Part 7 out of 7
"Jump!" he cried at last, and his right arm descended.
With the shout and the motion several things happened
simultaneously. Orde leaped blindly for the rail, where he was
seized and dragged aboard by the Rough Red; the axes fell, Marsh
whirled over the wheel, Harvey threw open his throttle. The tug
sprang from its leash like a hound. And behind the barrier the
logs, tossing and tumbling, the white spray flying before their
onslaught, beat in vain against the barrier, like raging wild beasts
whose prey has escaped.
"Close call," said Orde briefly.
"Bet you," replied Marsh.
Neither referred to the tug's escape; but to the fortunate closing
of the opening.
Orde now took steps to deflect into the channel recently dredged to
Stearn's Bayou the mass of the logs racing down stream from Redding.
He estimated that he had still two hours or so in which to do the
work. In this time he succeeded by the severest efforts in
establishing a rough shunt into the new channel. The logs would
come down running free. Only the shock of their impact against the
tail of the jam already formed was to be feared. Orde hoped to be
able to turn the bulk of them aside.
This at first he succeeded in doing; and very successfully as
affecting the pressure on the jam below. The first logs came
scattering. Then in a little while the surface of the river was
covered with them; they shouldered each other aside in their
eagerness to outstrip the rushing water; finally they crowded down
more slowly, hardly able to make their way against the choking of
the river banks, but putting forth in the very effort to proceed a
tremendous power. To the crew working in the channel dredged
through to Steam's Bayou the affair was that of driving a rather
narrow and swift stream, only exaggerated. By quick and skilful
work they succeeded in keeping the logs in motion. A large
proportion of the timbers found their way into the bayou. Those
that continued on down the river could hardly have much effect on
The work was breathless in its speed. From one to another sweat-
bathed, panting man the logs were handed on. As yet only the
advance of the big jam had arrived at the dredged channel.
Orde looked about him and realised this.
"We can't keep this up when the main body hits us," he panted to his
neighbour, Jim Denning. "We'll have to do some more pile-driver
He made a rapid excursion to the boom camp, whence he returned with
thirty or forty of the men who had given up work on the jam below.
"Here, boys," said he, "you can at least keep these logs moving in
this channel for a couple of hours. This isn't dangerous."
He spoke quite without sarcastic intent; but the rivermen, already
over their first panic, looked at each other a trifle shamefacedly.
"I'll tie into her wherever you say," said one big fellow. "If you
fellows are going back to the jam, I'm with you."
Two or three more volunteered. The remainder said nothing, but in
silence took charge of the dredged channel.
Orde and his men now returned to the jam where, on the pile-driver,
the tugs, and the booms, they set methodically to strengthening the
defences as well as they were able.
"She's holding strong and dandy," said Orde to Tom North, examining
critically the clumps of piles. "That channel helps a lot in more
ways than one. It takes an awful lot of water out of the river. As
long as those fellows keep the logs moving, I really believe we're
But shortly the water began to rise again, this time fairly by
leaps. In immediate response the jam increased its pressure. For
the hundredth time the frail wooden defences opposed to millions of
pounds were tested to the very extreme of their endurance. The
clumps of piles sagged outward; the network of chains and cables
tightened and tightened again, drawing ever nearer the snapping
point. Suddenly, almost without warning, the situation had become
And for the first time Orde completely lost his poise and became
fluently profane. He shook his fist against the menacing logs; he
apostrophised the river, the high water, the jam, the deserters,
Newmark and his illness, ending finally in a general anathema
against any and all streams, logs, and floods. Then he stormed away
to see if anything had gone wrong at the dredged channel.
"Well," said Tom North, "they've got the old man real good and mad
The crew went on driving piles, stringing cables, binding chains,
although, now that the inspiration of Orde's combative spirit was
withdrawn the labours seemed useless, futile, a mere filling in of
the time before the supreme moment when they would be called upon to
pay the sacrifice their persistence and loyalty had proffered for
the altar of self-respect and the invincibility of the human Soul.
At the dredged channel Orde saw the rivermen standing idle, and,
half-blind with anger he burst upon them demanding by this, that and
the other what they meant. Then be stopped short and stared.
Square across the dredged channel and completely blocking it lay a
single span of an iron bridge. Although twisted and misshapen, it
was still intact, the framework of its overhead truss-work retaining
its cage-like shape. Behind it the logs had of course piled up in a
jam, which, sinking rapidly to the bed of the channel, had dammed
back the water.
"Where in hell did that drop from?" cried Orde.
"Come down on top the jam," explained a riverman. "Must have come
way from Redding. We just couldn't SCARE her out of here."
Orde, suddenly fallen into a cold rage, stared at the obstruction,
both fists clenched at his side.
"Too bad, boy," said Welton at his elbow. "But don't take it too
hard. You've done more than any of the rest of us could. And we're
all losers together."
Orde looked at him strangely.
"That about settles it," repeated Welton.
"Settle!" cried Orde. "I should think not."
Welton smiled quaintly.
"Don't you know when you're licked?"
"Licked, hell!" said Orde. "We've just begun to fight."
"What can you do?"
"Get that bridge span out of there, of course."
"Can't we blow her up with powder?"
"Ever try to blow up iron?"
"There must be some way."
"Oh, there is," replied Welton. "Of course--take her apart bolt by
bolt and nut by nut."
"Send for the wrenches, then," snapped Orde.
"But it would take two or three days, even working night and day."
"What of it?"
"But it would be too late--it would do no good--"
"Perhaps not," interrupted Orde; "but it will be doing something,
anyway. Look here, Welton, are you game? If you'll get that bridge
out in two days I'll hold the jam."
"You can't hold that jam two hours, let alone two days," said Welton
"That's my business. You're wasting time. Will you send for
lanterns and wrenches and keep this crew working?"
"I will," said Welton.
"Then do it."
During the next two days the old scenes were all relived, with back
of them the weight of the struggle that had gone before. The little
crew worked as though mad. Excepting them, no one ventured on the
river, for to be caught in the imminent break meant to die. Old
spars, refuse timbers of all sorts--anything and everything was
requisitioned that might help form an obstruction above or below
water. Piles were taken where they could be found. Farmer's trees
were cut down. Pines belonging to divers and protesting owners were
felled and sharpened. Some were brought in by rail. Even the
inviolate Government supply was commandeered. The Railroad Company
had a fine lot which, with remarkable shortsightedness and lack of
public spirit, they refused to sell at any price. The crew took
them by force. Once Captain Marsh was found up to his waist in
water, himself felling the trees of a wood, and dragging them to the
river by a cable attached to the winch of his tug. Night followed
day; and day night again. None of the crews realised the fact.
The men were caught in the toils of a labour ceaseless and eternal.
Never would it end, just as never had it begun. Always were they to
handle piles, steam hammers and the implements of their trade,
menaced by a jam on the point of breaking, wet by a swollen and
angry flood, over-arched by a clear calm sky or by the twinkling
peaceful stars. Long since had they ceased to reckon with the
results of what they did, the consequences either to themselves or
to the jam. Mechanically they performed their labour. Perhaps the
logs would kill them. Perhaps these long, black, dripping piles
they drove were having some effect on the situation. Neither
Then all at once, as though a faucet had been turned off, the floods
"They've opened the channel," said Orde dully. His voice sounded to
himself very far away. Suddenly the external world, too, seemed
removed to a distance, far from his centre of consciousness. He
felt himself moving in strange and distorted surroundings; he heard
himself repeating to each of a number of wavering, gigantic figures
the talismanic words that had accomplished the dissolution of the
earth for himself: "They've opened the channel." At last he felt
hard planks beneath his feet, and, shaking his head with an effort,
he made out the pilot-house of the SPRITE and a hollow-eyed man
leaning against it. "They've opened the channel, Marsh," he
repeated. "I guess that'll be all." Then quite slowly he sank to
the deck, sound asleep.
Welton, returning from his labours with the iron bridge and the jam,
found them thus. Men slept on the deck of the tug, aboard the pile-
driver. Two or three had even curled up in the crevices of the jam,
resting in the arms of the monster they had subdued.
When Newmark left, in the early stages of the jam, he gave scant
thought to the errand on which he had ostensibly departed. Whether
or nor Orde got a supply of piles was to him a matter of
indifference. His hope, or rather preference was that the jam
should go out; but he saw clearly what Orde, blinded by the swift
action of the struggle, was as yet unable to perceive. Even should
the riverman succeed in stopping the jam, the extraordinary expenses
incidental to the defence and to the subsequent salvaging,
untangling and sorting would more than eat up the profits of the
drive. Orde would then be forced to ask for an extension of time on
On arriving in Monrovia, he drove to his own house. To Mallock he
"Go to the office and tell them I am ill," said he, "and then hunt
up Mr. Heinzman, wherever he is, and tell him I want to see him
He did not trouble to send word directly to Orde, up river; but left
him to be informed by the slow process of filtration through the
bookkeepers. The interim of several hours before Heinzman appeared
he spent very comfortably in his easy chair, dipping into a small
volume of Montaigne.
At length the German was announced. He entered rather red and
breathless, obviously surprised to find Newmark at home.
"Dot was a terrible jam," said he, mopping his brow and sinking into
a chair. "I got lots of logs in it."
Newmark dismissed the subject with an abrupt flip of his unlighted
"Heinzman," said he, "in three weeks at the latest Orde will come to
you asking for a renewal of the notes you hold against our firm.
You must refuse to make such a renewal."
"All righdt," agreed Heinzman.
"He'll probably offer you higher interest. You must refuse that.
Then when the notes are overdue you must begin suit in foreclosure."
"All righdt," repeated Heinzman a little restlessly. "Do you think
he vill hold that jam?"
Newmark shrugged his shoulders swiftly.
"I got lots of logs in that jam. If that jam goes out I vill lose a
heap of money."
"Well, you'll make quite a heap on this deal," said Newmark
"Suppose he holds it," said Heinzman, pausing. "I hate like the
mischief to joomp on him."
"Rot!" said Newmark decisively. "That's what he's there for." He
looked at the German sharply. "I suppose you know just how deep
you're in this?"
"Oh, I ain't backing oudt," negatived Heinzman. "Not a bit."
"Well, then, you know what to do," said Newmark, terminating the
Little by little the water went down. The pressure, already
considerably relieved by the channel into Stearn's Bayou, slackened
every hour. Orde, still half dazed with his long-delayed sleep,
drove back along the marsh road to town.
His faculties were still in the torpor that follows rest after
exhaustion. The warm July sun, the breeze from the Lake, the flash
of light from the roadside water, these were all he had room for
among his perceptions. He was content to enjoy them, and to
anticipate drowsily the keen pleasure of seeing Carroll again. In
the rush of the jam he had heard nothing from her. For all he knew
she and Bobby might have been among the spectators on the bank; he
had hardly once left the river. It did not seem to him strange that
Carroll should not have been there to welcome him after the struggle
was over. Rarely did she get to the booms in ordinary
circumstances. This episode of the big jam was, after all, nothing
but part of the day's work to Orde; a crisis, exaggerated it is
true, but like many other crises a man must meet and cope with on
the river. There was no reason why Carroll should drive the twelve
miles between Monrovia and the booms, unless curiosity should take
As the team left the marsh road for the county turnpike past the
mills and lumberyards, Orde shook himself fully awake. He began to
review the situation. As Newmark had accurately foreseen, he came
almost immediately to a realisation that the firm would not be able
to meet the notes given to Heinzman. Orde had depended on the
profits from the season's drive to enable him to make up the
necessary amount. Those profits would be greatly diminished, if not
wiped out entirely, by the expenses, both regular and irregular,
incurred in holding the jam; by the damage suits surely to be
brought by the owners of the piles, trees, pile-drivers and other
supplies and materials requisitioned in the heat of the campaign;
and by the extra labour necessary to break out the jam and to sort
the logs according to their various destinations.
"I'll have to get an extension of time," said Orde to himself. "Of
course Joe will let me have more time on my own personal note to the
firm. And Heinzman surely ought to--I saved a lot of his logs in
that jam. And if he doesn't want to, I guess an offer of a little
higher interest will fetch him."
Ordinarily the state of affairs would have worried him, for it was
exactly the situation he had fought against so hard. But now he was
too wearied in soul and body. He dismissed the subject from his
mind. The horses, left almost to themselves, lapsed into a sleepy
jog. After a little they passed the bridge and entered the town.
Warm spicy odours of pine disengaged themselves from the broken
shingles and sawdust of the roadway, and floated upward through the
hot sunshine. The beautiful maples with their dense shadows threw
the sidewalks into coolness. Up one street and down another the
horses took their accustomed way. Finally they pulled up opposite
the Orde house. Orde hitched the horses, and, his step quickening
in anticipation, sprang up the walk and into the front door.
"Hullo, sweetheart!" he called cheerily.
The echoes alone answered him. He cried again, and yet again, with
a growing feeling of disappointment that Carroll should happen to be
from home. Finally a door opened and shut in the back part of the
house. A moment later Mary, the Irish servant girl, came through
the dining-room, caught sight of Orde, threw her apron over her
head, and burst into one of those extravagant demonstrations of
grief peculiar to the warm-hearted of her class.
Orde stopped short, a sinking at his heart.
"What is it, Mary?" he asked very quietly.
But the girl only wept the louder, rocking back and forth in a fresh
paroxysm of grief. Beside himself with anxiety Orde sprang forward
to shake her by the arm, to shower her with questions. These
elicited nothing but broken and incoherent fragments concerning "the
missus," "oh, the sad day!" "and me lift all alone with Bobby, me
heart that heavy," and the like, which served merely to increase
Orde's bewilderment and anxiety. At this moment Bobby himself
appeared from the direction of the kitchen. Orde, frantic with
alarm, fell upon his son. Bobby, much bewildered by all this
pother, could only mumble something about "smallpox," and "took
mamma away with doctor."
"Where? where, Bobby?" cried Orde, fairly shaking the small boy by
the shoulder. He felt like a man in a bad dream, trying to reach a
goal that constantly eluded him.
At this moment a calm, dry voice broke through the turmoil of
questions and exclamations. Orde looked up to see the tall, angular
form of Doctor McMullen standing in the doorway.
"It's all right," said the doctor in answer to Orde's agonised
expression. "Your wife was exposed to smallpox and is at my house
to avoid the danger of spreading contagion. She is not ill."
Having thus in one swift decisive sentence covered the ground of
Orde's anxiety, he turned to the sniffling servant.
"Mary," said he sternly, "I'm ashamed of you! What kind of an
exhibition is this? Go out to the kitchen and cook us some lunch!"
He watched her depart with a humourous quirk to his thin lips.
"Fool Irish!" he said with a Scotchman's contempt. "I meant to head
you off before you got home, but I missed you. Come in and sit
down, and I'll tell you about it."
"You're quite sure Mrs. Orde is well?" insisted Orde.
"Absolutely. Never better. As well as you are."
"Where was she exposed?"
"Down at Heinzman's. You know--or perhaps you don't--that old
Heinzman is the worst sort of anti-vaccination crank. Well, he's
reaped the reward."
"Has he smallpox?" asked Orde. "Why, I thought I remembered seeing
him up river only the other day."
"No; his daughter."
"Yes. Lord knows where she got it. But get it she did. Mrs. Orde
happened to be with her when she was taken with the fever and
distressing symptoms that begin the disease. As a neighbourly deed
she remained with the girl. Of course no one could tell it was
smallpox at that time. Next day, however, the characteristic rash
appeared on the thighs and armpits, and I diagnosed the case." Dr.
McMullen laughed a little bitterly. "Lord, you ought to have seen
them run! Servants, neighbours, friends--they all skedaddled, and
you couldn't have driven them back with a steam-roller! I
telegraphed to Redding for a nurse. Until she came Mrs. Orde stayed
by, like a brick. Don't know what I should have done without her.
There was nobody to do anything at all. As soon as the nurse came
Mrs. Orde gave up her post. I tell you," cried Doctor McMullen with
as near an approach to enthusiasm as he ever permitted himself,
"there's a sensible woman! None of your story-book twaddle about
nursing through the illness, and all that. When her usefulness was
ended, she knew enough to step aside gracefully. There was not much
danger as far as she was concerned. I had vaccinated her myself,
you know, last year. But she MIGHT take the contagion and she
wanted to spare the youngster. Quite right. So I offered her
quarters with us for a couple of weeks."
"How long ago was this?" asked Orde, who had listened with a warm
glow of pride to the doctor's succinct statement.
"How is Mina getting on?"
"She'll get well. It was a mild case. Fever never serious after
the eruption appeared. I suppose I'll have old Heinzman on my
"Why; has he taken it?"
"No; but he will. Emotional old German fool. Rushed right in when
he heard his daughter was sick. Couldn't keep him out. And he's
been with her or near her ever since."
"Then you think he's in for it?"
"Sure to he," replied Dr. McMullen. "Unless a man has been
vaccinated, continuous exposure means infection in the great
majority of cases."
"Hard luck," said Orde thoughtfully. "I'm going to step up to your
house and see Mrs. Orde."
"You can telephone her," said the doctor. "And you can see her if
you want to. Only in that case I should advise your remaining away
from Bobby until we see how things turn out."
"I see," said Orde. "Well," he concluded with a sigh, after a
moment's thought, "I suppose I'd better stay by the ship."
He called up Dr. McMullen's house on the telephone.
"Oh, it's good to hear your voice again," cried Carroll, "even if I
can't see you! You must promise me right after lunch to walk up
past the house so I can see you. I'll wave at you from the window."
"You're a dear, brave girl, and I'm proud of you," said Orde.
"Nonsense! There was no danger at all. I'd been vaccinated
recently. And somebody had to take care of poor Mina until we could
get help. How's Bobby?"
After lunch Orde went downtown to his office where for some time he
sat idly looking over the mail. About three o'clock Newmark came
"Hullo, Joe," said Orde with a slight constraint, "sorry to hear
you've been under the weather. You don't look very sick now."
"I'm better," replied Newmark, briefly; "this is my first
"Too bad you got sick just at that time," said Orde; "we needed
"So I hear. You may rest assured I'd have been there if possible."
"Sure thing," said Orde, heartily, his slight resentment
dissipating, as always, in the presence of another's personality.
"Well, we had a lively time, you bet, all right; and got through
about by the skin of our teeth." He arose and walked over to
Newmark's desk, on the edge of which he perched. "It's cost us
considerable; and it's going to cost us a lot more, I'll have to get
an extension on those notes."
"What's that?" asked Newmark, quickly.
Orde picked up a paper knife and turned it slowly between his
"I don't believe I'll be able to meet those notes. So many things
"But," broke in Newmark, "the firm certainly cannot do so. I've
been relying on your assurance that you would take them up
personally. Our resources are all tied up."
"Can't we raise anything more on the Northern Peninsula timber?"
"You ought to know we can't," cried Newmark, with an appearance of
growing excitement. "The last seventy-five thousand we borrowed for
me finishes that."
"Can't you take up part of your note?"
"My note comes due in 1885," rejoined Newmark with cold disgust. "I
expect to take it up then. But I can't until then. I hadn't
expected anything like this."
"Well, don't get hot," said Orde vaguely. "I only thought that
Northern Peninsula stuff might be worth saving any way we could
"Worth saving!" snorted Newmark, whirling in his chair.
"Well, keep your hair on," said Orde, on whom Newmark's manner was
beginning to have its effect, as Newmark intended it should. "You
have my Boom Company stock as security."
"Pretty security for the loss of a tract like the Upper Peninsula
"Well, it's the security you asked for, and suggested," said Orde.
"I thought you'd surely be able to pay it," retorted Newmark, now
secure in the position he desired to take, that of putting Orde
entirely in the wrong.
"Well, I expected to pay it; and I'll pay it yet," rejoined Orde.
"I don't think Heinzman will stand in his own light rather than
renew the notes."
He seized his hat and departed. Once in the street, however, his
irritation passed. As was the habit of the man, he began more
clearly to see Newmark's side, and so more emphatically to blame
himself. After all, when he got right down to the essentials, he
could not but acknowledge that Newmark's anger was justified. For
his own private ends he had jeopardised the firm's property. More
of a business man might have reflected that Newmark, as financial
head, should have protected the firm against all contingencies;
should have seen to it that it met Heinzman's notes, instead of
tying up its resources in unnecessary ways. Orde's own delinquency
bulked too large in his eyes to admit his perception of this. By
the time he had reached Heinzman's office, the last of his
irritation had vanished. Only he realised clearly now that it would
hardly do to ask Newmark for a renewal of the personal note on which
depended his retention of his Boom Company stock unless he could
renew the Heinzman note also. This is probably what Newmark
"Mr. Heinzman?" he asked briefly of the first clerk.
"Mr. Heinzman is at home ill," replied the bookkeeper.
"Already?" said Orde. He drummed on the black walnut rail
thoughtfully. The notes came due in ten days. "How bad is he?"
The clerk looked up curiously. "Can't say. Probably won't be back
for a long time. It's smallpox, you know."
"True," said Orde. "Well, who's in charge?"
"Mr. Lambert. You'll find him in the private office."
Orde passed through the grill into the inner room.
"Hullo, Lambert," he addressed the individual seated at Heinzman's
desk. "So you're the boss, eh?"
Lambert turned, showing a perfectly round face, ornamented by a dot
of a nose, two dots of eyes set rather close together, and a pursed
up mouth. His skin was very brown and shiny, and was so filled by
the flesh beneath as to take the appearance of having been inflated.
"Yes, I'm the boss," said he non-committally.
Orde dropped into a chair.
"Heinzman holds some notes due against our people in ten days," said
he. "I came in to see about their renewal. Can you attend to it?"
"Yes, I can attend to it," replied Lambert. He struck a bell; and
to the bookkeeper who answered he said: "John, bring me those
Newmark and Orde papers."
Orde heard the clang of the safe door. In a moment the clerk
returned and handed to Lambert a long manilla envelope. Lambert
opened this quite deliberately, spread its contents on his knee, and
assumed a pair of round spectacles.
"Note for seventy-five thousand dollars with interest at ten per
cent. Interest paid to January tenth. Mortgage deed on certain
lands described herein."
"That's it," said Orde.
Lambert looked up over his spectacles.
"I want to renew the note for another year," Orde explained.
"Can't do it," replied Lambert, removing and folding the glasses.
"Mr. Heinzman gave me especial instructions in regard to this matter
just before his daughter was taken sick. He told me if you came
when he was not here--he intended to go to Chicago yesterday--to
tell you he would not renew."
"Why not?" asked Orde blankly.
"I don't know that."
"But I'll give him twelve per cent for another year."
"He said not to renew, even if you offered higher interest."
"Do you happen to know whether he intends anything in regard to this
"He instructed me to begin suit in foreclosure immediately."
"I don't understand this," said Orde.
Lambert shook his head blandly. Orde thought for a moment.
"Where's your telephone?" he demanded abruptly.
He tried in vain to get Heinzman at his house. Finally the
telephone girl informed him that although messages had come from the
stricken household, she had been unable to get an answer to any of
her numerous calls, and suspected the bell had been removed.
Finally Orde left the office at a loss how to proceed next.
Lambert, secretly overjoyed at this opportunity of exercising an
unaccustomed and autocratic power, refused to see beyond his
instructions. Heinzman's attitude puzzled Orde. A foreclosure
could gain Heinzman no advantage of immediate cash. Orde was forced
to the conclusion that the German saw here a good opportunity to
acquire cheap a valuable property. In that case a personal appeal
would avail little.
Orde tramped out to the end of the pier and back, mulling over the
tangled problem. He was pressed on all sides--by the fatigue after
his tremendous exertions of the past two weeks; by his natural
uneasiness in regard to Carroll; and finally by this new
complication which threatened the very basis of his prosperity.
Nevertheless the natural optimism of the man finally won its
"There's the year of redemption on that mortgage," he reminded
himself. "We may be able to do something in that time. I don't
know just what," he added whimsically, with a laugh at himself. He
became grave. "Poor Joe," he said, "this is pretty tough on him.
I'll have to make it up to him somehow. I can let him in on that
California deal, when the titles are straightened out."
Orde did not return to the office; he felt unwilling to face Newmark
until he had a little more thoroughly digested the situation. He
spent the rest of the afternoon about the place, picking up the tool
house, playing with Bobby, training Duke, the black and white setter
dog. Three or four times he called up Carroll by telephone; and
three or four times he passed Dr. McMullen's house to shout his half
of a long-distance and fragmentary conversation with her. He ate
solemnly with Bobby at six o'clock, the two quite subdued over the
vacant chair at the other end of the table. After dinner they sat
on the porch until Bobby's bed-time. Orde put his small son to bed,
and sat talking with the youngster as long as his conscience would
permit. Then he retired to the library, where, for a long time, he
sat in twilight and loneliness. Finally, when he could no longer
distinguish objects across the room, he arose with a sigh, lit the
lamp, and settled himself to read.
The last of the twilight drained from the world, and the window
panes turned a burnished black. Through the half-open sashes sucked
a warm little breeze, swaying the long lace curtains back and forth.
The hum of lawn-sprinklers and the chirping of crickets and tree-
frogs came with it.
One by one the lawn-sprinklers fell silent. Gradually there
descended upon the world the deep slumbrous stillness of late night;
a stillness compounded of a thousand and one mysterious little
noises repeated monotonously over and over until their identity was
lost in accustomedness. Occasionally the creak of timbers or the
sharp scurrying of a mouse in the wall served more to accentuate
than to break this night silence.
Orde sat lost in reverie, his book in his lap. At stated intervals
the student lamp at his elbow flared slightly, then burned clear
again after a swallow of satisfaction in its reservoir. These
regular replenishments of the oil supply alone marked the flight of
Suddenly Orde leaned forward, his senses at the keenest attention.
After a moment he arose and quietly walked toward the open window.
Just as he reached the casement and looked out, a man looked in.
The two stared at each other not two feet apart.
"Good Lord! Heinzman!" cried Orde in a guarded voice. He stepped
decisively through the window, seized the German by the arm, and
drew him one side.
"What are you doing here?" he demanded.
Heinzman was trembling violently as though from a chill.
"Dake me somewheres," he whispered hoarsely. "Somewheres quick. I
haf broke quarantine, and dey vill be after me."
"The place for you is at your own house," said Orde, his anger
rising. "What do you mean by coming here and exposing my house to
Heinzman began to blubber; choked, shivered all over, and cried
aloud with an expression of the greatest agony:
"You must dake me somewheres. I must talk with you and your goot
wife. I haf somedings to say to you." He in his turn grasped Orde
by the arm. "I haf broke quarantine to gome and tell you. Dey are
dere mit shotguns to kill me if I broke quarantine. And I haf left
my daughter, my daughter Mina, all alone mit dose people to come and
tell you. And now you don't listen."
He wrung his hands dramatically, his soft pudgy body shaking.
"Come with me," said Orde briefly.
He led the way around the house to the tool shed. Here he lit a
lantern, thrust forward one nail keg, and sat down on another.
Heinzman sat down on the nail keg, almost immediately arose, walked
up and down two or three times, and resumed his seat.
Orde looked at him curiously. He was half dressed, without a
collar, his thin hair unkempt. The usual bright colour of his
cheeks had become livid, and the flesh, ordinarily firm and elastic,
had fallen in folds and wrinkles. His eyes burned bright as though
from some internal fire. A great restlessness possessed him.
Impulsively Orde leaned forward to touch his hand. It was dry and
"What is it, Heinzman?" he asked quietly, fully prepared for the
vagaries of a half delirium.
"Ach, Orde!" cried the German, "I am tortured mit HOLLENQUALLE--what
you call?--hell's fire. You, whose wife comes in and saves my Mina
when the others runs away. You, my best friends! It is
SCHRECKLICH! She vas the noblest, the best, the most kindest--"
"If you mean Mrs. Orde's staying with Mina," broke in Orde, "it was
only what any one should have done, in humanity; and I, for one, am
only too glad she had the chance. You mustn't exaggerate. And now
you'd better get home where you can be taken care of. You're sick."
"No, no, my friend," said Heinzman, vigourously shaking his head.
"She might take the disease. She might die. It vas noble." He
shuddered. "My Mina left to die all alone!"
Orde rose to his feet with decision.
"That is all right," said he. "Carroll was glad of the chance. Now
let me get you home."
But Heinzman's excitement had suddenly died.
"No," said he, extending his trembling hand; "sit down. I want to
"You are in no condition to talk business," said Orde.
"No!" cried Heinzman with unexpected vigour. "Sit down! Listen to
me! Dot's better. I haf your note for sefenty-five t'ousand
"Dot money I never lent you. NO! I'm not crazy. Sit still! I
know my name is on dot note. But the money came from somewheres
else. It came from your partner, Joseph Newmark."
Orde half rose from his keg.
"Why? What?" he asked in bewilderment.
"Den ven you could not pay the note, I vas to foreclose and hand
over dot Northern Peninsula land to Joseph Newmark, your partner."
"Impossible!" cried Orde.
"I vas to get a share. It vas a trick."
"Go on," said Orde grimly.
"Dere is no go on. Dot is all."
"Why do you come to tell me now?"
"Because for more than one year now I say to mineself, 'Carl
Heinzman, you vas one dirty scoundrel. You vas dishonest; a sneak;
a thief'; I don't like to call myself names like dose. It iss all
righdt to be smart; but to be a thief!"
"Why didn't you pull out?" asked Orde.
"I couldn't!" cried Heinzman piteously. "How could I? He haf me
cold. I paid Stanford five hundred dollars for his vote on the
charter; and Joseph Newmark, he know dot; he can PROVE it. He tell
me if I don't do what he say, he put me in jail. Think of dot! All
my friends go back on me; all my money gone; maybe my daughter Mina
go back on me, too. How could I?"
"Well, he can still put you in prison," said Orde.
"Vot I care?" cried Heinzman, throwing up both his arms. "You and
your wife are my friends. She save my Mina. DU LIEBER GOTT! If my
daughter had died, vot good iss friends and money? Vot good iss
anything? I don't vant to live! And ven I sit dere by her always
something ask me: 'Vy you do dot to the peoples dot safe your Mina?'
And ven she look at me, her eyes say it; and in the night everything
cry out at me; and I get sick, and I can't stand it no longer, and I
don't care if he send me to prison or to hell, no more."
His excitement died. He sat listless, his eyes vacant, his hands
between his knees.
"Vell, I go," he said at last.
"Have you that note?" asked Orde.
"Joseph Newmark, he keeps it most times," replied Heinzman, "but now
it is at my office for the foreclosure. I vill not foreclose; he
can send me to the penitentiary."
"Telephone Lambert in the morning to give it to me. No; here.
Write an order in this notebook."
Heinzman wrote the required order.
"I go," said he, suddenly weary.
Orde accompanied him down the street. The German was again light-
headed with the fever, mumbling about his daughter, the notes,
Carroll, the voices that had driven him to righteousness. By some
manoeuvring Orde succeeded in slipping him through the improvised
quarantine without discovery. Then the riverman with slow and
thoughtful steps returned to where the lamp in the study still
marked off with the spaced replenishments from its oil reservoir the
early morning hours.
Morning found Orde still seated in the library chair. His head was
sunk forward on his chest; his hands were extended listless, palms
up, along the arms of the chair; his eyes were vacant and troubled.
Hardly once in the long hours had he shifted by a hair's breadth his
position. His body was suspended in an absolute inaction while his
spirit battered at the walls of an impasse. For, strangely enough,
Orde did not once, even for a single instant, give a thought to the
business aspects of the situation--what it meant to him and his
prospects or what he could do about it. Hurt to the soul he stared
at the wreck of a friendship. Nothing will more deeply sicken the
heart of a naturally loyal man than to discover baseless his faith
in some one he has thoroughly trusted.
Orde had liked Newmark. He had admired heartily his clearness of
vision, his financial skill, his knowledge of business intricacies,
his imperturbable coolness, all the abilities that had brought him
to success. With a man of Orde's temperament, to admire is to like;
and to like is to invest with all good qualities. He had
constructed his ideal of a friend, with Newmark as a basis; and now
that this, which had seemed to him as solid a reality as a brick
block, had dissolved into nothing, he found himself in the necessity
of refashioning his whole world. He was not angry at Newmark. But
he was grieved down to the depths of his being.
When the full sun shone into the library, he aroused himself to
change his clothes. Then, carrying those he had just discarded, he
slipped out of the house and down the street. Duke, the black and
white setter dog, begged to follow him. Orde welcomed the animal's
company. He paused only long enough to telephone from the office
telling Carroll he would be out of town all day. Then he set out at
a long swinging gait over the hills. By the time the sun grew hot,
he was some miles from the village and in the high beech woods.
There he sat down, his back to a monster tree. All day long he
gazed steadily on the shifting shadows and splotches of sunlight; on
the patches of blue sky, the dazzling white clouds that sailed
across them; on the waving, whispering frond that over-arched him,
and the deep cool shadows beneath. The woods creatures soon became
accustomed to his presence. Squirrels of the several varieties that
abounded in the Michigan forests scampered madly after each other in
spirals around the tree trunks, or bounded across the ground in long
undulating leaps. Birds flashed and called and disappeared
mysteriously. A chewink, brave in his black and white and tan
uniform, scratched mightily with great two-footed swoops that threw
the vegetable mould over Orde's very feet. Blazoned butterflies--
the yellow and black turnus, the dark troilus, the shade-loving
nymphalis--flickered in and out of the patches of sunlight. Orde
paid them no attention. The noon heat poured down through the
forest isles like an incense. Overhead swung the sun, and down the
slope until the long shafts of its light lifted wand-like across the
At this hint of evening Orde shook himself and arose. He was little
nearer the readjustment he sought than he had been the previous
He reached home a little before six o'clock. To his surprise he
found Taylor awaiting him. The lawyer had written nothing as to his
"I had things pretty well in shape," he said, after the first
greetings had been exchanged, "and it would do no good to stay away
"Then the trouble is over?" asked Orde.
"I wouldn't say that," replied Taylor; "but you can rest easy as to
the title to your lands. The investigation had no real basis to it.
There may have been some small individual cases of false entry; but
nothing on which to ground a ???? attack."
"When can I borrow on it?"
"Not for a year or two, I should say. There's an awful lot of red-
tape to unwind, as there always is in such cases."
"Oh," said Orde in some disappointment.
Taylor hesitated, removed his eye-glasses, wiped them carefully, and
replaced them. He glanced at Orde sidelong through his keen, shrewd
"I have something more to tell you; something that will be painful,"
Orde looked up quickly.
"Well; what is it?" he asked.
"The general cussedness of all this investigation business had me
puzzled, until at last I made up my mind to do a little
investigating on my own account. It all looked foolish to me.
Somebody or something must be back of all this performance. I was
at it all the time I was West, between times on regular business, of
course. I didn't make much out of my direct efforts--they cover
things up well in those matters--but at last I got on a clue by
sheer accident. There was one man behind all this. He was--"
"Joe Newmark," said Orde quietly.
"How did you know that?" cried Taylor in astonishment.
"I didn't know, Frank; I just guessed."
"Well, you made a good guess. It was Newmark. He'd tied up the
land in this trumped-up investigation so you could not borrow on
"How did he find out I owned any land?" asked Orde.
"That I couldn't tell you. Must have been a leak somewhere."
"Quite likely," said Orde calmly.
Taylor looked at his principal in some wonder.
"Well, I must say you take it coolly enough," said he at last.
"Do I?" said he.
"Of course," went on Taylor after a moment, "we have a strong
presumption of conspiracy to get hold of your Boom Company stock,
which I believe you put up as security. But I don't see how we have
any incontestable proof of it."
"Proof? What more do we want?"
"We'd have no witness to any of these transactions; nor have we
documentary proofs. It's merely moral certainty; and moral
certainty isn't much in a court of law. I'll see him, if you say
so, though, and scare him into some sort of an arrangement."
Orde shook his head.
"No," said he decidedly. "Rather not. I'll run this. Please say
"Of course not!" interjected Taylor, a trifle indignantly.
"And I'll figure out what I want to do."
Orde pressed Taylor to stay to supper; but the latter declined.
After a few moments' conversation on general topics the lawyer took
his departure, secretly marvelling over the phlegmatic way in which
Orde had taken what had been to Taylor, when he first stumbled
against it, a shocking piece of news.
Orde did not wish to return to the office until he had worked his
problem out; so, to lend his absence the colour of naturalness, he
drove back next morning to the booms. There he found enough to keep
him occupied all that day and the next. As in those times the long
distance telephone had not yet been attempted, he was cut off from
casual communication with the village. Late in the afternoon he
A telephone to Carroll apprised him that all was well with her. A
few moments later the call sounded, and Orde took a message that
caused him to look grave and to whistle gently with surprise. He
ate supper with Bobby. About star-time he took his hat and walked
slowly down the street beneath the velvet darkness of the maples.
At Newmark's he turned in between the oleanders.
Mallock answered his ring.
"No, sir, Mr. Newmark is out, sir," said Mallock. "I'll tell him
you called, sir," and started respectfully but firmly to close the
But Orde thrust his foot and knee in the opening.
"I'll come in and wait," said he quietly.
"Yes, sir, this way, sir," said Mallock, trying to indicate the
dining-room, where he wished Orde to sit until he could come at his
master's wishes in the matter.
Orde caught the aroma of tobacco and the glimmer of light to the
left. Without reply he turned the knob of the door and entered the
There he found Newmark in evening dress, seated in a low easy chair
beneath a lamp, smoking, and reading a magazine. At Orde's
appearance in the doorway, he looked up calmly, his paper knife
poised, keeping the place.
"Oh, it's you, Orde," said he.
"Your man told me you were not in," said Orde.
"He was mistaken. Won't you sit down?"
Orde entered the room and mechanically obeyed Newmark's suggestion,
his manner preoccupied. For some time he stared with wrinkled brow
at a point above the illumination of the lamp. Newmark, over the
end of his cigar, poised a foot from his lips, watched the riverman
with a cool calculation.
"Newmark," Orde began abruptly at last, "I know all about this
"What deal?" asked Newmark, after a barely perceptible pause.
"This arrangement you made with Heinzman."
"I borrowed some money from Heinzman for the firm."
"Yes; and you supplied that money yourself."
Newmark's eyes narrowed, but he said nothing. Orde glanced toward
him, then away again, as though ashamed.
"Well," said Newmark at last, "what of it?"
"If you had the money to lend why didn't you lend it direct?"
"Because it looks better to mortgage to an outside holder."
An expression of profound disgust flitted across Orde's countenance.
Newmark smiled covertly, and puffed once or twice strongly on his
nearly extinct cigar.
"That was not the reason," went on Orde. "You agreed with Heinzman
to divide when you succeeded in foreclosing me out of the timber
lands given as security. Furthermore you instructed Floyd to go out
on the eve of that blow in spite of his warnings; and you contracted
with McLeod for the new vessels; and you've tied us up right and
left for the sole purpose of pinching us down where we couldn't meet
those notes. That's the only reason you borrowed the seventy-five
thousand on your own account; so we couldn't borrow it to save
"It strikes me you are interesting but inconclusive," said Newmark,
as Orde paused again.
"That sort of thing is somewhat of a facer," went on Orde without
the slightest attention to the interjection. "It took me some days
to work it out in all its details; but I believe I understand it all
now. I don't quite understand how you discovered about my
California timber. That 'investigation' was a very pretty move."
"How the devil did you get onto that?" cried Newmark, startled for a
moment out of his cool attitude of cynical aloofness.
"Then you acknowledge it?" shot in Orde quick as a flash.
Newmark laughed in amusement.
"Why shouldn't I? Of course Heinzman blabbed. You couldn't have
got it all anywhere else."
Orde arose to his feet, and half sat again on the arm of his chair.
"Now I'll tell you what we will do in this matter," said he crisply.
But Newmark unexpectedly took the aggressive.
"We'll follow," said he, "the original programme, as laid down by
myself. I'm tired of dealing with blundering fools. Heinzman's
mortgage will be foreclosed; and you will hand over as per the
agreement your Boom Company stock."
Orde stared at him in amazement.
"I must say you have good nerve," he said; "you don't seem to
realise that you are pretty well tangled up. I don't know what they
call it: criminal conspiracy, or something of that sort, I suppose.
So far from handing over to you the bulk of my property, I can send
you to the penitentiary."
"Nonsense," rejoined Newmark, leaning forward in his turn. "I know
you too well, Jack Orde. You're a fool of more kinds than I care to
count, and this is one of the kinds. Do you seriously mean to say
that you dare try to prosecute me? Just as sure as you do, I'll put
Heinzman in the pen too. I've got it on him, COLD. He's a bribe
giver--and somewhat of a criminal conspirator himself."
"Well," said Orde.
Newmark leaned back with an amused little chuckle. "If the man
hadn't come to you and given the whole show away, you'd have lost
every cent you owned. He did you the biggest favour in his power.
And for your benefit I'll tell you what you can easily substantiate;
I forced him into this deal with me. I had this bribery case on
him; and in addition his own affairs were all tied up."
"I knew that," replied Orde.
"What had the man to gain by telling you?" pursued Newmark.
"Nothing at all. What had he to lose? Everything: his property,
his social position, his daughter's esteem, which the old fool holds
higher than any of them. You could put me in the pen, perhaps--with
Heinzman's testimony. But the minute Heinzman appears on the stand,
I'll land him high and dry and gasping, without a chance to flop."
He paused a moment to puff at his cigar. Finding it had gone out,
he laid the butt carefully on the ash tray at his elbow.
"I'm not much used to giving advice," he went on, "least of all when
it is at all likely to be taken. But I'll offer you some. Throw
Heinzman over. Let him go to the pen. He's been crooked, and a
"That's what you'd do, I suppose," said Orde.
"Exactly that. You owe nothing to Heinzman; but something to what
you would probably call repentance, but which is in reality a
mawkish sentimentality of weakness. However, I know you, Jack Orde,
from top to bottom; and I know you're fool enough not to do it. I'm
so sure of it that I dare put it to you straight; you could never
bring yourself to the point of destroying a man who had sacrificed
himself for you."
"You seem to have this game all figured out," said Orde with
Newmark leaned back in his chair. Two bright red spots burned in
his ordinarily sallow cheeks. He half closed his eyes.
"You're right," said he with an ill-concealed satisfaction. "If you
play a game, play it through. Each man is different; for each a
different treatment is required. The game is infinite, wonderful,
fascinating to the skilful." He opened his eyes and looked over at
Orde with a mild curiosity. "I suppose men are about all of one
kind to you."
"Two," said Orde grimly; "the honest men and the scoundrels."
"Well," said the other, "let's settle this thing. The fact remains
that the firm owes a note to Heinzman, which it cannot pay. You owe
a note to the firm which you cannot pay. All this may be slightly
irregular; but for private reasons you do not care to make public
the irregularity. Am I right so far?"
Orde, who had been watching him with a slightly sardonic smile,
"Well, what I want out of this--"
"You might hear the other side," interrupted Orde. "In the first
place," said he, producing a bundle of papers, "I have the note and
the mortgage in my possession."
"Whence Heinzman will shortly rescue them, as soon as I get to see
him," countered Newmark. "You acknowledge that I can force
Heinzman; and you can hardly refuse him."
"If you force Heinzman, he'll land you," Orde pointed out.
"There is Canada for me, with no extradition. He travels with
heavier baggage. I have the better trumps."
"You'd lose everything."
"Not quite," smiled Newmark. "And, as usual, you are forgetting the
personal equation. Heinzman is--Heinzman. And I am I."
"Then I suppose this affidavit from Heinzman as to the details of
all this is useless for the same reason?"
Newmark's thin lips parted in another smile.
"Correct," said he.
"But you're ready to compromise below the face of the note?"
"I'll tell you," said he; "because I know you well enough to realise
that there is a point where your loyalty to Heinzman would step
aside in favour of your loyalty to your family."
"And you think you know where that point is?"
"It's the basis of my compromise."
Orde began softly to laugh. "Newmark, you're as clever as the
devil," said he. "But aren't you afraid to lay out your cards this
"Not with you," replied Newmark, boldly; "with anybody else on
earth, yes. With you, no."
Orde continued to laugh, still in the low undertone.
"The worst of it is, I believe you're right," said he at last. "You
have the thing sized up; and there isn't a flaw in your reasoning.
I always said that you were the brains of this concern. If it were
not for one thing, I'd compromise sure; and that one thing was
beyond your power to foresee."
He paused. Newmark's eyes half-closed again, in a quick darting
effort of his brain to run back over all the elements of the game he
was playing. Orde waited in patience for him to speak.
"What is it?" asked Newmark at last. "Heinzman died of smallpox at
four o'clock this afternoon," said Orde.
Newmark did not alter his attitude nor his expression, but his face
slowly went gray. For a full minute he sat absolutely motionless,
his breath coming and going noisily through his contracted nostrils.
Then he arose gropingly to his feet, and started toward one of the
two doors leading from the room.
"Where are you going?" asked Orde quietly.
Newmark steadied himself with an effort.
"I'm going to get myself a drink in my bedroom," he snapped. "Any
"No," replied Orde. "None. After you get your drink, come back. I
want to talk to you."
Newmark snarled at him: "You needn't be afraid I'll run away. How'd
I get out of town?"
"I know it wouldn't pay you to run away," said Orde.
Newmark passed out through the door. Orde looked thoughtfully at
Heinzman's affidavit, which, duly disinfected, had been handed him
by Dr. McMullen as important; and thrust it and the other papers
into his inside pocket. Then he arose to his feet and glided softly
across the room to take a position close to the door through which
Newmark had departed in quest of his drink. For a half minute he
waited. Finally the door swung briskly inward. Like a panther, as
quickly and as noiselessly, Orde sprang forward. A short but
decisive struggle ensued. In less than ten seconds Orde had
pinioned Newmark's arms to his side where he held them immovable
with one of his own. The other hand he ran down Newmark's right arm
to the pocket. There followed an instant of silent resistance.
Then with a sharp cry of mingled anger and pain Newmark snatched his
hand out and gazed a trifle amazedly at the half crushed fingers.
Orde drew forth the revolver Newmark had grasped concealed in the
Without hesitation he closed and locked the bedroom door; turned the
key in the lock of the other; tried and fastened the window. The
revolver he opened; spilled out the cartridges into his hand; and
then tossed the empty weapon to Newmark, who had sunk into the chair
by the lamp.
"There's your plaything," said he. "So you wanted that affidavit,
did you? Now we have the place to ourselves; and we'll thresh this
He paused, collecting his thoughts.
"I don't need to tell you that I've got you about where you live,"
said he finally. "Nor what I think of you. The case is open and
shut; and I can send you over the road for the best part of your
natural days. Also I've got these notes and the mortgage."
"Quit it," growled Newmark, "you've got me. Send me up; and be
"That's the question," went on Orde slowly. "I've been at it three
days, without much time off for sleep. You hurt me pretty bad, Joe.
I trusted you; and I thought of you as a friend."
Newmark stirred slightly with impatience.
"I had a hard time getting over that part of it; and about three-
quarters of what was left in the world looked mighty like ashes for
awhile. Then I began to see this thing a little clearer. We've
been together a good many years now; and as near as I can make out
you've been straight as a string with me for eight of them. Then I
suppose the chance came and before you knew it you were in over your
He looked, half-pleading toward Newmark. Newmark made no sign.
"I know that's the way it might be. A man thinks he's mighty brave;
and so he is, as long as he can see what's coming, and get ready for
it. But some day an emergency just comes up and touches him on the
shoulder, and he turns around and sees it all of a sudden. Then he
finds he's a coward. It's pretty hard for me to understand
dishonesty, or how a man can be dishonest. I've tried, but I can't
do it. Crookedness isn't my particular kind of fault. But I do
know this: that we every one of us have something to be forgiven for
by some one. I guess I've got a temper that makes me pretty sorry
sometimes. Probably you don't see how it's possible for a man to
get crazy mad about little things. That isn't your particular kind
"Oh, for God's sake, drop that preaching. It makes me sick!" broke
Orde smiled whimsically.
"I'm not preaching," he said; "and even if I were, I've paid a good
many thousands of dollars, it seems, to buy the right to say what I
damn please. And if you think I'm working up to a Christian
forgiveness racket, you're very much mistaken. I'm not. I don't
forgive you; and I surely despise your sort. But I'm explaining to
you--no, to myself--just what I've been at for three days."
"Well, turn me over to your sheriff, and let's get through with
this," said Newmark sullenly. "I suppose you've got that part of it
"Look here, Newmark, that's just what I've been coming to, just what
I've had such a hard time to get hold of. I felt it, but I couldn't
put my finger on it. Now I know. I'm not going to hand you over to
any sheriff; I'm going to let you off. No," he continued, in
response to Newmark's look of incredulous amazement, "it isn't from
any fool notion of forgiveness. I told you I didn't forgive you.
But I'm not going to burden my future life with you. That's just
plain, ordinary selfishness. I suppose I really ought to jug you;
but if I do, I'll always carry with me the thought that I've taken
it on myself to judge a man. And I don't believe any man is
competent to judge another. I told you why--or tried to--a minute
or so ago. I've lived clean, and I've enjoyed the world as a clean
open-air sort of proposition--like a windy day--and I always hope
to. I'd rather drop this whole matter. In a short time I'd forget
you; you'd pass out of my life entirely. But if we carry this thing
through to a finish, I'd always have the thought with me that I'd
put you in the pen; that you are there now. I don't like the
notion. I'd rather finish this up right here and now and get it
over and done with and take a fresh start." He paused and wiped his
brow, wet with the unusual exertion of this self-analysis. "I think
a fellow ought to act always as if he was making the world. He
ought to try not to put things in it that are going to make it an
unpleasant or an evil world. We don't always do it; but we ought to
try. Now if I were making a world, I wouldn't put a man in a
penitentiary in it. Of course there's dangerous criminals." He
glanced at Newmark a little anxiously. "I don't believe you're
that. You're sharp and dishonest, and need punishment; but you
don't need extinction. Anyway, I'm not going to bother my future
Newmark, who had listened to this long and rambling exposition with
increasing curiosity and interest, broke into a short laugh.
"You've convicted me," he said. "I'm a most awful failure. I
thought I knew you; but this passes all belief."
Orde brushed this speech aside as irrelevant.
"Our association, of course, comes to an end. There remain the
terms of settlement. I could fire you out of this without a cent,
and you'd have to git. But that wouldn't be fair. I don't give a
damn for you; but it wouldn't be fair to me. Now as for the
Northern Peninsula timber, you have had seventy-five thousand out of
that and have lent me the same amount. Call that quits. I will
take up your note when it comes due; and destroy the one given to
Heinzman. For all your holdings in our common business I will give
you my note without interest and without time for one hundred
thousand dollars. That is not its face value, nor anything like it,
but you have caused me directly and indirectly considerable loss. I
don't know how soon I can pay this note; but it will be paid."
"All right," agreed Newmark.
"Does that satisfy you?"
"I suppose it's got to."
"Very well. I have the papers here all made out. They need simply
to be signed and witnessed. Timbull is the nearest notary."
He unlocked the outside door.
"Come," said he.
In silence the two walked the block and a half to the notary's
house. Here they were forced to wait some time while Timbull
dressed himself and called the necessary witnesses. Finally the
papers were executed. In the street Newmark paused significantly.
But Orde did not take the hint.
"Are you coming with me?" asked Newmark.
"I am," replied Orde. "There is one thing more."
In silence once more they returned to the shadowy low library filled
with its evidences of good taste. Newmark threw himself into the
armchair. He was quite recovered, once again the imperturbable,
coldly calculating, cynical observer. Orde relocked the door, and
turned to face him.
"You have five days to leave town," he said crisply. "Don't ever
show up here again. Let me have your address for the payment of
He took two steps forward.
"I've let you off from the pen because I didn't want my life
bothered with the thought of you. But you've treated me like a
hound. I've been loyal to the firm's interests from the start; and
I've done my best by it. You knifed me in the back. You're a
dirty, low-lived skunk. If you think you're going to get off scot-
free, you're mightily mistaken."
He advanced two steps more. Newmark half arose.
"What do you mean?" he asked in some alarm.
"I mean that I'm going to give you about the worst licking you ever
heard TELL of," replied Orde, buttoning his coat.
Five minutes later Orde emerged from Newmark's house, softly rubbing
the palm of one hand over the knuckles of the other. At the front
gate he paused to look up at the stars. Then he shut it decisively
Up through the maple shaded streets he walked at a brisk pace,
breathing deep, unconsciously squaring back his shoulders. The
incident was behind him. In his characteristic decisive manner he
had wiped the whole disagreeable affair off the slate. The
copartnership with its gains and losses, its struggles and easy
sailing was a thing of the past. Only there remained, as after a
flood the sediment, a final result of it all, the balance between
successes and failures, a ground beneath the feet of new
aspirations. Orde had the Northern Peninsula timber; the Boom
Company; and the carrying trade. They were all burdened with debt,
it is true, but the riverman felt surging within him the reawakened
and powerful energy for which optimism is another name. He saw
stretching before him a long life of endeavour, the sort of
endeavour he enjoyed, exulted in; and in it he would be untrammelled
and alone. The idea appealed to him. Suddenly he was impatient for
the morrow that he might begin.
He turned out of the side street. His own house lay before him,
dark save for the gas jet in the hallway and the single lamp in the
library. A harmony of softly touched chords breathed out through
the open window. He stopped; then stole forward softly until he
stood looking in through the doorway.
Carroll sat leaning against the golden harp, her shining head with
the soft shadows bent until it almost touched the strings. Her
hands were straying idly over accustomed chords and rich
modulations, the plaintive half-music of reverie. A soft light fell
on her slender figure; half revealed the oval of her cheek and the
sweep of her lashes.
Orde crept to her unheard. Gently he clasped her from behind.
Unsurprised she relinquished the harp strings and sank back against
his breast with a happy little sigh.
"Kind of fun being married, isn't it, sweetheart?" he repeated their
"Kind of," she replied; and raised her face to his.