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  • 1901
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me! I sez to myself, ‘Rube,’ sez I, ‘whatever’s wrong o’ YOUR insides, you jest stick to that feller to set ye right.'”

The junior partner’s face reddened as he turned to his shelves ostensibly for consultation. Conscious of his inexperience, the homely praise of even this ignorant man was not ungrateful. He felt, too, that his treatment of the Frenchwoman, though successful, might not be considered remunerative from a business point of view by his partner. He accordingly acted upon the suggestion of the stranger and put up two or three specifics for dyspepsia. They were received with grateful alacrity and the casual display of considerable gold in the stranger’s pocket in the process of payment. He was evidently a successful miner.

After bestowing the bottles carefully about his person, he again leaned confidentially towards Kane. “I reckon of course you know this high-toned lady, being in the way of seein’ that kind o’ folks. I suppose you won’t mind telling me, ez a stranger. But” (he added hastily, with a deprecatory wave of his hand), “perhaps ye would.”

Mr. Kane, in fact, had hesitated. He knew vaguely and by report that Madame le Blanc was the proprietress of a famous restaurant, over which she had rooms where private gambling was carried on to a great extent. It was also alleged that she was protected by a famous gambler and a somewhat notorious bully. Mr. Kane’s caution suggested that he had no right to expose the reputation of his chance customer. He was silent.

The stranger’s face became intensely sympathetic and apologetic. “I see!–not another word, pard! It ain’t the square thing to be givin’ her away, and I oughtn’t to hev asked. Well–so long! I reckon I’ll jest drift back to the hotel. I ain’t been in San Francisker mor’ ‘n three hours, and I calkilate, pard, that I’ve jest seen about ez square a sample of high-toned life as fellers ez haz bin here a year. Well, hastermanyanner–ez the Greasers say. I’ll be droppin’ in to-morrow. My name’s Reuben Allen o’ Mariposa. I know yours; it’s on the sign, and it ain’t Sparlow.”

He cast another lingering glance around the shop, as if loath to leave it, and then slowly sauntered out of the door, pausing in the street a moment, in the glare of the red light, before he faded into darkness. Without knowing exactly why, Kane had an instinct that the stranger knew no one in San Francisco, and after leaving the shop was going into utter silence and obscurity.

A few moments later Dr. Sparlow returned to relieve his wearied partner. A pushing, active man, he listened impatiently to Kane’s account of his youthful practice with Madame le Blanc, without, however, dwelling much on his methods. “You ought to have charged her more,” the elder said decisively. “She’d have paid it. She only came here because she was ashamed to go to a big shop in Montgomery Street–and she won’t come again.”

“But she wants you to see her to-morrow,” urged Kane, “and I told her you would!”

“You say it was only a superficial cut?” queried the doctor, “and you closed it? Umph! what can she want to see ME for?” He paid more attention, however, to the case of the stranger, Allen. “When he comes here again, manage to let me see him.” Mr. Kane promised, yet for some indefinable reason he went home that night not quite as well satisfied with himself.

He was much more concerned the next morning when, after relieving the doctor for his regular morning visits, he was startled an hour later by the abrupt return of that gentleman. His face was marked by some excitement and anxiety, which nevertheless struggled with that sense of the ludicrous which Californians in those days imported into most situations of perplexity or catastrophe. Putting his hands deeply into his trousers pockets, he confronted his youthful partner behind the counter.

“How much did you charge that French-woman?” he said gravely.

“Twenty-five cents,” said Kane timidly.

“Well, I’d give it back and add two hundred and fifty dollars if she had never entered the shop.”

“What’s the matter?”

“Her head will be–and a mass of it, in a day, I reckon! Why, man, you put enough plaster on it to clothe and paper the dome of the Capitol! You drew her scalp together so that she couldn’t shut her eyes without climbing up the bed-post! You mowed her hair off so that she’ll have to wear a wig for the next two years–and handed it to her in a beau-ti-ful sealed package! They talk of suing me and killing you out of hand.”

“She was bleeding a great deal and looked faint,” said the junior partner; “I thought I ought to stop that.”

“And you did–by thunder! Though it might have been better business for the shop if I’d found her a crumbling ruin here, than lathed and plastered in this fashion, over there! However,” he added, with a laugh, seeing an angry light in his junior partner’s eye, “SHE don’t seem to mind it–the cursing all comes from THEM. SHE rather likes your style and praises it–that’s what gets me! Did you talk to her much,” he added, looking critically at his partner.

“I only told her to sit still or she’d bleed to death,” said Kane curtly.

“Humph!–she jabbered something about your being ‘strong’ and knowing just how to handle her. Well, it can’t be helped now. I think I came in time for the worst of it and have drawn their fire. Don’t do it again. The next time a woman with a cut head and long hair tackles you, fill up her scalp with lint and tannin, and pack her off to some of the big shops and make THEM pick it out.” And with a good-humored nod he started off to finish his interrupted visits.

With a vague sense of remorse, and yet a consciousness of some injustice done him, Mr. Kane resumed his occupation with filters and funnels, and mortars and triturations. He was so gloomily preoccupied that he did not, as usual, glance out of the window, or he would have observed the mining stranger of the previous night before it. It was not until the man’s bowed shoulders blocked the light of the doorway that he looked up and recognized him. Kane was in no mood to welcome his appearance. His presence, too, actively recalled the last night’s adventure of which he was a witness–albeit a sympathizing one. Kane shrank from the illusions which he felt he would be sure to make. And with his present ill luck, he was by no means sure that his ministrations even to HIM had been any more successful than they had been to the Frenchwoman. But a glance at his good-humored face and kindling eyes removed that suspicion. Nevertheless, he felt somewhat embarrassed and impatient, and perhaps could not entirely conceal it. He forgot that the rudest natures are sometimes the most delicately sensitive to slights, and the stranger had noticed his manner and began apologetically.

“I allowed I’d just drop in anyway to tell ye that these thar pills you giv’ me did me a heap o’ good so far–though mebbe it’s only fair to give the others a show too, which I’m reckoning to do.” He paused, and then in a submissive confidence went on: “But first I wanted to hev you excuse me for havin’ asked all them questions about that high-toned lady last night, when it warn’t none of my business. I am a darned fool.”

Mr. Kane instantly saw that it was no use to keep up his attitude of secrecy, or impose upon the ignorant, simple man, and said hurriedly: “Oh no. The lady is very well known. She is the proprietress of a restaurant down the street–a house open to everybody. Her name is Madame le Blanc; you may have heard of her before?”

To his surprise the man exhibited no diminution of interest nor change of sentiment at this intelligence. “Then,” he said slowly, “I reckon I might get to see her again. Ye see, Mr. Kane, I rather took a fancy to her general style and gait–arter seein’ her in that fix last night. It was rather like them play pictures on the stage. Ye don’t think she’d make any fuss to seein’ a rough old ‘forty-niner’ like me?”

“Hardly,” said Kane, “but there might be some objection from her gentlemen friends,” he added, with a smile,–“Jack Lane, a gambler, who keeps a faro bank in her rooms, and Jimmy O’Ryan, a prize- fighter, who is one of her ‘chuckers out.'”

His further relation of Madame le Blanc’s entourage apparently gave the miner no concern. He looked at Kane, nodded, and repeated slowly and appreciatively: “Yes, keeps a gamblin’ and faro bank and a prize-fighter–I reckon that might be about her gait and style too. And you say she lives”–

He stopped, for at this moment a man entered the shop quickly, shut the door behind him, and turned the key in the lock. It was done so quickly that Kane instinctively felt that the man had been loitering in the vicinity and had approached from the side street. A single glance at the intruder’s face and figure showed him that it was the bully of whom he had just spoken. He had seen that square, brutal face once before, confronting the police in a riot, and had not forgotten it. But today, with the flush of liquor on it, it had an impatient awkwardness and confused embarrassment that he could not account for. He did not comprehend that the genuine bully is seldom deliberate of attack, and is obliged–in common with many of the combative lower animals–to lash himself into a previous fury of provocation. This probably saved him, as perhaps some instinctive feeling that he was in no immediate danger kept him cool. He remained standing quietly behind the counter. Allen glanced around carelessly, looking at the shelves.

The silence of the two men apparently increased the ruffian’s rage and embarrassment. Suddenly he leaped into the air with a whoop and clumsily executed a negro double shuffle on the floor, which jarred the glasses–yet was otherwise so singularly ineffective and void of purpose that he stopped in the midst of it and had to content himself with glaring at Kane.

“Well,” said Kane quietly, “what does all this mean? What do you want here?”

“What does it mean?” repeated the bully, finding his voice in a high falsetto, designed to imitate Kane’s. “It means I’m going to play merry h-ll with this shop! It means I’m goin’ to clean it out and the blank hair-cuttin’ blank that keeps it. What do I want here? Well–what I want I intend to help myself to, and all h-ll can’t stop me! And” (working himself to the striking point) “who the blank are you to ask me?” He sprang towards the counter, but at the same moment Allen seemed to slip almost imperceptibly and noiselessly between them, and Kane found himself confronted only by the miner’s broad back.

“Hol’ yer hosses, stranger,” said Allen slowly, as the ruffian suddenly collided with his impassive figure. “I’m a sick man comin’ in yer for medicine. I’ve got somethin’ wrong with my heart, and goin’s on like this yer kinder sets it to thumpin’.”

“Blank you and your blank heart!” screamed the bully, turning in a fury of amazement and contempt at this impotent interruption. “Who”–but his voice stopped. Allen’s powerful right arm had passed over his head and shoulders like a steel hoop, and pinioned his elbows against his sides. Held rigidly upright, he attempted to kick, but Allen’s right leg here advanced, and firmly held his lower limbs against the counter that shook to his struggles and blasphemous outcries. Allen turned quietly to Kane, and, with a gesture of his unemployed arm, said confidentially:

“Would ye mind passing me down that ar Romantic Spirits of Ammonyer ye gave me last night?”

Kane caught the idea, and handed him the bottle.

“Thar,” said Allen, taking out the stopper and holding the pungent spirit against the bully’s dilated nostrils and vociferous mouth, “thar, smell that, and taste it, it will do ye good; it was powerful kammin’ to ME last night.”

The ruffian gasped, coughed, choked, but his blaspheming voice died away in a suffocating hiccough.

“Thar,” continued Allen, as his now subdued captive relaxed his struggling, “ye ‘r’ better, and so am I. It’s quieter here now, and ye ain’t affectin’ my heart so bad. A little fresh air will make us both all right.” He turned again to Kane in his former subdued confidential manner.

“Would ye mind openin’ that door?”

Kane flew to the door, unlocked it, and held it wide open. The bully again began to struggle, but a second inhalation of the hartshorn quelled him, and enabled his captor to drag him to the door. As they emerged upon the sidewalk, the bully, with a final desperate struggle, freed his arm and grasped his pistol at his hip-pocket, but at the same moment Allen deliberately caught his hand, and with a powerful side throw cast him on the pavement, retaining the weapon in his own hand. “I’ve one of my own,” he said to the prostrate man, “but I reckon I’ll keep this yer too, until you’re better.”

The crowd that had collected quickly, recognizing the notorious and discomfited bully, were not of a class to offer him any sympathy, and he slunk away followed by their jeers. Allen returned quietly to the shop. Kane was profuse in his thanks, and yet oppressed with his simple friend’s fatuous admiration for a woman who could keep such ruffians in her employ. “You know who that man was, I suppose?” he said.

“I reckon it was that ‘er prize-fighter belongin’ to that high- toned lady,” returned Allen simply. “But he don’t know anything about RASTLIN’, b’gosh; only that I was afraid o’ bringin’ on that heart trouble, I mout hev hurt him bad.”

“They think”–hesitated Kane, “that–I–was rough in my treatment of that woman and maliciously cut off her hair. This attack was revenge–or”–he hesitated still more, as he remembered Dr. Sparlow’s indication of the woman’s feeling–“or that bully’s idea of revenge.”

“I see,” nodded Allen, opening his small sympathetic eyes on Kane with an exasperating air of secrecy–“just jealousy.”

Kane reddened in sheer hopelessness of explanation. “No; it was earning his wages, as he thought.”

“Never ye mind, pard,” said Allen confidentially. “I’ll set ’em both right. Ye see, this sorter gives me a show to call at that thar restaurant and give HIM back his six-shooter, and set her on the right trail for you. Why, Lordy! I was here when you was fixin’ her–I’m testimony o’ the way you did it–and she’ll remember me. I’ll sorter waltz round thar this afternoon. But I reckon I won’t be keepin’ YOU from your work any longer. And look yar!–I say, pard!–this is seein’ life in ‘Frisco–ain’t it? Gosh! I’ve had more high times in this very shop in two days, than I’ve had in two years of St. Jo. So long, Mr. Kane!” He waved his hand, lounged slowly out of the shop, gave a parting glance up the street, passed the window, and was gone.

The next day being a half-holiday for Kane, he did not reach the shop until afternoon. “Your mining friend Allen has been here,” said Doctor Sparlow. “I took the liberty of introducing myself, and induced him to let me carefully examine him. He was a little shy, and I am sorry for it, as I fear he has some serious organic trouble with his heart and ought to have a more thorough examination.” Seeing Kane’s unaffected concern, he added, “You might influence him to do so. He’s a good fellow and ought to take some care of himself. By the way, he told me to tell you that he’d seen Madame le Blanc and made it all right about you. He seems to be quite infatuated with the woman.”

“I’m sorry he ever saw her,” said Kane bitterly.

“Well, his seeing her seems to have saved the shop from being smashed up, and you from getting a punched head,” returned the Doctor with a laugh. “He’s no fool–yet it’s a freak of human nature that a simple hayseed like that–a man who’s lived in the backwoods all his life, is likely to be the first to tumble before a pot of French rouge like her.”

Indeed, in a couple of weeks, there was no further doubt of Mr. Reuben Allen’s infatuation. He dropped into the shop frequently on his way to and from the restaurant, where he now regularly took his meals; he spent his evenings in gambling in its private room. Yet Kane was by no means sure that he was losing his money there unfairly, or that he was used as a pigeon by the proprietress and her friends. The bully O’Ryan was turned away; Sparlow grimly suggested that Allen had simply taken his place, but Kane ingeniously retorted that the Doctor was only piqued because Allen had evaded his professional treatment. Certainly the patient had never consented to another examination, although he repeatedly and gravely bought medicines, and was a generous customer. Once or twice Kane thought it his duty to caution Allen against his new friends and enlighten him as to Madame le Blanc’s reputation, but his suggestions were received with a good-humored submission that was either the effect of unbelief or of perfect resignation to the fact, and he desisted. One morning Dr. Sparlow said cheerfully:–

“Would you like to hear the last thing about your friend and the Frenchwoman? The boys can’t account for her singling out a fellow like that for her friend, so they say that the night that she cut herself at the fete and dropped in here for assistance, she found nobody here but Allen–a chance customer! That it was HE who cut off her hair and bound up her wounds in that sincere fashion, and she believed he had saved her life.” The Doctor grinned maliciously as he added: “And as that’s the way history is written you see your reputation is safe.”

It may have been a month later that San Francisco was thrown into a paroxysm of horror and indignation over the assassination of a prominent citizen and official in the gambling-rooms of Madame le Blanc, at the hands of a notorious gambler. The gambler had escaped, but in one of those rare spasms of vengeful morality which sometimes overtakes communities who have too long winked at and suffered the existence of evil, the fair proprietress and her whole entourage were arrested and haled before the coroner’s jury at the inquest. The greatest excitement prevailed; it was said that if the jury failed in their duty, the Vigilance Committee had arranged for the destruction of the establishment and the deportation of its inmates. The crowd that had collected around the building was reinforced by Kane and Dr. Sparlow, who had closed their shop in the next block to attend. When Kane had fought his way into the building and the temporary court, held in the splendidly furnished gambling saloon, whose gilded mirrors reflected the eager faces of the crowd, the Chief of Police was giving his testimony in a formal official manner, impressive only for its relentless and impassive revelation of the character and antecedents of the proprietress. The house had been long under the espionage of the police; Madame le Blanc had a dozen aliases; she was “wanted” in New Orleans, in New York, in Havana! It was in HER house that Dyer, the bank clerk, committed suicide; it was there that Colonel Hooley was set upon by her bully, O’Ryan; it was she–Kane heard with reddening cheeks–who defied the police with riotous conduct at a fete two months ago. As he coolly recited the counts of this shameful indictment, Kane looked eagerly around for Allen, whom he knew had been arrested as a witness. How would HE take this terrible disclosure? He was sitting with the others, his arm thrown over the back of his chair, and his good-humored face turned towards the woman, in his old confidential attitude. SHE, gorgeously dressed, painted, but unblushing, was cool, collected, and cynical.

The Coroner next called the only witness of the actual tragedy, “Reuben Allen.” The man did not move nor change his position. The summons was repeated; a policeman touched him on the shoulder. There was a pause, and the officer announced: “He has fainted, your Honor!”

“Is there a physician present?” asked the Coroner.

Sparlow edged his way quickly to the front. “I’m a medical man,” he said to the Coroner, as he passed quickly to the still, upright, immovable figure and knelt beside it with his head upon his heart. There was an awed silence as, after a pause, he rose slowly to his feet.

“The witness is a patient, your Honor, whom I examined some weeks ago and found suffering from valvular disease of the heart. He is dead.”

THREE VAGABONDS OF TRINIDAD

“Oh! it’s you, is it?” said the Editor.

The Chinese boy to whom the colloquialism was addressed answered literally, after his habit:–

“Allee same Li Tee; me no changee. Me no ollee China boy.”

“That’s so,” said the Editor with an air of conviction. “I don’t suppose there’s another imp like you in all Trinidad County. Well, next time don’t scratch outside there like a gopher, but come in.”

“Lass time,” suggested Li Tee blandly, “me tap tappee. You no like tap tappee. You say, alle same dam woodpeckel.”

It was quite true–the highly sylvan surroundings of the Trinidad “Sentinel” office–a little clearing in a pine forest–and its attendant fauna, made these signals confusing. An accurate imitation of a woodpecker was also one of Li Tee’s accomplishments.

The Editor without replying finished the note he was writing; at which Li Tee, as if struck by some coincident recollection, lifted up his long sleeve, which served him as a pocket, and carelessly shook out a letter on the table like a conjuring trick. The Editor, with a reproachful glance at him, opened it. It was only the ordinary request of an agricultural subscriber–one Johnson– that the Editor would “notice” a giant radish grown by the subscriber and sent by the bearer.

“Where’s the radish, Li Tee?” said the Editor suspiciously.

“No hab got. Ask Mellikan boy.”

“What?”

Here Li Tee condescended to explain that on passing the schoolhouse he had been set upon by the schoolboys, and that in the struggle the big radish–being, like most such monstrosities of the quick Californian soil, merely a mass of organized water–was “mashed” over the head of some of his assailants. The Editor, painfully aware of these regular persecutions of his errand boy, and perhaps realizing that a radish which could not be used as a bludgeon was not of a sustaining nature, forebore any reproof. “But I cannot notice what I haven’t seen, Li Tee,” he said good-humoredly.

“S’pose you lie–allee same as Johnson,” suggested Li with equal cheerfulness. “He foolee you with lotten stuff–you foolee Mellikan man, allee same.”

The Editor preserved a dignified silence until he had addressed his letter. “Take this to Mrs. Martin,” he said, handing it to the boy; “and mind you keep clear of the schoolhouse. Don’t go by the Flat either if the men are at work, and don’t, if you value your skin, pass Flanigan’s shanty, where you set off those firecrackers and nearly burnt him out the other day. Look out for Barker’s dog at the crossing, and keep off the main road if the tunnel men are coming over the hill.” Then remembering that he had virtually closed all the ordinary approaches to Mrs. Martin’s house, he added, “Better go round by the woods, where you won’t meet ANY ONE.”

The boy darted off through the open door, and the Editor stood for a moment looking regretfully after him. He liked his little protege ever since that unfortunate child–a waif from a Chinese wash-house–was impounded by some indignant miners for bringing home a highly imperfect and insufficient washing, and kept as hostage for a more proper return of the garments. Unfortunately, another gang of miners, equally aggrieved, had at the same time looted the wash-house and driven off the occupants, so that Li Tee remained unclaimed. For a few weeks he became a sporting appendage of the miners’ camp; the stolid butt of good-humored practical jokes, the victim alternately of careless indifference or of extravagant generosity. He received kicks and half-dollars intermittently, and pocketed both with stoical fortitude. But under this treatment he presently lost the docility and frugality which was part of his inheritance, and began to put his small wits against his tormentors, until they grew tired of their own mischief and his. But they knew not what to do with him. His pretty nankeen-yellow skin debarred him from the white “public school,” while, although as a heathen he might have reasonably claimed attention from the Sabbath-school, the parents who cheerfully gave their contributions to the heathen ABROAD, objected to him as a companion of their children in the church at home. At this juncture the Editor offered to take him into his printing office as a “devil.” For a while he seemed to be endeavoring, in his old literal way, to act up to that title. He inked everything but the press. He scratched Chinese characters of an abusive import on “leads,” printed them, and stuck them about the office; he put “punk” in the foreman’s pipe, and had been seen to swallow small type merely as a diabolical recreation. As a messenger he was fleet of foot, but uncertain of delivery. Some time previously the Editor had enlisted the sympathies of Mrs. Martin, the good-natured wife of a farmer, to take him in her household on trial, but on the third day Li Tee had run away. Yet the Editor had not despaired, and it was to urge her to a second attempt that he dispatched that letter.

He was still gazing abstractedly into the depths of the wood when he was conscious of a slight movement–but no sound–in a clump of hazel near him, and a stealthy figure glided from it. He at once recognized it as “Jim,” a well-known drunken Indian vagrant of the settlement–tied to its civilization by the single link of “fire water,” for which he forsook equally the Reservation where it was forbidden and his own camps where it was unknown. Unconscious of his silent observer, he dropped upon all fours, with his ear and nose alternately to the ground like some tracking animal. Then having satisfied himself, he rose, and bending forward in a dogged trot, made a straight line for the woods. He was followed a few seconds later by his dog–a slinking, rough, wolf-like brute, whose superior instinct, however, made him detect the silent presence of some alien humanity in the person of the Editor, and to recognize it with a yelp of habit, anticipatory of the stone that he knew was always thrown at him.

“That’s cute,” said a voice, “but it’s just what I expected all along.”

The Editor turned quickly. His foreman was standing behind him, and had evidently noticed the whole incident.

“It’s what I allus said,” continued the man. “That boy and that Injin are thick as thieves. Ye can’t see one without the other– and they’ve got their little tricks and signals by which they follow each other. T’other day when you was kalkilatin’ Li Tee was doin’ your errands I tracked him out on the marsh, just by followin’ that ornery, pizenous dog o’ Jim’s. There was the whole caboodle of ’em–including Jim–campin’ out, and eatin’ raw fish that Jim had ketched, and green stuff they had both sneaked outer Johnson’s garden. Mrs. Martin may TAKE him, but she won’t keep him long while Jim’s round. What makes Li foller that blamed old Injin soaker, and what makes Jim, who, at least, is a ‘Merican, take up with a furrin’ heathen, just gets me.”

The Editor did not reply. He had heard something of this before. Yet, after all, why should not these equal outcasts of civilization cling together!

. . . . . .

Li Tee’s stay with Mrs. Martin was brief. His departure was hastened by an untoward event–apparently ushered in, as in the case of other great calamities, by a mysterious portent in the sky. One morning an extraordinary bird of enormous dimensions was seen approaching from the horizon, and eventually began to hover over the devoted town. Careful scrutiny of this ominous fowl, however, revealed the fact that it was a monstrous Chinese kite, in the shape of a flying dragon. The spectacle imparted considerable liveliness to the community, which, however, presently changed to some concern and indignation. It appeared that the kite was secretly constructed by Li Tee in a secluded part of Mrs. Martin’s clearing, but when it was first tried by him he found that through some error of design it required a tail of unusual proportions. This he hurriedly supplied by the first means he found–Mrs. Martin’s clothes-line, with part of the weekly wash depending from it. This fact was not at first noticed by the ordinary sightseer, although the tail seemed peculiar–yet, perhaps, not more peculiar than a dragon’s tail ought to be. But when the actual theft was discovered and reported through the town, a vivacious interest was created, and spy-glasses were used to identify the various articles of apparel still hanging on that ravished clothes-line. These garments, in the course of their slow disengagement from the clothes-pins through the gyrations of the kite, impartially distributed themselves over the town–one of Mrs. Martin’s stockings falling upon the veranda of the Polka Saloon, and the other being afterwards discovered on the belfry of the First Methodist Church–to the scandal of the congregation. It would have been well if the result of Li Tee’s invention had ended here. Alas! the kite-flyer and his accomplice, “Injin Jim,” were tracked by means of the kite’s tell-tale cord to a lonely part of the marsh and rudely dispossessed of their charge by Deacon Hornblower and a constable. Unfortunately, the captors overlooked the fact that the kite-flyers had taken the precaution of making a “half-turn” of the stout cord around a log to ease the tremendous pull of the kite– whose power the captors had not reckoned upon–and the Deacon incautiously substituted his own body for the log. A singular spectacle is said to have then presented itself to the on-lookers. The Deacon was seen to be running wildly by leaps and bounds over the marsh after the kite, closely followed by the constable in equally wild efforts to restrain him by tugging at the end of the line. The extraordinary race continued to the town until the constable fell, losing his hold of the line. This seemed to impart a singular specific levity to the Deacon, who, to the astonishment of everybody, incontinently sailed up into a tree! When he was succored and cut down from the demoniac kite, he was found to have sustained a dislocation of the shoulder, and the constable was severely shaken. By that one infelicitous stroke the two outcasts made an enemy of the Law and the Gospel as represented in Trinidad County. It is to be feared also that the ordinary emotional instinct of a frontier community, to which they were now simply abandoned, was as little to be trusted. In this dilemma they disappeared from the town the next day–no one knew where. A pale blue smoke rising from a lonely island in the bay for some days afterwards suggested their possible refuge. But nobody greatly cared. The sympathetic mediation of the Editor was characteristically opposed by Mr. Parkin Skinner, a prominent citizen:–

“It’s all very well for you to talk sentiment about niggers, Chinamen, and Injins, and you fellers can laugh about the Deacon being snatched up to heaven like Elijah in that blamed Chinese chariot of a kite–but I kin tell you, gentlemen, that this is a white man’s country! Yes, sir, you can’t get over it! The nigger of every description–yeller, brown, or black, call him ‘Chinese,’ ‘Injin,’ or ‘Kanaka,’ or what you like–hez to clar off of God’s footstool when the Anglo-Saxon gets started! It stands to reason that they can’t live alongside o’ printin’ presses, M’Cormick’s reapers, and the Bible! Yes, sir! the Bible; and Deacon Hornblower kin prove it to you. It’s our manifest destiny to clar them out– that’s what we was put here for–and it’s just the work we’ve got to do!”

I have ventured to quote Mr. Skinner’s stirring remarks to show that probably Jim and Li Tee ran away only in anticipation of a possible lynching, and to prove that advanced sentiments of this high and ennobling nature really obtained forty years ago in an ordinary American frontier town which did not then dream of Expansion and Empire!

Howbeit, Mr. Skinner did not make allowance for mere human nature. One morning Master Bob Skinner, his son, aged twelve, evaded the schoolhouse, and started in an old Indian “dug-out” to invade the island of the miserable refugees. His purpose was not clearly defined to himself, but was to be modified by circumstances. He would either capture Li Tee and Jim, or join them in their lawless existence. He had prepared himself for either event by surreptitiously borrowing his father’s gun. He also carried victuals, having heard that Jim ate grasshoppers and Li Tee rats, and misdoubting his own capacity for either diet. He paddled slowly, well in shore, to be secure from observation at home, and then struck out boldly in his leaky canoe for the island–a tufted, tussocky shred of the marshy promontory torn off in some tidal storm. It was a lovely day, the bay being barely ruffled by the afternoon “trades;” but as he neared the island he came upon the swell from the bar and the thunders of the distant Pacific, and grew a little frightened. The canoe, losing way, fell into the trough of the swell, shipping salt water, still more alarming to the prairie-bred boy. Forgetting his plan of a stealthy invasion, he shouted lustily as the helpless and water-logged boat began to drift past the island; at which a lithe figure emerged from the reeds, threw off a tattered blanket, and slipped noiselessly, like some animal, into the water. It was Jim, who, half wading, half swimming, brought the canoe and boy ashore. Master Skinner at once gave up the idea of invasion, and concluded to join the refugees.

This was easy in his defenceless state, and his manifest delight in their rude encampment and gypsy life, although he had been one of Li Tee’s oppressors in the past. But that stolid pagan had a philosophical indifference which might have passed for Christian forgiveness, and Jim’s native reticence seemed like assent. And, possibly, in the minds of these two vagabonds there might have been a natural sympathy for this other truant from civilization, and some delicate flattery in the fact that Master Skinner was not driven out, but came of his own accord. Howbeit, they fished together, gathered cranberries on the marsh, shot a wild duck and two plovers, and when Master Skinner assisted in the cooking of their fish in a conical basket sunk in the ground, filled with water, heated by rolling red-hot stones from their drift-wood fire into the buried basket, the boy’s felicity was supreme. And what an afternoon! To lie, after this feast, on their bellies in the grass, replete like animals, hidden from everything but the sunshine above them; so quiet that gray clouds of sandpipers settled fearlessly around them, and a shining brown muskrat slipped from the ooze within a few feet of their faces–was to feel themselves a part of the wild life in earth and sky. Not that their own predatory instincts were hushed by this divine peace; that intermitting black spot upon the water, declared by the Indian to be a seal, the stealthy glide of a yellow fox in the ambush of a callow brood of mallards, the momentary straying of an elk from the upland upon the borders of the marsh, awoke their tingling nerves to the happy but fruitless chase. And when night came, too soon, and they pigged together around the warm ashes of their camp-fire, under the low lodge poles of their wigwam of dried mud, reeds, and driftwood, with the combined odors of fish, wood-smoke, and the warm salt breath of the marsh in their nostrils, they slept contentedly. The distant lights of the settlement went out one by one, the stars came out, very large and very silent, to take their places. The barking of a dog on the nearest point was followed by another farther inland. But Jim’s dog, curled at the feet of his master, did not reply. What had HE to do with civilization?

The morning brought some fear of consequences to Master Skinner, but no abatement of his resolve not to return. But here he was oddly combated by Li Tee. “S’pose you go back allee same. You tellee fam’lee canoe go topside down–you plentee swimee to bush. Allee night in bush. Housee big way off–how can get? Sabe?”

“And I’ll leave the gun, and tell Dad that when the canoe upset the gun got drowned,” said the boy eagerly.

Li Tee nodded.

“And come again Saturday, and bring more powder and shot and a bottle for Jim,” said Master Skinner excitedly.

“Good!” grunted the Indian.

Then they ferried the boy over to the peninsula, and set him on a trail across the marshes, known only to themselves, which would bring him home. And when the Editor the next morning chronicled among his news, “Adrift on the Bay–A Schoolboy’s Miraculous Escape,” he knew as little what part his missing Chinese errand boy had taken in it as the rest of his readers.

Meantime the two outcasts returned to their island camp. It may have occurred to them that a little of the sunlight had gone from it with Bob; for they were in a dull, stupid way fascinated by the little white tyrant who had broken bread with them. He had been delightfully selfish and frankly brutal to them, as only a schoolboy could be, with the addition of the consciousness of his superior race. Yet they each longed for his return, although he was seldom mentioned in their scanty conversation–carried on in monosyllables, each in his own language, or with some common English word, or more often restricted solely to signs. By a delicate flattery, when they did speak of him it was in what they considered to be his own language.

“Boston boy, plenty like catchee HIM,” Jim would say, pointing to a distant swan. Or Li Tee, hunting a striped water snake from the reeds, would utter stolidly, “Melikan boy no likee snake.” Yet the next two days brought some trouble and physical discomfort to them. Bob had consumed, or wasted, all their provisions–and, still more unfortunately, his righteous visit, his gun, and his superabundant animal spirits had frightened away the game, which their habitual quiet and taciturnity had beguiled into trustfulness. They were half starved, but they did not blame him. It would come all right when he returned. They counted the days, Jim with secret notches on the long pole, Li Tee with a string of copper “cash” he always kept with him. The eventful day came at last,–a warm autumn day, patched with inland fog like blue smoke and smooth, tranquil, open surfaces of wood and sea; but to their waiting, confident eyes the boy came not out of either. They kept a stolid silence all that day until night fell, when Jim said, “Mebbe Boston boy go dead.” Li Tee nodded. It did not seem possible to these two heathens that anything else could prevent the Christian child from keeping his word.

After that, by the aid of the canoe, they went much on the marsh, hunting apart, but often meeting on the trail which Bob had taken, with grunts of mutual surprise. These suppressed feelings, never made known by word or gesture, at last must have found vicarious outlet in the taciturn dog, who so far forgot his usual discretion as to once or twice seat himself on the water’s edge and indulge in a fit of howling. It had been a custom of Jim’s on certain days to retire to some secluded place, where, folded in his blanket, with his back against a tree, he remained motionless for hours. In the settlement this had been usually referred to the after effects of drink, known as the “horrors,” but Jim had explained it by saying it was “when his heart was bad.” And now it seemed, by these gloomy abstractions, that “his heart was bad” very often. And then the long withheld rains came one night on the wings of a fierce southwester, beating down their frail lodge and scattering it abroad, quenching their camp-fire, and rolling up the bay until it invaded their reedy island and hissed in their ears. It drove the game from Jim’s gun; it tore the net and scattered the bait of Li Tee, the fisherman. Cold and half starved in heart and body, but more dogged and silent than ever, they crept out in their canoe into the storm-tossed bay, barely escaping with their miserable lives to the marshy peninsula. Here, on their enemy’s ground, skulking in the rushes, or lying close behind tussocks, they at last reached the fringe of forest below the settlement. Here, too, sorely pressed by hunger, and doggedly reckless of consequences, they forgot their caution, and a flight of teal fell to Jim’s gun on the very outskirts of the settlement.

It was a fatal shot, whose echoes awoke the forces of civilization against them. For it was heard by a logger in his hut near the marsh, who, looking out, had seen Jim pass. A careless, good- natured frontiersman, he might have kept the outcasts’ mere presence to himself; but there was that damning shot! An Indian with a gun! That weapon, contraband of law, with dire fines and penalties to whoso sold or gave it to him! A thing to be looked into–some one to be punished! An Indian with a weapon that made him the equal of the white! Who was safe? He hurried to town to lay his information before the constable, but, meeting Mr. Skinner, imparted the news to him. The latter pooh-poohed the constable, who he alleged had not yet discovered the whereabouts of Jim, and suggested that a few armed citizens should make the chase themselves. The fact was that Mr. Skinner, never quite satisfied in his mind with his son’s account of the loss of the gun, had put two and two together, and was by no means inclined to have his own gun possibly identified by the legal authority. Moreover, he went home and at once attacked Master Bob with such vigor and so highly colored a description of the crime he had committed, and the penalties attached to it, that Bob confessed. More than that, I grieve to say that Bob lied. The Indian had “stoled his gun,” and threatened his life if he divulged the theft. He told how he was ruthlessly put ashore, and compelled to take a trail only known to them to reach his home. In two hours it was reported throughout the settlement that the infamous Jim had added robbery with violence to his illegal possession of the weapon. The secret of the island and the trail over the marsh was told only to a few.

Meantime it had fared hard with the fugitives. Their nearness to the settlement prevented them from lighting a fire, which might have revealed their hiding-place, and they crept together, shivering all night in a clump of hazel. Scared thence by passing but unsuspecting wayfarers wandering off the trail, they lay part of the next day and night amid some tussocks of salt grass, blown on by the cold sea-breeze; chilled, but securely hidden from sight. Indeed, thanks to some mysterious power they had of utter immobility, it was wonderful how they could efface themselves, through quiet and the simplest environment. The lee side of a straggling vine in the meadow, or even the thin ridge of cast-up drift on the shore, behind which they would lie for hours motionless, was a sufficient barrier against prying eyes. In this occupation they no longer talked together, but followed each other with the blind instinct of animals–yet always unerringly, as if conscious of each other’s plans. Strangely enough, it was the REAL animal alone–their nameless dog–who now betrayed impatience and a certain human infirmity of temper. The concealment they were resigned to, the sufferings they mutely accepted, he alone resented! When certain scents or sounds, imperceptible to their senses, were blown across their path, he would, with bristling back, snarl himself into guttural and strangulated fury. Yet, in their apathy, even this would have passed them unnoticed, but that on the second night he disappeared suddenly, returning after two hours’ absence with bloody jaws–replete, but still slinking and snappish. It was only in the morning that, creeping on their hands and knees through the stubble, they came upon the torn and mangled carcass of a sheep. The two men looked at each other without speaking–they knew what this act of rapine meant to themselves. It meant a fresh hue and cry after them–it meant that their starving companion had helped to draw the net closer round them. The Indian grunted, Li Tee smiled vacantly; but with their knives and fingers they finished what the dog had begun, and became equally culpable. But that they were heathens, they could not have achieved a delicate ethical responsibility in a more Christian-like way.

Yet the rice-fed Li Tee suffered most in their privations. His habitual apathy increased with a certain physical lethargy which Jim could not understand. When they were apart he sometimes found Li Tee stretched on his back with an odd stare in his eyes, and once, at a distance, he thought he saw a vague thin vapor drift from where the Chinese boy was lying and vanish as he approached. When he tried to arouse him there was a weak drawl in his voice and a drug-like odor in his breath. Jim dragged him to a more substantial shelter, a thicket of alder. It was dangerously near the frequented road, but a vague idea had sprung up in Jim’s now troubled mind that, equal vagabonds though they were, Li Tee had more claims upon civilization, through those of his own race who were permitted to live among the white men, and were not hunted to “reservations” and confined there like Jim’s people. If Li Tee was “heap sick,” other Chinamen might find and nurse him. As for Li Tee, he had lately said, in a more lucid interval: “Me go dead– allee samee Mellikan boy. You go dead too–allee samee,” and then lay down again with a glassy stare in his eyes. Far from being frightened at this, Jim attributed his condition to some enchantment that Li Tee had evoked from one of his gods–just as he himself had seen “medicine-men” of his own tribe fall into strange trances, and was glad that the boy no longer suffered. The day advanced, and Li Tee still slept. Jim could hear the church bells ringing; he knew it was Sunday–the day on which he was hustled from the main street by the constable; the day on which the shops were closed, and the drinking saloons open only at the back door. The day whereon no man worked–and for that reason, though he knew it not, the day selected by the ingenious Mr. Skinner and a few friends as especially fitting and convenient for a chase of the fugitives. The bell brought no suggestion of this–though the dog snapped under his breath and stiffened his spine. And then he heard another sound, far off and vague, yet one that brought a flash into his murky eye, that lit up the heaviness of his Hebraic face, and even showed a slight color in his high cheek-bones. He lay down on the ground, and listened with suspended breath. He heard it now distinctly. It was the Boston boy calling, and the word he was calling was “Jim.”

Then the fire dropped out of his eyes as he turned with his usual stolidity to where Li Tee was lying. Him he shook, saying briefly: “Boston boy come back!” But there was no reply, the dead body rolled over inertly under his hand; the head fell back, and the jaw dropped under the pinched yellow face. The Indian gazed at him slowly, and then gravely turned again in the direction of the voice. Yet his dull mind was perplexed, for, blended with that voice were other sounds like the tread of clumsily stealthy feet. But again the voice called “Jim!” and raising his hands to his lips he gave a low whoop in reply. This was followed by silence, when suddenly he heard the voice–the boy’s voice–once again, this time very near him, saying eagerly:–

“There he is!”

Then the Indian knew all. His face, however, did not change as he took up his gun, and a man stepped out of the thicket into the trail:–

“Drop that gun, you d—-d Injin.”

The Indian did not move.

“Drop it, I say!”

The Indian remained erect and motionless.

A rifle shot broke from the thicket. At first it seemed to have missed the Indian, and the man who had spoken cocked his own rifle. But the next moment the tall figure of Jim collapsed where he stood into a mere blanketed heap.

The man who had fired the shot walked towards the heap with the easy air of a conqueror. But suddenly there arose before him an awful phantom, the incarnation of savagery–a creature of blazing eyeballs, flashing tusks, and hot carnivorous breath. He had barely time to cry out “A wolf!” before its jaws met in his throat, and they rolled together on the ground.

But it was no wolf–as a second shot proved–only Jim’s slinking dog; the only one of the outcasts who at that supreme moment had gone back to his original nature.

A VISION OF THE FOUNTAIN

Mr. Jackson Potter halted before the little cottage, half shop, half hostelry, opposite the great gates of Domesday Park, where tickets of admission to that venerable domain were sold. Here Mr. Potter revealed his nationality as a Western American, not only in his accent, but in a certain half-humorous, half-practical questioning of the ticket-seller–as that quasi-official stamped his ticket–which was nevertheless delivered with such unfailing good-humor, and such frank suggestiveness of the perfect equality of the ticket-seller and the well-dressed stranger that, far from producing any irritation, it attracted the pleased attention not only of the official, but his wife and daughter and a customer. Possibly the good looks of the stranger had something to do with it. Jackson Potter was a singularly handsome young fellow, with one of those ideal faces and figures sometimes seen in Western frontier villages, attributable to no ancestor, but evolved possibly from novels and books devoured by ancestresses in the long solitary winter evenings of their lonely cabins on the frontier. A beardless, classical head, covered by short flocculent blonde curls, poised on a shapely neck and shoulders, was more Greek in outline than suggestive of any ordinary American type. Finally, after having thoroughly amused his small audience, he lifted his straw hat to the “ladies,” and lounged out across the road to the gateway. Here he paused, consulting his guide-book, and read aloud: “St. John’s gateway. This massive structure, according to Leland, was built in”–murmured–“never mind when; we’ll pass St. John,” marked the page with his pencil, and tendering his ticket to the gate-keeper, heard, with some satisfaction, that, as there were no other visitors just then, and as the cicerone only accompanied PARTIES, he would be left to himself, and at once plunged into a by-path.

It was that loveliest of rare creations–a hot summer day in England, with all the dampness of that sea-blown isle wrung out of it, exhaled in the quivering blue vault overhead, or passing as dim wraiths in the distant wood, and all the long-matured growth of that great old garden vivified and made resplendent by the fervid sun. The ashes of dead and gone harvests, even the dust of those who had for ages wrought in it, turned again and again through incessant cultivation, seemed to move and live once more in that present sunshine. All color appeared to be deepened and mellowed, until even the very shadows of the trees were as velvety as the sward they fell upon. The prairie-bred Potter, accustomed to the youthful caprices and extravagances of his own virgin soil, could not help feeling the influence of the ripe restraints of this.

As he glanced through the leaves across green sunlit spaces to the ivy-clad ruins of Domesday Abbey, which seemed itself a growth of the very soil, he murmured to himself: “Things had been made mighty comfortable for folks here, you bet!” Forgotten books he had read as a boy, scraps of school histories, or rarer novels, came back to him as he walked along, and peopled the solitude about him with their heroes.

Nevertheless, it was unmistakably hot–a heat homelike in its intensity, yet of a different effect, throwing him into languid reverie rather than filling his veins with fire. Secure in his seclusion in the leafy chase, he took off his jacket and rambled on in his shirt sleeves. Through the opening he presently saw the abbey again, with the restored wing where the noble owner lived for two or three weeks in the year, but now given over to the prevailing solitude. And then, issuing from the chase, he came upon a broad, moss-grown terrace. Before him stretched a tangled and luxuriant wilderness of shrubs and flowers, darkened by cypress and cedars of Lebanon; its dun depths illuminated by dazzling white statues, vases, trellises, and paved paths, choked and lost in the trailing growths of years of abandonment and forgetfulness. He consulted his guide-book again. It was the “old Italian garden,” constructed under the design of a famous Italian gardener by the third duke; but its studied formality being displeasing to his successor, it was allowed to fall into picturesque decay and negligent profusion, which were not, however, disturbed by later descendants,–a fact deplored by the artistic writer of the guide- book, who mournfully called attention to the rare beauty of the marble statues, urns, and fountains, ruined by neglect, although one or two of the rarer objects had been removed to Deep Dene Lodge, another seat of the present duke.

It is needless to say that Mr. Potter conceived at once a humorous opposition to the artistic enthusiasm of the critic, and, plunging into the garden, took a mischievous delight in its wildness and the victorious struggle of nature with the formality of art. At every step through the tangled labyrinth he could see where precision and order had been invaded, and even the rigid masonry broken or upheaved by the rebellious force. Yet here and there the two powers had combined to offer an example of beauty neither could have effected alone. A passion vine had overrun and enclasped a vase with a perfect symmetry no sculptor could have achieved. A heavy balustrade was made ethereal with a delicate fretwork of vegetation between its balusters like lace. Here, however, the lap and gurgle of water fell gratefully upon the ear of the perspiring and thirsty Mr. Potter, and turned his attention to more material things. Following the sound, he presently came upon an enormous oblong marble basin containing three time-worn fountains with grouped figures. The pipes were empty, silent, and choked with reeds and water plants, but the great basin itself was filled with water from some invisible source.

A terraced walk occupied one side of the long parallelogram; at intervals and along the opposite bank, half shadowed by willows, tinted marble figures of tritons, fauns, and dryads arose half hidden in the reeds. They were more or less mutilated by time, and here and there only the empty, moss-covered plinths that had once supported them could be seen. But they were so lifelike in their subdued color in the shade that he was for a moment startled.

The water looked deliciously cool. An audacious thought struck him. He was alone, and the place was a secluded one. He knew there were no other visitors; the marble basin was quite hidden from the rest of the garden, and approached only from the path by which he had come, and whose entire view he commanded. He quietly and deliberately undressed himself under the willows, and unhesitatingly plunged into the basin. The water was four or five feet deep, and its extreme length afforded an excellent swimming bath, despite the water-lilies and a few aquatic plants that mottled its clear surface, or the sedge that clung to the bases of the statues. He disported for some moments in the delicious element, and then seated himself upon one of the half-submerged plinths, almost hidden by reeds, that had once upheld a river god. Here, lazily resting himself upon his elbow, half his body still below the water, his quick ear was suddenly startled by a rustling noise and the sound of footsteps. For a moment he was inclined to doubt his senses; he could see only the empty path before him and the deserted terrace. But the sound became more distinct, and to his great uneasiness appeared to come from the OTHER side of the fringe of willows, where there was undoubtedly a path to the fountain which he had overlooked. His clothes were under those willows, but he was at least twenty yards from the bank and an equal distance from the terrace. He was about to slip beneath the water when, to his crowning horror, before he could do so, a young girl slowly appeared from the hidden willow path full upon the terrace. She was walking leisurely with a parasol over her head and a book in her hand. Even in his intense consternation her whole figure–a charming one in its white dress, sailor hat, and tan shoes–was imprinted on his memory as she instinctively halted to look upon the fountain, evidently an unexpected surprise to her.

A sudden idea flashed upon him. She was at least sixty yards away; he was half hidden in the reeds and well in the long shadows of the willows. If he remained perfectly motionless she might overlook him at that distance, or take him for one of the statues. He remembered also that as he was resting on his elbow, his half- submerged body lying on the plinth below water, he was somewhat in the attitude of one of the river gods. And there was no other escape. If he dived he might not be able to keep under water as long as she remained, and any movement he knew would betray him. He stiffened himself and scarcely breathed. Luckily for him his attitude had been a natural one and easy to keep. It was well, too, for she was evidently in no hurry and walked slowly, stopping from time to time to admire the basin and its figures. Suddenly he was instinctively aware that she was looking towards him and even changing her position, moving her pretty head and shading her eyes with her hand as if for a better view. He remained motionless, scarcely daring to breathe. Yet there was something so innocently frank and undisturbed in her observation, that he knew as instinctively that she suspected nothing, and took him for a half- submerged statue. He breathed more freely. But presently she stopped, glanced around her, and, keeping her eyes fixed in his direction, began to walk backwards slowly until she reached a stone balustrade behind her. On this she leaped, and, sitting down, opened in her lap the sketch-book she was carrying, and, taking out a pencil, to his horror began to sketch!

For a wild moment he recurred to his first idea of diving and swimming at all hazards to the bank, but the conviction that now his slightest movement must be detected held him motionless. He must save her the mortification of knowing she was sketching a living man, if he died for it. She sketched rapidly but fixedly and absorbedly, evidently forgetting all else in her work. From time to time she held out her sketch before her to compare it with her subject. Yet the seconds seemed minutes and the minutes hours. Suddenly, to his great relief, a distant voice was heard calling “Lottie.” It was a woman’s voice; by its accent it also seemed to him an American one.

The young girl made a slight movement of impatience, but did not look up, and her pencil moved still more rapidly. Again the voice called, this time nearer. The young girl’s pencil fairly flew over the paper, as, still without looking up, she lifted a pretty voice and answered back, “Y-e-e-s!”

It struck him that her accent was also that of a compatriot.

“Where on earth are you?” continued the first voice, which now appeared to come from the other side of the willows on the path by which the young girl had approached. “Here, aunty,” replied the girl, closing her sketch-book with a snap and starting to her feet.

A stout woman, fashionably dressed, made her appearance from the willow path.

“What have you been doing all this while?” she said querulously. “Not sketching, I hope,” she added, with a suspicious glance at the book. “You know your professor expressly forbade you to do so in your holidays.”

The young girl shrugged her shoulders. “I’ve been looking at the fountains,” she replied evasively.

“And horrid looking pagan things they are, too,” said the elder woman, turning from them disgustedly, without vouchsafing a second glance. “Come. If we expect to do the abbey, we must hurry up, or we won’t catch the train. Your uncle is waiting for us at the top of the garden.”

And, to Potter’s intense relief, she grasped the young girl’s arm and hurried her away, their figures the next moment vanishing in the tangled shrubbery.

Potter lost no time in plunging with his cramped limbs into the water and regaining the other side. Here he quickly half dried himself with some sun-warmed leaves and baked mosses, hurried on his clothes, and hastened off in the opposite direction to the path taken by them, yet with such circuitous skill and speed that he reached the great gateway without encountering anybody. A brisk walk brought him to the station in time to catch a stopping train, and in half an hour he was speeding miles away from Domesday Park and his half-forgotten episode.

. . . . . .

Meantime the two ladies continued on their way to the abbey. “I don’t see why I mayn’t sketch things I see about me,” said the young lady impatiently. “Of course, I understand that I must go through the rudimentary drudgery of my art and study from casts, and learn perspective, and all that; but I can’t see what’s the difference between working in a stuffy studio over a hand or arm that I know is only a STUDY, and sketching a full or half length in the open air with the wonderful illusion of light and shade and distance–and grouping and combining them all–that one knows and feels makes a picture. The real picture one makes is already in one’s self.”

“For goodness’ sake, Lottie, don’t go on again with your usual absurdities. Since you are bent on being an artist, and your Popper has consented and put you under the most expensive master in Paris, the least you can do is to follow the rules. And I dare say he only wanted you to ‘sink the shop’ in company. It’s such horrid bad form for you artistic people to be always dragging out your sketch-books. What would you say if your Popper came over here, and began to examine every lady’s dress in society to see what material it was, just because he was a big dry-goods dealer in America?”

The young girl, accustomed to her aunt’s extravagances, made no reply. But that night she consulted her sketch, and was so far convinced of her own instincts, and the profound impression the fountain had made upon her, that she was enabled to secretly finish her interrupted sketch from memory. For Miss Charlotte Forrest was a born artist, and in no mere caprice had persuaded her father to let her adopt the profession, and accepted the drudgery of a novitiate. She looked earnestly upon this first real work of her hand and found it good! Still, it was but a pencil sketch, and wanted the vivification of color.

When she returned to Paris she began–still secretly–a larger study in oils. She worked upon it in her own room every moment she could spare from her studio practice, unknown to her professor. It absorbed her existence; she grew thin and pale. When it was finished, and only then, she showed it tremblingly to her master. He stood silent, in profound astonishment. The easel before him showed a foreground of tangled luxuriance, from which stretched a sheet of water like a darkened mirror, while through parted reeds on its glossy surface arose the half-submerged figure of a river god, exquisite in contour, yet whose delicate outlines were almost a vision by the crowning illusion of light, shadow, and atmosphere.

“It is a beautiful copy, mademoiselle, and I forgive you breaking my rules,” he said, drawing a long breath. “But I cannot now recall the original picture.”

“It’s no copy of a picture, professor,” said the young girl timidly, and she disclosed her secret. “It was the only perfect statue there,” she added diffidently; “but I think it wanted– something.”

“True,” said the professor abstractedly. “Where the elbow rests there should be a half-inverted urn flowing with water; but the drawing of that shoulder is so perfect–as is YOUR study of it– that one guesses the missing forearm one cannot see, which clasped it. Beautiful! beautiful!”

Suddenly he stopped, and turned his eyes almost searchingly on hers.

“You say you have never drawn from the human model, mademoiselle?”

“Never,” said the young girl innocently.

“True,” murmured the professor again. “These are the classic ideal measurements. There are no limbs like those now. Yet it is wonderful! And this gem, you say, is in England?”

“Yes.”

“Good! I am going there in a few days. I shall make a pilgrimage to see it. Until then, mademoiselle, I beg you to break as many of my rules as you like.”

Three weeks later she found the professor one morning standing before her picture in her private studio. “You have returned from England,” she said joyfully.

“I have,” said the professor gravely.

“You have seen the original subject?” she said timidly.

“I have NOT. I have not seen it, mademoiselle,” he said, gazing at her mildly through his glasses, “because it does not exist, and never existed.”

The young girl turned pale.

“Listen. I have go to England. I arrive at the Park of Domesday. I penetrate the beautiful, wild garden. I approach the fountain. I see the wonderful water, the exquisite light and shade, the lilies, the mysterious reeds–beautiful, yet not as beautiful as you have made it, mademoiselle, but no statue–no river god! I demand it of the concierge. He knows of it absolutely nothing. I transport myself to the noble proprietor, Monsieur le Duc, at a distant chateau where he has collected the ruined marbles. It is not there.”

“Yet I saw it,” said the young girl earnestly, yet with a troubled face. “O professor,” she burst out appealingly, “what do you think it was?”

“I think, mademoiselle,” said the professor gravely, “that you created it. Believe me, it is a function of genius! More, it is a proof, a necessity! You saw the beautiful lake, the ruined fountain, the soft shadows, the empty plinth, curtained by reeds. You yourself say you feel there was ‘something wanting.’ Unconsciously you yourself supplied it. All that you had ever dreamt of mythology, all that you had ever seen of statuary, thronged upon you at that supreme moment, and, evolved from your own fancy, the river god was born. It is your own, chere enfant, as much the offspring of your genius as the exquisite atmosphere you have caught, the charm of light and shadow that you have brought away. Accept my felicitations. You have little more to learn of me.”

As he bowed himself out and descended the stairs he shrugged his shoulders slightly. “She is an adorable genius,” he murmured. “Yet she is also a woman. Being a woman, naturally she has a lover–this river god! Why not?”

The extraordinary success of Miss Forrest’s picture and the instantaneous recognition of her merit as an artist, apart from her novel subject, perhaps went further to remove her uneasiness than any serious conviction of the professor’s theory. Nevertheless, it appealed to her poetic and mystic imagination, and although other subjects from her brush met with equally phenomenal success, and she was able in a year to return to America with a reputation assured beyond criticism, she never entirely forgot the strange incident connected with her initial effort.

And by degrees a singular change came over her. Rich, famous, and attractive, she began to experience a sentimental and romantic interest in that episode. Once, when reproached by her friends for her indifference to her admirers, she had half laughingly replied that she had once found her “ideal,” but never would again. Yet the jest had scarcely passed her lips before she became pale and silent. With this change came also a desire to re-purchase the picture, which she had sold in her early success to a speculative American picture-dealer. On inquiry she found, alas! that it had been sold only a day or two before to a Chicago gentleman, of the name of Potter, who had taken a fancy to it.

Miss Forrest curled her pretty lip, but, nothing daunted, resolved to effect her purpose, and sought the purchaser at his hotel. She was ushered into a private drawing-room, where, on a handsome easel, stood the newly acquired purchase. Mr. Potter was out, “but would return in a moment.”

Miss Forrest was relieved, for, alone and undisturbed, she could now let her full soul go out to her romantic creation. As she stood there, she felt the glamour of the old English garden come back to her, the play of light and shadow, the silent pool, the godlike face and bust, with its cast-down, meditative eyes, seen through the parted reeds. She clasped her hands silently before her. Should she never see it again as then?

“Pray don’t let me disturb you; but won’t you take a seat?”

Miss Forrest turned sharply round. Then she started, uttered a frightened little cry, and fainted away.

Mr. Potter was touched, but a master of himself. As she came to, he said quietly: “I came upon you suddenly–as you stood entranced by this picture–just as I did when I first saw it. That’s why I bought it. Are you any relative of the Miss Forrest who painted it?” he continued, quietly looking at her card, which he held in his hand.

Miss Forrest recovered herself sufficiently to reply, and stated her business with some dignity.

“Ah,” said Mr. Potter, “THAT is another question. You see, the picture has a special value to me, as I once saw an old-fashioned garden like that in England. But that chap there,–I beg your pardon, I mean that figure,–I fancy, is your own creation, entirely. However, I’ll think over your proposition, and if you will allow me I’ll call and see you about it.”

Mr. Potter did call–not once, but many times–and showed quite a remarkable interest in Miss Forrest’s art. The question of the sale of the picture, however, remained in abeyance. A few weeks later, after a longer call than usual, Mr. Potter said:–

“Don’t you think the best thing we can do is to make a kind of compromise, and let us own the picture together?”

And they did.

A ROMANCE OF THE LINE

As the train moved slowly out of the station, the Writer of Stories looked up wearily from the illustrated pages of the magazines and weeklies on his lap to the illustrated advertisements on the walls of the station sliding past his carriage windows. It was getting to be monotonous. For a while he had been hopefully interested in the bustle of the departing trains, and looked up from his comfortable and early invested position to the later comers with that sense of superiority common to travelers; had watched the conventional leave-takings–always feebly prolonged to the uneasiness of both parties–and contrasted it with the impassive business promptitude of the railway officials; but it was the old experience repeated. Falling back on the illustrated advertisements again, he wondered if their perpetual recurrence at every station would not at last bring to the tired traveler the loathing of satiety; whether the passenger in railway carriages, continually offered Somebody’s oats, inks, washing blue, candles, and soap, apparently as a necessary equipment for a few hours’ journey, would not there and thereafter forever ignore the use of these articles, or recoil from that particular quality. Or, as an unbiased observer, he wondered if, on the other hand, impressible passengers, after passing three or four stations, had ever leaped from the train and refused to proceed further until they were supplied with one or more of those articles. Had he ever known any one who confided to him in a moment of expansiveness that he had dated his use of Somebody’s soap to an advertisement persistently borne upon him through the medium of a railway carriage window? No! Would he not have connected that man with that other certifying individual who always appends a name and address singularly obscure and unconvincing, yet who, at some supreme moment, recommends Somebody’s pills to a dying friend,–afflicted with a similar address,–which restore him to life and undying obscurity. Yet these pictorial and literary appeals must have a potency independent of the wares they advertise, or they wouldn’t be there.

Perhaps he was the more sensitive to this monotony as he was just then seeking change and novelty in order to write a new story. He was not looking for material,–his subjects were usually the same,– he was merely hoping for that relaxation and diversion which should freshen and fit him for later concentration. Still, he had often heard of the odd circumstances to which his craft were sometimes indebted for suggestion. The invasion of an eccentric- looking individual–probably an innocent tradesman into a railway carriage had given the hint for “A Night with a Lunatic;” a nervously excited and belated passenger had once unconsciously sat for an escaped forger; the picking up of a forgotten novel in the rack, with passages marked in pencil, had afforded the plot of a love story; or the germ of a romance had been found in an obscure news paragraph which, under less listless moments, would have passed unread. On the other hand, he recalled these inconvenient and inconsistent moments from which the so-called “inspiration” sprang, the utter incongruity of time and place in some brilliant conception, and wondered if sheer vacuity of mind were really so favorable.

Going back to his magazine again, he began to get mildly interested in a story. Turning the page, however, he was confronted by a pictorial advertising leaflet inserted between the pages, yet so artistic in character that it might have been easily mistaken for an illustration of the story he was reading, and perhaps was not more remote or obscure in reference than many he had known. But the next moment he recognized with despair that it was only a smaller copy of one he had seen on the hoarding at the last station. He threw the leaflet aside, but the flavor of the story was gone. The peerless detergent of the advertisement had erased it from the tablets of his memory. He leaned back in his seat again, and lazily watched the flying suburbs. Here were the usual promising open spaces and patches of green, quickly succeeded again by solid blocks of houses whose rear windows gave directly upon the line, yet seldom showed an inquisitive face–even of a wondering child. It was a strange revelation of the depressing effects of familiarity. Expresses might thunder by, goods trains drag their slow length along, shunting trains pipe all day beneath their windows, but the tenants heeded them not. Here, too, was the junction, with its labyrinthine interlacing of tracks that dazed the tired brain; the overburdened telegraph posts, that looked as if they really could not stand another wire; the long lines of empty, homeless, and deserted trains in sidings that had seen better days; the idle trains, with staring vacant windows, which were eventually seized by a pert engine hissing, “Come along, will you?” and departed with a discontented grunt from every individual carriage coupling; the racing trains, that suddenly appeared parallel with one’s carriage windows, begot false hopes of a challenge of speed, and then, without warning, drew contemptuously and, superciliously away; the swift eclipse of everything in a tunneled bridge; the long, slithering passage of an “up” express, and then the flash of a station, incoherent and unintelligible with pictorial advertisements again.

He closed his eyes to concentrate his thought, and by degrees a pleasant languor stole over him. The train had by this time attained that rate of speed which gave it a slight swing and roll on curves and switches not unlike the rocking of a cradle. Once or twice he opened his eyes sleepily upon the waltzing trees in the double planes of distance, and again closed them. Then, in one of these slight oscillations, he felt himself ridiculously slipping into slumber, and awoke with some indignation. Another station was passed, in which process the pictorial advertisements on the hoardings and the pictures in his lap seemed to have become jumbled up, confused, and to dance before him, and then suddenly and strangely, without warning, the train stopped short–at ANOTHER station. And then he arose, and–what five minutes before he never conceived of doing–gathered his papers and slipped from the carriage to the platform. When I say “he” I mean, of course, the Writer of Stories; yet the man who slipped out was half his age and a different-looking person.

. . . . . .

The change from the motion of the train–for it seemed that he had been traveling several hours–to the firmer platform for a moment bewildered him. The station looked strange, and he fancied it lacked a certain kind of distinctness. But that quality was also noticeable in the porters and loungers on the platform. He thought it singular, until it seemed to him that they were not characteristic, nor in any way important or necessary to the business he had in hand. Then, with an effort, he tried to remember himself and his purpose, and made his way through the station to the open road beyond. A van, bearing the inscription, “Removals to Town and Country,” stood before him and blocked his way, but a dogcart was in waiting, and a grizzled groom, who held the reins, touched his hat respectfully. Although still dazed by his journey and uncertain of himself, he seemed to recognize in the man that distinctive character which was wanting in the others. The correctness of his surmise was revealed a few moments later, when, after he had taken his seat beside him, and they were rattling out of the village street, the man turned towards him and said:–

“Tha’ll know Sir Jarge?”

“I do not,” said the young man.

“Ay! but theer’s many as cooms here as doan’t, for all they cooms. Tha’ll say it ill becooms mea as war man and boy in Sir Jarge’s sarvice for fifty year, to say owt agen him, but I’m here to do it, or they couldn’t foolfil their business. Tha wast to ax me questions about Sir Jarge and the Grange, and I wor to answer soa as to make tha think thar was suthing wrong wi’ un. Howbut I may save tha time and tell thea downroight that Sir Jarge forged his uncle’s will, and so gotten the Grange. That ‘ee keeps his niece in mortal fear o’ he. That tha’ll be put in haunted chamber wi’ a boggle.”

“I think,” said the young man hesitatingly, “that there must be some mistake. I do not know any Sir George, and I am NOT going to the Grange.”

“Eay! Then thee aren’t the ‘ero sent down from London by the story writer?”

“Not by THAT one,” said the young man diffidently.

The old man’s face changed. It was no mere figure of speech: it actually was ANOTHER face that looked down upon the traveler.

“Then mayhap your honor will be bespoken at the Angel’s Inn,” he said, with an entirely distinct and older dialect, “and a finer hostel for a young gentleman of your condition ye’ll not find on this side of Oxford. A fair chamber, looking to the sun; sheets smelling of lavender from Dame Margery’s own store, and, for the matter of that, spread by the fair hands of Maudlin, her daughter– the best favored lass that ever danced under a Maypole. Ha! have at ye there, young sir! Not to speak of the October ale of old Gregory, her father–ay, nor the rare Hollands, that never paid excise duties to the king.”

“I’m afraid,” said the young traveler timidly, “there’s over a century between us. There’s really some mistake.”

“What?” said the groom, “ye are NOT the young spark who is to marry Mistress Amy at the Hall, yet makes a pother and mess of it all by a duel with Sir Roger de Cadgerly, the wicked baronet, for his over-free discourse with our fair Maudlin this very eve? Ye are NOT the traveler whose post-chaise is now at the Falcon? Ye are not he that was bespoken by the story writer in London?”

“I don’t think I am,” said the young man apologetically. “Indeed, as I am feeling far from well, I think I’ll get out and walk.”

He got down–the vehicle and driver vanished in the distance. It did not surprise him. “I must collect my thoughts,” he said. He did so. Possibly the collection was not large, for presently he said, with a sigh of relief:–

“I see it all now! My name is Paul Bunker. I am of the young branch of an old Quaker family, rich and respected in the country, and I am on a visit to my ancestral home. But I have lived since a child in America, and am alien to the traditions and customs of the old country, and even of the seat to which my fathers belong. I have brought with me from the far West many peculiarities of speech and thought that may startle my kinsfolk. But I certainly shall not address my uncle as ‘Hoss!’ nor shall I say ‘guess’ oftener than is necessary.”

Much brightened and refreshed by his settled identity, he had time, as he walked briskly along, to notice the scenery, which was certainly varied and conflicting in character, and quite inconsistent with his preconceived notions of an English landscape. On his right, a lake of the brightest cobalt blue stretched before a many-towered and terraced town, which was relieved by a background of luxuriant foliage and emerald-green mountains; on his left arose a rugged mountain, which he was surprised to see was snow-capped, albeit a tunnel was observable midway of its height, and a train just issuing from it. Almost regretting that he had not continued on his journey, as he was fully sensible that it was in some way connected with the railway he had quitted, presently his attention was directed to the gateway of a handsome park, whose mansion was faintly seen in the distance. Hurrying towards him, down the avenue of limes, was a strange figure. It was that of a man of middle age; clad in Quaker garb, yet with an extravagance of cut and detail which seemed antiquated even for England. He had evidently seen the young man approaching, and his face was beaming with welcome. If Paul had doubted that it was his uncle, the first words he spoke would have reassured him.

“Welcome to Hawthorn Hall,” said the figure, grasping his hand heartily, “but thee will excuse me if I do not tarry with thee long at present, for I am hastening, even now, with some nourishing and sustaining food for Giles Hayward, a farm laborer.” He pointed to a package he was carrying. “But thee will find thy cousins Jane and Dorcas Bunker taking tea in the summer-house. Go to them! Nay–positively–I may not linger, but will return to thee quickly.” And, to Paul’s astonishment, he trotted away on his sturdy, respectable legs, still beaming and carrying his package in his hand.

“Well, I’ll be dog-goned! but the old man ain’t going to be left, you bet!” he ejaculated, suddenly remembering his dialect. “He’ll get there, whether school keeps or not!” Then, reflecting that no one heard him, he added simply, “He certainly was not over civil towards the nephew he has never seen before. And those girls–whom I don’t know! How very awkward!”

Nevertheless, he continued his way up the avenue towards the mansion. The park was beautifully kept. Remembering the native wildness and virgin seclusion of the Western forest, he could not help contrasting it with the conservative gardening of this pretty woodland, every rood of which had been patrolled by keepers and rangers, and preserved and fostered hundreds of years before he was born, until warmed for human occupancy. At times the avenue was crossed by grass drives, where the original woodland had been displaced, not by the exigency of a “clearing” for tillage, as in his own West, but for the leisurely pleasure of the owner. Then, a few hundred yards from the house itself,–a quaint Jacobean mansion,–he came to an open space where the sylvan landscape had yielded to floral cultivation, and so fell upon a charming summer- house, or arbor, embowered with roses. It must have been the one of which his uncle had spoken, for there, to his wondering admiration, sat two little maids before a rustic table, drinking tea demurely, yes, with all the evident delight of a childish escapade from their elders. While in the picturesque quaintness of their attire there was still a formal suggestion of the sect to which their father belonged, their summer frocks–differing in color, yet each of the same subdued tint–were alike in cut and fashion, and short enough to show their dainty feet in prim slippers and silken hose that matched their frocks. As the afternoon sun glanced through the leaves upon their pink cheeks, tied up in quaint hats by ribbons under their chins, they made a charming picture. At least Paul thought so as he advanced towards them, hat in hand. They looked up at his approach, but again cast down their eyes with demure shyness; yet he fancied that they first exchanged glances with each other, full of mischievous intelligence.

“I am your cousin Paul,” he said smilingly, “though I am afraid I am introducing myself almost as briefly as your father just now excused himself to me. He told me I would find you here, but he himself was hastening on a Samaritan mission.”

“With a box in his hand?” said the girls simultaneously, exchanging glances with each other again.

“With a box containing some restorative, I think,” responded Paul, a little wonderingly.

“Restorative! So THAT’S what he calls it now, is it?” said one of the girls saucily. “Well, no one knows what’s in the box, though he always carries it with him. Thee never sees him without it”–

“And a roll of paper,” suggested the other girl.

“Yes, a roll of paper–but one never knows what it is!” said the first speaker. “It’s very strange. But no matter now, Paul. Welcome to Hawthorn Hall. I am Jane Bunker, and this is Dorcas.” She stopped, and then, looking down demurely, added, “Thee may kiss us both, cousin Paul.”

The young man did not wait for a second invitation, but gently touched his lips to their soft young cheeks.

“Thee does not speak like an American, Paul. Is thee really and truly one?” continued Jane.

Paul remembered that he had forgotten his dialect, but it was too late now.

“I am really and truly one, and your own cousin, and I hope you will find me a very dear”–

“Oh!” said Dorcas, starting up primly. “You must really allow me to withdraw.” To the young man’s astonishment, she seized her parasol, and, with a youthful affectation of dignity, glided from the summer-house and was lost among the trees.

“Thy declaration to me was rather sudden,” said Jane quietly, in answer to his look of surprise, “and Dorcas is peculiarly sensitive and less like the ‘world’s people’ than I am. And it was just a little cruel, considering that she has loved thee secretly all these years, followed thy fortunes in America with breathless eagerness, thrilled at thy narrow escapes, and wept at thy privations.”

“But she has never seen me before!” said the astounded Paul.

“And thee had never seen me before, and yet thee has dared to propose to me five minutes after thee arrived, and in her presence.”

“But, my dear girl!” expostulated Paul.

“Stand off!” she said, rapidly opening her parasol and interposing it between them. “Another step nearer–ay, even another word of endearment–and I shall be compelled–nay, forced,” she added in a lower voice, “to remove this parasol, lest it should be crushed and ruined!”

“I see,” he said gloomily, “you have been reading novels; but so have I, and the same ones! Nevertheless, I intended only to tell you that I hoped you would always find me a kind friend.”

She shut her parasol up with a snap. “And I only intended to tell thee that my heart was given to another.”

“You INTENDED–and now?”

“Is it the ‘kind friend’ who asks?”

“If it were not?”

“Really?”

“Yes.”

“Ah!”

“Oh!”

“But thee loves another?” she said, toying with her cup.

He attempted to toy with his, but broke it. A man lacks delicacy in this kind of persiflage. “You mean I am loved by another,” he said bluntly.

“You dare to say that!” she said, flashing, in spite of her prim demeanor.

“No, but YOU did just now! You said your sister loved me!”

“Did I?” she said dreamily. “Dear! dear! That’s the trouble of trying to talk like Mr. Blank’s delightful dialogues. One gets so mixed!”

“Yet you will be a sister to me?” he said. “‘Tis an old American joke, but ’twill serve.”

There was a long silence.

“Had thee not better go to sister Dorcas? She is playing with the cows,” said Jane plaintively.

“You forget,” he returned gravely, “that, on page 27 of the novel we have both read, at this point he is supposed to kiss her.”

She had forgotten, but they both remembered in time. At this moment a scream came faintly from the distance. They both started, and rose.

“It is sister Dorcas,” said Jane, sitting down again and pouring out another cup of tea. “I have always told her that one of those Swiss cows would hook her.”

Paul stared at her with a strange revulsion of feeling. “I could save Dorcas,” he muttered to himself, “in less time than it takes to describe.” He paused, however, as he reflected that this would depend entirely upon the methods of the writer of this description. “I could rescue her! I have only to take the first clothes-line that I find, and with that knowledge and skill with the lasso which I learned in the wilds of America, I could stop the charge of the most furious ruminant. I will!” and without another word he turned and rushed off in the direction of the sound.

. . . . . .

He had not gone a hundred yards before he paused, a little bewildered. To the left could still be seen the cobalt lake with the terraced background; to the right the rugged mountains. He chose the latter. Luckily for him a cottager’s garden lay in his path, and from a line supported by a single pole depended the homely linen of the cottager. To tear these garments from the line was the work of a moment (although it represented the whole week’s washing), and hastily coiling the rope dexterously in his hand, he sped onward. Already panting with exertion and excitement, a few roods farther he was confronted with a spectacle that left him breathless.

A woman–young, robust, yet gracefully formed–was running ahead of him, driving before her with an open parasol an animal which he instantly recognized as one of that simple yet treacherous species most feared by the sex–known as the “Moo Cow.”

For a moment he was appalled by the spectacle. But it was only for a moment! Recalling his manhood and her weakness, he stopped, and bracing his foot against a stone, with a graceful flourish of his lasso around his head, threw it in the air. It uncoiled slowly, sped forward with unerring precision, and missed! With the single cry of “Saved!” the fair stranger sank fainting in his arms! He held her closely until the color came back to her pale face. Then he quietly disentangled the lasso from his legs.

“Where am I?” she said faintly.

“In the same place,” he replied, slowly but firmly. “But,” he added, “you have changed!”

She had, indeed, even to her dress. It was now of a vivid brick red, and so much longer in the skirt that it seemed to make her taller. Only her hat remained the same.

“Yes,” she said, in a low, reflective voice and a disregard of her previous dialect, as she gazed up in his eyes with an eloquent lucidity, “I have changed, Paul! I feel myself changing at those words you uttered to Jane. There are moments in a woman’s life that man knows nothing of; moments bitter and cruel, sweet and merciful, that change her whole being; moments in which the simple girl becomes a worldly woman; moments in which the slow procession of her years is never noted–except by another woman! Moments that change her outlook on the world and her relations to it–and her husband’s relations! Moments when the maid becomes a wife, the wife a widow, the widow a re-married woman, by a simple, swift illumination of the fancy. Moments when, wrought upon by a single word–a look–an emphasis and rising inflection, all logical sequence is cast away, processes are lost–inductions lead nowhere. Moments when the inharmonious becomes harmonious, the indiscreet discreet, the inefficient efficient, and the inevitable evitable. I mean,” she corrected herself hurriedly–“You know what I mean! If you have not felt it you have read it!”

“I have,” he said thoughtfully. “We have both read it in the same novel. She is a fine writer.”

“Ye-e-s.” She hesitated with that slight resentment of praise of another woman so delightful in her sex. “But you have forgotten the Moo Cow!” and she pointed to where the distracted animal was careering across the lawn towards the garden.

“You are right,” he said, “the incident is not yet closed. Let us pursue it.”

They both pursued it. Discarding the useless lasso, he had recourse to a few well-aimed epithets. The infuriated animal swerved and made directly towards a small fountain in the centre of the garden. In attempting to clear it, it fell directly into the deep cup-like basin and remained helplessly fixed, with its fore- legs projecting uneasily beyond the rim.

“Let us leave it there,” she said, “and forget it–and all that has gone before. Believe me,” she added, with a faint sigh, “it is best. Our paths diverge from this moment. I go to the summer- house, and you go to the Hall, where my father is expecting you.” He would have detained her a moment longer, but she glided away and was gone.

Left to himself again, that slight sense of bewilderment which had clouded his mind for the last hour began to clear away; his singular encounter with the girls strangely enough affected him less strongly than his brief and unsatisfactory interview with his uncle. For, after all, he was his host, and upon him depended his stay at Hawthorn Hall. The mysterious and slighting allusions of his cousins to the old man’s eccentricities also piqued his curiosity. Why had they sneered at his description of the contents of the package he carried–and what did it really contain? He did not reflect that it was none of his business,–people in his situation seldom do,–and he eagerly hurried towards the Hall. But he found in his preoccupation he had taken the wrong turning in the path, and that he was now close to the wall which bounded and overlooked the highway. Here a singular spectacle presented itself. A cyclist covered with dust was seated in the middle of the road, trying to restore circulation to his bruised and injured leg by chafing it with his hands, while beside him lay his damaged bicycle. He had evidently met with an accident. In an instant Paul had climbed the wall and was at his side.

“Can I offer you any assistance?” he asked eagerly.

“Thanks–no! I’ve come a beastly cropper over something or other on this road, and I’m only bruised, though the machine has suffered worse,” replied the stranger, in a fresh, cheery voice. He was a good-looking fellow of about Paul’s own age, and the young American’s heart went out towards him.

“How did it happen?” asked Paul.

“That’s what puzzles me,” said the stranger. “I was getting out of the way of a queer old chap in the road, and I ran over something that seemed only an old scroll of paper; but the shock was so great that I was thrown, and I fancy I was for a few moments unconscious. Yet I cannot see any other obstruction in the road, and there’s only that bit of paper.” He pointed to the paper,–a half-crushed roll of ordinary foolscap, showing the mark of the bicycle upon it.

A strange idea came into Paul’s mind. He picked up the paper and examined it closely. Besides the mark already indicated, it showed two sharp creases about nine inches long, and another exactly at the point of the impact of the bicycle. Taking a folded two-foot rule from his pocket, he carefully measured these parallel creases and made an exhaustive geometrical calculation with his pencil on the paper. The stranger watched him with awed and admiring interest. Rising, he again carefully examined the road, and was finally rewarded by the discovery of a sharp indentation in the dust, which, on measurement and comparison with the creases in the paper and the calculations he had just made, proved to be identical.

“There was a solid body in that paper,” said Paul quietly; “a parallelogram exactly nine inches long and three wide.”

“I say! you’re wonderfully clever, don’t you know,” said the stranger, with unaffected wonder. “I see it all–a brick.”

Paul smiled gently and shook his head. “That is the hasty inference of an inexperienced observer. You will observe at the point of impact of your wheel the parallel crease is CURVED, as from the yielding of the resisting substances, and not BROKEN, as it would be by the crumbling of a brick.”

“I say, you’re awfully detective, don’t you know! just like that fellow–what’s his name?” said the stranger admiringly.

The words recalled Paul to himself. Why was he acting like a detective? and what was he seeking to discover? Nevertheless, he felt impelled to continue. “And that queer old chap whom you met– why didn’t he help you?”

“Because I passed him before I ran into the–the parallelogram, and I suppose he didn’t know what happened behind him?”

“Did he have anything in his hand?”

“Can’t say.”

“And you say you were unconscious afterwards?”

“Yes!”

“Long enough for the culprit to remove the principal evidence of his crime?”

“Come! I say, really you are–you know you are!”

“Have you any secret enemy?”

“No.”

“And you don’t know Mr. Bunker, the man who owns this vast estate?”

“Not at all. I’m from Upper Tooting.”

“Good afternoon,” said Paul abruptly, and turned away.

It struck him afterwards that his action might have seemed uncivil, and even inhuman, to the bruised cyclist, who could hardly walk. But it was getting late, and he was still far from the Hall, which, oddly enough, seemed to be no longer visible from the road. He wandered on for some time, half convinced that he had passed the lodge gates, yet hoping to find some other entrance to the domain. Dusk was falling; the rounded outlines of the park trees beyond the wall were solid masses of shadow. The full moon, presently rising, restored them again to symmetry, and at last he, to his relief, came upon the massive gateway. Two lions ramped in stone on the side pillars. He thought it strange that he had not noticed the gateway on his previous entrance, but he remembered that he was fully preoccupied with the advancing figure of his uncle. In a few minutes the Hall itself appeared, and here again he was surprised that he had overlooked before its noble proportions and picturesque outline. Its broad terraces, dazzlingly white in the moonlight; its long line of mullioned windows, suffused with a warm red glow from within, made it look like part of a wintry landscape–and suggested a Christmas card. The venerable ivy that hid the ravages time had made in its walls looked like black carving. His heart swelled with strange emotions as he gazed at his ancestral hall. How many of his blood had lived and died there; how many had gone forth from that great porch to distant lands! He tried to think of his father–a little child–peeping between the balustrades of that terrace. He tried to think of it, and perhaps would have succeeded had it not occurred to him that it was a known fact that his uncle had bought the estate and house of an impoverished nobleman only the year before. Yet–he could not tell why–he seemed to feel higher and nobler for that trial.

The terrace was deserted, and so quiet that as he ascended to it his footsteps seemed to echo from the walls. When he reached the portals, the great oaken door swung noiselessly on its hinges– opened by some unseen but waiting servitor–and admitted him to a lofty hall, dark with hangings and family portraits, but warmed by a red carpet the whole length of its stone floor. For a moment he waited for the servant to show him to the drawing-room or his uncle’s study. But no one appeared. Believing this to be a part of the characteristic simplicity of the Quaker household, he boldly entered the first door, and found himself in a brilliantly lit and perfectly empty drawing-room. The same experience met him with the other rooms on that floor–the dining-room displaying an already set, exquisitely furnished and decorated table, with chairs for twenty guests! He mechanically ascended the wide oaken staircase that led to the corridor of bedrooms above a central salon. Here he found only the same solitude. Bedroom doors yielded to his touch, only to show the same brilliantly lit vacancy. He presently came upon one room which seemed to give unmistakable signs of HIS OWN occupancy. Surely there stood his own dressing-case on the table! and his own evening clothes carefully laid out on another, as if fresh from a valet’s hands. He stepped hastily into the corridor–there was no one there; he rang the bell–there was no response! But he noticed that there was a jug of hot water in his basin, and he began dressing mechanically.

There was little doubt that he was in a haunted house, but this did not particularly disturb him. Indeed, he found himself wondering if it could be logically called a haunted house–unless he himself was haunting it, for there seemed to be no other there. Perhaps the apparitions would come later, when he was dressed. Clearly it was not his uncle’s house–and yet, as he had never been inside his uncle’s house, he reflected that he ought not to be positive.

He finished dressing and sat down in an armchair with a kind of thoughtful expectancy. But presently his curiosity became impatient of the silence and mystery, and he ventured once more to explore the house. Opening his bedroom door, he found himself again upon the deserted corridor, but this time he could distinctly hear a buzz of voices from the drawing-room below. Assured that he was near a solution of the mystery, he rapidly descended the broad staircase and made his way to the open door of the drawing-room. But although the sound of voices increased as he advanced, when he entered the room, to his utter astonishment, it was as empty as before.

Yet, in spite of his bewilderment and confusion, he was able to follow one of the voices, which, in its peculiar distinctness and half-perfunctory tone, he concluded must belong to the host of the invisible assembly.

“Ah,” said the voice, greeting some unseen visitor, “so glad you have come. Afraid your engagements just now would keep you away.” Then the voice dropped to a lower and more confidential tone. “You must take down Lady Dartman, but you will have Miss Morecamp–a clever girl–on the other side of you. Ah, Sir George! So good of you to come. All well at the Priory? So glad to hear it.” (Lower and more confidentially.) “You know Mrs. Monkston. You’ll sit by her. A little cut up by her husband losing his seat. Try to amuse her.”

Emboldened by desperation, Paul turned in the direction of the voice. “I am Paul Bunker,” he said hesitatingly. “I’m afraid you’ll think me intrusive, but I was looking for my uncle, and”–

“Intrusive, my dear boy! The son of my near neighbor in the country intrusive? Really, now, I like that! Grace!” (the voice turned in another direction) “here is the American nephew of our neighbor Bunker at Widdlestone, who thinks he is ‘a stranger.'”

“We all knew of your expected arrival at Widdlestone–it was so good of you to waive ceremony and join us,” said a well-bred feminine voice, which Paul at once assumed to belong to the hostess. “But I must find some one for your dinner partner. Mary” (here her voice was likewise turned away), “this is Mr. Bunker, the nephew of an old friend and neighbor in Upshire;” (the voice again turned to him), “you will take Miss Morecamp in. My dear” (once again averted), “I must find some one else to console poor dear Lord Billingtree with.” Here the hostess’s voice was drowned by