Part 2 out of 6
Mine - host
Dark - horse
Silent - majority
Unfortunate - pedestrians
Richmond - in the field
Existing - conditions
Hotly - contested
Brute - force
Select - few
Mooted - question
Parlous - times
Beggars - description
Ye - correspondent
Angel - unawares
Incontrovertible - fact
*Mr. Vesey afterward explained that the logical journalistic complement of the
word "unfortunate" was once the word "victim." But, since the automobile be-
came so popular, the correct following word is now pedestrians. Of course, in
Calloway's code it meant infantry.
"It's simply newspaper English," explained Vesey.
"I've been reporting on the Enterprise long enough to
know it by heart. Old Calloway gives us the cue word,
and we use the word that naturally follows it just as we
em in the paper. Read it over, and you'll see how
pat they drop into their places. Now, here's the message
he intended us to get."
Vesey handed out another sheet of paper.
Concluded arrangement to act at hour of midnight
without saying. Report hath it that a large body of
cavalry and an overwhelming force of infantry will be
thrown into the field. Conditions white. Way con-
tested by only a small force. Question the Times descrip-
tion. Its correspondent is unaware of the facts.
"Great stuff!" cried Boyd excitedly. "Kuroki crosses
the Yalu to-night and attacks. Oh, we won't do a thing
to the sheets that make up with Addison's essays, real
estate transfers, and bowling scores!"
"Mr. Vesey," said the m. e., with his jollying - which -
you - should - regard - as - a - favour manner, "you have
cast a serious reflection upon the literary standards of
the paper that employs you. You have also assisted
materially in giving us the biggest 'beat' of the year. I
will let you know in a day or two whether you are to be
discharged or retained at a larger salary. Somebody
send Ames to me."
Ames was the king-pin, the snowy-petalled Marguerite,
the star-bright looloo of the rewrite men. He saw
attempted murder in the pains of green-apple colic,
cyclones in the summer zephyr, lost children in every top-
spinning urchin, an uprising of the down-trodden masses in
every hurling of a derelict potato at a passing automobile.
When not rewriting, Ames sat on the porch of his Brooklyn
villa playing checkers with his ten-year-old son.
Ames and the "war editor" shut themselves in a room.
There was a map in there stuck full of little pins that
represented armies and divisions. Their fingers had
been itching for days to move those pins along the crooked
line of the Yalu. They did so now; and in words of fire
Ames translated Calloway's brief message into a front
page masterpiece that set the world talking. He told of
the secret councils of the Japanese officers; gave Kuroki's
flaming speeches in full; counted the cavalry and infantry
to a man and a horse; described the quick and silent
building, of the bridge at Stuikauchen, across which the
Mikado's legions were hurled upon the surprised Zas-
sulitch, whose troops were widely scattered along the river.
And the battle! -- well, you know what Ames can do
with a battle if you give him just one smell of smoke for
a foundation. And in the same story, with seemingly
supernatural knowledge, he gleefully scored the most
profound and ponderous paper in England for the false
and misleading account of the intended movements of
the Japanese First Army printed in its issue of the same date.
Only one error was made; and that was the fault of
the cable operator at Wi-ju. Calloway pointed it out
after he came back. The word "great" in his code
should have been "gage," and its complemental words
"of battle." But it went to Ames "conditions white,"
and of course he took that to mean snow. His description
of the Japanese army strum, struggling through the snowstorm,
blinded by the whirling, flakes, was thrillingly vivid. The
artists turned out some effective illustrations that made a
hit as pictures of the artillery dragging their guns through
the drifts. But, as the attack was made on the first day
of May, "conditions white" excited some amusement.
But it in made no difference to the Enterprise, anyway.
It was wonderful. And Calloway was wonderful in
having made the new censor believe that his jargon of
words meant no more than a complaint of the dearth of
news and a petition for more expense money. And
Vesey was wonderful. And most wonderful of all are
words, and how they make friends one with another,
being oft associated, until not even obituary notices
them do part.
On the second day following, the city editor halted at
Vesey's desk where the reporter was writing the story of
a man who had broken his leg by falling into a coal-hole
-- Ames having failed to find a murder motive in it.
"The old man says your salary is to be raised to twenty
a week," said Scott.
"All right," said Vesey. "Every little helps. Say
-- Mr. Scott, which would you say -- 'We can state
without fear of successful contradiction,' or, 'On the whole
it can be safely asserted'?"
A MATTER OF MEAN ELEVATION
ONE winter the Alcazar Opera Company of New
Orleans made a speculative trip along the Mexican,
Central American and South American coasts. The
venture proved a most successful one. The music-
loving, impressionable Spanish-Americans deluged the
company with dollars and "vivas." The manager waxed
plump and amiable. But for the prohibitive climate
he would have put forth the distinctive flower of his
prosperity -- the overcoat of fur, braided, frogged and
opulent. Almost was he persuaded to raise the salaries
of his company. But with a mighty effort he conquered
the impulse toward such an unprofitable effervescence of
At Macuto, on the coast of Venezuela, the company
scored its greatest success. Imagine Coney Island
translated into Spanish and you will comprehend Macuto.
The fashionable season is from November to March.
Down from La Guayra and Caracas and Valencia and
other interior towns flock the people for their holiday sea-
son. There are bathing and fiestas and bull fights and
scandal. And then the people have a passion for music
that the bands in the plaza and on the sea beach stir but
do not satisfy. The coming of the Alcazar Opera Com-
pany aroused the utmost ardour and zeal among the
The illustrious Guzman Blanco, President and Dic-
tator of Venezuela, sojourned in Macuto with his court
for the season. That potent ruler -- who himself paid
a subsidy of 40,000 pesos each year to grand opera in
Caracas -- ordered one of the Government warehouses
to be cleared for a temporary theatre. A stage was quickly
constructed and rough wooden benches made for the
audience. Private boxes were added for the use of the
President and the notables of the army and Government.
The company remained in Macuto for two weeks.
Each performance filled the house as closely as it could
be packed. Then the music-mad people fought for
room in the open doors and windows, and crowded about,
hundreds deep, on the outside. Those audiences formed
a brilliantly diversified patch of colour. The hue of their
faces ranged from the clear olive of the pure-blood Span-
iards down through the yellow and brown shades of the
Mestizos to the coal-black Carib and the Jamaica Negro.
Scattered among them were little groups of Indians with
faces like stone idols, wrapped in gaudy fibre-woven
blankets -- Indians down from the mountain states of
Zamora and Los Andes and Miranda to trade their gold
dust in the coast towns.
The spell cast upon these denizens of the interior
fastnesses was remarkable. They sat in petrified ecstasy,
conspicuous among the excitable Macutians, who wildly
strove with tongue and hand to give evidence of their
delight. Only once did the sombre rapture of these
aboriginals find expression. During the rendition of
"Faust," Guzman Blanco, extravagantly pleased by the
"Jewel Song," cast upon the stage a purse of gold pieces.
Other distinguished citizens followed his lead to the extent
of whatever loose coin they had convenient, while some
of the fair and fashionable señoras were moved, in imita-
tion, to fling a jewel or a ring or two at the feet of the
Marguerite -- who was, according to the bills, Mlle.
Nina Giraud. Then, from different parts of the house
rose sundry of the stolid hillmen and cast upon the stage
little brown and dun bags that fell with soft "thumps"
and did not rebound. It was, no doubt, pleasure at the
tribute to her art that caused Mlle. Giraud's eyes to
shine so brightly when she opened these little deerskin
bags in her dressing room and found them to contain
pure gold dust. If so, the pleasure was rightly hers, for
her voice in song, pure, strong and thrilling with the feeling
of the emotional artist, deserved the tribute that it earned.
But the triumph of the Alcazar Opera Company is not
the theme -- it but leans upon and colours it. There
happened in Macuto a tragic thing, an unsolvable mystery,
that sobered for a time the gaiety of the happy season.
One evening between the short twilight and the time
when she should have whirled upon the stage in the red
and black of the ardent Carmen, Mlle. Nina Giraud dis-
appeared from the sight and ken of 6,000 pairs of eyes
and as many minds in Macuto. There was the usual
turmoil and hurrying to seek her. Messengers flew to
the little French-kept hotel where she stayed; others of
the company hastened here or there where she might be
lingering in some tienda or unduly prolonging her bath
upon the beach. All search was fruitless. Mademoi-
selle had vanished.
Half an hour passed and she did not appear. The
dictator, unused to the caprices of prime donne, became
impatient. He sent an aide from his box to say to the
manager that if the curtain did not at once rise he would
immediately hale the entire company to the calabosa,
though it would desolate his heart, indeed, to be com-
pelled to such an act. Birds in Macuto could be made
The manager abandoned hope for the time of Mlle.
Giraud. A member of the chorus, who had dreamed
hopelessly for years of the blessed opportunity, quickly
Carmenized herself and the opera went on.
Afterward, when the lost cantatrice appeared not, the
aid of the authorities was invoked. The President at
once set the army, the police and all citizens to the search.
Not one clue to Mlle. Giraud's disappearance was found.
The Alcazar left to fill engagements farther down the
On the way back the steamer stopped at Macuto and
the manager made anxious inquiry. Not a trace of the
lady had been discovered. The Alcazar could do no
more. The personal belongings of the missing lady were
stored in the hotel against her possible later reappearance
and the opera company continued upon its homeward
voyage to New Orleans.
On the camino real along the beach the two saddle
mules and the four pack mules of Don Señor Johnny
Armstrong stood, patiently awaiting the crack of the whip
of the arriero, Luis. That would be the signal for the
start on another long journey into the mountains. The
pack mules were loaded with a varied assortment of hard-
ware and cutlery. These articles Don Johnny traded to
the interior Indians for the gold dust that they washed
from the Andean streams and stored in quills and bags
against his coming. It was a profitable business, and
Señor Armstrong expected soon to be able to purchase
the coffee plantation that he coveted.
Armstrong stood on the narrow sidewalk, exchanging
garbled Spanish with old Peralto, the rich native merchant
who had just charged him four prices for half a gross of
pot-metal hatchets, and abridged English with Rucker,
the little German who was Consul for the United States.
"Take with you, señor," said Peralto, "the blessings
of the saints upon your journey."
"Better try quinine," growled Rucker through his pipe.
"Take two grains every night. And don't make your
trip too long, Johnny, because we haf needs of you. It is
ein villainous game dot Melville play of whist, and dere
is no oder substitute. Auf wiedersehen, und keep your
eyes dot mule's ears between when you on der edge of
der brecipices ride."
The bells of Luis's mule jingled and the pack train
filed after the warning note. Armstrong, waved a good-
bye and took his place at the tail of the procession. Up
the narrow street they turned, and passed the two-story
wooden Hotel Ingles, where Ives and Dawson and Rich-
ards and the rest of the chaps were dawdling on the broad
piazza, reading week-old newspapers. They crowded to
the railing and shouted many friendly and wise and foolish
farewells after him. Across the plaza they trotted slowly
past the bronze statue of Guzman Blanco, within its fence
of bayoneted rifles captured from revolutionists, and out
of the town between the rows of thatched huts swarming
with the unclothed youth of Macuto. They plunged
into the damp coolness of banana groves at length to
emerge upon a bright stream, where brown women in
scant raiment laundered clothes destructively upon the
rocks. Then the pack train, fording the stream, attacked
the sudden ascent, and bade adieu to such civilization as
the coast afforded.
For weeks Armstrong, guided by Luis, followed his
regular route among the mountains. After he had col-
lected an arroba of the precious metal, winning a profit
of nearly $5,000, the heads of the lightened mules were
turned down-trail again. Where the head of the Guarico
River springs from a great gash in the mountain-side,
Luis halted the train.
"Half a day's journey from here, Señor," said he,
"is the village of Tacuzama, which we have never visited.
I think many ounces of gold may be procured there. It
is worth the trial."
Armstrong concurred, and they turned again upward
toward Tacuzama. The trail was abrupt and precipi-
tous mounting through a dense forest. As night fell,
dark and gloomy, Luis once more halted. Before them
was a black chasm, bisecting the path as far as they could
Luis dismounted. "There should be a bridge," he
called, and ran along the cleft a distance. "It is here,"
he cried, and remounting, led the way. In a few moments
Armstrong, heard a sound as though a thunderous drum
were beating somewhere in the dark. It was the falling
of the mules' hoofs upon the bridge made of strong hides
lashed to poles and stretched across the chasm. Half a
mile further was Tacuzama. The village was a congre-
gation of rock and mud huts set in the profundity of an
obscure wood. As they rode in a sound inconsistent
with that brooding solitude met their ears. From a
long, low mud hut that they were nearing rose the glorious
voice of a woman in song. The words were English,
the air familiar to Armstrong's memory, but not to his
He slipped from his mule and stole to a narrow window
in one end of the house. Peering cautiously inside, he
saw, within three feet of him, a woman of marvellous,
imposing beauty, clothed in a splendid loose robe of
leopard skins. The hut was packed close to the small
space in which she stood with the squatting figures of
The woman finished her song and seated herself close
to the little window, as if grateful for the unpolluted air
that entered it. When she had ceased several of the
audience rose and cast little softly-falling bags at her feet.
A harsh murmur -- no doubt a barbarous kind of applause
and comment -- went through the grim assembly.
Armstrong, was used to seizing opportunities promptly.
Taking advantage of the noise he called to the woman in
a low but distinct voice: "Do not turn your head this way,
but listen. I am an American. If you need assistance
tell me how I can render it. Answer as briefly as you can."
The woman was worthy of his boldness. Only by a
sudden flush of her pale cheek did she acknowledge
understanding of his words. Then she spoke, scarcely
moving her lips.
"I am held a prisoner by these Indians. God knows
I need help. In two hours come to the little hut twenty
yards toward the Mountainside. There will be a light
and a red curtain in the window. There is always a
guard at the door, whom you will have to overcome. For
the love of heaven, do not fail to come."
The story seems to shrink from adventure and rescue
and mystery. The theme is one too gentle for those
brave and quickening tones. And yet it reaches as far
back as time itself. It has been named "environment,"
which is as weak a word as any to express the unnameable
kinship of man to nature, that queer fraternity that causes
stones and trees and salt water and clouds to play upon
our emotions. Why are we made serious and solemn
and sublime by mountain heights, grave and contempla-
tive by an abundance of overhanging trees, reduced to
inconstancy and monkey capers by the ripples on a sandy
beach? Did the protoplasm -- but enough. The chem-
ists are looking into the matter, and before long they will
have all life in the table of the symbols.
Briefly, then, in order to confine the story within
scientific bounds, John Armstrong, went to the hut, choked
the Indian guard and carried away Mlle. Giraud. With
her was also conveyed a number of pounds of gold dust
she had collected during her six months' forced engage-
ment in Tacuzama. The Carabobo Indians are easily
the most enthusiastic lovers of music between the equator
and the French Opera House in New Orleans. They
are also strong believers that the advice of Emerson was
good when he said: "The thing thou wantest, 0 discon-
tented man -- take it, and pay the price." A number
of them had attended the performance of the Alcazar
Opera Company in Macuto, and found Mlle. Giraud's
style and technique satisfactory. They wanted her, so
they took her one evening suddenly and without any fuss.
They treated her with much consideration, exacting
only one song recital each day. She was quite pleased at
being rescued by Mr. Armstrong. So much for mystery
and adventure. Now to resume the theory of the proto-
John Armstrong and Mlle. Giraud rode among the
Andean peaks, enveloped in their greatness and sublimity.
The mightiest cousins, furthest removed, in nature's
great family become conscious of the tie. Among those
huge piles of primordial upheaval, amid those gigantic
silences and elongated fields of distance the littlenesses
of men are precipitated as one chemical throws down a
sediment from another. They moved reverently, as
in a temple. Their souls were uplifted in unison with the
stately heights. They travelled in a zone of majesty and
To Armstrong the woman seemed almost a holy thing.
Yet bathed in the white, still dignity of her martyrdom
that purified her earthly beauty and gave out, it seemed,
an aura of transcendent loveliness, in those first hours
of companionship she drew from him an adoration that
was half human love, half the worship of a descended
Never yet since her rescue had she smiled. Over her
dress she still wore the robe of leopard skins, for
mountain air was cold. She looked to be some splendid
princess belonging to those wild and awesome altitudes.
The spirit of the region chimed with hers. Her eyes
were always turned upon the sombre cliffs, the blue gorges
and the snow-clad turrets, looking a sublime melancholy
equal to their own. At times on the journey she sang
thrilling te deums and misereres that struck the true note
of the hills, and made their route seem like a solemn
march down a cathedral aisle. The rescued one spoke
but seldom, her mood partaking of the hush of nature
that surrounded them. Armstrong looked upon her as
an angel. He could not bring himself to the sacrilege
of attempting to woo her as other women may be wooed.
On the third day they had descended as far as the
tierra templada, the zona of the table lands and foot hills.
The mountains were receding in their rear, but still
towered, exhibiting yet impressively their formidable
heads. Here they met signs of man. They saw the
white houses of coffee plantations gleam across the clear-
ings. They struck into a road where they met travellers
and pack-mules. Cattle were grazing on the slopes.
They passed a little village where the round-eyed niños
shrieked and called at sight of them.
Mlle. Giraud laid aside her leopard-skin robe. It
seemed to be a trifle incongruous now. In the moun-
tains it had appeared fitting and natural. And if Arm-
strong was not mistaken she laid aside with it something
of the high dignity of her demeanour. As the country
became more populous and significant of comfortable
life he saw, with a feeling of joy, that the exalted princess
and priestess of the Andean peaks was changing to a
woman -- an earth woman but no less enticing. A
little colour crept to the surface of her marble cheek.
She arranged the conventional dress that the removal of
the robe now disclosed with the solicitous touch of one
who is conscious of the eyes of others. She smoothed
the careless sweep of her hair. A mundane interest,
long latent in the chilling atmosphere of the ascetic peaks,
showed in her eyes.
This thaw in his divinity sent Armstrong's heart going
faster. So might an Arctic explorer thrill at his first ken
of green fields and liquescent waters. They were on
a lower plane of earth and life and were succumbing to
its peculiar, subtle influence. The austerity of the hills
no longer thinned the air they breathed. About them
was the breath of fruit and corn and builded homes,
the comfortable smell of smoke and warm earth and the
consolations man has placed between himself and the
dust of his brother earth from which he sprung. While
traversing those awful mountains, Mile. Giraud had
seemed to be wrapped in their spirit of reverent reserve.
Was this that same woman -- now palpitating, warm,
eager, throbbing with conscious life and charm, feminine
to her finger-tips? Pondering over this, Armstrong
felt certain misgivings intrude upon his thoughts. He
wished he could stop there with this changing creature,
descending no farther. Here was the elevation and
environment to which her nature seemed to respond with
its best. He feared to go down upon the man-dominated
levels. Would her spirit -not yield still further in that
artificial zone to which they were descending?
Now from a little plateau they saw the sea flash at the
edge of the green lowlands. Mile. Giraud gave a little,
"Oh! look, Mr. Armstrong, there is the sea! Isn't
it lovely? I'm so tired of mountains." She heaved a
pretty shoulder in a gesture of repugnance. "Those
horrid Indians! Just think of what I suffered! Although
I suppose I attained my ambition of becoming a stellar
attraction, I wouldn't care to repeat the engagement. It
was very nice of you to bring me away. Tell me, Mr.
Armstrong -- honestly, now -- do I look such an awful,
awful fright? I haven't looked into a mirror, you know,
Armstrong made answer according to his changed
moods. Also he laid his hand upon hers as it rested upon
the horn of her saddle. Luis was at the head of the pack
train and could not see. She allowed it to remain there,
and her eyes smiled frankly into his.
Then at sundown they dropped upon the coast level
under the palms and lemons among the vivid greens and
searlets and ochres of the tierra caliente. They rode
into Macuto, and saw the line of volatile bathers frolick-
ing in the surf. The mountains were very far
Mlle. Giraud's eyes were shining with a joy that could
not have existed under the chaperonage of the mountain-
tops. There were other spirits calling to her -- nymphs
of the orange groves, pixies from the chattering surf,
imps, born of the music, the perfumes, colours and the
insinuating presence of humanity. She laughed aloud,
musically, at a sudden thought.
"Won't there be a sensation?" she called to Armstrong.
"Don't I wish I had an engagement just now, though!
What a picnic the press agent would have! 'Held a
prisoner by a band of savage Indians subdued by the
spell of her wonderful voice' -- wouldn't that make great
stuff? But I guess I quit the game winner, anyhow --
there ought to be a couple of thousand dollars in
that sack of gold dust I collected as encores, don't you
He left her at the door of the little Hotel de Buen
Descansar, where she had stopped before. Two hours
later he returned to the hotel. He glanced in at the
open door of the little combined reception room and
Half a dozen of Macuto's representative social and
official caballeros were distributed about the room.
Sefior Villablanca, the wealthy rubber concessionist,
reposed his fat figure on two chairs, with an emollient
smile beaming upon his chocolate-coloured face. Guil-
bert, the French mining engineer, leered through his
polished nose-glasses. Colonel Mendez, of the regular
army, in gold-laced uniform and fatuous grin, was busily
extracting corks from champagne bottles. Other pat-
terns of Macutian gallantry and fashion pranced and
posed. The air was hazy with cigarette smoke. Wine
dripped upon the floor.
Perched upon a table in the centre of the room in an
attitude of easy preeminence was Mlle. Giraud. A
chic costume of white lawn and cherry ribbons supplanted
her travelling garb. There was a suggestion of lace, and
a frill or two, with a discreet, small implication of hand-
embroidered pink hosiery. Upon her lap rested a guitar.
In her face was the light of resurrection, the peace of
elysium attained through fire and suffering. She was
singing to a lively accompaniment a little song:
"When you see de big round moon
Comin' up like a balloon,
Dis nigger skips fur to kiss de lips
Ob his stylish, black-faced coon."
The singer caught sight of Armstrong.
"Hi! there, Johnny," she called; "I've been expecting
you for an hour. What kept you? Gee! but these
smoked guys are the slowest you ever saw. They ain't
on, at all. Come along in, and I'll make this coffee-
coloured old sport with the gold epaulettes open one for
you right off the ice."
"Thank you," said Armstrong; "not just now, I
believe. I've several things to attend to."
He walked out and down the street, and met Rucker
coming up from the Consulate.
"Play you a game of billiards," said Armstrong. "I
want something to take the taste of the sea level out of
IN GILT letters on the ground glass of the door of
room No. 962 were the words: "Robbins & Hartley,
Brokers." The clerks had gone. It was past five, and
with the solid tramp of a drove of prize Percherons, scrub-
women were invading the cloud-capped twenty-story
office building. A puff of red-hot air flavoured with
lemon peelings, soft-coal smoke and train oil came in
through the half-open windows.
Robbins, fifty, something of an overweight beau, and
addicted to first nights and hotel palm-rooms, pretended
to be envious of his partner's commuter's joys.
"Going to be something doing in the humidity line
to-night," he said. "You out-of-town chaps will be the
people, with your katydids and moonlight and long drinks
and things out on the front porch."
Hartley, twenty-nine, serious, thin, good-looking, ner-
vous, sighed and frowned a little.
"Yes," said he, "we always have cool nights in Floral-
hurst, especially in the winter."
A man with an air of mystery came in the door and
went up to Hartley.
"I've found where she lives," he announced in the
portentous half-whisper that makes the detective at
work a marked being to his fellow men.
Hartley scowled him into a state of dramatic silence
and quietude. But by that time Robbins had got his
cane and set his tie pin to his liking, and with a debonair
nod went out to his metropolitan amusements.
"Here is the address," said the detective in a natural
tone, being deprived of an audience to foil.
Hartley took the leaf torn out of the sleuth's dingy
memorandum book. On it were pencilled the words
"Vivienne Arlington, No. 341 East --th Street, care of
"Moved there a week ago," said the detective. "Now,
if you want any shadowing done, Mr. Hartley, I can do
you as fine a job in that line as anybody in the city. It
will be only $7 a day and expenses. Can send in a daily
typewritten report, covering -- "
"You needn't go on," interrupted the broker. "It
isn't a case of that kind. I merely wanted the address.
How much shall I pay you?"
"One day's work," said the sleuth. "A tenner will
Hartley paid the man and dismissed him. Then he
left the office and boarded a Broadway car. At the first
large crosstown artery of travel he took an eastbound car
that deposited him in a decaying avenue, whose ancient
structures once sheltered the pride and glory of the town.
Walking a few squares, he came to the building that he
sought. It was a new flathouse, bearing carved upon its
cheap stone portal its sonorous name, "The Vallambrosa."
Fire-escapes zigzagged down its front -- these laden
with household goods, drying clothes, and squalling
children evicted by the midsummer heat. Here and
there a pale rubber plant peeped from the miscellaneous
mass, as if wondering to what kingdom it belonged --
vegetable, animal or artificial.
Hartley pressed the "McComus" button. The door
latch clicked spasmodically -- now hospitably, now doubt-
fully, as though in anxiety whether it might be admitting
friends or duns. Hartley entered and began to climb the
stairs after the manner of those who seek their friends in
city flat-houses -- which is the manner of a boy who
climbs an apple-tree, stopping when he comes upon what
On the fourth floor he saw Vivienne standing in an
open door. She invited him inside, with a nod and a
bright, genuine smile. She placed a chair for him near
a window, and poised herself gracefully upon the edge
of one of those Jekyll-and-Hyde pieces of furniture that
are masked and mysteriously hooded, unguessable bulks
by day and inquisitorial racks of torture by night.
Hartley cast a quick, critical, appreciative glance at
her before speaking, and told himself that his taste in
choosing had been flawless.
Vivienne was about twenty-one. She was of the purest
Saxon type. Her hair was a ruddy golden, each filament
of the neatly gathered mass shining with its own lustre
and delicate graduation of colour. In perfect harmony
were her ivory-clear complexion and deep sea-blue eyes
that looked upon the world with the ingenuous calmness
of a mermaid or the pixie of an undiscovered mountain
stream. Her frame was strong and yet possessed the
grace of absolute naturalness. And yet with all her North-
ern clearness and frankness of line and colouring, there
seemed to be something of the tropics in her -- something
of languor in the droop of her pose, of love of ease in her
ingenious complacency of satisfaction and comfort in
the mere act of breathing -- something that seemed to
claim for her a right as a perfect work of nature to exist
and be admired equally with a rare flower or some beauti-
ful, milk-white dove among its sober-hued companions.
She was dressed in a white waist and dark skirt - that
discreet masquerade of goose-girl and duchess.
"Vivienne," said Hartley, looking at her pleadingly,
"you did not answer my last letter. It was only by nearly
a week's search that I found where you had moved to.
Why have you kept me in suspense when you knew how
anxiously I was waiting to see you and hear from you?"
The girl looked out the window dreamily.
"Mr. Hartley," she said hesitatingly, "I hardly know
what to say to you. I realize all the advantages of your
offer, and sometimes I feel sure that I could be contented
with you. But, again, I am doubtful. I was born a
city girl, and I am afraid to bind myself to a quiet sub-
"My dear girl," said Hartley, ardently, "have I not
told you that you shall have everything that your heart
can desire that is in my power to give you? You shall
come to the city for the theatres, for shopping and to visit
your friends as often as you care to. You can trust me,
can you not?"
"To the fullest," she said, turning her frank eyes upon
him with a smile. "I know you are the kindest of men,
and that the girl you get will be a lucky one. I learned
all about you when I was at the Montgomerys'."
"Ah!" exclaimed Hartley, with a tender, reminiscent
light in his eye; "I remember well the evening I first saw
you at the Montgomerys'. Mrs. Montgomery was sound-
ing your praises to me all the evening. And she hardly
did you justice. I shall never forget that supper. Come,
Vivienne, promise me. I want you. You'll never
regret coming with me. No one else will ever give you
as pleasant a home."
The girl sighed and looked down at her folded hands.
A sudden jealous suspicion seized Hartley.
"Tell me, Vivienne," he asked, regarding her keenly,
"is there another -- is there some one else ?"
A rosy flush crept slowly over her fair cheeks and
"You shouldn't ask that, Mr. Hartley," she said, in
some confusion. "But I will tell you. There is one
other -- but he has no right -- I have promised him
"His name?" demanded Hartley, sternly.
"Rafford Townsend!" exclaimed Hartley, with a grim
tightening of his jaw. "How did that man come to know
you? After all I've done for him -- "
"His auto has just stopped below," said Vivienne,
bending over the window-sill. "He's coming for his
answer. Oh I don't know what to do!"
The bell in the flat kitchen whirred. Vivienne hurried
to press the latch button.
"Stay here," said Hartley. "I will meet him in the
Townsend, looking like a Spanish grandee in his light
tweeds, Panama hat and curling black mustache, came
up the stairs three at a time. He stopped at sight of
Hartley and looked foolish.
"Go back," said Hartley, firmly, pointing downstairs
with his forefinger.
"Hullo!" said Townsend, feigning surprise. "What's
up? What are you doing here, old man?"
"Go back," repeated Hartley, inflexibly. "The Law
of the Jungle. Do you want the Pack to tear you in
pieces? The kill is mine."
"I came here to see a plumber about the bathroom
connections," said Townsend, bravely.
"All right," said Hartley. "You shall have that lying
plaster to stick upon your traitorous soul. But, go back."
Townsend went downstairs, leaving a bitter word to
be wafted up the draught of the staircase. Hartley went
back to his wooing.
"Vivienne," said he, masterfully. "I have got to
have you. I will take no more refusals or dilly-dallying."
"When do you want me?" she asked.
"Now. As soon as you can get ready."
She stood calmly before him and looked him in the
"Do you think for one moment," she said, "that
I would enter your home while Héloise is there?"
Hartley cringed as if from an unexpected blow. He
folded his arms and paced the carpet once or twice.
"She shall go," he declared grimly. Drops stood upon
his brow. "Why should I let that woman make my
life miserable? Never have I seen one day of freedom
from trouble since I have known her. You are right,
Vivienne. Héloise must be sent away before I can take
you home. But she shall go. I have decided. I will
turn her from my doors."
"When will you do this?" asked the girl.
Hartley clinched his teeth and bent his brows together.
"To-night," he said, resolutely. "I will send her
"Then," said Vivienne, "my answer is 'yes.' Come
for me when you will."
She looked into his eyes with a sweet, sincere light in
her own. Hartley could scarcely believe that her sur-
render was true, it was so swift and complete.
"Promise me," he said feelingly, "on your word and
"On my word and honour," repeated Vivienne, softly.
At the door he turned and gazed at her happily, but
yet as one who scarcely trusts the foundations of his joy.
"To-morrow," he said, with a forefinger of reminder
"To-morrow," she repeated with a smile of truth and
In an hour and forty minutes Hartley stepped off the
train at Floralhurst. A brisk walk of ten minutes brought
him to the gate of a handsome two-story cottage set upon
a wide and well-tended lawn. Halfway to the house he
was met by a woman with jet-black braided hair and
flowing white summer gown, who half strangled him
without apparent cause.
When they stepped into the hall she said:
"Mamma's here. The auto is coming for her in half
an hour. She came to dinner, but there's no dinner."
"I've something to tell you," said Hartley. "I thought
to break it to you gently, but since your mother is here
we may as well out with it."
He stooped and whispered something at her ear.
His wife screamed. Her mother came running into
the hall. The dark-haired woman screamed again-
the joyful scream of a well-beloved and petted woman.
"Oh, mamma!" she cried ecstatically, "what do you
think? Vivienne is coming to cook for us! She is the
one that stayed with the Montgomerys a whole year.
And now, Billy, dear," she concluded, "you must go
right down into the kitchen and discharge Héloise. She
has been drunk again the whole day long."
SOCIOLOGY IN SERGE AND STRAW
The season of irresponsibility is at hand. Come,
let us twine round our brows wreaths of poison ivy (that
is for idiocy), and wander hand in hand with sociology
in the summer fields.
Likely as not the world is flat. The wise men have
tried to prove that it is round, with indifferent success.
They pointed out to us a ship going to sea, and bade us
observe that, at length, the convexity of the earth hid
from our view all but the vessel's topmast. But we
picked up a telescope and looked, and saw the decks
and hull again. Then the wise men said: "Oh, pshaw!
anyhow, the variation of the intersection of the equator
and the ecliptic proves it." We could not see this through
our telescope, so we remained silent. But it stands to
reason that, if the world were round, the queues of China-
Men would stand straight up from their heads instead
of hanging down their backs, as travellers assure us they do.
Another hot-weather corroboration of the flat theory
is the fact that all of life, as we know it, moves in little,
unavailing circles. More justly than to anything else,
it can be likened to the game of baseball. Crack! we
hit the ball, and away we go. If we earn a run (in life
we call it success) we get back to the home plate and sit
upon a bench. If we are thrown out, we walk back to the
home plate -- and sit upon a bench.
The circumnavigators of the alleged globe may
have sailed the rim of a watery circle back to the same
port again. The truly great return at the high tide of
their attainments to the simplicity of a child. The
billionaire sits down at his mahogany to his bowl of bread
and milk. When you reach the end of your career, just
take down the sign "Goal" and look at the other side of
it. You will find "Beginning Point" there. It has been
reversed while you were going around the track.
But this is humour, and must be stopped. Let us
get back to the serious questions that arise whenever
Sociology turns summer boarder. You are invited to
consider the scene of the story-wild, Atlantic waves,
thundering against a wooded and rock-bound shore --
in the Greater City of New York.
The town of Fishampton, on the south shore of Long
Island, is noted for its clam fritters and the summer
residence of the Van Plushvelts.
The Van Plushvelts have a hundred million dollars,
and their name is a household word with tradesmen and
On the fifteenth of June the Van Plushvelts boarded
up the front door of their city house, carefully deposited
their cat on the sidewalk, instructed the caretaker not
to allow it to eat any of the ivy on the walls, and whizzed
away in a 40-horse-power to Fishampton to stray alone
the shade -- Amaryllis not being in their class. If
a subscriber to the Toadies' Magazine, you have
often -- You say you are not? Well, you buy it at a
news-stand, thinking that the newsdealer is not wise to
you. But he knows about it all. HE knows -- HE
knows! I say that you have often seen in the Toadies'
Magazine pictures of the Van Plushvelts' summer home;
so it will not be described here. Our business is with
young Haywood Van Plushvelt, sixteen years old, heir
to the century of millions, darling of the financial gods
and great grandson of Peter Van Plushvelt, former owner
of a particularly fine cabbage patch that has been ruined
by an intrusive lot of downtown skyscrapers.
One afternoon young Haywood Van Plushvelt strolled
out between the granite gate posts of "Dolce far Niente"
-- that's what they called the place; and it was an improve-
ment on dolce Far Rockaway, I can tell you.
Haywood walked down into the village. He was
human, after all, and his prospective millions weighed
upon him. Wealth had wreaked upon him its direfullest.
He was the product of private tutors. Even under his
first hobby-horse had tan bark been strewn. He had
been born with a gold spoon, lobster fork and fish-set in
his mouth. For which I hope, later, to submit justification,
I must ask your consideration of his haberdashery and
Young Fortunatus was dressed in a neat suit of dark
blue serge, a neat, white straw hat, neat low-cut tan shoes,
of the well-known "immaculate" trade mark, a
neat, narrow four-in-hand tie, and carried a slender,
neat, bamboo cane.
Down Persimmon Street (there's never tree north of
Hagerstown, Md.) came from the village "Smoky"
Dodson, fifteen and a half, worst boy in Fishampton.
"Smoky" was dressed in a ragged red sweater, wrecked
and weather-worn golf cap, run-over shoes, and trousers
of the "serviceable" brand. Dust, clinging to the mois-
ture induced by free exercise, darkened wide areas of
his face. "Smoky" carried a baseball bat, and a league
ball that advertised itself in the rotundity of his trousers
pocket. Haywood stopped and passed the time of day.
"Going to play ball?" he asked.
"Smoky's" eyes and countenance confronted him
with a frank blue-and-freckled scrutiny.
"Me?" he said, with deadly mildness; "sure not.
Can't you see I've got a divin' suit on? I'm goin' up in
a submarine balloon to catch butterflies with a two-inch
"Excuse me," said Haywood, with the insulting polite-
-ness of his caste, "for mistaking you for a gentleman. I
might have known better."
"How might you have known better if you thought I
was one?" said "Smoky," unconsciously a logician.
"By your appearances," said Haywood. "No gentle-
man is dirty, ragged and a liar."
"Smoky" hooted once like a ferry-boat, spat on his
hand, got a firm grip on his baseball bat and then dropped
it against the fence.
"Say," said he, "I knows you. You're the pup that
belongs in that swell private summer sanitarium for city-
guys over there. I seen you come out of the gate. You
can't bluff nobody because you're rich. And because
you got on swell clothes. Arabella! Yah!"
"Ragamuffin!" said Hay-wood.
"Smoky" picked up a fence-rail splinter and laid it on
"Dare you to knock it off," he challenged.
"I wouldn't soil my hands with you," said the aristocrat.
"'Fraid," said "Smoky" concisely. "Youse city-
ducks ain't got the I sand. I kin lick you with one-
"I don't wish to have any trouble with you," said
Haywood. "I asked you a civil question; and you replied,
like a -- like a -- a cad."
"Wot's a cad?" asked "Smoky."
"A cad is a disagreeable person," answered Haywood,
"who lacks manners and doesn't know his place. They,
sometimes play baseball."
"I can tell you what a mollycoddle is," said "Smoky."
"It's a monkey dressed up by its mother and sent out too
pick daisies on the lawn."
"When you have the honour to refer to the members
of my family," said Haywood, with some dim ideas
of a code in his mind, "you'd better leave the ladies out
of your remarks."
"Ho! ladies!" mocked the rude one. "I say ladies!
I know what them rich women in the city does. They,
drink cocktails and swear and give parties to gorillas.
The papers says so."
Then Haywood knew that it must be. He took off
his coat, folded it neatly and laid it on the roadside grass,
placed his hat upon it and began to unknot his blue silk
"Hadn't yer better ring fer yer maid, Arabella?"
taunted "Smoky." "Wot yer going to do -- go to bed?"
"I'm going to give you a good trouncing," said the
hero. He did not hesitate, although the enemy was far
beneath him socially. He remembered that his father
once thrashed a cabman, and the papers gave it two col-
umns, first page. And the Toadies' Magazine had a
special article on Upper Cuts by the Upper Classes, and
ran new pictures of the Van Plushvelt country seat, at
"Wot's trouncing?" asked "Smoky," suspiciously.
"I don't want your old clothes. I'm no -- oh, you mean
to scrap! My, my! I won't do a thing to mamma's pet.
Criminy! I'd hate to be a hand-laundered thing like
"Smoky" waited with some awkwardness for his
adversary to prepare for battle. His own decks were
always clear for action. When he should spit upon the
palm of his terrible right it was equivalent to "You may
fire now, Gridley."
The hated patrician advanced, with his shirt sleeves
neatly rolled up. "Smoky" waited, in an attitude of
ease, expecting the affair to be conducted according to
Fishampton's rules of war. These allowed combat
to be prefaced by stigma, recrimination, epithet, abuse
and insult gradually increasing in emphasis and degree.
After a round of these "you're anothers" would come the
chip knocked from the shoulder, or the advance across
the "dare" line drawn with a toe on the ground. Next
light taps given and taken, these also increasing in force
until finally the blood was up and fists going at their best.
But Haywood did not know Fishampton's rules.
Noblesse oblige kept a faint smile on his face as he walked
slowly up to "Smoky" and said:
"Going to play ball?"
"Smoky" quickly understood this to be a putting
of the previous question, giving him the chance to make
practical apology by answering it with civility and
"Listen this time,' said he. "I'm goin' skatin' on
the river. Don't you see me automobile with Chinese
lanterns on it standin' and waitin' for me?"
Haywood knocked him down.
"Smoky" felt wronged. To thus deprive him of
preliminary wrangle and objurgation was to send an
armoured knight full tilt against a crashing lance without
permitting him first to caracole around the list to the
flourish of trumpets. But he scrambled up and fell upon
his foe, head, feet and fists.
The fight lasted one round of an hour and ten minutes.
It was lengthened until it was more like a war or a family
feud than a fight. Haywood had learned some of the
science of boxing and wrestling from his tutors, but these
he discarded for the more instinctive methods of battle
handed down by the cave-dwelling Van Plushvelts.
So, when he found himself, during the mêlée, seated
upon the kicking and roaring "Smoky's" chest, he
improved the opportunity by vigorously kneading hand-
fuls of sand and soil into his adversary's ears, eyes and
mouth, and when "Smoky" got the proper leg hold and
"turned" him, he fastened both hands in the Plushvelt
hair and pounded the Plushvelt head against the lap of
mother earth. Of course, the strife was not incessantly
active. There were seasons when one sat upon the other,
holding him down, while each blew like a grampus, spat
out the more inconveniently large sections of gravel and
and strove to subdue the spirit of his opponent
with a frightful and soul-paralyzing glare.
At last, it seemed that in the language of the ring, their
efforts lacked steam. They broke away, and each
disappeared in a cloud as he brushed away the dust of
the conflict. As soon as his breath permitted, Haywood
walked close to "Smoky" and said:
"Going to play ball?"
"Smoky" looked pensively at the sky, at his bat lying
on the ground, and at the "leaguer" rounding his pocket.
"Sure," he said, offhandedly. "The 'Yellowjackets'"
plays the 'Long Islands.' I'm cap'n of the 'Long
"I guess I didn't mean to say you were ragged," said
Haywood. "But you are dirty, you know."
"Sure," said "Smoky." "Yer get that way knockin'
around. Say, I don't believe them New York papers
about ladies drinkin' and havin' monkeys dinin' at the
table with 'em. I guess they're lies, like they print
about people eatin' out of silver plates, and ownin' dogs
that cost $100."
"Certainly," said Haywood. "What do you play on
"Ketcher. Ever play any?"
"Never in my life," said Haywood. "I've never known
any fellows except one or two of my cousins."
"Jer like to learn? We're goin' to have a practice-
game before the match. Wanter come along? I'll put
yer in left-field, and yer won't be long ketchin' on."
"I'd like it bully," said Haywood. "I've alway-
wanted to play baseball."
The ladies' maids of New York and the families of
Western mine owners with social ambitions will remember
well the sensation that was created by the report that the
young multi-millionaire, Haywood Van Plushvelt, was
playing ball with the village youths of Fishampton. It
was conceded that the millennium of democracy had
come. Reporters and photographers swarmed to the
island. The papers printed half-page pictures of him
as short-stop stopping a hot grounder. The Toadies'
Magazine got out a Bat and Ball number that covered
the subject historically, beginning with the vampire bat
and ending with the Patriarchs' ball -- illustrated with
interior views of the Van Plushvelt country seat.
Ministers, educators and sociologists everywhere hailed
the event as the tocsin call that proclaimed the universal
brotherhood of man.
One afternoon I was reclining under the trees near
the shore at Fishampton in the esteemed company of
an eminent, bald-headed young sociologist. By way
of note it may be inserted that all sociologists are more
or less bald, and exactly thirty-two. Look 'em over.
The sociologist was citing the Van Plushvelt case as
the most important "uplift" symptom of a generation,
and as an excuse for his own existence.
Immediately before us were the village baseball grounds.
And now came the sportive youth of Fishampton and
distributed themselves, shouting, about the diamond.
"There," said the sociologist, pointing, "there is young
I raised myself (so far a cosycophant with Mary Ann)
Young Van Plushvelt sat upon the ground. He was
dressed in a ragged red sweater, wrecked and weather-
worn golf cap, run-over shoes, and trousers of the "ser-
viceable" brand. Dust clinging to the moisture induced by
free exercise, darkened wide areas of his face.
"That is he," repeated the sociologist. If he had said
"him" I could have been less vindictive.
On a bench, with an air, sat the young millionaire's
He was dressed in a neat suit of dark blue serge, a neat
white straw hat, neat low-cut tan shoes, linen of the
well-known "immaculate" trade mark, a neat, narrow
four-in-hand tie, and carried a- slender, neat bamboo
I laughed loudly and vulgarly.
"What you want to do," said I to the sociologist, "is
to establish a reformatory for the Logical Vicious Circle.
Or else I've got wheels. It looks to me as if things are
running round and round in circles instead of getting
"What do you mean?" asked the man of progress.
"Why, look what he has done to "Smoky," I replied.
"You will always be a fool," said my friend, the sociolo-
gist, getting up and walking away.
THE RANSOM OF RED CHIEF
IT LOOKED like a good thing: but wait till I tell you.
We were down South, in Alabama -- Bill Driscoll and myself
-- when this kidnapping idea struck us. It was, as Bill
afterward expressed it, "during a moment of temporary
mental apparition"; but we didn't find that out till later.
There was a town down there, as flat as a flannel-cake,
and called Summit, of course. It contained inhabitants
Of as undeleterious and self-satisfied a class of peasantry
as ever clustered around a Maypole.
Bill and me had a joint capital of about six hundred
dollars, and we needed just two thousand dollars more
to pull off a fraudulent town-lot scheme in Western
Illinois with. We talked it over on the front steps of the
hotel. Philoprogenitiveness, says we, is strong in semi-
rural communities; therefore and for other reasons, a
kidnapping project ought to do better there than in the
radius of newspapers that send reporters out in plain
clothes to stir up talk about such things. We knew that
Summit couldn't get after us with anything stronger
than constables and maybe some lackadaisical blood-
hounds and a diatribe or two in the Weekly Farmers'
Budget. So, it looked good.
We selected for our victim the only child of a prominent
citizen named Ebenezer Dorset. The father was respect-
able and tight, a mortgage fancier and a stern, upright
collection-plate passer and forecloser. The kid was a
boy of ten, with bas-relief freckles, and hair the colour of
the cover of the magazine you buy at the news-stand
when you want to catch a train. Bill and me figured
that Ebenezer would melt down for a ransom of two
thousand dollars to a cent. But wait till I tell you.
About two miles from Summit was a little mountain,
covered with a dense cedar brake. On the rear elevation
of this mountain was a cave. There we stored provisions.
One evening after sundown, we drove in a buggy past
old Dorset's house. The kid was in the street, throw-
ing rocks at a kitten on the opposite fence.
"Hey, little boy!" says Bill, "would you like to have
a bag of candy and a nice ride?"
The boy catches Bill neatly in the eye with a piece of
"That will cost the old man an extra five hundred
dollars," says Bill, climbing over the wheel.
That boy put up a fight like a welter-weight cinnamon
bear; but, at last, we got him down in the bottom of the
buggy and drove away. We took him up to the cave and
I hitched the horse in the cedar brake. After dark I
drove the buggy to the little village, three miles away,
where we had hired it, and walked back to the moun-
Bill was pasting court-plaster over the scratches and
bruises on his features. There was a burning behind
the big rock at the entrance of the cave, and the boy was
watching a pot of boiling coffee, with two buzzard tail-
feathers stuck in his red hair. He points a stick at me
when I come up, and says:
"Ha! cursed paleface, do you dare to enter the camp of
Red Chief, the terror of the plains?
"He's all right now," says Bill, rolling up his trousers
and examining some bruises on his shins. "We're
playing Indian. We're making Buffalo Bill's show look
like magic-lantern views of Palestine in the town hall.
I'm Old Hank, the Trapper, Red Chief's captive, and I'm
to be scalped at daybreak. By Geronimo! that kid can
Yes, sir, that boy seemed to be having the time of his
life. The fun of camping out in a cave had made him
forget that he was a captive, himself. He immediately
christened me Snake-eye, the Spy, and announced that,
when his braves returned from the warpath, I was to be
broiled at the stake at the rising of the sun.
Then we had supper; and he filled his mouth full of
bacon and bread and gravy, and began to talk. He made
a during-dinner speech something like this:
"I like this fine. I never camped out before; but I
had a pet 'possum once, and I was nine last birthday.
I hate to go to school. Rats ate up sixteen of Jimmy
Talbot's aunt's speckled hen's eggs. Are there any
real Indians in these woods? I want some more gravy.
Does the trees moving make the wind blow? We had
five puppies. What makes your nose so red, Hank?
My father has lots of money. Are the stars hot? I
whipped Ed Walker twice, Saturday. I don't like girls.
You dassent catch toads unless with a string. Do oxen
make any noise? Why are oranges round? Have you
got beds to sleep on in this cave? Amos Murray has got
Six toes. A parrot can talk, but a monkey or a fish can't.
How many does it take to make twelve?"
Every few minutes he would remember that he was
a pesky redskin, and pick up his stick rifle and tiptoe to
the mouth of the cave to rubber for the scouts of the
hated paleface. Now and then he would let out a war-
whoop that made Old Hank the Trapper shiver. That
boy had Bill terrorized from the start.
"Red Chief," says I to the kid, "would you like to go
"Aw, what for?" says he. "I don't have any fun at
home. I hate to go to school. I like to camp out. You
won't take me back home again, Snake-eye, will you?"
"Not right away," says I. "We'll stay here in the
cave a while."
"All right!" says he. "That'll be fine. I never had
such fun in all my life."
We went to bed about eleven o'clock. We spread down
some wide blankets and quilts and put Red Chief between
us. We weren't afraid he'd run away. He kept us
awake for three hours, jumping up and reaching for his
rifle and screeching: "Hist! pard," in mine and Bill's
ears, as the fancied crackle of a twig or the rustle of a
leaf revealed to his young imagination the stealthy
approach of the outlaw band. At last, I fell into a
troubled sleep, and dreamed that I had been kidnapped
and chained to a tree by a ferocious pirate with red hair.
Just at daybreak, I was awakened by a series of awful
screams from Bill. They weren't yells, or howls, or
shouts, or whoops, or yalps, such as you'd expect from
a manly set of vocal organs -- they were simply indecent,
terrifying, humiliating screams, such as women emit
when they see ghosts or caterpillars. It's an awful thing
to hear a strong, desperate, fat man scream incontinently
in a cave at daybreak.
I jumped up to see what the matter was. Red Chief
was sitting on Bill's chest, with one hand twined in Bill's
hair. In the other he had the sharp case-knife we used
for slicing, bacon; and he was industriously and realistically
trying to take Bill's scalp, according to the sentence that
had been pronounced upon him the evening before.
I got the knife away from the kid and made him lie
down again. But, from that moment, Bill's spirit was
broken. He laid down on his side of the bed, but he never
closed an eye again in sleep as long as that boy was with us.
I dozed off for a while, but along toward sun-up I remem-
bered that Red Chief had said I was to be burned at the
stake at the rising of the sun. I wasn't nervous or afraid;
but I sat up and lit my pipe and leaned against a rock.
"What you getting up so soon for, Sam?" asked Bill.
"Me?" says I. "Oh, I got a kind of a pain in
my shoulder. I thought sitting up would rest it."
"You're a liar!" says Bill. "You're afraid. You
was to be burned at sunrise, and you was afraid he'd
do it. And he would, too, if he could find a match.
Ain't it awful, Sam? Do you think anybody will pay
out money to get a little imp like that back home?"
"Sure," said I. "A rowdy kid like that is just the kind
that parents dote on. Now, you and the Chief get up and
cook breakfast, while I go up on the top of this mountain
I went up on the peak of the little mountain and ran my
eye over the contiguous vicinity. Over toward Summit I
expected to see the sturdy yeomanry of the village armed
with scythes and pitchforks beating the countryside for
the dastardly kidnappers. But what I saw was a peaceful
landscape dotted with one man ploughing with a dun
mule. Nobody was dragging the creek; no couriers
dashed hither and yon, bringing tidings of no news to the
distracted parents. There was a sylvan attitude of
somnolent sleepiness pervading that section of the external
outward surface of Alabama that lay exposed to my view.
"Perhaps," says I to myself, "it has not yet been discov-
ered that the wolves have home away the tender lambkin
from the fold. Heaven help the wolves!" says I, and I
went down the mountain to breakfast.
When I got to the cave I found Bill backed up against
the side of it, breathing hard, and the boy threatening
to smash him with a rock half as big as a cocoanut.
"He put a red-hot boiled potato down my back,"
explained Bill, "and the mashed it with his foot; and
I boxed his ears. Have you got a gun about you,
I took the rock away from the boy and kind of patched
up the argument. "I'll fix you," says the kid to Bill.
"No man ever yet struck the Red Chief but what he got
paid for it. You better beware!"
After breakfast the kid takes a piece of leather with
strings wrapped around it out of his pocket and goes out-
side the cave unwinding it.
"What's he up to now?" says Bill, anxiously. "You
don't think he'll run away, do you, Sam?"
"No fear of it," says I. "He don't seem to be much of
a home body. But we've got to fix up some plan about the
ransom. There don't seem to be much excitement around
Summit on account of his disappearance; but maybe
they haven't realized yet that he's gone. His folks
may think he's spending the night with Aunt Jane or one
of the neighbours. Anyhow, he'll be missed to-day.
To-night we must get a message to his father demanding
the two thousand dollars for his return."
Just then we heard a kind Of war-whoop, such as David
might have emitted when he knocked out the champion
Goliath. It was a sling that Red Chief had pulled out
of his pocket, and he was whirling it around his head.
I dodged, and heard a heavy thud and a kind of a sigh
from Bill, like a horse gives out when you take his saddle
off. A niggerhead rock the size of an egg had caught
Bill just behind his left ear. He loosened himself all over
and fell in the fire across the frying pan of hot water for
washing the dishes. I dragged him out and poured cold
water on his head for half an hour.
By and by, Bill sits up and feels behind his ear and
says: "Sam, do you know who my favourite Biblical
"Take it easy," says I. "You'll come to your senses
"King Herod," says he. "You won't go away and
leave me here alone, will you, Sam?"
I went out and caught that boy and shook him until
his freckles rattled.
"If you don't behave," says I, "I'll take you straight
home. Now, are you going to be good, or not?"
"I was only funning," says he sullenly. "I didn't
mean to hurt Old Hank. But what did he hit me for?
"I'll behave, Snake-eye, if you won't send me home, and
if you'll let me play the Black Scout to-day."
"I don't know the game," says I. "That's for you and
Mr. Bill to decide. He's your playmate for the day.
I'm going away for a while, on business. Now, you
come in and make friends with him and say you are
sorry for hurting him, or home you go, at once."
I made him and Bill shake hands, and then I took Bill
aside and told him I was going to Poplar Cove, a little
village three miles from the cave, and find out what I
could about how the kidnapping had been regarded in
Summit. Also, I thought it best to send a peremptory
letter to old man Dorset that day, demanding the ransom
and dictating how it should be paid.
"You know, Sam," says Bill, "I've stood by you with-
out batting an eye in earthquakes, fire and flood -- in
poker games, dynamite outrages, police raids, train
robberies and cyclones. I never lost my nerve yet till
we kidnapped that two-legged skyrocket of a kid. He's
got me going. You won't leave me long with him, will
"I'll be back some time this afternoon," says I. "You
must keep the boy amused and quiet till I return. And
now we'll write the letter to old Dorset."
Bill and I got paper and pencil and worked on the
letter while Red Chief, with a blanket wrapped around
him, strutted up and down, guarding the mouth of the
cave. Bill begged me tearfully to make the ransom
fifteen hundred dollars instead of two thousand. "I
ain't attempting," says he, "to decry the celebrated moral
aspect of parental affection, but we're dealing with
humans, and it ain't human for anybody to give up two
thousand dollars for that forty-pound chunk of freckled
wildcat. I'm willing to take a chance at fifteen hundred
dollars. You can charge the difference up to me."
So, to relieve Bill, I acceded, and we collaborated a
letter that ran this way:
Ebenezer Dorset, Esq.:
We have your boy concealed in a place far from Summit.
It is useless for you or the most skilful detectives to
attempt to find him. Absolutely, the only terms on
which you can have him restored to you are these: We
demand fifteen hundred dollars in large bills for his return;
the money to be left at midnight to-night at the same
spot and in the same box as your reply -- as hereinafter
described. If you agree to these terms, send your answer
in writing by a solitary messenger to-night at half-past
eight o'clock. After crossing Owl Creek, on the road
to Poplar Cove, there are three large trees about a hundred
yards apart, close to the fence of the wheat field on the
right-hand side. At the bottom of the fence-post, opposite
the third tree, will be found a small pasteboard box.
The messenger will place the answer in this box and
return immediately to Summit.
If you attempt any treachery or fail to comply with
our demand as stated, you will never see your boy again.
If you pay the money as demanded, he will be returned
to you safe and well within three hours. These terms
are final, and if you do not accede to them no further coin-
munication will be attempted.
TWO DESPERATE MEN.
I addressed this letter to Dorset, and put it in my pocket.
As I was about to start, the kid comes up to me and says:
"Aw, Snake-eye, you said I could play the Black Scout
while you was gone."
"Play it, of course," says I. "Mr. Bill will play
with you. What kind of a game is it?"
"I'm the Black Scout," says Red Chief, "and I
have to ride to the stockade to warn the settlers that the
Indians are coming. I'm tired of playing Indian myself.
I want to be the Black Scout."
"All right," says I. "It sounds harmless to me.
I guess Mr. Bill will help you foil the pesky
"What am I to do?" asks Bill, looking at the kid
"You are the hoss," says Black Scout. "Get down
on your hands and knees. How can I ride to the stockade
without a hoss?"
"You'd better keep him interested," said I, "till we
get the scheme going. Loosen up."
Bill gets down on his all fours, and a look comes in
his eye like a rabbit's when you catch it in a trap.
"How far is it to the stockade, kid?" he asks, in a husky
manner of voice.
"Ninety miles," says the Black Scout. "And you have
to hump yourself to get there on time. Whoa, now!"
The Black Scout jumps on Bill's back and digs his
heels in his side.
"For Heaven's sake," says Bill, "hurry back, Sam,
as soon as you can. I wish we hadn't made the ransom
more than a thousand. Say, you quit kicking me or I'll
get up and warm you good."
I walked over to Poplar Cove and sat around the post-
office and store, talking with the chawbacons that came
in to trade. One whiskerando says that he hears Summit
is all upset on account of Elder Ebenezer Dorset's boy
having been lost or stolen. That was all I wanted to know.
I bought some smoking tobacco, referred casually to the
price of black-eyed peas, posted my letter surreptitiously
and came away. The postmaster said the mail-carrier
would come by in an hour to take the mail on to Summit.
When I got back to the cave Bill and the boy were not
to be found. I explored the vicinity of the cave, and risked
a yodel or two, but there was no response.
So I lighted my pipe and sat down on a mossy bank to
In about half an hour I heard the bushes rustle, and
Bill wabbled out into the little glade in front of the cave.
Behind him was the kid, stepping softly like a scout, with
a broad grin on his face. Bill stopped, took off his hat
and wiped his face with a red handkerchief. The kid
stopped about eight feet behind him.
"Sam," says Bill, "I suppose you'll think I'm a rene-
gade, but I couldn't help it. I'm a grown person with
masculine proclivities and habits of self-defense, but there
is a time when all systems of egotism and predominance
fail. The boy is gone. I have sent him home. All
is off. There was martyrs in old times," goes on Bill,
"that suffered death rather than give up the particular
graft they enjoyed. None of 'em ever was subjugated
to such supernatural tortures as I have been. I tried to
be faithful to our articles of depredation; but there came
"What's the trouble, Bill?" I asks him.
"I was rode," says Bill, "the ninety miles to the stockade,
not barring an inch. Then, when the settlers was rescued,
I was given oats. Sand ain't a palatable substitute.
And then, for an hour I had to try to explain to him
why there was nothin' in holes, how a road can run both
ways and what makes the grass green. I tell you, Sam,
a human can only stand so much. I takes him by the
neck of his clothes and drags him down the mountain.
On the way he kicks my legs black-and-blue from the knees
down; and I've got to have two or three bites on my thumb
and hand cauterized.
"But he's gone" -- continues Bill -- "gone home.
I showed him the road to Summit and kicked him about
eight feet nearer there at one kick. I'm sorry we lose the
ransom; but it was either that or Bill Driscoll to the
Bill is puffing and blowing, but there is a look of ineffable
peace and growing content on his rose-pink features.
"Bill," says I, "there isn't any heart disease in your
family, is there?
"No," says Bill, "nothing chronic except malaria
and accidents. Why?"
"Then you might turn around," says I, "and have a
took behind you."
Bill turns and sees the boy, and loses his complexion
and sits down plump on the round and begins to pluck
aimlessly at grass and little sticks. For an hour I was
afraid for his mind. And then I told him that my scheme
was to put the whole job through immediately and that
we would get the ransom and be off with it by midnight
if old Dorset fell in with our proposition. So Bill braced
up enough to give the kid a weak sort of a smile and a
promise to play the Russian in a Japanese war with him
is soon as he felt a little better.
I had a scheme for collecting that ransom without
danger of being caught by counterplots that ought to
commend itself to professional kidnappers. The tree
under which the answer was to be left -- and the
money later on -- was close to the road fence with big,
bare fields on all sides. If a gang of constables should be
watching for any one to come for the note they could see
him a long way off crossing the fields or in the road. But
no, sirree! At half-past eight I was up in that tree as well
hidden as a tree toad, waiting for the messenger to arrive.
Exactly on time, a half-grown boy rides up the road on
a bicycle, locates the pasteboard box at the foot of the
fence-post, slips a folded piece of paper into it and pedals
away again back toward Summit.
I waited an hour and then concluded the thing was
square. I slid down the tree, got the note, slipped along
the fence till I struck the woods, and was back at the cave
in another half an hour. I opened the note, got near the
lantern and read it to Bill. It was written with a pen in a
crabbed hand, and the sum and substance of it was this:
Two Desperate Men.
Gentlemen: I received your letter to-day by post,
in regard to the ransom you ask for the return of my son.
I think you are a little high in your demands, and I hereby
make you a counter-proposition, which I am inclined to
believe you will accept. You bring Johnny home and
pay me two hundred and fifty dollars in cash, and I agree
to take him off your hands. You had better come at
night, for the neighbours believe he is lost, and I couldn't
be responsible for what they would do to anybody they
saw bringing him back. Very respectfully,
"Great pirates of Penzance!" says I; "of all the
impudent -- "
But I glanced at Bill, and hesitated. He had the most
appealing look in his eyes I ever saw on the face of a dumb
or a talking brute.
"Sam," says he, "what's two hundred and fifty dollars,
after all? We've got the money. One more night of
this kid will send me to a bed in Bedlam. Besides being
a thorough gentleman, I think Mr. Dorset is a spend-
thrift for making us such a liberal offer. You ain't going
to let the chance go, are you?"
"Tell you the truth, Bill," says I, "this little he ewe
lamb has somewhat got on my nerves too. We'll take
him home, pay the ransom and make our get-away."
We took him home that night. We got him to go
by telling him that his father had bought a silver-mounted
rifle and a pair of moccasins for him, and we were going
to hunt bears the next day.
It was just twelve o'clock when we knocked at Ebene-
zer's front door. Just at the moment when I should have
been abstracting the fifteen hundred dollars from the box
under the tree, according to the original proposition, Bill
was counting out two hundred and fifty dollars into
When the kid found out we were going to leave him at
home he started up a howl like a calliope and fastened
himself as tight as a leech to Bill's leg. His father peeled
him away gradually, like a porous plaster.
"How long can you hold him?" asks Bill.
"I'm not as strong as I used to be," says old Dorset,
"but I think I can promise you ten minutes."
"Enough," says Bill. "In ten minutes I shall cross
the Central, Southern and Middle Western States, and be
legging it trippingly for the Canadian border."
And, as dark as it was, and as fat as Bill was, and as
good a runner as I am, he was a good mile and a half
out of Summit before I could catch up with him.
THE MARRY MONTH OF MAY
PRITHEE, smite the poet in the eye when he would
sing to you praises of the month of May. It is a month
presided over by the spirits of mischief and madness.
Pixies and flibbertigibbets haunt the budding woods:
Puck and his train of midgets are busy in town and
In May nature holds up at us a chiding finger, bidding
us remember that we are not gods, but overconceited
members of her own great family. She reminds us that
we are brothers to the chowder-doomed clam and the
donkey; lineal scions of the pansy and the chimpanzee,
and but cousins-german to the cooing doves, the quacking
ducks and the housemaids and policemen in the parks.
In May Cupid shoots blindfolded -- millionaires marry
stenographers; wise professors woo white-aproned gum-
chewers behind quick-lunch counters; schoolma'ams
make big bad boys remain after school; lads with ladders
steal lightly over lawns where Juliet waits in her trellissed
window with her telescope packed; young couples out
for a walk come home married; old chaps put on white
spats and promenade near the Normal School; even
married men, grown unwontedly tender and sentimental,
whack their spouses on the back and growl: "How goes
it, old girl:"
This May, who is no goddess, but Circe, masquerading
at the dance given in honour of the fair débutante, Sum-
mer, puts the kibosh on us all.
Old Mr. Coulson groaned a little, and then sat up
straight in his invalid's chair. He had the gout very
bad in one foot, a house near Gramercy Park, half a
million dollars and a daughter. And he had a house-
keeper, Mrs. Widdup. The fact and the name deserve
a sentence each. They have it.
When May poked Mr. Coulson he became elder brother
to the turtle-dove. In the window near which he sat
were boxes of jonquils, of hyacinths, geraniums and
pansies. The breeze brought their odour into the room.
Immediately there was a well-contested round between
the breath of the flowers and the able and active effluvium
from gout liniment. The liniment won easily; but not
before the flowers got an uppercut to old Mr. Coulson's
nose. The deadly work of the implacable, false enchant-
ress May was done.
Across the park to the olfactories of Mr. Coulson came
other unmistakable, characteristic, copyrighted smells
of spring that belong to the-big-city-above-the-Subway,
alone. The smells of hot asphalt, underground caverns,
gasoline, patchouli, orange peel, sewer gas, Albany grabs,
Egyptian cigarettes, mortar and the undried ink on news-
papers. The inblowing air was sweet and mild. Sparrows
wrangled happily everywhere outdoors. Never trust May.
Mr. Coulson twisted the ends of his white mustache,
cursed his foot, and pounded a bell on the table by his
In came Mrs. Widdup. She was comely to the eye,
fair, flustered, forty and foxy.
"Higgins is out, sir," she said, with a smile suggestive
of vibratory massage. "He went to post a letter. Can
I do anything for you, sir?"
"It's time for my aconite," said old Mr. Coulson.
"Drop it for me. The bottle's there. Three drops.
In water. D -- that is, confound Higgins! There's
nobody in this house cares if I die here in this chair for
want of attention."
Mrs. Widdup sighed deeply.
"Don't be saying that, sir," she said. "There's them
that would care more than any one knows. Thirteen
drops, you said, sir?"
"Three," said old man Coulson.
He took his dose and then Mrs. Widdup's hand. She
blushed. Oh, yes, it can be done. Just hold your
breath and compress the diaphragm.
"Mrs. Widdup," said Mr. Coulson, "the springtime's
full upon us."
"Ain't that right?" said Mrs. Widdup. "The air's
real warm. And there's bock-beer signs on every corner.
And the park's all yaller and pink and blue with flowers;
and I have such shooting pains up my legs and
"'In the spring,'" quoted Mr. Coulson, curling his
mustache, "'a y-- that is, a man's -- fancy lightly turns
to thoughts of love.'"
"Lawsy, now!" exclaimed Mrs. Widdup; "ain't that
right? Seems like it's in the air."
"'In the spring,'" continued old Mr. Coulson, "'a
livelier iris shines upon the burnished dove.'"
"They do be lively, the Irish," sighed Mrs. Widdup
"Mrs. Widdup," said Mr. Coulson, making a face at
a twinge of his gouty foot, "this would be a lonesome
house without you. I'm an -- that is, I'm an elderly
man -- but I'm worth a comfortable lot of money. If
half a million dollars' worth of Government bonds and
the true affection of a heart that, though no longer beating
with the first ardour of youth, can still throb with
genuine -- "
The loud noise of an overturned chair near the portières
of the adjoining room interrupted the venerable and
scarcely suspecting victim of May.
In stalked Miss Van Meeker Constantia Coulson, bony,
durable, tall, high-nosed, frigid, well-bred, thirty-five,
in-the-neighbourhood-of-Gramercy-Parkish. She put up
a lorgnette. Mrs. Widdup hastily stooped and arranged
the bandages on Mr. Coulson's gouty foot.
"I thought Higgins was with you," said Miss Van
"Higgins went out," explained her father, "and Mrs.
Widdup answered the bell. That is better now, Mrs.
Widdup, thank you. No; there is nothing else I require."
The housekeeper retired, pink under the cool, inquiring
stare of Miss Coulson.
"This spring weather is lovely, isn't it, daughter?"
said the old man, consciously conscious.
"That's just it," replied Miss Van Meeker Constantia
Coulson, somewhat obscurely. "When does Mrs. Wid-
dup start on her vacation, papa?"
"I believe she said a week from to-day," said Mr.
Miss Van Meeker Constantia stood for a minute at
the window gazing, toward the little park, flooded with
the mellow afternoon sunlight. With the eye of a botanist
she viewed the flowers -- most potent weapons of insid-
ious May. With the cool pulses of a virgin of Cologne
she withstood the attack of the ethereal mildness. The
arrows of the pleasant sunshine fell back, frostbitten,
from the cold panoply of her unthrilled bosom. The
odour of the flowers waked no soft sentiments in the
unexplored recesses of her dormant heart. The chirp of
the sparrows gave her a pain. She mocked at May.
But although Miss Coulson was proof against the
season, she was keen enough to estimate its power. She
knew that elderly men and thick-waisted women jumped
as educated fleas in the ridiculous train of May, the merry
mocker of the months. She had heard of foolish old
gentlemen marrying their housekeepers before. What a
humiliating thing, after all, was this feeling called
The next morning at 8 o'clock, when the iceman called,
the cook told him that Miss Coulson wanted to see him
in the basement.
"Well, ain't I the Olcott and Depew; not mentioning
the first name at all?" said the iceman, admiringly, of
As a concession he rolled his sleeves down, dropped his
icehooks on a syringe and went back. When Miss Van
Meeker Constantia Coulson addressed him he took off
"There is a rear entrance to this basement," said Miss
Coulson, "which can be reached by driving into the
vacant lot next door, where they are excavating for a
building. I want you to bring in that way within two
hours 1,000 pounds of ice. You may have to bring
another man or two to help you. I will show you where
I want it placed. I also want 1,000 pounds a day delivered
the same way for the next four days. Your company may
charge the ice on our regular bill. This is for your extra
Miss Coulson tendered a ten-dollar bill. The iceman
bowed, and held his hat in his two hands behind him.
"Not if you'll excuse me, lady. It'll be a pleasure to
fix things up for you any way you please."
Alas for May!
About noon Mr. Coulson knocked two glasses off his
table, broke the spring of his bell and yelled for Higgins
at the same time.
"Bring an axe," commanded Mr. Coulson, sardoni-
cally, "or send out for a quart of prussic acid, or have a
policeman come in and shoot me. I'd rather that than
be frozen to death."
"It does seem to be getting cool, Sir," said Higgins.