Part 1 out of 2
THE SCARLET CAR by RICHARD HARDING DAVIS
THE SCARLET CAR
For a long time it had been arranged they all should go
to the Harvard and Yale game in Winthrop's car. It was
perfectly well understood. Even Peabody, who pictured himself
and Miss Forbes in the back of the car, with her brother and
Winthrop in front, condescended to approve. It was necessary
to invite Peabody because it was his great good fortune to be
engaged to Miss Forbes. Her brother Sam had been invited, not
only because he could act as chaperon for his sister, but
because since they were at St. Paul's, Winthrop and he, either
as participants or spectators, had never missed going together
to the Yale-Harvard game. And Beatrice Forbes herself had
been invited because she was herself.
When at nine o'clock on the morning of the game, Winthrop
stopped the car in front of her door, he was in love with all
the world. In the November air there was a sting like
frost-bitten cider, in the sky there was a brilliant,
beautiful sun, in the wind was the tingling touch of three
ice-chilled rivers. And in the big house facing Central Park,
outside of which his prancing steed of brass and scarlet
chugged and protested and trembled with impatience, was the
most wonderful girl in all the world. It was true she was
engaged to be married, and not to him. But she was not yet
married. And to-day it would be his privilege to carry her
through the State of New York and the State of Connecticut,
and he would snatch glimpses of her profile rising from the
rough fur collar, of her wind-blown hair, of the long, lovely
lashes under the gray veil.
"`Shall be together, breathe and ride, so, one day more am I
deified;'" whispered the young man in the Scarlet Car; "`who
knows but the world may end to-night?'"
As he waited at the curb, other great touring-cars, of every
speed and shape, in the mad race for the Boston Post Road, and
the town of New Haven, swept up Fifth Avenue. Some rolled and
puffed like tugboats in a heavy seaway, others glided by
noiseless and proud as private yachts. But each flew the
colors of blue or crimson.
Winthrop's car, because her brother had gone to one college,
and he had played right end for the other, was draped
impartially. And so every other car mocked or cheered it, and
in one a bare-headed youth stood up, and shouted to his
fellows: "Look! there's Billy Winthrop! Three times three
for old Billy Winthrop!" And they lashed the air with flags,
and sent his name echoing over Central Park.
Winthrop grinned in embarrassment, and waved his hand. A
bicycle cop, and Fred, the chauffeur, were equally impressed.
"Was they the Harvoids, sir?" asked Fred.
"They was," said Winthrop.
Her brother Sam came down the steps carrying sweaters and
steamer-rugs. But he wore no holiday countenance.
"What do you think?" he demanded indignantly. "Ernest
Peabody's inside making trouble. His sister has a Pullman on
one of the special trains, and he wants Beatrice to go with
In spite of his furs, the young man in the car turned quite
cold. "Not with us?" he gasped.
Miss Forbes appeared at the house door, followed by Ernest
Peabody. He wore an expression of disturbed dignity; she one
of distressed amusement. That she also wore her automobile
coat caused the heart of Winthrop to leap hopefully.
"Winthrop," said Peabody, "I am in rather an embarrassing
position. My sister, Mrs. Taylor Holbrooke"--he spoke the
name as though he were announcing it at the door of a
drawing-room--"desires Miss Forbes to go with her. She feels
accidents are apt to occur with motor cars--and there are no
other ladies in your party--and the crowds----"
Winthrop carefully avoided looking at Miss Forbes.
"I should be very sorry," he murmured.
"Ernest!" said Miss Forbes, "I explained it was impossible for
me to go with your sister. We would be extremely rude to Mr.
Winthrop. How do you wish us to sit?" she asked.
She mounted to the rear seat, and made room opposite her for
"Do I understand, Beatrice," began Peabody in a tone that
instantly made every one extremely uncomfortable, "that I am
to tell my sister you are not coming?"
"Ernest!" begged Miss Forbes.
Winthrop bent hastily over the oil valves. He read the
speedometer, which was, as usual, out of order, with
"Ernest," pleaded Miss Forbes,
"Mr. Winthrop and Sam planned this trip for us a long time
ago--to give us a little pleasure----"
"Then," said Peabody in a hollow voice, "you have decided?"
"Ernest," cried Miss Forbes, "don't look at me as though you
meant to hurl the curse of Rome. I have. Jump in. Please!"
"I will bid you good-by," said Peabody; "I have only just time
to catch our train."
Miss Forbes rose and moved to the door of the car.
"I had better not go with any one," she said in a low voice.
"You will go with me," commanded her brother. "Come on,
"Thank you, no," replied Peabody. "I have promised my sister."
"All right, then," exclaimed Sam briskly, "see you at the game.
Section H. Don't forget. Let her out, Billy."
With a troubled countenance Winthrop bent forward and clasped
"Better come, Peabody," he said.
"I thank you, no," repeated Peabody. "I must go with my
As the car glided forward Brother Sam sighed heavily.
"My! but he's got a mean disposition," he said. "He has quite
spoiled MY day."
He chuckled wickedly, but Winthrop pretended not to hear, and
his sister maintained an expression of utter dejection.
But to maintain an expression of utter dejection is very
difficult when the sun is shining, when you are flying at the
rate of forty miles an hour, and when in the cars you pass
foolish youths wave Yale flags at you, and take advantage of
the day to cry: "Three cheers for the girl in the blue hat!"
And to entirely remove the last trace of the gloom that
Peabody had forced upon them, it was necessary only for a tire
to burst. Of course for this effort, the tire chose the
coldest and most fiercely windswept portion of the Pelham
Road, where from the broad waters of the Sound pneumonia and
the grip raced rampant, and where to the touch a steel wrench
was not to be distinguished from a piece of ice. But before
the wheels had ceased to complain, Winthrop and Fred were out
of their fur coats, down on their knees, and jacking up the
"On an expedition of this sort," said Brother Sam, "whatever
happens, take it as a joke. Fortunately," he explained, "I
don't understand fixing inner tubes, so I will get out and
smoke. I have noticed that when a car breaks down, there is
always one man who paces up and down the road and smokes. His
hope is to fool passing cars into thinking that the people in
his car stopped to admire the view."
Recognizing the annual football match as intended solely to
replenish the town coffers, the thrifty townsfolk of Rye, with
bicycles and red flags, were, as usual, and regardless of the
speed at which it moved, levying tribute on every second car
that entered their hospitable boundaries. But before the
Scarlet Car reached Rye, small boys of the town, possessed of
a sporting spirit, or of an inherited instinct for graft, were
waiting to give a noisy notice of the ambush. And so,
fore-warned, the Scarlet Car crawled up the main street of Rye
as demurely as a baby-carriage, and then, having safely
reached a point directly in front of the police station, with
a loud and ostentatious report, blew up another tire.
"Well," said Sam crossly, "they can't arrest US for
"Whatever happens," said his sister, "take it as a joke."
Two miles outside of Stamford, Brother Sam burst into open
"Every car in the United States has passed us," he declared.
"We won't get there, at this rate, till the end of the first
half. Hit her up, can't you, Billy?"
"She seems to have an illness," said Winthrop unhappily. "I
think I'd save time if I stopped now and fixed her."
Shamefacedly Fred and he hid themselves under the body of the
car, and a sound of hammering and stentorian breathing
followed. Of them all that was visible was four feet beating
a tattoo on the road. Miss Forbes got out Winthrop's camera,
and took a snap-shot of the scene.
"I will call it," she said, "The Idle Rich."
Brother Sam gazed morosely in the direction of New Haven.
They had halted within fifty yards of the railroad tracks, and
as each special train, loaded with happy enthusiasts, raced
past them he groaned.
"The only one of us that showed any common sense was Ernest,"
he declared, "and you turned him down. I am going to take a
trolley to Stamford, and the first train to New Haven."
"You are not," said his sister; "I will not desert Mr.
Winthrop, and you cannot desert me."
Brother Sam sighed, and seated himself on a rock.
"Do you think, Billy," he asked, "you can get us to Cambridge
in time for next year's game?"
The car limped into Stamford, and while it went into drydock
at the garage, Brother Sam fled to the railroad station, where
he learned that for the next two hours no train that
recognized New Haven spoke to Stamford.
"That being so," said Winthrop, "while we are waiting for the
car, we had better get a quick lunch now, and then push on."
"Push," exclaimed Brother Sam darkly, "is what we are likely
After behaving with perfect propriety for half an hour, just
outside of Bridgeport the Scarlet Car came to a slow and
sullen stop, and once more the owner and the chauffeur hid
their shame beneath it, and attacked its vitals. Twenty
minutes later, while they still were at work, there approached
from Bridgeport a young man in a buggy. When he saw the mass
of college colors on the Scarlet Car, he pulled his horse down
to a walk, and as he passed raised his hat.
"At the end of the first half," he said, "the score was a
"Don't mention it," said Brother Sam.
"Now," he cried, "we've got to turn back, and make for New
York. If we start quick, we may get there ahead of the last
car to leave New Haven."
"I am going to New Haven, and in this car," declared his
sister. "I must go--to meet Ernest."
"If Ernest has as much sense as he showed this morning,"
returned her affectionate brother, " Ernest will go to his
Pullman and stay there. As I told you, the only sure way to
get anywhere is by railroad train."
When they passed through Bridgeport it was so late that the
electric lights of Fairview Avenue were just beginning to
sputter and glow in the twilight, and as they came along the
shore road into New Haven, the first car out of New Haven in
the race back to New York leaped at them with siren shrieks of
warning, and dancing, dazzling eyes. It passed like a thing
driven by the Furies; and before the Scarlet Car could swing
back into what had been an empty road, in swift pursuit of the
first came many more cars, with blinding searchlights, with a
roar of throbbing, thrashing engines, flying pebbles, and
whirling wheels. And behind these, stretching for a twisted
mile, came hundreds of others; until the road was aflame with
flashing Will-o'-the-wisps, dancing fireballs, and long,
shifting shafts of light.
Miss Forbes sat in front, beside Winthrop, and it pleased her
to imagine, as they bent forward, peering into the night, that
together they were facing so many fiery dragons, speeding to
give them battle, to grind them under their wheels. She felt
the elation of great speed, of imminent danger. Her blood
tingled with the air from the wind-swept harbor, with the rush
of the great engines, as by a handbreadth they plunged past
her. She knew they were driven by men and half-grown boys,
joyous with victory, piqued by defeat, reckless by one touch
too much of liquor, and that the young man at her side was
driving, not only for himself, but for them.
Each fraction of a second a dazzling light blinded him, and he
swerved to let the monster, with a hoarse, bellowing roar,
pass by, and then again swept his car into the road. And each
time for greater confidence she glanced up into his face.
Throughout the mishaps of the day he had been deeply concerned
for her comfort, sorry for her disappointment, under Brother
Sam's indignant ironies patient, and at all times gentle and
considerate. Now, in the light from the onrushing cars, she
noted his alert, laughing eyes, the broad shoulders bent
across the wheel, the lips smiling with excitement and in the
joy of controlling, with a turn of the wrist, a power equal to
sixty galloping horses. She found in his face much comfort.
And in the fact that for the moment her safety lay in his
hands, a sense of pleasure. That this was her feeling puzzled
and disturbed her, for to Ernest Peabody it seemed, in some
way, disloyal. And yet there it was. Of a certainty, there
was the secret pleasure in the thought that if they escaped
unhurt from the trap in which they found themselves, it would
be due to him. To herself she argued that if the chauffeur
were driving, her feeling would be the same, that it was the
nerve, the skill, and the coolness, not the man, that moved
her admiration. But in her heart she knew it would not be the
At West Haven Green Winthrop turned out of the track of the
racing monsters into a quiet street leading to the railroad
station, and with a half-sigh, half-laugh, leaned back
"Those lights coming up suddenly make it hard to see," he
"Hard to breathe," snorted Sam; "since that first car missed
us, I haven't drawn an honest breath. I held on so tight that
I squeezed the hair out of the cushions."
When they reached the railroad station, and Sam had finally
fought his way to the station master, that half-crazed
official informed him he had missed the departure of Mrs.
Taylor Holbrooke's car by just ten minutes.
Brother Sam reported this state of affairs to his companions.
"God knows we asked for the fish first," he said; "so now
we've done our duty by Ernest, who has shamefully deserted us,
and we can get something to eat, and go home at our leisure.
As I have always told you, the only way to travel
independently is in a touring-car."
At the New Haven House they bought three waiters, body and
soul, and, in spite of the fact that in the very next room the
team was breaking training, obtained an excellent but chaotic
dinner; and by eight they were on their way back to the big
The night was grandly beautiful. The waters of the Sound
flashed in the light of a cold, clear moon, which showed them,
like pictures in silver print, the sleeping villages through
which they passed, the ancient elms, the low-roofed cottages,
the town hall facing the common. The post road was again
empty, and the car moved as steadily as a watch.
"Just because it knows we don't care now when we get there,"
said Brother Sam, "you couldn't make it break down with an
From the rear, where he sat with Fred, he announced he was
going to sleep, and asked that he be not awakened until the
car had crossed the State line between Connecticut and New
York. Winthrop doubted if he knew the State line of New York.
"It is where the advertisements for Besse Baker's twenty-seven
stores cease," said Sam drowsily, "and the billposters of
Ethel Barrymore begin."
In the front of the car the two young people spoke only at
intervals, but Winthrop had never been so widely alert, so
keenly happy, never before so conscious of her presence.
And it seemed as they glided through the mysterious moonlit
world of silent villages, shadowy woods, and wind-swept bays
and inlets, from which, as the car rattled over the planks of
the bridges, the wild duck rose in noisy circles, they alone
were awake and living.
The silence had lasted so long that it was as eloquent as
words. The young man turned his eyes timorously, and sought
those of the girl. What he felt was so strong in him that it
seemed incredible she should be ignorant of it. His eyes
searched the gray veil. In his voice there was both challenge
"`Shall be together,'" he quoted, "`breathe and ride. So, one
day more am I deified; who knows but the world may end
The moonlight showed the girl's eyes shining through the veil,
and regarding him steadily.
"If you don't stop this car quick," she said, "the world
WILL end for all of us."
He shot a look ahead, and so suddenly threw on the brake that
Sam and the chauffeur tumbled awake. Across the road
stretched the great bulk of a touring-car, its lamps burning
dully in the brilliance of the moon. Around it, for greater
warmth, a half-dozen figures stamped upon the frozen ground,
and beat themselves with their arms. Sam and the chauffeur
vaulted into the road, and went toward them.
"It's what you say, and the way you say it," the girl
explained. She seemed to be continuing an argument. "It
makes it so very difficult for us to play together."
The young man clasped the wheel as though the force he were
holding in check were much greater than sixty horse-power.
"You are not married yet, are you?" he demanded.
The girl moved her head.
"And when you are married, there will probably be an altar
from which you will turn to walk back up the aisle?"
"Well?" said the girl.
"Well," he answered explosively, "until you turn away from that
altar, I do not recognize the right of any man to keep me
quiet, or your right either. Why should I be held by your
engagement? I was not consulted about it. I did not give my
consent, did I? I tell you, you are the only woman in the
world I will ever marry, and if you think I am going to keep
silent and watch some one else carry you off without making a
fight for you, you don't know me."
"If you go on," said the girl, "it will mean that I shall not
see you again."
"Then I will write letters to you."
"I will not read them," said the girl. The young man laughed
"Oh, yes, you will read them!" He pounded his gauntleted fist
on the rim of the wheel. "You mayn't answer them, but if I
can write the way I feel, I will bet you'll read them."
His voice changed suddenly, and he began to plead. It was as
though she were some masculine giant bullying a small boy.
"You are not fair to me," he protested. "I do not ask you to
be kind, I ask you to be fair. I am fighting for what means
more to me than anything in this world, and you won't even
listen. Why should I recognize any other men! All I
recognize is that _I_ am the man who loves you, that `I am the
man at your feet.' That is all I know, that I love you."
The girl moved as though with the cold, and turned her head
"I love you," repeated the young man.
The girl breathed like one who has been swimming under water,
but, when she spoke, her voice was calm and contained.
"Please!" she begged, "don't you see how unfair it is. I can't
go away; I HAVE to listen."
The young man pulled himself upright, and pressed his lips
"I beg your pardon," he whispered.
There was for some time an unhappy silence, and then Winthrop
added bitterly: "Methinks the punishment exceeds the
"Do you think you make it easy for ME?" returned the girl.
She considered it most ungenerous of him to sit staring into
the moonlight, looking so miserable that it made her heart
ache to comfort him, and so extremely handsome that to do so
was quite impossible. She would have liked to reach out her
hand and lay it on his arm, and tell him she was sorry, but
she could not. He should not have looked so unnecessarily
Sam came running toward them with five grizzly bears, who
balanced themselves apparently with some slight effort upon
their hind legs. The grizzly bears were properly presented
as: "Tommy Todd, of my class, and some more like him. And,"
continued Sam, "I am going to quit you two and go with them.
Tom's car broke down, but Fred fixed it, and both our cars can
travel together. Sort of convoy," he explained.
His sister signalled eagerly, but with equal eagerness he
retreated from her.
"Believe me," he assured her soothingly, "I am just as good a
chaperon fifty yards behind you, and wide awake, as I am in
the same car and fast asleep. And, besides, I want to hear
about the game. And, what's more, two cars are much safer
than one. Suppose you two break down in a lonely place?
We'll be right behind you to pick you up. You will keep
Winthrop's car in sight, won't you, Tommy?" he said.
The grizzly bear called Tommy, who had been examining the
Scarlet Car, answered doubtfully that the only way he could
keep it in sight was by tying a rope to it.
"That's all right, then," said Sam briskly, "Winthrop will go
So the Scarlet Car shot forward with sometimes the second car
so far in the rear that they could only faintly distinguish
the horn begging them to wait, and again it would follow so
close upon their wheels that they heard the five grizzly bears
Oh, bring this wagon home, John,
It will not hold us a-all.
For some time there was silence in the Scarlet Car, and then
Winthrop broke it by laughing.
"First, I lose Peabody," he explained, "then I lose Sam, and
now, after I throw Fred overboard, I am going to drive you
into Stamford, where they do not ask runaway couples for a
license, and marry you."
The girl smiled comfortably. In that mood she was not afraid
She lifted her face, and stretched out her arms as though she
were drinking in the moonlight.
"It has been such a good day," she said simply, "and I am
really so very happy."
"I shall be equally frank," said Winthrop. "So am I."
For two hours they had been on the road, and were just
entering Fairport. For some long time the voices of the
pursuing grizzlies had been lost in the far distance.
"The road's up," said Miss Forbes.
She pointed ahead to two red lanterns.
"It was all right this morning," exclaimed Winthrop.
The car was pulled down to eight miles an hour, and, trembling
and snorting at the indignity, nosed up to the red lanterns.
They showed in a ruddy glow the legs of two men.
"You gotta stop!" commanded a voice.
"Why?" asked Winthrop.
The voice became embodied in the person of a tall man, with a
long overcoat and a drooping mustache.
"'Cause I tell you to!" snapped the tall man.
Winthrop threw a quick glance to the rear. In that direction
for a mile the road lay straight away. He could see its
entire length, and it was empty. In thinking of nothing but
Miss Forbes, he had forgotten the chaperon. He was impressed
with the fact that the immediate presence of a chaperon was
desirable. Directly in front of the car, blocking its
advance, were two barrels, with a two-inch plank sagging
heavily between them. Beyond that the main street of Fairport
lay steeped in slumber and moonlight.
"I am a selectman," said the one with the lantern. "You been
exceedin' our speed limit."
The chauffeur gave a gasp that might have been construed to
mean that the charge amazed and shocked him.
"That is not possible," Winthrop answered. "I have been going
very slow--on purpose--to allow a disabled car to keep up with
The selectman looked down the road.
"It ain't kep' up with you," he said pointedly.
"It has until the last few minutes."
"It's the last few minutes we're talking about," returned the
man who had not spoken. He put his foot on the step of the
"What are you doing?" asked Winthrop.
"I am going to take you to Judge Allen's. I am chief of
police. You are under arrest."
Before Winthrop rose moving pictures of Miss Forbes appearing
in a dirty police station before an officious Dogberry, and,
as he and his car were well known along the Post road,
appearing the next morning in the New York papers. "William
Winthrop," he saw the printed words, "son of Endicott
Winthrop, was arrested here this evening, with a young woman
who refused to give her name, but who was recognized as Miss
Beatrice Forbes, whose engagement to Ernest Peabody, the
Reform candidate on the Independent ticket----"
And, of course, Peabody would blame her.
"If I have exceeded your speed limit," he said politely, "I
shall be delighted to pay the fine. How much is it?"
"Judge Allen'll tell you what the fine is," said the selectman
gruffly. And he may want bail."
"Bail?" demanded Winthrop. "Do you mean to tell me he will
detain us here?"
"He will, if he wants to," answered the chief of police
For an instant Winthrop sat gazing gloomily ahead, overcome
apparently by the enormity of his offence. He was calculating
whether, if he rammed the two-inch plank, it would hit the car
or Miss Forbes. He decided swiftly it would hit his new
two-hundred-dollar lamps. As swiftly he decided the new lamps
must go. But he had read of guardians of the public safety so
regardless of private safety as to try to puncture runaway
tires with pistol bullets. He had no intention of subjecting
Miss Forbes to a fusillade.
So he whirled upon the chief of police:
"Take your hand off that gun!" he growled. "How dare you
Amazed, the chief of police dropped from the step and advanced
"Me?" he demanded. "I ain't got a gun. What you mean by----"
With sudden intelligence, the chauffeur precipitated himself
upon the scene.
"It's the other one," he shouted. He shook an accusing finger
at the selectman. " He pointed it at the lady."
To Miss Forbes the realism of Fred's acting was too
convincing. To learn that one is covered with a loaded
revolver is disconcerting. Miss Forbes gave a startled
squeak, and ducked her head.
Winthrop roared aloud at the selectman.
"How dare you frighten the lady!" he cried. "Take your hand
off that gun."
"What you talkin' about?" shouted the selectman. "The idea of
my havin' a gun! I haven't got a----"
"All right, Fred!" cried Winthrop. "Low bridge."
There was a crash of shattered glass and brass, of scattered
barrel staves, the smell of escaping gas, and the Scarlet Car
was flying drunkenly down the main street.
"What are they doing now, Fred?" called the owner.
Fred peered over the stern of the flying car.
"The constable's jumping around the road," he replied, "and
the long one's leaning against a tree. No, he's climbing the
tree. I can't make out WHAT he's doing."
"_I_ know!" cried Miss Forbes; her voice vibrated with
excitement. Defiance of the law had thrilled her with
unsuspected satisfaction; her eyes were dancing. "There was a
telephone fastened to the tree, a hand telephone. They are
sending word to some one. They're trying to head us off."
Winthrop brought the car to a quick halt.
"We're in a police trap!" he said. Fred leaned forward and
whispered to his employer. His voice also vibrated with the
joy of the chase.
"This'll be our THIRD arrest, he said. "That means----"
"I know what it means," snapped Winthrop. "Tell me how we can
get out of here."
"We can't get out of here, sir, unless we go back. Going
south, the bridge is the only way out."
"The bridge!" Winthrop struck the wheel savagely with his
knuckles. "I forgot their confounded bridge!" He turned to
Miss Forbes. "Fairport is a sort of island," he explained.
"But after we're across the bridge," urged the chauffeur, "we
needn't keep to the post road no more. We can turn into Stone
Ridge, and strike south to White Plains. Then----"
"We haven't crossed the bridge yet," growled Winthrop. His
voice had none of the joy of the others; he was greatly
perturbed. "Look back," he commanded, "and see if there is
any sign of those boys."
He was now quite willing to share responsibility. But there
was no sign of the Yale men, and, unattended, the Scarlet Car
crept warily forward. Ahead of it, across the little
reed-grown inlet, stretched their road of escape, a long
wooden bridge, lying white in the moonlight.
"I don't see a soul," whispered Miss Forbes.
"Anybody at that draw?" asked Winthrop. Unconsciously his
voice also had sunk to a whisper.
"No," returned Fred. "I think the man that tends the draw
goes home at night; there is no light there."
"Well then," said Winthrop, with an anxious sigh, "we've got
to make a dash for it."
The car shot forward, and, as it leaped lightly upon the
bridge, there was a rapid rumble of creaking boards.
Between it and the highway to New York lay only two hundred
yards of track, straight and empty.
In his excitement the chauffeur rose from the rear seat.
"They'll never catch us now," he muttered. "They'll never
But even as he spoke there grated harshly the creak of rusty
chains on a cogged wheel, the rattle of a brake. The black
figure of a man with waving arms ran out upon the draw, and
the draw gaped slowly open.
When the car halted there was between it and the broken edge
of the bridge twenty feet of running water.
At the same moment from behind it came a patter of feet, and
Winthrop turned to see racing toward them some dozen young men
of Fairport. They surrounded him with noisy, raucous,
belligerent cries. They were, as they proudly informed him,
members of the Fairport "Volunteer Fire Department." That
they might purchase new uniforms, they had arranged a trap for
the automobiles returning in illegal haste from New Haven. In
fines they had collected $300, and it was evident that already
some of that money had been expended in bad whiskey. As many
as could do so crowded into the car, others hung to the
running boards and step, others ran beside it. They rejoiced
over Winthrop's unsuccessful flight and capture with violent
and humiliating laughter.
For the day, Judge Allen had made a temporary court in the
clubroom of the fire department, which was over the engine
house; and the proceedings were brief and decisive. The
selectman told how Winthrop, after first breaking the speed
law, had broken arrest and Judge Allen, refusing to fine him
and let him go, held him and his companions for a hearing the
following morning. He fixed the amount of bail at $500 each;
failing to pay this, they would for the night be locked up in
different parts of the engine house, which, it developed,
contained on the ground floor the home of the fire engine, on
the second floor the clubroom, on alternate nights, of the
firemen, the local G. A. R., and the Knights of Pythias, and
in its cellar the town jail.
Winthrop and the chauffeur the learned judge condemned to the
cells in the basement. As a concession, he granted Miss
Forbes the freedom of the entire clubroom to herself.
The objections raised by Winthrop to this arrangement were of
a nature so violent, so vigorous, at one moment so specious
and conciliatory, and the next so abusive, that his listeners
were moved by awe, but not to pity.
In his indignation, Judge Allen rose to reply, and as, the
better to hear him, the crowd pushed forward, Fred gave way
before it, until he was left standing in sullen gloom upon its
outer edge. In imitation of the real firemen of the great
cities, the vamps of Fairport had cut a circular hole in the
floor of their clubroom, and from the engine room below had
reared a sliding pole of shining brass. When leaving their
clubroom, it was always their pleasure to scorn the stairs
and, like real firemen, slide down this pole. It had not
escaped the notice of Fred, and since his entrance he had been
gravitating toward it.
As the voice of the judge rose in violent objurgation, and all
eyes were fixed upon him, the chauffeur crooked his leg
tightly about the brass pole, and, like the devil in the
pantomime, sank softly and swiftly through the floor.
The irate judge was shaking his finger in Winthrop's face.
"Don't you try to teach me no law," he shouted; "I know what I
can do. Ef MY darter went gallivantin' around nights in one
of them automobiles, it would serve her right to get locked
up. Maybe this young woman will learn to stay at home nights
with her folks. She ain't goin' to take no harm here. The
constable sits up all night downstairs in the fire engine
room, and that sofa's as good a place to sleep as the hotel.
If you want me to let her go to the hotel, why don't you send
to your folks and bail her out?"
"You know damn well why I don't," returned Winthrop. "I don't
intend to give the newspapers and you and these other idiots
the chance to annoy her further. This young lady's brother
has been with us all day; he left us only by accident, and by
forcing her to remain here alone you are acting outrageously.
If you knew anything of decency, or law, you'd----"
"I know this much!" roared the justice triumphantly, pointing
his spectacle-case at Miss Forbes. "I know her name ain't
Lizzie Borden and yours ain't Charley Ross."
Winthrop crossed to where Miss Forbes stood in a corner. She
still wore her veil, but through it, though her face was pale,
she smiled at him.
His own distress was undisguised.
"I can never forgive myself," he said.
"Nonsense!" replied Miss Forbes briskly. "You were perfectly
right. If we had sent for any one, it would have had to come
out. Now, we'll pay the fine in the morning and get home, and
no one will know anything of it excepting the family and Mr.
Peabody, and they'll understand. But if I ever lay hands on
my brother Sam!"--she clasped her fingers together helplessly.
"To think of his leaving you to spend the night in a cell----"
Winthrop interrupted her.
"I will get one of these men to send his wife or sister over
to stay with you," he said.
But Miss Forbes protested that she did not want a companion.
The constable would protect her, she said, and she would sit
up all night and read. She nodded at the periodicals on the
"This is the only chance I may ever have," she said, "to read
the `Police Gazette'!"
"You ready there?" called the constable.
"Good-night," said Winthrop.
Under the eyes of the grinning yokels, they shook hands.
"Good-night," said the girl.
"Where's your young man?" demanded the chief of police.
"My what?" inquired Winthrop.
"The young fellow that was with you when we held you up that
The constable, or the chief of police as he called himself, on
the principle that if there were only one policeman he must
necessarily be the chief, glanced hastily over the heads of
"Any of you holding that shoffer?" he called.
No one was holding the chauffeur.
The chauffeur had vanished.
The cell to which the constable led Winthrop was in a corner
of the cellar in which formerly coal had been stored. This
corner was now fenced off with boards, and a wooden door with
chain and padlock.
High in the wall, on a level with the ground, was the opening,
or window, through which the coal had been dumped. This
window now was barricaded with iron bars. Winthrop tested the
door by shaking it, and landed a heavy kick on one of the
hinges. It gave slightly, and emitted a feeble groan.
"What you tryin'to do?" demanded the constable. "That's town
In the light of the constable's lantern, Winthrop surveyed his
cell with extreme dissatisfaction.
"I call this a cheap cell," he said.
"It's good enough for a cheap sport," returned the constable.
It was so overwhelming a retort that after the constable had
turned the key in the padlock, and taken himself and his
lantern to the floor above, Winthrop could hear him repeating
it to the volunteer firemen. They received it with delighted
For an hour, on the three empty boxes that formed his bed,
Winthrop sat, with his chin on his fists, planning the
nameless atrocities he would inflict upon the village of
Fairport. Compared to his tortures, those of Neuremberg were
merely reprimands. Also he considered the particular
punishment he would mete out to Sam Forbes for his desertion
of his sister, and to Fred. He could not understand Fred. It
was not like the chauffeur to think only of himself.
Nevertheless, for abandoning Miss Forbes in the hour of need,
Fred must be discharged. He had, with some regret, determined
upon this discipline, when from directly over his head the
voice of Fred hailed him cautiously.
"Mr. Winthrop," the voice called, "are you there?"
To Winthrop the question seemed superfluous. He jumped to his
feet, and peered up into the darkness.
"Where are YOU?" he demanded.
"At the window," came the answer. "We're in the back yard.
Mr. Sam wants to speak to you."
On Miss Forbes's account, Winthrop gave a gasp of relief. On
his own, one of savage satisfaction.
"And _I_ want to speak to HIM!" he whispered.
The moonlight, which had been faintly shining through the iron
bars of the coal chute, was eclipsed by a head and shoulders.
The comfortable voice of Sam Forbes greeted him in a playful
"Hullo, Billy! You down there?"
"Where the devil did you think I was?" Winthrop answered at
white heat. "Let me tell you if I was not down here I'd be
punching your head."
"That's all right, Billy," Sam answered soothingly. "But I'll
save you just the same. It shall never be said of Sam Forbes
he deserted a comrade----"
"Stop that! Do you know," Winthrop demanded fiercely, "that
your sister is a prisoner upstairs?"
"I do," replied the unfeeling brother, " but she won't be long.
All the low-comedy parts are out now arranging a rescue."
"Who are? Todd and those boys? demanded Winthrop. "They
mustn't think of it! They'll only make it worse. It is
impossible to get your sister out of here with those drunken
firemen in the building. You must wait till they've gone
home. Do you hear me?"
"Pardon ME!" returned Sam stiffly "but this is MY relief
expedition. I have sent two of the boys to hold the bridge,
like Horatius, and two to guard the motors, and the others are
going to entice the firemen away from the engine house."
"Entice them? How?" demanded Winthrop. "They're drunk, and
they won't leave here till morning."
Outside the engine house, suspended from a heavy cross-bar,
was a steel rail borrowed from a railroad track, and bent into
a hoop. When hit with a sledge-hammer it proclaimed to
Fairport that the "consuming element" was at large.
At the moment Winthrop asked his question, over the village of
Fairport and over the bay and marshes, and far out across the
Sound, the great steel bar sent forth a shuddering boom of
From the room above came a wild tumult of joyous yells.
"Fire!" shrieked the vamps, "fire!"
The two men crouching by the cellar window heard the rush of
feet, the engine banging and bumping across the sidewalk, its
brass bell clanking crazily, the happy vamps shouting hoarse,
Through the window Sam lowered a bag of tools he had taken
from Winthrop's car.
"Can you open the lock with any of these?" he asked.
"I can kick it open!" yelled Winthrop joyfully. "Get to your
He threw his shoulder against the door, and the staples flying
before him sent him sprawling in the coal-dust. When he
reached the head of the stairs, Beatrice Forbes was descending
from the clubroom, and in front of the door the two cars, with
their lamps unlit and numbers hidden, were panting to be free.
And in the North, reaching to the sky, rose a roaring column
of flame, shameless in the pale moonlight, dragging into naked
day the sleeping village, the shingled houses, the clock-face
in the church steeple.
"What the devil have you done?" gasped Winthrop.
Before he answered, Sam waited until the cars were rattling to
safety across the bridge.
"We have been protecting the face of nature," he shouted. "The
only way to get that gang out of the engine house was to set
fire to something. Tommy wanted to burn up the railroad
station, because he doesn't like the New York and New Haven,
and Fred was for setting fire to Judge Allen's house, because
he was rude to Beatrice. But we finally formed the Village
Improvement Society, organized to burn all advertising signs.
You know those that stood in the marshes, and hid the view
from the trains, so that you could not see the Sound. We
chopped them down and put them in a pile, and poured gasolene
on them, and that fire is all that is left of the pickles,
fly-screens, and pills."
It was midnight when the cars drew up at the door of the house
of Forbes. Anxiously waiting in the library were Mrs. Forbes
and Ernest Peabody.
"At last!" cried Mrs. Forbes, smiling her relief; "we thought
maybe Sam and you had decided to spend the night in New
"No," said Miss Forbes, "there WAS some talk about spending
the night at Fairport, but we pushed right on."
With a long, nervous shudder, the Scarlet Car came to a stop,
and the lamps bored a round hole in the night, leaving the
rest of the encircling world in a chill and silent darkness.
The lamps showed a flickering picture of a country road
between high banks covered with loose stones, and overhead, a
fringe of pine boughs. It looked like a colored photograph
thrown from a stereopticon in a darkened theater.
From the back of the car the voice of the owner said briskly:
"We will now sing that beautiful ballad entitled `He Is
Sleeping in the Yukon Vale To-night.' What are you stopping
for, Fred?" he asked.
The tone of the chauffeur suggested he was again upon the
"For water, sir," he mumbled.
Miss Forbes in the front seat laughed, and her brother in the
rear seat, groaned in dismay.
"Oh, for water?" said the owner cordially. "I thought maybe
it was for coal."
Save a dignified silence, there was no answer to this, until
there came a rolling of loose stones and the sound of a heavy
body suddenly precipitated down the bank, and landing with a
thump in the road.
"He didn't get the water," said the owner sadly.
"Are you hurt, Fred?" asked the girl.
The chauffeur limped in front of the lamps, appearing
suddenly, like an actor stepping into the limelight.
"No, ma'am," he said. In the rays of the lamp, he unfolded a
road map and scowled at it. He shook his head aggrievedly.
"There OUGHT to be a house just about here," he explained.
"There OUGHT to be a hotel and a garage, and a cold supper,
just about here," said the girl cheerfully.
"That's the way with those houses," complained the owner.
"They never stay where they're put. At night they go around
and visit each other. Where do you think you are, Fred?"
"I think we're in that long woods, between Loon Lake and
Stoughton on the Boston Pike," said the chauffeur, "and," he
reiterated, "there OUGHT to be a house somewhere about
here--where we get water."
"Well, get there, then, and get the water," commanded the
"But I can't get there, sir, till I get the water," returned
He shook out two collapsible buckets, and started down the
shaft of light.
"I won't be more nor five minutes," he called.
"I'm going with him," said the girl, "I'm cold."
She stepped down from the front seat, and the owner with
sudden alacrity vaulted the door and started after her.
"You coming?" he inquired of Ernest Peabody. But Ernest
Peabody being soundly asleep made no reply. Winthrop turned
to Sam. "Are YOU coming?" he repeated.
The tone of the invitation seemed to suggest that a refusal
would not necessarily lead to a quarrel.
"I am NOT!" said the brother. "You've kept Peabody and me
twelve hours in the open air, and it's past two, and we're
going to sleep. You can take it from me that we are going to
spend the rest of this night here in this road."
He moved his cramped joints cautiously, and stretched his legs
the full width of the car.
"If you can't get plain water," he called, "get club soda."
He buried his nose in the collar of his fur coat, and the
odors of camphor and raccoon skins instantly assailed him, but
he only yawned luxuriously and disappeared into the coat as a
turtle draws into its shell. From the woods about him the
smell of the pine needles pressed upon him like a drug, and
before the footsteps of his companions were lost in the
silence he was asleep. But his sleep was only a review of his
waking hours. Still on either hand rose flying dust clouds
and twirling leaves; still on either side raced gray stone
walls, telegraph poles, hills rich in autumn colors; and
before him a long white road, unending, interminable,
stretching out finally into a darkness lit by flashing
shop-windows, like open fireplaces, by street lamps, by
swinging electric globes, by the blinding searchlights of
hundreds of darting trolley cars with terrifying gongs, and
then a cold white mist, and again on every side, darkness,
except where the four great lamps blazed a path through
stretches of ghostly woods.
As the two young men slumbered, the lamps spluttered and
sizzled like bacon in a frying-pan, a stone rolled noisily
down the bank, a white owl, both appalled and fascinated by
the dazzling eyes of the monster blocking the road, hooted,
and flapped itself away. But the men in the car only shivered
slightly, deep in the sleep of utter weariness.
In silence the girl and Winthrop followed the chauffeur. They
had passed out of the light of the lamps, and in the autumn
mist the electric torch of the owner was as ineffective as a
glow-worm. The mystery of the forest fell heavily upon them.
From their feet the dead leaves sent up a clean, damp odor,
and on either side and overhead the giant pine trees whispered
and rustled in the night wind.
"Take my coat, too," said the young man. "You'll catch cold."
He spoke with authority and began to slip the loops from the
big horn buttons. It was not the habit of the girl to
consider her health. Nor did she permit the members of her
family to show solicitude concerning it. But the anxiety of
the young man, did not seem to offend her. She thanked him
generously. "No; these coats are hard to walk in, and I want
to walk," she exclaimed.
"I like to hear the leaves rustle when you kick them, don't
you? When I was so high, I used to pretend it was wading in
The young man moved over to the gutter of the road where the
leaves were deepest and kicked violently. "And the more noise
you make," he said, "the more you frighten away the wild
The girl shuddered in a most helpless and fascinating fashion.
"Don't!" she whispered. "I didn't mention it, but already I
have seen several lions crouching behind the trees."
"Indeed?" said the young man. His tone was preoccupied. He
had just kicked a rock, hidden by the leaves, and was standing
on one leg.
"Do you mean you don't believe me?" asked the girl, "or is it
that you are merely brave?"
"Merely brave!" exclaimed the young man. "Massachusetts is so
far north for lions," he continued, "that I fancy what you saw
was a grizzly bear. But I have my trusty electric torch with
me, and if there is anything a bear cannot abide, it is to be
pointed at by an electric torch."
"Let us pretend," cried the girl, "that we are the babes in the
wood, and that we are lost."
"We don't have to pretend we're lost," said the man, "and as I
remember it, the babes came to a sad end. Didn't they die,
and didn't the birds bury them with leaves?"
"Sam and Mr. Peabody can be the birds," suggested the girl.
"Sam and Peabody hopping around with leaves in their teeth
would look silly," objected the man, "I doubt if I could keep
"Then," said the girl, "they can be the wicked robbers who
came to kill the babes."
"Very well," said the man with suspicious alacrity, "let us be
babes. If I have to die," he went on heartily, "I would
rather die with you than live with any one else."
When he had spoken, although they were entirely alone in the
world and quite near to each other, it was as though the girl
could not hear him, even as though he had not spoken at all.
After a silence, the girl said: "Perhaps it would be better
for us to go back to the car."
"I won't do it again," begged the man.
"We will pretend," cried the girl, "that the car is a van and
that we are gypsies, and we'll build a campfire, and I will
tell your fortune."
"You are the only woman who can," muttered the young man.
The girl still stood in her tracks.
"You said--" she began.
"I know," interrupted the man, "but you won't let me talk
seriously, so I joke. But some day----"
"Oh, look!" cried the girl. "There's Fred."
She ran from him down the road. The young man followed her
slowly, his fists deep in the pockets of the great-coat, and
kicking at the unoffending leaves.
The chauffeur was peering through a double iron gate hung
between square brick posts. The lower hinge of one gate was
broken, and that gate lurched forward leaving an opening. By
the light of the electric torch they could see the beginning
of a driveway, rough and weed-grown, lined with trees of great
age and bulk, and an unkempt lawn, strewn with bushes, and
beyond, in an open place bare of trees and illuminated faintly
by the stars, the shadow of a house, black, silent, and
"That's it," whispered the chauffeur. "I was here before.
The well is over there."
The young man gave a gasp of astonishment.
"Why," he protested, "this is the Carey place! I should say
we WERE lost. We must have left the road an hour ago.
There's not another house within miles." But he made no
movement to enter. Of all places!" he muttered.
"Well, then," urged the girl briskly, "if there's no other house,
let's tap Mr. Carey's well and get on."
"Do you know who he is?" asked the man.
The girl laughed. "You don't need a letter of introduction to
take a bucket of water, do you?" she said.
"It's Philip Carey's house. He lives here." He spoke in a
whisper, and insistently, as though the information must carry
some special significance. But the girl showed no sign of
enlightenment. "You remember the Carey boys?" he urged.
"They left Harvard the year I entered. They HAD to leave.
They were quite mad. All the Careys have been mad. The boys
were queer even then, and awfully rich. Henry ran away with a
girl from a shoe factory in Brockton and lives in Paris, and
Philip was sent here."
"Sent here?" repeated the girl. Unconsciously her voice also
had sunk to a whisper.
"He has a doctor and a nurse and keepers, and they live here
all the year round. When Fred said there were people
hereabouts, I thought we might strike them for something to
eat, or even to put us up for the night, but, Philip Carey! I
"I should think not!" exclaimed the girl.
For, a minute the three stood silent, peering through the iron
"And the worst of it is," went on the young man irritably, "he
could give us such good things to eat."
"It doesn't look it," said the girl.
"I know," continued the man in the same eager whisper.
"But--who was it was telling me? Some doctor I know who came
down to see him. He said Carey does himself awfully well, has
the house full of bully pictures, and the family plate, and
wonderful collections--things he picked up in the East--gold
ornaments, and jewels, and jade."
"I shouldn't think," said the girl in the same hushed voice,
"they would let him live so far from any neighbors with such
things in the house. Suppose burglars----"
"Burglars! Burglars would never hear of this place. How could
they?--Even his friends think it's just a private madhouse."
The girl shivered and drew back from the gate.
Fred coughed apologetically.
"I'VE heard of it," he volunteered. "There was a piece in
the Sunday Post. It said he eats his dinner in a diamond
crown, and all the walls is gold, and two monkeys wait on
table with gold----"
"Nonsense!" said the man sharply. "He eats like any one else
and dresses like any one else. How far is the well from the
"It's purty near," said the chauffeur.
"Pretty near the house, or pretty near here?"
"Just outside the kitchen; and it makes a creaky noise."
"You mean you don't want to go?"
Fred's answer was unintelligible.
"You wait here with Miss Forbes," said the young man. "And
I'll get the water."
"Yes, sir!" said Fred, quite distinctly.
"No, sir! " said Miss Forbes, with equal distinctness. "I'm
not going to be left here alone--with all these trees. I'm
going with you."
"There may be a dog," suggested the young man, "or, I was
thinking if they heard me prowling about, they might take a
shot--just for luck. Why don't you go back to the car with
"Down that long road in the dark?" exclaimed the girl. "Do
you think I have no imagination?"
The man in front, the girl close on his heels, and the boy
with the buckets following, crawled through the broken gate,
and moved cautiously up the gravel driveway.
Within fifty feet of the house the courage of the chauffeur
"You wait here," he whispered, "and if I wake 'em up, you
shout to 'em that it's all right, that it's only me."
"Your idea being," said the young man, "that they will then
fire at me. Clever lad. Run along."
There was a rustling of the dead weeds, and instantly the
chauffeur was swallowed in the encompassing shadows.
Miss Forbes leaned toward the young man.
"Do you see a light in that lower story?" she whispered.
"No," said the man. "Where?"
After a pause the girl answered: "I can't see it now, either.
Maybe I didn't see it. It was very faint--just a glow--it
might have been phosphorescence."
"It might," said the man. He gave a shrug of distaste. "The
whole place is certainly old enough and decayed enough."
For a brief space they stood quite still, and at once,
accentuated by their own silence, the noises of the night grew
in number and distinctness. A slight wind had risen and the
boughs of the pines rocked restlessly, making mournful
complaint; and at their feet the needles dropping in a gentle
desultory shower had the sound of rain in springtime. From
every side they were startled by noises they could not place.
Strange movements and rustlings caused them to peer sharply
into the shadows; footsteps, that seemed to approach, and,
then, having marked them, skulk away; branches of bushes that
suddenly swept together, as though closing behind some one in
stealthy retreat. Although they knew that in the deserted
garden they were alone, they felt that from the shadows they
were being spied upon, that the darkness of the place was
peopled by malign presences.
The young man drew a cigar from his case and put it unlit
between his teeth.
"Cheerful, isn't it?" he growled.
"These dead leaves make it damp as a tomb. If I've seen one
ghost, I've seen a dozen. I believe we're standing in the
Carey family's graveyard."
"I thought you were brave," said the girl.
"I am," returned the young man, "very brave. But if you had
the most wonderful girl on earth to take care of in the
grounds of a madhouse at two in the morning, you'd be scared
He was abruptly surprised by Miss Forbes laying her hand
firmly upon his shoulder, and turning him in the direction of
the house. Her face was so near his that he felt the uneven
fluttering of her breath upon his cheek.
"There is a man," she said, standing behind that tree."
By the faint light of the stars he saw, in black silhouette, a
shoulder and head projecting from beyond the trunk of a huge
oak, and then quickly withdrawn. The owner of the head and
shoulder was on the side of the tree nearest to themselves,
his back turned to them, and so deeply was his attention
engaged that he was unconscious of their presence.
"He is watching the house," said the girl. "Why is he doing
"I think it's Fred," whispered the man. "He's afraid to go
for the water. That's as far as he's gone." He was about to
move forward when from the oak tree there came a low whistle.
The girl and the man stood silent and motionless. But they
knew it was useless; that they had been overheard. A voice
"That you?" it asked.
With the idea only of gaining time, the young man responded
promptly and truthfully. "Yes," he whispered.
"Keep to the right of the house," commanded the voice.
The young man seized Miss Forbes by the wrist and moving to
the right drew her quickly with him. He did not stop until
they had turned the corner of the building, and were once more
hidden by the darkness.
"The plot thickens," he said. "I take it that that fellow is
a keeper, or watchman. He spoke as though it were natural
there should be another man in the grounds, so there's
probably two of them, either to keep Carey in, or to keep
trespassers out. Now, I think I'll go back and tell him that
Jack and Jill went up the hill to fetch a pail of water, and
that all they want is to be allowed to get the water, and go."
"Why should a watchman hide behind a tree?" asked the girl.
She ceased abruptly with a sharp cry of fright. "What's
that?" she whispered.
"What's what?" asked the young man startled. "What did you
"Over there," stammered the girl. "Something--that--groaned."
"Pretty soon this will get on my nerves," said the man. He
ripped open his greatcoat and reached under it. "I've been
stoned twice, when there were women in the car," he said,
apologetically, "and so now at night I carry a gun." He
shifted the darkened torch to his left hand, and, moving a few
yards, halted to listen. The girl, reluctant to be left
alone, followed slowly. As he stood immovable there came from
the leaves just beyond him the sound of a feeble struggle, and
a strangled groan. The man bent forward and flashed the
torch. He saw stretched rigid on the ground a huge
wolf-hound. Its legs were twisted horribly, the lips drawn
away from the teeth, the eyes glazed in an agony of pain. The
man snapped off the light. "Keep back! he whispered to the
girl. He took her by the arm and ran with her toward the
"Who was it?" she begged.
"It was a dog," he answered. "I think----"
He did not tell her what he thought.
"I've got to find out what the devil has happened to Fred!" he
said. You go back to the car. Send your brother here on the
run. Tell him there's going to be a rough-house. You're not
afraid to go?"
"No," said the girl.
A shadow blacker than the night rose suddenly before them, and
a voice asked sternly but quietly: "What are you doing here?"
The young man lifted his arm clear of the girl, and shoved her
quickly from him. In his hand she felt the pressure of the
"Well," he replied truculently, "and what are you doing here?"
"I am the night watchman," answered the voice. "Who are you?"
It struck Miss Forbes if the watchman knew that one of the
trespassers was a woman he would be at once reassured, and she
broke in quickly:
"We have lost our way," she said pleasantly. "We came
She found herself staring blindly down a shaft of light. For
an instant the torch held her, and then from her swept over
the young man.
"Drop that gun!" cried the voice. It was no longer the same
voice; it was now savage and snarling. For answer the young
man pressed the torch in his left hand, and, held in the two
circles of light, the men surveyed each other. The newcomer
was one of unusual bulk and height. The collar of his
overcoat hid his mouth, and his derby hat was drawn down over
his forehead, but what they saw showed an intelligent, strong
face, although for the moment it wore a menacing scowl. The
young man dropped his revolver into his pocket.
"My automobile ran dry," he said; "we came in here to get some
water. My chauffeur is back there somewhere with a couple of
buckets. This is Mr. Carey's place, isn't it?
"Take that light out of my eyes! said the watchman.
"Take your light out of my eyes," returned the young man. "You
can see we're not--we don't mean any harm."
The two lights disappeared simultaneously, and then each, as
though worked by the same hand, sprang forth again.
"What did you think I was going to do?" the young man asked.
He laughed and switched off his torch.
But the one the watchman held in his hand still moved from the
face of the girl to that of the young man.
"How'd you know this was the Carey house?" he demanded. "Do
you know Mr. Carey?"
"No, but I know this is his house." For a moment from behind
his mask of light the watchman surveyed them in silence. Then
he spoke quickly:
"I'll take you to him," he said, "if he thinks it's all right,
it's all right."
The girl gave a protesting cry. The young man burst forth
"You will NOT!" he cried. "Don't be an idiot! You talk
like a Tenderloin cop. Do we look like second-story workers?"
"I found you prowling around Mr. Carey's grounds at two in the
morning," said the watchman sharply, "with a gun in your hand.
My job is to protect this place, and I am going to take you
both to Mr. Carey."
Until this moment the young man could see nothing save the
shaft of light and the tiny glowing bulb at its base; now into
the light there protruded a black revolver.
"Keep your hands up, and walk ahead of me to the house,"
commanded the watchman. "The woman will go in front."
The young man did not move. Under his breath he muttered
impotently, and bit at his lower lip.
"See here," he said, "I'll go with you, but you shan't take
this lady in front of that madman. Let her go to her car.
It's only a hundred yards from here; you know perfectly well
"I know where your car is, all right," said the watchman
steadily, "and I'm not going to let you get away in it till
Mr. Carey's seen you." The revolver motioned forward. Miss
Forbes stepped in front of it and appealed eagerly to the
"Do what he says," she urged. "It's only his duty. Please!
Indeed, I don't mind." She turned to the watchman. "Which way
do you want us to go?" she asked.
"Keep in the light," he ordered.
The light showed the broad steps leading to the front entrance
of the house, and in its shaft they climbed them, pushed open
the unlocked door, and stood in a small hallway. It led into
a greater hall beyond. By the electric lights still burning
they noted that the interior of the house was as rich and well
cared for as the outside was miserable. With a gesture for
silence the watchman motioned them into a small room on the
right of the hallway. It had the look of an office, and was
apparently the place in which were conducted the affairs of
In an open grate was a dying fire; in front of it a flat desk
covered with papers and japanned tin boxes.
"You stay here till I fetch Mr. Carey, and the servants,"
commanded the watchman. "Don't try to get out, and," he added
menacingly, "don't make no noise." With his revolver he
pointed at the two windows. They were heavily barred. "Those
bars keep Mr. Carey in," he said, "and I guess they can keep
you in, too. The other watchman," he added, "will be just
outside this door." But still he hesitated, glowering with
suspicion; unwilling to trust them alone. His face lit with
an ugly smile.
"Mr. Carey's very bad to-night," he said; "he won't keep his
bed and he's wandering about the house. If he found you by
yourselves, he might----"
The young man, who had been staring at the fire, swung sharply
on his heel.
"Get-to-hell-out-of-here!" he said. The watchman stepped into
the hall and was cautiously closing the door when a man sprang
lightly up the front steps. Through the inch crack left by
the open door the trespassers heard the newcomers eager
"I can't get him right!" he panted. "He's snoring like a hog."
The watchman exclaimed savagely:
"He's fooling you." He gasped. "I didn't mor' nor slap him.
Did you throw water on him?"
"I drowned him!" returned the other. "He never winked. I
tell You we gotta walk, and damn quick!"
"Walk!" The watchman cursed him foully. "How far could we
walk? I'LL bring him to," he swore. "He's scared of us,
and he's shamming." He gave a sudden start of alarm. "That's
it, he's shamming. You fool! You shouldn't have left him."
There was the swift patter of retreating footsteps, and then a
sudden halt, and they heard the watchman command: "Go back,
and keep the other two till I come."
The next instant from the outside the door was softly closed
It had no more than shut when to the surprise of Miss Forbes
the young man, with a delighted and vindictive chuckle, sprang
to the desk and began to drum upon it with his fingers. It
were as though he were practising upon a typewriter.
"He missed THESE," he muttered jubilantly. The girl leaned
forward. Beneath his fingers she saw, flush with the table, a
roll of little ivory buttons. She read the words " Stables,"
"Servants' hall." She raised a pair of very beautiful and
very bewildered eyes.
"But if he wanted the servants, why didn't the watchman do
that?" she asked.
"Because he isn't a watchman," answered the young man.
"Because he's robbing this house."
He took the revolver from his encumbering greatcoat, slipped
it in his pocket, and threw the coat from him. He motioned
the girl into a corner. "Keep out of the line of the door,"
"I don't understand," begged the girl.
"They came in a car," whispered the young man. "It's broken
down, and they can't get away. When the big fellow stopped us
and I flashed my torch, I saw their car behind him in the road
with the front off and the lights out. He'd seen the lamps of
our car, and now they want it to escape in.
That's why he brought us here--to keep us away from our car."
"And Fred!" gasped the girl. "Fred's hurt!"
"I guess Fred stumbled into the big fellow," assented the young
man, "and the big fellow put him out; then he saw Fred was a
chauffeur, and now they are trying to bring him to, so that he
can run the car for them. You needn't worry about Fred. He's
been in four smash-ups."
The young man bent forward to listen, but from no part of the
great house came any sign. He exclaimed angrily.
"They must be drugged," he growled. He ran to the desk and
made vicious jabs at the ivory buttons.
"Suppose they're out of order!" he whispered.
There was the sound of leaping feet. The young man laughed
"No, it's all right," he cried. "They're coming!"
The door flung open and the big burglar and a small, rat-like
figure of a man burst upon them; the big one pointing a
"Come with me to your car!" he commanded. "You've got to take
us to Boston. Quick, or I'll blow your face off."
Although the young man glared bravely at the steel barrel and
the lifted trigger, poised a few inches from his eyes, his
body, as though weak with fright, shifted slightly and his
feet made a shuffling noise upon the floor. When the weight
of his body was balanced on the ball of his right foot, the
shuffling ceased. Had the burglar lowered his eyes, the
manoeuvre to him would have been significant, but his eyes
were following the barrel of the revolver.
In the mind of the young man the one thought uppermost was
that he must gain time, but, with a revolver in his face, he
found his desire to gain time swiftly diminishing. Still,
when he spoke, it was with deliberation.
"My chauffeur--" he began slowly.
The burglar snapped at him like a dog. "To hell with your
chauffeur!" he cried. "Your chauffeur has run away. You'll
drive that car yourself, or I'll leave you here with the top
of your head off."
The face of the young man suddenly flashed with pleasure. His
eyes, looking past the burglar to the door, lit with relief.
"There's the chauffeur now!" he cried.
The big burglar for one instant glanced over his right
For months at a time, on Soldiers Field, the young man had
thrown himself at human targets, that ran and dodged and
evaded him, and the hulking burglar, motionless before him,
was easily his victim.
He leaped at him, his left arm swinging like a scythe, and,
with the impact of a club, the blow caught the burglar in the
The pistol went off impotently; the burglar with a choking
cough sank in a heap on the floor.
The young man tramped over him and upon him, and beat the
second burglar with savage, whirlwind blows. The second
burglar, shrieking with pain, turned to fly, and a fist, that
fell upon him where his bump of honesty should have been,
drove his head against the lintel of the door.
At the same instant from the belfry on the roof there rang out
on the night the sudden tumult of a bell; a bell that told as
plainly as though it clamored with a human tongue, that the
hand that rang it was driven with fear; fear of fire, fear of
thieves, fear of a mad-man with a knife in his hand running
amuck; perhaps at that moment creeping up the belfry stairs.
From all over the house there was the rush of feet and men's
voices, and from the garden the light of dancing lanterns.
And while the smoke of the revolver still hung motionless, the
open door was crowded with half-clad figures. At their head
were two young men. One who had drawn over his night clothes
a serge suit, and who, in even that garb, carried an air of
authority; and one, tall, stooping, weak of face and
light-haired, with eyes that blinked and trembled behind great
spectacles and who, for comfort, hugged about him a gorgeous
kimono. For an instant the newcomers stared stupidly through
the smoke at the bodies on the floor breathing stertorously,
at the young man with the lust of battle still in his face, at
the girl shrinking against the wall. It was the young man in
the serge suit who was the first to move.
"Who are you? " he demanded.
"These are burglars," said the owner of the car. "We happened
to be passing in my automobile, and----"
The young man was no longer listening. With an alert,
professional manner he had stooped over the big burglar. With
his thumb he pushed back the man's eyelids, and ran his
fingers over his throat and chin. He felt carefully of the
point of the chin, and glanced up.
"You've broken the bone," he said.
"I just swung on him," said the young man. He turned his
eyes, and suggested the presence of the girl.
At the same moment the man in the kimono cried nervously:
"Ladies present, ladies present. Go put your clothes on,
everybody; put your clothes on."
For orders the men in the doorway looked to the young man with
the stern face.
He scowled at the figure in the kimono.
"You will please go to your room, sir," he said. He stood up,
and bowed to Miss Forbes. "I beg your pardon," he asked, "you
must want to get out of this. Will you please go into the
He turned to the robust youths in the door, and pointed at the
"Move him out of the way," he ordered.
The man in the kimono smirked and bowed.
"Allow me," he said; "allow me to show you to the library.
This is no place for ladies."
The young man with the stern face frowned impatiently.
"You will please return to your room, sir," he repeated.
With an attempt at dignity the figure in the kimono gathered
the silk robe closer about him.
"Certainly," he said. "If you think you can get on without
me--I will retire," and lifting his bare feet mincingly, he
tiptoed away. Miss Forbes looked after him with an expression
of relief, of repulsion, of great pity.
The owner of the car glanced at the young man with the stern
face, and raised his eyebrows interrogatively.
The young man had taken the revolver from the limp fingers of
the burglar and was holding it in his hand. Winthrop gave
what was half a laugh and half a sigh of compassion.
"So, that's Carey?" he said.
There was a sudden silence. The young man with the stern face
made no answer. His head was bent over the revolver. He
broke it open, and spilled the cartridges into his palm.
Still he made no answer. When he raised his head, his eyes
were no longer stern, but wistful, and filled with an
"No, _I_ am Carey," he said.
The one who had blundered stood helpless, tongue-tied, with no
presence of mind beyond knowing that to explain would offend
The other seemed to feel for him more than for himself. In a
voice low and peculiarly appealing, he continued hurriedly.
"He is my doctor," he said. "He is a young man, and he has
not had many advantages--his manner is not--I find we do not
get on together. I have asked them to send me some one else."
He stopped suddenly, and stood unhappily silent. The
knowledge that the strangers were acquainted with his story
seemed to rob him of his earlier confidence. He made an
uncertain movement as though to relieve them of his presence.
Miss Forbes stepped toward him eagerly.
"You told me I might wait in the library," she said. "Will
you take me there?"
For a moment the man did not move, but stood looking at the
young and beautiful girl, who, with a smile, hid the
compassion in her eyes.
"Will you go?" he asked wistfully.
"Why not?" said the girl.
The young man laughed with pleasure.
"I am unpardonable," he said. "I live so much alone--that I
forget." Like one who, issuing from a close room, encounters
the morning air, he drew a deep, happy breath. "It has been
three years since a woman has been in this house," he said
simply. "And I have not even thanked you," he went on, "nor
asked you if you are cold," he cried remorsefully, "or hungry.
How nice it would be if you would say you are hungry."
The girl walked beside him, laughing lightly, and, as they
disappeared into the greater hall beyond, Winthrop heard her
cry: "You never robbed your own ice-chest? How have you kept
from starving? Show me it, and we'll rob it together."
The voice of their host rang through the empty house with a
laugh like that of an eager, happy child.
"Heavens!" said the owner of the car, "isn't she wonderful!"
But neither the prostrate burglars, nor the servants, intent
on strapping their wrists together, gave him any answer.
As they were finishing the supper filched from the ice-chest,
Fred was brought before them from the kitchen. The blow the
burglar had given him was covered with a piece of cold
beef-steak, and the water thrown on him to revive him was
thawing from his leather breeches. Mr. Carey expressed his
gratitude, and rewarded him beyond the avaricious dreams even
of a chauffeur.
As the three trespassers left the house, accompanied by many
pails of water, the girl turned to the lonely figure in the
doorway and waved her hand.
"May we come again?" she called.
But young Mr. Carey did not trust his voice to answer.
Standing erect, with folded arms, in dark silhouette in the
light of the hall, he bowed his head.
Deaf to alarm bells, to pistol shots, to cries for help, they
found her brother and Ernest Peabody sleeping soundly.
"Sam is a charming chaperon," said the owner of the car.
With the girl beside him, with Fred crouched, shivering, on
the step, he threw in the clutch; the servants from the house
waved the emptied buckets in salute, and the great car sprang
forward into the awakening day toward the golden dome over the
Boston Common. In the rear seat Peabody shivered and yawned,
and then sat erect.
"Did you get the water?" he demanded, anxiously.
There was a grim silence.
"Yes," said the owner of the car patiently. "You needn't
worry any longer. We got the water."
During the last two weeks of the "whirlwind" campaign,
automobiles had carried the rival candidates to every election
district in Greater New York.
During these two weeks, at the disposal of Ernest Peabody--on
the Reform Ticket, "the people's choice for
Lieutenant-Governor--" Winthrop had placed his Scarlet Car,
and, as its chauffeur, himself.
Not that Winthrop greatly cared for Reform, or Ernest Peabody.
The "whirlwind" part of the campaign was what attracted him;
the crowds, the bands, the fireworks, the rush by night from
hall to hall, from Fordham to Tompkinsville. And, while
inside the different Lyceums, Peabody lashed the Tammany
Tiger, outside in his car, Winthrop was making friends with
Tammany policemen, and his natural enemies, the bicycle cops.
To Winthrop, the day in which he did not increase his
acquaintance with the traffic squad, was a day lost.
But the real reason for his efforts in the cause of Reform,
was one he could not declare. And it was a reason that was
guessed perhaps by only one person. On some nights Beatrice
Forbes and her brother Sam accompanied Peabody. And while
Peabody sat in the rear of the car, mumbling the speech he
would next deliver, Winthrop was given the chance to talk with
her. These chances were growing cruelly few. In one month
after election day Miss Forbes and Peabody would be man and
wife. Once before the day of their marriage had been fixed,
but, when the Reform Party offered Peabody a high place on its