Part 3 out of 4
me! I sez to myself, 'Rube,' sez I, 'whatever's wrong o' YOUR
insides, you jest stick to that feller to set ye right.'"
The junior partner's face reddened as he turned to his shelves
ostensibly for consultation. Conscious of his inexperience, the
homely praise of even this ignorant man was not ungrateful. He
felt, too, that his treatment of the Frenchwoman, though
successful, might not be considered remunerative from a business
point of view by his partner. He accordingly acted upon the
suggestion of the stranger and put up two or three specifics for
dyspepsia. They were received with grateful alacrity and the
casual display of considerable gold in the stranger's pocket in the
process of payment. He was evidently a successful miner.
After bestowing the bottles carefully about his person, he again
leaned confidentially towards Kane. "I reckon of course you know
this high-toned lady, being in the way of seein' that kind o'
folks. I suppose you won't mind telling me, ez a stranger. But"
(he added hastily, with a deprecatory wave of his hand), "perhaps
Mr. Kane, in fact, had hesitated. He knew vaguely and by report
that Madame le Blanc was the proprietress of a famous restaurant,
over which she had rooms where private gambling was carried on to a
great extent. It was also alleged that she was protected by a
famous gambler and a somewhat notorious bully. Mr. Kane's caution
suggested that he had no right to expose the reputation of his
chance customer. He was silent.
The stranger's face became intensely sympathetic and apologetic.
"I see!--not another word, pard! It ain't the square thing to be
givin' her away, and I oughtn't to hev asked. Well--so long! I
reckon I'll jest drift back to the hotel. I ain't been in San
Francisker mor' 'n three hours, and I calkilate, pard, that I've
jest seen about ez square a sample of high-toned life as fellers ez
haz bin here a year. Well, hastermanyanner--ez the Greasers say.
I'll be droppin' in to-morrow. My name's Reuben Allen o' Mariposa.
I know yours; it's on the sign, and it ain't Sparlow."
He cast another lingering glance around the shop, as if loath to
leave it, and then slowly sauntered out of the door, pausing in the
street a moment, in the glare of the red light, before he faded
into darkness. Without knowing exactly why, Kane had an instinct
that the stranger knew no one in San Francisco, and after leaving
the shop was going into utter silence and obscurity.
A few moments later Dr. Sparlow returned to relieve his wearied
partner. A pushing, active man, he listened impatiently to Kane's
account of his youthful practice with Madame le Blanc, without,
however, dwelling much on his methods. "You ought to have charged
her more," the elder said decisively. "She'd have paid it. She
only came here because she was ashamed to go to a big shop in
Montgomery Street--and she won't come again."
"But she wants you to see her to-morrow," urged Kane, "and I told
her you would!"
"You say it was only a superficial cut?" queried the doctor, "and
you closed it? Umph! what can she want to see ME for?" He paid
more attention, however, to the case of the stranger, Allen. "When
he comes here again, manage to let me see him." Mr. Kane promised,
yet for some indefinable reason he went home that night not quite
as well satisfied with himself.
He was much more concerned the next morning when, after relieving
the doctor for his regular morning visits, he was startled an hour
later by the abrupt return of that gentleman. His face was marked
by some excitement and anxiety, which nevertheless struggled with
that sense of the ludicrous which Californians in those days
imported into most situations of perplexity or catastrophe.
Putting his hands deeply into his trousers pockets, he confronted
his youthful partner behind the counter.
"How much did you charge that French-woman?" he said gravely.
"Twenty-five cents," said Kane timidly.
"Well, I'd give it back and add two hundred and fifty dollars if
she had never entered the shop."
"What's the matter?"
"Her head will be--and a mass of it, in a day, I reckon! Why, man,
you put enough plaster on it to clothe and paper the dome of the
Capitol! You drew her scalp together so that she couldn't shut her
eyes without climbing up the bed-post! You mowed her hair off so
that she'll have to wear a wig for the next two years--and handed
it to her in a beau-ti-ful sealed package! They talk of suing me
and killing you out of hand."
"She was bleeding a great deal and looked faint," said the junior
partner; "I thought I ought to stop that."
"And you did--by thunder! Though it might have been better
business for the shop if I'd found her a crumbling ruin here, than
lathed and plastered in this fashion, over there! However," he
added, with a laugh, seeing an angry light in his junior partner's
eye, "SHE don't seem to mind it--the cursing all comes from THEM.
SHE rather likes your style and praises it--that's what gets me!
Did you talk to her much," he added, looking critically at his
"I only told her to sit still or she'd bleed to death," said Kane
"Humph!--she jabbered something about your being 'strong' and
knowing just how to handle her. Well, it can't be helped now. I
think I came in time for the worst of it and have drawn their fire.
Don't do it again. The next time a woman with a cut head and long
hair tackles you, fill up her scalp with lint and tannin, and pack
her off to some of the big shops and make THEM pick it out." And
with a good-humored nod he started off to finish his interrupted
With a vague sense of remorse, and yet a consciousness of some
injustice done him, Mr. Kane resumed his occupation with filters
and funnels, and mortars and triturations. He was so gloomily
preoccupied that he did not, as usual, glance out of the window, or
he would have observed the mining stranger of the previous night
before it. It was not until the man's bowed shoulders blocked the
light of the doorway that he looked up and recognized him. Kane
was in no mood to welcome his appearance. His presence, too,
actively recalled the last night's adventure of which he was a
witness--albeit a sympathizing one. Kane shrank from the illusions
which he felt he would be sure to make. And with his present ill
luck, he was by no means sure that his ministrations even to HIM
had been any more successful than they had been to the Frenchwoman.
But a glance at his good-humored face and kindling eyes removed
that suspicion. Nevertheless, he felt somewhat embarrassed and
impatient, and perhaps could not entirely conceal it. He forgot
that the rudest natures are sometimes the most delicately sensitive
to slights, and the stranger had noticed his manner and began
"I allowed I'd just drop in anyway to tell ye that these thar pills
you giv' me did me a heap o' good so far--though mebbe it's only
fair to give the others a show too, which I'm reckoning to do." He
paused, and then in a submissive confidence went on: "But first I
wanted to hev you excuse me for havin' asked all them questions
about that high-toned lady last night, when it warn't none of my
business. I am a darned fool."
Mr. Kane instantly saw that it was no use to keep up his attitude
of secrecy, or impose upon the ignorant, simple man, and said
hurriedly: "Oh no. The lady is very well known. She is the
proprietress of a restaurant down the street--a house open to
everybody. Her name is Madame le Blanc; you may have heard of her
To his surprise the man exhibited no diminution of interest nor
change of sentiment at this intelligence. "Then," he said slowly,
"I reckon I might get to see her again. Ye see, Mr. Kane, I rather
took a fancy to her general style and gait--arter seein' her in
that fix last night. It was rather like them play pictures on the
stage. Ye don't think she'd make any fuss to seein' a rough old
'forty-niner' like me?"
"Hardly," said Kane, "but there might be some objection from her
gentlemen friends," he added, with a smile,--"Jack Lane, a gambler,
who keeps a faro bank in her rooms, and Jimmy O'Ryan, a prize-
fighter, who is one of her 'chuckers out.'"
His further relation of Madame le Blanc's entourage apparently gave
the miner no concern. He looked at Kane, nodded, and repeated
slowly and appreciatively: "Yes, keeps a gamblin' and faro bank and
a prize-fighter--I reckon that might be about her gait and style
too. And you say she lives"--
He stopped, for at this moment a man entered the shop quickly, shut
the door behind him, and turned the key in the lock. It was done
so quickly that Kane instinctively felt that the man had been
loitering in the vicinity and had approached from the side street.
A single glance at the intruder's face and figure showed him that
it was the bully of whom he had just spoken. He had seen that
square, brutal face once before, confronting the police in a riot,
and had not forgotten it. But today, with the flush of liquor on
it, it had an impatient awkwardness and confused embarrassment that
he could not account for. He did not comprehend that the genuine
bully is seldom deliberate of attack, and is obliged--in common
with many of the combative lower animals--to lash himself into a
previous fury of provocation. This probably saved him, as perhaps
some instinctive feeling that he was in no immediate danger kept
him cool. He remained standing quietly behind the counter. Allen
glanced around carelessly, looking at the shelves.
The silence of the two men apparently increased the ruffian's rage
and embarrassment. Suddenly he leaped into the air with a whoop
and clumsily executed a negro double shuffle on the floor, which
jarred the glasses--yet was otherwise so singularly ineffective and
void of purpose that he stopped in the midst of it and had to
content himself with glaring at Kane.
"Well," said Kane quietly, "what does all this mean? What do you
"What does it mean?" repeated the bully, finding his voice in a
high falsetto, designed to imitate Kane's. "It means I'm going to
play merry h-ll with this shop! It means I'm goin' to clean it out
and the blank hair-cuttin' blank that keeps it. What do I want
here? Well--what I want I intend to help myself to, and all h-ll
can't stop me! And" (working himself to the striking point) "who
the blank are you to ask me?" He sprang towards the counter, but
at the same moment Allen seemed to slip almost imperceptibly and
noiselessly between them, and Kane found himself confronted only by
the miner's broad back.
"Hol' yer hosses, stranger," said Allen slowly, as the ruffian
suddenly collided with his impassive figure. "I'm a sick man
comin' in yer for medicine. I've got somethin' wrong with my
heart, and goin's on like this yer kinder sets it to thumpin'."
"Blank you and your blank heart!" screamed the bully, turning in a
fury of amazement and contempt at this impotent interruption.
"Who"--but his voice stopped. Allen's powerful right arm had
passed over his head and shoulders like a steel hoop, and pinioned
his elbows against his sides. Held rigidly upright, he attempted
to kick, but Allen's right leg here advanced, and firmly held his
lower limbs against the counter that shook to his struggles and
blasphemous outcries. Allen turned quietly to Kane, and, with a
gesture of his unemployed arm, said confidentially:
"Would ye mind passing me down that ar Romantic Spirits of Ammonyer
ye gave me last night?"
Kane caught the idea, and handed him the bottle.
"Thar," said Allen, taking out the stopper and holding the pungent
spirit against the bully's dilated nostrils and vociferous mouth,
"thar, smell that, and taste it, it will do ye good; it was
powerful kammin' to ME last night."
The ruffian gasped, coughed, choked, but his blaspheming voice died
away in a suffocating hiccough.
"Thar," continued Allen, as his now subdued captive relaxed his
struggling, "ye 'r' better, and so am I. It's quieter here now,
and ye ain't affectin' my heart so bad. A little fresh air will
make us both all right." He turned again to Kane in his former
subdued confidential manner.
"Would ye mind openin' that door?"
Kane flew to the door, unlocked it, and held it wide open. The
bully again began to struggle, but a second inhalation of the
hartshorn quelled him, and enabled his captor to drag him to the
door. As they emerged upon the sidewalk, the bully, with a final
desperate struggle, freed his arm and grasped his pistol at his
hip-pocket, but at the same moment Allen deliberately caught his
hand, and with a powerful side throw cast him on the pavement,
retaining the weapon in his own hand. "I've one of my own," he
said to the prostrate man, "but I reckon I'll keep this yer too,
until you're better."
The crowd that had collected quickly, recognizing the notorious and
discomfited bully, were not of a class to offer him any sympathy,
and he slunk away followed by their jeers. Allen returned quietly
to the shop. Kane was profuse in his thanks, and yet oppressed
with his simple friend's fatuous admiration for a woman who could
keep such ruffians in her employ. "You know who that man was, I
suppose?" he said.
"I reckon it was that 'er prize-fighter belongin' to that high-
toned lady," returned Allen simply. "But he don't know anything
about RASTLIN', b'gosh; only that I was afraid o' bringin' on that
heart trouble, I mout hev hurt him bad."
"They think"--hesitated Kane, "that--I--was rough in my treatment
of that woman and maliciously cut off her hair. This attack was
revenge--or"--he hesitated still more, as he remembered Dr.
Sparlow's indication of the woman's feeling--"or that bully's idea
"I see," nodded Allen, opening his small sympathetic eyes on Kane
with an exasperating air of secrecy--"just jealousy."
Kane reddened in sheer hopelessness of explanation. "No; it was
earning his wages, as he thought."
"Never ye mind, pard," said Allen confidentially. "I'll set 'em
both right. Ye see, this sorter gives me a show to call at that
thar restaurant and give HIM back his six-shooter, and set her on
the right trail for you. Why, Lordy! I was here when you was
fixin' her--I'm testimony o' the way you did it--and she'll
remember me. I'll sorter waltz round thar this afternoon. But I
reckon I won't be keepin' YOU from your work any longer. And look
yar!--I say, pard!--this is seein' life in 'Frisco--ain't it?
Gosh! I've had more high times in this very shop in two days, than
I've had in two years of St. Jo. So long, Mr. Kane!" He waved his
hand, lounged slowly out of the shop, gave a parting glance up the
street, passed the window, and was gone.
The next day being a half-holiday for Kane, he did not reach the
shop until afternoon. "Your mining friend Allen has been here,"
said Doctor Sparlow. "I took the liberty of introducing myself,
and induced him to let me carefully examine him. He was a little
shy, and I am sorry for it, as I fear he has some serious organic
trouble with his heart and ought to have a more thorough
examination." Seeing Kane's unaffected concern, he added, "You
might influence him to do so. He's a good fellow and ought to take
some care of himself. By the way, he told me to tell you that he'd
seen Madame le Blanc and made it all right about you. He seems to
be quite infatuated with the woman."
"I'm sorry he ever saw her," said Kane bitterly.
"Well, his seeing her seems to have saved the shop from being
smashed up, and you from getting a punched head," returned the
Doctor with a laugh. "He's no fool--yet it's a freak of human
nature that a simple hayseed like that--a man who's lived in the
backwoods all his life, is likely to be the first to tumble before
a pot of French rouge like her."
Indeed, in a couple of weeks, there was no further doubt of Mr.
Reuben Allen's infatuation. He dropped into the shop frequently on
his way to and from the restaurant, where he now regularly took his
meals; he spent his evenings in gambling in its private room. Yet
Kane was by no means sure that he was losing his money there
unfairly, or that he was used as a pigeon by the proprietress and
her friends. The bully O'Ryan was turned away; Sparlow grimly
suggested that Allen had simply taken his place, but Kane
ingeniously retorted that the Doctor was only piqued because Allen
had evaded his professional treatment. Certainly the patient had
never consented to another examination, although he repeatedly and
gravely bought medicines, and was a generous customer. Once or
twice Kane thought it his duty to caution Allen against his new
friends and enlighten him as to Madame le Blanc's reputation, but
his suggestions were received with a good-humored submission that
was either the effect of unbelief or of perfect resignation to the
fact, and he desisted. One morning Dr. Sparlow said cheerfully:--
"Would you like to hear the last thing about your friend and the
Frenchwoman? The boys can't account for her singling out a fellow
like that for her friend, so they say that the night that she cut
herself at the fete and dropped in here for assistance, she found
nobody here but Allen--a chance customer! That it was HE who cut
off her hair and bound up her wounds in that sincere fashion, and
she believed he had saved her life." The Doctor grinned maliciously
as he added: "And as that's the way history is written you see your
reputation is safe."
It may have been a month later that San Francisco was thrown into a
paroxysm of horror and indignation over the assassination of a
prominent citizen and official in the gambling-rooms of Madame le
Blanc, at the hands of a notorious gambler. The gambler had
escaped, but in one of those rare spasms of vengeful morality which
sometimes overtakes communities who have too long winked at and
suffered the existence of evil, the fair proprietress and her whole
entourage were arrested and haled before the coroner's jury at the
inquest. The greatest excitement prevailed; it was said that if
the jury failed in their duty, the Vigilance Committee had arranged
for the destruction of the establishment and the deportation of its
inmates. The crowd that had collected around the building was
reinforced by Kane and Dr. Sparlow, who had closed their shop in
the next block to attend. When Kane had fought his way into the
building and the temporary court, held in the splendidly furnished
gambling saloon, whose gilded mirrors reflected the eager faces of
the crowd, the Chief of Police was giving his testimony in a formal
official manner, impressive only for its relentless and impassive
revelation of the character and antecedents of the proprietress.
The house had been long under the espionage of the police; Madame
le Blanc had a dozen aliases; she was "wanted" in New Orleans, in
New York, in Havana! It was in HER house that Dyer, the bank
clerk, committed suicide; it was there that Colonel Hooley was set
upon by her bully, O'Ryan; it was she--Kane heard with reddening
cheeks--who defied the police with riotous conduct at a fete two
months ago. As he coolly recited the counts of this shameful
indictment, Kane looked eagerly around for Allen, whom he knew had
been arrested as a witness. How would HE take this terrible
disclosure? He was sitting with the others, his arm thrown over
the back of his chair, and his good-humored face turned towards the
woman, in his old confidential attitude. SHE, gorgeously dressed,
painted, but unblushing, was cool, collected, and cynical.
The Coroner next called the only witness of the actual tragedy,
"Reuben Allen." The man did not move nor change his position. The
summons was repeated; a policeman touched him on the shoulder.
There was a pause, and the officer announced: "He has fainted, your
"Is there a physician present?" asked the Coroner.
Sparlow edged his way quickly to the front. "I'm a medical man,"
he said to the Coroner, as he passed quickly to the still, upright,
immovable figure and knelt beside it with his head upon his heart.
There was an awed silence as, after a pause, he rose slowly to his
"The witness is a patient, your Honor, whom I examined some weeks
ago and found suffering from valvular disease of the heart. He is
THREE VAGABONDS OF TRINIDAD
"Oh! it's you, is it?" said the Editor.
The Chinese boy to whom the colloquialism was addressed answered
literally, after his habit:--
"Allee same Li Tee; me no changee. Me no ollee China boy."
"That's so," said the Editor with an air of conviction. "I don't
suppose there's another imp like you in all Trinidad County. Well,
next time don't scratch outside there like a gopher, but come in."
"Lass time," suggested Li Tee blandly, "me tap tappee. You no like
tap tappee. You say, alle same dam woodpeckel."
It was quite true--the highly sylvan surroundings of the Trinidad
"Sentinel" office--a little clearing in a pine forest--and its
attendant fauna, made these signals confusing. An accurate
imitation of a woodpecker was also one of Li Tee's accomplishments.
The Editor without replying finished the note he was writing; at
which Li Tee, as if struck by some coincident recollection, lifted
up his long sleeve, which served him as a pocket, and carelessly
shook out a letter on the table like a conjuring trick. The
Editor, with a reproachful glance at him, opened it. It was only
the ordinary request of an agricultural subscriber--one Johnson--
that the Editor would "notice" a giant radish grown by the
subscriber and sent by the bearer.
"Where's the radish, Li Tee?" said the Editor suspiciously.
"No hab got. Ask Mellikan boy."
Here Li Tee condescended to explain that on passing the schoolhouse
he had been set upon by the schoolboys, and that in the struggle
the big radish--being, like most such monstrosities of the quick
Californian soil, merely a mass of organized water--was "mashed"
over the head of some of his assailants. The Editor, painfully
aware of these regular persecutions of his errand boy, and perhaps
realizing that a radish which could not be used as a bludgeon was
not of a sustaining nature, forebore any reproof. "But I cannot
notice what I haven't seen, Li Tee," he said good-humoredly.
"S'pose you lie--allee same as Johnson," suggested Li with equal
cheerfulness. "He foolee you with lotten stuff--you foolee
Mellikan man, allee same."
The Editor preserved a dignified silence until he had addressed his
letter. "Take this to Mrs. Martin," he said, handing it to the
boy; "and mind you keep clear of the schoolhouse. Don't go by the
Flat either if the men are at work, and don't, if you value your
skin, pass Flanigan's shanty, where you set off those firecrackers
and nearly burnt him out the other day. Look out for Barker's dog
at the crossing, and keep off the main road if the tunnel men are
coming over the hill." Then remembering that he had virtually
closed all the ordinary approaches to Mrs. Martin's house, he
added, "Better go round by the woods, where you won't meet ANY
The boy darted off through the open door, and the Editor stood for
a moment looking regretfully after him. He liked his little
protege ever since that unfortunate child--a waif from a Chinese
wash-house--was impounded by some indignant miners for bringing
home a highly imperfect and insufficient washing, and kept as
hostage for a more proper return of the garments. Unfortunately,
another gang of miners, equally aggrieved, had at the same time
looted the wash-house and driven off the occupants, so that Li Tee
remained unclaimed. For a few weeks he became a sporting appendage
of the miners' camp; the stolid butt of good-humored practical
jokes, the victim alternately of careless indifference or of
extravagant generosity. He received kicks and half-dollars
intermittently, and pocketed both with stoical fortitude. But
under this treatment he presently lost the docility and frugality
which was part of his inheritance, and began to put his small wits
against his tormentors, until they grew tired of their own mischief
and his. But they knew not what to do with him. His pretty
nankeen-yellow skin debarred him from the white "public school,"
while, although as a heathen he might have reasonably claimed
attention from the Sabbath-school, the parents who cheerfully gave
their contributions to the heathen ABROAD, objected to him as a
companion of their children in the church at home. At this
juncture the Editor offered to take him into his printing office as
a "devil." For a while he seemed to be endeavoring, in his old
literal way, to act up to that title. He inked everything but the
press. He scratched Chinese characters of an abusive import on
"leads," printed them, and stuck them about the office; he put
"punk" in the foreman's pipe, and had been seen to swallow small
type merely as a diabolical recreation. As a messenger he was
fleet of foot, but uncertain of delivery. Some time previously the
Editor had enlisted the sympathies of Mrs. Martin, the good-natured
wife of a farmer, to take him in her household on trial, but on the
third day Li Tee had run away. Yet the Editor had not despaired,
and it was to urge her to a second attempt that he dispatched that
He was still gazing abstractedly into the depths of the wood when
he was conscious of a slight movement--but no sound--in a clump of
hazel near him, and a stealthy figure glided from it. He at once
recognized it as "Jim," a well-known drunken Indian vagrant of the
settlement--tied to its civilization by the single link of "fire
water," for which he forsook equally the Reservation where it was
forbidden and his own camps where it was unknown. Unconscious of
his silent observer, he dropped upon all fours, with his ear and
nose alternately to the ground like some tracking animal. Then
having satisfied himself, he rose, and bending forward in a dogged
trot, made a straight line for the woods. He was followed a few
seconds later by his dog--a slinking, rough, wolf-like brute, whose
superior instinct, however, made him detect the silent presence of
some alien humanity in the person of the Editor, and to recognize
it with a yelp of habit, anticipatory of the stone that he knew was
always thrown at him.
"That's cute," said a voice, "but it's just what I expected all
The Editor turned quickly. His foreman was standing behind him,
and had evidently noticed the whole incident.
"It's what I allus said," continued the man. "That boy and that
Injin are thick as thieves. Ye can't see one without the other--
and they've got their little tricks and signals by which they
follow each other. T'other day when you was kalkilatin' Li Tee was
doin' your errands I tracked him out on the marsh, just by
followin' that ornery, pizenous dog o' Jim's. There was the whole
caboodle of 'em--including Jim--campin' out, and eatin' raw fish
that Jim had ketched, and green stuff they had both sneaked outer
Johnson's garden. Mrs. Martin may TAKE him, but she won't keep him
long while Jim's round. What makes Li foller that blamed old Injin
soaker, and what makes Jim, who, at least, is a 'Merican, take up
with a furrin' heathen, just gets me."
The Editor did not reply. He had heard something of this before.
Yet, after all, why should not these equal outcasts of civilization
. . . . . .
Li Tee's stay with Mrs. Martin was brief. His departure was
hastened by an untoward event--apparently ushered in, as in the
case of other great calamities, by a mysterious portent in the sky.
One morning an extraordinary bird of enormous dimensions was seen
approaching from the horizon, and eventually began to hover over
the devoted town. Careful scrutiny of this ominous fowl, however,
revealed the fact that it was a monstrous Chinese kite, in the
shape of a flying dragon. The spectacle imparted considerable
liveliness to the community, which, however, presently changed to
some concern and indignation. It appeared that the kite was
secretly constructed by Li Tee in a secluded part of Mrs. Martin's
clearing, but when it was first tried by him he found that through
some error of design it required a tail of unusual proportions.
This he hurriedly supplied by the first means he found--Mrs.
Martin's clothes-line, with part of the weekly wash depending from
it. This fact was not at first noticed by the ordinary sightseer,
although the tail seemed peculiar--yet, perhaps, not more peculiar
than a dragon's tail ought to be. But when the actual theft was
discovered and reported through the town, a vivacious interest was
created, and spy-glasses were used to identify the various articles
of apparel still hanging on that ravished clothes-line. These
garments, in the course of their slow disengagement from the
clothes-pins through the gyrations of the kite, impartially
distributed themselves over the town--one of Mrs. Martin's
stockings falling upon the veranda of the Polka Saloon, and the
other being afterwards discovered on the belfry of the First
Methodist Church--to the scandal of the congregation. It would
have been well if the result of Li Tee's invention had ended here.
Alas! the kite-flyer and his accomplice, "Injin Jim," were tracked
by means of the kite's tell-tale cord to a lonely part of the marsh
and rudely dispossessed of their charge by Deacon Hornblower and a
constable. Unfortunately, the captors overlooked the fact that the
kite-flyers had taken the precaution of making a "half-turn" of the
stout cord around a log to ease the tremendous pull of the kite--
whose power the captors had not reckoned upon--and the Deacon
incautiously substituted his own body for the log. A singular
spectacle is said to have then presented itself to the on-lookers.
The Deacon was seen to be running wildly by leaps and bounds over
the marsh after the kite, closely followed by the constable in
equally wild efforts to restrain him by tugging at the end of the
line. The extraordinary race continued to the town until the
constable fell, losing his hold of the line. This seemed to impart
a singular specific levity to the Deacon, who, to the astonishment
of everybody, incontinently sailed up into a tree! When he was
succored and cut down from the demoniac kite, he was found to have
sustained a dislocation of the shoulder, and the constable was
severely shaken. By that one infelicitous stroke the two outcasts
made an enemy of the Law and the Gospel as represented in Trinidad
County. It is to be feared also that the ordinary emotional instinct
of a frontier community, to which they were now simply abandoned,
was as little to be trusted. In this dilemma they disappeared from
the town the next day--no one knew where. A pale blue smoke rising
from a lonely island in the bay for some days afterwards suggested
their possible refuge. But nobody greatly cared. The sympathetic
mediation of the Editor was characteristically opposed by Mr. Parkin
Skinner, a prominent citizen:--
"It's all very well for you to talk sentiment about niggers,
Chinamen, and Injins, and you fellers can laugh about the Deacon
being snatched up to heaven like Elijah in that blamed Chinese
chariot of a kite--but I kin tell you, gentlemen, that this is a
white man's country! Yes, sir, you can't get over it! The nigger
of every description--yeller, brown, or black, call him 'Chinese,'
'Injin,' or 'Kanaka,' or what you like--hez to clar off of God's
footstool when the Anglo-Saxon gets started! It stands to reason
that they can't live alongside o' printin' presses, M'Cormick's
reapers, and the Bible! Yes, sir! the Bible; and Deacon Hornblower
kin prove it to you. It's our manifest destiny to clar them out--
that's what we was put here for--and it's just the work we've got
I have ventured to quote Mr. Skinner's stirring remarks to show
that probably Jim and Li Tee ran away only in anticipation of a
possible lynching, and to prove that advanced sentiments of this
high and ennobling nature really obtained forty years ago in an
ordinary American frontier town which did not then dream of
Expansion and Empire!
Howbeit, Mr. Skinner did not make allowance for mere human nature.
One morning Master Bob Skinner, his son, aged twelve, evaded the
schoolhouse, and started in an old Indian "dug-out" to invade the
island of the miserable refugees. His purpose was not clearly
defined to himself, but was to be modified by circumstances. He
would either capture Li Tee and Jim, or join them in their lawless
existence. He had prepared himself for either event by
surreptitiously borrowing his father's gun. He also carried
victuals, having heard that Jim ate grasshoppers and Li Tee rats,
and misdoubting his own capacity for either diet. He paddled
slowly, well in shore, to be secure from observation at home, and
then struck out boldly in his leaky canoe for the island--a tufted,
tussocky shred of the marshy promontory torn off in some tidal
storm. It was a lovely day, the bay being barely ruffled by the
afternoon "trades;" but as he neared the island he came upon the
swell from the bar and the thunders of the distant Pacific, and
grew a little frightened. The canoe, losing way, fell into the
trough of the swell, shipping salt water, still more alarming to
the prairie-bred boy. Forgetting his plan of a stealthy invasion,
he shouted lustily as the helpless and water-logged boat began to
drift past the island; at which a lithe figure emerged from the
reeds, threw off a tattered blanket, and slipped noiselessly, like
some animal, into the water. It was Jim, who, half wading, half
swimming, brought the canoe and boy ashore. Master Skinner at once
gave up the idea of invasion, and concluded to join the refugees.
This was easy in his defenceless state, and his manifest delight in
their rude encampment and gypsy life, although he had been one of
Li Tee's oppressors in the past. But that stolid pagan had a
philosophical indifference which might have passed for Christian
forgiveness, and Jim's native reticence seemed like assent. And,
possibly, in the minds of these two vagabonds there might have been
a natural sympathy for this other truant from civilization, and
some delicate flattery in the fact that Master Skinner was not
driven out, but came of his own accord. Howbeit, they fished
together, gathered cranberries on the marsh, shot a wild duck and
two plovers, and when Master Skinner assisted in the cooking of
their fish in a conical basket sunk in the ground, filled with
water, heated by rolling red-hot stones from their drift-wood fire
into the buried basket, the boy's felicity was supreme. And what
an afternoon! To lie, after this feast, on their bellies in the
grass, replete like animals, hidden from everything but the
sunshine above them; so quiet that gray clouds of sandpipers
settled fearlessly around them, and a shining brown muskrat slipped
from the ooze within a few feet of their faces--was to feel
themselves a part of the wild life in earth and sky. Not that
their own predatory instincts were hushed by this divine peace;
that intermitting black spot upon the water, declared by the Indian
to be a seal, the stealthy glide of a yellow fox in the ambush of a
callow brood of mallards, the momentary straying of an elk from the
upland upon the borders of the marsh, awoke their tingling nerves
to the happy but fruitless chase. And when night came, too soon,
and they pigged together around the warm ashes of their camp-fire,
under the low lodge poles of their wigwam of dried mud, reeds, and
driftwood, with the combined odors of fish, wood-smoke, and the
warm salt breath of the marsh in their nostrils, they slept
contentedly. The distant lights of the settlement went out one by
one, the stars came out, very large and very silent, to take their
places. The barking of a dog on the nearest point was followed by
another farther inland. But Jim's dog, curled at the feet of his
master, did not reply. What had HE to do with civilization?
The morning brought some fear of consequences to Master Skinner,
but no abatement of his resolve not to return. But here he was
oddly combated by Li Tee. "S'pose you go back allee same. You
tellee fam'lee canoe go topside down--you plentee swimee to bush.
Allee night in bush. Housee big way off--how can get? Sabe?"
"And I'll leave the gun, and tell Dad that when the canoe upset the
gun got drowned," said the boy eagerly.
Li Tee nodded.
"And come again Saturday, and bring more powder and shot and a
bottle for Jim," said Master Skinner excitedly.
"Good!" grunted the Indian.
Then they ferried the boy over to the peninsula, and set him on a
trail across the marshes, known only to themselves, which would
bring him home. And when the Editor the next morning chronicled
among his news, "Adrift on the Bay--A Schoolboy's Miraculous
Escape," he knew as little what part his missing Chinese errand boy
had taken in it as the rest of his readers.
Meantime the two outcasts returned to their island camp. It may
have occurred to them that a little of the sunlight had gone from
it with Bob; for they were in a dull, stupid way fascinated by the
little white tyrant who had broken bread with them. He had been
delightfully selfish and frankly brutal to them, as only a
schoolboy could be, with the addition of the consciousness of his
superior race. Yet they each longed for his return, although he
was seldom mentioned in their scanty conversation--carried on in
monosyllables, each in his own language, or with some common
English word, or more often restricted solely to signs. By a
delicate flattery, when they did speak of him it was in what they
considered to be his own language.
"Boston boy, plenty like catchee HIM," Jim would say, pointing to a
distant swan. Or Li Tee, hunting a striped water snake from the
reeds, would utter stolidly, "Melikan boy no likee snake." Yet the
next two days brought some trouble and physical discomfort to them.
Bob had consumed, or wasted, all their provisions--and, still more
unfortunately, his righteous visit, his gun, and his superabundant
animal spirits had frightened away the game, which their habitual
quiet and taciturnity had beguiled into trustfulness. They were
half starved, but they did not blame him. It would come all right
when he returned. They counted the days, Jim with secret notches
on the long pole, Li Tee with a string of copper "cash" he always
kept with him. The eventful day came at last,--a warm autumn day,
patched with inland fog like blue smoke and smooth, tranquil, open
surfaces of wood and sea; but to their waiting, confident eyes the
boy came not out of either. They kept a stolid silence all that
day until night fell, when Jim said, "Mebbe Boston boy go dead."
Li Tee nodded. It did not seem possible to these two heathens that
anything else could prevent the Christian child from keeping his
After that, by the aid of the canoe, they went much on the marsh,
hunting apart, but often meeting on the trail which Bob had taken,
with grunts of mutual surprise. These suppressed feelings, never
made known by word or gesture, at last must have found vicarious
outlet in the taciturn dog, who so far forgot his usual discretion
as to once or twice seat himself on the water's edge and indulge in
a fit of howling. It had been a custom of Jim's on certain days to
retire to some secluded place, where, folded in his blanket, with
his back against a tree, he remained motionless for hours. In the
settlement this had been usually referred to the after effects of
drink, known as the "horrors," but Jim had explained it by saying
it was "when his heart was bad." And now it seemed, by these
gloomy abstractions, that "his heart was bad" very often. And then
the long withheld rains came one night on the wings of a fierce
southwester, beating down their frail lodge and scattering it
abroad, quenching their camp-fire, and rolling up the bay until it
invaded their reedy island and hissed in their ears. It drove the
game from Jim's gun; it tore the net and scattered the bait of Li
Tee, the fisherman. Cold and half starved in heart and body, but
more dogged and silent than ever, they crept out in their canoe
into the storm-tossed bay, barely escaping with their miserable
lives to the marshy peninsula. Here, on their enemy's ground,
skulking in the rushes, or lying close behind tussocks, they at
last reached the fringe of forest below the settlement. Here, too,
sorely pressed by hunger, and doggedly reckless of consequences,
they forgot their caution, and a flight of teal fell to Jim's gun
on the very outskirts of the settlement.
It was a fatal shot, whose echoes awoke the forces of civilization
against them. For it was heard by a logger in his hut near the
marsh, who, looking out, had seen Jim pass. A careless, good-
natured frontiersman, he might have kept the outcasts' mere
presence to himself; but there was that damning shot! An Indian
with a gun! That weapon, contraband of law, with dire fines and
penalties to whoso sold or gave it to him! A thing to be looked
into--some one to be punished! An Indian with a weapon that made
him the equal of the white! Who was safe? He hurried to town to
lay his information before the constable, but, meeting Mr. Skinner,
imparted the news to him. The latter pooh-poohed the constable,
who he alleged had not yet discovered the whereabouts of Jim, and
suggested that a few armed citizens should make the chase
themselves. The fact was that Mr. Skinner, never quite satisfied
in his mind with his son's account of the loss of the gun, had put
two and two together, and was by no means inclined to have his own
gun possibly identified by the legal authority. Moreover, he went
home and at once attacked Master Bob with such vigor and so highly
colored a description of the crime he had committed, and the
penalties attached to it, that Bob confessed. More than that, I
grieve to say that Bob lied. The Indian had "stoled his gun," and
threatened his life if he divulged the theft. He told how he was
ruthlessly put ashore, and compelled to take a trail only known to
them to reach his home. In two hours it was reported throughout
the settlement that the infamous Jim had added robbery with
violence to his illegal possession of the weapon. The secret of
the island and the trail over the marsh was told only to a few.
Meantime it had fared hard with the fugitives. Their nearness to
the settlement prevented them from lighting a fire, which might
have revealed their hiding-place, and they crept together,
shivering all night in a clump of hazel. Scared thence by passing
but unsuspecting wayfarers wandering off the trail, they lay part
of the next day and night amid some tussocks of salt grass, blown
on by the cold sea-breeze; chilled, but securely hidden from sight.
Indeed, thanks to some mysterious power they had of utter
immobility, it was wonderful how they could efface themselves,
through quiet and the simplest environment. The lee side of a
straggling vine in the meadow, or even the thin ridge of cast-up
drift on the shore, behind which they would lie for hours
motionless, was a sufficient barrier against prying eyes. In this
occupation they no longer talked together, but followed each other
with the blind instinct of animals--yet always unerringly, as if
conscious of each other's plans. Strangely enough, it was the REAL
animal alone--their nameless dog--who now betrayed impatience and a
certain human infirmity of temper. The concealment they were
resigned to, the sufferings they mutely accepted, he alone
resented! When certain scents or sounds, imperceptible to their
senses, were blown across their path, he would, with bristling
back, snarl himself into guttural and strangulated fury. Yet, in
their apathy, even this would have passed them unnoticed, but that
on the second night he disappeared suddenly, returning after two
hours' absence with bloody jaws--replete, but still slinking and
snappish. It was only in the morning that, creeping on their hands
and knees through the stubble, they came upon the torn and mangled
carcass of a sheep. The two men looked at each other without
speaking--they knew what this act of rapine meant to themselves.
It meant a fresh hue and cry after them--it meant that their
starving companion had helped to draw the net closer round them.
The Indian grunted, Li Tee smiled vacantly; but with their knives
and fingers they finished what the dog had begun, and became
equally culpable. But that they were heathens, they could not have
achieved a delicate ethical responsibility in a more Christian-like
Yet the rice-fed Li Tee suffered most in their privations. His
habitual apathy increased with a certain physical lethargy which
Jim could not understand. When they were apart he sometimes found
Li Tee stretched on his back with an odd stare in his eyes, and
once, at a distance, he thought he saw a vague thin vapor drift
from where the Chinese boy was lying and vanish as he approached.
When he tried to arouse him there was a weak drawl in his voice and
a drug-like odor in his breath. Jim dragged him to a more
substantial shelter, a thicket of alder. It was dangerously near
the frequented road, but a vague idea had sprung up in Jim's now
troubled mind that, equal vagabonds though they were, Li Tee had
more claims upon civilization, through those of his own race who
were permitted to live among the white men, and were not hunted to
"reservations" and confined there like Jim's people. If Li Tee was
"heap sick," other Chinamen might find and nurse him. As for Li
Tee, he had lately said, in a more lucid interval: "Me go dead--
allee samee Mellikan boy. You go dead too--allee samee," and then
lay down again with a glassy stare in his eyes. Far from being
frightened at this, Jim attributed his condition to some
enchantment that Li Tee had evoked from one of his gods--just as he
himself had seen "medicine-men" of his own tribe fall into strange
trances, and was glad that the boy no longer suffered. The day
advanced, and Li Tee still slept. Jim could hear the church bells
ringing; he knew it was Sunday--the day on which he was hustled
from the main street by the constable; the day on which the shops
were closed, and the drinking saloons open only at the back door.
The day whereon no man worked--and for that reason, though he knew
it not, the day selected by the ingenious Mr. Skinner and a few
friends as especially fitting and convenient for a chase of the
fugitives. The bell brought no suggestion of this--though the dog
snapped under his breath and stiffened his spine. And then he
heard another sound, far off and vague, yet one that brought a
flash into his murky eye, that lit up the heaviness of his Hebraic
face, and even showed a slight color in his high cheek-bones. He
lay down on the ground, and listened with suspended breath. He
heard it now distinctly. It was the Boston boy calling, and the
word he was calling was "Jim."
Then the fire dropped out of his eyes as he turned with his usual
stolidity to where Li Tee was lying. Him he shook, saying briefly:
"Boston boy come back!" But there was no reply, the dead body
rolled over inertly under his hand; the head fell back, and the jaw
dropped under the pinched yellow face. The Indian gazed at him
slowly, and then gravely turned again in the direction of the
voice. Yet his dull mind was perplexed, for, blended with that
voice were other sounds like the tread of clumsily stealthy feet.
But again the voice called "Jim!" and raising his hands to his lips
he gave a low whoop in reply. This was followed by silence, when
suddenly he heard the voice--the boy's voice--once again, this time
very near him, saying eagerly:--
"There he is!"
Then the Indian knew all. His face, however, did not change as he
took up his gun, and a man stepped out of the thicket into the
"Drop that gun, you d----d Injin."
The Indian did not move.
"Drop it, I say!"
The Indian remained erect and motionless.
A rifle shot broke from the thicket. At first it seemed to have
missed the Indian, and the man who had spoken cocked his own rifle.
But the next moment the tall figure of Jim collapsed where he stood
into a mere blanketed heap.
The man who had fired the shot walked towards the heap with the
easy air of a conqueror. But suddenly there arose before him an
awful phantom, the incarnation of savagery--a creature of blazing
eyeballs, flashing tusks, and hot carnivorous breath. He had
barely time to cry out "A wolf!" before its jaws met in his throat,
and they rolled together on the ground.
But it was no wolf--as a second shot proved--only Jim's slinking
dog; the only one of the outcasts who at that supreme moment had
gone back to his original nature.
A VISION OF THE FOUNTAIN
Mr. Jackson Potter halted before the little cottage, half shop,
half hostelry, opposite the great gates of Domesday Park, where
tickets of admission to that venerable domain were sold. Here Mr.
Potter revealed his nationality as a Western American, not only in
his accent, but in a certain half-humorous, half-practical
questioning of the ticket-seller--as that quasi-official stamped
his ticket--which was nevertheless delivered with such unfailing
good-humor, and such frank suggestiveness of the perfect equality
of the ticket-seller and the well-dressed stranger that, far from
producing any irritation, it attracted the pleased attention not
only of the official, but his wife and daughter and a customer.
Possibly the good looks of the stranger had something to do with
it. Jackson Potter was a singularly handsome young fellow, with
one of those ideal faces and figures sometimes seen in Western
frontier villages, attributable to no ancestor, but evolved
possibly from novels and books devoured by ancestresses in the long
solitary winter evenings of their lonely cabins on the frontier. A
beardless, classical head, covered by short flocculent blonde
curls, poised on a shapely neck and shoulders, was more Greek in
outline than suggestive of any ordinary American type. Finally,
after having thoroughly amused his small audience, he lifted his
straw hat to the "ladies," and lounged out across the road to the
gateway. Here he paused, consulting his guide-book, and read
aloud: "St. John's gateway. This massive structure, according to
Leland, was built in"--murmured--"never mind when; we'll pass St.
John," marked the page with his pencil, and tendering his ticket to
the gate-keeper, heard, with some satisfaction, that, as there were
no other visitors just then, and as the cicerone only accompanied
PARTIES, he would be left to himself, and at once plunged into a
It was that loveliest of rare creations--a hot summer day in
England, with all the dampness of that sea-blown isle wrung out of
it, exhaled in the quivering blue vault overhead, or passing as dim
wraiths in the distant wood, and all the long-matured growth of
that great old garden vivified and made resplendent by the fervid
sun. The ashes of dead and gone harvests, even the dust of those
who had for ages wrought in it, turned again and again through
incessant cultivation, seemed to move and live once more in that
present sunshine. All color appeared to be deepened and mellowed,
until even the very shadows of the trees were as velvety as the
sward they fell upon. The prairie-bred Potter, accustomed to the
youthful caprices and extravagances of his own virgin soil, could
not help feeling the influence of the ripe restraints of this.
As he glanced through the leaves across green sunlit spaces to the
ivy-clad ruins of Domesday Abbey, which seemed itself a growth of
the very soil, he murmured to himself: "Things had been made mighty
comfortable for folks here, you bet!" Forgotten books he had read
as a boy, scraps of school histories, or rarer novels, came back to
him as he walked along, and peopled the solitude about him with
Nevertheless, it was unmistakably hot--a heat homelike in its
intensity, yet of a different effect, throwing him into languid
reverie rather than filling his veins with fire. Secure in his
seclusion in the leafy chase, he took off his jacket and rambled on
in his shirt sleeves. Through the opening he presently saw the
abbey again, with the restored wing where the noble owner lived for
two or three weeks in the year, but now given over to the
prevailing solitude. And then, issuing from the chase, he came
upon a broad, moss-grown terrace. Before him stretched a tangled
and luxuriant wilderness of shrubs and flowers, darkened by cypress
and cedars of Lebanon; its dun depths illuminated by dazzling white
statues, vases, trellises, and paved paths, choked and lost in the
trailing growths of years of abandonment and forgetfulness. He
consulted his guide-book again. It was the "old Italian garden,"
constructed under the design of a famous Italian gardener by the
third duke; but its studied formality being displeasing to his
successor, it was allowed to fall into picturesque decay and
negligent profusion, which were not, however, disturbed by later
descendants,--a fact deplored by the artistic writer of the guide-
book, who mournfully called attention to the rare beauty of the
marble statues, urns, and fountains, ruined by neglect, although
one or two of the rarer objects had been removed to Deep Dene
Lodge, another seat of the present duke.
It is needless to say that Mr. Potter conceived at once a humorous
opposition to the artistic enthusiasm of the critic, and, plunging
into the garden, took a mischievous delight in its wildness and the
victorious struggle of nature with the formality of art. At every
step through the tangled labyrinth he could see where precision and
order had been invaded, and even the rigid masonry broken or
upheaved by the rebellious force. Yet here and there the two
powers had combined to offer an example of beauty neither could
have effected alone. A passion vine had overrun and enclasped a
vase with a perfect symmetry no sculptor could have achieved. A
heavy balustrade was made ethereal with a delicate fretwork of
vegetation between its balusters like lace. Here, however, the lap
and gurgle of water fell gratefully upon the ear of the perspiring
and thirsty Mr. Potter, and turned his attention to more material
things. Following the sound, he presently came upon an enormous
oblong marble basin containing three time-worn fountains with
grouped figures. The pipes were empty, silent, and choked with
reeds and water plants, but the great basin itself was filled with
water from some invisible source.
A terraced walk occupied one side of the long parallelogram; at
intervals and along the opposite bank, half shadowed by willows,
tinted marble figures of tritons, fauns, and dryads arose half
hidden in the reeds. They were more or less mutilated by time, and
here and there only the empty, moss-covered plinths that had once
supported them could be seen. But they were so lifelike in their
subdued color in the shade that he was for a moment startled.
The water looked deliciously cool. An audacious thought struck
him. He was alone, and the place was a secluded one. He knew
there were no other visitors; the marble basin was quite hidden
from the rest of the garden, and approached only from the path by
which he had come, and whose entire view he commanded. He quietly
and deliberately undressed himself under the willows, and
unhesitatingly plunged into the basin. The water was four or five
feet deep, and its extreme length afforded an excellent swimming
bath, despite the water-lilies and a few aquatic plants that
mottled its clear surface, or the sedge that clung to the bases of
the statues. He disported for some moments in the delicious
element, and then seated himself upon one of the half-submerged
plinths, almost hidden by reeds, that had once upheld a river god.
Here, lazily resting himself upon his elbow, half his body still
below the water, his quick ear was suddenly startled by a rustling
noise and the sound of footsteps. For a moment he was inclined to
doubt his senses; he could see only the empty path before him and
the deserted terrace. But the sound became more distinct, and to
his great uneasiness appeared to come from the OTHER side of the
fringe of willows, where there was undoubtedly a path to the
fountain which he had overlooked. His clothes were under those
willows, but he was at least twenty yards from the bank and an
equal distance from the terrace. He was about to slip beneath the
water when, to his crowning horror, before he could do so, a young
girl slowly appeared from the hidden willow path full upon the
terrace. She was walking leisurely with a parasol over her head
and a book in her hand. Even in his intense consternation her
whole figure--a charming one in its white dress, sailor hat, and
tan shoes--was imprinted on his memory as she instinctively halted
to look upon the fountain, evidently an unexpected surprise to her.
A sudden idea flashed upon him. She was at least sixty yards away;
he was half hidden in the reeds and well in the long shadows of the
willows. If he remained perfectly motionless she might overlook
him at that distance, or take him for one of the statues. He
remembered also that as he was resting on his elbow, his half-
submerged body lying on the plinth below water, he was somewhat in
the attitude of one of the river gods. And there was no other
escape. If he dived he might not be able to keep under water as
long as she remained, and any movement he knew would betray him.
He stiffened himself and scarcely breathed. Luckily for him his
attitude had been a natural one and easy to keep. It was well,
too, for she was evidently in no hurry and walked slowly, stopping
from time to time to admire the basin and its figures. Suddenly he
was instinctively aware that she was looking towards him and even
changing her position, moving her pretty head and shading her eyes
with her hand as if for a better view. He remained motionless,
scarcely daring to breathe. Yet there was something so innocently
frank and undisturbed in her observation, that he knew as
instinctively that she suspected nothing, and took him for a half-
submerged statue. He breathed more freely. But presently she
stopped, glanced around her, and, keeping her eyes fixed in his
direction, began to walk backwards slowly until she reached a stone
balustrade behind her. On this she leaped, and, sitting down,
opened in her lap the sketch-book she was carrying, and, taking out
a pencil, to his horror began to sketch!
For a wild moment he recurred to his first idea of diving and
swimming at all hazards to the bank, but the conviction that now
his slightest movement must be detected held him motionless. He
must save her the mortification of knowing she was sketching a
living man, if he died for it. She sketched rapidly but fixedly
and absorbedly, evidently forgetting all else in her work. From
time to time she held out her sketch before her to compare it with
her subject. Yet the seconds seemed minutes and the minutes hours.
Suddenly, to his great relief, a distant voice was heard calling
"Lottie." It was a woman's voice; by its accent it also seemed to
him an American one.
The young girl made a slight movement of impatience, but did not
look up, and her pencil moved still more rapidly. Again the voice
called, this time nearer. The young girl's pencil fairly flew over
the paper, as, still without looking up, she lifted a pretty voice
and answered back, "Y-e-e-s!"
It struck him that her accent was also that of a compatriot.
"Where on earth are you?" continued the first voice, which now
appeared to come from the other side of the willows on the path by
which the young girl had approached. "Here, aunty," replied the
girl, closing her sketch-book with a snap and starting to her feet.
A stout woman, fashionably dressed, made her appearance from the
"What have you been doing all this while?" she said querulously.
"Not sketching, I hope," she added, with a suspicious glance at the
book. "You know your professor expressly forbade you to do so in
The young girl shrugged her shoulders. "I've been looking at the
fountains," she replied evasively.
"And horrid looking pagan things they are, too," said the elder
woman, turning from them disgustedly, without vouchsafing a second
glance. "Come. If we expect to do the abbey, we must hurry up, or
we won't catch the train. Your uncle is waiting for us at the top
of the garden."
And, to Potter's intense relief, she grasped the young girl's arm
and hurried her away, their figures the next moment vanishing in
the tangled shrubbery.
Potter lost no time in plunging with his cramped limbs into the
water and regaining the other side. Here he quickly half dried
himself with some sun-warmed leaves and baked mosses, hurried on
his clothes, and hastened off in the opposite direction to the path
taken by them, yet with such circuitous skill and speed that he
reached the great gateway without encountering anybody. A brisk
walk brought him to the station in time to catch a stopping train,
and in half an hour he was speeding miles away from Domesday Park
and his half-forgotten episode.
. . . . . .
Meantime the two ladies continued on their way to the abbey. "I
don't see why I mayn't sketch things I see about me," said the
young lady impatiently. "Of course, I understand that I must go
through the rudimentary drudgery of my art and study from casts,
and learn perspective, and all that; but I can't see what's the
difference between working in a stuffy studio over a hand or arm
that I know is only a STUDY, and sketching a full or half length in
the open air with the wonderful illusion of light and shade and
distance--and grouping and combining them all--that one knows and
feels makes a picture. The real picture one makes is already in
"For goodness' sake, Lottie, don't go on again with your usual
absurdities. Since you are bent on being an artist, and your
Popper has consented and put you under the most expensive master in
Paris, the least you can do is to follow the rules. And I dare say
he only wanted you to 'sink the shop' in company. It's such horrid
bad form for you artistic people to be always dragging out your
sketch-books. What would you say if your Popper came over here,
and began to examine every lady's dress in society to see what
material it was, just because he was a big dry-goods dealer in
The young girl, accustomed to her aunt's extravagances, made no
reply. But that night she consulted her sketch, and was so far
convinced of her own instincts, and the profound impression the
fountain had made upon her, that she was enabled to secretly finish
her interrupted sketch from memory. For Miss Charlotte Forrest was
a born artist, and in no mere caprice had persuaded her father to
let her adopt the profession, and accepted the drudgery of a
novitiate. She looked earnestly upon this first real work of her
hand and found it good! Still, it was but a pencil sketch, and
wanted the vivification of color.
When she returned to Paris she began--still secretly--a larger
study in oils. She worked upon it in her own room every moment she
could spare from her studio practice, unknown to her professor. It
absorbed her existence; she grew thin and pale. When it was
finished, and only then, she showed it tremblingly to her master.
He stood silent, in profound astonishment. The easel before him
showed a foreground of tangled luxuriance, from which stretched a
sheet of water like a darkened mirror, while through parted reeds
on its glossy surface arose the half-submerged figure of a river
god, exquisite in contour, yet whose delicate outlines were almost
a vision by the crowning illusion of light, shadow, and atmosphere.
"It is a beautiful copy, mademoiselle, and I forgive you breaking
my rules," he said, drawing a long breath. "But I cannot now
recall the original picture."
"It's no copy of a picture, professor," said the young girl
timidly, and she disclosed her secret. "It was the only perfect
statue there," she added diffidently; "but I think it wanted--
"True," said the professor abstractedly. "Where the elbow rests
there should be a half-inverted urn flowing with water; but the
drawing of that shoulder is so perfect--as is YOUR study of it--
that one guesses the missing forearm one cannot see, which clasped
it. Beautiful! beautiful!"
Suddenly he stopped, and turned his eyes almost searchingly on
"You say you have never drawn from the human model, mademoiselle?"
"Never," said the young girl innocently.
"True," murmured the professor again. "These are the classic ideal
measurements. There are no limbs like those now. Yet it is
wonderful! And this gem, you say, is in England?"
"Good! I am going there in a few days. I shall make a pilgrimage
to see it. Until then, mademoiselle, I beg you to break as many of
my rules as you like."
Three weeks later she found the professor one morning standing
before her picture in her private studio. "You have returned from
England," she said joyfully.
"I have," said the professor gravely.
"You have seen the original subject?" she said timidly.
"I have NOT. I have not seen it, mademoiselle," he said, gazing at
her mildly through his glasses, "because it does not exist, and
The young girl turned pale.
"Listen. I have go to England. I arrive at the Park of Domesday.
I penetrate the beautiful, wild garden. I approach the fountain.
I see the wonderful water, the exquisite light and shade, the
lilies, the mysterious reeds--beautiful, yet not as beautiful as
you have made it, mademoiselle, but no statue--no river god! I
demand it of the concierge. He knows of it absolutely nothing. I
transport myself to the noble proprietor, Monsieur le Duc, at a
distant chateau where he has collected the ruined marbles. It is
"Yet I saw it," said the young girl earnestly, yet with a troubled
face. "O professor," she burst out appealingly, "what do you think
"I think, mademoiselle," said the professor gravely, "that you
created it. Believe me, it is a function of genius! More, it is a
proof, a necessity! You saw the beautiful lake, the ruined
fountain, the soft shadows, the empty plinth, curtained by reeds.
You yourself say you feel there was 'something wanting.'
Unconsciously you yourself supplied it. All that you had ever
dreamt of mythology, all that you had ever seen of statuary,
thronged upon you at that supreme moment, and, evolved from your
own fancy, the river god was born. It is your own, chere enfant,
as much the offspring of your genius as the exquisite atmosphere
you have caught, the charm of light and shadow that you have
brought away. Accept my felicitations. You have little more to
learn of me."
As he bowed himself out and descended the stairs he shrugged his
shoulders slightly. "She is an adorable genius," he murmured.
"Yet she is also a woman. Being a woman, naturally she has a
lover--this river god! Why not?"
The extraordinary success of Miss Forrest's picture and the
instantaneous recognition of her merit as an artist, apart from her
novel subject, perhaps went further to remove her uneasiness than
any serious conviction of the professor's theory. Nevertheless, it
appealed to her poetic and mystic imagination, and although other
subjects from her brush met with equally phenomenal success, and
she was able in a year to return to America with a reputation
assured beyond criticism, she never entirely forgot the strange
incident connected with her initial effort.
And by degrees a singular change came over her. Rich, famous, and
attractive, she began to experience a sentimental and romantic
interest in that episode. Once, when reproached by her friends for
her indifference to her admirers, she had half laughingly replied
that she had once found her "ideal," but never would again. Yet
the jest had scarcely passed her lips before she became pale and
silent. With this change came also a desire to re-purchase the
picture, which she had sold in her early success to a speculative
American picture-dealer. On inquiry she found, alas! that it had
been sold only a day or two before to a Chicago gentleman, of the
name of Potter, who had taken a fancy to it.
Miss Forrest curled her pretty lip, but, nothing daunted, resolved
to effect her purpose, and sought the purchaser at his hotel. She
was ushered into a private drawing-room, where, on a handsome
easel, stood the newly acquired purchase. Mr. Potter was out, "but
would return in a moment."
Miss Forrest was relieved, for, alone and undisturbed, she could
now let her full soul go out to her romantic creation. As she
stood there, she felt the glamour of the old English garden come
back to her, the play of light and shadow, the silent pool, the
godlike face and bust, with its cast-down, meditative eyes, seen
through the parted reeds. She clasped her hands silently before
her. Should she never see it again as then?
"Pray don't let me disturb you; but won't you take a seat?"
Miss Forrest turned sharply round. Then she started, uttered a
frightened little cry, and fainted away.
Mr. Potter was touched, but a master of himself. As she came to,
he said quietly: "I came upon you suddenly--as you stood entranced
by this picture--just as I did when I first saw it. That's why I
bought it. Are you any relative of the Miss Forrest who painted
it?" he continued, quietly looking at her card, which he held in
Miss Forrest recovered herself sufficiently to reply, and stated
her business with some dignity.
"Ah," said Mr. Potter, "THAT is another question. You see, the
picture has a special value to me, as I once saw an old-fashioned
garden like that in England. But that chap there,--I beg your
pardon, I mean that figure,--I fancy, is your own creation,
entirely. However, I'll think over your proposition, and if you
will allow me I'll call and see you about it."
Mr. Potter did call--not once, but many times--and showed quite a
remarkable interest in Miss Forrest's art. The question of the
sale of the picture, however, remained in abeyance. A few weeks
later, after a longer call than usual, Mr. Potter said:--
"Don't you think the best thing we can do is to make a kind of
compromise, and let us own the picture together?"
And they did.
A ROMANCE OF THE LINE
As the train moved slowly out of the station, the Writer of Stories
looked up wearily from the illustrated pages of the magazines and
weeklies on his lap to the illustrated advertisements on the walls
of the station sliding past his carriage windows. It was getting
to be monotonous. For a while he had been hopefully interested in
the bustle of the departing trains, and looked up from his
comfortable and early invested position to the later comers with
that sense of superiority common to travelers; had watched the
conventional leave-takings--always feebly prolonged to the
uneasiness of both parties--and contrasted it with the impassive
business promptitude of the railway officials; but it was the old
experience repeated. Falling back on the illustrated advertisements
again, he wondered if their perpetual recurrence at every station
would not at last bring to the tired traveler the loathing of
satiety; whether the passenger in railway carriages, continually
offered Somebody's oats, inks, washing blue, candles, and soap,
apparently as a necessary equipment for a few hours' journey, would
not there and thereafter forever ignore the use of these articles,
or recoil from that particular quality. Or, as an unbiased
observer, he wondered if, on the other hand, impressible passengers,
after passing three or four stations, had ever leaped from the train
and refused to proceed further until they were supplied with one or
more of those articles. Had he ever known any one who confided to
him in a moment of expansiveness that he had dated his use of
Somebody's soap to an advertisement persistently borne upon him
through the medium of a railway carriage window? No! Would he not
have connected that man with that other certifying individual who
always appends a name and address singularly obscure and
unconvincing, yet who, at some supreme moment, recommends Somebody's
pills to a dying friend,--afflicted with a similar address,--which
restore him to life and undying obscurity. Yet these pictorial and
literary appeals must have a potency independent of the wares they
advertise, or they wouldn't be there.
Perhaps he was the more sensitive to this monotony as he was just
then seeking change and novelty in order to write a new story. He
was not looking for material,--his subjects were usually the same,--
he was merely hoping for that relaxation and diversion which
should freshen and fit him for later concentration. Still, he had
often heard of the odd circumstances to which his craft were
sometimes indebted for suggestion. The invasion of an eccentric-
looking individual--probably an innocent tradesman into a railway
carriage had given the hint for "A Night with a Lunatic;" a
nervously excited and belated passenger had once unconsciously sat
for an escaped forger; the picking up of a forgotten novel in the
rack, with passages marked in pencil, had afforded the plot of a
love story; or the germ of a romance had been found in an obscure
news paragraph which, under less listless moments, would have
passed unread. On the other hand, he recalled these inconvenient
and inconsistent moments from which the so-called "inspiration"
sprang, the utter incongruity of time and place in some brilliant
conception, and wondered if sheer vacuity of mind were really so
Going back to his magazine again, he began to get mildly interested
in a story. Turning the page, however, he was confronted by a
pictorial advertising leaflet inserted between the pages, yet so
artistic in character that it might have been easily mistaken for
an illustration of the story he was reading, and perhaps was not
more remote or obscure in reference than many he had known. But
the next moment he recognized with despair that it was only a
smaller copy of one he had seen on the hoarding at the last
station. He threw the leaflet aside, but the flavor of the story
was gone. The peerless detergent of the advertisement had erased
it from the tablets of his memory. He leaned back in his seat
again, and lazily watched the flying suburbs. Here were the usual
promising open spaces and patches of green, quickly succeeded again
by solid blocks of houses whose rear windows gave directly upon the
line, yet seldom showed an inquisitive face--even of a wondering
child. It was a strange revelation of the depressing effects of
familiarity. Expresses might thunder by, goods trains drag their
slow length along, shunting trains pipe all day beneath their
windows, but the tenants heeded them not. Here, too, was the
junction, with its labyrinthine interlacing of tracks that dazed
the tired brain; the overburdened telegraph posts, that looked as
if they really could not stand another wire; the long lines of
empty, homeless, and deserted trains in sidings that had seen
better days; the idle trains, with staring vacant windows, which
were eventually seized by a pert engine hissing, "Come along, will
you?" and departed with a discontented grunt from every individual
carriage coupling; the racing trains, that suddenly appeared
parallel with one's carriage windows, begot false hopes of a
challenge of speed, and then, without warning, drew contemptuously
and, superciliously away; the swift eclipse of everything in a
tunneled bridge; the long, slithering passage of an "up" express,
and then the flash of a station, incoherent and unintelligible with
pictorial advertisements again.
He closed his eyes to concentrate his thought, and by degrees a
pleasant languor stole over him. The train had by this time
attained that rate of speed which gave it a slight swing and roll
on curves and switches not unlike the rocking of a cradle. Once or
twice he opened his eyes sleepily upon the waltzing trees in the
double planes of distance, and again closed them. Then, in one of
these slight oscillations, he felt himself ridiculously slipping
into slumber, and awoke with some indignation. Another station was
passed, in which process the pictorial advertisements on the
hoardings and the pictures in his lap seemed to have become jumbled
up, confused, and to dance before him, and then suddenly and
strangely, without warning, the train stopped short--at ANOTHER
station. And then he arose, and--what five minutes before he never
conceived of doing--gathered his papers and slipped from the
carriage to the platform. When I say "he" I mean, of course, the
Writer of Stories; yet the man who slipped out was half his age and
a different-looking person.
. . . . . .
The change from the motion of the train--for it seemed that he had
been traveling several hours--to the firmer platform for a moment
bewildered him. The station looked strange, and he fancied it
lacked a certain kind of distinctness. But that quality was also
noticeable in the porters and loungers on the platform. He thought
it singular, until it seemed to him that they were not characteristic,
nor in any way important or necessary to the business he had in
hand. Then, with an effort, he tried to remember himself and his
purpose, and made his way through the station to the open road
beyond. A van, bearing the inscription, "Removals to Town and
Country," stood before him and blocked his way, but a dogcart was in
waiting, and a grizzled groom, who held the reins, touched his hat
respectfully. Although still dazed by his journey and uncertain of
himself, he seemed to recognize in the man that distinctive
character which was wanting in the others. The correctness of his
surmise was revealed a few moments later, when, after he had taken
his seat beside him, and they were rattling out of the village
street, the man turned towards him and said:--
"Tha'll know Sir Jarge?"
"I do not," said the young man.
"Ay! but theer's many as cooms here as doan't, for all they cooms.
Tha'll say it ill becooms mea as war man and boy in Sir Jarge's
sarvice for fifty year, to say owt agen him, but I'm here to do it,
or they couldn't foolfil their business. Tha wast to ax me
questions about Sir Jarge and the Grange, and I wor to answer soa
as to make tha think thar was suthing wrong wi' un. Howbut I may
save tha time and tell thea downroight that Sir Jarge forged his
uncle's will, and so gotten the Grange. That 'ee keeps his niece
in mortal fear o' he. That tha'll be put in haunted chamber wi' a
"I think," said the young man hesitatingly, "that there must be
some mistake. I do not know any Sir George, and I am NOT going to
"Eay! Then thee aren't the 'ero sent down from London by the story
"Not by THAT one," said the young man diffidently.
The old man's face changed. It was no mere figure of speech: it
actually was ANOTHER face that looked down upon the traveler.
"Then mayhap your honor will be bespoken at the Angel's Inn," he
said, with an entirely distinct and older dialect, "and a finer
hostel for a young gentleman of your condition ye'll not find on
this side of Oxford. A fair chamber, looking to the sun; sheets
smelling of lavender from Dame Margery's own store, and, for the
matter of that, spread by the fair hands of Maudlin, her daughter--
the best favored lass that ever danced under a Maypole. Ha! have
at ye there, young sir! Not to speak of the October ale of old
Gregory, her father--ay, nor the rare Hollands, that never paid
excise duties to the king."
"I'm afraid," said the young traveler timidly, "there's over a
century between us. There's really some mistake."
"What?" said the groom, "ye are NOT the young spark who is to marry
Mistress Amy at the Hall, yet makes a pother and mess of it all by
a duel with Sir Roger de Cadgerly, the wicked baronet, for his
over-free discourse with our fair Maudlin this very eve? Ye are
NOT the traveler whose post-chaise is now at the Falcon? Ye are
not he that was bespoken by the story writer in London?"
"I don't think I am," said the young man apologetically. "Indeed,
as I am feeling far from well, I think I'll get out and walk."
He got down--the vehicle and driver vanished in the distance. It
did not surprise him. "I must collect my thoughts," he said. He
did so. Possibly the collection was not large, for presently he
said, with a sigh of relief:--
"I see it all now! My name is Paul Bunker. I am of the young
branch of an old Quaker family, rich and respected in the country,
and I am on a visit to my ancestral home. But I have lived since a
child in America, and am alien to the traditions and customs of the
old country, and even of the seat to which my fathers belong. I
have brought with me from the far West many peculiarities of speech
and thought that may startle my kinsfolk. But I certainly shall
not address my uncle as 'Hoss!' nor shall I say 'guess' oftener
than is necessary."
Much brightened and refreshed by his settled identity, he had time,
as he walked briskly along, to notice the scenery, which was
certainly varied and conflicting in character, and quite
inconsistent with his preconceived notions of an English landscape.
On his right, a lake of the brightest cobalt blue stretched before
a many-towered and terraced town, which was relieved by a
background of luxuriant foliage and emerald-green mountains; on his
left arose a rugged mountain, which he was surprised to see was
snow-capped, albeit a tunnel was observable midway of its height,
and a train just issuing from it. Almost regretting that he had
not continued on his journey, as he was fully sensible that it was
in some way connected with the railway he had quitted, presently
his attention was directed to the gateway of a handsome park, whose
mansion was faintly seen in the distance. Hurrying towards him,
down the avenue of limes, was a strange figure. It was that of a
man of middle age; clad in Quaker garb, yet with an extravagance of
cut and detail which seemed antiquated even for England. He had
evidently seen the young man approaching, and his face was beaming
with welcome. If Paul had doubted that it was his uncle, the first
words he spoke would have reassured him.
"Welcome to Hawthorn Hall," said the figure, grasping his hand
heartily, "but thee will excuse me if I do not tarry with thee long
at present, for I am hastening, even now, with some nourishing and
sustaining food for Giles Hayward, a farm laborer." He pointed to
a package he was carrying. "But thee will find thy cousins Jane
and Dorcas Bunker taking tea in the summer-house. Go to them!
Nay--positively--I may not linger, but will return to thee quickly."
And, to Paul's astonishment, he trotted away on his sturdy,
respectable legs, still beaming and carrying his package in his hand.
"Well, I'll be dog-goned! but the old man ain't going to be left,
you bet!" he ejaculated, suddenly remembering his dialect. "He'll
get there, whether school keeps or not!" Then, reflecting that no
one heard him, he added simply, "He certainly was not over civil
towards the nephew he has never seen before. And those girls--whom
I don't know! How very awkward!"
Nevertheless, he continued his way up the avenue towards the
mansion. The park was beautifully kept. Remembering the native
wildness and virgin seclusion of the Western forest, he could not
help contrasting it with the conservative gardening of this pretty
woodland, every rood of which had been patrolled by keepers and
rangers, and preserved and fostered hundreds of years before he was
born, until warmed for human occupancy. At times the avenue was
crossed by grass drives, where the original woodland had been
displaced, not by the exigency of a "clearing" for tillage, as in
his own West, but for the leisurely pleasure of the owner. Then, a
few hundred yards from the house itself,--a quaint Jacobean
mansion,--he came to an open space where the sylvan landscape had
yielded to floral cultivation, and so fell upon a charming summer-
house, or arbor, embowered with roses. It must have been the one
of which his uncle had spoken, for there, to his wondering
admiration, sat two little maids before a rustic table, drinking
tea demurely, yes, with all the evident delight of a childish
escapade from their elders. While in the picturesque quaintness of
their attire there was still a formal suggestion of the sect to
which their father belonged, their summer frocks--differing in
color, yet each of the same subdued tint--were alike in cut and
fashion, and short enough to show their dainty feet in prim
slippers and silken hose that matched their frocks. As the
afternoon sun glanced through the leaves upon their pink cheeks,
tied up in quaint hats by ribbons under their chins, they made a
charming picture. At least Paul thought so as he advanced towards
them, hat in hand. They looked up at his approach, but again cast
down their eyes with demure shyness; yet he fancied that they first
exchanged glances with each other, full of mischievous intelligence.
"I am your cousin Paul," he said smilingly, "though I am afraid I
am introducing myself almost as briefly as your father just now
excused himself to me. He told me I would find you here, but he
himself was hastening on a Samaritan mission."
"With a box in his hand?" said the girls simultaneously, exchanging
glances with each other again.
"With a box containing some restorative, I think," responded Paul,
a little wonderingly.
"Restorative! So THAT'S what he calls it now, is it?" said one of
the girls saucily. "Well, no one knows what's in the box, though
he always carries it with him. Thee never sees him without it"--
"And a roll of paper," suggested the other girl.
"Yes, a roll of paper--but one never knows what it is!" said the
first speaker. "It's very strange. But no matter now, Paul.
Welcome to Hawthorn Hall. I am Jane Bunker, and this is Dorcas."
She stopped, and then, looking down demurely, added, "Thee may kiss
us both, cousin Paul."
The young man did not wait for a second invitation, but gently
touched his lips to their soft young cheeks.
"Thee does not speak like an American, Paul. Is thee really and
truly one?" continued Jane.
Paul remembered that he had forgotten his dialect, but it was too
"I am really and truly one, and your own cousin, and I hope you
will find me a very dear"--
"Oh!" said Dorcas, starting up primly. "You must really allow me
to withdraw." To the young man's astonishment, she seized her
parasol, and, with a youthful affectation of dignity, glided from
the summer-house and was lost among the trees.
"Thy declaration to me was rather sudden," said Jane quietly, in
answer to his look of surprise, "and Dorcas is peculiarly sensitive
and less like the 'world's people' than I am. And it was just a
little cruel, considering that she has loved thee secretly all
these years, followed thy fortunes in America with breathless
eagerness, thrilled at thy narrow escapes, and wept at thy
"But she has never seen me before!" said the astounded Paul.
"And thee had never seen me before, and yet thee has dared to
propose to me five minutes after thee arrived, and in her
"But, my dear girl!" expostulated Paul.
"Stand off!" she said, rapidly opening her parasol and interposing
it between them. "Another step nearer--ay, even another word of
endearment--and I shall be compelled--nay, forced," she added in a
lower voice, "to remove this parasol, lest it should be crushed and
"I see," he said gloomily, "you have been reading novels; but so
have I, and the same ones! Nevertheless, I intended only to tell
you that I hoped you would always find me a kind friend."
She shut her parasol up with a snap. "And I only intended to tell
thee that my heart was given to another."
"You INTENDED--and now?"
"Is it the 'kind friend' who asks?"
"If it were not?"
"But thee loves another?" she said, toying with her cup.
He attempted to toy with his, but broke it. A man lacks delicacy
in this kind of persiflage. "You mean I am loved by another," he
"You dare to say that!" she said, flashing, in spite of her prim
"No, but YOU did just now! You said your sister loved me!"
"Did I?" she said dreamily. "Dear! dear! That's the trouble of
trying to talk like Mr. Blank's delightful dialogues. One gets so
"Yet you will be a sister to me?" he said. "'Tis an old American
joke, but 'twill serve."
There was a long silence.
"Had thee not better go to sister Dorcas? She is playing with the
cows," said Jane plaintively.
"You forget," he returned gravely, "that, on page 27 of the novel
we have both read, at this point he is supposed to kiss her."
She had forgotten, but they both remembered in time. At this
moment a scream came faintly from the distance. They both started,
"It is sister Dorcas," said Jane, sitting down again and pouring
out another cup of tea. "I have always told her that one of those
Swiss cows would hook her."
Paul stared at her with a strange revulsion of feeling. "I could
save Dorcas," he muttered to himself, "in less time than it takes
to describe." He paused, however, as he reflected that this would
depend entirely upon the methods of the writer of this description.
"I could rescue her! I have only to take the first clothes-line
that I find, and with that knowledge and skill with the lasso which
I learned in the wilds of America, I could stop the charge of the
most furious ruminant. I will!" and without another word he turned
and rushed off in the direction of the sound.
. . . . . .
He had not gone a hundred yards before he paused, a little
bewildered. To the left could still be seen the cobalt lake with
the terraced background; to the right the rugged mountains. He
chose the latter. Luckily for him a cottager's garden lay in his
path, and from a line supported by a single pole depended the
homely linen of the cottager. To tear these garments from the line
was the work of a moment (although it represented the whole week's
washing), and hastily coiling the rope dexterously in his hand, he
sped onward. Already panting with exertion and excitement, a few
roods farther he was confronted with a spectacle that left him
A woman--young, robust, yet gracefully formed--was running ahead of
him, driving before her with an open parasol an animal which he
instantly recognized as one of that simple yet treacherous species
most feared by the sex--known as the "Moo Cow."
For a moment he was appalled by the spectacle. But it was only for
a moment! Recalling his manhood and her weakness, he stopped, and
bracing his foot against a stone, with a graceful flourish of his
lasso around his head, threw it in the air. It uncoiled slowly,
sped forward with unerring precision, and missed! With the single
cry of "Saved!" the fair stranger sank fainting in his arms! He
held her closely until the color came back to her pale face. Then
he quietly disentangled the lasso from his legs.
"Where am I?" she said faintly.
"In the same place," he replied, slowly but firmly. "But," he
added, "you have changed!"
She had, indeed, even to her dress. It was now of a vivid brick
red, and so much longer in the skirt that it seemed to make her
taller. Only her hat remained the same.
"Yes," she said, in a low, reflective voice and a disregard of her
previous dialect, as she gazed up in his eyes with an eloquent
lucidity, "I have changed, Paul! I feel myself changing at those
words you uttered to Jane. There are moments in a woman's life
that man knows nothing of; moments bitter and cruel, sweet and
merciful, that change her whole being; moments in which the simple
girl becomes a worldly woman; moments in which the slow procession
of her years is never noted--except by another woman! Moments that
change her outlook on the world and her relations to it--and her
husband's relations! Moments when the maid becomes a wife, the
wife a widow, the widow a re-married woman, by a simple, swift
illumination of the fancy. Moments when, wrought upon by a single
word--a look--an emphasis and rising inflection, all logical
sequence is cast away, processes are lost--inductions lead nowhere.
Moments when the inharmonious becomes harmonious, the indiscreet
discreet, the inefficient efficient, and the inevitable evitable.
I mean," she corrected herself hurriedly--"You know what I mean!
If you have not felt it you have read it!"
"I have," he said thoughtfully. "We have both read it in the same
novel. She is a fine writer."
"Ye-e-s." She hesitated with that slight resentment of praise of
another woman so delightful in her sex. "But you have forgotten
the Moo Cow!" and she pointed to where the distracted animal was
careering across the lawn towards the garden.
"You are right," he said, "the incident is not yet closed. Let us
They both pursued it. Discarding the useless lasso, he had
recourse to a few well-aimed epithets. The infuriated animal
swerved and made directly towards a small fountain in the centre of
the garden. In attempting to clear it, it fell directly into the
deep cup-like basin and remained helplessly fixed, with its fore-
legs projecting uneasily beyond the rim.
"Let us leave it there," she said, "and forget it--and all that has
gone before. Believe me," she added, with a faint sigh, "it is
best. Our paths diverge from this moment. I go to the summer-
house, and you go to the Hall, where my father is expecting you."
He would have detained her a moment longer, but she glided away and
Left to himself again, that slight sense of bewilderment which had
clouded his mind for the last hour began to clear away; his
singular encounter with the girls strangely enough affected him
less strongly than his brief and unsatisfactory interview with his
uncle. For, after all, he was his host, and upon him depended his
stay at Hawthorn Hall. The mysterious and slighting allusions of
his cousins to the old man's eccentricities also piqued his
curiosity. Why had they sneered at his description of the contents
of the package he carried--and what did it really contain? He did
not reflect that it was none of his business,--people in his
situation seldom do,--and he eagerly hurried towards the Hall.
But he found in his preoccupation he had taken the wrong turning in
the path, and that he was now close to the wall which bounded and
overlooked the highway. Here a singular spectacle presented
itself. A cyclist covered with dust was seated in the middle of
the road, trying to restore circulation to his bruised and injured
leg by chafing it with his hands, while beside him lay his damaged
bicycle. He had evidently met with an accident. In an instant
Paul had climbed the wall and was at his side.
"Can I offer you any assistance?" he asked eagerly.
"Thanks--no! I've come a beastly cropper over something or other
on this road, and I'm only bruised, though the machine has suffered
worse," replied the stranger, in a fresh, cheery voice. He was a
good-looking fellow of about Paul's own age, and the young
American's heart went out towards him.
"How did it happen?" asked Paul.
"That's what puzzles me," said the stranger. "I was getting out of
the way of a queer old chap in the road, and I ran over something
that seemed only an old scroll of paper; but the shock was so great
that I was thrown, and I fancy I was for a few moments unconscious.
Yet I cannot see any other obstruction in the road, and there's
only that bit of paper." He pointed to the paper,--a half-crushed
roll of ordinary foolscap, showing the mark of the bicycle upon it.
A strange idea came into Paul's mind. He picked up the paper and
examined it closely. Besides the mark already indicated, it showed
two sharp creases about nine inches long, and another exactly at
the point of the impact of the bicycle. Taking a folded two-foot
rule from his pocket, he carefully measured these parallel creases
and made an exhaustive geometrical calculation with his pencil on
the paper. The stranger watched him with awed and admiring
interest. Rising, he again carefully examined the road, and was
finally rewarded by the discovery of a sharp indentation in the
dust, which, on measurement and comparison with the creases in the
paper and the calculations he had just made, proved to be identical.
"There was a solid body in that paper," said Paul quietly; "a
parallelogram exactly nine inches long and three wide."
"I say! you're wonderfully clever, don't you know," said the
stranger, with unaffected wonder. "I see it all--a brick."
Paul smiled gently and shook his head. "That is the hasty
inference of an inexperienced observer. You will observe at the
point of impact of your wheel the parallel crease is CURVED, as
from the yielding of the resisting substances, and not BROKEN, as
it would be by the crumbling of a brick."
"I say, you're awfully detective, don't you know! just like that
fellow--what's his name?" said the stranger admiringly.
The words recalled Paul to himself. Why was he acting like a
detective? and what was he seeking to discover? Nevertheless, he
felt impelled to continue. "And that queer old chap whom you met--
why didn't he help you?"
"Because I passed him before I ran into the--the parallelogram, and
I suppose he didn't know what happened behind him?"
"Did he have anything in his hand?"
"And you say you were unconscious afterwards?"
"Long enough for the culprit to remove the principal evidence of
"Come! I say, really you are--you know you are!"
"Have you any secret enemy?"
"And you don't know Mr. Bunker, the man who owns this vast estate?"
"Not at all. I'm from Upper Tooting."
"Good afternoon," said Paul abruptly, and turned away.
It struck him afterwards that his action might have seemed uncivil,
and even inhuman, to the bruised cyclist, who could hardly walk.
But it was getting late, and he was still far from the Hall, which,
oddly enough, seemed to be no longer visible from the road. He
wandered on for some time, half convinced that he had passed the
lodge gates, yet hoping to find some other entrance to the domain.
Dusk was falling; the rounded outlines of the park trees beyond the
wall were solid masses of shadow. The full moon, presently rising,
restored them again to symmetry, and at last he, to his relief,
came upon the massive gateway. Two lions ramped in stone on the
side pillars. He thought it strange that he had not noticed the
gateway on his previous entrance, but he remembered that he was
fully preoccupied with the advancing figure of his uncle. In a few
minutes the Hall itself appeared, and here again he was surprised
that he had overlooked before its noble proportions and picturesque
outline. Its broad terraces, dazzlingly white in the moonlight;
its long line of mullioned windows, suffused with a warm red glow
from within, made it look like part of a wintry landscape--and
suggested a Christmas card. The venerable ivy that hid the ravages
time had made in its walls looked like black carving. His heart
swelled with strange emotions as he gazed at his ancestral hall.
How many of his blood had lived and died there; how many had gone
forth from that great porch to distant lands! He tried to think of
his father--a little child--peeping between the balustrades of that
terrace. He tried to think of it, and perhaps would have succeeded
had it not occurred to him that it was a known fact that his uncle
had bought the estate and house of an impoverished nobleman only
the year before. Yet--he could not tell why--he seemed to feel
higher and nobler for that trial.
The terrace was deserted, and so quiet that as he ascended to it
his footsteps seemed to echo from the walls. When he reached the
portals, the great oaken door swung noiselessly on its hinges--
opened by some unseen but waiting servitor--and admitted him to a
lofty hall, dark with hangings and family portraits, but warmed by
a red carpet the whole length of its stone floor. For a moment he
waited for the servant to show him to the drawing-room or his
uncle's study. But no one appeared. Believing this to be a part
of the characteristic simplicity of the Quaker household, he boldly
entered the first door, and found himself in a brilliantly lit and
perfectly empty drawing-room. The same experience met him with the
other rooms on that floor--the dining-room displaying an already
set, exquisitely furnished and decorated table, with chairs for
twenty guests! He mechanically ascended the wide oaken staircase
that led to the corridor of bedrooms above a central salon. Here
he found only the same solitude. Bedroom doors yielded to his
touch, only to show the same brilliantly lit vacancy. He presently
came upon one room which seemed to give unmistakable signs of HIS
OWN occupancy. Surely there stood his own dressing-case on the
table! and his own evening clothes carefully laid out on another,
as if fresh from a valet's hands. He stepped hastily into the
corridor--there was no one there; he rang the bell--there was no
response! But he noticed that there was a jug of hot water in his
basin, and he began dressing mechanically.
There was little doubt that he was in a haunted house, but this did
not particularly disturb him. Indeed, he found himself wondering
if it could be logically called a haunted house--unless he himself
was haunting it, for there seemed to be no other there. Perhaps
the apparitions would come later, when he was dressed. Clearly it
was not his uncle's house--and yet, as he had never been inside his
uncle's house, he reflected that he ought not to be positive.
He finished dressing and sat down in an armchair with a kind of
thoughtful expectancy. But presently his curiosity became
impatient of the silence and mystery, and he ventured once more to
explore the house. Opening his bedroom door, he found himself
again upon the deserted corridor, but this time he could distinctly
hear a buzz of voices from the drawing-room below. Assured that he
was near a solution of the mystery, he rapidly descended the broad
staircase and made his way to the open door of the drawing-room.
But although the sound of voices increased as he advanced, when he
entered the room, to his utter astonishment, it was as empty as
Yet, in spite of his bewilderment and confusion, he was able to
follow one of the voices, which, in its peculiar distinctness and
half-perfunctory tone, he concluded must belong to the host of the
"Ah," said the voice, greeting some unseen visitor, "so glad you
have come. Afraid your engagements just now would keep you away."
Then the voice dropped to a lower and more confidential tone. "You
must take down Lady Dartman, but you will have Miss Morecamp--a
clever girl--on the other side of you. Ah, Sir George! So good of
you to come. All well at the Priory? So glad to hear it." (Lower
and more confidentially.) "You know Mrs. Monkston. You'll sit by
her. A little cut up by her husband losing his seat. Try to amuse
Emboldened by desperation, Paul turned in the direction of the
voice. "I am Paul Bunker," he said hesitatingly. "I'm afraid
you'll think me intrusive, but I was looking for my uncle, and"--
"Intrusive, my dear boy! The son of my near neighbor in the
country intrusive? Really, now, I like that! Grace!" (the voice
turned in another direction) "here is the American nephew of our
neighbor Bunker at Widdlestone, who thinks he is 'a stranger.'"
"We all knew of your expected arrival at Widdlestone--it was so
good of you to waive ceremony and join us," said a well-bred
feminine voice, which Paul at once assumed to belong to the
hostess. "But I must find some one for your dinner partner. Mary"
(here her voice was likewise turned away), "this is Mr. Bunker, the
nephew of an old friend and neighbor in Upshire;" (the voice again
turned to him), "you will take Miss Morecamp in. My dear" (once
again averted), "I must find some one else to console poor dear
Lord Billingtree with." Here the hostess's voice was drowned by