Part 2 out of 4
not argue with him at all, for I knew be had the advantage of me. I am
not an expert in coffins, and, of course, could not meet him upon his
own ground. If it had been the purchase of a horse or gun or dog, or a
new typewriting machine, it would have been an altogether different
I simply told the undertaker to go ahead and make such a coffin as I had
ordered, regardless of expense. I wanted it softly cushioned, and I told
him not to make it unnecessarily wide. I wanted them side by side, with
their faces turned upward, of course, so that we could all have a fair
last look at them, but I wanted them so close together that they would
be touching from head to foot. I wanted it so that when they became dust
and bone all would be mingled, and that even the hair, which does not
decay for some centuries, which grows, you know, after death, would be
all twined together.
The undertaker followed my instructions, for undertakers get to be as
mechanical as shoemakers or ticket-sellers; but the relations of the
Parasangs and close friends at home thought it an odd thing to have
done. I overrode them and had things all my own way, for I knew I was
right. I knew the Parasangs better than any one else. I knew what they
would have me do were communications between us still possible.
There was something so odd about the love story of the Parasangs that it
always interested me. It made me laugh, but I was in full sympathy with
them, though sympathy was something of which they were not in need. The
queer thing about it was their age.
Mr. Parasang and I were cronies. We were cronies despite the number of
years which had elapsed since our respective births. He was
seventy-eight. Mrs. Parasang was seventy-five. And they had been married
but two years. I knew Mr. Parasang before the wedding, and it was
because of my close intimacy with him that I came to know the relations
between the two and the story of it. I was just forty years his junior.
I can't understand why the man died so easily. He was such a
vigorous-looking person for his age, and seemed in such perfect health.
He was one of your apparently strong, gray-mustached old men, and did
not look to be more than sixty-five at most. His wife, I think, was
really stronger than he, though she did not appear so young. It is often
that way with women. The attack of pneumonia which came upon Parasang
was not, the doctors told me, vicious enough to overthrow an ordinary
man. I suppose it was merely that this man's life capital had run out.
There is a great deal in heredity. Sometimes I think that each child is
born with just such a capital and vitality, something which could be
represented in figures if we knew how to do it; and that, though it is
affected to an extent by ways of living, the amount of capital
determines, within certain limits, to a certainty how long its possessor
will do business on this round lump of earth. I think Parasang's time
for liquidation had come. That is all. As for Mrs. Parasang, I think she
could have stayed a little longer if she had cared to do so, but she
went away because he had gone. One can just lie down and die sometimes.
I have drifted away from what I was going to say--this problem of dying
always attracts--but I will try to get back to the subject proper. I was
going to tell of the odd love story of the Parasangs, or at least what
struck me as odd, because, as I have said, of their ages. There is
nothing in it particular aside from that.
A little less than fifty years ago--that must have been about when
Taylor was President--Parasang was engaged to marry a girl of whom he
was very fond, and who was very fond of him. Well, these two, much in
love, and just suited to each other, must needs have a difference of the
sort known as a lovers' quarrel. That in itself was nothing to speak of,
for most lovers, being young and fools, do the same thing. But it so
happened that these two, being also high-spirited, carried the
difference farther than is usual with smitten, callow males and females,
and let the breach widen until they separated, as they thought, finally.
And she married in course of time, and so did he. It's a way people
have; a way more or less good or bad, according to circumstances. She
lived with a commonplace husband until he died and left her a widow,
aged sixty or thereabout. Mr. Parasang's wife died about the same time.
What sort of a woman she was I do not know. I remember the old gentleman
told me once that she was an excellent housekeeper and had the gift of
talking late o' nights. I could not always tell what Parasang meant when
he said things. He was one of the sort of old gentlemen who leave much
to be inferred.
Parasang had drifted here, and was a reasonably well-to-do man. His old
sweetheart had come also because her late husband had made an
investment here, and she found it to her interest to live where her
income was mostly earned. Neither knew how near the other was, and the
years passed by. Eventually the two met by an accident of the sheerest
kind. Possibly they had almost forgotten each other, though I don't
think that is so. They met among mutual friends, and--there they were. I
have often wondered how it must seem to meet after half a century. There
is something about the brain which makes the reminiscences fresh to one
sometimes, but of an early love story it must be like a dream to the
aged. Something uncertain and vaguely sweet. Just think of it--half a
century, more than one generation, had passed since these two had met.
Their old love story must have seemed to them something all unreal,
something they had but read long ago in a book.
Parasang was a large man, but Mrs. Blood--that was now his old
sweetheart's name--was a small woman. Her hair was nearly white when I
met her, but from the color of a few unchanged strands of it, I imagine
that it must have been red when she was young. Maybe that was why the
lovers' quarrel of over fifty years ago had been so spirited. She was
both spirited and charming, even at seventy-two, and at twenty must have
been a fascinating woman. Parasang was doubtless himself a striking
person when he was young. I have already said what he was like in his
old age. Both the man and woman had retained the personal regard for
themselves which is so pleasant in old people, and Mrs. Blood was still
as dainty as could be, in her trim gowns, generally of some fluffy black
or silvery gray material, and Parasang was as strong and wholesome
looking as an ox. I shall always regret that I was not present when they
met. A study of their faces then would have been worth while.
Parasang once told me about this second wooing of his wife--and it was
droll. There seemed nothing funny about it to him. He said that after
being introduced to Mrs. Blood, and recognizing her in an instant after
all those years, as she did him, they sat down on a sofa together, being
left to entertain each other, as the two oldest people in the room; and
that he uttered a few commonplace sentences, and she replied gently in
the same vein for a little time; and that then each stopped talking, and
that they sat there quietly gazing at each other. And he said that
somehow, looking into her eyes, even with the delicate glasses on them,
the earth seemed to be slipping away, and there was the girl he had
known and loved again beside him; and then the years passed by in
another direction, only more slowly. And the girl seemed to get a little
older and a little older, and the hair changed and the cheeks fell a
little at the sides just below the mouth, you know, and there came
crow's feet at the outer corners of her eyes, and wrinkles across her
neck, but that nothing of all this physical happening ever changed one
iota the real look of her, the look which is from the heart of a woman
when a man has once really known her. And so the years glided over their
course, she changing a little with each, yet never really changing at
all, until it came again up to the present moment, with her beside him
on the sofa, real and tangible, just as he would have her in every way.
"I don't suppose you can understand it," he said, "for you are only a
boy in such things yet" (those old fellows call everything under fifty a
boy); "but I tell you it is a wonderful thing to know what a love is
that can come out of the catacombs, so to speak, and be all itself
again," and he said this as jauntily as if I, being so young, couldn't
know anything about the proper article, as far as sentiment was
They sat there on the sofa, he said, still silent and looking at each
other. At last, when he had fully realized it all, he spoke.
"I knew that you were a widow, Jennie, but I did not know that you were
She explained that she had been in the city for some time and the reason
of it, and then the conversation lagged again; and they were very much
like two young people at a children's party, save that they were
dreaming rather than embarrassed, and that, I suppose, they felt the dry
germ of another age seeking the air and the sunshine of living. You
know they have found grains of wheat in the Egyptian mummy cases, which
were laid away over three thousand years ago, and that these grains of
wheat, under the new conditions, have sprouted and grown and shot up
green stalks and borne plump seeds again. And the love of Mr. and Mrs.
Parasang has always reminded me of the mummy wheat.
They talked a little of old friends and of old times, but their talk was
not all unconstrained, because, you see, they couldn't refer to those
former times and scenes without recalling, involuntarily, some day or
some hour when they two were together, and when there seemed a chain
between their hearts which nothing in the world could break. It was an
awful commentary on the quality of human love and human pledges that
things should be as they had been and as they were. It was a reflection,
in a sense, on each of them. How hollow had been everything--and it was
all their fault.
They both kept looking at each other, and when they parted he asked if
he might call upon her, and she assented quietly. He called next day,
and found her all alone, for a niece who lived with her had gone away;
and they became, he said, a little more at ease. And then began the most
delicate of all wooings. I met them sometimes then and guessed at it,
though as yet Parasang had not told me the story. He was more
considerate, I imagine, than he had been in youth, and she, it may be,
less exacting. It was a mellow relationship, yet with a shyness that was
amazing. They were drifting together upon soft waves of memory, yet
wondering at the happening.
And one day he asked her if she would be his wife. She had known, of
course--a woman always knows--but she blushed and looked up at him, and
tears came into her eyes.
And he thought of the time, so long ago, when he had asked her the same
question. He could not help it. And somehow she did not seem less. He
thought only of how foolish they had been to throw away a heritage of
belonging to each other; and then he thought of how the man, the
protector, the guardian of both, should have taken the broader view and
have been above all pettishness and have yielded for the sake of both.
She would not have thought more lightly of him. She would have
understood some day. For the lost past he blamed himself alone.
She answered him at last, but it was not as she had answered once. She
spoke sweetly and bravely of their age and of the uselessness of it all
now, and of what people would say, and of other things. But her eyes
were just as loving as when his hair was dark.
And when she had said all those things he did what made me like him.
There was good stuff in Parasang. He merely took her in his arms.
Furthermore, he told her when they would be married. And I was at the
wedding on that day.
It was six months later when I got the habit of dining with them pretty
regularly and of calling for Parasang on my way down town in the
morning. She came into the hall with him, as do young wives, and kissed
him good-by, and it pleased and interested me amazingly. The outlines of
their mouths were not the same as they were half a century ago, and as
he bent over her I thought each time of--
"And their spirits rushed together
At the meeting of the lips";
and it would occur to me queerly that spirits had but slender causeway
there. I was mistaken, though. I learned that later.
There was but this variation between the early wedded life of this aged
pair and of what would possibly have happened had they married young.
There were no differences and no "makings-up." It was a pleasant
stream--I knew it would be--but the volume of it surprised me.
That is all. There is no plot to the story of what I know of these dear
friends of mine whom I cannot see now. And it was but because of what I
have told that I had them buried as they were. There was nothing, from
the ordinary standpoint, which justified my course in overrunning those
other people who would have buried the two apart; but I believe myself
that one should, within reason, seek to gratify the fancies of one's
LOVE AND A TRIANGLE
A man came out of a mine, looked about him, inhaled the odor from the
stunted spruce trees, looked up at the clear skies, then called to a boy
idling in a shed at a little distance from the mine buildings, telling
him to bring out the horse and buckboard. The name of the man who had
issued from the mine was Julius Corbett, and he was a civil engineer.
Furthermore, he was a capitalist.
He was an intelligent looking man of about thirty-five, and a resolute
looking one, this Julius Corbett, and as he stood waiting for the
buckboard, was rather worth seeing, vigorous of frame, clear of eye and
bronzed by a summer's work in a wild country. The shaft from which he
had just emerged was that of a silver mine not five miles distant from
Black Bay, one of the inlets of the northern shore of Lake Superior, and
was a most valuable property, of which he was chief owner. He had
inherited from an uncle in Canada a few hundred acres of land in this
region, but had scarcely considered it worthy the payment of its slight
taxes until some of the many attempts at mining in the region had proved
successful, and it was shown that the famous Silver Islet, worked out
years ago in Lake Superior, was not the only repository thereabouts of
the precious metal. Then he had abandoned for a time the practice of his
profession--he had an office in Chicago--and had visited what he
referred to lightly as his "British possessions." He had found rich
indications, had called in mining experts, who confirmed all he had
imagined, and had returned to Chicago and organized a company. There was
a monotonous success to the undertaking, much at variance with the story
of ordinary mining enterprises. Corbett had become a very rich man
within two years; he was worth more than a million, and was becoming
richer daily. He was, seemingly, a person much to be envied, and would
not himself, on the day here referred to, have denied such imputation,
for he was in love with an exceedingly sweet and clever girl, and knew
that he had won this same charming creature's heart. They were plighted
to each other, but the date of their marriage was not yet fixed. He had
closed up his business at the mine for the season, and was now about to
hasten to Chicago, where the day of so much importance to him would be
fixed upon and the sum of his good fortune soon made complete. This was
in September, 1898.
It was not a commonplace girl whom Corbett was to marry. On the
contrary, she was exceptionally gifted, and a young woman whose
cleverness had been supplemented by an elaborate education. There was,
however, running through her character a vein of what might be called
emotionalism. The habit of concentration, acquired through study, seemed
rather to intensify this quality than otherwise. Perhaps it made even
greater her love for Corbett, but it was destined to perplex him.
In September the air is crisp along the route from Black Bay to Duluth,
and from that through fair Wisconsin to Chicago, and Corbett's spirits
were high throughout the journey. Was he not to meet Nell Morrison, in
his estimation the sweetest girl on earth? Was he not soon to possess
her entirely and for a permanency? He made mental pictures of the
meeting, and drifted into a lover's mood of planning. Out of his wealth
what a home he would provide for her, and how he would gratify her
gentle whims! Even her astronomical fancy, Vassar-born, should become
his own, and there should be an observatory to the house. He had a
weakness for astronomy himself, and was glad his wife-to-be had the same
taste intensified. They would study the heavens together from a heaven
of their own. What was wealth good for anyhow, save to make happy those
The train sped on, and Chicago was reached, and very soon thereafter was
reached the home of the Morrisons. Corbett could not complain of his
reception. The one creature was there, sweet as a woman may be, eager to
meet him, and with tenderness and steadfastness shown in every line of
her pretty face. They spent a charming day and evening together, and he
was content. Once or twice, just for a moment, the young woman seemed
abstracted, but it was only for a moment, and the lover thought little
of the circumstance. He was happy when he bade her good-night.
"To-morrow, dear," said he, "we will talk of something of greatest
importance to me, of importance to us both." She blushed and made no
answer for a second. Then she said that she loved him dearly, and that
what affected one must affect the other, and that she would look for him
very early in the afternoon. He went to his hotel buoyant. The world was
good to him.
When Corbett called at the Morrison mansion the next day he entered
without ringing, as was his habit, and went straight to the library,
expecting to find Nell there. He was disappointed, but there were traces
of her recent presence. There was an astronomical map open upon the
table, and books and reviews lay all about, each, open, with a marker
indicating a special page. A little glove lay upon the floor, and
Corbett picked it up and kissed it.
He summoned a servant and sent upstairs to announce his presence; then
turned instinctively to note what branch of her favorite study was now
attracting his sweetheart's attention. He picked up one of the open
reviews, an old one by the way, and read a marked passage there. It was
"It will always be more difficult for us to communicate with the people
of Mars than to receive signals from them, because of our position and
phases. It is the nocturnal terrestrial hemisphere that is turned toward
the planet Mars in the periods when we approach most nearly to it, and
it shows us in full its lighted hemisphere. But communication is
He looked at a map. It was a great chart of the surface of Mars, made by
the famous Italian Schiaparelli, and he looked at more of the reviews
and found ever the same subject considered in the marked articles. All
related to Mars. He was puzzled but delighted. "The dear girl has a
hobby," he thought. "Well, she shall enjoy it to the utmost."
Nelly entered the room. Her face lighted up with pleasure when she met
her fiance, but assumed a more thoughtful look as she saw what he was
reading. She welcomed him, though, as kindly as any lover could demand,
and he, of course, was joyously content. "Still an astronomer, I see,"
he said, "and apparently with a specialty. I see nothing but Mars, all
Mars! Have you become infatuated with a single planet, to the neglect of
all the others? I like it, though. We will study Mars together."
Her face brightened. "I am so glad!" she said. "I have studied nothing
else for months. It has been so almost from the day you left us. And it
is not Mars alone I am studying; it is the great problem of
communication with the people there. Oh, Julius, it is possible, and the
idea is something wonderful! Just think what would follow! It would be
the beginning of an understanding between reasoning creatures of the
He said that it was something wonderful, indeed, maybe only a dream, but
a very fascinating one.
"Oh, it is no dream," she answered. "It is a glorious possibility. Why,
just think of it, we know, positively know, that Mars is inhabited.
Think of what has been discovered. It was perceived years ago that Mars
was intersected by canals, evidently made by human--I suppose that's the
word--human beings. They run from the extremes of ocean bays to the
extremes of other ocean bays, and connect, too, the many lakes there.
Nature does not make such lines. They are of equal width, those canals,
throughout their whole length, and Schiaparelli has even watched them in
construction. First there is a dark line, as if the earth had been
disturbed, and then it becomes bright when the water is let in.
Sometimes, too, double canals are made there close to each other,
running side by side, as if one were used for travel and transportation
in one direction and one in another. And there are many other things as
wonderful. The world of Mars is like our own. There are continents and
seas and islands there--it is not a dead, dry surface like the moon--and
it has clouds and rains and snows and seasons, just as we have, and of
the same intensity as ours. Oh, Julius, we _must_ communicate with
"But, my dear, that implies equal interest on their part. How do we know
them to be intelligent enough?"
"Why, there are the canals. They must be reasoners in Mars. Besides, how
do we know but that they far surpass us in all learning! Mars is much
older in one way than the Earth, far more advanced in its planet life,
and why should not its people, through countless ages of advantage, have
become wiser than we? Whatever their form, they may be superior to us in
every way. We are to them, too, something which must have been studied
for thousands of years. The Earth, you know, is to the people on Mars a
most brilliant object. It is the most glorious object in their sky, a
star of the first magnitude. Oh, be sure their astronomers are watching
us with all interest!"
And Corbett, dazed, replied that he was overwhelmed with so much
learning in one so fair, that he was very proud of her, but that there
was one subject on his mind, compared to which communication with Mars
or any other planet was but a trifle. And he wanted to talk with her
concerning what was closest to his heart. It was the one great question
in the world to him. It was, when should be their wedding day?
The girl looked at him blushingly, then paled. "Let us not talk of that
to-day," she said, at length. "I know it isn't right; I know that I seem
unkind--but--oh, Julius! come to-morrow and we will talk about it." And
she began crying.
He could not understand. Her demeanor was all incomprehensible to him,
but he tried to soothe her, and told her she had been studying too hard
and that her nerves were not right. She brightened a little, but was
still distrait. He left, with something in his heart like a vengeful
feeling toward the planets, and toward Mars in particular.
When Corbett returned next day the girl was in the library awaiting him.
Her demeanor did not relieve him. He feared something indefinable. She
was sad and perplexed of countenance, but more self-possessed than on
the day before. She spoke softly: "Now we will talk of what you wished
He pleaded as a lover will, pleaded for an early day, and gave a hundred
reasons why it should be so, and she listened to him, not apathetically,
but almost sadly. When he concluded, she said, very quietly:
"Did you ever read that queer story by Edmond About called 'The Man with
the Broken Ear'?"
He answered, wonderingly, in the affirmative.
"Well, dear" she said, "do you remember how absorbed, so that it was a
very part of her being, the heroine of that story became in the problem
of reviving the splendid mummy? She forgot everything in that, and could
not think of marriage until the test was made and its sequel
satisfactory. She was not faithless; she was simply helpless under an
irresistible influence. I'm afraid, love"--and here the tears came into
her eyes--"that I'm like that heroine. I care for you, but I can think
only of the people in Mars. Help me. You are rich. You have a million
dollars, and will soon have more. Reach those people!"
He was shocked and disheartened. He pleaded the probable utter
impracticability of such an enterprise. He might as well have talked to
a statue. It all ended with an outburst on her part.
"Talk with the Martians," said she, "and the next day I will become your
He left the house a most unhappy man. What could he do? He loved the
girl devotedly, but what a task had she given him! Then, later, came
other reflections. After all, the end to be attained was a noble one,
and he could, in a measure, sympathize with her wild desire. The lover
in "The Man With a Broken Ear" had at least occasion for a little
jealousy. His own case was not so bad. He could not well be jealous of
an entire population of a distant planet. And to what better use could a
portion of his wealth be put than in the advancement of science! The
idea grew upon him. He would make the trial!
He was rewarded the next day when he told his fiancee what he had
decided upon. She was wildly delighted. "I love you more than ever now!"
she declared, "and I will work with you and plan with you and aid you
all I can. And," she added, roguishly, "remember that it is not all for
my sake. If you succeed you will be famous all over the world, and
besides, there'll come some money back to you. There is the reward of
one hundred thousand francs left in 1892 by Madame Guzman to any one who
should communicate with the people of another planet."
He responded, of course, that he was impelled to effort only by the
thought of hastening a wedding day, and then he went to his office and
wrote various letters to various astronomers. His friend Marston,
professor of astronomy in the University of Chicago, he visited in
person. He was not a laggard, this Julius Corbett, in anything he
Then there was much work.
Marston, being an astronomer, believed in vast possibilities. Being a
man of sense, he could advise. He related to Corbett all that had been
suggested in the past for interstellar communication. He told of the
suggested advice of making figures in great white roads upon some of
Earth's vast plains, but dismissed the idea as too costly and not the
best. "We have a new agent now," he said. "There is electricity. We must
use that. And the figures must, of course, be geometrical. Geometry is
the same throughout all the worlds that are or have been or ever will
And there was much debate and much correspondence and an exhibition of
much learning, and one day Corbett left Chicago. His destination was
Buenos Ayres, South America.
The Argentine Republic, since its financial troubles early in the
decade, had been in a complaisant and conciliating mood toward all the
world, and Corbett had little difficulty in his first step--that of
securing a concession for stringing wires in any designs which might
suit him upon the vast pampas of the interior. It was but stipulated
that the wires should be raised at intervals, that herding might not be
interfered with. He had already made a contract with one of the great
electric companies. The illuminated figures were to be two hundred miles
each in their greatest measurement, and were to be as follows:
It was found advisable, later, to dispense with the last two, and so,
only the square, equilateral triangle, circle and right-angled triangle,
it was decided should be made. The work was hurried forward with all the
impetus of native energy, practically unlimited money and the power of
love. This last is a mighty force.
And great works were erected, with vast generators, and thousands and
thousands of miles of sheets of wires were strung close together, until
each system, when illuminated, would make a broad band of flame
surrounding the defined area. From the darkened surface of the Earth, at
the time when the Earth approached Mars most nearly, would blaze out to
the Martians the four great geometrical figures. The test was made at
last. All that had been hoped for in the way of an effort was attained.
All along the lines of those great figures, night in the Argentine
Republic was turned into glorious day. From balloons the spectacle was
something incomparably magnificent. All was described in a thousand
letters. A host of correspondents were there, and accounts of the
undertaking and its progress were sent all over the civilized world.
Each night the illumination was renewed, and all the world waited.
Corbett had returned to Chicago. He could do no more. He could only
await the passage of time, and hope. He was not very buoyant now. His
sweetheart was full of the tenderest regard, but was in a condition of
feverish unrest. He was alarmed regarding her, so great appeared her
anxiety and so tense the strain upon her nerves. He could not help her,
and prepared to return again to a season at his mine.
The man was sitting in his room one night in a gloomy frame of mind.
What a fool he had been! He had but yielded to a fancy of a dreaming
girl, and put her even farther away from him while wasting half a
fortune! He would be better on the rugged shore of Lake Superior, where
the moods of men were healthy, and where were pure air and the fragrance
of the pines. There was a strong pull at his bell.
A telegraph boy entered, and this was on the message he bore:
Come to the observatory at once. Important.
To seek a cab, to be whirled away at a gallop to the university, to
burst into Marston in his citadel, required but little time. The
professor was walking up and down excitedly.
"It has come! All the world knows it!" he shouted as Corbett entered,
and he grasped him by the hand and wrung it hardly.
"What has come?" gasped the visitor.
"What has come, man! All we had hoped for or dreamed of--and more! Why,
look! Look for yourself!"
He dragged Corbett to the eye-piece of the great telescope and made him
look. What the man saw made him stagger back, overcome with an emotion
which for the moment did not allow him speech. What he saw upon the
surface of the planet Mars was a duplication of the glittering figures
on the pampas of the South American Republic. They were in lines of
glorious light, between what appeared bands of a darker hue, provided,
apparently, to make them more distinct, and even at such vast distance,
their effect was beautiful. And there was something more, a figure he
could not comprehend at first, one not in the line of the others, but
above. "What is it--that added outline?" he cried.
"What is it! Look again. You'll determine quickly enough! Study it!"
roared out Marston, and Corbett did as he was commanded. Its meaning
flashed upon him.
There, just above the representation of the right-angled triangle, shone
out, clearly and distinctly, this striking figure:
What could it mean? Ah, it required no profound mathematician, no
veteran astronomer, to answer such a question! A schoolboy would be
equal to the task. The man of Mars might have no physical resemblance to
the man of Earth, the people of Mars might resemble our elephants or
have wings, but the eternal laws of mathematics and of logic must be the
same throughout all space. Two and two make four, and a straight line is
the shortest distance between two points throughout the universe. And by
adding this figure to the others represented, the Martians had said to
the people of Earth as plainly as could have been done in written words
of one of our own languages:
Yes, we understand. We know that you are trying to communicate with
us, or with those upon some other world. We reply to you, and we
show to you that we can reason by indicating that the square of the
hypothenuse of a right-angled triangle is equivalent to the sum of
the squares of the other two sides. Hope to hear from you further.
There was the right-angled triangle, its lines reproduced in unbroken
brilliancy, and there were the added lines used in the familiar
demonstration, broken at intervals to indicate their use. The famous
_pons asinorum_ had become the bridge between two worlds.
Corbett could scarcely speak as yet. Telegraph messengers came rushing
in with dispatches from all quarters--from the universities of Michigan
and California, and Yale and Harvard, and from Rochester and all over
the United States. Cablegrams from England, France, Germany and Italy
and other regions of the world but repeated the same wonderful
observation, the same conclusion: "They have answered! We have talked
Corbett returned to his home in a semi-delirium. He had the wisdom,
though it was midnight, to send to Nelly the brief message, "Good news,"
to prepare her in a degree for what the morning papers would reveal. He
slept but fitfully. And it was at an early hour when he called upon his
fiancee and found her awaiting him in the library.
She said nothing as he entered, but he had scarcely crossed the
threshold when he found his arms full of something very tangible and
warm, and pulsing with all love. It has been declared by thoughtful and
learned people that there is no sensation in the world more delightful
than may be produced by just this means, and Corbett's demeanor under
the circumstances was such as to indicate the soundness of the
assertion. He was a very happy man.
And she, as soon as she could speak at all, broke out, impulsively:
"Oh, dear, isn't it glorious! I knew you would succeed. And aren't you
glad I imposed the hard condition? It was hard, I know, and I seemed
unloving, but I believed, and I could not have given you up even if you
had failed. I should have told you so very soon. I may confess that now.
And--I will marry you any day you wish."
She blushed magnificently as she concluded, and the face of a pretty
women, so suffused, is a pleasing thing to see.
Of course, within a week the name of Corbett became familiar in every
corner of the civilized globe, the incentive which had spurred him on
became somehow known, and the romance of it but added to his fame, and a
few days later, when his wedding occurred, it was chronicled as never
had a wedding been before. They made two columns of it even in the
far-away Tokio _Gazette_, the Bombay _Times_ and the Novgorod _News_.
But the social feature was nothing; the scientific world was all aflame.
We had talked with Mars indeed, but of what avail was it if we could not
resume the conversation? What next step should be taken in the grand
march of knowledge, in the scientific conquest of the universe? Never in
all history had there been such a commotion among the learned. Corbett
and his gifted wife were early ranked among the eager, for he soon
became as much of an enthusiast as she--in fact, since the baby, he is
even more so--and derived much happiness from their mutual study and
speculation. All theories were advanced from all countries, and
suggestions, wise and otherwise, came from thousands of sources. And so
in the year 1900 the thing remains. As inscrutable to us have been the
curious symbols appearing upon Mars of late as have apparently been to
them a sign language attempted on the pampas. It is now proposed to show
to them the outline of a gigantic man, and if Providence has seen fit to
make reasoning beings in all worlds something alike, this may prove
another bit of progress in the intercourse, but all is in doubt.
Given, the problem of two worlds, millions of miles apart, the people of
which are seeking to establish a regular communication with each other,
each already acknowledging the efforts of the other, how shall the great
feat be accomplished? Will the solution of the vast problem come from a
greater utilization of electricity and a further knowledge of what is
astral magnetism? There have been, of late, some wonderful revelations
along that line. Or will the sign language be worked out upon the
planets' surfaces? Who can tell? Certainly all effort has been
stimulated, in one world at least. The rewards offered by various
governments and individuals now aggregate over five million dollars, and
all this money is as nothing to the fame awaiting some one. Who will
gain the mighty prize? Who will solve the new problem of the ages?
AN EASTER ADMISSION
This is not, strictly speaking, an Easter tale, nor a love story. It is
merely the truthful account of certain incidents of a love affair
culminating one Easter Day. It may be relied upon. I am familiar with
the facts, and I want to say here that if there be any one who thinks he
could relate similar facts more exactly--I will admit that he might do
the relation in much better form--he is either mistaken or else an
envious person with a bad conscience. I am going to tell that which I
know simply as it occurred.
There is a friend of mine who is somewhat more than ordinarily
well-to-do, who is about thirty years of age, and who lives ordinarily
in the city of Chicago. Furthermore, he is a gentleman of education, not
merely of the school and university, but of the field and wood. He knows
the birds and beasts, and delights in what is wild. Four or five years
ago he purchased a tract of land studded closely with hardwood trees,
chiefly the beech and hard maple, and criss-crossed by swift-flowing
creeks of cold water. This tract of land was not far from the northern
apex of the southern peninsula of the State of Michigan. There were
ruffed grouse in the woods, in the creeks were speckled trout in
abundance, and my friend rioted among them. He had built him a house in
the wilderness; a great house of logs, forty or fifty feet long and
thirty wide, with chambers above, with a great fireplace in it, with
bunks in one great room for men, and with an apartment better furnished
for ladies, should any ever be brought into the wilderness to learn the
ways of nature.
Two years ago my friend gave his first house party, and the duration of
it included Easter Day, and so was, necessarily, in a happy season. It
is pleasant for us in this northern temperate zone that the day, with
all its glorious promises, in a spiritual sense, is as full of promise
also in the physical sense, in that it corresponds with the awakening of
nature and the renewed life of that which so makes humanity. It is a
good thing, too, that since the date of Easter Day is among those known
as "movable," it means the real spring, but a little farther north or
farther south, as the years come and go. So it chanced that the Easter
Day referred to came in the northern peninsula of Lower Michigan just
when the buds upon the trees showed well defined against one of the
bluest skies of all the world, when the teeming currents of the creeks
were lifting the ice, and the waters were becoming turbulent to the eye;
when the sapsuckers and creeping birds were jubilant, and the honk of
the wild goose was a passing thing; when, with the upspring of the rest
of nature, the trees threw off their lethargy, and through the rugged
maples the sap began to course again. It was only a few days before
Easter that my friend--his name was Hayes, "Jack" Hayes, we called him,
though his name, of course, was John--had an inspiration.
Jack knew that so far as his own domain was concerned the time had
arrived for the making of maple sugar, and there was promise in the
making there, for the wilderness was still virgin. He decided that he
would have a regular "sugar-camp" in the midst of his "sugar-bush," and
that there should be much making of maple syrup and sugar, with all the
attendant festivities common formerly to areas farther south--and here
comes an explanation.
Not many months before, this friend of mine had done what men had done
often--that is, he fell in love, and with great violence. He fell in
love with a stately young woman from St. Louis, a Miss Lennox, who was
visiting in Chicago; a girl from the city where what is known as
"society" is old and generally clean; where the water which is drunk
leaves a clayey substance all round the glass when you partake of it,
and which is about the best water in the world; where the colonels who
drink whisky are such expert judges of the quality of what they consume
that they live far longer than do steady drinkers in other regions;
where the word of the business man is good, and where the women are
fair to look upon. To a sugar-making Jack had decided to invite this
young woman, with a party made up from both cities.
The party as composed was an admirable one of a dozen people, men and
women who could endure a wholesome though somewhat rugged change, and of
varying fancies and ages. There were as many men as women, but four were
oldsters and married people, and of these two were a rector and his
wife. It was an eminently proper but cheerful group, and the rector was
the greatest boy of all. We tried to teach him how to shoot white
rabbits, but abandoned the task finally, out of awful apprehension for
ourselves. Had the reverend gentleman's weapon been a bell-mouth, some
of us would assuredly have been slain. We were having a jolly time, our
host furnishing, possibly, the one exception.
Of the wooing of Hayes it cannot be said that it had prospered
altogether to his liking. Possibly he had been too reticent. He was a
languid fellow in speech, anyhow, and, excellent woodsman as he was,
generally languid in his movements. There was vigor enough underneath
this exterior, but only his intimates knew that. The lady had been
gracious, certainly, and she must have seen in his eyes, as women can
see so well, that he was in love with her, and that a proposal was
impending; but she had not given him the encouragement he wanted. Now he
was determined to stake his chances. There was to be a visit one
forenoon to the place where the sugar-making was in progress, and he
asked her to go with him ahead of the others, that he might show her how
full the forest was of life at all times. He had resolved. He was going
to ask her to be his wife.
There was written upon the white sheet of freshly fallen snow the story
of the night and morning, of the comedies and tragedies and adventures
of the wild things. Their tracks were all about. Here the grouped paws
of the rabbits had left their distinct markings as the animals had fed
and frolicked among the underwood; and there, over by the group of
evergreens, a little mass of leaves and fur showed where the number of
the frolickers had been decreased by one when the great owl of the north
dropped fiercely upon his prey; there showed the neat tracks of the fox
beside the coverts. The twin pads of the mink were clearly defined upon
the snow-covered ice which bordered the tumbling creek, and at times the
tracks diverged in exploration of the recesses of some brush heap.
Little difference made it to the mink whether his prey were bird or
woodmouse. Far into the morning, evidently, his hunting had extended,
for his track in one place was along that of the ruffed grouse; and the
signs showed that he had almost reached his prey, for a single brown
black-banded tail-feather lay upon the wing-swept snow, where it could
be seen the bird had risen almost as the leap came. The sun was shining,
and squirrel tracks were along the whitened crest of every log, and the
traces of jay and snowbird were quite as numerous. There was clamor in
the tree-tops. The musical and merry "chickadee-dee-dee" of the tamest
of the birds of winter and the somewhat sadder note of the wood pewee
mingled with the occasional caw of a crow, the shrill cry of a jay, or
the tapping of woodpeckers upon the boles of dead trees. A flock of
snow-bunting fluttered and fed in a patch of dry seed-laden weeds. Even
the creek was full of life, for there could be seen the movements of
creeping things upon its bottom, while through the clear waters trout
and minnow flashed brilliantly. There were odors in the air. There was
evidence everywhere that spring was real; and it occurred to Jack, as
the two walked along and he read aloud to her the night's tale told upon
the snow, that the poet who insisted that in the spring a young man's
fancy lightly turns to thoughts of love quite understood his business;
not that it really required spring in his own case, but the season
seemed at least to accentuate his emotions. He wondered if young women
were affected the same way. He hoped so. At present his courage failed
They reached the "sugar-bush" proper, and wandered about among the big
maples. They drank the sweet sap from the troughs, and finally settled
themselves down comfortably upon one of the rude benches which had been
placed about the fire, over which the kettles boiled steadily, under the
watchful eye of an old sugar-maker, whose chief occupation was to lower
into the bubbling surface a piece of raw pork attached by a string to a
rod whenever the sap showed signs of boiling over. Others of the house
party soon joined them. The sun had come out brightly now, and luncheon,
brought from the house, was eaten and enjoyed. Then followed more
rambling about the wood. The ground showed bare where the snow had
melted on an occasional sandy knoll, and there was a search for
wintergreen leaves. It was announced that all must be at the house again
in time for an early dinner, since the great work of "sugaring-off" was
to be the event of the night. It was then that Jack suggested to Miss
Lennox that they go by another path of which he knew, but which he had
not lately tried. The remainder of the party took the old route, and so
the two made the journey once more alone. The man was resolved again. It
was three o'clock in the afternoon now, and about as pleasant a day as
any upon which man ever made a proposal. Jack took his fate in his
He was simple and straightforward about it, and certainly made a rather
neat job of the affair. He showed his intensity and earnestness; and it
seemed rather hard that when he concluded he was not at once accepted by
the handsome girl, who stood there blushing, but with a certain firmly
regretful expression about the mouth.
Her voice trembled a little as she spoke. She said that she liked Mr.
Hayes, liked him very much, and he knew it, but that it was only a great
friendship. She had her ideal, and he did not fulfill it. "I cannot help
it," she said, earnestly; "I have ambitions for the man whom I marry. I
could really love only a man of action, of physical bravery, one who
could not be content with a life of ease, however cultivated such a
life. What have you done? You but enjoy existence! I want some one
rugged. Why, even your physical movements are languid! I'd rather marry
the roughest viking that ever sailed the seas than the most accomplished
The sentence was completed with one of the most piercing and agonizing
screams that ever issued from the throat of a fair young woman. At the
same instant she disappeared from sight.
Jack stood for a single second utterly appalled, but he was recalled to
life by a second scream, equaling the first in every way, and issuing
from a hole in the snow beside him. He could see in the depths the top
of a very pretty hat. He realized the situation in a moment. They had
just rounded the upturned roots of a monster fallen pine, and Miss
Lennox had broken through the crusted snow and dropped into the cavity
beneath. He threw himself on the ground, reached down his arms, and
finally calmed the fair prisoner sufficiently to enable her to do her
part. She reached up her hands; he caught a firm hold of her wrists and
began pulling her out. He lifted her thus until her head and shoulders
were in the sunlight, then sought to put an arm around her waist to
complete the task. He was not grumbling at the good the gods had sent
him. He was not at first in a hurry. With one arm at last fairly
encircling that plump person, with that soft breath upon his cheek, he
was not going to be violent. He was going to lift slowly and
intelligently until the goddess should be upon her feet again. Then,
from beneath, came a growl which was almost a roar; there was another
wild shriek from Miss Lennox, there was the sound of brushwood being
torn away, and as Jack, with a mighty effort, lifted the girl to her
feet beside him, there appeared at the hole the blazing eyes and red
mouth of a bear, furious at having been aroused from its winter sleep.
A fragment of limb lay at Jack's feet. With the unconscious instinct of
preservation for both, he seized it and struck the beast fairly on the
snout. It fell back, but uprose again, growling horribly. The girl
stood, too dazed to move, but Jack grasped her roughly by the shoulder,
turned her about and shouted, hoarsely, "Run!" then made another blow at
the scrambling animal. She reeled for a moment, then gathered herself
together and ran like a scared doe. As she ran she screamed--about one
scream to each five yards, as carefully estimated by the young man at a
Despite her terror, the girl turned at a distance of a hundred yards,
stopped and looked backward for an instant, and saw what was certainly
an interesting spectacle, but which made her turn again and flee even
more swiftly down the pathway, renewing her cries as she sped.
Affairs were becoming more than interesting for Mr. Jack Hayes. It may
be said fairly and honestly of him, left facing that bear, gaunt and
ugly and flesh-clamoring from the winter's sleep, though still muscular
and enduring--as bears are made--that he demeaned himself as should
become a modern gentleman. He could not or would not run away. He knew
that the beast must not be released, and knew that unless faced it would
clamber in a moment to the level surface.
I have read somewhere, as doubtless have you, because it has wandered
throughout the newspapers of the world, the story of a famous Russian
officer, famous, too, as a great swordsman, who once faced a brown bear
robbed of her young, and beat her into insensibility, since his blows
were swifter and more adroit than those delivered by her great forearms.
In the midst of the battle, some thought of this hard Russian tale
drifted through the mind of Hayes, as he dealt blow after blow upon the
muzzle of the brute seeking daylight and vengeance upon its opponent.
Each time as the bear upreared, the stout limb descended, but
apparently with slight effect, and with each rush and tearing down of
matted snow and twigs, the angle of ascent was lessening perceptibly. To
say that Jack was exceedingly earnest and anxious would not be to
exaggerate a particle. Furthermore, he was becoming warm and scant of
breath. A portion of the breath which remained to him he utilized in
whooping most lustily.
The girl burst into the great front room of the log house, where the
preparations for Easter were in progress. Most of the guests had not yet
reached the house, but there were the rector and two ladies. She
staggered into the room, but partially recovered from the effect of her
wild flight, and could only gasp out, "Jack!--a bear!--a little way up
the eastern path!" and then fell promptly in a heap upon the furs of a
The rector stood astonished for a moment, then realized the situation.
Upon the wall hung a double-barreled gun, which he knew was loaded with
buckshot, intended for the vagrant wild geese still seeking northern
habitats. He leaped for the gun, and asked a question hurriedly:
"The east path?" he cried.
"Yes," the girl contrived to say, and the rector, gun in hand, dashed
out of the doorway and to the eastern path, which he knew well, for he
had been a guest the preceding autumn; and then over the snow of that
pathway gave such an exhibition of clerical sprinting as probably never
before occurred since Jonah fled for Tarsish. He reached the scene of an
exceeding lively exchange of confidences in about two minutes, and saw
what alarmed and at the same time inspirited him most mightily. He
rushed up close to the fencing Hayes, and as the beast in the pit
upreared himself head and shoulders, managed to discharge one barrel of
the shotgun. The shot was well intended but ill-aimed. It was but a
dispensation of Providence that Jack and not the bear was killed. The
beast sank back for another rush, and at the same instant Jack tore the
gun from the reverend gentleman's hands, and as the thing rose again
poured the contents of the second barrel fairly into the middle of his
throat. The episode was ended. Meanwhile, rushing and shouting along the
pathway, came the full contingent of male guests. They arrived only in
time to hear the story and to assist in heaving out the body of the
bear, which was dragged down the pathway and to the house amid much
clamor and gratulation. Jack, in a violent perspiration and extremely
shaky, entered the house, where much was said, all of which he took
modestly, and then everybody prepared for dinner. The feast and later
the "sugaring-off" were occasions of much joyousness, but Jack and Miss
Lennox conversed but little, save in a courteous and casual way. There
was a fine time generally, and all slept the sleep of the more or less
just. Easter morning broke fair and clear. It was good that morning to
hear sounding out over the snow and in the sunlight the farewell notes
of the flitting birds of the north and the greetings of the coming birds
of the spring. It was certainly spring now, and all was life and hope
and happiness. The Easter services were to begin at ten. It was nine
o'clock, or maybe it was nine fifteen--it is well to be accurate about
such important matters as this--that Jack and Miss Lennox met apart from
the others, who were assisting in some arrangement of the greenery.
There was something of the quality which is known as "melting" in her
eyes when she looked at him, and the villain felt encouraged.
"It is Easter morning," he said. "Are you glad? Everything seems
She looked up into his face, and only smiled and blushed.
"Are you all right?" said he. "I've been troubled over you."
She said nothing at first, but the old critical and defiant look came
into her face again. It had now, however, in it a trace of the gently
judicial. "I was mistaken," she said; "you are a man of action."
"Will you be my wife, then?" said Jack.
"Yes," said she.
Well, they are married, as people so frequently are, and Jack is not
going to the log-house in Michigan this spring, because that St.
Louis-Chicago baby is too young to be abandoned. I like Easter and I
like Jack and his wife, and I like babies, but I don't like being robbed
of an outing in a region where spring comes in so suddenly and
gloriously. How wise was the old pessimist who declared that "a man
married is a man marred"--but, then, who will agree with me!
PROFESSOR MORGAN'S MOON
I am aware that attention has already been called in the daily
newspapers to certain curious features of the astronomical discussion
between Professor Macadam of Joplin University and Professor Morgan of
the same institution; but newspaper comment has related only to the
scientific aspects of the case, lacking all references to the origin of
the debate and to the inevitable woman and the romance. As a matter of
fact, the discussion which has set the scientific world, or at least the
astronomical part of it, by the ears, had its inception in a love
affair, and terminated with that affair's symmetrical development. It
has seemed to me that something more than the dry husks of the story
should be given to the public, and that a great many people might be
quite as much interested in the romance as in the mathematical
conclusions reached. That is why I tell the tale in full.
Had Professor Macadam never owned a daughter, or had the one
appertaining to him been plain instead of charming, young Professor
Morgan would never have broken a metaphorical lance with the crusty
senior educator. But Professor Macadam did have a daughter, Lee--odd
name for a girl--and she was about as pretty as a girl may grow to be,
and sometimes they grow that way amazingly. She was clever, too, and
good, and Professor Morgan had not known her for half a year when it was
all up with him. It became essential for his permanent welfare, mental,
moral and physical, that this particular young woman should be his, to
have and to hold, and he did not deny the fact to himself at all.
Without going into detail, it may be added that he did not deny the fact
to her, either, and so exerted himself and improved his opportunities
that before much time elapsed he had secured a strong ally in his
designs. This ally was the young lady herself, and it will be admitted
that Professor Morgan had thus made a fair beginning. But all was not to
be easy for the pair, however faithful or resolved they were.
College professors generally are not much addicted to either the
accumulation or the love of money, but Professor Macadam was rather an
exception to the rule. Sixty years of age, noted as a great
mathematician and astronomer, he had long had a good income from his
teaching and his books, and had hoarded and made good investments, and
was a rich man. Lee, being an only child, was in fair way some day of
coming into a fortune, and her father was resolved that it should not go
to any poor man. He had often expressed his opinion on this subject; it
was well known to the lovers, but this did not prevent Professor
Morgan, who was just beginning and had only a fair salary with no
surplus, from asking the old man for his daughter.
The interview was not a long one, but there was a good deal of low
barometer and high temperature to it, meteorologically speaking.
Professor Macadam fumed, and flatly declined to consider the subject of
such an alliance. "It is absurd!" he said. "What would you live on?"
Professor Morgan intimated that two people might sustain themselves in a
modest way on the salary he was getting.
"Nonsense, sir! Nonsense!" was the retort. "My daughter has been
accustomed to a better style of living than you could afford her, and I
decline to consider the proposition for a moment. You're in no condition
to support a wife, sir! Figures do not lie, sir! Figures do not lie!"
Professor Morgan suggested that figures sometimes did give a wrong
"Then it is because they are used by an incompetent person. I am
surprised that you, sir, assistant professor of astronomy in a great
institution of learning, should assert that any mathematical fact is not
an actual one. Prove to me that figures lie, and you can have my
daughter! But this is only nonsense. You are presumptuous and something
of an ass, sir. Good day, sir!"
When Professor Morgan imparted to his sweetheart the result of this
interesting interview, they were both somewhat cast down. It was she who
"And so papa said you could have me, did he, if you could prove to him
that figures ever lied?"
"Yes, he said that, though I don't suppose he meant it. It was simply a
sort of defiance he blurted out in his anger. But what difference does
it make? How could I prove an impossibility in any event, even if such a
grotesque challenge were accepted in earnest? When I said to him that
figures might give wrong impressions, it was only to convey the idea
that people who cared very much for each other might get along with very
little money, and that the ordinary estimates for necessary income did
"You don't know papa! He'll keep his word, even one uttered in
excitement. He has almost a superstition regarding the literal
observance of any promise made, though it might be accidental and really
meaning nothing. You are very clever--as great a mathematician as papa
is. You must prove to him that figures sometimes really lie, even where
computations are all correct. Surely, there must be some way of doing
"I'm afraid not, dear. The moon isn't made of green cheese."
"But there must be some way, and you must find it. You shall be like a
knight of old, who is to gain a maiden's hand by the accomplishment of
some great deed of derring-do. Am I not worth it, sir?" And she stood
before him jauntily, with her pretty elbows out.
He looked down into a face so fair and so full of all fealty and promise
of sweet wifehood that he resolved in an instant that if it lay in human
power to meet the terms of the old man's challenge the thing should be
accomplished. He said as much, and what he said was punctuated labially.
Being a professor, it would never have done for him to neglect his
It was not three months after the stormy Macadam-Morgan interview that
Professor Morgan's great book on "Eclipses Past and to Come" made its
appearance. And it was not three weeks after that great work's
appearance when all the scientific world was in a turmoil.
Professor Macadam had, for a season after the interview between him and
Professor Morgan, maintained a cold and formal air in all his
intercourse with the latter gentleman, but after a time this wore away,
and the old relations, never very familiar, were resumed. Indeed, it
seemed at length that Professor Macadam had forgotten all about the
affair, or if he remembered it at all, did so only as of an exhibition
of foolishness which his own force and wisdom had checked forever. When
therefore Professor Morgan's book appeared it was read at once with
interest, as the work of a scientist, who, though not a veteran, was of
undeniable ability and good repute.
But when the book had been considered there was a literary earthquake!
Professor Macadam reviewed it, and sought to tear it, figuratively, limb
from limb! He was ably supported by other pundits everywhere. The point
upon which the debate hinged was a remarkable one.
As already indicated, Professor Morgan's standing as an astronomer was
undisputed, and Professor Macadam did not question the accuracy of his
reasoning, so far as mere computations went. It is known, even to the
non-scientific, that eclipses of the moon can be foretold with the
utmost accuracy; and not only this, but that astronomers can readily
determine, by the same methods reversed, when eclipses of the moon have
occurred at any time in the past. It was to one of Professor Morgan's
past eclipses that Professor Macadam objected.
In a long-ago issue of a great foreign review, M. Camille Flammarion,
the French astronomer, advanced the view that this globe has been
inhabited twenty-two millions of years, which is accepted by other
scientists as a fair estimate. It is also admitted that the moon was at
one time part of the earth, and was hurled off into space before the
crust upon this body had fairly cooled. Of course, there is no way of
fixing the exact date of this interesting event, but for the sake of
convenience it is put at about one hundred millions of years ago. It may
have been a little earlier or a little later. But that does not matter.
In the table of dates of past eclipses in Professor Morgan's book he
referred to a certain eclipse of the moon which occurred about two
hundred millions of years before Christ, and not a flaw could be
discovered in his figuring. But Professor Macadam did not hesitate to
make a charge. He asserted with great vehemence that as there was no
moon two hundred millions of years before Christ, there could have been
no eclipse of the moon. Had there been an eclipse of the moon then, he
admitted that the eclipse would have taken place at just the time
Professor Morgan's table indicated; but as the case was, he referred to
such an event contemptuously as "an Irish eclipse," and was extremely
scathing in his language. His review closed with an expression of regret
that an educator connected with the great Joplin University could have
been guilty of such an error, not of figures, but of logic.
Professor Morgan replied to all his critics, Professor Macadam included,
in a masterly article, in which he declared that he was responsible only
for his mathematics, not for the degree of cohesion of the earth's mucky
mass hundreds of millions of years ago, and that the eclipse he had
calculated must stand.
Professor Macadam came to the charge once more, briefly but savagely.
He again admitted the correctness of the computation, but ridiculed
Professor Morgan's attitude on the subject. "His figures," he concluded,
The day following the appearance of Professor Macadam's final article,
he was called upon in his study by Professor Morgan. The younger man did
not present the appearance of a crushed controversialist. On the
contrary, his air was pleasantly expectant. "I called," said he, "to
learn how soon you expected my marriage with your daughter to take
The older man started in his seat, "What do you mean, sir?" he demanded.
"Why, I called simply to discuss my marriage with your daughter. On the
occasion when you refused my first proposition you said that if I proved
that figures would lie your consent would be forthcoming. I have proved
to you that figures sometimes lie. I have not only your own admission,
but your assertion to that effect, made public in the columns of a great
quarterly. I know you to be a man of your word. I have come to talk
about my marriage."
Professor Macadam did not at once reply. His face became very red. "I
must talk with my daughter," he said finally.
That afternoon Professor Macadam and his daughter had an interview. The
young lady proved very firm. She would listen to no equivocation and no
protest. She had thought her father to be a man of honor--that was all
she had to say. She touched the old gentleman upon his weak point. He
yielded, not gracefully, but that was of no moment. She and Professor
Morgan, just then, had grace enough for an entire family--in their
And so they were married. And so, too, you know the origin of one of the
most exciting scientific discussions of the period.
RED DOG'S SHOW WINDOW
The snow lay deep beside the Black River of the Northwest Territory, and
upon its surface, where the ice was yet thick, for it was February and
weeks must pass before in the semi-arctic climate there would be signs
of spring. In the forests, which at intervals approach the river, the
snow was as deep as elsewhere, but there was not the desolation of the
plains, for in the wood were many wild creatures, and man was there as
well; not man of a very advanced type, it is true, but man rugged and
dirty, and philosophic. In the shadow of the evergreens, upon a point
extending far into the water, stood the tepees of a group of Indians,
hardy hunters and dependents in a vague sort of way of the great fur
company which took its name from Hudson's Bay.
Squatted beside the fire of pine knots and smoking silently in one of
the tepees was Red Dog, a man of no mean quality among the little tribe.
He had faculties. He had also various idiosyncrasies. He was undeniably
the best hunter and trapper and trainer of dogs to sledge, as well as
the most expert upon snowshoes of all the Indians living upon the point,
and he was, furthermore, one of the dirtiest of them and the biggest
drunkard whenever opportunity afforded. Fortunately for him and for his
squaw, Bigbeam, as she had been facetiously named by an agent of the
company, the opportunities for getting drunk were rare, for the company
is conservative in the distribution of that which makes bad hunters.
Given an abundance of firewater and tobacco, Red Dog was the happiest
Indian between the northern boundary of the United States and Lake Gary;
deprived of them both he hunted vigorously, thinking all the while of
the coming hour when, after a long journey and much travail, he should
be in what was his idea of heaven again. To-day, though, the rifle
bought from the company stood idle beside the ridge-pole, the sledge
dogs snarled and fought upon the snow outside, and Bigbeam, squat and
broad as became her name, looked askance at her lord as she prepared the
moose meat, uncertain of his temper, for his face was cloudy. Red Dog
was, in fact, perplexed, and was planning deeply.
Good reason was there for Red Dog's thought. Events of the immediate
future were of moment to him and all his fellows, among whom, though no
chief was formally acknowledged, he was recognized as leader; for had he
not at one time been with the company as a hired hunter? Had he not once
gone with a fur-carrying party even to Hudson's Bay, and thence to the
far south and even to Quebec? And did he not know the ways of the
company, and could not he talk a French patois which enabled him to be
understood at the stations? Now, as fitting representative of himself
and of his clan, a great responsibility had come upon him, and he was
lost in as anxious thought as could come to a biped of his quality.
Like a more or less benevolent devil-fish, the Hudson Bay Company has
ever reached out its tentacles for new territory where furs abound. Such
a region once discovered, a great log house is built there, and furs are
bought from the Indians who hunt within the adjacent region. This is, of
course, a vast convenience for the Indians, who are thus enabled to
exchange their winter catch of peltries for what they need, without a
journey of sometimes hundreds of miles to the nearest trading post.
Hence, under the wise treatment of Indians by the British, there has
long been competition between separate Indian bands to secure the
location of a new post within their own territory. Thus came the strait
of Red Dog. A new post had been decided upon, but there was doubt at
company headquarters as to whether it should be at Red Dog's point or a
hundred miles to the westward, where, it was asserted by Little Peter,
head man of a tribe there, the creeks were fairly clogged with otter,
the woods were swarming with silver foxes and sable, and as for moose,
they were thick as were once the buffalo to the south. Red Dog had told
his own story as well, but the factor at the post toward Fort Defiance
was still undecided. He had told Red Dog and his rival that he would
decide the matter the coming spring when they came down the river with
their furs for the spring trading. The best fur region was what he
sought. He would decide the matter from the relative quality of the
So Red Dog had hunted and trapped vigorously, and would ordinarily have
been satisfied with the outcome, for his band had found one of the best
fur-bearing regions of the river valley, and the new post was deserved
there upon its merits. This, however, the factor did not know. The issue
depended upon the relatively good showing made by Red Dog and Little
Peter. Despite his name, Little Peter was a full-blooded Indian and like
Red Dog, he was shrewd.
Red Dog smoked long, and the lines upon his forehead grew deeper as he
thought and schemed. At times his glance, bent most of the time upon the
fire before him, would be raised to seek the great bale of furs, the
product of his winter's catch. The meal was eaten, the hours passed, and
then, with a grunt, he ordered Bigbeam to open the package, which work
she performed with great deftness, for who but she had cleaned the skins
and bound them most compactly? They were spread upon the dirt floor, a
rich and luxurious display. No Russian princess, no Tartar king, no
monarch of the south, ever saw anything finer for consideration. There
were the smooth, silken skins of the cross fox, of the blue fox, that
strange, deeply silken-furred creature, the blend of which is a puzzle
to the naturalists; of the silver fox, which ranges so far southward
that the farmers and the farmers' sons of the northern tier of the
United States follow him fiercely with dog and gun because of the value
of his coating; of the otter, most graceful of all creatures of land or
water, and in the far north with fur which is a poem; of the sable,
which creeps farther south than many people know of; of the grim
wolverine, black and yellow-white and thickly and densely furred, and of
the great gray wolf of nearly the Arctic circle, a wolf so grizzly and
so long and high and gaunt and strong of limb that he tears sometimes
from the sledge ranges the best dog of all their pack and leaps easily
away into the forest with him; a beast who transcends in real being even
the old looming gray wolf of mediaeval story who once haunted northern
Germany and the British Isles and the Scandinavian forests, and who made
such impress upon men's minds that the legend of the werewolf had its
birth. There were thick skins of the moose and there was much dried
meat. All these, save the meat, contributed to make expansive the
display which Bigbeam, utilizing all the floor space, laid before the
eyes of Red Dog.
The showing made Red Dog even more anxiously contemplative. He thought
of the long, weary way to the present trading post, and of how it would
be equally long and weary were a new post to be located in the hunting
grounds of Little Peter. He knew how soft was the snow when it began to
melt in early spring, how the snow shoes sank deeply and became a burden
to lift, how the sledge runners no longer slid along the surface, and
the floundering dogs tired after half a day's journey; he thought how
full the river was of jagged ice cakes in the spring, and how perilous
was the passage of a deeply-laden canoe. Surely the new post must not go
to Little Peter. And Red Dog was most crafty.
There must have been, however attenuated, a fiber of French blood
throughout the being of Red Dog. It would have been odd, indeed, had the
case been otherwise, for the half-breeds penetrated long ago through the
far northwest, and the blood underneath does not always show itself
through the copper skin. Anyhow, Red Dog gazed interestedly and fixedly
upon the gloriously soft carpet before him, and there came to his brain
a sense of the wonderfully contrasting coloring. He rose to his feet and
arranged and rearranged the pelts to please his fancy. At last he
secured a combination which made him pause. He returned to his seat and
gazed long and earnestly upon the picture before him; then he turned his
eyes downward and thought as long again. Bigbeam came to him and
muttered words regarding some affair of the teepee. He did not answer
her, but, as she passed silently toward the doorway, he raised his eyes
and noted her broad expanse of back in the doorway to which the far
distant blue sky gave a distinct and striking outline. He shouted to her
gutturally and hoarsely to stand there as she was, and the woman stopped
herself in the doorway; then Red Dog bent his head and thought again. He
thought of a window he had seen in far Quebec, where soft and brilliant
furs were shown upon a flat surface to the most advantage. Why could he
not with such display most impress McGlenn, the Scotch factor, with the
importance of his hunting ground, and where could better display be made
than upon the broad back of his squat squaw Bigbeam? He would make her
sew the furs together in a mighty cloak, and she should ride the river
with him when the ice broke and the spring tides bore them down in their
great canoe to the factor's place toward Fort Reliance.
And the cloak was made. Talk of the wrappings of your princesses, of the
shallow-ermine-girded trappings of your queens--they were but yearning
things, but imitations, as compared with this great cloak of the
In the center of the field of this wondrous cloak lay white as snow the
skin of an ermine of the far north, and about it were arranged sables so
deep in color that the contrast was almost blackness, but for the play
of light and shade upon the shining fur. About the sables came contrast
again of the skins of silver fox, alternating with those of the otter,
and about all this glorious center piece, set at right angles, were
arranged the skins of the marten, the blue fox, the mink, the otter and
the beaver. It was a magnificent combination, bizarre in its contrasts
but wonderfully striking, and with a richness which can scarcely be
described, for the knowing Red Dog selected only the thickest and
glossiest and most valuable of his furs. He gazed upon the display with
a grunt of satisfaction.
Red Dog rose to his feet and called sharply to his squaw, who entered
the tent again with a celerity remarkable in one of her construction.
The Indian glanced meaningly at the dog whip which hung upon the center
pole, and there was rapid conversation. For days afterward Bigbeam was
busy sewing together the furs, as Red Dog had arranged them, and
attaching thongs of buckskin so that the wonderful garment could be tied
at her neck and waist.
Spring came at last, and Red Dog and Bigbeam set off upon their journey
to the factor's, as did other Indians from other localities for five
hundred miles about. It was a dreadful journey, the hardships of which
were undergone with characteristic Indian stoicism. There were
break-downs of the sledges, there were blizzards in which the travelers
almost perished, there was sickness among the dogs; and when finally the
point was reached where the river was fairly open, and where the big
canoe, _cached_ from the preceding season, could be launched and the
load bestowed within it, there followed miserable adventures and
misadventures, until, limping and pinched of face, the Indian and his
squaw drew their boat to land upon the shore beside the trading post.
The trading posts of the Northwest Territory vary little in their manner
of construction. They are built of logs as long as can be conveniently
obtained, and consist of three divisions, the front a store with a rude
counter, behind this the living-rooms of the factor and his assistants,
and in the rear the great storeroom for the year's supplies. The front
or trading room is usually well lighted by windows set in the side, for
it is well to have good light when fine furs are to be passed upon. The
trading room of McGlenn offered no exception to the rule, and his window
seats were good resting places for the casual barterer.
Indians were thronging about and in the post as Red Dog and Bigbeam
lugged their bale of furs up the bank and into the big room. There was
jabbering among the bucks, while the squaws stood silently about, and
among the most violent of the jabberers was Little Peter, who had
already talked with the factor and by magnificent lying had almost
convinced him that his own territory was the best for a new post.
Unfortunately, though, for Little Peter, his efforts and those of his
band had been somewhat lax during the winter, and the catch they
brought did not in all respects sustain his story. Red Dog and Bigbeam
mingled with the other Indians, and Red Dog was soon engaged in a
violent controversy with his rival, while Bigbeam stood silent among the
squaws. But Bigbeam was very tired; she had wielded the paddle for many
days, she had lost sleep and her eyelids were heavy; nature was too
strong; she edged away from the line of squaws, settled down into one of
the window seats, her broad back filling completely its lower half, and
drifted away into such dreamland as comes to the burdened and
uncomplaining Indian women of the Northwest.
Down a pathway leading beside the storehouse came McGlenn, the factor,
and his assistant, Johnson. They reached the window wherein Bigbeam was
reposing and stopped in their tracks! They could not believe their eyes!
Were they in Bond or Regent Street again! Never had they seen such
magnificent display of costly furs before, never one so barbaric, unique
and striking, and, withal, so honest in its richness! They did not
hesitate a moment. They rushed around to the main entrance, tore their
way profanely through the dense groups of Indians, and reached the
window wherein they had seen displayed the marvel. Then they started
back appalled! The interior appearance of that window afforded, perhaps,
as vivid and complaining contrast to its exterior as had ever been
presented since views had rivalry. The thongs about the neck of the
swart Bigbeam had become undone, and her normal front filled all the
window's broad interior. That front, to put it mildly, though
picturesque, was not attractive. It afforded an area of greasy and dirty
brown cuticle and of moose skin, if possible dirtier and greasier still.
The two white men could not understand themselves. Was there witchcraft
about; had they been drinking too much of the Scotch whisky in the
stores? They forced their way outside and looked at the window again,
and discovered that they were sane. There, pressed closely against the
window by the weight of the sleeping Bigbeam, still extended in all its
glory the wonderful robe of furs. Again they entered the post and
unceremoniously pulled from her pleasant resting place the helpmate of
Red Dog, the hunter. The cloak was seized upon and the two men hurried
with it to the inner apartments, where it was studied carefully and with
vigorous expressions of admiration.
"He's got it!" exclaimed McGlenn. "He's got it, the foxy rascal! It's
only a trick of Red Dog's; but the buck who knows furs as well as that
and who lives in a region where such furs can be found, and who's been
sharp enough to utilize his squaw for a scheme like this, deserves the
new post anyhow. You'll have to go up there, Johnson, and take some of
the voyageurs with you, as soon as the river is open to the head, and
establish a new post there. There'll be profit in it." Then Red Dog was
ordered to come in.
How, recognizing the effect already produced upon the factor by
Bigbeam's cloak, Red Dog waxed eloquent in description of the fur
producing facilities of his region cannot here be described at length.
From the picture he drew vehemently in bad French-Canadian language it
would appear that the otter and the beaver fought together for mere
breathing places in the streams, that the sable and the marten and the
ermine were household pets, and that as for the foxes, blue and silver
gray, they were so numerous that the spruce grouse had learned to build
their nests in trees! Turning his regard from his own country, he
referred to that of Little Peter. He described Little Peter as a
desperate character with a black heart and with no skill at all in the
capture of wild things. As to Little Peter's country, it was absurd to
talk about it! It was a desolate waste of rocks and shrub, whereon even
the little snowbirds could not live, and where the few bad Indians who
found a home there subsisted upon roots alone. It was a great oration.
The factor and his assistant listened and laughed and made allowances,
but did not alter the decision reached. Red Dog was told that the new
post would be established in his own hunting grounds. As a special
favor, he was given a quart bottle of whisky and ordered sternly to
conduct himself as well as he could under the circumstances. Never was
prouder Indian than Red Dog when he emerged from the storeroom. Before
the day had ended, his furs were all disposed of, including the
marvelous cloak, and in his big canoe were stored away quantities of
powder and bullets and tobacco, and other things appertaining to the
comfort of the North-western Indian. In place of her cloak of furs
Bigbeam wore a blanket so gorgeous of coloring that even the brilliantly
hued wood ducks envied her as they swept by overhead. In the bottom of
the canoe lay Red Dog. He had secured more whisky, and was as the dead
who know not. He would awake on the morrow with a headache, perhaps, but
with a proud consciousness that he had accomplished the feat of a
statesman for himself and for his band. Bigbeam rowed steadily toward
home, crooning some barbarous old half-song of her race. She was very
Markham awoke late for the simple reason that it had been nearly morning
when he went to bed. He awoke lying flat upon his back, and looked up
dreamily at the pattern on the ceiling It was unfamiliar and that set
his mind at work, and gradually he recognized where he was and why he
was there. He reasoned idly that it must be as late as ten o'clock in
the forenoon, and knew that by reaching out his arm he could open the
shutter of the hotel window, admitting the sunlight and affording a view
over the park and the blue lake, but he was laggard about it. There was
a pleasure in debating the matter with himself. He could hear bells, the
whistling of steamers and locomotives, the rumble of carriages and the
murmur which comes from many distant voices. He recognized that another
day in a great city was fairly on, and that the thousands were in motion
while he lay listless.
He forgot the sounds and thought about himself. He acknowledged, though
with a certain lenience of judgment, the absurdity of being where he
was. He should have shown more resolve, he admitted, at 2 A.M., and have
gone to his lodgings, a mile or so away. But he had been doing good work
the night before; that, at least, should, he felt, be counted to his
credit. Payne had come on from Washington with a duty of moment to
perform, and had called upon Markham to assist him. Years had passed
since they had worked together and it was a pleasure to renew the
combination. How well they understood each other's methods, and how
easily confident they felt united! They had been dilatory with what they
had to accomplish, so self-conscious of their force were they, and had
justified themselves gracefully in the event. They had strolled forth
after their labor, the last dispatch sent, had smoked and become
reminiscent, and had been soaked by a summer rain. They had been boys
again. Of the two, Markham had been the more buoyant and more reckless.
He had been a sick man, though still upon his legs and among his
fellows, when Payne had found him. Things had been going wrong with
Markham. His equation with Her had been disturbed.
It had been a test, there was no doubt of that, especially of the woman,
the relations between Markham and her who had come to be more to him
than he had ever before known or imagined one human being could be to
another. She loved him; she had confessed that in a sweet, womanly way,
but there was an obstacle between them. Before she could become his,
there was something for him to accomplish; something hard, perplexing,
and difficult in every way. He had not been idle. He had laid the
foundations for his structure of happiness, but foundations do not
reveal themselves as do upper stories, and she could not see the careful
stonework. The domes and minarets of the castle for which she may have
longed were not in sight. He alone knew what had been his work, but she
was hardly satisfied. And, then, suddenly, because of a disturbing
fancy, founded on a fact which was yet not a fact in its relations, she
had become another being. One thing, meaning much, she had done, which
took from the man his strength. It was as if his heart had been drained
of its blood. He was not himself. He groped mentally. Was there no
faithful love in woman; no love like his, which could not help itself
and was without alternative? Were women less than men, and was
calculation or instability a possibility with the sweetest and the
noblest of them? No boy was this; he had known very many women very
well, but he was helpless as a babe in the new world he had found when
he met this one who had become so much. She had changed him mentally and
morally, and even physically, for he had been a careless liver, and she
had turned him from his drifting into a better course. She had made him,
and now, had he been a weaker man, she would have unmade him. And he had
become ill because of it, and almost desperate. Then came the evidence
that she was a woman, as good women are dreamed of, after all; and they
understood, and had come close together to hope again. It gave him life
once more. There was, and would be, the memory of the lapse, but scars
do not cripple. He was himself again. He was thinking of it all, as he
lay late in bed this summer morning. He was a sluggard, he said to
himself. He must go forth and do things--for Her. He raised his arm to
throw open the shutter.
Ah! The arm would not rise! At least the man could not extend it far
enough to open the shutter. There was a twinge of pain and a strange
stiffness of the elbow. The other arm was raised--nothing the matter
with that. The man tried to move his legs. The left responded, but the
right was as useless as the arm. There was a pain, too, across the loins
as Markham sought to turn himself in bed. He was astonished. There had
been no pain until he moved. "What's the matter with me?" he muttered.
"I'm crippled; but how, and why?"
There was quietude for a few moments and then more deliberate effort.
With his unaffected leg and arm, the victim of physical circumstances he
could not explain worked himself around as if upon a pivot until the
preponderance of his weight was outside the bed. Then, with vast
caution, he tilted himself upward gently until he found himself sitting
upon the bed's edge, his feet just touching the floor, and the crippled
member refusing to bear weight. Markham bore down upon the right foot.
It was stiff and seemed as if it would break before it bent, while the
pain was exquisite, but the man could not stay where he was. He got down
upon the floor and crawled toward his clothing. He contrived, somehow,
to dress himself, but the task accomplished, his face was pallid and he
was wet with perspiration. He tilted himself to his feet and creeping
along by the wall, reached the elevator and so finally the office floor.
There was a tinkle of glasses in the hotel saloon, and through the open
door came the fragrance of mint and pineapple. There was a white-clad,
wax-mustached man behind the bar in there, who, as Markham knew, could
make a morning cocktail "to raise the dead," and not to raise them stark
and rigid, like the bodies in Dora's "Judgment Day," but flexile and
full of life. "Jack could mix me something that would help," he thought,
and turned instinctively, but checked himself. More than a year had
passed since he had tasted a morning cocktail. There had been a promise
in the way. He looked down at his knee and foot. "Let them twist," he
said, and then called for a cab.
He did not like to do it; it was a confession of weakness, but in his
own apartments again, and in bed as the only restful place, Markham sent
for a doctor. The doctor came, not the ponderous old practitioner of the
conventional type called for by a knowing man, but one of the better
modern type, educated, a man of the world, canny with Scotch blood, but
progressive and with the experimental tendency progressive men exhibit.
Markham told what manner of cup had been put to his lips. "What's the
matter with me!" he demanded.
"And what are you going to do about it?"
"Oh, I'll follow the custom of the profession and make you a
"And about the effect?"
"Possibly it will help you."
"Just at a casual estimate, how long am I to be crippled?"
"Depends on what?"
The doctor laughed. "There's a difference in rheumatism--and in men. If
you don't mind, I'll reserve my answer for a day or two."
Markham growled. The doctor went away after writing upon a bit of paper
[Handwriting: illegible prescription]
The prescription came, a powder of about the color of a pulverized
Rameses II, and with what Markham thought might be very nearly the
flavor of that defunct but estimable monarch. Night came also at length,
and with it came an experience, new even to this man who had been
knocked about somewhat, and who thought he knew his world. A man with a
pain and isolation can make a great study of the former, and Markham had
certainly all facilities in such uncanny direction. The day passed
drearily, but without much suffering to the man in the bed. He could
read, holding his book in his left hand, and he read far into the night.
Then he was formally introduced--he couldn't help it--to Our Lady of
Rheumatism. He was destined to become as well acquainted with her as was
Antony with Cleopatra, or Pericles with Aspasia. Not extended, but
violent, was to be the flirtation between these two.
Markham was tired and inclined to sleep, despite the obstacle
intervening with each movement. Exhaustion forces a man to sleep
sometimes when the pain which racks him is such that sleep would, under
other circumstances, be impossible. When sleeping, come dreams of
whatever object is nearest the heart, but the dreams are ever fantastic
and distorted. There may be pleasant phases to the imagined
happenings--this must be when the pain has for the moment ceased--but
the dream is usually most perplexing, and its culmination most
grotesque. At first Markham could not sleep at all. He was experiencing
new sensations. From the affected leg and arm the nerves telegraphed to
the brain certain interesting information. It was to the effect that a
little pot was boiling on--or under--one leg and one arm. It was in the
hollow underneath the knee, and that opposite the elbow joint that the
boiling was--hardly a boil at first. The pain was not a twinge, it was
not an ache, it was just a faintly simmering, vaguely hurting thing,
enough to keep a man awake. Move but a trifle and the simmer became a
boil. So the man lay still and suffered, not intensely, but
irritatingly. And at last, despite the simmering, he slept.
"What dreams may come!" Markham slept, and, sleeping, he was with his
love again, or at least trying to be. And what a season of it he had! It
appeared late evening to him--it might be nine o'clock--but there was
moonlight, while close to the ground was a white fog. He knew that She
was waiting on a street only a block away from him, but he must pass
through a park, a square rather densely wooded, with an iron fence about
it and gates at the center on each side. From one gate to another a path
led straight across through the thick shrubbery. In the queer
combination of moon and fog all seemed uncanny, but he was going to meet
Her and nothing mattered. He entered the little park jauntily, and went
a few yards up the graveled walk between the trees and bushes, when
there arose before him a startling figure. It was that of a man, or
rather monster, with a huge chest, but narrow loins and oddly spindle
legs, and with a white, dead face malignant of expression. The monster
barred the passage and gestured menacingly, but uttered not a word.
Markham did not care much. He was simply on his way to meet Her, and as
for monsters and _outre_ things in general, what did they amount to! He
was going to meet Her! He advanced a little and studied the creature. "I
can lick him," he soliloquized. "He's a whale about the chest but he's
weak about the small of the back, and his legs are nothing, and I'll
break him in two--him! I've got to meet Her!"
He plunged ahead, and suddenly the monster drifted aside into the bushes
and out of sight. Markham went on to the gate opening upon the opposite
street. He emerged upon the sidewalk and looked about for the woman he
loved. She was not there. A most matter-of-fact looking man came along,
and Markham asked him who or what it was that barred the passage in the
park. "That?" said the wayfarer, "Oh, he's nothing! He's only The
Mechanical Arbor Man!"
The explanation was enough for Markham. Any explanation is enough for
any one in a dream. He went down the sidewalk fully satisfied with what
was said, and intent only upon his errand. He must find his love. Maybe
she had walked along to the next block. A group of bicyclists were
careering by as he crossed the street. One of them passed so close that
he ran over Markham's foot. Talk of sudden agony! It came then. The man
awoke. It was three o'clock in the morning, and his rheumatism had
developed suddenly into an agony. He said he would be practical. Surely,
medical science, if it could not do away with a disease all at once,
could alleviate extraordinary pain. Why should a man suffer needlessly?
He sent for the doctor, and there was another brush of words between
them. A degree of fun as well, for the doctor was not enduring anything,
and was making a study of the case, and Markham was, between the
ebullitions of agony, amused to an extent with his own strange physical
condition. It seemed like prestidigitation to him. Here is what the
doctor gave for his relief:
[Handwriting: illegible prescription]
The dose was taken as directed, and the man, suffering, set his teeth
and awaited results. They did not come. The dose was repeated,
duplicated and triplicated recklessly, but without result. The pain had
grown to such proportions that the nerves had become hysterical, and
would be stilled by no physician's potion. They were beyond all reason.
This is but a simple, brief account of a man and a woman and some
rheumatism. It has no plot, and is but the record of events. The
immediate sequence just at this stage of happenings was an analysis by
Markham of what it was he was enduring--that is, an attempt at analysis.
He was, necessarily, not at his best in a discriminating way. The
account may aid the doctors, though. Those of them who have not had
rheumatism must labor under disadvantages in a diagnosis.
There are certain great holes in great rocks by the sea into which the
water enters through submarine channels and creeps up and up, increasing
its bubbling and its seething, as the flood fills the natural well until
when the top is reached there is a boiling caldron. This is flood tide.
So it seemed to him, came the pain to Markham. There would be no
suffering, and then would come the faint perception that something
unpleasant was about to happen in a certain locality, it might be almost
anywhere, for the rheumatism was no longer confining itself to the
right leg and the right arm, but rioted through all the man's limbs and
about his back and shoulders. It went about like a vulture after food,
alighting where it found prey to suit its fancy.
There would be the bubble and trickle beneath the knee and in the calf
of the leg, and then would come the increase of turbulence as the flood
rose, and then the boiling and the torture culminating throughout a long
hour and a half. Then the new murmur somewhere else and the same event.
Even in a finger or a toe definitely would the thing at times occur, the
pain being, if possible, more intense in such event, because, seemingly,
Pains may be said to have colors; in fact, this can be recognized even
by the less imaginative. A burn, a cut, you have a scarlet pain. A slap
might produce a pink pain, something less intense. But the pain of
rheumatism is of another sort; there is no glitter to it. It is always
blue, light at first, and gradually deepening until it becomes the very
blue-blackness of all misery. This is the muscular stage; when it
reaches the inflammatory there is a new sensation, something almost
grinding. This latter feature Markham had to learn, for when morning
broke, a single toe and all of one hand were swollen and unbendable. He
was becoming an expert on sensations. He had formed his own idea of the
Spanish Inquisition. It had never invented anything worth while, after
At 11 A.M. all pain suddenly ceased--even Our Lady of Rheumatism tires
temporarily of caressing--and the exhausted man slept. What a sleep it
was--glorious, but not dreamless. He was wandering through the halls of
the greatest fair the world has ever seen, and he had a purse! The
exhibitors were selling things, and what marvels he bought for Her!
There were Russian sables fit for her slender shoulders, and he took
them. Robes of the silver fox as soft as eider-down, and a cloak of
royal ermine; he secured them, too. She was fond of rubies, and he
purchased the most glorious of them all. For himself he bought but a
single thing, a picture of a woman with a neck like hers. And then,
wandering about seeking more gifts, he came to where they were melting a
silver statue of an actress and stepped into a pan of the molten metal!
He awoke then. Our Lady was caressing him again.
The doctor came and heard the story, and to say that Markham exhibited a
great command of language in the telling, would be to do him but mild
justice. The doctor, accustomed to his kind changed into wild animals by
pain, only laughed. And then that Hagenback of his profession wrote upon
a piece of paper this:
[Handwriting: illegible prescription]
There is no definiteness to this account. There is no relevance between
time and occurrences, save in a vague, general way. A month would cover
all the tale, but there are lapses. Markham suffered steadily, but not
so patiently as would have done another man. The doctor visited him
regularly, and they had difficulties such as will occur between men
learning to understand each other pretty well, and so risking all
debate. Two other prescriptions the doctor made, and these were all, not
counting repetitions at the druggists. These two prescriptions, one,
another ineffectual sedative, so great was the man's suffering, and the
other but a segment of the medical program looking toward a cure, may be
dropped into the matter casually.
So the man sick with what makes strong men yield, struggled and
suffered, until there came to him one day a man of color. Black as the
conventional ace of spades was this man, and most impudent of
expression, but he bore a note from Her. She had known him formerly but
as a serving man in a boarding-house, but he had told to another
servant, in her hearing, of how he had been engaged for years in a
Turkish bath, and how he had cured a certain great man of rheumatism.
She had remembered it, and had summoned this person of deep color that
she might send him to the man she loved. There are a number of men in
the world who can imagine what this messenger was to Markham under such
circumstances! What to any healthy and healthful man is evidence of
thinking about and for him from the one woman!
He questioned the visitor. He learned that he was at present a
professional prize-fighter, most of the time out of an engagement. His
appearance tended to establish his veracity in this particular instance.
He looked like a thug and looked like a person out of employment for a
What could he do? was demanded of the messenger. Well, he could "cure de
rheumatism, shuah." How would he do it? He would "take de gemman to a
Turkish bath and rub him and put some stuff on him."
Of course Markham was going to try the remedy. He would have tried a
prescription of sleeping all night on wet grass under a upas tree, if
such a remedy for rheumatism had come from Her. But he was fair about
it all. He sent for the doctor. It was on this occasion that occurred
their first controversy.
The doctor did not object to the Turkish bath nor the manipulation by
the prize-fighter. "Be careful," he said, "when you come out--don't get
a chill--and it may help you. What he rubs you with won't hurt you, and
the rubbing is good in itself."
[Handwriting: illegible prescription]
"But why haven't your prescriptions made me well?" demanded Markham.
The doctor was placid. "Because we don't know enough about rheumatism
yet," he answered.
"Well, what excuse has your profession? You've been fooling about for
thousands of years and don't know yet the real cause of a common
ailment. What is rheumatism, anyhow?"
The doctor was conservative in his expression.
"It's a microbe," blurted out Markham. "I tell you it's a microbe! They
are holding congresses and town meetings and pink teas all over me!
There's a Browning Society meeting in my left knee just now, and that's
what makes the agony. How could there be such a skipping about from one
place to another, neither place diseased in itself, if there were not an
active, living agency at work? Tell me that!"
The doctor admitted that microbes might cause the trouble. But he had a
word or two to say about this individual case. There had been but a
little over three weeks of the agony. The case was a particularly bad
one, and he didn't mind admitting that the patient was particularly
intractable and doubting. Optimism had much to do with a recovery in
most cases of illness, and optimism was here lacking. But he would wager
a box of cigars that the patient was on his feet again within two weeks.
The wager was taken with great promptness, and then the patient was
loaded into a cab and sent off with the black prize-fighter.
What happened in that Turkish bath will never be told with all its
proper lurid coloring. The prize-fighter stopped at a drug store and
bought a mixture of cocoanut oil and alcohol. Markham took a bath in the
usual way, and then was taken by the demon controlling him into the
apartment for soaping and all cleansing and manipulation. Here occurred
the tragedy. One leg had become stiffened, and the prize-fighter
suddenly jumped upon it and broke it down, and Markham rolled off the
marble slab, almost fainting from the pain. Then he recovered and tried
to fight, but could do nothing, being a weak cripple, and was literally
beaten into limberness. Then, using awful language, but helpless, he was
carried to the cooling room and there rubbed with the alcohol and oil.
He was taken to the cab more dead than alive. That night he had a little
rest, and dreamed of Her, and how she had sent him a black angel with
white wings. The next day he went with the prize-fighter again, but
informed him that when well he should kill him. For three days this
continued. The fourth day the prize-fighter got drunk and was arrested,
and was sent to jail for thirty days. Meanwhile Markham had continued
the physician's prescriptions faithfully. A week later he was
The man, walking again, went to Her. He said, "You have been my
salvation, as usual."
"I don't know," she answered, thoughtfully. "I do know this, though,
dear, that with you away from me and ill, I realized somehow more fully
what you are to me. I wanted to do things. I have read often about a
mother and a child. I think I had something of that feeling. I know now
about us; we must never misunderstand again. I don't think the colored
man helped you much, and I understand he is a most disreputable person."
He looked into her eyes, but uttered only a sentence of two words,
Markham visited the doctor, proud on his way of the swing of his legs
again. "It was a pretty swift cure," he said, "and I suppose you ought
to have some of the credit for it."
[Handwriting: illegible prescription]
The doctor advanced the proposition that he ought to have, with nature,
not some, but all of the credit.
"There's a difference in patients," he remarked, "and when you began to
improve you 'hustled.' But my treatment, those prescriptions, offset the
poison--call it microbes, if you wish--in your blood and gave your
physique and constitution and general health a chance. The darky does
There was a good-natured debate, Markham being now reasonable, but no
conclusion. What did cure Markham? Was it the physician's treatment, the
course with the prize-fighter, or the effect upon Markham's mind of the
fact that the latter was all from Her? Will some one say?
A week or two after his complete recovery, Markham asked the doctor what
course to follow to avoid a possible recurrence at any time of what he
had endured. The physician was very much in earnest in his answer. "Be
careful of what you eat and drink," he said, "and careful of yourself in
a general way aside from that. Do not take risks of colds. Be, in short,
a man of sense regarding your physical welfare."
"But I'm going into the woods of Northern Michigan on a shooting and
fishing trip," was the answer, "and we've got to sleep on the ground,
and to a certainty, we'll fall into some creek or lake on an average of
once a day; and, old man, we've room for another in the party."
"I'll come!" said the doctor.
But what cured Markham?
THE RED REVENGER
To build a really good jumper you must first find a couple of young
iron-wood trees, say three inches in thickness and with a clean length
of about twelve feet, clear of knots or limbs. If you chance to stumble
upon a couple with a natural bend, so that each curls up properly like a
sled runner, so much the better. But it isn't likely you'll find a pair
of just that sort. Young iron-wood trees do not ordinarily grow that
way, and the chances are you'll have to bend them artificially, cutting
notches with an ax on the upper side of each to allow the curvature.
With strong cross-pieces, stout oak reams, and the general construction
of a rude sled rudely imitated, you will have made what will carry a
ponderous load. The bottom of the iron-woods must, of course, be shaved
off evenly with a draw-shave and some people would nail on each a shoe
of strap-iron, but that is really needless. Iron-wood wears smooth
against the snow and ice and makes a noble runner anyhow. Only an auger
and sense and hickory pegs and an eye for business need be utilized in
the making, and in fact this economical construction is the best. That
"the dearest is the cheapest" is a tolerably good maxim, but does not
apply forever in regions where nature's heart and man's heart and the
man's hands are all tangled up together. The hickory creaks and yields,
but it is tough and does not break. Such means of conveyance as that
outlined, in angles chiefly, is equal to a sled for many things, and
better for many others.
There may be people of the ignorant sort who have always lived in towns,
who do not know what a jumper is. A jumper is a sort of sled, a part of
the twist and wrench of a new world and new devices of living, and is
used in newly-settled regions. It doesn't cost much, and you can drive
with it over anything that fails to offer a stern check to horses or a
yoke of oxen. It is great for "coasting," as they call it in some part
of the country; "sliding down hill" in others. It was a big jumper of
the sort described which was the pride of the boys in the Leavitt
district school. They had nailed boards across it to make a floor, and
the load that jumper carried on occasions was something wonderful. It
would sustain as many boys and girls as could be packed upon it.
Sometimes there came a need for strange devices as to getting on, and
then the mass of boys would make the journey with its perils, laid
criss-cross in layers, like cord-wood, four deep and very much alive and
The Leavitt school was situated in the country, ten miles from the
nearest town, and those who attended it were the farmers' sons and
daughters. In winter the well-grown ones, those who had work to do in
summer, would appear among the pupils, and this winter Jack Burrows,
aged eighteen, was among the older boys. He was there, strong, hard
working at his books, a fine young animal, and it may be added of him
that he was there, in love, deeply and almost hopelessly. Among the
girls in attendance was one who was different from the rest, just as an
Alderney is different from a group of Devon heifers. She was no better,
but she was different, that was all. She had come from a town, Miss
Jennie Orton, aged seventeen, and she was spending the winter with the
family of her uncle. Her own people were neither better off nor counted
superior in any way to those she was now among, but she had a town way
with her, a certain something, and was to the boys a most attractive
creature. There was nothing wonderful about her--that is, there
wouldn't be to you or me--but she was a bright girl and a good one, and
she awed Jack Burrows. A girl of seventeen is ten years older than a boy
of eighteen, and in this case the added fact that the girl had lived in
town and the boy had not, but added to the natural disparity. Jack had
made some sturdy but shy advances which had been well enough
received--in her heart Jennie thought him an excessively fine
fellow--but being a male, and young, and lacking the sight which sees,
he failed to take this graciousness at its full value. He had ventured
to become her escort on the occasion of this sleigh ride or of that, but
when all were crowded together by twos in the big straw-carpeted box, on
the red bob-sleds, and the bells were jangling and the woods were
slipping by and the bright stars overhead seemed laughing at something
going on beneath them, his arm--to its shame be it said--had failed to
steal about her waist, nor had he dared to touch his lips to hers,
beneath the hooded shelter of the great buffalo robe which curled
protectingly around them. He would as soon have dared such familiarity
with the minister's maiden sister, aged forty-two and prim as a Bible
book-mark. Yet Jennie was just the sort of girl whom a cold-blooded
expert must have declared as really meriting a kiss, when prudent and
fairly practicable for the kisser and kissee, and as possessing just the
sort of waist to be fitted handsomely by a good, strong arm. Jack, full
of fun and ordinarily plucky enough--he had kissed other girls and had
licked Jim Bigelow for saying Jennie Orton put on town airs--was simply
in a funk. He could not bring himself to a manly wooing point. He was
not without a resolve in the matter, for he was a determined youth, but
in this callow strait of his, he was weakling enough to resort to
devious methods. He wore no willow; he lost no weight. But the spell of
love which warps us was upon him, and he swerved from the straight line,
though bent upon his conquest. He was resolved to have that arm of his
about sweet Jennie's waist somehow, if he died for it, but with
discretion. He would not offend her for the world. So he fell to
There had come a deep snow, and then the heavens had opened and there
had followed a great rain. The schoolhouse stood on the crest of a hill
and by it the highway ran down a steep slope and right across the flats,
and the road, raised three feet higher than the low lands which it
crossed, showed darkly just above the water. Then came snow again, and
the road showed next a straight white band across the water. And now had
come some colder weather, and ice had formed above the waiting waters
which spread out so in all directions. What skating there would be! The
boys had tried the ice, but it was coy and threatening, not yet quite
safe to venture forth upon. It was what the boys called "India-rubber
ice"; ice which would bend beneath their tread, but would not quite
support them when they stopped. It would be all right, they said, in
just a day or two. To venture recklessly upon its surface now was but to
drop through two feet deep of water. And water beneath the ice in early
March is cold upon the flats. In the interval there would be, at recess
and at noontime, great sport in sliding down the hill.
The jumper, which, as already said, was a marvel of stoutness and