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How long she lay there she never knew. She was at last conscious of some one bending over her, and a voice–the voice of Mr. Brooks– in her ear, saying, “I beg your pardon; you seem ill. Shall I call some one?”

“No!” she gasped, quickly recovering herself with an effort, and staring round her. “Where is–when did you come in?”

“Only this moment. I was leaving tonight, sooner than I expected, and thought I’d say good-by. They told me that you had been engaged with a stranger, but he had just gone. I beg your pardon– I see you are ill. I won’t detain you any longer.”

“No! no! don’t go! I am better–better,” she said feverishly. As she glanced at his strong and sympathetic face a wild idea seized her. He was a stranger here, an alien to these people, like herself. The advice that she dare not seek from others, from her half-estranged religious friends, from even her superintendent and his wife, dare she ask from him? Perhaps he saw this frightened doubt, this imploring appeal, in her eyes, for he said gently, “Is it anything I can do for you?”

“Yes,” she said, with the sudden desperation of weakness; “I want you to keep a secret.”

“Yours?–yes!” he said promptly.

Whereat poor Mrs. Wade instantly burst into tears. Then, amidst her sobs, she told him of the stranger’s visit, of his terrible accusations, of his demands, his expected return, and her own utter helplessness. To her terror, as she went on she saw a singular change in his kind face; he was following her with hard, eager intensity. She had half hoped, even through her fateful instincts, that he might have laughed, manlike, at her fears, or pooh-poohed the whole thing. But he did not. “You say he positively recognized your husband?” he repeated quickly.

“Yes, yes!” sobbed the widow, “and knew that daguerreotype!” she pointed to the desk.

Brooks turned quickly in that direction. Luckily his back was towards her, and she could not see his face, and the quick, startled look that came into his eyes. But when they again met hers, it was gone, and even their eager intensity had changed to a gentle commiseration. “You have only his word for it, Mrs. Wade,” he said gently, “and in telling your secret to another, you have shorn the rascal of half his power over you. And he knew it. Now, dismiss the matter from your mind and leave it all to me. I will be here a few minutes before nine–AND ALONE IN THIS ROOM. Let your visitor be shown in here, and don’t let us be disturbed. Don’t be alarmed,” he added with a faint twinkle in his eye, “there will be no fuss and no exposure!”

It lacked a few minutes of nine when Mr. Brooks was ushered into the sitting-room. As soon as he was alone he quietly examined the door and the windows, and having satisfied himself, took his seat in a chair casually placed behind the door. Presently he heard the sound of voices and a heavy footstep in the passage. He lightly felt his waistcoat pocket–it contained a pretty little weapon of power and precision, with a barrel scarcely two inches long.

The door opened, and the person outside entered the room. In an instant Brooks had shut the door and locked it behind him. The man turned fiercely, but was faced by Brooks quietly, with one finger calmly hooked in his waistcoat pocket. The man slightly recoiled from him–not as much from fear as from some vague stupefaction. “What’s that for? What’s your little game?” he said half contemptuously.

“No game at all,” returned Brooks coolly. “You came here to sell a secret. I don’t propose to have it given away first to any listener.”

“YOU don’t–who are YOU?”

“That’s a queer question to ask of the man you are trying to personate–but I don’t wonder! You’re doing it d—-d badly.”

“Personate–YOU?” said the stranger, with staring eyes.

“Yes, ME,” said Brooks quietly. “I am the only man who escaped from the robbery that night at Heavy Tree Hill and who went home by the Overland Coach.”

The stranger stared, but recovered himself with a coarse laugh. “Oh, well! we’re on the same lay, it appears! Both after the widow–afore we show up her husband.”

“Not exactly,” said Brooks, with his eyes fixed intently on the stranger. “You are here to denounce a highwayman who is DEAD and escaped justice. I am here to denounce one who is LIVING!–Stop! drop your hand; it’s no use. You thought you had to deal only with a woman to-night, and your revolver isn’t quite handy enough. There! down!–down! So! That’ll do.”

“You can’t prove it,” said the man hoarsely.

“Fool! In your story to that woman you have given yourself away. There were but two travelers attacked by the highwaymen. One was killed–I am the other. Where do YOU come in? What witness can you be–except as the highwayman that you are? Who is left to identify Wade but–his accomplice!”

The man’s suddenly whitened face made his unshaven beard seem to bristle over his face like some wild animal’s. “Well, ef you kalkilate to blow me, you’ve got to blow Wade and his widder too. Jest you remember that,” he said whiningly.

“I’ve thought of that,” said Brooks coolly, “and I calculate that to prevent it is worth about that hundred dollars you got from that poor woman–and no more! Now, sit down at that table, and write as I dictate.”

The man looked at him in wonder, but obeyed.

“Write,” said Brooks, “‘I hereby certify that my accusations against the late Pulaski Wade of Heavy Tree Hill are erroneous and groundless, and the result of mistaken identity, especially in regard to any complicity of his in the robbery of John Stubbs, deceased, and Henry Brooks, at Heavy Tree Hill, on the night of the 13th August, 1854.'”

The man looked up with a repulsive smile. “Who’s the fool now, Cap’n? What’s become of your hold on the widder, now?”

“Write!” said Brooks fiercely.

The sound of a pen hurriedly scratching paper followed this first outburst of the quiet Brooks.

“Sign it,” said Brooks.

The man signed it.

“Now go,” said Brooks, unlocking the door, “but remember, if you should ever be inclined to revisit Santa Ana, you will find ME living here also.”

The man slunk out of the door and into the passage like a wild animal returning to the night and darkness. Brooks took up the paper, rejoined Mrs. Wade in the parlor, and laid it before her.

“But,” said the widow, trembling even in her joy, “do you–do you think he was REALLY mistaken?”

“Positive,” said Brooks coolly. “It’s true, it’s a mistake that has cost you a hundred dollars, but there are some mistakes that are worth that to be kept quiet.”

. . . . . .

They were married a year later; but there is no record that in after years of conjugal relations with a weak, charming, but sometimes trying woman, Henry Brooks was ever tempted to tell her the whole truth of the robbery of Heavy Tree Hill.

THE MERMAID OF LIGHTHOUSE POINT

Some forty years ago, on the northern coast of California, near the Golden Gate, stood a lighthouse. Of a primitive class, since superseded by a building more in keeping with the growing magnitude of the adjacent port, it attracted little attention from the desolate shore, and, it was alleged, still less from the desolate sea beyond. A gray structure of timber, stone, and glass, it was buffeted and harried by the constant trade winds, baked by the unclouded six months’ sun, lost for a few hours in the afternoon sea-fog, and laughed over by circling guillemots from the Farallones. It was kept by a recluse–a preoccupied man of scientific tastes, who, in shameless contrast to his fellow immigrants, had applied to the government for this scarcely lucrative position as a means of securing the seclusion he valued more than gold. Some believed that he was the victim of an early disappointment in love–a view charitably taken by those who also believed that the government would not have appointed “a crank” to a position of responsibility. Howbeit, he fulfilled his duties, and, with the assistance of an Indian, even cultivated a small patch of ground beside the lighthouse. His isolation was complete! There was little to attract wanderers here: the nearest mines were fifty miles away; the virgin forest on the mountains inland were penetrated only by sawmills and woodmen from the Bay settlements, equally remote. Although by the shore-line the lights of the great port were sometimes plainly visible, yet the solitude around him was peopled only by Indians,–a branch of the great northern tribe of “root-diggers,”–peaceful and simple in their habits, as yet undisturbed by the white man, nor stirred into antagonism by aggression. Civilization only touched him at stated intervals, and then by the more expeditious sea from the government boat that brought him supplies. But for his contiguity to the perpetual turmoil of wind and sea, he might have passed a restful Arcadian life in his surroundings; for even his solitude was sometimes haunted by this faint reminder of the great port hard by that pulsated with an equal unrest. Nevertheless, the sands before his door and the rocks behind him seemed to have been untrodden by any other white man’s foot since their upheaval from the ocean. It was true that the little bay beside him was marked on the map as “Sir Francis Drake’s Bay,” tradition having located it as the spot where that ingenious pirate and empire-maker had once landed his vessels and scraped the barnacles from his adventurous keels. But of this Edgar Pomfrey–or “Captain Pomfrey,” as he was called by virtue of his half-nautical office–had thought little.

For the first six months he had thoroughly enjoyed his seclusion. In the company of his books, of which he had brought such a fair store that their shelves lined his snug corners to the exclusion of more comfortable furniture, he found his principal recreation. Even his unwonted manual labor, the trimming of his lamp and cleaning of his reflectors, and his personal housekeeping, in which his Indian help at times assisted, he found a novel and interesting occupation. For outdoor exercise, a ramble on the sands, a climb to the rocky upland, or a pull in the lighthouse boat, amply sufficed him. “Crank” as he was supposed to be, he was sane enough to guard against any of those early lapses into barbarism which marked the lives of some solitary gold-miners. His own taste, as well as the duty of his office, kept his person and habitation sweet and clean, and his habits regular. Even the little cultivated patch of ground on the lee side of the tower was symmetrical and well ordered. Thus the outward light of Captain Pomfrey shone forth over the wilderness of shore and wave, even like his beacon, whatever his inward illumination may have been.

It was a bright summer morning, remarkable even in the monotonous excellence of the season, with a slight touch of warmth which the invincible Northwest Trades had not yet chilled. There was still a faint haze off the coast, as if last night’s fog had been caught in the quick sunshine, and the shining sands were hot, but without the usual dazzling glare. A faint perfume from a quaint lilac-colored beach-flower, whose clustering heads dotted the sand like bits of blown spume, took the place of that smell of the sea which the odorless Pacific lacked. A few rocks, half a mile away, lifted themselves above the ebb tide at varying heights as they lay on the trough of the swell, were crested with foam by a striking surge, or cleanly erased in the full sweep of the sea. Beside, and partly upon one of the higher rocks, a singular object was moving.

Pomfrey was interested but not startled. He had once or twice seen seals disporting on these rocks, and on one occasion a sea-lion,– an estray from the familiar rocks on the other side of the Golden Gate. But he ceased work in his garden patch, and coming to his house, exchanged his hoe for a telescope. When he got the mystery in focus he suddenly stopped and rubbed the object-glass with his handkerchief. But even when he applied the glass to his eye for a second time, he could scarcely believe his eyesight. For the object seemed to be a WOMAN, the lower part of her figure submerged in the sea, her long hair depending over her shoulders and waist. There was nothing in her attitude to suggest terror or that she was the victim of some accident. She moved slowly and complacently with the sea, and even–a more staggering suggestion–appeared to be combing out the strands of her long hair with her fingers. With her body half concealed she might have been a mermaid!

He swept the foreshore and horizon with his glass; there was neither boat nor ship–nor anything that moved, except the long swell of the Pacific. She could have come only from the sea; for to reach the rocks by land she would have had to pass before the lighthouse, while the narrow strip of shore which curved northward beyond his range of view he knew was inhabited only by Indians. But the woman was unhesitatingly and appallingly WHITE, and her hair light even to a golden gleam in the sunshine.

Pomfrey was a gentleman, and as such was amazed, dismayed, and cruelly embarrassed. If she was a simple bather from some vicinity hitherto unknown and unsuspected by him, it was clearly his business to shut up his glass and go back to his garden patch– although the propinquity of himself and the lighthouse must have been as plainly visible to her as she was to him. On the other hand, if she was the survivor of some wreck and in distress–or, as he even fancied from her reckless manner, bereft of her senses, his duty to rescue her was equally clear. In his dilemma he determined upon a compromise and ran to his boat. He would pull out to sea, pass between the rocks and the curving sand-spit, and examine the sands and sea more closely for signs of wreckage, or some overlooked waiting boat near the shore. He would be within hail if she needed him, or she could escape to her boat if she had one.

In another moment his boat was lifting on the swell towards the rocks. He pulled quickly, occasionally turning to note that the strange figure, whose movements were quite discernible to the naked eye, was still there, but gazing more earnestly towards the nearest shore for any sign of life or occupation. In ten minutes he had reached the curve where the trend opened northward, and the long line of shore stretched before him. He swept it eagerly with a single searching glance. Sea and shore were empty. He turned quickly to the rock, scarcely a hundred yards on his beam. It was empty too! Forgetting his previous scruples, he pulled directly for it until his keel grated on its submerged base. There was nothing there but the rock, slippery with the yellow-green slime of seaweed and kelp–neither trace nor sign of the figure that had occupied it a moment ago. He pulled around it; there was no cleft or hiding-place. For an instant his heart leaped at the sight of something white, caught in a jagged tooth of the outlying reef, but it was only the bleached fragment of a bamboo orange-crate, cast from the deck of some South Sea trader, such as often strewed the beach. He lay off the rock, keeping way in the swell, and scrutinizing the glittering sea. At last he pulled back to the lighthouse, perplexed and discomfited.

Was it simply a sporting seal, transformed by some trick of his vision? But he had seen it through his glass, and now remembered such details as the face and features framed in their contour of golden hair, and believed he could even have identified them. He examined the rock again with his glass, and was surprised to see how clearly it was outlined now in its barren loneliness. Yet he must have been mistaken. His scientific and accurate mind allowed of no errant fancy, and he had always sneered at the marvelous as the result of hasty or superficial observation. He was a little worried at this lapse of his healthy accuracy,–fearing that it might be the result of his seclusion and loneliness,–akin to the visions of the recluse and solitary. It was strange, too, that it should take the shape of a woman; for Edgar Pomfrey had a story– the usual old and foolish one.

Then his thoughts took a lighter phase, and he turned to the memory of his books, and finally to the books themselves. From a shelf he picked out a volume of old voyages, and turned to a remembered passage: “In other seas doe abound marvells soche as Sea Spyders of the bigness of a pinnace, the wich they have been known to attack and destroy; Sea Vypers which reach to the top of a goodly maste, whereby they are able to draw marinners from the rigging by the suction of their breathes; and Devill Fyshe, which vomit fire by night which makyth the sea to shine prodigiously, and mermaydes. They are half fyshe and half mayde of grate Beauty, and have been seen of divers godly and creditable witnesses swymming beside rocks, hidden to their waist in the sea, combing of their hayres, to the help of whych they carry a small mirrore of the bigness of their fingers.” Pomfrey laid the book aside with a faint smile. To even this credulity he might come!

Nevertheless, he used the telescope again that day. But there was no repetition of the incident, and he was forced to believe that he had been the victim of some extraordinary illusion. The next morning, however, with his calmer judgment doubts began to visit him. There was no one of whom he could make inquiries but his Indian helper, and their conversation had usually been restricted to the language of signs or the use of a few words he had picked up. He contrived, however, to ask if there was a “waugee” (white) woman in the neighborhood. The Indian shook his head in surprise. There was no “waugee” nearer than the remote mountain-ridge to which he pointed. Pomfrey was obliged to be content with this. Even had his vocabulary been larger, he would as soon have thought of revealing the embarrassing secret of this woman, whom he believed to be of his own race, to a mere barbarian as he would of asking him to verify his own impressions by allowing him to look at her that morning. The next day, however, something happened which forced him to resume his inquiries. He was rowing around the curving spot when he saw a number of black objects on the northern sands moving in and out of the surf, which he presently made out as Indians. A nearer approach satisfied him that they were wading squaws and children gathering seaweed and shells. He would have pushed his acquaintance still nearer, but as his boat rounded the point, with one accord they all scuttled away like frightened sandpipers. Pomfrey, on his return, asked his Indian retainer if they could swim. “Oh, yes!” “As far as the rock?” “Yes.” Yet Pomfrey was not satisfied. The color of his strange apparition remained unaccounted for, and it was not that of an Indian woman.

Trifling events linger long in a monotonous existence, and it was nearly a week before Pomfrey gave up his daily telescopic inspection of the rock. Then he fell back upon his books again, and, oddly enough, upon another volume of voyages, and so chanced upon the account of Sir Francis Drake’s occupation of the bay before him. He had always thought it strange that the great adventurer had left no trace or sign of his sojourn there; still stranger that he should have overlooked the presence of gold, known even to the Indians themselves, and have lost a discovery far beyond his wildest dreams and a treasure to which the cargoes of those Philippine galleons he had more or less successfully intercepted were trifles. Had the restless explorer been content to pace those dreary sands during three weeks of inactivity, with no thought of penetrating the inland forests behind the range, or of even entering the nobler bay beyond? Or was the location of the spot a mere tradition as wild and unsupported as the “marvells” of the other volume? Pomfrey had the skepticism of the scientific, inquiring mind.

Two weeks had passed and he was returning from a long climb inland, when he stopped to rest in his descent to the sea. The panorama of the shore was before him, from its uttermost limit to the lighthouse on the northern point. The sun was still one hour high, it would take him about that time to reach home. But from this coign of vantage he could see–what he had not before observed– that what he had always believed was a little cove on the northern shore was really the estuary of a small stream which rose near him and eventually descended into the ocean at that point. He could also see that beside it was a long low erection of some kind, covered with thatched brush, which looked like a “barrow,” yet showed signs of habitation in the slight smoke that rose from it and drifted inland. It was not far out of his way, and he resolved to return in that direction. On his way down he once or twice heard the barking of an Indian dog, and knew that he must be in the vicinity of an encampment. A camp-fire, with the ashes yet warm, proved that he was on the trail of one of the nomadic tribes, but the declining sun warned him to hasten home to his duty. When he at last reached the estuary, he found that the building beside it was little else than a long hut, whose thatched and mud-plastered mound-like roof gave it the appearance of a cave. Its single opening and entrance abutted on the water’s edge, and the smoke he had noticed rolled through this entrance from a smouldering fire within. Pomfrey had little difficulty in recognizing the purpose of this strange structure from the accounts he had heard from “loggers” of the Indian customs. The cave was a “sweat-house”–a calorific chamber in which the Indians closely shut themselves, naked, with a “smudge” or smouldering fire of leaves, until, perspiring and half suffocated, they rushed from the entrance and threw themselves into the water before it. The still smouldering fire told him that the house had been used that morning, and he made no doubt that the Indians were encamped near by. He would have liked to pursue his researches further, but he found he had already trespassed upon his remaining time, and he turned somewhat abruptly away–so abruptly, in fact, that a figure, which had evidently been cautiously following him at a distance, had not time to get away. His heart leaped with astonishment. It was the woman he had seen on the rock.

Although her native dress now only disclosed her head and hands, there was no doubt about her color, and it was distinctly white, save for the tanning of exposure and a slight red ochre marking on her low forehead. And her hair, long and unkempt as it was, showed that he had not erred in his first impression of it. It was a tawny flaxen, with fainter bleachings where the sun had touched it most. Her eyes were of a clear Northern blue. Her dress, which was quite distinctive in that it was neither the cast off finery of civilization nor the cheap “government” flannels and calicoes usually worn by the Californian tribes, was purely native, and of fringed deerskin, and consisted of a long, loose shirt and leggings worked with bright feathers and colored shells. A necklace, also of shells and fancy pebbles, hung round her neck. She seemed to be a fully developed woman, in spite of the girlishness of her flowing hair, and notwithstanding the shapeless length of her gaberdine- like garment, taller than the ordinary squaw.

Pomfrey saw all this in a single flash of perception, for the next instant she was gone, disappearing behind the sweat-house. He ran after her, catching sight of her again, half doubled up, in the characteristic Indian trot, dodging around rocks and low bushes as she fled along the banks of the stream. But for her distinguishing hair, she looked in her flight like an ordinary frightened squaw. This, which gave a sense of unmanliness and ridicule to his own pursuit of her, with the fact that his hour of duty was drawing near and he was still far from the lighthouse, checked him in full career, and he turned regretfully away. He had called after her at first, and she had not heeded him. What he would have said to her he did not know. He hastened home discomfited, even embarrassed– yet excited to a degree he had not deemed possible in himself.

During the morning his thoughts were full of her. Theory after theory for her strange existence there he examined and dismissed. His first thought, that she was a white woman–some settler’s wife– masquerading in Indian garb, he abandoned when he saw her moving; no white woman could imitate that Indian trot, nor would remember to attempt it if she were frightened. The idea that she was a captive white, held by the Indians, became ridiculous when he thought of the nearness of civilization and the peaceful, timid character of the “digger” tribes. That she was some unfortunate demented creature who had escaped from her keeper and wandered into the wilderness, a glance at her clear, frank, intelligent, curious eyes had contradicted. There was but one theory left–the most sensible and practical one–that she was the offspring of some white man and Indian squaw. Yet this he found, oddly enough, the least palatable to his fancy. And the few half-breeds he had seen were not at all like her.

The next morning he had recourse to his Indian retainer, “Jim.” With infinite difficulty, protraction, and not a little embarrassment, he finally made him understand that he had seen a “white squaw” near the “sweat-house,” and that he wanted to know more about her. With equal difficulty Jim finally recognized the fact of the existence of such a person, but immediately afterwards shook his head in an emphatic negation. With greater difficulty and greater mortification Pomfrey presently ascertained that Jim’s negative referred to a supposed abduction of the woman which he understood that his employer seriously contemplated. But he also learned that she was a real Indian, and that there were three or four others like her, male and female, in that vicinity; that from a “skeena mowitch” (little baby) they were all like that, and that their parents were of the same color, but never a white or “waugee” man or woman among them; that they were looked upon as a distinct and superior caste of Indians, and enjoyed certain privileges with the tribe; that they superstitiously avoided white men, of whom they had the greatest fear, and that they were protected in this by the other Indians; that it was marvelous and almost beyond belief that Pomfrey had been able to see one, for no other white man had, or was even aware of their existence.

How much of this he actually understood, how much of it was lying and due to Jim’s belief that he wished to abduct the fair stranger, Pomfrey was unable to determine. There was enough, however, to excite his curiosity strongly and occupy his mind to the exclusion of his books–save one. Among his smaller volumes he had found a travel book of the “Chinook Jargon,” with a lexicon of many of the words commonly used by the Northern Pacific tribes. An hour or two’s trial with the astonished Jim gave him an increased vocabulary and a new occupation. Each day the incongruous pair took a lesson from the lexicon. In a week Pomfrey felt he would be able to accost the mysterious stranger. But he did not again surprise her in any of his rambles, or even in a later visit to the sweat-house. He had learned from Jim that the house was only used by the “bucks,” or males, and that her appearance there had been accidental. He recalled that he had had the impression that she had been stealthily following him, and the recollection gave him a pleasure he could not account for. But an incident presently occurred which gave him a new idea of her relations towards him.

The difficulty of making Jim understand had hitherto prevented Pomfrey from intrusting him with the care of the lantern; but with the aid of the lexicon he had been able to make him comprehend its working, and under Pomfrey’s personal guidance the Indian had once or twice lit the lamp and set its machinery in motion. It remained for him only to test Jim’s unaided capacity, in case of his own absence or illness. It happened to be a warm, beautiful sunset, when the afternoon fog had for once delayed its invasion of the shore-line, that he left the lighthouse to Jim’s undivided care, and reclining on a sand-dune still warm from the sun, lazily watched the result of Jim’s first essay. As the twilight deepened, and the first flash of the lantern strove with the dying glories of the sun, Pomfrey presently became aware that he was not the only watcher. A little gray figure creeping on all fours suddenly glided out of the shadow of another sand-dune and then halted, falling back on its knees, gazing fixedly at the growing light. It was the woman he had seen. She was not a dozen yards away, and in her eagerness and utter absorption in the light had evidently overlooked him. He could see her face distinctly, her lips parted half in wonder, half with the breathless absorption of a devotee. A faint sense of disappointment came over him. It was not HIM she was watching, but the light! As it swelled out over the darkening gray sand she turned as if to watch its effect around her, and caught sight of Pomfrey. With a little startled cry–the first she had uttered–she darted away. He did not follow. A moment before, when he first saw her, an Indian salutation which he had learned from Jim had risen to his lips, but in the odd feeling which her fascination of the light had caused him he had not spoken. He watched her bent figure scuttling away like some frightened animal, with a critical consciousness that she was really scarce human, and went back to the lighthouse. He would not run after her again! Yet that evening he continued to think of her, and recalled her voice, which struck him now as having been at once melodious and childlike, and wished he had at least spoken, and perhaps elicited a reply.

He did not, however, haunt the sweat-house near the river again. Yet he still continued his lessons with Jim, and in this way, perhaps, although quite unpremeditatedly, enlisted a humble ally. A week passed in which he had not alluded to her, when one morning, as he was returning from a row, Jim met him mysteriously on the beach.

“S’pose him come slow, slow,” said Jim gravely, airing his newly acquired English; “make no noise–plenty catchee Indian maiden.” The last epithet was the polite lexicon equivalent of squaw.

Pomfrey, not entirely satisfied in his mind, nevertheless softly followed the noiselessly gliding Jim to the lighthouse. Here Jim cautiously opened the door, motioning Pomfrey to enter.

The base of the tower was composed of two living rooms, a storeroom and oil-tank. As Pomfrey entered, Jim closed the door softly behind him. The abrupt transition from the glare of the sands and sun to the semi-darkness of the storeroom at first prevented him from seeing anything, but he was instantly distracted by a scurrying flutter and wild beating of the walls, as of a caged bird. In another moment he could make out the fair stranger, quivering with excitement, passionately dashing at the barred window, the walls, the locked door, and circling around the room in her desperate attempt to find an egress, like a captured seagull. Amazed, mystified, indignant with Jim, himself, and even his unfortunate captive, Pomfrey called to her in Chinook to stop, and going to the door, flung it wide open. She darted by him, raising her soft blue eyes for an instant in a swift, sidelong glance of half appeal, half-frightened admiration, and rushed out into the open. But here, to his surprise, she did not run away. On the contrary, she drew herself up with a dignity that seemed to increase her height, and walked majestically towards Jim, who at her unexpected exit had suddenly thrown himself upon the sand, in utterly abject terror and supplication. She approached him slowly, with one small hand uplifted in a menacing gesture. The man writhed and squirmed before her. Then she turned, caught sight of Pomfrey standing in the doorway, and walked quietly away. Amazed, yet gratified with this new assertion of herself, Pomfrey respectfully, but alas! incautiously, called after her. In an instant, at the sound of his voice, she dropped again into her slouching Indian trot and glided away over the sandhills.

Pomfrey did not add any reproof of his own to the discomfiture of his Indian retainer. Neither did he attempt to inquire the secret of this savage girl’s power over him. It was evident he had spoken truly when he told his master that she was of a superior caste. Pomfrey recalled her erect and indignant figure standing over the prostrate Jim, and was again perplexed and disappointed at her sudden lapse into the timid savage at the sound of his voice. Would not this well-meant but miserable trick of Jim’s have the effect of increasing her unreasoning animal-like distrust of him? A few days later brought an unexpected answer to his question.

It was the hottest hour of the day. He had been fishing off the reef of rocks where he had first seen her, and had taken in his line and was leisurely pulling for the lighthouse. Suddenly a little musical cry not unlike a bird’s struck his ear. He lay on his oars and listened. It was repeated; but this time it was unmistakably recognizable as the voice of the Indian girl, although he had heard it but once. He turned eagerly to the rock, but it was empty; he pulled around it, but saw nothing. He looked towards the shore, and swung his boat in that direction, when again the cry was repeated with the faintest quaver of a laugh, apparently on the level of the sea before him. For the first time he looked down, and there on the crest of a wave not a dozen yards ahead, danced the yellow hair and laughing eyes of the girl. The frightened gravity of her look was gone, lost in the flash of her white teeth and quivering dimples as her dripping face rose above the sea. When their eyes met she dived again, but quickly reappeared on the other bow, swimming with lazy, easy strokes, her smiling head thrown back over her white shoulder, as if luring him to a race. If her smile was a revelation to him, still more so was this first touch of feminine coquetry in her attitude. He pulled eagerly towards her; with a few long overhand strokes she kept her distance, or, if he approached too near, she dived like a loon, coming up astern of him with the same childlike, mocking cry. In vain he pursued her, calling her to stop in her own tongue, and laughingly protested; she easily avoided his boat at every turn. Suddenly, when they were nearly abreast of the river estuary, she rose in the water, and, waving her little hands with a gesture of farewell, turned, and curving her back like a dolphin, leaped into the surging swell of the estuary bar and was lost in its foam. It would have been madness for him to have attempted to follow in his boat, and he saw that she knew it. He waited until her yellow crest appeared in the smoother water of the river, and then rowed back. In his excitement and preoccupation he had quite forgotten his long exposure to the sun during his active exercise, and that he was poorly equipped for the cold sea-fog which the heat had brought in earlier, and which now was quietly obliterating sea and shore. This made his progress slower and more difficult, and by the time he had reached the lighthouse he was chilled to the bone.

The next morning he woke with a dull headache and great weariness, and it was with considerable difficulty that he could attend to his duties. At nightfall, feeling worse, he determined to transfer the care of the light to Jim, but was amazed to find that he had disappeared, and what was more ominous, a bottle of spirits which Pomfrey had taken from his locker the night before had disappeared too. Like all Indians, Jim’s rudimentary knowledge of civilization included “fire-water;” he evidently had been tempted, had fallen, and was too ashamed or too drunk to face his master. Pomfrey, however, managed to get the light in order and working, and then, he scarcely knew how, betook himself to bed in a state of high fever. He turned from side to side racked by pain, with burning lips and pulses. Strange fancies beset him; he had noticed when he lit his light that a strange sail was looming off the estuary–a place where no sail had ever been seen or should be–and was relieved that the lighting of the tower might show the reckless or ignorant mariner his real bearings for the “Gate.” At times he had heard voices above the familiar song of the surf, and tried to rise from his bed, but could not. Sometimes these voices were strange, outlandish, dissonant, in his own language, yet only partly intelligible; but through them always rang a single voice, musical, familiar, yet of a tongue not his own–hers! And then, out of his delirium–for such it proved afterwards to be–came a strange vision. He thought that he had just lit the light when, from some strange and unaccountable reason, it suddenly became dim and defied all his efforts to revive it. To add to his discomfiture, he could see quite plainly through the lantern a strange-looking vessel standing in from the sea. She was so clearly out of her course for the Gate that he knew she had not seen the light, and his limbs trembled with shame and terror as he tried in vain to rekindle the dying light. Yet to his surprise the strange ship kept steadily on, passing the dangerous reef of rocks, until she was actually in the waters of the bay. But stranger than all, swimming beneath her bows was the golden head and laughing face of the Indian girl, even as he had seen it the day before. A strange revulsion of feeling overtook him. Believing that she was luring the ship to its destruction, he ran out on the beach and strove to hail the vessel and warn it of its impending doom. But he could not speak–no sound came from his lips. And now his attention was absorbed by the ship itself. High-bowed and pooped, and curved like the crescent moon, it was the strangest craft that he had ever seen. Even as he gazed it glided on nearer and nearer, and at last beached itself noiselessly on the sands before his own feet. A score of figures as bizarre and outlandish as the ship itself now thronged its high forecastle–really a castle in shape and warlike purpose–and leaped from its ports. The common seamen were nearly naked to the waist; the officers looked more like soldiers than sailors. What struck him more strangely was that they were one and all seemingly unconscious of the existence of the lighthouse, sauntering up and down carelessly, as if on some uninhabited strand, and even talking–so far as he could understand their old bookish dialect–as if in some hitherto undiscovered land. Their ignorance of the geography of the whole coast, and even of the sea from which they came, actually aroused his critical indignation; their coarse and stupid allusions to the fair Indian swimmer as the “mermaid” that they had seen upon their bow made him more furious still. Yet he was helpless to express his contemptuous anger, or even make them conscious of his presence. Then an interval of incoherency and utter blankness followed. When he again took up the thread of his fancy the ship seemed to be lying on her beam ends on the sand; the strange arrangement of her upper deck and top-hamper, more like a dwelling than any ship he had ever seen, was fully exposed to view, while the seamen seemed to be at work with the rudest contrivances, calking and scraping her barnacled sides. He saw that phantom crew, when not working, at wassail and festivity; heard the shouts of drunken roisterers; saw the placing of a guard around some of the most uncontrollable, and later detected the stealthy escape of half a dozen sailors inland, amidst the fruitless volley fired upon them from obsolete blunderbusses. Then his strange vision transported him inland, where he saw these seamen following some Indian women. Suddenly one of them turned and ran frenziedly towards him as if seeking succor, closely pursued by one of the sailors. Pomfrey strove to reach her, struggled violently with the fearful apathy that seemed to hold his limbs, and then, as she uttered at last a little musical cry, burst his bonds and–awoke!

As consciousness slowly struggled back to him, he could see the bare wooden-like walls of his sleeping-room, the locker, the one window bright with sunlight, the open door of the tank-room, and the little staircase to the tower. There was a strange smoky and herb-like smell in the room. He made an effort to rise, but as he did so a small sunburnt hand was laid gently yet restrainingly upon his shoulder, and he heard the same musical cry as before, but this time modulated to a girlish laugh. He raised his head faintly. Half squatting, half kneeling by his bed was the yellow-haired stranger.

With the recollection of his vision still perplexing him, he said in a weak voice, “Who are you?”

Her blue eyes met his own with quick intelligence and no trace of her former timidity. A soft, caressing light had taken its place. Pointing with her finger to her breast in a childlike gesture, she said, “Me–Olooya.”

“Olooya!” He remembered suddenly that Jim had always used that word in speaking of her, but until then he had always thought it was some Indian term for her distinct class.

“Olooya,” he repeated. Then, with difficulty attempting to use her own tongue, he asked, “When did you come here?”

“Last night,” she answered in the same tongue. “There was no witch-fire there,” she continued, pointing to the tower; “when it came not, Olooya came! Olooya found white chief sick and alone. White chief could not get up! Olooya lit witch-fire for him.”

“You?” he repeated in astonishment. “I lit it myself.”

She looked at him pityingly, as if still recognizing his delirium, and shook her head. “White chief was sick–how can know? Olooya made witch-fire.”

He cast a hurried glance at his watch hanging on the wall beside him. It had RUN DOWN, although he had wound it the last thing before going to bed. He had evidently been lying there helpless beyond the twenty-four hours!

He groaned and turned to rise, but she gently forced him down again, and gave him some herbal infusion, in which he recognized the taste of the Yerba Buena vine which grew by the river. Then she made him comprehend in her own tongue that Jim had been decoyed, while drunk, aboard a certain schooner lying off the shore at a spot where she had seen some men digging in the sands. She had not gone there, for she was afraid of the bad men, and a slight return of her former terror came into her changeful eyes. She knew how to light the witch-light; she reminded him she had been in the tower before.

“You have saved my light, and perhaps my life,” he said weakly, taking her hand.

Possibly she did not understand him, for her only answer was a vague smile. But the next instant she started up, listening intently, and then with a frightened cry drew away her hand and suddenly dashed out of the building. In the midst of his amazement the door was darkened by a figure–a stranger dressed like an ordinary miner. Pausing a moment to look after the flying Olooya, the man turned and glanced around the room, and then with a coarse, familiar smile approached Pomfrey.

“Hope I ain’t disturbin’ ye, but I allowed I’d just be neighborly and drop in–seein’ as this is gov’nment property, and me and my pardners, as American citizens and tax-payers, helps to support it. We’re coastin’ from Trinidad down here and prospectin’ along the beach for gold in the sand. Ye seem to hev a mighty soft berth of it here–nothing to do–and lots of purty half-breeds hangin’ round!”

The man’s effrontery was too much for Pomfrey’s self-control, weakened by illness. “It IS government property,” he answered hotly, “and you have no more right to intrude upon it than you have to decoy away my servant, a government employee, during my illness, and jeopardize that property.”

The unexpectedness of this attack, and the sudden revelation of the fact of Pomfrey’s illness in his flushed face and hollow voice apparently frightened and confused the stranger. He stammered a surly excuse, backed out of the doorway, and disappeared. An hour later Jim appeared, crestfallen, remorseful, and extravagantly penitent. Pomfrey was too weak for reproaches or inquiry, and he was thinking only of Olooya.

She did not return. His recovery in that keen air, aided, as he sometimes thought, by the herbs she had given him, was almost as rapid as his illness. The miners did not again intrude upon the lighthouse nor trouble his seclusion. When he was able to sun himself on the sands, he could see them in the distance at work on the beach. He reflected that she would not come back while they were there, and was reconciled. But one morning Jim appeared, awkward and embarrassed, leading another Indian, whom he introduced as Olooya’s brother. Pomfrey’s suspicions were aroused. Except that the stranger had something of the girl’s superiority of manner, there was no likeness whatever to his fair-haired acquaintance. But a fury of indignation was added to his suspicions when he learned the amazing purport of their visit. It was nothing less than an offer from the alleged brother to SELL his sister to Pomfrey for forty dollars and a jug of whiskey! Unfortunately, Pomfrey’s temper once more got the better of his judgment. With a scathing exposition of the laws under which the Indian and white man equally lived, and the legal punishment of kidnaping, he swept what he believed was the impostor from his presence. He was scarcely alone again before he remembered that his imprudence might affect the girl’s future access to him, but it was too late now.

Still he clung to the belief that he should see her when the prospectors had departed, and he hailed with delight the breaking up of the camp near the “sweat-house” and the disappearance of the schooner. It seemed that their gold-seeking was unsuccessful; but Pomfrey was struck, on visiting the locality, to find that in their excavations in the sand at the estuary they had uncovered the decaying timbers of a ship’s small boat of some ancient and obsolete construction. This made him think of his strange dream, with a vague sense of warning which he could not shake off, and on his return to the lighthouse he took from his shelves a copy of the old voyages to see how far his fancy had been affected by his reading. In the account of Drake’s visit to the coast he found a footnote which he had overlooked before, and which ran as follows: “The Admiral seems to have lost several of his crew by desertion, who were supposed to have perished miserably by starvation in the inhospitable interior or by the hands of savages. But later voyagers have suggested that the deserters married Indian wives, and there is a legend that a hundred years later a singular race of half-breeds, bearing unmistakable Anglo-Saxon characteristics, was found in that locality.” Pomfrey fell into a reverie of strange hypotheses and fancies. He resolved that, when he again saw Olooya, he would question her; her terror of these men might be simply racial or some hereditary transmission.

But his intention was never fulfilled. For when days and weeks had elapsed, and he had vainly haunted the river estuary and the rocky reef before the lighthouse without a sign of her, he overcame his pride sufficiently to question Jim. The man looked at him with dull astonishment.

“Olooya gone,” he said.

“Gone!–where?”

The Indian made a gesture to seaward which seemed to encompass the whole Pacific.

“How? With whom?” repeated his angry yet half-frightened master.

“With white man in ship. You say YOU no want Olooya–forty dollars too much. White man give fifty dollars–takee Olooya all same.”

UNDER THE EAVES

The assistant editor of the San Francisco “Daily Informer” was going home. So much of his time was spent in the office of the “Informer” that no one ever cared to know where he passed those six hours of sleep which presumably suggested a domicile. His business appointments outside the office were generally kept at the restaurant where he breakfasted and dined, or of evenings in the lobbies of theatres or the anterooms of public meetings. Yet he had a home and an interval of seclusion of which he was jealously mindful, and it was to this he was going to-night at his usual hour.

His room was in a new building on one of the larger and busier thoroughfares. The lower floor was occupied by a bank, but as it was closed before he came home, and not yet opened when he left, it did not disturb his domestic sensibilities. The same may be said of the next floor, which was devoted to stockbrokers’ and companies offices, and was equally tomb-like and silent when he passed; the floor above that was a desert of empty rooms, which echoed to his footsteps night and morning, with here and there an oasis in the green sign of a mining secretary’s office, with, however, the desolating announcement that it would only be “open for transfers from two to four on Saturdays.” The top floor had been frankly abandoned in an unfinished state by the builder, whose ambition had “o’erleaped itself” in that sanguine era of the city’s growth. There was a smell of plaster and the first coat of paint about it still, but the whole front of the building was occupied by a long room with odd “bull’s-eye” windows looking out through the heavy ornamentations of the cornice over the adjacent roofs.

It had been originally intended for a club-room, but after the ill fortune which attended the letting of the floor below, and possibly because the earthquake-fearing San Franciscans had their doubts of successful hilarity at the top of so tall a building, it remained unfinished, with the two smaller rooms at its side. Its incomplete and lonely grandeur had once struck the editor during a visit of inspection, and the landlord, whom he knew, had offered to make it habitable for him at a nominal rent. It had a lavatory with a marble basin and a tap of cold water. The offer was a novel one, but he accepted it, and fitted up the apartment with some cheap second-hand furniture, quite inconsistent with the carved mantels and decorations, and made a fair sitting-room and bedroom of it. Here, on a Sunday, when its stillness was intensified, and even a passing footstep on the pavement fifty feet below was quite startling, he would sit and work by one of the quaint open windows. In the rainy season, through the filmed panes he sometimes caught a glimpse of the distant, white-capped bay, but never of the street below him.

The lights were out, but, groping his way up to the first landing, he took from a cup-boarded niche in the wall his candlestick and matches and continued the ascent to his room. The humble candlelight flickered on the ostentatious gold letters displayed on the ground-glass doors of opulent companies which he knew were famous, and rooms where millionaires met in secret conclave, but the contrast awakened only his sense of humor. Yet he was always relieved after he had reached his own floor. Possibly its incompleteness and inchoate condition made it seem less lonely than the desolation of the finished and furnished rooms below, and it was only this recollection of past human occupancy that was depressing.

He opened his door, lit the solitary gas jet that only half illuminated the long room, and, it being already past midnight, began to undress himself. This process presently brought him to that corner of his room where his bed stood, when he suddenly stopped, and his sleepy yawn changed to a gape of surprise. For, lying in the bed, its head upon the pillow, and its rigid arms accurately stretched down over the turned-back sheet, was a child’s doll! It was a small doll–a banged and battered doll, that had seen service, but it had evidently been “tucked in” with maternal tenderness, and lay there with its staring eyes turned to the ceiling, the very genius of insomnia!

His first start of surprise was followed by a natural resentment of what might have been an impertinent intrusion on his privacy by some practical-joking adult, for he knew there was no child in the house.

His room was kept in order by the wife of the night watchman employed by the bank, and no one else had a right of access to it. But the woman might have brought a child there and not noticed its disposal of its plaything. He smiled. It might have been worse! It might have been a real baby!

The idea tickled him with a promise of future “copy”–of a story with farcical complications, or even a dramatic ending, in which the baby, adopted by him, should turn out to be somebody’s stolen offspring. He lifted the little image that had suggested these fancies, carefully laid it on his table, went to bed, and presently forgot it all in slumber.

In the morning his good-humor and interest in it revived to the extent of writing on a slip of paper, “Good-morning! Thank you– I’ve slept very well,” putting the slip in the doll’s jointed arms, and leaving it in a sitting posture outside his door when he left his room. When he returned late at night it was gone.

But it so chanced that, a few days later, owing to press of work on the “Informer,” he was obliged to forego his usual Sunday holiday out of town, and that morning found him, while the bells were ringing for church, in his room with a pile of manuscript and proof before him. For these were troublous days in San Francisco; the great Vigilance Committee of ’56 was in session, and the offices of the daily papers were thronged with eager seekers of news. Such affairs, indeed, were not in the functions of the assistant editor, nor exactly to his taste; he was neither a partisan of the so- called Law and Order Party, nor yet an enthusiastic admirer of the citizen Revolutionists known as the Vigilance Committee, both extremes being incompatible with his habits of thought. Consequently he was not displeased at this opportunity of doing his work away from the office and the “heady talk” of controversy.

He worked on until the bells ceased and a more than Sabbath stillness fell upon the streets. So quiet was it that once or twice the conversation of passing pedestrians floated up and into his window, as of voices at his elbow.

Presently he heard the sound of a child’s voice singing in subdued tone, as if fearful of being overheard. This time he laid aside his pen–it certainly was no delusion! The sound did not come from the open window, but from some space on a level with his room. Yet there was no contiguous building as high.

He rose and tried to open his door softly, but it creaked, and the singing instantly ceased. There was nothing before him but the bare, empty hall, with its lathed and plastered partitions, and the two smaller rooms, unfinished like his own, on either side of him. Their doors were shut; the one at his right hand was locked, the other yielded to his touch.

For the first moment he saw only the bare walls of the apparently empty room. But a second glance showed him two children–a boy of seven and a girl of five–sitting on the floor, which was further littered by a mattress, pillow, and blanket. There was a cheap tray on one of the trunks containing two soiled plates and cups and fragments of a meal. But there was neither a chair nor table nor any other article of furniture in the room. Yet he was struck by the fact that, in spite of this poverty of surrounding, the children were decently dressed, and the few scattered pieces of luggage in quality bespoke a superior condition.

The children met his astonished stare with an equal wonder and, he fancied, some little fright. The boy’s lips trembled a little as he said apologetically–

“I told Jinny not to sing. But she didn’t make MUCH noise.”

“Mamma said I could play with my dolly. But I fordot and singed,” said the little girl penitently.

“Where’s your mamma?” asked the young man. The fancy of their being near relatives of the night watchman had vanished at the sound of their voices.

“Dorn out,” said the girl.

“When did she go out?”

“Last night.”

“Were you all alone here last night?”

“Yes!”

Perhaps they saw the look of indignation and pity in the editor’s face, for the boy said quickly–

“She don’t go out EVERY night; last night she went to”–

He stopped suddenly, and both children looked at each other with a half laugh and half cry, and then repeated in hopeless unison, “She’s dorn out.”

“When is she coming back again?”

“To-night. But we won’t make any more noise.”

“Who brings you your food?” continued the editor, looking at the tray.

“Woberts.”

Evidently Roberts, the night watchman! The editor felt relieved; here was a clue to some explanation. He instantly sat down on the floor between them.

“So that was the dolly that slept in my bed,” he said gayly, taking it up.

God gives helplessness a wonderful intuition of its friends. The children looked up at the face of their grown-up companion, giggled, and then burst into a shrill fit of laughter. He felt that it was the first one they had really indulged in for many days. Nevertheless he said, “Hush!” confidentially; why he scarcely knew, except to intimate to them that he had taken in their situation thoroughly. “Make no noise,” he added softly, “and come into my big room.”

They hung back, however, with frightened yet longing eyes. “Mamma said we mussent do out of this room,” said the girl.

“Not ALONE,” responded the editor quickly, “but with ME, you know; that’s different.”

The logic sufficed them, poor as it was. Their hands slid quite naturally into his. But at the door he stopped, and motioning to the locked door of the other room, asked:–

“And is that mamma’s room, too?”

Their little hands slipped from his and they were silent. Presently the boy, as if acted upon by some occult influence of the girl, said in a half whisper, “Yes.”

The editor did not question further, but led them into his room. Here they lost the slight restraint they had shown, and began, child fashion, to become questioners themselves.

In a few moments they were in possession of his name, his business, the kind of restaurant he frequented, where he went when he left his room all day, the meaning of those funny slips of paper, and the written manuscripts, and why he was so quiet. But any attempt of his to retaliate by counter questions was met by a sudden reserve so unchildlike and painful to him–as it was evidently to themselves–that he desisted, wisely postponing his inquiries until he could meet Roberts.

He was glad when they fell to playing games with each other quite naturally, yet not entirely forgetting his propinquity, as their occasional furtive glances at his movements showed him. He, too, became presently absorbed in his work, until it was finished and it was time for him to take it to the office of the “Informer.” The wild idea seized him of also taking the children afterwards for a holiday to the Mission Dolores, but he prudently remembered that even this negligent mother of theirs might have some rights over her offspring that he was bound to respect.

He took leave of them gayly, suggesting that the doll be replaced in his bed while he was away, and even assisted in “tucking it up.” But during the afternoon the recollection of these lonely playfellows in the deserted house obtruded itself upon his work and the talk of his companions. Sunday night was his busiest night, and he could not, therefore, hope to get away in time to assure himself of their mother’s return.

It was nearly two in the morning when he returned to his room. He paused for a moment on the threshold to listen for any sound from the adjoining room. But all was hushed.

His intention of speaking to the night watchman was, however, anticipated the next morning by that guardian himself. A tap upon his door while he was dressing caused him to open it somewhat hurriedly in the hope of finding one of the children there, but he met only the embarrassed face of Roberts. Inviting him into the room, the editor continued dressing. Carefully closing the door behind him, the man began, with evident hesitation,–

“I oughter hev told ye suthin’ afore, Mr. Breeze; but I kalkilated, so to speak, that you wouldn’t be bothered one way or another, and so ye hadn’t any call to know that there was folks here”–

“Oh, I see,” interrupted Breeze cheerfully; “you’re speaking of the family next door–the landlord’s new tenants.”

“They ain’t exactly THAT,” said Roberts, still with embarrassment. “The fact is–ye see–the thing points THIS way: they ain’t no right to be here, and it’s as much as my place is worth if it leaks out that they are.”

Mr. Breeze suspended his collar-buttoning, and stared at Roberts.

“You see, sir, they’re mighty poor, and they’ve nowhere else to go– and I reckoned to take ’em in here for a spell and say nothing about it.”

“But the landlord wouldn’t object, surely? I’ll speak to him myself,” said Breeze impulsively.

“Oh, no; don’t!” said Roberts in alarm; “he wouldn’t like it. You see, Mr. Breeze, it’s just this way: the mother, she’s a born lady, and did my old woman a good turn in old times when the family was rich; but now she’s obliged–just to support herself, you know–to take up with what she gets, and she acts in the bally in the theatre, you see, and hez to come in late o’ nights. In them cheap boarding-houses, you know, the folks looks down upon her for that, and won’t hev her, and in the cheap hotels the men are–you know–a darned sight wuss, and that’s how I took her and her kids in here, where no one knows ’em.”

“I see,” nodded the editor sympathetically; “and very good it was of you, my man.”

Roberts looked still more confused, and stammered with a forced laugh, “And–so–I’m just keeping her on here, unbeknownst, until her husband gets”– He stopped suddenly.

“So she has a husband living, then?” said Breeze in surprise.

“In the mines, yes–in the mines!” repeated Roberts with a monotonous deliberation quite distinct from his previous hesitation, “and she’s only waitin’ until he gets money enough– to–to take her away.” He stopped and breathed hard.

“But couldn’t you–couldn’t WE–get her some more furniture? There’s nothing in that room, you know, not a chair or table; and unless the other room is better furnished”–

“Eh? Oh, yes!” said Roberts quickly, yet still with a certain embarrassment; “of course THAT’S better furnished, and she’s quite satisfied, and so are the kids, with anything. And now, Mr. Breeze, I reckon you’ll say nothin’ o’ this, and you’ll never go back on me?”

“My dear Mr. Roberts,” said the editor gravely, “from this moment I am not only blind, but deaf to the fact that ANYBODY occupies this floor but myself.”

“I knew you was white all through, Mr. Breeze,” said the night watchman, grasping the young man’s hand with a grip of iron, “and I telled my wife so. I sez, ‘Jest you let me tell him EVERYTHIN’,’ but she”– He stopped again and became confused.

“And she was quite right, I dare say,” said Breeze, with a laugh; “and I do not want to know anything. And that poor woman must never know that I ever knew anything, either. But you may tell your wife that when the mother is away she can bring the little ones in here whenever she likes.”

“Thank ye–thank ye, sir!–and I’ll just run down and tell the old woman now, and won’t intrude upon your dressin’ any longer.”

He grasped Breeze’s hand again, went out and closed the door behind him. It might have been the editor’s fancy, but he thought there was a certain interval of silence outside the door before the night watchman’s heavy tread was heard along the hall again.

For several evenings after this Mr. Breeze paid some attention to the ballet in his usual round of the theatres. Although he had never seen his fair neighbor, he had a vague idea that he might recognize her through some likeness to her children. But in vain. In the opulent charms of certain nymphs, and in the angular austerities of others, he failed equally to discern any of those refinements which might have distinguished the “born lady” of Roberts’s story, or which he himself had seen in her children.

These he did not meet again during the week, as his duties kept him late at the office; but from certain signs in his room he knew that Mrs. Roberts had availed herself of his invitation to bring them in with her, and he regularly found “Jinny’s” doll tucked up in his bed at night, and he as regularly disposed of it outside his door in the morning, with a few sweets, like an offering, tucked under its rigid arms.

But another circumstance touched him more delicately; his room was arranged with greater care than before, and with an occasional exhibition of taste that certainly had not distinguished Mrs. Roberts’s previous ministrations. One evening on his return he found a small bouquet of inexpensive flowers in a glass on his writing-table. He loved flowers too well not to detect that they were quite fresh, and could have been put there only an hour or two before he arrived.

The next evening was Saturday, and, as he usually left the office earlier on that day, it occurred to him, as he walked home, that it was about the time his fair neighbor would be leaving the theatre, and that it was possible he might meet her.

At the front door, however, he found Roberts, who returned his greeting with a certain awkwardness which struck him as singular. When he reached the niche on the landing he found his candle was gone, but he proceeded on, groping his way up the stairs, with an odd conviction that both these incidents pointed to the fact that the woman had just returned or was expected.

He had also a strange feeling–which may have been owing to the darkness–that some one was hidden on the landing or on the stairs where he would pass. This was further accented by a faint odor of patchouli, as, with his hand on the rail, he turned the corner of the third landing, and he was convinced that if he had put out his other hand it would have come in contact with his mysterious neighbor. But a certain instinct of respect for her secret, which she was even now guarding in the darkness, withheld him, and he passed on quickly to his own floor.

Here it was lighter; the moon shot a beam of silver across the passage from an unshuttered window as he passed. He reached his room door, entered, but instead of lighting the gas and shutting the door, stood with it half open, listening in the darkness.

His suspicions were verified; there was a slight rustling noise, and a figure which had evidently followed him appeared at the end of the passage. It was that of a woman habited in a grayish dress and cloak of the same color; but as she passed across the band of moonlight he had a distinct view of her anxious, worried face. It was a face no longer young; it was worn with illness, but still replete with a delicacy and faded beauty so inconsistent with her avowed profession that he felt a sudden pang of pain and doubt. The next moment she had vanished in her room, leaving the same faint perfume behind her. He closed his door softly, lit the gas, and sat down in a state of perplexity. That swift glimpse of her face and figure had made her story improbable to the point of absurdity, or possibly to the extreme of pathos!

It seemed incredible that a woman of that quality should be forced to accept a vocation at once so low, so distasteful, and so unremunerative. With her evident antecedents, had she no friends but this common Western night watchman of a bank? Had Roberts deceived him? Was his whole story a fabrication, and was there some complicity between the two? What was it? He knit his brows.

Mr. Breeze had that overpowering knowledge of the world which only comes with the experience of twenty-five, and to this he superadded the active imagination of a newspaper man. A plot to rob the bank? These mysterious absences, that luggage which he doubted not was empty and intended for spoil! But why encumber herself with the two children? Here his common sense and instinct of the ludicrous returned and he smiled.

But he could not believe in the ballet dancer! He wondered, indeed, how any manager could have accepted the grim satire of that pale, worried face among the fairies, that sad refinement amid their vacant smiles and rouged checks. And then, growing sad again, he comforted himself with the reflection that at least the children were not alone that night, and so went to sleep.

For some days he had no further meeting with his neighbors. The disturbed state of the city–for the Vigilance Committee were still in session–obliged the daily press to issue “extras,” and his work at the office increased.

It was not until Sunday again that he was able to be at home. Needless to say that his solitary little companions were duly installed there, while he sat at work with his proofs on the table before him.

The stillness of the empty house was only broken by the habitually subdued voices of the children at their play, when suddenly the harsh stroke of a distant bell came through the open window. But it was no Sabbath bell, and Mr. Breeze knew it. It was the tocsin of the Vigilance Committee, summoning the members to assemble at their quarters for a capture, a trial, or an execution of some wrongdoer. To him it was equally a summons to the office–to distasteful news and excitement.

He threw his proofs aside in disgust, laid down his pen, seized his hat, and paused a moment to look round for his playmates. But they were gone! He went into the hall, looked into the open door of their room, but they were not there. He tried the door of the second room, but it was locked.

Satisfied that they had stolen downstairs in their eagerness to know what the bell meant, he hurried down also, met Roberts in the passage,–a singularly unusual circumstance at that hour,–called to him to look after the runaways, and hurried to his office.

Here he found the staff collected, excitedly discussing the news. One of the Vigilance Committee prisoners, a notorious bully and ruffian, detained as a criminal and a witness, had committed suicide in his cell. Fortunately this was all reportorial work, and the services of Mr. Breeze were not required. He hurried back, relieved, to his room.

When he reached his landing, breathlessly, he heard the same quick rustle he had heard that memorable evening, and was quite satisfied that he saw a figure glide swiftly out of the open door of his room. It was no doubt his neighbor, who had been seeking her children, and as he heard their voices as he passed, his uneasiness and suspicions were removed.

He sat down again to his scattered papers and proofs, finished his work, and took it to the office on his way to dinner. He returned early, in the hope that he might meet his neighbor again, and had quite settled his mind that he was justified in offering a civil “Good-evening” to her, in spite of his previous respectful ignoring of her presence. She must certainly have become aware by this time of his attention to her children and consideration for herself, and could not mistake his motives. But he was disappointed, although he came up softly; he found the floor in darkness and silence on his return, and he had to be content with lighting his gas and settling down to work again.

A near church clock had struck ten when he was startled by the sound of an unfamiliar and uncertain step in the hall, followed by a tap at his door. Breeze jumped to his feet, and was astonished to find Dick, the “printer’s devil,” standing on the threshold with a roll of proofs in his hand.

“How did you get here?” he asked testily.

“They told me at the restaurant they reckoned you lived yere, and the night watchman at the door headed me straight up. When he knew whar I kem from he wanted to know what the news was, but I told him he’d better buy an extra and see.”

“Well, what did you come for?” said the editor impatiently.

“The foreman said it was important, and he wanted to know afore he went to press ef this yer correction was YOURS?”

He went to the table, unrolled the proofs, and, taking out the slip, pointed to a marked paragraph. “The foreman says the reporter who brought the news allows he got it straight first-hand! But ef you’ve corrected it, he reckons you know best.”

Breeze saw at a glance that the paragraph alluded to was not of his own writing, but one of several news items furnished by reporters. These had been “set up” in the same “galley,” and consequently appeared in the same proof-slip. He was about to say curtly that neither the matter nor the correction was his, when something odd in the correction of the item struck him. It read as follows:–

“It appears that the notorious ‘Jim Bodine,’ who is in hiding and badly wanted by the Vigilance Committee, has been tempted lately into a renewal of his old recklessness. He was seen in Sacramento Street the other night by two separate witnesses, one of whom followed him, but he escaped in some friendly doorway.”

The words “in Sacramento Street” were stricken out and replaced by the correction “on the Saucelito shore,” and the words “friendly doorway ” were changed to “friendly dinghy.” The correction was not his, nor the handwriting, which was further disguised by being an imitation of print. A strange idea seized him.

“Has any one seen these proofs since I left them at the office?”

“No, only the foreman, sir.”

He remembered that he had left the proofs lying openly on his table when he was called to the office at the stroke of the alarm bell; he remembered the figure he saw gliding from his room on his return. She had been there alone with the proofs; she only could have tampered with them.

The evident object of the correction was to direct the public attention from Sacramento Street to Saucelito, as the probable whereabouts of this “Jimmy Bodine.” The street below was Sacramento Street, the “friendly doorway” might have been their own.

That she had some knowledge of this Bodine was not more improbable than the ballet story. Her strange absences, the mystery surrounding her, all seemed to testify that she had some connection–perhaps only an innocent one–with these desperate people whom the Vigilance Committee were hunting down. Her attempt to save the man was, after all, no more illegal than their attempt to capture him. True, she might have trusted him, Breeze, without this tampering with his papers; yet perhaps she thought he was certain to discover it–and it was only a silent appeal to his mercy. The corrections were ingenious and natural–it was the act of an intelligent, quick-witted woman.

Mr. Breeze was prompt in acting upon his intuition, whether right or wrong. He took up his pen, wrote on the margin of the proof, “Print as corrected,” said to the boy carelessly, “The corrections are all right,” and dismissed him quickly.

The corrected paragraph which appeared in the “Informer” the next morning seemed to attract little public attention, the greater excitement being the suicide of the imprisoned bully and the effect it might have upon the prosecution of other suspected parties, against whom the dead man had been expected to bear witness.

Mr. Breeze was unable to obtain any information regarding the desperado Bodine’s associates and relations; his correction of the paragraph had made the other members of the staff believe he had secret and superior information regarding the fugitive, and he thus was estopped from asking questions. But he felt himself justified now in demanding fuller information from Roberts at the earliest opportunity.

For this purpose he came home earlier that night, hoping to find the night watchman still on his first beat in the lower halls. But he was disappointed. He was amazed, however, on reaching his own landing, to find the passage piled with new luggage, some of that ruder type of rolled blanket and knapsack known as a “miner’s kit.” He was still more surprised to hear men’s voices and the sound of laughter proceeding from the room that was always locked. A sudden sense of uneasiness and disgust, he knew not why, came over him.

He passed quickly into his room, shut the door sharply, and lit the gas. But he presently heard the door of the locked room open, a man’s voice, slightly elevated by liquor and opposition, saying, “I know what’s due from one gen’leman to ‘nother”–a querulous, objecting voice saying, “Hole on! not now,” and a fainter feminine protest, all of which were followed by a rap on his door.

Breeze opened it to two strangers, one of whom lurched forward unsteadily with outstretched hand. He had a handsome face and figure, and a certain consciousness of it even in the abandon of liquor; he had an aggressive treacherousness of eye which his potations had not subdued. He grasped Breeze’s hand tightly, but dropped it the next moment perfunctorily as he glanced round the room.

“I told them I was bound to come in,” he said, without looking at Breeze, “and say ‘Howdy!’ to the man that’s bin a pal to my women folks and the kids–and acted white all through! I said to Mame, ‘I reckon HE knows who I am, and that I kin be high-toned to them that’s high-toned; kin return shake for shake and shot for shot!’ Aye! that’s me! So I was bound to come in like a gen’leman, sir, and here I am!”

He threw himself in an unproffered chair and stared at Breeze.

“I’m afraid,” said Breeze dryly, “that, nevertheless, I never knew who you were, and that even now I am ignorant whom I am addressing.”

“That’s just it,” said the second man, with a querulous protest, which did not, however, conceal his admiring vassalage to his friend; “that’s what I’m allus telling Jim. ‘Jim,’ I says, ‘how is folks to know you’re the man that shot Kernel Baxter, and dropped three o’ them Mariposa Vigilants? They didn’t see you do it! They just look at your fancy style and them mustaches of yours, and allow ye might be death on the girls, but they don’t know ye! An’ this man yere–he’s a scribe in them papers–writes what the boss editor tells him, and lives up yere on the roof, ‘longside yer wife and the children–what’s he knowin’ about YOU?’ Jim’s all right enough,” he continued, in easy confidence to Breeze, “but he’s too fresh ’bout himself.”

Mr. James Bodine accepted this tribute and criticism of his henchman with a complacent laugh, which was not, however, without a certain contempt for the speaker and the man spoken to. His bold, selfish eyes wandered round the room as if in search of some other amusement than his companions offered.

“I reckon this is the room which that hound of a landlord, Rakes, allowed he’d fix up for our poker club–the club that Dan Simmons and me got up, with a few other sports. It was to be a slap-up affair, right under the roof, where there was no chance of the police raiding us. But the cur weakened when the Vigilants started out to make war on any game a gen’leman might hev that wasn’t in their gummy-bag, salt pork trade. Well, it’s gettin’ a long time between drinks, gen’lemen, ain’t it?” He looked round him significantly.

Only the thought of the woman and her children in the next room, and the shame that he believed she was enduring, enabled Breeze to keep his temper or even a show of civility.

“I’m afraid,” he said quietly, “that you’ll find very little here to remind you of the club–not even the whiskey; for I use the room only as a bedroom, and as I am a workingman, and come in late and go out early, I have never found it available for hospitality, even to my intimate friends. I am very glad, however, that the little leisure I have had in it has enabled me to make the floor less lonely for your children.”

Mr. Bodine got up with an affected yawn, turned an embarrassed yet darkening eye on Breeze, and lunged unsteadily to the door. “And as I only happened in to do the reg’lar thing between high-toned gen’lemen, I reckon we kin say ‘Quits.'” He gave a coarse laugh, said “So long,” nodded, stumbled into the passage, and thence into the other room.

His companion watched him pass out with a relieved yet protecting air, and then, closing the door softly, drew nearer to Breeze, and said in husky confidence,–

“Ye ain’t seein’ him at his best, mister! He’s bin drinkin’ too much, and this yer news has upset him.”

“What news?” asked Breeze.

“This yer suicide o’ Irish Jack!”

“Was he his friend?”

“Friend?” ejaculated the man, horrified at the mere suggestion. “Not much! Why, Irish Jack was the only man that could hev hung Jim! Now he’s dead, in course the Vigilants ain’t got no proof agin Jim. Jim wants to face it out now an’ stay here, but his wife and me don’t see it noways! So we are taking advantage o’ the lull agin him to get him off down the coast this very night. That’s why he’s been off his head drinkin’. Ye see, when a man has been for weeks hidin’–part o’ the time in that room and part o’ the time on the wharf, where them Vigilants has been watchin’ every ship that left in order to ketch him, he’s inclined to celebrate his chance o’ getting away”–

“Part of the time in that room?” interrupted Breeze quickly.

“Sartin! Don’t ye see? He allus kem in as you went out–sabe!– and got away before you kem back, his wife all the time just a- hoverin’ between the two places, and keeping watch for him. It was killin’ to her, you see, for she wasn’t brought up to it, whiles Jim didn’t keer–had two revolvers and kalkilated to kill a dozen Vigilants afore he dropped. But that’s over now, and when I’ve got him safe on that ‘plunger’ down at the wharf to-night, and put him aboard the schooner that’s lying off the Heads, he’s all right agin.”

“And Roberts knew all this and was one of his friends?” asked Breeze.

“Roberts knew it, and Roberts’s wife used to be a kind of servant to Jim’s wife in the South, when she was a girl, but I don’t know ez Roberts is his FRIEND!”

“He certainly has shown himself one,” said Breeze.

“Ye-e-s,” said the stranger meditatively, “ye-e-s.” He stopped, opened the door softly, and peeped out, and then closed it again softly. “It’s sing’lar, Mr. Breeze,” he went on in a sudden yet embarrassed burst of confidence, “that Jim thar–a man thet can shoot straight, and hez frequent; a man thet knows every skin game goin’–that THET man Jim,” very slowly, “hezn’t really–got–any friends–‘cept me–and his wife.”

“Indeed?” said Mr. Breeze dryly.

“Sure! Why, you yourself didn’t cotton to him–I could see THET.”

Mr. Breeze felt himself redden slightly, and looked curiously at the man. This vulgar parasite, whom he had set down as a worshiper of sham heroes, undoubtedly did not look like an associate of Bodine’s, and had a certain seriousness that demanded respect. As he looked closer into his wide, round face, seamed with small-pox, he fancied he saw even in its fatuous imbecility something of that haunting devotion he had seen on the refined features of the wife. He said more gently,–

“But one friend like you would seem to be enough.”

“I ain’t what I uster be, Mr. Breeze,” said the man meditatively, “and mebbe ye don’t know who I am. I’m Abe Shuckster, of Shuckster’s Ranch–one of the biggest in Petalumy. I was a rich man until a year ago, when Jim got inter trouble. What with mortgages and interest, payin’ up Jim’s friends and buying off some ez was set agin him, thar ain’t much left, and when I’ve settled that bill for the schooner lying off the Heads there I reckon I’m about played out. But I’ve allus a shanty at Petalumy, and mebbe when things is froze over and Jim gets back–you’ll come and see him–for you ain’t seen him at his best.”

“I suppose his wife and children go with him?” said Breeze.

“No! He’s agin it, and wants them to come later. But that’s all right, for you see she kin go back to their own house at the Mission, now that the Vigilants are givin’ up shadderin’ it. So long, Mr. Breeze! We’re startin’ afore daylight. Sorry you didn’t see Jim in condition.”

He grasped Breeze’s hand warmly and slipped out of the door softly. For an instant Mr. Breeze felt inclined to follow him into the room and make a kinder adieu to the pair, but the reflection that he might embarrass the wife, who, it would seem, had purposely avoided accompanying her husband when he entered, withheld him. And for the last few minutes he had been doubtful if he had any right to pose as her friend. Beside the devotion of the man who had just left him, his own scant kindness to her children seemed ridiculous.

He went to bed, but tossed uneasily until he fancied he heard stealthy footsteps outside his door and in the passage. Even then he thought of getting up, dressing, and going out to bid farewell to the fugitives. But even while he was thinking of it he fell asleep and did not wake until the sun was shining in at his windows.

He sprang to his feet, threw on his dressing-gown, and peered into the passage. Everything was silent. He stepped outside–the light streamed into the hall from the open doors and windows of both rooms–the floor was empty; not a trace of the former occupants remained. He was turning back when his eye fell upon the battered wooden doll set upright against his doorjamb, holding stiffly in its jointed arms a bit of paper folded like a note. Opening it, he found a few lines written in pencil.

God bless you for your kindness to us, and try to forgive me for touching your papers. But I thought that you would detect it, know WHY I did it, and then help us, as you did! Good-by!

MAMIE BODINE.

Mr. Breeze laid down the paper with a slight accession of color, as if its purport had been ironical. How little had he done compared to the devotion of this delicate woman or the sacrifices of that rough friend! How deserted looked this nest under the eaves, which had so long borne its burden of guilt, innocence, shame, and suffering! For many days afterwards he avoided it except at night, and even then he often found himself lying awake to listen to the lost voices of the children.

But one evening, a fortnight later, he came upon Roberts in the hall. “Well,” said Breeze, with abrupt directness, “did he get away?”

Roberts started, uttered an oath which it is possible the Recording Angel passed to his credit, and said, “Yes, HE got away all right!”

“Why, hasn’t his wife joined him?”

“No. Never, in this world, I reckon; and if anywhere in the next, I don’t want to go there!” said Roberts furiously.

“Is he dead?”

“Dead? That kind don’t die!”

“What do you mean?”

Roberts’s lips writhed, and then, with a strong effort, he said with deliberate distinctness, “I mean–that the hound went off with another woman–that–was–in–that schooner, and left that fool Shuckster adrift in the plunger.”

“And the wife and children?”

“Shuckster sold his shanty at Petaluma to pay their passage to the States. Good-night!”

HOW REUBEN ALLEN “SAW LIFE” IN SAN FRANCISCO

The junior partner of the firm of Sparlow & Kane, “Druggists and Apothecaries,” of San Francisco, was gazing meditatively out of the corner of the window of their little shop in Dupont Street. He could see the dimly lit perspective of the narrow thoroughfare fade off into the level sand wastes of Market Street on the one side, and plunge into the half-excavated bulk of Telegraph Hill on the other. He could see the glow and hear the rumble of Montgomery Street–the great central avenue farther down the hill. Above the housetops was spread the warm blanket of sea-fog under which the city was regularly laid to sleep every summer night to the cool lullaby of the Northwest Trades. It was already half-past eleven; footsteps on the wooden pavement were getting rarer and more remote; the last cart had rumbled by; the shutters were up along the street; the glare of his own red and blue jars was the only beacon left to guide the wayfarers. Ordinarily he would have been going home at this hour, when his partner, who occupied the surgery and a small bedroom at the rear of the shop, always returned to relieve him. That night, however, a professional visit would detain the “Doctor” until half-past twelve. There was still an hour to wait. He felt drowsy; the mysterious incense of the shop, that combined essence of drugs, spice, scented soap, and orris root–which always reminded him of the Arabian Nights–was affecting him. He yawned, and then, turning away, passed behind the counter, took down a jar labeled “Glycyrr. Glabra,” selected a piece of Spanish licorice, and meditatively sucked it. Not receiving from it that diversion and sustenance he apparently was seeking, he also visited, in an equally familiar manner, a jar marked “Jujubes,” and returned ruminatingly to his previous position.

If I have not in this incident sufficiently established the youthfulness of the junior partner, I may add briefly that he was just nineteen, that he had early joined the emigration to California, and after one or two previous light-hearted essays at other occupations, for which he was singularly unfitted, he had saved enough to embark on his present venture, still less suited to his temperament. In those adventurous days trades and vocations were not always filled by trained workmen; it was extremely probable that the experienced chemist was already making his success as a gold-miner, with a lawyer and a physician for his partners, and Mr. Kane’s inexperienced position was by no means a novel one. A slight knowledge of Latin as a written language, an American schoolboy’s acquaintance with chemistry and natural philosophy, were deemed sufficient by his partner, a regular physician, for practical cooperation in the vending of drugs and putting up of prescriptions. He knew the difference between acids and alkalies and the peculiar results which attended their incautious combination. But he was excessively deliberate, painstaking, and cautious. The legend which adorned the desk at the counter, “Physicians’ prescriptions carefully prepared,” was more than usually true as regarded the adverb. There was no danger of his poisoning anybody through haste or carelessness, but it was possible that an urgent “case” might have succumbed to the disease while he was putting up the remedy. Nor was his caution entirely passive. In those days the “heroic” practice of medicine was in keeping with the abnormal development of the country; there were “record” doses of calomel and quinine, and he had once or twice incurred the fury of local practitioners by sending back their prescriptions with a modest query.

The far-off clatter of carriage wheels presently arrested his attention; looking down the street, he could see the lights of a hackney carriage advancing towards him. They had already flashed upon the open crossing a block beyond before his vague curiosity changed into an active instinctive presentiment that they were coming to the shop. He withdrew to a more becoming and dignified position behind the counter as the carriage drew up with a jerk before the door.

The driver rolled from his box and opened the carriage door to a woman whom he assisted, between some hysterical exclamations on her part and some equally incoherent explanations of his own, into the shop. Kane saw at a glance that both were under the influence of liquor, and one, the woman, was disheveled and bleeding about the head. Yet she was elegantly dressed and evidently en fete, with one or two “tricolor” knots and ribbons mingled with her finery. Her golden hair, matted and darkened with blood, had partly escaped from her French bonnet and hung heavily over her shoulders. The driver, who was supporting her roughly, and with a familiarity that was part of the incongruous spectacle, was the first to speak.

“Madame le Blank! ye know! Got cut about the head down at the fete at South Park! Tried to dance upon the table, and rolled over on some champagne bottles. See? Wants plastering up!”

“Ah brute! Hog! Nozzing of ze kine! Why will you lie? I dance! Ze cowards, fools, traitors zere upset ze table and I fall. I am cut! Ah, my God, how I am cut!”

She stopped suddenly and lapsed heavily against the counter. At which Kane hurried around to support her into the surgery with the one fixed idea in his bewildered mind of getting her out of the shop, and, suggestively, into the domain and under the responsibility of his partner. The hackman, apparently relieved and washing his hands of any further complicity in the matter, nodded and smiled, and saying, “I reckon I’ll wait outside, pardner,” retreated incontinently to his vehicle. To add to Kane’s half-ludicrous embarrassment the fair patient herself slightly resisted his support, accused the hackman of “abandoning her,” and demanded if Kane knew “zee reason of zees affair,” yet she presently lapsed again into the large reclining-chair which he had wheeled forward, with open mouth, half-shut eyes, and a strange Pierrette mask of face, combined of the pallor of faintness and chalk, and the rouge of paint and blood. At which Kane’s cautiousness again embarrassed him. A little brandy from the bottle labeled “Vini Galli” seemed to be indicated, but his inexperience could not determine if her relaxation was from bloodlessness or the reacting depression of alcohol. In this dilemma he chose a medium course, with aromatic spirits of ammonia, and mixing a diluted quantity in a measuring-glass, poured it between her white lips. A start, a struggle, a cough–a volley of imprecatory French, and the knocking of the glass from his hand followed–but she came to! He quickly sponged her head of the half-coagulated blood, and removed a few fragments of glass from a long laceration of the scalp. The shock of the cold water and the appearance of the ensanguined basin frightened her into a momentary passivity. But when Kane found it necessary to cut her hair in the region of the wound in order to apply the adhesive plaster, she again endeavored to rise and grasp the scissors.

“You’ll bleed to death if you’re not quiet,” said the young man with dogged gravity.

Something in his manner impressed her into silence again. He cut whole locks away ruthlessly; he was determined to draw the edges of the wound together with the strip of plaster and stop the bleeding– if he cropped the whole head. His excessive caution for her physical condition did not extend to her superficial adornment. Her yellow tresses lay on the floor, her neck and shoulders were saturated with water from the sponge which he continually applied, until the heated strips of plaster had closed the wound almost hermetically. She whimpered, tears ran down her cheeks; but so long as it was not blood the young man was satisfied.

In the midst of it he heard the shop door open, and presently the sound of rapping on the counter. Another customer!

Mr. Kane called out, “Wait a moment,” and continued his ministrations. After a pause the rapping recommenced. Kane was just securing the last strip of plaster and preserved a preoccupied silence. Then the door flew open abruptly and a figure appeared impatiently on the threshold. It was that of a miner recently returned from the gold diggings–so recently that he evidently had not had time to change his clothes at his adjacent hotel, and stood there in his high boots, duck trousers, and flannel shirt, over which his coat was slung like a hussar’s jacket from his shoulder. Kane would have uttered an indignant protest at the intrusion, had not the intruder himself as quickly recoiled with an astonishment and contrition that was beyond the effect of any reproval. He literally gasped at the spectacle before him. A handsomely dressed woman reclining in a chair; lace and jewelry and ribbons depending from her saturated shoulders; tresses of golden hair filling her lap and lying on the floor; a pail of ruddy water and a sponge at her feet, and a pale young man bending over her head with a spirit lamp and strips of yellow plaster!

“‘Scuse me, pard! I was just dropping in; don’t you hurry! I kin wait,” he stammered, falling back, and then the door closed abruptly behind him.

Kane gathered up the shorn locks, wiped the face and neck of his patient with a clean towel and his own handkerchief, threw her gorgeous opera cloak over her shoulders, and assisted her to rise. She did so, weakly but obediently; she was evidently stunned and cowed in some mysterious way by his material attitude, perhaps, or her sudden realization of her position; at least the contrast between her aggressive entrance into the shop and her subdued preparation for her departure was so remarkable that it affected even Kane’s preoccupation.

“There,” he said, slightly relaxing his severe demeanor with an encouraging smile, “I think this will do; we’ve stopped the bleeding. It will probably smart a little as the plaster sets closer. I can send my partner, Dr. Sparlow, to you in the morning.”

She looked at him curiously and with a strange smile. “And zees Doctor Sparrlow–eez he like you, M’sieu?”

“He is older, and very well known,” said the young man seriously. “I can safely recommend him.”

“Ah,” she repeated, with a pensive smile which made Kane think her quite pretty. “Ah–he ez older–your Doctor Sparrlow–but YOU are strong, M’sieu.”

“And,” said Kane vaguely, “he will tell you what to do.”

“Ah,” she repeated again softly, with the same smile, “he will tell me what to do if I shall not know myself. Dat ez good.”

Kane had already wrapped her shorn locks in a piece of spotless white paper and tied it up with narrow white ribbon in the dainty fashion dear to druggists’ clerks. As he handed it to her she felt in her pocket and produced a handful of gold.

“What shall I pay for zees, M’sieu?”

Kane reddened a little–solely because of his slow arithmetical faculties. Adhesive plaster was cheap–he would like to have charged proportionately for the exact amount he had used; but the division was beyond him! And he lacked the trader’s instinct.

“Twenty-five cents, I think,” he hazarded briefly.

She started, but smiled again. “Twenty-five cents for all zees–ze medicine, ze strips for ze head, ze hair cut”–she glanced at the paper parcel he had given her–“it is only twenty-five cents?”

“That’s all.”

He selected from her outstretched palm, with some difficulty, the exact amount, the smallest coin it held. She again looked at him curiously–half confusedly–and moved slowly into the shop. The miner, who was still there, retreated as before with a gaspingly apologetic gesture–even flattening himself against the window to give her sweeping silk flounces freer passage. As she passed into the street with a “Merci, M’sieu, good a’night,” and the hackman started from the vehicle to receive her, the miner drew a long breath, and bringing his fist down upon the counter, ejaculated,–

“B’gosh! She’s a stunner!”

Kane, a good deal relieved at her departure and the success of his ministration, smiled benignly.

The stranger again stared after the retreating carriage, looked around the shop, and even into the deserted surgery, and approached the counter confidentially. “Look yer, pardner. I kem straight from St. Jo, Mizzorri, to Gold Hill–whar I’ve got a claim–and I reckon this is the first time I ever struck San Francisker. I ain’t up to towny ways nohow, and I allow that mebbe I’m rather green. So we’ll let that pass! Now look yer!” he added, leaning over the counter with still deeper and even mysterious confidence, “I suppose this yer kind o’ thing is the regular go here, eh? nothin’ new to YOU! in course no! But to me, pard, it’s just fetchin’ me! Lifts me clear outer my boots every time! Why, when I popped into that thar room, and saw that lady–all gold, furbelows, and spangles–at twelve o’clock at night, sittin’ in that cheer and you a-cuttin’ her h’r and swabbin’ her head o’ blood, and kinder prospectin’ for ‘indications,’ so to speak, and doin’ it so kam and indifferent like, I sez to myself, ‘Rube, Rube,’ sez I, ‘this yer’s life! city life! San Francisker life! and b’gosh, you’ve dropped into it! Now, pard, look yar! don’t you answer, ye know, ef it ain’t square and above board for me to know; I ain’t askin’ you to give the show away, ye know, in the matter of high-toned ladies like that, but” (very mysteriously, and sinking his voice to the lowest confidential pitch, as he put his hand to his ear as if to catch the hushed reply), “what mout hev bin happening, pard?”

Considerably amused at the man’s simplicity, Kane replied good- humoredly: “Danced among some champagne bottles on a table at a party, fell and got cut by glass.”

The stranger nodded his head slowly and approvingly as he repeated with infinite deliberateness: “Danced on champagne bottles, champagne! you said, pard? at a pahty! Yes!” (musingly and approvingly). “I reckon that’s about the gait they take. SHE’D do it.”

“Is there anything I can do for you? sorry to have kept you waiting,” said Kane, glancing at the clock.

“O ME! Lord! ye needn’t mind me. Why, I should wait for anythin’ o’ the like o’ that, and be just proud to do it! And ye see, I sorter helped myself while you war busy.”

“Helped yourself?” said Kane in astonishment.

“Yes, outer that bottle.” He pointed to the ammonia bottle, which still stood on the counter. “It seemed to be handy and popular.”

“Man! you might have poisoned yourself.”

The stranger paused a moment at the idea. “So I mout, I reckon,” he said musingly, “that’s so! pizined myself jest ez you was lookin’ arter that high-toned case, and kinder bothered you! It’s like me!”

“I mean it required diluting; you ought to have taken it in water,” said Kane.

“I reckon! It DID sorter h’ist me over to the door for a little fresh air at first! seemed rayther scaldy to the lips. But wot of it that GOT THAR,” he put his hand gravely to his stomach, “did me pow’ful good.”

“What was the matter with you?” asked Kane.

“Well, ye see, pard” (confidentially again), “I reckon it’s suthin’ along o’ my heart. Times it gets to poundin’ away like a quartz stamp, and then it stops suddent like, and kinder leaves ME out too.”

Kane looked at him more attentively. He was a strong, powerfully built man with a complexion that betrayed nothing more serious than the effects of mining cookery. It was evidently a common case of indigestion.

“I don’t say it would not have done you some good if properly administered,” he replied. “If you like I’ll put up a diluted quantity and directions?”

“That’s me, every time, pardner!” said the stranger with an accent of relief. “And look yer, don’t you stop at that! Ye just put me up some samples like of anythin’ you think mout be likely to hit. I’ll go in for a fair show, and then meander in every now and then, betwixt times, to let you know. Ye don’t mind my drifting in here, do ye? It’s about ez likely a place ez I struck since I’ve left the Sacramento boat, and my hotel, just round the corner. Ye just sample me a bit o’ everythin’; don’t mind the expense. I’ll take YOUR word for it. The way you–a young fellow–jest stuck to your work in thar, cool and kam as a woodpecker–not minding how high- toned she was–nor the jewelery and spangles she had on–jest got