Part 2 out of 4
"That's enough," said Cluff heartily. "The rest of us can take
care of ourselves."
"Meantime," said Raimonda, "I think the whole matter can be
arranged. Von Plaanden shall apologize to Miss Brewster to-morrow.
It is not his first outbreak, and always he regrets. My uncle, who
is of the Foreign Office, will see to it."
"Then that's settled," remarked Perkins cheerfully.
Carroll turned upon him savagely:--
"To your entire satisfaction, no doubt, now that you've shown
yourself an informer as well as--"
"Easy with the rough stuff, Mr. Carroll," advised Cluff, his good-
natured face clouding. "We're all a little het up. Let's have a
drink, and cool down."
"With you, with pleasure. I shall hope to meet you later, Mr.
Perkins," he added significantly.
"Well, I hope not," retorted the other. "My voice is still for
peace. Meantime, please assure Miss Brewster for me--"
"I warned you to keep that lady's name from your lips."
"You did. But I don't know by what authority. You're not her
father, I suppose. Are you her brother, by any chance?"
As he spoke, Perkins experienced that curious feeling that some
invisible person was trying to catch his eye. Now, as he turned
directly upon Carroll, his glance, passing over his shoulder,
followed a broad ray of light spreading from a second-story leaf-
framed balcony of the hotel. There was a stir amid the greenery.
The face of the Voice appeared, framed in flowers. Its features
lighted up with mirth, and the lips formed the unmistakable
The identification was complete--"Boo to a goose."
"Preston Fairfax Fitzhugh Carroll!" Unwittingly he spoke the name
aloud, and, unfortunately, laughed.
To a less sensitive temperament, even, than Carroll's, the
provocation would have been extreme. Perkins was recalled to a
more serious view of the situation by the choking accents of that
"Take off your glasses!"
"Because I'm going to thrash you within an inch of your life!"
"Gentlemen, gentlemen!" cried the young Caracunan. "This is no
place for such an affair."
Apparently Perkins held the same belief. Stepping aside, he
abruptly sat down on the end of the bench, facing the fountain and
not four feet from it. His head drooped a little forward; his
hands dropped between his knees; one foot--but Cluff, the athlete,
was the only one to note this--edged backward and turned to secure
a firm hold on the pavement. Carroll stepped over in front of him
and stood nonplused. He half drew his hand back, then let it fall.
"I can't hit a man sitting down," he muttered distressfully.
Perkins's set face relaxed.
"Running true to tradition," he observed, pleasantly enough. "I
didn't think you would. See here, Mr. Carroll, I'm sorry that I
laughed at your name. In fact, I didn't really laugh at your name
at all. It was at something quite different which came into my
mind at that moment."
"Your apology is accepted so far," returned the other stiffly.
"But that doesn't settle the other account between us, when we
meet again. Or do you choose to threaten me with jail for that,
"No. It's easier to keep out of your way."
"Good Lord!" cried the Southerner in disgust. "Are you afraid of
"Why, no!" Perkins rose, smiling at him with perfect equanimity.
"As a matter of fact, if you're interested to know, I wasn't
particularly afraid of Von Plaanden, and, if I may say so without
offense, I'm not particularly afraid of you."
Carroll studied him intently.
"By Jove, I believe you aren't! I give it up!" he cried
desperately. "You're crazy, I reckon--or else I am." And he took
himself off without the formality of a farewell to the others.
Raimonda, with a courteous bow to his companions, followed him.
Wearily the goggled one sank back in his seat. Cluff moved across,
planting himself exactly where Carroll had stood.
"Eh?" responded the sitter absently.
"What would you do if I should bat you one in the eye?"
"What would you do to me?"
"You, too?" cried the bewildered Perkins. "Why on earth--"
"You'd dive into my knees, wouldn't you, and tip me over
"Oh, that!" A slow grin overspread the space beneath the glasses.
"That was the idea."
"I know the trick. It's a good one--except for the guy that gets
"It wouldn't have hurt him. He'd have landed in the fountain."
"So he would. What then?"
"Oh, I'd have held him there till he got cooled off, and then made
a run for it. A wet man can't catch a dry man."
"Say, son, YOU'RE a dry one, all right."
"Wake up! I'm saying you're all right."
"You certainly took enough off him to rile a sheep. Why didn't you
"Tip him in."
Perkins glanced upward at the balcony where the vines had closed
upon a face that smiled.
"Oh," he said mildly, "he's a friend of a friend of mine."
TWO ON A MOUNTAIN-SIDE
ORCHIDS do not, by preference, grow upon a cactus plant. Little
though she recked of botany, Miss Brewster was aware of this
fundamental truth. Neither do they, without extraneous impulsion,
go hurtling through the air along deserted mountain-sides, to find
a resting-place far below; another natural-history fact which the
young lady appreciated without being obliged to consult the
literature of the subject. Therefore, when, from the top of the
appointed rock, she observed a carefully composed bunch of mauve
Cattleyas describe a parabola and finally join two previous
clusters upon the spines of a prickly-pear patch, she divined some
energizing force back of the phenomenon. That energizing force she
surmised was temper.
"Fie!" said she severely. "Beetle gentlemen should control their
little feelings. Naughty, naughty!"
From below rose a fervid and startled exclamation.
"Naughtier, naughtier!" deprecated the visitor. "Are these the
cold and measured terms of science?"
"You haven't lived up to your bet," complained the censured one.
"Indeed I have! I always play fair, and pay fair. Here I am, as
"Nearly half an hour late."
"Not at all. Four-thirty was the time."
"And now it is three minutes to five."
"Making twenty-seven minutes that I've been sitting here waiting
for a welcome."
"Waiting? Oh, Miss Brewster--"
"I'm not Miss Brewster. I'm a voice in the wilderness."
"Then, Voice, you haven't been there more than one minute. A voice
isn't a voice until it makes a noise like a voice. Q.E.D."
"There is something in that argument," she admitted. "But why
didn't you come up and look for me?"
"Does one look for a sound?"
"Please don't be so logical. It tires my poor little brain. You
might at least have called."
"That would have been like holding you up for payment of the bet,
wouldn't it? I was waiting for you to speak."
"Not good form in Caracuna. The senor should always speak first."
"You began the other time," he pointed out.
"So I did, but that was under a misapprehension. I hadn't learned
the customs of the country then. By the way, is it a local custom
for hermits of science to climb breakneck precipices for golden-
hearted orchids to send to casual acquaintances?"
"Is that what you are?" he queried in a slightly depressed tone.
"What on earth else could I be?" she returned, amused.
"Of course. But we all like to pretend that our fairy tales are
permanent, don't we?"
"I can readily picture you chasing beetles, but I can't see you
chasing fairies at all," she asserted positively.
"Nor can I. If you chase them, they vanish. Every one knows that."
"Anyway, your orchids were fit for a fairy queen. I haven't
thanked you for them yet."
"Indeed you have. Much more than they deserve. By coming here to-
"Oh, that was a point of honor. Are you going to let those lovely
purple ones wither on that prickly plant down there? Think how
much better they'd look pinned on me--if there were any one here
to see and appreciate."
If this were a hint, it failed of its aim, for, as the hermit
scuttled out from his shelter, looking not unlike some bulky
protrusive-eyed insect, secured the orchids, and returned, he
never once glanced up. Safe again in his rock-bound retreat, he
"'Rapunzel, Rapunzel, let down your hair.'"
"So you do know something of fairies and fairy lore!" she cried.
"Oh, it wasn't much more than a hundred years ago that I read my
Grimm. In the story, only one call was necessary."
"Well, I can't spare any more of my silken tresses. I brought a
string this time. Where's the other hair line?"
"I've used it to tether a fairy thought so that it can't fly away
from me. Draw up slowly."
"Thank you so much, and I'm so glad that you are feeling better."
"Yes. Better than the day before yesterday."
"Day before yesterday?"
"Bless the poor man! Much anxious waiting hath bemused his wits.
He thinks he's an echo."
"But I was all right the day before yesterday."
"You weren't. You were a prey to the most thrilling terrors. You
were a moving picture of tender masculinity in distress. You let
bashfulness like a worm i' th' bud prey upon your damask cheek.
Have you a damask cheek? Stand out! I wish to consider you
impartially. YOU needn't look at ME, you know."
"I'm not going to," he assured her, stepping forth obediently.
"Basilisk that I am!" she laughed. "How brown you are! How long
did you say you'd been here? A year?"
"Fourteen weary Voiceless months. Not on this island, you know,
but around the tropics."
"Yet you look vigorous and alert; not like the men I've seen come
back from the hot countries, all languid and worn out. And you do
"Why shouldn't I be clean?"
"Of course you should. But people get slack, don't they, when they
live off all alone by themselves? Still, I suppose you spruced up
a little for me?"
"Nothing of the sort," he denied, with heat.
"No? Oh, my poor little vanity! He wouldn't dress up for us,
Vanity, though we did dress up for him, and we're looking awfully
nice--for a voice, that is. Do you always keep so soft and pink
and smooth, Mr. Beetle Man?"
"I own a razor, if that's what you mean. You're making fun of me.
Well, _I_ don't mind." He lifted his voice and chanted:--
"Although beyond the pale of law,
He always kept a polished jaw;
For he was one of those who saw
A saving hope
In shaving soap."
"Oh, lovely! What a noble finish. What is it?"
"Extract from 'Biographical Blurbings.'"
"Yes. By Me."
"And are you beyond the pale of law?"
"Poetical license," he explained airily. "Hold on, though." He
fell silent a moment, and out of that silence came a short laugh.
"I suppose I AM beyond the pale of law, now that I come to think
of it. But you needn't be alarmed, I'm not a really dangerous
Later she was to recall that confession with sore misgivings. Now
she only inquired lightly:
"Is that why you ran away from the tram car yesterday?" "Ran away?
I didn't run away," he said, with dignity. "It just happened that
there came into my mind an important engagement that I'd
forgotten. My memory isn't what it should be. So I just turned
over the matter in hand to an acquaintance of mine."
"The matter in hand being me."
"Why, yes; and the acquaintance being Mr. Cluff. I saw him throw
four men out of a hotel once for insulting a girl, so I knew that
he was much better at that sort of thing than I. May I go back now
and sit down?" "Of course. I don't know whether I ought to thank
you about yesterday or be very angry. It was such an extraordinary
performance on your part--"
"Nothing extraordinary about it." His voice came up out of the
shadow, full of judicial confidence. "Merely sound common sense."
"To leave a woman who has been insulted--"
"In more competent hands than one's own."
"Oh, I give it up!" she cried. "I don't understand you at all.
Fitzhugh is right; you haven't a tradition to your name."
"Tradition," he repeated thoughtfully. "Why, I don't know. They're
pretty rigid things, traditions. Rusty in the joints and all that
sort of thing. Life isn't a process of machinery, exactly. One has
to meet it with something more supple and adjustable than
"Is that your philosophy? Suppose a man struck you. Wouldn't you
hit him back?"
"Perhaps. It would depend."
"Or insulted your country? Don't you believe that men should be
ready to die, if necessary, in such a cause?"
"Some men. Soldiers, for instance. They're paid to."
"Good Heavens! Is it all a question of pay in your mind? Wouldn't
YOU, unless you were paid for it?"
"How can I tell until the occasion arises?"
"Are you afraid?"
"I suppose I might be."
"Hasn't the man any blood in his veins?" cried his inquisitor,
exasperated. "Haven't you ever been angry clear through?"
"Oh, of course; and sorry for it afterward. One is likely to lose
one's temper any time. It might easily happen to me and drive me
to make a fool of myself, like--like--" His voice trailed off into
a silence of embarrassment.
"Like Fitzhugh Carroll. Why not say it? Well, I much prefer him
and his hot-headedness to you and your careful wisdom."
"Of course," he acquiesced patiently. "Any girl would. It's the
"And yours is the scientific, I suppose. That doesn't take into
account little things like patriotism and heroism, does it? Tell
me, have you actually ever admired--really got a thrill out of--
any deed of heroism?"
"Oh, yes," he replied tranquilly. "I've done my bit of hero
worship in my time. In fact, I've never quite recovered from it."
"No! Really? Do go on. You're growing more human every minute."
"Do you happen to know anything about the Havana campaign?"
"Not much. It never seemed to me anything to brag of. Dad says the
Spanish-American War grew a crop of newspaper-made heroes,
manufactured by reporters who really took more risks and showed
more nerve than the men they glorified."
"Spanish-American War? That isn't what I'm talking about. I'm
speaking of Walter Reed and his fellow scientists, who went down
there and fought the mosquitoes."
The girl's lip curled.
"So that's your idea of heroism! Scrubby peckers into the lives of
"Have you the faintest idea what you are talking about?"
His voice had abruptly hardened. There was an edge to it; such an
edge as she had faintly heard on the previous night, when Carroll
had pressed him too hard. She was startled.
"Perhaps I haven't," she admitted.
"Then it's time you learned. Three American doctors went down into
that pesthole of a Cuban city to offer their lives for a theory.
Not for a tangible fact like the flag, or for glory and fame as in
battle, but for a theory that might or might not be true. There
wasn't a day or a night that their lives weren't at stake. Carroll
let himself be bitten by infected mosquitoes on a final test, and
grazed death by a hair's breadth. Lazear was bitten at his work,
and died in the agony of yellow-fever convulsions, a martyr and a
hero if ever there was one. Because of them, Havana is safe and
livable now. We were able to build the Panama Canal because of
their work, their--what did you call it?--scrubby peeking into the
"Don't!" cried the girl. "I--I'm ashamed. I didn't know."
"How should you?" he said, in a changed tone. "We Americans set up
monuments to our destroyers, not to our preservers, of life.
Nobody knows about Walter Reed and James Carroll and Jesse Lazear
--not even the American Government, which they officially served--
except a few doctors and dried-up entomologists like myself.
Forgive me. I didn't mean to deliver a lecture."
There was a long pause, which she broke with an effort.
"Mr. Beetle Man?"
"I--I'm beginning to think you rather more man than beetle at
"Well, you see, you touched me on a point of fanaticism," he
"Do you mind standing up again for examination? No," she decided,
as he stepped out and stood with his eyes lowered obstinately.
"You don't seem changed to outward view. You still remind me,"
with a ripple of irrepressible laughter, "of a near-sighted frog.
It's those ridiculous glasses. Why do you wear them?"
"To keep the sun out of my eyes."
"And the moon at night, I suppose. They're not for purposes of
"Disguise! What makes you say that?" he asked quickly.
"Don't bark. They'd be most effective. And they certainly give
your face a truly weird expression, in addition to its other
"If you don't like my face, consider my figure," he suggested
optimistically. "What's the matter with that?"
"Stumpy," she pronounced. "You're all in a chunk. It does look
like a practical sort of a chunk, though."
"Don't you like it?" he asked anxiously.
"Oh, well enough of its kind." She lifted her voice and chanted:--
"He was stubby and square,
But SHE didn't much care.
"There's a verse in return for yours. Mine's adapted, though.
Examination's over. Wait. Don't sit down. Now, tell me your
opinion of me."
"I'm not musical at all."
"Oh, I'm considering you as a VOICE."
"I'm tired of being just a voice. Look up here. Do," she pleaded.
"Turn upon me those lucent goggles."
When orbs like thine the soul disclose,
Don't be afraid. One brief fleeting glance ere we part."
"No," he returned positively. "Once is enough."
"On behalf of my poor traduced features, I thank you humbly. Did
they prove as bad as you feared?"
"Worse. I've hardly forgotten yet what you look like. Your kind of
face is bad for business."
"What is business?"
"Haven't I told you? I'm a scientist."
"Well, I'm a specimen. No beetle that crawls or creeps or hobbles,
or does whatever beetles are supposed to do, shows any greater
variation from type--I heard a man say that in a lecture once--
than I do. Can't I interest you in my case, O learned one? The
proper study of mankind is--"
"Woman. Yes, I know all about that. But I'm a groundling."
"Mr. Beetle Man," she said, in a tremulous voice, "the rock is
"I don't feel it. Though it might be a touch of earthquake. We
have 'em often."
"Not your rock. The tarantula rock, I mean."
"Nonsense! A hundred tarantulas couldn't stir it."
"Well, it seems to be moving, and that's just as bad. I'm tired
and I'm lonely. Oh, please, Professor Scarab, have I got to fall
on your neck again to introduce a little human companionship into
"Caesar! No! My shoulder's still lame. What do you want, anyway?"
"I want to know about you and your work. ALL about you."
"Humph! Well, at present I'm making some microscopical studies of
insects. That's the reason for these glasses. The light is so
harsh in these latitudes that it affects the vision a trifle, and
every trifle counts in microscopy."
"Does the microscope add charm to the beetle?"
"Some day I'll show you, if you like. Just now it's the flea, the
national bird of Caracuna."
"The wicked flea?"
"Nobody knows how wicked until he has studied him on his native
"Doesn't the flea have something to do with plague? They say
there's plague in the city now. You knew all about the Dutch. Do
you know anything about the plague?"
"You've been listening to bolas."
"What's a bola?"
"A bola is information that somebody who is totally ignorant of
the facts whispers confidentially in your ear with the assurance
that he knows it to be authentic--in other words, a lie."
"Then there isn't any plague down under those quaint, old, red-
"Who ever knows what's going on under those quaint, old, red-tiled
roofs? No foreigner, certainly."
"Even I can feel the mystery, little as I've seen of the place,"
said the girl.
"Oh, that's the Indian of it. The tiled roofs are Spanish; the
speech is Spanish; but just beneath roof and speech, the life and
thought are profoundly and unfathomably Indian."
"Not with all the Caracunans, surely. Take Mr. Raimonda, for
"Ah, that's different. Twenty families of the city, perhaps, are
pure-bloods. There are no finer, cleaner fellows anywhere than the
well-bred Caracunans. They are men of the world, European
educated, good sportsmen, straight, honorable gentlemen.
Unfortunately not they, but a gang of mongrel grafters control the
politics of the country."
"For a hermit of science, you seem to know a good deal of what
goes on. By the way, Mr. Raimonda called on me--on us last
"So he mentioned. Rather serious, that, you know."
"Far from it. He was very amusing."
"Doubtless," commented the other dryly. "But it isn't fair to play
the game with one who doesn't know the rules. Besides, what will
Mr. Preston Fairfax--"
"For a professedly shy person, you certainly take a rather
"Oh, I'm shy only under the baleful influence of the feminine eye.
Besides, you set the note of intimacy when you analyzed my
personal appearance. And finally, I have a warm regard for young
"So have I," she returned maliciously. "Aren't you jealous?"
"Please be a little bit jealous. It would be so flattering."
"Jealousy is another tradition in which I don't believe."
"Then I can't flirt with you at all?" she sighed. "After taking
all this long hot walk to see you!"
PLOP! The sound punctured the silence sharply, though not loudly.
Some large fruit pod bursting on a distant tree might have made
such a report.
"What was that?" asked the girl curiously.
"That? Oh, that was a revolver shot," he remarked.
"Aren't you casual! Do revolver shots mean nothing to you?"
"That one shakes my soul's foundations." His tone by no means
indicated an inner cataclysm. "It may mean that I must excuse
myself and leave. Just a moment, please."
Passing across the line of her vision, he disappeared to the left.
When she next heard his voice, it was almost directly above her.
"No," it said. "There's no hurry. The flag's not up."
"The flag in my compound."
"Can you see your home from here?"
"Yes; there's a ledge on the cliff that gives a direct view."
"I want to come up and see it."
"You can't. It's much too hard a climb. Besides, there are rock
devilkins on the way."
"And when you hear a shot, you go up there for messages?"
"Yes; it's my telephone system."
"Who's at the other end?"
"The peon who pretends to look after the quinta for me."
"A man! No man can keep a house fit to live in," she said
"I know it; but he's all I've got in the servant line."
"How far is the house from here?"
"A mile, by air. Seven by trail from town."
"Isn't it lonely?"
Suddenly she felt very sorry for him. There was such a quiet,
conclusive acceptance of cheerlessness in the monosyllable.
"How soon must you go back?"
"Oh, not for an hour, at least."
"If it's a call, it must be an important one, so far from
"Not necessarily. Don't you ever have calls that are not
No answer came.
"Miss Brewster!" he called. "Oh, Voice! You haven't gone?"
Still no response.
"That isn't fair," he complained, making his way swiftly down, and
satisfying himself by a peep about the angle commanding her point
of the rock that she had, indeed, vanished. Sadly he descended to
his own nook--and jumped back with a half-suppressed yell.
"You needn't jump out of your skin on my account," said Miss Polly
Brewster, with a gracious smile. "I'm not a devilkin."
"You are! That is--I mean--I--I--beg your pardon. I--I--"
"The poor man's having another bashful fit," she observed, with
malicious glee. "Did the bold, bad, forward American minx scare it
almost out of its poor shy wits?"
"You--you startled me."
"No!" she exclaimed, in wide-eyed mock surprise. "Who would have
supposed it? You didn't expect me down here, did you?"
Thereupon she got a return shock.
"Yes, I did," he said; "sooner or later."
"Don't fib. Don't pretend that you knew I was here."
"W-w-well, no. Not just now. B-b-but I knew you'd come if--if--if
I pretended I didn't want you to long enough."
"Young and budding scientist," said she severely, "you're a gay
deceiver. Is it because you have known me in some former existence
that you are able thus accurately to read my character?"
"Well, I knew you wouldn't stay up there much longer."
"I'm angry at you; very angry at you. That is, I would be if it
weren't that you really didn't mean it when you said that you
really didn't want to see my face again."
"Did any one ever see your face once without wanting to see it
"Ah, bravo!" She clapped her hands gayly. "Marvelous improvement
under my tutelage! Where, oh, where is your timidity now?"
"I--I--I forgot," he stammered, "As long as I don't think, I'm all
right. Now, you--you--you've gone and spoiled me."
"Oh, the pity of it! Let's find some mild, impersonal topic, then,
that won't embarrass you. What do you do under the shadow of this
rock, in a parched land?"
"Work. Besides, it isn't a parched land. Look on this side."
Half a dozen steps brought her around the farther angle, where,
hidden in a growth of shrubbery, lay a little pool of fairy
"That's my outdoor laboratory."
"A dreamery, I'd call it. May I sit down? Are there devilkins
here? There's an elfkin, anyway," she added, as a silvered dragon-
fly hovered above her head inquisitively before darting away on
his own concerns.
"One of my friends and specimens. I'm studying his methods of
aviation with a view to making some practical use of what I learn,
"Really? Are you an inventor, too? I'm crazy about aviation."
"Ah, then you'll be interested in this," he said, now quite at his
ease. "You know that the mosquito is the curse of the tropics."
"Of other places, as well."
"But in the tropics it means yellow fever, Chagres fever, and
other epidemic illness. Now, the mosquito, as you doubtless
realize, is a monoplane."
"A monoplane?" repeated the girl, in some puzzlement. "How a
"I thought you claimed some knowledge of aviation. Its wings are
all on one plane. The great natural enemy of the mosquito is the
dragon-fly, one of which just paid you a visit. Now, modern
warfare has taught us that the most effective assailant of the
monoplane is a biplane. You know that."
"Y-y-yes," said the girl doubtfully.
"Therefore, if we can breed a biplane dragonfly in sufficient
numbers, we might solve the mosquito problem at small expense."
"I don't know much about science," she began, "but I should hardly
"It's curious how nature varies the type of aviation," he
continued dreamily. "Now, the pigeon is, of course, a Zeppelin;
whereas the sea urchin is obviously a balloon; and the thistledown
"You're making fun of me!" she accused, with sharp enlightenment.
"What else have you done to me ever since we met?" he inquired
"Now I AM angry! I shall go home at once."
A second far-away PLOP! set a period to her decision.
"So shall I," said he briskly.
"Does that signal mean hurry up?" she asked curiously.
"Well, it means that I'm wanted. You go first. When will you come
"Not at all."
"Do you mean that?"
"Of course. I'm angry. Didn't I tell you that? I don't permit
people to make fun of me. Besides, you must come and see me next.
You owe me two calls. Will you?"
"Then you must surely come and conquer this cowardice. Will you
"No; I don't think so."
Miss Brewster opened wide her eyes upon him. She was little
accustomed to have her invitations, which she issued rather in the
manner of royal commands, thus casually received. Had the offender
been any other of her acquaintance, she would have dropped the
matter and the man then and there. But this was a different
species. Graceful and tactful he might not be, but he was honest.
"Why?" she said.
"I've got something more important to do."
"You're reverting to type sadly. What is it that's so important?"
"You can work any time."
"No. Unfortunately I have to eat and sleep sometimes."
The implication she accepted quite seriously.
"Are you really as busy as all that? I'm quite conscience-stricken
over the time I've wasted for you."
"Not wasted at all. You've cheered me up."
"That's something. But you won't come to the city to be cheered
"Yes, I will. When I get time."
"Perhaps you won't find me at home."
"Then I'll wait."
"Good-bye, then," she laughed, "until your leisure day arrives."
She climbed the rock, stepping as strongly and surely as a lithe
animal. At the top, the spirit of roguery, ever on her lips and
eyes, struck in and possessed her soul.
"O disciple of science!" she called.
"Can you see me?"
"Not from here."
"Good! I'm a Voice again. So don't be timid. Will you answer a
"I've answered a hundred already. One more won't hurt."
"Have you ever been in love?"
"Don't I speak plainly enough? Have--you--ever--been--in--love?"
"With a woman?"
"Why, yes," she railed. "With a woman, of course. I don't mean
with your musty science."
"Well, you needn't be violent. Have you ever been in love with
"Oh, perhaps!" she taunted. "There are no perhapses in that. With
"With what every man in the world is in love with once in his
life," he replied thoughtfully.
She made a little still step forward and peeped down at him. He
stood leaning against the face of the rock, gazing out over the
hot blue Caribbean, his hat pushed back and his absurd goggles
firm and high on his nose. His words and voice were in
preposterous contrast to his appearance.
"Riddle me your riddle," she commanded. "What is every man in love
with once in his life?"
"Ah! And your ideal--where do you keep it safe from the common
"I tether it to my heart--with a single hair," said the man below.
"Oh," commented Miss Brewster, in a changed tone. And, again,
"Oh," just a little blankly. "I wish I hadn't asked that," she
confessed silently to herself, after a moment.
Still, the spirit of reckless experimentalism pressed her onward.
"That's a peril to the scientific mind, you know," she warned.
"Suppose your ideal should come true?"
"It won't," said he comfortably.
Miss Brewster's regrets sensibly mitigated.
"In that case, of course, your career is safe from accident," she
He moved out into the open.
"Mr. Beetle Man," she called,
He looked up and saw her with her chin cupped in her hand,
regarding him thoughtfully.
"I'm NOT just a casual acquaintance," she said suddenly. "That is,
if you don't want me to be."
"That's good," was his hearty comment. "I'm glad you like me
better than you did at first."
"Oh, I'm not so sure that I like you, exactly. But I'm coming to
have a sort of respectful curiosity about you. What lies under
that beetle shell of yours, I wonder?" she mused, in a half
Whether or not he heard the final question she could not tell. He
smiled, waved his hand, and disappeared. Below, she watched the
motion of the bush-tops where the shrubbery was parted by the
progress of his sturdy body down the long slope.
AN UPHOLDER OF TRADITIONS
One day passes much like another in Caracuna City. The sun rises
blandly, grows hot and angry as it climbs the slippery polished
vault of the heavens, and coasts down to its rest in a pleased and
mild glow. From the squat cathedral tower the bells clang and
jangle defiance to the Adversary, temporarily drowning out the
street tumult in which the yells of the lottery venders, the
braying of donkeys, the whoops of the cabmen, and the blaring of
the little motor cars with big horns, combine to render Caracuna
the noisiest capital in the world. Through the saddle-colored
hordes on the moot ground of the narrow sidewalks moves an
occasional Anglo-Saxon resident, browned and sallowed, on his way
to the government concession that he manages; a less occasional
Anglo-Saxoness, browned and marked with the seal that the tropics
put upon every woman who braves their rigors for more than a brief
period; and a sprinkling of tourists in groups, flying on cheek,
brow, and nose the stark red of their newness to the climate.
Not of this sorority Miss Polly Brewster. Having blithe regard to
her duty as an ornament of this dull world, she had tempered the
sun to the foreign cuticle with successively diminishing layers of
veils, to such good purpose that the celestial scorcher had but
kissed her graduated brownness to a soft glow of color. Not alone
in appreciation of her external advantages was Miss Brewster. Such
as it was,--and it had its qualities, albeit somewhat
unformulated,--Caracuna society gave her prompt welcome. There
were teas and rides and tennis at the little club; there were
agreeable, presentable men and hospitable women; and always there
was Fitzhugh Carroll, suave, handsome, gentle, a polished man of
the world among men, a courteous attendant to every woman, but
always with a first thought for her. Was it sheer perversity of
character, that elfin perversity so shrewdly divined by the hermit
of the mountain, that put in her mind, in this far corner of the
world, among these strange people, the thought:
"All men are alike, and Fitz, for all that he's so different and
the best of them, is the MOST alike."
Which paradox, being too much for her in the heat of the day, she
put aside in favor of the insinuating thought of her beetle man.
Whatever else he might or might not be, he wasn't alike. She was
by no means sure that she found this difference either admirable
or amiable. But at least it was interesting.
Moreover, she was piqued. For four days had passed and the recluse
had not returned her call. True, there had come to her hotel a
wicker full of superb wild tree blooms, and, again, a tiny box,
cunning in workmanship of scented wood, containing what at first
glance she had taken to be a jewel, until she saw that it was a
tiny butterfly with opalescent wings, mounted on a silver wire.
But with them had come no word or token of identification. Perhaps
they weren't from the queer and remote person at all. Very likely
Mr. Raimonda had sent them; or Fitzhugh Carroll was adding secret
attention to his open homage; or they might even be a further
peace offering from the Hochwald secretary.
That occasionally too festive diplomat had, indeed, made amends
both profound and, evidently, sincere. Soliciting the kind offices
of both Sherwen and Raimonda, he had presented himself, under
their escort, stiff and perspiring in his full official regalia,
before Mr. Brewster; then before his daughter, whose solemnity,
presently breaking down before his painfully rehearsed English,
dissolved in fluent French, setting him at ease and making him her
slave. Poor penitent Von Plaanden even apologized to Carroll,
fortunately not having heard of the American's threat, and made a
most favorable impression upon that precisian.
"Intoxicated, he may be a rough, Miss Polly," Carroll confided to
the girl. "But sober, the man is a gentleman. He feels very badly
about the whole affair. Offered to your father to report it all
through official channels and attach his resignation."
"Not for worlds!" cried Miss Polly. "The poor man was half asleep.
And Mr. Bee--Mr. Perkins DID jog him rather sharply."
"Yes. Von Plaanden asked my advice as an American about his
attitude toward Cluff and Perkins."
"I hope you told him to let the whole thing drop."
"Exactly what I did. I explained about Cluff; that he was a very
good fellow, but of a different class, and probably wouldn't give
the thing another thought."
"And Mr. Perkins?"
"Von Plaanden wanted to challenge him, if he could find him. I
suggested that he leave me to deal with Mr. Perkins. After some
discussion, he agreed."
"Oh! And what are you going to do with him?"
"Find him first, if I can."
"I can tell you where." Carroll stared at her, astonished. "But I
don't think I will."
"He announced his intention of keeping out of my way. The man has
no sense of shame."
"You probably scared the poor lamb out of his wits, fire-eater
that you are."
Carroll would have liked to think so, but an innate sense of
justice beneath his crust of prejudice forbade him to accept this
"The strange part of it is that he doesn't impress me as being
afraid. But there is certainly something very wrong with the
fellow. A man who will deliberately desert a woman in distress"--
Carroll's manner expanded into the roundly rhetorical--"whatever
else he may be, cannot be a gentleman."
"There might have been mitigating circumstances."
"No circumstances could excuse such an action. And, after that,
the fellow had the effrontery to send you a message."
"Me? What was it?" asked Miss Polly quickly.
"I don't know. I didn't let him finish. I forbade his even
mentioning your name."
"Indeed!" cried the girl, in quick dudgeon. "Don't you think you
are taking a great deal upon yourself, Fitz? What do you really
know about Mr. Perkins, anyway, that you judge him so
"Very little, but enough, I think. And I hardly think you know
"Then you're wrong. I do."
"You KNOW this man?"
"Yes; I do."
"Does your father approve of--"
"Never mind my father! He has confidence enough in me to let me
judge of my own friends."
"Friends?" Carroll's handsome face clouded and reddened. "If I had
known that he was a friend of yours, Miss Polly, I never would
have spoken as I did. I'm most sincerely sorry," he added, with
The girl's color deepened under the brown.
"He isn't exactly a friend," she admitted. "I've just met and
talked with him a few times. But your judgment seemed so unfair,
on such a slight basis."
"I'm sorry I can't reverse my judgment," said the Southerner
stiffly, "But I know of only one standard for those matters."
"That's just your trouble." Her eyes took on a cold gleam as she
scanned the perfection and finish of the man before her.
"Fitzhugh, do you wear ready-made clothing?"
"Of course not," he answered, in surprise at this turn.
"Your suits are all made to order?"
"Yes, Miss Polly."
"And your shirts?"
"Yes, and shoes, and various other things." He smiled.
"Why do you have them specially made?"
"Beeause they suit me better, and I can afford it."
"It's really because you want them individualized for you, isn't
"Yes; I suppose so."
"Then why do you always get your mental clothes ready-made?"
"I don't think I understand, Miss Polly," he said gently.
"It seems to me that all your ideas and estimates and standards
are of stock pattern," she explained relentlessly. "Inside, you're
as just exactly so as a pair of wooden shoes. Can't you see that
you can't judge all men on the same plane?"
"I see that you're angry with me, and I see that I'm being
punished for what I said about--about Mr. Perkins. If I'd known
that you took any interest in him, I'd have bitten my tongue in
two before speaking as I did. As for the message, if you wish it,
I'll go to him--"
"Oh, that doesn't matter," she interrupted.
"This much I can say, in honesty," continued the Southerner, with
an effort: "I had a talk, almost an encounter, with him in the
plaza, and I don't believe he is the coward I thought him."
His intent to be fair to the object of his scorn was so genuine
that his critic felt a swift access of compunction.
"Oh, Fitz," she said sweetly, "you're not to blame. I should have
told you. And you're honest and loyal and a gentleman. Only I wish
sometimes that you weren't quite so awfully gentlemanly a
The Southerner made a gesture of despair.
"If I could only understand you, Miss Polly!"
"Don't hope it. I've never yet understood myself. But there's a
sympathy in me for the under dog, and this Mr. Perkins seems a
sort of helpless creature. Yet in another way he doesn't seem
helpless at all. Quite the reverse. Oh, dear! I'm tired of
Perkins, Perkins, Perkins! Let's talk about something pleasanter--
like the plague."
"What's that about Perkins?" Galpy had entered the drawing-room
where the conversation had been carried on, and now crossed over
to them. "I'll tell you a good one on the little blighteh. D' you
know what they call him at the Club Amicitia since his adventure
on the street car, Miss Brewster?"
"'The Unspeakable Perk.' Rippin', ain't it? Like 'The Unspeakable
Turk,' you know."
Despite herself, Polly's lips twitched; in some ways he WAS
"They've nicknamed him that because of his trying to help me, and
then--leaving?" she asked.
"Oh, not entirely. There's other things. He's a nahsty, stand-
offish way with him, you know. Don't-want-to-know-yeh trick.
Wouldn't-speak-to-yeh-if-I-could-help-it twist to his face. 'The
Unspeakable Perk.' Stands him right, I should say. There's other
"What are they?"
She saw a quick, warning frown on Carroll's sharply turned face.
Galpy noted it, too, and was lost in confusion.
"Oh--ah--just gossip--nothing at all. I say, Miss Brewster, the
railway--I'm in the Ferrocarril-del-Norte office, you know--has
offered your party a special on an hour's notice, any time you
"That's most kind of your road, Mr. Galpy. But why should we want
"Things might be getting a bit ticklish any day now. I've just
taken the message from the manager to your father."
The young Englishman took his leave, and Polly Brewster went to
her room, to freshen up for luncheon, carrying with her the
sobriquet she had just heard. Certainly, applied to its subject,
it had a mucilaginous consistency. It stuck.
"'The Unspeakable Perk,'" she repeated, with a little chuckle. "If
I had a month to train him in, eh, what a speakable Perk I'd make
him! I'd make him into a Perk that would sit up and speak when I
lifted my little finger." She considered this. "I'm not so sure,"
she concluded, more doubtfully. "How can one tell through those
horrid glasses, particularly when one doesn't see him for days and
Without moving, she might, however, have seen him forthwith, for
at that precise and particular moment, the Unspeakable Perk was in
plain sight of her window, on a bench in the corner of the plaza,
engaged in light conversation with a legless and philosophical
beggar whom he had just astonished by the presentation of a whole
bolivar, of the value of twenty cents gold.
After she had finished luncheon and returned to her room, he was
still there. Not until the mid-heat of the afternoon, however, did
she observe, first with puzzlement, then with a start of
recognition, the patiently rounded brown back of the forward-
leaning figure in the corner. Greatly wroth was Miss Polly
Brewster. For some hours--two, at least--the man to keep tryst and
wager with whom she had tramped up miles of mountain road had been
in town and hadn't called upon her! Truly was he an Unspeakable
Wasn't there possibly a mistake somewhere, though? A second peep
at the far-away back interpreted into the curve a suggestion of
resigned waiting. Maybe he had called, after all. Thought being
usually with Miss Brewster the mother of the twins, Determination
and Action, she slipped downstairs and inquired of the three
guardians of the door, in such Spanish as she could muster,
whether a Mr. Perkins, wearing large glasses--this in the
universal sign manual--had been to see her that day.
"Si, Senorita"--he had.
Why, then, hadn't his name been brought to her?
Extended hands and up-shrugged shoulders that might mean either
apology or incomprehension.
Straightway Miss Brewster pinned a hat upon her brown head at an
altogether casual and heart-distracting angle and sallied down
into the tesselated bowl of the park. Quite unconscious of her
approach, until she was close upon him, her objective chatted
fluently with the legless one, until she spoke quietly, almost in
his ear. Then it was only by a clutch at the bench back that he
saved himself from disaster on his return to earth.
"Wh--wh--what--wh--where--how did you come here?" he stuttered.
"Now, now, don't be alarmed," she admonished. "Shut your eyes,
draw a deep breath, count three. And, as soon as you are ready
I'll give you a talisman against social panic. Are you ready?"
"Very well. Whenever I come upon you suddenly, you mustn't try to
jump up into a tree as you did just now--"
"Oh, yes. Or burrow under a rock, as you did the other day--"
"Wait until I've finished. You must turn your thoughts firmly upon
your science, until you've recovered equilibrium and the power of
"But when you jump at me that way, I c-c-can't think of anything
"That's where the charm comes in. As soon as you see me or hear me
approaching, you must repeat, quite slowly, this scientific
incantation." She beat time with a pink and rhythmic finger as she
"Scarab, tarantula, doodle-bug, flea."
The beggar rapidly made the sign that protects one from the
influence of the malign and supernatural. The scientist scowled.
"Repeat it!" she commanded.
"There is no such insect as a doodle-bug," he protested feebly.
"Isn't there? I thought I heard you mention it in your
conversation with Mr. Carroll the other night."
"You put that into my head," he accused.
"Truly? Then life is indeed real and earnest. To have introduced
something unscientific into that compendium of science--there's
triumph enough for any ambition. Besides, see how beautifully it
Again she beat time, and again the beggar crooked defensive
fingers as she declaimed:--
"SCAR-ab, tar-ANT-u-la, DOO-dle-bug, FLEA!"
Homeric, I call it. Perhaps you think you could improve on it."
"Would you mind substituting 'neuropter' in the third strophe?" he
ventured. "It would be just as good as 'doodle-bug,' and more--
"What's a neuropter? You didn't make him up for the occasion?"
"Heaven forbid! The dragon-fly is a neuropter. The dragon-fly
we're going to breed to a biplane, you know," he reminded her
"Indeed! Well, I shall stick to my doodle-bug. He's more
euphonious. Now, repeat it."
"Let me off this time," he pleaded. "I'm all right--quite
recovered. It's only at the start that it's so bad."
"Very well," she agreed. "But you're not to forget it. And next
time we meet you're to be sure and say it over until you're sane."
"Sane!" he said resentfully. "I'm as sane as any one you know.
It's the job of KEEPING sane in this madhouse of the tropics
that's almost driven me crazy."
"Lovely!" she approved. "Well, now that you've recovered, I'll
tell you what I came out to say. I'm sorry that I missed you."
"Missed me?" he repeated. "Oh, you have missed me, then? That's
nice. You see, I've been so busy for the last three or four days--"
"No; I haven't missed you a bit," she declared indignantly. "The
conceit of the man!"
"But you said you w-w-were sorry you'd--"
"Don't be wholly a beetle! I meant I was sorry not to see you when
you came to call on me this morning."
"I didn't come to call on you this morning."
"No? The boy at the door said he'd seen you, or something
answering to your description."
"So he did. I came to see your father. He was out."
"From eleven on."
"Father? No, I don't think so."
"His secretary came down and told me so, or sent word each time."
She smiled pityingly at him.
"Of course. That's what a secretary is for."
"To tell lies?"
"White lies. You see, dad is a very busy man, and an important
man, and many people come to see him whom he hasn't time to see.
So, unless he knew your business, he would naturally be 'out' to
The corners of the young man's rather sensitive mouth flattened out
"Ah, I see. My mistake. Living in countries where, however queer
the people may be, they at least observe ordinary human
courtesies, one forgets--if one ever knew."
"What did you want of dad?"
"Oh, to borrow four dollars of him, of course," he replied dryly.
"You needn't be angry at me. You see, dad's time is valuable."
"Indeed? To whom?"
"Why, to himself, of course."
"Oh, well, my time--However, that doesn't matter. I haven't wholly
wasted it." He glanced toward the beggar, who was profoundly
regarding the cathedral clock.
"If you like, I'll get you an interview with dad," she offered
"Me? No, I thank you," he said crisply. "I'm not patient of
unnecessary red tape."
Miss Brewster looked at him in surprise. It was borne in upon her,
as she looked, that this man was not accustomed to being lightly
regarded by other men, however busy or important; that his own
concerns in life were quite as weighty to him, and in his esteem,
perhaps, to others, as were the interests of any magnate; and
that, man to man, there would be no shyness or indecision or
purposelessness anywhere in his make-up.
"If it was important," she began hesitantly, "my father would be--"
"It was of no importance to me," he cut in. "To others--Perhaps I
could see some one else of your party."
"Well, here I am." She smiled. "Why won't I do?"
Behind the obscuring disks she could feel his glance read her. The
grimness at the mouth's corners relaxed.
"I really don't know why you shouldn't."
"Dad says I'd have made a man of affairs," she remarked.
"Why, it's just this. You should be planning to leave this
Miss Brewster bewailed her harsh lot with drooping lip.
"Every one wants to drive me away!"
"That railroad man, Mr. Galpy, was offering us special inducements
to leave, in the form of special trains any time we liked. It
"A jail is hospitable. But one doesn't stay in it when one can get
"If Caracuna were the jail and I the 'one,' one might. I quite
love it here."
He made a sharp gesture of annoyance.
"Don't be childish," he said.
"Childish? You come down like Freedom from the mountain heights,
and unfurl your warnings to the air, and complain of lost time and
all that sort of thing, and what does it all amount to?" she
demanded, with spirit. "That we should sail away, when you know
perfectly well that the Dutch won't let us sail away! Childish,
indeed! Don't you be BEETLISH!"
"There's a way out, without much risk, but some discomfort. You
could strike south-east to the Bird Reefs, take a small boat, and
get over to the mainland. As soon as the blockade is off, the
yacht can take your luggage around. The trip would be rough for
you, but not dangerous. Not as dangerous as staying here may be."
"Do you really think it so serious?"
"Will you come with us and show us the way?" she inquired, gazing
with exaggerated appeal into his goggles.
"What shall you do?"
"Pins through scarabs," she laughed, "while beneath you Caracuna
riots and revolutes and massacres foreigners. Nero with his fiddle
was nothing to you."
"Miss Brewster, I'm afraid you are suffering from a misplaced
sense of humor. Will you believe me when I tell you that I have
certain sources of information in local matters both serviceable
"You seem to have bet on a certainty in the Dutch blockade
"Well, it's equally certain that there is bubonic plague here."
"A bola. You told me so yourself."
"Perhaps there was nothing to be gained then by letting you know,
as you were bottled up, with no way out. Now, through the good
offices of a foreign official, who, of course, couldn't afford to
appear, this opportunity to reach the mainland is open to you."
"Had you anything to do with that?" she inquired suspiciously.
"Oh, the official is a friend of mine," he answered carelessly.
"And you really believe that there is an epidemic of plague here?
Don't you think that I'd make a good Red Cross nurse?"
His voice was grave and rather stern.
"You've never seen bubonic plague," he said, "or you wouldn't joke
"I'm sorry. But it wasn't wholly a joke. If we were really cooped
up with an epidemic, I'd volunteer. What else would there be to
"Nothing of the sort," he cried vehemently. "You don't know what
you're talking about."
"Anyway, isn't the wonderful Luther Pruyn on his way to exorcise
the demon, or something of the sort?"
"What about Luther Pruyn? Who says he's coming here?"
"It's the gossip of the diplomatic set and the clubs. He's the
favorite mystery of the day."
"Well, if he does come, it won't improve matters any, for the
first case he verifies he'll clap on a quarantine that a mouse
couldn't creep through. I know something of the Pruyn method."
"And don't wholly approve it, I judge."
"It may be efficacious, but it's extremely inconvenient at times."
Again the cathedral clock boomed.
"See how I've kept you from your own affairs!" cried Miss Polly
contritely. "What are you going to do now? Go back to your
"Yes. As soon as you tell me that your father will go out by the
"Do you expect him to make up his mind, on five minutes' notice,
to abandon his yacht?"
"I thought great magnates were supposed to be men of instant and
unalterable decisions. I don't know the type."
"Anyway, dad has gone out. I saw him drive away. Wouldn't to-
"Why, yes; I suppose so."
"I'll tell you. The Voice will report at the rock to-morrow, at
"What a very uncompromising 'no'!"
"I can't be there at four. Make it five."
"What a very arbitrary beetle man! Well, as I've wasted so much of
your time to-day, I'll accept your orders for to-morrow."
"And please impress your father with the extreme advisability of
your getting off this island."
"Yes, sir," she said meekly. "You'll be most awfully glad to get
rid of us, won't you?"
"Very greatly relieved."
"And a little bit sorry?"
The begoggled face turned toward her. There was a perceptible
tensity in the line of the jaw. But the beetle man made no answer.
"Now, if I could see behind those glasses," said Miss Polly
Brewster to her wicked little self, "I'd probably BITE myself
rather than say it again. Just the same--And a little bit sorry?"
she persisted aloud.
"Does that matter?" said the man quietly.
Miss Polly Brewster forthwith bit herself on her pink and wayward
"Don't think I'm not grateful," she employed that chastened member
to say. "I am, most deeply. So will father be, even if he decides
not to leave. I'm afraid that's what he will decide."
"Tell him that yourself."
"I will, if it becomes necessary."
"Let me be present at the interview. Most people are afraid of
dad. Perhaps you'd be, too."
"I could always run away," he remarked, unsmiling. "You know how
well I do it."
"I must do it now myself, and get arrayed for the daily tea
sacrifice. Au revoir."
"Hasta manana," he said absently.
She had turned to go, but at the word she came slowly back a pace
or two, smiling.
"What a strange beetle man you are!" she said softly. "I have no
other friends like you. You ARE a friend, aren't you, in your
queer way?" She did not wait for an answer, but went on: "You
don't come to see me when I ask you. You don't send me any word.
You make me feel that, compared to your concerns with beetles and
flies, I'm quite hopelessly unimportant. And yet here I find you
giving up your own pursuits and wasting your time to plan and
watch and think for us."
"For you," he corrected.
"For me," she accepted sweetly. "What an ungrateful little pig you
must think me! But truly inside I appreciate it and thank you, and
I think--I feel that perhaps it amounts to a lot more than I
He made a gesture of negation.
"No great thing," he said. "But it's the best I can do, anyway. Do
you remember what the mediaeval mummer said, when he came bearing
his poor homage?"
"No. Tell it to me."
"It runs like this: 'Lady, who art nowise bitter to those who
serve you with a good intent, that which thy servant is, that he
is for you.'"
"Polly Brewster," said the girl to herself, as she walked, slowly
and musingly, back to her room, "the busy haunts of men are more
suited to your style than the free-and-untrammeled spaces of
nature, and well you know it. But you'll go to-morrow and you'll
keep on going until you find out what is behind those brown-green
goblin spectacles. If only he didn't look so like a gnome!"
The clause conditional, introduced by the word "if," does not
always imply a conclusion, even in the mind of the propounder.
Miss Brewster would have been hard put to it to round out her
"Pooh!" said Thatcher Brewster.
Thatcher Brewster's "Pooh!" is generally recognized in the realm
of high finance as carrying weight. It is not derisive or
contemptuous; it is dismissive. The subject of it simply ceases to
exist. In the present instance, it was so mild as scarcely to stir
the smoke from his after-dinner cigar, yet it had all the intent,
if not the effect, of finality. The reason why it hadn't the
effect was that it was directed at Thatcher Brewster's daughter.
"Perhaps not quite so much 'Pooh!' as you think," was that
damsel's reception of the pregnant monosyllable.
"A bug-hunter from nowhere! Don't I know that type?" said the
magnate, who confounded all scientists with inventors, the
capital-seeking inventor being the bane and torment of his life.
"He knew about the Dutch blockade."
"Or pretended he did. I'm afraid my Pollipet has let herself
romanticize a little."
"Romanticize!" The girl laughed. "If you could see him, dad!
Romance and my poor little beetle man don't live in the same
Out of the realm of memory, where the echoes come and go by no
known law, sounded his voice in her ear: "'That which thy servant
is, that he is for you.'" Dim doubt forthwith began to cloud the
bright certainty of Miss Brewster's verdict.
"If he's gone to all the trouble that I told you of, it must be
that he has some good reason for wanting to get us safely out,"
she argued to her father.
"Perhaps he feels that his peace of mind would be more assured if
you were in some other country," he teased. "No, my dear, I'm not
leaving a full-manned yacht in a foreign harbor and smuggling
myself out of a friendly country on the say-so of an unknown
adviser, whose chief ability seems to lie in the hundred-yard
"I think that's unfair and ungrateful. If a man with a sword--"
"When I begin a row, I stay with it," said Mr. Brewster grimly.
"Quitters and I don't pull well together."
"Then I'm to tell him 'No'?"
"Not so positively at all. I shall say, 'No, thank you,' in my
very nicest way, and say that you're very grateful and
appreciative and not at all the growly old bear of a dad that you
pretend to be when one doesn't know and love you. And perhaps I'll
invite him to dine here and go away on the yacht with us--"
"And graciously accept a couple of hundred thousand dollars bonus,
and come into the company as first vice-president," chuckled her
father. "And then he'll wake up and find he's been sitting on a
cactus. See here," he added, with a sharpening of tone, "do you
suppose he could get a cablegram for transmission to Washington
over to the mainland for us by this mysterious route of his?"
"You're really sure you want to go, Pollipet? This is your cruise,
"Yes, I do."
Hitherto Miss Polly had been declaring to all and sundry,
including the beetle man himself, that it was her firm intent and
pleasure to stay on the island and observe the presumptively
interesting events that promised. That she had reversed this
decision, on the unsolicited counsel of an extremely queer
stranger, was a phenomenon the peculiarity of which did not strike
her at the time. All that she felt was a settled confidence in the
beetle man's sound reason for his advice.
"Very good," said Mr. Brewster. "If I can get through a message to
the State Department, they'll bring pressure to bear on the Dutch,
and we can take the yacht through the blockade. It's only a
question of finding a way to lay the matter before the Dutch
authorities, anyway. I've been making inquiries here, and I find
there's no intention of bottling up neutral pleasure craft. I dare
say we could get out now. Only it's possible that the Hollanders
might shoot first and ask questions afterward."
"It would have to be done quickly, dad. They may quarantine at any
"Dr. Pruyn ought to be here any day now. Let's leave that matter
for him. There's a man I have confidence in."
"Mr. Perkins says that Dr. Pruyn will bottle up the port tighter
than the Dutch."
"Let him, so long as we get out first. Now, Polly, you tell this
man Perkins that I'll pay all expenses and give him a round
hundred for himself if he'll bring me a receipt showing that my
cablegram has been dispatched to Washington."
"I don't think I'd quite like to do that, dad. He isn't the sort
of man one offers money to."
"Every one's the sort of man one offers money to--if it's enough,"
retorted her father. "And a hundred dollars will look pretty big
to a scientific man. I know something about their salaries. You
"So far as expenses go, I will. But I won't hurt his feelings by
trying to pay him for something that he would do for friendship or
not at all."
"Have it your own way. When is he coming in?"
"He isn't coming in."
"Then where are you going to see him?"
"Up on the mountain trail, when I ride tomorrow afternoon."
"No; I'm going alone."
"I don't quite like to have you knocking about mountain roads by
yourself, though Mr. Sherwen says you're safe anywhere here.
Where's that little automatic revolver I gave you?"
"In my trunk. I'll carry that if it will make you feel any
"Yes, do. But I can't see why you can't send word to Perkins that
I want to see him here."
"I can. And I can guess just what his answer would be."
"Well, guess ahead."
"He'd tell you to go to the bad place, or its scientific
equivalent." She laughed.
"Would he?" Mr. Brewster did not laugh. "And perhaps you'll be
good enough to tell me why."
"Because you sent word that you were out when he called."
"Humph! I see people when _I_ want to see THEM, not when they want
to see me."
"Then Mr. Perkins is likely to prove permanently invisible to you,
if I'm any judge of character."
"Well, well," said Mr. Brewster impatiently, "manage it yourself.
Only impress on him the necessity of getting the message on the
wire. I'll write it out to-night and give it to you with the money
After luncheon on the following day, Polly, with the cablegram and
money in her purse and her automatic safely disposed in her belt,
walked in the plaza with Carroll. The legless beggar whined at
them for alms. Handing him a quartillo, the Southerner would have
passed on, but his companion stood eyeing the mendicant.
"Now, what can there be in that poor wreck to captivate the
scientific intellect?" she marveled.
"If you mean Mr. Perkins--" began Carroll.
"Then I think perhaps the reason for some of that gentleman's
associations will hardly stand inquiry."
The girl turned her eyes on him and searched the handsome, serious
"Fitz, you're not the man to say that of another man without some
"I am not, Miss Polly."
"You think that Mr. Perkins is not the kind of man for me to have
anything to do with?"
"I--I'm afraid he isn't."
"Don't you think that, having gone so far, you ought to tell me
"I would rather tell your father."
"Are you implying a scandal in connection with my timid, little
"I'm only saying," said the other doggedly, "that there's
something secret and underhanded about that place of his in the
mountains. It's a matter of common gossip."
The girl laughed outright.
"The poor beetle man! Why, he's so afraid of a woman that he goes
all to pieces if one speaks to him suddenly. Just to see his
expression, I'd like to tell him that he's being scandalized by
"You're going to see him again?"
"Certainly. This afternoon."
"I don't think you should, Miss Polly."
"Have you any actual facts against him? Anything but casual
"No; not yet."
"When you have, I'll listen to you. But you couldn't make me
believe it, anyway. Why, Fitz, look at him!"
"Take me with you," insisted the other, "and let me ask him a
question or two that any honorable man could answer. They don't
call him the Unspeakable Perk for nothing, Miss Polly."
"It's just because they don't understand his type. Nor do you,
Fitz, and so you mistrust him."
"I understand that you've shown more interest in him than in any
one you know," said the other miserably.
Her laugh rang as free and frank as a child's.
"Interest? That's true. But if you mean sentiment, Fitz, after
once having looked into the depths of those absurd goggles, can
you, COULD you think of sentiment and the beetle man in the same
"No, I couldn't," he confessed, relieved. "But, then, I never have
been able to understand you, Miss Polly."
"Therein lies my fatal charm," she said saucily. "Now, to the
beetle man, I'm a specimen. HE understands as much as he wants to.
Probably I shall never see him after to-day, anyway. He's going to
get a message through for us that will deliver us from this land
"He can't do it--too soon for me," declared Carroll. "And, Miss
Polly, you don't think the worse of me for having said behind his
back what I'm just waiting to say to his face?"
"Not a bit," said the girl warmly. "Only I know it's nonsense."
"I hope so," said Carroll, quite honestly. "I would hate to think
anything low-down of a man you'd call your friend."
Carroll had learned more than he had told, but less than enough to
give him what he considered proper evidence to lay before Polly's
father. After some deliberation as to the point of honor involved,
he decided to go to Raimonda, who, alone in Caracuna City, seemed
to be on personal terms with the hermit. He found the young man in
his office. With entire frankness, Carroll stated his errand and
the reason for it. The Caracunan heard him with grave courtesy.
"And now, senior," concluded the American, "here's my question,
and it's for you to determine whether, under the circumstances,
you are justified in giving me an answer. Is there a woman living
in Mr. Perkins's quinta on the mountains?"
"I cannot answer that question," said the other, after some
"I'm sorry," said Carroll simply.
"I also. The more so in that my attitude may be misconstrued
against Mr. Perkins. I am bound by confidence."
"So I infer," returned his visitor courteously. "Then I have only
to ask your pardon--"
"One moment, if you please, senor. Perhaps this will serve to make
easy your mind. On my word, there is nothing in Mr. Perkins's life
on the mountain in any manner dishonorable or--or irregular."
In a flash, the simple solution crossed Carroll's mind. That a
woman was there, and a woman not of the servant class, could
hardly be doubted, in view of almost direct evidence from
eyewitnesses. If there was nothing irregular about her presence,
it was because she was Perkins's wife. In view of Raimonda's
attitude, he did not feel free to put the direct query. Another
question would serve his purpose.
"Is it advisable, and for the best interests of Miss Brewster,
that she should associate with him under the circumstances?"
The Caracunan started and shot a glance at his interlocutor that
said, as plainly as words, "How much do you know that you are not
telling?" had the latter not been too intent upon his own theory
to interpret it.
"Ah, that," said Raimonda, after a pause,--"that is another
question. If it were my sister, or any one dear to me--but"--he
shrugged--"views on that matter differ."
"I hardly think that yours and mine differ, senior. I thank you
for bearing with me with so much patience."