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The Red Cross Girl by Richard Harding Davis

Part 4 out of 5

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The millionaire smiled tolerantly.

"I think I do," he said. "And to prove it, I shall tell you
something that will be news to you. I have just bought a
Velasquez that I am going to place in my art museum. It is worth
three hundred thousand dollars."

Philip accepted the cocktail the waiter presented. It was quite
as bad as he had expected.

"Now, I shall tell you something," he said, "that will be news to
you. You are not buying a Velasquez. It is no more a Velasquez
than this hair oil is a real cocktail. It is a bad copy, worth a
few dollars."

"How dare you!" shouted Faust. "Are you mad?"

The face of the German turned crimson with rage.

"Who is this insolent one?" he sputtered.

"I will make you a sporting proposition," said Philip. "You can
take it, or leave it. You two will get into a taxi. You will
drive to this man's studio in Tate Street. You will find your
Velasquez is there and not on its way to Liverpool. And you will
find one exactly like it, and a dozen other 'old masters'
half-finished. I'll bet you a hundred pounds I'm right! And I'll
bet this man a hundred pounds that he DOESN'T DARE TAKE YOU TO
HIS STUDIO!"

"Indeed, I will not," roared the German. "It would be to insult
myself."

"It would be an easy way to earn a hundred pounds, too," said
Philip.

"How dare you insult the Baron?" demanded Faust. "What makes you
think--"

"I don't think, I know!" said Philip. "For the price of a
taxi-cab fare to Tate Street, you win a hundred pounds."

"We will all three go at once," cried the German. "My car is
outside. Wait here. I will have it brought to the door?"

Faust protested indignantly.

"Do not disturb yourself, Baron," he said; "just because a fresh
reporter--"

But already the German had reached the hall. Nor did he stop
there. They saw him, without his hat, rush into Piccadilly,
spring into a taxi, and shout excitedly to the driver. The next
moment he had disappeared.

"That's the last you'll see of him," said Philip.

"His actions are certainly peculiar," gasped the millionaire. "He
did not wait for us. He didn't even wait for his hat! I think,
after all, I had better go to Tate Street."

"Do so," said Philip, "and save yourself three hundred thousand
dollars, and from the laughter of two continents. You'll find me
here at lunch. If I'm wrong, I'll pay you a hundred pounds."

"You should come with me," said Faust. "It is only fair to
yourself."

"I'll take your word for what you find in the studio," said
Philip. "I cannot go. This is my busy day."

Without further words, the millionaire collected his hat and
stick, and, in his turn, entered a taxi-cab and disappeared.

Philip returned to the Louis Quatorze chair and lit a cigarette.
Save for the two elderly gentlemen on the sofa, the lounge was
still empty, and his reflections were undisturbed. He shook his
head sadly.

"Surely," Philip thought, "the French chap was right who said
words were given us to conceal our thoughts. What a strange world
it would be if every one possessed my power. Deception would be
quite futile and lying would become a lost art. I wonder," he
mused cynically, "is any one quite honest? Does any one speak as
he thinks and think as he speaks?"

At once came a direct answer to his question. The two elderly
gentlemen had risen and, before separating, had halted a few feet
from him.

"I sincerely hope, Sir John," said one of the two, "that you have
no regrets. I hope you believe that I have advised you in the
best interests of all?"

"I do, indeed," the other replied heartily "We shall be thought
entirely selfish; but you know and I know that what we have done
is for the benefit of the shareholders."

Philip was pleased to find that the thoughts of each of the old
gentlemen ran hand in hand with his spoken words. "Here, at
least," he said to himself, "are two honest men."

As though loath to part, the two gentlemen still lingered.

"And I hope," continued the one addressed as Sir John, "that you
approve of my holding back the public announcement of the combine
until the afternoon. It will give the shareholders a better
chance. Had we given out the news in this morning's papers the
stockbrokers would have--"

"It was most wise," interrupted the other. "Most just."

The one called Sir John bowed himself away, leaving the other
still standing at the steps of the lounge. With his hands behind
his back, his chin sunk on his chest, he remained, gazing at
nothing, his thoughts far away.

Philip found them thoughts of curious interest. They were
concerned with three flags. Now, the gentleman considered them
separately; and Philip saw the emblems painted clearly in colors,
fluttering and flattened by the breeze. Again, the gentleman
considered them in various combinations; but always, in whatever
order his mind arranged them, of the three his heart spoke always
to the same flag, as the heart of a mother reaches toward her
firstborn.

Then the thoughts were diverted; and in his mind's eye the old
gentleman was watching the launching of a little schooner from a
shipyard on the Clyde. At her main flew one of the three flags--a
flag with a red cross on a white ground. With thoughts tender and
grateful, he followed her to strange, hot ports, through
hurricanes and tidal waves; he saw her return again and again to
the London docks, laden with odorous coffee, mahogany, red
rubber, and raw bullion. He saw sister ships follow in her wake
to every port in the South Sea; saw steam packets take the place
of the ships with sails; saw the steam packets give way to great
ocean liners, each a floating village, each equipped, as no
village is equipped, with a giant power house, thousands of
electric lamps, suite after suite of silk-lined boudoirs, with
the floating harps that vibrate to a love message three hundred
miles away, to the fierce call for help from a sinking ship. But
at the main of each great vessel there still flew the same
house-flag--the red cross on the field of white--only now in the
arms of the cross there nestled proudly a royal crown.

Philip cast a scared glance at the old gentleman, and raced down
the corridor to the telephone.

Of all the young Englishmen he knew, Maddox was his best friend
and a stock-broker. In that latter capacity Philip had never
before addressed him. Now he demanded his instant presence at the
telephone.

Maddox greeted him genially, but Philip cut him short.

"I want you to act for me," he whispered, "and act quick! I want
you to buy for me one thousand shares of the Royal Mail Line, of
the Elder-Dempster, and of the Union Castle."

He heard Maddox laugh indulgently.

"There's nothing in that yarn of a combine," he called. "It has
fallen through. Besides, shares are at fifteen pounds."

Philip, having in his possession a second-class ticket and a
five-pound note, was indifferent to that, and said so.

"I don't care what they are," he shouted. "The combine is already
signed and sealed, and no one knows it but myself. In an hour
everybody will know it!"

"What makes you think you know it?" demanded the broker.

"I've seen the house-flags!" cried Philip. "I have--do as I tell
you," he commanded.

There was a distracting delay.

"No matter who's back of you," objected Maddox, "it's a big order
on a gamble."

"It's not a gamble," cried Philip. "It's an accomplished fact.
I'm at the Ritz. Call me up there. Start buying now, and, when
you've got a thousand of each, stop!"

Philip was much too agitated to go far from the telephone booth;
so for half an hour he sat in the reading-room, forcing himself
to read the illustrated papers. When he found he had read the
same advertisement five times, he returned to the telephone. The
telephone boy met him half-way with a message.

"Have secured for you a thousand shares of each," he read, "at
fifteen. Maddox."

Like a man awakening from a nightmare, Philip tried to separate
the horror of the situation from the cold fact. The cold fact was
sufficiently horrible. It was that, without a penny to pay for
them, he had bought shares in three steamship lines, which
shares, added together, were worth two hundred and twenty five
thousand dollars. He returned down the corridor toward the
lounge. Trembling at his own audacity, he was in a state of
almost complete panic, when that happened which made his
outrageous speculation of little consequence. It was drawing near
to half-past one; and, in the persons of several smart men and
beautiful ladies, the component parts of different luncheon
parties were beginning to assemble.

Of the luncheon to which Lady Woodcote had invited him, only one
guest had arrived; but, so far as Philip was concerned, that one
was sufficient. It was Helen herself, seated alone, with her eyes
fixed on the doors opening from Piccadilly. Philip, his heart
singing with appeals, blessings, and adoration, ran toward her.
Her profile was toward him, and she could not see him; but he
could see her. And he noted that, as though seeking some one, her
eyes were turned searchingly upon each young man as he entered
and moved from one to another of those already in the lounge. Her
expression was eager and anxious.

"If only," Philip exclaimed, "she were looking for me! She
certainly is looking for some man. I wonder who it can be?"

As suddenly as if he had slapped his face into a wall, he halted
in his steps. Why should he wonder? Why did he not read her mind?
Why did he not KNOW? A waiter was hastening toward him. Philip
fixed his mind upon the waiter, and his eyes as well. Mentally
Philip demanded of him: "Of what are you thinking?"

There was no response. And then, seeing an unlit cigarette
hanging from Philip's lips, the waiter hastily struck a match and
proffered it. Obviously, his mind had worked, first, in observing
the half-burned cigarette; next, in furnishing the necessary
match. And of no step in that mental process had Philip been
conscious! The conclusion was only too apparent. His power was
gone. No longer was he a mind reader!

Hastily Philip reviewed the adventures of the morning. As he
considered them, the moral was obvious. The moment he had used
his power to his own advantage, he had lost it. So long as he had
exerted it for the happiness of the two lovers, to save the life
of the King, to thwart the dishonesty of a swindler, he had been
all-powerful; but when he endeavored to bend it to his own uses,
it had fled from him. As he stood abashed and repentant, Helen
turned her eyes toward him; and, at the sight of him, there
leaped to them happiness and welcome and complete content. It was
"the look that never was on land or sea," and it was not
necessary to be a mind reader to understand it. Philip sprang
toward her as quickly as a man dodges a taxi-cab.

"I came early," said Helen, "because I wanted to talk to you
before the others arrived." She seemed to be repeating words
already rehearsed, to be following a course of conduct already
predetermined. "I want to tell you," she said, "that I am sorry
you are going away. I want to tell you that I shall miss you very
much." She paused and drew a long breath. And she looked at
Philip as if she was begging him to make it easier for her to go
on.

Philip proceeded to make it easier.

"Will you miss me," he asked, "in the Row, where I used to wait
among the trees to see you ride past? Will you miss me at dances,
where I used to hide behind the dowagers to watch you waltzing
by? Will you miss me at night, when you come home by sunrise, and
I am not hiding against the railings of the Carlton Club, just to
see you run across the pavement from your carriage, just to see
the light on your window blind, just to see the light go out, and
to know that you are sleeping?"

Helen's eyes were smiling happily. She looked away from him.

"Did you use to do that?" she asked.

"Every night I do that," said Philip. "Ask the policemen! They
arrested me three times."

"Why?" said Helen gently.

But Philip was not yet free to speak, so he said:

"They thought I was a burglar."

Helen frowned. He was making it very hard for her.

"You know what I mean," she said. "Why did you keep guard outside
my window?"

"It was the policeman kept guard," said Philip. "I was there only
as a burglar. I came to rob. But I was a coward, or else I had a
conscience, or else I knew my own unworthiness." There was a long
pause. As both of them, whenever they heard the tune afterward,
always remembered, the Hungarian band, with rare inconsequence,
was playing the "Grizzly Bear," and people were trying to speak
to Helen. By her they were received with a look of so complete a
lack of recognition, and by Philip with a glare of such savage
hate, that they retreated in dismay. The pause seemed to last for
many years.

At last Helen said: "Do you know the story of the two roses? They
grew in a garden under a lady's window. They both loved her. One
looked up at her from the ground and sighed for her; but the
other climbed to the lady's window, and she lifted him in and
kissed him--because he had dared to climb."

Philip took out his watch and looked at it. But Helen did not
mind his doing that, because she saw that his eyes were filled
with tears. She was delighted to find that she was making it very
hard for him, too.

"At any moment," Philip said, "I may know whether I owe two
hundred and twenty-five thousand dollars which I can never pay,
or whether I am worth about that sum. I should like to continue
this conversation at the exact place where you last spoke--AFTER
I know whether I am going to jail, or whether I am worth a
quarter of a million dollars."

Helen laughed aloud with happiness.

"I knew that was it!" she cried. "You don't like my money. I was
afraid you did not like ME. If you dislike my money, I will give
it away, or I will give it to you to keep for me. The money does
not matter, so long as you don't dislike me."

What Philip would have said to that, Helen could not know, for a
page in many buttons rushed at him with a message from the
telephone, and with a hand that trembled Philip snatched it. It
read: "Combine is announced, shares have gone to thirty-one,
shall I hold or sell?"

That at such a crisis he should permit of any interruption hurt
Helen deeply. She regarded him with unhappy eyes. Philip read the
message three times. At last, and not without uneasy doubts as to
his own sanity, he grasped the preposterous truth. He was worth
almost a quarter of a million dollars! At the page he shoved his
last and only five-pound note. He pushed the boy from him.

"Run!" he commanded. "Get out of here, Tell him he is to SELL!"

He turned to Helen with a look in his eyes that could not be
questioned or denied. He seemed incapable of speech, and, to
break the silence, Helen said: "Is it good news?"

"That depends entirely upon you," replied Philip soberly.
"Indeed, all my future life depends upon what you are going to
say next."

Helen breathed deeply and happily.

"And--what am I going to say?"

"How can I know that?" demanded Philip. "Am I a mind reader?"

But what she said may be safely guessed from the fact that they
both chucked Lady Woodcotes luncheon, and ate one of penny buns,
which they shared with the bears in Regents Park.

Philip was just able to pay for the penny buns. Helen paid for
the taxi-cab.

Chapter 7. THE NAKED MAN

In their home town of Keepsburg, the Keeps were the reigning
dynasty, socially and in every way. Old man Keep was president of
the trolley line, the telephone company, and the Keep National
Bank. But Fred, his son, and the heir apparent, did not inherit
the business ability of his father; or, if he did, he took pains
to conceal that fact. Fred had gone through Harvard, but as to
that also, unless he told people, they would not have known it.
Ten minutes after Fred met a man he generally told him.

When Fred arranged an alliance with Winnie Platt, who also was of
the innermost inner set of Keepsburg, everybody said Keepsburg
would soon lose them. And everybody was right. When single, each
had sighed for other social worlds to conquer, and when they
combined their fortunes and ambitions they found Keepsburg
impossible, and they left it to lay siege to New York. They were
too crafty to at once attack New York itself. A widow lady they
met while on their honeymoon at Palm Beach had told them not to
attempt that. And she was the Palm Beach correspondent of a
society paper they naturally accepted her advice. She warned them
that in New York the waiting-list is already interminable, and
that, if you hoped to break into New York society, the clever
thing to do was to lay siege to it by way of the suburbs and the
country clubs. If you went direct to New York knowing no one, you
would at once expose that fact, and the result would be
disastrous.

She told them of a couple like themselves, young and rich and
from the West, who, at the first dance to which they were
invited, asked, "Who is the old lady in the wig?" and that
question argued them so unknown that it set them back two years.
It was a terrible story, and it filled the Keeps with misgivings.
They agreed with the lady correspondent that it was far better to
advance leisurely; first firmly to intrench themselves in the
suburbs, and then to enter New York, not as the Keeps from
Keepsburg, which meant nothing, but as the Fred Keeps of Long
Island, or Westchester, or Bordentown.

"In all of those places," explained the widow lady, "our smartest
people have country homes, and at the country club you may get to
know them. Then, when winter comes, you follow them on to the
city."

The point from which the Keeps elected to launch their attack was
Scarboro-on-the-Hudson. They selected Scarboro because both of
them could play golf, and they planned that their first skirmish
should be fought and won upon the golf-links of the Sleepy Hollow
Country Club. But the attack did not succeed. Something went
wrong. They began to fear that the lady correspondent had given
them the wrong dope. For, although three months had passed, and
they had played golf together until they were as loath to clasp a
golf club as a red-hot poker, they knew no one, and no one knew
them. That is, they did not know the Van Wardens; and if you
lived at Scarboro and were not recognized by the Van Wardens, you
were not to be found on any map.

Since the days of Hendrik Hudson the country-seat of the Van
Wardens had looked down upon the river that bears his name, and
ever since those days the Van Wardens had looked down upon
everybody else. They were so proud that at all their gates they
had placed signs reading, "No horses allowed. Take the other
road." The other road was an earth road used by tradespeople from
Ossining; the road reserved for the Van Wardens, and automobiles,
was of bluestone. It helped greatly to give the Van Warden estate
the appearance of a well kept cemetery. And those Van Wardens who
occupied the country-place were as cold and unsociable as the
sort of people who occupy cemeteries--except "Harry" Van Warden,
and she lived in New York at the Turf Club.

Harry, according to all local tradition--for he frequently
motored out to Warden Koopf, the Van Warden country-seat--and,
according to the newspapers, was a devil of a fellow and in no
sense cold or unsociable. So far as the Keeps read of him, he was
always being arrested for overspeeding, or breaking his
collar-bone out hunting, or losing his front teeth at polo. This
greatly annoyed the proud sisters at Warden Koopf; not because
Harry was arrested or had broken his collar-bone, but because it
dragged the family name into the newspapers.

"If you would only play polo or ride to hounds instead of playing
golf," sighed Winnie Keep to her husband, "you would meet Harry
Van Warden, and he'd introduce you to his sisters, and then we
could break in anywhere."

"If I was to ride to hounds," returned her husband, "the only
thing I'd break would be my neck."

The country-place of the Keeps was completely satisfactory, and
for the purposes of their social comedy the stage-setting was
perfect. The house was one they had rented from a man of charming
taste and inflated fortune; and with it they had taken over his
well-disciplined butler, his pictures, furniture, family silver,
and linen. It stood upon an eminence, was heavily wooded, and
surrounded by many gardens; but its chief attraction was an
artificial lake well stocked with trout that lay directly below
the terrace of the house and also in full view from the road to
Albany.

This latter fact caused Winnie Keep much concern. In the
neighborhood were many Italian laborers, and on several nights
the fish had tempted these born poachers to trespass; and more
than once, on hot summer evenings, small boys from Tarrytown and
Ossining had broken through the hedge, and used the lake as a
swimming-pool.

"It makes me nervous," complained Winnie. "I don't like the idea
of people prowling around so near the house. And think of those
twelve hundred convicts, not one mile away, in Sing Sing. Most of
them are burglars, and if they ever get out, our house is the
very first one they'll break into."

"I haven't caught anybody in this neighborhood breaking into our
house yet," said Fred, "and I'd be glad to see even a burglar!"

They were seated on the brick terrace that overlooked the lake.
It was just before the dinner hour, and the dusk of a wonderful
October night had fallen on the hedges, the clumps of evergreens,
the rows of close-clipped box. A full moon was just showing
itself above the tree-tops, turning the lake into moving silver.
Fred rose from his wicker chair and, crossing to his young bride,
touched her hair fearfully with the tips of his fingers.

"What if we don't know anybody, Win," he said, "and nobody knows
us? It's been a perfectly good honeymoon, hasn't it? If you just
look at it that way, it works out all right. We came here really
for our honeymoon, to be together, to be alone--"

Winnie laughed shortly. "They certainly have left us alone!" she
sighed.

"But where else could we have been any happier?" demanded the
young husband loyally. "Where will you find any prettier place
than this, just as it is at this minute, so still and sweet and
silent? There's nothing the matter with that moon, is there?
Nothing the matter with the lake? Where's there a better place
for a honeymoon? It's a bower--a bower of peace, solitude
a--bower of--"

As though mocking his words, there burst upon the sleeping
countryside the shriek of a giant siren. It was raucous,
virulent, insulting. It came as sharply as a scream of terror, it
continued in a bellow of rage. Then, as suddenly as it had cried
aloud, it sank to silence; only after a pause of an instant, as
though giving a signal, to shriek again in two sharp blasts. And
then again it broke into the hideous long drawn scream of rage,
insistent, breathless, commanding; filling the soul of him who
heard it, even of the innocent, with alarm.

"In the name of Heaven!" gasped Keep, "what's that?"

Down the terrace the butler was hastening toward them. When he
stopped, he spoke as though he were announcing dinner. "A
convict, sir," he said, "has escaped from Sing Sing. I thought
you might not understand the whistle. I thought perhaps you would
wish Mrs. Keep to come in-doors."

"Why?" asked Winnie Keep.

"The house is near the road, madam," said the butler. "And there
are so many trees and bushes. Last summer two of them hid here,
and the keepers--there was a fight." The man glanced at Keep.
Fred touched his wife on the arm.

"It's time to dress for dinner, Win," he said.

"And what are you going to do?" demanded Winnie.

I'm going to finish this cigar first. It doesn't take me long to
change." He turned to the butler. "And I'll have a cocktail, too
I'll have it out here."

The servant left them, but in the French window that opened from
the terrace to the library Mrs. Keep lingered irresolutely.
"Fred," she begged, "you--you're not going to poke around in the
bushes, are you?--just because you think I'm frightened?"

Her husband laughed at her. "I certainly am NOT!" he said. "And
you're not frightened, either. Go in. I'll be with you in a
minute."

But the girl hesitated. Still shattering the silence of the night
the siren shrieked relentlessly; it seemed to be at their very
door, to beat and buffet the window-panes. The bride shivered and
held her fingers to her ears.

"Why don't they stop it!" she whispered. "Why don't they give him
a chance!"

When she had gone, Fred pulled one of the wicker chairs to the
edge of the terrace, and, leaning forward with his chin in his
hands, sat staring down at the lake. The moon had cleared the
tops of the trees, had blotted the lawns with black, rigid
squares, had disguised the hedges with wavering shadows.
Somewhere near at hand a criminal--a murderer, burglar, thug--was
at large, and the voice of the prison he had tricked still
bellowed in rage, in amazement, still clamored not only for his
person but perhaps for his life. The whole countryside heard it:
the farmers bedding down their cattle for the night; the guests
of the Briar Cliff Inn, dining under red candle shades; the joy
riders from the city, racing their cars along the Albany road. It
woke the echoes of Sleepy Hollow. It crossed the Hudson. The
granite walls of the Palisades flung it back against the granite
walls of the prison. Whichever way the convict turned, it hunted
him, reaching for him, pointing him out--stirring in the heart of
each who heard it the lust of the hunter, which never is so cruel
as when the hunted thing is a man.

"Find him!" shrieked the siren. "Find him! He's there, behind
your hedge! He's kneeling by the stone wall. THAT'S he running in
the moonlight. THAT'S he crawling through the dead leaves! Stop
him! Drag him down! He's mine! Mine!"

But from within the prison, from within the gray walls that made
the home of the siren, each of twelve hundred men cursed it with
his soul. Each, clinging to the bars of his cell, each, trembling
with a fearful joy, each, his thumbs up, urging on with all the
strength of his will the hunted, rat-like figure that stumbled
panting through the crisp October night, bewildered by strange
lights, beset by shadows, staggering and falling, running like a
mad dog in circles, knowing that wherever his feet led him the
siren still held him by the heels.

As a rule, when Winnie Keep was dressing for dinner, Fred, in the
room adjoining, could hear her unconsciously and light-heartedly
singing to herself. It was a habit of hers that he loved. But on
this night, although her room was directly above where he sat
upon the terrace, he heard no singing. He had been on the terrace
for a quarter of an hour. Gridley, the aged butler who was rented
with the house, and who for twenty years had been an inmate of
it, had brought the cocktail and taken away the empty glass. And
Keep had been alone with his thoughts. They were entirely of the
convict. If the man suddenly confronted him and begged his aid,
what would he do? He knew quite well what he would do. He
considered even the means by which he would assist the fugitive
to a successful get-away.

The ethics of the question did not concern Fred. He did not weigh
his duty to the State of New York, or to society. One day, when
he had visited "the institution," as a somewhat sensitive
neighborhood prefers to speak of it, he was told that the chance
of a prisoner's escaping from Sing Sing and not being at once
retaken was one out of six thousand. So with Fred it was largely
a sporting proposition. Any man who could beat a
six-thousand-to-one shot commanded his admiration.

And, having settled his own course of action, he tried to imagine
himself in the place of the man who at that very moment was
endeavoring to escape. Were he that man, he would first, he
decided, rid himself of his tell-tale clothing. But that would
leave him naked, and in Westchester County a naked man would be
quite as conspicuous as one in the purple-gray cloth of the
prison. How could he obtain clothes? He might hold up a
passer-by, and, if the passer-by did not flee from him or punch
him into insensibility, he might effect an exchange of garments;
he might by threats obtain them from some farmer; he might
despoil a scarecrow.

But with none of these plans was Fred entirely satisfied. The
question deeply perplexed him. How best could a naked man clothe
himself? And as he sat pondering that point, from the bushes a
naked man emerged. He was not entirely undraped. For around his
nakedness he had drawn a canvas awning. Fred recognized it as
having been torn from one of the row-boats in the lake. But,
except for that, the man was naked to his heels. He was a young
man of Fred's own age. His hair was cut close, his face
smooth-shaven, and above his eye was a half-healed bruise. He
had the sharp, clever, rat-like face of one who lived by evil
knowledge. Water dripped from him, and either for that reason or
from fright the young man trembled, and, like one who had been
running, breathed in short, hard gasps.

Fred was surprised to find that he was not in the least
surprised. It was as though he had been waiting for the man, as
though it had been an appointment.

Two thoughts alone concerned him: that before he could rid
himself of his visitor his wife might return and take alarm, and
that the man, not knowing his friendly intentions, and in a state
to commit murder, might rush him. But the stranger made no
hostile move, and for a moment in the moonlight the two young men
eyed each other warily.

Then, taking breath and with a violent effort to stop the
chattering of his teeth, the stranger launched into his story.

"I took a bath in your pond," he blurted forth, "and--and they
stole my clothes! That's why I'm like this!"

Fred was consumed with envy. In comparison with this ingenious
narrative how prosaic and commonplace became his own plans to rid
himself of accusing garments and explain his nakedness. He
regarded the stranger with admiration. But even though he
applauded the other's invention, he could not let him suppose
that he was deceived by it.

"Isn't it rather a cold night to take a bath?" he said.

As though in hearty agreement, the naked man burst into a violent
fit of shivering.

"It wasn't a bath," he gasped. "It was a bet!"

"A what!" exclaimed Fred. His admiration was increasing. "A bet?
Then you are not alone?"

"I am NOW--damn them!" exclaimed the naked one. He began again
reluctantly. "We saw you from the road, you and a woman, sitting
here in the light from that room. They bet me I didn't dare strip
and swim across your pond with you sitting so near. I can see now
it was framed up on me from the start. For when I was swimming
back I saw them run to where I'd left my clothes, and then I
heard them crank up, and when I got to the hedge the car was
gone!"

Keep smiled encouragingly. "The car!" he assented. "So you've
been riding around in the moonlight?"

The other nodded, and was about to speak when there burst in upon
them the roaring scream of the siren. The note now was of deeper
rage, and came in greater volume. Between his clinched teeth the
naked one cursed fiercely, and then, as though to avoid further
questions, burst into a fit of coughing. Trembling and shaking,
he drew the canvas cloak closer to him. But at no time did his
anxious, prying eyes leave the eyes of Keep.

"You--you couldn't lend me a suit of clothes could you?" he
stuttered. "Just for to-night? I'll send them back. It's all
right," he added; reassuringly. "I live near here."

With a start Keep raised his eyes, and distressed by his look,
the young man continued less confidently.

"I don't blame you if you don't believe it," he stammered,
"seeing me like this; but I DO live right near here. Everybody
around here knows me, and I guess you've read about me in the
papers, too. I'm--that is, my name--" like one about to take a
plunge he drew a short breath, and the rat-like eyes regarded
Keep watchfully--"my name is Van Warden. I'm the one you read
about--Harry--I'm Harry Van Warden!"

After a pause, slowly and reprovingly Fred shook his head; but
his smile was kindly even regretful, as though he were sorry he
could not longer enjoy the stranger's confidences.

"My boy!" he exclaimed, "you're MORE than Van Warden! You're a
genius!" He rose and made a peremptory gesture. "Sorry," he said,
"but this isn't safe for either of us. Follow me, and I'll dress
you up and send you where you want to go." He turned and
whispered over his shoulder: "Some day let me hear from you. A
man with your nerve--"

In alarm the naked one with a gesture commanded silence.

The library led to the front hall. In this was the coat-room.
First making sure the library and hall were free of servants,
Fred tiptoed to the coat-room and, opening the door, switched: on
the electric light. The naked man, leaving in his wake a trail of
damp footprints, followed at his heels.

Fred pointed at golf-capes, sweaters, greatcoats hanging from
hooks, and on the floor at boots and overshoes.

"Put on that motor-coat and the galoshes," he commanded. "They'll
cover you in case you have to run for it. I'm going to leave you
here while I get you some clothes. If any of the servants butt
in, don't lose your head. Just say you're waiting to see me--Mr.
Keep. I won't be long. Wait."

"Wait!" snorted the stranger. "You BET I'll wait!'

As Fred closed the door upon him, the naked one was rubbing
himself violently with Mrs. Keep's yellow golf-jacket.

In his own room Fred collected a suit of blue serge, a tennis
shirt, boots, even a tie. Underclothes he found ready laid out
for him, and he snatched them from the bed. From a roll of money
in his bureau drawer he counted out a hundred dollars. Tactfully
he slipped the money in the trousers pocket of the serge suit and
with the bundle of clothes in his arms raced downstairs and
shoved them into the coat-room.

"Don't come out until I knock," he commanded. "And," he added in
a vehement whisper, "don't come out at all unless you have
clothes on!"

The stranger grunted.

Fred rang for Gridley and told him to have his car brought around
to the door. He wanted it to start at once within two minutes.
When the butler had departed, Fred, by an inch, again opened the
coat-room door. The stranger had draped himself in the
underclothes and the shirt, and at the moment was carefully
arranging the tie.

"Hurry!" commanded Keep. "The car'll be here in a minute. Where
shall I tell him to take you?"

The stranger chuckled excitedly; his confidence seemed to be
returning. "New York," he whispered, "fast as he can get there!
Look here," he added doubtfully, "there's a roll of bills in
these clothes."

"They're yours," said Fred.

The stranger exclaimed vigorously. "You're all right!" he
whispered. "I won't forget this, or you either. I'll send the
money back same time I send the clothes."

"Exactly!" said Fred.

The wheels of the touring-car crunched on the gravel drive, and
Fred slammed to the door, and like a sentry on guard paced before
it. After a period which seemed to stretch over many minutes
there came from the inside a cautious knocking. With equal
caution Fred opened the door of the width of a finger, and put
his ear to the crack.

"You couldn't find me a button-hook, could you?" whispered the
stranger.

Indignantly Fred shut the door and, walking to the veranda,
hailed the chauffeur. James, the chauffeur, was a Keepsburg boy,
and when Keep had gone to Cambridge James had accompanied him.
Keep knew the boy could be trusted.

"You're to take a man to New York," he said, "or wherever he
wants to go. Don't talk to him. Don't ask any questions. So, if
YOU'RE questioned, you can say you know nothing. That's for your
own good!"

The chauffeur mechanically touched his cap and started down the
steps. As he did so, the prison whistle, still unsatisfied, still
demanding its prey, shattered the silence. As though it had hit
him a physical blow, the youth jumped. He turned and lifted
startled, inquiring eyes to where Keep stood above him.

"I told you," said Keep, "to ask no questions.

As Fred re-entered the hall, Winnie Keep was coming down the
stairs toward him. She had changed to one of the prettiest
evening gowns of her trousseau, and so outrageously lovely was
the combination of herself and the gown that her husband's
excitement and anxiety fell from him, and he was lost in
admiration. But he was not for long lost. To his horror; the door
of the coat-closet opened toward his wife and out of the closet
the stranger emerged. Winnie, not accustomed to seeing young men
suddenly appear from among the dust-coats, uttered a sharp
shriek.

With what he considered great presence of mind, Fred swung upon
the visitor

"Did you fix it?" he demanded.

The visitor did not heed him. In amazement in abject admiration,
his eyes were fastened upon the beautiful and radiant vision
presented by Winnie Keep. But he also still preserved sufficient
presence of mind to nod his head dully.

"Come," commanded Fred. "The car is waiting."

Still the stranger did not move. As though he had never before
seen a woman, as though her dazzling loveliness held him in a
trance, he stood still, gazing, gaping, devouring Winnie with his
eyes. In her turn, Winnie beheld a strange youth who looked like
a groom out of livery, so overcome by her mere presence as to be
struck motionless and inarticulate. For protection she moved in
some alarm toward her husband.

The stranger gave a sudden jerk of his body that might have been
intended for a bow. Before Keep could interrupt him, like a
parrot reciting its lesson, he exclaimed explosively:

"My name's Van Warden. I'm Harry Van Warden."

He seemed as little convinced of the truth of his statement as
though he had announced that he was the Czar of Russia. It was as
though a stage-manager had drilled him in the lines.

But upon Winnie, as her husband saw to his dismay, the words
produced an instant and appalling effect. She fairly radiated
excitement and delight. How her husband had succeeded in
capturing the social prize of Scarboro she could not imagine,
but, for doing so, she flashed toward him a glance of deep and
grateful devotion.

Then she beamed upon the stranger. "Won't Mr. Van Warden stay to
dinner?" she asked.

Her husband emitted a howl. "He will NOT!" he cried. "He's not
that kind of a Van Warden. He's a plumber. He's the man that
fixes the telephone!"

He seized the visitor by the sleeve of the long motor-coat and
dragged him down the steps. Reluctantly, almost resistingly, the
visitor stumbled after him, casting backward amazed glances at
the beautiful lady. Fred thrust him into the seat beside the
chauffeur. Pointing at the golf-cap and automobile goggles which
the stranger was stupidly twisting in his hands, Fred whispered
fiercely:

"Put those on! Cover your face! Don't speak! The man knows what
to do."

With eager eyes and parted lips James the chauffeur was waiting
for the signal. Fred nodded sharply, and the chauffeur stooped to
throw in the clutch. But the car did not start. From the hedge
beside the driveway, directly in front of the wheels, something
on all fours threw itself upon the gravel; something in a suit of
purple-gray; something torn and bleeding, smeared with sweat and
dirt; something that cringed and crawled, that tried to rise and
sank back upon its knees, lifting to the glare of the head-lights
the white face and white hair of a very old, old man. The
kneeling figure sobbed; the sobs rising from far down in the pit
of the stomach, wrenching the body like waves of nausea. The man
stretched his arms toward them. From long disuse his voice
cracked and broke.

"I'm done!" he sobbed. "I can't go no farther! I give myself up!"

Above the awful silence that held the four young people, the
prison siren shrieked in one long, mocking howl of triumph.

It was the stranger who was the first to act. Pushing past Fred,
and slipping from his own shoulders the long motor-coat, he
flung it over the suit of purple-gray. The goggles he clapped
upon the old man's frightened eyes, the golf-cap he pulled down
over the white hair. With one arm he lifted the convict, and with
the other dragged and pushed him into the seat beside the
chauffeur. Into the hands of the chauffeur he thrust the roll of
bills.

"Get him away!" he ordered. "It's only twelve miles to the
Connecticut line. As soon as you're across, buy him clothes and a
ticket to Boston. Go through White Plains to Greenwich--and then
you're safe!"

As though suddenly remembering the presence of the owner of the
car, he swung upon Fred. "Am I right?" he demanded.

"Of course!" roared Fred. He flung his arm at the chauffeur as
though throwing him into space.

"Get-to-hell-out-of-here!" he shouted.

The chauffeur, by profession a criminal, but by birth a human
being, chuckled savagely and this time threw in the clutch. With
a grinding of gravel the racing-car leaped into the night, its
ruby rear lamp winking in farewell, its tiny siren answering the
great siren of the prison in jeering notes of joy and victory.

Fred had supposed that at the last moment the younger convict
proposed to leap to the running-board, but instead the stranger
remained motionless.

Fred shouted impotently after the flying car. In dismay he seized
the stranger by the arm.

"But you?" he demanded. "How are you going to get away?"

The stranger turned appealingly to where upon the upper step
stood Winnie Keep.

"I don't want to get away," he said. "I was hoping, maybe, you'd
let me stay to dinner."

A terrible and icy chill crept down the spine of Fred Keep. He
moved so that the light from the hall fell full upon the face of
the stranger.

"Will you kindly tell me," Fred demanded, "who the devil you
are?"

The stranger exclaimed peevishly. "I've BEEN telling you all
evening," he protested. "I'm Harry Van Warden!"

Gridley, the ancient butler, appeared in the open door.

"Dinner is served, madam," he said.

The stranger gave an exclamation of pleasure. "Hello, Gridley!"
he cried. "Will you please tell Mr. Keep who I am? Tell him, if
he'll ask me to dinner, I won't steal the spoons."

Upon the face of Gridley appeared a smile it never had been the
privilege of Fred Keep to behold. The butler beamed upon the
stranger fondly, proudly, by the right of long acquaintanceship,
with the affection of an old friend. Still beaming, he bowed to
Keep.

"If Mr. Harry--Mr. Van Warden," he said, "is to stay to dinner,
might I suggest, sir, he is very partial to the Paul Vibert,
'84."

Fred Keep gazed stupidly from his butler to the stranger and then
at his wife. She was again radiantly beautiful and smilingly
happy.

Gridley coughed tentatively. "Shall I open a bottle, sir?" he
asked.

Hopelessly Fred tossed his arms heavenward.

"Open a case!" he roared.

At ten o'clock, when they were still at table and reaching a
state of such mutual appreciation that soon they would be calling
each other by their first names, Gridley brought in a written
message he had taken from the telephone. It was a long-distance
call from Yonkers, sent by James, the faithful chauffeur.

Fred read it aloud.

"I got that party the articles he needed," it read, "and saw him
safe on a train to Boston. On the way back I got arrested for
speeding the car on the way down. Please send money. I am in a
cell in Yonkers."

Chapter 8. THE BOY WHO CRIED WOLF

Before he finally arrested him, "Jimmie" Sniffen had seen the man
with the golf-cap, and the blue eyes that laughed at you, three
times. Twice, unexpectedly, he had come upon him in a wood road
and once on Round Hill where the stranger was pretending to watch
the sunset. Jimmie knew people do not climb hills merely to look
at sunsets, so he was not deceived. He guessed the man was a
German spy seeking gun sites, and secretly vowed to "stalk" him.
From that moment, had the stranger known it, he was as good as
dead. For a boy scout with badges on his sleeve for "stalking"
and "path-finding," not to boast of others for "gardening" and
"cooking," can outwit any spy. Even had, General Baden-Powell
remained in Mafeking and not invented the boy scout, Jimmie
Sniffen would have been one. Because, by birth he was a boy, and
by inheritance, a scout. In Westchester County the Sniffens are
one of the county families. If it isn't a Sarles, it's a Sniffen;
and with Brundages, Platts, and Jays, the Sniffens date back to
when the acres of the first Charles Ferris ran from the Boston
post road to the coach road to Albany, and when the first
Gouverneur Morris stood on one of his hills and saw the Indian
canoes in the Hudson and in the Sound and rejoiced that all the
land between belonged to him.

If you do not believe in heredity, the fact that Jimmie's
great-great-grandfather was a scout for General Washington and
hunted deer, and even bear, over exactly the same hills where
Jimmie hunted weasles will count for nothing. It will not explain
why to Jimmie, from Tarrytown to Port Chester, the hills, the
roads, the woods, and the cow-paths, caves, streams, and springs
hidden in the woods were as familiar as his own kitchen garden,

Nor explain why, when you could not see a Pease and Elliman "For
Sale" sign nailed to a tree, Jimmie could see in the highest
branches a last year's bird's nest.

Or why, when he was out alone playing Indians and had sunk his
scout's axe into a fallen log and then scalped the log, he felt
that once before in those same woods he had trailed that same
Indian, and with his own tomahawk split open his skull. Sometimes
when he knelt to drink at a secret spring in the forest, the
autumn leaves would crackle and he would raise his eyes fearing
to see a panther facing him.

But there ain't no panthers in Westchester," Jimmie would
reassure himself. And in the distance the roar of an automobile
climbing a hill with the muffler open would seem to suggest he
was right. But still Jimmie remembered once before he had knelt
at that same spring, and that when he raised his eyes he had
faced a crouching panther. "Mebbe dad told me it happened to
grandpop," Jimmie would explain, "or I dreamed it, or, mebbe, I
read it in a story book."

The "German spy" mania attacked Round Hill after the visit to the
boy scouts of Clavering Gould, the war correspondent. He was
spending the week end with "Squire" Harry Van Vorst, and as young
Van Vorst, besides being a justice of the peace and a Master of
Beagles and President of the Country Club, was also a local
"councilman" for the Round Hill Scouts, he brought his guest to a
camp-fire meeting to talk to them. In deference to his audience,
Gould told them of the boy scouts he had seen in Belgium and of
the part they were playing in the great war. It was his
peroration that made trouble.

"And any day," he assured his audience, "this country may be at
war with Germany; and every one of you boys will be expected to
do his bit. You can begin now. When the Germans land it will be
near New Haven, or New Bedford. They will first capture the
munition works at Springfield, Hartford, and Watervliet so as to
make sure of their ammunition, and then they will start for New
York City. They will follow the New Haven and New York Central
railroads, and march straight through this village. I haven't the
least doubt," exclaimed the enthusiastic war prophet, "that at
this moment German spies are as thick in Westchester as
blackberries. They are here to select camp sites and gun
positions, to find out which of these hills enfilade the others
and to learn to what extent their armies can live on the country.
They are counting the cows, the horses, the barns where fodder is
stored; and they are marking down on their maps the wells and
streams."

As though at that moment a German spy might be crouching behind
the door, Mr. Gould spoke in a whisper. "Keep your eyes open!" he
commanded. "Watch every stranger. If he acts suspiciously, get
word quick to your sheriff, or to Judge Van Vorst here. Remember
the scouts' motto, 'Be prepared!'"

That night as the scouts walked home, behind each wall and
hayrick they saw spiked helmets.

Young Van Vorst was extremely annoyed.

"Next time you talk to my scouts," he declared, you'll talk on
'Votes for Women.' After what you said to-night every real estate
agent who dares open a map will be arrested. We're not trying to
drive people away from Westchester, we're trying to sell them
building sites."

"YOU are not!" retorted his friend, "you own half the county now,
and you're trying to buy the other half."

"I'm a justice of the peace," explained Van Vorst. "I don't know
WHY I am, except that they wished it on me. All I get out of it
is trouble. The Italians make charges against my best friends for
overspeeding and I have to fine them, and my best friends bring
charges against the Italians for poaching, and when I fine the
Italians, they send me Black Hand letters. And now every day I'll
be asked to issue a warrant for a German spy who is selecting gun
sites. And he will turn out to be a millionaire who is tired of
living at the Ritz-Carlton and wants to 'own his own home' and
his own golf-links. And he'll be so hot at being arrested that
he'll take his millions to Long Island and try to break into the
Piping Rock Club. And, it will be your fault!"

The young justice of the peace was right. At least so far as
Jimmie Sniffen was concerned, the words of the war prophet had
filled one mind with unrest. In the past Jimmie's idea of a
holiday had been to spend it scouting in the woods. In this
pleasure he was selfish. He did not want companions who talked,
and trampled upon the dead leaves so that they frightened the
wild animals and gave the Indians warning. Jimmie liked to
pretend. He liked to fill the woods with wary and hostile
adversaries. It was a game of his own inventing. If he crept to
the top of a hill and on peering over it, surprised a fat
woodchuck, he pretended the woodchuck was a bear, weighing two
hundred pounds; if, himself unobserved, he could lie and watch,
off its guard, a rabbit, squirrel, or, most difficult of all, a
crow, it became a deer and that night at supper Jimmie made
believe he was eating venison. Sometimes he was a scout of the
Continental Army and carried despatches to General Washington.
The rules of that game were that if any man ploughing in the
fields, or cutting trees in the woods, or even approaching along
the same road, saw Jimmie before Jimmie saw him, Jimmie was taken
prisoner, and before sunrise was shot as a spy. He was seldom
shot. Or else why on his sleeve was the badge for "stalking." But
always to have to make believe became monotonous. Even "dry
shopping" along the Rue de la Paix when you pretend you can have
anything you see in any window, leaves one just as rich, but
unsatisfied. So the advice of the war correspondent to seek out
German spies came to Jimmie like a day at the circus, like a week
at the Danbury Fair. It not only was a call to arms, to protect
his flag and home, but a chance to play in earnest the game in
which he most delighted. No longer need he pretend. No longer
need he waste his energies in watching, unobserved, a greedy
rabbit rob a carrot field. The game now was his fellow-man and
his enemy; not only his enemy, but the enemy of his country.

In his first effort Jimmie was not entirely successful. The man
looked the part perfectly; he wore an auburn beard, disguising
spectacles, and he carried a suspicious knapsack. But he turned
out to be a professor from the Museum of Natural History, who
wanted to dig for Indian arrow-heads. And when Jimmie threatened
to arrest him, the indignant gentleman arrested Jimmie. Jimmie
escaped only by leading the professor to a secret cave of his
own, though on some one else's property, where one not only could
dig for arrow-heads, but find them. The professor was delighted,
but for Jimmie it was a great disappointment. The week following
Jimmie was again disappointed.

On the bank of the Kensico Reservoir, he came upon a man who was
acting in a mysterious and suspicious manner. He was making notes
in a book, and his runabout which he had concealed in a wood road
was stuffed with blue-prints. It did not take Jimmie long to
guess his purpose. He was planning to blow up the Kensico dam,
and cut off the water supply of New York City. Seven millions of
people without water! With out firing a shot, New York must
surrender! At the thought Jimmie shuddered, and at the risk of
his life by clinging to the tail of a motor truck, he followed
the runabout into White Plains. But there it developed the
mysterious stranger, so far from wishing to destroy the Kensico
dam, was the State Engineer who had built it, and, also, a large
part of the Panama Canal. Nor in his third effort was Jimmie more
successful. From the heights of Pound Ridge he discovered on a
hilltop below him a man working alone upon a basin of concrete.
The man was a German-American, and already on Jimmie's list of
"suspects." That for the use of the German artillery he was
preparing a concrete bed for a siege gun was only too evident.
But closer investigation proved that the concrete was only two
inches thick. And the hyphenated one explained that the basin was
built over a spring, in the waters of which he planned to erect a
fountain and raise gold fish. It was a bitter blow. Jimmie became
discouraged. Meeting Judge Van Vorst one day in the road he told
him his troubles. The young judge proved unsympathetic. "My
advice to you, Jimmie," he said, "is to go slow. Accusing
everybody of espionage is a very serious matter. If you call a
man a spy, it's sometimes hard for him to disprove it; and the
name sticks. So, go slow--very slow. Before you arrest any more
people, come to me first for a warrant."

So, the next time Jimmie proceeded with caution.

Besides being a farmer in a small way, Jimmie's father was a
handy man with tools. He had no union card, but, in laying
shingles along a blue chalk line, few were as expert. It was
August, there was no school, and Jimmie was carrying a
dinner-pail to where his father was at work on a new barn. He
made a cross-cut through the woods, and came upon the young man
in the golf-cap. The stranger nodded, and his eyes, which seemed
to be always laughing, smiled pleasantly. But he was deeply
tanned, and, from the waist up, held himself like a soldier, so,
at once, Jimmie mistrusted him. Early the next morning Jimmie met
him again. It had not been raining, but the clothes of the young
man were damp. Jimmie guessed that while the dew was still on the
leaves the young man had been forcing his way through underbrush.
The stranger must have remembered Jimmie, for he laughed and
exclaimed:

"Ah, my friend with the dinner-pail! It's luck you haven't got it
now, or I'd hold you up. I'm starving!"

Jimmie smiled in sympathy. "It's early to be hungry," said
Jimmie; "when did you have your breakfast?"

"I didn't," laughed the young man. "I went out to walk up an
appetite, and I lost myself. But, I haven't lost my appetite.
Which is the shortest way back to Bedford?"

"The first road to your right," said Jimmie.

"Is it far?" asked the stranger anxiously. That he was very
hungry was evident.

"It's a half-hour's walk," said Jimmie

"If I live that long," corrected the young man; and stepped out
briskly.

Jimmie knew that within a hundred yards a turn in the road would
shut him from sight. So, he gave the stranger time to walk that
distance, and, then, diving into the wood that lined the road,
"stalked" him. From behind a tree he saw the stranger turn and
look back, and seeing no one in the road behind him, also leave
it and plunge into the woods.

He had not turned toward Bedford; he had turned to the left. Like
a runner stealing bases, Jimmie slipped from tree to tree. Ahead
of him he heard the stranger trampling upon dead twigs, moving
rapidly as one who knew his way. At times through the branches
Jimmie could see the broad shoulders of the stranger, and again
could follow his progress only by the noise of the crackling
twigs. When the noises ceased, Jimmie guessed the stranger had
reached the wood road, grass-grown and moss-covered, that led to
Middle Patent. So, he ran at right angles until he also reached
it, and as now he was close to where it entered the main road, he
approached warily. But, he was too late. There was a sound like
the whir of a rising partridge, and ahead of him from where it
had been hidden, a gray touring-car leaped into the highway. The
stranger was at the wheel. Throwing behind it a cloud of dust,
the car raced toward Greenwich. Jimmie had time to note only that
it bore a Connecticut State license; that in the wheel-ruts the
tires printed little V's, like arrow-heads.

For a week Jimmie saw nothing of the spy, but for many hot and
dusty miles he stalked arrow-heads. They lured him north, they
lured him south, they were stamped in soft asphalt, in mud, dust,
and fresh-spread tarvia. Wherever Jimmie walked, arrow-heads ran
before. In his sleep as in his copy-book, he saw endless chains
of V's. But not once could he catch up with the wheels that
printed them. A week later, just at sunset as he passed below
Round Hill, he saw the stranger on top of it. On the skyline, in
silhouette against the sinking sun, he was as conspicuous as a
flagstaff. But to approach him was impossible. For acres Round
Hill offered no other cover than stubble. It was as bald as a
skull. Until the stranger chose to descend, Jimmie must wait. And
the stranger was in no haste. The sun sank and from the west
Jimmie saw him turn his face east toward the Sound. A storm was
gathering, drops of rain began to splash and as the sky grew
black the figure on the hilltop faded into the darkness. And
then, at the very spot where Jimmie had last seen it, there
suddenly flared two tiny flashes of fire. Jimmie leaped from
cover. It was no longer to be endured. The spy was signalling.
The time for caution had passed, now was the time to act. Jimmie
raced to the top of the hill, and found it empty. He plunged down
it, vaulted a stone wall, forced his way through a tangle of
saplings, and held his breath to listen. Just beyond him, over a
jumble of rocks, a hidden stream was tripping and tumbling.
Joyfully, it laughed and gurgled. Jimmie turned hot. It sounded
as though from the darkness the spy mocked him. Jimmie shook his
fist at the enshrouding darkness. Above the tumult of the coming
storm and the tossing tree-tops, he raised his voice.

"You wait!" he shouted. "I'll get you yet! Next time, I'll bring
a gun."

Next time, was the next morning. There had been a hawk hovering
over the chicken yard, and Jimmie used that fact to explain his
borrowing the family shotgun. He loaded it with buckshot, and, in
the pocket of his shirt buttoned his license to "hunt, pursue and
kill, to take with traps or other devices."

He remembered that Judge Van Vorst had warned him, before he
arrested more spies, to come to him for a warrant. But with an
impatient shake of the head Jimmie tossed the recollection from
him. After what he had seen he could not possibly be again
mistaken. He did not need a warrant. What he had seen was his
warrant--plus the shotgun.

As a "pathfinder" should, he planned to take up the trail where
he had lost it, but, before he reached Round Hill, he found a
warmer trail. Before him, stamped clearly in the road still damp
from the rain of the night before, two lines of little
arrow-heads pointed the way. They were so fresh that at each
twist in the road, lest the car should be just beyond him, Jimmie
slackened his steps. After half a mile the scent grew hot. The
tracks were deeper, the arrow-heads more clearly cut, and Jimmie
broke into a run. Then, the arrow-heads swung suddenly to the
right, and in a clearing at the edge of a wood, were lost. But
the tires had pressed deep into the grass, and just inside the
wood, he found the car. It was empty. Jimmie was drawn two ways.
Should he seek the spy on the nearest hilltop, or, until the
owner returned, wait by the car. Between lying in ambush and
action, Jimmie preferred action. But, he did not climb the hill
nearest the car; he climbed the hill that overlooked that hill.

Flat on the ground, hidden in the golden-rod he lay motionless.
Before him, for fifteen miles stretched hills and tiny valleys.
Six miles away to his right rose the stone steeple, and the red
roofs of Greenwich. Directly before him were no signs of
habitation, only green forests, green fields, gray stone walls,
and, where a road ran up-hill, a splash of white, that quivered
in the heat. The storm of the night before had washed the air.
Each leaf stood by itself. Nothing stirred; and in the glare of
the August sun every detail of the landscape was as distinct as
those in a colored photograph; and as still.

In his excitement the scout was trembling.

"If he moves," he sighed happily, "I've got him!"

Opposite, across a little valley was the hill at the base of
which he had found the car. The slope toward him was bare, but
the top was crowned with a thick wood; and along its crest, as
though establishing an ancient boundary, ran a stone wall,
moss-covered and wrapped in poison-ivy. In places, the branches
of the trees, reaching out to the sun, overhung the wall and hid
it in black shadows. Jimmie divided the hill into sectors. He
began at the right, and slowly followed the wall. With his eyes
he took it apart, stone by stone. Had a chipmunk raised his head,
Jimmie would have seen him. So, when from the stone wall, like
the reflection of the sun upon a window-pane, something flashed,
Jimmie knew he had found his spy. A pair of binoculars had
betrayed him. Jimmie now saw him clearly. He sat on the ground at
the top of the hill opposite, in the deep shadow of an oak, his
back against the stone wall. With the binoculars to his eyes he
had leaned too far forward, and upon the glass the sun had
flashed a warning.

Jimmie appreciated that his attack must be made from the rear.
Backward, like a crab he wriggled free of the golden-rod, and
hidden by the contour of the hill, raced down it and into the
woods on the hill opposite. When he came to within twenty feet of
the oak beneath which he had seen the stranger, he stood erect,
and as though avoiding a live wire, stepped on tip-toe to the
wall. The stranger still sat against it. The binoculars hung from
a cord around his neck. Across his knees was spread a map. He was
marking it with a pencil, and as he worked, he hummed a tune.

Jimmie knelt, and resting the gun on the top of the wall, covered
him.

"Throw up your hands!" he commanded.

The stranger did not start. Except that he raised his eyes he
gave no sign that he had heard. His eyes stared across the little
sun-filled valley. They were half closed as though in study, as
though perplexed by some deep and intricate problem. They
appeared to see beyond the sun-filled valley some place of
greater moment, some place far distant.

Then the eyes smiled, and slowly, as though his neck were stiff,
but still smiling, the stranger turned his head. When he saw the
boy, his smile was swept away in waves of surprise, amazement,
and disbelief. These were followed instantly by an expression of
the most acute alarm. "Don't point that thing at me!" shouted the
stranger. "Is it loaded?" With his cheek pressed to the stock and
his eye squinted down the length of the brown barrel, Jimmie
nodded. The stranger flung up his open palms. They accented his
expression of amazed incredulity. He seemed to be exclaiming,
"Can such things be?"

"Get up!" commanded Jimmie.

With alacrity the stranger rose.

"Walk over there," ordered the scout. "Walk backward. Stop! Take
off those field-glasses and throw them to me." Without removing
his eyes from the gun the stranger lifted the binoculars from his
neck and tossed them to the stone wall. "See here!" he pleaded,
"if you'll only point that damned blunderbuss the other way, you
can have the glasses, and my watch, and clothes, and all my
money; only don't--"

Jimmie flushed crimson. "You can't bribe me," he growled. At
least, he tried to growl, but because his voice was changing, or
because he was excited the growl ended in a high squeak. With
mortification, Jimmie flushed a deeper crimson. But the stranger
was not amused. At Jimmie's words he seemed rather the more
amazed.

"I'm not trying to bribe you," he protested. "If you don't want
anything, why are you holding me up?"

"I'm not," returned Jimmie, "I'm arresting you!"

The stranger laughed with relief. Again his eyes smiled. "Oh," he
cried, "I see! Have I been trespassing?"

With a glance Jimmie measured the distance between himself and
the stranger. Reassured, he lifted one leg after the other over
the wall. "If you try to rush me," he warned, "I'll shoot you
full of buckshot."

The stranger took a hasty step BACKWARD. "Don't worry about
that," he exclaimed. "I'll not rush you. Why am I arrested?"

Hugging the shotgun with his left arm, Jimmie stopped and lifted
the binoculars. He gave them a swift glance, slung them over his
shoulder, and again clutched his weapon. His expression was now
stern and menacing.

"The name on them" he accused, "is 'Weiss, Berlin.' Is that your
name?" The stranger smiled, but corrected himself, and replied
gravely, "That's the name of the firm that makes them."

Jimmie exclaimed in triumph. "Hah!" he cried, "made in Germany!"

The stranger shook his head.

"I don't understand," he said. "Where WOULD a Weiss glass be
made?" With polite insistence he repeated, "Would you mind
telling me why I am arrested, and who you might happen to be?"

Jimmie did not answer. Again he stooped and picked up the map,
and as he did so, for the first time the face of the stranger
showed that he was annoyed. Jimmie was not at home with maps.
They told him nothing. But the penciled notes on this one made
easy reading. At his first glance he saw, "Correct range, 1,800
yards"; "this stream not fordable"; "slope of hill 15 degrees
inaccessible for artillery." "Wire entanglements here"; "forage
for five squadrons."

Jimmie's eyes flashed. He shoved the map inside his shirt, and
with the gun motioned toward the base of the hill. "Keep forty
feet ahead of me," he commanded, "and walk to your car." The
stranger did not seem to hear him. He spoke with irritation.

"I suppose," he said, "I'll have to explain to you about that
map."

"Not to me, you won't," declared his captor. "You're going to
drive straight to Judge Van Vorst's, and explain to HIM!"

The stranger tossed his arms even higher. "Thank God!" he
exclaimed gratefully.

With his prisoner Jimmie encountered no further trouble. He made
a willing captive. And if in covering the five miles to Judge Van
Vorst's he exceeded the speed limit, the fact that from the rear
seat Jimmie held the shotgun against the base of his skull was an
extenuating circumstance.

They arrived in the nick of time. In his own car young Van Vorst
and a bag of golf clubs were just drawing away from the house.
Seeing the car climbing the steep driveway that for a half-mile
led from his lodge to his front door, and seeing Jimmie standing
in the tonneau brandishing a gun, the Judge hastily descended.
The sight of the spy hunter filled him with misgiving, but the
sight of him gave Jimmie sweet relief. Arresting German spies for
a small boy is no easy task. For Jimmie the strain was great. And
now that he knew he had successfully delivered him into the hands
of the law, Jimmie's heart rose with happiness. The added
presence of a butler of magnificent bearing and of an athletic
looking chauffeur increased his sense of security. Their presence
seemed to afford a feeling of security to the prisoner also. As
he brought the car to a halt, he breathed a sigh. It was a sigh
of deep relief.

Jimmie fell from the tonneau. In concealing his sense of triumph,
he was not entirety successful.

"I got him!" he cried. "I didn't make no mistake about THIS one!"

"What one?" demanded Van Vorst.

Jimmie pointed dramatically at his prisoner. With an anxious
expression the stranger was tenderly fingering the back of his
head. He seemed to wish to assure himself that it was still
there.

"THAT one!" cried Jimmie. "He's a German spy!"

The patience of Judge Van Vorst fell from him. In his exclamation
was indignation, anger, reproach.

"Jimmie!" he cried.

Jimmie thrust into his hand the map. It was his "Exhibit A."
"Look what he's wrote," commanded the scout. "It's all military
words. And these are his glasses. I took 'em off him. They're
made in GERMANY! I been stalking him for a week. He's a spy!"

When Jimmie thrust the map before his face, Van Vorst had glanced
at it. Then he regarded it more closely. As he raised his eyes
they showed that he was puzzled.

But he greeted the prisoner politely.

"I'm extremely sorry you've been annoyed," he said. "I'm only
glad it's no worse. He might have shot you. He's mad over the
idea that every stranger he sees--"

The prisoner quickly interrupted.

"Please!" he begged, "Don't blame the boy. He behaved extremely
well. Might I speak with you--ALONE?" he asked.

Judge Van Vorst led the way across the terrace, and to the
smoking-room, that served also as his office, and closed the
door. The stranger walked directly to the mantelpiece and put his
finger on a gold cup.

"I saw your mare win that at Belmont Park," he said. "She must
have been a great loss to you?"

"She was," said Van Vorst. "The week before she broke her back, I
refused three thousand for her. Will you have a cigarette?"

The stranger waved aside the cigarettes.

"I brought you inside," he said, "because I didn't want your
servants to hear; and because I don't want to hurt that boy's
feelings. He's a fine boy; and he's a damned clever scout. I knew
he was following me and I threw him off twice, but to-day he
caught me fair. If I really had been a German spy, I couldn't
have got away from him. And I want him to think he has captured a
German spy. Because he deserves just as much credit as though he
had, and because it's best he shouldn't know whom he DID
capture."

Van Vorst pointed to the map. "My bet is," he said, "that you're
an officer of the State militia, taking notes for the fall
manoeuvres. Am I right?"

The stranger smiled in approval, but shook his head.

"You're warm," he said, "but it's more serious than manoeuvres.
It's the Real Thing." From his pocketbook he took a visiting card
and laid it on the table. "I'm 'Sherry' McCoy," he said, "Captain
of Artillery in the United States Army." He nodded to the hand
telephone on the table.

"You can call up Governor's Island and get General Wood or his
aide, Captain Dorey, on the phone. They sent me here. Ask THEM.
I'm not picking out gun sites for the Germans; I'm picking out
positions of defense for Americans when the Germans come!"

Van Vorst laughed derisively.

"My word!" he exclaimed. "You're as bad as Jimmie!"

Captain McCoy regarded him with disfavor.

"And you, sir," he retorted, "are as bad as ninety million other
Americans. You WON'T believe! When the Germans are shelling this
hill, when they're taking your hunters to pull their cook-wagons,
maybe, you'll believe THEN."

"Are you serious?" demanded Van Vorst. "And you an army officer?"

"That's why I am serious," returned McCoy. "WE know. But when we
try to prepare for what is coming, we must do it secretly--in
underhand ways, for fear the newspapers will get hold of it and
ridicule us, and accuse us of trying to drag the country into
war. That's why we have to prepare under cover. That's why I've
had to skulk around these hills like a chicken thief. And," he
added sharply, "that's why that boy must not know who I am. If he
does, the General Staff will get a calling down at Washington,
and I'll have my ears boxed."

Van Vorst moved to the door.

"He will never learn the truth from me," he said. "For I will
tell him you are to be shot at sunrise."

"Good!" laughed the Captain. "And tell me his name. If ever we
fight over Westchester County, I want that lad for my chief of
scouts. And give him this. Tell him to buy a new scout uniform.
Tell him it comes from you."

But no money could reconcile Jimmie to the sentence imposed upon
his captive. He received the news with a howl of anguish. "You
mustn't," he begged; "I never knowed you'd shoot him! I wouldn't
have caught him, if I'd knowed that. I couldn't sleep if I
thought he was going to be shot at sunrise." At the prospect of
unending nightmares Jimmie's voice shook with terror. "Make it
for twenty years," he begged. "Make it for ten," he coaxed, "but,
please, promise you won't shoot him."

When Van Vorst returned to Captain McCoy, he was smiling, and the
butler who followed, bearing a tray and tinkling glasses, was
trying not to smile.

"I gave Jimmie your ten dollars," said Van Vorst, "and made it
twenty, and he has gone home. You will be glad to hear that he
begged me to spare your life, and that your sentence has been
commuted to twenty years in a fortress. I drink to your good
fortune."

"No!" protested Captain McCoy, "We will drink to Jimmie!"

When Captain McCoy had driven away, and his own car and the golf
clubs had again been brought to the steps, Judge Van Vorst once
more attempted to depart; but he was again delayed.

Other visitors were arriving.

Up the driveway a touring-car approached, and though it limped on
a flat tire, it approached at reckless speed. The two men in the
front seat were white with dust; their faces, masked by
automobile glasses, were indistinguishable. As though preparing
for an immediate exit, the car swung in a circle until its nose
pointed down the driveway up which it had just come. Raising his
silk mask the one beside the driver shouted at Judge Van Vorst.
His throat was parched, his voice was hoarse and hot with anger.

"A gray touring-car," he shouted. "It stopped here. We saw it
from that hill. Then the damn tire burst, and we lost our way.
Where did he go?"

"Who?" demanded Van Vorst, stiffly, "Captain McCoy?"

The man exploded with an oath. The driver with a shove of his
elbow, silenced him.

"Yes, Captain McCoy," assented the driver eagerly. "Which way did
he go?"

"To New York," said Van Vorst.

The driver shrieked at his companion.

"Then, he's doubled back," he cried. "He's gone to New Haven." He
stooped and threw in the clutch. The car lurched forward.

A cold terror swept young Van Vorst.

"What do you want with him?" he called "Who are you?"

Over one shoulder the masked face glared at him. Above the roar
of the car the words of the driver were flung back. "We're Secret
Service from Washington," he shouted. "He's from their embassy.
He's a German spy!"

Leaping and throbbing at sixty miles an hour, the car vanished in
a curtain of white, whirling dust.

Chapter 9. THE CARD-SHARP

I had looked forward to spending Christmas with some people in
Suffolk, and every one in London assured me that at their house
there would be the kind of a Christmas house party you hear about
but see only in the illustrated Christmas numbers. They promised
mistletoe, snapdragon, and Sir Roger de Coverley. On Christmas
morning we would walk to church, after luncheon we would shoot,
after dinner we would eat plum pudding floating in blazing
brandy, dance with the servants, and listen to the waits singing
"God rest you, merry gentlemen, let nothing you dismay."

To a lone American bachelor stranded in London it sounded fine.
And in my gratitude I had already shipped to my hostess, for her
children, of whose age, number, and sex I was ignorant, half of
Gamage's dolls, skees, and cricket bats, and those crackers
that, when you pull them, sometimes explode. But it was not to
be. Most inconsiderately my wealthiest patient gained sufficient
courage to consent to an operation, and in all New York would
permit no one to lay violent hands upon him save myself. By cable
I advised postponement. Having lived in lawful harmony with his
appendix for fifty years, I thought, for one week longer he might
safely maintain the status quo. But his cable in reply was an
ultimatum. So, on Christmas eve, instead of Hallam Hall and a
Yule log, I was in a gale plunging and pitching off the coast of
Ireland, and the only log on board was the one the captain kept
to himself.

I sat in the smoking-room, depressed and cross, and it must have
been on the principle that misery loves company that I
foregathered with Talbot, or rather that Talbot foregathered with
me. Certainty, under happier conditions and in haunts of men more
crowded, the open-faced manner in which he forced himself upon me
would have put me on my guard. But, either out of deference to
the holiday spirit, as manifested in the fictitious gayety of our
few fellow-passengers, or because the young man in a knowing,
impertinent way was most amusing, I listened to him from dinner
time until midnight, when the chief officer, hung with snow and
icicles, was blown in from the deck and wished all a merry
Christmas.

Even after they unmasked Talbot I had neither the heart nor the
inclination to turn him down. Indeed, had not some of the
passengers testified that I belonged to a different profession,
the smoking-room crowd would have quarantined me as his
accomplice. On the first night I met him I was not certain
whether he was English or giving an imitation. All the outward
and visible signs were English, but he told me that, though he
had been educated at Oxford and since then had spent most of his
years in India, playing polo, he was an American. He seemed to
have spent much time, and according to himself much money, at the
French watering-places and on the Riviera. I felt sure that it
was in France I had already seen him, but where I could not
recall. He was hard to place. Of people at home and in London
well worth knowing he talked glibly, but in speaking of them he
made several slips. It was his taking the trouble to cover up the
slips that first made me wonder if his talking about himself was
not mere vanity, but had some special object. I felt he was
presenting letters of introduction in order that later he might
ask a favor. Whether he was leading up to an immediate loan, or
in New York would ask for a card to a club, or an introduction to
a banker, I could not tell. But in forcing himself upon me,
except in self-interest, I could think of no other motive. The
next evening I discovered the motive.

He was in the smoking-room playing solitaire, and at once I
recalled that it was at Aix-les-Bains I had first seen him, and
that he held a bank at baccarat. When he asked me to sit down I
said: "I saw you last summer at Aix-les-Bains."

His eyes fell to the pack in his hands and apparently searched it
for some particular card.

"What was I doing?" he asked.

"Dealing baccarat at the Casino des Fleurs."

With obvious relief he laughed.

"Oh, yes," he assented; "jolly place, Aix. But I lost a pot of
money there. I'm a rotten hand at cards. Can't win, and can't
leave 'em alone." As though for this weakness, so frankly
confessed, he begged me to excuse him, he smiled appealingly.
"Poker, bridge, chemin de fer, I like 'em all," he rattled on,
"but they don't like me. So I stick to solitaire. It's dull, but
cheap." He shuffled the cards clumsily. As though making
conversation, he asked: "You care for cards yourself?"

I told him truthfully I did not know the difference between a
club and a spade and had no curiosity to learn. At this, when he
found he had been wasting time on me, I expected him to show some
sign of annoyance, even of irritation, but his disappointment
struck far deeper. As though I had hurt him physically, he shut
his eyes, and when again he opened them I saw in them distress.
For the moment I believe of my presence he was utterly
unconscious. His hands lay idle upon the table; like a man facing
a crisis, he stared before him. Quite improperly, I felt sorry
for him. In me he thought he had found a victim; and that the
loss of the few dollars he might have won should so deeply
disturb him showed his need was great. Almost at once he
abandoned me and I went on deck. When I returned an hour later to
the smoking-room he was deep in a game of poker.

As I passed he hailed me gayly.

"Don't scold, now," he laughed; "you know I can't keep away from
it."

From his manner those at the table might have supposed we were
friends of long and happy companionship. I stopped behind his
chair, but he thought I had passed, and in reply to one of the
players answered: "Known him for years; he's set me right many a
time. When I broke my right femur 'chasin,' he got me back in the
saddle in six weeks. All my people swear by him."

One of the players smiled up at me, and Talbot turned. But his
eyes met mine with perfect serenity. He even held up his cards
for me to see. "What would you draw?" he asked.

His audacity so astonished me that in silence I could only stare
at him and walk on.

When on deck he met me he was not even apologetic. Instead, as
though we were partners in crime, he chuckled delightedly.

"Sorry," he said. "Had to do it. They weren't very keen at my
taking a hand, so I had to use your name. But I'm all right now,"
he assured me. "They think you vouched for me, and to-night
they're going to raise the limit. I've convinced them I'm an easy
mark."

"And I take it you are not," I said stiffly.

He considered this unworthy of an answer and only smiled. Then
the smile died, and again in his eyes I saw distress, infinite
weariness, and fear.

As though his thoughts drove him to seek protection, he came
closer.

"I'm 'in bad,' doctor," he said. His voice was frightened,
bewildered, like that of a child. "I can't sleep; nerves all on
the loose. I don't think straight. I hear voices, and no one
around. I hear knockings at the door, and when I open it, no one
there. If I don't keep fit I can't work, and this trip I got to
make expenses. You couldn't help me, could you--couldn't give me
something to keep my head straight?"

The need of my keeping his head straight that he might the easier
rob our fellow-passengers raised a pretty question of ethics. I
meanly dodged it. I told him professional etiquette required I
should leave him to the ship's surgeon.

"But I don't know HIM," he protested.

Mindful of the use he had made of my name, I objected
strenuously:

"Well, you certainly don't know me."

My resentment obviously puzzled him.

"I know who you ARE," he returned. "You and I--"With a
deprecatory gesture, as though good taste forbade him saying who
we were, he stopped. "But the ship's surgeon!" he protested,
"he's an awful bounder! Besides," he added quite simply, "he's
watching me."

"As a doctor," I asked, "or watching you play cards?"

"Play cards," the young man answered. "I'm afraid he was ship's
surgeon on the P. & O. I came home on. There was trouble that
voyage, and I fancy he remembers me."

His confidences were becoming a nuisance.

"But you mustn't tell me that," I protested. "I can't have you
making trouble on this ship, too. How do you know I won't go
straight from here to the captain?"

As though the suggestion greatly entertained him, he laughed.

He made a mock obeisance.

"I claim the seal of your profession," he said. "Nonsense," I
retorted. "It's a professional secret that your nerves are out of
hand, but that you are a card-sharp is NOT. Don't mix me up with
a priest."

For a moment Talbot, as though fearing he had gone too far,
looked at me sharply; he bit his lower lip and frowned.

"I got to make expenses," he muttered. "And, besides, all card
games are games of chance, and a card-sharp is one of the
chances. Anyway," he repeated, as though disposing of all
argument, "I got to make expenses."

After dinner, when I came to the smoking-room, the poker party
sat waiting, and one of them asked if I knew where they could
find "my friend." I should have said then that Talbot was a
steamer acquaintance only; but I hate a row, and I let the
chance pass.

"We want to give him his revenge," one of them volunteered.

"He's losing, then?" I asked.

The man chuckled complacently.

"The only loser," he said.

"I wouldn't worry," I advised. "He'll come for his revenge."

That night after I had turned in he knocked at my door. I
switched on the lights and saw him standing at the foot of my
berth. I saw also that with difficulty he was holding himself in
hand.

"I'm scared," he stammered, "scared!"

I wrote out a requisition on the surgeon for a sleeping-potion
and sent it to him by the steward, giving the man to understand I
wanted it for myself. Uninvited, Talbot had seated himself on the
sofa. His eyes were closed, and as though he were cold he was
shivering and hugging himself in his arms.

"Have you been drinking?" I asked.

In surprise he opened his eyes.

"I can't drink," he answered simply. "It's nerves and worry. I'm
tired."

He relaxed against the cushions; his arms fell heavily at his
sides; the fingers lay open.

"God," he whispered, "how tired I am!"

In spite of his tan--and certainly he had led the out-of-door
life--his face showed white. For the moment he looked old, worn,
finished.

"They're crowdin' me," the boy whispered. "They're always
crowdin' me." His voice was querulous, uncomprehending, like
that of a child complaining of something beyond his experience.
"I can't remember when they haven't been crowdin' me. Movin' me
on, you understand? Always movin' me on. Moved me out of India,
then Cairo, then they closed Paris, and now they've shut me out
of London. I opened a club there, very quiet, very exclusive,
smart neighborhood, too--a flat in Berkeley Street--roulette and
chemin de fer. I think it was my valet sold me out; anyway, they
came in and took us all to Bow Street. So I've plunged on this.
It's my last chance!"

"This trip?"

"No; my family in New York. Haven't seen 'em in ten years. They
paid me to live abroad. I'm gambling on THEM; gambling on their
takin' me back. I'm coming home as the Prodigal Son, tired of
filling my belly with the husks that the swine do eat; reformed
character, repentant and all that; want to follow the straight
and narrow; and they'll kill the fatted calf." He laughed
sardonically. "Like hell they will! They'd rather see ME killed."

It seemed to me, if he wished his family to believe he were
returning repentant, his course in the smoking-room would not
help to reassure them. I suggested as much.

"If you get into 'trouble,' as you call it," I said, "and they
send a wireless to the police to be at the wharf, your people
would hardly--"

"I know," he interrupted; "but I got to chance that. I GOT to
make enough to go on with--until I see my family."

"If they won't see you?" I asked. "What then?"

He shrugged his shoulders and sighed lightly, almost with relief,
as though for him the prospect held no terror.

"Then it's 'Good-night, nurse,'" he said. "And I won't be a
bother to anybody any more."

I told him his nerves were talking, and talking rot, and I gave
him the sleeping-draft and sent him to bed.

It was not until after luncheon the next day when he made his
first appearance on deck that I again saw my patient. He was once
more a healthy picture of a young Englishman of leisure; keen,
smart, and fit; ready for any exercise or sport. The particular
sport at which he was so expert I asked him to avoid.

"Can't be done!" he assured me. "I'm the loser, and we dock
to-morrow morning. So tonight I've got to make my killing."

It was the others who made the killing.

I came into the smoking-room about nine o'clock. Talbot alone was
seated. The others were on their feet, and behind them in a wider
semicircle were passengers, the smoking-room stewards and the
ship's purser.

Talbot sat with his back against the bulkhead, his hands in the
pockets of his dinner coat; from the corner of his mouth his long
cigarette-holder was cocked at an impudent angle. There was a
tumult of angry voices, and the eyes of all were turned upon him.
Outwardly at least he met them with complete indifference. The
voice of one of my countrymen, a noisy pest named Smedburg, was
raised in excited accusation.

"When the ship's surgeon first met you," he cried, "you called
yourself Lord Ridley."

"I'll call myself anything I jolly well like," returned Talbot.
"If I choose to dodge reporters, that's my pidgin. I don't have
to give my name to every meddling busybody that--"

"You'll give it to the police, all right," chortled Mr. Smedburg.
In the confident, bullying tones of the man who knows the crowd
is with him, he shouted: "And in the meantime you'll keep out of
this smoking-room!"

The chorus of assent was unanimous. It could not be disregarded.
Talbot rose and with fastidious concern brushed the cigarette
ashes from his sleeve. As he moved toward the door he called
back: "Only too delighted to keep out. The crowd in this room
makes a gentleman feel lonely."

But he was not to escape with the last word.

His prosecutor pointed his finger at him.

"And the next time you take the name of Adolph Meyer," he
shouted, "make sure first he hasn't a friend on board; some one
to protect him from sharpers and swindlers--"

Talbot turned savagely and then shrugged his shoulders.

"Oh, go to the devil!" he called, and walked out into the night.

The purser was standing at my side and, catching my eye, shook
his head.

"Bad business," he exclaimed.

"What happened?" I asked.

"I'm told they caught him dealing from the wrong end of the
pack," he said. "I understand they suspected him from the
first--seems our surgeon recognized him--and to-night they had
outsiders watching him. The outsiders claim they saw him slip
himself an ace from the bottom of the pack. It's a pity! He's a
nice-looking lad."

I asked what the excited Smedburg had meant by telling Talbot not
to call himself Meyer.

"They accused him of travelling under a false name," explained
the purser, "and he told 'em he did it to dodge the ship's news
reporters. Then he said he really was a brother of Adolph Meyer,

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