky, the
golden sun pouring down on his flower-spangled meadows, the
lazy cattle knee-deep in the brooks, and the flash of trout in
the riffles. Life was good-too good for him to risk it for a
moment's sway of the beast. In short, Carter Watson was cool
and scared.

His opponent, locked by his masterly clinch, was striving to
throw him. Again Watson put him on the floor, broke away, and
was thrust back by the pasty-faced circle to duck Patsy's
swinging right and effect another clinch. This happened many
times. And Watson grew even cooler, while the baffled Patsy,
unable to inflict punishment, raged wildly and more wildly. He
took to batting with his head in the clinches. The first time,
he landed his forehead flush on Watson's nose. After that, the
latter, in the clinches, buried his face in Patsy's breast. But
the enraged Patsy batted on, striking his own eye and nose and
cheek on the top of the other's head. The more he was thus
injured, the more and the harder did Patsy bat.

This one-sided contest continued for twelve or fifteen minutes.
Watson never struck a blow, and strove only to escape.
Sometimes, in the free moments, circling about among the tables
as he tried to win the door, the pasty-faced men gripped his
coat-tails and flung him back at the swinging right of the
on-rushing Patsy. Time upon time, and times without end, he
clinched and put Patsy on his back, each time first whirling
him around and putting him down in the direction of the door
and gaining toward that goal by the length of the fall.

In the end, hatless, disheveled, with streaming nose and one
eye closed, Watson won to the sidewalk and into the arms of a

"Arrest that man," Watson panted.

"Hello, Patsy," said the policeman. "What's the mix-up?"

"Hello, Charley," was the answer. "This guy comes in--"

"Arrest that man, officer," Watson repeated.

"G'wan! Beat it!" said Patsy.

"Beat it!" added the policeman. "If you don't, I'll pull you

"Not unless you arrest that man. He has committed a violent and
unprovoked assault on me."

"Is it so, Patsy?" was the officer's query.

"Nah. Lemme tell you, Charley, an' I got the witnesses to prove
it, so help me God. I was settin' in me kitchen eatin' a bowl
of soup, when this guy comes in an' gets gay wid me. I never
seen him in me born days before. He was drunk--"

"Look at me, officer," protested the indignant sociologist. "Am
I drunk?"

The officer looked at him with sullen, menacing eyes and nodded
to Patsy to continue.

"This guy gets gay wid me. 'I'm Tim McGrath,' says he, 'an' I
can do the like to you,' says he. 'Put up yer hands.' I smiles,
an' wid that, biff biff, he lands me twice an' spills me soup.
Look at me eye. I'm fair murdered."

"What are you going to do, officer?" Watson demanded.

"Go on, beat it," was the answer, "or I'll pull you sure."

The civic righteousness of Carter Watson flamed up.

"Mr. Officer, I protest--"

But at that moment the policeman grabbed his arm with a savage
jerk that nearly overthrew him.

"Come on, you're pulled."

"Arrest him, too," Watson demanded.

"Nix on that play," was the reply.

"What did you assault him for, him a peacefully eatin' his


Carter Watson was genuinely angry. Not only had he been
wantonly assaulted, badly battered, and arrested, but the
morning papers without exception came out with lurid accounts
of his drunken brawl with the proprietor of the notorious
Vendome. Not one accurate or truthful line was published. Patsy
Horan and his satellites described the battle in detail. The
one incontestable thing was that Carter Watson had been drunk.
Thrice he had been thrown out of the place and into the gutter,
and thrice he had come back, breathing blood and fire and
announcing that he was going to clean out the place. "EMINENT
SOCIOLOGIST JAGGED AND JUGGED," was the first head-line he
read, on the front page, accompanied by a large portrait of
himself. Other headlines were: "CARTER WATSON ASPIRED TO

At the police court, next morning, under bail, appeared Carter
Watson to answer the complaint of the People Versus Carter
Watson, for the latter's assault and battery on one Patsy
Horan. But first, the Prosecuting Attorney, who was paid to
prosecute all offenders against the People, drew him aside and
talked with him privately.

"Why not let it drop!" said the Prosecuting Attorney. "I tell
you what you do, Mr. Watson: Shake hands with Mr. Horan and
make it up, and we'll drop the case right here. A word to the
Judge, and the case against you will be dismissed."

"But I don't want it dismissed," was the answer. "Your office
being what it is, you should be prosecuting me instead of
asking me to make up with this--this fellow."

"Oh, I'll prosecute you all right," retorted the Prosecuting

"Also you will have to prosecute this Patsy Horan," Watson
advised; "for I shall now have him arrested for assault and

"You'd better shake and make up," the Prosecuting Attorney
repeated, and this time there was almost a threat in his voice.

The trials of both men were set for a week later, on the same
morning, in Police Judge Witberg's court.

"You have no chance," Watson was told by an old friend of his
boyhood, the retired manager of the biggest paper in the city.
"Everybody knows you were beaten up by this man. His reputation
is most unsavory. But it won't help you in the least. Both
cases will be dismissed. This will be because you are you. Any
ordinary man would be convicted."

"But I do not understand," objected the perplexed sociologist.
"Without warning I was attacked by this man; and badly beaten.
I did not strike a blow. I--"

"That has nothing to do with it," the other cut him off.

"Then what is there that has anything to do with it?"

"I'll tell you. You are now up against the local police and
political machine. Who are you? You are not even a legal
resident in this town. You live up in the country. You haven't
a vote of your own here. Much less do you swing any votes. This
dive proprietor swings a string of votes in his precincts--a
mighty long string."

"Do you mean to tell me that this Judge Witberg will violate
the sacredness of his office and oath by letting this brute
off?" Watson demanded.

"Watch him," was the grim reply. "Oh, he'll do it nicely
enough. He will give an extra-legal, extra-judicial decision,
abounding in every word in the dictionary that stands for
fairness and right."

"But there are the newspapers," Watson cried.

"They are not fighting the administration at present. They'll
give it to you hard. You see what they have already done to

"Then these snips of boys on the police detail won't write the

"They will write something so near like the truth that the
public will believe it. They write their stories under
instruction, you know. They have their orders to twist and
color, and there won't be much left of you when they get done.
Better drop the whole thing right now. You are in bad."

"But the trials are set."

"Give the word and they'll drop them now. A man can't fight a
machine unless he has a machine behind him."


But Carter Watson was stubborn. He was convinced that the
machine would beat him, but all his days he had sought social
experience, and this was certainly something new.

The morning of the trial the Prosecuting Attorney made another
attempt to patch up the affair.

"If you feel that way, I should like to get a lawyer to
prosecute the case," said Watson.

"No, you don't," said the Prosecuting Attorney. "I am paid by
the People to prosecute, and prosecute I will. But let me tell
you. You have no chance. We shall lump both cases into one, and
you watch out."

Judge Witberg looked good to Watson. A fairly young man, short,
comfortably stout, smooth-shaven and with an intelligent face,
he seemed a very nice man indeed. This good impression was
added to by the smiling lips and the wrinkles of laughter in
the corners of his black eyes. Looking at him and studying him,
Watson felt almost sure that his old friend's prognostication
was wrong.

But Watson was soon to learn. Patsy Horan and two of his
satellites testified to a most colossal aggregation of
perjuries. Watson could not have believed it possible without
having experienced it. They denied the existence of the other
four men. And of the two that testified, one claimed to have
been in the kitchen, a witness to Watson's unprovoked assault
on Patsy, while the other, remaining in the bar, had witnessed
Watson's second and third rushes into the place as he attempted
to annihilate the unoffending Patsy. The vile language ascribed
to Watson was so voluminously and unspeakably vile, that he
felt they were injuring their own case. It was so impossible
that he should utter such things. But when they described the
brutal blows he had rained on poor Patsy's face, and the chair
he demolished when he vainly attempted to kick Patsy, Watson
waxed secretly hilarious and at the same time sad. The trial
was a farce, but such lowness of life was depressing to
contemplate when he considered the long upward climb humanity
must make.

Watson could not recognize himself, nor could his worst enemy
have recognized him, in the swashbuckling, rough-housing
picture that was painted of him. But, as in all cases of
complicated perjury, rifts and contradictions in the various
stories appeared. The Judge somehow failed to notice them,
while the Prosecuting Attorney and Patsy's attorney shied off
from them gracefully. Watson had not bothered to get a lawyer
for himself, and he was now glad that he had not.

Still, he retained a semblance of faith in Judge Witberg when
he went himself on the stand and started to tell his story.

"I was strolling casually along the street, your Honor," Watson
began, but was interrupted by the Judge.

"We are not here to consider your previous actions," bellowed
Judge Witberg. "Who struck the first blow?"

"Your Honor," Watson pleaded, "I have no witnesses of the
actual fray, and the truth of my story can only be brought out
by telling the story fully--"

Again he was interrupted.

"We do not care to publish any magazines here," Judge Witberg
roared, looking at him so fiercely and malevolently that Watson
could scarcely bring himself to believe that this was same man
he had studied a few minutes previously.

"Who struck the first blow?" Patsy's attorney asked.

The Prosecuting Attorney interposed, demanding to know which of
the two cases lumped together was, and by what right Patsy's
lawyer, at that stage of the proceedings, should take the
witness. Patsy's attorney fought back. Judge Witberg
interfered, professing no knowledge of any two cases being
lumped together. All this had to be explained. Battle royal
raged, terminating in both attorneys apologizing to the Court
and to each other. And so it went, and to Watson it had the
seeming of a group of pickpockets ruffling and bustling an
honest man as they took his purse. The machine was working,
that was all.

"Why did you enter this place of unsavory reputations?" was
asked him.

"It has been my custom for many years, as a student of
economics and sociology, to acquaint myself--"

But this was as far as Watson got.

"We want none of your ologies here," snarled Judge Witberg. "It
is a plain question. Answer it plainly. Is it true or not true
that you were drunk? That is the gist of the question."

When Watson attempted to tell how Patsy had injured his face in
his attempts to bat with his head, Watson was openly scouted
and flouted, and Judge Witberg again took him in hand.

"Are you aware of the solemnity of the oath you took to testify
to nothing but the truth on this witness stand?" the Judge
demanded. "This is a fairy story you are telling. It is not
reasonable that a man would so injure himself, and continue to
injure himself, by striking the soft and sensitive parts of his
face against your head. You are a sensible man. It is
unreasonable, is it not?"

"Men are unreasonable when they are angry," Watson answered

Then it was that Judge Witberg was deeply outraged and
righteously wrathful.

"What right have you to say that?" he cried. "It is gratuitous.
It has no bearing on the case. You are here as a witness, sir,
of events that have transpired. The Court does not wish to hear
any expressions of opinion from you at all."

"I but answered your question, your Honor," Watson protested

"You did nothing of the sort," was the next blast. "And let me
warn you, sir, let me warn you, that you are laying yourself
liable to contempt by such insolence. And I will have you know
that we know how to observe the law and the rules of courtesy
down here in this little courtroom. I am ashamed of you."

And, while the next punctilious legal wrangle between the
attorneys interrupted his tale of what happened in the Vendome,
Carter Watson, without bitterness, amused and at the same time
sad, saw rise before him the machine, large and small, that
dominated his country, the unpunished and shameless grafts of a
thousand cities perpetrated by the spidery and vermin-like
creatures of the machines. Here it was before him, a courtroom
and a judge, bowed down in subservience by the machine to a
dive-keeper who swung a string of votes. Petty and sordid as it
was, it was one face of the many-faced machine that loomed
colossally, in every city and state, in a thousand guises
overshadowing the land.

A familiar phrase rang in his ears: "It is to laugh." At the
height of the wrangle, he giggled, once, aloud, and earned a
sullen frown from Judge Witberg. Worse, a myriad times, he
decided, were these bullying lawyers and this bullying judge
then the bucko mates in first quality hell-ships, who not only
did their own bullying but protected themselves as well. These
petty rapscallions, on the other hand, sought protection behind
the majesty of the law. They struck, but no one was permitted
to strike back, for behind them were the prison cells and the
clubs of the stupid policemen--paid and professional fighters
and beaters-up of men. Yet he was not bitter. The grossness and
the sliminess of it was forgotten in the simple grotesqueness
of it, and he had the saving sense of humor.

Nevertheless, hectored and heckled though he was, he managed in
the end to give a simple, straightforward version of the
affair, and, despite a belligerent cross-examination, his story
was not shaken in any particular. Quite different it was from
the perjuries that had shouted aloud from the perjuries of
Patsy and his two witnesses.

Both Patsy's attorney and the Prosecuting Attorney rested their
cases, letting everything go before the Court without argument.
Watson protested against this, but was silenced when the
Prosecuting Attorney told him that Public Prosecutor and knew
his business.

"Patrick Horan has testified that he was in danger of his life
and that he was compelled to defend himself," Judge Witberg's
verdict began. "Mr. Watson has testified to the same thing.
Each has sworn that the other struck the first blow; each has
sworn that the other made an unprovoked assault on him. It is
an axiom of the law that the defendant should be given the
benefit of the doubt. A very reasonable doubt exists.
Therefore, in the case of the People Versus Carter Watson the
benefit of the doubt is given to said Carter Watson and he is
herewith ordered discharged from custody. The same reasoning
applies to the case of the People Versus Patrick Horan. He is
given the benefit of the doubt and discharged from custody. My
recommendation is that both defendants shake hands and make

In the afternoon papers the first headline that caught Watson's
eye was: "CARTER WATSON ACQUITTED." In the second paper it was:
"CARTER WATSON ESCAPES A FINE." But what capped everything was
the one beginning: "CARTER WATSON A GOOD FELLOW." In the text
he read how Judge Witberg had advised both fighters to shake
hands, which they promptly did. Further, he read:

"'Let's have a nip on it,' said Patsy Horan.

"'Sure,' said Carter Watson.

"And, arm in arm, they ambled for the nearest saloon."


Now, from the whole adventure, Watson carried away no
bitterness. It was a social experience of a new order, and it
led to the writing of another book, which he entitled, "POLICE
COURT PROCEDURE: A Tentative Analysis."

One summer morning a year later, on his ranch, he left his
horse and himself clambered on through a miniature canyon to
inspect some rock ferns he had planted the previous winter.
Emerging from the upper end of the canyon, he came out on one
of his flower-spangled meadows, a delightful isolated spot,
screened from the world by low hills and clumps of trees. And
here he found a man, evidently on a stroll from the summer
hotel down at the little town a mile away. They met face to
face and the recognition was mutual. It was Judge Witberg.
Also, it was a clear case of trespass, for Watson had trespass
signs upon his boundaries, though he never enforced them.

Judge Witberg held out his hand, which Watson refused to see.

"Politics is a dirty trade, isn't it, Judge?" he remarked. "Oh,
yes, I see your hand, but I don't care to take it. The papers
said I shook hands with Patsy Horan after the trial. You know I
did not, but let me tell you that I'd a thousand times rather
shake hands with him and his vile following of curs, than with

Judge Witberg was painfully flustered, and as he hemmed and
hawed and essayed to speak, Watson, looking at him, was struck
by a sudden whim, and he determined on a grim and facetious

"I should scarcely expect any animus from a man of your
acquirements and knowledge of the world," the Judge was saying.

"Animus?" Watson replied. "Certainly not. I haven't such a
thing in my nature. And to prove it, let me show you something
curious, something you have never seen before." Casting about
him, Watson picked up a rough stone the size of his fist. "See
this. Watch me."

So saying, Carter Watson tapped himself a sharp blow on the
cheek. The stone laid the flesh open to the bone and the blood
spurted forth.

"The stone was too sharp," he announced to the astounded police
judge, who thought he had gone mad.

"I must bruise it a trifle. There is nothing like being
realistic in such matters."

Whereupon Carter Watson found a smooth stone and with it
pounded his cheek nicely several times.

"Ah," he cooed. "That will turn beautifully green and black in
a few hours. It will be most convincing."

"You are insane," Judge Witberg quavered.

"Don't use such vile language to me," said Watson. "You see my
bruised and bleeding face? You did that, with that right hand
of yours. You hit me twice--biff, biff. It is a brutal and
unprovoked assault. I am in danger of my life. I must protect

Judge Witberg backed away in alarm before the menacing fists of
the other.

"If you strike me I'll have you arrested," Judge Witberg

"That is what I told Patsy," was the answer. "And do you know
what he did when I told him that?"



And at the same moment Watson's right fist landed flush on
Judge Witberg's nose, putting that legal gentleman over on his
back on the grass.

"Get up!" commanded Watson. "If you are a gentleman, get
up--that's what Patsy told me, you know."

Judge Witberg declined to rise, and was dragged to his feet by
the coat-collar, only to have one eye blacked and be put on his
back again. After that it was a red Indian massacre. Judge
Witberg was humanely and scientifically beaten up. His checks
were boxed, his cars cuffed, and his face was rubbed in the
turf. And all the time Watson exposited the way Patsy Horan had
done it. Occasionally, and very carefully, the facetious
sociologist administered a real bruising blow. Once, dragging
the poor Judge to his feet, he deliberately bumped his own nose
on the gentleman's head. The nose promptly bled.

"See that!" cried Watson, stepping back and deftly shedding his
blood all down his own shirt front. "You did it. With your fist
you did it. It is awful. I am fair murdered. I must again
defend myself."

And once more Judge Witberg impacted his features on a fist and
was sent to grass.

"I will have you arrested," he sobbed as he lay.

"That's what Patsy said."

"A brutal---sniff, sniff,--and unprovoked--sniff, sniff--

"That's what Patsy said."

"I will surely have you arrested."

"Speaking slangily, not if I can beat you to it."

And with that, Carter Watson departed down the canyon, mounted
his horse, and rode to town.

An hour later, as Judge Witberg limped up the grounds to his
hotel, he was arrested by a village constable on a charge of
assault and battery preferred by Carter Watson.


"Your Honor," Watson said next day to the village Justice, a
well to do farmer and graduate, thirty years before, from a cow
college, "since this Sol Witberg has seen fit to charge me with
battery, following upon my charge of battery against him, I
would suggest that both cases be lumped together. The testimony
and the facts are the same in both cases."

To this the Justice agreed, and the double case proceeded.
Watson, as prosecuting witness, first took the stand and told
his story.

"I was picking flowers," he testified. "Picking flowers on my
own land, never dreaming of danger. Suddenly this man rushed
upon me from behind the trees. 'I am the Dodo,' he says, 'and I
can do you to a frazzle. Put up your hands.' I smiled, but with
that, biff, biff, he struck me, knocking me down and spilling
my flowers. The language he used was frightful. It was an
unprovoked and brutal assault. Look at my cheek. Look at my
nose--I could not understand it. He must have been drunk.
Before I recovered from my surprise he had administered this
beating. I was in danger of my life and was compelled to defend
himself. That is all, Your Honor, though I must say, in
conclusion, that I cannot get over my perplexity. Why did he
say he was the Dodo? Why did he so wantonly attack me?"

And thus was Sol Witberg given a liberal education in the art
of perjury. Often, from his high seat, he had listened
indulgently to police court perjuries in cooked-up cases; but
for the first time perjury was directed against him, and he no
longer sat above the court, with the bailiffs, the Policemen's
clubs, and the prison cells behind him.

"Your Honor," he cried, "never have I heard such a pack of lies
told by so bare-faced a liar--!'

Watson here sprang to his feet.

"Your Honor, I protest. It is for your Honor to decide truth or
falsehood. The witness is on the stand to testify to actual
events that have transpired. His personal opinion upon things
in general, and upon me, has no bearing on the case whatever."

The Justice scratched his head and waxed phlegmatically

"The point is well taken," he decided. "I am surprised at you,
Mr. Witberg, claiming to be a judge and skilled in the practice
of the law, and yet being guilty of such unlawyerlike conduct.
Your manner, sir, and your methods, remind me of a shyster.
This is a simple case of assault and battery. We are here to
determine who struck the first blow, and we are not interested
in your estimates of Mr. Watson's personal character. Proceed
with your story."

Sol Witberg would have bitten his bruised and swollen lip in
chagrin, had it not hurt so much. But he contained himself and
told a simple, straightforward, truthful story.

"Your Honor," Watson said, "I would suggest that you ask him
what he was doing on my premises."

"A very good question. What were you doing, sir, on Mr.
Watson's premises?"

"I did not know they were his premises."

"It was a trespass, your Honor," Watson cried. "The warnings
are posted conspicuously."

"I saw no warnings," said Sol Witberg.

"I have seen them myself," snapped the Justice. "They are very
conspicuous. And I would warn you, sir, that if you palter with
the truth in such little matters you may darken your more
important statements with suspicion. Why did you strike Mr.

"Your Honor, as I have testified, I did not strike a blow."

The Justice looked at Carter Watson's bruised and swollen
visage, and turned to glare at Sol Witberg.

"Look at that man's cheek!" he thundered. "If you did not
strike a blow how comes it that he is so disfigured and

"As I testified--"

"Be careful," the Justice warned.

"I will be careful, sir. I will say nothing but the truth. He
struck himself with a rock. He struck himself with two
different rocks."

"Does it stand to reason that a man, any man not a lunatic,
would so injure himself, and continue to injure himself, by
striking the soft and sensitive parts of his face with a
stone?" Carter Watson demanded

"It sounds like a fairy story," was the Justice's comment.

"Mr. Witberg, had you been drinking?"

"No, sir."

"Do you never drink?"

"On occasion."

The Justice meditated on this answer with an air of astute

Watson took advantage of the opportunity to wink at Sol
Witberg, but that much-abused gentleman saw nothing humorous in
the situation.

"A very peculiar case, a very peculiar case," the Justice
announced, as he began his verdict. "The evidence of the two
parties is flatly contradictory. There are no witnesses outside
the two principals. Each claims the other committed the
assault, and I have no legal way of determining the truth. But
I have my private opinion, Mr. Witberg, and I would recommend
that henceforth you keep off of Mr. Watson's premises and keep
away from this section of the country--"

"This is an outrage!" Sol Witberg blurted out.

"Sit down, sir!" was the Justice's thundered command. "If you
interrupt the Court in this manner again, I shall fine you for
contempt. And I warn you I shall fine you heavily--you, a judge
yourself, who should be conversant with the courtesy and
dignity of courts. I shall now give my verdict:

"It is a rule of law that the defendant shall be given the
benefit of the doubt. As I have said, and I repeat, there is no
legal way for me to determine who struck the first blow.
Therefore, and much to my regret,"--here he paused and glared
at Sol Witberg--"in each of these cases I am compelled to give
the defendant the benefit of the doubt. Gentlemen, you are both

"Let us have a nip on it," Watson said to Witberg, as they left
the courtroom; but that outraged person refused to lock arms
and amble to the nearest saloon.


PETER WINN lay back comfortably in a library chair, with closed
eyes, deep in the cogitation of a scheme of campaign destined
in the near future to make a certain coterie of hostile
financiers sit up. The central idea had come to him the night
before, and he was now reveling in the planning of the remoter,
minor details. By obtaining control of a certain up-country
bank, two general stores, and several logging camps, he could
come into control of a certain dinky jerkwater line which shall
here be nameless, but which, in his hands, would prove the key
to a vastly larger situation involving more main-line mileage
almost than there were spikes in the aforesaid dinky jerkwater.
It was so simple that he had almost laughed aloud when it came
to him. No wonder those astute and ancient enemies of his had
passed it by.

The library door opened, and a slender, middle-aged man,
weak-eyed and eye glassed, entered. In his hands was an
envelope and an open letter. As Peter Winn's secretary it was
his task to weed out, sort, and classify his employer's mail.

"This came in the morning post," he ventured apologetically and
with the hint of a titter. "Of course it doesn't amount to
anything, but I thought you would like to see it."

"Read it," Peter Winn commanded, without opening his eyes.

The secretary cleared his throat.

"It is dated July seventeenth, but is without address. Postmark
San Francisco. It is also quite illiterate. The spelling is
atrocious. Here it is:

Mr. Peter Winn,
SIR: I send you respectfully by express a pigeon worth good
money. She's a loo-loo--"

"What is a loo-loo?" Peter Winn interrupted.

The secretary tittered.

"I'm sure I don't know, except that it must be a superlative of
some sort. The letter continues:

Please freight it with a couple of thousand-dollar bills and
let it go. If you do I wont never annoy you no more. If you
dont you will be sorry.

"That is all. It is unsigned. I thought it would amuse you."

"Has the pigeon come?" Peter Winn demanded.

"I'm sure I never thought to enquire."

"Then do so."

In five minutes the secretary was back.

"Yes, sir. It came this morning."

"Then bring it in."

The secretary was inclined to take the affair as a practical
joke, but Peter Winn, after an examination of the pigeon,
thought otherwise.

"Look at it," he said, stroking and handling it. "See the
length of the body and that elongated neck. A proper carrier. I
doubt if I've ever seen a finer specimen. Powerfully winged and
muscled. As our unknown correspondent remarked, she is a
loo-loo. It's a temptation to keep her."

The secretary tittered.

"Why not? Surely you will not let it go back to the writer of
that letter."

Peter Winn shook his head.

"I'll answer. No man can threaten me, even anonymously or in

On a slip of paper he wrote the succinct message, "Go to hell,"
signed it, and placed it in the carrying apparatus with which
the bird had been thoughtfully supplied.

"Now we'll let her loose. Where's my son? I'd like him to see
the flight."

"He's down in the workshop. He slept there last night, and had
his breakfast sent down this morning."

"He'll break his neck yet," Peter Winn remarked, half-fiercely,
half-proudly, as he led the way to the veranda.

Standing at the head of the broad steps, he tossed the pretty
creature outward and upward. She caught herself with a quick
beat of wings, fluttered about undecidedly for a space, then
rose in the air.

Again, high up, there seemed indecision; then, apparently
getting her bearings, she headed east, over the oak-trees that
dotted the park-like grounds.

"Beautiful, beautiful," Peter Winn murmured. "I almost wish I
had her back."

But Peter Winn was a very busy man, with such large plans in
his head and with so many reins in his hands that he quickly
forgot the incident. Three nights later the left wing of his
country house was blown up. It was not a heavy explosion, and
nobody was hurt, though the wing itself was ruined. Most of the
windows of the rest of the house were broken, and there was a
deal of general damage. By the first ferry boat of the morning
half a dozen San Francisco detectives arrived, and several
hours later the secretary, in high excitement, erupted on Peter

"It's come!" the secretary gasped, the sweat beading his
forehead and his eyes bulging behind their glasses.

"What has come?" Peter demanded. "It--the--the loo-loo bird."

Then the financier understood.

"Have you gone over the mail yet?"

"I was just going over it, sir."

"Then continue, and see if you can find another letter from our
mysterious friend, the pigeon fancier."

The letter came to light. It read:

Mr. Peter Winn,
HONORABLE SIR: Now dont be a fool. If youd came through, your
shack would not have blew up--I beg to inform you respectfully,
am sending same pigeon. Take good care of same, thank you. Put
five one thousand dollar bills on her and let her go. Dont feed
her. Dont try to follow bird. She is wise to the way now and
makes better time. If you dont come through, watch out.

Peter Winn was genuinely angry. This time he indited no message
for the pigeon to carry. Instead, he called in the detectives,
and, under their advice, weighted the pigeon heavily with shot.
Her previous flight having been eastward toward the bay, the
fastest motor-boat in Tiburon was commissioned to take up the
chase if it led out over the water.

But too much shot had been put on the carrier, and she was
exhausted before the shore was reached. Then the mistake was
made of putting too little shot on her, and she rose high in
the air, got her bearings and started eastward across San
Francisco Bay. She flew straight over Angel Island, and here
the motor-boat lost her, for it had to go around the island.

That night, armed guards patrolled the grounds. But there was
no explosion. Yet, in the early morning Peter Winn learned by
telephone that his sister's home in Alameda had been burned to
the ground.

Two days later the pigeon was back again, coming this time by
freight in what had seemed a barrel of potatoes. Also came
another letter:

Mr. Peter Winn,
RESPECTABLE SIR: It was me that fixed yr sisters house. You
have raised hell, aint you. Send ten thousand now. Going up all
the time. Dont put any more handicap weights on that bird. You
sure cant follow her, and its cruelty to animals.

Peter Winn was ready to acknowledge himself beaten. The
detectives were powerless, and Peter did not know where next
the man would strike--perhaps at the lives of those near and
dear to him. He even telephoned to San Francisco for ten
thousand dollars in bills of large denomination. But Peter had
a son, Peter Winn, Junior, with the same firm-set jaw as his
fathers,, and the same knitted, brooding determination in his
eyes. He was only twenty-six, but he was all man, a secret
terror and delight to the financier, who alternated between
pride in his son's aeroplane feats and fear for an untimely and
terrible end.

"Hold on, father, don't send that money," said Peter Winn,
Junior. "Number Eight is ready, and I know I've at last got
that reefing down fine. It will work, and it will revolutionize
flying. Speed--that's what's needed, and so are the large
sustaining surfaces for getting started and for altitude. I've
got them both. Once I'm up I reef down. There it is. The
smaller the sustaining surface, the higher the speed. That was
the law discovered by Langley. And I've applied it. I can rise
when the air is calm and full of holes, and I can rise when its
boiling, and by my control of my plane areas I can come pretty
close to making any speed I want. Especially with that new
Sangster-Endholm engine."

"You'll come pretty close to breaking your neck one of these
days," was his father's encouraging remark.

"Dad, I'll tell you what I'll come pretty close to-ninety miles
an hour--Yes, and a hundred. Now listen! I was going to make a
trial tomorrow. But it won't take two hours to start today.
I'll tackle it this afternoon. Keep that money. Give me the
pigeon and I'll follow her to her loft where ever it is. Hold
on, let me talk to the mechanics."

He called up the workshop, and in crisp, terse sentences gave
his orders in a way that went to the older man's heart. Truly,
his one son was a chip off the old block, and Peter Winn had no
meek notions concerning the intrinsic value of said old block.

Timed to the minute, the young man, two hours later, was ready
for the start. In a holster at his hip, for instant use, cocked
and with the safety on, was a large-caliber automatic pistol.
With a final inspection and overhauling he took his seat in the
aeroplane. He started the engine, and with a wild burr of gas
explosions the beautiful fabric darted down the launching ways
and lifted into the air. Circling, as he rose, to the west, he
wheeled about and jockeyed and maneuvered for the real start of
the race.

This start depended on the pigeon. Peter Winn held it. Nor was
it weighted with shot this time. Instead, half a yard of bright
ribbon was firmly attached to its leg--this the more easily to
enable its flight being followed. Peter Winn released it, and
it arose easily enough despite the slight drag of the ribbon.
There was no uncertainty about its movements. This was the
third time it had made particular homing passage, and it knew
the course.

At an altitude of several hundred feet it straightened out and
went due cast. The aeroplane swerved into a straight course
from its last curve and followed. The race was on. Peter Winn,
looking up, saw that the pigeon was outdistancing the machine.
Then he saw something else. The aeroplane suddenly and
instantly became smaller. It had reefed. Its high-speed
plane-design was now revealed. Instead of the generous spread
of surface with which it had taken the air, it was now a lean
and hawklike monoplane balanced on long and exceedingly narrow

. . . . . .

When young Winn reefed down so suddenly, he received a
surprise. It was his first trial of the new device, and while
he was prepared for increased speed he was not prepared for
such an astonishing increase. It was better than he dreamed,
and, before he knew it, he was hard upon the pigeon. That
little creature, frightened by this, the most monstrous hawk it
had ever seen, immediately darted upward, after the manner of
pigeons that strive always to rise above a hawk.

In great curves the monoplane followed upward, higher and
higher into the blue. It was difficult, from underneath to see
the pigeon. and young Winn dared not lose it from his sight. He
even shook out his reefs in order to rise more quickly. Up, up
they went, until the pigeon, true to its instinct, dropped and
struck at what it to be the back of its pursuing enemy. Once
was enough, for, evidently finding no life in the smooth cloth
surface of the machine, it ceased soaring and straightened out
on its eastward course.

A carrier pigeon on a passage can achieve a high rate of speed,
and Winn reefed again. And again, to his satisfaction, be found
that he was beating the pigeon. But this time he quickly shook
out a portion of his reefed sustaining surface and slowed down
in time. From then on he knew he had the chase safely in hand,
and from then on a chant rose to his lips which he continued to
sing at intervals, and unconsciously, for the rest of the
passage. It was: "Going some; going some; what did I tell
you!--going some."

Even so, it was not all plain sailing. The air is an unstable
medium at best, and quite without warning, at an acute angle,
he entered an aerial tide which he recognized as the gulf
stream of wind that poured through the drafty-mouthed Golden
Gate. His right wing caught it first--a sudden, sharp puff that
lifted and tilted the monoplane and threatened to capsize it.
But he rode with a sensitive "loose curb," and quickly, but not
too quickly, he shifted the angles of his wing-tips, depressed
the front horizontal rudder, and swung over the rear vertical
rudder to meet the tilting thrust of the wind. As the machine
came back to an even keel, and he knew that he was now wholly
in the invisible stream, he readjusted the wing-tips, rapidly
away from him during the several moments of his discomfiture.

The pigeon drove straight on for the Alameda County shore, and
it was near this shore that Winn had another experience. He
fell into an air-hole. He had fallen into air-holes before, in
previous flights, but this was a far larger one than he had
ever encountered. With his eyes strained on the ribbon attached
to the pigeon, by that fluttering bit of color he marked his
fall. Down he went, at the pit of his stomach that old sink
sensation which he had known as a boy he first negotiated
quick-starting elevators. But Winn, among other secrets of
aviation, had learned that to go up it was sometimes necessary
first to go down. The air had refused to hold him. Instead of
struggling futilely and perilously against this lack of
sustension, he yielded to it. With steady head and hand, he
depressed the forward horizontal rudder--just recklessly enough
and not a fraction more--and the monoplane dived head foremost
and sharply down the void. It was falling with the keenness of
a knife-blade. Every instant the speed accelerated frightfully.
Thus he accumulated the momentum that would save him. But few
instants were required, when, abruptly shifting the double
horizontal rudders forward and astern, he shot upward on the
tense and straining plane and out of the pit.

At an altitude of five hundred feet, the pigeon drove on over
the town of Berkeley and lifted its flight to the Contra Costa
hills. Young Winn noted the campus and buildings of the
University of California--his university--as he rose after the

Once more, on these Contra Costa hills, he early came to grief.
The pigeon was now flying low, and where a grove of eucalyptus
presented a solid front to the wind, the bird was suddenly sent
fluttering wildly upward for a distance of a hundred feet. Winn
knew what it meant. It had been caught in an air-surf that beat
upward hundreds of feet where the fresh west wind smote the
upstanding wall of the grove. He reefed hastily to the
uttermost, and at the same time depressed the angle of his
flight to meet that upward surge. Nevertheless, the monoplane
was tossed fully three hundred feet before the danger was left

Two or more ranges of hills the pigeon crossed, and then Winn
saw it dropping down to a landing where a small cabin stood in
a hillside clearing. He blessed that clearing. Not only was it
good for alighting, but, on account of the steepness of the
slope, it was just the thing for rising again into the air.

A man, reading a newspaper, had just started up at the sight of
the returning pigeon, when be heard the burr of Winn's engine
and saw the huge monoplane, with all surfaces set, drop down
upon him, stop suddenly on an air-cushion manufactured on the
spur of the moment by a shift of the horizontal rudders, glide
a few yards, strike ground, and come to rest not a score of
feet away from him. But when he saw a young man, calmly sitting
in the machine and leveling a pistol at him, the man turned to
run. Before he could make the comer of the cabin, a bullet
through the leg brought him down in a sprawling fall.

"What do you want!" he demanded sullenly, as the other stood
over him.

"I want to take you for a ride in my new machine," Winn
answered. "Believe me, she is a loo-loo."

The man did not argue long, for this strange visitor had most
convincing ways. Under Winn's instructions, covered all the
time by the pistol, the man improvised a tourniquet and applied
it to his wounded leg. Winn helped him to a seat in the
machine, then went to the pigeon-loft and took possession of
the bird with the ribbon still fast to its leg.

A very tractable prisoner, the man proved. Once up in the air,
he sat close, in an ecstasy of fear. An adept at winged
blackmail, he had no aptitude for wings himself, and when he
gazed down at the flying land and water far beneath him, he did
not feel moved to attack his captor, now defenseless, both
hands occupied with flight.

Instead, the only way the man felt moved was to sit closer.

. . . . . .

Peter Winn, Senior, scanning the heavens with powerful glasses,
saw the monoplane leap into view and grow large over the rugged
backbone of Angel Island. Several minutes later he cried out to
the waiting detectives that the machine carried a passenger.
Dropping swiftly and piling up an abrupt air-cushion, the
monoplane landed.

"That reefing device is a winner!" young Winn cried, as he
climbed out. "Did you see me at the start? I almost ran over
the pigeon. Going some, dad! Going some! What did I tell you?
Going some!"

"But who is that with you?" his father demanded.

The young man looked back at his prisoner and remembered.

"Why, that's the pigeon-fancier," he said. "I guess the
officers can take care of him."

Peter Winn gripped his son's hand in grim silence, and fondled
the pigeon which his son had passed to him. Again he fondled
the pretty creature. Then he spoke.

"Exhibit A, for the People," he said.


ARRANGEMENTS quite extensive had been made for the celebration
of Christmas on the yacht Samoset. Not having been in any
civilized port for months, the stock of provisions boasted few
delicacies; yet Minnie Duncan had managed to devise real feasts
for cabin and forecastle.

"Listen, Boyd, she told her husband. "Here are the menus. For
the cabin, raw bonita native style, turtle soup, omelette a la

"What the dickens?" Boyd Duncan interrupted.

"Well, if you must know, I found a tin of mushrooms and a
package of egg-powder which had fallen down behind the locker,
and there are other things as well that will go into it. But
don't interrupt. Boiled yam, fried taro, alligator pear
salad--there, you've got me all mixed, Then I found a last
delectable half-pound of dried squid. There will be baked beans
Mexican, if I can hammer it into Toyama's head; also, baked
papaia with Marquesan honey, and, lastly, a wonderful pie the
secret of which Toyama refuses to divulge."

"I wonder if it is possible to concoct a punch or a cocktail
out of trade rum?" Duncan muttered gloomily.

"Oh! I forgot! Come with me."

His wife caught his hand and led him through the small
connecting door to her tiny stateroom. Still holding his hand,
she fished in the depths of a hat-locker and brought forth a
pint bottle of champagne.

"The dinner is complete!" he cried.


She fished again, and was rewarded with a silver-mounted whisky
flask. She held it to the light of a port-hole, and the liquor
showed a quarter of the distance from the bottom.

"I've been saving it for weeks," she explained. "And there's
enough for you and Captain Dettmar."

"Two mighty small drinks," Duncan complained.

"There would have been more, but I gave a drink to Lorenzo when
he was sick."

Duncan growled, "Might have given him rum," facetiously.

"The nasty stuff! For a sick man? Don't be greedy, Boyd. And
I'm glad there isn't any more, for Captain Dettmar's sake.
Drinking always makes him irritable. And now for the men's
dinner. Soda crackers, sweet cakes, candy--"

"Substantial, I must say."

"Do hush. Rice, and curry, yam, taro, bonita, of course, a big
cake Toyama is making, young pig--"

"Oh, I say," he protested.

"It is all right, Boyd. We'll be in Attu-Attu in three days.
Besides, it's my pig. That old chief what-ever-his-name
distinctly presented it to me. You saw him yourself. And then
two tins of bullamacow. That's their dinner. And now about the
presents. Shall we wait until tomorrow, or give them this

"Christmas Eve, by all means," was the man's judgment. "We'll
call all hands at eight bells; I'll give them a tot of rum all
around, and then you give the presents. Come on up on deck.
It's stifling down here. I hope Lorenzo has better luck with
the dynamo; without the fans there won't be much sleeping
to-night if we're driven below."

They passed through the small main-cabin, climbed a steep
companion ladder, and emerged on deck. The sun was setting, and
the promise was for a clear tropic night. The Samoset, with
fore- and main-sail winged out on either side, was slipping a
lazy four-knots through the smooth sea. Through the engine-room
skylight came a sound of hammering. They strolled aft to where
Captain Dettmar, one foot on the rail, was oiling the gear of
the patent log. At the wheel stood a tall South Sea Islander,
clad in white undershirt and scarlet hip-cloth.

Boyd Duncan was an original. At least that was the belief of
his friends. Of comfortable fortune, with no need to do
anything but take his comfort, he elected to travel about the
world in outlandish and most uncomfortable ways. Incidentally,
he had ideas about coral-reefs, disagreed profoundly with
Darwin on that subject, had voiced his opinion in several
monographs and one book, and was now back at his hobby,
cruising the South Seas in a tiny, thirty-ton yacht and
studying reef-formations.

His wife, Minnie Duncan, was also declared an original,
inasmuch as she joyfully shared his vagabond wanderings. Among
other things, in the six exciting years of their marriage she
had climbed Chimborazo with him, made a three-thousand-mile
winter journey with dogs and sleds in Alaska, ridden a horse
from Canada to Mexico, cruised the Mediterranean in a ten-ton
yawl, and canoed from Germany to the Black Sea across the heart
of Europe. They were a royal pair of wanderlusters, he, big and
broad-shouldered, she a small, brunette, and happy woman, whose
one hundred and fifteen pounds were all grit and endurance, and
withal, pleasing to look upon.

The Samoset had been a trading schooner, when Duncan bought her
in San Francisco and made alterations. Her interior was wholly
rebuilt, so that the hold became main-cabin and staterooms,
while abaft amidships were installed engines, a dynamo, an ice
machine, storage batteries, and, far in the stern, gasoline
tanks. Necessarily, she carried a small crew. Boyd, Minnie, and
Captain Dettmar were the only whites on board, though Lorenzo,
the small and greasy engineer, laid a part claim to white,
being a Portuguese half-caste. A Japanese served as cook, and a
Chinese as cabin boy. Four white sailors had constituted the
original crew for'ard, but one by one they had yielded to the
charms of palm-waving South Sea isles and been replaced by
islanders. Thus, one of the dusky sailors hailed from Easter
Island, a second from the Carolines, a third from the Paumotus,
while the fourth was a gigantic Samoan. At sea, Boyd Duncan,
himself a navigator, stood a mate's watch with Captain Dettmar,
and both of them took a wheel or lookout occasionally. On a
pinch, Minnie herself could take a wheel, and it was on pinches
that she proved herself more dependable at steering than did
the native sailors.

At eight bells, all hands assembled at the wheel, and Boyd
Duncan appeared with a black bottle and a mug. The rum he
served out himself, half a mug of it to each man. They gulped
the stuff down with many facial expressions of delight,
followed by loud lip-smackings of approval, though the liquor
was raw enough and corrosive enough to burn their mucous
membranes. All drank except Lee Goom, the abstemious cabin boy.
This rite accomplished, they waited for the next, the
present-giving. Generously molded on Polynesian lines,
huge-bodied and heavy-muscled, they were nevertheless like so
many children, laughing merrily at little things, their eager
black eyes flashing in the lantern light as their big bodies
swayed to the heave and roll of the ship.

Calling each by name, Minnie gave the presents out,
accompanying each presentation with some happy remark that
added to the glee. There were trade watches, clasp knives,
amazing assortments of fish-hooks in packages, plug tobacco,
matches, and gorgeous strips of cotton for loincloths all
around. That Boyd Duncan was liked by them was evidenced by the
roars of laughter with which they greeted his slightest joking

Captain Dettmar, white-faced, smiling only when his employer
chanced to glance at him, leaned against the wheel-box, looking
on. Twice, he left the group and went below, remaining there
but a minute each time. Later, in the main cabin, when Lorenzo,
Lee Goom and Toyama received their presents, he disappeared
into his stateroom twice again. For of all times, the devil
that slumbered in Captain Dettmar's soul chose this particular
time of good cheer to awaken. Perhaps it was not entirely the
devil's fault, for Captain Dettmar, privily cherishing a quart
of whisky for many weeks, had selected Christmas Eve for
broaching it.

It was still early in the evening--two bells had just
gone--when Duncan and his wife stood by the cabin companionway,
gazing to windward and canvassing the possibility of spreading
their beds on deck. A small, dark blot of cloud, slowly forming
on the horizon, carried the threat of a rain-squall, and it was
this they were discussing when Captain Dettmar, coming from aft
and about to go below, glanced at them with sudden suspicion.
He paused, his face working spasmodically. Then he spoke:

"You are talking about me."

His voice was hoarse, and there was an excited vibration in it.
Minnie Duncan started, then glanced at her husband's immobile
face, took the cue, and remained silent.

"I say you were talking about me," Captain Dettmar repeated,
this time with almost a snarl.

He did not lurch nor betray the liquor on him in any way save
by the convulsive working of his face.

"Minnie, you'd better go down," Duncan said gently. "Tell Lee
Goom we'll sleep below. It won't be long before that squall is
drenching things."

She took the hint and left, delaying just long enough to give
one anxious glance at the dim faces of the two men.

Duncan puffed at his cigar and waited till his wife's voice, in
talk with the cabin-boy, came up through the open skylight.

"Well?" Duncan demanded in a low voice, but sharply.

"I said you were talking about me. I say it again. Oh, I
haven't been blind. Day after day I've seen the two of you
talking about me. Why don't you come out and say it to my face!
I know you know. And I know your mind's made up to discharge me
at Attu-Attu."

"I am sorry you are making such a mess of everything," was
Duncan's quiet reply.

But Captain Dettmar's mind was set on trouble.

"You know you are going to discharge me. You think you are too
good to associate with the likes of me--you and your wife."

"Kindly keep her out of this," Duncan warned. "What do you

"I want to know what you are going to do!"

"Discharge you, after this, at Attu-Attu."

"You intended to, all along."

"On the contrary. It is your present conduct that compels me."

"You can't give me that sort of talk."

"I can't retain a captain who calls me a liar."

Captain Dettmar for the moment was taken aback. His face and
lips worked, but he could say nothing. Duncan coolly pulled at
his cigar and glanced aft at the rising cloud of squall.

"Lee Goom brought the mail aboard at Tahiti," Captain Dettmar

"We were hove short then and leaving. You didn't look at your
letters until we were outside, and then it was too late. That's
why you didn't discharge me at Tahiti. Oh, I know. I saw the
long envelope when Lee Goom came over the side. It was from the
Governor of California, printed on the corner for any one to
see. You'd been working behind my back. Some beachcomber in
Honolulu had whispered to you, and you'd written to the
Governor to find out. And that was his answer Lee Goom carried
out to you. Why didn't you come to me like a man! No, you must
play underhand with me, knowing that this billet was the one
chance for me to get on my feet again. And as soon as you read
the Governor's letter your mind was made up to get rid of me.
I've seen it on your face ever since for all these months..
I've seen the two of you, polite as hell to me all the time,
and getting away in corners and talking about me and that
affair in 'Frisco."

"Are you done?" Duncan asked, his voice low, and tense. "Quite

Captain Dettmar made no answer.

"Then I'll tell you a few things. It was precisely because of
that affair in 'Frisco that I did not discharge you in Tahiti.
God knows you gave me sufficient provocation. I thought that if
ever a man needed a chance to rehabilitate himself, you were
that man. Had there been no black mark against you, I would
have discharged you when I learned how you were robbing me."

Captain Dettmar showed surprise, started to interrupt, then
changed his mind.

"There was that matter of the deck-calking, the bronze
rudder-irons, the overhauling of the engine, the new spinnaker
boom, the new davits, and the repairs to the whale-boat. You
0Kd the shipyard bill. It was four thousand one hundred and
twenty-two francs. By the regular shipyard charges it ought not
to have been a centime over twenty-five hundred francs-"

"If you take the word of those alongshore sharks against
mine--' the other began thickly.

"Save yourself the trouble of further lying," Duncan went on
coldly. "I looked it up. I got Flaubin before the Governor
himself, and the old rascal confessed to sixteen hundred
overcharge. Said you'd stuck him up for it. Twelve hundred went
to you, and his share was four hundred and the job. Don't
interrupt. I've got his affidavit below. Then was when I would
have put you ashore, except for the cloud you were under. You
had to have this one chance or go clean to hell. I gave you the
chance. And what have you got to say about it?"

"What did the Governor say?" Captain Dettmar demanded

"Which governor?"

"Of California. Did he lie to you like all the rest?"

"I'll tell you what he said. He said that you had been
convicted on circumstantial evidence; that was why you had got
life imprisonment instead of hanging; that you had always
stoutly maintained your innocence; that you were the black
sheep of the Maryland Dettmars; that they moved heaven and
earth for your pardon; that your prison conduct was most
exemplary; that he was prosecuting attorney at the time you
were convicted; that after you had served seven years he
yielded to your family's plea and pardoned you; and that in his
own mind existed a doubt that you had killed McSweeny."

There was a pause, during which Duncan went on studying the
rising squall, while Captain Dettmar's face worked terribly.

"Well, the Governor was wrong," he announced, with a short
laugh. "I did kill McSweeny. I did get the watchman drunk that
night. I beat McSweeny to death in his bunk. I used the iron
belaying pin that appeared in the evidence. He never had a
chance. I beat him to a jelly. Do you want the details?"

Duncan looked at him in the curious way one looks at any
monstrosity, but made no reply.

"Oh, I'm not afraid to tell you," Captain Dettmar blustered on.
"There are no witnesses. Besides, I am a free man now. I am
pardoned, and by God they can never put me back in that hole
again. I broke McSweeny's jaw with the first blow. He was lying
on his back asleep. He said, 'My God, Jim! My God!' It was
funny to see his broken jaw wabble as he said it. Then I
smashed him . . . I say, do you want the rest of the details?"

"Is that all you have to say?" was the answer.

"Isn't it enough?" Captain Dettmar retorted.

"It is enough."

"What are you going to do about it?"

"Put you ashore at Attu-Attu."

"And in the meantime?"

"In the meantime . . ." Duncan paused. An increase of weight in
the wind rippled his hair. The stars overhead vanished, and the
Samoset swung four points off her course in the careless
steersman's hands. "In the meantime throw your halyards down on
deck and look to your wheel. I'll call the men."

The next moment the squall burst upon them. Captain Dettmar,
springing aft, lifted the coiled mainsail halyards from their
pins and threw them, ready to run, on the deck. The three
islanders swarmed from the tiny forecastle, two of them leaping
to the halyards and holding by a single turn, while the third
fastened down the engineroom, companion and swung the
ventilators around. Below, Lee Goom and Toyama were lowering
skylight covers and screwing up deadeyes. Duncan pulled shut
the cover of the companion scuttle, and held on, waiting, the
first drops of rain pelting his face, while the Samoset leaped
violently ahead, at the same time heeling first to starboard
then to port as the gusty pressures caught her winged-out

All waited. But there was no need to lower away on the run. The
power went out of the wind, and the tropic rain poured a deluge
over everything. Then it was, the danger past, and as the
Kanakas began to coil the halyards back on the pins, that Boyd
Duncan went below.

"All right," he called in cheerily to his wife. "Only a puff."

"And Captain Dettmar?" she queried.

"Has been drinking, that is all. I shall get rid of him at

But before Duncan climbed into his bunk, he strapped around
himself, against the skin and under his pajama coat, a heavy
automatic pistol.

He fell asleep almost immediately, for his was the gift of
perfect relaxation. He did things tensely, in the way savages
do, but the instant the need passed he relaxed, mind and body.
So it was that he slept, while the rain still poured on deck
and the yacht plunged and rolled in the brief, sharp sea caused
by the squall.

He awoke with a feeling of suffocation and heaviness. The
electric fans had stopped, and the air was thick and stifling.
Mentally cursing all Lorenzos and storage batteries, he heard
his wife moving in the adjoining stateroom and pass out into
the main cabin. Evidently heading for the fresher air on deck,
he thought, and decided it was a good example to imitate.
Putting on his slippers and tucking a pillow and a blanket
under his arm, he followed her. As he was about to emerge from
the companionway, the ship's clock in the cabin began to strike
and he stopped to listen. Four bells sounded. It was two in the
morning. From without came the creaking of the gaff-jaw against
the mast. The Samoset rolled and righted on a sea, and in the
light breeze her canvas gave forth a hollow thrum.

He was just putting his foot out on the damp deck when he heard
his wife scream. It was a startled frightened scream that ended
in a splash overside. He leaped out and ran aft. In the dim
starlight he could make out her head and shoulders disappearing
astern in the lazy wake.

"What was it?" Captain Dettmar, who was at the wheel, asked.

"Mrs. Duncan," was Duncan's reply, as he tore the life-buoy
from its hook and flung it aft. "Jibe over to starboard and
come up on the wind!" he commanded.

And then Boyd Duncan made a mistake. He dived overboard.

When he came up, he glimpsed the blue-light on the buoy, which
had ignited automatically when it struck the water. He swam for
it, and found Minnie had reached it first.

"Hello," he said. "Just trying to keep cool?"

"Oh, Boyd!" was her answer, and one wet hand reached out and
touched his.

The blue light, through deterioration or damage, flickered out.
As they lifted on the smooth crest of a wave, Duncan turned to
look where the Samoset made a vague blur in the darkness. No
lights showed, but there was noise of confusion. He could hear
Captain Dettmar's shouting above the cries of the others.

"I must say he's taking his time," Duncan grumbled. "Why
doesn't he jibe? There she goes now."

They could hear the rattle of the boom tackle blocks as the
sail was eased across.

"That was the mainsail," he muttered. "Jibed to port when I
told him starboard."

Again they lifted on a wave, and again and again, ere they
could make out the distant green of the Samoset's starboard
light. But instead of remaining stationary, in token that the
yacht was coming toward them, it began moving across their
field of vision. Duncan swore.

"What's the lubber holding over there for!" he demanded. "He's
got his compass. He knows our bearing."

But the green light, which was all they could see, and which
they could see only when they were on top of a wave, moved
steadily away from them, withal it was working up to windward,
and grew dim and dimmer. Duncan called out loudly and
repeatedly, and each time, in the intervals, they could hear,
very faintly, the voice of Captain Dettmar shouting orders.

"How can he hear me with such a racket?" Duncan complained.

"He's doing it so the crew won't hear you," was Minnie's

There was something in the quiet way she said it that caught
her husband's attention.

"What do you mean?"

"I mean that he is not trying to pick us up," she went on in
the same composed voice. "He threw me overboard."

"You are not making a mistake?"

"How could I? I was at the main rigging, looking to see if any
more rain threatened. He must have left the wheel and crept
behind me. I was holding on to a stay with one hand. He gripped
my hand free from behind and threw me over. It's too bad you
didn't know, or else you would have staid aboard."

Duncan groaned, but said nothing for several minutes. The green
light changed the direction of its course.

"She's gone about," he announced. "You are right. He's
deliberately working around us and to windward. Up wind they
can never hear me. But here goes."

He called at minute intervals for a long time. The green light
disappeared, being replaced by the red, showing that the yacht
had gone about again.

"Minnie," he said finally, "it pains me to tell you, but you
married a fool. Only a fool would have gone overboard as I

"What chance have we of being picked up . . . by some other
vessel, I mean?" she asked.

"About one in ten thousand, or ten thousand million. Not a
steamer route nor trade route crosses this stretch of ocean.
And there aren't any whalers knocking about the South Seas.
There might be a stray trading schooner running across from
Tutuwanga. But I happen to know that island is visited only
once a year. A chance in a million is ours."

"And we'll play that chance," she rejoined stoutly.

"You ARE a joy!" His hand lifted hers to his lips. "And Aunt
Elizabeth always wondered what I saw in you. Of course we'll
play that chance. And we'll win it, too. To happen otherwise
would be unthinkable. Here goes."

He slipped the heavy pistol from his belt and let it sink into
the sea. The belt, however, he retained.

"Now you get inside the buoy and get some sleep. Duck under."

She ducked obediently, and came up inside the floating circle.
He fastened the straps for her, then, with the pistol belt,
buckled himself across one shoulder to the outside of the buoy.

"We're good for all day to-morrow," he said. "Thank God the
water's warm. It won't be a hardship for the first twenty-hour
hours, anyway. And if we're not picked up by nightfall, we've
just got to hang on for another day, that's all."

For half an hour they maintained silence, Duncan, his head
resting on the arm that was on the buoy, seemed asleep.

"Boyd?" Minnie said softly.

"Thought you were asleep," he growled.

"Boyd, if we don't come through this--"

"Stow that!" he broke in ungallantly. "Of course we're coming
through. There is isn't a doubt of it. Somewhere on this ocean
is a ship that's heading right for us. You wait and see. Just
the same I wish my brain were equipped with wireless. Now I'm
going to sleep, if you don't."

But for once, sleep baffled him. An hour later he heard Minnie
stir and knew she was awake.

"Say, do you know what I've been thinking!" she asked.

"No; what?"

"That I'll wish you a Merry Christmas."

"By George, I never thought of it. Of course it's Christmas
Day. We'll have many more of them, too. And do you know what
I've been thinking? What a confounded shame we're done out of
our Christmas dinner. Wait till I lay hands on Dettmar. I'll
take it out of him. And it won't be with an iron belaying pin
either, Just two bunches of naked knuckles, that's all."

Despite his facetiousness, Boyd Duncan had little hope. He knew
well enough the meaning of one chance in a million, and was
calmly certain that his wife and he had entered upon their last
few living hours--hours that were inevitably bound to be black
and terrible with tragedy.

The tropic sun rose in a cloudless sky. Nothing was to be seen.
The Samoset was beyond the sea-rim. As the sun rose higher,
Duncan ripped his pajama trousers in halves and fashioned them
into two rude turbans. Soaked in sea-water they offset the

"When I think of that dinner, I'm really angry," he complained,
as he noted an anxious expression threatening to set on his
wife's face. "And I want you to be with me when I settle with
Dettmar. I've always been opposed to women witnessing scenes of
blood, but this is different. It will be a beating."

"I hope I don't break my knuckles on him," he added, after a

Midday came and went, and they floated on, the center of a
narrow sea-circle. A gentle breath of the dying trade-wind
fanned them, and they rose and fell monotonously on the smooth
swells of a perfect summer sea. Once, a gunie spied them, and
for half an hour circled about them with majestic sweeps. And,
once, a huge rayfish, measuring a score of feet across the
tips, passed within a few yards.

By sunset, Minnie began to rave, softly, babblingly, like a
child. Duncan's face grew haggard as he watched and listened,
while in his mind he revolved plans of how best to end the
hours of agony that were. coining. And, so planning, as they
rose on a larger swell than usual, he swept the circle of the
sea with his eyes, and saw, what made him cry out.

"Minnie!" She did not answer, and he shouted her name again in
her ear, with all the voice he could command. Her eyes opened,
in them fluttered commingled consciousness and delirium. He
slapped her hands and wrists till the sting of the blows roused

"There she is, the chance in a million!" he cried.

"A steamer at that, heading straight for us! By George, it's a
cruiser! I have it!- the Annapolis, returning with those
astronomers from Tutuwanga.

. . . . . .

United States Consul Lingford was a fussy, elderly gentleman,
and in the two years of his service at Attu-Attu had never
encountered so unprecedented a case as that laid before him by
Boyd Duncan. The latter, with his wife, had been landed there
by the Annapolis, which had promptly gone on with its cargo of
astronomers to Fiji.

"It was cold-blooded, deliberate attempt to murder," said
Consul Lingford. "The law shall take its course. I don't know
how precisely to deal with this Captain Dettmar, but if he
comes to Attu-Attu, depend upon it he shall be dealt with,
he--ah--shall be dealt with. In the meantime, I shall read up
the law. And now, won't you and your good lady stop for lunch!"

As Duncan accepted the invitation, Minnie, who had been
glancing out of the window at the harbor, suddenly leaned
forward and touched her husband's arm. He followed her gaze,
and saw the Samoset, flag at half mast, rounding up and
dropping anchor scarcely a hundred yards away.

"There's my boat now," Duncan said to the Consul. "And there's
the launch over the side, and Captain Dettmar dropping into it.
If I don't miss my guess, he's coming to report our deaths to

The launch landed on the white beach, and leaving Lorenzo
tinkering with the engine, Captain Dettmar strode across the
beach and up the path to the Consulate.

"Let him make his report," Duncan said. "We'll just step into
this next room and listen."

And through the partly open door, he and his wife heard Captain
Dettmar, with tears in his voice, describe the loss of his

"I jibed over and went back across the very spot," he
concluded. "There was not a sign of them. I called and called,
but there was never an answer. I tacked back and forth and wore
for two solid hours, then hove to till daybreak, and cruised
back and forth all day, two men at the mastheads. It is
terrible. I am heartbroken. Mr. Duncan was a splendid man, and
I shall never. . . "

But he never completed the sentence, for at that moment his
splendid employer strode out upon him, leaving Minnie standing
in the doorway. Captain Dettmar's white face blanched even

"I did my best to pick you up, sir," he began.

Boyd Duncan's answer was couched in terms of bunched knuckles,
two bunches of them, that landed right and left on Captain
Dettmar's face.

Captain Dettmar staggered backward, recovered, and rushed with
swinging arms at his employer, only to be met with a blow
squarely between the eyes. This time the Captain went down,
bearing the typewriter under him as he crashed to the floor.

"This is not permissible," Consul Lingford spluttered. "I beg
of you, I beg of you, to desist."

"I'll pay the damages to office furniture," Duncan answered,
and at the same time landing more bunched knuckles on the eyes
and nose of Dettmar.

Consul Lingford bobbed around in the turmoil like a wet hen,
while his office furniture went to ruin. Once, he caught Duncan
by the arm, but was flung back, gasping, half-across the room.
Another time he appealed to Minnie.

Book of the day:
Facebook Google Reddit StumbleUpon Twitter Pinterest