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

The Unspeakable Perk by Samuel Hopkins Adams

Part 4 out of 4

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

but that under sudden pressure--click!--the mechanism slips a cog
and runs amuck. Just that thing happened inside the Unspeakable
Perk's smooth-running, scientific brain upon incitement of his
flag's desecration and his lady's grief. To her it seemed that he
shot past her horizontally like a human dart. The next second he
was over the railing, had swung from a branch of the neighboring
tree to the trunk, and leaped to the ground, all in one movement
of superhuman agility. To the mob his exploit was apparently
without immediate significance. Perhaps they didn't notice the
descent; or perhaps those few who saw were so astonished at the
apparition of a chunky tree-man with protuberant eyes scrambling
down upon them in the manner of an ape, that they failed to
appreciate what it might portend of trouble.

The hermit landed solidly on his feet a few yards from Urgante,
the flag bearer. With a berserker yell, he rushed. Taken by
surprise, the assailed one still had time to lift the heavy staff.
As quickly, the American lowered his head and dove. It may not
have been magnificent; it certainly was not war by the rules; but
it was eminently effective. To say that the leader went down would
be absurdly inadequate. He simply crumpled. Over and over he
rolled on the cobbles, while the smirched flag flew clear of his
grasp, and fell on the farther sidewalk.

"Wow!" yelled Cluff, leaping into the air. "Football! That cost
him a couple of ribs. Hey, Rube!"

And he rushed for the stairs, followed by Carroll, Sherwen, and,
only one jump behind, Mr. Thatcher Brewster, cursing in a manner
that did credit to his patriotism, but would have added no luster
to his record as an elder of the Pioneer Presbyterian Church, of
Utica, New York.

Meantime, the Unspeakable Perk, having rolled free of the fallen
enemy, staggered to his feet and caught up the flag. Stunned
surprise on the part of the crowd gave him an instant's time. He
edged along the curb, hoping to gain the legation door by a rush.
But the foe threw out a wing, cutting him off. Several eager
followers had lifted Urgante, whose groans and curses suggested a
sound basis for Cluff's diagnosis. Himself quite hors de combat,
he spat at the Unspeakable Perk, and cried upon his henchmen to
kill the "Yanki." It seemed not improbable to the latter that they
would do it. Perkins set his back to the wall, twirled the flag
folds tight around the pole, reversed and clubbed the staff, and
prepared to make any attempt at killing as uncomfortable and
unprofitable as possible. The rabble, by no means favorably
impressed by these businesslike proceedings, stood back, growling.

A hand flew up above the crowd. The Unspeakable Perk ducked
sharply and just in time, as a knife struck the wall above him and
clattered to the pavement. Instantly he caught it up, but the
blade had snapped off short. As he stooped, one bold spirit rushed
in. Perkins met him with a straight lance-thrust of the staff,
which sent him reeling and shrieking with pain back to his
fellows. But now another knife, and another, struck and fell from
the wall at his back; badly aimed both, but presumably the
forerunners of missiles, some of which would show better
marksmanship. The assailed man cast a swift, desperate look about
him; the crowd closed in a little. Obviously he must keep "eyes

"To your left! To your left!" The voice came to him clear and
sweet above the swelling growl of the rabble. "The doorway! Get
into the doorway, Mr. Beetle Man."

A few paces away, how far Perkins could only guess, was the
entrance to the house. He surmised that, like many of the better-
class houses, it had a small set-in door, at right angles to the
main entrance, that would serve as a shallow shelter. Without
raising his eyes, he nodded comprehension, and began to edge along
the wall, swinging his stout weapon. As he went, he wondered what
was keeping the others. At that moment the others were frantically
wrestling with the all-too-adequate bars with which Sherwen had
reinforced the wide door.

Perkins, feeling with a cautious heel, found himself opposite the
entry indicated by the voice. Turning, he darted into the narrow
embrasure. Here he was comparatively safe from the missiles that
were now coming from all directions. On the other hand, he now
lacked room to swing his formidable club. The peons, with a shout,
closed in to arm's length. Alone on her balcony, the girl turned
her head away and cried aloud, hopelessly, for help. She wanted to
close her ears against the bestial shouts of a mob trampling to
death a defenseless man, but her arms were of lead. She listened
and shivered.

Instead of the sound that she dreaded there came the ringing of
hoofs on stones, followed by yells of alarm. She opened her eyes
to see Von Plaanden, bent forward in his saddle at the exact angle
proper to the charge, urging his great horse down upon the mass of
people as ruthlessly as if they had been so many insects. Through
the circle he broke, swinging his mount around beside the shallow
doorway before which three Caracunans already lay sprawled,
attesting the vigor of the defender's final resistance. Back of
the horseman lay half a dozen other figures. The Hochwaldian jerked
out his sword and stood, a splendid spectacle. Very possibly he was
not wholly unmindful of his own pictorial quality or of the lovely
American witness thereto.

His intervention gave a few seconds' respite, one of those checks
that save battles and make history. Now, in the further making of
this particular history, sounded a lusty whoop from the opposite
direction; such a battle slogan as only the Anglo-Saxon gives. It
emanated from Galpy the bounder, bounding now, indeed, at full
speed up the slope, followed by two of his fellow railroad men,
flannel-clad and still perspiring from their afternoon's cricket.
Against bare legs a cricket bat is a highly dissuasive argument.
The Britons swung low and hard for the ancient right of the breed
to break into a row wherever white men are in the minority against
other races. The downhill wing of the mob being much the weakest,
opened up for them with little resistance, leaving them a free path
to the cavalryman, to whose side Perkins, with staff ready brandished,
had advanced from his shelter.

"Wot's the merry game?" inquired the cockney cheerfully.

Before them the crowd swayed and parted, and there appeared,
lifted by many arms, a figure with a dead-white face streaked with
blood, running from a great gash in the scalp.

"He went down in front of my horse," explained the Hochwald
secretary coolly.

At the sight, there rose from the crowd a wailing cry, quite
different from its former voice. Galpy's teeth set and his cricket
bat went up in the air.

"There'll be killing for this," he said. "I know these blightehs.
That yell means blood. We must make a bolt for it. Is this all
there is of us?"

At the moment of his asking, it was. One half a second later, it
wasn't, as the last of the legation's stubborn bars yielded, the
door burst open, and the four Americans tumbled out at the charge,
Cluff yelling insanely, Carroll in deadly quiet, Sherwen alertly
scanning the adversaries for identifiable faces, and Elder
Brewster still imperiling his soul by the fervor of his language.
Each was armed with such casual weapons as he had been able to
catch up. Carroll, a leap in advance of the rest, encountered an
Indian drover, half-dodged a swinging blow from his whip, and sent
him down with a broken shoulder from a chop with a baseball club
that he had found in the hallway. A bull-like charge had carried
Cluff deep among the Caracunans, where he encountered a huge peon.
whom he seized and flung bodily over the iron guard of a samon
tree, where the man hung, yelling dismally. Two other peons, who
had seized the athlete around the knees, were all but brained by a
stoneware gin bottle in the hands of Sherwen. Meanwhile, Mr.
Brewster was performing prodigies with a niblick which he had
extracted, at full run, from a bag opportunely resting against the
hat-rack. Almost before they knew it, the rescue party had broken
the intercepting wing of the mob, and had joined the others.

Cluff threw a gorilla-like arm across the Unspeakable Perk's

"Hurt, boy?" he cried anxiously.

"No, I'm all right. Who's left with Miss Brewster?"

"Nobody. We must get back."

Sherwen's cool voice cut in:--

"Close together, now. Keep well up. Herr von Plaanden, will you
cover us at the end?"

"It is the post of honor," said the Hochwaldian.

"You've earned it. But for you, they'd have got our colors."

The foreigner bowed, and swung his horse toward a Caracunan who
had pressed forward a little too near. But, for the moment the
fight had oozed out of the mob.

Without mishap the group got across the street, Perkins still
clinging to the flag.

Suddenly, from the rear rank, came a shower of stones, followed by
the final rush. Galpy and Perkins went down. Von Plaanden tottered
in his saddle, but quickly recovered. Instantly Perkins was up
again, the blood streaming from the side of his head. He was
conscious of brown hands clutching at the cricketer, to drag him
away. He himself seized the cockney's legs and braced for that
absurd and deadly tug of war. Then Von Plaanden's saber descended,
and he was able to haul Galpy back into safety.

The situation was desperate now. Mr. Brewster was pinned against
the wall and disarmed, but still fighting with fist and foot. Half
a dozen peons were struggling with Cluff across the bodies of as
many more whom he had knocked down. Sherwen, almost under the
cavalryman's mount, was protecting his rear with the fallen
Galpy's cricket bat, and the two other cricketers were fighting
back to back on the other side. Carroll was clubbing his way
toward Mr. Brewster, but his weapon was now in his left hand.
Matters looked dark indeed, when there shrilled fiercely from
above them the whirring peal of a silver whistle.

Polly Brewster had remembered Raimonda. It seemed a futile signal,
for as she ran to the railing and gazed across at the Club
Amicitia, she saw all its windows and doors tight closed, as
befits an aristocratic club that has no concern with the affairs
of the rabble. But there is no way of closing a patio from the
top, and sounds can enter readily that way, when all other
apertures are shut. Long and loud Miss Polly blew the signal on
the silver hunting-whistle.

In the club patio, Raimonda was chafing and wondering, and a score
of his friends were drinking and waiting. That signal released
their activities and terminated the battle of the American
Legation most ingloriously for the forces of Urgante. For the
gilded youth of Caracuna bears a heavy cane of fashion, and
carries a ready revolver, also, although not so admittedly as a
matter of fashion. Furthermore, he has a profound contempt for the
peon class; a contempt extending to life and limb. Therefore, when
some two dozen young patricians sallied abruptly forth with their
canes, and the mob caught sight, here and there, of a glint of
nickel against the black, it gave back promptly. Some desultory
stones rattled against the walls. There were answering reports a
few, and sundry yells of pain. The army of Urgante broke and fled
down the side streets, leaving behind its broken and its wounded.
Most of the bullet casualties were below the knee. The Caracunan
aristocrat always fires low--the first time.

Shortly thereafter, Miss Polly Brewster appeared upon the balcony
of the American Legation, and performed an illegal act. Upon a day
not designated as a Caracunan national holiday, she raised the
flag of an alien nation and fixed it, and the gilded youth of
Caracuna in the street below cheered, not the flag, which would
have been unpatriotic, but the flag-raiser, which was but gallant,
until they were hoarse and parched of throat.



After the battle, Miss Brewster reviewed her troops, and took
stock of casualties, in the patio. None of the allied forces had
come off scatheless. Galpy, whose injuries had at first seemed the
most severe, responded to a stiff dose of brandy. A cut across the
scientist's head had been hastily bandaged in a towel, giving him,
as he observed, the appearance of a dissipated Hindu. To Von
Plaanden's indignant disgust, his military splendor was seriously
impaired by a huge "hickey" over his left eye, the memento of a
well-aimed rock. Cluff had broken a finger and sprained his wrist.
Mr. Brewster was anxious to know if any one had seen two teeth of
his on the pavement or whether he was to look for later digestive
indications of their whereabouts. Both of the young cricketers had
been battered and bruised, though it was nothing, they gleefully
averred, to what they had meted out. And Carroll had a nasty-
looking knife-thrust in his shoulder.

All of them were disheveled, dilapidated, and grimy to the last
degree, except the Hochwaldian, who still sat his horse, which he
had ridden into the patio. But Miss Polly said to herself, with a
thrill of pride, that no woman need wish a more gallant and
devoted band of defenders. Leaning over them from the inner
railing of the balcony, she surveyed them with sparkling eyes.

"It was magnificent!" she cried. "Oh, I'm so proud of you all! I
could hug you, every one!"

"Better come down from there, Polly," said her father anxiously.
"Some of those ruffians might come back."

"Not to-day," said Sherwen grimly. "They've had enough."

"That is correct," confirmed Von Plaanden. "Nevertheless, there
may be disorder later. Would it not be better that you go to the
British Legation, Fraulein?"

"Not I!" she returned. "I stay by my colors. And now I'm going to
disband my army."

Stretching out her hand to a vase near her, she drew out a rose of
deepest red and held it above Von Plaanden.

"The color of my country," said Von Plaanden gravely. "May I take
it for a sign that I am forgiven?"

"Fully, freely, and gladly," said the girl. "You have put a debt
upon us all that I--that we can never repay."

"It is I who pay. You will not think of me too hardly, for my one

"I shall think of you as a hero," said the girl impetuously. "And
I shall never forget. Catch, O knight."

The rose fell, and was caught. Von Plaanden bowed low over it.
Then he straightened to the military salute, and so rode out of
the door and out of the girl's life.

"Men are strange creatures," mused the philosopher of twenty. "You
think they are perfectly horrid, and suddenly they show their
other side to you, and you think they are perfectly splendid. I
wish I knew a little more about real people."

She confessed to no more specific thought, but as she descended
the stairs to bid farewell to the blushing and deprecatory
Britons, she was eager to have it over with, and to come to speech
with her beetle man, who had so strangely flamed into action. The
Unspeakable Perk! As the name formed on her lips, she smiled
tenderly. With sad lack of logic, she was ready to discard every
suspicion of him that she had harbored, merely on the strength of
his reckless outbreak of patriotism. She looked about the patio,
but he was not there. Sherwen came out of a side door, his face
puckered with anxiety.

"Where is Mr. Perkins?" she asked.

"In there." He nodded back over his shoulder. "Your father is with
him. Perhaps you'd better go in."

With a chill at her heart, Polly entered the room, where Mr.
Brewster bent a troubled face over a head swathed in reddened

Very crumpled and limp looked the Unspeakable Perk, bunched
humpily upon the little sofa. His goggles had fallen off, and lay
on the floor beside him, contriving somehow to look momentously
solemn and important all by themselves. His face was turned half
away, and, as Polly's gaze fell upon it, she felt again that queer
catch at her heart.

"Wouldn't know it was the same chap, would you?" whispered Mr.

The girl picked up the grotesque spectacles, cradling them for an
instant in her hands before she put them aside and leaned over the
quiet form.

"Came staggering in, and just collapsed down there," continued her
father huskily. "Lord, I wouldn't lose that boy after this for a
million dollars!"

"Why do you talk that way?" she demanded sharply. "What has
happened? Did he faint?"

"Just collapsed. When I tried to rouse him, he kicked me in the
chest," replied the magnate, with somber seriousness.

"Oh, you goose of a dad!" There was a tremulous note in Polly's
low laughter. "That's all right, then. Can't you see he's dead for
sleep, poor beetle man?"

"Do you think so?" said Mr. Brewster, vastly relieved. "Hadn't I
better go out for a doctor, and make sure?"

She shook her head.

"Let him rest. Hand me that pillow, please, dad."

With soft little pushes and wedges she worked it under the
scientist's head. "What a dreadful botch of bandaging! He looks so
pale! I wonder if I couldn't get those cloths off. Lend me your
knife, dad."

Gently as she worked, the head on the pillow began to sway, and
the lips to move.

"Oh, let me alone!" they muttered querulously.

The eyes opened. The Unspeakable Perk gazed up into the faces
above him, but saw only one, a face whose tender concern softened
it to a loveliness greater even than when he had last seen it. He
tried to rise, but the hands that pressed him back were firm and

"Lie still!" bade their owner.

A thin film of color mounted to his cheeks.

"I--I--beg your pardon," he stammered. "I--I--d-didn't know--"

"Don't be a goose!" she adjured him. "It's only me."

"Yes, that's the trouble." He closed his eyes again, and began to

"What does he say?" asked Mr. Brewster, lowering his head and
almost falling over backward as his astonished ears were greeted
by the slowly intoned rhythm:--

"Scarab, tarantula, doodle-bug, flea."

"Delirious!" exclaimed the magnate. "Clean off his head! How does
one find a doctor in this town?"

"No need, dad," his daughter reassured him. "It's just a--a sort
of game."

"Game! Did you hear what he said?"

"Well, a kind of password. It's all right, Dad. It is, really."

Still undecided, Mr. Brewster stared at the injured man.

"I don't know--" he began, when the eyes opened again.

"Feeling better?" inquired Polly briskly.

"Yes. The charm works perfectly."

"Anything I can do, or get, for you, my boy?" inquired Mr.
Brewster, stepping forward.

"What's in the ice-box?" asked the other anxiously.

"Oh!" cried the girl in distress. "He's starving! When did you eat

"I can't exactly remember. It was about five this morning, I
think. A banana, and, as I recall it, a small one."

"Dad!" cried the girl, but that prompt and efficient gentleman was
already halfway to the cook, dragging Sherwen along as

"He'll get whatever there is in the shortest known time," the girl
assured her patient. "Trust dad. Now, you lie back and let me fix
up a fresh bandage."

"You'd have made a great trained nurse," he murmured, as she
adjusted the clean strips that Sherwen had sent in. "Don't pin my
ear down. It's got to help hold my goggles on."

"The dear funny goggles!" Picking them up, she patted them with
dainty fingers, before setting them aside. He watched her
uneasily, much in the manner of a dog whose bone has been taken

"Do you mind giving them back?" he said.

"But you're not going to wear them here," she protested.

"I've got so used to them," he explained apologetically, "that I
don't feel really dressed without them."

She handed them back and he adjusted them to the bandages. "For
the present, rest is prescribed you know," said she.

"Oh, no!" he declared. "As soon as I've had something to eat, I'll
go. There are a hundred things to be done. Where are my gloves?"

"What gloves? Oh, those white abominations? Why on earth do you
wear them?" Her glance fell upon his right hand, which lay half-
open beside him. "Oh--oh--oh!" she cried in a rising scale of
distress. "What have you done to your hands?"

He reddened perceptibly.


"Nothing, indeed! Tell me at once!"

"I've been rowing."

"Where to?"

"Oh, out to a ship."

"There aren't any ships, except the Dutch warship. Was it to her?"


"To carry our message--MY message?"

He squirmed.

"I'm awfully sleepy," he protested. "It isn't fair to cross-
examine a witness--"

"When was it?" his ruthless interrogator broke in.

"Night before last."

"How far?"

"How can I tell? Not far. A few miles."

"And back. And it took you all night," she accused.

"What if it did?" he cried peevishly. "A man's got to have some
relief from work, hasn't he? It was livelier than sitting all
night with one's eye glued to a microscope barrel!"

"Oh, beetle man, beetle man! I don't know about you at all. What
kind of a strange queer creature are you? Have you wings, Mr.
Beetle Man?"

Suddenly she bent over and laid her soft lips upon the scarified
palm. The Unspeakable Perk sat up, with a half-cry.

"Now the other one," said the girl. Her face was a mantle of rose-
color, but her eyes shone.

"I won't! You shan't!"

"The other one!" she commanded imperiously.

"Please, Miss Brewster--"

A noise at the door saved him. There stood Thatcher Brewster,
magnate, multi-millionaire, and master of men, a huge tray in his

"Beefsteak, fried potatoes, alligator pear, fresh bread, REAL
butter, coffee, AND cake," he proclaimed jovially. "Not to mention
a cocktail, which I compounded with my own skilled hands. Are you
ready, my boy? Go!"

The Unspeakable Perk leaped from his couch.

"Food!" he cried. "Real American food! The perfume of it is a
square meal."

"You're much gladder to see it than you were me," pouted Miss

"I'm not half as afraid of it," he admitted. "Mr. Brewster, your

"Here's to you, my boy. Now I'll leave you with your nurse, and
make my final arrangements. We're off by special in the morning."

"That's fine!" said the scientist.

But Miss Polly Brewster caught the turn of his head in her
direction, and saw that his fork had slackened in his hand.
Something tightened around her heart.

As he went, her father considered her for a moment, and wondered.
Never before had he seen such a look in her eyes as that which she
had turned on the queer, vivid stranger so busily engaged at the
tray. Polly, and this obscure scientist! After the kind of men
whom the girl had known, enslaved, and eluded! Absurd! Yet if it
were to be--Mr. Brewster reviewed the events of the afternoon--
well, it might be worse.

"By the Lord Harry, he's a MAN, anyway!" decided Thatcher

Meanwhile, the subject of his musings began to feel like a man
once more, instead of like a lath. Having wrought havoc among the
edibles, he rose with a sigh.

"If I could have one hour's sleep," he said mournfully, "I'd be
fit as a cricket."

"You shall," said the girl. "Mr. Sherwen says he won't let you out
of the house until it's dark. And that's fully an hour."

"I ought to be on my way back now."

"Back where? To your mountains?"


"You'd be recognized and attacked before you could get out of the
city. I won't let you."

"That wouldn't do, for a fact. Perhaps it would be safer to wait.
I've made enough trouble for one day by my blunder-headed

"Is that what you call rescuing the flag?"

"Oh, rescuing!" he said slightingly. "What difference does it make
what vermin like that mob do? Just for a whim, to endanger all of

She stared at him in amaze and suspicion. But he was quite honest.

"MY whim," she reminded him.

"Yes; I suppose it was," he admitted thoughtfully. "When I saw you
crying, I lost my head, and acted like a child."

"Then it was all my fault?"

"Oh, I don't say that. Certainly not. I'm master of my own
actions. If I hadn't wanted--"

"But it was my fault this much, anyway, that you wouldn't have
done it except for me."

"Yes; it was your fault to that extent," he said honestly. "I hope
you don't mind my saying so."

"Oh, beetle man, beetle man!" She leaned forward, her eyes deep-
lit pools of mirth and mockery and some more occult feeling that
he could not interpret. "Would it scare you quite out of your
poor, queer wits if I were to HUG you? Don't call for help. I'm
not really going to do it."

"I know you're not," said he dolefully. "But about that row, I
want to set myself right. I'm no fool. I know it took a certain
amount of nerve to go down there. And I was even proud of it, in a
way. And when Von Plaanden turned and gave me the salute before he
went away, I liked it quite a good deal."

"Did he do that? I love him for it!" cried the girl.

"But my point is this, that what I did wasn't sound common sense.
Now if Carroll had done it, it would have been all right."

"Why for him and not for you?"

"Because those are his principles. They're not mine."

"I wish you weren't quite so contemptuous of poor Fitz. It seems
hardly fair."

"Contemptuous of him? I'd give half my life to be in his place
after to-morrow."

"Why?" There was a flutter in her throat as she put the question.

"Because he's going with you, isn't he?"

"So are you, if you will."

"I can't."

"Father won't go without you, I believe. Won't you come, if I ask


"Work, I suppose," said the girl; "the work that you love better
than anything in the world."

"You're wrong there." His voice was not quite steady now. "But
it's work that has to have my first consideration now. And there
is one special responsibility that I can't evade, for the present,

"And afterward?" She dared not look at him as she spoke.

"Ah, afterward. There's too much 'perhaps' in the afterward down
here. We science grubbers on the outposts enlist for the term of
the war," he said, smiling wanly.

"How can I--can we go and leave you here?" she demanded

"Oh, give me a square meal once in a while, and a night's rest
here and there, and I'll do well enough."

"Oh, dear! I forgot your sleep. Here I've been chattering like a
magpie. Take off your coat and lie down on that sofa at once."

"Where shall I find you when I wake up?"

"Right where you leave me when you fall asleep."

"Oh, no! You mustn't wear yourself out watching over me."

"Hush! You're under orders. Give me the coat." She hung it on the
back of a chair. "Not another word now. And I'll call you when
time is up."

He closed his eyes, and the girl sat studying his face in the dim
light, graving it deep on her inner vision, seeking to formulate
some conception of the strange being so still and placid before
her. How had she ever thought him ridiculous and uncouth? How had
she ever dared to insult him by distrust? What did it matter what
other men, estimating him by their own sordid standards, said of
him? As if her thought had established a connection with his, he
opened his eyes and sat up.

"I knew there was something I wanted to ask you," he said. "What
did your 'Never, never, never' mean?"

"A foolish misunderstanding that I'm ashamed of."

"Was it that--that woman-gossip business?"

"Yes. I was stupid. Will you forgive me?"

"What is there to forgive? Some time, perhaps, you'll understand
the whole thing."

"Please don't let's say anything more about it. I do understand."

This was not quite true. All that Polly Brewster knew was that,
with those clear gray eyes meeting hers, she would have believed
his honor clean and high against the world. The presence of the
woman, even that dress fluttering in the wind, was susceptible of
a hundred simple explanations.

"Ah, that's all right, then." There was relief in his tone. "Of
course, in a place like this there is a lot of gossip and
criticism. And when one runs counter to the general law--"
"Counter to the law?"

"Yes. As a rule, I'm not 'beyond the pale of law,'" he said,
smiling. "But down here one isn't bound by the same conventions as
at home."

The girl's hand went to her throat in a piteous gesture.

"I--I--don't understand. I don't want to understand."

"There's got to be a certain broad-mindedness in these matters,"
he blundered on, with what seemed to her outraged senses an
abominable jauntiness. "But the risk was small for me, and, of
course, for her, anything was better than the other life. At that,
I don't see how the truth reached you. What is it, Miss Polly?"

Rage, grief, and shame choked the girl's utterance.

Without a word, she ran from the room, leaving her companion a
prey to troubled wonder.

In the patio, she turned sharply to avoid a group gathered around
Galpy, who, with a patch over one eye, was trying to impart some
news between gasps.

"Got it from the bulletin board of La Liberdad," he cried.
"Killed; body gone; devil to pay all over the place."

"What's that?" demanded the Unspeakable Perk, running out,
coatless and goggleless.

"There's been another riot, and Dr. Luther Pruyn is killed,"
explained Sherwen.

"Who says so?"

"Bulletin board--La Liberdad--just saw it," panted Galpy.

"Nonsense! It's a bola"

"The whole city is ringing with it. They say it was a plot to get
him out of the way to stop quarantine. The Foreign Office is
buzzing with inquiries, and Puerto del Norte is burning up the

"Puerto del Norte! How did they hear?"

"Telephone, of course. I hear Wisner is coming up," said Sherwen.

"I've got to get a wire to the port at once," cried the scientist.
"At once!"

"You! What for?"

"To stop off Wisner. To tell him it isn't so."

"You're excited, my boy," said Mr. Brewster kindly. "Better lie
down again."

"It's true, right enough," said the Englishman. "Sir Willet's
cochero saw the mob get him."

"When? Where?" asked Fitzhugh Carroll.

"Haven't got any details, but the Government admits it."

"I don't care if the President and his whole cabinet swear to it,"
vociferated the Unspeakable Perk. "It's a fake. How can I get
Puerto del Norte, Mr. Sherwen?"

"You can't get it at all for any such purpose. How do you know
it's a fake?"

"How do I know? Oh, dammit! I'M Luther Pruyn!"

He snatched off his glasses and faced them.

The little group stood petrified. Mr. Brewster was first to

"Crazy, poor chap!" he said. "Luther Pruyn was my classmate."

"That's my father, Luther L."

"Proofs," said Sherwen sharply.

"In my coat pocket. In the room. Can I have your wire, Mr.

"It's cut."

"Come to the railway wire," offered Galpy. "My eye! Wot a game!"

The two men ran out, the scientist leaving behind coat and

"It was our little mix-up that started the rumor," said Carroll
thoughtfully. "Somebody recognized Perk--Dr. Pruyn."

"When his glasses fell off," said CLuff. "They're some disguise."

"He's Luther Pruyn, sure enough!" said Mr. Sherwen, emerging from
the room. "Here's the proof." He held out an official-looking
document. "An order from the Dutch Naval Office, made out in his

"What does it say?" asked Carroll.

"I'm not much of a hand at Dutch, but it seems to direct the
blockading warship to receive Dr. Luther Pruyn and wife and convey
them to Curacao."

"And wife!" exclaimed Cluff loudly. He whistled as a vent to his
amazement. "That explains all the talk about a woman--a lady in
his quinta on the mountains?"

"Apparently," said Carroll. "May I see that document, Mr.

The American representative handed him the paper. As he was
studying it, Galpy reentered, still scant of breath from
excitement and haste. "He's gone back to the mountains," he
announced. "Sent word for you to get to the port before dawn, if
you have to walk. See Mr. Wisner there. He'll arrange everything."

"Will Mr. Perk--Dr. Pruyn be there?" asked Mr. Brewster.

"He didn't say."

"But he's gone without his coat!"

"And goggles," said Cluff.

"And his pass," added Sherwen.

"Trust him to come back for them when he gets ready. He's a rum
josser for doing things his own way. Now, about the train." And
Galpy outlined the plan of departure to the men, who, except
Carroll, had gathered about him. The Southerner, unnoticed, had
slipped into the room where the scientist's coat lay. Coming out
by the lower door, he was intercepted by Miss Polly Brewster. He
interpreted the misery in her face, and turned sick at heart with
the pain of what it told him.

"You heard?" he asked.

She nodded. "Is it true? Did you see the permit yourself?"

"Yes. Here it is."

"I don't want to see it. It doesn't matter," she said, with utter
weariness in her voice. "When do we leave? I want to go home. Send
father to me, please, Fitz."

Mr. Brewster came to her, bearing the news that the sailing was
set for the morrow.

"I'm glad to know that Dr. and Mrs. Pruyn are provided for," she
remarked, so casually that the troubled father drew a breath of
relief, concluding that he must have misinterpreted the girl's
interest in the man behind the goggles.

On his way to the patio, he passed through the room where the
scientist had lain. He came out looking perturbed.

"Has any one been in that room just now?" he asked Sherwen.

"Not that I've seen."

"The coat and the other things are not there."

Inquiry and search alike proved unavailing. Not until an hour
later did they discover that Carroll had also disappeared. Sherwen
found a note from him on the office desk:--

Please look after my luggage. Will join the others at the yacht

P. F. F. C.



Thanks to his rival's map, Carroll had little difficulty in
finding the trail to the mountain quinta. A brilliant new moon
helped to make easy the ascent. What course he would pursue upon
his arrival he had not clearly defined to himself. That would
depend largely upon the attitude of the man he was seeking. The
flame of battle, still hot from the afternoon's melee, burned high
in the Southerner's soul, for he was not of those whose spirit
rapidly cools. Bitter resentment on behalf of Miss Polly Brewster
fanned that flame. On one point he was determined: neither he nor
the so-called Perkins should leave the mountain until he had had
from the latter's own lips a full explanation.

Coming out into the open space, he got his first glimpse of the
quinta. It was dark, except for one low light. From the farther
side there came faintly to his ear a rhythmical sound, with brief
intervals of quiet, as if some one hard at labor were stopping
from time to time for breath. At that distance, Carroll could not
interpret the sound, but some unidentified quality of it struck
chill upon his fancy. Long experience in the woods had made him a
good trailsman. He proceeded cautiously until he reached the edge
of the clearing.

The sound had stopped now, but he thought he could hear heavy
breathing from beyond the house. As he moved toward that side, a
small but malevolent-looking snake slithered out from beneath a
bush near by. Involuntarily he leaped aside. As he landed, a round
pebble slipped under his foot. He flung up his arm. It met the low
branch of a tree, and saved him a fall. But the thrashing of the
leaves made a startling noise in the moonlit stillness. The snake
went on about its business.

"Hola!" challenged a voice around the angle of the house.

Carroll recognized the voice. He stepped out of the shadows and
strode across the open space. At the corner of the house he met
the muzzle of a revolver pointing straight at the pit of his
stomach. Back of it were the steady and now goggleless eyes of
Luther Pruyn.

"I am unarmed," said Carroll.

"Ah, it's you!" said the other. He lowered his weapon, carefully
whirled the cylinder to bring the hammer opposite an empty
chamber, and dropped it in his pocket. "What do you want?"

"An explanation."

"Quite so," said the other coolly. "I'd forgotten that I invited
you here. How long had you been watching me?"

"I saw you only when you came out from behind the house."

"And you wish to know about--about my companion in this place?"
continued the other in an odd tone.


"Understand that I don't admit that you have the smallest right.
But to clear up a situation which no longer exists, I'm ready to
satisfy you. Come in."

He held open the door of the room where the lone light was
burning. In the middle of the floor was spread a sheet, beneath
which a form was outlined in grisly significance. Carroll's host
lifted the cover.

The woman was white-haired, frail, and wrinkled. One side of her
face shone in the lamplight with a strange hue, like tarnished
silver. In her throat was a small bluish wound; opposite it a
gaping hole.

"Shot!" exclaimed Carroll. "Who did it?"

"Some high-minded Caracunan patriot, I suppose."


"Well, I suspect that it was a mistake. From a distance and inside
a window, she might easily have been taken for some one else."

Carroll's mind reverted to his companion's ready revolver.

"Yourself, for instance?" he suggested.

"Why, yes."

"Who was she?"

There was left in the Southerner's manner no trace of the cross-
examiner. Suspicion had departed from him at the first sight of
that old and still face, leaving only sympathy and pity.

"My patient."

"Have you been running a private hospital up here?"

"Oh, no. I took her because there was no other place fit for her
to go to. And I had to keep her presence secret, because there's a
law against harboring lepers here. A pretty cruel brute of a law
it is, too."

"Leprosy!" exclaimed Carroll, looking at that strange silvery face
with a shudder. "Isn't it fearfully contagious?"

"Not in any ordinary sense. I was trying a new serum on her, and
had planned to smuggle her across to Curacao, when this ended it."

"Curacao? Then that pass for yourself and wife--By the way, that
and your coat are over in the thicket, where I dropped them."

"Thank you. But it doesn't say 'wife.' It says simply 'a woman.'"

"And you were encumbering yourself with an unknown leper, at a
time like this, just as an act of human kindness?" There was
something almost reverential in Carroll's voice.

"Scientific interest, in part. Besides, she wasn't wholly unknown.
She's a sort of cousin of Raimonda's."

Carroll's mind flew back to his fatally misinterpreted
conversation with the young Caracunan.

"What did he mean by letting me think that you shouldn't associate
with Miss Polly?"

"Oh, he had the usual erroneous dread of leprosy contagion, I

"May I ask you another question, Mr. Per--I beg your pardon, Dr.
Pruyn?" said the visitor, almost timidly.

"Perkins will do." The other smiled wanly. "Ask me anything you
want to."

"Why did you run away that day on the tram-car?"

"To avoid trouble, of course."

"You? Why, you go about searching for dangerous and difficult
jobs. That won't do!"

"Not at all. It's only when I can't get away from them. But I
couldn't risk arrest then. Some one would surely have recognized
me as Luther Pruyn. You see, I've been here before."

"Then I don't see why they didn't identify you, anyway."

"Three years ago I was much heavier, and wore a full beard. Then
these glasses, besides being invaluable for protection, are a
pretty thorough disguise."

"So they are. But the game is up now."

"Yes." The scientist drew the sheet back over the dead woman. "I
suppose the sharp-shooters who did the job will report me safely
out of the way. It's only a question of when the burial party will
come for me."

"Then, why are we waiting?" cried Carroll.

"I couldn't leave her lying here," replied the other simply.

The sound of rhythmical labor came back to Carroll's memory.

"You were digging her grave?"

The other nodded. Carroll, stiffly, for his knifed arm was
painful, got out of his coat.

"Where's an extra spade?" he asked.

When their labor was over, and the leper laid beneath the leveled
soil, Carroll cut two branches from a near-by tree, trimmed them,
bound them in the form of a cross, and fixed the symbol firmly in
the earth at the dead woman's head.

"That was well thought of," said the scientist. "I'm afraid that
wouldn't have occurred to me."

"You can get word to Senor Raimonda?" asked Carroll.

His host nodded. A long silence followed. Carroll broke it:--

"Then there is no further secrecy about this?"

"About what?"

"Her identity." He pointed to the grave.

"No; I suppose not. Why?"

"Because Miss Brewster has a right to know."

"Do you propose to tell her?"


"Very well," agreed the scientist, after a pause for
consideration. "But not until after the yacht is at sea."

Carroll did not reply directly to this.

"What shall you do?"

"Get out, if I can. I'm ordered to Curacao. Wisner left word for

"Come down the mountain with me."

"Impossible. There are matters here to be attended to."

"Then when will you come down?"

"Before you sail. I must be sure that you get off."

"You'll come to the yacht, then?"


"I think you should. There are reasons why--why--Miss Brewster--"

"It isn't a question that I can argue," the other cut him off. "I
can't do it." There was so much pain in his voice that Carroll
forbore to press him. "But I'll ask you to take a note."

Carroll nodded, and his host, disappearing within the quinta,
returned almost at once with an envelope on which the address was
written in pencil. The Southerner took it and rose from the porch,
where he had flung himself to rest.

"Perkins," he said, with some effort, "I've thought and said some
hard things about you."

"Naturally enough," murmured the other.

"Do you want me to apologize?"

The scientist stared. "Do you want me to thank you for to-night's
work?" he countered.



"All right."

The two men, different in every quality except that of essential
manhood, smiled at each other with a profound mutual
understanding. There was a silent handshake, and Carroll set off
down the mountain toward the sunrise glow.



Dawn crested, poised, and broke in a surf of splendor upon the
great mountain-line that overhangs Puerto del Norte. Where, at
the corporation dock, there had lurked the shadow of a yacht,
gray-black against blue-black, there now swung a fairy ship of
purest silver, cradled upon a swaying mirror. Tiny insects,
touched to life by the radiance, scuttled busily about her decks
and swarmed out upon the dock. The seagoing yacht Polly had
awakened early.

Down the mule path that forms the shortest cut from the railway
station straggled a group of minute creatures. To one watching
from the mountain-side with powerful field-glasses--such as, for
example, a convinced and ardent hater of the Caribbean Sea, curled
up with his back against a cold and Voiceless rock--it might have
appeared that the group was carrying an unusual quantity of hand
luggage. Yet they were not porters; so much, even at a great
distance, their apparel proclaimed. The pirates of porterdom do
not get up to meet five-o'clock-in-the-morning specials in

The little group gathered close at the pier, then separated, two
going aboard, and the others disappearing into sundry streets and
reappearing presently at the water-front with other figures. The
human form cannot be distinctly seen, at a distance of three
miles, to rub its eyes; neither can it be heard to curse; but
there was that in the newer figures which suggested a sudden and
reluctant surrender of sleeping privileges. Had our supposititious
watcher possessed an intimate and contemptuous knowledge of
Caracuna officialdom, he would have surmised that lavish sums of
money had been employed to stir the port and customs officials to
such untimely activity.

But not money or any other agency is potent to stir Caracunan
officialdom to undue speed. Hence the observer from the heights,
supposing that he had a personal interest in the proceedings,
might have assured himself of ample time to reach the coast before
the formalities could be completed and the ship put forth to sea.
Had he presently humped himself to his feet with a sluggish
effort, abandoned his field-glasses in favor of a pair of large
greenish-brown goggles, and set out on a trail straight down the
mountains, staggering a bit at the start, a second supposititious
observer of the first supposititious observer--if such cumulative
hypothesis be permissible--might have divined that the first
supposititious observer was the Unspeakable Perk, going about
other people's business when he ought to have been in bed. And so,
not to keep any reader in unendurable suspense, it was.

While the Unspeakable Perk was making his way down the dim and
narrow trail, another equally weary figure shambled out from the
main road upon the flats and made for the landing. The apparel of
Mr. Preston Fairfax Fitzhugh Carroll was in a condition that he
would have deemed quite unfit for one of his station, had he been
in a frame of mind to consider such matters at all. He was not.
Affairs vastly more weighty and human occupied his mind. What he
most wished was to find Miss Polly Brewster and unburden himself
of them.

At the entrance to the pier, he was detained by the American
Consul. Cluff came running down the long structure in great

"Moses, Carroll! I'm glad to see you! Where've you been?"

A week earlier, the scion of all the Virginias would have resented
this familiarity from a professional athlete. But neither Mr.
Carroll's mind nor his heart was a sealed inclosure. He had
learned much in the last few days.

"Up on the mountain," he said. "For Heaven's sake, give me a
drink, Cluff!"

The other produced a flask.

"You do look shot to pieces," he commented. "Find Perk--Pruyn?"

"Yes. I'll tell you later. Where's Miss Brewster?"

"In her stateroom. Asleep, I guess. Said she wanted rest, and
nobody was to disturb her till we sail."

"When do we start?"

"Eight o'clock, they say. That means ten. Will Dr. Pruyn get

"He isn't going with us."

"Oh, no. I forgot his Dutch permit. Well, he'd better use it
quick, or he'll go in a box when he does go. I wouldn't insure his
life for a two-cent stamp in this country."

"You wouldn't if you'd seen what I saw last night," said the
Southerner, very low.

Wisner, the busy, efficient little consul, who had been arranging
with the officials for Carroll's embarkation, now returned,
bringing with him a viking of a man whom he introduced as Dr.
Stark, of the United States Public Health Service.

"Either of you know anything about Dr. Pruyn?" he inquired

"He's on his way down the mountain now," said Carroll.

"Good! He's ordered away, I'm glad to say. Just got the message."

"Then perhaps he will go out with us," said Cluff, with obvious
relief. "I sure did hate to think of leaving that boy here, with
the game laws for goggle-eyed Americans entirely suspended."

"No. He's ordered to Curacao to stay and watch. We've got to get
him out to the Dutch ship somehow."

"Couldn't the yacht take him and transfer him outside?" asked

"Mr. Carroll," said Dr. Stark earnestly, "before this yacht is
many minutes out from the dock, you'll see a yellow flag go up
from the end of the corporation pier. After that, if the yacht
turns aside or comes back for a package that some one has left, or
does anything but hold the straightest course on the compass for
the blue and open sea--well, she'll be about the foolishest craft
that ever ploughed salt water."

"I suppose so," admitted Carroll. "Well, I have matters to look
after on board."

Into Mr. Carroll's cabin it is nobody's business to follow him. A
man has a right to some privacy of room and of mind, and if the
Southerner's struggle with himself was severe, at least it was of
brief duration. Within half an hour, he was knocking at Polly
Brewster's door.

"PLEASE go 'way, whoever it is," answered a pathetically weary

"Miss Polly, it's Fitzhugh. I have a note for you."

"Leave it in the saloon."

"It's important that you see it right away."

"From whom is it?" queried the spent voice.

"From Dr. Pruyn."

"I--I don't want to see it."

"You must!" insisted her suitor.

"Did he say I must?"

"No. I say you must. Forgive me, Miss Polly, but I'm going to wait
here till you say you'll read it."

"Push it under the door," said the girl resignedly.

He obeyed. Polly took the envelope, summoned up all her spirit,
and opened it. It contained one penciled line and the signature:--

Good-bye. All my heart goes with you forever. L. P.

Something fluttered from the envelope to her feet. She stooped and
picked it up. It was the tiniest and most delicate of orchids,
purple, with a glow of gold at its heart. To her inflamed pride,
it seemed the final insult that he should send such a message and
such a reminder, without a word of explanation or plea for pardon.
Pardon she never would have granted, but at least he might have
had the grace of shame.

"Have you read it?" asked the patient voice from without.

"Yes. There is no answer."

"Dr. Pruyn said there wouldn't be."

"Then why are you waiting?"

"To see you."

"Oh, Fitz, I'm too worn out, and I've a splitting headache. Won't
it wait?"

"No." The voice was gently inflexible.

"More messages?"

"No; something I must tell you. Will you come out?"

"I suppose so."

Her tone was utterly listless and limp. Utterly listless and limp,
she looked, too, as she opened the door and stood waiting.

"Miss Polly, it's about the woman at Perkins's--at Dr. Pruyn's

Her eyes dilated with anger.

"I won't hear! How dare you come to me--"

"You must! Don't make it harder for me than it is."

She looked up, startled, and noted the haggard lines in his face.

"I'll hear it if you think I should, Fitz."

"She is dead."

"Dead? His--his wife?"

"She wasn't his wife. She was a helpless leper, whom he was trying
to cure with some new serum. He had to do it secretly because
there is a law forbidding any one to harbor a leper."

"Oh, Fitz!" she cried. "And she died of it?"

"No. They killed her. Last night."

"They? Who?"

"Government agents, probably. They were after Pruyn."

"How horrible! And--and Mrs. Pruyn. Where was she?"

"There isn't any Mrs. Pruyn. There never was."

"But the Dutch permit! It was for Dr. Pruyn and his wife."

"Sherwen misread the form. So did I. It read for Dr. Pruyn and a
woman. He hoped to take her to Curacao and complete his

"That's what he meant when he spoke of being lawless, and I've
been thinking the basest things of him for it!" The girl, dazed by
a flash of complete enlightenment, caught at Carroll's arm with
beseeching hands. "Where is he, Fitz?"

"On his way down the mountain. Perhaps down here by now."

"He's coming to the ship?" she asked.

"No; he doesn't expect to see you again. He was coming down to
make sure that we got off safely."

"Fitz, dear Fitz, I must see him!"

"Miss Polly," he said miserably, "I'll do anything I can."

"Oh, poor Fitz!" she cried pityingly, her eyes filling with tears.
"I wish for your sake it wasn't so. And you have been so splendid
about it!"

"I've tried to make amends, and play fair. It hasn't been easy.
Shall I go back and look for him? It's a small town, and I can
find him."

"Yes. I'll write a note. No; I won't. Never mind. I'll manage it.
Fitz, go and rest. You're worn out," she said gently.

Back into her stateroom went Miss Polly. From that time forth no
man saw her nor woman, either, except perhaps her maid, and maids
are dark and discreet persons on occasion. If this particular one
kept her own counsel when she saw a trim but tremulous figure drop
lightly over the starboard rail of the Polly far forward, pick up
a small traveling-bag from the pier, step behind the opportune
screen of a load of coffee on a flat car, and reappear to view
only as a momentary swish of skirt far away at the shore end; if
this same maid told Mr. Thatcher Brewster, half an hour later,
that Miss Polly was asleep in her stateroom, and begged that she
be disturbed on no account, as she was utterly worn out, who shall
blame her for her silence on the one occasion or her speech on the
other? She was but obeying, albeit with tearful misgivings, duly
constituted authority.

Eight o'clock struck on the bell of the little Protestant mission
church on the tiny plaza; struck and was welcomed by the echoes,
and passed along to eventual silence. Within two minutes after,
there was a special stir and movement on the pier, a corresponding
stir and movement on board the trim craft, a swishing of great
ropes, and a tooting of whistles. White foam churned astern of
her. A comic-supplement-looking pelican on a buoy off to port
flapped her a fantastic farewell. The blockade-defying yacht
Polly was off for blue waters and the freedom of the seas.

On the shore, feeling woefully helpless and alone, she who had
been the jewel and joy of the Polly bit her lips and closed her
eyes, in a tremulous struggle against the dismal fear:--

"Suppose he doesn't love me, after all!"



The departing whistle of the yacht Polly struck sharply to the
heart of a desolate figure seated on a bench in the blazing,
dusty, public square of Puerto del Norte, waiting out his first
day of pain. A kiskadee bird, the only other creature foolish
enough to risk the hot bleakness of the plaza at that hour,
flitted into a dust-coated palm, inspected him, put a tentative
query or two, decided that he was of no possible interest, and
left the Unspeakable Perk to his own cogitations.

So deep in wretchedness were the cogitations that he did not hear
the light, hesitant footstep. But he felt in every vein and fiber
the appealing touch on his shoulder.

"Good God! What are YOU doing here?" he cried, leaping to his
feet. There was no awkwardness or shyness in his speech now; only
wonder-stricken joy.

"I came back to see you."

"But the yacht! Your ship!"

"She has left."

"No! She mustn't! Not without you! You can't stay here. It's too

"I must. They think I'm aboard. I left a note for papa. He won't
get it until they're at sea. And they can't come back for me, can

"No--yes--they must! I must see Stark and Wisner at once."

"To send me away?"


"Without forgiving me?"

"Forgiving? There's no question of that between you and me."

"There is. Fitzhugh told me everything--all about the poor dead

"Ah, he shouldn't have done that."

"He should!" She stamped a little willful foot. "What else could
he do?"

"Why, yes," he agreed thoughtfully. "I suppose that's so. After
all, a man can't bear the names that Carroll does and go wrong on
the big inner things. He has met his test, and stood it. For he
cares very deeply for you."

"Poor Fitz!" she sighed.

"But here we're wasting time!" he cried in a panic. "Where can I
leave you?"

"Do you want to leave me?"

"Want to!" he groaned. "Can't you understand that I've got to get
you to the yacht!"

"Oh, beetle man, beetle man, don't you WANT me?" she cried
dolorously. "Didn't you mean your note?"

"Mean it? I meant it as I've never meant anything in the world.
But you--what do you mean? Do you mean that you'll--you'll let the
yacht go without you--and--and--and stay here, and m-m-marry me?"

"If you should ask me," she said, half-laughing, half-crying,
"what else could I do? I'm alone and deserted. And there's only
you in the world."

"Miss P-P-Polly," he began, "I--I can't believe--"

"It's true!" she cried, and held out two yearning hands to him.
"And if you stammer and stutter and--and--and act like the
Unspeakable Perk NOW, I'll--I'll howl!"

If she had any such project, the chance was lost on the instant of
the warning, as he caught her to him and held her close.

"Oh!" she cried, trying to push him away. "Do you know, sir, that
this is a public square?"

"Well, I didn't choose it," he reminded her, laughing in pure joy,
with a boyish note new to her ear. "Anyway, there are only us two
under the sun." And he drew her close again, whispering in her

"Oh--oh, is that the language of medical science?" she reproved.

At this point, generic curiosity overcame the feathered
eavesdropper in the tree above.

"Qu'est-ce qu'il dit?"--"What's he say?"

The girl turned a flushed and adorable face upward.

"I won't tell you. It's for me alone," she declared joyously. "But
you'll never stop saying it, will you, dear?"

"Never, as long as we both shall live. And that reminds me," he
said soberly. "We must arrange about being married."

"Oh, that reminds you, does it?" she mocked. "Just incidentally,
like that."

Boom! Boom! Boom! The mission clock kept patiently at it until its
suggestion struck in.

"Of course!" he cried. "Mr. Lake, the missionary, will marry us.
And we'll have Stark and Wisner for witnesses. How long does it
take a bride to get ready? Would half an hour be enough?"

"It's rather a short engagement," she remarked demurely. "But if
it's all the time we've got--"

"It is. But, darling, we'll have to ride for it afterward, and get
across to the mainland. I've no right to let you in for such a
risk," he cried remorsefully.

"You couldn't help yourself," she teased saucily. "I ran you down
like one of your own beetles. Besides, what does that permit for
the Dutch ship say?"

"That's for myself and a woman--the leper woman. Not for myself
and my wife."

"Well, I'm a woman, aren't I? And it doesn't say that the woman
MUSTN'T be your wife." She blushed distractingly.

"Caesar! Of course it doesn't! What luck! We'll be in Curacao to-
morrow. I must see Wisner about getting us off. But, Polly,
dearest one, you're sure? You haven't let yourself be carried away
by that foolishness of mine yesterday?"

"Sure? Oh, beetle man!" She put her hands on his shoulders and
bent to his ear.

The sulphur-colored winged Paul Pry stuck an impertinent head out
from behind a palm leaf.

"Qu'est-ce qu'elle dit? Qu'est-ce qu'elle dit?"

For the second and last time in his adult life the beetle man
threw a stone at a bird.

Four hours later six powerful black oarsmen rowed a boat
containing two passengers and practically no luggage out across
the huge lazy swells of the Caribbean toward a smudge of black

"Look!" cried that one of the passengers who wore huge goggles.
"There goes the flag!"

A square of yellow bunting slid slowly up the pierhead staff of
the dock corporation, and spread in the light shore breeze.

"That's the modern flaming sword," he continued. "The color stirs
something inside me. Ugly, isn't it?"

"It is ugly," she confessed thoughtfully. "Yet it's the flag we
fight under, too, isn't it? And we'd fight for it if we had to,
just as we fought for the other--our own."

"I love your 'we,'" he laughed happily.

She nestled closer to him.

"Are you still hating the Caribbean?"

"I? I'm loving it the second-best thing in the world."

"But I loved it first," she reminded him jealously. "Dearest," she
added, with one of her swift swoops of thought, "what was that
funny title the British Secretary of Legation had?"

"What? Oh, Captain the Honorable Carey Knowles?"

"Yes. Well, I shall have a much nicer, more picturesque title than
that when we come back to Caracuna--dear, dirty, dangerous, queer,
riotous, plague-stricken old Caracuna!"

"Then my liege ladylove intends to come back?" he asked.

"Of course. Some time. And in Caracuna I shall insist on being
Mrs. the Unspeakable Perk."


Book of the day:
Facebook Google Reddit StumbleUpon Twitter Pinterest