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Garrison's Finish, A Romance of the Race-Course by W. B. M. Ferguson

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and John Bickers, jbickers@ihug.co.nz

Garrison's Finish, A Romance of the Race-Course

by W. B. M. Ferguson



As he made his way out of the paddock Garrison carefully tilted his
bag of Durham into the curved rice-paper held between nicotine-stained
finger and thumb, then deftly rolled his "smoke" with the thumb and
forefinger, while tying the bag with practised right hand and even
white teeth. Once his reputation had been as spotless as those teeth.

He smiled cynically as he shouldered his way through the slowly moving
crowd--that kaleidoscope of the humanities which congregate but do not
blend; which coagulate wherever the trial of science, speed, and
stamina serves as an excuse for putting fortune to the test.

It was a cynical crowd, a quiet crowd, a sullen crowd. Those who had
won, through sheer luck, bottled their joy until they could give it
vent in a safer atmosphere--one not so resentful. For it had been a
hard day for the field. The favorite beaten in the stretch, choked
off, outside the money----

Garrison gasped as the rushing simulacra of the Carter Handicap surged
to his beating brain; that brain at bursting pressure. It had recorded
so many things--recorded faithfully so many, many things he would give
anything to forget.

He was choking, smothering--smothering with shame, hopelessness,
despair. He must get away; get away to breathe, to think; get away out
of it all; get away anywhere--oblivion.

To the jibes, the sneers flung at him, the innuendos, the open
insults, and worst of all, the sad looks of those few friends who gave
their friendship without conditions, he was not indifferent, though he
seemed so. God knows how he felt it at all. And all the more so
because he had once been so high. Now his fall was so low, so
pitifully low; so contemptible, so complete.

He knew what the action of the Jockey Club would be. The stewards
would do only one thing. His license would be revoked. To-day had seen
his finish. This, the ten-thousand dollar Carter Handicap, had seen
his final slump to the bottom of the scale. Worse. It had seen him a
pauper, ostracized; an unclean thing in the mouth of friend and foe
alike. The sporting world was through with him at last. And when the
sporting world is through--

Again Garrison laughed harshly, puffing at his cigarette, dragging its
fumes into his lungs in a fierce desire to finish his physical
cataclysm with his moral. Yes, it had been his last chance. He, the
popular idol, had been going lower and lower in the scale, but the
sporting world had been loyal, as it always is to "class." He had been
"class," and they had stuck to him.

Then when he began to go back-- No; worse. Not that. They said he had
gone crooked. That was it. Crooked as Doyers Street, they said;
throwing every race; standing in with his owner to trim the bookies,
and they couldn't stand for that. Sport was sport. But they had been
loyal. They had warned, implored, begged. What was the use soaking a
pile by dirty work? Why not ride straight--ride as he could, as he
did, as it had been bred in him to? Any money, any honor was his.

Garrison, stung to madness by retrospect, humped his way through the
crowd at the gates of the Aqueduct. There was not a friendly eye in
that crowd. He stuffed his ears with indifference. He would not bear
their remarks as they recognized him. He summoned all his nerve to
look them in the face unflinchingly--that nerve that had been frayed
to ribbons.

And then he heard quick footsteps behind him; a hand was laid heavily
on his shoulder, and he was twisted about like a chip. It was his
stable owner, his face flushed with passion and drink. Waterbury was
stingy of cash, but not of words.

"I've looked for you," he whipped out venomously, his large hands
ravenous for something to rend. "Now I've caught you. Who was in with
you on that dirty deal? Answer, you cur! Spit it out before the crowd.
Was it me? Was it me?" he reiterated in a frenzy, taking a step
forward for each word, his bad grammar coming equally to the fore.

The crowd surged back. Owner and jockey were face to face. "When
thieves fall out!" they thought; and they waited for the fun.
Something was due them. It came in a flash. Waterbury shot out his big
fist, and little Garrison thumped on the turf with a bang, a thin
streamer of blood threading its way down his gray-white face.

"You miserable little whelp!" howled his owner. "You've dishonored me.
You threw that race, damn you! That's what I get for giving you a
chance when you couldn't get a mount anywhere." His long pent-up venom
was unleashed. "You threw it. You've tried to make me party to your
dirty work--me, me, me!"--he thumped his heaving chest. "But you can't
heap your filth on me. I'm done with you. You're a thief, a cur--"

"Hold on," cut in Garrison. He had risen slowly, and was dabbing
furtively at his nose with a silk red-and-blue handkerchief--the
Waterbury colors.

"Just a minute," he added, striving to keep his voice from sliding the
scale. He was horribly calm, but his gray eyes were quivering as was
his lip. "I didn't throw it. I--I didn't throw it. I was sick. I--I've
been sick. I--I----" Then, for he was only a boy with a man's burdens,
his lip began to quiver pitifully; his voice shrilled out and his
words came tumbling forth like lava; striving to make up by passion
and reiteration what they lacked in logic and coherency. "I'm not a
thief. I'm not. I'm honest. I don't know how it happened. Everything
became a blur in the stretch. You--you've called me a liar, Mr.
Waterbury. You've called me a thief. You struck me. I know you can
lick me," he shrilled. "I'm dishonored--down and out. I know you can
lick me, but, by the Lord, you'll do it here and now! You'll fight me.
I don't like you. I never liked you. I don't like your face. I don't
like your hat, and here's your damn colors in your face." He fiercely
crumpled the silk handkerchief and pushed it swiftly into Waterbury's
glowering eye.

Instantly there was a mix-up. The crowd was blood-hungry. They had
paid for sport of some kind. There would be no crooked work in this
deal. Lustfully they watched. Then the inequality of the boy and the
man was at length borne in on them, and it roused their stagnant sense
of fair play.

Garrison, a small hell let loose, had risen from the turf for the
third time! His face was a smear of blood, venom, and all the bandit
passions. Waterbury, the gentleman in him soaked by the taint of a
foisted dishonor and his fighting blood roused, waited with clenched
fists. As Garrison hopped in for the fourth time, the older man
feinted quickly, and then swung right and left savagely.

The blows were caught on the thick arm of a tan box-coat. A big hand
was placed over Waterbury's face and he was given a shove backward. He
staggered for a ridiculously long time, and then, after an unnecessary
waste of minutes, sat down. The tan overcoat stood over him. It was
Jimmy Drake, and the chameleonlike crowd applauded.

Jimmy was a popular book-maker with educated fists. The crowd surged
closer. It looked as if the fight might change from bantam-heavy to
heavy-heavy. And the odds were on Drake.

"If yeh want to fight kids," said the book-maker, in his slow,
drawling voice, "wait till they're grown up. Mebbe then yeh'll change
your mind."

Waterbury was on his feet now. He let loose some vitriolic verbiage,
using Drake as the objective-point. He told him to mind his own
business, or that he would make it hot for him. He told him that
Garrison was a thief and cur; and that he would have no book-maker and

"Hold on," said Drake. "You're gettin' too flossy right there. When
you call me a tout you're exceedin' the speed limit." He had an
uncomfortable steady blue eye and a face like a snow-shovel. "I
stepped in here not to argue morals, but to see fair play. If Billy
Garrison's done dirt--and I admit it looks close like it--I'll bet
that your stable, either trainer or owner, shared the mud-pie, all

"I've stood enough of those slurs," cried Waterbury, in a frenzy. "You

Instantly Drake's large face stiffened like cement, and his overcoat
was on the ground.

"That's a fighting word where I come from," he said grimly.

But before Drake could square the insult a crowd of Waterbury's
friends swirled up in an auto, and half a dozen peacemakers, mutual
acquaintances, together with two somnambulistic policemen, managed to
preserve the remains of the badly shattered peace. Drake sullenly
resumed his coat, and Waterbury was driven off, leaving a back draft
of impolite adjectives and vague threats against everybody. The crowd
drifted away. It was a fitting finish for the scotched Carter

Meanwhile, Garrison, taking advantage of the switching of the lime-
light from himself to Drake, had dodged to oblivion in the crowd.

"I guess I don't forget Jimmy Drake," he mused grimly to himself.
"He's straight cotton. The only one who didn't give me the double-
cross out and out. Bud, Bud!" he declared to himself, "this is sure
the wind-up. You've struck bed-rock and the tide's coming in--hard.
You're all to the weeds. Buck up, buck up," he growled savagely, in
fierce contempt. "What're you dripping about?" He had caught a tear
burning its way to his eyes--eyes that had never blinked under
Waterbury's savage blows. "What if you are ruled off! What if you are
called a liar and crook; thrown the game to soak a pile? What if you
couldn't get a clotheshorse to run in a potato-race? Buck up, buck up,
and plug your cotton pipe. They say you're a crook. Well, be one. Show
'em you don't care a damn. You're down and out, anyway. What's
honesty, anyway, but whether you got the goods or ain't? Shake the
bunch. Get out before you're kicked out. Open a pool-room like all the
has-beens and trim the suckers right, left, and down the middle.
Money's the whole thing. Get it. Don't mind how you do, but just get
it. You'll be honest enough for ten men then. Anyway, there's no one
cares a curse how you pan out--"

He stopped, and his face slowly relaxed. The hard, vindictive look
slowly faded from his narrowed eyes.

"Sis," he said softly. "Sis--I was going without saying good-by.
Forgive me."

He swung on his heel, and with hunched shoulders made his way back to
Aqueduct. Waterbury's training-quarters were adjacent, and, after
lurking furtively about like some hunted animal, Garrison summoned all
his nerve and walked boldly in.

The only stable-boy about was one with a twisted mouth and flaming red
hair, which he was always curling; a remarkably thin youth he was,
addicted to green sweaters and sentimental songs. He was singing one
now in a key entirely original with himself. "Red's" characteristic
was that when happy he wore a face like a tomb-stone. When sad, the
sentimental songs were always in evidence.

"Hello, Red!" said Garrison gruffly. He had been Red's idol once. He
was quite prepared now, however, to see the other side of the curtain.
He was no longer an idol to any one.

"Hello!" returned Red non-committally.

"Where's Crimmins?"

"In there." Red nodded to the left where were situated the stalls.
"Gettin' Sis ready for the Belmont opening."

"Riding for him now?"

"Yeh. Promised a mount in th' next run-off. 'Bout time, I guess."

There was silence. Garrison pictured to himself the time when he had
won his first mount. How long ago that was! Time is reckoned by
events, not years. How glorious the future had seemed! He slowly
seated himself on a box by the side of Red and laid a hand on the
other's thin leg.

"Kid," he said, and his voice quivered, "you know I wish you luck.
It's a great game--the greatest game in the world, if you play it
right." He blundered to silence as his own condition surged over him.

Red was knocking out his shabby heels against the box in an agony of
confusion. Then he grew emboldened by the other's dejected mien. "No,
I'd never throw no race," he said judicially. "It don't pay--"

"Red," broke in Garrison harshly, "you don't believe I threw that
race? Honest, I'm square. Why, I was up on Sis--Sis whom I love, Red--
honest, I was sure of the race. Dead sure. I hadn't much money, but I
played every cent I had on her. I lost more than any one. I lost--
everything. See," he ran on feverishly, glad of the opportunity to
vindicate himself, if only to a stable-boy. "I guess the stewards will
let the race stand, even if Waterbury does kick. Rogue won square

"Yeh, because yeh choked Sis off in th' stretch. She could ha' slept
home a winner, an' yeh know it, Billy," said Red, with sullen regret.

There was a time when he never would have dared to call Garrison by
his Christian name. Disgrace is a great leveler. Red grew more
conscious of his own rectitude.

"I ain't knockin' yeh, Billy," he continued, speaking slowly, to
lengthen the pleasure of thus monopolizing the pulpit. "What have I to
say? Yeh can ride rings round any jockey in the States--at least, yeh
could." And then, like his kind, Red having nothing to say, proceeded
to say it.

"But it weren't your first thrown race, Billy. Yeh know that. I know
how yeh doped it out. I know we ain't got much time to make a pile if
we keep at th' game. Makin' weight makes yeh a lunger. We all die of
th' hurry-up stunt. An' yeh're all right to your owner so long's yeh
make good. After that it's twenty-three, forty-six, double time for
yours. I know what th' game is when you've hit th' top of th' pile.
It's a fast mob, an' yeh got to keep up with th' band-wagon. You're
makin' money fast and spendin' it faster. Yeh think it'll never stop
comin' your way. Yeh dip into everythin'. Then yeh wake up some day
without your pants, and yeh breeze about to make th' coin again.
There's a lot of wise eggs handin' out crooked advice--they take the
coin and you th' big stick. Yeh know, neither Crimmins or the Old Man
was in on your deals, but yeh had it all framed up with outside guys.
Yeh bled the field to soak a pile. See, Bill," he finished eloquently,
"it weren't your first race."

"I know, I know," said Garrison grimly. "Cut it out. You don't
understand, and it's no good talking. When you have reached the top of
the pile, Red, you'll travel with as fast a mob as I did. But I never
threw a race in my life. That's on the level. Somehow I always get
blind dizzy in the stretch, and it passed when I crossed the post. I
never knew when it was coming on. I felt all right other times. I had
to make the coin, as you say, for I lived up to every cent I made. No,
I never threw a race-- Yes, you can smile, Red," he finished savagely.
"Smile if your face wants stretching. But that's straight. Maybe I've
gone back. Maybe I'm all in. Maybe I'm a crook. But there'll come a
time, it may be one year, it may be a hundred, when I'll come back--
clean. I'll make good, and if you're on the track, Red, I'll show you
that Garrison can ride a harder, straighter race than you or any one.
This isn't my finish. There's a new deal coming to me, and I'm going
to see that I get it."

Without heeding Red's pessimistic reply. Garrison turned on his heel
and entered the stall where Sis, the Carter Handicap favorite, was
being boxed for the coming Belmont opening.

Crimmins, the trainer, looked up sharply as Garrison entered. He was a
small, hard man, with a face like an ice-pick and eyes devoid of
pupils, which fact gave him a stony, blank expression. In fact, he had
been likened once, by Jimmy Drake, to a needle with two very sharp
eyes, and the simile was merited. But he was an excellent flesh
handler; and Waterbury, an old ex-bookie, knew what he was about when
he appointed him head of the stable.

"Hello, Dan!" said Garrison, in the same tone he had used to greet
Red. He and the trainer had been thick, but it was a question whether
that thickness would still be there. Garrison, alone in the world
since he had run away from his home years ago, had no owner as most
jockeys have, and Crimmins had filled the position of mentor. In fact,
he had trained him, though Garrison's riding ability was not a foreign
graft, but had been bred in the bone.

"Hello!" echoed Crimmins, coming forward. His manner was cordial, and
Garrison's frozen heart warmed. "Of course you'll quit the game," ran
on the trainer, after an exchange of commonalities. "You're queered
for good. You couldn't get a mount anywhere. I ain't saying anything
about your pulling Sis, 'cause there ain't no use now. But you've got
me and Mr. Waterbury in trouble. It looked as if we were in on the
deal. I should be sore on you, Garrison, but I can't be. And why?
Because Dan Crimmins has a heart, and when he likes a man he likes him
even if murder should come 'atween. Dan Crimmins ain't a welcher.
You've done me as dirty a deal as one man could hand another, but
instead of getting hunk, what does Dan Crimmins do? Why, he agitates
his brain thinking of a way for you to make a good living, Bud. That's
Dan Crimmins' way."

Garrison was silent. He did not try to vindicate himself. He had given
that up as hopeless. He was thinking, oblivious to Crimmins' eulogy.

"Yeh," continued the upright trainer; "that's Dan Crimmins' way. And
after much agitating of my brain I've hit on a good money-making
scheme for you, Bud."

"Eh?" asked Garrison.

"Yeh." And the trainer lowered his voice. "I know a man that's goin'
to buck the pool-rooms in New York. He needs a chap who knows the
ropes--one like you--and I gave him your name. I thought it would come
in handy. I saw your finish a long way off. This fellah's in the
Western Union; an operator with the pool-room lines. You can run the
game. It's easy. See, he holds back the returns, tipping you the
winners, and you skin round and lay the bets before he loosens up on
the returns. It's easy money; easy and sure."

Again Garrison was silent. But now a smile was on his face. He had
been asking himself what was the use of honesty.

"What d'you say?" asked Crimmins, his head on one side, his small eyes

The smile was still twisting Garrison's lip. "I was going to light
out, anyway," he answered slowly. "I'll answer you when I say good-by
to Sis."

"All right. She's over there."

The handlers fell back in silence as Garrison approached the filly. He
was softly humming the music-hall song, "Good-by, Sis." With all his
faults, the handlers to a man liked Garrison. They knew how he had
professed to love the filly, and now they sensed that he would prefer
to say his farewell without an audience. Sis whinnied as Garrison
raised her small head and looked steadily into her soft, dark eyes.

"Sis," he said slowly, "it's good-by. We've been pals, you and I; pals
since you were first foaled. You're the only girl I have; the only
sweetheart I have; the only one to say good-by to me. Do you care?"

The filly nuzzled at his shoulder. "I've done you dirt to-day,"
continued the boy a little unsteadily. "It was your race from the
start. You know it; I know it. I can't explain now, Sis, how it came
about. But I didn't go to do it. I didn't, girlie. You understand,
don't you? I'll square that deal some day, Sis. I'll come back and
square it. Don't forget me. I won't forget you--I can't. You don't
think me a crook, Sis? Say you don't. Say it," he pleaded fiercely,
raising her head.

The filly understood. She lipped his face, whinnying lovingly. In a
moment Garrison's nerve had been swept away, and, arms flung about the
dark, arched neck, he was sobbing his heart out on the glossy coat;
sobbing like a little child.

How long he stayed there, the filly nuzzling him like a mother, he did
not know. It seemed as if he had reached sanctuary after an aeon of
chaos. He had found love, understanding in a beast of the field. Where
his fellow man had withheld, the filly had given her all and
questioned not. For Sis, by Rex out of Reine, two-year filly, blooded
stock, was a thoroughbred. And a thoroughbred, be he man, beast, or
bird, does not welch on his hand. A stranger only in prosperity; a
chum in adversity. He does not question; he gives.

"Well," said Crimmins, as Garrison slowly emerged from the stall, "you
take the partin' pretty next your skin. What's your answer to the game
I spoke of? Mulled it over? It don't take much thinking, I guess." He
was paring his mourning fringed nails with great indifference.

"No, it doesn't take much thinking, Dan," agreed Garrison slowly, his
eyes narrowed. "I'll rot first before I touch it."

"Yes?" The trainer raised his thick eyebrows and lowered his thin
voice. "Kind of tony, ain't yeh? Beggars can't be choosers."

"They needn't be crooks, Dan. I know you meant it all right enough,"
said Garrison bitterly. "You think I'm crooked, and that I'd take
anything--anything; dirt of any kind, so long's there's money under

"Aw, sneeze!" said Crimmins savagely. Then he checked himself. "It
ain't my game. I only knew the man. There's nothing in it for me. Suit
yourself;" and he shrugged his shoulders. "It ain't Crimmins' way to
hump his services on any man. Take it or leave it."

"You wanted me to go crooked, Dan," said Garrison steadily. "Was it

"Huh! Wanted you to go crooked?" flashed the trainer with a sneer.
"What are y' talking about? Ain't yeh a welcher now? Ain't yeh crooked
--hair, teeth, an' skin?"

"You mean that, Dan?" Garrison's face was white. "You've trained me,
and yet you, too, believe I was in on those lost races? You know I
lost every cent on Sis--"

"It ain't one race, it's six," snorted Crimmins. "It's Crimmins' way
to agitate his brain for a friend, but it ain't his way to be a plumb
fool. You can't shoot that bull con into me, Bud. I know you. I give
you an offer, friend and friend. You turn it down and 'cuse me of
making you play crooked. I'm done with you. It ain't Crimmins' way."

Billy Garrison eyed his former trainer and mentor steadily for a long
time. His lip was quivering.

"Damn your way!" he said hoarsely at length, and turned on his heel.
His hands were deep in his pockets, his shoulders hunched as he swung
out of the stable. He was humming over and over the old music-hall
favorite, "Good-by, Sis"--humming in a desperate effort to keep his
nerve. Billy Garrison had touched bottom in the depths.



Garrison left Long Island for New York that night. When you are hard
hit the soul suffers a reflex-action. It recoils to its native soil.
New York was Garrison's home. He was a product of its sporting soil.
He loved the Great White Way. But he had drunk in the smell, the
intoxication of the track with his mother's milk. She had been from
the South; the land of straight women, straight men, straight living,
straight riding. She had brought blood--good, clean blood--to the
Garrison-Loring entente cordiale--a polite definition of a huge

From his mother Garrison had inherited his cool head, steady eye, and
the intuitive hands that could compel horse-flesh like a magnet. From
her he had inherited a peculiar recklessness and swift daring. From
his father--well, Garrison never liked to talk about his father. His
mother was a memory; his father a blank. He was a good-looking, bad-
living sprig of a straight family-tree. He had met his wife at the New
Orleans track, where her father, an amateur horse-owner, had two
entries. And she had loved him. There is good in every one. Perhaps
she had discovered it in Garrison's father where no one else had.

Her family threw her off--at least, when she came North with her
husband, she gradually dropped out of her home circle; dropped of her
own volition. Perhaps she was afraid that the good she had first
discovered in her husband had been seen through a magnifying-glass.
Her life with Garrison was a constant whirlwind of changing scene and
fortune--the perpetual merry--or sorry--go-round of a book-maker;
going from track to track, and from bad to worse. His friends said he
was unlucky; his enemies, that the only honest thing in him was his
cough. He had incipient consumption. So Mrs. Garrison's life, such as
it was, had been lived in a trunk--when it wasn't held for hotel bills
--but she had lived out her mistake gamely.

When the boy came--Billy--she thought Heaven had smiled upon her at
last. But it was only hell. Garrison loved his wife, for love is not a
quality possessed only by the virtuous. Sometimes the worst man can
love the most--in his selfish way. And Garrison resented the arrival
of Billy. He resented sharing his wife's affection with the boy.

In time he came to hate his son. Billy's education was chiefly
constitutional. There wasn't the money to pay for his education for
any length of time. His mother had to fight for it piecemeal. So he
took his education in capsules; receiving a dose in one city and
jumping to another for the next, according as a track opened.

He knew his father never cared for him, though his mother tried her
best to gloze over the indifference of her husband. But Billy
understood and resented it. He and his mother loved in secret. When
she died, her mistake lived out to the best of her ability, young
Garrison promptly ran away from his circulating home. He knew nothing
of his father's people; nothing of his mother's. He was a young
derelict; his inherent sense of honor and an instinctive desire for
cleanliness kept him off the rocks.

The years between the time he left home and the period when he won his
first mount on the track, his natural birthright, Billy Garrison often
told himself he would never care to look back upon. He was young, and
he did not know that years of privation, of hardship, of semi-
starvation--but with an insistent ambition goading one on--are not
years to eliminate in retrospect. They are years to reverence.

He did not know that prosperity, not adversity, is the supreme test.
And when the supreme test came; when the goal was attained, and the
golden sun of wealth, fame, and honor beamed down upon him, little
Billy Garrison was found wanting. He was swamped by the flood. He went
the way of many a better, older, wiser man--the easy, rose-strewn way,
big and broad and scented, that ends in a bottomless abyss filled with
bitter tears and nauseating regrets; the abyss called, "It might have

Where he had formerly shunned vice by reason of adversity and poverty
making it appear so naked, revolting, unclean, foreign to his state,
prosperity had now decked it out in her most sensuous, alluring
garments. Red's moral diatribe had been correct. Garrison had followed
the band-wagon to the finish, never asking where it might lead; never
caring. He had youth, reputation, money--he could never overdraw that
account. And so the modern pied piper played, and little Garrison
blindly danced to the music with the other fools; danced on and on
until he was swallowed up in the mountain.

Then he awoke too late, as they all awake; awoke to find that his
vigor had been sapped by early suppers and late breakfasts; his
finances depleted by slow horses and fast women; his nerve frayed to
ribbons by gambling. And then had come that awful morning when he
first commenced to cough. Would he, could he, ever forget it?

Billy Garrison huddled down now in the roaring train as he thought of
it. It was always before him, a demoniacal obsession--that morning
when he coughed, and a bright speck of arterial blood stood out like a
tardy danger-signal against the white of his handkerchief; it was
leering at him, saying: "I have been here always, but you have chosen
to be blind."

Consumption--the jockey's Old Man of the Sea--had arrived at last. He
had inherited the seeds from his father; he had assiduously cultivated
them by making weight against all laws of nature; by living against
laws of God and man. Now they had been punished as they always are.
Nature had struck, struck hard.

That had been the first warning, and Garrison did not heed it. Instead
of quitting the game, taking what little assets he had managed to save
from the holocaust, and living quietly, striving for a cure, he kicked
over the traces. The music of the pied piper was still in his ears;
twisting his brain. He gritted his teeth. He would not give in. He
would show that he was master. He would fight this insidious vitality
vampire; fight and conquer.

Besides, he had to make money. The thought of going back to a pittance
a year sickened him. That pittance had once been a fortune to him. But
his appetite had not been gorged, satiated; rather, it had the
resilience of crass youth; jumping the higher with every indulgence.
It increased in ratio with his income. He had no one to guide him; no
one to compel advice with a whip, if necessary. He knew it all. So he
kept his curse secret. He would pile up one more fortune, retain it
this time, and then retire. But nature had balked. The account--youth,
reputation, money--was overthrown at last.

Came a day when in the paddock Dan Crimmins had seen that fleck of
arterial blood on the handkerchief. Then Dan shared the secret. He
commenced to doctor Garrison. Before every race the jockey had a drug.
But despite it he rode worse than an exercise-boy; rode despicably.
The Carter Handicap had finished his deal. And with it Garrison had
lost his reputation.

He had done many things in his mad years of prosperity--the mistakes,
the faults of youth. But Billy Garrison was right when he said he was
square. He never threw a race in his life. Horseflesh, the "game," was
sacred to him. He had gone wild, but never crooked. But the world now
said otherwise, and it is only the knave, the saint, and the fool who
never heed what the world says.

And so at twenty-two, when the average young man is leaving college
for the real taste of life, little Garrison had drained it to the
dregs; the lees tasted bitter in his mouth.

For obvious reasons Garrison had not chosen his usual haven, the
smoking-car, on the train. It was filled to overflowing from the
Aqueduct track, and he knew that his name would be mentioned
frequently and in no complimentary manner. His soul had been stripped
bare, sensitive to a breath. It would writhe under the mild compassion
of a former admirer as much as it would under the open jibes of his
enemies. He had plenty of enemies. Every "is," "has-been," "would-be,"
"will-be" has enemies. It is well they have. Nothing is lost in
nature. Enemies make you; not your friends.

Garrison had selected a car next to the smoker and occupied a seat at
the forward end, his back to the engine. His hands were deep in his
pockets, his shoulders hunched, his eyes staring straight ahead under
the brim of his slouch-hat. His eyes were looking inward, not outward;
they did not see his surroundings; they were looking in on the ruin of
his life.

The present, the future, did not exist; only the past lived--lived
with all the animalism of a rank growth. He was too far in the depths
to even think of reerecting his life's structure. His cough was
troubling him; his brain throbbing, throbbing.

Then, imperceptibly, as Garrison's staring, blank eyes slowly turned
from within to without, occasioned by a violent jolt of the train,
something flashed across their retina; they became focused, and a
message was wired to his brain. Instantly his eyes dropped, and he
fidgeted uncomfortably in his seat.

He found he had been staring into a pair of slate-gray eyes; staring
long, rudely, without knowing it. Their owner was occupying a seat
three removed down the aisle. As he was seated with his back to the
engine, he was thus confronting them.

She was a young girl with indefinite hair, white skin coated with tan,
and a very steady gaze. She would always be remembered for her eyes.
Garrison instantly decided that they were beautiful. He furtively
peered up from under his hat. She was still looking at him fixedly
without the slightest embarrassment.

Garrison was not susceptible to the eternal feminine. He was old with
a boy's face. Yet he found himself taking snap-shots at the girl
opposite. She was reading now. Unwittingly he tried to criticize every
feature. He could not. It was true that they were far from being
regular; her nose went up like her short upper lip; her chin and under
lip said that she had a temper and a will of her own. He noted also
that she had a mole under her left eye. But one always returned from
the facial peregrinations to her eyes. After a long stare Garrison
caught himself wishing that he could kiss those eyes. That threw him
into a panic.

"Be sad, be sad," he advised himself gruffly. "What right have you to
think? You're rude to stare, even if she is a queen. She wouldn't wipe
her boots on you."

Having convinced himself that he should not think, Garrison promptly
proceeded to speculate. How tall was she? He likened her flexible
figure to Sis. Sis was his criterion. Then, for the brain is a queer
actor, playing clown when it should play tragedian, Garrison
discovered that he was wishing that the girl would not be taller than
his own five feet two.

"As if it mattered a curse," he laughed contemptuously.

His eyes were transferred to the door. It had opened, and with the
puff of following wind there came a crowd of men, emerging like
specters from the blue haze of the smoker. They had evidently been
"smoked out." Some of them were sober.

Garrison half-lowered his head as the crowd entered. He did not wish
to be recognized. The men, laughing noisily, crowded into what seats
were unoccupied. There was one man more than the available space, and
he started to occupy the half-vacant seat beside the girl with the
slate-colored eyes. He was slightly more than fat, and the process of
making four feet go into two was well under way when the girl spoke.

"Pardon me, this seat is reserved."

"Don't look like it," said Behemoth.

"But I say it is. Isn't that enough?"

"Full house; no reserved seats," observed the man placidly, squeezing

The girl flashed a look at him and then was silent. A spot of red was
showing through the tan on her cheek; Garrison was watching her under
his hat-brim. He saw the spot on her cheeks slowly grow and her eyes
commence to harden. He saw that she was being annoyed surreptitiously
and quietly. Behemoth was a Strephon, and he thought that he had found
his Chloe.

Garrison pulled his hat well down over his face, rose negligently, and
entered the next car. He waited there a moment and then returned. He
swung down the aisle. As he approached the girl he saw her draw back.
Strephon's foot was deliberately pressing Chloe's.

Garrison avoided a scene for the girl's sake. He tapped the man on the

"Pardon me. My seat, if you please. I left it for the smoker."

The man looked up, met Garrison's cold, steady eyes, rose awkwardly,
muttered something about not knowing it was reserved, and squeezed in
with two of his companions farther down the aisle.

Garrison sat down without glancing at the girl. He became absorbed in
the morning paper--twelve hours old.

Silence ensued. The girl had understood the fabrication instantly. She
waited, her antagonism roused, to see whether Garrison would try to
take advantage of his courtesy. When he was entirely oblivious of her
presence she commenced to inspect him covertly out of the corners of
her gray eyes. After five minutes she spoke.

"Thank you," she said simply. Her voice was soft and throaty.

Garrison absently raised his hat and was about to resume the defunct
paper when he was interrupted. A hand reached over the back of the
seat, and before he had thought of resistance, he was flung violently
down the aisle.

He heard a great laugh from the Behemoth's friends. He rose slowly,
his fighting blood up. Then he became aware that his ejector was not
one of the crowd, but a newcomer; a tall man with a fierce white
mustache and imperial; dressed in a frock coat and wide, black slouch
hat. He was talking.

"How dare you insult my daughter, suh?" he thundered. "By thunder,
suh, I've a good mind to make you smart right proper for your lack of
manners, suh! How dare you, suh? You--you contemptible little--little
snail, suh! Snail, suh!" And quite satisfied at thus selecting the
most fitting word, glaring fiercely and twisting his white mustache
and imperial with a very martial air, he seated himself majestically
by his daughter.

Garrison recognized him. He was Colonel Desha, of Kentucky, whose
horse, Rogue, had won the Carter Handicap through Garrison's poor
riding of the favorite, Sis. His daughter was expostulating with him,
trying to insert the true version of the affair between her father's
peppery exclamations of "Occupying my seat!" "I saw him raise his hat
to you!" "How dare he?" "Complain to the management against these
outrageous flirts!" Abominable manners!" etc., etc.

Meanwhile Garrison had silently walked into the smoker. He tried to
dismiss the incident from his mind, but it stuck; stuck as did the
girl's eyes.

At the next station a newsboy entered the car. Garrison idly bought a
paper. It was full of the Carter Handicap, giving both Crimmins' and
Waterbury's version of the affair. Public opinion, it seemed, was with
them. They had protested the race. It had been thrown, and Garrison's
dishonor now was national.

There was a column of double-leaded type on the first page, run in
after the making up of the paper's body, and Garrison's bitter eyes
negligently scanned it. But at the first word he straightened up as if
an electric shock had passed through him.

"Favorite for the Carter Handicap Poisoned," was the great, staring
title. The details were meager; brutally meager. They were to the
effect that some one had gained access to the Waterbury stable and had
fed Sis strychnine.

Garrison crumpled up the paper and buried his face in his hands,
making no pretense of hiding his misery. She had been more than a
horse to him; she had been everything.

"Sis--Sis," he whispered over and over again, the tears burning to his
eyes, his throat choking: "I didn't get a chance to square the deal.
Sis--Sis it was good-by--good-by forever."



On arriving at the Thirty-fourth Street ferry Garrison idly boarded a
Forty-second Street car, drifting aimlessly with the main body of Long
Island passengers going westward to disintegrate, scatter like the
fragments of a bursting bomb, at Broadway. A vague sense of
proprietorship, the kiss of home, momentarily smoothed out the
wrinkles in his soul as the lights of the Great White Way beamed down
a welcome upon him. Then it was slowly borne in on him that, though
with the crowd, he was not of it. His mother, the great cosmopolitan
city, had repudiated him. For Broadway is a place for presents or
futures; she has no welcome for pasts. With her, charity begins at
home--and stays there.

Garrison drifted hither and thither with every cross eddy of humanity,
and finally dropped into the steady pulsating, ever-moving tide on the
west curb going south--the ever restless tide that never seems to
reach the open sea. As he passed one well-known café after another his
mind carried him back over the waste stretch of "It might have been"
to the time when he was their central figure. On every block he met
acquaintances who had even toasted him--with his own wine; toasted him
as the kingpin. Now they either nodded absently or became suddenly
vitally interested in a show-window or the new moon.

All sorts and conditions of men comprised that list of former friends,
and not one now stepped out and wrung his hand; wrung it as they had
only the other day, when they thought he would retrieve his fortunes
by pulling off the Carter Handicap. They did not wring it now, for
there was nothing to wring out of it. Now he was not only hopelessly
down in the muck of poverty, but hopelessly dishonored. And
gentlemanly appearing blackguards, who had left all honesty in the
cradle, now wouldn't for the world be seen talking on Broadway to
little Billy Garrison, the horribly crooked jockey.

It wouldn't do at all. First, because their own position was so
precarious that a breath would send it tottering. Secondly, because
Billy might happen to inconveniently remember all the sums of money he
had "loaned" them time and again. Actual necessity might tend to waken
his memory. For they had modernized the proverb into: "A friend in
need is a friend to steer clear of."

A lesson in mankind and the making had been coming to Garrison, and in
that short walk down Broadway he appreciated it to the uttermost.

"Think I had the mange or the plague," he mused grimly, as a plethoric
ex-alderman passed and absent-mindedly forgot to return his bow--an
alderman who had been tipped by Garrison in his palmy days to a small
fortune. "What if I had thrown the race?" he ran on bitterly. "Many a
jockey has, and has lived to tell it. No, there's more behind it all
than that. I've passed sports who wouldn't turn me down for that. But
I suppose Bender" (the plethoric alderman) "staked a pot on Sis, she
being the favorite and I up. And when he loses he forgets the times I
tipped him to win. Poor old Sis!" he added softly, as the fact of her
poisoning swept over him. "The only thing that cared for me--gone! I'm
down on my luck--hard. And it's not over yet. I feel it in the air.
There's another fall coming to me."

He shivered through sheer nervous exhaustion, though the night was
warm for mid-April. He rummaged in his pocket.

"One dollar in bird-seed," he mused grimly, counting the coins under
the violet glare of a neighboring arc light. "All that's between me
and the morgue. Did I ever think it would come to that? Well, I need a
bracer. Here goes ten for a drink. Can only afford bar whisky."

He was standing on the corner of Twenty-fifth Street, and
unconsciously he turned into the café of the Hoffman House. How well
he knew its every square inch! It was filled with the usual sporting
crowd, and Garrison entered as nonchalantly as if his arrival would
merit the same commotion as in the long ago. He no longer cared. His
depression had dropped from him. The lights, the atmosphere, the
topics of conversation, discussion, caused his blood to flow like lava
through his veins. This was home, and all else was forgotten. He was
not the discarded jockey, but Billy Garrison, whose name on the turf
was one to conjure with.

And then, even as he had awakened from his dream on Broadway, he now
awoke to an appreciation of the immensity of his fall from grace. He
knew fully two-thirds of those present. Some there were who nodded,
some kindly, some pityingly. Some there were who cut him dead,
deliberately turning their backs or accurately looking through the top
of his hat.

Billy's square chin went up to a point and his under lip came out. He
would not be driven out. He would show them. He was as honest as any
there; more honest than many; more foolish than all. He ordered a
drink and seated himself by a table, indifferently eyeing the shifting
crowd through the fluttering curtain of tobacco-smoke.

The staple subject of conversation was the Carter Handicap, and he
sensed rather than noted the glances of the crowd as they shifted
curiously to him and back again. At first he pretended not to notice
them, but after a certain length of time his oblivion was sincere, for
retrospect came and claimed him for its own.

He was aroused by footsteps behind him; they wavered, stopped, and a
large hand was laid on his shoulder.

"Hello, kid! You here, too?"

He looked up quickly, though he knew the voice. It was Jimmy Drake,
and he was looking down at him, a queer gleam in his inscrutable eyes.
Garrison nodded without speaking. He noticed that the book-maker had
not offered to shake hands, and the knowledge stung. The crowd was
watching them curiously, and Drake waved off, with a late sporting
extra he carried, half a dozen invitations to liquidate.

"Kid," he said, lowering his voice, his hand still on Garrison's
shoulder, "what did you come here for? Why don't you get away?
Waterbury may be here any minute."

"What's that to me?" spat out Billy venomously. "I'm not afraid of
him. No call to be."

Drake considered, the queer look still in his eyes.

"Don't get busty, kid. I don't know how you ever come to do it, but
it's a serious game, a dirty game, and I guess it may mean jail for
you, all right."

"What do you mean?" Garrison's pinched face had gone slowly white. A
vague premonition of impending further disaster possessed him,
amounting almost to an obsession. "What do you mean, Jimmy?" he
reiterated tensely.

Drake was silent, still scrutinizing him.

"Kid," he said finally, "I don't like to think it of you--but I know
what made you do it. You were sore on Waterbury; sore for losing. You
wanted to get hunk on something. But I tell you, kid, there's no deal
too rotten for a man who poisons a horse--"

"Poisons a horse," echoed Garrison mechanically. "Poisons a horse.
Good Lord, Drake!" he cried fiercely, in a sudden wave of passion and
understanding, jumping from his chair, "you dare to say that I
poisoned Sis! You dare--"

"No, I don't. The paper does."

"The paper lies! Lies, do you hear? Let me see it! Let me see it!
Where does it say that? Where, where? Show it to me if you can! Show
it to me--"

His eyes slowly widened in horror, and his mouth remained agape, as he
hastily scanned the contents of an article in big type on the first
page. Then the extra dropped from his nerveless fingers, and he
mechanically seated himself at the table, his eyes vacant. To his
surprise, he was horribly calm. Simply his nerves had snapped; they
could torture him no longer by stretching.

"It's not enough to have--have her die, but I must be her poisoner,"
he said mechanically.

"It's all circumstantial evidence, or nearly so," added Drake,
shifting from one foot to the other. "You were the only one who would
have a cause to get square. And Crimmins says he gave you permission
to see her alone. Even the stable-hands say that. It looks bad, kid.
Here, don't take it so hard. Get a cinch on yourself," he added, as he
watched Garrison's blank eyes and quivering face.

"I'm all right. I'm all right," muttered Billy vaguely, passing a hand
over his throbbing temples.

Drake was silent, fidgeting uneasily.

"Kid," he blurted out at length, "it looks as if you were all in. Say,
let me be your bank-roll, won't you? I know you lost every cent on
Sis, no matter what they say. I'll give you a blank check, and you can
fill it out--"

"No, thanks, Jimmy."

"Don't be touchy, kid. You'd do the same for me--"

"I mean it, Drake. I don't want a cent. I'm not hard up. Thanks all
the same." Garrison's rag of honor was fluttering in the wind of his

"Well," said Drake, finally and uncomfortably, "if you ever want it,
Billy, you know where to come for it. I want to go down on the books
as your friend, hear? Mind that. So-long."

"So-long, Jimmy. And I won't forget your stand."

Garrison continued staring at the floor. This, then, was the reason
why the sporting world had cut him dead; for a horse-poisoner is
ranked in the same category as that assigned to the horse-stealer of
the Western frontier. There, a man's horse is his life; to the turfman
it is his fortune--one and the same. And so Crimmins had testified
that he had permitted him, Garrison, to see Sis alone!

Yes, the signals were set dead against him. His opinion of Crimmins
had undergone a complete revolution; first engendered by the trainer
offering him a dishonorable opportunity of fleecing the New York pool-
rooms; now culminated by his indirect charge.

Garrison considered the issue paramount. He was furious, though so
seemingly indifferent. Every ounce of resentment in his nature had
been focused to the burning-point. Now he would not leave New York.
Come what might, he would stand his ground. He would not run away. He
would fight the charge; fight Waterbury, Crimmins--the world, if
necessary. And mingled with the warp and woof of this resolve was
another; one that he determined would comprise the color-scheme of his
future existence; he would ferret out the slayer of Sis; not merely
for his own vindication, but for hers. He regarded her slayer as a
murderer, for to him Sis had been more than human.

Garrison came to himself by hearing his name mentioned. Behind him two
young men were seated at a table, evidently unaware of his identity,
for they were exchanging their separate views on the running of the
Carter Handicap and the subsequent poisoning of the favorite.

"And I say," concluded the one whose nasal twang bespoke the New
Englander; "I say that it was a dirty race all through."

"One paper hints that the stable was in on it; wanted to hit the
bookies hard," put in his companion diffidently.

"No," argued the wise one, some alcohol and venom in his syllables,
"Waterbury's all right. He's a square sport. I know. I ought to know,
for I've got inside information. A friend of mine has a cousin who's
married to the brother of a friend of Waterbury's aunt's half-sister.
So I ought to know. Take it from me," added this Bureau of Inside
Information, beating the table with an insistent fist; "it was a put-
up job of Garrison's. I'll bet he made a mint on it. All these jockeys
are crooked. I may be from Little Falls, but I know. You can't fool
me. I've been following Garrison's record--"

"Then what did you bet on him for?" asked his companion mildly.

"Because I thought he might ride straight for once. And being up on
Sis, I thought he couldn't help but win. And so I plunged--heavy. And
now, by Heck! ten dollars gone, and I'm mad; mad clear through. Sis
was a corker, and ought to have had the race. I read all about her in
the Little Falls /Daily Banner/. I'd just like to lay hands on that
Garrison--a miserable little whelp; that's what he is. He ought to
have poisoned himself instead of the horse. I hope Waterbury'll do him
up. I'll see him about it."

Garrison slowly rose, his face white, eyes smoldering. The devil was
running riot through him. His resentment had passed from the apathetic
stage to the fighting. So this was the world's opinion of him! Not
only the world, but miserable wastrels of sports who "plunged heavy"
with ten dollars! His name was to be bandied in their unclean mouths!
He, Billy Garrison, former premier jockey, branded as a thing beyond
redemption! He did not care what might happen, but he would kill that
lie here and now. He was glad of the opportunity; hungry to let loose
some of the resentment seething within him.

The Bureau of Inside Information and his companion looked up as Billy
Garrison stood over them, hands in pockets. Both men had been
drinking. Drake and half the café's occupants had drifted out.

"Which of you gentlemen just now gave his opinion of Billy Garrison?"
asked the jockey quietly.

"I did, neighbor. Been roped in, too?" Inside Information splayed out
his legs, and, with a very blasé air, put his thumbs in the armholes
of his execrable vest. He owned a rangy frame and a loose mouth. He
was showing the sights of Gotham to a friend, and was proud of his
knowledge. But he secretly feared New York because he did not know it.

"Oh, it was you?" snapped Garrison venomously. "Well, I don't know
your name, but mine's Billy Garrison, and you're a liar!" He struck
Inside Information a whack across the face that sent him a tumbled
heap on the floor.

There is no one so dangerous as a coward. There is nothing so
dangerous as ignorance. The New Englander had heard much of Gotham's
undercurrent and the brawls so prevalent there. He had heard and
feared. He had looked for them, fascination in his fear, but till the
present had never experienced one. He had heard that sporting men
carried guns and were quick to use them; that when the lie was passed
it meant the hospital or the morgue. He was thoroughly ignorant of the
ways of a great city, of the world; incapable of meeting a crisis; of
apportioning it at its true value. And so now he overdid it.

As Garrison, a contemptuous smile on his face, turned away, and
started to draw a handkerchief from his hip pocket, the New Englander,
thinking a revolver was on its way, scrambled to his feet, wildly
seized the heavy spirit-bottle, and let fly at Garrison's head. There
was whisky, muscle, sinew, and fear behind the shot.

As Billy turned about to ascertain whether or not his opponent meant
fight by rising from under the table, the heavy bottle landed full on
his temple. He crumpled up like a withered leaf, and went over on the
floor without even a sigh.

It was two weeks later when Garrison regained full consciousness;
opened his eyes to gaze upon blank walls, blank as the ceiling. He was
in a hospital, but he did not know it. He knew nothing. The past had
become a blank. An acute attack of brain-fever had set in, brought on
by the excitement he had undergone and finished by the smash from the

There followed many nights when doctors shook their heads and nurses
frowned; nights when it was thought little Billy Garrison would cross
the Great Divide; nights when he sat up in the narrow cot, his hands
clenched as if holding the reins, his eyes flaming as in his feverish
imagination he came down the stretch, fighting for every inch of the
way; crying, pleading, imploring: "Go it, Sis; go it! Take the rail!
Careful, careful! Now--now let her out; let her out! Go, you cripple,
go--" All the jargon of the turf.

He was a physical, nervous wreck, and the doctors said that he
couldn't last very long, for consumption had him. It was only a matter
of time, unless a miracle happened. The breath of his life was going
through his mouth and nostrils; the breath of his lungs.

No one knew his name at the hospital, not even himself. There was
nothing to identify him by. For Garrison, after the blow that night,
had managed to crawl out to the sidewalk like a wounded beast striving
to find its lair and fighting to die game.

There was no one to say him nay, no friend to help him. And hotel
managements are notoriously averse to having murder or assault
committed in their house. So when they saw that Garrison was able to
walk they let him go, and willingly. Then he had collapsed, crumpled
in a heap on the sidewalk.

A policeman had eventually found him, and with the uncanny acumen of
his ilk had unerringly diagnosed the case as a "drunk." From the
stationhouse to Bellevue, Garrison had gone his weary way, and from
there, when it was finally discovered he was neither drunk nor insane,
to Roosevelt Hospital. And no one knew who or what he was, and no one
cared overmuch. He was simply one of the many unfortunate derelicts of
a great city.

It was over six months before he left the hospital, cured so far as he
could be. The doctors called his complaint by a learned and
villainously unpronounceable name, which, interpreted by the Bowery,
meant that Billy Garrison "had gone dippy."

But Garrison had not. His every faculty was as acute as it ever had
been. Simply, Providence had drawn an impenetrable curtain over his
memory, separating the past from the present; the same curtain that
divides our presents from our futures. He had no past. It was a blank,
shot now and then with a vague gleam of things dead and gone.

This oblivion may have been the manifestation of an all-wise Almighty.
Now, at least, he could not brood over past mistakes, though,
unconsciously, he might have to live them out. Life to him was a new
book, not one mark appeared on its clean pages. He did not even know
his name--nothing.

From the "W. G." on his linen he understood that those were his
initials, but he could not interpret them; they stood for nothing. He
had no letters, memoranda in his pockets, bearing his name. And so he
took the name of William Good. Perhaps the "William" came to him
instinctively; he had no reason for choosing "Good."

Garrison left the hospital with his cough, a little money the
superintendent had kindly given to him, and his clothes; that was all.

Handicapped as he was, harried by futile attempts of memory to fathom
his identity, he was about to renew the battle of life; not as a
veteran, one who has earned promotion, profited by experience, but as
a raw recruit.

The big city was no longer an old familiar mother, whose every mood
and whimsy he sensed unerringly; now he was a stranger. The streets
meant nothing to him. But when he first turned into old Broadway, a
vague, uneasy feeling stirred within him; it was a memory struggling
like an imprisoned bird to be free. Almost the first person he met was
Jimmy Drake. Garrison was about to pass by, oblivious, when the other
seized him by the arm.

"Hello, Billy! Where did you drop from--"

"Pardon me, you have made a mistake." Garrison stared coldly, blankly
at Drake, shook free his arm, and passed on.

"Gee, what a cut!" mused the book-maker, staring after the rapidly
retreating figure of Garrison. "The frozen mitt for sure. What's
happened now? Where's he been the past six months? Wearing the same
clothes, too! Well, somehow I've queered myself for good. I don't know
what I did or didn't. But I'll keep my eye on him, anyway." To cheer
his philosophy, Drake passed into the Fifth Avenue for a drink.



Garrison had flattered himself that he had known adversity in his
time, but in the months succeeding his dismissal from the hospital he
qualified for a post-graduate course in privation. He was cursed with
the curse of the age; it was an age of specialties, and he had none.
His only one, the knowledge of the track, had been buried in him, and
nothing tended to awaken it.

He had no commercial education; nothing but the /savoir-faire/ which
wealth had given to him, and an inherent breeding inherited from his
mother. By reason of his physique he was disbarred from mere manual
labor, and that haven of the failure--the army.

So Garrison joined the ranks of the Unemployed Grand Army of the
Republic. He knew what it was to sleep in Madison Square Park with a
newspaper blanket, and to be awakened by the carol of the touring
policemen. He came to know what it meant to stand in the bread-line,
to go the rounds of the homeless "one-night stands."

He came perilously near reaching the level of the sodden. His morality
had suffered with it all. Where in his former days of hardship he had
health, ambition, a goal to strive for, friends to keep him honest
with himself, now he had nothing. He was alone; no one cared.

If he had only taken to the track, his passion--legitimate passion--
for horse-flesh would have pulled him through. But the thought that he
ever could ride never suggested itself to him.

He had no opportunity of inhaling the track's atmosphere. Sometimes he
wondered idly why he liked to stop and caress every stray horse. He
could not know that those same hands had once coaxed thoroughbreds
down the stretch to victory. His haunts necessarily kept him from
meeting with those whom he had once known. The few he did happen to
meet he cut unconsciously as he had once cut Jimmy Drake.

And so day by day Garrison's morality suffered. It is so easy for the
well-fed to be honest. But when there is the hunger cancer gnawing at
one's vitals, not for one day, but for many, then honesty and
dishonesty cease to be concrete realities. It is not a question of
piling up luxuries, but of supplying mere necessity.

And day by day as the hunger cancer gnawed at Garrison's vitals it
encroached on his original stock of honesty. He fought every minute of
the day, but he grimly foresaw that there would come a time when he
would steal the first time opportunity afforded.

Day by day he saw the depletion of his honor. He was not a moralist, a
saint, a sinner. Need sweeps all theories aside; in need's fierce
crucible they are transmuted to concrete realities. Those who have
never known what it is to be thrown with Garrison's handicap on the
charity of a great city will not understand. But those who have ever
tasted the bitter crust of adversity will. And it is the old blatant
advice from the Seats of the Mighty: "Get a job." The old answer from
the hopeless undercurrent: "How?"

There came a day when the question of honesty or dishonesty was put up
to Garrison in a way he had not foreseen. The line was drawn
distinctly; there was no easy slipping over it by degrees, unnoticed.

The toilet facilities of municipal lodging-houses are severely crude
and primitive. For the sake of sanitation, the whilom lodger's clothes
are put in a net and fumigated in a germ-destroying temperature. The
men congregate together in one long room, in various stages of pre-
Adamite costumes, and the shower is turned upon them in numerical

This public washing was one of the many drawbacks to public charity
which Garrison shivered at. As the warm weather set in he accordingly
took full advantage of the free baths at the Battery. On his second
day's dip, as he was leaving, a man whom he had noticed intently
scanning the bathers tapped him on the arm.

He was shaped like an olive, with a pair of shrewd gray eyes, and a
clever, clean-shaven mouth. He was well-dressed, and was continually
probing with a quill tooth-pick at his gold-filled front teeth,
evidently desirous of excavating some of the precious metal.

"My name's Snark--Theobald D. Snark," he said shortly, thrusting a
card into Garrison's passive hand. "I am an eminent lawyer, and would
be obliged if you would favor me with a five minutes' interview in my
office--American Tract Building."

"Don't know you," said Garrison blandly.

"You'll like me when you do," supplemented the eminent lawyer coolly.
"Merely a matter of business, you understand. You look as if a little
business wouldn't hurt you."

"Feel worse," added Billy mildly, inspecting his crumpled outfit.

He was very hungry. He caught eagerly at this quondam opening. Perhaps
it would be the means of starting him in some legitimate business.
Then a wild idea came to him, and slowly floated away again as he
remembered that Mr. Snark had agreed that he did not know him. But
while it lasted, the idea had been a thrilling one for a penniless,
homeless wanderer. It had been: Supposing this lawyer knew him? Knew
his real identity, and had tracked him down for clamoring relatives
and a weeping father and mother? For to Garrison his parents might
have been criminals or millionaires so far as he remembered.

The journey to Nassau Street was completed in silence, Mr. Snark
centering all his faculties on his teeth, and Garrison on the probable
outcome of this chance meeting.

The eminent lawyer's office was in a corner of the fifth shelf of the
American Tract Building bookcase. It was unoccupied, Mr. Snark being
so intelligent as to be able to dispense with the services of office-
boy and stenographer; it was small but cozy. Offices in that building
can be rented for fifteen dollars per month.

After the eminent lawyer had fortified himself from a certain black
bottle labeled "Poison: external use only," which sat beside the soap-
dish in the little towel-cabinet, he assumed a very preoccupied and
highly official mien at his roller-top desk, where he became vitally
interested in a batch of letters, presumably that morning's mail, but
which in reality bore dates ranging back to the past year.

Then the eminent lawyer delved importantly into an empty letter-file;
emerged after ten minutes' study in order to give Blackstone a few
thoroughly familiar turns, opened the window further to cool his
fevered brain, lit a highly athletic cigar, crossed his legs, and was
at last at leisure to talk business with Garrison, who had almost
fallen asleep during the business rush.

"What's your name?" he asked peremptorily.

Ordinarily Garrison would have begged him to go to a climate where
thermometers are not in demand, but now he was hungry, and wanted a
job, so he answered obediently: "William Good."

"Good, William," said the eminent lawyer, smiling at himself in the
little mirror of the towel-cabinet. He understood that he possessed a
thin vein of humor. Necessary quality for an eminent lawyer. "And no
occupation, I presume, and no likelihood of one, eh?"

Garrison nodded.

"Well"--and Mr. Snark made a temple of worship from his fat fingers,
his cigar at right angles, his shrewd gray eyes on the ceiling--"I
have a position which I think you can fill. To make a long story
short, I have a client, a very wealthy gentleman of Cottonton,
Virginia; name of Calvert--Major Henry Clay Calvert. Dare say you've
heard of the Virginia Calverts," he added, waving the rank incense
from the athletic cigar.

He had only heard of the family a week or two ago, but already he
persuaded himself that their reputation was national, and that his
business relations with them dated back to the Settlement days.

Garrison found occasion to say he'd never heard of them, and the
eminent lawyer replied patronizingly that "we all can't be well-
connected, you know." Then he went on with his short story, which,
like all short stories, was a very long one.

"Now it appears that Major Calvert has a nephew somewhere whom he has
never seen, and whom he wishes to recognize; in short, make him his
heir. He has advertised widely for him during the past few months, and
has employed a lawyer in almost every city to assist in this hunt for
a needle in a haystack. This nephew's name is Dagget--William C.
Dagget. His mother was a half-sister of Major Calvert's. The search
for this nephew has been going on for almost a year--since Major
Calvert heard of his brother-in-law's death--but the nephew has not
been found."

The eminent lawyer cleared his throat eloquently and relighted the
athletic cigar, which had found occasion to go out.

"It will be a very fine thing for this nephew," he added
speculatively. "Very fine, indeed. Major Calvert has no children, and,
as I say, the nephew will be his heir--if found. Also the lawyer who
discovers the absent youth will receive ten thousand dollars. Ten
thousand dollars is not a sum to be sneezed at, Mr. Good. Not to be
sneezed at, sir. Not to be sneezed at," thundered the eminent lawyer

Garrison agreed. He would never think of sneezing at it, even if he
was subject to that form of recreation. But what had that to do with

The eminent lawyer attentively scrutinized the blue streamer from his

"Well, I've found him at last. You are he, Mr. Good. Mr. Good, my
heartiest congratulations, sir." And Mr. Snark insisted upon shaking
the bewildered Garrison impressively by the hand.

Garrison's head swam. Then his wild dream had come true! His identity
had been at last discovered! He was not the offspring of some
criminal, but the scion of a noble Virginia house! But Mr. Snark was
talking again.

"You see," he began slowly, focusing an attentive eye on Garrison's
face, noting its every light and shade, "this nice old gentleman and
his wife are hard up for a nephew. You and I are hard up for money.
Why not effect a combination? Eh, why not? It would be sinful to waste
such an opportunity of doing good. In you I give them a nice,
respectable nephew, who is tired of reaping his wild oats. You are
probably much better than the original. We are all satisfied. I do
everybody a good turn by the exercise of a little judgment."

Garrison's dream crumbled to ashes.

"Oh!" he said blankly, "you--you mean to palm me off as the nephew?"

"Exactly, my son, the long-lost nephew. You are fitted for the role.
They haven't ever seen the original, and then, by chance, you have a
birthmark, shaped like a spur, beneath your right collar-bone. Oh,
yes, I marked it while you were bathing. I've hunted the baths in the
chance of finding a duplicate, for I could not afford to run the risks
of advertising.

"It seems this nephew has a similar mark, his mother having mentioned
it once in a letter to her brother, and it is the only means of
identification. Luck is with us, Mr. Good, and of course you will take
full advantage of it. As a side bonus you can pay me twenty-five
thousand or so when you come into the estate on your uncle's death."

The eminent lawyer, his calculating eye still on Garrison, then
proceeded with much forensic ability and virile imagination to lay the
full beauties of the "cinch" before him.

"But supposing the real nephew shows up?" asked Garrison hesitatingly,
after half an hour's discussion.

"Impossible. I am fully convinced he's dead. Possession is nine points
of the law, my son. If he should happen to turn up, which he won't,
why, you have only to brand him as a fraud. I'm a kind-hearted man,
and I merely wish Major Calvert to have the pleasure of killing fatted
calf for one instead of a burial. I'm sure the real nephew is dead.
Anyway, the search will be given up when you are found."

"But about identification?"

"Oh, the mark's enough, quite enough. You've never met your kin, but
you can have very sweet, childish recollections of having heard your
mother speak of them. I know enough of old Calvert to post you on the
family. You've lived North all your life. We'll fix up a nice
respectable series of events regarding how you came to be away in
China somewhere, and thus missed seeing the advertisement.

"We'll let my discovery of you stand as it is, only we'll substitute
the swimming-pool of the New York Athletic Club in lieu of the
Battery. The Battery wouldn't sound good form. Romanticism always
makes truth more palatable. Trust me to work things to a highly
artistic and flawless finish. I can procure any number of witnesses--
at so much per head--who have time and again distinctly heard your
childish prattle regarding dear Uncle and Aunty Calvert.

"I'll wire on that long-lost nephew has been found, and you can
proceed to lie right down in your ready-made bed of roses. There won't
be any thorns. Bit of a step up from municipal lodging-houses, eh?"

Garrison clenched his hands. His honor was in the last ditch. The
great question had come; not in the guise of a loaf of bread, but
this. How long his honor put up a fight he did not know, but the
eminent lawyer was apparently satisfied regarding the outcome, for he
proceeded very leisurely to read the morning paper, leaving Garrison
to his thoughts.

And what thoughts they were! What excuses he made to himself--poor
hostages to a fast-crumbling honor! Only the exercise of a little
subterfuge and all this horrible present would be a past. No more
sleeping in the parks, no more of the hunger cancer. He would have a
name, friends, kin, a future. Something to live for. Some one to care
for; some one to care for him. And he would be all that a nephew
should be; all that, and more. He would make all returns in his power.

He had even reached the point when he saw in the future himself
confessing the deception; saw himself forgiven and being loved for
himself alone. And he would confess it all--his share, but not
Snark's. All he wanted was a start in life. A name to keep clean;
traditions to uphold, for he had none of his own. All this he would
gain for a little subterfuge. And perhaps, as Snark had acutely
pointed out, he might be a better nephew than the original. He would

When a man begins to compromise with dishonesty, there is only one
outcome. Garrison's rag of honor was hauled down. He agreed to the
deception. He would play the role of William C. Dagget, the lost

When he made his intention known, the eminent lawyer nodded as if to
say that Garrison wasted an unnecessary amount of time over a very
childish problem, and then he proceeded to go into the finer points of
the game, building up a life history, supplying dates, etc. Then he
sent a wire to Major Calvert. Afterward he took Garrison to his first
respectable lunch in months and bought him an outfit of clothes. On
their return to the corner nook, fifth shelf of the bookcase, a reply
was awaiting them from Major Calvert. The long-lost nephew, in company
with Mr. Snark, was to start the next day for Cottonton, Virginia. The
telegram was warm, and commended the eminent lawyer's ability.

"Son," said the eminent lawyer dreamily, carefully placing the
momentous wire in his pocket, "a good deed never goes unrewarded.
Always remember that. There is nothing like the old biblical behest:
'Let us pray.' You for your bed of roses; me for--for----"
mechanically he went to the small towel-cabinet and gravely pointed
the unfinished observation with the black bottle labeled "Poison."

"To the long-lost nephew, Mr. William C. Dagget. To the bed of roses.
And to the eminent lawyer, Theobald D. Snark, Esq., who has mended a
poor fortune with a better brain. Gentlemen," he concluded
grandiloquently, slowly surveying the little room as if it were an
overcrowded Colosseum--"gentlemen, with your permission, together with
that of the immortal Mr. Swiveller, we will proceed to drown it in the
rosy. Drown it in the rosy, gentlemen." And so saying, Mr. Snark
gravely tilted the black bottle ceilingward.

The following evening, as the shadows were lengthening, Garrison and
the eminent lawyer pulled into the neat little station of Cottonton.
The good-by to Gotham had been said. It had not been difficult for
Garrison to say good-by. He was bidding farewell to a life and a city
that had been detestable in the short year he had known it. The
lifetime spent in it had been forgotten. But with it all he had said
good-by to honor. On the long train trip he had been smothering his
conscience, feebly awakened by the approaching meeting, the touch of
new clothes, and the prospect of a consistently full stomach. He even
forgot to cough once or twice.

But the conscience was only feebly awakened. The eminent lawyer had
judged his client right. For as one is never miserly until one has
acquired wealth, so Garrison was loath to vacate the bed of roses now
that he had felt how exceedingly pleasant it was. To go back to rags
and the hunger cancer and homelessness would be hard; very hard even
if honor stood at the other end.

"There they are--the major and his wife," whispered Snark, gripping
his arm and nodding out of the window to where a tall, clean-shaven,
white-haired man and a lady who looked the thoroughbred stood
anxiously scanning the windows of the cars. Drawn up at the curb
behind them was a smart two-seated phaeton, with a pair of clean-
limbed bays. The driver was not a negro, as is usually the case in the
South, but a tight-faced little man, who looked the typical London
cockney that he was.

Garrison never remembered how he got through his introduction to his
"uncle" and "aunt." His home-coming was a dream. The sense of shame
was choking him as Major Calvert seized both hands in a stone-crushed
grip and looked down upon him, steadily, kindly, for a long time.

And then Mrs. Calvert, a dear, middle-aged lady, had her arms about
Garrison's neck and was saying over and over again in the impulsive
Southern fashion: "I'm so glad to see you, dear. You've your mother's
own eyes. You know she and I were chums."

Garrison had choked, and if the eminent lawyer's wonderful vocabulary
and eloquent manner had not just then intervened, Garrison then and
there would have wilted and confessed everything. If only, he told
himself fiercely, Major Calvert and his wife had not been so
courteous, so trustful, so simple, so transparently honorable,
incapable of crediting a dishonorable action to another, then perhaps
it would not have been so difficult.

The ride behind the spanking bays was all a dream; all a dream as they
drove up the long, white, wide Logan Pike under the nodding trees and
the soft evening sun. Everything was peaceful--the blue sky, the
waving corn-fields, the magnolia, the songs of the homing birds. The
air tasted rich as with great breaths he drew it into his lungs. It
gave him hope. With this air to aid him he might successfully grapple
with consumption.

Garrison was in the rear seat of the phaeton with Mrs. Calvert,
mechanically answering questions, giving chapters of his fictitious
life, while she regarded him steadily with her grave blue eyes. Mr.
Snark and the major were in the middle seat, and the eminent lawyer
was talking a veritable blue streak, occasionally flinging over his
shoulder a bolstering remark in answer to one of Mrs. Calvert's
questions, as his quick ear detected a preoccupation in Garrison's
tones, and he sensed that there might be a sudden collapse to their
rising fortunes. He was in a very good humor, for, besides the ten
thousand, and the bonus he would receive from Garrison on the major's
death, he had accepted an invitation to stay the week end at Calvert

Garrison's inattention was suddenly swept away by the clatter of hoofs
audible above the noise contributed by the bays. A horse, which
Garrison instinctively, and to his own surprise, judged to be a two-
year-old filly, was approaching at a hard gallop down the broad pike.
Her rider was a young girl, hatless, who now let loose a boyish shout
and waved a gauntleted hand. Mrs. Calvert, smilingly, returned the

"A neighbor and a lifelong friend of ours," she said, turning to
Garrison. "I want you to be very good friends, you and Sue. She is a
very lovely girl, and I know you will like her. I want you to. She has
been expecting your coming. I am sure she is anxious to see what you
look like."

Garrison made some absent-minded, commonplace answer. His eyes were
kindling strangely as he watched the oncoming filly. His blood was
surging through him. Unconsciously, his hands became ravenous for the
reins. A vague memory was stirring within him. And then the girl had
swung her mount beside the carriage, and Major Calvert, with all the
ceremonious courtesy of the South, had introduced her.

She was a slim girl, with a wealth of indefinite hair, now gold, now
bronze, and she regarded Garrison with a pair of very steady gray
eyes. Beautiful eyes they were; and, as she pulled off her gauntlet
and bent down a slim hand from the saddle, he looked up into them. It
seemed as if he looked into them for ages. Where had he seen them
before? In a dream? And her name was Desha. Where had he heard that
name? Memory was struggling furiously to tear away the curtain that
hid the past.

"I'm right glad to see you," said the girl, finally, a slow blush
coming to the tan of her cheek. She slowly drew away her hand, as,
apparently, Garrison had appropriated it forever.

"The honor is mine," returned Garrison mechanically, as he replaced
his hat. Where had he heard that throaty voice?



A week had passed--a week of new life for Garrison, such as he had
never dreamed of living. Even in the heyday of his fame, forgotten by
him, unlimited wealth had never brought the peace and content of
Calvert House. It seemed as if his niche had long been vacant in the
household, awaiting his occupancy, and at times he had difficulty in
realizing that he had won it through deception, not by right of blood.

The prognostications of the eminent lawyer, Mr. Snark, to the effect
that everything would be surprisingly easy, were fully realized. To
the major and his wife the birthmark of the spur was convincing proof;
and, if more were needed, the thorough coaching of Snark was

More than that, a week had not passed before it was made patently
apparent to Garrison, much to his surprise and no little dismay, that
he was liked for himself alone. The major was a father to him, Mrs.
Calvert a mother in every sense of the word. He had seen Sue Desha
twice since his "home-coming," for the Calvert and Desha estates

Old Colonel Desha had eyed Garrison somewhat queerly on being first
introduced, but he had a poor memory for faces, and was unable to
connect the newly discovered nephew of his neighbor and friend with
little Billy Garrison, the one-time premiere jockey, whom he had
frequently seen ride.

The week's stay at Calvert House had already begun to show its
beneficial effect upon Garrison. The regular living, clean air,
together with the services of the family doctor, were fighting the
consumption germs with no little success. For it had not taken the
keen eye of the major nor the loving one of the wife very long to
discover that the tuberculosis germ was clutching at Garrison's lungs.

"You've gone the pace, young man," said the venerable family doctor,
tapping his patient with the stethoscope. "Gone the pace, and now
nature is clamoring for her long-deferred payment."

The major was present, and Garrison felt the hot blood surge to his
face, as the former's eyes were riveted upon him.

"Youth is a prodigal spendthrift," put in the major sadly. "But isn't
it hereditary, doctor? Perhaps the seed was cultivated, not sown, eh?"

"Assiduously cultivated," replied Doctor Blandly dryly. "You'll have
to get back to first principles, my boy. You've made an oven out of
your lungs by cigarette smoke. You inhale? Of course. Quite the
correct thing. Have you ever blown tobacco smoke through a
handkerchief? Yes? Well, it leaves a dark-brown stain, doesn't it?
That's what your lungs are like--coated with nicotine. Your wind is
gone. That is why cigarettes are so injurious. Not because, as some
people tell you, they are made of inferior tobacco, but because you
inhale them. That's where the danger is. Smoke a pipe or cigar, if
smoke you must; those you don't inhale. Keep your lungs for what God
intended them for--fresh air. Then, your vitality is nearly bankrupt.
You've made an old curiosity-shop out of your stomach. You require
regular sleep--tons of it----"

"But I'm never sleepy," argued Garrison, feeling very much like a
schoolboy catechised by his master. "When I wake in the morning, I
awake instantly, every faculty alert--"

"Naturally," grunted the old doctor. "Don't you know that is proof
positive that you have lived on stimulants? It is artificial. You
should be drowsy. I'll wager the first thing you do mornings is to
roll a smoke; eh? Exactly. Smoke on an empty stomach! That's got to be
stopped. It's the simple life for you. Plenty of exercise in the open
air; live, bathe, in sunshine. It is the essence of life. I think,
major, we can cure this young prodigal of yours. But he must obey me--

Subsequently, Major Calvert had, for him, a serious conversation with

"I believe in youth having its fling," he said kindly, in conclusion;
"but I don't believe in flinging so far that you cannot retrench
safely. From Doctor Blandly's statements, you seem to have come mighty
near exceeding the speed limit, my boy."

He bent his white brows and regarded Garrison steadily out of his keen
eyes, in which lurked a fund of potential understanding.

"But sorrow," he continued, "acts on different natures in different
ways. Your mother's death must have been a great blow to you. It was
to me." He looked fixedly at his nails. "I understand fully what it
must mean to be thrown adrift on the world at the age you were. I
don't wish you ever to think that we knew of your condition at the
time. We didn't--not for a moment. I did not learn of your mother's
death until long afterward, and only of your father's by sheer
accident. But we have already discussed these subjects, and I am only
touching on them now because I want you, as you know, to be as good a
man as your mother was a woman; not a man like your father was. You
want to forget that past life of yours, my boy, for you are to be my
heir; to be worthy of the name of Calvert, as I feel confident you
will. You have your mother's blood. When your health is improved, we
will discuss more serious questions, regarding your future, your
career; also--your marriage." He came over and laid a kindly hand on
Garrison's shoulder.

And Garrison had been silent. He was in a mental and moral fog. He
guessed that his supposed father had not been all that a man should
be. The eminent lawyer, Mr. Snark, had said as much. He knew himself
that he was nothing that a man should be. His conscience was fully
awakened by now. Every worthy ounce of blood he possessed cried out
for him to go; to leave Calvert House before it was too late; before
the old major and his wife grew to love him as there seemed danger of
them doing.

He was commencing to see his deception in its true light; the crime he
was daily, hourly, committing against his host and hostess; against
all decency. He had no longer a prop to support him with specious
argument, for the eminent lawyer had returned to New York, carrying
with him his initial proceeds of the rank fraud--Major Calvert's check
for ten thousand dollars.

Garrison was face to face with himself; he was beginning to see his
dishonesty in all its hideous nakedness. And yet he stayed at Calvert
House; stayed on the crater of a volcano, fearing every stranger who
passed, fearing to meet every neighbor; fearing that his deception
must become known, though reason told him such fear was absurd. He
stayed at Calvert House, braving the abhorrence of his better self;
stayed not through any appreciation of the Calvert flesh-pots, nor
because of any monetary benefits, present or future. He lived in the
present, for the hour, oblivious to everything.

For Garrison had fallen in love with his next-door neighbor, Sue
Desha. Though he did not know his past life, it was the first time he
had understood to the full the meaning of the ubiquitous, potential
verb "to love." And, instead of bringing peace and content--the whole
gamut of the virtues--hell awoke in little Billy Garrison's soul.

The second time he had seen her was the day following his arrival, and
when he had started on Doctor Blandly's open-air treatment.

"I'll have a partner over to put you through your paces in tennis,"
Mrs. Calvert had said, a quiet twinkle in her eye. And shortly
afterward, as Garrison was aimlessly batting the balls about, feeling
very much like an overgrown schoolboy, Sue Desha, tennis-racket in
hand, had come up the drive.

She was bareheaded, dressed in a blue sailor costume, her sleeves
rolled high on her firm, tanned arms. She looked very businesslike,
and was, as Garrison very soon discovered.

Three sets were played in profound silence, or, rather, the girl made
a spectacle out of Garrison. Her services were diabolically
unanswerable; her net and back court game would have merited the
earnest attention of an expert, and Garrison hardly knew where a
racket began or ended.

At the finish he was covered with perspiration and confusion, while
his opponent, apparently, had not begun to warm up. By mutual consent,
they occupied a seat underneath a spreading magnolia-tree, and then
the girl insisted upon Garrison resuming his coat. They were like two

"You'll get cold; you're not strong," said the girl finally, with the
manner of a very old and experienced mother. She was four years
younger than Garrison. "Put it on; you're not strong. That's right.
Always obey."

"I am strong," persisted Garrison, flushing. He felt very like a

The girl eyed him critically, calmly.

"Oh, but you're not; not a little bit. Do you know you're very--very--
rickety? Very rickety, indeed."

Garrison eyed his flannels in visible perturbation. They flapped about
his thin, wiry shanks most disagreeably. He was painfully conscious of
his elbows, of his thin chest. Painfully conscious that the girl was
physical perfection, he was a parody of manhood. He looked up, with a
smile, and met the girl's frank eyes.

"I think rickety is just the word," he agreed, spanning a wrist with a
finger and thumb.

"You cannot play tennis, can you?" asked the girl dryly. "Not a
little, tiny bit."

"No; not a little bit."

"Golf?" Head on one side.

"Not guilty."


"Gloriously. Like a stone."

"Run?" Head on the other side.

"If there's any one after me."

"Ride? Every one rides down this-away, you know."

A sudden vague passion mouthed at Garrison's heart. "Ride?" he echoed,
eyes far away. "I--I think so."

"Only think so! Humph!" She swung a restless foot. "Can't you do

"Well," critically. "I think I can eat, and sleep----"

"And talk nonsense. Let me see your hand." She took it imperiously,
palm up, in her lap, and examined it critically, as if it were the paw
of some animal. "My! it's as small as a woman's!" she exclaimed, in
dismay. "Why, you could wear my glove, I believe." There was one part
disdain to three parts amusement, ridicule, in her throaty voice.

"It is small," admitted Garrison, eyeing it ruefully. "I wish I had
thought of asking mother to give me a bigger one. Is it a crime?"

"No; a calamity." Her foot was going restlessly. "I like your eyes,"
she said calmly, at length.

Garrison bowed. He was feeling decidedly uncomfortable. He had never
met a girl like this. Nothing seemed sacred to her. She was as frank
as the wind, or sun.

"You know," she continued, her great eyes half-closed, "I was awfully
anxious to see you when I heard you were coming home----"


She turned and faced him, her grey eyes opened wide. "Why? Isn't one
always interested in one's future husband?"

It was Garrison who was confused. Something caught at his throat. He
stammered, but words would not come. He laughed nervously.

"Didn't you know we were engaged?" asked the girl, with childlike
simplicity and astonishment. "Oh, yes. How superb!"

"Engaged? Why--why----"

"Of course. Before we were born. Your uncle and aunt and my parents
had it all framed up. I thought you knew. A cut-and-dried affair. Are
you not just wild with delight?"

"But--but," expostulated Garrison, his face white, "supposing the real
me--I mean, supposing I had not come home? Supposing I had been dead?"

"Why, then," she replied calmly, "then, I suppose, I would have a
chance of marrying some one I really loved. But what is the use of
supposing? Here you are, turned up at the last minute, like a bad
penny, and here I am, very much alive. Ergo, our relatives' wishes
respectfully fulfilled, and--connubial misery /ad libitum/. /Mes
condolences/. If you feel half as bad as I do, I really feel sorry for
you. But, frankly, I think the joke is decidedly on me."

Garrison was silent, staring with hard eyes at the ground. He could
not begin to analyze his thoughts.

"You are not complimentary, at all events," he said quietly at length.

"So every one tells me," she sighed.

"I did not know of this arrangement," he added, looking up, a queer
smile twisting his lips.

"And now you are lonesomely miserable, like I am," she rejoined,
crossing a restless leg. "No doubt you left your ideal in New York.
Perhaps you are married already. Are you?" she cried eagerly, seizing
his arm.

"No such good luck--for you," he added, under his breath.

"I thought so," she sighed resignedly. "Of course no one would have
you. It's hopeless."

"It's not," he argued sharply, his pride, anger in revolt. He, who had
no right to any claim. "We're not compelled to marry each other. It's
a free country. It is ridiculous, preposterous."

"Oh, don't get so fussy!" she interrupted petulantly. "Don't you think
I've tried to kick over the traces? And I've had more time to think of
it than you--all my life. It is a family institution. Your uncle
pledged his nephew, if he should have one, and my parents pledged me.
We are hostages to their friendship. They wished to show how much they
cared for one another by making us supremely miserable for life. Of
course, I spent my life in arranging how you should look, if you ever
came home--which I devoutly hoped you wouldn't. It wouldn't be so
difficult, you see, if you happened to match my ideals. Then it would
be a real love-feast, with parents' blessings and property thrown in
to boot."

"And then I turned up--a little, under-sized, nothingless pea, instead
of the regular patented, double-action, stalwart Adonis of your
imagination," added Garrison dryly.

"How well you describe yourself!" said the girl admiringly.

"It must be horrible!" he condoled half-cynically.

"And of course you, too, were horribly disappointed?" she added, after
a moment's pause, tapping her oxford with tennis-racket.

Garrison turned and deliberately looked into her gray eyes.

"Yes; I am--horribly," he lied calmly. "My ideal is the dark, quiet
girl of the clinging type."

"She wouldn't have much to cling to," sniffed the girl. "We'll be
miserable together, then. Do you know, I almost hate you! I think I
do. I'm quite sure I do."

Garrison eyed her in silence, the smile on his lips. She returned the
look, her face flushed.

"Miss Desha--"

'You'll have to call me Sue. You're Billy; I'm Sue. That's one of the
minor penalties. Our prenatal engagement affords us this charming
familiarity," she interrupted scathingly.

"Sue, then. Sue," continued Garrison quietly, "from your type, I
thought you fashioned of better material. Now, don't explode--yet a
while. I mean property and parents' blessing should not weigh a curse
with you. Yes; I said curse--damn, if you wish. If you loved, this
burlesque engagement should not stand in your way. You would elope
with the man you love, and let property and parents' blessings----"

"That would be a good way for you to get out of the muddle unscathed,
wouldn't it?" she flashed in. "How chivalrous! Why don't you elope
with some one--the dark, clinging girl--and let me free? You want me
to suffer, not yourself. Just like you Yankees--cold-blooded icicles!"

Garrison considered. "I never thought of that, honestly!" he said,
with a laugh. "I would elope quick enough, if I had only myself to

"Then your dark, clinging girl is lacking in the very virtues you find
so woefully missing in me. She won't take a risk. I cannot say I blame
her," she added, scanning the brooding Garrison.

He laughed good-humoredly. "How you must detest me! But cheer up, my
sister in misery! You will marry the man you love, all right. Never

"Will I?" she asked enigmatically. Her eyes were half-shut, watching
Garrison's profile. "Will I, soothsayer?"

He nodded comprehensively, bitterly.

"You will. One of the equations of the problem will be eliminated, and
thus will be found the answer."

"Which?" she asked softly, heel tapping gravel.

"The unnecessary one, of course. Isn't it always the unnecessary one?"

"You mean," she said slowly, "that you will go away?"

Garrison nodded.

"Of course," she added, after a pause, "the dark, clinging girl is

"Of course," he bantered.

"It must be nice to be loved like that." Her eyes were wide and far
away. "To have one renounce relatives, position, wealth--all, for
love. It must be very nice, indeed."

Still, Garrison was silent. He had cause to be.

"Do you think it is right, fair," continued the girl slowly, her brow
wrinkled speculatively, "to break your uncle's and aunt's hearts for
the sake of a girl? You know how they have longed for your home-
coming. How much you mean to them! You are all they have. Don't you
think you are selfish--very selfish?"

"I believe the Bible says to leave all and cleave unto your wife,"
returned Garrison.

"Yes. But not your intended wife."

"But, you see, she is of the cleaving type."

"And why this hurry? Aren't you depriving your uncle and aunt
unnecessarily early?"

"But it is the only answer, as you pointed out. You then would be

He did not know why he was indulging in this repartee. Perhaps because
the situation was so novel, so untenable. But a strange, new force was
working in him that day, imparting a peculiar twist to his humor. He
was hating himself. He was hopeless, cynical, bitter.

If he could have laid hands upon that eminent lawyer, Mr. Snark, he
would have wrung his accomplished neck to the best of his ability. He,
Snark, must have known about this prenatal engagement. And his
bitterness, his hopelessness, were all the more real, for already he
knew that he cared, and cared a great deal, for this curious girl with
the steady gray eyes and wealth of indefinite hair; cared more than he
would confess even to himself. It seemed as if he always had cared; as
if he had always been looking into the depths of those great gray
eyes. They were part of a dream, the focusing-point of the misty past
--forever out of focus.

The girl had been considering his answer, and now she spoke.

"Of course," she said gravely, "you are not sincere when you say your
primal reason for leaving would be in order to set me free. Of course
you are not sincere."

"Is insincerity necessarily added to my numerous physical
infirmities?" he bantered.

"Not necessarily. But there is always the love to make a virtue of
necessity--especially when there's some one waiting on necessity."

"But did I say that would be my primal reason for leaving--setting you
free? I thought I merely stated it as one of the following blessings
attendant on virtue."

"Equivocation means that you were not sincere. Why don't you go,

"Eh?" Garrison looked up sharply at the tone of her voice.

"Why don't you go? Hurry up! Reward the clinging girl and set me

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