Title: The Short Stories of Jack London: Part 1
Author: Jack London

    An Adventure in the Upper Sea

    All Gold Cañon

    Aloha Oe

    Amateur Night

    And ‘Frisco Kid Came Back

    The Apostate

    God of His Fathers

    At the Rainbow’s End

    Bald-Face

    The Banks of the Sacramento

    Bâtard

    The Benefit of the Doubt

    The Bones of Kahekili

    Brown Wolf

    Bunches of Knuckles

    By the Turtles of Tasman

    Charley’s Coup

    Chased by the Trail

    The Chinago

    Chris Farrington, Able Seaman

    Chun Ah Chun

    Created He Them

    A Curious Fragment

    A Daughter of the Aurora

    A Day’s Lodging

    The Death of Ligoun

    Demetrios Contos

    The Devil’s Dice Box

    The Devils of Fuatino

    A Dream Image

    The Dream of Debs

    Dutch Courage

    The End of the Chapter

    The End of the Story

    The Enemy of All the World

    The Eternity of Forms

    Even Unto Death

    The Faith of Men

    The Feathers of the Sun

    Finis

    Morganson’s Finish

    Flush of Gold

    A Flutter in Eggs

    “Frisco Kid’s” Story

    The “Fuzziness” of Hoockla-Heen

    A Goboto Night

    The God of His Fathers

    Goliah

    The Great Interrogation

    The Grilling of Loren Ellery

    Grit of Women

    The Handsome Cabin Boy

    The Hanging of Cultus George

    The Heathen

    The Hobo and the Fairy

    The House of Mapuhi

    The House of Pride

    The Hussy

    A Hyperborean Brew

    In a Far Country

    In the Forest of the North

    In the Time of Prince Charley

    In Yeddo Bay

    The Inevitable White Man

    Jan, the Unrepentant

    The Jokers of New Gibbon

    Just Meat

    The Kanaka Surf

    Keesh, Son of Keesh

    The King of Mazy May

    The King of the Greeks

    A Klondike Christmas

    Koolau the Leper

    The Law of Life

    The League of the Old Men

    The Leopard Man’s Story

    A Lesson in Heraldry

    Li-Wan, the Fair

    Like Argus of the Ancient Times

    A Little Account

    The Little Man

    Local Color

    Lost Face

    The Lost Poacher

    Love of Life

    The Madness of John Harned

    The Mahatma’s Little Joke

    Make Westing

    The Man on the Other Bank.

    The Man With the Gash

    The Marriage to Lit-Lit

    The Master of Mystery

    Mauki

    The Meat

    The Men of Forty-Mile

    The Mexican

    The Minions of Midas

    The Mistake of Creation

    Moon-Face

An Adventure in the Upper Sea

I AM a retired captain of the upper sea. That is to say, when I was a younger man (which is not so long ago) I was an aeronaut and navigated that aerial ocean which is all around about us and above us. Naturally it is a hazardous profession, and naturally I have had many thrilling experiences, the most thrilling, or at least the most nerve-racking, being the one I am about to relate.

It happened before I went in for hydrogen gas balloons, all of varnished silk, doubled and lined, and all that, and fit for voyages of days instead of mere hours. The Little Nassau (named after the Great Nassau of many years back) was the balloon I was making ascents in at the time. It was a fair-sized, hot-air affair, of single thickness, good for an hour’s flight or so and capable of attaining an altitude of a mile or more. It answered my purpose, for my act at the time was making half-mile parachute jumps at recreation parks and country fairs. I was in Oakland, a California town, filling a summer’s engagement with a street railway company. The company owned a large park outside the city, and of course it was to its interest to provide attractions which would send the townspeople over its line when they went out to get a whiff of country air. My contract called for two ascensions weekly, and my act was an especially taking feature, for it was on my days that the largest crowds were drawn.

Before you can understand what happened, I must first explain a bit about the nature of the hot air balloon which is used for parachute jumping. If you have ever witnessed such a jump, you will remember that directly the parachute was cut loose the balloon turned upside down, emptied itself of its smoke and heated air, flattened out and fell straight down, beating the parachute to the ground. Thus there is no chasing a big deserted bag for miles and miles across the country, and much time, as well as trouble, is thereby saved. This maneuver is accomplished by attaching a weight, at the end of a long rope, to the top of the balloon. The aeronaut, with his parachute and trapeze, hangs to the bottom of the balloon, and, weighing more, keeps it right side down. But when he lets go, the weight attached to the top immediately drags the top down, and the bottom, which is the open mouth, goes up, the heated air pouring out. The weight used for this purpose on the Little Nassau was a bag of sand.

On the particular day I have in mind there was an unusually large crowd in attendance, and the police had their hands full keeping the people back. There was much pushing and shoving, and the ropes were bulging with the pressure of men, women and children. As I came down from the dressing room I noticed two girls outside the ropes, of about fourteen and sixteen, and inside the rope a youngster of eight or nine. They were holding him by the hands, and he was struggling, excitedly and half in laughter, to get away from them. I thought nothing of it at the time — just a bit of childish play, no more; and it was only in the light of after events that the scene was impressed vividly upon me.

“Keep them cleared out, George!” I called to my assistant. “We don’t want any accidents.”

“Ay,” he answered, “that I will, Charley.”

George Guppy had helped me in no end of ascents, and because of his coolness, judgment and absolute reliability I had come to trust my life in his hands with the utmost confidence. His business it was to overlook the inflating of the balloon, and to see that everything about the parachute was in perfect working order.

The Little Nassau was already filled and straining at the guys. The parachute lay flat along the ground and beyond it the trapeze. I tossed aside my overcoat, took my position, and gave the signal to let go. As you know, the first rush upward from the earth is very sudden, and this time the balloon, when it first caught the wind, heeled violently over and was longer than usual in righting. I looked down at the old familiar sight of the world rushing away from me. And there were the thousands of people, every face silently upturned. And the silence startled me, for, as crowds went, this was the time for them to catch their first breath and send up a roar of applause. But there was no hand-clapping, whistling, cheering-only silence. And instead, clear as a bell and distinct, without the slightest shake or quaver, came George’s voice through the megaphone:

“Ride her down, Charley! Ride the balloon down!”

What had happened? I waved my hand to show that I had heard, and began to think. Had something gone wrong with the parachute? Why should I ride the balloon down instead of making the jump which thousands were waiting to see? What was the matter? And as I puzzled, I received another start. The earth was a thousand feet beneath, and yet I heard a child crying softly, and seemingly very close to hand. And though the Little Nassau was shooting skyward like a rocket, the crying did not grow fainter and fainter and die away. I confess I was almost on the edge of a funk, when, unconsciously following up the noise with my eyes, I looked above me and saw a boy astride the sandbag which was to bring the Little Nassau to earth. And it was the same little boy I had seen struggling with the two girls — his sisters, as I afterward learned.

There he was, astride the sandbag and holding on to the rope for dear life. A puff of wind heeled the balloon slightly, and he swung out into space for ten or a dozen feet, and back again, fetching up against the tight canvas with a thud which even shook me, thirty feet or more beneath. I thought to see him dashed loose, but he clung on and whimpered. They told me afterward, how, at the moment they were casting off the balloon, the little fellow had torn away from his sisters, ducked under the rope, and deliberately jumped astride the sandbag. It has always been a wonder to me that he was not jerked off in the first rush.

Well, I felt sick all over as I looked at him there, and I understood why the balloon had taken longer to right itself, and why George had called after me to ride her down. Should I cut loose with the parachute, the bag would at once turn upside down, empty itself, and begin its swift descent. The only hope lay in my riding her down and in the boy holding on. There was no possible way for me to reach him. No man could climb the slim, closed parachute; and even if a man could, and made the mouth of the balloon, what could he do? Straight out, and fifteen feet away, trailed the boy on his ticklish perch, and those fifteen feet were empty space.

I thought far more quickly than it takes to tell all this, and realized on the instant that the boy’s attention must be called away from his terrible danger. Exercising all the self-control I possessed, and striving to make myself very calm, I said cheerily:

“Hello, up there, who are you?”

He looked down at me, choking back his tears and brightening up, but just then the balloon ran into a cross-current, turned half around and lay over. This set him swinging back and forth, and he fetched the canvas another bump. Then he began to cry again.

“Isn’t it great?” I asked heartily, as though it was the most enjoyable thing in the world; and, without waiting for him to answer: “What’s your name?”

“Tommy Dermott,” he answered.

“Glad to make your acquaintance, Tommy Dermott,” I went on. “But I’d like to know who said you could ride up with me?”

He laughed and said he just thought he’d ride up for the fun of it. And so we went on, I sick with fear for him, and cudgeling my brains to keep up the conversation. I knew that it was all I could do, and that his life depended upon my ability to keep his mind off his danger. I pointed out to him the great panorama spreading away to the horizon and four thousand feet beneath us. There lay San Francisco Bay like a great placid lake, the haze of smoke over the city, the Golden Gate, the ocean fog-rim beyond, and Mount Tamalpais over all, clear-cut and sharp against the sky. Directly below us I could see a buggy, apparently crawling, but I knew from experience that the men in it were lashing the horses on our trail.

But he grew tired of looking around, and I could see he was beginning to get frightened.

“How would you like to go in for the business?” I asked.

He cheered up at once and asked “Do you get good pay?”

But the Little Nassau, beginning to cool, had started on its long descent, and ran into counter currents which bobbed it roughly about. This swung the boy around pretty lively, smashing him into the bag once quite severely. His lip began to tremble at this, and he was crying again. I tried to joke and laugh, but it was no use. His pluck was oozing out, and at any moment I was prepared to see him go shooting past me.

I was in despair. Then, suddenly, I remembered how one fright could destroy another fright, and I frowned up at him and shouted sternly:

“You just hold on to that rope! If you don’t I’ll thrash you within an inch of your life when I get you down on the ground! Understand?”

“Ye-ye-yes, sir,” he whimpered, and I saw that the thing had worked. I was nearer to him than the earth, and he was more afraid of me than of falling.

“Why, you’ve got a snap up there on that soft bag,” I rattled on.

“Yes;” I assured him, “this bar down here is hard and narrow, and it hurts to sit on it.”

Then a thought struck him, and he forgot all about his aching fingers.

“When are you going to jump?” he asked. “That’s what I came up to see.”

I was sorry to disappoint him, but I wasn’t going to make any jump.

But he objected to that. “It said so in the papers,” he said.

“I don’t care,” I answered. “I’m feeling sort of lazy today, and I’m just going to ride down the balloon. It’s my balloon and I guess I can do as I please about it. And, anyway, we’re almost down now.”

And we were, too, and sinking fast. And right there and then that youngster began to argue with me as to whether it was right for me to disappoint the people, and to urge their claims upon me. And it was with a happy heart that I held up my end of it, justifying myself in a thousand different ways, till we shot over a grove of eucalyptus trees and dipped to meet the earth.

“Hold on tight!” I shouted, swinging down from the trapeze by my hands in order to make a landing on my feet.

We skimmed past a barn, missed a mesh of clothesline, frightened the barnyard chickens into a panic, and rose up again clear over a haystack-all this almost quicker than it takes to tell. Then we came down in an orchard, and when my feet had touched the ground I fetched up the balloon by a couple of turns of the trapeze around an apple tree.

I have had my balloon catch fire in mid air, I have hung on the cornice of a ten-story house, I have dropped like a bullet for six hundred feet when a parachute was slow in opening; but never have I felt so weak and faint and sick as when I staggered toward the unscratched boy and gripped him by the arm.

“Tommy Dermott,” I said, when I had got my nerves back somewhat. “Tommy Dermott, I’m going to lay you across my knee and give you the greatest thrashing a boy ever got in the world’s history.”

“No, you don’t,” he answered, squirming around. “You said you wouldn’t if I held on tight.”

“That’s all right,” I said, “but I’m going to, just the same. The fellows who go up in balloons are bad, unprincipled men, and I’m going to give you a lesson right now to make you stay away from them, and from balloons, too.”

And then I gave it to him, and if it wasn’t the greatest thrashing in the world, it was the greatest he ever got.

But it took all the grit out of me, left me nerve-broken, that experience. I canceled the engagement with the street railway company, and later on went in for gas. Gas is much the safer, anyway.

All Gold Cañon

It was the green heart of the cãnon, where the walls swerved back from the rigid plan and relieved their harshness of line by making a little sheltered nook and filling it to the brim with sweetness and roundness and softness. Here all things rested. Even the narrow stream ceased its turbulent down-rush long enough to form a quiet pool. Knee-deep in the water, with drooping head and half-shut eyes, drowsed a red-coated, many-antlered buck.

On one side, beginning at the very lip of the pool, was a tiny meadow, a cool, resilient surface of green that extended to the base of the frowning wall. Beyond the pool a gentle slope of earth ran up and up to meet the opposing wall. Fine grass covered the slope--grass that was spangled with flowers, with here and there patches of color, orange and purple and golden. Below, the cãnon was shut in. There was no view. The walls leaned together abruptly and the cãnon ended in a chaos of rocks, moss-covered and hidden by a green screen of vines and creepers and boughs of trees. Up the cãnon rose far hills and peaks, the big foot-hills, pine-covered and remote. And far beyond, like clouds upon the border of the sky, towered minarets of white, where the Sierra’s eternal snows flashed austerely the blazes of the sun.

There was no dust in the cãnon. The leaves and flowers were clean and virginal. The grass was young velvet. Over the pool three cottonwoods sent their snowy fluffs fluttering down the quiet air. On the slope the blossoms of the wine-wooded manzanita filled the air with springtime odors, while the leaves, wise with experience, were already beginning their vertical twist against the coming aridity of summer. In the open spaces on the slope, beyond the farthest shadow-reach of the manzanita, poised the mariposa lilies, like so many flights of jewelled moths suddenly arrested and on the verge of trembling into flight again. Here and there that woods harlequin, the madrone, permitting itself to be caught in the act of changing its pea-green trunk to madder-red, breathed its fragrance into the air from great clusters of waxen bells. Creamy white were these bells, shaped like lilies-of-the-valley, with the sweetness of perfume that is of the springtime.

There was not a sigh of wind. The air was drowsy with its weight of perfume. It was a sweetness that would have been cloying had the air been heavy and humid. But the air was sharp and thin. It was as starlight transmuted into atmosphere, shot through and warmed by sunshine, and flower-drenched with sweetness.

An occasional butterfly drifted in and out through the patches of light and shade. And from all about rose the low and sleepy hum of mountain bees--feasting Sybarites that jostled one another good-naturedly at the board, nor found time for rough discourtesy. So quietly did the little stream drip and ripple its way through the cãnon that it spoke only in faint and occasional gurgles. The voice of the stream was as a drowsy whisper, ever interrupted by dozings and silences, ever lifted again in the awakenings.

The motion of all things was a drifting in the heart of the cãnon. Sunshine an butterflies drifted in and out among the trees. The hum of the bees and the whisper of the stream were a drifting of sound. And the drifting sound and drifting color seemed to weave together in the making of a delicate and intangible fabric which was the spirit of the place. It was a spirit of peace that was not of death, but of smooth-pulsing life, of quietude that was not silence, of movement that was not action, of repose that was quick with existence without being violent with struggle and travail. The spirit of the place was the spirit of the peace of the living, somnolent with the easement and content of prosperity, and undisturbed by rumors of far wars.

The red-coated, many-antlered buck acknowledged the lordship of the spirit of the place and dozed knee-deep in the cool, shaded pool. There seemed no flies to vex him and he was languid with rest. Sometimes his ears moved when the stream awoke and whispered; but they moved lazily, with foreknowledge that it was merely the stream grown garrulous at discovery that it had slept.

But there came a time when the buck’s ears lifted and tensed with swift eagerness for sound. His head was turned down the cãnon. His sensitive, quivering nostrils scented the air. His eyes could not pierce the green screen through which the stream rippled away, but to his ears came the voice of a man. It was a steady, monotonous, singsong voice. Once the buck heard the harsh clash of metal upon rock. At the sound he snorted with a sudden start that jerked him through the air from water to meadow, and his feet sank into the young velvet, while he pricked his ears and again scented the air. Then he stole across the tiny meadow, pausing once and again to listen, and faded away out of the cãnon like a wraith, soft-footed and without sound.

The clash of steel-shod soles against the rocks began to be heard, and the man’s voice grew louder. It was raised in a sort of chant and became distinct with nearness, so that the words could be heard:

“Tu’n around an’ tu’n yo’ face

Untoe them sweet hills of grace

(D’ pow’rs of sin yo’ am scornin’!).

Look about an’ look aroun’,

Fling yo’ sin-pack on d’ groun’

(Yo’ will meet wid d’ Lord in d’ mornin’!).”

A sound of scrambling accompanied the song, and the spirit of the place fled away onthe heels of the red-coated buck. The green screen was burst asunder, and a man peered out at the meadow and the pool and the sloping side-hill. He was a deliberate sort of man. He took in the scene with one embracing glance, then ran his eyes over the details to verify the general impression. Then, and not until then, did he open his mouth in vivid and solemn approval:

“Smoke of life an’ snakes of purgatory! Will you just look at that! Wood an’ water an’ grass an’ a side-hill! A pocket-hunter’s delight an’ a cayuse’s paradise! Cool green for tired eyes! Pink pills for pale people ain’t in it. A secret pasture for prospectors and a resting-place for tired burros, by damn!”

He was a sandy-complexioned man in whose face geniality and humor seemed the salient characteristics. It was a mobile face, quick-changing to inward mood and thought. Thinking was in him a visible process. Ideas chased across his face like wind-flaws across the surface of a lake. His hair, sparse and unkempt of growth, was as indeterminate and colorless as his complexion. It would seem that all the color of his frame had gone into his eyes, for they were startlingly blue. Also, they were laughing and merry eyes, within them much of the naivete and wonder of the child; and yet, in an unassertive way, they contained much of calm self-reliance and strength of purpose founded upon self-experience and experience of the world.

From out the screen of vines and creepers he flung ahead of him a miner’s pick and shovel and gold-pan. Then he crawled out himself into the open. He was clad in faded overalls and black cotton shirt, with hobnailed brogans on his feet, and on his head a hat whose shapelessness and stains advertised the rough usage of wind and rain and sun and camp-smoke. He stood erect, seeing wide-eyed the secrecy of the scene and sensuously inhaling the warm, sweet breath of the cãnon-garden through nostrils that dilated and quivered with delight. His eyes narrowed to laughing slits of blue, his face wreathed itself in joy, and his mouth curled in a smile as he cried aloud:

“Jumping dandelions and happy hollyhocks, but that smells good to me! Talk about your attar o’ roses an’ cologne factories! They ain’t in it!”

He had the habit of soliloquy. His quick-changing facial expressions might tell every thought and mood, but the tongue, perforce, ran hard after, repeating, like a second Boswell.

The man lay down on the lip of the pool and drank long and deep of its water. “Tastes good to me,” he murmured, lifting his head and gazing across the pool at the side-hill, while he wiped his mouth with the back of his hand. The side-hill attracted his attention. Still lying on his stomach, he studied the hill formation long and carefully. It was a practised eye that travelled up the slope to the crumbling cãnon-wall and back and down again to the edge of the pool. He scrambled to his feet and favored the side-hill with a second survey.

“Looks good to me,” he concluded, picking up his pick and shovel and gold-pan.

He crossed the stream below the pool, stepping agilely from stone to stone. Where the side-hill touched the water he dug up a shovelful of dirt and put it into the gold-pan. He squatted down, holding the pan in his two hands, and partly immersing it in the stream. Then he imparted to the pan a deft circular motion that sent the water sluicing in and out through the dirt and gravel. The larger and the lighter particles worked to the surface, and these, by a skilful dipping movement of the pan, he spilled out and over the edge. Occasionally, to expedite matters, he rested the pan and with his fingers raked out the large pebbles and pieces of rock.

The contents of the pan diminished rapidly until only fine dirt and the smallest bits of gravel remained. At this stage he began to work very deliberately and carefully. It was fine washing, and he washed fine and finer, with a keen scrutiny and delicate and fastidious touch. At last the pan seemed empty of everything but water; but with a quick semicircular flirt that sent the water flying over the shallow rim into the stream, he disclosed a layer of black sand on the bottom of the pan. So thin was this layer that it was like a streak of paint. He examined it closely. In the midst of it was a tiny golden speck. He dribbled a little water in over the depressed edge of the pan. With a quick flirt he sent the water sluicing across the bottom, turning the grains of black sand over and over. A second tiny golden speck rewarded his effort.

The washing had now become very fine--fine beyond all need of ordinary placer-mining. He worked the black sand, a small portion at a time, up the shallow rim of the pan. Each small portion he examined sharply, so that his eyes saw every grain of it before he allowed it to slide over the edge and away. Jealously, bit by bit, he let the black sand slip away. A golden speck, no larger than a pin-point, appeared on the rim, and by his manipulation of the water it returned to the bottom of the pan. And in such fashion another speck was disclosed, and another. Great was his care of them. Like a shepherd he herded his flock of golden specks so that not one should be lost. At last, of the pan of dirt nothing remained but his golden herd. He counted it, and then, after all his labor, sent it flying out of the pan with one final swirl of water.

But his blue eyes were shining with desire as he rose to his feet. “Seven,” he muttered aloud, asserting the sum of the specks for which he had toiled so hard and which he had so wantonly thrown away. “Seven,” he repeated, with the emphasis of one trying to impress a number on his memory.

He stood still a long while, surveying the hillside. In his eyes was a curiosity, new-aroused and burning. There was an exultance about his bearing and a keenness like that of a hunting animal catching the fresh scent of game.

He moved down the stream a few steps and took a second panful of dirt.

Again came the careful washing, the jealous herding of the golden specks, and the wantonness with which he sent them flying into the stream when he had counted their number.

“Five,” he muttered, and repeated, “five.”

He could not forbear another survey of the hill before filling the pan farther down the stream. His golden herds diminished. “Four, three, two, two, one,” were his memory-tabulations as he moved down the stream. When but one speck of gold rewarded his washing, he stopped and built a fire of dry twigs. Into this he thrust the gold-pan and burned it till it was blue-black. He held up the pan and examined it critically. Then he nodded approbation. Against such a color-background he could defy the tiniest yellow speck to elude him.

Still moving down the stream, he panned again. A single speck was his reward. A third pan contained no gold at all. Not satisfied with this, he panned three times again, taking his shovels of dirt within a foot of one another. Each pan proved empty of gold, and the fact, instead of discouraging him, seemed to give him satisfaction. His elation increased with each barren washing, until he arose, exclaiming jubilantly:

“If it ain’t the real thing, may God knock off my head with sour apples!”

Returning to where he had started operations, he began to pan up the stream. At first his golden herds increased--increased prodigiously. “Fourteen, eighteen, twenty-one, twenty-six,” ran his memory tabulations. Just above the pool he struck his richest pan--thirty-five colors.

“Almost enough to save,” he remarked regretfully as he allowed the water to sweep them away.

The sun climbed to the top of the sky. The man worked on. Pan by pan, he went up the stream, the tally of results steadily decreasing.

“It’s just booful, the way it peters out,” he exulted when a shovelful of dirt contained no more than a single speck of gold.

And when no specks at all were found in several pans, he straightened up and favored the hillside with a confident glance.

“Ah, ha! Mr. Pocket!” he cried out, as though to an auditor hidden somewhere above him beneath the surface of the slope. “Ah, ha! Mr. Pocket! I’m a-comin’, I’m a-comin’, an’ I’m shorely gwine to get yer! You heah me, Mr. Pocket? I’m gwine to get yer as shore as punkins ain’t cauliflowers!”

He turned and flung a measuring glance at the sun poised above him in the azure of the cloudless sky. Then he went down the cãnon, following the line of shovel-holes he had made in filling the pans. He crossed the stream below the pool and disappeared through the green screen. There was little opportunity for the spirit of the place to return with its quietude and repose, for the man’s voice, raised in ragtime song, still dominated the cãnon with possession.

After a time, with a greater clashing of steel-shod feet on rock, he returned. The green screen was tremendously agitated. It surged back and forth in the throes of a struggle. There was a loud grating and clanging of metal. The man’s voice leaped to a higher pitch and was sharp with imperativeness. A large body plunged and panted. There was a snapping and ripping and rending, and amid a shower of falling leaves a horse burst through the screen. On its back was a pack, and from this trailed broken vines and torn creepers. The animal gazed with astonished eyes at the scene into which it had been precipitated, then dropped its head to the grass and began contentedly to graze. A second horse scrambled into view, slipping once on the mossy rocks and regaining equilibrium when its hoofs sank into the yielding surface of the meadow. It was riderless, though on its back was a high-horned Mexican saddle, scarred and discolored by long usage.

The man brought up the rear. He threw off pack and saddle, with an eye to camp location, and gave the animals their freedom to graze. He unpacked his food and got out frying-pan and coffee-pot. He gathered an armful of dry wood, and with a few stones made a place for his fire.

“My!” he said, “but I’ve got an appetite. I could scoff iron-filings an’ horseshoe nails an’ thank you kindly, ma’am, for a second helpin’.”

He straightened up, and, while he reached for matches in the pocket of his overalls, his eyes travelled across the pool to the side-hill. His fingers had clutched the match-box, but they relaxed their hold and the hand came out empty. The man wavered perceptibly. He looked at his preparations for cooking and he looked at the hill.

“Guess I’ll take another whack at her,” he concluded, starting to cross the stream.

“They ain’t no sense in it, I know,” he mumbled apologetically. “But keepin’ grub back an hour ain’t goin’ to hurt none, I reckon.”

A few feet back from his first line of test-pans he started a second line. The sun dropped down the western sky, the shadows lengthened, but the man worked on. He began a third line of test-pans. He was cross-cutting the hillside, line by line, as he ascended. The centre of each line produced the richest pans, while the ends came where no colors showed in the pan. And as he ascended the hillside the lines grew perceptibly shorter. The regularity with which their length diminished served to indicate that somewhere up the slope the last line would be so short as to have scarcely length at all, and that beyond could come only a point. The design was growing into an inverted “V.” The converging sides of this “V” marked the boundaries of the gold-bearing dirt. The apex of the “V” was evidently the man’s goal. Often he ran his eye along the converging sides and on up the hill, trying to divine the apex, the point where the gold-bearing dirt must cease. Here resided “Mr. Pocket”--for so the man familiarly addressed the imaginary point above him on the slope, crying out:

“Come down out o’ that, Mr. Pocket! Be right smart an’ agreeable, an’ come down!”

“All right,” he would add later, in a voice resigned to determination. “All right, Mr. Pocket. It’s plain to me I got to come right up an’ snatch you out bald-headed. An’ I’ll do it! I’ll do it!” he would threaten still later.

Each pan he carried down to the water to wash, and as he went higher up the hill the pans grew richer, until he began to save the gold in an empty baking-powder can which he carried carelessly in his hip-pocket. So engrossed was he in his toil that he did not notice the long twilight of oncoming night. It was not until he tried vainly to see the gold colors in the bottom of the pan that he realized the passage of time. He straightened up abruptly. An expression of whimsical wonderment and awe overspread his face as he drawled:

“Gosh darn my buttons! if I didn’t plumb forget dinner!”

He stumbled across the stream in the darkness and lighted his long-delayed fire. Flapjacks and bacon and warmed-over beans constituted his supper. Then he smoked a pipe by the smouldering coals, listening to the night noises and watching the moonlight stream through the cãnon. After that he unrolled his bed, took off his heavy shoes, and pulled the blankets up to his chin. His face showed white in the moonlight, like the face of a corpse. But it was a corpse that knew its resurrection, for the man rose suddenly on one elbow and gazed across at his hillside.

“Good night, Mr. Pocket,” he called sleepily. “Good night.”

He slept through the early gray of morning until the direct rays of the sun smote his closed eyelids, when he awoke with a start and looked about him until he had established the continuity of his existence and identified his present self with the days previously lived.

To dress, he had merely to buckle on his shoes. He glanced at his fireplace and at his hillside, wavered, but fought down the temptation and started the fire.

“Keep yer shirt on, Bill; keep yer shirt on,” he admonished himself. “What’s the good of rushin’? No use in gettin’ all het up an’ sweaty. Mr. Pocket’ll wait for you. He ain’t a-runnin’ away before you can get yer breakfast. Now, what you want, Bill, is something fresh in yer bill o’ fare. So it’s up to you to go an’ get it.”

He cut a short pole at the water’s edge and drew from one of his pockets a bit of line and a draggled fly that had once been a royal coachman.

“Mebbe they’ll bite in the early morning,” he muttered, as he made his first cast into the pool. And a moment later he was gleefully crying: “What ‘d I tell you, eh? What ‘d I tell you?”

He had no reel, nor any inclination to waste time, and by main strength, and swiftly, he drew out of the water a flashing ten-inch trout. Three more, caught in rapid succession, furnished his breakfast. When he came to the stepping-stones on his way to his hillside, he was struck by a sudden thought, and paused.

“I’d just better take a hike down-stream a ways,” he said. “There’s no tellin’ what cuss may be snoopin’ around.”

But he crossed over on the stones, and with a “I really oughter take that hike,” the need of the precaution passed out of his mind and he fell to work.

At nightfall he straightened up. The small of his back was stiff from stooping toil, and as he put his hand behind him to soothe the protesting muscles, he said:

“Now what d’ye think of that, by damn? I clean forgot my dinner again! If I don’t watch out, I’ll sure be degeneratin’ into a two-meal-a-day crank.”

“Pockets is the damnedest things I ever see for makin’ a man absent-minded,” he communed that night, as he crawled into his blankets. Nor did he forget to call up the hillside, “Good night, Mr. Pocket! Good night!”

Rising with the sun, and snatching a hasty breakfast, he was early at work. A fever seemed to be growing in him, nor did the increasing richness of the test-pans allay this fever. There was a flush in his cheek other than that made by the heat of the sun, and he was oblivious to fatigue and the passage of time. When he filled a pan with dirt, he ran down the hill to wash it; nor could he forbear running up the hill again, panting and stumbling profanely, to refill the pan.

He was now a hundred yards from the water, and the inverted “V” was assuming definite proportions. The width of the pay-dirt steadily decreased, and the man extended in his mind’s eye the sides of the “V” to their meeting-place far up the hill. This was his goal, the apex of the “V,” and he panned many times to locate it.

“Just about two yards above that manzanita bush an’ a yard to the right,” he finally concluded.

Then the temptation seized him. “As plain as the nose on your face,” he said, as he abandoned his laborious cross-cutting and climbed to the indicated apex. He filled a pan and carried it down the hill to wash. It contained no trace of gold. He dug deep, and he dug shallow, filling and washing a dozen pans, and was unrewarded even by the tiniest golden speck. He was enraged at having yielded to the temptation, and cursed himself blasphemously and pridelessly. Then he went down the hill and took up the cross-cutting.

“Slow an’ certain, Bill; slow an’ certain,” he crooned. “Short-cuts to fortune ain’t in your line, an’ it’s about time you know it. Get wise, Bill; get wise. Slow an’ certain’s the only hand you can play; so go to it, an’ keep to it, too.”

As the cross-cuts decreased, showing that the sides of the “V” were converging, the depth of the “V” increased. The gold-trace was dipping into the hill. It was only at thirty inches beneath the surface that he could get colors in his pan. The dirt he found at twenty-five inches from the surface, and at thirty-five inches, yielded barren pans. At the base of the “V,” by the water’s edge, he had found the gold colors at the grass roots. The higher he went up the hill, the deeper the gold dipped. To dig a hole three feet deep in order to get one test-pan was a task of no mean magnitude; while between the man and the apex intervened an untold number of such holes to be dug. “An’ there’s no tellin’ how much deeper it ‘ll pitch,” he sighed, in a moment’s pause, while his fingers soothed his aching back.

Feverish with desire, with aching back and stiffening muscles, with pick and shovel gouging and mauling the soft brown earth, the man toiled up the hill. Before him was the smooth slope, spangled with flowers and made sweet with their breath. Behind him was devastation. It looked like some terrible eruption breaking out on the smooth skin of the hill. His slow progress was like that of a slug, befouling beauty with a monstrous trail.

Though the dipping gold-trace increased the man’s work, he found consolation in the increasing richness of the pans. Twenty cents, thirty cents, fifty cents, sixty cents, were the values of the gold found in the pans, and at nightfall he washed his banner pan, which gave him a dollar’s worth of gold-dust from a shovelful of dirt.

“I’ll just bet it’s my luck to have some inquisitive cuss come buttin’ in here on my pasture,” he mumbled sleepily that night as he pulled the blankets up to his chin.

Suddenly he sat upright. “Bill!” he called sharply. “Now, listen to me, Bill; d’ye hear! It’s up to you, to-morrow mornin’, to mosey round an’ see what you can see. Understand? To-morrow morning, an’ don’t you forget it!”

He yawned and glanced across at his side-hill. “Good night, Mr. Pocket,” he called.

In the morning he stole a march on the sun, for he had finished breakfast when its first rays caught him, and he was climbing the wall of the cãnon where it crumbled away and gave footing. From the outlook at the top he found himself in the midst of loneliness. As far as he could see, chain after chain of mountains heaved themselves into his vision. To the east his eyes, leaping the miles between range and range and between many ranges, brought up at last against the white-peaked Sierras — the main crest, where the backbone of the Western world reared itself against the sky. To the north and south he could see more distinctly the cross-systems that broke through the main trend of the sea of mountains. To the west the ranges fell away, one behind the other, diminishing and fading into the gentle foothills that, in turn, descended into the great valley which he could not see.

And in all that mighty sweep of earth he saw no sign of man nor of the handiwork of man — save only the torn bosom of the hillside at his feet. The man looked long and carefully. Once, far down his own cãnon, he thought he saw in the air a faint hint of smoke. He looked again and decided that it was the purple haze of the hills made dark by a convolution of the cãnon wall at its back.

“Hey, you, Mr. Pocket!” he called down into the cãnon. “Stand out from under! I’m a-comin’, Mr. Pocket! I’m a-comin’!”

The heavy brogans on the man’s feet made him appear clumsy-footed, but he swung down from the giddy height as lightly and airily as a mountain goat. A rock, turning under his foot on the edge of the precipice, did not disconcert him. He seemed to know the precise time required for the turn to culminate in disaster, and in the meantime he utilized the false footing itself for the momentary earth-contact necessary to carry him on into safety. Where the earth sloped so steeply that it was impossible to stand for a second upright, the man did not hesitate. His foot pressed the impossible surface for but a fraction of the fatal second and gave him the bound that carried him onward. Again, where even the fraction of a second’s footing was out of the question, he would swing his body past by a moment’s hand-grip on a jutting knob of rock, a crevice, or a precariously rooted shrub. At last, with a wild leap and yell, he exchanged the face of the wall for an earth-slide and finished the descent in the midst of several tons of sliding earth and gravel.

His first pan of the morning washed out over two dollars in coarse gold. It was from the centre of the “V.” To either side the diminution in the values of the pans was swift. His lines of cross-cutting holes were growing very short. The converging sides of the inverted “V” were only a few yards apart. Their meeting-point was only a few yards above him. But the pay-streak was dipping deeper and deeper into the earth. By early afternoon he was sinking the test-holes five feet before the pans could show the gold-trace.

For that matter, the gold-trace had become something more than a trace; it was a placer mine in itself, and the man resolved to come back after he had found the pocket and work over the ground. But the increasing richness of the pans began to worry him. By late afternoon the worth of the pans had grown to three and four dollars. The man scratched his head perplexedly and looked a few feet up the hill at the manzanita bush that marked approximately the apex of the “V.” He nodded his head and said oracularly:

“It’s one o’ two things, Bill; one o’ two things. Either Mr. Pocket’s spilled himself all out an’ down the hill, or else Mr. Pocket’s that damned rich you maybe won’t be able to carry him all away with you. And that ‘d be hell, wouldn’t it, now?” He chuckled at contemplation of so pleasant a dilemma.

Nightfall found him by the edge of the stream, his eyes wrestling with the gathering darkness over the washing of a five-dollar pan.

“Wisht I had an electric light to go on working,” he said.

He found sleep difficult that night. Many times he composed himself and closed his eyes for slumber to overtake him; but his blood pounded with too strong desire, and as many times his eyes opened and he murmured wearily, “Wisht it was sun-up.”

Sleep came to him in the end, but his eyes were open with the first paling of the stars, and the gray of dawn caught him with breakfast finished and climbing the hillside in the direction of the secret abiding-place of Mr. Pocket.

The first cross-cut the man made, there was space for only three holes, so narrow had become the pay-streak and so close was he to the fountainhead of the golden stream he had been following for four days.

“Be ca’m, Bill; be ca’m,” he admonished himself, as he broke ground for the final hole where the sides of the “V” had at last come together in a point.

“I’ve got the almighty cinch on you, Mr. Pocket, an’ you can’t lose me,” he said many times as he sank the hole deeper and deeper.

Four feet, five feet, six feet, he dug his way down into the earth. The digging grew harder. His pick grated on broken rock. He examined the rock.

“Rotten quartz,” was his conclusion as, with the shovel, he cleared the bottom of the hole of loose dirt. He attacked the crumbling quartz with the pick, bursting the disintegrating rock asunder with every stroke. He thrust his shovel into the loose mass. His eye caught a gleam of yellow. He dropped the shovel and squatted suddenly on his heels. As a farmer rubs the clinging earth from fresh-dug potatoes, so the man, a piece of rotten quartz held in both hands, rubbed the dirt away.

“Sufferin’ Sardanopolis!” he cried. “Lumps an’ chunks of it! Lumps an’ chunks of it!”

It was only half rock he held in his hand. The other half was virgin gold. He dropped it into his pan and examined another piece. Little yellow was to be seen, but with his strong fingers he crumbled the rotten quartz away till both hands were filled with glowing yellow. He rubbed the dirt away from fragment after fragment, tossing them into the gold-pan. It was a treasure-hole. So much had the quartz rotted away that there was less of it than there was of gold. Now and again he found a piece to which no rock clung — a piece that was all gold. A chunk, where the pick had laid open the heart of the gold, glittered like a handful of yellow jewels, and he cocked his head at it and slowly turned it around and over to observe the rich play of the light upon it.

“Talk about yer Too Much Gold diggin’s!” the man snorted contemptuously. “Why, this diggin’ ‘d make it look like thirty cents. This diggin’ is All Gold. An’ right here an’ now I name this yere cãnon ‘All Gold Cãnon,’ b’ gosh!”

Still squatting on his heels, he continued examining the fragments and tossing them into the pan. Suddenly there came to him a premonition of danger. It seemed a shadow had fallen upon him. But there was no shadow. His heart had given a great jump up into his throat and was choking him. Then his blood slowly chilled and he felt the sweat of his shirt cold against his flesh.

He did not spring up nor look around. He did not move. He was considering the nature of the premonition he had received, trying to locate the source of the mysterious force that had warned him, striving to sense the imperative presence of the unseen thing that threatened him. There is an aura of things hostile, made manifest by messengers too refined for the senses to know; and this aura he felt, but knew not how he felt it. His was the feeling as when a cloud passes over the sun. It seemed that between him and life had passed something dark and smothering and menacing; a gloom, as it were, that swallowed up life and made for death — his death.

Every force of his being impelled him to spring up and confront the unseen danger, but his soul dominated the panic, and he remained squatting on his heels, in his hands a chunk of gold. He did not dare to look around, but he knew by now that there was something behind him and above him. He made believe to be interested in the gold in his hand. He examined it critically, turned it over and over, and rubbed the dirt from it. And all the time he knew that something behind him was looking at the gold over his shoulder.

Still feigning interest in the chunk of gold in his hand, he listened intently and he heard the breathing of the thing behind him. His eyes searched the ground in front of him for a weapon, but they saw only the uprooted gold, worthless to him now in his extremity. There was his pick, a handy weapon on occasion; but this was not such an occasion. The man realized his predicament. He was in a narrow hole that was seven feet deep. His head did not come to the surface of the ground. He was in a trap.

He remained squatting on his heels. He was quite cool and collected; but his mind, considering every factor, showed him only his helplessness. He continued rubbing the dirt from the quartz fragments and throwing the gold into the pan. There was nothing else for him to do. Yet he knew that he would have to rise up, sooner or later, and face the danger that breathed at his back. The minutes passed, and with the passage of each minute he knew that by so much he was nearer the time when he must stand up, or else — and his wet shirt went cold against his flesh again at the thought — or else he might receive death as he stooped there over his treasure.

Still he squatted on his heels, rubbing dirt from gold and debating in just what manner he should rise up. He might rise up with a rush and claw his way out of the hole to meet whatever threatened on the even footing above ground. Or he might rise up slowly and carelessly, and feign casually to discover the thing that breathed at his back. His instinct and every fighting fibre of his body favored the mad, clawing rush to the surface. His intellect, and the craft thereof, favored the slow and cautious meeting with the thing that menaced and which he could not see. And while he debated, a loud, crashing noise burst on his ear. At the same instant he received a stunning blow on the left side of the back, and from the point of impact felt a rush of flame through his flesh. He sprang up in the air, but halfway to his feet collapsed. His body crumpled in like a leaf withered in sudden heat, and he came down, his chest across his pan of gold, his face in the dirt and rock, his legs tangled and twisted because of the restricted space at the bottom of the hole. His legs twitched convulsively several times. His body was shaken as with a mighty ague. There was a slow expansion of the lungs, accompanied by a deep sigh. Then the air was slowly, very slowly, exhaled, and his body as slowly flattened itself down into inertness.

Above, revolver in hand, a man was peering down over the edge of the hole. He peered for a long time at the prone and motionless body beneath him. After a while the stranger sat down on the edge of the hole so that he could see into it, and rested the revolver on his knee. Reaching his hand into a pocket, he drew out a wisp of brown paper. Into this he dropped a few crumbs of tobacco. The combination became a cigarette, brown and squat, with the ends turned in. Not once did he take his eyes from the body at the bottom of the hole. He lighted the cigarette and drew its smoke into his lungs with a caressing intake of the breath. He smoked slowly. Once the cigarette went out and he relighted it. And all the while he studied the body beneath him.

In the end he tossed the cigarette stub away and rose to his feet. He moved to the edge of the hole. Spanning it, a hand resting on each edge, and with the revolver still in the right hand, he muscled his body down into the hole. While his feet were yet a yard from the bottom he released his hands and dropped down.

At the instant his feet struck bottom he saw the pocket-miner’s arm leap out, and his own legs knew a swift, jerking grip that overthrew him. In the nature of the jump his revolver-hand was above his head. Swiftly as the grip had flashed about his legs, just as swiftly he brought the revolver down. He was still in the air, his fall in process of completion, when he pulled the trigger. The explosion was deafening in the confined space. The smoke filled the hole so that he could see nothing. He struck the bottom on his back, and like a cat’s the pocket-miner’s body was on top of him. Even as the miner’s body passed on top, the stranger crooked in his right arm to fire; and even in that instant the miner, with a quick thrust of elbow, struck his wrist. The muzzle was thrown up and the bullet thudded into the dirt of the side of the hole.

The next instant the stranger felt the miner’s hand grip his wrist. The struggle was now for the revolver. Each man strove to turn it against the other’s body. The smoke in the hole was clearing. The stranger, lying on his back, was beginning to see dimly. But suddenly he was blinded by a handful of dirt deliberately flung into his eyes by his antagonist. In that moment of shock his grip on the revolver was broken. In the next moment he felt a smashing darkness descend upon his brain, and in the midst of the darkness even the darkness ceased.

But the pocket-miner fired again and again, until the revolver was empty. Then he tossed it from him and, breathing heavily, sat down on the dead man’s legs.

The miner was sobbing and struggling for breath. “Measly skunk!” he panted; “a-campin’ on my trail an’ lettin’ me do the work, an’ then shootin’ me in the back!”

He was half crying from anger and exhaustion. He peered at the face of the dead man. It was sprinkled with loose dirt and gravel, and it was difficult to distinguish the features.

“Never laid eyes on him before,” the miner concluded his scrutiny. “Just a common an’ ordinary thief, damn him! An’ he shot me in the back! He shot me in the back!”

He opened his shirt and felt himself, front and back, on his left side.

“Went clean through, and no harm done!” he cried jubilantly. “I’ll bet he aimed all right all right; but he drew the gun over when he pulled the trigger — the cuss! But I fixed ‘m! Oh, I fixed ‘m!”

His fingers were investigating the bullet-hole in his side, and a shade of regret passed over his face. “It’s goin’ to be stiffer’n hell,” he said. “An’ it’s up to me to get mended an’ get out o’ here.”

He crawled out of the hole and went down the hill to his camp. Half an hour later he returned, leading his pack-horse. His open shirt disclosed the rude bandages with which he had dressed his wound. He was slow and awkward with his left-hand movements, but that did not prevent his using the arm.

The bight of the pack-rope under the dead man’s shoulders enabled him to heave the body out of the hole. Then he set to work gathering up his gold. He worked steadily for several hours, pausing often to rest his stiffening shoulder and to exclaim:

“He shot me in the back, the measly skunk! He shot me in the back!”

When his treasure was quite cleaned up and wrapped securely into a number of blanket-covered parcels, he made an estimate of its value.

“Four hundred pounds, or I’m a Hottentot,” he concluded. “Say two hundred in quartz an’ dirt — that leaves two hundred pounds of gold. Bill! Wake up! Two hundred pounds of gold! Forty thousand dollars! An’ it’s yourn — all yourn!”

He scratched his head delightedly and his fingers blundered into an unfamiliar groove. They quested along it for several inches. It was a crease through his scalp where the second bullet had ploughed.

He walked angrily over to the dead man.

“You would, would you?” he bullied. “You would, eh? Well, fixed you good an’ plenty, an’ I’ll give you decent burial, too. That’s more’n you’d have done for me.” He dragged the body to the edge of the hole and toppled it in. It struck the bottom with a dull crash, on its side, the face twisted up to the light. The miner peered down at it.

“An’ you shot me in the back!” he said accusingly.

With pick and shovel he filled the hole. Then he loaded the gold on his horse. It was too great a load for the animal, and when he had gained his camp he transferred part of it to his saddle-horse. Even so, he was compelled to abandon a portion of his outfit — pick and shovel and gold-pan, extra food and cooking utensils, and divers odds and ends.

The sun was at the zenith when the man forced the horses at the screen of vines and creepers. To climb the huge boulders the animals were compelled to uprear and struggle blindly through the tangled mass of vegetation. Once the saddle-horse fell heavily and the man removed the pack to get the animal on its feet. After it started on its way again the man thrust his head out from among the leaves and peered up at the hillside.

“The measly skunk!” he said, and disappeared.

There was a ripping and tearing of vines and boughs. The trees surged back and forth, marking the passage of the animals through the midst of them. There was a clashing of steel-shod hoofs on stone, and now and again an oath or a sharp cry of command. Then the voice of the man was raised in song: —

“Tu’n around an’ tu’n yo’ face

Untoe them sweet hills of grace

(D’ pow’rs of sin yo’ am scornin’!).

Look about an’ look aroun’,

Fling yo’ sin-pack on d’ groun’

(Yo’ will meet wid d’ Lord in d’ mornin’!).”

The song grew faint and fainter, and through the silence crept back the spirit of the place. The stream once more drowsed and whispered; the hum of the mountain bees rose sleepily. Down through the perfume-weighted air fluttered the snowy fluffs of the cottonwoods. The butterflies drifted in and out among the trees, and over all blazed the quiet sunshine. Only remained the hoof-marks in the meadow and the torn hillside to mark the boisterous trail of the life that had broken the peace of the place and passed on.

Aloha Oe

NEVER are there such departures as from the dock at Honolulu. The great transport lay with steam up, ready to pull out. A thousand persons were on her decks; five thousand stood on the wharf. Up and down the long gangway passed native princes and princesses, sugar kings and the high officials of the Territory. Beyond, in long lines, kept in order by the native police, were the carriages and motor-cars of the Honolulu aristocracy. On the wharf the Royal Hawaiian Band played “Aloha Oe,” and when it finished, a stringed orchestra of native musicians on board the transport took up the same sobbing strains, the native woman singer’s voice rising birdlike above the instruments and the hubbub of departure. It was a silver reed, sounding its clear, unmistakable note in the great diapason of farewell.

Forward, on the lower deck, the rail was lined six deep with khaki-clad young boys, whose bronzed faces told of three years’ campaigning under the sun. But the farewell was not for them. Nor was it for the white-clad captain on the lofty bridge, remote as the stars, gazing down upon the tumult beneath him. Nor was the farewell for the young officers farther aft, returning from the Philippines, nor for the white-faced, climate-ravaged women by their sides. Just aft the gangway, on the promenade deck, stood a score of United States Senators with their wives and daughters--the Senatorial junketing party that for a month had been dined and wined, surfeited with statistics and dragged up volcanic hill and down lava dale to behold the glories and resources of Hawaii. It was for the junketing party that the transport had called in at Honolulu, and it was to the junketing party that Honolulu was saying good-bye.

The Senators were garlanded and bedecked with flowers. Senator Jeremy Sambrooke’s stout neck and portly bosom were burdened with a dozen wreaths. Out of this mass of bloom and blossom projected his head and the greater portion of his freshly sunburned and perspiring face. He thought the flowers an abomination, and as he looked out over the multitude on the wharf it was with a statistical eye that saw none of the beauty, but that peered into the labour power, the factories, the railroads, and the plantations that lay back of the multitude and which the multitude expressed. He saw resources and thought development, and he was too busy with dreams of material achievement and empire to notice his daughter at his side, talking with a young fellow in a natty summer suit and straw hat, whose eager eyes seemed only for her and never left her face. Had Senator Jeremy had eyes for his daughter, he would have seen that, in place of the young girl of fifteen he had brought to Hawaii a short month before, he was now taking away with him a woman.

Hawaii has a ripening climate, and Dorothy Sambrooke had been exposed to it under exceptionally ripening circumstances. Slender, pale, with blue eyes a trifle tired from poring over the pages of books and trying to muddle into an understanding of life--such she had been the month before. But now the eyes were warm instead of tired, the cheeks were touched with the sun, and the body gave the first hint and promise of swelling lines. During that month she had left books alone, for she had found greater joy in reading from the book of life. She had ridden horses, climbed volcanoes, and learned surf swimming. The tropics had entered into her blood, and she was aglow with the warmth and colour and sunshine. And for a month she had been in the company of a man--Stephen Knight, athlete, surf-board rider, a bronzed god of the sea who bitted the crashing breakers, leaped upon their backs, and rode them in to shore.

Dorothy Sambrooke was unaware of the change. Her consciousness was still that of a young girl, and she was surprised and troubled by Steve’s conduct in this hour of saying good-bye. She had looked upon him as her playfellow, and for the month he had been her playfellow; but now he was not parting like a playfellow. He talked excitedly and disconnectedly, or was silent, by fits and starts. Sometimes he did not hear what she was saying, or if he did, failed to respond in his wonted manner. She was perturbed by the way he looked at her. She had not known before that he had such blazing eyes. There was something in his eyes that was terrifying. She could not face it, and her own eyes continually drooped before it. Yet there was something alluring about it, as well, and she continually returned to catch a glimpse of that blazing, imperious, yearning something that she had never seen in human eyes before. And she was herself strangely bewildered and excited.

The transport’s huge whistle blew a deafening blast, and the flower-crowned multitude surged closer to the side of the dock. Dorothy Sambrooke’s fingers were pressed to her ears; and as she made a moue of distaste at the outrage of sound, she noticed again the imperious, yearning blaze in Steve’s eyes. He was not looking at her, but at her ears, delicately pink and transparent in the slanting rays of the afternoon sun. Curious and fascinated, she gazed at that strange something in his eyes until he saw that he had been caught. She saw his cheeks flush darkly and heard him utter inarticulately. He was embarrassed, and she was aware of embarrassment herself. Stewards were going about nervously begging shore-going persons to be gone. Steve put out his hand. When she felt the grip of the fingers that had gripped hers a thousand times on surf-boards and lava slopes, she heard the words of the song with a new understanding as they sobbed in the Hawaiian woman’s silver throat:

“Ka halia ko aloha kai hiki mai,

Ke hone ae nei i ku’u manawa,

O oe no kan aloha

A loko e hana nei.”

Steve had taught her air and words and meaning--so she had thought, till this instant; and in this instant of the last finger clasp and warm contact of palms she divined for the first time the real meaning of the song. She scarcely saw him go, nor could she note him on the crowded gangway, for she was deep in a memory maze, living over the four weeks just past, rereading events in the light of revelation.

When the Senatorial party had landed, Steve had been one of the committee of entertainment. It was he who had given them their first exhibition of surf riding, out at Waikiki Beach, paddling his narrow board seaward until he became a disappearing speck, and then, suddenly reappearing, rising like a sea-god from out of the welter of spume and churning white--rising swiftly higher and higher, shoulders and chest and loins and limbs, until he stood poised on the smoking crest of a mighty, mile-long billow, his feet buried in the flying foam, hurling beach-ward with the speed of an express train and stepping calmly ashore at their astounded feet. That had been her first glimpse of Steve. He had been the youngest man on the committee, a youth, himself, of twenty. He had not entertained by speechmaking, nor had he shone decoratively at receptions. It was in the breakers at Waikiki, in the wild cattle drive on Manna Kea, and in the breaking yard of the Haleakala Ranch that he had performed his share of the entertaining.

She had not cared for the interminable statistics and eternal speechmaking of the other members of the committee. Neither had Steve. And it was with Steve that she had stolen away from the open-air feast at Hamakua, and from Abe Louisson, the coffee planter, who had talked coffee, coffee, nothing but coffee, for two mortal hours. It was then, as they rode among the tree ferns, that Steve had taught her the words of “Aloha Oe,” the song that had been sung to the visiting Senators at every village, ranch, and plantation departure.

Steve and she had been much together from the first. He had been her playfellow. She had taken possession of him while her father had been occupied in taking possession of the statistics of the island territory. She was too gentle to tyrannize over her playfellow, yet she had ruled him abjectly, except when in canoe, or on horse or surf-board, at which times he had taken charge and she had rendered obedience. And now, with this last singing of the song, as the lines were cast off and the big transport began backing slowly out from the dock, she knew that Steve was something more to her than playfellow.

Five thousand voices were singing “Aloha Oe,”--“MY LOVE BE WITH YOU TILL WE MEET AGAIN,”--and in that first moment of known love she realized that she and Steve were being torn apart. When would they ever meet again? He had taught her those words himself. She remembered listening as he sang them over and over under the hau tree at Waikiki. Had it been prophecy? And she had admired his singing, had told him that he sang with such expression. She laughed aloud, hysterically, at the recollection. With such expression!--when he had been pouring his heart out in his voice. She knew now, and it was too late. Why had he not spoken? Then she realized that girls of her age did not marry. But girls of her age did marry--in Hawaii--was her instant thought. Hawaii had ripened her--Hawaii, where flesh is golden and where all women are ripe and sun-kissed.

Vainly she scanned the packed multitude on the dock. What had become of him? She felt she could pay any price for one more glimpse of him, and she almost hoped that some mortal sickness would strike the lonely captain on the bridge and delay departure. For the first time in her life she looked at her father with a calculating eye, and as she did she noted with newborn fear the lines of will and determination. It would be terrible to oppose him. And what chance would she have in such a struggle? But why had Steve not spoken? Now it was too late. Why had he not spoken under the hau tree at Waikiki?

And then, with a great sinking of the heart, it came to her that she knew why. What was it she had heard one day? Oh, yes, it was at Mrs. Stanton’s tea, that afternoon when the ladies of the “Missionary Crowd” had entertained the ladies of the Senatorial party. It was Mrs. Hodgkins, the tall blonde woman, who had asked the question. The scene came back to her vividly--the broad lanai, the tropic flowers, the noiseless Asiatic attendants, the hum of the voices of the many women and the question Mrs. Hodgkins had asked in the group next to her. Mrs. Hodgkins had been away on the mainland for years, and was evidently inquiring after old island friends of her maiden days. “What has become of Susie Maydwell?” was the question she had asked. “Oh, we never see her any more; she married Willie Kupele,” another island woman answered. And Senator Behrend’s wife laughed and wanted to know why matrimony had affected Susie Maydwell’s friendships.

“Hapa-haole,” was the answer; “he was a half-caste, you know, and we of the Islands have to think about our children.”

Dorothy turned to her father, resolved to put it to the test.

“Papa, if Steve ever comes to the United States, mayn’t he come and see us some time?”

“Who? Steve?”

“Yes, Stephen Knight--you know him. You said good-bye to him not five minutes ago. Mayn’t he, if he happens to be in the United States some time, come and see us?”

“Certainly not,” Jeremy Sambrooke answered shortly. “Stephen Knight is a hapa-haole and you know what that means.”

“Oh,” Dorothy said faintly, while she felt a numb despair creep into her heart.

Steve was not a hapa-haole--she knew that; but she did not know that a quarter-strain of tropic sunshine streamed in his veins, and she knew that that was sufficient to put him outside the marriage pale. It was a strange world. There was the Honourable A. S. Cleghorn, who had married a dusky princess of the Kamehameha blood, yet men considered it an honour to know him, and the most exclusive women of the ultra-exclusive “Missionary Crowd” were to be seen at his afternoon teas. And there was Steve. No one had disapproved of his teaching her to ride a surf-board, nor of his leading her by the hand through the perilous places of the crater of Kilauea. He could have dinner with her and her father, dance with her, and be a member of the entertainment committee; but because there was tropic sunshine in his veins he could not marry her.

And he didn’t show it. One had to be told to know. And he was so good-looking. The picture of him limned itself on her inner vision, and before she was aware she was pleasuring in the memory of the grace of his magnificent body, of his splendid shoulders, of the power in him that tossed her lightly on a horse, bore her safely through the thundering breakers, or towed her at the end of an alpenstock up the stern lava crest of the House of the Sun. There was something subtler and mysterious that she remembered, and that she was even then just beginning to understand--the aura of the male creature that is man, all man, masculine man. She came to herself with a shock of shame at the thoughts she had been thinking. Her cheeks were dyed with the hot blood which quickly receded and left them pale at the thought that she would never see him again. The stem of the transport was already out in the stream, and the promenade deck was passing abreast of the end of the dock.

“There’s Steve now,” her father said. “Wave good-bye to him, Dorothy.”

Steve was looking up at her with eager eyes, and he saw in her face what he had not seen before. By the rush of gladness into his own face she knew that he knew. The air was throbbing with the song-

My love to you.

My love be with you till we meet again.

There was no need for speech to tell their story. About her, passengers were flinging their garlands to their friends on the dock. Steve held up his hands and his eyes pleaded. She slipped her own garland over her head, but it had become entangled in the string of Oriental pearls that Mervin, an elderly sugar king, had placed around her neck when he drove her and her father down to the steamer.

She fought with the pearls that clung to the flowers. The transport was moving steadily on. Steve was already beneath her. This was the moment. The next moment and he would be past. She sobbed, and Jeremy Sambrooke glanced at her inquiringly.

“Dorothy!” he cried sharply.

She deliberately snapped the string, and, amid a shower of pearls, the flowers fell to the waiting lover. She gazed at him until the tears blinded her and she buried her face on the shoulder of Jeremy Sambrooke, who forgot his beloved statistics in wonderment at girl babies that insisted on growing up. The crowd sang on, the song growing fainter in the distance, but still melting with the sensuous love-languor of Hawaii, the words biting into her heart like acid because of their untruth.

Aloha oe, Aloha oe, e ke onaona no ho ika lipo,

A fond embrace, ahoi ae au, until we meet again.

Amateur Night

THE elevator boy smiled knowingly to him self. When he took her up, he had noted the sparkle in her eyes, the color in her cheeks. His little cage had quite warmed with the glow of her repressed eagerness. And now, on the down trip, it was glacier-like. The sparkle and the color were gone. She was frowning, and what little he could see of her eyes was cold and steel-gray. Oh, he knew the symptoms, he did. He was an observer, and he knew it, too, and some day, when he was big enough, he was going to be a reporter, sure. And in the meantime he studied the procession of life as it streamed up and down eighteen sky-scraper floors in his elevator car. He slid the door open for her sympathetically and watched her trip determinedly out into the street.

There was a robustness in her carriage which came of the soil rather than of the city pavement. But it was a robustness in a finer than the wonted sense, a vigorous daintiness, it might be called, which gave an impression of virility with none of the womanly left out. It told of a heredity of seekers and fighters, of people that worked stoutly with head and hand, of ghosts that reached down out of the misty past and moulded and made her to be a doer of things.

But she was a little angry, and a great deal hurt. “I can guess what you would tell me,” the editor had kindly but firmly interrupted her lengthy preamble in the long-looked-forward-to interview just ended. “And you have told me enough,” he had gone on (heartlessly, she was sure, as she went over the conversation in its freshness). “You have done no newspaper work. You are undrilled, undisciplined, unhammered into shape. You have received a high-school education, and possibly topped it off with normal school or college. You have stood well in English. Your friends have all told you how cleverly you write, and how beautifully, and so forth and so forth. You think you can do newspaper work, and you want me to put you on. Well, I am sorry, but there are no openings. If you knew how crowded — ”

“But if there are no openings,” she had interrupted, in turn, “how did those who are in, get in? How am I to show that I am eligible to get in?”

“They made themselves indispensable,” was the terse response. “Make yourself indispensable.”

“But how can I, if I do not get the chance?”

“Make your chance.”

“But how?” she had insisted, at the same time privately deeming him a most unreasonable man.

“How? That is your business, not mine,” he said conclusively, rising in token that the interview was at an end. “I must inform you, my dear young lady, that there have been at least eighteen other aspiring young ladies here this week, and that I have not the time to tell each and every one of them how. The function I perform on this paper is hardly that of instructor in a school of journalism.”

She caught an outbound car, and ere she descended from it she had conned the conversation over and over again. “But how?” she repeated to herself, as she climbed the three flights of stairs to the rooms where she and her sister “bach’ed.” “But how?” And so she continued to put the interrogation, for the stubborn Scotch blood, though many times removed from Scottish soil, was still strong in her. And, further, there was need that she should learn how. Her sister Letty and she had come up from an interior town to the city to make their way in the world. John Wyman was land-poor. Disastrous business enterprises had burdened his acres and forced his two girls, Edna and Letty, into doing something for themselves. A year of school-teaching and of night-study of shorthand and typewriting had capitalized their city project and fitted them for the venture, which same venture was turning out anything but successful. The city seemed crowded with inexperienced stenographers and typewriters, and they had nothing but their own inexperience to offer. Edna’s secret ambition had been journalism; but she had planned a clerical position first, so that she might have time and space in which to determine where and on what line of journalism she would embark. But the clerical position had not been forthcoming, either for Letty or her, and day by day their little hoard dwindled, though the room rent remained normal and the stove consumed coal with undiminished voracity. And it was a slim little hoard by now.

“There’s Max Irwin,” Letty said, talking it over. “He’s a journalist with a national reputation. Go and see him, Ed. He knows how, and he should be able to tell you how.”

“But I don’t know him,” Edna objected.

“No more than you knew the editor you saw to-day.”

“Y-e-s,” (long and judicially), “but that’s different.”

“Not a bit different from the strange men and women you’ll interview when you’ve learned how,” Letty encouraged.

“I hadn’t looked at it in that light,” Edna conceded. “After all, where’s the difference between, interviewing Mr. Max Irwin for some paper, or interviewing Mr. Max Irwin for myself? It will be practice, too. I’ll go and look him up in the directory.”

“Letty, I know I can write if I get the chance,” she announced decisively a moment later. “I just FEEL that I have the feel of it, if you know what I mean.”

And Letty knew and nodded. “I wonder what he is like?” she asked softly.

“I’ll make it my business to find out,” Edna assured her; “and I’ll let you know inside forty-eight hours.”

Letty clapped her hands. “Good! That’s the newspaper spirit! Make it twenty-four hours and you are perfect!”

“ — and I am very sorry to trouble you,” she concluded the statement of her case to Max Irwin, famous war correspondent and veteran journalist.

“Not at all,” he answered, with a deprecatory wave of the hand. “If you don’t do your own talking, who’s to do it for you? Now I understand your predicament precisely. You want to get on the INTELLIGENCER, you want to get in at once, and you have had no previous experience. In the first place, then, have you any pull? There are a dozen men in the city, a line from whom would be an open-sesame. After that you would stand or fall by your own ability. There’s Senator Longbridge, for instance, and Claus Inskeep the street-car magnate, and Lane, and McChesney — ” He paused, with voice suspended.

“I am sure I know none of them,” she answered despondently.

“It’s not necessary. Do you know any one that knows them? or any one that knows any one else that knows them?”

Edna shook her head.

“Then we must think of something else,” he went on, cheerfully. “You’ll have to do something yourself. Let me see.”

He stopped and thought for a moment, with closed eyes and wrinkled forehead. She was watching him, studying him intently, when his blue eyes opened with a snap and his face suddenly brightened.

“I have it! But no, wait a minute.”

And for a minute it was his turn to study her. And study her he did, till she could feel her cheeks flushing under his gaze.

“You’ll do, I think, though it remains to be seen,” he said enigmatically. “It will show the stuff that’s in you, besides, and it will be a better claim upon the INTELLIGENCER people than all the lines from all the senators and magnates in the world. The thing for you is to do Amateur Night at the Loops.”

“I — I hardly understand,” Edna said, for his suggestion conveyed no meaning to her. “What are the ‘Loops’? and what is ‘Amateur Night’?”

“I forgot you said you were from the interior. But so much the better, if you’ve only got the journalistic grip. It will be a first impression, and first impressions are always unbiased, unprejudiced, fresh, vivid. The Loops are out on the rim of the city, near the Park, — a place of diversion. There’s a scenic railway, a water toboggan slide, a concert band, a theatre, wild animals, moving pictures, and so forth and so forth. The common people go there to look at the animals and enjoy themselves, and the other people go there to enjoy themselves by watching the common people enjoy themselves. A democratic, fresh-air-breathing, frolicking affair, that’s what the Loops are.

“But the theatre is what concerns you. It’s vaudeville. One turn follows another — jugglers, acrobats, rubber-jointed wonders, fire-dancers, coon-song artists, singers, players, female impersonators, sentimental soloists, and so forth and so forth. These people are professional vaudevillists. They make their living that way. Many are excellently paid. Some are free rovers, doing a turn wherever they can get an opening, at the Obermann, the Orpheus, the Alcatraz, the Louvre, and so forth and so forth. Others cover circuit pretty well all over the country. An interesting phase of life, and the pay is big enough to attract many aspirants.

“Now the management of the Loops, in its bid for popularity, instituted what is called ‘Amateur Night’; that is to say, twice a week, after the professionals have done their turns, the stage is given over to the aspiring amateurs. The audience remains to criticise. The populace becomes the arbiter of art — or it thinks it does, which is the same thing; and it pays its money and is well pleased with itself, and Amateur Night is a paying proposition to the management.

“But the point of Amateur Night, and it is well to note it, is that these amateurs are not really amateurs. They are paid for doing their turn. At the best, they may be termed ‘professional amateurs.’ It stands to reason that the management could not get people to face a rampant audience for nothing, and on such occasions the audience certainly goes mad. It’s great fun — for the audience. But the thing for you to do, and it requires nerve, I assure you, is to go out, make arrangements for two turns, (Wednesday and Saturday nights, I believe), do your two turns, and write it up for the Sunday Intelligencer.”

“But — but,” she quavered, “I — I — ” and there was a suggestion of disappointment and tears in her voice.

“I see,” he said kindly. “You were expecting something else, something different, something better. We all do at first. But remember the admiral of the Queen’s Na-vee, who swept the floor and polished up the handle of the big front door. You must face the drudgery of apprenticeship or quit right now. What do you say?”

The abruptness with which he demanded her decision startled her. As she faltered, she could see a shade of disappointment beginning to darken his face.

“In a way it must be considered a test,” he added encouragingly. “A severe one, but so much the better. Now is the time. Are you game?”

“I’ll try,” she said faintly, at the same time making a note of the directness, abruptness, and haste of these city men with whom she was coming in contact.

“Good! Why, when I started in, I had the dreariest, deadliest details imaginable. And after that, for a weary time, I did the police and divorce courts. But it all came well in the end and did me good. You are luckier in making your start with Sunday work. It’s not particularly great. What of it? Do it. Show the stuff you’re made of, and you’ll get a call for better work--better class and better pay. Now you go out this afternoon to the Loops, and engage to do two turns.”

“But what kind of turns can I do?” Edna asked dubiously.

“Do? That’s easy. Can you sing? Never mind, don’t need to sing. Screech, do anything — that’s what you’re paid for, to afford amusement, to give bad art for the populace to howl down. And when you do your turn, take some one along for chaperon. Be afraid of no one. Talk up. Move about among the amateurs waiting their turn, pump them, study them, photograph them in your brain. Get the atmosphere, the color, strong color, lots of it. Dig right in with both hands, and get the essence of it, the spirit, the significance. What does it mean? Find out what it means. That’s what you’re there for. That’s what the readers of the Sunday Intelligencer want to know.

“Be terse in style, vigorous of phrase, apt, concretely apt, in similitude. Avoid platitudes and commonplaces. Exercise selection. Seize upon things salient, eliminate the rest, and you have pictures. Paint those pictures in words and the Intelligencer will have you. Get hold of a few back numbers, and study the Sunday Intelligencer feature story. Tell it all in the opening paragraph as advertisement of contents, and in the contents tell it all over again. Then put a snapper at the end, so if they’re crowded for space they can cut off your contents anywhere, reattach the snapper, and the story will still retain form. There, that’s enough. Study the rest out for yourself.”

They both rose to their feet, Edna quite carried away by his enthusiasm and his quick, jerky sentences, bristling with the things she wanted to know.

“And remember, Miss Wyman, if you’re ambitious, that the aim and end of journalism is not the feature article. Avoid the rut. The feature is a trick. Master it, but don’t let it master you. But master it you must; for if you can’t learn to do a feature well, you can never expect to do anything better. In short, put your whole self into it, and yet, outside of it, above it, remain yourself, if you follow me. And now good luck to you.”

They had reached the door and were shaking hands.

“And one thing more,” he interrupted her thanks, “let me see your copy before you turn it in. I may be able to put you straight here and there.”

Edna found the manager of the Loops a full-fleshed, heavy-jowled man, bushy of eyebrow and generally belligerent of aspect, with an absent-minded scowl on his face and a black cigar stuck in the midst thereof. Symes was his name, she had learned, Ernst Symes.

“Whatcher turn?” he demanded, ere half her brief application had left her lips.

“Sentimental soloist, soprano,” she answered promptly, remembering Irwin’s advice to talk up.

“Whatcher name?” Mr. Symes asked, scarcely deigning to glance at her.

She hesitated. So rapidly had she been rushed into the adventure that she had not considered the question of a name at all.

“Any name? Stage name?” he bellowed impatiently.

“Nan Bellayne,” she invented on the spur of the moment. “B-e-l-l-a-y-n-e. Yes, that’s it.”

He scribbled it into a notebook. “All right. Take your turn Wednesday and Saturday.”

“How much do I get?” Edna demanded.

“Two-an’-a-half a turn. Two turns, five. Getcher pay first Monday after second turn.”

And without the simple courtesy of “Good day,” he turned his back on her and plunged into the newspaper he had been reading when she entered.

Edna came early on Wednesday evening, Letty with her, and in a telescope basket her costume — a simple affair. A plaid shawl borrowed from the washerwoman, a ragged scrubbing skirt borrowed from the charwoman, and a gray wig rented from a costumer for twenty-five cents a night, completed the outfit; for Edna had elected to be an old Irishwoman singing broken-heartedly after her wandering boy.

Though they had come early, she found everything in uproar. The main performance was under way, the orchestra was playing and the audience intermittently applauding. The infusion of the amateurs clogged the working of things behind the stage, crowded the passages, dressing rooms, and wings, and forced everybody into everybody else’s way. This was particularly distasteful to the professionals, who carried themselves as befitted those of a higher caste, and whose behavior toward the pariah amateurs was marked by hauteur and even brutality. And Edna, bullied and elbowed and shoved about, clinging desperately to her basket and seeking a dressing room, took note of it all.

A dressing room she finally found, jammed with three other amateur “ladies,” who were “making up” with much noise, high-pitched voices, and squabbling over a lone mirror. Her own make-up was so simple that it was quickly accomplished, and she left the trio of ladies holding an armed truce while they passed judgment upon her. Letty was close at her shoulder, and with patience and persistence they managed to get a nook in one of the wings which commanded a view of the stage.

A small, dark man, dapper and debonair, swallow-tailed and top-hatted, was waltzing about the stage with dainty, mincing steps, and in a thin little voice singing something or other about somebody or something evidently pathetic. As his waning voice neared the end of the lines, a large woman, crowned with an amazing wealth of blond hair, thrust rudely past Edna, trod heavily on her toes, and shoved her contemptuously to the side. “Bloomin’ hamateur!” she hissed as she went past, and the next instant she was on the stage, graciously bowing to the audience, while the small, dark man twirled extravagantly about on his tiptoes.

“Hello, girls!”

This greeting, drawled with an inimitable vocal caress in every syllable, close in her ear, caused Edna to give a startled little jump. A smooth-faced, moon-faced young man was smiling at her good-naturedly. His “make-up” was plainly that of the stock tramp of the stage, though the inevitable whiskers were lacking.

“Oh, it don’t take a minute to slap’m on,” he explained, divining the search in her eyes and waving in his hand the adornment in question. “They make a feller sweat,” he explained further. And then, “What’s yer turn?”

“Soprano — sentimental,” she answered, trying to be offhand and at ease.

“Whata you doin’ it for?” he demanded directly.

“For fun; what else?” she countered.

“I just sized you up for that as soon as I put eyes on you. You ain’t graftin’ for a paper, are you?”

“I never met but one editor in my life,” she replied evasively, “and I, he — well, we didn’t get on very well together.”

“Hittin’ ‘m for a job?”

Edna nodded carelessly, though inwardly anxious and cudgelling her brains for something to turn the conversation.

“What’d he say?”

“That eighteen other girls had already been there that week.”

“Gave you the icy mit, eh?” The moon-faced young man laughed and slapped his thighs. “You see, we’re kind of suspicious. The Sunday papers ‘d like to get Amateur Night done up brown in a nice little package, and the manager don’t see it that way. Gets wild-eyed at the thought of it.”

“And what’s your turn?” she asked.

“Who? me? Oh, I’m doin’ the tramp act tonight. I’m Charley Welsh, you know.”

She felt that by the mention of his name he intended to convey to her complete enlightenment, but the best she could do was to say politely, “Oh, is that so?”

She wanted to laugh at the hurt disappointment which came into his face, but concealed her amusement.

“Come, now,” he said brusquely, “you can’t stand there and tell me you’ve never heard of Charley Welsh? Well, you must be young. Why, I’m an Only, the Only amateur at that. Sure, you must have seen me. I’m everywhere. I could be a professional, but I get more dough out of it by doin’ the amateur.”

“But what’s an ‘Only’?” she queried. “I want to learn.”

“Sure,” Charley Welsh said gallantly. “I’ll put you wise. An ‘Only’ is a nonpareil, the feller that does one kind of a turn better’n any other feller. He’s the Only, see?”

And Edna saw.

“To get a line on the biz,” he continued, “throw yer lamps on me. I’m the Only all-round amateur. To-night I make a bluff at the tramp act. It’s harder to bluff it than to really do it, but then it’s acting, it’s amateur, it’s art. See? I do everything, from Sheeny monologue to team song and dance and Dutch comedian. Sure, I’m Charley Welsh, the Only Charley Welsh.”

And in this fashion, while the thin, dark man and the large, blond woman warbled dulcetly out on the stage and the other professionals followed in their turns, did Charley Welsh put Edna wise, giving her much miscellaneous and superfluous information and much that she stored away for the Sunday Intelligencer.

“Well, tra la loo,” he said suddenly. “There’s his highness chasin’ you up. Yer first on the bill. Never mind the row when you go on. Just finish yer turn like a lady.”

It was at that moment that Edna felt her journalistic ambition departing from her, and was aware of an overmastering desire to be somewhere else. But the stage manager, like an ogre, barred her retreat. She could hear the opening bars of her song going up from the orchestra and the noises of the house dying away to the silence of anticipation.

“Go ahead,” Letty whispered, pressing her hand; and from the other side came the peremptory “Don’t flunk!” of Charley Welsh.

But her feet seemed rooted to the floor, and she leaned weakly against a shift scene. The orchestra was beginning over again, and a lone voice from the house piped with startling distinctness:

“Puzzle picture! Find Nannie!”

A roar of laughter greeted the sally, and Edna shrank back. But the strong hand of the manager descended on her shoulder, and with a quick, powerful shove propelled her out on to the stage. His hand and arm had flashed into full view, and the audience, grasping the situation, thundered its appreciation. The orchestra was drowned out by the terrible din, and Edna could see the bows scraping away across the violins, apparently without sound. It was impossible for her to begin in time, and as she patiently waited, arms akimbo and ears straining for the music, the house let loose again (a favorite trick, she afterward learned, of confusing the amateur by preventing him or her from hearing the orchestra).

But Edna was recovering her presence of mind. She became aware, pit to dome, of a vast sea of smiling and fun-distorted faces, of vast roars of laughter, rising wave on wave, and then her Scotch blood went cold and angry. The hard-working but silent orchestra gave her the cue, and, without making a sound, she began to move her lips, stretch forth her arms, and sway her body, as though she were really singing. The noise in the house redoubled in the attempt to drown her voice, but she serenely went on with her pantomime. This seemed to continue an interminable time, when the audience, tiring of its prank and in order to hear, suddenly stilled its clamor, and discovered the dumb show she had been making. For a moment all was silent, save for the orchestra, her lips moving on without a sound, and then the audience realized that it had been sold, and broke out afresh, this time with genuine applause in acknowledgment of her victory. She chose this as the happy moment for her exit, and with a bow and a backward retreat, she was off the stage in Letty’s arms.

The worst was past, and for the rest of the evening she moved about among the amateurs and professionals, talking, listening, observing, finding out what it meant and taking mental notes of it all. Charley Welsh constituted himself her preceptor and guardian angel, and so well did he perform the self-allotted task that when it was all over she felt fully prepared to write her article. But the proposition had been to do two turns, and her native pluck forced her to live up to it. Also, in the course of the intervening days, she discovered fleeting impressions that required verification; so, on Saturday, she was back again, with her telescope basket and Letty.

The manager seemed looking for her, and she caught an expression of relief in his eyes when he first saw her. He hurried up, greeted her, and bowed with a respect ludicrously at variance with his previous ogre-like behavior. And as he bowed, across his shoulders she saw Charley Welsh deliberately wink.

But the surprise had just begun. The manager begged to be introduced to her sister, chatted entertainingly with the pair of them, and strove greatly and anxiously to be agreeable. He even went so far as to give Edna a dressing room to herself, to the unspeakable envy of the three other amateur ladies of previous acquaintance. Edna was nonplussed, and it was not till she met Charley Welsh in the passage that light was thrown on the mystery.

“Hello!” he greeted her. “On Easy Street, eh? Everything slidin’ your way.”

She smiled brightly.

“Thinks yer a female reporter, sure. I almost split when I saw’m layin’ himself out sweet an’ pleasin’. Honest, now, that ain’t yer graft, is it?”

“I told you my experience with editors,” she parried. “And honest now, it was honest, too.”

But the Only Charley Welsh shook his head dubiously. “Not that I care a rap,” he declared. “And if you are, just gimme a couple of lines of notice, the right kind, good ad, you know. And if yer not, why yer all right anyway. Yer not our class, that’s straight.”

After her turn, which she did this time with the nerve of an old campaigner, the manager returned to the charge; and after saying nice things and being generally nice himself, he came to the point.

“You’ll treat us well, I hope,” he said insinuatingly. “Do the right thing by us, and all that?”

“Oh,” she answered innocently, “you couldn’t persuade me to do another turn; I know I seemed to take and that you’d like to have me, but I really, really can’t.”

“You know what I mean,” he said, with a touch of his old bulldozing manner.

“No, I really won’t,” she persisted. “Vaudeville’s too — too wearing on the nerves, my nerves, at any rate.”

Whereat he looked puzzled and doubtful, and forbore to press the point further.

But on Monday morning, when she came to his office to get her pay for the two turns, it was he who puzzled her.

“You surely must have mistaken me,” he lied glibly. “I remember saying something about paying your car fare. We always do this, you know, but we never, never pay amateurs. That would take the life and sparkle out of the whole thing. No, Charley Welsh was stringing you. He gets paid nothing for his turns. No amateur gets paid. The idea is ridiculous. However, here’s fifty cents. It will pay your sister’s car fare also. And,” — very suavely, — ”speaking for the Loops, permit me to thank you for the kind and successful contribution of your services.”

That afternoon, true to her promise to Max Irwin, she placed her typewritten copy into his hands. And while he ran over it, he nodded his head from time to time, and maintained a running fire of commendatory remarks: “Good! — that’s it! — that’s the stuff! — psychology’s all right! — the very idea! — you’ve caught it! — excellent! — missed it a bit here, but it’ll go — that’s vigorous! — strong! — vivid! — pictures! pictures! — excellent! — most excellent!”

And when he had run down to the bottom of the last page, holding out his hand: “My dear Miss Wyman, I congratulate you. I must say you have exceeded my expectations, which, to say the least, were large. You are a journalist, a natural journalist. You’ve got the grip, and you’re sure to get on. The Intelligencer will take it, without doubt, and take you too. They’ll have to take you. If they don’t, some of the other papers will get you.”

“But what’s this?” he queried, the next instant, his face going serious. “You’ve said nothing about receiving the pay for your turns, and that’s one of the points of the feature. I expressly mentioned it, if you’ll remember.”

“It will never do,” he said, shaking his head ominously, when she had explained. “You simply must collect that money somehow. Let me see. Let me think a moment.”

“Never mind, Mr. Irwin,” she said. “I’ve bothered you enough. Let me use your ‘phone, please, and I’ll try Mr. Ernst Symes again.”

He vacated his chair by the desk, and Edna took down the receiver.

“Charley Welsh is sick,” she began, when the connection had been made. “What? No I’m not Charley Welsh. Charley Welsh is sick, and his sister wants to know if she can come out this afternoon and draw his pay for him?”

“Tell Charley Welsh’s sister that Charley Welsh was out this morning, and drew his own pay,” came back the manager’s familiar tones, crisp with asperity.

“All right,” Edna went on. “And now Nan Bellayne wants to know if she and her sister can come out this afternoon and draw Nan Bellayne’s pay?”

“What’d he say? What’d he say?” Max Irwin cried excitedly, as she hung up.

“That Nan Bellayne was too much for him, and that she and her sister could come out and get her pay and the freedom of the Loops, to boot.”

“One thing, more,” he interrupted her thanks at the door, as on her previous visit. “Now that you’ve shown the stuff you’re made of, I should esteem it, ahem, a privilege to give you a line myself to the Intelligencer people.”

And ‘Frisco Kid Came Back

“HELLO ye stiffs! — got the makin’s? I got ter smoke so bad I can taste it. Say! it’s like t’ree squares a day an’ a hold me down, ter be wid yer onst more.

“Wot’v I been doin’ wid meself? an, w’ere did I snare me good togs? Well, it’s dis way. I wuz down in my luck — way down in G — way down under me uppers — Say! I wuz down dat far I fell clear troo’ an’ cum up on top on de udder side — way up in C. Say! yer wudn’t a knowed me!

“Dis is how de presto change happened. I struck a jay town on de C. B. and Q. jerk an’ got hoodooed. I battered a house fer me breakfas’ an’ bumpt up inter a red-headed woman. Say! I wuz dat rattled I fergot ter steal de soap. De nex’ house I slammed de gate at, dere wuz a cross-eyed man, an’ I didn’t spit in me hat. Dat done me all up. I was clean off me nut wid de hoodoo.

“After dat I cudn’t put me han’ ter nuthin’ widout gettin’ de gee hee. Nuthin’ went O. K. Bimeby, w’en I wuz mopin’ up de main-drag, I struck a guy fer de price, an’ he wuz a fly-cop an’ I got thirty days. Dat settled me. Me name wuz Mud. I wuz not in it. I wuz outen de movement.

“W’en I did me time I wuz goin’ ter give de burg de swift an’ elegant side sneak — but I didn’t. An’ dats how I fell clean troo’. Dere wuzn’t a freight along ‘till dark, so I chases meself around ter have a swim. Den I swiped a kid’s line an’ went ter fishin’. Dey wudn’t bite. I cudn’t ketch a cat. I cudn’t ketch nuthin’ ‘till an old Rube take a tumble to himself offen de end. He cum sailin’ by wid a horrible thirst on — he cudn’t get enuff. I trowed ‘m de line an’ snared ‘m de firs’ rattle outen de box.

“W’en I got ‘m landed, he sez, ‘Yer me saviour.’

“‘So yer tellin’ me,’ sez I.

“‘Yer an angel,’ sez he.

“‘Yer bet yer sweet life,’ sez I.

“‘I’ll reward ye,’ sez he.

“‘Now yer shoutin’,’ sez I.

“Say! dat old guy chases me home, an’ after he chewed de rag wid his ole woman — mebbe yer tinkin’ I’m tellin’ yer a fairy story — but may I never get der price again, if dey didn’t adopt me.

“I tole dem me tale of woe. Wot did I w’isper? I tole ‘m how me ole man uster t’ump me ole woman w’en he got an edge on, an’ I tole ‘m how pious she wuz, an’ how she uster tell me to be upright an’ noble — an’ how she kicked de buycket wid a broken heart, an’ how de ole man kicked me out, an’ how he swilled like ‘r fish till he kicked de pig, too. Me little song wuz nuthin’ but kick — ’fer tell yer de truth,’ sez I, ‘I wuz never growed up, I wuz kicked up. Dat’s how I cum here — I wuz kicked here.’

“Den de ole girl took me in her arms an’ sez, ‘Me poor boy.’ An’ de ole boy blows his bandana fit ter kill, an’ I makes de stage hit by cryin’ meself. Say! dat brung down de house — we all blubbered.

“De old girl — say! she was a nice ole girl — she sez I wud never get kicked no more, an’ de ole hoss, he sez he had enuff fer ter take care ‘v me too. Dat’s how I fell troo’ me luck an’ cum out on top.

“W’y didn’t I hol’ it down? Wot are yer givin’ us? Wait till I give yer me spiel. It was no snap. see! Dey wuz too good fer me. Every time I’d get settled down ter tinkin’ ‘v de gang, he’d ask me wot de las’ verse wuz, an’ w’en I didn’t know, he’d look dat hurt it ‘d make me feel bad. I never cud listen, ‘cept w’en he’d read about Joshua. Say! he wuz a scrapper fer yer life! Den I liked Samson, too. De barbers were on a strike w’ere he lived, an’ he wuz stronger dan a locomotive. Parts wuz as good as Deadwood Dick an Nick Carter, an’ w’en he cum to w’ere an ole bloke wuz dat long winded, he lived over nine hundred years. Say! it wuz out uv sight; but den dey wuz a whole lot ‘v dem an’ I got weary. An’ w’en he’d read about dere sons, an’ de sons of dem sons, an’ de sons of dem sons, an’ all de udder sons beside, I’d pound me ear an’ snore.

“Den, I cudn’t quit swearin’, an’ every time I’d rip a big ‘n out, de old gal’d show de whites ‘v her eyes an’ say, ‘Thomas!’ long an’ solem’ an’ reprovin’ like.

“An’ dey wud allus smell me breath ter see if I’d ben smokin’. An’ dey wudn’t let me eat wid me knife, nor spill de java out ‘n me saucer. I cudn’t never ketch on ter dere style. I was allus jabbin’ me knife inter de butter dish, or fergettin’ ter put de sugar spoon back in de bowl. Den I chewed out loud an’ dat scraped on dere nerves. An’ I’d allus fergit an’ put de napkins in me pocket w’en I wuz done. Den dey made me sport me head piece straight on me nut, an’ dey sed I swung me shoulders too much w’en I walked.

“Den I kep’ gettin’ inter scraps wid de kids on de block. Had to do somethin’ fer excitement, see! One time I got a lot ‘v dem on de back fence, an’ made ‘m sit in a row, wid each a chew of Star in his han’. W’en I guv de word dey all began ter chew. De kid dat chewed de longes’ wuz ter get a bird uv a kite I made fer de occasion. Say! yer outen seen dem kids. W’en I called time, dere wuzn’t one left on de fence. Yer’d t’ink de cholera ‘d struck de town de way all chased home, sick. Say! yer outen ben dere. Dere mudders waltzed over ter de house in flocks an’ pestered de life outen de ole girl. Dey sed I wuz corruptin’ de good morals uv dere sons, an’ dat I was a menace ter dere lives an’ property.

“I got inter lots uv scrapes like dat; but I allus jollied dem up an’ made it all right. Dey tried ter sen’ me ter school — Say! I got de G. B. de firs’ day. Dey never got tired — dey wuz allus tryin’ ter improve me. Dey wuz bound ter make a good boy outen me, an’ I wuz boun’ dey wudn’t.

“Bimeby I got homesick. I got ter t’inking of de road again — of de gang an’ de good ole times I had wid dem. Say! it’d make me heart jump w’en I’d hear an engine whistle, an’ I’d t’ink ‘v freights an’ passengers, an’ remember how I uster ketch de blind an’ shinny up ter de decks, or grab a gunnel an’ swing underneath. An’ I wuz jes’ dyin’ fer a game uv craps ‘r seven up. I made up me mind date de adoption scheme was N. G. One day I got ter rememberin’ de las’ mulligan I had. Yer knows de time — w’en Pittsburg Joe bummed de butcher-shops, an’ Chi Slim de bakeries, an’ de Montana Sports de groceries, an’ you an’ I swiped de chickens, w’ile Moulder Blackey got de beer, an’ Leary Joe made de fire, an’ Skysail Jack did de cookin’. Say! it made me mouth water ter t’ink uv it. I cudn’t stand it no longer, so I guv me adopted parents de ditch, an’ hit de road onst more.

“Ah! dere’s de greasy, old deck again. Don’t care ‘f I do. I’ll go yer jes’ onst fer luck. Cut fer deal — Jack High.”

The Apostate

“Now I wake me up to work;

I pray the Lord I may not shirk.

If I should die before the night,

I pray the Lord my work’s all right.”

Amen.

“If you don’t git up, Johnny, I won’t give you a bite to eat!”

The threat had no effect on the boy. He clung stubbornly to sleep, fighting for its oblivion as the dreamer fights for his dream. The boy’s hands loosely clenched themselves, and he made feeble, spasmodic blows at the air. These blows were intended for his mother, but she betrayed practised familiarity in avoiding them as she shook him roughly by the shoulder. “Lemme ‘lone!”

It was a cry that began, muffled, in the deeps of sleep, that swiftly rushed upward, like a wail, into passionate belligerence, and that died away and sank down into an inarticulate whine. It was a bestial cry, as of a soul in torment, filled with infinite protest and pain.

But she did not mind. She was a sad-eyed, tired-faced woman, and she had grown used to this task, which she repeated every day of her life. She got a grip on the bed-clothes and tried to strip them down; but the boy, ceasing his punching, clung to them desperately. In a huddle, at the foot of the bed, he still remained covered. Then she tried dragging the bedding to the floor. The boy opposed her. She braced herself. Hers was the superior weight, and the boy and bedding gave, the former instinctively following the latter in order to shelter against the chill of the room that bit into his body.

As he toppled on the edge of the bed it seemed that he must fall head-first to the floor. But consciousness fluttered up in him. He righted himself and for a moment perilously balanced. Then he struck the floor on his feet. On the instant his mother seized him by the shoulders and shook him. Again his fists struck out, this time with more force and directness. At the same time his eyes opened. She released him. He was awake.

“All right,” he mumbled.

She caught up the lamp and hurried out, leaving him in darkness.

“You’ll be docked,” she warned back to him.

He did not mind the darkness. When he had got into his clothes, he went out into the kitchen. His tread was very heavy for so thin and light a boy. His legs dragged with their own weight, which seemed unreasonable because they were such skinny legs. He drew a broken-bottomed chair to the table.

“Johnny!” his mother called sharply.

He arose as sharply from the chair, and, without a word, went to the sink. It was a greasy, filthy sink. A smell came up from the outlet. He took no notice of it. That a sink should smell was to him part of the natural order, just as it was a part of the natural order that the soap should be grimy with dish-water and hard to lather. Nor did he try very hard to make it lather. Several splashes of the cold water from the running faucet completed the function. He did not wash his teeth. For that matter he had never seen a tooth-brush, nor did he know that there existed beings in the world who were guilty of so great a foolishness as tooth washing.

“You might wash yourself wunst a day without bein’ told,” his mother complained.

She was holding a broken lid on the pot as she poured two cups of coffee. He made no remark, for this was a standing quarrel between them, and the one thing upon which his mother was hard as adamant. “Wunst” a day it was compulsory that he should wash his face. He dried himself on a greasy towel, damp and dirty and ragged, that left his face covered with shreds of lint.

“I wish we didn’t live so far away,” she said, as he sat down. “I try to do the best I can. You know that. But a dollar on the rent is such a savin’, an’ we’ve more room here. You know that.”

He scarcely followed her. He had heard it all before, many times. The range of her thought was limited, and she was ever harking back to the hardship worked upon them by living so far from the mills.

“A dollar means more grub,” he remarked sententiously. “I’d sooner do the walkin’ an’ git the grub.”

He ate hurriedly, half chewing the bread and washing the unmasticated chunks down with coffee. The hot and muddy liquid went by the name of coffee. Johnny thought it was coffee--and excellent coffee. That was one of the few of life’s illusions that remained to him. He had never drunk real coffee in his life.

In addition to the bread, there was a small piece of cold pork. His mother refilled his cup with coffee. As he was finishing the bread, he began to watch if more was forthcoming. She intercepted his questioning glance.

“Now, don’t be hoggish, Johnny,” was her comment. “You’ve had your share. Your brothers an’ sisters are smaller’n you.”

He did not answer the rebuke. He was not much of a talker. Also, he ceased his hungry glancing for more. He was uncomplaining, with a patience that was as terrible as the school in which it had been learned. He finished his coffee, wiped his mouth on the back of his hand, and started to rise.

“Wait a second,” she said hastily. “I guess the loaf kin stand you another slice--a thin un.”

There was legerdemain in her actions. With all the seeming of cutting a slice from the loaf for him, she put loaf and slice back in the bread box and conveyed to him one of her own two slices. She believed she had deceived him, but he had noted her sleight-of-hand. Nevertheless, he took the bread shamelessly. He had a philosophy that his mother, what of her chronic sickliness, was not much of an eater anyway.

She saw that he was chewing the bread dry, and reached over and emptied her coffee cup into his.

“Don’t set good somehow on my stomach this morning,” she explained.

A distant whistle, prolonged and shrieking, brought both of them to their feet. She glanced at the tin alarm-clock on the shelf. The hands stood at half-past five. The rest of the factory world was just arousing from sleep. She drew a shawl about her shoulders, and on her head put a dingy hat, shapeless and ancient.

“We’ve got to run,” she said, turning the wick of the lamp and blowing down the chimney.

They groped their way out and down the stairs. It was clear and cold, and Johnny shivered at the first contact with the outside air. The stars had not yet begun to pale in the sky, and the city lay in blackness. Both Johnny and his mother shuffled their feet as they walked. There was no ambition in the leg muscles to swing the feet clear of the ground.

After fifteen silent minutes, his mother turned off to the right.

“Don’t be late,” was her final warning from out of the dark that was swallowing her up.

He made no response, steadily keeping on his way. In the factory quarter, doors were opening everywhere, and he was soon one of a multitude that pressed onward through the dark. As he entered the factory gate the whistle blew again. He glanced at the east. Across a ragged sky-line of housetops a pale light was beginning to creep. This much he saw of the day as he turned his back upon it and joined his work gang.

He took his place in one of many long rows of machines. Before him, above a bin filled with small bobbins, were large bobbins revolving rapidly. Upon these he wound the jute-twine of the small bobbins. The work was simple. All that was required was celerity. The small bobbins were emptied so rapidly, and there were so many large bobbins that did the emptying, that there were no idle moments.

He worked mechanically. When a small bobbin ran out, he used his left hand for a brake, stopping the large bobbin and at the same time, with thumb and forefinger, catching the flying end of twine. Also, at the same time, with his right hand, he caught up the loose twine-end of a small bobbin. These various acts with both hands were performed simultaneously and swiftly. Then there would come a flash of his hands as he looped the weaver’s knot and released the bobbin. There was nothing difficult about weaver’s knots. He once boasted he could tie them in his sleep. And for that matter, he sometimes did, toiling centuries long in a single night at tying an endless succession of weaver’s knots.

Some of the boys shirked, wasting time and machinery by not replacing the small bobbins when they ran out. And there was an overseer to prevent this. He caught Johnny’s neighbor at the trick, and boxed his ears.

“Look at Johnny there--why ain’t you like him?” the overseer wrathfully demanded.

Johnny’s bobbins were running full blast, but he did not thrill at the indirect praise. There had been a time . . . but that was long ago, very long ago. His apathetic face was expressionless as he listened to himself being held up as a shining example. He was the perfect worker. He knew that. He had been told so, often. It was a commonplace, and besides it didn’t seem to mean anything to him any more. From the perfect worker he had evolved into the perfect machine. When his work went wrong, it was with him as with the machine, due to faulty material. It would have been as possible for a perfect nail-die to cut imperfect nails as for him to make a mistake.

And small wonder. There had never been a time when he had not been in intimate relationship with machines. Machinery had almost been bred into him, and at any rate he had been brought up on it. Twelve years before, there had been a small flutter of excitement in the loom room of this very mill. Johnny’s mother had fainted. They stretched her out on the floor in the midst of the shrieking machines. A couple of elderly women were called from their looms. The foreman assisted. And in a few minutes there was one more soul in the loom room than had entered by the doors. It was Johnny, born with the pounding, crashing roar of the looms in his ears, drawing with his first breath the warm, moist air that was thick with flying lint. He had coughed that first day in order to rid his lungs of the lint; and for the same reason he had coughed ever since.

The boy alongside of Johnny whimpered and sniffed. The boy’s face was convulsed with hatred for the overseer who kept a threatening eye on him from a distance; but every bobbin was running full. The boy yelled terrible oaths into the whirling bobbins before him; but the sound did not carry half a dozen feet, the roaring of the room holding it in and containing it like a wall.

Of all this Johnny took no notice. He had a way of accepting things. Besides, things grow monotonous by repetition, and this particular happening he had witnessed many times. It seemed to him as useless to oppose the overseer as to defy the will of a machine. Machines were made to go in certain ways and to perform certain tasks. It was the same with the overseer.

But at eleven o’clock there was excitement in the room. In an apparently occult way the excitement instantly permeated everywhere. The one-legged boy who worked on the other side of Johnny bobbed swiftly across the floor to a bin truck that stood empty. Into this he dived out of sight, crutch and all. The superintendent of the mill was coming along, accompanied by a young man. He was well dressed and wore a starched shirt--a gentleman, in Johnny’s classification of men, and also, “the Inspector.”

He looked sharply at the boys as he passed along. Sometimes he stopped and asked questions. When he did so, he was compelled to shout at the top of his lungs, at which moments his face was ludicrously contorted with the strain of making himself heard. His quick eye noted the empty machine alongside of Johnny’s, but he said nothing. Johnny also caught his eye, and he stopped abruptly. He caught Johnny by the arm to draw him back a step from the machine; but with an exclamation of surprise he released the arm.

“Pretty skinny,” the superintendent laughed anxiously.

“Pipe stems,” was the answer. “Look at those legs. The boy’s got the rickets--incipient, but he’s got them. If epilepsy doesn’t get him in the end, it will be because tuberculosis gets him first.”

Johnny listened, but did not understand. Furthermore he was not interested in future ills. There was an immediate and more serious ill that threatened him in the form of the inspector.

“Now, my boy, I want you to tell me the truth,” the inspector said, or shouted, bending close to the boy’s ear to make him hear. “How old are you?”

“Fourteen,” Johnny lied, and he lied with the full force of his lungs. So loudly did he lie that it started him off in a dry, hacking cough that lifted the lint which had been settling in his lungs all morning.

“Looks sixteen at least,” said the superintendent.

“Or sixty,” snapped the inspector.

“He’s always looked that way.”

“How long?” asked the inspector, quickly.

“For years. Never gets a bit older.”

“Or younger, I dare say. I suppose he’s worked here all those years?”

“Off and on--but that was before the new law was passed,” the superintendent hastened to add. “Machine idle?” the inspector asked, pointing at the unoccupied machine beside Johnny’s, in which the part-filled bobbins were flying like mad.

“Looks that way.” The superintendent motioned the overseer to him and shouted in his ear and pointed at the machine. “Machine’s idle,” he reported back to the inspector.

They passed on, and Johnny returned to his work, relieved in that the ill had been averted. But the one-legged boy was not so fortunate. The sharp-eyed inspector haled him out at arm’s length from the bin truck. His lips were quivering, and his face had all the expression of one upon whom was fallen profound and irremediable disaster. The overseer looked astounded, as though for the first time he had laid eyes on the boy, while the superintendent’s face expressed shock and displeasure.

“I know him,” the inspector said. “He’s twelve years old. I’ve had him discharged from three factories inside the year. This makes the fourth.”

He turned to the one-legged boy. “You promised me, word and honor, that you’d go to school.”

The one-legged boy burst into tears. “Please, Mr. Inspector, two babies died on us, and we’re awful poor.”

“What makes you cough that way?” the inspector demanded, as though charging him with crime.

And as in denial of guilt, the one-legged boy replied: “It ain’t nothin’. I jes’ caught a cold last week, Mr. Inspector, that’s all.”

In the end the one-legged boy went out of the room with the inspector, the latter accompanied by the anxious and protesting superintendent. After that monotony settled down again. The long morning and the longer afternoon wore away and the whistle blew for quitting time. Darkness had already fallen when Johnny passed out through the factory gate. In the interval the sun had made a golden ladder of the sky, flooded the world with its gracious warmth, and dropped down and disappeared in the west behind a ragged sky-line of housetops.

Supper was the family meal of the day--the one meal at which Johnny encountered his younger brothers and sisters. It partook of the nature of an encounter, to him, for he was very old, while they were distressingly young. He had no patience with their excessive and amazing juvenility. He did not understand it. His own childhood was too far behind him. He was like an old and irritable man, annoyed by the turbulence of their young spirits that was to him arrant silliness. He glowered silently over his food, finding compensation in the thought that they would soon have to go to work. That would take the edge off of them and make them sedate and dignified--like him. Thus it was, after the fashion of the human, that Johnny made of himself a yardstick with which to measure the universe.

During the meal, his mother explained in various ways and with infinite repetition that she was trying to do the best she could; so that it was with relief, the scant meal ended, that Johnny shoved back his chair and arose. He debated for a moment between bed and the front door, and finally went out the latter. He did not go far. He sat down on the stoop, his knees drawn up and his narrow shoulders drooping forward, his elbows on his knees and the palms of his hands supporting his chin. As he sat there, he did no thinking. He was just resting. So far as his mind was concerned, it was asleep. His brothers and sisters came out, and with other children played noisily about him. An electric globe on the corner lighted their frolics. He was peevish and irritable, that they knew; but the spirit of adventure lured them into teasing him. They joined hands before him, and, keeping time with their bodies, chanted in his face weird and uncomplimentary doggerel. At first he snarled curses at them--curses he had learned from the lips of various foremen. Finding this futile, and remembering his dignity, he relapsed into dogged silence.

His brother Will, next to him in age, having just passed his tenth birthday, was the ring-leader. Johnny did not possess particularly kindly feelings toward him. His life had early been embittered by continual giving over and giving way to Will. He had a definite feeling that Will was greatly in his debt and was ungrateful about it. In his own playtime, far back in the dim past, he had been robbed of a large part of that playtime by being compelled to take care of Will. Will was a baby then, and then, as now, their mother had spent her days in the mills. To Johnny had fallen the part of little father and little mother as well.

Will seemed to show the benefit of the giving over and the giving way. He was well-built, fairly rugged, as tall as his elder brother and even heavier. It was as though the life-blood of the one had been diverted into the other’s veins. And in spirits it was the same. Johnny was jaded, worn out, without resilience, while his younger brother seemed bursting and spilling over with exuberance.

The mocking chant rose louder and louder. Will leaned closer as he danced, thrusting out his tongue. Johnny’s left arm shot out and caught the other around the neck. At the same time he rapped his bony fist to the other’s nose. It was a pathetically bony fist, but that it was sharp to hurt was evidenced by the squeal of pain it produced. The other children were uttering frightened cries, while Johnny’s sister, Jennie, had dashed into the house.

He thrust Will from him, kicked him savagely on the shins, then reached for him and slammed him face downward in the dirt. Nor did he release him till the face had been rubbed into the dirt several times. Then the mother arrived, an anaemic whirlwind of solicitude and maternal wrath.

“Why can’t he leave me alone?” was Johnny’s reply to her upbraiding. “Can’t he see I’m tired?”

“I’m as big as you,” Will raged in her arms, his face a mess of tears, dirt, and blood. “I’m as big as you now, an’ I’m goin’ to git bigger. Then I’ll lick you--see if I don’t.”

“You ought to be to work, seein’ how big you are,” Johnny snarled. “That’s what’s the matter with you. You ought to be to work. An’ it’s up to your ma to put you to work.”

“But he’s too young,” she protested. “He’s only a little boy.”

“I was younger’n him when I started to work.”

Johnny’s mouth was open, further to express the sense of unfairness that he felt, but the mouth closed with a snap. He turned gloomily on his heel and stalked into the house and to bed. The door of his room was open to let in warmth from the kitchen. As he undressed in the semi-darkness he could hear his mother talking with a neighbor woman who had dropped in. His mother was crying, and her speech was punctuated with spiritless sniffles.

“I can’t make out what’s gittin’ into Johnny,” he could hear her say. “He didn’t used to be this way. He was a patient little angel.

“An’ he is a good boy,” she hastened to defend. “He’s worked faithful, an’ he did go to work too young. But it wasn’t my fault. I do the best I can, I’m sure.”

Prolonged sniffling from the kitchen, and Johnny murmured to himself as his eyelids closed down, “You betcher life I’ve worked faithful.”

The next morning he was torn bodily by his mother from the grip of sleep. Then came the meagre breakfast, the tramp through the dark, and the pale glimpse of day across the housetops as he turned his back on it and went in through the factory gate. It was another day, of all the days, and all the days were alike.

And yet there had been variety in his life--at the times he changed from one job to another, or was taken sick. When he was six, he was little mother and father to Will and the other children still younger. At seven he went into the mills--winding bobbins. When he was eight, he got work in another mill. His new job was marvellously easy. All he had to do was to sit down with a little stick in his hand and guide a stream of cloth that flowed past him. This stream of cloth came out of the maw of a machine, passed over a hot roller, and went on its way elsewhere. But he sat always in the one place, beyond the reach of daylight, a gas-jet flaring over him, himself part of the mechanism.

He was very happy at that job, in spite of the moist heat, for he was still young and in possession of dreams and illusions. And wonderful dreams he dreamed as he watched the streaming cloth streaming endlessly by. But there was no exercise about the work, no call upon his mind, and he dreamed less and less, while his mind grew torpid and drowsy. Nevertheless, he earned two dollars a week, and two dollars represented the difference between acute starvation and chronic underfeeding.

But when he was nine, he lost his job. Measles was the cause of it. After he recovered, he got work in a glass factory. The pay was better, and the work demanded skill. It was piece-work, and the more skilful he was, the bigger wages he earned. Here was incentive. And under this incentive he developed into a remarkable worker.

It was simple work, the tying of glass stoppers into small bottles. At his waist he carried a bundle of twine. He held the bottles between his knees so that he might work with both hands. Thus, in a sitting position and bending over his own knees, his narrow shoulders grew humped and his chest was contracted for ten hours each day. This was not good for the lungs, but he tied three hundred dozen bottles a day.

The superintendent was very proud of him, and brought visitors to look at him. In ten hours three hundred dozen bottles passed through his hands. This meant that he had attained machine-like perfection. All waste movements were eliminated. Every motion of his thin arms, every movement of a muscle in the thin fingers, was swift and accurate. He worked at high tension, and the result was that he grew nervous. At night his muscles twitched in his sleep, and in the daytime he could not relax and rest. He remained keyed up and his muscles continued to twitch. Also he grew sallow and his lint-cough grew worse. Then pneumonia laid hold of the feeble lungs within the contracted chest, and he lost his job in the glass-works. Now he had returned to the jute mills where he had first begun with winding bobbins. But promotion was waiting for him. He was a good worker. He would next go on the starcher, and later he would go into the loom room. There was nothing after that except increased efficiency.

The machinery ran faster than when he had first gone to work, and his mind ran slower. He no longer dreamed at all, though his earlier years had been full of dreaming. Once he had been in love. It was when he first began guiding the cloth over the hot roller, and it was with the daughter of the superintendent. She was much older than he, a young woman, and he had seen her at a distance only a paltry half-dozen times. But that made no difference. On the surface of the cloth stream that poured past him, he pictured radiant futures wherein he performed prodigies of toil, invented miraculous machines, won to the mastership of the mills, and in the end took her in his arms and kissed her soberly on the brow.

But that was all in the long ago, before he had grown too old and tired to love. Also, she had married and gone away, and his mind had gone to sleep. Yet it had been a wonderful experience, and he used often to look back upon it as other men and women look back upon the time they believed in fairies. He had never believed in fairies nor Santa Claus; but he had believed implicitly in the smiling future his imagination had wrought into the steaming cloth stream.

He had become a man very early in life. At seven, when he drew his first wages, began his adolescence. A certain feeling of independence crept up in him, and the relationship between him and his mother changed. Somehow, as an earner and breadwinner, doing his own work in the world, he was more like an equal with her. Manhood, full-blown manhood, had come when he was eleven, at which time he had gone to work on the night shift for six months. No child works on the night shift and remains a child.

There had been several great events in his life. One of these had been when his mother bought some California prunes. Two others had been the two times when she cooked custard. Those had been events. He remembered them kindly. And at that time his mother had told him of a blissful dish she would sometime make--“floating island,” she had called it, “better than custard.” For years he had looked forward to the day when he would sit down to the table with floating island before him, until at last he had relegated the idea of it to the limbo of unattainable ideals.

Once he found a silver quarter lying on the sidewalk. That, also, was a great event in his life, withal a tragic one. He knew his duty on the instant the silver flashed on his eyes, before even he had picked it up. At home, as usual, there was not enough to eat, and home he should have taken it as he did his wages every Saturday night. Right conduct in this case was obvious; but he never had any spending of his money, and he was suffering from candy hunger. He was ravenous for the sweets that only on red-letter days he had ever tasted in his life.

He did not attempt to deceive himself. He knew it was sin, and deliberately he sinned when he went on a fifteen-cent candy debauch. Ten cents he saved for a future orgy; but not being accustomed to the carrying of money, he lost the ten cents. This occurred at the time when he was suffering all the torments of conscience, and it was to him an act of divine retribution. He had a frightened sense of the closeness of an awful and wrathful God. God had seen, and God had been swift to punish, denying him even the full wages of sin.

In memory he always looked back upon that event as the one great criminal deed of his life, and at the recollection his conscience always awoke and gave him another twinge. It was the one skeleton in his closet. Also, being so made and circumstanced, he looked back upon the deed with regret. He was dissatisfied with the manner in which he had spent the quarter. He could have invested it better, and, out of his later knowledge of the quickness of God, he would have beaten God out by spending the whole quarter at one fell swoop. In retrospect he spent the quarter a thousand times, and each time to better advantage.

There was one other memory of the past, dim and faded, but stamped into his soul everlasting by the savage feet of his father. It was more like a nightmare than a remembered vision of a concrete thing--more like the race-memory of man that makes him fall in his sleep and that goes back to his arboreal ancestry.

This particular memory never came to Johnny in broad daylight when he was wide awake. It came at night, in bed, at the moment that his consciousness was sinking down and losing itself in sleep. It always aroused him to frightened wakefulness, and for the moment, in the first sickening start, it seemed to him that he lay crosswise on the foot of the bed. In the bed were the vague forms of his father and mother. He never saw what his father looked like. He had but one impression of his father, and that was that he had savage and pitiless feet.

His earlier memories lingered with him, but he had no late memories. All days were alike. Yesterday or last year were the same as a thousand years--or a minute. Nothing ever happened. There were no events to mark the march of time. Time did not march. It stood always still. It was only the whirling machines that moved, and they moved nowhere--in spite of the fact that they moved faster.

* * *

When he was fourteen, he went to work on the starcher. It was a colossal event. Something had at last happened that could be remembered beyond a night’s sleep or a week’s pay-day. It marked an era. It was a machine Olympiad, a thing to date from. “When I went to work on the starcher,” or, “after,” or “before I went to work on the starcher,” were sentences often on his lips.

He celebrated his sixteenth birthday by going into the loom room and taking a loom. Here was an incentive again, for it was piece-work. And he excelled, because the clay of him had been moulded by the mills into the perfect machine. At the end of three months he was running two looms, and, later, three and four.

At the end of his second year at the looms he was turning out more yards than any other weaver, and more than twice as much as some of the less skilful ones. And at home things beganto prosper as he approached the full stature of his earning power. Not, however, that his increased earnings were in excess of need. The children were growing up. They ate more. And they were going to school, and school-books cost money. And somehow, the faster he worked, the faster climbed the prices of things. Even the rent went up, though the house had fallen from bad to worse disrepair.

He had grown taller; but with his increased height he seemed leaner than ever. Also, he was more nervous. With the nervousness increased his peevishness and irritability. The children had learned by many bitter lessons to fight shy of him. His mother respected him for his earning power, but somehow her respect was tinctured with fear.

There was no joyousness in life for him. The procession of the days he never saw. The nights he slept away in twitching unconsciousness. The rest of the time he worked, and his consciousness was machine consciousness. Outside this his mind was a blank. He had no ideals, and but one illusion; namely, that he drank excellent coffee. He was a work-beast. He had no mental life whatever; yet deep down in the crypts of his mind, unknown to him, were being weighed and sifted every hour of his toil, every movement of his hands, every twitch of his muscles, and preparations were making for a future course of action that would amaze him and all his little world.

It was in the late spring that he came home from work one night aware of unusual tiredness. There was a keen expectancy in the air as he sat down to the table, but he did not notice. He went through the meal in moody silence, mechanically eating what was before him. The children um’d and ah’d and made smacking noises with their mouths. But he was deaf to them.

“D’ye know what you’re eatin’?” his mother demanded at last, desperately.

He looked vacantly at the dish before him, and vacantly at her.

“Floatin’ island,” she announced triumphantly.

“Oh,” he said.

“Floating island!” the children chorussed loudly.

“Oh,” he said. And after two or three mouthfuls, he added, “guess I ain’t hungry to-night.”

He dropped the spoon, shoved back his chair, and arose wearily from the table.

“An’ I guess I’ll go to bed.”

His feet dragged more heavily than usual as he crossed the kitchen floor. Undressing was a Titan’s task, a monstrous futility, and he wept weakly as he crawled into bed, one shoe still on. He was aware of a rising, swelling something inside his head that made his brain thick and fuzzy. His lean fingers felt as big as his wrist, while in the ends of them was a remoteness of sensation vague and fuzzy like his brain. The small of his back ached intolerably. All his bones ached. He ached everywhere. And in his head began the shrieking, pounding, crashing, roaring of a million looms. All space was filled with flying shuttles. They darted in and out, intricately, amongst the stars. He worked a thousand looms himself, and ever they speeded up, faster and faster, and his brain unwound, faster and faster, and became the thread that fed the thousand flying shuttles.

He did not go to work next morning. He was too busy weaving colossally on the thousand looms that ran inside his head. His mother went to work, but first she sent for the doctor. It was a severe attack of la grippe, he said. Jennie served as nurse and carried out his instructions.

It was a very severe attack, and it was a week before Johnny dressed and tottered feebly across the floor. Another week, the doctor said, and he would be fit to return to work. The foreman of the loom room visited him on Sunday afternoon, the first day of his convalescence. The best weaver in the room, the foreman told his mother. His job would be held for him. He could come back to work a week from Monday.

“Why don’t you thank ‘im, Johnny?” his mother asked anxiously.

“He’s ben that sick he ain’t himself yet,” she explained apologetically to the visitor.

Johnny sat hunched up and gazing steadfastly at the floor. He sat in the same position long after the foreman had gone. It was warm outdoors, and he sat on the stoop in the afternoon. Sometimes his lips moved. He seemed lost in endless calculations.

Next morning, after the day grew warm, he took his seat on the stoop. He had pencil and paper this time with which to continue his calculations, and he calculated painfully and amazingly.

“What comes after millions?” he asked at noon, when Will came home from school. “An’ how d’ye work ‘em?”

That afternoon finished his task. Each day, but without paper and pencil, he returned to the stoop. He was greatly absorbed in the one tree that grew across the street. He studied it for hours at a time, and was unusually interested when the wind swayed its branches and fluttered its leaves. Throughout the week he seemed lost in a great communion with himself. On Sunday, sitting on the stoop, he laughed aloud, several times, to the perturbation of his mother, who had not heard him laugh in years.

Next morning, in the early darkness, she came to his bed to rouse him. He had had his fill of sleep all week, and awoke easily. He made no struggle, nor did he attempt to hold on to the bedding when she stripped it from him. He lay quietly, and spoke quietly.

“It ain’t no use, ma.”

“You’ll be late,” she said, under the impression that he was still stupid with sleep.

“I’m awake, ma, an’ I tell you it ain’t no use. You might as well lemme alone. I ain’t goin’ to git up.”

“But you’ll lose your job!” she cried.

“I ain’t goin’ to git up,” he repeated in a strange, passionless voice.

She did not go to work herself that morning. This was sickness beyond any sickness she had ever known. Fever and delirium she could understand; but this was insanity. She pulled the bedding up over him and sent Jennie for the doctor.

When that person arrived, Johnny was sleeping gently, and gently he awoke and allowed his pulse to be taken.

“Nothing the matter with him,” the doctor reported. “Badly debilitated, that’s all. Not much meat on his bones.”

“He’s always been that way,” his mother volunteered.

“Now go ‘way, ma, an’ let me finish my snooze.”

Johnny spoke sweetly and placidly, and sweetly and placidly he rolled over on his side and went to sleep.

At ten o’clock he awoke and dressed himself. He walked out into the kitchen, where he found his mother with a frightened expression on her face.

“I’m goin’ away, ma,” he announced, “an’ I jes’ want to say good-by.” She threw her apron over her head and sat down suddenly and wept. He waited patiently.

“I might a-known it,” she was sobbing.

“Where?” she finally asked, removing the apron from her head and gazing up at him with a stricken face in which there was little curiosity.

“I don’t know--anywhere.”

As he spoke, the tree across the street appeared with dazzling brightness on his inner vision. It seemed to lurk just under his eyelids, and he could see it whenever he wished.

“An’ your job?” she quavered.

“I ain’t never goin’ to work again.”

“My God, Johnny!” she wailed, “don’t say that!”

What he had said was blasphemy to her. As a mother who hears her child deny God, was Johnny’s mother shocked by his words.

“What’s got into you, anyway?” she demanded, with a lame attempt at imperativeness.

“Figures,” he answered. “Jes’ figures. I’ve ben doin’ a lot of figurin’ this week, an’ it’s most surprisin’.”

“I don’t see what that’s got to do with it,” she sniffled.

Johnny smiled patiently, and his mother was aware of a distinct shock at the persistent absence of his peevishness and irritability.

“I’ll show you,” he said. “I’m plum’ tired out. What makes me tired? Moves. I’ve ben movin’ ever since I was born. I’m tired of movin’, an’ I ain’t goin’ to move any more. Remember when I worked in the glass-house? I used to do three hundred dozen a day. Now I reckon I made about ten different moves to each bottle. That’s thirty-six thousan’ moves a day. Ten days, three hundred an’ sixty thousan’ moves a day. One month, one million an’ eighty thousan’ moves. Chuck out the eighty thousan’--“ he spoke with the complacent beneficence of a philanthropist--“chuck out the eighty thousan’, that leaves a million moves a month--twelve million moves a year.

“At the looms I’m movin’ twic’st as much. That makes twenty-five million moves a year, an’ it seems to me I’ve ben a movin’ that way ‘most a million years.

“Now this week I ain’t moved at all. I ain’t made one move in hours an’ hours. I tell you it was swell, jes’ settin’ there, hours an’ hours, an’ doin’ nothin’. I ain’t never ben happy before. I never had any time. I’ve ben movin’ all the time. That ain’t no way to be happy. An’ I ain’t goin’ to do it any more. I’m jes’ goin’ to set, an’ set, an’ rest, an’ rest, and then rest some more.”

“But what’s goin’ to come of Will an’ the children?” she asked despairingly.

“That’s it, `Will an’ the children,’“ he repeated.

But there was no bitterness in his voice. He had long known his mother’s ambition for the younger boy, but the thought of it no longer rankled. Nothing mattered any more. Not even that.

“I know, ma, what you’ve ben plannin’ for Will--keepin’ him in school to make a bookkeeper out of him. But it ain’t no use, I’ve quit. He’s got to go to work.”

“An’ after I have brung you up the way I have,” she wept, starting to cover her head with the apron and changing her mind.

“You never brung me up,” he answered with sad kindliness. “brung myself up, ma, an’ I brung up Will. He’s bigger’n me, an’ heavier, an’ taller. When I was a kid, I reckon I didn’t git enough to eat. When he come along an’ was a kid, I was workin’ an’ earnin’ grub for him too. But that’s done with. Will can go to work, same as me, or he can go to hell, I don’t care which. I’m tired. I’m goin’ now. Ain’t you goin’ to say good-by?”

She made no reply. The apron had gone over her head again, and she was crying. He paused a moment in the doorway.

“I’m sure I done the best I knew how,” she was sobbing.

He passed out of the house and down the street. A wan delight came into his face at the sight of the lone tree. “Jes’ ain’t goin’ to do nothin’,” he said to himself, half aloud, in a crooning tone. He glanced wistfully up at the sky, but the bright sun dazzled and blinded him.

It was a long walk he took, and he did not walk fast. It took him past the jute-mill. The muffled roar of the loom room came to his ears, and he smiled. It was a gentle, placid smile. He hated no one, not even the pounding, shrieking machines. There was no bitterness in him, nothing but an inordinate hunger for rest.

The houses and factories thinned out and the open spaces increased as he approached the country. At last the city was behind him, and he was walking down a leafy lane beside the railroad track. He did not walk like a man. He did not look like a man. He was a travesty of the human. It was a twisted and stunted and nameless piece of life that shambled like a sickly ape, arms loose-hanging, stoop-shouldered, narrow-chested, grotesque and terrible.

He passed by a small railroad station and lay down in the grass under a tree. All afternoon he lay there. Sometimes he dozed, with muscles that twitched in his sleep. When awake, he lay without movement, watching the birds or looking up at the sky through the branches of the tree above him. Once or twice he laughed aloud, but without relevance to anything he had seen or felt.

After twilight had gone, in the first darkness of the night, a freight train rumbled into the station. When the engine was switching cars on to the side-track, Johnny crept along the side of the train. He pulled open the side-door of an empty box-car and awkwardly and laboriously climbed in. He closed the door. The engine whistled. Johnny was lying down, and in the darkness he smiled.

God of His Fathers

(First published in McClure’s Magazine, Vol. 17, May, 1901)

On every hand stretched the forest primeval, -- the home of noisy comedy and silent tragedy. Here the struggle for survival continued to wage with all its ancient brutality. Briton and Russian were still to overlap in the Land of the Rainbow’s End -- and this was the very heart of it -- nor had Yankee gold yet purchased its vast domain. The wolf-pack still clung to the flank of the cariboo-herd, singling out the weak and the big with calf, and pulling them down as remorselessly as were it a thousand, thousand generations into the past. The sparse aborigines still acknowledged the rule of their chiefs and medicine men, drove out bad spirits, burned their witches, fought their neighbors, and ate their enemies with a relish which spoke well of their bellies. But it was at the moment when the stone age was drawing to a close. Already, over unknown trails and chartless wildernesses, were the harbingers of the steel arriving, -- fairfaced, blue-eyed, indomitable men, incarnations of the unrest of their race. By accident or design, single-handed and in twos and threes, they came from no one knew whither, and fought, or died, or passed on, no one knew whence. The priests raged against them, the chiefs called forth their fighting men, and stone clashed with steel; but to little purpose. Like water seeping from some mighty reservoir, they trickled through the dark forests and mountain passes, threading the highways in bark canoes, or with their moccasined feet breaking trail for the wolf-dogs. They came of a great breed, and their mothers were many; but the fur-clad denizens of the Northland had this yet to learn. So many an unsung wanderer fought his last and died under the cold fire of the aurora, as did his brothers in burning sands and reeking jungles, and as they shall continue to do till in the fulness of time the destiny of their race be achieved.

It was near twelve. Along the northern horizon a rosy glow, fading to the west and deepening to the east, marked the unseen dip of the midnight sun. The gloaming and the dawn were so commingled that there was no night, -- simply a wedding of day with day, a scarcely perceptible blending of two circles of the sun. A kildee timidly chirped good-night; the full, rich throat of a robin proclaimed good-morrow. From an island on the breast of the Yukon a colony of wild fowl voiced its interminable wrongs, while a loon laughed mockingly back across a still stretch of river.

In the foreground, against the bank of a lazy eddy, birch- bark canoes were lined two and three deep. Ivory-bladed spears, bone-barbed arrows, buckskinthonged bows, and simple basket- woven traps bespoke the fact that in the muddy current of the river the salmon-run was on. In the background, from the tangle of skin tents and drying frames, rose the voices of the fisher folk. Bucks skylarked with bucks or flirted with the maidens, while the older squaws, shut out from this by virtue of having fulfilled the end of their existence in reproduction, gossiped as they braided rope from the green roots of trailing vines. At their feet their naked progeny played and squabbled, or rolled in the muck with the tawny wolf-dogs.

To one side of the encampment, and conspicuously apart from it, stood a second camp of two tents. But it was a white man’s camp. If nothing else, the choice of position at least bore convincing evidence of this. In case of offence, it commanded the Indian quarters a hundred yards away; of defence, a rise to the ground and the cleared intervening space; and last, of defeat, the swift slope of a score of yards to the canoes below. From one of the tents came the petulant cry of a sick child and the crooning song of a mother. In the open, over the smouldering embers of a fire, two men held talk.

“Eh? I love the church like a good son. Bien! So great a love that my days have been spent in fleeing away from her, and my nights in dreaming dreams of reckoning. Look you!” The half- breed’s voice rose to an angry snarl. “I am Red River born. My father was white -- as white as you. But you are Yankee, and he was British bred, and a gentleman’s son. And my mother was the daughter of a chief, and was a man. Ay, and one had to look the second time to see what manner of blood ran in my veins; for I lived with the whites, and was one of them, and my father’s heart beat in me. It happened

there was a maiden -- white -- who looked on me with kind eyes. Her father had much land and many horses; also he was a big man among his people, and his blood was the blood of the French. He said the girl knew not her own mind, and talked overmuch with her, and became wroth that such things should be.

“But she knew her mind, for we came quick before the priest. And quicker had come her father, with lying words, false promises, know not what; so that the priest stiffened his neck and would not make us that we might live one with the other. As at the beginning it was the church which would not bless my birth, so now it was the church which refused me marriage and put the blood of men upon my hands. Bien! Thus have I cause to love the church. So I struck the priest on his woman’s mouth, and we took swift horses, the girl and I, to Fort Pierre, where was a minister of good heart. But hot on our trail was her father, and brothers, and other men he had gathered to him. And we fought, our horses on the run, till I emptied three saddles and the rest drew off and went on to Fort Pierre. Then we took east, the girl and I, to the hills and forests, and we lived one with the other, and we were not married, -- the work of the good church which I love like a son.

“But mark you, for this is the strangeness of woman, the way of which no man may understand. One of the saddles I emptied was that of her father’s, and the hoofs of those who came behind had pounded him into the earth. This we saw, the girl and I, and this I had forgot had she not remembered. And in the quiet of the evening, after the day’s hunt were done, it came between us, and in the silence of the night when we lay beneath the stars and should have been one. It was there always. She never spoke, but it sat by our fire and held us ever apart. She tried to put it aside, but at such times it would rise up till I could read it in the look of her eyes, in the very intake of her breath.

“So in the end she bore me a child, a woman-child, and died. Then I went among my mother’s people, that it might nurse at a warm breast and live. But my hands were wet with the blood of men, look you, because of the church, wet with the blood of men. And the Riders of the North came for me, but my mother’s brother, who was then chief in his own right, hid me and gave me horses and food. And we went away, my woman-child and I, even to the Hudson Bay Country, where white men were few and the questions they asked not many. And I worked for the company as a hunter, as a guide, as a driver of dogs, till my woman- child was become a woman, tall, and slender, and fair to the eye. “You know the winter, long and lonely, breeding evil thoughts and bad deeds. The Chief Factor was a hard man, and bold. And he was not such that a woman would delight in looking upon. But he cast eyes upon my woman-child who was become a woman. Mother of God! he sent me away on a long trip with the dogs, that he might -you understand, he was a hard man and without heart. She was most white, and her soul was white, and a good woman, and -- well, she died.

“It was bitter cold the night of my return, and I had been away months, and the dogs were limping sore when I came to the fort. The Indians and breeds looked on me in silence, and I felt the fear of knew not what, but I said nothing till the dogs were fed and I had eaten as a man with work before him should. Then I spoke up, demanding the word, and they shrank from me, afraid of my anger and what I should do; but the story came out, the pitiful story, word for word and act for act, and they marvelled that I should be so quiet.

“When they had done I went to the Factor’s house, calmer than now in the telling of it. He had been afraid and called upon the breeds to help him; but they were not pleased with the deed, and had left him to lie on the bed he had made. So he had fled to the house of the priest. Thither I followed. But when I was come to that place, the priest stood in my way, and spoke soft words, and said a man in anger should go neither to the right nor left, but straight to God. I asked by the right of a father’s wrath that he give me past, but he said only over his body, and besought with me to pray. Look you, it was the church, always the church; for I passed over his body and sent the Factor to meet my woman-child before his god, which is a bad god, and the god of the white men.

“Then was there hue and cry, for word was sent to the station below, and I came away. Through the Land of the Great Slave, down the Valley of the Mackenzie to the never-opening ice, over the White Rockies, past the Great Curve of the Yukon, even to this place did come. And from that day to this, yours is the first face of my father’s people I have looked upon. May it be the last! These people, which are my people, are a simple folk, and I have been raised to honor among them. My word is their law, and their priests but do my bidding, else would I not suffer them. When I speak for them I speak for myself. We ask to be let alone. We do not want your kind. If we permit you to sit by our fires, after you will come your church, your priests, and your gods. And know this, for each white man who comes to my village, him will I make deny his god. You are the first, and I give you grace. So it were well you go, and go quickly.”

“I am not responsible for my brothers,” the second man spoke up, filling his pipe in a meditative manner. Hay Stockard was at times as thoughtful of speech as he was wanton of action; but only at times.

“But I know your breed,” responded the other. “Your brothers are many, and it is you and yours who break the trail for them to follow. In time they shall come to possess the land, but not in my time. Already, have I heard, are they on the head-reaches of the Great River, and far away below are the Russians.”

Hay Stockard lifted his head with a quick start. This was startling geographical information. The Hudson Bay post at Fort Yukon had other notions concerning the course of the river, believing it to flow into the Arctic.

“Then the Yukon empties into Bering Sea?” he asked.

“I do not know, but below there are Russians, many Russians. Which is neither here nor there. You may go on and see for yourself; you may go back to your brothers; but up the Koyukuk you shall not go while the priests and fighting men do my bidding. Thus do I command, I, Baptiste the Red, whose word is law and who am head man over this people.”

“And should I not go down to the Russians, or back to my brothers?”

“Then shall you go swift-footed before your god, which is a bad god, and the god of the white men.”

The red sun shot up above the northern skyline, dripping and bloody. Baptiste the Red came to his feet, nodded curtly, and went back to his camp amid the crimson shadows and the singing of the robins.

Hay Stockard finished his pipe by the fire, picturing in smoke and coal the unknown upper reaches of the Koyukuk, the strange stream which ended here its arctic travels and merged its waters with the muddy Yukon flood. Somewhere up there, if the dying words of a shipwrecked sailorman who had made the fearful overland journey were to be believed, and if the vial of golden grains in his pouch attested to anything, -- somewhere up there, in that home of winter, stood the Treasure House of the North. And as keeper of the gate, Baptiste the Red, English half-breed and renegade, barred the way.

“Bah!” He kicked the embers apart and rose to his full height, arms lazily outstretched, facing the flushing north with careless soul.

Hay Stockard swore, harshly, in the rugged monosyllables of his mother tongue. His wife lifted her gaze from the pots and pans, and followed his in a keen scrutiny of the river. She was a woman of the Teslin Country, wise in the ways of her husband’s vernacular when it grew intensive. From the slipping of a snowshoe thong to the forefront of sudden death, she could gauge occasion by the pitch and volume of his blasphemy. So she knew the present occasion merited attention. A long canoe, with paddles flashing back the rays of the westering sun, was crossing the current from above and urging in for the eddy. Hay Stockard watched it intently. Three men rose and dipped, rose and dipped, in rhythmical precision; but a red bandanna, wrapped about the head of one, caught and held his eye.

“Bill!” he called. “Oh, Bill!”

A shambling, loose-jointed giant rolled out of one of the tents, yawning and rubbing the sleep from his eyes. Then he sighted the strange canoe and was wide awake on the instant.

“By the jumping Methuselah! That damned sky-pilot!”

Hay Stockard nodded his head bitterly, half-reached for his rifle, then shrugged his shoulders.

“Pot-shot him,” Bill suggested, “and settle the thing out of hand. He ‘ll spoil us sure if we don’t.” But the other declined this drastic measure and turned away, at the same time bidding the woman return to her work, and calling Bill back from the bank. The two Indians in the canoe moored it on the edge of the eddy, while its white occupant, conspicuous by his gorgeous head-gear, came up the bank.

“Like Paul of Tarsus, I give you greeting. Peace be unto you and grace before the Lord.”

His advances were met sullenly, and without speech. “To you, Hay Stockard, blasphemer and Philistine, greeting. In your heart is the lust of Mammon, in your mind cunning devils, in your tent this woman whom you live with in adultery; yet of these divers sins, even here in the wilderness, I, Sturges Owen, apostle to the Lord, bid you to repent and cast from you your iniquities.”

“Save your cant! Save your cant!” Hay Stockard broke in testily. “You ‘ll need all you ‘ve got, and more, for Red Baptiste over yonder.”

He waved his hand toward the Indian camp, where the half- breed was looking steadily across, striving to make out the new-comers. Sturges Owen, disseminator of light and apostle to the Lord, stepped to the edge of the steep and commanded his men to bring up the camp outfit. Stockard followed him.

“Look here,” he demanded, plucking the missionary by the shoulder and twirling him about. “Do you value your hide?”

“My life is in the Lord’s keeping, and I do but work in His vineyard,” he replied solemnly.

“Oh, stow that! Are you looking for a job of martyrship?”

“If He so wills.”

“Well, you ‘ll find it right here, but I ‘m going to give you some advice first. Take it or leave it. If you stop here, you ‘ll be cut off in the midst of your labors. And not you alone, but your men, Bill, my wife -- “

“Who is a daughter of Belial and hearkeneth not to the true Gospel.”

“And myself. Not only do you bring trouble upon yourself, but upon us. I was frozen in with you last winter, as you will well recollect, and I know you for a good man and a fool. If you think it your duty to strive with the heathen, well and good; but do exercise some wit in the way you go about it. This man, Red Baptiste, is no Indian. He comes of our common stock, is as bull-necked as I ever dared be, and as wild a fanatic the one way as you are the other. When you two come together, hell ‘ll be to pay, and I don’t care to be mixed up in it. Understand? So take my advice and go away. If you go down- stream, you ‘ll fall in with the Russians. There ‘s bound to be Greek priests among them, and they ‘ll see you safe through to Bering Sea, -- that ‘s where the Yukon empties, -and from there it won’t be hard to get back to civilization. Take my word for it and get out of here as fast as God ‘ll let you.”

“He who carries the Lord in his heart and the Gospel in his hand hath no fear of the machinations of man or devil,” the missionary answered stoutly. “I will see this man and wrestle with him. One backslider returned to the fold is a greater victory than a thousand heathen. He who is strong for evil can be as mighty for good, witness Saul when he journeyed up to Damascus to bring Christian captives to Jerusalem. And the voice of the Saviour came to him, crying, `Saul, Saul, why persecutest thou me?’ And therewith Paul arrayed himself on the side of the Lord, and thereafter was most mighty in the saving of souls. And even as thou, Paul of Tarsus, even so do I work in the vineyard of the Lord, bearing trials and tribulations, scoffs and sneers, stripes and punishments, for His dear sake.”

“Bring up the little bag with the tea and a kettle of water,” he called the next instant to his boatmen; “not forgetting the haunch of cariboo and the mixing-pan.” When his men, converts by his own hand, had gained the bank, the trio fell to their knees, hands and backs burdened with camp equipage, and offered up thanks for their passage through the wilderness and their safe arrival. Hay Stockard looked upon the function with sneering disapproval, the romance and solemnity of it lost to his matter-of-fact soul. Baptiste the Red, still gazing across, recognized the familiar postures, and remembered the girl who had shared his star-roofed couch in the hills and forests, and the womanchild who lay somewhere by bleak Hudson’s Bay.

“Confound it, Baptiste, could n’t think of it. Not for a moment. Grant that this man is a fool and of small use in the nature of things, but still, you know, I can’t give him up.”

Hay Stockard paused, striving to put into speech the rude ethics of his heart.

“He ‘s worried me, Baptiste, in the past and now, and caused me all manner of troubles; but can’t you see, he ‘s my own breed -- white -- and -- and -why, I could n’t buy my life with his, not if he was a nigger.”

“So be it,” Baptiste the Red made answer. “I have given you grace and choice. I shall come presently, with my priests and fighting men, and either shall I kill you, or you deny your god. Give up the priest to my pleasure, and you shall depart in peace. Otherwise your trail ends here. My people are against you to the babies. Even now have the children stolen away your canoes.” He pointed down to the river. Naked boys had slipped down the water from the point above, cast loose the canoes, and by then had worked them into the current. When they had drifted out of rifle-shot they clambered over the sides and paddled ashore.

“Give me the priest, and you may have them back again. Come! Speak your mind, but without haste.”

Stockard shook his head. His glance dropped to the woman of the Teslin Country with his boy at her breast, and he would have wavered had he not lifted his eyes to the men before him.

“I am not afraid,” Sturges Owen spoke up. “The Lord bears me in his right hand, and alone am I ready to go into the camp of the unbeliever. It is not too late. Faith may move mountains. Even in the eleventh hour may I win his soul to the true righteousness.”

“Trip the beggar up and make him fast,” Bill whispered hoarsely in the ear of his leader, while the missionary kept the floor and wrestled with the heathen. “Make him hostage, and bore him if they get ugly.”

“No,” Stockard answered. “I gave him my word that he could speak with us unmolested. Rules of warfare, Bill; rules of warfare. He’s been on the square, given us warning, and all that, and -- why, damn it, man, I can’t break my word!”

“He ‘ll keep his, never fear.”

“Don’t doubt it, but I won’t let a half-breed outdo me in fair dealing. Why not do what he wants, -- give him the missionary and be done with it?”

“N-no,” Bill hesitated doubtfully.

“Shoe pinches, eh?”

Bill flushed a little and dropped the discussion. Baptiste the Red was still waiting the final decision. Stockard went up to him.

“It ‘s this way, Baptiste. I came to your village minded to go up the Koyukuk. I intended no wrong. My heart was clean of evil. It is still clean. Along comes this priest, as you call him. I did n’t bring him here. He ‘d have come whether I was here or not. But now that he is here, being of my people, I ‘ve got to stand by him. And ‘m going to. Further, it will be no child’s play. When you have done, your village will be silent and empty, your people wasted as after a famine. True, we will be gone; likewise the pick of your fighting men -”

“But those who remain shall be in peace, nor shall the word of strange gods and the tongues of strange priests be buzzing in their ears.”

Both men shrugged their shoulders and turned away, the half-breed going back to his own camp. The missionary called his two men to him, and they fell into prayer. Stockard and Bill attacked the few standing pines with their axes, felling them into convenient breastworks. The child had fallen asleep, so the woman placed it on a heap of furs and lent a hand in fortifying the camp. Three sides were thus defended, the steep declivity at the rear precluding attack from that direction. When these arrangements had been completed, the two men stalked into the open, clearing away, here and there, the scattered underbrush. From the opposing camp came the booming of war- drums and the voices of the priests stirring the people to anger.

“Worst of it is they ‘ll come in rushes,” Bill complained as they walked back with shouldered axes.

“And wait till midnight, when the light gets dim for shooting.”

“Can’t start the ball a-rolling too early, then.” Bill exchanged the axe for a rifle, and took a careful rest. One of the medicine-men, towering above his tribesmen, stood out distinctly. Bill drew a bead on him.

“All ready?” he asked.

Stockard opened the ammunition box, placed the woman where she could reload in safety, and gave the word. The medicine-man dropped. For a moment there was silence, then a wild howl went up and a flight of bone arrows fell short.

“I ‘d like to take a look at the beggar,” Bill remarked, throwing a fresh shell into place. “I ‘ll swear I drilled him clean between the eyes.”

“Did n’t work.” Stockard shook his head gloomily. Baptiste had evidently quelled the more warlike of his followers, and instead of precipitating an attack in the bright light of day, the shot had caused a hasty exodus, the Indians drawing out of the village beyond the zone of fire.

In the full tide of his proselyting fervor, borne along by the hand of God, Sturges Owen would have ventured alone into the camp of the unbeliever, equally prepared for miracle or martyrdom; but in the waiting which ensued, the fever of conviction died away gradually, as the natural man asserted itself. Physical fear replaced spiritual hope; the love of life, the love of God. It was no new experience. He could feel his weakness coming on, and knew it of old time. He had struggled against it and been overcome by it before. He remembered when the other men had driven their paddles like mad in the van of a roaring ice-flood, how, at the critical moment, in a panic of worldly terror, he had dropped his paddle and besought wildly with his God for pity. And there were other times. The recollection was not pleasant. It brought shame to him that his spirit should be so weak and his flesh so strong. But the love of life! the love of life! He could not strip it from him. Because of it had his dim ancestors perpetuated their line; because of it was he destined to perpetuate his. His courage, if courage it might be called, was bred of fanaticism. The courage of Stockard and Bill was the adherence to deep- rooted ideals. Not that the love of life was less, but the love of race tradition more; not that they were unafraid to die, but that they were brave enough not to live at the price of shame.

The missionary rose, for the moment swayed by the mood of sacrifice. He half crawled over the barricade to proceed to the other camp, but sank back, a trembling mass, wailing: “As the spirit moves! As the spirit moves! Who am I that I should set aside the judgments of God? Before the foundations of the world were all things written in the book of life. Worm that I am, shall I erase the page or any portion thereof? As God wills, so shall the spirit move!”

Bill reached over, plucked him to his feet, and shook him, fiercely, silently. Then he dropped the bundle of quivering nerves and turned his attention to the two converts. But they showed little fright and a cheerful alacrity in preparing for the coming passage at arms.

Stockard, who had been talking in undertones with the Teslin woman, now turned to the missionary.

“Fetch him over here,” he commanded of Bill.

“Now,” he ordered, when Sturges Owen had been duly deposited before him, “make us man and wife, and be lively about it.” Then he added apologetically to Bill: “No telling how it ‘s to end, so I just thought I ‘d get my affairs straightened up.”

The woman obeyed the behest of her white lord. To her the ceremony was meaningless. By her lights she was his wife, and had been from the day they first foregathered. The converts served as witnesses. Bill stood over the missionary, prompting him when he stumbled. Stockard put the responses in the woman’s mouth, and when the time came, for want of better, ringed her finger with thumb and forefinger of his own.

“Kiss the bride!” Bill thundered, and Sturges Owen was too weak to disobey.

“Now baptize the child!”

“Neat and tidy,” Bill commented.

“Gathering the proper outfit for a new trail,” the father explained, taking the boy from the mother’s arms. “I was grub- staked, once, into the Cascades, and had everything in the kit except salt. Never shall forget it. And if the woman and the kid cross the divide to-night they might as well be prepared for potluck. A long shot, Bill, between ourselves, but nothing lost if it misses.”

A cup of water served the purpose, and the child was laid away in a secure corner of the barricade. The men built the fire, and the evening meal was cooked.

The sun hurried round to the north, sinking closer to the horizon. The heavens in that quarter grew red and bloody. The shadows lengthened, the light dimmed, and in the sombre recesses of the forest life slowly died away. Even the wild fowl in the river softened their raucous chatter and feigned the nightly farce of going to bed. Only the tribesmen increased their clamor, war-drums booming and voices raised in savage folk songs. But as the sun dipped they ceased their tumult. The rounded hush of midnight was complete. Stockard rose to his knees and peered over the logs. Once the child wailed in pain and disconcerted him. The mother bent over it, but it slept again. The silence was interminable, profound. Then, of a sudden, the robins burst into full-throated song. The night had passed.

A flood of dark figures boiled across the open. Arrows whistled and bowthongs sang. The shrill-tongued rifles answered back. A spear, and a mighty cast, transfixed the Teslin woman as she hovered above the child. A spent arrow, diving between the logs, lodged in the missionary’s arm.

There was no stopping the rush. The middle distance was cumbered with bodies, but the rest surged on, breaking against and over the barricade like an ocean wave. Sturges Owen fled to the tent, while the men were swept from their feet, buried beneath the human tide. Hay Stockard alone regained the surface, flinging the tribesmen aside like yelping curs. He had managed to seize an axe. A dark hand grasped the child by a naked foot, and drew it from beneath its mother. At arm’s length its puny body circled through the air, dashing to death against the logs. Stockard clove the man to the chin and fell to clearing space. The ring of savage faces closed in, raining upon him spear-thrusts and bonebarbed arrows. The sun shot up, and they swayed back and forth in the crimson shadows. Twice, with his axe blocked by too deep a blow, they rushed him; but each time he flung them clear. They fell underfoot and he trampled dead and dying, the way slippery with blood. And still the day brightened and the robins sang. Then they drew back from him in awe, and he leaned breathless upon his axe.

“Blood of my soul!” cried Baptiste the Red. “But thou art a man. Deny thy god, and thou shalt yet live.”

Stockard swore his refusal, feebly but with grace.

“Behold! A woman!” Sturges Owen had been brought before the half-breed.

Beyond a scratch on the arm, he was uninjured, but his eyes roved about him in an ecstasy of fear. The heroic figure of the blasphemer, bristling with wounds and arrows, leaning defiantly upon his axe, indifferent, indomitable, superb, caught his wavering vision. And he felt a great envy of the man who could go down serenely to the dark gates of death. Surely Christ, and not he, Sturges Owen, had been moulded in such manner. And why not he? He felt dimly the curse of ancestry, the feebleness of spirit which had come down to him out of the past, and he felt an anger at the creative force, symbolize it as he would, which had formed him, its servant, so weakly. For even a stronger man, this anger and the stress of circumstance were sufficient to breed apostasy, and for Sturges Owen it was inevitable. In the fear of man’s anger he would dare the wrath of God. He had been raised up to serve the Lord only that he might be cast down. He had been given faith without the strength of faith; he had been given spirit without the power of spirit. It was unjust.

“Where now is thy god?” the half-breed demanded.

“I do not know.” He stood straight and rigid, like a child repeating a catechism.

“Hast thou then a god at all?” “I had.”

“And now?”

“No.”

Hay Stockard swept the blood from his eyes and laughed. The missionary looked at him curiously, as in a dream. A feeling of infinite distance came over him, as though of a great remove. In that which had transpired, and which was to transpire, he had no part. He was a spectator -- at a distance, yes, at a distance. The words of Baptiste came to him faintly: --

“Very good. See that this man go free, and that no harm befall him. Let him depart in peace. Give him a canoe and food. Set his face toward the Russians, that he may tell their priests of Baptiste the Red, in whose country there is no god.”

They led him to the edge of the steep, where they paused to witness the final tragedy. The half-breed turned to Hay Stockard.

“There is no god,” he prompted.

The man laughed in reply. One of the young men poised a war-spear for the cast.

“Hast thou a god?”

“Ay, the God of my fathers.”

He shifted the axe for a better grip. Baptiste the Red gave the sign, and the spear hurtled full against his breast. Sturges Owen saw the ivory head stand out beyond his back, saw the man sway, laughing, and snap the shaft short as he fell upon it. Then he went down to the river, that he might carry to the Russians the message of Baptiste the Red, in whose country there was no god.

At the Rainbow’s End

It was for two reasons that Montana Kid discarded his “chaps” and Mexican spurs, and shook the dust of the Idaho ranges from his feet. In the first place, the encroachments of a steady, sober, and sternly moral civilization had destroyed the primeval status of the western cattle ranges, and refined society turned the cold eye of disfavor upon him and his ilk. In the second place, in one of its cyclopean moments the race had arisen and shoved back its frontier several thousand miles. Thus, with unconscious foresight, did mature society make room for its adolescent members. True, the new territory was mostly barren; but its several hundred thousand square miles of frigidity at least gave breathing space to those who else would have suffocated at home.

Montana Kid was such a one. Heading for the sea-coast, with a haste several sheriff’s posses might possibly have explained, and with more nerve than coin of the realm, he succeeded in shipping from a Puget Sound port, and managed to survive the contingent miseries of steerage sea-sickness and steerage grub. He was rather sallow and drawn, but still his own indomitable self, when he landed on the Dyea beach one day in the spring of the year. Between the cost of dogs, grub, and outfits, and the customs exactions of the two clashing governments, it speedily penetrated to his understanding that the Northland was anything save a poor man’s Mecca. So he cast about him in search of quick harvests. Between the beach and the passes were scattered many thousands of passionate pilgrims. These pilgrims Montana Kid proceeded to farm. At first he dealt faro in a pine-board gambling shack; but disagreeable necessity forced him to drop a sudden period into a man’s life, and to move on up trail. Then he effected a corner in horseshoe nails, and they circulated at par with legal tender, four to the dollar, till an unexpected consignment of a hundred barrels or so broke the market and forced him to disgorge his stock at a loss. After that he located at Sheep Camp, organized the professional packers, and jumped the freight ten cents a pound in a single day. In token of their gratitude, the packers patronized his faro and roulette layouts and were mulcted cheerfully of their earnings. But his commercialism was of too lusty a growth to be long endured; so they rushed him one night, burned his shanty, divided the bank, and headed him up the trail with empty pockets.

Ill-luck was his running mate. He engaged with responsible parties to run whisky across the line by way of precarious and unknown trails, lost his Indian guides, and had the very first outfit confiscated by the Mounted Police. Numerous other misfortunes tended to make him bitter of heart and wanton of action, and he celebrated his arrival at Lake Bennett by terrorizing the camp for twenty straight hours. Then a miners’ meeting took him in hand, and commanded him to make himself scarce. He had a wholesome respect for such assemblages, and he obeyed in such haste that he inadvertently removed himself at the tail-end of another man’s dog team. This was equivalent to horse-stealing in a more mellow clime, so he hit only the high places across Bennett and down Tagish, and made his first camp a full hundred miles to the north.

Now it happened that the break of spring was at hand, and many of the principal citizens of Dawson were travelling south on the last ice. These he met and talked with, noted their names and possessions, and passed on. He had a good memory, also a fair imagination; nor was veracity one of his virtues.

II

Dawson, always eager for news, beheld Montana Kid’s sled heading down the Yukon, and went out on the ice to meet him. No, he hadn’t any newspapers; didn’t know whether Durrant was hanged yet, nor who had won the Thanksgiving game; hadn’t heard whether the United States and Spain had gone to fighting; didn’t know who Dreyfus was; but O’Brien? Hadn’t they heard? O’Brien, why, he was drowned in the White Horse; Sitka Charley the only one of the party who escaped. Joe Ladue? Both legs frozen and amputated at the Five Fingers. And Jack Dalton? Blown up on the “Sea Lion” with all hands. And Bettles? Wrecked on the “Carthagina,” in Seymour Narrows,--twenty survivors out of three hundred. And Swiftwater Bill? Gone through the rotten ice of Lake LeBarge with six female members of the opera troupe he was convoying. Governor Walsh? Lost with all hands and eight sleds on the Thirty Mile. Devereaux? Who was Devereaux? Oh, the courier! Shot by Indians on Lake Marsh.

So it went. The word was passed along. Men shouldered in to ask after friends and partners, and in turn were shouldered out, too stunned for blasphemy. By the time Montana Kid gained the bank he was surrounded by several hundred fur-clad miners. When he passed the Barracks he was the centre of a procession. At the Opera House he was the nucleus of an excited mob, each member struggling for a chance to ask after some absent comrade. On every side he was being invited to drink. Never before had the Klondike thus opened its arms to a che-cha-qua. All Dawson was humming. Such a series of catastrophes had never occurred in its history. Every man of note who had gone south in the spring had been wiped out. The cabins vomited forth their occupants. Wild-eyed men hurried down from the creeks and gulches to seek out this man who had told a tale of such disaster. The Russian half-breed wife of Bettles sought the fireplace, inconsolable, and rocked back and forth, and ever and anon flung white wood-ashes upon her raven hair. The flag at the Barracks flopped dismally at half-mast. Dawson mourned its dead.

Why Montana Kid did this thing no man may know. Nor beyond the fact that the truth was not in him, can explanation be hazarded. But for five whole days he plunged the land in wailing and sorrow, and for five whole days he was the only man in the Klondike. The country gave him its best of bed and board. The saloons granted him the freedom of their bars. Men sought him continuously. The high officials bowed down to him for further information, and he was feasted at the Barracks by Constantine and his brother officers. And then, one day, Devereaux, the government courier, halted his tired dogs before the gold commissioner’s office. Dead? Who said so? Give him a moose steak and he’d show them how dead he was. Why, Governor Walsh was in camp on the Little Salmon, and O’Brien coming in on the first water. Dead? Give him a moose steak and he’d show them.

And forthwith Dawson hummed. The Barracks’ flag rose to the masthead, and Bettles’ wife washed herself and put on clean raiment. The community subtly signified its desire that Montana Kid obliterate himself from the landscape. And Montana Kid obliterated; as usual, at the tail-end of some one else’s dog team. Dawson rejoiced when he headed down the Yukon, and wished him godspeed to the ultimate destination of the case-hardened sinner. After that the owner of the dogs bestirred himself, made complaint to Constantine, and from him received the loan of a policeman.

III

With Circle City in prospect and the last ice crumbling under his runners, Montana Kid took advantage of the lengthening days and travelled his dogs late and early. Further, he had but little doubt that the owner of the dogs in question had taken his trail, and he wished to make American territory before the river broke. But by the afternoon of the third day it became evident that he had lost in his race with spring. The Yukon was growling and straining at its fetters. Long detours became necessary, for the trail had begun to fall through into the swift current beneath, while the ice, in constant unrest, was thundering apart in great gaping fissures. Through these and through countless airholes, the water began to sweep across the surface of the ice, and by the time he pulled into a woodchopper’s cabin on the point of an island, the dogs were being rushed off their feet and were swimming more often than not. He was greeted sourly by the two residents, but he unharnessed and proceeded to cook up.

Donald and Davy were fair specimens of frontier inefficients. Canadian-born, city-bred Scots, in a foolish moment they had resigned their counting-house desks, drawn upon their savings, and gone Klondiking. And now they were feeling the rough edge of the country. Grubless, spiritless, with a lust for home in their hearts, they had been staked by the P. C. Company to cut wood for its steamers, with the promise at the end of a passage home. Disregarding the possibilities of the ice-run, they had fittingly demonstrated their inefficiency by their choice of the island on which they located. Montana Kid, though possessing little knowledge of the break-up of a great river, looked about him dubiously, and cast yearning glances at the distant bank where the towering bluffs promised immunity from all the ice of the Northland.

After feeding himself and dogs, he lighted his pipe and strolled out to get a better idea of the situation. The island, like all its river brethren, stood higher at the upper end, and it was here that Donald and Davy had built their cabin and piled many cords of wood. The far shore was a full mile away, while between the island and the near shore lay a back-channel perhaps a hundred yards across. At first sight of this, Montana Kid was tempted to take his dogs and escape to the mainland, but on closer inspection he discovered a rapid current flooding on top. Below, the river twisted sharply to the west, and in this turn its breast was studded by a maze of tiny islands.

“That’s where she’ll jam,” he remarked to himself.

Half a dozen sleds, evidently bound up-stream to Dawson, were splashing through the chill water to the tail of the island. Travel on the river was passing from the precarious to the impossible, and it was nip and tuck with them till they gained the island and came up the path of the wood-choppers toward the cabin. One of them, snow-blind, towed helplessly at the rear of a sled. Husky young fellows they were, rough-garmented and trail-worn, yet Montana Kid had met the breed before and knew at once that it was not his kind.

“Hello! How’s things up Dawson-way?” queried the foremost, passing his eye over Donald and Davy and settling it upon the Kid.

A first meeting in the wilderness is not characterized by formality. The talk quickly became general, and the news of the Upper and Lower Countries was swapped equitably back and forth. But the little the newcomers had was soon over with, for they had wintered at Minook, a thousand miles below, where nothing was doing. Montana Kid, however, was fresh from Salt Water, and they annexed him while they pitched camp, swamping him with questions concerning the outside, from which they had been cut off for a twelvemonth.

A shrieking split, suddenly lifting itself above the general uproar on the river, drew everybody to the bank. The surface water had increased in depth, and the ice, assailed from above and below, was struggling to tear itself from the grip of the shores. Fissures reverberated into life before their eyes, and the air was filled with multitudinous crackling, crisp and sharp, like the sound that goes up on a clear day from the firing line.

From up the river two men were racing a dog team toward them on an uncovered stretch of ice. But even as they looked, the pair struck the water and began to flounder through. Behind, where their feet had sped the moment before, the ice broke up and turned turtle. Through this opening the river rushed out upon them to their waists, burying the sled and swinging the dogs off at right angles in a drowning tangle. But the men stopped their flight to give the animals a fighting chance, and they groped hurriedly in the cold confusion, slashing at the detaining traces with their sheath-knives. Then they fought their way to the bank through swirling water and grinding ice, where, foremost in leaping to the rescue among the jarring fragments, was the Kid.

“Why, blime me, if it ain’t Montana Kid!” exclaimed one of the men whom the Kid was just placing upon his feet at the top of the bank. He wore the scarlet tunic of the Mounted Police and jocularly raised his right hand in salute.

“Got a warrant for you, Kid,” he continued, drawing a bedraggled paper from his breast pocket, “an’ I ‘ope as you’ll come along peaceable.”

Montana Kid looked at the chaotic river and shrugged his shoulders, and the policeman, following his glance, smiled.

“Where are the dogs?” his companion asked.

“Gentlemen,” interrupted the policeman, “this ‘ere mate o’ mine is Jack Sutherland, owner of Twenty-Two Eldorado--“

“Not Sutherland of ‘92?” broke in the snow-blinded Minook man, groping feebly toward him.

“The same.” Sutherland gripped his hand.

“And you?”

“Oh, I’m after your time, but I remember you in my freshman year,--you were doing P. G. work then. Boys,” he called, turning half about, “this is Sutherland, Jack Sutherland, erstwhile full-back on the ‘Varsity. Come up, you gold-chasers, and fall upon him! Sutherland, this is Greenwich,--played quarter two seasons back.”

“Yes, I read of the game,” Sutherland said, shaking hands. “And I remember that big run of yours for the first touchdown.”

Greenwich flushed darkly under his tanned skin and awkwardly made room for another.

“And here’s Matthews,--Berkeley man. And we’ve got some Eastern cracks knocking about, too. Come up, you Princeton men! Come up! This is Sutherland, Jack Sutherland!”

Then they fell upon him heavily, carried him into camp, and supplied him with dry clothes and numerous mugs of black tea.

Donald and Davy, overlooked, had retired to their nightly game of crib. Montana Kid followed them with the policeman.

“Here, get into some dry togs,” he said, pulling them from out his scanty kit. “Guess you’ll have to bunk with me, too.”

“Well, I say, you’re a good ‘un,” the policeman remarked as he pulled on the other man’s socks. “Sorry I’ve got to take you back to Dawson, but I only ‘ope they won’t be ‘ard on you.”

“Not so fast.” The Kid smiled curiously. “We ain’t under way yet. When I go I’m going down river, and I guess the chances are you’ll go along.”

“Not if I know myself--“

“Come on outside, and I’ll show you, then. These damn fools,” thrusting a thumb over his shoulder at the two Scots, “played smash when they located here. Fill your pipe, first--this is pretty good plug--and enjoy yourself while you can. You haven’t many smokes before you.”

The policeman went with him wonderingly, while Donald and Davy dropped their cards and followed. The Minook men noticed Montana Kid pointing now up the river, now down, and came over.

“What’s up?” Sutherland demanded.

“Nothing much.” Nonchalance sat well upon the Kid. “Just a case of raising hell and putting a chunk under. See that bend down there? That’s where she’ll jam millions of tons of ice. Then she’ll jam in the bends up above, millions of tons. Upper jam breaks first, lower jam holds, pouf!” He dramatically swept the island with his hand. “Millions of tons,” he added reflectively.

“And what of the woodpiles?” Davy questioned.

The Kid repeated his sweeping gestures and Davy wailed, “The labor of months! It canna be! Na, na, lad, it canna be. I doot not it’s a jowk. Ay, say that it is,” he appealed.

But when the Kid laughed harshly and turned on his heel, Davy flung himself upon the piles and began frantically to toss the cordwood back from the bank.

“Lend a hand, Donald!” he cried. “Can ye no lend a hand? ‘T is the labor of months and the passage home!”

Donald caught him by the arm and shook him, but he tore free. “Did ye no hear, man? Millions of tons, and the island shall be sweepit clean.”

“Straighten yersel’ up, man,” said Donald. “It’s a bit fashed ye are.”

But Davy fell upon the cordwood. Donald stalked back to the cabin, buckled on his money belt and Davy’s, and went out to the point of the island where the ground was highest and where a huge pine towered above its fellows.

The men before the cabin heard the ringing of his axe and smiled. Greenwich returned from across the island with the word that they were penned in. It was impossible to cross the back-channel. The blind Minook man began to sing, and the rest joined in with —

“Wonder if it’s true? Does it seem so to you? Seems to me he’s lying-Oh, I wonder if it’s true?”

“It’s ay sinfu’,” Davy moaned, lifting his head and watching them dance in the slanting rays of the sun. “And my guid wood a’ going to waste.”

“Oh, I wonder if it’s true,” was flaunted back.

The noise of the river ceased suddenly. A strange calm wrapped about them. The ice had ripped from the shores and was floating higher on the surface of the river, which was rising. Up it came, swift and silent, for twenty feet, till the huge cakes rubbed softly against the crest of the bank. The tail of the island, being lower, was overrun. Then, without effort, the white flood started down-stream. But the sound increased with the momentum, and soon the whole island was shaking and quivering with the shock of the grinding bergs. Under pressure, the mighty cakes, weighing hundreds of tons, were shot into the air like peas. The frigid anarchy increased its riot, and the men had to shout into one another’s ears to be heard. Occasionally the racket from the back channel could be heard above the tumult. The island shuddered with the impact of an enormous cake which drove in squarely upon its point. It ripped a score of pines out by the roots, then swinging around and over, lifted its muddy base from the bottom of the river and bore down upon the cabin, slicing the bank and trees away like a gigantic knife. It seemed barely to graze the corner of the cabin, but the cribbed logs tilted up like matches, and the structure, like a toy house, fell backward in ruin.

“The labor of months! The labor of months, and the passage home!” Davy wailed, while Montana Kid and the policeman dragged him backward from the woodpiles.

“You’ll ‘ave plenty o’ hoppertunity all in good time for yer passage ‘ome,” the policeman growled, clouting him alongside the head and sending him flying into safety.

Donald, from the top of the pine, saw the devastating berg sweep away the cordwood and disappear down-stream. As though satisfied with this damage, the ice-flood quickly dropped to its old level and began to slacken its pace. The noise likewise eased down, and the others could hear Donald shouting from his eyrie to look down-stream. As forecast, the jam had come among the islands in the bend, and the ice was piling up in a great barrier which stretched from shore to shore. The river came to a standstill, and the water finding no outlet began to rise. It rushed up till the island was awash, the men splashing around up to their knees, and the dogs swimming to the ruins of the cabin. At this stage it abruptly became stationary, with no perceptible rise or fall.

Montana Kid shook his head. “It’s jammed above, and no more’s coming down.”

“And the gamble is, which jam will break first,” Sutherland added.

“Exactly,” the Kid affirmed. “If the upper jam breaks first, we haven’t a chance. Nothing will stand before it.”

The Minook men turned away in silence, but soon “Rumsky Ho” floated upon the quiet air, followed by “The Orange and the Black.” Room was made in the circle for Montana Kid and the policeman, and they quickly caught the ringing rhythm of the choruses as they drifted on from song to song.

“Oh, Donald, will ye no lend a hand?” Davy sobbed at the foot of the tree into which his comrade had climbed. “Oh, Donald, man, will ye no lend a hand?” he sobbed again, his hands bleeding from vain attempts to scale the slippery trunk.

But Donald had fixed his gaze up river, and now his voice rang out, vibrant with fear: —

“God Almichty, here she comes!”

Standing knee-deep in the icy water, the Minook men, with Montana Kid and the policeman, gripped hands and raised their voices in the terrible, “Battle Hymn of the Republic.” But the words were drowned in the advancing roar.

And to Donald was vouchsafed a sight such as no man may see and live. A great wall of white flung itself upon the island. Trees, dogs, men, were blotted out, as though the hand of God had wiped the face of nature clean. This much he saw, then swayed an instant longer in his lofty perch and hurtled far out into the frozen hell.

Bald-Face

London submitted this story to nearly a dozen periodicals before giving it to the Aegis. Bald-Face is a bear yarn about a side-hill grizzly whose down-hill-side legs are twice as long as the uphill-side legs.

“Talkin’ of bear — ”

The Klondike King paused meditatively, and the group on the hotel porch hitched their chairs up closer.

“Talkin’ of bear,” he went on, “now up in the Northern Country there are various kinds. On the Little Pelly, for instance, they come down that thick in the summer to feed on the salmon that you can’t get an Indian or white man to go nigher than a day’s journey to the place. And up in the Rampart Mountains there’s a curious kind of bear called the ‘side-hill grizzly.’ That’s because he’s traveled on the side-hills ever since the Flood, and the two legs on the down-hill side are twice as long as the two on the up-hill. And he can out-run a jack rabbit when he gets steam up. Dangerous? Catch you? Bless you, no. All a man has to do is to circle down the hill and run the other way. You see, that throws mister bear’s long legs up the hill and the short ones down. Yes, he’s a mighty peculiar creature, but that wasn’t what I started in to tell about.

“They’ve got another kind of bear up on the Yukon, and his legs are all right, too. He’s called the bald-face grizzly, and he’s jest as big as he is bad. It’s only the fool white men that think of hunting him. Indiana got too much sense. But there’s one thing about the bald-face that a man has to learn: he never gives the trail to mortal creature. If you see him comin’, and you value your skin, you get out of his path. If you don’t, there’s bound to be trouble. If the bald-face met Jehovah Himself ! on the trail, he’d not give him an inch. 0, he’s a selfish beggar, take my word for it. But I had to learn all this. Didn’t know anything about bear when I went into the country, exceptin’ when I was a youngster I’d seen a heap of cinnamons and that little black kind. And they was nothin’ to be scared at.

“Well, after we’d got settled down on our claim, I went up on the hill lookin’ for a likely piece of birch to make an ax-handle out of. But it was pretty hard to find the right kind, and I kept a-goin’ and kept a-goin’ for nigh on two hours. Wasn’t in no hurry to make my choice, you see, for I was headin’ down to the Forks, where I was goin’ to borrow a log-bit from Old Joe Gee. When I started, I’d put a couple of sour-dough biscuits and some sow-belly in my pocket in case I might get hungry. And I’m tellin’ you that lunch came in right handy before I was done with it.

“Bime-by I hit upon the likeliest little birch saplin’, right in the middle of a clump of jack pine. Jest as I raised my hand-ax I happened to cast my eyes down the hill. There was a big bear comin’ up, swingin’ along on all fours, right in my direction. It was a bald-face, but little I knew then about such kind.

“‘Jest watch me scare him; I says to myself, and I stayed out of sight in the trees.

“Well, I waited till he was about a hundred feet off, then out I runs into the open.

“‘Oof! oof!’ I hollered at him, expectin’ to see him turn tail like chain lightning.

“Turn tail? He jest throwed up his head for one good look and came a comin’.

“‘Oof! oof!’ I hollered, louder’n ever. But he jest came a comin’.

“‘Consarn you!’ I says to myself, gettin’ mad. ‘I’ll make you jump the trail.’

“So I grabs my hat, and wavin’ and hollerin’ starts down the trail to meet him. A big sugar pine had gone down in a windfall and lay about breast high. I stops jest behind it, old bald-face comin’ all the time. It was jest then that fear came to me. I yelled like a Comanche Indian as he raised up to come over the log, and fired my hat full in his face. Then I lit out.

“Say! I rounded the end of that log and put down the hill at a two-twenty clip, old bald-face reachin’ for me at every jump. At the bottom was a broad, open flat, quarter of a mile to timber and full of nigger-heads. I knew if ever I slipped I was a goner, but I hit only the high places till you couldn’t a-seen my trail for smoke. And the old devil snortin’ along hot after me. Midway across, he reached for me, jest strikin’ the heel of my moccasin with his claw. Tell you I was doin’ some tall thinkin’ jest then. I knew he had the wind of me and I could never make the brush, so I pulled my little lunch out of my pocket and dropped it on the fly.

“Never looked back till I hit the timber, and then he was mouthing the biscuits in a way which wasn’t nice to see, considerin’ how close he’d been to me. I never slacked up. No, sir! Jest kept hittin’ the trail for all there was in me. But jest as I came around a bend, heelin’ it right lively I tell you, what’d I see in middle of the trail before me, and comin’ my way, but another bald-face!

“‘Whoof!’ he says when he spotted me, and he came a-runnin.’

“Instanter I was about and hittin’ the back trail twice as fast as I’d come. The way this one was puffin’ after me, I’d clean forgot all about the other bald-face. First thing I knew I seen him mosying along kind of easy, wonderin’ most likely what had become of me, and if I tasted as good as my lunch. Say! when he seen me he looked real pleased. And then he came a-jumpin’ for me.

“‘Whoof!’ he says.

“‘ Whoof !’ says the one behind me.

“Bang I goes, slap off the trail sideways, a-plungin’ and a-clawin through the brush like a wild man. By this time I was clean crazed; thought the whole country was full of bald-faces. Next thing I knows — whop, I comes up against something in a tangle of wild blackberry bushes. Then that something hits me a slap and closes in on me. Another bald-face! And then and there I knew I was gone for sure. But I made up to die game, and of all the rampin’ and roarin’ and rippin’ and tearin’ you ever see, that was the worst.

“‘My God! 0 my wife!’ it says. And I looked and it was a man I was hammering into kingdom come.

“‘Thought you was a bear,’ says I.

“He kind of caught his breath and looked at me. Then he says, ‘Same here.’

“Seemed as though he’d been chased by a bald-face, too, and had hid in the blackberries. So that’s how we mistook each other.

“But by that time the racket on the trail was something terrible, and we didn’t wait to explain matters. That afternoon we got Joe Gee and some rifles and came back loaded for bear. Mebbe you won’t believe me, but when we got to the spot, there was the two bald-faces lyin’ dead. You see, when I jumped out, they came together, and each refused to give trail to the other. So they fought it out.

“Talkin’ of bear. As I was sayin’ —

The Banks of the Sacramento

“And it’s blow, ye winds, heigh-ho,

For Cal-i-for-ni-o;

For there’s plenty of gold so I’ve been told,

On the banks of the Sacramento!”

It was only a little boy, singing in a shrill treble the sea chantey which seamen sing the wide world over when they man the capstan bars and break the anchors out for “Frisco” port. It was only a little boy who had never seen the sea, but two hundred feet beneath him rolled the Sacramento. “Young” Jerry he was called, after “Old” Jerry, his father, from whom he had learned the song, as well as received his shock of bright-red hair, his blue, dancing eyes, and his fair and inevitably freckled skin.

For Old Jerry had been a sailor, and had followed the sea till middle life, haunted always by the words of the ringing chantey. Then one day he had sung the song in earnest, in an Asiatic port, swinging and thrilling round the capstan-circle with twenty others. And at San Francisco he turned his back upon his ship and upon the sea, and went to behold with his own eyes the banks of the Sacramento.

He beheld the gold, too, for he found employment at the Yellow Dream mine, and proved of utmost usefulness in rigging the great ore-cables across the river and two hundred feet above its surface.

After that he took charge of the cables and kept them in repair, and ran them and loved them, and became himself an indispensable fixture of the Yellow Dream mine. Then he loved pretty Margaret Kelly; but she had left him and Young Jerry, the latter barely toddling, to take up be, last long sleep in the little graveyard among the great sober pines.

Old Jerry never went back to the sea. He remained by his cables, and lavished upon them and Young Jerry all the love of his nature. When evil days came to the Yellow Dream, he still remained in the employ of the company as watchman over the all but abandoned property.

But this morning he was not visible. Young Jerry only was to be seen, sitting on the cabin step and singing the ancient chantey. He had cooked and eaten his breakfast all by himself, and had just come out to take a look at the world. Twenty feet before him stood the steel drum round which the endless cable worked. By the drum, snug and fast, was the ore-car. Following with his eyes the dizzy flight of the cables to the farther bank, he could see the other drum and the other car.

The contrivance was worked by gravity, the loaded car crossing the river by virtue of its own weight, and at the same time dragging the empty car back. The loaded car being emptied, and the empty car being loaded with more ore, the performance could be repeated-a performance which had been repeated tens of thousands of times since the day Old Jerry became the keeper of the cables.

Young Jerry broke off his song at the sound of approaching footsteps. A tall, blue-skirted man, a rifle across the hollow of his arm, came out from the gloom of the pine-trees. It was Hall, watchman of the Yellow Dragon mine, the cables of which spanned the Sacramento a mile farther up.

“Hello, younker!” was his greeting. “What you doin’ here by your lonesome?”

“Oh, bachin;” Jerry tried to answer unconcernedly, as if it were a very ordinary sort of thing. “Dad’s away, you see.”

“Where’s he gone?” the man asked.

“San Francisco. Went last night. His brother’s dead in the old country, and he’s gone down to see the lawyers. Won’t be back till tomorrow night.”

So spoke Jerry, and with pride, because of the responsibility which had fallen to him of keeping an eye on the property of the Yellow Dream, and the glorious adventure of living alone on the cliff above the river and of cooking his own meals.

Well, take care of yourself,” Hall said, “and don’t monkey with the cables. I’m goin’ to see if I can’t pick up a deer in the Cripple Cow Canon.”

“It’s goin’ to rain, I think,” Jerry said, with mature deliberation.

“And it’s little I mind a wettin’,” Hall laughed, as he strode away among the trees.

Jerry’s prediction concerning rain was more than fulfilled. By ten o’clock the pines were swaying and moaning, the cabin windows rattling, and the rain driving by in fierce squalls. At half past eleven he kindled a fire, and promptly at the stroke of twelve sat down to his dinner.

No out-of-doors for him that day, he decided, when he had washed the few dishes and put them neatly away; and he wondered how wet Hall was and whether he had succeeded in picking up a deer.

At one o’clock there came a knock at the door, and when he opened it a man and a woman staggered in on the breast of a great gust of wind. They were Mr. and Mrs. Spillane, ranchers, who lived in a lonely valley a dozen miles back from the river.

“Where’s Hall?” was Spillane’s opening speech, and he spoke sharply and quickly.

Jerry noted that he was nervous and abrupt in his movements, and that Mrs. Spillane seemed laboring under some strong anxiety. She was a thin, washed-out, worked-out woman, whose life of dreary and unending toil had stamped itself harshly upon her face. It was the same life that had bowed her husband’s shoulders and gnarled his hands and turned his hair to a dry and dusty gray.

“He’s gone hunting up Cripple Cow,” Jerry answered. “Did you want to cross?”

The woman began to weep quietly, while Spillane dropped a troubled exclamation and strode to the window. Jerry joined him in gazing out to where the cables lost themselves in the thick downpour.

It was the custom of the backwoods people in that section of country to cross the Sacramento on the Yellow Dragon cable. For this service a small toll was charged, which tolls the Yellow Dragon Company applied to the payment of Hall’s wages.

“We’ve got to get across, Jerry,” Spillane said, at the same time jerking his thumb over his shoulder in the direction of his wife. “Her father’s hurt at the Clover Leaf. Powder explosion. Not expected to live. We just got word.”

Jerry felt himself fluttering inwardly. He knew that Spillane wanted to cross on the Yellow Dream cable, and in the absence of his father he felt that he dared not assume such a responsibility, for the cable had never been used for passengers; in fact, had not been used at all for a long time.

“Maybe Hall will be back soon;” he said.

Spillane shook his head, and demanded, “Where’s your father?”

“San Francisco,” Jerry answered, briefly.

Spillane groaned, and fiercely drove his clenched fist into the palm of the other hand. His wife was crying more audibly, and Jerry could hear her murmuring, “And daddy’s dyin’, dyin’!”

The tears welled up in his own eyes, and he stood irresolute, not knowing what he should do. But the man decided for him.

“Look here, kid,” he said, with determination, “the wife and me are goin’ over on this here cable of yours! Will you run it for us?”

Jerry backed slightly away. He did it unconsciously, as if recoiling instinctively from something unwelcome.

“Better see if Hall’s back,” he suggested.

“And if he ain’t?”

Again Jerry hesitated.

“I’ll stand for the risk,” Spillane added. “Don’t you see, kid, we’ve simply got to cross!”

Jerry nodded his head reluctantly.

“And there ain’t no use waitin’ for Hall,” Spillane went on. “You know as well as me he ain’t back from Cripple Cow this time of day! So come along and let’s get started.”

No wonder that Mrs. Spillane seemed terrified as they helped her into the ore-car — so Jerry thought, as he gazed into the apparently fathomless gulf beneath her. For it was so filled with rain and cloud, hurtling and curling in the fierce blast, that the other shore, seven hundred feet away, was invisible, while the cliff at their feet dropped sheer down and lost itself in the swirling vapor. By all appearances it might be a mile to bottom instead of two hundred feet.

“All ready?” he asked.

“Let her go!” Spillane shouted, to make himself heard above the roar of the wind.

He had clambered in beside his wife, and was holding one of her hands in his.

Jerry looked upon this with disapproval. “You’ll need all your hands for holdin’ on, the way the wind’s yowlin’.”

The man and the woman shifted their hands accordingly, tightly gripping the sides of the car, and Jerry slowly and carefully released the brake. The drum began to revolve as the endless cable passed round it, and the car slid slowly out into the chasm, its trolley wheels rolling on the stationary cable overhead, to which it was suspended.

It was not the first time Jerry had worked the cable, but it was the first time he had done so away from the supervising eye of his father. By means of the brake he regulated the speed of the car. It needed regulating, for at times, caught by the stronger gusts of wind, it swayed violently back and forth; and once, just before it was swallowed up in a rain squall, it seemed about to spill out its human contents.

After that Jerry had no way of knowing where the car was except by means of the cable. This he watched keenly as it glided around the drum. “Three hundred feet,” he breathed to himself, as the cable markings went by, “three hundred and fifty, four hundred; four hundred and — ”

The cable had stopped. Jerry threw off the brake, but it did not move. He caught the cable with his hands and tried to start it by tugging smartly. Something had gone wrong. What? He could not guess; he could not see. Looking up, he could vaguely make out the empty car, which had been crossing from the opposite cliff at a speed equal to that of the loaded car. It was about two hundred and fifty feet away. That meant, he knew, that somewhere in the gray obscurity, two hundred feet above the river and two hundred and fifty feet from the other bank, Spillane and his wife were suspended and stationary.

Three times Jerry shouted with all the shrill force of his lungs, but no answering cry came out of the storm. It was impossible for him to hear them or to make himself heard. As he stood for a moment, thinking rapidly, the flying clouds seemed to thin and lift. He caught a brief glimpse of the swollen Sacramento beneath, and a briefer glimpse of the car and the man and woman. Then the clouds descended thicker than ever.

The boy examined the drum closely, and found nothing the matter with it. Evidently it was the drum on the other side that had gone wrong. He was appalled at thought of the man and woman out there in the midst of the storm, hanging over the abyss, rocking back and forth in the frail car and ignorant of what was taking place on shore. And he did not like to think of their hanging there while he went round by the Yellow Dragon cable to the other drum.

But he remembered a block and tackle in the tool-house, and ran and brought it. They were double blocks, and he murmured aloud, “A purchase of four,” as he made the tackle fast to the endless cable. Then he heaved upon it, heaved until it seemed that his arms were being drawn out from their sockets and that his shoulder muscles would be ripped asunder. Yet the cable did not budge. Nothing remained but to cross over to the other side.

He was already soaking wet, so he did not mind the rain as he ran over the trail to the Yellow Dragon. The storm was with him, and it was easy going, although there was no Hall at the other end of it to man the brake for him and regulate the speed of the car. This he did for himself, however, by means of a stout rope, which he passed, with a turn, round the stationary cable.

As the full force of the wind struck him in mid-air, swaying the cable and whistling and roaring past it, and rocking and careening the car, he appreciated more fully what must be the condition of mind of Spillane and his wife. And this appreciation gave strength to him, as, safely across, he fought his way up the other bank, in the teeth of the gale, to the Yellow Dream cable.

To his consternation, he found the drum in thorough working order. Everything was running smoothly at both ends. Where was the hitch? In the middle, without a doubt.

From this side, the car containing Spillane was only two hundred and fifty feet away. He could make out the man and woman through the whirling vapor, crouching in the bottom of the car and exposed to the pelting rain and the full fury of the wind. In a lull between the squalls he shouted to Spillane to examine the trolley of the car.

Spillane heard, for he saw him rise up cautiously on his knees, and with his hands go over both trolley-wheels. Then he turned his face toward the bank.

“She’s all right, kid!”

Jerry heard the words, faint and far, as from a remote distance. Then what was the matter? Nothing remained but the other and empty car, which he could not see, but which he knew to be there, somewhere in that terrible gulf two hundred feet beyond Spillane’s car.

His mind was made up on the instant. He was only fourteen years old, slightly and wirily built; but his life had been lived among the mountains, his father had taught him no small measure of “sailoring,” and he was not particularly afraid of heights.

In the tool-box by the drum he found an old monkey-wrench and a short bar of iron, also a coil of fairly new Manila rope. He looked in vain for a piece of board with which to rig a “boatswain’s chair.” There was nothing at hand but large planks, which he had no means of sawing, so he was compelled to do without the more comfortable form of saddle.

The saddle he rigged was very simple. With the rope he made merely a large loop round the stationary cable, to which hung the empty car. When he sat in the loop his hands could just reach the cable conveniently, and where the rope was likely to fray against the cable he lashed his coat, in lieu of the old sack he would have used had he been able to find one.

These preparations swiftly completed, he swung out over the chasm, sitting in the rope saddle and pulling himself along the cable by his hands. With him he carried the monkey-wrench and short iron bar and a few spare feet of rope. It was a slightly up-hill pull, but this he did not mind so much as the wind. When the furious gusts hurled him back and forth, sometimes half twisting him about, and he gazed down into the gray depths, he was aware that he was afraid. It was an old cable. What if it should break under his weight and the pressure of the wind?

It was fear he was experiencing, honest fear, and he knew that there was a “gone” feeling in the pit of his stomach, and a trembling of the knees which he could not quell.

But he held himself bravely to the task. The cable was old and worn, sharp pieces of wire projected from it, and his hands were cut and bleeding by the time he took his first rest, and held a shouted conversation with Spillane. The car was directly beneath him and only a few feet away, so he was able to explain the condition of affairs and his errand.

“Wish I could help you,” Spillane shouted at him as he started on, “but the wife’s gone all to pieces! Anyway, kid, take care of yourself! I got myself in this fix, but it’s up to you to get me out!”

“Oh, I’ll do it!” Jerry shouted back. “Tell Mrs. Spillane that she’ll be ashore now in a jiffy!”

In the midst of pelting rain, which half-blinded him, swinging from side to side like a rapid and erratic pendulum, his torn hands paining him severely and his lungs panting from his exertions and panting from the very air which the wind sometimes blew into his mouth with strangling force, he finally arrived at the empty car.

A single glance showed him that he had not made the dangerous journey in vain. The front trolley-wheel, loose from long wear, had jumped the cable, and the cable was now jammed tightly between the wheel and the sheave-block.

One thing was clear — the wheel must be removed from the block. A second thing was equally clear — while the wheel was being removed the car would have to be fastened to the cable by the rope he had brought.

At the end of a quarter of an hour, beyond making the car secure, he had accomplished nothing. The key which bound the wheel on its axle was rusted and jammed. He hammered at it with one hand and held on the best he could with the other, but the wind persisted in swinging and twisting his body, and made his blows miss more often than not. Nine-tenths of the strength he expended was in trying to hold himself steady. For fear that he might drop the monkey-wrench he made it fast to his wrist with his handkerchief.

At the end of half an hour Jerry had hammered the key clear, but he could not draw it out. A dozen times it seemed that he must give up in despair, that all the danger and toil he had gone through were for nothing. Then an idea came to him, and he went through his pockets with feverish haste, and found what he sought — a ten-penny nail.

But for that nail, put in his pocket he knew not when or why, he would have had to make another trip over the cable and back. Thrusting the nail through the looped head of the key, he at last had a grip, and in no time the key was out.

Then came punching and prying with the iron bar to get the wheel itself free from where it was jammed by the cable against the side of the block. After that Jerry replaced the wheel, and by means of the rope, heaved up on the car till the trolley once more rested properly on the cable.

All this took time. More than an hour and a half had elapsed since his arrival at the empty car. And now, for the first time, he dropped out of his saddle and down into the car. He removed the detaining ropes, and the trolley-wheels began slowly to revolve. The car was moving, and he knew that somewhere beyond, although he could not see, the car of Spillane was likewise moving, and in the opposite direction.

There was no need for a brake, for his weight sufficiently counterbalanced the weight in the other car; and soon he saw the cliff rising out of the cloud depths and the old familiar drum going round and round.

Jerry climbed out and made the car securely fast. He did it deliberately and carefully, and then, quite unhero-like, he sank down by the drum, regardless of the pelting storm, and burst out sobbing.

There were many reasons why he sobbed — partly from the pain of his hands, which was excruciating; partly from exhaustion; partly from relief and release from the nerve-tension he had been under for so long; and in a large measure from thankfulness that the man and woman were saved.

They were not there to thank him; but somewhere beyond that howling, storm-driven gulf he knew they were hurrying over the trail toward the Clover Leaf.

Jerry staggered to the cabin, and his hand left the white knob red with blood as he opened the door, but he took no notice of it.

He was too proudly contented with himself, for he was certain that he had done well, and he was honest enough to admit to himself that he had done well. But a small regret arose and persisted in his thoughts — if his father had only been there to see!

Bâtard

OR

DIABLE A DOG

Bâtard was a devil. This was recognized throughout the Northland. “Hell’s Spawn” he was called by many men, but his master, Black Leclère, chose for him the shameful name “Bâtard.” Now Black Leclère was also a devil, and the twain were well matched. There is a saying that when two devils come together, hell is to pay. This is to be expected, and this certainly was to be expected when Bâtard and Black Leclère came together. The first time they met, Bâtard was a part-grown puppy, lean and hungry, with bitter eyes; and they met with snap and snarl, and wicked looks, for Leclère’s upper lip had a wolfish way of lifting and showing the white, cruel teeth. And it lifted then, and his eyes glinted viciously, as he reached for Bâtard and dragged him out from the squirming litter. It was certain that they divined each other, for on the instant Bâtard had buried his puppy fangs in Leclère’s hand, and Leclère, thumb and finger, was coolly choking his young life out of him.

“Sacredam,” the Frenchman said softly, flirting the quick blood from his bitten hand and gazing down on the little puppy choking and gasping in the snow.

Leclère turned to John Hamlin, storekeeper of the Sixty Mile Post. “Dat fo’ w’at Ah lak heem. ‘Ow moch, eh, you, M’sieu’? ‘Ow moch? Ah buy heem, now; Ah buy heem queek.”

And because he hated him with an exceeding bitter hate, Leclère bought Bâtard and gave him his shameful name. And for five years the twain adventured across the Northland, from St. Michael’s and the Yukon delta to the head-reaches of the Pelly and even so far as the Peace River, Athabasca, and the Great Slave. And they acquired a reputation for uncompromising wickedness, the like of which never before attached itself to man and dog.

Bâtard did not know his father,--hence his name,--but, as John Hamlin knew, his father was a great gray timber wolf. But the mother of Bâtard, as he dimly remembered her, was snarling, bickering, obscene, husky, full-fronted and heavy-chested, with a malign eye, a cat-like grip on life, and a genius for trickery and evil. There was neither faith nor trust in her. Her treachery alone could be relied upon, and her wild-wood amours attested her general depravity. Much of evil and much of strength were there in these, Bâtard’s progenitors, and, bone and flesh of their bone and flesh, he had inherited it all. And then came Black Leclère, to lay his heavy hand on the bit of pulsating puppy life, to press and prod and mould till it became a big bristling beast, acute in knavery, overspilling with hate, sinister, malignant, diabolical. With a proper master Bâtard might have made an ordinary, fairly efficient sled-dog. He never got the chance: Leclère but confirmed him in his congenital iniquity.

The history of Bâtard and Leclère is a history of war--of five cruel, relentless years, of which their first meeting is fit summary. To begin with, it was Leclère’s fault, for he hated with understanding and intelligence, while the long-legged, ungainly puppy hated only blindly, instinctively, without reason or method. At first there were no refinements of cruelty (these were to come later), but simple beatings and crude brutalities. In one of these Bâtard had an ear injured. He never regained control of the riven muscles, and ever after the ear drooped limply down to keep keen the memory of his tormentor. And he never forgot.

His puppyhood was a period of foolish rebellion. He was always worsted, but he fought back because it was his nature to fight back. And he was unconquerable. Yelping shrilly from the pain of lash and club, he none the less contrived always to throw in the defiant snarl, the bitter vindictive menace of his soul which fetched without fail more blows and beatings. But his was his mother’s tenacious grip on life. Nothing could kill him. He flourished under misfortune, grew fat with famine, and out of his terrible struggle for life developed a preternatural intelligence. His were the stealth and cunning of the husky, his mother, and the fierceness and valor of the wolf, his father.

Possibly it was because of his father that he never wailed. His puppy yelps passed with his lanky legs, so that he became grim and taciturn, quick to strike, slow to warn. He answered curse with snarl, and blow with snap, grinning the while his implacable hatred; but never again, under the extremest agony, did Leclère bring from him the cry of fear nor of pain. This unconquerableness but fanned Leclère’s wrath and stirred him to greater deviltries.

Did Leclère give Bâtard half a fish and to his mates whole ones, Bâtard went forth to rob other dogs of their fish. Also he robbed caches and expressed himself in a thousand rogueries, till he became a terror to all dogs and masters of dogs. Did Leclère beat Bâtard and fondle Babette,--Babette who was not half the worker he was,--why, Bâtard threw her down in the snow and broke her hind leg in his heavy jaws, so that Leclère was forced to shoot her. Likewise, in bloody battles, Bâtard mastered all his team-mates, set them the law of trail and forage, and made them live to the law he set. In five years he heard but one kind word, received but one soft stroke of a hand, and then he did not know what manner of things they were. He leaped like the untamed thing he was, and his jaws were together in a flash. It was the missionary at Sunrise, a newcomer in the country, who spoke the kind word and gave the soft stroke of the hand. And for six months after, he wrote no letters home to the States, and the surgeon at McQuestion travelled two hundred miles on the ice to save him from blood-poisoning.

Men and dogs looked askance at Bâtard when he drifted into their camps and posts. The men greeted him with feet threateningly lifted for the kick, the dogs with bristling manes and bared fangs. Once a man did kick Bâtard, and Bâtard, with quick wolf snap, closed his jaws like a steel trap on the man’s calf and crunched down to the bone. Whereat the man was determined to have his life, only Black Leclère, with ominous eyes and naked hunting-knife, stepped in between. The killing of Bâtard--ah, sacredam, that was a pleasure Leclère reserved for himself. Some day it would happen, or else--bah! who was to know? Anyway, the problem would be solved.

For they had become problems to each other. The very breath each drew was a challenge and a menace to the other. Their hate bound them together as love could never bind. Leclère was bent on the coming of the day when Bâtard should wilt in spirit and cringe and whimper at his feet. And Bâtard--Leclère knew what was in Bâtard’s mind, and more than once had read it in Bâtard’s eyes. And so clearly had he read, that when Bâtard was at his back, he made it a point to glance often over his shoulder.

Men marvelled when Leclère refused large money for the dog. “Some day you’ll kill him and be out his price,” said John Hamlin once, when Bâtard lay panting in the snow where Leclère had kicked him, and no one knew whether his ribs were broken, and no one dared look to see.

“Dat,” said Leclère, dryly, “dat is my biz’ness, M’sieu’.”

And the men marvelled that Bâtard did not run away. They did not understand. But Leclère understood. He was a man who lived much in the open, beyond the sound of human tongue, and he had learned the voices of wind and storm, the sigh of night, the whisper of dawn, the clash of day. In a dim way he could hear the green things growing, the running of the sap, the bursting of the bud. And he knew the subtle speech of the things that moved, of the rabbit in the snare, the moody raven beating the air with hollow wing, the baldface shuffling under the moon, the wolf like a gray shadow gliding betwixt the twilight and the dark. And to him Bâtard spoke clear and direct. Full well he understood why Bâtard did not run away, and he looked more often over his shoulder.

When in anger, Bâtard was not nice to look upon, and more than once had he leapt for Leclère’s throat, to be stretched quivering and senseless in the snow, by the butt of the ever ready dogwhip. And so Bâtard learned to bide his time. When he reached his full strength and prime of youth, he thought the time had come. He was broad-chested, powerfully muscled, of far more than ordinary size, and his neck from head to shoulders was a mass of bristling hair--to all appearances a full-blooded wolf. Leclère was lying asleep in his furs when Bâtard deemed the time to be ripe. He crept upon him stealthily, head low to earth and lone ear laid back, with a feline softness of tread. Bâtard breathed gently, very gently, and not till he was close at hand did he raise his head. He paused for a moment, and looked at the bronzed bull throat, naked and knotty, and swelling to a deep and steady pulse. The slaver dripped down his fangs and slid off his tongue at the sight, and in that moment he remembered his drooping ear, his uncounted blows and prodigious wrongs, and without a sound sprang on the sleeping man.

Leclère awoke to the pang of the fangs in his throat, and, perfect animal that he was, he awoke clear-headed and with full comprehension. He closed on Bâtard’s windpipe with both his hands, and rolled out of his furs to get his weight uppermost. But the thousands of Bâtard’s ancestors had clung at the throats of unnumbered moose and caribou and dragged them down, and the wisdom of those ancestors was his. When Leclère’s weight came on top of him, he drove his hind legs upward and in, and clawed down chest and abdomen, ripping and tearing through skin and muscle. And when he felt the man’s body wince above him and lift, he worried and shook at the man’s throat. His team-mates closed around in a snarling circle, and Bâtard, with failing breath and fading sense, knew that their jaws were hungry for him. But that did not matter--it was the man, the man above him, and he ripped and clawed, and shook and worried, to the last ounce of his strength. But Leclère choked him with both his hands, till Bâtard’s chest heaved and writhed for the air denied, and his eyes glazed and set, and his jaws slowly loosened, and his tongue protruded black and swollen.

“Eh? Bon, you devil!” Leclère gurgled, mouth and throat clogged with his own blood, as he shoved the dizzy dog from him.

And then Leclère cursed the other dogs off as they fell upon Bâtard. They drew back into a wider circle, squatting alertly on their haunches and licking their chops, the hair on every neck bristling and erect.

Bâtard recovered quickly, and at sound of Leclère’s voice, tottered to his feet and swayed weakly back and forth.

“A-h-ah! You beeg devil!” Leclère spluttered. “Ah fix you; Ah fix you plentee, by Gar!”

Bâtard, the air biting into his exhausted lungs like wine, flashed full into the man’s face, his jaws missing and coming together with a metallic clip. They rolled over and over on the snow, Leclère striking madly with his fists. Then they separated, face to face, and circled back and forth before each other. Leclère could have drawn his knife. His rifle was at his feet. But the beast in him was up and raging. He would do the thing with his hands--and his teeth. Bâtard sprang in, but Leclère knocked him over with a blow of the fist, fell uponhim, and buried his teeth to the bone in the dog’s shoulder.

It was a primordial setting and a primordial scene, such as might have been in the savage youth of the world. An open space in a dark forest, a ring of grinning wolf-dogs, and in the centre two beasts, locked in combat, snapping and snarling, raging madly about, panting, sobbing, cursing, straining, wild with passion, in a fury of murder, ripping and tearing and clawing in elemental brutishness.

But Leclère caught Bâtard behind the ear, with a blow from his fist, knocking him over, and, for the instant, stunning him. Then Leclère leaped upon him with his feet, and sprang up and down, striving to grind him into the earth. Both Bâtard’s hind legs were broken ere Leclère ceased that he might catch breath.

“A-a-ah! A-a-ah!” he screamed, incapable of speech, shaking his fist, through sheer impotence of throat and larynx.

But Bâtard was indomitable. He lay there in a helpless welter, his lip feebly lifting and writhing to the snarl he had not the strength to utter. Leclère kicked him, and the tired jaws closed on the ankle, but could not break the skin. Then Leclère picked up the whip and proceeded almost to cut him to pieces, at each stroke of the lash crying: “Dis taim Ah break you! Eh? By Gar! Ah break you!”

In the end, exhausted, fainting from loss of blood, he crumpled up and fell by his victim, and when the wolf-dogs closed in to take their vengeance, with his last consciousness dragged his body on top Bâtard to shield him from their fangs.

This occurred not far from Sunrise, and the missionary, opening the door to Leclère a few hours later, was surprised to note the absence of Bâtard from the team. Nor did his surprise lessen when Leclère threw back the robes from the sled, gathered Bâtard into his arms, and staggered across the threshold. It happened that the surgeon of McQuestion, who was something of a gadabout, was up on a gossip, and between them they proceeded to repair Leclère.

“Merci, non,” said he. “Do you fix firs’ de dog. To die? Non. Eet is not good. Becos’ heem Ah mus’ yet break. Dat fo’ w’at he mus’ not die.”

The surgeon called it a marvel, the missionary a miracle, that Leclère pulled through at all; and so weakened was he, that in the spring the fever got him, and he went on his back again. Bâtard had been in even worse plight, but his grip on life prevailed, and the bones of his hind legs knit, and his organs righted themselves, during the several weeks he lay strapped to the floor. And by the time Leclère, finally convalescent, sallow and shaky, took the sun by the cabin door, Bâtard had reasserted his supremacy among his kind, and brought not only his own team-mates but the missionary’s dogs into subjection.

He moved never a muscle, nor twitched a hair, when, for the first time, Leclère tottered out on the missionary’s arm, and sank down slowly and with infinite caution on the three-legged stool.

“Bon!--“ he said. “Bon! De good sun!” And he stretched out his wasted hands and washed them in the warmth.

Then his gaze fell on the dog, and the old light blazed back in his eyes. He touched the missionary lightly on the arm. “Mon père, dat is one beeg devil, dat Bâtard. You will bring me one pistol, so, dat Ah drink de sun in peace.”

And thenceforth for many days he sat in the sun before the cabin door. He never dozed, and the pistol lay always across his knees. Bâtard had a way, the first thing each day, of looking for the weapon in its wonted place. At sight of it he would lift his lip faintly in token that he understood, and Leclère would lift his own lip in an answering grin. One day the missionary took note of the trick.

“Bless me!” he said. “I really believe the brute comprehends.”

Leclère laughed softly. “Look you, mon père. Dat w’at Ah now spik, to dat does he lissen.”

As if in confirmation, Bâtard just perceptibly wriggled his lone ear up to catch the sound.

“Ah say ‘keel.’“

Bâtard growled deep down in his throat, the hair bristled along his neck, and every muscle went tense and expectant.

“Ah lift de gun, so, like dat.” And suiting action to word, he sighted the pistol at Bâtard.

Bâtard, with a single leap, sideways, landed around the corner of the cabin out of sight.

“Bless me!” he repeated at intervals.

Leclère grinned proudly.

“But why does he not run away?”

The Frenchman’s shoulders went up in the racial shrug that means all things from total ignorance to infinite understanding.

“Then why do you not kill him?”

Again the shoulders went up.

“Mon père,” he said after a pause, “de taim is not yet. He is one beeg devil. Some taim Ah break heem, so, an’ so, all to leetle bits. Hey? Some taim. Bon!--“

A day came when Leclère gathered his dogs together and floated down in a bateau to Forty Mile, and on to the Porcupine, where he took a commission from the P. C. Company, and went exploring for the better part of a year. After that he poled up the Koyokuk to deserted Arctic City, and later came drifting back, from camp to camp, along the Yukon. And during the long months Bâtard was well lessoned. He learned many tortures, and, notably, the torture of hunger, the torture of thirst, the torture of fire, and, worst of all, the torture of music.

Like the rest of his kind, he did not enjoy music. It gave him exquisite anguish, racking him nerve by nerve, and ripping apart every fibre of his being. It made him howl, long and wolf-like, as when the wolves bay the stars on frosty nights. He could not help howling. It was his one weakness in the contest with Leclère, and it was his shame. Leclère, on the other hand, passionately loved music--as passionately as he loved strong drink. And when his soul clamored for expression, it usually uttered itself in one or the other of the two ways, and more usually in both ways. And when he had drunk, his brain a-lilt with unsung song and the devil in him aroused and rampant, his soul found its supreme utterance in torturing Bâtard.

“Now we will haf a leetle museek,” he would say. “Eh? W’at you t’ink, Bâtard?”

It was only an old and battered harmonica, tenderly treasured and patiently repaired; but it was the best that money could buy, and out of its silver reeds he drew weird vagrant airs that men had never heard before. Then Bâtard, dumb of throat, with teeth tight clenched, would back away, inch by inch, to the farthest cabin corner. And Leclère, playing, playing, a stout club tucked under his arm, followed the animal up, inch by inch, step by step, till there was no further retreat.

At first Bâtard would crowd himself into the smallest possible space, grovelling close to the floor; but as the music came nearer and nearer, he was forced to uprear, his back jammed into the logs, his fore legs fanning the air as though to beat off the rippling waves of sound. He still kept his teeth together, but severe muscular contractions attacked his body, strange twitchings and jerkings, till he was all a-quiver and writhing in silent torment. As he lost control, his jaws spasmodically wrenched apart, and deep throaty vibrations issued forth, too low in the register of sound for human ear to catch. And then, nostrils distended, eyes dilated, hair bristling in helpless rage, arose the long wolf howl. It came with a slurring rush upward, swelling to a great heart-breaking burst of sound, and dying away in sadly cadenced woe--then the next rush upward, octave upon octave; the bursting heart; and the infinite sorrow and misery, fainting, fading, falling, and dying slowly away.

It was fit for hell. And Leclère, with fiendish ken, seemed to divine each particular nerve and heartstring, and with long wails and tremblings and sobbing minors to make it yield up its last shred of grief. It was frightful, and for twenty-four hours after, Bâtard was nervous and unstrung, starting at common sounds, tripping over his own shadow, but, withal, vicious and masterful with his team-mates. Nor did he show signs of a breaking spirit. Rather did he grow more grim and taciturn, biding his time with an inscrutable patience that began to puzzle and weigh upon Leclère. The dog would lie in the firelight, motionless, for hours, gazing straight before him at Leclère, and hating him with his bitter eyes.

Often the man felt that he had bucked against the very essence of life--the unconquerable essence that swept the hawk down out of the sky like a feathered thunderbolt, that drove the great gray goose across the zones, that hurled the spawning salmon through two thousand miles of boiling Yukon flood. At such times he felt impelled to express his own unconquerable essence; and with strong drink, wild music, and Bâtard, he indulged in vast orgies, wherein he pitted his puny strength in the face of things, and challenged all that was, and had been, and was yet to be.

“Dere is somet’ing dere,” he affirmed, when the rhythmed vagaries of his mind touched the secret chords of Bâtard’s being and brought forth the long lugubrious howl. “Ah pool eet out wid bot’ my han’s, so, an’ so. Ha! Ha! Eet is fonee! Eet is ver’ fonee! De priest chant, de womans pray, de mans swear, de leetle bird go peep-peep, Bâtard, heem go yow-yow--an’ eet is all de ver’ same t’ing. Ha! Ha!”

Father Gautier, a worthy priest, once reproved him with instances of concrete perdition. He never reproved him again.

“Eet may be so, mon père,” he made answer. “An’ Ah t’ink Ah go troo hell a-snappin’, lak de hemlock troo de fire. Eh, mon père?”

But all bad things come to an end as well as good, and so with Black Leclère. On the summer low water, in a poling boat, he left McDougall for Sunrise. He left McDougall in company with Timothy Brown, and arrived at Sunrise by himself. Further, it was known that they had quarrelled just previous to pulling out; for the Lizzie, a wheezy ten-ton sternwheeler,twenty-four hours behind, beat Leclère in by three days. And when he did get in, it was with a clean-drilled bullet-hole through his shoulder muscle, and a tale of ambush and murder.

A strike had been made at Sunrise, and things had changed considerably. With the infusion of several hundred gold-seekers, a deal of whiskey, and half a dozen equipped gamblers, the missionary had seen the page of his years of labor with the Indians wiped clean. When the squaws became preoccupied with cooking beans and keeping the fire going for the wifeless miners, and the bucks with swapping their warm furs for black bottles and broken timepieces, he took to his bed, said “bless me” several times, and departed to his final accounting in a rough-hewn, oblong box. Whereupon the gamblers moved their roulette and faro tables into the mission house, and the click of chips and clink of glasses went up from dawn till dark and to dawn again.

Now Timothy Brown was well beloved among these adventurers of the north. The one thing against him was his quick temper and ready fist,--a little thing, for which his kind heart and forgiving hand more than atoned. On the other hand, there was nothing to atone for Black Leclère. He was “black,” as more than one remembered deed bore witness, while he was as well hated as the other was beloved. So the men of Sunrise put an antiseptic dressing on his shoulder and haled him before Judge Lynch.

It was a simple affair. He had quarrelled with Timothy Brown at McDougall. With Timothy Brown he had left McDougall. Without Timothy Brown he had arrived at Sunrise. Considered in the light of his evilness, the unanimous conclusion was that he had killed Timothy Brown. On the other hand, Leclère acknowledged their facts, but challenged their conclusion, and gave his own explanation. Twenty miles out of Sunrise he and Timothy Brown were poling the boat along the rocky shore. From that shore two rifle-shots rang out. Timothy Brown pitched out of the boat and went down bubbling red, and that was the last of Timothy Brown. He, Leclère, pitched into the bottom of the boat with a stinging shoulder. He lay very quiet, peeping at the shore. After a time two Indians stuck up their heads and came out to the water’s edge, carrying between them a birch-bark canoe. As they launched it, Leclère let fly. He potted one, who went over the side after the manner of Timothy Brown. The other dropped into the bottom of the canoe, and then canoe and poling boat went down the stream in a drifting battle. After that they hung up on a split current, and the canoe passed on one side of an island, the poling boat on the other. That was the last of the canoe, and he came on into Sunrise. Yes, from the way the Indian in the canoe jumped, he was sure he had potted him. That was all.

This explanation was not deemed adequate. They gave him ten hours’ grace while the Lizzie steamed down to investigate. Ten hours later she came wheezing back to Sunrise. There had been nothing to investigate. No evidence had been found to back up his statements. They told him to make his will, for he possessed a fifty-thousand-dollar Sunrise claim, and they were a law-abiding as well as a law-giving breed.

Leclère shrugged his shoulders. “Bot one t’ing,” he said; “a leetle, w’at you call, favor--a leetle favor, dat is eet. I gif my feefty t’ousan’ dollair to de church. I gif my husky dog, Bâtard, to de devil. De leetle favor? Firs’ you hang heem, an’ den you hang me. Eet is good, eh?”

Good it was, they agreed, that Hell’s Spawn should break trail for his master across the last divide, and the court was adjourned down to the river bank, where a big spruce tree stood by itself. Slackwater Charley put a hangman’s knot in the end of a hauling-line, and the noose was slipped over Leclère’s head and pulled tight around his neck. His hands were tied behind his back, and he was assisted to the top of a cracker box. Then the running end of the line was passed over an overhanging branch, drawn taut, and made fast. To kick the box out from under would leave him dancing on the air.

“Now for the dog,” said Webster Shaw, sometime mining engineer. “You’ll have to rope him, Slackwater.”

Leclère grinned. Slackwater took a chew of tobacco, rove a running noose, and proceeded leisurely to coil a few turns in his hand. He paused once or twice to brush particularly offensive mosquitoes from off his face. Everybody was brushing mosquitoes, except Leclère, about whose head a small cloud was visible. Even Bâtard, lying full-stretched on the ground, with his fore paws rubbed the pests away from eyes and mouth.

But while Slackwater waited for Bâtard to lift his head, a faint call came down the quiet air, and a man was seen waving his arms and running across the flat from Sunrise. It was the storekeeper.

“C-call ‘er off, boys,” he panted, as he came in among them.

“Little Sandy and Bernadotte’s jes’ got in,” he explained with returning breath. “Landed down below an’ come up by the short cut. Got the Beaver with ‘m. Picked ‘m up in his canoe, stuck in a back channel, with a couple of bullet holes in ‘m. Other buck was Klok-Kutz, the one that knocked spots out of his squaw and dusted.”

“Eh? W’at Ah say? Eh?” Leclère cried exultantly. “Dat de one fo’ sure! Ah know. Ah spik true.”

“The thing to do is teach these damned Siwashes a little manners,” spoke Webster Shaw. “They’re getting fat and sassy, and we’ll have to bring them down a peg. Round in all the bucks and string up the Beaver for an object lesson. That’s the programme. Come on and let’s see what he’s got to say for himself.”

“Heh, M’sieu’!” Leclère called, as the crowd began to melt away through the twilight in the direction of Sunrise. “Ah lak ver’ moch to see de fon.”

“Oh, we’ll turn you loose when we come back,” Webster Shaw shouted over his shoulder. “In the meantime meditate on your sins and the ways of providence. It will do you good, so be grateful.”

As is the way with men who are accustomed to great hazards, whose nerves are healthy and trained to patience, so it was with Leclère, who settled himself to the long wait--which is to say that he reconciled his mind to it. There was no settling of the body, for the taut rope forced him to stand rigidly erect. The least relaxation of the leg muscles pressed the rough-fibred noose into his neck, while the upright position caused him much pain in his wounded shoulder. He projected his under lip and expelled his breath upward along his face to blow the mosquitoes away from his eyes. But the situation had its compensation. To be snatched from the maw of death was well worth a little bodily suffering, only it was unfortunate that he should miss the hanging of the Beaver.

And so he mused, till his eyes chanced to fall upon Bâtard, head between fore paws and stretched on the ground asleep. And then Leclère ceased to muse. He studied the animal closely, striving to sense if the sleep were real or feigned. Bâtard’s sides were heaving regularly, but Leclère felt that the breath came and went a shade too quickly; also he felt that there was a vigilance or alertness to every hair that belied unshackling sleep. He would have given his Sunrise claim to be assured that the dog was not awake, and once, when one of his joints cracked, he looked quickly and guiltily at Bâtard to see if he roused. He did not rouse then, but a few minutes later he got up slowly and lazily, stretched, and looked carefully about him.

“Sacredam,” said Leclère, under his breath.

Assured that no one was in sight or hearing, Bâtard sat down, curled his upper lip almost into a smile, looked up at Leclère, and licked his chops.

“Ah see my feenish,” the man said, and laughed sardonically aloud.

Bâtard came nearer, the useless ear wabbling, the good ear cocked forward with devilish comprehension. He thrust his head on one side quizzically, and advanced with mincing, playful steps. He rubbed his body gently against the box till it shook and shook again. Leclère teetered carefully to maintain his equilibrium.

“Bâtard,” he said calmly, “look out. Ah keel you.” Bâtard snarled at the word, and shook the box with greater force. Then he upreared, and with his fore paws threw his weight against it higher up. Leclère kicked out with one foot, but the rope bit into his neck and checked so abruptly as nearly to overbalance him.

“Hi, ya! Chook! Mush-on!--“ he screamed.

Bâtard retreated, for twenty feet or so, with a fiendish levity in his bearing that Leclère could not mistake. He remembered the dog often breaking the scum of ice on the water hole, by lifting up and throwing his weight upon it; and, remembering, he understood what he now had in mind. Bâtard faced about and paused. He showed his white teeth in a grin, which Leclère answered; and then hurled his body through the air, in full charge, straight for the box.

Fifteen minutes later, Slackwater Charley and Webster Shaw, returning, caught a glimpse of a ghostly pendulum swinging back and forth in the dim light. As they hurriedly drew in closer, they made out the man’s inert body, and a live thing that clung to it, and shook and worried, and gave to it the swaying motion.

“Hi, ya! Chook! you Spawn of Hell,” yelled Webster Shaw.

But Bâtard glared at him, and snarled threateningly, without loosing his jaws.

Slackwater Charley got out his revolver, but his hand was shaking, as with a chill, and he fumbled.

“Here, you take it,” he said, passing the weapon over.

Webster Shaw laughed shortly, drew a sight between the gleaming eyes, and pressed the trigger. Bâtard’s body twitched with the shock, threshed the ground spasmodically for a moment, and went suddenly limp. But his teeth still held fast locked.


The Benefit of the Doubt

Carter Watson, a current magazine under his arm, strolled slowly along, gazing about him curiously. Twenty years had elapsed since he had been on this particular street, and the changes were great and stupefying. This Western city of three hundred thousand souls had contained but thirty thousand, when, as a boy, he had been wont to ramble along its streets. In those days the street he was now on had been a quiet residence street in the respectable workingclass quarter. On this late afternoon he found that it had been submerged by a vast and vicious tenderloin. Chinese and Japanese shops and dens abounded, all confusedly intermingled with low white resorts and boozing dens. This quiet street of his youth had become the toughest quarter of the city.

He looked at his watch. It was half-past five. It was the slack time of the day in such a region, as he well knew, yet he was curious to see. In all his score of years of wandering and studying social conditions over the world, he had carried with him the memory of his old town as a sweet and wholesome place. The metamorphosis he now beheld was startling. He certainly must continue his stroll and glimpse the infamy to which his town had descended.

Another thing: Carter Watson had a keen social and civic consciousness. Independently wealthy, he had been loath to dissipate his energies in the pink teas and freak dinners of society, while actresses, race-horses, and kindred diversions had left him cold. He had the ethical bee in his bonnet and was a reformer of no mean pretension, though his work had been mainly in the line of contributions to the heavier reviews and quarterlies and to the publication over his name of brightly, cleverly written books on the working classes and the slum-dwellers. Among the twenty-seven to his credit occurred titles such as, “If Christ Came to New Orleans,” ” The Worked-out Worker,” “Tenement Reform in Berlin,” “The Rural Slums of England,” “The people of the East Side,” “Reform Versus Revolution,” “The University Settlement as a Hot Bed of Radicalism’ and “The Cave Man of Civilization.”

But Carter Watson was neither morbid nor fanatic. He did not lose his head over the horrors he encountered, studied, and exposed. No hair brained enthusiasm branded him. His humor saved him, as did his wide experience and his con. conservative philosophic temperament. Nor did he have any patience with lightning change reform theories. As he saw it, society would grow better only through the painfully slow and arduously painful processes of evolution. There were no short cuts, no sudden regenerations. The betterment of mankind must be worked out in agony and misery just as all past social betterments had been worked out.

But on this late summer afternoon, Carter Watson was curious. As he moved along he paused before a gaudy drinking place. The sign above read, “The Vendome.” There were two entrances. One evidently led to the bar. This he did not explore. The other was a narrow hallway. Passing through this he found himself in a huge room, filled with chair-encircled tables and quite deserted. In the dim light he made out a piano in the distance. Making a mental note that he would come back some time and study the class of persons that must sit and drink at those multitudinous tables, he proceeded to circumnavigate the room.

Now, at the rear, a short hallway led off to a small kitchen, and here, at a table, alone, sat Patsy Horan, proprietor of the Vendome, consuming a hasty supper ere the evening rush of business. Also, Patsy Horan was angry with the world. He had got out of the wrong side of bed that morning, and nothing had gone right all day. Had his barkeepers been asked, they would have described his mental condition as a grouch. But Carter Watson did not know this. As he passed the little hallway, Patsy Horan’s sullen eyes lighted on the magazine he carried under his arm. Patsy did not know Carter Watson, nor did he know that what he carried under his arm was a magazine. Patsy, out of the depths of his grouch, decided that this stranger was one of those pests who marred and scarred the walls of his back rooms by tacking up or pasting up advertisements. The color on the front cover of the magazine convinced him that it was such an advertisement. Thus the trouble began. Knife and fork in hand, Patsy leaped for Carter Watson.

“Out wid yeh!” Patsy bellowed. “I know yer game!”

Carter Watson was startled. The man had come upon him like the eruption of a jack-in-the-box.

“A defacin’ me walls,” cried Patsy, at the same time emitting a string of vivid and vile, rather than virile, epithets of opprobrium.

“If I have given any offense I did not mean to – “

But that was as far as the visitor got. Patsy interrupted.

“Get out wid yeh; yeh talk too much wid yer mouth,” quoted Patsy, emphasizing his remarks with flourishes of the knife and fork.

Carter Watson caught a quick vision of that eating-fork inserted uncomfortably between his ribs, knew that it would be rash to talk further with his mouth, and promptly turned to go. The sight of his meekly retreating back must have further enraged Patsy Horan, for that worthy, dropping the table implements, sprang upon him.

Patsy weighed one hundred and eighty pounds. So did Watson. In this they were equal. But Patsy was a rushing, rough-and-tumble saloon-fighter, while Watson was a boxer. In this the latter had the advantage, for Patsy came in wide open, swinging his right in a perilous sweep. All Watson had to do was to straight-left him and escape. But Watson had another advantage. His boxing, and his experience in the slums and ghettos of the world, had taught him restraint.

He pivoted on his feet, and, instead of striking, ducked the other’s swinging blow and went into a clinch. But Patsy, charging like a bull, had the momentum of his rush, while Watson, whirling to meet him, had no momentum. As a result, the pair of them went down, with all their three hundred and sixty pounds of weight, in a long crashing fall, Watson underneath. He lay with his head touching the rear wall of the large room. The street was a hundred and fifty feet away, and he did some quick thinking. His first thought was to avoid trouble. He had no wish to get into the papers of this, his childhood town, where many of his relatives and family friends still lived.

So it was that he locked his arms around the man on top of him, held him close, and waited for the help to come that must come in response to the crash of the fall. The help came – that is, six men ran in from the bar and formed about in a semi-circle.

”Take him off, fellows,” Watson said. “I haven’t struck him, and I don’t want any fight.”

But the semi-circle remained silent. Watson held on and waited. Patsy, after various vain efforts to inflict damage, made an overture.

“Leggo o’ me an’ I’ll get off o’ yeh,” said he.

Watson let go, but when Patsy scrambled to his feet he stood over his recumbent foe, ready to strike.

“Get up,” Patsy commanded.

His voice was stern and implacable, like the voice of God calling to judgment, and Watson knew there was no mercy there.

“Stand back and I’ll get up,” he countered.

“If yer a gentleman, get up,” quoth Patsy, his pale blue eyes aflame with wrath, his fist ready for a crushing blow.

At the same moment he drew his foot back to kick the other in the face. Watson blocked the kick with his crossed arms and sprang to his feet so quickly that he was in a clinch with his antagonist before the latter could strike. Holding him, Watson spoke to the onlookers:

“Take him away from me, fellows. You see I am not striking him. I don’t want to fight. I want to get out of here.”

The circle did not move nor speak. Its silence was ominous and sent a chill to Watson’s heart.

Patsy made an effort to throw him, which culminated in his putting Patsy on his back. Tearing loose from him, Watson sprang to his feet and made for the door. But the circle of men was interposed a wall. He noticed the white, pasty faces, the kind that never see the sun, and knew that the men who barred his way were the nightprowlers and preying beasts of the city jungle. By them he was thrust back upon the pursuing, bull-rushing Patsy.

Again it was a clinch, in which, in momentary safety, Watson appealed to the gang. And again his words fell on deaf ears. Then it was that he knew of many similar knew fear. For he had known of many similar situations, in low dens like this, when solitary men were man-handled, their ribs and features caved in, themselves beaten and kicked to death. And he knew, further, that if he were to escape he must neither strike his assailant nor any of the men who opposed him.

Yet in him was righteous indignation. Under no circumstances could seven to one be fair. Also, he was angry, and there stirred in him the fighting beast that is in all men. But he remembered his wife and children, his unfinished book, the ten thousand rolling acres of the up-country ranch he loved so well. He even saw in flashing visions the blue of the sky, the golden sun pouring down on his flower-spangled meadows, the lazy cattle knee-deep in the brooks, and the flash of trout in the riffles. Life was good-too good for him to risk it for a moment’s sway of the beast. In short, Carter Watson was cool and scared.

His opponent, locked by his masterly clinch, was striving to throw him. Again Watson put him on the floor, broke away, and was thrust back by the pasty-faced circle to duck Patsy’s swinging right and effect another clinch. This happened many times. And Watson grew even cooler, while the baffled Patsy, unable to inflict punishment, raged wildly and more wildly. He took to batting with his head in the clinches. The first time, he landed his forehead flush on Watson’s nose. After that, the latter, in the clinches, buried his face in Patsy’s breast. But the enraged Patsy batted on, striking his own eye and nose and cheek on the top of the other’s head. The more he was thus injured, the more and the harder did Patsy bat.

This one-sided contest continued for twelve or fifteen minutes. Watson never struck a blow, and strove only to escape. Sometimes, in the free moments, circling about among the tables as he tried to win the door, the pasty-faced men gripped his coat-tails and flung him back at the swinging right of the on-rushing Patsy. Time upon time, and times without end, he clinched and put Patsy on his back, each time first whirling him around and putting him down in the direction of the door and gaining toward that goal by the length of the fall.

In the end, hatless, disheveled, with streaming nose and one eye closed, Watson won to the sidewalk and into the arms of a policeman.

“Arrest that man,” Watson panted.

“Hello, Patsy,” said the policeman. “What’s the mix-up?”

“Hello, Charley,” was the answer. “This guy comes in – “

“Arrest that man, officer,” Watson repeated.

“G’wan! Beat it!” said Patsy.

“Beat it!” added the policeman. “If you don’t, I’ll pull you in.”

“Not unless you arrest that man. He has committed a violent and unprovoked assault on me.”

“Is it so, Patsy?” was the officer’s query.

“Nah. Lemme tell you, Charley, an’ I got the witnesses to prove it, so help me God. I was settin’ in me kitchen eatin’ a bowl of soup, when this guy comes in an’ gets gay wid me. I never seen him in me born days before. He was drunk – “

“Look at me, officer,” protested the indignant sociologist. “Am I drunk?”

The officer looked at him with sullen, menacing eyes and nodded to Patsy to continue.

“This guy gets gay wid me. ‘I’m Tim McGrath,’ says he, ‘an’ I can do the like to you,’ says he. ‘Put up yer hands.’ I smiles, an’ wid that, biff biff, he lands me twice an’ spills me soup. Look at me eye. I’m fair murdered.”

“What are you going to do, officer?” Watson demanded.

“Go on, beat it,” was the answer, “or I’ll pull you sure.”

The civic righteousness of Carter Watson flamed up.

“Mr. Officer, I protest – “

But at that moment the policeman grabbed his arm with a savage jerk that nearly overthrew him.

“Come on, you’re pulled.”

“Arrest him, too,” Watson demanded.

“Nix on that play,” was the reply.

“What did you assault him for, him a peacefully eatin’ his soup?”

II

Carter Watson was genuinely angry. Not only had he been wantonly assaulted, badly battered, and arrested, but the morning papers without exception came out with lurid accounts of his drunken brawl with the proprietor of the notorious Vendome. Not one accurate or truthful line was published. Patsy Horan and his satellites described the battle in detail. The one incontestable thing was that Carter Watson had been drunk. Thrice he had been thrown out of the place and into the gutter, and thrice he had come back, breathing blood and fire and announcing that he was going to clean out the place. “EMINENT SOCIOLOGIST JAGGED AND JUGGED,” was the first head-line he read, on the front page, accompanied by a large portrait of himself. Other headlines were: “CARTER WATSON ASPIRED TO CHAMPIONSHIP HONORS”; “CARTER WATSON GETS HIS”; “NOTED SOCIOLOGIST ATTEMPTS TO CLEAN OUT A TENDERLOIN CAFE”; and “CARTER WATSON KNOCKED OUT BY PATSY HORAN IN THREE ROUNDS.”

At the police court, next morning, under bail, appeared Carter Watson to answer the complaint of the People Versus Carter Watson, for the latter’s assault and battery on one Patsy Horan. But first, the Prosecuting Attorney, who was paid to prosecute all offenders against the People, drew him aside and talked with him privately.

“Why not let it drop!” said the Prosecuting Attorney. “I tell you what you do, Mr. Watson: Shake hands with Mr. Horan and make it up, and we’ll drop the case right here. A word to the Judge, and the case against you will be dismissed.”

“But I don’t want it dismissed,” was the answer. “Your office being what it is, you should be prosecuting me instead of asking me to make up with this – this fellow.”

“Oh, I’ll prosecute you all right,” retorted the Prosecuting Attorney.

“Also you will have to prosecute this Patsy Horan,” Watson advised; “for I shall now have him arrested for assault and battery.”

“You’d better shake and make up,” the Prosecuting Attorney repeated, and this time there was almost a threat in his voice.

The trials of both men were set for a week later, on the same morning, in Police Judge Witberg’s court.

“You have no chance,” Watson was told by an old friend of his boyhood, the retired manager of the biggest paper in the city. “Everybody knows you were beaten up by this man. His reputation is most unsavory. But it won’t help you in the least. Both cases will be dismissed. This will be because you are you. Any ordinary man would be convicted.”

“But I do not understand,” objected the perplexed sociologist. “Without warning I was attacked by this man; and badly beaten. I did not strike a blow. I – “

“That has nothing to do with it,” the other cut him off.

“Then what is there that has anything to do with it?”

“I’ll tell you. You are now up against the local police and political machine. Who are you? You are not even a legal resident in this town. You live up in the country. You haven’t a vote of your own here. Much less do you swing any votes. This dive proprietor swings a string of votes in his precincts – a mighty long string.”

“Do you mean to tell me that this Judge Witberg will violate the sacredness of his office and oath by letting this brute off?” Watson demanded.

“Watch him,” was the grim reply. “Oh, he’ll do it nicely enough. He will give an extra-legal, extra-judicial decision, abounding in every word in the dictionary that stands for fairness and right.”

“But there are the newspapers,” Watson cried.

“They are not fighting the administration at present. They’ll give it to you hard. You see what they have already done to you.”

“Then these snips of boys on the police detail won’t write the truth?”

“They will write something so near like the truth that the public will believe it. They write their stories under instruction, you know. They have their orders to twist and color, and there won’t be much left of you when they get done. Better drop the whole thing right now. You are in bad.”

“But the trials are set.”

“Give the word and they’ll drop them now. A man can’t fight a machine unless he has a machine behind him.”

III

But Carter Watson was stubborn. He was convinced that the machine would beat him, but all his days he had sought social experience, and this was certainly something new.

The morning of the trial the Prosecuting Attorney made another attempt to patch up the affair.

“If you feel that way, I should like to get a lawyer to prosecute the case,” said Watson.

“No, you don’t,” said the Prosecuting Attorney. “I am paid by the People to prosecute, and prosecute I will. But let me tell you. You have no chance. We shall lump both cases into one, and you watch out.”

Judge Witberg looked good to Watson. A fairly young man, short, comfortably stout, smooth-shaven and with an intelligent face, he seemed a very nice man indeed. This good impression was added to by the smiling lips and the wrinkles of laughter in the corners of his black eyes. Looking at him and studying him, Watson felt almost sure that his old friend’s prognostication was wrong.

But Watson was soon to learn. Patsy Horan and two of his satellites testified to a most colossal aggregation of perjuries. Watson could not have believed it possible without having experienced it. They denied the existence of the other four men. And of the two that testified, one claimed to have been in the kitchen, a witness to Watson’s unprovoked assault on Patsy, while the other, remaining in the bar, had witnessed Watson’s second and third rushes into the place as he attempted to annihilate the unoffending Patsy. The vile language ascribed to Watson was so voluminously and unspeakably vile, that he felt they were injuring their own case. It was so impossible that he should utter such things. But when they described the brutal blows he had rained on poor Patsy’s face, and the chair he demolished when he vainly attempted to kick Patsy, Watson waxed secretly hilarious and at the same time sad. The trial was a farce, but such lowness of life was depressing to contemplate when he considered the long upward climb humanity must make.

Watson could not recognize himself, nor could his worst enemy have recognized him, in the swashbuckling, rough-housing picture that was painted of him. But, as in all cases of complicated perjury, rifts and contradictions in the various stories appeared. The Judge somehow failed to notice them, while the Prosecuting Attorney and Patsy’s attorney shied off from them gracefully. Watson had not bothered to get a lawyer for himself, and he was now glad that he had not.

Still, he retained a semblance of faith in Judge Witberg when he went himself on the stand and started to tell his story.

“I was strolling casually along the street, your Honor,” Watson began, but was interrupted by the Judge.

“We are not here to consider your previous actions,” bellowed Judge Witberg. “Who struck the first blow?”

“Your Honor,” Watson pleaded, “I have no witnesses of the actual fray, and the truth of my story can only be brought out by telling the story fully – “

Again he was interrupted.

“We do not care to publish any magazines here,” Judge Witberg roared, looking at him so fiercely and malevolently that Watson could scarcely bring himself to believe that this was same man he had studied a few minutes previously.

“Who struck the first blow?” Patsy’s attorney asked.

The Prosecuting Attorney interposed, demanding to know which of the two cases lumped together was, and by what right Patsy’s lawyer, at that stage of the proceedings, should take the witness. Patsy’s attorney fought back. Judge Witberg interfered, professing no knowledge of any two cases being lumped together. All this had to be explained. Battle royal raged, terminating in both attorneys apologizing to the Court and to each other. And so it went, and to Watson it had the seeming of a group of pickpockets ruffling and bustling an honest man as they took his purse. The machine was working, that was all.

“Why did you enter this place of unsavory reputations?” was asked him.

“It has been my custom for many years, as a student of economics and sociology, to acquaint myself – “

But this was as far as Watson got.

“We want none of your ologies here,” snarled Judge Witberg. “It is a plain question. Answer it plainly. Is it true or not true that you were drunk? That is the gist of the question.”

When Watson attempted to tell how Patsy had injured his face in his attempts to bat with his head, Watson was openly scouted and flouted, and Judge Witberg again took him in hand.

“Are you aware of the solemnity of the oath you took to testify to nothing but the truth on this witness stand?” the Judge demanded. “This is a fairy story you are telling. It is not reasonable that a man would so injure himself, and continue to injure himself, by striking the soft and sensitive parts of his face against your head. You are a sensible man. It is unreasonable, is it not?”

“Men are unreasonable when they are angry,” Watson answered meekly.

Then it was that Judge Witberg was deeply outraged and righteously wrathful.

“What right have you to say that?” he cried. “It is gratuitous. It has no bearing on the case. You are here as a witness, sir, of events that have transpired. The Court does not wish to hear any expressions of opinion from you at all.”

“I but answered your question, your Honor,” Watson protested humbly.

“You did nothing of the sort,” was the next blast. “And let me warn you, sir, let me warn you, that you are laying yourself liable to contempt by such insolence. And I will have you know that we know how to observe the law and the rules of courtesy down here in this little courtroom. I am ashamed of you.”

And, while the next punctilious legal wrangle between the attorneys interrupted his tale of what happened in the Vendome, Carter Watson, without bitterness, amused and at the same time sad, saw rise before him the machine, large and small, that dominated his country, the unpunished and shameless grafts of a thousand cities perpetrated by the spidery and vermin-like creatures of the machines. Here it was before him, a courtroom and a judge, bowed down in subservience by the machine to a dive-keeper who swung a string of votes. Petty and sordid as it was, it was one face of the many-faced machine that loomed colossally, in every city and state, in a thousand guises overshadowing the land.

A familiar phrase rang in his ears: “It is to laugh.” At the height of the wrangle, he giggled, once, aloud, and earned a sullen frown from Judge Witberg. Worse, a myriad times, he decided, were these bullying lawyers and this bullying judge then the bucko mates in first quality hell-ships, who not only did their own bullying but protected themselves as well. These petty rapscallions, on the other hand, sought protection behind the majesty of the law. They struck, but no one was permitted to strike back, for behind them were the prison cells and the clubs of the stupid policemen – paid and professional fighters and beaters-up of men. Yet he was not bitter. The grossness and the sliminess of it was forgotten in the simple grotesqueness of it, and he had the saving sense of humor.

Nevertheless, hectored and heckled though he was, he managed in the end to give a simple, straightforward version of the affair, and, despite a belligerent cross-examination, his story was not shaken in any particular. Quite different it was from the perjuries that had shouted aloud from the perjuries of Patsy and his two witnesses.

Both Patsy’s attorney and the Prosecuting Attorney rested their cases, letting everything go before the Court without argument. Watson protested against this, but was silenced when the Prosecuting Attorney told him that Public Prosecutor and knew his business.

“Patrick Horan has testified that he was in danger of his life and that he was compelled to defend himself,” Judge Witberg’s verdict began. “Mr. Watson has testified to the same thing. Each has sworn that the other struck the first blow; each has sworn that the other made an unprovoked assault on him. It is an axiom of the law that the defendant should be given the benefit of the doubt. A very reasonable doubt exists. Therefore, in the case of the People Versus Carter Watson the benefit of the doubt is given to said Carter Watson and he is herewith ordered discharged from custody. The same reasoning applies to the case of the People Versus Patrick Horan. He is given the benefit of the doubt and discharged from custody. My recommendation is that both defendants shake hands and make up.”

In the afternoon papers the first headline that caught Watson’s eye was: “CARTER WATSON ACQUITTED.” In the second paper it was: “CARTER WATSON ESCAPES A FINE.” But what capped everything was the one beginning: “CARTER WATSON A GOOD FELLOW.” In the text he read how Judge Witberg had advised both fighters to shake hands, which they promptly did. Further, he read:

“ ‘Let’s have a nip on it,’ said Patsy Horan.

“ ‘Sure,’ said Carter Watson.

“And, arm in arm, they ambled for the nearest saloon.”

IV

Now, from the whole adventure, Watson carried away no bitterness. It was a social experience of a new order, and it led to the writing of another book, which he entitled, “POLICE COURT PROCEDURE: A Tentative Analysis.”

One summer morning a year later, on his ranch, he left his horse and himself clambered on through a miniature canyon to inspect some rock ferns he had planted the previous winter. Emerging from the upper end of the canyon, he came out on one of his flower-spangled meadows, a delightful isolated spot, screened from the world by low hills and clumps of trees. And here he found a man, evidently on a stroll from the summer hotel down at the little town a mile away. They met face to face and the recognition was mutual. It was Judge Witberg. Also, it was a clear case of trespass, for Watson had trespass signs upon his boundaries, though he never enforced them.

Judge Witberg held out his hand, which Watson refused to see.

“Politics is a dirty trade, isn’t it, Judge?” he remarked. “Oh, yes, I see your hand, but I don’t care to take it. The papers said I shook hands with Patsy Horan after the trial. You know I did not, but let me tell you that I’d a thousand times rather shake hands with him and his vile following of curs, than with you.”

Judge Witberg was painfully flustered, and as he hemmed and hawed and essayed to speak, Watson, looking at him, was struck by a sudden whim, and he determined on a grim and facetious antic.

“I should scarcely expect any animus from a man of your acquirements and knowledge of the world,” the Judge was saying.

“Animus?” Watson replied. “Certainly not. I haven’t such a thing in my nature. And to prove it, let me show you something curious, something you have never seen before.” Casting about him, Watson picked up a rough stone the size of his fist. “See this. Watch me.”

So saying, Carter Watson tapped himself a sharp blow on the cheek. The stone laid the flesh open to the bone and the blood spurted forth.

“The stone was too sharp,” he announced to the astounded police judge, who thought he had gone mad.

“I must bruise it a trifle. There is nothing like being realistic in such matters.”

Whereupon Carter Watson found a smooth stone and with it pounded his cheek nicely several times.

“Ah,” he cooed. “That will turn beautifully green and black in a few hours. It will be most convincing.”

“You are insane,” Judge Witberg quavered.

“Don’t use such vile language to me,” said Watson. “You see my bruised and bleeding face? You did that, with that right hand of yours. You hit me twice – biff, biff. It is a brutal and unprovoked assault. I am in danger of my life. I must protect myself.”

Judge Witberg backed away in alarm before the menacing fists of the other.

“If you strike me I’ll have you arrested,” Judge Witberg threatened.

“That is what I told Patsy,” was the answer. “And do you know what he did when I told him that?”

“No.”

“That!”

And at the same moment Watson’s right fist landed flush on Judge Witberg’s nose, putting that legal gentleman over on his back on the grass.

“Get up!” commanded Watson. “If you are a gentleman, get up – that’s what Patsy told me, you know.”

Judge Witberg declined to rise, and was dragged to his feet by the coat-collar, only to have one eye blacked and be put on his back again. After that it was a red Indian massacre. Judge Witberg was humanely and scientifically beaten up. His checks were boxed, his cars cuffed, and his face was rubbed in the turf. And all the time Watson exposited the way Patsy Horan had done it. Occasionally, and very carefully, the facetious sociologist administered a real bruising blow. Once, dragging the poor Judge to his feet, he deliberately bumped his own nose on the gentleman’s head. The nose promptly bled.

“See that!” cried Watson, stepping back and deftly shedding his blood all down his own shirt front. “You did it. With your fist you did it. It is awful. I am fair murdered. I must again defend myself.”

And once more Judge Witberg impacted his features on a fist and was sent to grass.

“I will have you arrested,” he sobbed as he lay.

“That’s what Patsy said.”

“A brutal –-sniff, sniff, – and unprovoked – sniff, sniff– assault.”

“That’s what Patsy said.”

“I will surely have you arrested.”

“Speaking slangily, not if I can beat you to it.”

And with that, Carter Watson departed down the canyon, mounted his horse, and rode to town.

An hour later, as Judge Witberg limped up the grounds to his hotel, he was arrested by a village constable on a charge of assault and battery preferred by Carter Watson.

V

“Your Honor,” Watson said next day to the village Justice, a well to do farmer and graduate, thirty years before, from a cow college, “since this Sol Witberg has seen fit to charge me with battery, following upon my charge of battery against him, I would suggest that both cases be lumped together. The testimony and the facts are the same in both cases.”

To this the Justice agreed, and the double case proceeded. Watson, as prosecuting witness, first took the stand and told his story.

“I was picking flowers,” he testified. “Picking flowers on my own land, never dreaming of danger. Suddenly this man rushed upon me from behind the trees. ‘I am the Dodo,’ he says, ‘and I can do you to a frazzle. Put up your hands.’ I smiled, but with that, biff, biff, he struck me, knocking me down and spilling my flowers. The language he used was frightful. It was an unprovoked and brutal assault. Look at my cheek. Look at my nose – I could not understand it. He must have been drunk. Before I recovered from my surprise he had administered this beating. I was in danger of my life and was compelled to defend himself. That is all, Your Honor, though I must say, in conclusion, that I cannot get over my perplexity. Why did he say he was the Dodo? Why did he so wantonly attack me?”

And thus was Sol Witberg given a liberal education in the art of perjury. Often, from his high seat, he had listened indulgently to police court perjuries in cooked-up cases; but for the first time perjury was directed against him, and he no longer sat above the court, with the bailiffs, the Policemen’s clubs, and the prison cells behind him.

“Your Honor,” he cried, “never have I heard such a pack of lies told by so bare-faced a liar – !’

Watson here sprang to his feet.

“Your Honor, I protest. It is for your Honor to decide truth or falsehood. The witness is on the stand to testify to actual events that have transpired. His personal opinion upon things in general, and upon me, has no bearing on the case whatever.”

The Justice scratched his head and waxed phlegmatically indignant.

“The point is well taken,” he decided. “I am surprised at you, Mr. Witberg, claiming to be a judge and skilled in the practice of the law, and yet being guilty of such unlawyerlike conduct. Your manner, sir, and your methods, remind me of a shyster. This is a simple case of assault and battery. We are here to determine who struck the first blow, and we are not interested in your estimates of Mr. Watson’s personal character. Proceed with your story.”

Sol Witberg would have bitten his bruised and swollen lip in chagrin, had it not hurt so much. But he contained himself and told a simple, straightforward, truthful story.

“Your Honor,” Watson said, “I would suggest that you ask him what he was doing on my premises.”

“A very good question. What were you doing, sir, on Mr. Watson’s premises?”

“I did not know they were his premises.”

“It was a trespass, your Honor,” Watson cried. “The warnings are posted conspicuously.”

“I saw no warnings,” said Sol Witberg.

“I have seen them myself,” snapped the Justice. “They are very conspicuous. And I would warn you, sir, that if you palter with the truth in such little matters you may darken your more important statements with suspicion. Why did you strike Mr. Watson?”

“Your Honor, as I have testified, I did not strike a blow.”

The Justice looked at Carter Watson’s bruised and swollen visage, and turned to glare at Sol Witberg.

“Look at that man’s cheek!” he thundered. “If you did not strike a blow how comes it that he is so disfigured and injured?”

“As I testified – “

“Be careful,” the Justice warned.

“I will be careful, sir. I will say nothing but the truth. He struck himself with a rock. He struck himself with two different rocks.”

“Does it stand to reason that a man, any man not a lunatic, would so injure himself, and continue to injure himself, by striking the soft and sensitive parts of his face with a stone?” Carter Watson demanded

“It sounds like a fairy story,” was the Justice’s comment.

“Mr. Witberg, had you been drinking?”

“No, sir.”

“Do you never drink?”

“On occasion.”

The Justice meditated on this answer with an air of astute profundity.

Watson took advantage of the opportunity to wink at Sol Witberg, but that much-abused gentleman saw nothing humorous in the situation.

“A very peculiar case, a very peculiar case,” the Justice announced, as he began his verdict. “The evidence of the two parties is flatly contradictory. There are no witnesses outside the two principals. Each claims the other committed the assault, and I have no legal way of determining the truth. But I have my private opinion, Mr. Witberg, and I would recommend that henceforth you keep off of Mr. Watson’s premises and keep away from this section of the country – “

“This is an outrage!” Sol Witberg blurted out.

“Sit down, sir!” was the Justice’s thundered command. “If you interrupt the Court in this manner again, I shall fine you for contempt. And I warn you I shall fine you heavily – you, a judge yourself, who should be conversant with the courtesy and dignity of courts. I shall now give my verdict:

“It is a rule of law that the defendant shall be given the benefit of the doubt. As I have said, and I repeat, there is no legal way for me to determine who struck the first blow. Therefore, and much to my regret,” – here he paused and glared at Sol Witberg – “in each of these cases I am compelled to give the defendant the benefit of the doubt. Gentlemen, you are both dismissed.”

“Let us have a nip on it,” Watson said to Witberg, as they left the courtroom; but that outraged person refused to lock arms and amble to the nearest saloon.

The Bones of Kahekili

From over the lofty Koolau Mountains, vagrant wisps of the trade wind drifted, faintly swaying the great, unwhipped banana leaves, rustling the palms, and fluttering and setting up a whispering among the lace-leaved algaroba trees. Only intermittently did the atmosphere so breathe--for breathing it was, the suspiring of the languid, Hawaiian afternoon. In the intervals between the soft breathings, the air grew heavy and balmy with the perfume of flowers and the exhalations of fat, living soil.

Of humans about the low bungalow-like house, there were many; but one only of them slept. The rest were on the tense tiptoes of silence. At the rear of the house a tiny babe piped up a thin blatting wail that the quickly thrust breast could not appease. The mother, a slender hapa-haole (half-white), clad in a loose-flowing holoku of white muslin, hastened away swiftly among the banana and papaia trees to remove the babe’s noise by distance. Other women, hapa-haole and full native, watched her anxiously as she fled.

At the front of the house, on the grass, squatted a score of Hawaiians. Well-muscled, broad-shouldered, they were all strapping men. Brown-skinned, with luminous brown eyes and black, their features large and regular, they showed all the signs of being as good-natured, merry-hearted, and soft-tempered as the climate. To all of which a seeming contradiction was given by the ferociousness of their accoutrement. Into the tops of their rough leather leggings were thrust long knives, the handles projecting. On their heels were huge-rowelled Spanish spurs. They had the appearance of banditti, save for the incongruous wreaths of flowers and fragrant maile that encircled the crowns of their flopping cowboy hats. One of them, deliciously and roguishly handsome as a faun, with the eyes of a faun, wore a flaming double-hibiscus bloom coquettishly tucked over his ear. Above them, casting a shelter of shade from the sun, grew a wide-spreading canopy of Ponciana regia, itself a flame of blossoms, out of each of which sprang pom-poms of feathery stamens. From far off, muffled by distance, came the faint stamping of their tethered horses. The eyes of all were intently fixed upon the solitary sleeper who lay on his back on a lauhala mat a hundred feet away under the monkey-pod trees.

Large as were the Hawaiian cowboys, the sleeper was larger. Also, as his snow-white hair and beard attested, he was much older. The thickness of his wrist and the greatness of his fingers made authentic the mighty frame of him hidden under loose dungaree pants and cotton shirt, buttonless, open from midriff to Adam’s apple, exposing a chest matted with a thatch of hair as white as that of his head and face. The depth and breadth of that chest, its resilience, and its relaxed and plastic muscles, tokened the knotty strength that still resided in him. Further, no bronze and beat of sun and wind availed to hide the testimony of his skin that he was all haole--a white man.

On his back, his great white beard, thrust skyward, untrimmed of barbers, stiffened and subsided with every breath, while with the outblow of every exhalation the white moustache erected perpendicularly like the quills of a porcupine and subsided with each intake. A young girl of fourteen, clad only in a single shift, or muumuu, herself a grand-daughter of the sleeper, crouched beside him and with a feathered fly-flapper brushed away the flies. In her face were depicted solicitude, and nervousness, and awe, as if she attended on a god.

And truly, Hardman Pool, the sleeping whiskery one, was to her, and to many and sundry, a god--a source of life, a source of food, a fount of wisdom, a giver of law, a smiling beneficence, a blackness of thunder and punishment--in short, a man-master whose record was fourteen living and adult sons and daughters, six great-grandchildren, and more grandchildren than could he in his most lucid moments enumerate.

Fifty-one years before, he had landed from an open boat at Laupahoehoe on the windward coast of Hawaii. The boat was the one surviving one of the whaler Black Prince of New Bedford. Himself New Bedford born, twenty years of age, by virtue of his driving strength and ability he had served as second mate on the lost whaleship. Coming to Honolulu and casting about for himself, he had first married Kalama Mamaiopili, next acted as pilot of Honolulu Harbour, after that started a saloon and boarding house, and, finally, on the death of Kalama’s father, engaged in cattle ranching on the broad pasture lands she had inherited.

For over half a century he had lived with the Hawaiians, and it was conceded that he knew their language better than did most of them. By marrying Kalama, he had married not merely her land, but her own chief rank, and the fealty owed by the commoners to her by virtue of her genealogy was also accorded him. In addition, he possessed of himself all the natural attributes of chiefship: the gigantic stature, the fearlessness, the pride; and the high hot temper that could brook no impudence nor insult, that could be neither bullied nor awed by any utmost magnificence of power that walked on two legs, and that could compel service of lesser humans, not by any ignoble purchase by bargaining, but by an unspoken but expected condescending of largesse. He knew his Hawaiians from the outside and the in, knew them better than themselves, their Polynesian circumlocutions, faiths, customs, and mysteries.

And at seventy-one, after a morning in the saddle over the ranges that began at four o’clock, he lay under the monkey-pods in his customary and sacred siesta that no retainer dared to break, nor would dare permit any equal of the great one to break. Only to the King was such a right accorded, and, as the King had early learned, to break Hardman Pool’s siesta was to gain awake a very irritable and grumpy Hardman Pool who would talk straight from the shoulder and say unpleasant but true things that no king would care to hear.

The sun blazed down. The horses stamped remotely. The fading trade-wind wisps sighed and rustled between longer intervals of quiescence. The perfume grew heavier. The woman brought back the babe, quiet again, to the rear of the house. The monkey-pods folded their leaves and swooned to a siesta of their own in the soft air above the sleeper. The girl, breathless as ever from the enormous solemnity of her task, still brushed the flies away; and the score of cowboys still intently and silently watched.

Hardman Pool awoke. The next out-breath, expected of the long rhythm, did not take place. Neither did the white, long moustache rise up. Instead, the cheeks, under the whiskers, puffed; the eyelids lifted, exposing blue eyes, choleric and fully and immediately conscious; the right hand went out to the half-smoked pipe beside him, while the left hand reached the matches.

“Get me my gin and milk,” he ordered, in Hawaiian, of the little maid, who had been startled into a tremble by his awaking.

He lighted the pipe, but gave no sign of awareness of the presence of his waiting retainers until the tumbler of gin and milk had been brought and drunk.

“Well?” he demanded abruptly, and in the pause, while twenty faces wreathed in smiles and twenty pairs of dark eyes glowed luminously with well-wishing pleasure, he wiped the lingering drops of gin and milk from his hairy lips. “What are you hanging around for? What do you want? Come over here.”

Twenty giants, most of them young, uprose and with a great clanking and jangling of spurs and spur-chains strode over to him. They grouped before him in a semicircle, trying bashfully to wedge their shoulders, one behind another’s, their faces a-grin and apologetic, and at the same time expressing a casual and unconscious democraticness. In truth, to them Hardman Pool was more than mere chief. He was elder brother, or father, or patriarch; and to all of them he was related, in one way or another, according to Hawaiian custom, through his wife and through the many marriages of his children and grandchildren. His slightest frown might perturb them, his anger terrify them, his command compel them to certain death; yet, on the other hand, not one of them would have dreamed of addressing him otherwise than intimately by his first name, which name, “Hardman,” was transmuted by their tongues into Kanaka Oolea.

At a nod from him, the semicircle seated itself on the manienie grass, and with further deprecatory smiles waited his pleasure.

“What do you want?” demanded, in Hawaiian, with a brusqueness and sternness they knew were put on.

They smiled more broadly, and deliciously squirmed their broad shoulders and great torsos with the appeasingness of so many wriggling puppies. Hardman Pool singled out one of them.

“Well, Iliiopoi, what do YOU want?”

“Ten dollars, Kanaka Oolea.”

“Ten dollars!” Pool cried, in apparent shock at mention of so vast a sum. “Does it mean you are going to take a second wife? Remember the missionary teaching. One wife at a time, Iliiopoi; one wife at a time. For he who entertains a plurality of wives will surely go to hell.”

Giggles and flashings of laughing eyes from all greeted the joke.

“No, Kanaka Oolea,” came the reply. “The devil knows I am hard put to get kow-kow for one wife and her several relations.”

“Kow-kow?” Pool repeated the Chinese-introduced word for food which the Hawaiians had come to substitute for their own paina. “Didn’t you boys get kow-kow here this noon?”

“Yes, Kanaka Oolea,” volunteered an old, withered native who had just joined the group from the direction of the house. “All of them had kow-kow in the kitchen, and plenty of it. They ate like lost horses brought down from the lava.”

“And what do you want, Kumuhana?” Pool diverted to the old one, at the same time motioning to the little maid to flap flies from the other side of him.

“Twelve dollars,” said Kumuhana. “I want to buy a Jackass and a second-hand saddle and bridle. I am growing too old for my legs to carry me in walking.”

“You wait,” his haole lord commanded. “I will talk with you about the matter, and about other things of importance, when I am finished with the rest and they are gone.”

The withered old one nodded and proceeded to light his pipe.

“The kow-kow in the kitchen was good,” Iliiopoi resumed, licking his lips. “The poi was one-finger, the pig fat, the salmon-belly unstinking, the fish of great freshness and plenty, though the opihis” (tiny, rock-clinging shell-fish) “had been salted and thereby made tough. Never should the opihis be salted. Often have I told you, Kanaka Oolea, that opihis should never be salted. I am full of good kow-kow. My belly is heavy with it. Yet is my heart not light of it because there is no kow-kow in my own house, where is my wife, who is the aunt of your fourth son’s second wife, and where is my baby daughter, and my wife’s old mother, and my wife’s old mother’s feeding child that is a cripple, and my wife’s sister who lives likewise with us along with her three children, the father being dead of a wicked dropsy--“

“Will five dollars save all of you from funerals for a day or several?” Pool testily cut the tale short.

“Yes, Kanaka Oolea, and as well it will buy my wife a new comb and some tobacco for myself.”

From a gold-sack drawn from the hip-pocket of his dungarees, Hardman Pool drew the gold piece and tossed it accurately into the waiting hand.

To a bachelor who wanted six dollars for new leggings, tobacco, and spurs, three dollars were given; the same to another who needed a hat; and to a third, who modestly asked for two dollars, four were given with a flowery-worded compliment anent his prowess in roping a recent wild bull from the mountains. They knew, as a rule, that he cut their requisitions in half, therefore they doubled the size of their requisitions. And Hardman Pool knew they doubled, and smiled to himself. It was his way, and, further, it was a very good way with his multitudinous relatives, and did not reduce his stature in their esteem.

“And you, Ahuhu?” he demanded of one whose name meant “poison-wood.”

“And the price of a pair of dungarees,” Ahuhu concluded his list of needs. “I have ridden much and hard after your cattle, Kanaka Oolea, and where my dungarees have pressed against the seat of the saddle there is no seat to my dungarees. It is not well that it be said that a Kanaka Oolea cowboy, who is also a cousin of Kanaka Oolea’s wife’s half-sister, should be shamed to be seen out of the saddle save that he walks backward from all that behold him.”

“The price of a dozen pairs of dungarees be thine, Ahuhu,” Hardman Pool beamed, tossing to him the necessary sum. “I am proud that my family shares my pride. Afterward, Ahuhu, out of the dozen dungarees you will give me one, else shall I be compelled to walk backward, my own and only dungarees being in like manner well worn and shameful.”

And in laughter of love at their haole chief’s final sally, all the sweet-child-minded and physically gorgeous company of them departed to their waiting horses, save the old withered one, Kumuhana, who had been bidden to wait.

For a full five minutes they sat in silence. Then Hardman Pool ordered the little maid to fetch a tumbler of gin and milk, which, when she brought it, he nodded her to hand to Kumuhana. The glass did not leave his lips until it was empty, whereon he gave a great audible out-breath of “A-a-ah,” and smacked his lips.

“Much awa have I drunk in my time,” he said reflectively. “Yet is the awa but a common man’s drink, while the haole liquor is a drink for chiefs. The awa has not the liquor’s hot willingness, its spur in the ribs of feeling, its biting alive of oneself that is very pleasant since it is pleasant to be alive.”

Hardman Pool smiled, nodded agreement, and old Kumuhana continued.

“There is a warmingness to it. It warms the belly and the soul. It warms the heart. Even the soul and the heart grow cold when one is old.”

“You ARE old,” Pool conceded. “Almost as old as I.”

Kumuhana shook his head and murmured. “Were I no older than you I would be as young as you.”

“I am seventy-one,” said Pool.

“I do not know ages that way,” was the reply. “What happened when you were born?”

“Let me see,” Pool calculated. “This is 1880. Subtract seventy-one, and it leaves nine. I was born in 1809, which is the year Keliimakai died, which is the year the Scotchman, Archibald Campbell, lived in Honolulu.”

“Then am I truly older than you, Kanaka Oolea. I remember the Scotchman well, for I was playing among the grass houses of Honolulu at the time, and already riding a surf-board in the wahine” (woman) “surf at Waikiki. I can take you now to the spot where was the Scotchman’s grass house. The Seaman’s Mission stands now on the very ground. Yet do I know when I was born. Often my grandmother and my mother told me of it. I was born when Madame Pele” (the Fire Goddess or Volcano Goddess) “became angry with the people of Paiea because they sacrificed no fish to her from their fish-pool, and she sent down a flow of lava from Huulalai and filled up their pond. For ever was the fish-pond of Paiea filled up. That was when I was born.”

“That was in 1801, when James Boyd was building ships for Kamehameha at Hilo,” Pool cast back through the calendar; “which makes you seventy-nine, or eight years older than I. You are very old.”

“Yes, Kanaka Oolea,” muttered Kumuhana, pathetically attempting to swell his shrunken chest with pride.

“And you are very wise.”

“Yes, Kanaka Oolea.”

“And you know many of the secret things that are known only to old men.”

“Yes, Kanaka Oolea.”

“And then you know--“ Hardman Pool broke off, the more effectively to impress and hypnotize the other ancient with the set stare of his pale-washed blue eyes. “They say the bones of Kahekili were taken from their hiding-place and lie to-day in the Royal Mausoleum. I have heard it whispered that you alone of all living men truly know.”

“I know,” was the proud answer. “I alone know.”

“Well, do they lie there? Yes or no?”

“Kahekili was an alii” (high chief). “It is from this straight line that your wife Kalama came. She is an alii.” The old retainer paused and pursed his lean lips in meditation. “I belong to her, as all my people before me belonged to her people before her. She only can command the great secrets of me. She is wise, too wise ever to command me to speak this secret. To you, O Kanaka Oolea, I do not answer yes, I do not answer no. This is a secret of the aliis that even the aliis do not know.”

“Very good, Kumuhana,” Hardman Pool commanded. “Yet do you forget that I am an alii, and that what my good Kalama does not dare ask, I command to ask. I can send for her, now, and tell her to command your answer. But such would be a foolishness unless you prove yourself doubly foolish. Tell me the secret, and she will never know. A woman’s lips must pour out whatever flows in through her ears, being so made. I am a man, and man is differently made. As you well know, my lips suck tight on secrets as a squid sucks to the salty rock. If you will not tell me alone, then will you tell Kalama and me together, and her lips will talk, her lips will talk, so that the latest malahini will shortly know what, otherwise, you and I alone will know.”

Long time Kumuhana sat on in silence, debating the argument and finding no way to evade the fact-logic of it.

“Great is your haole wisdom,” he conceded at last.

“Yes? or no?” Hardman Pool drove home the point of his steel.

Kumuhana looked about him first, then slowly let his eyes come to rest on the fly-flapping maid.

“Go,” Pool commanded her. “And come not back without you hear a clapping of my hands.”

Hardman Pool spoke no further, even after the flapper had disappeared into the house; yet his face adamantly looked: “Yes or no?”

Again Kumuhana looked carefully about him, and up into the monkey-pod boughs as if to apprehend a lurking listener. His lips were very dry. With his tongue he moistened them repeatedly. Twice he essayed to speak, but was inarticulately husky. And finally, with bowed head, he whispered, so low and solemnly that Hardman Pool bent his own head to hear: “No.”

Pool clapped his hands, and the little maid ran out of the house to him in tremulous, fluttery haste.

“Bring a milk and gin for old Kumuhana, here,” Pool commanded; and, to Kumuhana: “Now tell me the whole story.”

“Wait,” was the answer. “Wait till the little wahine has come and gone.”

And when the maid was gone, and the gin and milk had travelled the way predestined of gin and milk when mixed together, Hardman Pool waited without further urge for the story. Kumuhana pressed his hand to his chest and coughed hollowly at intervals, bidding for encouragement; but in the end, of himself, spoke out.

“It was a terrible thing in the old days when a great alii died. Kahekili was a great alii. He might have been king had he lived. Who can tell? I was a young man, not yet married. You know, Kanaka Oolea, when Kahekili died, and you can tell me how old I was. He died when Governor Boki ran the Blonde Hotel here in Honolulu. You have heard?”

“I was still on windward Hawaii,” Pool answered. “But I have heard. Boki made a distillery, and leased Manoa lands to grow sugar for it, and Kaahumanu, who was regent, cancelled the lease, rooted out the cane, and planted potatoes. And Boki was angry, and prepared to make war, and gathered his fighting men, with a dozen whaleship deserters and five brass six-pounders, out at Waikiki--“

“That was the very time Kahekili died,” Kumuhana broke in eagerly. “You are very wise. You know many things of the old days better than we old kanakas.”

“It was 1829,” Pool continued complacently. “You were twenty-eight years old, and I was twenty, just coming ashore in the open boat after the burning of the Black Prince.”

“I was twenty-eight,” Kumuhana resumed. “It sounds right. I remember well Boki’s brass guns at Waikiki. Kahekili died, too, at the time, at Waikiki. The people to this day believe his bones were taken to the Hale o Keawe” (mausoleum) “at Honaunau, in Kona--“

“And long afterward were brought to the Royal Mausoleum here in Honolulu,” Pool supplemented.

“Also, Kanaka Oolea, there are some who believe to this day that Queen Alice has them stored with the rest of her ancestral bones in the big jars in her taboo room. All are wrong. I know. The sacred bones of Kahekili are gone and for ever gone. They rest nowhere. They have ceased to be. And many kona winds have whitened the surf at Waikiki since the last man looked upon the last of Kahekili. I alone remain alive of those men. I am the last man, and I was not glad to be at the finish.

“For see! I was a young man, and my heart was white-hot lava for Malia, who was in Kahekili’s household. So was Anapuni’s heart white-hot for her, though the colour of his heart was black, as you shall see. We were at a drinking that night--Anapuni and I--the night that Kahekili died. Anapuni and I were only commoners, as were all of us kanakas and wahines who were at the drinking with the common sailors and whaleship men from before the mast. We were drinking on the mats by the beach at Waikiki, close to the old heiau” (temple) “that is not far from what is now the Wilders’ beach place. I learned then and for ever what quantities of drink haole sailormen can stand. As for us kanakas, our heads were hot and light and rattly as dry gourds with the whisky and the rum.

“It was past midnight, I remember well, when I saw Malia, whom never had I seen at a drinking, come across the wet-hard sand of the beach. My brain burned like red cinders of hell as I looked upon Anapuni look upon her, he being nearest to her by being across from me in the drinking circle. Oh, I know it was whisky and rum and youth that made the heat of me; but there, in that moment, the mad mind of me resolved, if she spoke to him and yielded to dance with him first, that I would put both my hands around his throat and throw him down and under the wahine surf there beside us, and drown and choke out his life and the obstacle of him that stood between me and her. For know, that she had never decided between us, and it was because of him that she was not already and long since mine.

“She was a grand young woman with a body generous as that of a chiefess and more wonderful, as she came upon us, across the wet sand, in the shimmer of the moonlight. Even the haole sailormen made pause of silence, and with open mouths stared upon her. Her walk! I have heard you talk, O Kanaka Oolea, of the woman Helen who caused the war of Troy. I say of Malia that more men would have stormed the walls of hell for her than went against that old-time city of which it is your custom to talk over much and long when you have drunk too little milk and too much gin.

“Her walk! In the moonlight there, the soft glow-fire of the jelly-fishes in the surf like the kerosene-lamp footlights I have seen in the new haole theatre! It was not the walk of a girl, but a woman. She did not flutter forward like rippling wavelets on a reef-sheltered, placid beach. There was that in her manner of walk that was big and queenlike, like the motion of the forces of nature, like the rhythmic flow of lava down the slopes of Kau to the sea, like the movement of the huge orderly trade-wind seas, like the rise and fall of the four great tides of the year that may be like music in the eternal ear of God, being too slow of occurrence in time to make a tune for ordinary quick-pulsing, brief-living, swift-dying man.

“Anapuni was nearest. But she looked at me. Have you ever heard a call, Kanaka Oolea, that is without sound yet is louder than the conches of God? So called she to me across that circle of the drinking. I half arose, for I was not yet full drunken; but Anapuni’s arm caught her and drew her, and I sank back on my elbow and watched and raged. He was for making her sit beside him, and I waited. Did she sit, and, next, dance with him, I knew that ere morning Anapuni would be a dead man, choked and drowned by me in the shallow surf.

“Strange, is it not, Kanaka Oolea, all this heat called ‘love’? Yet it is not strange. It must be so in the time of one’s youth, else would mankind not go on.”

“That is why the desire of woman must be greater than the desire of life,” Pool concurred. “Else would there be neither men nor women.”

“Yes,” said Kumuhana. “But it is many a year now since the last of such heat has gone out of me. I remember it as one remembers an old sunrise--a thing that was. And so one grows old, and cold, and drinks gin, not for madness, but for warmth. And the milk is very nourishing.

“But Malia did not sit beside him. I remember her eyes were wild, her hair down and flying, as she bent over him and whispered in his ear. And her hair covered him about and hid him as she whispered, and the sight of it pounded my heart against my ribs and dizzied my head till scarcely could I half-see. And I willed myself with all the will of me that if, in short minutes, she did not come over to me, I would go across the circle and get her.

“It was one of the things never to be. You remember Chief Konukalani? Himself he strode up to the circle. His face was black with anger. He gripped Malia, not by the arm, but by the hair, and dragged her away behind him and was gone. Of that, even now, can I understand not the half. I, who was for slaying Anapuni because of her, raised neither hand nor voice of protest when Konukalani dragged her away by the hair--nor did Anapuni. Of course, we were common men, and he was a chief. That I know. But why should two common men, mad with desire of woman, with desire of woman stronger in them than desire of life, let any one chief, even the highest in the land, drag the woman away by the hair? Desiring her more than life, why should the two men fear to slay then and immediately the one chief? Here is something stronger than life, stronger than woman, but what is it? and why?”

“I will answer you,” said Hardman Pool. “It is so because most men are fools, and therefore must be taken care of by the few men who are wise. Such is the secret of chiefship. In all the world are chiefs over men. In all the world that has been have there ever been chiefs, who must say to the many fool men: ‘Do this; do not do that. Work, and work as we tell you or your bellies will remain empty and you will perish. Obey the laws we set you or you will be beasts and without place in the world. You would not have been, save for the chiefs before you who ordered and regulated for your fathers. No seed of you will come after you, except that we order and regulate for you now. You must be peace-abiding, and decent, and blow your noses. You must be early to bed of nights, and up early in the morning to work if you would heave beds to sleep in and not roost in trees like the silly fowls. This is the season for the yam-planting and you must plant now. We say now, to-day, and not picnicking and hulaing to-day and yam-planting to-morrow or some other day of the many careless days. You must not kill one another, and you must leave your neighbours’ wives alone. All this is life for you, because you think but one day at a time, while we, your chiefs, think for you all days and for days ahead.’“

“Like a cloud on the mountain-top that comes down and wraps about you and that you dimly see is a cloud, so is your wisdom to me, Kanaka Oolea,” Kumuhana murmured. “Yet is it sad that I should be born a common man and live all my days a common man.”

“That is because you were of yourself common,” Hardman Pool assured him. “When a man is born common, and is by nature uncommon, he rises up and overthrows the chiefs and makes himself chief over the chiefs. Why do you not run my ranch, with its many thousands of cattle, and shift the pastures by the rain-fall, and pick the bulls, and arrange the bargaining and the selling of the meat to the sailing ships and war vessels and the people who live in the Honolulu houses, and fight with lawyers, and help make laws, and even tell the King what is wise for him to do and what is dangerous? Why does not any man do this that I do? Any man of all the men who work for me, feed out of my hand, and let me do their thinking for them--me, who work harder than any of them, who eats no more than any of them, and who can sleep on no more than one lauhala mat at a time like any of them?”

“I am out of the cloud, Kanaka Oolea,” said Kumuhana, with a visible brightening of countenance. “More clearly do I see. All my long years have the aliis I was born under thought for me. Ever, when I was hungry, I came to them for food, as I come to your kitchen now. Many people eat in your kitchen, and the days of feasts when you slay fat steers for all of us are understandable. It is why I come to you this day, an old man whose labour of strength is not worth a shilling a week, and ask of you twelve dollars to buy a jackass and a second-hand saddle and bridle. It is why twice ten fool men of us, under these monkey-pods half an hour ago, asked of you a dollar or two, or four or five, or ten or twelve. We are the careless ones of the careless days who will not plant the yam in season if our alii does not compel us, who will not think one day for ourselves, and who, when we age to worthlessness, know that our alii will think kow-kow into our bellies and a grass thatch over our heads.

Hardman Pool bowed his appreciation, and urged:

“But the bones of Kahekili. The Chief Konukalani had just dragged away Malia by the hair of the head, and you and Anapuni sat on without protest in the circle of drinking. What was it Malia whispered in Anapuni’s ear, bending over him, her hair hiding the face of him?”

“That Kahekili was dead. That was what she whispered to Anapuni. That Kahekili was dead, just dead, and that the chiefs, ordering all within the house to remain within, were debating the disposal of the bones and meat of him before word of his death should get abroad. That the high priest Eoppo was deciding them, and that she had overheard no less than Anapuni and me chosen as the sacrifices to go the way of Kahekili and his bones and to care for him afterward and for ever in the shadowy other world.”

“The moepuu, the human sacrifice,” Pool commented. “Yet it was nine years since the coming of the missionaries.”

“And it was the year before their coming that the idols were cast down and the taboos broken,” Kumuhana added. “But the chiefs still practised the old ways, the custom of hunakele, and hid the bones of the aliis where no men should find them and make fish-hooks of their jaws or arrow heads of their long bones for the slaying of little mice in sport. Behold, O Kanaka Oolea!”

The old man thrust out his tongue; and, to Pool’s amazement, he saw the surface of that sensitive organ, from root to tip, tattooed in intricate designs.

“That was done after the missionaries came, several years afterward, when Keopuolani died. Also, did I knock out four of my front teeth, and half-circles did I burn over my body with blazing bark. And whoever ventured out-of-doors that night was slain by the chiefs. Nor could a light be shown in a house or a whisper of noise be made. Even dogs and hogs that made a noise were slain, nor all that night were the ships’ bells of the haoles in the harbour allowed to strike. It was a terrible thing in those days when an alii died.

“But the night that Kahekili died. We sat on in the drinking circle after Konukalani dragged Malia away by the hair. Some of the haole sailors grumbled; but they were few in the land in those days and the kanakas many. And never was Malia seen of men again. Konukalani alone knew the manner of her slaying, and he never told. And in after years what common men like Anapuni and me should dare to question him?

“Now she had told Anapuni before she was dragged away. But Anapuni’s heart was black. Me he did not tell. Worthy he was of the killing I had intended for him. There was a giant harpooner in the circle, whose singing was like the bellowing of bulls; and, gazing on him in amazement while he roared some song of the sea, when next I looked across the circle to Anapuni, Anapuni was gone. He had fled to the high mountains where he could hide with the bird-catchers a week of moons. This I learned afterward.

“I? I sat on, ashamed of my desire of woman that had not been so strong as my slave-obedience to a chief. And I drowned my shame in large drinks of rum and whisky, till the world went round and round, inside my head and out, and the Southern Cross danced a hula in the sky, and the Koolau Mountains bowed their lofty summits to Waikiki and the surf of Waikiki kissed them on their brows. And the giant harpooner was still roaring, his the last sounds in my ear, as I fell back on the lauhala mat, and was to all things for the time as one dead.

“When I awoke was at the faint first beginning of dawn. I was being kicked by a hard naked heel in the ribs. What of the enormousness of the drink I had consumed, the feelings aroused in me by the heel were not pleasant. The kanakas and wahines of the drinking were gone. I alone remained among the sleeping sailormen, the giant harpooner snoring like a whale, his head upon my feet.

“More heel-kicks, and I sat up and was sick. But the one who kicked was impatient, and demanded to know where was Anapuni. And I did not know, and was kicked, this time from both sides by two impatient men, because I did not know. Nor did I know that Kahekili was dead. Yet did I guess something serious was afoot, for the two men who kicked me were chiefs, and no common men crouched behind them to do their bidding. One was Aimoku, of Kaneche; the other Humuhumu, of Manoa.

“They commanded me to go with them, and they were not kind in their commanding; and as I uprose, the head of the giant harpooner was rolled off my feet, past the edge of the mat, into the sand. He grunted like a pig, his lips opened, and all of his tongue rolled out of his mouth into the sand. Nor did he draw it back. For the first time I knew how long was a man’s tongue. The sight of the sand on it made me sick for the second time. It is a terrible thing, the next day after a night of drinking. I was afire, dry afire, all the inside of me like a burnt cinder, like aa lava, like the harpooner’s tongue dry and gritty with sand. I bent for a half-drunk drinking coconut, but Aimoku kicked it out of my shaking fingers, and Humuhumu smote me with the heel of his hand on my neck.

“They walked before me, side by side, their faces solemn and black, and I walked at their heels. My mouth stank of the drink, and my head was sick with the stale fumes of it, and I would have cut off my right hand for a drink of water, one drink, a mouthful even. And, had I had it, I know it would have sizzled in my belly like water spilled on heated stones for the roasting. It is terrible, the next day after the drinking. All the life-time of many men who died young has passed by me since the last I was able to do such mad drinking of youth when youth knows not capacity and is undeterred.

“But as we went on, I began to know that some alii was dead. No kanakas lay asleep in the sand, nor stole home from their love-making; and no canoes were abroad after the early fish most catchable then inside the reef at the change of the tide. When we came, past the hoiau” (temple), “to where the Great Kamehameha used to haul out his brigs and schooners, I saw, under the canoe-sheds, that the mat-thatches of Kahekili’s great double canoe had been taken off, and that even then, at low tide, many men were launching it down across the sand into the water. But all these men were chiefs. And, though my eyes swam, and the inside of my head went around and around, and the inside of my body was a cinder athirst, I guessed that the alii who was dead was Kahekili. For he was old, and most likely of the aliis to be dead.”

“It was his death, as I have heard it, more than the intercession of Kekuanaoa, that spoiled Governor Boki’s rebellion,” Hardman Pool observed.

“It was Kahekili’s death that spoiled it,” Kumuhana confirmed. “All commoners, when the word slipped out that night of his death, fled into the shelter of the grass houses, nor lighted fire nor pipes, nor breathed loudly, being therein and thereby taboo from use for sacrifice. And all Governor Boki’s commoners of fighting men, as well as the haole deserters from ships, so fled, so that the brass guns lay unserved and his handful of chiefs of themselves could do nothing.

“Aimoku and Humuhumu made me sit on the sand to the side from the launching of the great double-canoe. And when it was afloat all the chiefs were athirst, not being used to such toil; and I was told to climb the palms beside the canoe-sheds and throw down drink-coconuts. They drank and were refreshed, but me they refused to let drink.

“Then they bore Kahekili from his house to the canoe in a haole coffin, oiled and varnished and new. It had been made by a ship’s carpenter, who thought he was making a boat that must not leak. It was very tight, and over where the face of Kahekili lay was nothing but thin glass. The chiefs had not screwed on the outside plank to cover the glass. Maybe they did not know the manner of haole coffins; but at any rate I was to be glad they did not know, as you shall see.

“‘There is but one moepuu,’ said the priest Eoppo, looking at me where I sat on the coffin in the bottom of the canoe. Already the chiefs were paddling out through the reef.

“‘The other has run into hiding,’ Aimoku answered. ‘This one was all we could get.’

“And then I knew. I knew everything. I was to be sacrificed. Anapuni had been planned for the other sacrifice. That was what Malia had whispered to Anapuni at the drinking. And she had been dragged away before she could tell me. And in his blackness of heart he had not told me.

“‘There should be two,’ said Eoppo. ‘It is the law.’

“Aimoku stopped paddling and looked back shoreward as if to return and get a second sacrifice. But several of the chiefs contended no, saying that all commoners were fled to the mountains or were lying taboo in their houses, and that it might take days before they could catch one. In the end Eoppo gave in, though he grumbled from time to time that the law required two moepuus.

“We paddled on, past Diamond Head and abreast of Koko Head, till we were in the midway of the Molokai Channel. There was quite a sea running, though the trade wind was blowing light. The chiefs rested from their paddles, save for the steersmen who kept the canoes bow-on to the wind and swell. And, ere they proceeded further in the matter, they opened more coconuts and drank.

“‘I do not mind so much being the moepuu,’ I said to Humuhumu; ‘but I should like to have a drink before I am slain.’ I got no drink. But I spoke true. I was too sick of the much whisky and rum to be afraid to die. At least my mouth would stink no more, nor my head ache, nor the inside of me be as dry-hot sand. Almost worst of all, I suffered at thought of the harpooner’s tongue, as last I had seen it lying on the sand and covered with sand. O Kanaka Oolea, what animals young men are with the drink! Not until they have grown old, like you and me, do they control their wantonness of thirst and drink sparingly, like you and me.”

“Because we have to,” Hardman Pool rejoined. “Old stomachs are worn thin and tender, and we drink sparingly because we dare not drink more. We are wise, but the wisdom is bitter.”

“The priest Eoppo sang a long mele about Kahekili’s mother and his mother’s mother, and all their mothers all the way back to the beginning of time,” Kumuhana resumed. “And it seemed I must die of my sand-hot dryness ere he was done. And he called upon all the gods of the under world, the middle world and the over world, to care for and cherish the dead alii about to be consigned to them, and to carry out the curses--they were terrible curses--he laid upon all living men and men to live after who might tamper with the bones of Kahekili to use them in sport of vermin-slaying.

“Do you know, Kanaka Oolea, the priest talked a language largely different, and I know it was the priest language, the old language. Maui he did not name Maui, but Maui-Tiki-Tiki and Maui-Po-Tiki. And Hina, the goddess-mother of Maui, he named Ina. And Maui’s god-father he named sometimes Akalana and sometimes Kanaloa. Strange how one about to die and very thirsty should remember such things! And I remember the priest named Hawaii as Vaii, and Lanai as Ngangai.”

“Those were the Maori names,” Hardman Pool explained, “and the Samoan and Tongan names, that the priests brought with them in their first voyages from the south in the long ago when they found Hawaii and settled to dwell upon it.”

“Great is your wisdom, O Kanaka Oolea,” the old man accorded solemnly. “Ku, our Supporter of the Heavens, the priest named Tu, and also Ru; and La, our God of the Sun, he named Ra--“

“And Ra was a sun-god in Egypt in the long ago,” Pool interrupted with a sparkle of interest. “Truly, you Polynesians have travelled far in time and space since first you began. A far cry it is from Old Egypt, when Atlantis was still afloat, to Young Hawaii in the North Pacific. But proceed, Kumuhana. Do you remember anything also of what the priest Eoppo sang?”

“At the very end,” came the confirming nod, “though I was near dead myself, and nearer to die under the priest’s knife, he sang what I have remembered every word of. Listen! It was thus.”

And in quavering falsetto, with the customary broken-notes, the old man sang.

“A Maori death-chant unmistakable,” Pool exclaimed, “sung by an Hawaiian with a tattooed tongue! Repeat it once again, and I shall say it to you in English.”

And when it had been repeated, he spoke it slowly in English:

“But death is nothing new.

Death is and has been ever since old Maui died.

Then Pata-tai laughed loud

And woke the goblin-god,

Who severed him in two, and shut him in,

So dusk of eve came on.”

“And at the last,” Kumuhana resumed, “I was not slain. Eoppo, the killing knife in hand and ready to lift for the blow, did not lift. And I? How did I feel and think? Often, Kanaka Oolea, have I since laughed at the memory of it. I felt very thirsty. I did not want to die. I wanted a drink of water. I knew I was going to die, and I kept remembering the thousand waterfalls falling to waste down the pans” (precipices) “of the windward Koolau Mountains. I did not think of Anapuni. I was too thirsty. I did not think of Malia. I was too thirsty. But continually, inside my head, I saw the tongue of the harpooner, covered dry with sand, as I had last seen it, lying in the sand. My tongue was like that, too. And in the bottom of the canoe rolled about many drinking nuts. Yet I did not attempt to drink, for these were chiefs and I was a common man.

“‘No,’ said Eoppo, commanding the chiefs to throw overboard the coffin. ‘There are not two moepuus, therefore there shall be none.’

“‘Slay the one,’ the chiefs cried.

“But Eoppo shook his head, and said: ‘We cannot send Kahekili on his way with only the tops of the taro.’

“‘Half a fish is better than none,’ Aimoku said the old saying.

“‘Not at the burying of an alii,’ was the priest’s quick reply. ‘It is the law. We cannot be niggard with Kahekili and cut his allotment of sacrifice in half.’

“So, for the moment, while the coffin went overside, I was not slain. And it was strange that I was glad immediately that I was to live. And I began to remember Malia, and to begin to plot a vengeance on Anapuni. And with the blood of life thus freshening in me, my thirst multiplied on itself tenfold and my tongue and mouth and throat seemed as sanded as the tongue of the harpooner. The coffin being overboard, I was sitting in the bottom of the canoe. A coconut rolled between my legs and I closed them on it. But as I picked it up in my hand, Aimoku smote my hand with the paddle-edge. Behold!”

He held up the hand, showing two fingers crooked from never having been set.

“I had no time to vex over my pain, for worse things were upon me. All the chiefs were crying out in horror. The coffin, head-end up, had not sunk. It bobbed up and down in the sea astern of us. And the canoe, without way on it, bow-on to sea and wind, was drifted down by sea and wind upon the coffin. And the glass of it was to us, so that we could see the face and head of Kahekili through the glass; and he grinned at us through the glass and seemed alive already in the other world and angry with us, and, with other-world power, about to wreak his anger upon us. Up and down he bobbed, and the canoe drifted closer upon him.

“‘Kill him!’ ‘Bleed him!’ ‘Thrust to the heart of him!’ These things the chiefs were crying out to Eoppo in their fear. ‘Over with the taro tops!’ ‘Let the alii have the half of a fish!’

“Eoppo, priest though he was, was likewise afraid, and his reason weakened before the sight of Kahekili in his haole coffin that would not sink. He seized me by the hair, drew me to my feet, and lifted the knife to plunge to my heart. And there was no resistance in me. I knew again only that I was very thirsty, and before my swimming eyes, in mid-air and close up, dangled the sanded tongue of the harpooner.

“But before the knife could fall and drive in, the thing happened that saved me. Akai, half-brother to Governor Boki, as you will remember, was steersman of the canoe, and, therefore, in the stern, was nearest to the coffin and its dead that would not sink. He was wild with fear, and he thrust out with the point of his paddle to fend off the coffined alii that seemed bent to come on board. The point of the paddle struck the glass. The glass broke--“

“And the coffin immediately sank,” Hardman Pool broke in; “the air that floated it escaping through the broken glass.”

“The coffin immediately sank, being builded by the ship’s carpenter like a boat,” Kumuhana confirmed. “And I, who was a moepuu, became a man once more. And I lived, though I died a thousand deaths from thirst before we gained back to the beach at Waikiki.

“And so, O Kanaka Oolea, the bones of Kahekili do not lie in the Royal Mausoleum. They are at the bottom of Molokai Channel, if not, long since, they have become floating dust of slime, or, builded into the bodies of the coral creatures dead and gone, are builded into the coral reef itself. Of men I am the one living who saw the bones of Kahekili sink into the Molokai Channel.”

In the pause that followed, wherein Hardman Pool was deep sunk in meditation, Kumuhana licked his dry lips many times. At the last he broke silence:

“The twelve dollars, Kanaka Oolea, for the jackass and the second-hand saddle and bridle?”

“The twelve dollars would be thine,” Pool responded, passing to the ancient one six dollars and a half, “save that I have in my stable junk the very bridle and saddle for you which I shall give you. These six dollars and a half will buy you the perfectly suitable jackass of the pake” (Chinese) “at Kokako who told me only yesterday that such was the price.”

They sat on, Pool meditating, conning over and over to himself the Maori death-chant he had heard, and especially the line, “So dusk of eve came on,” finding in it an intense satisfaction of beauty; Kumuhana licking his lips and tokening that he waited for something more. At last he broke silence.

“I have talked long, O Kanaka Oolea. There is not the enduring moistness in my mouth that was when I was young. It seems that afresh upon me is the thirst that was mine when tormented by the visioned tongue of the harpooner. The gin and milk is very good, O Kanaka Oolea, for a tongue that is like the harpooner’s.”

A shadow of a smile flickered across Pool’s face. He clapped his hands, and the little maid came running.

“Bring one glass of gin and milk for old Kumuhana,” commanded Hardman Pool.

WAIKIKI, HONOLULU

June 28, 1916.

Brown Wolf

SHE had delayed, because of the dew-wet grass, in order to put on her overshoes, and when she emerged from the house found her waiting husband absorbed in the wonder of a bursting almond-bud. She sent a questing glance across the tall grass and in and out among the orchard trees.

“Where’s Wolf?” she asked.

“He was here a moment ago.” Walt Irvine drew himself away with a jerk from the metaphysics and poetry of the organic miracle of blossom, and surveyed the landscape. “He was running a rabbit the last I saw of him.”

“Wolf! Wolf! Here Wolf!” she called, as they left the clearing and took the trail that led down through the waxen-belled manzanita jungle to the county road.

Irvine thrust between his lips the little finger of each hand and lent to her efforts a shrill whistling.

She covered her ears hastily and made a wry grimace.

“My! for a poet, delicately attuned and all the rest of it, you can make unlovely noises. My ear-drums are pierced. You outwhistle-“

“Orpheus.”

“I was about to say a street-arab,” she concluded severely.

“Poesy does not prevent one from being practical — at least it doesn’t prevent ME. Mine is no futility of genius that can’t sell gems to the magazines.”

He assumed a mock extravagance, and went on:

“I am no attic singer, no ballroom warbler. And why? Because I am practical. Mine is no squalor of song that cannot transmute itself, with proper exchange value, into a flower-crowned cottage, a sweet mountain-meadow, a grove of red-woods, an orchard of thirty-seven trees, one long row of blackberries and two short rows of strawberries, to say nothing of a quarter of a mile of gurgling brook. I am a beauty-merchant, a trader in song, and I pursue utility, dear Madge. I sing a song, and thanks to the magazine editors I transmute my song into a waft of the west wind sighing through our redwoods, into a murmur of waters over mossy stones that sings back to me another song than the one I sang and yet the same song wonderfully — er — transmuted.”

“O that all your song-transmutations were as successful!” she laughed.

“Name one that wasn’t.”

“Those two beautiful sonnets that you transmuted into the cow that was accounted the worst milker in the township.”

“She was beautiful — “ he began,

“But she didn’t give milk,” Madge interrupted.

“But she WAS beautiful, now, wasn’t she?” he insisted.

“And here’s where beauty and utility fall out,” was her reply. “And there’s the Wolf!”

From the thicket-covered hillside came a crashing of underbrush, and then, forty feet above them, on the edge of the sheer wall of rock, appeared a wolf’s head and shoulders. His braced fore paws dislodged a pebble, and with sharp-pricked ears and peering eyes he watched the fall of the pebble till it struck at their feet. Then he transferred his gaze and with open mouth laughed down at them.

“You Wolf, you!” and “You blessed Wolf!” the man and woman called out to him.

The ears flattened back and down at the sound, and the head seemed to snuggle under the caress of an invisible hand.

They watched him scramble backward into the thicket, then proceeded on their way. Several minutes later, rounding a turn in the trail where the descent was less precipitous, he joined them in the midst of a miniature avalanche of pebbles and loose soil. He was not demonstrative. A pat and a rub around the ears from the man, and a more prolonged caressing from the woman, and he was away down the trail in front of them, gliding effortlessly over the ground in true wolf fashion.

In build and coat and brush he was a huge timber-wolf; but the lie was given to his wolfhood by his color and marking. There the dog unmistakably advertised itself. No wolf was ever colored like him. He was brown, deep brown, red-brown, an orgy of browns. Back and shoulders were a warm brown that paled on the sides and underneath to a yellow that was dingy because of the brown that lingered in it. The white of the throat and paws and the spots over the eyes was dirty because of the persistent and ineradicable brown, while the eyes themselves were twin topazes, golden and brown.

The man and woman loved the dog very much; perhaps this was because it had been such a task to win his love. It had been no easy matter when he first drifted in mysteriously out of nowhere to their little mountain cottage. Footsore and famished, he had killed a rabbit under their very noses and under their very windows, and then crawled away and slept by the spring at the foot of the blackberry bushes. When Walt Irvine went down to inspect the intruder, he was snarled at for his pains, and Madge likewise was snarled at when she went down to present, as a peace-offering, a large pan of bread and milk.

A most unsociable dog he proved to be, resenting all their advances, refusing to let them lay hands on him, menacing them with bared fangs and bristling hair. Nevertheless he remained, sleeping and resting by the spring, and eating the food they gave him after they set it down at a safe distance and retreated. His wretched physical condition explained why he lingered; and when he had recuperated, after several days’ sojourn, he disappeared.

And this would have been the end of him, so far as Irvine and his wife were concerned, had not Irvine at that particular time been called away into the northern part of the state. Riding along on the train, near to the line between California and Oregon, he chanced to look out of the window and saw his unsociable guest sliding along the wagon road, brown and wolfish, tired yet tireless, dust-covered and soiled with two hundred miles of travel.

Now Irvine was a man of impulse, a poet. He got off the train at the next station, bought a piece of meat at a butcher shop, and captured the vagrant on the outskirts of the town. The return trip was made in the baggage car, and so Wolf came a second time to the mountain cottage. Here he was tied up for a week and made love to by the man and woman. But it was very circumspect love-making. Remote and alien as a traveller from another planet, he snarled down their soft-spoken love-words. He never barked. In all the time they had him he was never known to bark.

To win him became a problem. Irvine liked problems. He had a metal plate made, on which was stamped: RETURN TO WALT IRVINE, GLEN ELLEN, SONOMA COUNTY, CALIFORNIA. This was riveted to a collar and strapped about the dog’s neck. Then he was turned loose, and promptly he disappeared. A day later came a telegram from Mendocino County. In twenty hours he had made over a hundred miles to the north, and was still going when captured.

He came back by Wells Fargo Express, was tied up three days, and was loosed on the fourth and lost. This time he gained southern Oregon before he was caught and returned. Always, as soon as he received his liberty, he fled away, and always he fled north. He was possessed of an obsession that drove him north. The homing instinct, Irvine called it, after he had expended the selling price of a sonnet in getting the animal back from northern Oregon.

Another time the brown wanderer succeeded in traversing half the length of California, all of Oregon, and most of Washington, before he was picked up and returned “Collect.” A remarkable thing was the speed with which he travelled. Fed up and rested, as soon as he was loosed he devoted all his energy to getting over the ground. On the first day’s run he was known to cover as high as a hundred and fifty miles, and after that he would average a hundred miles a day until caught. He always arrived back lean and hungry and savage, and always departed fresh and vigorous, cleaving his way northward in response to some prompting of his being that no one could understand.

But at last, after a futile year of flight, he accepted the inevitable and elected to remain at the cottage where first he had killed the rabbit and slept by the spring. Even after that, a long time elapsed before the man and woman succeeded in patting him. It was a great victory, for they alone were allowed to put hands on him. He was fastidiously exclusive, and no guest at the cottage ever succeeded in making up to him. A low growl greeted such approach; if any one had the hardihood to come nearer, the lips lifted, the naked fangs appeared, and the growl became a snarl — a snarl so terrible and malignant that it awed the stoutest of them, as it likewise awed the farmers’ dogs that knew ordinary dog-snarling, but had never seen wolf-snarling before.

He was without antecedents. His history began with Walt and Madge. He had come up from the south, but never a clew did they get of the owner from whom he had evidently fled. Mrs. Johnson, their nearest neighbor and the one who supplied them with milk, proclaimed him a Klondike dog. Her brother was burrowing for frozen pay-streaks in that far country, and so she constituted herself an authority on the subject.

But they did not dispute her. There were the tips of Wolf’s ears, obviously so severely frozen at some time that they would never quite heal again. Besides, he looked like the photographs of the Alaskan dogs they saw published in magazines and newspapers. They often speculated over his past, and tried to conjure up (from what they had read and heard) what his northland life had been. That the northland still drew him, they knew; for at night they sometimes heard him crying softly; and when the north wind blew and the bite of frost was in the air, a great restlessness would come upon him and he would lift a mournful lament which they knew to be the long wolf-howl. Yet he never barked. No provocation was great enough to draw from him that canine cry.

Long discussion they had, during the time of winning him, as to whose dog he was. Each claimed him, and each proclaimed loudly any expression of affection made by him. But the man had the better of it at first, chiefly because he was a man. It was patent that Wolf had had no experience with women. He did not understand women. Madge’s skirts were something he never quite accepted. The swish of them was enough to set him a-bristle with suspicion, and on a windy day she could not approach him at all.

On the other hand, it was Madge who fed him; also it was she who ruled the kitchen, and it was by her favor, and her favor alone, that he was permitted to come within that sacred precinct. It was because of these things that she bade fair to overcome the handicap of her garments. Then it was that Walt put forth special effort, making it a practice to have Wolf lie at his feet while he wrote, and, between petting and talking, losing much time from his work. Walt won in the end, and his victory was most probably due to the fact that he was a man, though Madge averred that they would have had another quarter of a mile of gurgling brook, and at least two west winds sighing through their redwoods, had Wait properly devoted his energies to song-transmutation and left Wolf alone to exercise a natural taste and an unbiassed judgment.

“It’s about time I heard from those triolets”, Walt said, after a silence of five minutes, during which they had swung steadily down the trail. “There’ll be a check at the post-office, I know, and we’ll transmute it into beautiful buckwheat flour, a gallon of maple syrup, and a new pair of overshoes for you.”

“And into beautiful milk from Mrs. Johnson’s beautiful cow,” Madge added. “To-morrow’s the first of the month, you know.”

Walt scowled unconsciously; then his face brightened, and he clapped his hand to his breast pocket.

“Never mind. I have here a nice beautiful new cow, the best milker in California.”

“When did you write it?” she demanded eagerly. Then, reproachfully, “And you never showed it to me.”

“I saved it to read to you on the way to the post-office, in a spot remarkably like this one,” he answered, indicating, with a wave of his hand, a dry log on which to sit.

A tiny stream flowed out of a dense fern-brake, slipped down a mossy-lipped stone, and ran across the path at their feet. From the valley arose the mellow song of meadow-larks, while about them, in and out, through sunshine and shadow, fluttered great yellow butterflies.

Up from below came another sound that broke in upon Walt reading softly from his manuscript. It was a crunching of heavy feet, punctuated now and again by the clattering of a displaced stone. As Walt finished and looked to his wife for approval, a man came into view around the turn of the trail. He was bare-headed and sweaty. With a handkerchief in one hand he mopped his face, while in the other hand he carried a new hat and a wilted starched collar which he had removed from his neck. He was a well-built man, and his muscles seemed on the point of bursting out of the painfully new and ready-made black clothes he wore.

“Warm day,” Walt greeted him. Walt believed in country democracy, and never missed an opportunity to practise it.

The man paused and nodded.

“I guess I ain’t used much to the warm,” he vouchsafed half apologetically. “I’m more accustomed to zero weather.”

“You don’t find any of that in this country,” Walt laughed.

“Should say not,” the man answered. “An’ I ain’t here a-lookin’ for it neither. I’m tryin’ to find my sister. Mebbe you know where she lives. Her name’s Johnson, Mrs. William Johnson.”

“You’re not her Klondike brother!” Madge cried, her eyes bright with interest, “about whom we’ve heard so much?”

“Yes’m, that’s me,” he answered modestly. “My name’s Miller, Skiff Miller. I just thought I’d s’prise her.”

“You are on the right track then. Only you’ve come by the foot-path.” Madge stood up to direct him, pointing up the canyon a quarter of a mile. “You see that blasted redwood? Take the little trail turning off to the right. It’s the short cut to her house. You can’t miss it.”

“Yes’m, thank you, ma’am,” he said. He made tentative efforts to go, but seemed awkwardly rooted to the spot. He was gazing at her with an open admiration of which he was quite unconscious, and which was drowning, along with him, in the rising sea of embarrassment in which he floundered.

“We’d like to hear you tell about the Klondike,” Madge said. “Mayn’t we come over some day while you are at your sister’s? Or, better yet, won’t you come over and have dinner with us?”

“Yes’m, thank you, ma’am,” he mumbled mechanically. Then he caught himself up and added: “I ain’t stoppin’ long. I got to be pullin’ north again. I go out on to-night’s train. You see, I’ve got a mail contract with the government.”

When Madge had said that it was too bad, he made another futile effort to go. But he could not take his eyes from her face. He forgot his embarrassment in his admiration, and it was her turn to flush and feel uncomfortable.

It was at this juncture, when Walt had just decided it was time for him to be saying something to relieve the strain, that Wolf, who had been away nosing through the brush, trotted wolf-like into view.

Skiff Miller’s abstraction disappeared. The pretty woman before him passed out of his field of vision. He had eyes only for the dog, and a great wonder came into his face.

“Well, I’ll be damned!” he enunciated slowly and solemnly.

He sat down ponderingly on the log, leaving Madge standing. At the sound of his voice, Wolf’s ears had flattened down, then his mouth had opened in a laugh. He trotted slowly up to the stranger and first smelled his hands, then licked them with his tongue.

Skiff Miller patted the dog’s head, and slowly and solemnly repeated, “Well, I’ll be damned!”

“Excuse me, ma’am,” he said the next moment “I was just s’prised some, that was all.”

“We’re surprised, too,” she answered lightly. “We never saw Wolf make up to a stranger before.”

“Is that what you call him — Wolf?” the man asked.

Madge nodded. “But I can’t understand his friendliness toward you — unless it’s because you’re from the Klondike. He’s a Klondike dog, you know.”

“Yes’m,” Miller said absently. He lifted one of Wolf’s fore legs and examined the foot-pads, pressing them and denting them with his thumb. “Kind of SOFT,” he remarked. “He ain’t been on trail for a long time.”

“I say,” Walt broke in, “it is remarkable the way he lets you handle him.”

Skiff Miller arose, no longer awkward with admiration of Madge, and in a sharp, businesslike manner asked, “How long have you had him?”

But just then the dog, squirming and rubbing against the newcomer’s legs, opened his mouth and barked. It was an explosive bark, brief and joyous, but a bark.

“That’s a new one on me,” Skiff Miller remarked.

Walt and Madge stared at each other. The miracle had happened. Wolf had barked.

“It’s the first time he ever barked,” Madge said.

“First time I ever heard him, too,” Miller volunteered.

Madge smiled at him. The man was evidently a humorist.

“Of course,” she said, “since you have only seen him for five minutes.”

Skiff Miller looked at her sharply, seeking in her face the guile her words had led him to suspect.

“I thought you understood,” he said slowly. “I thought you’d tumbled to it from his makin’ up to me. He’s my dog. His name ain’t Wolf. It’s Brown.”

“Oh, Walt!” was Madge’s instinctive cry to her husband.

Walt was on the defensive at once.

“How do you know he’s your dog?” he demanded.

“Because he is,” was the reply.

“Mere assertion,” Walt said sharply.

In his slow and pondering way, Skiff Miller looked at him, then asked, with a nod of his head toward Madge:

“How d’you know she’s your wife? You just say, ‘Because she is,’ and I’ll say it’s mere assertion. The dog’s mine. I bred ‘m an’ raised ‘m, an’ I guess I ought to know. Look here. I’ll prove it to you.”

Skiff Miller turned to the dog. “Brown!” His voice rang out sharply, and at the sound the dog’s ears flattened down as to a caress. “Gee!” The dog made a swinging turn to the right. “Now mush-on!” And the dog ceased his swing abruptly and started straight ahead, halting obediently at command.

“I can do it with whistles”, Skiff Miller said proudly. “He was my lead dog.”

“But you are not going to take him away with you?” Madge asked tremulously.

The man nodded.

“Back into that awful Klondike world of suffering?”

He nodded and added: “Oh, it ain’t so bad as all that. Look at me. Pretty healthy specimen, ain’t I?”

“But the dogs! The terrible hardship, the heart-breaking toil, the starvation, the frost! Oh, I’ve read about it and I know.”

“I nearly ate him once, over on Little Fish River,” Miller volunteered grimly. “If I hadn’t got a moose that day was all that saved ‘m.”

“I’d have died first!” Madge cried.

“Things is different down here”, Miller explained. “You don’t have to eat dogs. You think different just about the time you’re all in. You’ve never ben all in, so you don’t know anything about it.”

“That’s the very point,” she argued warmly. “Dogs are not eaten in California. Why not leave him here? He is happy. He’ll never want for food — you know that. He’ll never suffer from cold and hardship. Here all is softness and gentleness. Neither the human nor nature is savage. He will never know a whip-lash again. And as for the weather — why, it never snows here.”

“But it’s all-fired hot in summer, beggin’ your pardon,” Skiff Miller laughed.

“But you do not answer,” Madge continued passionately. “What have you to offer him in that northland life?”

“Grub, when I’ve got it, and that’s most of the time,” came the answer.

“And the rest of the time?”

“No grub.”

“And the work?”

“Yes, plenty of work,” Miller blurted out impatiently. “Work without end, an’ famine, an’ frost, an all the rest of the miseries — that’s what he’ll get when he comes with me. But he likes it. He is used to it. He knows that life. He was born to it an’ brought up to it. An’ you don’t know anything about it. You don’t know what you’re talking about. That’s where the dog belongs, and that’s where he’ll be happiest.”

“The dog doesn’t go,” Walt announced in a determined voice. “So there is no need of further discussion.”

“What’s that?” Skiff Miller demanded, his brows lowering and an obstinate flush of blood reddening his forehead.

“I said the dog doesn’t go, and that settles it. I don’t believe he’s your dog. You may have seen him sometime. You may even sometime have driven him for his owner. But his obeying the ordinary driving commands of the Alaskan trail is no demonstration that he is yours. Any dog in Alaska would obey you as he obeyed. Besides, he is undoubtedly a valuable dog, as dogs go in Alaska, and that is sufficient explanation of your desire to get possession of him. Anyway, you’ve got to prove property.”

Skiff Miller, cool and collected, the obstinate flush a trifle deeper on his forehead, his huge muscles bulging under the black cloth of his coat, carefully looked the poet up and down as though measuring the strength of his slenderness.

The Klondiker’s face took on a contemptuous expression as he said finally, “I reckon there’s nothin’ in sight to prevent me takin’ the dog right here an’ now.”

Walt’s face reddened, and the striking-muscles of his arms and shoulders seemed to stiffen and grow tense. His wife fluttered apprehensively into the breach.

“Maybe Mr. Miller is right”, she said. “I am afraid that he is. Wolf does seem to know him, and certainly he answers to the name of ‘Brown.’ He made friends with him instantly, and you know that’s something he never did with anybody before. Besides, look at the way he barked. He was just bursting with joy Joy over what? Without doubt at finding Mr. Miller.”

Walt’s striking-muscles relaxed, and his shoulders seemed to droop with hopelessness.

“I guess you’re right, Madge,” he said. “Wolf isn’t Wolf, but Brown, and he must belong to Mr. Miller.”

“Perhaps Mr. Miller will sell him,” she suggested. “We can buy him.”

Skiff Miller shook his head, no longer belligerent, but kindly, quick to be generous in response to generousness.

“I had five dogs,” he said, casting about for the easiest way to temper his refusal. “He was the leader. They was the crack team of Alaska. Nothin’ could touch ‘em. In 1898 I refused five thousand dollars for the bunch. Dogs was high, then, anyway; but that wasn’t what made the fancy price. It was the team itself. Brown was the best in the team. That winter I refused twelve hundred for ‘m. I didn’t sell ‘m then, an’ I ain’t a-sellin’ ‘m now. Besides, I think a mighty lot of that dog. I’ve ben lookin’ for ‘m for three years. It made me fair sick when I found he’d ben stole — not the value of him, but the — well, I liked ‘m like hell, that’s all, beggin’ your pardon. I couldn’t believe my eyes when I seen ‘m just now. I thought I was dreamin’. It was too good to be true. Why, I was his wet-nurse. I put ‘m to bed, snug every night. His mother died, and I brought ‘m up on condensed milk at two dollars a can when I couldn’t afford it in my own coffee. He never knew any mother but me. He used to suck my finger regular, the darn little cuss — that finger right there!”

And Skiff Miller, too overwrought for speech, held up a fore finger for them to see.

“That very finger,” he managed to articulate, as though it somehow clinched the proof of ownership and the bond of affection.

He was still gazing at his extended finger when Madge began to speak.

“But the dog,” she said. “You haven’t considered the dog.”

Skiff Miller looked puzzled.

“Have you thought about him?” she asked.

“Don’t know what you’re drivin’ at,” was the response.

“Maybe the dog has some choice in the matter,” Madge went on. “Maybe he has his likes and desires. You have not considered him. You give him no choice. It has never entered your mind that possibly he might prefer California to Alaska. You consider only what you like. You do with him as you would with a sack of potatoes or a bale of hay.”

This was a new way of looking at it, and Miller was visibly impressed as he debated it in his mind. Madge took advantage of his indecision.

“If you really love him, what would be happiness to him would be your happiness also,” she urged.

Skiff Miller continued to debate with himself, and Madge stole a glance of exultation to her husband, who looked back warm approval.

“What do you think?” the Klondiker suddenly demanded.

It was her turn to be puzzled. “What do you mean?” she asked.

“D’ye think he’d sooner stay in California?”

She nodded her head with positiveness. “I am sure of it.”

Skiff Miller again debated with himself, though this time aloud, at the same time running his gaze in a judicial way over the mooted animal.

“He was a good worker. He’s done a heap of work for me. He never loafed on me, an’ he was a joe-dandy at hammerin’ a raw team into shape. He’s got a head on him. He can do everything but talk. He knows what you say to him. Look at ‘m now. He knows we’re talkin’ about him.”

The dog was lying at Skiff Miller’s feet, head close down on paws, ears erect and listening, and eyes that were quick and eager to follow the sound of speech as it fell from the lips of first one and then the other.

“An’ there’s a lot of work in ‘m yet. He’s good for years to come. An’ I do like him. I like him like hell.”

Once or twice after that Skiff Miller opened his mouth and closed it again without speaking. Finally he said:

“I’ll tell you what I’ll do. Your remarks, ma’am, has some weight in them. The dog’s worked hard, and maybe he’s earned a soft berth an’ has got a right to choose. Anyway, we’ll leave it up to him. Whatever he says, goes. You people stay right here settin’ down. I’ll say good-by and walk off casual-like. If he wants to stay, he can stay. If he wants to come with me, let ‘m come. I won’t call ‘m to come an’ don’t you call ‘m to come back.”

He looked with sudden suspicion at Madge, and added, “Only you must play fair. No persuadin’ after my back is turned.”

“We’ll play fair,” Madge began, but Skiff Miller broke in on her assurances.

“I know the ways of women,” he announced. “Their hearts is soft. When their hearts is touched they’re likely to stack the cards, look at the bottom of the deck, an’ lie like the devil — beggin’ your pardon, ma’am. I’m only discoursin’ about women in general.”

“I don’t know how to thank you,” Madge quavered.

“I don’t see as you’ve got any call to thank me,” he replied. “Brown ain’t decided yet. Now you won’t mind if I go away slow? It’s no more’n fair, seein’ I’ll be out of sight inside a hundred yards.” — Madge agreed, and added, “And I promise you faithfully that we won’t do anything to influence him.”

“Well, then, I might as well be gettin’ along,” Skiff Miller said in the ordinary tones of one departing.

At this change in his voice, Wolf lifted his head quickly, and still more quickly got to his feet when the man and woman shook hands. He sprang up on his hind legs, resting his fore paws on her hip and at the same time licking Skiff Miller’s hand. When the latter shook hands with Walt, Wolf repeated his act, resting his weight on Walt and licking both men’s hands.

“It ain’t no picnic, I can tell you that,” were the Klondiker’s last words, as he turned and went slowly up the trail.

For the distance of twenty feet Wolf watched him go, himself all eagerness and expectancy, as though waiting for the man to turn and retrace his steps. Then, with a quick low whine, Wolf sprang after him, overtook him, caught his hand between his teeth with reluctant tenderness, and strove gently to make him pause.

Failing in this, Wolf raced back to where Walt Irvine sat, catching his coat-sleeve in his teeth and trying vainly to drag him after the retreating man.

Wolf’s perturbation began to wax. He desired ubiquity. He wanted to be in two places at the same time, with the old master and the new, and steadily the distance between them was increasing. He sprang about excitedly, making short nervous leaps and twists, now toward one, now toward the other, in painful indecision, not knowing his own mind, desiring both and unable to choose, uttering quick sharp whines and beginning to pant.

He sat down abruptly on his haunches, thrusting his nose upward, the mouth opening and closing with jerking movements, each time opening wider. These jerking movements were in unison with the recurrent spasms that attacked the throat, each spasm severer and more intense than the preceding one. And in accord with jerks and spasms the larynx began to vibrate, at first silently, accompanied by the rush of air expelled from the lungs, then sounding a low, deep note, the lowest in the register of the human ear. All this was the nervous and muscular preliminary to howling.

But just as the howl was on the verge of bursting from the full throat, the wide-opened mouth was closed, the paroxysms ceased, and he looked long and steadily at the retreating man. Suddenly Wolf turned his head, and over his shoulder just as steadily regarded Walt. The appeal was unanswered. Not a word nor a sign did the dog receive, no suggestion and no clew as to what his conduct should be.

A glance ahead to where the old master was nearing the curve of the trail excited him again. He sprang to his feet with a whine, and then, struck by a new idea, turned his attention to Madge. Hitherto he had ignored her, but now, both masters failing him, she alone was left. He went over to her and snuggled his head in her lap, nudging her arm with his nose — an old trick of his when begging for favors. He backed away from her and began writhing and twisting playfully, curvetting and prancing, half rearing and striking his fore paws to the earth, struggling with all his body, from the wheedling eyes and flattening ears to the wagging tail, to express the thought that was in him and that was denied him utterance.

This, too, he soon abandoned. He was depressed by the coldness of these humans who had never been cold before. No response could he draw from them, no help could he get. They did not consider him. They were as dead.

He turned and silently gazed after the old master. Skiff Miller was rounding the curve. In a moment he would be gone from view. Yet he never turned his head, plodding straight onward, slowly and methodically, as though possessed of no interest in what was occurring behind his back.

And in this fashion he went out of view. Wolf waited for him to reappear. He waited a long minute, silently, quietly, without movement, as though turned to stone — withal stone quick with eagerness and desire. He barked once, and waited. Then he turned and trotted back to Walt Irvine. He sniffed his hand and dropped down heavily at his feet, watching the trail where it curved emptily from view.

The tiny stream slipping down the mossy-lipped stone seemed suddenly to increase the volume of its gurgling noise. Save for the meadow-larks, there was no other sound. The great yellow butterflies drifted silently through the sunshine and lost themselves in the drowsy shadows. Madge gazed triumphantly at her husband.

A few minutes later Wolf got upon his feet. Decision and deliberation marked his movements. He did not glance at the man and woman. His eyes were fixed up the trail. He had made up his mind. They knew it. And they knew, so far as they were concerned, that the ordeal had just begun.

He broke into a trot, and Madge’s lips pursed, forming an avenue for the caressing sound that it was the will of her to send forth. But the caressing sound was not made. She was impelled to look at her husband, and she saw the sternness with which he watched her. The pursed lips relaxed, and she sighed inaudibly.

Wolf’s trot broke into a run. Wider and wider were the leaps he made. Not once did he turn his head, his wolf’s brush standing out straight behind him. He cut sharply across the curve of the trail and was gone.

Bunches of Knuckles

Arrangements quite extensive had been made for the celebration of Christmas on the yacht Samoset. Not having been in any civilized port for months, the stock of provisions boasted few delicacies; yet Minnie Duncan had managed to devise real feasts for cabin and forecastle.

“Listen, Boyd, she told her husband. “Here are the menus. For the cabin, raw bonita native style, turtle soup, omelette a la Samoset — ”

“What the dickens?” Boyd Duncan interrupted.

“Well, if you must know, I found a tin of mushrooms and a package of egg-powder which had fallen down behind the locker, and there are other things as well that will go into it. But don’t interrupt. Boiled yam, fried taro, alligator pear salad – there, you’ve got me all mixed, Then I found a last delectable half-pound of dried squid. There will be baked beans Mexican, if I can hammer it into Toyama’s head; also, baked papaia with Marquesan honey, and, lastly, a wonderful pie the secret of which Toyama refuses to divulge.”

“I wonder if it is possible to concoct a punch or a cocktail out of trade rum?” Duncan muttered gloomily.

“Oh! I forgot! Come with me.”

His wife caught his hand and led him through the small connecting door to her tiny stateroom. Still holding his hand, she fished in the depths of a hat-locker and brought forth a pint bottle of champagne.

“The dinner is complete!” he cried.

“Wait.”

She fished again, and was rewarded with a silver-mounted whisky flask. She held it to the light of a port-hole, and the liquor showed a quarter of the distance from the bottom.

“I’ve been saving it for weeks,” she explained. “And there’s enough for you and Captain Dettmar.”

“Two mighty small drinks,” Duncan complained.

“There would have been more, but I gave a drink to Lorenzo when he was sick.”

Duncan growled, “Might have given him rum,” facetiously.

“The nasty stuff! For a sick man? Don’t be greedy, Boyd. And I’m glad there isn’t any more, for Captain Dettmar’s sake. Drinking always makes him irritable. And now for the men’s dinner. Soda crackers, sweet cakes, candy — ”

“Substantial, I must say.”

“Do hush. Rice, and curry, yam, taro, bonita, of course, a big cake Toyama is making, young pig — ”

“Oh, I say,” he protested.

“It is all right, Boyd. We’ll be in Attu-Attu in three days. Besides, it’s my pig. That old chief what-ever-his-name distinctly presented it to me. You saw him yourself. And then two tins of bullamacow. That’s their dinner. And now about the presents. Shall we wait until tomorrow, or give them this evening?”

“Christmas Eve, by all means,” was the man’s judgment. “We’ll call all hands at eight bells; I’ll give them a tot of rum all around, and then you give the presents. Come on up on deck. It’s stifling down here. I hope Lorenzo has better luck with the dynamo; without the fans there won’t be much sleeping to-night if we’re driven below.”

They passed through the small main-cabin, climbed a steep companion ladder, and emerged on deck. The sun was setting, and the promise was for a clear tropic night. The Samoset, with fore-and main-sail winged out on either side, was slipping a lazy four-knots through the smooth sea. Through the engine-room skylight came a sound of hammering. They strolled aft to where Captain Dettmar, one foot on the rail, was oiling the gear of the patent log. At the wheel stood a tall South Sea Islander, clad in white undershirt and scarlet hip-cloth.

Boyd Duncan was an original. At least that was the belief of his friends. Of comfortable fortune, with no need to do anything but take his comfort, he elected to travel about the world in outlandish and most uncomfortable ways. Incidentally, he had ideas about coral-reefs, disagreed profoundly with Darwin on that subject, had voiced his opinion in several monographs and one book, and was now back at his hobby, cruising the South Seas in a tiny, thirty-ton yacht and studying reef-formations.

His wife, Minnie Duncan, was also declared an original, inasmuch as she joyfully shared his vagabond wanderings. Among other things, in the six exciting years of their marriage she had climbed Chimborazo with him, made a three-thousand-mile winter journey with dogs and sleds in Alaska, ridden a horse from Canada to Mexico, cruised the Mediterranean in a ten-ton yawl, and canoed from Germany to the Black Sea across the heart of Europe. They were a royal pair of wanderlusters, he, big and broad-shouldered, she a small, brunette, and happy woman, whose one hundred and fifteen pounds were all grit and endurance, and withal, pleasing to look upon.

The Samoset had been a trading schooner, when Duncan bought her in San Francisco and made alterations. Her interior was wholly rebuilt, so that the hold became main-cabin and staterooms, while abaft amidships were installed engines, a dynamo, an ice machine, storage batteries, and, far in the stern, gasoline tanks. Necessarily, she carried a small crew. Boyd, Minnie, and Captain Dettmar were the only whites on board, though Lorenzo, the small and greasy engineer, laid a part claim to white, being a Portuguese half-caste. A Japanese served as cook, and a Chinese as cabin boy. Four white sailors had constituted the original crew for’ard, but one by one they had yielded to the charms of palm-waving South Sea isles and been replaced by islanders. Thus, one of the dusky sailors hailed from Easter Island, a second from the Carolines, a third from the Paumotus, while the fourth was a gigantic Samoan. At sea, Boyd Duncan, himself a navigator, stood a mate’s watch with Captain Dettmar, and both of them took a wheel or lookout occasionally. On a pinch, Minnie herself could take a wheel, and it was on pinches that she proved herself more dependable at steering than did the native sailors.

At eight bells, all hands assembled at the wheel, and Boyd Duncan appeared with a black bottle and a mug. The rum he served out himself, half a mug of it to each man. They gulped the stuff down with many facial expressions of delight, followed by loud lip-smackings of approval, though the liquor was raw enough and corrosive enough to burn their mucous membranes. All drank except Lee Goom, the abstemious cabin boy. This rite accomplished, they waited for the next, the present-giving. Generously molded on Polynesian lines, huge-bodied and heavy-muscled, they were nevertheless like so many children, laughing merrily at little things, their eager black eyes flashing in the lantern light as their big bodies swayed to the heave and roll of the ship.

Calling each by name, Minnie gave the presents out, accompanying each presentation with some happy remark that added to the glee. There were trade watches, clasp knives, amazing assortments of fish-hooks in packages, plug tobacco, matches, and gorgeous strips of cotton for loincloths all around. That Boyd Duncan was liked by them was evidenced by the roars of laughter with which they greeted his slightest joking allusion.

Captain Dettmar, white-faced, smiling only when his employer chanced to glance at him, leaned against the wheel-box, looking on. Twice, he left the group and went below, remaining there but a minute each time. Later, in the main cabin, when Lorenzo, Lee Goom and Toyama received their presents, he disappeared into his stateroom twice again. For of all times, the devil that slumbered in Captain Dettmar’s soul chose this particular time of good cheer to awaken. Perhaps it was not entirely the devil’s fault, for Captain Dettmar, privily cherishing a quart of whisky for many weeks, had selected Christmas Eve for broaching it.

It was still early in the evening – two bells had just gone – when Duncan and his wife stood by the cabin companionway, gazing to windward and canvassing the possibility of spreading their beds on deck. A small, dark blot of cloud, slowly forming on the horizon, carried the threat of a rain-squall, and it was this they were discussing when Captain Dettmar, coming from aft and about to go below, glanced at them with sudden suspicion. He paused, his face working spasmodically. Then he spoke:

“You are talking about me.”

His voice was hoarse, and there was an excited vibration in it. Minnie Duncan started, then glanced at her husband’s immobile face, took the cue, and remained silent.

“I say you were talking about me,” Captain Dettmar repeated, this time with almost a snarl.

He did not lurch nor betray the liquor on him in any way save by the convulsive working of his face.

“Minnie, you’d better go down,” Duncan said gently. “Tell Lee Goom we’ll sleep below. It won’t be long before that squall is drenching things.”

She took the hint and left, delaying just long enough to give one anxious glance at the dim faces of the two men.

Duncan puffed at his cigar and waited till his wife’s voice, in talk with the cabin-boy, came up through the open skylight.

“Well?” Duncan demanded in a low voice, but sharply.

“I said you were talking about me. I say it again. Oh, I haven’t been blind. Day after day I’ve seen the two of you talking about me. Why don’t you come out and say it to my face! I know you know. And I know your mind’s made up to discharge me at Attu-Attu.”

“I am sorry you are making such a mess of everything,” was Duncan’s quiet reply.

But Captain Dettmar’s mind was set on trouble.

“You know you are going to discharge me. You think you are too good to associate with the likes of me – you and your wife.”

“Kindly keep her out of this,” Duncan warned. “What do you want?”

“I want to know what you are going to do!”

“Discharge you, after this, at Attu-Attu.”

“You intended to, all along.”

“On the contrary. It is your present conduct that compels me.”

“You can’t give me that sort of talk.”

“I can’t retain a captain who calls me a liar.”

Captain Dettmar for the moment was taken aback. His face and lips worked, but he could say nothing. Duncan coolly pulled at his cigar and glanced aft at the rising cloud of squall.

“Lee Goom brought the mail aboard at Tahiti,” Captain Dettmar began.

“We were hove short then and leaving. You didn’t look at your letters until we were outside, and then it was too late. That’s why you didn’t discharge me at Tahiti. Oh, I know. I saw the long envelope when Lee Goom came over the side. It was from the Governor of California, printed on the corner for any one to see. You’d been working behind my back. Some beachcomber in Honolulu had whispered to you, and you’d written to the Governor to find out. And that was his answer Lee Goom carried out to you. Why didn’t you come to me like a man! No, you must play underhand with me, knowing that this billet was the one chance for me to get on my feet again. And as soon as you read the Governor’s letter your mind was made up to get rid of me. I’ve seen it on your face ever since for all these months.. I’ve seen the two of you, polite as hell to me all the time, and getting away in corners and talking about me and that affair in ‘Frisco.”

“Are you done?” Duncan asked, his voice low, and tense. “Quite done?”

Captain Dettmar made no answer.

“Then I’ll tell you a few things. It was precisely because of that affair in ‘Frisco that I did not discharge you in Tahiti. God knows you gave me sufficient provocation. I thought that if ever a man needed a chance to rehabilitate himself, you were that man. Had there been no black mark against you, I would have discharged you when I learned how you were robbing me.”

Captain Dettmar showed surprise, started to interrupt, then changed his mind.

“There was that matter of the deck-calking, the bronze rudder-irons, the overhauling of the engine, the new spinnaker boom, the new davits, and the repairs to the whale-boat. You 0Kd the shipyard bill. It was four thousand one hundred and twenty-two francs. By the regular shipyard charges it ought not to have been a centime over twenty-five hundred francs-“

“If you take the word of those alongshore sharks against mine — ’ the other began thickly.

“Save yourself the trouble of further lying,” Duncan went on coldly. “I looked it up. I got Flaubin before the Governor himself, and the old rascal confessed to sixteen hundred overcharge. Said you’d stuck him up for it. Twelve hundred went to you, and his share was four hundred and the job. Don’t interrupt. I’ve got his affidavit below. Then was when I would have put you ashore, except for the cloud you were under. You had to have this one chance or go clean to hell. I gave you the chance. And what have you got to say about it?”

“What did the Governor say?” Captain Dettmar demanded truculently.

“Which governor?”

“Of California. Did he lie to you like all the rest?”

“I’ll tell you what he said. He said that you had been convicted on circumstantial evidence; that was why you had got life imprisonment instead of hanging; that you had always stoutly maintained your innocence; that you were the black sheep of the Maryland Dettmars; that they moved heaven and earth for your pardon; that your prison conduct was most exemplary; that he was prosecuting attorney at the time you were convicted; that after you had served seven years he yielded to your family’s plea and pardoned you; and that in his own mind existed a doubt that you had killed McSweeny.”

There was a pause, during which Duncan went on studying the rising squall, while Captain Dettmar’s face worked terribly.

“Well, the Governor was wrong,” he announced, with a short laugh. “I did kill McSweeny. I did get the watchman drunk that night. I beat McSweeny to death in his bunk. I used the iron belaying pin that appeared in the evidence. He never had a chance. I beat him to a jelly. Do you want the details?”

Duncan looked at him in the curious way one looks at any monstrosity, but made no reply.

“Oh, I’m not afraid to tell you,” Captain Dettmar blustered on. “There are no witnesses. Besides, I am a free man now. I am pardoned, and by God they can never put me back in that hole again. I broke McSweeny’s jaw with the first blow. He was lying on his back asleep. He said, ‘My God, Jim! My God!’ It was funny to see his broken jaw wabble as he said it. Then I smashed him …I say, do you want the rest of the details?”

“Is that all you have to say?” was the answer.

“Isn’t it enough?” Captain Dettmar retorted.

“It is enough.”

“What are you going to do about it?”

“Put you ashore at Attu-Attu.”

“And in the meantime?”

“In the meantime …” Duncan paused. An increase of weight in the wind rippled his hair. The stars overhead vanished, and the Samoset swung four points off her course in the careless steersman’s hands. “In the meantime throw your halyards down on deck and look to your wheel. I’ll call the men.”

The next moment the squall burst upon them. Captain Dettmar, springing aft, lifted the coiled mainsail halyards from their pins and threw them, ready to run, on the deck. The three islanders swarmed from the tiny forecastle, two of them leaping to the halyards and holding by a single turn, while the third fastened down the engineroom, companion and swung the ventilators around. Below, Lee Goom and Toyama were lowering skylight covers and screwing up deadeyes. Duncan pulled shut the cover of the companion scuttle, and held on, waiting, the first drops of rain pelting his face, while the Samoset leaped violently ahead, at the same time heeling first to starboard then to port as the gusty pressures caught her winged-out sails.

All waited. But there was no need to lower away on the run. The power went out of the wind, and the tropic rain poured a deluge over everything. Then it was, the danger past, and as the Kanakas began to coil the halyards back on the pins, that Boyd Duncan went below.

“All right,” he called in cheerily to his wife. “Only a puff.”

“And Captain Dettmar?” she queried.

“Has been drinking, that is all. I shall get rid of him at Attu-Attu.”

But before Duncan climbed into his bunk, he strapped around himself, against the skin and under his pajama coat, a heavy automatic pistol.

He fell asleep almost immediately, for his was the gift of perfect relaxation. He did things tensely, in the way savages do, but the instant the need passed he relaxed, mind and body. So it was that he slept, while the rain still poured on deck and the yacht plunged and rolled in the brief, sharp sea caused by the squall.

He awoke with a feeling of suffocation and heaviness. The electric fans had stopped, and the air was thick and stifling. Mentally cursing all Lorenzos and storage batteries, he heard his wife moving in the adjoining stateroom and pass out into the main cabin. Evidently heading for the fresher air on deck, he thought, and decided it was a good example to imitate. Putting on his slippers and tucking a pillow and a blanket under his arm, he followed her. As he was about to emerge from the companionway, the ship’s clock in the cabin began to strike and he stopped to listen. Four bells sounded. It was two in the morning. From without came the creaking of the gaff-jaw against the mast. The Samoset rolled and righted on a sea, and in the light breeze her canvas gave forth a hollow thrum.

He was just putting his foot out on the damp deck when he heard his wife scream. It was a startled frightened scream that ended in a splash overside. He leaped out and ran aft. In the dim starlight he could make out her head and shoulders disappearing astern in the lazy wake.

“What was it?” Captain Dettmar, who was at the wheel, asked.

“Mrs. Duncan,” was Duncan’s reply, as he tore the life-buoy from its hook and flung it aft. “Jibe over to starboard and come up on the wind!” he commanded.

And then Boyd Duncan made a mistake. He dived overboard.

When he came up, he glimpsed the blue-light on the buoy, which had ignited automatically when it struck the water. He swam for it, and found Minnie had reached it first.

“Hello,” he said. “Just trying to keep cool?”

“Oh, Boyd!” was her answer, and one wet hand reached out and touched his.

The blue light, through deterioration or damage, flickered out. As they lifted on the smooth crest of a wave, Duncan turned to look where the Samoset made a vague blur in the darkness. No lights showed, but there was noise of confusion. He could hear Captain Dettmar’s shouting above the cries of the others.

“I must say he’s taking his time,” Duncan grumbled. “Why doesn’t he jibe? There she goes now.”

They could hear the rattle of the boom tackle blocks as the sail was eased across.

“That was the mainsail,” he muttered. “Jibed to port when I told him starboard.”

Again they lifted on a wave, and again and again, ere they could make out the distant green of the Samoset’s starboard light. But instead of remaining stationary, in token that the yacht was coming toward them, it began moving across their field of vision. Duncan swore.

“What’s the lubber holding over there for!” he demanded. “He’s got his compass. He knows our bearing.”

But the green light, which was all they could see, and which they could see only when they were on top of a wave, moved steadily away from them, withal it was working up to windward, and grew dim and dimmer. Duncan called out loudly and repeatedly, and each time, in the intervals, they could hear, very faintly, the voice of Captain Dettmar shouting orders.

“How can he hear me with such a racket?” Duncan complained.

“He’s doing it so the crew won’t hear you,” was Minnie’s answer.

There was something in the quiet way she said it that caught her husband’s attention.

“What do you mean?”

“I mean that he is not trying to pick us up,” she went on in the same composed voice. “He threw me overboard.”

“You are not making a mistake?”

“How could I? I was at the main rigging, looking to see if any more rain threatened. He must have left the wheel and crept behind me. I was holding on to a stay with one hand. He gripped my hand free from behind and threw me over. It’s too bad you didn’t know, or else you would have staid aboard.”

Duncan groaned, but said nothing for several minutes. The green light changed the direction of its course.

“She’s gone about,” he announced. “You are right. He’s deliberately working around us and to windward. Up wind they can never hear me. But here goes.”

He called at minute intervals for a long time. The green light disappeared, being replaced by the red, showing that the yacht had gone about again.

“Minnie,” he said finally, “it pains me to tell you, but you married a fool. Only a fool would have gone overboard as I did.”

“What chance have we of being picked up …by some other vessel, I mean?” she asked.

“About one in ten thousand, or ten thousand million. Not a steamer route nor trade route crosses this stretch of ocean. And there aren’t any whalers knocking about the South Seas. There might be a stray trading schooner running across from Tutuwanga. But I happen to know that island is visited only once a year. A chance in a million is ours.”

“And we’ll play that chance,” she rejoined stoutly.

“You ARE a joy!” His hand lifted hers to his lips. “And Aunt Elizabeth always wondered what I saw in you. Of course we’ll play that chance. And we’ll win it, too. To happen otherwise would be unthinkable. Here goes.”

He slipped the heavy pistol from his belt and let it sink into the sea. The belt, however, he retained.

“Now you get inside the buoy and get some sleep. Duck under.”

She ducked obediently, and came up inside the floating circle. He fastened the straps for her, then, with the pistol belt, buckled himself across one shoulder to the outside of the buoy.

“We’re good for all day to-morrow,” he said. “Thank God the water’s warm. It won’t be a hardship for the first twenty-hour hours, anyway. And if we’re not picked up by nightfall, we’ve just got to hang on for another day, that’s all.”

For half an hour they maintained silence, Duncan, his head resting on the arm that was on the buoy, seemed asleep.

“Boyd?” Minnie said softly.

“Thought you were asleep,” he growled.

“Boyd, if we don’t come through this — ”

“Stow that!” he broke in ungallantly. “Of course we’re coming through. There is isn’t a doubt of it. Somewhere on this ocean is a ship that’s heading right for us. You wait and see. Just the same I wish my brain were equipped with wireless. Now I’m going to sleep, if you don’t.”

But for once, sleep baffled him. An hour later he heard Minnie stir and knew she was awake.

“Say, do you know what I’ve been thinking!” she asked.

“No; what?”

“That I’ll wish you a Merry Christmas.”

“By George, I never thought of it. Of course it’s Christmas Day. We’ll have many more of them, too. And do you know what I’ve been thinking? What a confounded shame we’re done out of our Christmas dinner. Wait till I lay hands on Dettmar. I’ll take it out of him. And it won’t be with an iron belaying pin either, Just two bunches of naked knuckles, that’s all.”

Despite his facetiousness, Boyd Duncan had little hope. He knew well enough the meaning of one chance in a million, and was calmly certain that his wife and he had entered upon their last few living hours – hours that were inevitably bound to be black and terrible with tragedy.

The tropic sun rose in a cloudless sky. Nothing was to be seen. The Samoset was beyond the sea-rim. As the sun rose higher, Duncan ripped his pajama trousers in halves and fashioned them into two rude turbans. Soaked in sea-water they offset the heat-rays.

“When I think of that dinner, I’m really angry,” he complained, as he noted an anxious expression threatening to set on his wife’s face. “And I want you to be with me when I settle with Dettmar. I’ve always been opposed to women witnessing scenes of blood, but this is different. It will be a beating.”

“I hope I don’t break my knuckles on him,” he added, after a pause.

Midday came and went, and they floated on, the center of a narrow sea-circle. A gentle breath of the dying trade-wind fanned them, and they rose and fell monotonously on the smooth swells of a perfect summer sea. Once, a gunie spied them, and for half an hour circled about them with majestic sweeps. And, once, a huge rayfish, measuring a score of feet across the tips, passed within a few yards.

By sunset, Minnie began to rave, softly, babblingly, like a child. Duncan’s face grew haggard as he watched and listened, while in his mind he revolved plans of how best to end the hours of agony that were. coining. And, so planning, as they rose on a larger swell than usual, he swept the circle of the sea with his eyes, and saw, what made him cry out.

“Minnie!” She did not answer, and he shouted her name again in her ear, with all the voice he could command. Her eyes opened, in them fluttered commingled consciousness and delirium. He slapped her hands and wrists till the sting of the blows roused her.

“There she is, the chance in a million!” he cried.

“A steamer at that, heading straight for us! By George, it’s a cruiser! I have it — !the Annapolis, returning with those astronomers from Tutuwanga.

. . . .

United States Consul Lingford was a fussy, elderly gentleman, and in the two years of his service at Attu-Attu had never encountered so unprecedented a case as that laid before him by Boyd Duncan. The latter, with his wife, had been landed there by the Annapolis, which had promptly gone on with its cargo of astronomers to Fiji.

“It was cold-blooded, deliberate attempt to murder,” said Consul Lingford. “The law shall take its course. I don’t know how precisely to deal with this Captain Dettmar, but if he comes to Attu-Attu, depend upon it he shall be dealt with, he – ah – shall be dealt with. In the meantime, I shall read up the law. And now, won’t you and your good lady stop for lunch!”

As Duncan accepted the invitation, Minnie, who had been glancing out of the window at the harbor, suddenly leaned forward and touched her husband’s arm. He followed her gaze, and saw the Samoset, flag at half mast, rounding up and dropping anchor scarcely a hundred yards away.

“There’s my boat now,” Duncan said to the Consul. “And there’s the launch over the side, and Captain Dettmar dropping into it. If I don’t miss my guess, he’s coming to report our deaths to you.”

The launch landed on the white beach, and leaving Lorenzo tinkering with the engine, Captain Dettmar strode across the beach and up the path to the Consulate.

“Let him make his report,” Duncan said. “We’ll just step into this next room and listen.”

And through the partly open door, he and his wife heard Captain Dettmar, with tears in his voice, describe the loss of his owners.

“I jibed over and went back across the very spot,” he concluded. “There was not a sign of them. I called and called, but there was never an answer. I tacked back and forth and wore for two solid hours, then hove to till daybreak, and cruised back and forth all day, two men at the mastheads. It is terrible. I am heartbroken. Mr. Duncan was a splendid man, and I shall never…”

But he never completed the sentence, for at that moment his splendid employer strode out upon him, leaving Minnie standing in the doorway. Captain Dettmar’s white face blanched even whiter.

“I did my best to pick you up, sir,” he began.

Boyd Duncan’s answer was couched in terms of bunched knuckles, two bunches of them, that landed right and left on Captain Dettmar’s face.

Captain Dettmar staggered backward, recovered, and rushed with swinging arms at his employer, only to be met with a blow squarely between the eyes. This time the Captain went down, bearing the typewriter under him as he crashed to the floor.

“This is not permissible,” Consul Lingford spluttered. “I beg of you, I beg of you, to desist.”

“I’ll pay the damages to office furniture,” Duncan answered, and at the same time landing more bunched knuckles on the eyes and nose of Dettmar.

Consul Lingford bobbed around in the turmoil like a wet hen, while his office furniture went to ruin. Once, he caught Duncan by the arm, but was flung back, gasping, half-across the room. Another time he appealed to Minnie.

“Mrs. Duncan, won’t you, please, please, restrain your husband?”

But she, white-faced and trembling, resolutely shook her head and watched the fray with all her eyes.

“It is outrageous,” Consul Lingford cried, dodging the hurtling bodies of the two men. “It is an affront to the Government, to the United States Government. Nor will it be overlooked, I warn you. Oh, do pray desist, Mr. Duncan. You will kill the man. I beg of you. I beg, I beg…”

But the crash of a tall vase filled with crimson hibiscus blossoms left him speechless.

The time came when Captain Dettmar could no longer get up. He got as far as hands and knees, struggled vainly to rise further, then collapsed. Duncan stirred the groaning wreck with his foot.

“He’s all right,” he announced. “I’ve only given him what he has given many a sailor and worse.”

“Great heavens, sir!” Consul Lingford exploded, staring horror-stricken at the man whom he had invited to lunch.

Duncan giggled involuntarily, then controlled himself.

“I apologize, Mr. Lingford, I most heartily apologize. I fear I was slightly carried away by my feelings.”

Consul Lingford gulped and sawed the air speechlessly with his arms.

“Slightly, sir? Slightly?” he managed to articulate.

“Boyd,” Minnie called softly from the doorway.

He turned and looked.

“You ARE a joy,” she said.

“And now, Mr. Lingford, I am done with him,” Duncan said. “I turn over what is left to you and the law.”

“That?” Consul Lingford queried, in accent of horror.

“That,” Boyd Duncan replied, looking ruefully at his battered knuckles.

By the Turtles of Tasman

I

Law, order, and restraint had carved Frederick Travers’ face. It was the strong, firm face of one used to power and who had used power with wisdom and discretion. Clean living had made the healthy skin, and the lines graved in it were honest lines. Hard and devoted work had left its wholesome handiwork, that was all. Every feature of the man told the same story, from the clear blue of the eyes to the full head of hair, light brown, touched with grey, and smoothly parted and drawn straight across above the strong-domed forehead. He was a seriously groomed man, and the light summer business suit no more than befitted his alert years, while it did not shout aloud that its possessor was likewise the possessor of numerous millions of dollars and property.

For Frederick Travers hated ostentation. The machine that waited outside for him under the porte-cochère was sober black. It was the most expensive machine in the county, yet he did not care to flaunt its price or horse-power in a red flare across the landscape, which also was mostly his, from the sand dunes and the everlasting beat of the Pacific breakers, across the fat bottomlands and upland pastures, to the far summits clad with redwood forest and wreathed in fog and cloud.

A rustle of skirts caused him to look over his shoulder. Just the faintest hint of irritation showed in his manner. Not that his daughter was the object, however. Whatever it was, it seemed to lie on the desk before him.

“What is that outlandish name again?” she asked. “I know I shall never remember it. See, I’ve brought a pad to write it down.”

Her voice was low and cool, and she was a tall, well-formed, clear-skinned young woman. In her voice and complacence she, too, showed the drill-marks of order and restraint.

Frederick Travers scanned the signature of one of two letters on the desk. “Bronislawa Plaskoweitzkaia Travers,” he read; then spelled the difficult first portion, letter by letter, while his daughter wrote it down.

“Now, Mary,” he added, “remember Tom was always harum scarum, and you must make allowances for this daughter of his. Her very name is--ah--disconcerting. I haven’t seen him for years, and as for her....” A shrug epitomised his apprehension. He smiled with an effort at wit. “Just the same, they’re as much your family as mine. If he is my brother, he is your uncle. And if she’s my niece, you’re both cousins.”

Mary nodded. “Don’t worry, father. I’ll be nice to her, poor thing. What nationality was her mother?--to get such an awful name.”

“I don’t know. Russian, or Polish, or Spanish, or something. It was just like Tom. She was an actress or singer--I don’t remember. They met in Buenos Ayres. It was an elopement. Her husband--“

“Then she was already married!”

Mary’s dismay was unfeigned and spontaneous, and her father’s irritation grew more pronounced. He had not meant that. It had slipped out.

“There was a divorce afterward, of course. I never knew the details. Her mother died out in China--no; in Tasmania. It was in China that Tom--“ His lips shut with almost a snap. He was not going to make any more slips. Mary waited, then turned to the door, where she paused.

“I’ve given her the rooms over the rose court,” she said. “And I’m going now to take a last look.”

Frederick Travers turned back to the desk, as if to put the letters away, changed his mind, and slowly and ponderingly reread them.

“Dear Fred:

“It’s been a long time since I was so near to the old home, and I’d like to take a run up. Unfortunately, I played ducks and drakes with my Yucatan project--I think I wrote about it--and I’m broke as usual. Could you advance me funds for the run? I’d like to arrive first class. Polly is with me, you know. I wonder how you two will get along.

“Tom.

“P.S. If it doesn’t bother you too much, send it along next mail.”

“Dear Uncle Fred”:

the other letter ran, in what seemed to him a strange, foreign-taught, yet distinctly feminine hand.

“Dad doesn’t know I am writing this. He told me what he said to you. It is not true. He is coming home to die. He doesn’t know it, but I’ve talked with the doctors. And he’ll have to come home, for we have no money. We’re in a stuffy little boarding house, and it is not the place for Dad. He’s helped other persons all his life, and now is the time to help him. He didn’t play ducks and drakes in Yucatan. I was with him, and I know. He dropped all he had there, and he was robbed. He can’t play the business game against New Yorkers. That explains it all, and I am proud he can’t.

“He always laughs and says I’ll never be able to get along with you. But I don’t agree with him. Besides, I’ve never seen a really, truly blood relative in my life, and there’s your daughter. Think of it!--a real live cousin!

“In anticipation,

“Your niece,

“BRONISLAWA PLASKOWEITZKAIA TRAVERS.

“P.S. You’d better telegraph the money, or you won’t see Dad at all. He doesn’t know how sick he is, and if he meets any of his old friends he’ll be off and away on some wild goose chase. He’s beginning to talk Alaska. Says it will get the fever out of his bones. Please know that we must pay the boarding house, or else we’ll arrive without luggage.

“B.P.T.”

Frederick Travers opened the door of a large, built-in safe and methodically put the letters away in a compartment labelled “Thomas Travers.”

“Poor Tom! Poor Tom!” he sighed aloud.

II

The big motor car waited at the station, and Frederick Travers thrilled as he always thrilled to the distant locomotive whistle of the train plunging down the valley of Isaac Travers River. First of all westering white-men, had Isaac Travers gazed on that splendid valley, its salmon-laden waters, its rich bottoms, and its virgin forest slopes. Having seen, he had grasped and never let go. “Land-poor,” they had called him in the mid-settler period. But that had been in the days when the placers petered out, when there were no wagon roads nor tugs to draw in sailing vessels across the perilous bar, and when his lonely grist mill had been run under armed guards to keep the marauding Klamaths off while wheat was ground. Like father, like son, and what Isaac Travers had grasped, Frederick Travers had held. It had been the same tenacity of hold. Both had been far-visioned. Both had foreseen the transformation of the utter West, the coming of the railroad, and the building of the new empire on the Pacific shore.

Frederick Travers thrilled, too, at the locomotive whistle, because, more than any man’s, it was his railroad. His father had died still striving to bring the railroad in across the mountains that averaged a hundred thousand dollars to the mile. He, Frederick, had brought it in. He had sat up nights over that railroad; bought newspapers, entered politics, and subsidised party machines; and he had made pilgrimages, more than once, at his own expense, to the railroad chiefs of the East. While all the county knew how many miles of his land were crossed by the right of way, none of the county guessed nor dreamed the number of his dollars which had gone into guaranties and railroad bonds. He had done much for his county, and the railroad was his last and greatest achievement, the capstone of the Travers’ effort, the momentous and marvellous thing that had been brought about just yesterday. It had been running two years, and, highest proof of all of his judgment, dividends were in sight. And farther reaching reward was in sight. It was written in the books that the next Governor of California was to be spelled, Frederick A. Travers.

Twenty years had passed since he had seen his elder brother, and then it had been after a gap of ten years. He remembered that night well. Tom was the only man who dared run the bar in the dark, and that last time, between nightfall and the dawn, with a southeaster breezing up, he had sailed his schooner in and out again. There had been no warning of his coming--a clatter of hoofs at midnight, a lathered horse in the stable, and Tom had appeared, the salt of the sea on his face as his mother attested. An hour only he remained, and on a fresh horse was gone, while rain squalls rattled upon the windows and the rising wind moaned through the redwoods, the memory of his visit a whiff, sharp and strong, from the wild outer world. A week later, sea-hammered and bar-bound for that time, had arrived the revenue cutter Bear, and there had been a column of conjecture in the local paper, hints of a heavy landing of opium and of a vain quest for the mysterious schooner Halcyon. Only Fred and his mother, and the several house Indians, knew of the stiffened horse in the barn and of the devious way it was afterward smuggled back to the fishing village on the beach.

Despite those twenty years, it was the same old Tom Travers that alighted from the Pullman. To his brother’s eyes, he did not look sick. Older he was of course. The Panama hat did not hide the grey hair, and though indefinably hinting of shrunkenness, the broad shoulders were still broad and erect. As for the young woman with him, Frederick Travers experienced an immediate shock of distaste. He felt it vitally, yet vaguely. It was a challenge and a mock, yet he could not name nor place the source of it. It might have been the dress, of tailored linen and foreign cut, the shirtwaist, with its daring stripe, the black wilfulness of the hair, or the flaunt of poppies on the large straw hat or it might have been the flash and colour of her--the black eyes and brows, the flame of rose in the cheeks, the white of the even teeth that showed too readily. “A spoiled child,” was his thought, but he had no time to analyse, for his brother’s hand was in his and he was making his niece’s acquaintance.

There it was again. She flashed and talked like her colour, and she talked with her hands as well. He could not avoid noting the smallness of them. They were absurdly small, and his eyes went to her feet to make the same discovery. Quite oblivious of the curious crowd on the station platform, she had intercepted his attempt to lead to the motor car and had ranged the brothers side by side. Tom had been laughingly acquiescent, but his younger brother was ill at ease, too conscious of the many eyes of his townspeople. He knew only the old Puritan way. Family displays were for the privacy of the family, not for the public. He was glad she had not attempted to kiss him. It was remarkable she had not. Already he apprehended anything of her.

She embraced them and penetrated them with sun-warm eyes that seemed to see through them, and over them, and all about them.

“You’re really brothers,” she cried, her hands flashing with her eyes. “Anybody can see it. And yet there is a difference--I don’t know. I can’t explain.”

In truth, with a tact that exceeded Frederick Travers’ farthest disciplined forbearance, she did not dare explain. Her wide artist-eyes had seen and sensed the whole trenchant and essential difference. Alike they looked, of the unmistakable same stock, their features reminiscent of a common origin; and there resemblance ceased. Tom was three inches taller, and well-greyed was the long, Viking moustache. His was the same eagle-like nose as his brother’s, save that it was more eagle-like, while the blue eyes were pronouncedly so. The lines of the face were deeper, the cheek-bones higher, the hollows larger, the weather-beat darker. It was a volcanic face. There had been fire there, and the fire still lingered. Around the corners of the eyes were more laughter-wrinkles and in the eyes themselves a promise of deadlier seriousness than the younger brother possessed. Frederick was bourgeois in his carriage, but in Tom’s was a certain careless ease and distinction. It was the same pioneer blood of Isaac Travers in both men, but it had been retorted in widely different crucibles. Frederick represented the straight and expected line of descent. His brother expressed a vast and intangible something that was unknown in the Travers stock. And it was all this that the black-eyed girl saw and knew on the instant. All that had been inexplicable in the two men and their relationship cleared up in the moment she saw them side by side.

“Wake me up,” Tom was saying. “I can’t believe I arrived on a train. And the population? There were only four thousand thirty years ago.”

“Sixty thousand now,” was the other’s answer. “And increasing by leaps and bounds. Want to spin around for a look at the city? There’s plenty of time.”

As they sped along the broad, well-paved streets, Tom persisted in his Rip Van Winkle pose. The waterfront perplexed him. Where he had once anchored his sloop in a dozen feet of water, he found solid land and railroad yards, with wharves and shipping still farther out.

“Hold on! Stop!” he cried, a few blocks on, looking up at a solid business block. “Where is this, Fred?”

“Fourth and Travers--don’t you remember?”

Tom stood up and gazed around, trying to discern the anciently familiar configuration of the land under its clutter of buildings.

“I ... I think....” he began hesitantly. “No; by George, I’m sure of it. We used to hunt cottontails over that ground, and shoot blackbirds in the brush. And there, where the bank building is, was a pond.” He turned to Polly. “I built my first raft there, and got my first taste of the sea.”

“Heaven knows how many gallons of it,” Frederick laughed, nodding to the chauffeur. “They rolled you on a barrel, I remember.”

“Oh! More!” Polly cried, clapping her hands.

“There’s the park,” Frederick pointed out a little later, indicating a mass of virgin redwoods on the first dip of the bigger hills.

“Father shot three grizzlies there one afternoon,” was Tom’s remark.

“I presented forty acres of it to the city,” Frederick went on. “Father bought the quarter section for a dollar an acre from Leroy.”

Tom nodded, and the sparkle and flash in his eyes, like that of his daughter, were unlike anything that ever appeared in his brother’s eyes.

“Yes,” he affirmed, “Leroy, the negro squawman. I remember the time he carried you and me on his back to Alliance, the night the Indians burned the ranch. Father stayed behind and fought.”

“But he couldn’t save the grist mill. It was a serious setback to him.”

“Just the same he nailed four Indians.”

In Polly’s eyes now appeared the flash and sparkle.

“An Indian-fighter!” she cried. “Tell me about him.”

“Tell her about Travers Ferry,” Tom said.

“That’s a ferry on the Klamath River on the way to Orleans Bar and Siskiyou. There was great packing into the diggings in those days, and, among other things, father had made a location there. There was rich bench farming land, too. He built a suspension bridge--wove the cables on the spot with sailors and materials freighted in from the coast. It cost him twenty thousand dollars. The first day it was open, eight hundred mules crossed at a dollar a head, to say nothing of the toll for foot and horse. That night the river rose. The bridge was one hundred and forty feet above low water mark. Yet the freshet rose higher than that, and swept the bridge away. He’d have made a fortune there otherwise.”

“That wasn’t it at all,” Tom blurted out impatiently. “It was at Travers Ferry that father and old Jacob Vance were caught by a war party of Mad River Indians. Old Jacob was killed right outside the door of the log cabin. Father dragged the body inside and stood the Indians off for a week. Father was some shot. He buried Jacob under the cabin floor.”

“I still run the ferry,” Frederick went on, “though there isn’t so much travel as in the old days. I freight by wagon-road to the Reservation, and then mule-back on up the Klamath and clear in to the forks of Little Salmon. I have twelve stores on that chain now, a stage-line to the Reservation, and a hotel there. Quite a tourist trade is beginning to pick up.”

And the girl, with curious brooding eyes, looked from brother to brother as they so differently voiced themselves and life.

“Ay, he was some man, father was,” Tom murmured.

There was a drowsy note in his speech that drew a quick glance of anxiety from her. The machine had turned into the cemetery, and now halted before a substantial vault on the crest of the hill.

“I thought you’d like to see it,” Frederick was saying. “I built that mausoleum myself, most of it with my own hands. Mother wanted it. The estate was dreadfully encumbered. The best bid I could get out of the contractors was eleven thousand. I did it myself for a little over eight.”

“Must have worked nights,” Tom murmured admiringly and more sleepily than before.

“I did, Tom, I did. Many a night by lantern-light. I was so busy. I was reconstructing the water works then--the artesian wells had failed--and mother’s eyes were troubling her. You remember--cataract--I wrote you. She was too weak to travel, and I brought the specialists up from San Francisco. Oh, my hands were full. I was just winding up the disastrous affairs of the steamer line father had established to San Francisco, and I was keeping up the interest on mortgages to the tune of one hundred and eighty thousand dollars.”

A soft stertorous breathing interrupted him. Tom, chin on chest, was asleep. Polly, with a significant look, caught her uncle’s eye. Then her father, after an uneasy restless movement, lifted drowsy lids.

“Deuced warm day,” he said with a bright apologetic laugh. “I’ve been actually asleep. Aren’t we near home?”

Frederick nodded to the chauffeur, and the car rolled on.

III

The house that Frederick Travers had built when his prosperity came, was large and costly, sober and comfortable, and with no more pretence than was naturally attendant on the finest country home in the county. Its atmosphere was just the sort that he and his daughter would create. But in the days that followed his brother’s home-coming, all this was changed. Gone was the subdued and ordered repose. Frederick was neither comfortable nor happy. There was an unwonted flurry of life and violation of sanctions and traditions. Meals were irregular and protracted, and there were midnight chafing-dish suppers and bursts of laughter at the most inappropriate hours.

Frederick was abstemious. A glass of wine at dinner was his wildest excess. Three cigars a day he permitted himself, and these he smoked either on the broad veranda or in the smoking room. What else was a smoking room for? Cigarettes he detested. Yet his brother was ever rolling thin, brown-paper cigarettes and smoking them wherever he might happen to be. A litter of tobacco crumbs was always to be found in the big easy chair he frequented and among the cushions of the window-seats. Then there were the cocktails. Brought up under the stern tutelage of Isaac and Eliza Travers, Frederick looked upon liquor in the house as an abomination. Ancient cities had been smitten by God’s wrath for just such practices. Before lunch and dinner, Tom, aided and abetted by Polly, mixed an endless variety of drinks, she being particularly adept with strange swivel-stick concoctions learned at the ends of the earth. To Frederick, at such times, it seemed that his butler’s pantry and dining room had been turned into bar-rooms. When he suggested this, under a facetious show, Tom proclaimed that when he made his pile he would build a liquor cabinet in every living room of his house.

And there were more young men at the house than formerly, and they helped in disposing of the cocktails. Frederick would have liked to account in that manner for their presence, but he knew better. His brother and his brother’s daughter did what he and Mary had failed to do. They were the magnets. Youth and joy and laughter drew to them. The house was lively with young life. Ever, day and night, the motor cars honked up and down the gravelled drives. There were picnics and expeditions in the summer weather, moonlight sails on the bay, starts before dawn or home-comings at midnight, and often, of nights, the many bedrooms were filled as they had never been before. Tom must cover all his boyhood ramblings, catch trout again on Bull Creek, shoot quail over Walcott’s Prairie, get a deer on Round Mountain. That deer was a cause of pain and shame to Frederick. What if it was closed season? Tom had triumphantly brought home the buck and gleefully called it sidehill-salmon when it was served and eaten at Frederick’s own table.

They had clambakes at the head of the bay and musselbakes down by the roaring surf; and Tom told shamelessly of the Halcyon, and of the run of contraband, and asked Frederick before them all how he had managed to smuggle the horse back to the fishermen without discovery. All the young men were in the conspiracy with Polly to pamper Tom to his heart’s desire. And Frederick heard the true inwardness of the killing of the deer; of its purchase from the overstocked Golden Gate Park; of its crated carriage by train, horse-team and mule-back to the fastnesses of Round Mountain; of Tom falling asleep beside the deer-run the first time it was driven by; of the pursuit by the young men, the jaded saddle horses, the scrambles and the falls, and the roping of it at Burnt Ranch Clearing; and, finally, of the triumphant culmination, when it was driven past a second time and Tom had dropped it at fifty yards. To Frederick there was a vague hurt in it all. When had such consideration been shown him?

There were days when Tom could not go out, postponements of outdoor frolics, when, still the centre, he sat and drowsed in the big chair, waking, at times, in that unexpected queer, bright way of his, to roll a cigarette and call for his ukulele--a sort of miniature guitar of Portuguese invention. Then, with strumming and tumtuming, the live cigarette laid aside to the imminent peril of polished wood, his full baritone would roll out in South Sea hulas and sprightly French and Spanish songs.

One, in particular, had pleased Frederick at first. The favourite song of a Tahitian king, Tom explained--the last of the Pomares, who had himself composed it and was wont to lie on his mats by the hour singing it. It consisted of the repetition of a few syllables. “E meu ru ru a vau,” it ran, and that was all of it, sung in a stately, endless, ever-varying chant, accompanied by solemn chords from the ukelele. Polly took great joy in teaching it to her uncle, but when, himself questing for some of this genial flood of life that bathed about his brother, Frederick essayed the song, he noted suppressed glee on the part of his listeners, which increased, through giggles and snickers, to a great outburst of laughter. To his disgust and dismay, he learned that the simple phrase he had repeated and repeated was nothing else than “I am so drunk.” He had been made a fool of. Over and over, solemnly and gloriously, he, Frederick Travers, had announced how drunk he was. After that, he slipped quietly out of the room whenever it was sung. Nor could Polly’s later explanation that the last word was “happy,” and not “drunk,” reconcile him; for she had been compelled to admit that the old king was a toper, and that he was always in his cups when he struck up the chant.

Frederick was constantly oppressed by the feeling of being out of it all. He was a social being, and he liked fun, even if it were of a more wholesome and dignified brand than that to which his brother was addicted. He could not understand why in the past the young people had voted his house a bore and come no more, save on state and formal occasions, until now, when they flocked to it and to his brother, but not to him. Nor could he like the way the young women petted his brother, and called him Tom, while it was intolerable to see them twist and pull his buccaneer moustache in mock punishment when his sometimes too-jolly banter sank home to them.

Such conduct was a profanation to the memory of Isaac and Eliza Travers. There was too much an air of revelry in the house. The long table was never shortened, while there was extra help in the kitchen. Breakfast extended from four until eleven, and the midnight suppers, entailing raids on the pantry and complaints from the servants, were a vexation to Frederick. The house had become a restaurant, a hotel, he sneered bitterly to himself; and there were times when he was sorely tempted to put his foot down and reassert the old ways. But somehow the ancient sorcery of his masterful brother was too strong upon him; and at times he gazed upon him with a sense almost of awe, groping to fathom the alchemy of charm, baffled by the strange lights and fires in his brother’s eyes, and by the wisdom of far places and of wild nights and days written in his face. What was it? What lordly vision had the other glimpsed?--he, the irresponsible and careless one? Frederick remembered a line of an old song--“Along the shining ways he came.” Why did his brother remind him of that line? Had he, who in boyhood had known no law, who in manhood had exalted himself above law, in truth found the shining ways?

There was an unfairness about it that perplexed Frederick, until he found solace in dwelling upon the failure Tom had made of life. Then it was, in quiet intervals, that he got some comfort and stiffened his own pride by showing Tom over the estate.

“You have done well, Fred,” Tom would say. “You have done very well.”

He said it often, and often he drowsed in the big smooth-running machine.

“Everything orderly and sanitary and spick and span--not a blade of grass out of place,” was Polly’s comment. “How do you ever manage it? I should not like to be a blade of grass on your land,” she concluded, with a little shivery shudder.

“You have worked hard,” Tom said.

“Yes, I have worked hard,” Frederick affirmed. “It was worth it.”

He was going to say more, but the strange flash in the girl’s eyes brought him to an uncomfortable pause. He felt that she measured him, challenged him. For the first time his honourable career of building a county commonwealth had been questioned--and by a chit of a girl, the daughter of a wastrel, herself but a flighty, fly-away, foreign creature.

Conflict between them was inevitable. He had disliked her from the first moment of meeting. She did not have to speak. Her mere presence made him uncomfortable. He felt her unspoken disapproval, though there were times when she did not stop at that. Nor did she mince language. She spoke forthright, like a man, and as no man had ever dared to speak to him.

“I wonder if you ever miss what you’ve missed,” she told him. “Did you ever, once in your life, turn yourself loose and rip things up by the roots? Did you ever once get drunk? Or smoke yourself black in the face? Or dance a hoe-down on the ten commandments? Or stand up on your hind legs and wink like a good fellow at God?”

“Isn’t she a rare one!” Tom gurgled. “Her mother over again.”

Outwardly smiling and calm, there was a chill of horror at Frederick’s heart. It was incredible.

“I think it is the English,” she continued, “who have a saying that a man has not lived until he has kissed his woman and struck his man. I wonder--confess up, now--if you ever struck a man.”

“Have you?” he countered.

She nodded, an angry reminiscent flash in her eyes, and waited.

“No, I have never had that pleasure,” he answered slowly. “I early learned control.”

Later, irritated by his self-satisfied complacence and after listening to a recital of how he had cornered the Klamath salmon-packing, planted the first oysters on the bay and established that lucrative monopoly, and of how, after exhausting litigation and a campaign of years he had captured the water front of Williamsport and thereby won to control of the Lumber Combine, she returned to the charge.

“You seem to value life in terms of profit and loss,” she said. “I wonder if you have ever known love.”

The shaft went home. He had not kissed his woman. His marriage had been one of policy. It had saved the estate in the days when he had been almost beaten in the struggle to disencumber the vast holdings Isaac Travers’ wide hands had grasped. The girl was a witch. She had probed an old wound and made it hurt again. He had never had time to love. He had worked hard. He had been president of the chamber of commerce, mayor of the city, state senator, but he had missed love. At chance moments he had come upon Polly, openly and shamelessly in her father’s arms, and he had noted the warmth and tenderness in their eyes. Again he knew that he had missed love. Wanton as was the display, not even in private did he and Mary so behave. Normal, formal, and colourless, she was what was to be expected of a loveless marriage. He even puzzled to decide whether the feeling he felt for her was love. Was he himself loveless as well?

In the moment following Polly’s remark, he was aware of a great emptiness. It seemed that his hands had grasped ashes, until, glancing into the other room, he saw Tom asleep in the big chair, very grey and aged and tired. He remembered all that he had done, all that he possessed. Well, what did Tom possess? What had Tom done?--save play ducks and drakes with life and wear it out until all that remained was that dimly flickering spark in a dying body.

What bothered Frederick in Polly was that she attracted him as well as repelled him. His own daughter had never interested him in that way. Mary moved along frictionless grooves, and to forecast her actions was so effortless that it was automatic. But Polly! many-hued, protean-natured, he never knew what she was going to do next.

“Keeps you guessing, eh?” Tom chuckled.

She was irresistible. She had her way with Frederick in ways that in Mary would have been impossible. She took liberties with him, cosened him or hurt him, and compelled always in him a sharp awareness of her existence.

Once, after one of their clashes, she devilled him at the piano, playing a mad damned thing that stirred and irritated him and set his pulse pounding wild and undisciplined fancies in the ordered chamber of his brain. The worst of it was she saw and knew just what she was doing. She was aware before he was, and she made him aware, her face turned to look at him, on her lips a mocking, contemplative smile that was almost a superior sneer. It was this that shocked him into consciousness of the orgy his imagination had been playing him. From the wall above her, the stiff portraits of Isaac and Eliza Travers looked down like reproachful spectres. Infuriated, he left the room. He had never dreamed such potencies resided in music. And then, and he remembered it with shame, he had stolen back outside to listen, and she had known, and once more she had devilled him.

When Mary asked him what he thought of Polly’s playing, an unbidden contrast leaped to his mind. Mary’s music reminded him of church. It was cold and bare as a Methodist meeting house. But Polly’s was like the mad and lawless ceremonial of some heathen temple where incense arose and nautch girls writhed.

“She plays like a foreigner,” he answered, pleased with the success and oppositeness of his evasion.

“She is an artist,” Mary affirmed solemnly. “She is a genius. When does she ever practise? When did she ever practise? You know how I have. My best is like a five-finger exercise compared with the foolishest thing she ripples off. Her music tells me things--oh, things wonderful and unutterable. Mine tells me, ‘one-two-three, one-two-three.’ Oh, it is maddening! I work and work and get nowhere. It is unfair. Why should she be born that way, and not I?”

“Love,” was Frederick’s immediate and secret thought; but before he could dwell upon the conclusion, the unprecedented had happened and Mary was sobbing in a break-down of tears. He would have liked to take her in his arms, after Tom’s fashion, but he did not know how. He tried, and found Mary as unschooled as himself. It resulted only in an embarrassed awkwardness for both of them.

The contrasting of the two girls was inevitable. Like father like daughter. Mary was no more than a pale camp-follower of a gorgeous, conquering general. Frederick’s thrift had been sorely educated in the matter of clothes. He knew just how expensive Mary’s clothes were, yet he could not blind himself to the fact that Polly’s vagabond makeshifts, cheap and apparently haphazard, were always all right and far more successful. Her taste was unerring. Her ways with a shawl were inimitable. With a scarf she performed miracles.

“She just throws things together,” Mary complained. “She doesn’t even try. She can dress in fifteen minutes, and when she goes swimming she beats the boys out of the dressing rooms.” Mary was honest and incredulous in her admiration. “I can’t see how she does it. No one could dare those colours, but they look just right on her.”

“She’s always threatened that when I became finally flat broke she’d set up dressmaking and take care of both of us,” Tom contributed.

Frederick, looking over the top of a newspaper, was witness to an illuminating scene; Mary, to his certain knowledge, had been primping for an hour ere she appeared.

“Oh! How lovely!” was Polly’s ready appreciation. Her eyes and face glowed with honest pleasure, and her hands wove their delight in the air. “But why not wear that bow so and thus?”

Her hands flashed to the task, and in a moment the miracle of taste and difference achieved by her touch was apparent even to Frederick.

Polly was like her father, generous to the point of absurdity with her meagre possessions. Mary admired a Spanish fan--a Mexican treasure that had come down from one of the grand ladies of the Court of the Emperor Maximilian. Polly’s delight flamed like wild-fire. Mary found herself the immediate owner of the fan, almost labouring under the fictitious impression that she had conferred an obligation by accepting it. Only a foreign woman could do such things, and Polly was guilty of similar gifts to all the young women. It was her way. It might be a lace handkerchief, a pink Paumotan pearl, or a comb of hawksbill turtle. It was all the same. Whatever their eyes rested on in joy was theirs. To women, as to men, she was irresistible.

“I don’t dare admire anything any more,” was Mary’s plaint. “If I do she always gives it to me.”

Frederick had never dreamed such a creature could exist. The women of his own race and place had never adumbrated such a possibility. He knew that whatever she did--her quick generosities, her hot enthusiasms or angers, her birdlike caressing ways--was unbelievably sincere. Her extravagant moods at the same time shocked and fascinated him. Her voice was as mercurial as her feelings. There were no even tones, and she talked with her hands. Yet, in her mouth, English was a new and beautiful language, softly limpid, with an audacity of phrase and tellingness of expression that conveyed subtleties and nuances as unambiguous and direct as they were unexpected from one of such childlikeness and simplicity. He woke up of nights and on his darkened eyelids saw bright memory-pictures of the backward turn of her vivid, laughing face.

IV

Like daughter like father. Tom, too, had been irresistible. All the world still called to him, and strange men came from time to time with its messages. Never had there been such visitors to the Travers home. Some came with the reminiscent roll of the sea in their gait. Others were black-browed ruffians; still others were fever-burnt and sallow; and about all of them was something bizarre and outlandish. Their talk was likewise bizarre and outlandish, of things to Frederick unguessed and undreamed, though he recognised the men for what they were--soldiers of fortune, adventurers, free lances of the world. But the big patent thing was the love and loyalty they bore their leader. They named him variously?--Black Tom, Blondine, Husky Travers, Malemute Tom, Swiftwater Tom--but most of all he was Captain Tom. Their projects and propositions were equally various, from the South Sea trader with the discovery of a new guano island and the Latin-American with a nascent revolution on his hands, on through Siberian gold chases and the prospecting of the placer benches of the upper Kuskokeem, to darker things that were mentioned only in whispers. And Captain Tom regretted the temporary indisposition that prevented immediate departure with them, and continued to sit and drowse more and more in the big chair. It was Polly, with a camaraderie distasteful to her uncle, who got these men aside and broke the news that Captain Tom would never go out on the shining ways again. But not all of them came with projects. Many made love-calls on their leader of old and unforgetable days, and Frederick sometimes was a witness to their meeting, and he marvelled anew at the mysterious charm in his brother that drew all men to him.

“By the turtles of Tasman!” cried one, “when I heard you was in California, Captain Tom, I just had to come and shake hands. I reckon you ain’t forgot Tasman, eh?--nor the scrap at Thursday Island. Say--old Tasman was killed by his niggers only last year up German New Guinea way. Remember his cook-boy?--Ngani-Ngani? He was the ringleader. Tasman swore by him, but Ngani-Ngani hatcheted him just the same.”

“Shake hands with Captain Carlsen, Fred,” was Tom’s introduction of his brother to another visitor. “He pulled me out of a tight place on the West Coast once. I’d have cashed in, Carlsen, if you hadn’t happened along.”

Captain Carlsen was a giant hulk of a man, with gimlet eyes of palest blue, a slash-scarred mouth that a blazing red beard could not quite hide, and a grip in his hand that made Frederick squirm.

A few minutes later, Tom had his brother aside.

“Say, Fred, do you think it will bother to advance me a thousand?”

“Of course,” Frederick answered splendidly. “You know half of that I have is yours, Tom.”

And when Captain Carlsen departed, Frederick was morally certain that the thousand dollars departed with him.

Small wonder Tom had made a failure of life--and come home to die. Frederick sat at his own orderly desk taking stock of the difference between him and his brother. Yes, and if it hadn’t been for him, there would have been no home for Tom to die in.

Frederick cast back for solace through their joint history. It was he who had always been the mainstay, the dependable one. Tom had laughed and rollicked, played hooky from school, disobeyed Isaac’s commandments. To the mountains or the sea, or in hot water with the neighbours and the town authorities--it was all the same; he was everywhere save where the dull plod of work obtained. And work was work in those backwoods days, and he, Frederick, had done the work. Early and late and all days he had been at it. He remembered the season when Isaac’s wide plans had taken one of their smashes, when food had been scarce on the table of a man who owned a hundred thousand acres, when there had been no money to hire harvesters for the hay, and when Isaac would not let go his grip on a single one of his acres. He, Frederick, had pitched the hay, while Isaac mowed and raked. Tom had lain in bed and run up a doctor bill with a broken leg, gained by falling off the ridge-pole of the barn--which place was the last in the world to which any one would expect to go to pitch hay. About the only work Tom had ever done, it seemed to him, was to fetch in venison and bear-oil, to break colts, and to raise a din in the valley pastures and wooded canyons with his bear-hounds.

Tom was the elder, yet when Isaac died, the estate, with all its vast possibilities would have gone to ruin, had not he, Frederick, buckled down to it and put the burden on his back. Work! He remembered the enlargement of the town water-system--how he had manoeuvred and financed, persuaded small loans at ruinous interest, and laid pipe and made joints by lantern light while the workmen slept, and then been up ahead of them to outline and direct and rack his brains over the raising of the next week-end wages. For he had carried on old Isaac’s policy. He would not let go. The future would vindicate.

And Tom!--with a bigger pack of bear dogs ranging the mountains and sleeping out a week at a time. Frederick remembered the final conference in the kitchen--Tom, and he, and Eliza Travers, who still cooked and baked and washed dishes on an estate that carried a hundred and eighty thousand dollars in mortgages.

“Don’t divide,” Eliza Travers had pleaded, resting her soap-flecked, parboiled arms. “Isaac was right. It will be worth millions. The country is opening up. We must all pull together.”

“I don’t want the estate,” Tom cried. “Let Frederick have it. What I want....”

He never completed the sentence, but all the vision of the world burned in his eyes.

“I can’t wait,” he went on. “You can have the millions when they come. In the meantime let me have ten thousand. I’ll sign off quitclaim to everything. And give me the old schooner, and some day I’ll be back with a pot of money to help you out.”

Frederick could see himself, in that far past day, throwing up his arms in horror and crying:

“Ten thousand!--when I’m strained to the breaking point to raise this quarter’s interest!”

“There’s the block of land next to the court house,” Tom had urged. “I know the bank has a standing offer for ten thousand.”

“But it will be worth a hundred thousand in ten years,” Frederick had objected.

“Call it so. Say I quitclaim everything for a hundred thousand. Sell it for ten and let me have it. It’s all I want, and I want it now. You can have the rest.”

And Tom had had his will as usual (the block had been mortgaged instead of sold), and sailed away in the old schooner, the benediction of the town upon his head, for he had carried away in his crew half the riff-raff of the beach.

The bones of the schooner had been left on the coast of Java. That had been when Eliza Travers was being operated on for her eyes, and Frederick had kept it from her until indubitable proof came that Tom was still alive.

Frederick went over to his files and drew out a drawer labelled “Thomas Travers.” In it were packets, methodically arranged. He went over the letters. They were from everywhere--China, Rangoon, Australia, South Africa, the Gold Coast, Patagonia, Armenia, Alaska. Briefly and infrequently written, they epitomised the wanderer’s life. Frederick ran over in his mind a few of the glimpsed highlights of Tom’s career. He had fought in some sort of foreign troubles in Armenia. He had been an officer in the Chinese army, and it was a certainty that the trade he later drove in the China Seas was illicit. He had been caught running arms into Cuba. It seemed he had always been running something somewhere that it ought not to have been run. And he had never outgrown it. One letter, on crinkly tissue paper, showed that as late as the Japanese-Russian War he had been caught running coal into Port Arthur and been taken to the prize court at Sasebo, where his steamer was confiscated and he remained a prisoner until the end of the war.

Frederick smiled as he read a paragraph: “How do you prosper? Let me know any time a few thousands will help you.” He looked at the date, April 18, 1883, and opened another packet. “May 5th,” 1883, was the dated sheet he drew out. “Five thousand will put me on my feet again. If you can, and love me, send it along pronto--that’s Spanish for rush.”

He glanced again at the two dates. It was evident that somewhere between April 18th and May 5th Tom had come a cropper. With a smile, half bitter, Frederick skimmed on through the correspondence: “There’s a wreck on Midway Island. A fortune in it, salvage you know. Auction in two days. Cable me four thousand.” The last he examined, ran: “A deal I can swing with a little cash. It’s big, I tell you. It’s so big I don’t dare tell you.” He remembered that deal--a Latin-American revolution. He had sent the cash, and Tom had swung it, and himself as well, into a prison cell and a death sentence.

Tom had meant well, there was no denying that. And he had always religiously forwarded his I O U’s. Frederick musingly weighed the packet of them in his hand, as though to determine if any relation existed between the weight of paper and the sums of money represented on it.

He put the drawer back in the cabinet and passed out. Glancing in at the big chair he saw Polly just tiptoeing from the room. Tom’s head lay back, and his breathing was softly heavy, the sickness pronouncedly apparent on his relaxed face.

V

“I have worked hard,” Frederick explained to Polly that evening on the veranda, unaware that when a man explains it is a sign his situation is growing parlous. “I have done what came to my hand--how creditably it is for others to say. And I have been paid for it. I have taken care of others and taken care of myself. The doctors say they have never seen such a constitution in a man of my years. Why, almost half my life is yet before me, and we Travers are a long-lived stock. I took care of myself, you see, and I have myself to show for it. I was not a waster. I conserved my heart and my arteries, and yet there are few men who can boast having done as much work as I have done. Look at that hand. Steady, eh? It will be as steady twenty years from now. There is nothing in playing fast and loose with oneself.”

And all the while Polly had been following the invidious comparison that lurked behind his words.

“You can write ‘Honourable’ before your name,” she flashed up proudly. “But my father has been a king. He has lived. Have you lived? What have you got to show for it? Stocks and bonds, and houses and servants--pouf! Heart and arteries and a steady hand--is that all? Have you lived merely to live? Were you afraid to die? I’d rather sing one wild song and burst my heart with it, than live a thousand years watching my digestion and being afraid of the wet. When you are dust, my father will be ashes. That is the difference.”

“But my dear child--“ he began.

“What have you got to show for it?” she flamed on. “Listen!”

From within, through the open window, came the tinkling of Tom’s ukulele and the rollicking lilt of his voice in an Hawaiian hula. It ended in a throbbing, primitive love-call from the sensuous tropic night that no one could mistake. There was a burst of young voices, and a clamour for more. Frederick did not speak. He had sensed something vague and significant.

Turning, he glanced through the window at Tom, flushed and royal, surrounded by the young men and women, under his Viking moustache lighting a cigarette from a match held to him by one of the girls. It abruptly struck Frederick that never had he lighted a cigar at a match held in a woman’s hand.

“Doctor Tyler says he oughtn’t to smoke--it only aggravates,” he said; and it was all he could say.

As the fall of the year came on, a new type of men began to frequent the house. They proudly called themselves “sour-doughs,” and they were arriving in San Francisco on the winter’s furlough from the gold-diggings of Alaska. More and more of them came, and they pre-empted a large portion of one of the down-town hotels. Captain Tom was fading with the season, and almost lived in the big chair. He drowsed oftener and longer, but whenever he awoke he was surrounded by his court of young people, or there was some comrade waiting to sit and yarn about the old gold days and plan for the new gold days.

For Tom--Husky Travers, the Yukoners named him--never thought that the end approached. A temporary illness, he called it, the natural enfeeblement following upon a prolonged bout with Yucatan fever. In the spring he would be right and fit again. Cold weather was what he needed. His blood had been cooked. In the meantime it was a case of take it easy and make the most of the rest.

And no one undeceived him--not even the Yukoners, who smoked pipes and black cigars and chewed tobacco on Frederick’s broad verandas until he felt like an intruder in his own house. There was no touch with them. They regarded him as a stranger to be tolerated. They came to see Tom. And their manner of seeing him was provocative of innocent envy pangs to Frederick. Day after day he watched them. He would see the Yukoners meet, perhaps one just leaving the sick room and one just going in. They would clasp hands, solemnly and silently, outside the door. The newcomer would question with his eyes, and the other would shake his head. And more than once Frederick noted the moisture in their eyes. Then the newcomer would enter and draw his chair up to Tom’s, and with jovial voice proceed to plan the outfitting for the exploration of the upper Kuskokeem; for it was there Tom was bound in the spring. Dogs could be had at Larabee’s--a clean breed, too, with no taint of the soft Southland strains. It was rough country, it was reported, but if sour-doughs couldn’t make the traverse from Larabee’s in forty days they’d like to see a chechako do it in sixty.

And so it went, until Frederick wondered, when he came to die, if there was one man in the county, much less in the adjoining county, who would come to him at his bedside.

Seated at his desk, through the open windows would drift whiffs of strong tobacco and rumbling voices, and he could not help catching snatches of what the Yukoners talked.

“D’ye recollect that Koyokuk rush in the early nineties?” he would hear one say. “Well, him an’ me was pardners then, tradin’ an’ such. We had a dinky little steamboat, the Blatterbat. He named her that, an’ it stuck. He was a caution. Well, sir, as I was sayin’, him an’ me loaded the little Blatterbat to the guards an’ started up the Koyokuk, me firin’ an’ engineerin’ an’ him steerin’, an’ both of us deck-handin’. Once in a while we’d tie to the bank an’ cut firewood. It was the fall, an’ mush-ice was comin’ down, an’ everything gettin’ ready for the freeze up. You see, we was north of the Arctic Circle then an’ still headin’ north. But they was two hundred miners in there needin’ grub if they wintered, an’ we had the grub.

“Well, sir, pretty soon they begun to pass us, driftin’ down the river in canoes an’ rafts. They was pullin’ out. We kept track of them. When a hundred an’ ninety-four had passed, we didn’t see no reason for keepin’ on. So we turned tail and started down. A cold snap had come, an’ the water was fallin’ fast, an’ dang me if we didn’t ground on a bar--up-stream side. The Blatterbat hung up solid. Couldn’t budge her. ‘It’s a shame to waste all that grub,’ says I, just as we was pullin’ out in a canoe. ‘Let’s stay an’ eat it,’ says he. An’ dang me if we didn’t. We wintered right there on the Blatterbat, huntin’ and tradin’ with the Indians, an’ when the river broke next year we brung down eight thousand dollars’ worth of skins. Now a whole winter, just two of us, is goin’ some. But never a cross word out of him. Best-tempered pardner I ever seen. But fight!”

“Huh!” came the other voice. “I remember the winter Oily Jones allowed he’d clean out Forty Mile. Only he didn’t, for about the second yap he let off he ran afoul of Husky Travers. It was in the White Caribou. ‘I’m a wolf!’ yaps Jones. You know his style, a gun in his belt, fringes on his moccasins, and long hair down his back. ‘I’m a wolf,’ he yaps, ‘an’ this is my night to howl. Hear me, you long lean makeshift of a human critter?’--an’ this to Husky Travers.”

“Well?” the other voice queried, after a pause.

“In about a second an’ a half Oily Jones was on the floor an’ Husky on top askin’ somebody kindly to pass him a butcher knife. What’s he do but plumb hack off all of Oily Jones’ long hair. ‘Now howl, damn you, howl,’ says Husky, gettin’ up.”

“He was a cool one, for a wild one,” the first voice took up. “I seen him buck roulette in the Little Wolverine, drop nine thousand in two hours, borrow some more, win it back in fifteen minutes, buy the drinks, an’ cash in--dang me, all in fifteen minutes.”

One evening Tom was unusually brightly awake, and Frederick, joining the rapt young circle, sat and listened to his brother’s serio-comic narrative of the night of wreck on the island of Blang; of the swim through the sharks where half the crew was lost; of the great pearl which Desay brought ashore with him; of the head-decorated palisade that surrounded the grass palace wherein dwelt the Malay queen with her royal consort, a shipwrecked Chinese Eurasian; of the intrigue for the pearl of Desay; of mad feasts and dances in the barbaric night, and quick dangers and sudden deaths; of the queen’s love-making to Desay, of Desay’s love-making to the queen’s daughter, and of Desay, every joint crushed, still alive, staked out on the reef at low tide to be eaten by the sharks; of the coming of the plague; of the beating of tom-toms and the exorcising of the devil-devil doctors; of the flight over the man-trapped, wild-pig runs of the mountain bush-men; and of the final rescue by Tasman, he who was hatcheted only last year and whose head reposed in some Melanesian stronghold--and all breathing of the warmth and abandon and savagery of the burning islands of the sun.

And despite himself, Frederick sat entranced; and when all the tale was told, he was aware of a queer emptiness. He remembered back to his boyhood, when he had pored over the illustrations in the old-fashioned geography. He, too, had dreamed of amazing adventure in far places and desired to go out on the shining ways. And he had planned to go; yet he had known only work and duty. Perhaps that was the difference. Perhaps that was the secret of the strange wisdom in his brother’s eyes. For the moment, faint and far, vicariously, he glimpsed the lordly vision his brother had seen. He remembered a sharp saying of Polly’s. “You have missed romance. You traded it for dividends.” She was right, and yet, not fair. He had wanted romance, but the work had been placed ready to his hand. He had toiled and moiled, day and night, and been faithful to his trust. Yet he had missed love and the world-living that was forever a-whisper in his brother. And what had Tom done to deserve it?--a wastrel and an idle singer of songs.

His place was high. He was going to be the next governor of California. But what man would come to him and lie to him out of love? The thought of all his property seemed to put a dry and gritty taste in his mouth. Property! Now that he looked at it, one thousand dollars was like any other thousand dollars; and one day (of his days) was like any other day. He had never made the pictures in the geography come true. He had not struck his man, nor lighted his cigar at a match held in a woman’s hand. A man could sleep in only one bed at a time--Tom had said that. He shuddered as he strove to estimate how many beds he owned, how many blankets he had bought. And all the beds and blankets would not buy one man to come from the end of the earth, and grip his hand, and cry, “By the turtles of Tasman!”

Something of all this he told Polly, an undercurrent of complaint at the unfairness of things in his tale. And she had answered:

“It couldn’t have been otherwise. Father bought it. He never drove bargains. It was a royal thing, and he paid for it royally. You grudged the price, don’t you see. You saved your arteries and your money and kept your feet dry.”

VI

On an afternoon in the late fall all were gathered about the big chair and Captain Tom. Though he did not know it, he had drowsed the whole day through and only just awakened to call for his ukulele and light a cigarette at Polly’s hand. But the ukulele lay idle on his arm, and though the pine logs crackled in the huge fireplace he shivered and took note of the cold.

“It’s a good sign,” he said, unaware that the faintness of his voice drew the heads of his listeners closer. “The cold weather will be a tonic. It’s a hard job to work the tropics out of one’s blood. But I’m beginning to shape up now for the Kuskokeem. In the spring, Polly, we start with the dogs, and you’ll see the midnight sun. How your mother would have liked the trip. She was a game one. Forty sleeps with the dogs, and we’ll be shaking out yellow nuggets from the moss-roots. Larabee has some fine animals. I know the breed. They’re timber wolves, that’s what they are, big grey timber wolves, though they sport brown about one in a litter--isn’t that right, Bennington?”

“One in a litter, that’s just about the average,” Bennington, the Yukoner, replied promptly, but in a voice hoarsely unrecognisable.

“And you must never travel alone with them,” Captain Tom went on. “For if you fall down they’ll jump you. Larabee’s brutes only respect a man when he stands upright on his legs. When he goes down, he’s meat. I remember coming over the divide from Tanana to Circle City. That was before the Klondike strike. It was in ‘94 ... no, ‘95, and the bottom had dropped out of the thermometer. There was a young Canadian with the outfit. His name was it was ... a peculiar one ... wait a minute it will come to me....”

His voice ceased utterly, though his lips still moved. A look of unbelief and vast surprise dawned on his face. Followed a sharp, convulsive shudder. And in that moment, without warning, he saw Death. He looked clear-eyed and steady, as if pondering, then turned to Polly. His hand moved impotently, as if to reach hers, and when he found it, his fingers could not close. He gazed at her with a great smile that slowly faded. The eyes drooped as the life went out, and remained a face of quietude and repose. The ukulele clattered to the floor. One by one they went softly from the room, leaving Polly alone.

From the veranda, Frederick watched a man coming up the driveway. By the roll of the sea in his walk, Frederick could guess for whom the stranger came. The face was swarthy with sun and wrinkled with age that was given the lie by the briskness of his movements and the alertness in the keen black eyes. In the lobe of each ear was a tiny circlet of gold.

“How do you do, sir,” the man said, and it was patent that English was not the tongue he had learned at his mother’s knee. “How’s Captain Tom? They told me in the town that he was sick.”

“My brother is dead,” Frederick answered.

The stranger turned his head and gazed out over the park-like grounds and up to the distant redwood peaks, and Frederick noted that he swallowed with an effort.

“By the turtles of Tasman, he was a man,” he said, in a deep, changed voice.

“By the turtles of Tasman, he was a man,” Frederick repeated; nor did he stumble over the unaccustomed oath.

THE END.

The Captain of the Susan Drew

A SUNSET of gilt and blue and rose palpitated on the horizon. A tap-estry of misty rain, draping downward from indefinite clouds, obscured the eastern line of sea and sky. Midway between, slightly nearer to the rain, a painted rainbow reached almost to the zenith. So lofty was its arch that the ends seemed to curve inward to the ocean in a vain attempt to complete the perfect circle. Into this triumphal arch, toward the blue twilight beyond, sailed an open boat.

Nor did ever more strangely freighted boat float on the Pacific. In the sternsheets, on the weather side, a stupid-looking Norwegian sailor, in uniform of a quartermaster, steered with one hand while with the other he held the sheet of the spritsail. From a holster, belted about his waist, peeped the butt of a business-like revolver. His cap lay on his knees, removed for the sake of coolness; and his short flaxen hair was prodigiously ridged over a bruise of recent origin. Beside the sailor sat two women. The nearer one was comfortably stout and matronly, with large, dark eyes, full, direct, human. Her shoulders were protected against sunburn by a man’s light overcoat. Because of the heat, this was open and unbuttoned, revealing the decolleté and rich materials of dinner dress. Jewels glinted in the hair, at the neck, and on the fingers. Beside her was a young woman of two-or three-and-twenty, likewise decolleté, sun-shielded by a strip of stained oilskin. Her eyes, as well as the straight, fine nose and the line of the red curve of the not too passionate mouth, advertised the closest relationship with the first woman. In the opposite sternsheet and on the ffst cross-seat, lolled three men in black trousers and dinner jackets. Their heads were protected by small squares of stained oilskin similar to that which lay across the young woman’s shoulders. One, a young-ster of

eighteen, wore an expression of desperate yearning; the second, half as old again, talked with the daughter; the third, middle-aged and complacent, devoted himself to the mother.

Amidships, on the bottom alongside the centerboard case, sat two dark-eyed women, as evidently maids as their nationality was respec-tively the one Spanish and the other Italian. On the other side of the centerboard, very straight-backed and erect, was an unmistakable English valet, with gaze always set on the middle-aged gentleman to anticipate any want or order.

For’ard of the centerboard and just aft the mast-step, crouched two hard-featured Chinese, both with broken heads swathed in bloody sweat-cloths, both clad in dungaree garments grimed and blackened with oil and coal dust.

When it is considered that hundreds of weary sea-leagues intervened between the open boat and the nearest land, the inappropriateness of costume of half of its occupants may be appreciated.

“Well, brother Willie, what would you rather have or go swim-ming!” teased the young woman.

“A cigarette, if Harrison weren’t such a pincher,” the youth answered bitterly.

“I ‘ve only four left,” Harrison said. “You ‘ve smoked the whole case. I’ve had only two.”

Temple Harrison was a joker. He winked privily at Patty Gifford, drew a curved silver case from his hip pocket, and carefully counted the four cigarettes. Willie Gifford watched with so ferocious infatuation that his sister cried out:

“B-r-r! Stop it! You make me shiver. You look positively cannibal-istic.”

“That’s all right for you,” was the brother’s retort. “You don’t know what tobacco means, or you ‘d look cannibalistic yourself. You will, anyway,” he concluded ominously, “after a couple of days more. I noticed you weren’t a bit shy of taking a bigger cup of water than the rest when Harrison passed it around. I wasn’t asleep.”

Patty flushed guiltily.

“It was only a sip,” she pleaded.

Harrison took out one cigarette, handed it over, and snapped the case shut.

“Blackmailer!” he hissed.

But Willie Gifford was oblivious. Already, with trembling fingers, he had lighted a match and was drawing the first inhalation deep into his lungs. On his face was a vacuous ecstasy.

“Everything will come out all right,” Mrs. Gifford was saying to Sedley Brown, who sat opposite her in the sternsheets.

“Certainly; after the miracle of last night, being saved by some passing ship is the merest bagatelle,” he agreed. “It was a miracle. I cannot understand now how our party remained intact and got away in the one boat. And if it hadn’t been for the purser, Peyton wouldn’t have been saved, nor your maids.”

“Nor would we, if it hadn’t been for dear brave Captain Ashley,” Mrs. Gifford took up. “It was he, and the first officer.”

“They were heroes,” Sedley Brown praised warmly. “But still, there could have been so few saved, I don’t see. . . . .”

“I don’t see why you don’t see, with you and mother the heaviest stockholders in the line,” Willie Gifford dashed in. “Why shouldn’t they have made a special effort? It was up to them.”

Temple Harrison smiled to himself. Between them, Mrs. Gifford and Sedley Brown owned the majority of the stock of the Asiatic Mail — the flourishing steamship line which old Silas Gifford had built for the purpose of feeding his railroad with through freight from China and Japan. Mrs. Gifford had married his son, Seth, and the stock at the same time.

“I am sure, Willie, we were given no unfair consideration,” Mrs. Gifford reproved. “Of course shipwrecks are attended by confusion and disorder, and strong measures are necessary to stay a panic. We were very fortunate, that is all.”

“I wasn’t asleep,” Willie replied. “And all I ‘ve got to say is it’s up to you to make the board of directors promote Captain Ashley to be Commodore — that is, if he ain’t dead and gone, which I guess he is.”

“As I was saying,” Mrs. Gifford addressed Sedley Brown, “the worst is past. It is scarcely a matter of hardship ere we shall be rescued. The weather is delightful, and the nights are not the slightest bit chilly. Depend upon it, Willie, Captain Ashley shall not be forgotten, nor the first officer and purser, nor — ” here she turned with a smile to the quartermaster — ”nor shall Gronwold go unrewarded.”

“A penny for your thoughts,” Patty challenged Harrison several minutes later. He startled and looked at her, shook off his absentmindedness with a laugh and declined the offer.

“For he had been revisioning the horrors of less than twenty-four hours before. It had happened at dinner. The crash of collision had come just as coffee was serving. Yes, there had been confusion and disorder, if so could be termed the madness of a thousand souls in the face of imminent death. He saw again the silk-gowned Chinese table stewards join in the jam at the foot of the stairway, where blows were already being struck and women and children trampled. He remembered, as his own party, led by Captain Ashley, worked its devious way up from deck to deck, seeing the white officers, engineers, and quartermasters buckling on their revolvers as they ran to their positions. Nor would he ever forget the eruption from the bowels of the great ship of the hundreds of Chinese stokers and trimmers, nor the half a thousand ter-rified steerage

passengers — Chinese, Japanese, and Koreans, coolies and land-creatures all stark mad and frantic in desire to live.

Not all the deaths would be due to drowning, he thought grimly, as he recollected the crack of revolvers and sharp barking of automatic pistols, the thuds of clubs and boat-stretchers on heads, and the grunts of men going down under the silent thrusts of sheath-knives.

Mrs. Gifford might believe what she wished to believe, but he, for one, was deeply grateful to his lucky star which made him a member of the only party of passengers that was shown any consideration. Con-sideration! He could still see the protesting English duke flung neck and crop from the boat deck to the raging steerage fighting up the ladders. And there was number four boat, launched by inexperienced hands, spilling its passengers into the sea and hanging perpendicularly in the davits. The white sailors

who belonged to it and should have launched it had been impressed by Captain Ashley. Then there was the Ameri-can Consul-General to Siam — that was just before the electric lights went out — with wife, nurses, and children, shouting his official impor-tance in Captain Ashley’s face and being directed to number four boat hanging on end.

Yes, Captain Ashley surely deserved the commodoreship of the Asi-atic Mail — if he lived. But that he survived, Temple Harrison could not believe. He remembered the outburst of battle — advertisement that the boat deck had been carried — which came just as their boat was lower-ing away. Of its crew, only Gronwold, with a broken head, was in it. The rest did not slide down the falls, as was intended. Doubtlessly they had gone down before the rush of Asiatics, and so had Captain Ashley, though first he had cut the

falls and shouted down to them to shove clear for their lives.

And they had, with a will, shoved clear. Harrison recalled how had pressed the end of an oar against the steel side of the Mingalia and afterward rowed insanely to the accompaniment of leaping bodies falling into the sea astern. And when well clear, he remembered how Gronwold had suddenly stood up and laid about with the heavy tiller overside, until Patty made him desist. Mutely taking the rain of blows on their heads and clinging stedfastly to the gunwale, were the two Chi-nese stokers who now crouched for’ard by the mast. No; Willie Gifford had not been asleep. He, too, had

pressed an oar-blade against the Mingalia’s side and rowed blisters into his soft hands. But Mrs. Gifford was right. There were several things it would be well to forget.

Charley’s Coup

Perhaps our most laughable exploit on the fish patrol, and at the same time our most dangerous one, was when we rounded in, at a single haul, an even score of wrathful fishermen. Charley called it a “coop,” having heard Neil Partington use the term; but I think he misunderstood the word, and thought it meant “coop,” to catch, to trap. The fishermen, however, coup or coop, must have called it a Waterloo, for it was the severest stroke ever dealt them by the fish patrol, while they had invited it by open and impudent defiance of the law.

During what is called the “open season” the fishermen might catch as many salmon as their luck allowed and their boats could hold. But there was one important restriction. From sun-down Saturday night to sun-up Monday morning, they were not permitted to set a net. This was a wise provision on the part of the Fish Commission, for it was necessary to give the spawning salmon some opportunity to ascend the river and lay their eggs. And this law, with only an occasional violation, had been obediently observed by the Greek fishermen who caught salmon for the canneries and the market.

One Sunday morning, Charley received a telephone call from a friend in Collinsville, who told him that the full force of fishermen was out with its nets. Charley and I jumped into our salmon boat and started for the scene of the trouble. With a light favoring wind at our back we went through the Carquinez Straits, crossed Suisun Bay, passed the Ship Island Light, and came upon the whole fleet at work.

But first let me describe the method by which they worked. The net used is what is known as a gill-net. It has a simple diamond-shaped mesh which measures at least seven and one-half inches between the knots. From five to seven and even eight hundred feet in length, these nets are only a few feet wide. They are not stationary, but float with the current, the upper edge supported on the surface by floats, the lower edge sunk by means of leaden weights,

This arrangement keeps the net upright in the current and effectually prevents all but the smaller fish from ascending the river. The salmon, swimming near the surface, as is their custom, run their heads through these meshes, and are prevented from going on through by their larger girth of body, and from going back because of their gills, which catch in the mesh. It requires two fishermen to set such a net,-one to row the boat, while the other, standing in the stern, carefully pays out the net. When it is all out, stretching directly across the stream, the men make their boat fast to one end of the net and drift along with it.

As we came upon the fleet of law-breaking fishermen, each boat two or three hundred yards from its neighbors, and boats and nets dotting the river as far as we could see, Charley said:

“I’ve only one regret, lad, and that is that I have’nt a thousand arms so as to be able to catch them all. As it is, we’ll only be able to catch one boat, for while we are tackling that one it will be up nets and away with the rest.”

As we drew closer, we observed none of the usual flurry and excitement which our appearance invariably produced. Instead, each boat lay quietly by its net, while the fishermen favored us with not the slightest attention.

“It’s curious,” Charley muttered. “Can it be they don’t recognize us?”

I said that it was impossible, and Charley agreed; yet there was a whole fleet, manned by men who knew us only too well, and who took no more notice of us than if we were a hay scow or a pleasure yacht.

This did not continue to be the case, however, for as we bore down upon the nearest net, the men to whom it belonged detached their boat and rowed slowly toward the shore. The rest of the boats showed no, sign of uneasiness.

“That’s funny,” was Charley’s remark. “But we can confiscate the net, at any rate.”

We lowered sail, picked up one end of the net, and began to heave it into the boat. But at the first heave we heard a bullet zip-zipping past us on the water, followed by the faint report of a rifle. The men who had rowed ashore were shooting at us. At the next heave a second bullet went zipping past, perilously near. Charley took a turn around a pin and sat down. There were no more shots. But as soon as he began to heave in, the shooting recommenced.

“That settles it,” he said, flinging the end of the net overboard. “You fellows want it worse than we do, and you can have it.”

We rowed over toward the next net, for Charley was intent on finding out whether or not we were face to face with an organized defiance. As we approached, the two fishermen proceeded to cast off from their net and row ashore, while the first two rowed back and made fast to the net we had abandoned. And at the second net we were greeted by rifle shots till we desisted and went on to the third, where the manoeuvre was again repeated.

Then we gave it up, completely routed, and hoisted sail and started on the long windward beat back to Benicia. A number of Sundays went by, on each of which the law was persistently violated. Yet, short of an armed force of soldiers, we could do nothing. The fishermen had hit upon a new idea and were using it for all it was worth, while there seemed no way by which we could get the better of them.

About this time Neil Partington happened along from the Lower Bay, where he had been for a number of weeks. With him was Nicholas, the Greek boy who had helped us in our raid on the oyster pirates, and the pair of them took a hand. We made our arrangements carefully. It was planned that while Charley and I tackled the nets, they were to be hidden ashore so as to ambush the fishermen who landed to shoot at us.

It was a pretty plan. Even Charley said it was. But we reckoned not half so well as the Greeks. They forestalled us by ambushing Neil and Nicholas and taking them prisoners, while, as of old, bullets whistled about our ears when Charley and I attempted to take possession of the nets. When we were again beaten off, Neil Partington and Nicholas were released. They were rather shamefaced when they put in an appearance, and Charley chaffed them unmercifully. But Neil chaffed back, demanding to know why Charley’s imagination had not long since overcome the difficulty.

“Just you wait; the idea’ll come all right,” Charley promised.

“Most probably,” Neil agreed. “But I’m afraid the salmon will be exterminated first, and then there will be no need for it when it does come.”

Neil Partington, highly disgusted with his adventure, departed for the Lower Bay, taking Nicholas with him, and Charley and I were left to our own resources. This meant that the Sunday fishing would be left to itself, too, until such time as Charley’s idea happened along. I puzzled my head a good deal to find out some way of checkmating the Greeks, as also did Charley, and we broached a thousand expedients which on discussion proved worthless.

The fishermen, on the other hand, were in high feather, and their boasts went up and down the river to add to our discomfiture. Among all classes of them we became aware of a growing insubordination. We were beaten, and they were losing respect for us. With the loss of respect, contempt began to arise. Charley began to be spoken of as the “olda woman,” and I received my rating as the “pee-wee kid.” The situation was fast becoming unbearable, and we knew that we should have to deliver a stunning stroke at the Greeks in order to regain the old-time respect in which we had stood.

Then one morning the idea came. We were down on Steamboat Wharf, where the river steamers made their landings, and where we found a group of amused long-shoremen and loafers listening to the hard-luck tale of a sleepy-eyed young fellow in long sea-boots. He was a sort of amateur fisherman, he said, fishing for the local market of Berkeley. Now Berkeley was on the Lower Bay, thirty miles away. On the previous night, he said, he had set his net and dozed off to sleep in the bottom of the boat.

The next he knew it was morning, and he opened his eyes to find his boat rubbing softly against the piles of Steamboat Wharf at Benicia. Also he saw the river steamer Apache lying ahead of him, and a couple of deck-hands disentangling the shreds of his net from the paddle-wheel. In short, after he had gone to sleep, his fisherman’s riding light had gone out, and the Apache had run over his net. Though torn pretty well to pieces, the net in some way still remained foul, and he had had a thirty-mile tow out of his course.

Charley nudged me with his elbow. I grasped his thought on the instant, but objected:

“We can’t charter a steamboat.”

“Don’t intend to,” he rejoined. “But let’s run over to Turner’s Shipyard. I’ve something in my mind there that may be of use to us.”

And over we went to the shipyard, where Charley led the way to the Mary Rebecca, lying hauled out on the ways, where she was being cleaned and overhauled. She was a scow-schooner we both knew well, carrying a cargo of one hundred and forty tons and a spread of canvas greater than other schooner on the bay.

“How d’ye do, Ole,” Charley greeted a big blue-shirted Swede who was greasing the jaws of the main gaff with a piece of pork rind.

Ole grunted, puffed away at his pipe, and went on greasing. The captain of a bay schooner is supposed to work with his hands just as well as the men.

Ole Ericsen verified Charley’s conjecture that the Mary Rebecca, as soon as launched, would run up the San Joaquin River nearly to Stockton for a load of wheat. Then Charley made his proposition, and Ole Ericsen shook his head.

“Just a hook, one good-sized hook,” Charley pleaded.

“No, Ay tank not,” said Ole Ericsen. “Der Mary Rebecca yust hang up on efery mud-bank with that hook. Ay don’t want to lose der Mary Rebecca. She’s all Ay got.”

“No, no,” Charley hurried to explain. “We can put the end of the hook through the bottom from the outside, and fasten it on the inside with a nut. After it’s done its work, why, all we have to do is to go down into the hold, unscrew the nut, and out drops the hook. Then drive a wooden peg into the hole, and the Mary Rebecca will be all right again.”

Ole Ericsen was obstinate for a long time; but in the end, after we had had dinner with him, he was brought round to consent.

“Ay do it, by Yupiter!” he said, striking one huge fist into the palm of the other hand. “But yust hurry you up wid der hook. Der Mary Rebecca slides into der water to-night.”

It was Saturday, and Charley had need to hurry. We headed for the shipyard blacksmith shop, where, under Charley’s directions, a most generously curved book of heavy steel was made. Back we hastened to the Mary Rebecca. Aft of the great centre-board case, through what was properly her keel, a hole was bored. The end of the hook was inserted from the outside, and Charley, on the inside, screwed the nut on tightly. As it stood complete, the hook projected over a foot beneath the bottom of the schooner. Its curve was something like the curve of a sickle, but deeper.

In the late afternoon the Mary Rebecca was launched, and preparations were finished for the start up-river next morning. Charley and Ole intently studied the evening sky for signs of wind, for without a good breeze our project was doomed to failure. They agreed that there were all the signs of a stiff westerly wind-not the ordinary afternoon sea-breeze, but a half-gale, which even then was springing up.

Next morning found their predictions verified. The sun was shining brightly, but something more than a half-gale was shrieking up the Carquinez Straits, and the Mary Rebecca got under way with two reefs in her mainsail and one in her foresail. We found it quite rough in the Straits and in Suisun Bay; but as the water grew more land-locked it became calm, though without let-up in the wind.

Off Ship Island Light the reefs were shaken out, and at Charley’s suggestion a big fisherman’s staysail was made all ready for hoisting, and the maintopsail, bunched into a cap at the masthead, was overhauled so that it could be set on an instant’s notice.

We were tearing along, wing-and-wing, before the wind, foresail to starboard and mainsail to port, as we came upon the salmon fleet. There they were, boats and nets, as on that first Sunday when they had bested us, strung out evenly over the river as far as we could see. A narrow space on the right-hand side of the channel was left clear for steamboats, but the rest of the river was covered with the wide-stretching nets. The narrow space was our logical course, but Charley, at the wheel, steered the Mary Rebecca straight for the nets. This did not cause any alarm among the fishermen, because up-river sailing craft are always provided with “shoes” on the ends of their keels, which permit them to slip over the nets without fouling them.

“Now she takes it!” Charley cried, as we dashed across the middle of a line of floats which marked a net. At one end of this line was a small barrel buoy, at the other the two fishermen in their boat. Buoy and boat at once began to draw together, and the fishermen to cry out, as they were jerked after us. A couple of minutes later we hooked a second net, and then a third, and in this fashion we tore straight up through the centre of the fleet.

The consternation we spread among the fishermen was tremendous. As fast as we hooked a net the two ends of it, buoy and boat, came together as they dragged out astern; and so many buoys and boats, coming together at such breakneck speed, kept the fishermen on the jump to avoid smashing into one another. Also, they shouted at us like mad to heave to into the wind, for they took it as some drunken prank on the part of scow-sailors, little dreaming that we were the fish patrol.

The drag of a single net is very heavy, and Charley and Ole Ericsen decided that even in such a wind ten nets were all the Mary Rebecca could take along with her. So when we had hooked ten nets, with ten boats containing twenty men streaming along behind us, we veered to the left out of the fleet and headed toward Collinsville.

We were all jubilant. Charley was handling the wheel as though he were steering the winning yacht home in a race. The two sailors who made up the crew of the Mary Rebecca, were grinning and joking. Ole Ericsen was rubbing his huge hands in child-like glee.

“Ay tank you fish patrol fallers never ban so lucky as when you sail with Ole Ericsen,” he was saying, when a rifle cracked sharply astern, and a bullet gouged along the newly painted cabin, glanced on a nail, and sang shrilly onward into space.

This was too much for Ole Ericsen. At sight of his beloved paintwork thus defaced, he jumped up and shook his fist at the fishermen; but a second bullet smashed into the cabin not six inches from his head, and he dropped down to the deck under cover of the rail.

All the fishermen had rifles, and they now opened a general fusillade. We were all driven to cover-even Charley, who was compelled to desert the wheel. Had it not been for the heavy drag of the nets, we would inevitably have broached to at the mercy of the enraged fishermen. But the nets, fastened to the bottom of the Mary Rebecca well aft, held her stern into the wind, and she continued to plough on, though somewhat erratically.

Charley, lying on the deck, could just manage to reach the lower spokes of the wheel; but while he could steer after a fashion, it was very awkward. Ole Ericsen bethought himself of a large piece of sheet steel in the empty hold.

It was in fact a plate from the side of the New Jersey, a steamer which had recently been wrecked outside the Golden Gate, and in the salving of which the Mary Rebecca had taken part.

Crawling carefully along the deck, the two sailors, Ole, and myself got the heavy plate on deck and aft, where we reared it as a shield between the wheel and the fishermen. The bullets whanged and banged against it till it rang like a bull’s-eye, but Charley grinned in its shelter, and coolly went on steering.

So we raced along, behind us a howling, screaming bedlam of wrathful Greeks, Collinsville ahead, and bullets spat-spatting all around us.

“Ole,” Charley said in a faint voice, “I don’t know what we’re going to do.”

Ole Ericsen, lying on his back close to the rail and grinning upward at the sky, turned over on his side and looked at him. “Ay tank we go into Collinsville yust der same,” he said.

“But we can’t stop,” Charley groaned. “I never thought of it, but we can’t stop.”

A look of consternation slowly overspread Ole Ericsen’s broad face. It was only too true. We had a hornet’s nest on our hands, and to stop at Collinsville would be to have it about our ears.

“Every man Jack of them has a gun,” one of the sailors remarked cheerfully.

“Yes, and a knife, too,” the other sailor added.

It was Ole Ericsen’s turn to groan. “What for a Svaidish faller like me monkey with none of my biziness, I don’t know,” he soliloquized.

A bullet glanced on the stern and sang off to starboard like a spiteful bee. “There’s nothing to do but plump the Mary Rebecca ashore and run for it,” was the verdict of the first cheerful sailor.

“And leaf der Mary Rebecca?” Ole demanded, with unspeakable horror in his voice.

“Not unless you want to,” was the response. “But I don’t want to be within a thousand miles of her when those fellers come aboard”-indicating the bedlam of excited Greeks towing behind.

We were right in at Collinsville then, and went foaming by within biscuit-toss of the wharf.

“I only hope the wind holds out,” Charley said, stealing a glance at our prisoners.

“What of der wind?” Ole demanded disconsolately. “Der river will not hold out, and then . . . and then . . .”

“It’s head for tall timber, and the Greeks take the hindermost,” adjudged the cheerful sailor, while Ole was stuttering over what would happen when we came to the end of the river.

We had now reached a dividing of the ways. To the left was the mouth of the Sacramento River, to the right the mouth of the San Joaquin. The cheerful sailor crept forward and jibed over the foresail as Charley put the helm to starboard and we swerved to the right into the San Joaquin. The wind, from which we had been running away on an even keel, now caught us on our beam, and the Mary Rebecca was pressed down on her port side as if she were about to capsize.

Still we dashed on, and still the fishermen dashed on behind. The value of their nets was greater than the fines they would have to pay for violating the fish laws; so to cast off from their nets and escape, which they could easily do, would profit them nothing. Further, they remained by their nets instinctively, as a sailor remains by his ship. And still further, the desire for vengeance was roused, and we could depend upon it that they would follow us to the ends of the earth, if we undertook to tow them that far.

The rifle-firing had ceased, and we looked astern to see what our prisoners were doing. The boats were strung along at unequal distances apart, and we saw the four nearest ones bunching together. This was done by the boat ahead trailing a small rope astern to the one behind. When this was caught, they would cast off from their net and heave in on the line till they were brought up to the boat in front. So great was the speed at which we were travelling, however, that this was very slow work. Sometimes the men would strain to their utmost and fail to get in an inch of the rope; at other times they came ahead more rapidly.

When the four boats were near enough together for a man to pass from one to another, one Greek from each of three got into the nearest boat to us, taking his rifle with him. This made five in the foremost boat, and it was plain that their intention was to board us. This they undertook to do, by main strength and sweat, running hand over hand the float-line of a net. And though it was slow, and they stopped frequently to rest, they gradually drew nearer.

Charley smiled at their efforts, and said, “Give her the topsail, Ole.”

The cap at the mainmast head was broken out, and sheet and downhaul pulled flat, amid a scattering rifle fire from the boats; and the Mary Rebecca lay over and sprang ahead faster than ever.

But the Greeks were undaunted. Unable, at the increased speed, to draw themselves nearer by means of their hands, they rigged from the blocks of their boat sail what sailors call a “watch-tackle.” One of them, held by the legs by his mates, would lean far over the bow and make the tackle fast to the float-line. Then they would heave in on the tackle till the blocks were together, when the manoeuvre would be repeated.

“Have to give her the staysail,” Charley said.

Ole Ericsen looked at the straining Mary Rebecca and shook his head. “It will take der masts out of her,” he said.

“And we’ll be taken out of her if you don’t,” Charley replied.

Ole shot an anxious glance at his masts, another at the boat load of armed Greeks, and consented.

The five men were in the bow of the boat-a bad place when a craft is towing. I was watching the behavior of their boat as the great fisherman’s staysail, far, far larger than the top-sail and used only in light breezes, was broken out. As the Mary Rebecca lurched forward with a tremendous jerk, the nose of the boat ducked down into the water, and the men tumbled over one another in a wild rush into the stern to save the boat from being dragged sheer under water.

“That settles them!” Charley remarked, though he was anxiously studying the behavior of the Mary Rebecca, which was being driven under far more canvas than she was rightly able to carry.

“Next stop is Antioch!” announced the cheerful sailor, after the manner of a railway conductor. “And next comes Merryweather!”

“Come here, quick,” Charley said to me.

I crawled across the deck and stood upright beside him in the shelter of the sheet steel.

“Feel in my inside pocket,” he commanded, “and get my notebook. That’s right. Tear out a blank page and write what I tell you.”

And this is what I wrote:

Telephone to Merryweather, to the sheriff, the constable, or the judge. Tell them we are coming and to turn out the town. Arm everybody. Have them down on the wharf to meet us or we are gone gooses.

Now make it good and fast to that marlin-spike, and stand by to toss it ashore.”

I did as he directed. By then we were close to Antioch. The wind was shouting through our rigging, the Mary Rebecca was half over on her side and rushing ahead like an ocean greyhound. The seafaring folk of Antioch had seen us breaking out topsail and staysail, a most reckless performance in such weather, and had hurried to the wharf-ends in little groups to find out what was the matter.

Straight down the water front we boomed, Charley edging in till a man could almost leap ashore. When he gave the signal I tossed the marlinspike. It struck the planking of the wharf a resounding smash, bounced along fifteen or twenty feet, and was pounced upon by the amazed onlookers.

It all happened in a flash, for the next minute Antioch was behind and we were heeling it up the San Joaquin toward Merryweather, six miles away. The river straightened out here into its general easterly course, and we squared away before the wind, wing-and-wing once more, the foresail bellying out to starboard.

Ole Ericsen seemed sunk into a state of stolid despair. Charley and the two sailors were looking hopeful, as they had good reason to be. Merryweather was a coal-mining town, and, it being Sunday, it was reasonable to expect the men to be in town. Further, the coal-miners had never lost any love for the Greek fishermen, and were pretty certain to render us hearty assistance.

We strained our eyes for a glimpse of the town, and the first sight we caught of it gave us immense relief. The wharves were black with men. As we came closer, we could see them still arriving, stringing down the main street, guns in their hands and on the run. Charley glanced astern at the fishermen with a look of ownership in his eye which till then had been missing. The Greeks were plainly overawed by the display of armed strength and were putting their own rifles away.

We took in topsail and staysail, dropped the main peak, and as we got abreast of the principal wharf jibed the mainsail. The Mary Rebecca shot around into the wind, the captive fishermen describing a great arc behind her, and forged ahead till she lost way, when lines we’re flung ashore and she was made fast. This was accomplished under a hurricane of cheers from the delighted miners.

Ole Ericsen heaved a great sigh. “Ay never tank Ay see my wife never again,” he confessed.

“Why, we were never in any danger,” said Charley.

Ole looked at him incredulously.

“Sure, I mean it,” Charley went on. “All we had to do, any time, was to let go our end-as I am going to do now, so that those Greeks can untangle their nets.”

He went below with a monkey-wrench, unscrewed the nut, and let the hook drop off. When the Greeks had hauled their nets into their boats and made everything shipshape, a posse of citizens took them off our hands and led them away to jail.

“Ay tank Ay ban a great big fool,” said Ole Ericsen. But he changed his mind when the admiring townspeople crowded aboard to shake hands with him, and a couple of enterprising newspaper men took photographs of the Mary Rebecca and her captain.

Chased by the Trail

WALT first blinked his eyes in the light of day in a trading post on the Yukon River. Masters, his father, was one of those world missionaries who are known as “pioneers,” and who spend the years of their life in pushing outward the walls of civilization and in planting the wilderness. He had selected Alaska as his field of labor, and his wife had gone with him to that land of frost and cold.

Now, to be born to the moccasin and pack-strap is indeed a hard way of entering the world, but far harder it is to lose one’s mother while yet a child. This was Walt’s misfortune when he was fourteen years old.

He had, at different times, done deeds which few boys get the chance get the chance to do, and he had learned to take some pride in himself and to be unafraid. With most people pride goeth before a fall; but not so with Walt. His was a healthy belief in his own strength and fitness, and knowing his limitations, he was neither overweening nor presumptuous. He had learned to meet reverses with the stoicism of the Indian. Shame, to him, lay not in the failure to accomplish, but in the failure to strive. So, when he attempted to cross the Yukon between two ice-runs, and was chased by the trail, he was not cast down by his defeat.

The way of it was this. After passing the winter at his father’s claim on Mazy May, he came down to an island on the Yukon and went into camp. This was late in the spring, just before the breaking of the ice on the river. It was quite warm, and the days were growing marvelously long. Only the night before, when he was talking with Chilkoot Jim, the daylight had not faded and sent him off to bed till after ten o’clock. Even Chilkoot Jim, an Indian boy who was about Walt’s own age, was surprised at the rapidity with which summer was coming on. The snow had melted from all the southern hillsides and the level surfaces of the flats and islands; everywhere could be heard the trickling of water and the song of hidden rivulets; but somehow, under its three-foot ice-sheet, the Yukon delayed to heave its great length of three thousand miles and shake off the frosty fetters which bound it.

But it was evident that the time was fast approaching when it would again run free. Great fissures were splitting the ice in all directions, while the water was beginning to flood through them and over the top. On this morning a frightful rumbling brought the two boys hurriedly from their blankets. Standing on the bank, they soon discovered the cause. The Stewart River had broken loose and reared a great ice barrier, where it entered the Yukon, barely a mile above their island. While a great deal of the Stewart ice had been thus piled up, the remainder was now flowing under the Yukon ice, pounding and thumping at the solid surface above it as it passed onward toward the sea.

“To-day um break um,” Chilkoot Jim said, nodding his head. “Sure!”

“And then maybe two days for the ice to pass by,” Walt added, “and you and I’ll be starting for Dawson. It’s only seventy miles, and if the current runs five miles an hour and we paddle three, we ought to make it inside of ten hours. What do you think?”

“Sure!” Chilkoot Jim did not know much English, and this favorite word of his was made to do duty on all occasions.

After breakfast the boys got out the Peterborough canoe from its winter cache. It was an admirable sample of the boat-builder’s skill, an imported article brought from the first mail in six months into the Klondike. Walt, who happened to be in Dawson at the time had bought it for three hundred dollars’ worth of dust which he had mined on the Mazy May.

It had been a revelation, both to him and to Chilkoot Jim, for up to its advent they had been used to no other craft than the flimsy birchbark canoes of the Indians and the crude poling-boats of the whites. Jim, in fact, spent many a happy half-hour in silent admiration of its perfect lines.

“Um good. Sure!” Jim lifted his gaze from the dainty craft, expressing his delight in the same terms for the thousandth time. But glancing over Walt’s shoulder, he saw something on the river which startled him. “Look! See!” he cried.

A man had been racing a dog-team across the slushy surface for the shore, and had been cut off by the rising flood. As Walt whirled round to see, the ice behind the man burst into violent commotion, splitting and smashing into fragments which bobbed up and down and turned turtle like so many corks.

A gush of water followed, burying the sled and washing the dogs from their feet. Tangled in their harness and securely fastened to the heavy sled, they must drown in a few minutes unless rescued by the man. Bravely his manhood answered.

Floundering about with the drowning animals, nearly hip-deep in the icy flood, he cut and slashed with his sheath-knife at the traces. One by one the dogs struck out for shore, the first reaching safety ere the last was released. Then the master, abandoning the sled, followed them. It was a struggle in which little help could be given, and Walt and Chilkoot Jim could only, at the last, grasp his hands and drag him, half-fainting, up the bank.

First he sat down till he had recovered his breath; next he knocked the water from his ears like a boy who had just been swimming; and after that he whistled his dogs together to see whether they had all escaped. These things done, he turned his attention to the lads.

“I’m Muso,” he said, “Pete Muso, and I’m looking for Charley Drake. His partner is dying down at Dawson, and they want him to come at once, as soon as the river breaks. He’s got a cabin on this island, hasn’t he?”

“Yes,” Walt answered, “but he’s over on the other side of the river, with a couple of other men, getting out a raft of logs for a grub-stake.”

The stranger’s disappointment was great. Exhausted by his weary journey, just escaped from sudden death, overcome by all he had undergone in carrying the message which was now useless, he looked dazed. The tears welled into his eyes, and his voice was choked with sobs as he repeated, aimlessly, “But his partner’s dying. It’s his partner, you know, and he wants to see him before he dies.”

Walt and Jim knew that nothing could be done, and as aimlessly looked out on the hopeless river. No man could venture on it and live. On the other bank, and several miles up-stream, a thin column of smoke wavered to the sky. Charley Drake was cooking his dinner there; seventy miles below, his partner lay dying; yet no word of it could be sent.

But even as they looked, a change came over the river. There was a muffled rending and tearing, and, as if by magic, the surface water disappeared, while the great ice-sheet, reaching from shore to shore, and broken into all manner and sizes of cakes, floated silently up toward them. The ice which had been pounding along underneath had evidently grounded at some point lower down, and was now backing up the water like a mill-dam. This had broken the ice-sheet from the land and lifted it on top of the rising water.

“Um break up very quick,” Chilkoot Jim said.

The Indian boy laughed. “Mebbe you get um in middle, mebbe not. All the same, the trail um go down-stream, and you go, too. Sure!” He glanced at Walt, that he might back him up in preventing this insane attempt.

“You’re not going to try and make it across?” Walt queried.

“But you mustn’t!” Walt protested. “It’s certain death. The river’ll break before you get half-way, and then what good’ll your message be?”

But the stranger doggedly went on undressing, muttering in an undertone, “I want Charley Drake! Don’t you understand? It’s his partner, dying.”

“Um sick man. Bimeby — ” The Indian boy put a finger to his forehead and whirled his hand in quick circles, thus indicating the approach of brain fever. “Um work too hard, and um think too much, all the time think about sick man at Dawson. Very quick um head go round — so.” And he feigned the bodily dizziness which is caused by a disordered brain.

By this time, undressed as if for a swim, Muso rose to his feet and started for the bank. Walt stepped in front, barring the way. He shot a glance at his comrade. Jim nodded that he understood and would stand by.

“Get out of my way, boy!” Muso commanded, roughly, trying to thrust him aside.

But Walt closed in, and with the aid of Jim succeeded in tripping him upon his back. He struggled weakly for a few moments, but was too wearied by his long journey to cope successfully with the two boys whose muscles were healthy and trail-hardened.

“Pack um into camp, roll um in plenty blanket, and I fix um good,” Jim advised.

This was quickly accomplished, and the sufferer made as comfortable as possible. After he had been attended to, and Jim had utilized the medical lore picked up in the camps of his own people, they fed the stranger’s dogs and cooked dinner. They said very little to each other, but each boy was thinking hard, and when they went out into the sunshine a few minutes later, their minds were intent on the same project.

The river had now risen twenty feet, the ice rubbing softly against the top of the bank. All noise had ceased. Countless millions of tons of ice and water were silently waiting the supreme moment, when all bonds would be broken and the mad rush to the sea would begin. Suddenly, without the slighted apparent effort, everything began to move downstream. The jam had broken.

Slowly at first, but faster and faster the frozen sea dashed past. The noise returned again, and the air trembled to a mighty churning and grinding. Huge blocks of ice were shot into the air by the pressure; others butted wildly into the bank; still others, swinging and pivoting, reached inshore and swept rows of pines away as easily as if they were so many matches.

In awe-stricken silence the boys watched the magnificent spectacle, and it was not until the ice had slackened its speed and fallen to its old level that Walt cried, “Look, Jim! Look at the trail going by!”

And in truth it was the trail going by — the trail upon which they had camped and traveled during all the preceding winter. Next winter they would journey with dogs and sleds over the same ground, but not on the same trail. That trail, the old trail, was passing away before their eyes.

Looking up-stream, they saw open water. No more ice was coming down, although vast quantities of it still remained on the upper reaches, jammed somewhere amid the maze of islands which covered the Yukon’s breast. As a matter of fact, there were several more jams yet to break, one after another, and to send down as many ice-runs. The next might come along in a few minutes; it might delay for hours. Perhaps there would be time to paddle across. Walt looked questioningly at his comrade.

“Sure!” Jim remarked, and without another word they carried the canoe down the bank. Each knew the danger of what they were about to attempt, but they wasted no speech over it. Wild life had taught them both that the need of things demanded effort and action, and that the tongue found its fit vocation at the camp-fire when the day’s work was done.

With dexterity born of long practice they launched the canoe, and were soon making it spring to each stroke of the paddles as they stemmed the muddy current. A steady procession of lagging ice-cakes, each thoroughly capable of crushing the Peterborough like an egg-shell, was drifting on the surface, and it required of the boys the utmost vigilance and skill to thread them safely.

Anxiously they watched the great bend above, down which at any moment might rush another ice-run. And as anxiously they watched the ice stranded against the bank and towering a score of feet above them. Cake was poised upon cake and piled in precarious confusion, while the boys had to hug the shore closely to avoid the swifter current of midstream. Now and again great heaps of this ice tottered and fell into the river, rolling and rumbling like distant thunder, and lashing the water into fair-sized tidal waves.

Several times they were nearly swamped, but saved themselves by quick work with the paddles. And all the time Charley Drake’s pillared camp smoke grew nearer and clearer. But it was still on the opposite shore, and they knew they must get higher up before they attempted to shoot across.

Entering the Stewart River, they paddled up a few hundred yards, shot across, and then continued up the right bank of the Yukon. Before long they came to the Bald-Face Bluffs — huge walls of rock which rose perpendicularly from the river. Here the current was swiftest inshore, forming the first serious obstacle encountered by the boys. Below the bluffs they rested from their exertions in a favorable eddy, and then, paddling their strongest, strove to dash past.

At first they gained, but in the swiftest place the current overpowered them. For a full sixty seconds they remained stationary, neither advancing nor receding, the grim cliff base within reach of their arms, their paddles dipping and lifting like clockwork, and the rough water dashing by in muddy haste. For a full sixty seconds, and then the canoe sheered in to the shore. To prevent instant destruction, they pressed their paddles against the rocks, sheered back into the stream, and were swept away. Regaining the eddy, they stopped for breath. A second time they attempted the passage; but just as they were almost past, a threatening ice-cake whirled down upon them on the angry tide, and they were forced to flee before it.

“Um stiff, I think yes,” Chilkoot Jim said, mopping the sweat from his face as they again rested in the eddy. “Next time um make um, sure.”

“We’ve got to. That’s all there is about it,” Walt answered, his teeth set and lips tight-drawn, for Pete Muso had set a bad example, and he was almost ready to cry from exhaustion and failure. A third time they darted out of the head of the eddy, plunged into the swirling waters, and worked a snail-like course ahead. Often they stood still for the space of many strokes, but whatever they gained they held, and they at last drew out into easier water far above. But every moment was precious. There was no telling when the Yukon would again become a scene of wild anarchy in which neither man nor any of his works could hope to endure. So they held steadily to their course till they had passed above Charley Drake’s camp by a quarter of a mile. The river was fully a mile wide at this point, and they had to reckon on being carried down by the swift current in crossing it.

Walt turned his head from his place in the bow. Jim nodded. Without further parley they headed the canoe out from the shore, at an angle of forty-five degrees against the current. They were on the last stretch now; the goal was in fair sight. Indeed, as they looked up from their toil to mark their progress, they could see Charley Drake and his two comrades come town to the edge of the river to watch them.

Five hundred yards; four hundred yards; the Peterborough cut the water like a blade of steel; the paddles were dipping, dipping, dipping in rapid rhythm — and then a warning shout from the bank sent a chill to their hearts. Round the great bend just above rolled a mighty wall of glistening white. Behind it, urging it on to lightning speed, were a million tons of long-pent water.

The right flank of the ice-run, unable to get cleanly round the bend, collided with the opposite shore, and even as they looked they saw the ice mountains rear toward the sky, rise, collapse, and rise again in glittering convulsions. The advancing roar filled the air so that Walt could not make himself heard; but he paused long enough to wave his paddle significantly in the direction of Dawson. Perhaps Charley Drake, seeing, might understand.

With two swift strokes they whirled the Peterborough down-stream. They must keep ahead of the rushing flood. It was impossible to make either bank tat that moment. Every ounce of their strength went into the paddles, and the frail canoe fairly rose and leaped ahead at each stroke. They said nothing. Each knew and had faith in the other, and they were too wise to waste their breath. The shore-line — trees, islands and the Stewart River — flew by at a bewildering rate, but they barely looked at it.

Occasionally Chilkoot Jim stole a glance behind him at the pursuing trail, and marked the fact that they held their own. Once he shaped a sharper course toward the bank, but found the trail was overtaking them, and gave it up.

Gradually they worked in to land, their failing strength warning them that it was soon or never. And at last, when they did draw up to the bank, they were confronted by the inhospitable barrier of the stranded shore-ice. Not a place could be found to land, and with safety virtually within arm’s reach, they were forced to flee on down the stream. They passed a score of places, at each of which, had they had plenty of time, they could have clambered out; but behind pressed on the inexorable trail, and would not let them pause.

Half a mile of this work drew heavily upon their strength; and the trail came upon them nearer and nearer. Its sullen grind was in their ears, and its collisions against the bank made one continuous succession of terrifying crashes. Walt felt his heart thumping against his ribs and caught each breath in painful gasps. But worst of all was the constant demand upon his arms.

If he could only rest for the space of one stroke, he felt that the torture would be relieved; but no, it was dip and lift, dip and lift, till it seemed as if at each stroke he would surely die. But he knew that Chilkoot Jim was suffering likewise; and their lives depended each upon the other; and that it would be a blot upon his manhood should he fail or even miss a stroke.

They were very weary, but their faith was large, and if either felt afraid, it was not of the other, but of himself.

Flashing round a sharp point, they came upon their last chance for escape. An island lay close inshore, upon the nose of which the ice lay piled in a long slope. They drove the Peterborough half out of the water upon a shelving cake and leaped out. Then, dragging the canoe along, slipping and tripping and falling, but always getting nearer the top, they made their last mad scramble.

As they cleared the crest and fell within the shelter of the pines, a tremendous crash announced the arrival of the trail. One huge cake, shoved to the, shoved to the top of the rim-ice, balanced threateningly above them and then toppled forward.

With one jerk they flung themselves and the canoe from beneath, and again fell, breathless and panting for air. The thunder of the ice-run came dimly to their ears; but they did not care. It held no interest for them whatsoever. All they wished was simply to lie there, just as they had fallen, and enjoy the inaction of repose.

Two hours later, when the river once more ran open, they carried the Peterborough down to the water. But just before they launched it, Charley Drake and a comrade paddled up in another canoe.

“Well, you boys hardly deserve to have good folks out looking for you, the way you’ve behaved,” was his greeting. “What under the sun made you leave your tent and get chased by the trail? Eh? That’s what I’d like to know.”

It took but a minute to explain the real state of affairs, and but another to see Charley Drake hurrying along on his way to his sick partner at Dawson.

“Pretty close shave, that,” Walt Masters said, as they prepared to get aboard and paddle back to camp.

“Sure!” Chilkoot Jim replied, rubbing his stiffened biceps in a meditative fashion.

The Chinago

The coral waxes, the palm grows, but man departs.

- -Tahitian proverb

Ah Cho did not understand French. He sat in the crowded court room, very weary and bored, listening to the unceasing, explosive French that now one official and now another uttered. It was just so much gabble to Ah Cho, and he marvelled at the stupidity of the Frenchmen who took so long to find out the murderer of Chung Ga, and who did not find him at all. The five hundred coolies on the plantation knew that Ah San had done the killing, and here was Ah San not even arrested. It was true that all the coolies had agreed secretly not to testify against one another; but then, it was so simple, the Frenchmen should have been able to discover that Ah San was the man. They were very stupid, these Frenchmen.

Ah Cho had done nothing of which to be afraid. He had had no hand in the killing. It was true he had been present at it, and Schemmer, the overseer on the plantation, had rushed into the barracks immediately afterward and caught him there, along with four or five others; but what of that? Chung Ga had been stabbed only twice. It stood to reason that five or six men could not inflict two stab wounds. At the most, if a man had struck but once, only two men could have done it.

So it was that Ah Cho reasoned, when he, along with his four companions, had lied and blocked and obfuscated in their statements to the court concerning what had taken place. They had heard the sounds of the killing, and, like Schemmer, they had run to the spot. They had got there before Schemmer--that was all. True, Schemmer had testified that, attracted by the sound of quarrelling as he chanced to pass by, he had stood for at least five minutes outside; that then, when he entered, he found the prisoners already inside; and that they had not entered just before, because he had been standing by the one door to the barracks. But what of that? Ah Cho and his four fellow-prisoners had testified that Schemmer was mistaken. In the end they would be let go. They were all confident of that. Five men could not have their heads cut off for two stab wounds. Besides, no foreign devil had seen the killing. But these Frenchmen were so stupid. In China, as Ah Cho well knew, the magistrate would order all of them to the torture and learn the truth. The truth was very easy to learn under torture. But these Frenchmen did not torture--bigger fools they! Therefore they would never find out who killed Chung Ga.

But Ah Cho did not understand everything. The English Company that owned the plantation had imported into Tahiti, at great expense, the five hundred coolies. The stockholders were clamoring for dividends, and the Company had not yet paid any; wherefore the Company did not want its costly contract laborers to start the practice of killing one another. Also, there were the French, eager and willing to impose upon the Chinagos the virtues and excellences of French law. There was nothing like setting an example once in a while; and, besides, of what use was New Caledonia except to send men to live out their days in misery and pain in payment of the penalty for being frail and human?

Ah Cho did not understand all this. He sat in the court room and waited for the baffled judgment that would set him and his comrades free to go back to the plantation and work out the terms of their contracts. This judgment would soon be rendered. Proceedings were drawing to a close. He could see that. There was no more testifying, no more gabble of tongues. The French devils were tired, too, and evidently waiting for the judgment. And as he waited he remembered back in his life to the time when he had signed the contract and set sail in the ship for Tahiti. Times had been hard in his seacoast village, and when he indentured himself to labor for five years in the South Seas at fifty cents Mexican a day, he had thought himself fortunate. There were men in his village who toiled a whole year for ten dollars Mexican, and there were women who made nets all the year round for five dollars, while in the houses of shopkeepers there were maid-servants who received four dollars for a year of service. And here he was to receive fifty cents a day; for one day, only one day, he was to receive that princely sum! What if the work were hard? At the end of the five years he would return home--that was in the contract--and he would never have to work again. He would be a rich man for life, with a house of his own, a wife, and children growing up to venerate him. Yes, and back of the house he would have a small garden, a place of meditation and repose, with goldfish in a tiny lakelet, and wind bells tinkling in the several trees, and there would be a high wall all around so that his meditation and repose should be undisturbed. Well, he had worked out three of those five years. He was already a wealthy man (in his own country), through his earnings, and only two years more intervened between the cotton plantation on Tahiti and the meditation and repose that awaited him. But just now he was losing money because of the unfortunate accident of being present at the killing of Chung Ga. He had lain three weeks in prison, and for each day of those three weeks he had lost fifty cents. But now judgment would soon be given, and he would go back to work.

Ah Cho was twenty-two years old. He was happy and good-natured, and it was easy for him to smile. While his body was slim in the Asiatic way, his face was rotund. It was round, like the moon, and it irradiated a gentle complacence and a sweet kindliness of spirit that was unusual among his countrymen. Nor did his looks belie him. He never caused trouble, never took part in wrangling. He did not gamble. His soul was not harsh enough for the soul that must belong to a gambler. He was content with little things and simple pleasures. The hush and quiet in the cool of the day after the blazing toil in the cotton field was to him an infinite satisfaction. He could sit for hours gazing at a solitary flower and philosophizing about the mysteries and riddles of being. A blue heron on a tiny crescent of sandy beach, a silvery splatter of flying fish, or a sunset of pearl and rose across the lagoon, could entrance him to all forgetfulness of the procession of wearisome days and of the heavy lash of Schemmer.

Schemmer, Karl Schemmer, was a brute, a brutish brute. But he earned his salary. He got the last particle of strength out of the five hundred slaves; for slaves they were until their term of years was up. Schemmer worked hard to extract the strength from those five hundred sweating bodies and to transmute it into bales of fluffy cotton ready for export. His dominant, iron-clad, primeval brutishness was what enabled him to effect the transmutation. Also, he was assisted by a thick leather belt, three inches wide and a yard in length, with which he always rode and which, on occasion, could come down on the naked back of a stooping coolie with a report like a pistol-shot. These reports were frequent when Schemmer rode down the furrowed field.

Once, at the beginning of the first year of contract labor, he had killed a coolie with a single blow of his fist. He had not exactly crushed the man’s head like an egg-shell, but the blow had been sufficient to addle what was inside, and, after being sick for a week, the man had died. But the Chinese had not complained to the French devils that ruled over Tahiti. It was their own lookout. Schemmer was their problem. They must avoid his wrath as they avoided the venom of the centipedes that lurked in the grass or crept into the sleeping quarters on rainy nights. The Chinagos--such they were called by the indolent, brown-skinned island folk--saw to it that they did not displease Schemmer too greatly. This was equivalent to rendering up to him a full measure of efficient toil. That blow of Schemmer’s fist had been worth thousands of dollars to the Company, and no trouble ever came of it to Schemmer.

The French, with no instinct for colonization, futile in their childish playgame of developing the resources of the island, were only too glad to see the English Company succeed. What matter of Schemmer and his redoubtable fist? The Chinago that died? Well, he was only a Chinago. Besides, he died of sunstroke, as the doctor’s certificate attested. True, in all the history of Tahiti no one had ever died of sunstroke. But it was that, precisely that, which made the death of this Chinago unique. The doctor said as much in his report. He was very candid. Dividends must be paid, or else one more failure would be added to the long history of failure in Tahiti.

There was no understanding these white devils. Ah Cho pondered their inscrutableness as he sat in the court room waiting the judgment. There was no telling what went on at the back of their minds. He had seen a few of the white devils. They were all alike--the officers and sailors on the ship, the French officials, the several white men on the plantation, including Schemmer. Their minds all moved in mysterious ways there was no getting at. They grew angry without apparent cause, and their anger was always dangerous. They were like wild beasts at such times. They worried about little things, and on occasion could out-toil even a Chinago. They were not temperate as Chinagos were temperate; they were gluttons, eating prodigiously and drinking more prodigiously. A Chinago never knew when an act would please them or arouse a storm of wrath. A Chinago could never tell. What pleased one time, the very next time might provoke an outburst of anger. There was a curtain behind the eyes of the white devils that screened the backs of their minds from the Chinago’s gaze. And then, on top of it all, was that terrible efficiency of the white devils, that ability to do things, to make things go, to work results, to bend to their wills all creeping, crawling things, and the powers of the very elements themselves. Yes, the white men were strange and wonderful, and they were devils. Look at Schemmer.

Ah Cho wondered why the judgment was so long in forming. Not a man on trial had laid hand on Chung Ga. Ah San alone had killed him. Ah San had done it, bending Chung Ga’s head back with one hand by a grip of his queue, and with the other hand, from behind, reaching over and driving the knife into his body. Twice had he driven it in. There in the court room, with closed eyes, Ah Cho saw the killing acted over again--the squabble, the vile words bandied back and forth, the filth and insult flung upon venerable ancestors, the curses laid upon unbegotten generations, the leap of Ah San, the grip on the queue of Chung Ga, the knife that sank twice into his flesh, the bursting open of the door, the irruption of Schemmer, the dash for the door, the escape of Ah San, the flying belt of Schemmer that drove the rest into the corner, and the firing of the revolver as a signal that brought help to Schemmer. Ah Cho shivered as he lived it over. One blow of the belt had bruised his cheek, taking off some of the skin. Schemmer had pointed to the bruises when, on the witness-stand, he had identified Ah Cho. It was only just now that the marks had become no longer visible. That had been a blow. Half an inch nearer the centre and it would have taken out his eye. Then Ah Cho forgot the whole happening in a vision he caught of the garden of meditation and repose that would be his when he returned to his own land.

He sat with impassive face, while the magistrate rendered the judgment. Likewise were the faces of his four companions impassive. And they remained impassive when the interpreter explained that the five of them had been found guilty of the murder of Chung Ga, and that Ah Chow should have his head cut off, Ah Cho serve twenty years in prison in New Caledonia, Wong Li twelve years, and Ah Tong ten years. There was no use in getting excited about it. Even Ah Chow remained expressionless as a mummy, though it was his head that was to be cut off. The magistrate added a few words, and the interpreter explained that Ah Chow’s face having been most severely bruised by Schemmer’s strap had made his identification so positive that, since one man must die, he might as well be that man. Also, the fact that Ah Cho’s face likewise had been severely bruised, conclusively proving his presence at the murder and his undoubted participation, had merited him the twenty years of penal servitude. And down to the ten years of Ah Tong, the proportioned reason for each sentence was explained. Let the Chinagos take the lesson to heart, the Court said finally, for they must learn that the law would be fulfilled in Tahiti though the heavens fell.

The five Chinagos were taken back to jail. They were not shocked nor grieved. The sentences being unexpected was quite what they were accustomed to in their dealings with the white devils. From them a Chinago rarely expected more than the unexpected. The heavy punishment for a crime they had not committed was no stranger than the countless strange things that white devils did. In the weeks that followed, Ah Cho often contemplated Ah Chow with mild curiosity. His head was to be cut off by the guillotine that was being erected on the plantation. For him there would be no declining years, no gardens of tranquillity. Ah Cho philosophized and speculated about life and death. As for himself, he was not perturbed. Twenty years were merely twenty years. By that much was his garden removed from him--that was all. He was young, and the patience of Asia was in his bones. He could wait those twenty years, and by that time the heats of his blood would be assuaged and he would be better fitted for that garden of calm delight. He thought of a name for it; he would call it The Garden of the Morning Calm. He was made happy all day by the thought, and he was inspired to devise a moral maxim on the virtue of patience, which maxim proved a great comfort, especially to Wong Li and Ah Tong. Ah Chow, however, did not care for the maxim. His head was to be separated from his body in so short a time that he had no need for patience to wait for that event. He smoked well, ate well, slept well, and did not worry about the slow passage of time.

Cruchot was a gendarme. He had seen twenty years of service in the colonies, from Nigeria and Senegal to the South Seas, and those twenty years had not perceptibly brightened his dull mind. He was as slow-witted and stupid as in his peasant days in the south of France. He knew discipline and fear of authority, and from God down to the sergeant of gendarmes the only difference to him was the measure of slavish obedience which he rendered. In point of fact, the sergeant bulked bigger in his mind than God, except on Sundays when God’s mouthpieces had their say. God was usually very remote, while the sergeant was ordinarily very close at hand.

Cruchot it was who received the order from the Chief Justice to the jailer commanding that functionary to deliver over to Cruchot the person of Ah Chow. Now, it happened that the Chief Justice had given a dinner the night before to the captain and officers of the French man-of-war. His hand was shaking when he wrote out the order, and his eyes were aching so dreadfully that he did not read over the order. It was only a Chinago’s life he was signing away, anyway. So he did not notice that he had omitted the final letter in Ah Chow’s name. The order read “Ah Cho,” and, when Cruchot presented the order, the jailer turned over to him the person of Ah Cho. Cruchot took that person beside him on the seat of a wagon, behind two mules, and drove away.

Ah Cho was glad to be out in the sunshine. He sat beside the gendarme and beamed. He beamed more ardently than ever when he noted the mules headed south toward Atimaono. Undoubtedly Schemmer had sent for him to be brought back. Schemmer wanted him to work. Very well, he would work well. Schemmer would never have cause to complain. It was a hot day. There had been a stoppage of the trades. The mules sweated, Cruchot sweated, and Ah Cho sweated. But it was Ah Cho that bore the heat with the least concern. He had toiled three years under that sun on the plantation. He beamed and beamed with such genial good nature that even Cruchot’s heavy mind was stirred to wonderment.

“You are very funny,” he said at last.

Ah Cho nodded and beamed more ardently. Unlike the magistrate, Cruchot spoke to him in the Kanaka tongue, and this, like all Chinagos and all foreign devils, Ah Cho understood.

“You laugh too much,” Cruchot chided. “One’s heart should be full of tears on a day like this.”

“I am glad to get out of the jail.”

“Is that all?” The gendarme shrugged his shoulders.

“Is it not enough?” was the retort.

“Then you are not glad to have your head cut off?”

Ah Cho looked at him in abrupt perplexity and said:

“Why, I am going back to Atimaono to work on the plantation for Schemmer. Are you not taking me to Atimaono?”

Cruchot stroked his long mustaches reflectively. “Well, well,” he said finally, with a flick of the whip at the off mule, “so you don’t know?”

“Know what?” Ah Cho was beginning to feel a vague alarm. “Won’t Schemmer let me work for him any more?”

“Not after to-day.” Cruchot laughed heartily. It was a good joke. “You see, you won’t be able to work after to-day. A man with his head off can’t work, eh?” He poked the Chinago in the ribs, and chuckled.

Ah Cho maintained silence while the mules trotted a hot mile. Then he spoke: “Is Schemmer going to cut off my head?”

Cruchot grinned as he nodded.

“It is a mistake,” said Ah Cho, gravely. “I am not the Chinago that is to have his head cut off. I am Ah Cho. The honorable judge has determined that I am to stop twenty years in New Caledonia.”

The gendarme laughed. It was a good joke, this funny Chinago trying to cheat the guillotine. The mules trotted through a cocoanut grove and for half a mile beside the sparkling sea before Ah Cho spoke again.

“I tell you I am not Ah Chow. The honorable judge did not say that my head was to go off.”

“Don’t be afraid,” said Cruchot, with the philanthropic intention of making it easier for his prisoner. “It is not difficult to die that way.” He snapped his fingers. “It is quick--like that. It is not like hanging on the end of a rope and kicking and making faces for five minutes. It is like killing a chicken with a hatchet. You cut its head off, that is all. And it is the same with a man. Pouf!--it is over. It doesn’t hurt. You don’t even think it hurts. You don’t think. Your head is gone, so you cannot think. It is very good. That is the way I want to die--quick, ah, quick. You are lucky to die that way. You might get the leprosy and fall to pieces slowly, a finger at a time, and now and again a thumb, also the toes. I knew a man who was burned by hot water. It took him two days to die. You could hear him yelling a kilometre away. But you? Ah! so easy! Chck!--the knife cuts your neck like that. It is finished. The knife may even tickle. Who can say? Nobody who died that way ever came back to say.”

He considered this last an excruciating joke, and permitted himself to be convulsed with laughter for half a minute. Part of his mirth was assumed, but he considered it his humane duty to cheer up the Chinago.

“But I tell you I am Ah Cho,” the other persisted. “I don’t want my head cut off.”

Cruchot scowled. The Chinago was carrying the foolishness too far.

“I am not Ah Chow--“ Ah Cho began. “That will do,” the gendarme interrupted. He puffed up his cheeks and strove to appear fierce.

“I tell you I am not--“ Ah Cho began again.

“Shut up!” bawled Cruchot.

After that they rode along in silence. It was twenty miles from Papeete to Atimaono, and over half the distance was covered by the time the Chinago again ventured into speech.

“I saw you in the court room, when the honorable judge sought after our guilt,” he began. “Very good. And do you remember that Ah Chow, whose head is to be cut off--do you remember that he--Ah Chow--was a tall man? Look at me.”

He stood up suddenly, and Cruchot saw that he was a short man. And just as suddenly Cruchot caught a glimpse of a memory picture of Ah Chow, and in that picture Ah Chow was tall. To the gendarme all Chinagos looked alike. One face was like another. But between tallness and shortness he could differentiate, and he knew that he had the wrong man beside him on the seat. He pulled up the mules abruptly, so that the pole shot ahead of them, elevating their collars.

“You see, it was a mistake,” said Ah Cho, smiling pleasantly.

But Cruchot was thinking. Already he regretted that he had stopped the wagon. He was unaware of the error of the Chief Justice, and he had no way of working it out; but he did know that he had been given this Chinago to take to Atimaono and that it was his duty to take him to Atimaono. What if he was the wrong man and they cut his head off? It was only a Chinago when all was said, and what was a Chinago, anyway? Besides, it might not be a mistake. He did not know what went on in the minds of his superiors. They knew their business best. Who was he to do their thinking for them? Once, in the long ago, he had attempted to think for them, and the sergeant had said: “Cruchot, you are a fool! The quicker you know that, the better you will get on. You are not to think; you are to obey and leave thinking to your betters.” He smarted under the recollection. Also, if he turned back to Papeete, he would delay the execution at Atimaono, and if he were wrong in turning back, he would get a reprimand from the sergeant who was waiting for the prisoner. And, furthermore, he would get a reprimand at Papeete as well.

He touched the mules with the whip and drove on. He looked at his watch. He would be half an hour late as it was, and the sergeant was bound to be angry. He put the mules into a faster trot. The more Ah Cho persisted in explaining the mistake, the more stubborn Cruchot became. The knowledge that he had the wrong man did not make his temper better. The knowledge that it was through no mistake of his confirmed him in the belief that the wrong he was doing was the right. And, rather than incur the displeasure of the sergeant, he would willingly have assisted a dozen wrong Chinagos to their doom.

As for Ah Cho, after the gendarme had struck him over the head with the butt of the whip and commanded him in a loud voice to shut up, there remained nothing for him to do but to shut up. The long ride continued in silence. Ah Cho pondered the strange ways of the foreign devils. There was no explaining them. What they were doing with him was of a piece with everything they did. First they found guilty five innocent men, and next they cut off the head of the man that even they, in their benighted ignorance, had deemed meritorious of no more than twenty years’ imprisonment. And there was nothing he could do. He could only sit idly and take what these lords of life measured out to him. Once, he got in a panic, and the sweat upon his body turned cold; but he fought his way out of it. He endeavored to resign himself to his fate by remembering and repeating certain passages from the “Yin Chih Wen” (“The Tract of the Quiet Way”); but, instead, he kept seeing his dream-garden of meditation and repose. This bothered him, until he abandoned himself to the dream and sat in his garden listening to the tinkling of the wind-bells in the several trees. And lo! sitting thus, in the dream, he was able to remember and repeat the passages from “The Tract of the Quiet Way.”

So the time passed nicely until Atimaono was reached and the mules trotted up to the foot of the scaffold, in the shade of which stood the impatient sergeant. Ah Cho was hurried up the ladder of the scaffold. Beneath him on one side he saw assembled all the coolies of the plantation. Schemmer had decided that the event would be a good object-lesson, and so had called in the coolies from the fields and compelled them to be present. As they caught sight of Ah Cho they gabbled among themselves in low voices. They saw the mistake; but they kept it to themselves. The inexplicable white devils had doubtlessly changed their minds. Instead of taking the life of one innocent man, they were taking the life of another innocent man. Ah Chow or Ah Cho--what did it matter which? They could never understand the white dogs any more than could the white dogs understand them. Ah Cho was going to have his head cut off, but they, when their two remaining years of servitude were up, were going back to China.

Schemmer had made the guillotine himself. He was a handy man, and though he had never seen a guillotine, the French officials had explained the principle to him. It was on his suggestion that they had ordered the execution to take place at Atimaono instead of at Papeete. The scene of the crime, Schemmer had argued, was the best possible place for the punishment, and, in addition, it would have a salutary influence upon the half-thousand Chinagos on the plantation. Schemmer had also volunteered to act as executioner, and in that capacity he was now on the scaffold, experimenting with the instrument he had made. A banana tree, of the size and consistency of a man’s neck, lay under the guillotine. Ah Cho watched with fascinated eyes. The German, turning a small crank, hoisted the blade to the top of the little derrick he had rigged. A jerk on a stout piece of cord loosed the blade and it dropped with a flash, neatly severing the banana trunk.

“How does it work?” The sergeant, coming out on top the scaffold, had asked the question.

“Beautifully,” was Schemmer’s exultant answer. “Let me show you.”

Again he turned the crank that hoisted the blade, jerked the cord, and sent the blade crashing down on the soft tree. But this time it went no more than two-thirds of the way through.

The sergeant scowled. “That will not serve,” he said.

Schemmer wiped the sweat from his forehead. “What it needs is more weight,” he announced. Walking up to the edge of the scaffold, he called his orders to the blacksmith for a twenty-five-pound piece of iron. As he stooped over to attach the iron to the broad top of the blade, Ah Cho glanced at the sergeant and saw his opportunity.

“The honorable judge said that Ah Chow was to have his head cut off,” he began.

The sergeant nodded impatiently. He was thinking of the fifteen-mile ride before him that afternoon, to the windward side of the island, and of Berthe, the pretty half-caste daughter of Lafi re, the pearl-trader, who was waiting for him at the end of it. “Well, I am not Ah Chow. I am Ah Cho. The honorable jailer has made a mistake. Ah Chow is a tall man, and you see I am short.”

The sergeant looked at him hastily and saw the mistake. “Schemmer!” he called, imperatively. “Come here.”

The German grunted, but remained bent over his task till the chunk of iron was lashed to his satisfaction. “Is your Chinago ready?” he demanded.

“Look at him,” was the answer. “Is he the Chinago?”

Schemmer was surprised. He swore tersely for a few seconds, and looked regretfully across at the thing he had made with his own hands and which he was eager to see work. “Look here,” he said finally, “we can’t postpone this affair. I’ve lost three hours’ work already out of those five hundred Chinagos. I can’t afford to lose it all over again for the right man. Let’s put the performance through just the same. It is only a Chinago.”

The sergeant remembered the long ride before him, and the pearl-trader’s daughter, and debated with himself.

“They will blame it on Cruchot--if it is discovered,” the German urged. “But there’s little chance of its being discovered. Ah Chow won’t give it away, at any rate.”

“The blame won’t lie with Cruchot, anyway,” the sergeant said. “It must have been the jailer’s mistake.”

“Then let’s go on with it. They can’t blame us. Who can tell one Chinago from another? We can say that we merely carried out instructions with the Chinago that was turned over to us. Besides, really can’t take all those coolies a second time away from their labor.”

They spoke in French, and Ah Cho, who did not understand a word of it, nevertheless knew that they were determining his destiny. He knew, also, that the decision rested with the sergeant, and he hung upon that official’s lips.

“All right,” announced the sergeant. “Go ahead with it. He is only a Chinago.”

“I’m going to try it once more, just to make sure.” Schemmer moved the banana trunk forward under the knife, which he had hoisted to the top of the derrick.

Ah Cho tried to remember maxims from “The Tract of the Quiet Way.” “Live in concord,” came to him; but it was not applicable. He was not going to live. He was about to die. No, that would not do. “Forgive malice”--yes, but there was no malice to forgive. Schemmer and the rest were doing this thing without malice. It was to them merely a piece of work that had to be done, just as clearing the jungle, ditching the water, and planting cotton were pieces of work that had to be done. Schemmer jerked the cord, and Ah Cho forgot “The Tract of the Quiet Way.” The knife shot down with a thud, making a clean slice of the tree.

“Beautiful!” exclaimed the sergeant, pausing in the act of lighting a cigarette. “Beautiful, my friend.”

Schemmer was pleased at the praise.

“Come on, Ah Chow,” he said, in the Tahitian tongue.

“But I am not Ah Chow--“ Ah Cho began.

“Shut up!” was the answer. “If you open your mouth again, I’ll break your head.”

The overseer threatened him with a clenched fist, and he remained silent. What was the good of protesting? Those foreign devils always had their way. He allowed himself to be lashed to the vertical board that was the size of his body. Schemmer drew the buckles tight--so tight that the straps cut into his flesh and hurt. But he did not complain. The hurt would not last long. He felt the board tilting over in the air toward the horizontal, and closed his eyes. And in that moment he caught a last glimpse of his garden of meditation and repose. It seemed to him that he sat in the garden. A cool wind was blowing, and the bells in the several trees were tinkling softly. Also, birds were making sleepy noises, and from beyond the high wall came the subdued sound of village life.

Then he was aware that the board had come to rest, and from muscular pressures and tensions he knew that he was lying on his back. He opened his eyes. Straight above him he saw the suspended knife blazing in the sunshine. He saw the weight which had been added, and noted that one of Schemmer’s knots had slipped. Then he heard the sergeant’s voice in sharp command. Ah Cho closed his eyes hastily. He did not want to see that knife descend. But he felt it--for one great fleeting instant. And in that instant he remembered Cruchot and what Cruchot had said. But Cruchot was wrong. The knife did not tickle. That much he knew before he ceased to know.

Chris Farrington, Able Seaman

“If you vas in der old country ships, a liddle shaver like you vood pe only der boy, and you vood wait on der able seamen. Und ven der able seaman sing out, ‘Boy, der water-jug!’ you vood jump quick, like a shot, and bring der water-jug. Und ven der able seaman sing out, ‘Boy, my boots!’ you vood get der boots. Und you vood pe politeful, and say ‘Yessir’ and ‘No sir.’ But you pe in der American ship, and you t’ink you are so good as der able seamen. Chris, mine boy, I haf ben a sailorman for twenty-two years, and do you t’ink you are so good as me? I vas a sailorman pefore you vas borned, and I knot and reef and splice ven you play mit topstrings and fly kites.”

“But you are unfair, Emil!” cried Chris Farrington, his sensitive face flushed and hurt. He was a slender though strongly built young fellow of seventeen, with Yankee ancestry writ large all over him.

“Dere you go vonce again!” the Swedish sailor exploded. “My name is Mister Johansen, and a kid of a boy like you call me ‘Emil!’ It vas insulting, and comes pecause of der American ship!”

“But you call me ‘Chris!’“ the boy expostulated, reproachfully.

“But you vas a boy.”

“Who does a man’s work,” Chris retorted. “And because I do a man’s work I have as much right to call you by your first name as you me. We are all equals in this fo’castle, and you know it. When we signed for the voyage in San Francisco, we signed as sailors on the Sophie Sutherland and there was no difference made with any of us. Haven’t I always done my work? Did I ever shirk? Did you or any other man ever have to take a wheel for me? Or a lookout? Or go aloft?”

“Chris is right,” interrupted a young English sailor. “No man has had to do a tap of his work yet. He signed as good as any of us, and he’s shown himself as good — ”

“Better!” broke in a Nova Scotia man. “Better than some of us! When we struck the sealing-grounds he turned out to be next to the best boat-steerer aboard. Only French Louis, who’d been at it for years, could beat him. I’m only a boat-puller, and you’re only a boat-puller, too, Emil Johansen, for all your twenty-two years at sea. Why don’t you become a boat-steerer?”

“Too clumsy,” laughed the Englishman, “and too slow.”

“Little that counts, one way or the other,” joined in Dane Jurgensen, coming to the aid of his Scandinavian brother. “Emil is a man grown and an able seaman; the boy is neither.”

And so the argument raged back and forth, the Swedes, Norwegians and Danes, because of race kinship, taking the part of Johansen, and the English, Canadians and Americans taking the part of Chris. From an unprejudiced point of view, the right was on the side of Chris. As he had truly said, he did a man’s work, and the same work that any of them did. But they were prejudiced, and badly so, and out of the words which passed rose a standing quarrel which divided the forecastle into two parties.

The Sophie Sutherland was a seal-hunter, registered out of San Francisco, and engaged in hunting the furry sea-animals along the Japanese coast north to Bering Sea. The other vessels were two-masted schooners, but she was a three-master and the largest in the fleet. In fact, she was a full-rigged, three-topmast schooner, newly built.

Although Chris Farrington knew that justice was with him, and that he performed all his work faithfully and well, many a time, in secret thought, he longed for some pressing emergency to arise whereby he could demonstrate to the Scandinavian seamen that he also was an able seaman.

But one stormy night, by an accident for which he was in nowise accountable, in overhauling a spare anchor-chain he had all the fingers of his left hand badly crushed. And his hopes were likewise crushed, for it was impossible for him to continue hunting with the boats, and he was forced to stay idly aboard until his fingers should heal. Yet, although he little dreamed it, this very accident was to give him the long-looked-for opportunity.

One afternoon in the latter part of May the Sophie Sutherland rolled sluggishly in a breathless calm. The seals were abundant, the hunting good, and the boats were all away and out of sight. And with them was almost every man of the crew. Besides Chris, there remained only the captain, the sailing-master and the Chinese cook.

The captain was captain only by courtesy. He was an old man, past eighty, and blissfully ignorant of the sea and its ways; but he was the owner of the vessel, and hence the honorable title. Of course the sailing-master, who was really captain, was a thorough-going seaman. The mate, whose post was aboard, was out with the boats, having temporarily taken Chris’s place as boat-steerer.

When good weather and good sport came together, the boats were accustomed to range far and wide, and often did not return to the schooner until long after dark. But for all that it was a perfect hunting day, Chris noted a growing anxiety on the part of the sailing-master. He paced the deck nervously, and was constantly sweeping the horizon with his marine glasses. Not a boat was in sight. As sunset arrived, he even sent Chris aloft to the mizzen-topmast-head, but with no better luck. The boats could not possibly be back before midnight.

Since noon the barometer had been falling with startling rapidity, and all the signs were ripe for a great storm — how great, not even the sailing-master anticipated. He and Chris set to work to prepare for it. They put storm gaskets on the furled topsails, lowered and stowed the foresail and spanker and took in the two inner jibs. In the one remaining jib they put a single reef, and a single reef in the mainsail.

Night had fallen before they finished, and with the darkness came the storm. A low moan swept over the sea, and the wind struck the Sophie Sutherland flat. But she righted quickly, and with the sailing-master at the wheel, sheered her bow into within five points of the wind. Working as well as he could with his bandaged hand, and with the feeble aid of the Chinese cook, Chris went forward and backed the jib over the weather side. This with the flat mainsail left the schooner hove to.

“God help the boats! It’s no gale! It’s a typhoon!” the sailing-master shouted to Chris at eleven o’clock. “Too much canvas! Got to get two more reefs into that mainsail, and got to do it right away!” He glanced at the old captain, shivering in oilskins at the binnacle and holding on for dear life. “There’s only you and I, Chris — and the cook; but he’s next to worthless!”

In order to make the reef, it was necessary to lower the mainsail, and the removal of this after pressure was bound to make the schooner fall off before the wind and sea because of the forward pressure of the jib.

“Take the wheel!” the sailing-master directed. “And when I give the word, hard up with it! And when she’s square before it, steady her! And keep her there! We’ll heave to again as soon as I get the reefs in!”

Gripping the kicking spokes, Chris watched him and the reluctant cook go forward into the howling darkness. The Sophie Sutherland was plunging into the huge head-seas and wallowing tremendously, the tense steel stays and taut rigging humming like harp-strings to the wind. A buffeted cry came to his ears, and he felt the schooner’s bow paying off of its own accord. The mainsail was down!

He ran the wheel hard-over and kept anxious track of the changing direction of the wind on his face and of the heave of the vessel. This was the crucial moment. In performing the evolution she would have to pass broadside to the surge before she could get before it. The wind was blowing directly on his right cheek, when he felt the Sophie Sutherland lean over and begin to rise toward the sky — up — up — an infinite distance! Would she clear the crest of the gigantic wave?

Again by the feel of it, he could see nothing, he knew that a wall of water was rearing and curving far above him along the whole weather side. There was an instant’s calm as the liquid wall intervened and shut off the wind. The schooner righted, and for that instant seemed at perfect rest. Then she rolled to meet the descending rush.

Chris shouted to the captain to hold tight, and prepared himself for the shock. But the man did not live who could face it. An ocean of water smote Chris’s back and his clutch on the spokes was loosened as if it were a baby’s. Stunned, powerless, like a straw on the face of a torrent, he was swept onward he knew not whither. Missing the corner of the cabin, he was dashed forward along the poop runway a hundred feet or more, striking violently against the foot of the foremast. A second wave, crushing inboard, hurled him back the way he had come, and left him half-drowned where the poop steps should have been.

Bruised and bleeding, dimly conscious, he felt for the rail and dragged himself to his feet. Unless something could be done, he knew the last moment had come. As he faced the poop, the wind drove into his mouth with suffocating force. This brought him back to his senses with a start. The wind was blowing from dead aft! The schooner was out of the trough and before it! But the send of the sea was bound to breach her to again. Crawling up the runway, he managed to get to the wheel just in time to prevent this. The binnacle light was still burning. They were safe!

That is, he and the schooner were safe. As to the welfare of his three companions he could not say. Nor did he dare leave the wheel in order to find out, for it took every second of his undivided attention to keep the vessel to her course. The least fraction of carelessness and the heave of the sea under the quarter was liable to thrust her into the trough. So, a boy of one hundred and forty pounds, he clung to his herculean task of guiding the two hundred straining tons of fabric amid the chaos of the great storm forces.

Half an hour later, groaning and sobbing, the captain crawled to Chris’s feet. All was lost, he whimpered. He was smitten unto death. The galley had gone by the board, the mainsail and running-gear, the cook, everything!

“Where’s the sailing-master?” Chris demanded when he had caught his breath after steadying a wild lurch of the schooner. It was no child’s play to steer a vessel under single-reefed jib before a typhoon.

“Clean up for’ard,” the old man replied. “Jammed under the fo’c’slehead, but still breathing. Both his arms are broken, he says, and he doesn’t know how many ribs. He’s hurt bad.”

“Well, he’ll drown there the way she’s shipping water through the hawse-pipes. Go for’ard!” Chris commanded, taking charge of things as a matter of course. “Tell him not to worry; that I’m at the wheel. Help him as much as you can, and make him help” — he stopped and ran the spokes to starboard as a tremendous billow rose under the stern and yawed the schooner to port — ”and make him help himself for the rest. Unship the fo’castle hatch and get him down into a bunk. Then ship the hatch again.”

The captain turned his aged face forward and wavered pitifully. The waist of the ship was full of water to the bulwarks. He had just come through it, and knew death lurked every inch of the way.

“Go!” Chris shouted, fiercely. And as the fear-stricken man started, “And take another look for the cook!”

Two hours later, almost dead from suffering, the captain returned. He had obeyed orders. The sailing-master was helpless, although safe in a bunk; the cook was gone. Chris sent the captain below to the cabin to change his clothes.

After interminable hours of toil, day broke cold and gray. Chris looked about him. The Sophie Sutherland was racing before the typhoon like a thing possessed. There was no rain, but the wind whipped the spray of the sea mast-high, obscuring everything except in the immediate neighborhood.

Two waves only could Chris see at a time — the one before and the one behind. So small and insignificant the schooner seemed on the long Pacific roll! Rushing up a maddening mountain, she would poise like a cockle-shell on the giddy summit, breathless and rolling, leap outward and down into the yawning chasm beneath, and bury herself in the smother of foam at the bottom. Then the recovery, another mountain, another sickening upward rush, another poise, and the downward crash. Abreast of him, to starboard, like a ghost of the storm, Chris saw the cook dashing apace with the schooner. Evidently, when washed overboard, he had grasped and become entangled in a trailing halyard.

For three hours more, along with this gruesome companion, Chris held the Sophie Sutherland before the wind and sea. He had long since forgotten his mangled fingers. The bandages had been torn away, and the cold, salt spray had eaten into the half-healed wounds until they were numb and no longer pained. But he was not cold. The terrific labor of steering forced the perspiration from every pore. Yet he was faint and weak with hunger and exhaustion, and hailed with delight the advent on deck of the captain, who fed him all of a pound of cake-chocolate. It strengthened him at once.

He ordered the captain to cut the halyard by which the cook’s body was towing, and also to go forward and cut loose the jib-halyard and sheet. When he had done so, the jib fluttered a couple of moments like a handkerchief, then tore out of the bolt-ropes and vanished. The Sophie Sutherland was running under bare poles.

By noon the storm had spent itself, and by six in the evening the waves had died down sufficiently to let Chris leave the helm. It was almost hopeless to dream of the small boats weathering the typhoon, but there is always the chance in saving human life, and Chris at once applied himself to going back over the course along which he had fled. He managed to get a reef in one of the inner jibs and two reefs in the spanker, and then, with the aid of the watch-tackle, to hoist them to the stiff breeze that yet blew. And all through the night, tacking back and forth on the back track, he shook out canvas as fast as the wind would permit.

The injured sailing-master had turned delirious and between tending him and lending a hand with the ship, Chris kept the captain busy.

“Taught me more seamanship,” as he afterward said, “than I’d learned on the whole voyage.” But by daybreak the old man’s feeble frame succumbed, and he fell off into exhausted sleep on the weather poop.

Chris, who could now lash the wheel, covered the tired man with blankets from below, and went fishing in the lazaretto for something to eat. But by the day following he found himself forced to give in, drowsing fitfully by the wheel and waking ever and anon to take a look at things.

On the afternoon of the third day he picked up a schooner, dismasted and battered. As he approached, close-hauled on the wind, he saw her decks crowded by an unusually large crew, and on sailing in closer, made out among others the faces of his missing comrades. And he was just in the nick of time, for they were fighting a losing fight at the pumps. An hour later they, with the crew of the sinking craft, were aboard the Sophie Sutherland.

Having wandered so far from their own vessel, they had taken refuge on the strange schooner just before the storm broke. She was a Canadian sealer on her first voyage, and as was now apparent, her last.

The captain of the Sophie Sutherland had a story to tell, also, and he told it well — so well, in fact, that when all hands were gathered together on deck during the dog-watch, Emil Johansen strode over to Chris and gripped him by the hand.

“Chris,” he said, so loudly that all could hear, “Chris, I gif in. You vas yoost so good a sailorman as I. You vas a bully boy and able seaman, and I pe proud for you!

“Und Chris! “ He turned as if he had forgotten something, and called back, “From dis time always you call me ‘Emil’ mitout der ‘Mister!”‘

Chun Ah Chun

There was nothing striking in the appearance of Chun Ah Chun. He was rather undersized, as Chinese go, and the Chinese narrow shoulders and spareness of flesh were his. The average tourist, casually glimpsing him on the streets of Honolulu, would have concluded that he was a good-natured little Chinese, probably the proprietor of a prosperous laundry or tailorshop. In so far as good nature and prosperity went, the judgment would be correct, though beneath the mark; for Ah Chun was as good-natured as he was prosperous, and of the latter no man knew a tithe the tale. It was well known that he was enormously wealthy, but in his case “enormous” was merely the symbol for the unknown.

Ah Chun had shrewd little eyes, black and beady and so very little that they were like gimlet-holes. But they were wide apart, and they sheltered under a forehead that was patently the forehead of a thinker. For Ah Chun had his problems, and had had them all his life. Not that he ever worried over them. He was essentially a philosopher, and whether as coolie, or multi-millionaire and master of many men, his poise of soul was the same. He lived always in the high equanimity of spiritual repose, undeterred by good fortune, unruffled by ill fortune. All things went well with him, whether they were blows from the overseer in the cane field or a slump in the price of sugar when he owned those cane fields himself. Thus, from the steadfast rock of his sure content he mastered problems such as are given to few men to consider, much less to a Chinese peasant.

He was precisely that--a Chinese peasant, born to labour in the fields all his days like a beast, but fated to escape from the fields like the prince in a fairy tale. Ah Chun did not remember his father, a small farmer in a district not far from Canton; nor did he remember much of his mother, who had died when he was six. But he did remember his respected uncle, Ah Kow, for him had he served as a slave from his sixth year to his twenty-fourth. It was then that he escaped by contracting himself as a coolie to labour for three years on the sugar plantations of Hawaii for fifty cents a day.

Ah Chun was observant. He perceived little details that not one man in a thousand ever noticed. Three years he worked in the field, at the end of which time he knew more about cane-growing than the overseers or even the superintendent, while the superintendent would have been astounded at the knowledge the weazened little coolie possessed of the reduction processes in the mill. But Ah Chun did not study only sugar processes. He studied to find out how men came to be owners of sugar mills and plantations. One judgment he achieved early, namely, that men did not become rich from the labour of their own hands. He knew, for he had laboured for a score of years himself. The men who grew rich did so from the labour of the hands of others. That man was richest who had the greatest number of his fellow creatures toiling for him.

So, when his term of contract was up, Ah Chun invested his savings in a small importing store, going into partnership with one, Ah Yung. The firm ultimately became the great one of “Ah Chun and Ah Yung,” which handled anything from India silks and ginseng to guano islands and blackbird brigs. In the meantime, Ah Chun hired out as cook. He was a good cook, and in three years he was the highest-paid chef in Honolulu. His career was assured, and he was a fool to abandon it, as Dantin, his employer, told him; but Ah Chun knew his own mind best, and for knowing it was called a triple-fool and given a present of fifty dollars over and above the wages due him.

The firm of Ah Chun and Ah Yung was prospering. There was no need for Ah Chun longer to be a cook. There were boom times in Hawaii. Sugar was being extensively planted, and labour was needed. Ah Chun saw the chance, and went into the labour-importing business. He brought thousands of Cantonese coolies into Hawaii, and his wealth began to grow. He made investments. His beady black eyes saw bargains where other men saw bankruptcy. He bought a fish-pond for a song, which later paid five hundred per cent and was the opening wedge by which he monopolized the fish market of Honolulu. He did not talk for publication, nor figure in politics, nor play at revolutions, but he forecast events more clearly and farther ahead than did the men who engineered them. In his mind’s eye he saw Honolulu a modern, electric-lighted city at a time when it straggled, unkempt and sand-tormented, over a barren reef of uplifted coral rock. So he bought land. He bought land from merchants who needed ready cash, from impecunious natives, from riotous traders’ sons, from widows and orphans and the lepers deported to Molokai; and, somehow, as the years went by, the pieces of land he had bought proved to be needed for warehouses, or coffee buildings, or hotels. He leased, and rented, sold and bought, and resold again.

But there were other things as well. He put his confidence and his money into Parkinson, the renegade captain whom nobody would trust. And Parkinson sailed away on mysterious voyages in the little Vega. Parkinson was taken care of until he died, and years afterward Honolulu was astonished when the news leaked out that the Drake and Acorn guano islands had been sold to the British Phosphate Trust for three-quarters of a million. Then there were the fat, lush days of King Kalakaua, when Ah Chun paid three hundred thousand dollars for the opium licence. If he paid a third of a million for the drug monopoly, the investment was nevertheless a good one, for the dividends bought him the Kalalau Plantation, which, in turn, paid him thirty per cent for seventeen years and was ultimately sold by him for a million and a half.

It was under the Kamehamehas, long before, that he had served his own country as Chinese Consul--a position that was not altogether unlucrative; and it was under Kamehameha IV that he changed his citizenship, becoming an Hawaiian subject in order to marry Stella Allendale, herself a subject of the brown-skinned king, though more of Anglo-Saxon blood ran in her veins than of Polynesian. In fact, the random breeds in her were so attenuated that they were valued at eighths and sixteenths. In the latter proportions was the blood of her great-grandmother, Paahao--the Princess Paahao, for she came of the royal line. Stella Allendale’s great-grandfather had been a Captain Blunt, an English adventurer who took service under Kamehameha I and was made a tabu chief himself. Her grandfather had been a New Bedford whaling captain, while through her own father had been introduced a remote blend of Italian and Portuguese which had been grafted upon his own English stock. Legally a Hawaiian, Ah Chun’s spouse was more of any one of three other nationalities.

And into this conglomerate of the races, Ah Chun introduced the Mongolian mixture. Thus, his children by Mrs. Ah Chun were one thirty-second Polynesian, one-sixteenth Italian, one sixteenth Portuguese, one-half Chinese, and eleven thirty-seconds English and American. It might well be that Ah Chun would have refrained from matrimony could he have foreseen the wonderful family that was to spring from this union. It was wonderful in many ways. First, there was its size. There were fifteen sons and daughters, mostly daughters. The sons had come first, three of them, and then had followed, in unswerving sequence, a round dozen of girls. The blend of the race was excellent. Not alone fruitful did it prove, for the progeny, without exception, was healthy and without blemish. But the most amazing thing about the family was its beauty. All the girls were beautiful--delicately, ethereally beautiful. Mamma Ah Chun’s rotund lines seemed to modify papa Ah Chun’s lean angles, so that the daughters were willowy without being lathy, round-muscled without being chubby. In every feature of every face were haunting reminiscences of Asia, all manipulated over and disguised by Old England, New England, and South of Europe. No observer, without information, would have guessed, the heavy Chinese strain in their veins; nor could any observer, after being informed, fail to note immediately the Chinese traces.

As beauties, the Ah Chun girls were something new. Nothing like them had been seen before. They resembled nothing so much as they resembled one another, and yet each girl was sharply individual. There was no mistaking one for another. On the other hand, Maud, who was blue-eyed and yellow-haired, would remind one instantly of Henrietta, an olive brunette with large, languishing dark eyes and hair that was blue-black. The hint of resemblance that ran through them all, reconciling every differentiation, was Ah Chun’s contribution. He had furnished the groundwork upon which had been traced the blended patterns of the races. He had furnished the slim-boned Chinese frame, upon which had been builded the delicacies and subtleties of Saxon, Latin, and Polynesian flesh.

Mrs. Ah Chun had ideas of her own to which Ah Chun gave credence, though never permitting them expression when they conflicted with his own philosophic calm. She had been used all her life to living in European fashion. Very well. Ah Chun gave her a European mansion. Later, as his sons and daughters grew able to advise, he built a bungalow, a spacious, rambling affair, as unpretentious as it was magnificent. Also, as time went by, there arose a mountain house on Tantalus, to which the family could flee when the “sick wind” blew from the south. And at Waikiki he built a beach residence on an extensive site so well chosen that later on, when the United States government condemned it for fortification purposes, an immense sum accompanied the condemnation. In all his houses were billiard and smoking rooms and guest rooms galore, for Ah Chun’s wonderful progeny was given to lavish entertainment. The furnishing was extravagantly simple. Kings’ ransoms were expended without display--thanks to the educated tastes of the progeny.

Ah Chun had been liberal in the matter of education. “Never mind expense,” he had argued in the old days with Parkinson when that slack mariner could see no reason for making the Vega seaworthy; “you sail the schooner, I pay the bills.” And so with his sons and daughters. It had been for them to get the education and never mind the expense. Harold, the eldest-born, had gone to Harvard and Oxford; Albert and Charles had gone through Yale in the same classes. And the daughters, from the eldest down, had undergone their preparation at Mills Seminary in California and passed on to Vassar, Wellesley, or Bryn Mawr. Several, having so desired, had had the finishing touches put on in Europe. And from all the world Ah Chun’s sons and daughters returned to him to suggest and advise in the garnishment of the chaste magnificence of his residences. Ah Chun himself preferred the voluptuous glitter of Oriental display; but he was a philosopher, and he clearly saw that his children’s tastes were correct according to Western standards.

Of course, his children were not known as the Ah Chun children. As he had evolved from a coolie labourer to a multi-millionaire, so had his name evolved. Mamma Ah Chun had spelled it A’Chun, but her wiser offspring had elided the apostrophe and spelled it Achun. Ah Chun did not object. The spelling of his name interfered no whit with his comfort nor his philosophic calm. Besides, he was not proud. But when his children arose to the height of a starched shirt, a stiff collar, and a frock coat, they did interfere with his comfort and calm. Ah Chun would have none of it. He preferred the loose-flowing robes of China, and neither could they cajole nor bully him into making the change. They tried both courses, and in the latter one failed especially disastrously. They had not been to America for nothing. They had learned the virtues of the boycott as employed by organized labour, and he, their father, Chun Ah Chun, they boycotted in his own house, Mamma Achun aiding and abetting. But Ah Chun himself, while unversed in Western culture, was thoroughly conversant with Western labour conditions. An extensive employer of labour himself, he knew how to cope with its tactics. Promptly he imposed a lockout on his rebellious progeny and erring spouse. He discharged his scores of servants, locked up his stables, closed his houses, and went to live in the Royal Hawaiian Hotel, in which enterprise he happened to be the heaviest stockholder. The family fluttered distractedly on visits about with friends, while Ah Chun calmly managed his many affairs, smoked his long pipe with the tiny silver bowl, and pondered the problem of his wonderful progeny.

This problem did not disturb his calm. He knew in his philosopher’s soul that when it was ripe he would solve it. In the meantime he enforced the lesson that complacent as he might be, he was nevertheless the absolute dictator of the Achun destinies. The family held out for a week, then returned, along with Ah Chun and the many servants, to occupy the bungalow once more. And thereafter no question was raised when Ah Chun elected to enter his brilliant drawing-room in blue silk robe, wadded slippers, and black silk skull-cap with red button peak, or when he chose to draw at his slender-stemmed silver-bowled pipe among the cigarette-and cigar-smoking officers and civilians on the broad verandas or in the smoking room.

Ah Chun occupied a unique position in Honolulu. Though he did not appear in society, he was eligible anywhere. Except among the Chinese merchants of the city, he never went out; but he received, and he always was the centre of his household and the head of his table. Himself peasant, born Chinese, he presided over an atmosphere of culture and refinement second to none in all the islands. Nor were there any in all the islands too proud to cross his threshold and enjoy his hospitality. First of all, the Achun bungalow was of irreproachable tone. Next, Ah Chun was a power. And finally, Ah Chun was a moral paragon and an honest business man. Despite the fact that business morality was higher than on the mainland, Ah Chun outshone the business men of Honolulu in the scrupulous rigidity of his honesty. It was a saying that his word was as good as his bond. His signature was never needed to bind him. He never broke his word. Twenty years after Hotchkiss, of Hotchkiss, Morterson Company, died, they found among mislaid papers a memorandum of a loan of thirty thousand dollars to Ah Chun. It had been incurred when Ah Chun was Privy Councillor to Kamehameha II. In the bustle and confusion of those heyday, money-making times, the affair had slipped Ah Chun’s mind. There was no note, no legal claim against him, but he settled in full with the Hotchkiss’ Estate, voluntarily paying a compound interest that dwarfed the principal. Likewise, when he verbally guaranteed the disastrous Kakiku Ditch Scheme, at a time when the least sanguine did not dream a guarantee necessary--“Signed his cheque for two hundred thousand without a quiver, gentlemen, without a quiver,” was the report of the secretary of the defunct enterprise, who had been sent on the forlorn hope of finding out Ah Chun’s intentions. And on top of the many similar actions that were true of his word, there was scarcely a man of repute in the islands that at one time or another had not experienced the helping financial hand of Ah Chun.

So it was that Honolulu watched his wonderful family grow up into a perplexing problem and secretly sympathized with him, for it was beyond any of them to imagine what he was going to do with it. But Ah Chun saw the problem more clearly than they. No one knew as he knew the extent to which he was an alien in his family. His own family did not guess it. He saw that there was no place for him amongst this marvellous seed of his loins, and he looked forward to his declining years and knew that he would grow more and more alien. He did not understand his children. Their conversation was of things that did not interest him and about which he knew nothing. The culture of the West had passed him by. He was Asiatic to the last fibre, which meant that he was heathen. Their Christianity was to him so much nonsense. But all this he would have ignored as extraneous and irrelevant, could he have but understood the young people themselves. When Maud, for instance, told him that the housekeeping bills for the month were thirty thousand--that he understood, as he understood Albert’s request for five thousand with which to buy the schooner yacht Muriel and become a member of the Hawaiian Yacht Club. But it was their remoter, complicated desires and mental processes that obfuscated him. He was not slow in learning that the mind of each son and daughter was a secret labyrinth which he could never hope to tread. Always he came upon the wall that divides East from West. Their souls were inaccessible to him, and by the same token he knew that his soul was inaccessible to them.

Besides, as the years came upon him, he found himself harking back more and more to his own kind. The reeking smells of the Chinese quarter were spicy to him. He sniffed them with satisfaction as he passed along the street, for in his mind they carried him back to the narrow tortuous alleys of Canton swarming with life and movement. He regretted that he had cut off his queue to please Stella Allendale in the prenuptial days, and he seriously considered the advisability of shaving his crown and growing a new one. The dishes his highly paid chef concocted for him failed to tickle his reminiscent palate in the way that the weird messes did in the stuffy restaurant down in the Chinese quarter. He enjoyed vastly more a half-hour’s smoke and chat with two or three Chinese chums, than to preside at the lavish and elegant dinners for which his bungalow was famed, where the pick of the Americans and Europeans sat at the long table, men and women on equality, the women with jewels that blazed in the subdued light against white necks and arms, the men in evening dress, and all chattering and laughing over topics and witticisms that, while they were not exactly Greek to him, did not interest him nor entertain.

But it was not merely his alienness and his growing desire to return to his Chinese flesh-pots that constituted the problem. There was also his wealth. He had looked forward to a placid old age. He had worked hard. His reward should have been peace and repose. But he knew that with his immense fortune peace and repose could not possibly be his. Already there were signs and omens. He had seen similar troubles before. There was his old employer, Dantin, whose children had wrested from him, by due process of law, the management of his property, having the Court appoint guardians to administer it for him. Ah Chun knew, and knew thoroughly well, that had Dantin been a poor man, it would have been found that he could quite rationally manage his own affairs. And old Dantin had had only three children and half a million, while he, Chun Ah Chun, had fifteen children and no one but himself knew how many millions.

“Our daughters are beautiful women,” he said to his wife, one evening. “There are many young men. The house is always full of young men. My cigar bills are very heavy. Why are there no marriages?”

Mamma Achun shrugged her shoulders and waited.

“Women are women and men are men--it is strange there are no marriages. Perhaps the young men do not like our daughters.”

“Ah, they like them well enough,” Mamma Chun answered; “but you see, they cannot forget that you are your daughters’ father.”

“Yet you forgot who my father was,” Ah Chun said gravely. “All you asked was for me to cut off my queue.”

“The young men are more particular than I was, I fancy.”

“What is the greatest thing in the world?” Ah Chun demanded with abrupt irrelevance.

Mamma Achun pondered for a moment, then replied: “God.”

He nodded. “There are gods and gods. Some are paper, some are wood, some are bronze. I use a small one in the office for a paper-weight. In the Bishop Museum are many gods of coral rock and lava stone.”

“But there is only one God,” she announced decisively, stiffening her ample frame argumentatively.

Ah Chun noted the danger signal and sheered off.

“What is greater than God, then?” he asked. “I will tell you. It is money. In my time I have had dealings with Jews and Christians, Mohammedans and Buddhists, and with little black men from the Solomons and New Guinea who carried their god about them, wrapped in oiled paper. They possessed various gods, these men, but they all worshipped money. There is that Captain Higginson. He seems to like Henrietta.”

“He will never marry her,” retorted Mamma Achun. “He will be an admiral before he dies--“

“A rear-admiral,” Ah Chun interpolated.

“Yes, I know. That is the way they retire.”

“His family in the United States is a high one. They would not like it if he married . . . if he did not marry an American girl.”

Ah Chun knocked the ashes out of his pipe, thoughtfully refilling the silver bowl with a tiny pleget of tobacco. He lighted it and smoked it out before he spoke.

“Henrietta is the oldest girl. The day she marries I will give her three hundred thousand dollars. That will fetch that Captain Higginson and his high family along with him. Let the word go out to him. I leave it to you.”

And Ah Chun sat and smoked on, and in the curling smoke-wreaths he saw take shape the face and figure of Toy Shuey--Toy Shuey, the maid of all work in his uncle’s house in the Cantonese village, whose work was never done and who received for a whole year’s work one dollar. And he saw his youthful self arise in the curling smoke, his youthful self who had toiled eighteen years in his uncle’s field for little more. And now he, Ah Chun, the peasant, dowered his daughter with three hundred thousand years of such toil. And she was but one daughter of a dozen. He was not elated at the thought. It struck him that it was a funny, whimsical world, and he chuckled aloud and startled Mamma Achun from a revery which he knew lay deep in the hidden crypts of her being where he had never penetrated.

But Ah Chun’s word went forth, as a whisper, and Captain Higginson forgot his rear-admiralship and his high family and took to wife three hundred thousand dollars and a refined and cultured girl who was one thirty-second Polynesian, one-sixteenth Italian, one-sixteenth Portuguese, eleven thirty-seconds English and Yankee, and one-half Chinese.

Ah Chun’s munificence had its effect. His daughters became suddenly eligible and desirable. Clara was the next, but when the Secretary of the Territory formally proposed for her, Ah Chun informed him that he must wait his turn, that Maud was the oldest and that she must be married first. It was shrewd policy. The whole family was made vitally interested in marrying off Maud, which it did in three months, to Ned Humphreys, the United States immigration commissioner. Both he and Maud complained, for the dowry was only two hundred thousand. Ah Chun explained that his initial generosity had been to break the ice, and that after that his daughters could not expect otherwise than to go more cheaply.

Clara followed Maud, and thereafter, for a space of two years; there was a continuous round of weddings in the bungalow. In the meantime Ah Chun had not been idle. Investment after investment was called in. He sold out his interests in a score of enterprises, and step by step, so as not to cause a slump in the market, he disposed of his large holdings in real estate. Toward the last he did precipitate a slump and sold at sacrifice. What caused this haste were the squalls he saw already rising above the horizon. By the time Lucille was married, echoes of bickerings and jealousies were already rumbling in his ears. The air was thick with schemes and counter-schemes to gain his favour and to prejudice him against one or another or all but one of his sons-in-law. All of which was not conducive to the peace and repose he had planned for his old age.

He hastened his efforts. For a long time he had been in correspondence with the chief banks in Shanghai and Macao. Every steamer for several years had carried away drafts drawn in favour of one, Chun Ah Chun, for deposit in those Far Eastern banks. The drafts now became heavier. His two youngest daughters were not yet married. He did not wait, but dowered them with a hundred thousand each, which sums lay in the Bank of Hawaii, drawing interest and awaiting their wedding day. Albert took over the business of the firm of Ah Chun and Ah Yung, Harold, the eldest, having elected to take a quarter of a million and go to England to live. Charles, the youngest, took a hundred thousand, a legal guardian, and a course in a Keeley institute. To Mamma Achun was given the bungalow, the mountain House on Tantalus, and a new seaside residence in place of the one Ah Chun sold to the government. Also, to Mamma Achun was given half a million in money well invested.

Ah Chun was now ready to crack the nut of the problem. One fine morning when the family was at breakfast--he had seen to it that all his sons-in-law and their wives were present--he announced that he was returning to his ancestral soil. In a neat little homily he explained that he had made ample provision for his family, and he laid down various maxims that he was sure, he said, would enable them to dwell together in peace and harmony. Also, he gave business advice to his sons-in-law, preached the virtues of temperate living and safe investments, and gave them the benefit of his encyclopedic knowledge of industrial and business conditions in Hawaii. Then he called for his carriage, and, in the company of the weeping Mamma Achun, was driven down to the Pacific Mail steamer, leaving behind him a panic in the bungalow. Captain Higginson clamoured wildly for an injunction. The daughters shed copious tears. One of their husbands, an ex-Federal judge, questioned Ah Chun’s sanity, and hastened to the proper authorities to inquire into it. He returned with the information that Ah Chun had appeared before the commission the day before, demanded an examination, and passed with flying colours. There was nothing to be done, so they went down and said good-bye to the little old man, who waved farewell from the promenade deck as the big steamer poked her nose seaward through the coral reef.

But the little old man was not bound for Canton. He knew his own country too well, and the squeeze of the Mandarins, to venture into it with the tidy bulk of wealth that remained to him. He went to Macao. Now Ah Chun had long exercised the power of a king and he was as imperious as a king. When he landed at Macao and went into the office of the biggest European hotel to register, the clerk closed the book on him. Chinese were not permitted. Ah Chun called for the manager and was treated with contumely. He drove away, but in two hours he was back again. He called the clerk and manager in, gave them a month’s salary, and discharged them. He had made himself the owner of the hotel; and in the finest suite he settled down during the many months the gorgeous palace in the suburbs was building for him. In the meantime, with the inevitable ability that was his, he increased the earnings of his big hotel from three per cent to thirty.

The troubles Ah Chun had flown began early. There were sons-in-law that made bad investments, others that played ducks and drakes with the Achun dowries. Ah Chun being out of it, they looked at Mamma Ah Chun and her half million, and, looking, engendered not the best of feeling toward one another. Lawyers waxed fat in the striving to ascertain the construction of trust deeds. Suits, cross-suits, and counter-suits cluttered the Hawaiian courts. Nor did the police courts escape. There were angry encounters in which harsh words and harsher blows were struck. There were such things as flower pots being thrown to add emphasis to winged words. And suits for libel arose that dragged their way through the courts and kept Honolulu agog with excitement over the revelations of the witnesses.

In his palace, surrounded by all dear delights of the Orient, Ah Chun smokes his placid pipe and listens to the turmoil overseas. By each mail steamer, in faultless English, typewritten on an American machine, a letter goes from Macao to Honolulu, in which, by admirable texts and precepts, Ah Chun advises his family to live in unity and harmony. As for himself, he is out of it all, and well content. He has won to peace and repose. At times he chuckles and rubs his hands, and his slant little black eyes twinkle merrily at the thought of the funny world. For out of all his living and philosophizing, that remains to him--the conviction that it is a very funny world.

Created He Them

SHE met him at the door.

“I did not think you would be so early.”

“It is half past eight.” He looked at his watch. “The train leaves a 9:12.”

He was very businesslike, until he saw her lips tremble as she abruptly turned and led the way.

“It’ll be all right, little woman,” he said soothingly. “Doctor Bodineau’s the man. He’ll pull him through, you’ll see.”

They entered the living-room. His glance quested apprehensively about, then turned to her.

“Where’s Al?”

She did not answer, but with a sudden impulse came close to him and stood motionless. She was a slender, dark-eyed woman, in whose face was stamped the strain and stress of living. But the fine lines and the haunted look in the eyes were not the handiwork of mere worry. He knew whose handiwork it was as he looked upon it, and she knew when she consulted her mirror.

“It’s no use, Mary,” he said. He put his hand on her shoulder. “We’ve tried everything. It’s a wretched business, I know, but what else can we do? You’ve failed. Doctor Bodineau’s all that’s left.”

“If I had another chance . . .” she began falteringly.

“We’ve threshed that all out,” he answered harshly. “You’ve got to buck up, now. You know what conclusion we arrived at. You know you haven’t the ghost of a hope in another chance.”

She shook her head. “I know it. But it is terrible, the thought of his going away to fight it out alone.”

“He won’t be alone. There’s Doctor Bodineau. And besides, it’s a beautiful place.”

She remained silent.

“It is the only thing,” he said.

“It is the only thing,” she repeated mechanically.

He looked at his watch. “Where’s Al?”

“I’ll send him.”

When the door had closed behind her, he walked over to the window and looked out, drumming absently with his knuckles on the pane.

“Hello.”

He turned and responded to the greeting of the man who had just entered. There was a perceptible drag to the man’s feet as he walked across toward the window and paused irresolutely halfway.

“I’ve changed my mind, George,” he announced hurriedly and nervously. “I’m not going.”

He plucked at his sleeve, shuffled with his feet, dropped his eyes, and with a strong effort raised them again to confront the other.

George regarded him silently, his nostrils distending and his lean fingers unconsciously crooking like an eagle’s talons about to clutch.

In line and feature there was much of resemblance between the two men; and yet, in the strongest resemblances there was a radical difference. Theirs were the same black eyes, but those of the man at the window were sharp and straight looking, while those of the man in the middle of the room were cloudy and furtive. He could not face the other’s gaze, and continually and vainly struggled with himself to do so. The high cheek bones with the hollows beneath were the same, yet the texture of the hollows seemed different. The thin-lipped mouths were from the same mould, but George’s lips were firm and muscular, while Al’s were soft and loose--the lips of an ascetic turned voluptuary. There was also a sag at the corners. His flesh hinted of grossness, especially so in the eagle-like aquiline nose that must once have been the other’s, but that had lost the austerity the other’s still retained.

AI fought for steadiness in the middle of the floor. The silence bothered him. He had a feeling that he was about to begin swaying back and forth. He moistened his lips with his tongue.

“I’m going to stay,” he said desperately.

He dropped his eyes and plucked again at his sleeve.

“And you are only twenty-six years old,” George said at last. “You poor, feeble old man.” lilt.

“Don’t be so sure of that,” AI retorted, with a flash of belligerence.

“Do you remember when we swam that mile and a half across the channel?”

“Well, and what of it?” A sullen expression was creeping across Al’s face.

“And do you remember when we boxed in the barn after school?”

“I could take all you gave me.”

“All I gave you!” George’s voice rose momentarily to a higher pitch. “You licked me four afternoons out of five. You were twice as strong as I--three times as strong. And now I’d be afraid to land on you with a sofa cushion; you’d crumple up like a last year’s leaf. You’d die, you poor, miserable old man.”

“You needn’t abuse me just because I’ve changed my mind,” the other protested, the hint of a whine in his voice.

His wife entered, and he looked appeal to her; but the man at the window strode suddenly up to him and burst out:--

“You don’t know your own mind for two successive minutes! You haven’t any mind, you spineless, crawling worm!”

“You can’t make me angry.” Al smiled with cunning, and glanced triumphantly at his wife. “You can’t make me angry,” he repeated, as though the idea were thoroughly gratifying to him. “I know your game. It’s my stomach, I tell you. I can’t help it. Before God, I can’t! Isn’t it my stomach, Mary?”

She glanced at George and spoke composedly, though she hid a trembling hand in a fold of her skirt.

“Isn’t it time?” she asked softly.

Her husband turned upon her savagely. “I’m not going to go!” he cried. “That’s just what I’ve been telling . . . him. And I tell you again, all of you, I’m not going. You can’t bully me.” “Why, Al, dear, you said--“ she began.

“Never mind what I said!” he broke out. “I’ve said something else right now, and you’ve heard it, and that settles it.”

He walked across the room and threw himself with emphasis into a Morris chair. But the other man was swiftly upon him. The talon-like fingers gripped his shoulders, jerked him to his feet, and held him there.

“You’ve reached the limit, Al, and I want you to understand it. I’ve tried to treat you like . . . like my brother, but hereafter I shall treat you like the thing that you are. Do you understand?”

The anger in his voice was cold. The blaze in his eyes was cold. It was vastly more effective than any outburst, and Al cringed under it and under the clutching hand that was bruising his shoulder muscles.

“It is only because of me that you have this house, that you have the food you eat. Your position? Any other man would have been shown the door a year ago--two years ago. I have held you in it. Your salary has been charity. It has been paid out of my pocket. Mary . . . her dresses. . . that gown she has on is made over; she wears the discarded dresses of her sisters, of my wife. Charity--do you understand? Your children--they are wearing the discarded clothes of my children, of the children of my neighbors who think the clothes went to some orphan asylum. And it is an orphan asylum . . . or it soon will be.”

He emphasized each point with an unconscious tightening of his grip on the shoulder. Al was squirming with the pain of it. The sweat was starting out on his forehead.

“Now listen well to me,” his brother went on. “In three minutes you will tell me that you are going with me. If you don’t, Mary and the children will be taken away from you--to-day.. You needn’t ever come to the office. This house will be closed to you. And in six months I shall have the pleasure of burying you. You have three minutes to make up your mind.”

Al made a strangling movement, and reached up with weak fingers to the clutching hand.

“My heart . . . let me go . . . you’ll be the death of me,” he gasped.

The hand thrust him down forcibly into the Morris chair and released him.

The clock on the mantle ticked loudly. George glanced at it, and at Mary. She was leaning against the table, unable to conceal her trembling. He became unpleasantly aware of the feeling of his brother’s fingers on his hand. Quite unconsciously he wiped the back of the hand upon his coat. The clock ticked on in the silence. It seemed to George that the room reverberated with his voice. He could hear himself still speaking.

“I’ll go,” came from the Morris chair.

It was a weak and shaken voice, and it was a weak and shaken man that pulled himself out of the Morris chair. He started toward the door.

“Where are you going?” George demanded.

“Suit case,” came the response. “Mary’ll send the trunk later. I’ll be back In a minute.”

The door closed after him. A moment later, struck with sudden suspicion, George was opening the door. He glanced in. His brother stood at a sideboard, in one hand a decanter, in the other hand, bottom up and to his lips, a whiskey glass.

Across the glass Al saw that he was observed. It threw him into a panic. Hastily he tried to refill the glass and get it to his lips; but glass and decanter were sent smashing to the floor. He snarled. It was like the sound of a wild beast. But the grip on his shoulder subdued and frightened him. He was being propelled toward the door.

“The suit case,” he gasped. “It’s there . . . in that room. Let me get it.”

“Where’s the key?” his brother asked, when he had brought it.

“It isn’t locked.”

The next moment the suit case was spread open, and George’s hand was searching the contents. From one side it brought out a bottle of whiskey, from the other side a flask. He snapped the case shut.

“Come on,” he said. “If we miss one car, we miss that train.”

He went out into the hallway, leaving Al with his wife. It was like a funeral, George thought, as he waited.

His brother’s overcoat caught on the knob of the front door and delayed its closing long enough for Mary’s first sob to come to their ears. George’s lips were very thin and compressed as he went down the steps. In one hand he carried the suit case. With the other hand he held his brother’s arm.

As they neared the corner, he heard the electric car a block away, and urged his brother on. Al was breathing hard. His feet dragged, and shuffled, and he held back.

“A hell of a brother you are,” he panted.

For reply, he received a vicious jerk on his arm. It reminded him of his childhood when he was hurried along by some angry grown-up. And like a child, he had to be helped up the car step. He sank down on an outside seat, panting, sweating, overcome by the exertion. He followed George’s eyes as the latter looked him up and down.

“A hell of a brother you are,” was George’s comment when he had finished the inspection.

Moisture welled into Al’s eyes.

“It’s my stomach,” he said with self-pity.

“I don’t wonder,” was the retort. “Burnt out like the crater of a volcano. Fervent heat isn’t a circumstance.”

Thereafter they did not speak. When they arrived at the transfer point, George came to himself with a start. He smiled. With fixed gaze that did not see the houses that streamed across his field of vision, he had himself been sunk deep in self-pity. He helped his brother from the car, and looked up the intersecting street. The car they were to take was not in sight.

Al’s eyes chanced upon the corner grocery and saloon across the way. At once he became restless. His hands passed beyond his control, and he yearned hungrily across the street to the door that swung open even as he looked and let in a happy pilgrim. And in that instant he saw the white-jacketed bar-tender against an array of glittering glass. Quite unconsciously he started to cross the street.

“Hold on.” George’s hand was on his arm.

“I want some whiskey,” he answered.

“You’ve already had some.”

“That was hours ago. Go on, George, let me have some. It’s the last day. Don’t shut off on me until we get there--God knows it will be soon enough.”

George glanced desperately up the street. The car was in sight.

“There isn’t time for a drink,” he said.

“I don’t want a drink. I want a bottle.” Al’s voice became wheedling. “Go on, George. It’s the last, the very last.”

“No.” The denial was as final as George’s thin lips could make it.

Al glanced at the approaching car. He sat down suddenly on the curbstone.

“What’s the matter?” his brother asked, with momentary alarm.

“Nothing. I want some whiskey. It’s my stomach.”

“Come on now, get up.”

George reached for him, but was anticipated, for his brother sprawled flat on the pavement, oblivious to the dirt and to the curious glances of the passers-by. The car was clanging its gong at the crossing, a block away.

“You’ll miss it,” Al grinned from the pavement. “And it will be your fault.”

George’s fists clenched tightly.

“For two cents I’d give you a thrashing.”

“And miss the car,” was the triumphant comment from the pavement.

George looked at the car. It was halfway down the block. He looked at his watch. He debated a second longer.

“All right,” he said. “I’ll get it. But you get on that car. If you miss it, I’ll break the bottle over your head.”

He dashed across the street and into the saloon. The car came in and stopped. There were no passengers to get off. Al dragged himself up the steps and sat down. He smiled as the conductor rang the bell and the car started. The swinging door of the saloon burst open. Clutching in his hand the suit case and a pint bottle of whiskey, George started in pursuit. The conductor, his hand on the bell cord, waited to see if it would be necessary to stop. It was not. George swung lightly aboard, sat down beside his brother, and passed him the bottle.

“You might have got a quart,” Al said reproachfully.

He extracted the cork with a pocket corkscrew, and elevated the bottle.

“I’m sick . . . my stomach,” he explained in apologetic tones to the passenger who sat next to him.

On the train they sat in the smoking-car. George felt that it was imperative. Also, having successfully caught the train, his heart softened. He felt more kindly toward his brother, and accused himself of unnecessary harshness. He strove to atone by talking about their mother, and sisters, and the little affairs and interests of the family. But Al was morose, and devoted himself to the bottle. As the time passed, his mouth hung looser and looser, while the rings under his eyes seemed to puff out and all his facial muscles to relax.

“It’s my stomach,” he said, once, when he finished the bottle and dropped it under the seat; but the swift hardening of his brother’s face did not encourage further explanations.

The conveyance that met them at the station had all the dignity and luxuriousness of a private carriage. George’s eyes were keen for the ear marks of the institution to which they were going, but his apprehensions were allayed from moment to moment. As they entered the wide gateway and rolled on through the spacious grounds, he felt sure that the institutional side of the place would not jar upon his brother. It was more like a summer hotel, or, better yet, a country club. And as they swept on through the spring sunshine, the songs of birds in his ears and in his nostrils the breath of flowers, George sighed for a week of rest in such a place, and before his eyes loomed the arid vista of summer in town and at the office. There was not room in his income for his brother and himself.

“Let us take a walk in the grounds,” he suggested, after they had met Doctor Bodineau and inspected the quarters assigned to Al. “The carriage leaves for the station in half an hour, and we’ll just have time.”

“It’s beautiful,” he remarked a moment later. Under his feet was the velvet grass, the trees arched overhead, and he stood in mottled sunshine. “I wish I could stay for a month.”

“I’ll trade places with you,” Al said quickly.

George laughed it off, but he felt a sinking of the heart.

“Look at that oak!” he cried. “And that woodpecker! Isn’t he a beauty!”

“I don’t like it here,” he heard his brother mutter.

George’s lips tightened in preparation for the struggle, but he said:--

“I’m going to send Mary and the children off to the mountains. She needs it, and so do they. And when you’re in shape, I’ll send you right on to join them. Then you can take your summer vacation before you come back to the office.”

“I’m not going to stay in this damned hole, for all you talk about it,” Al announced abruptly.

“Yes you are, and you’re going to get your health and strength back again so that the look of you will put the color in Mary’s cheeks where it used to be.”

“I’m going back with you.” Al’s voice was firm. “I’m going to take the same train back. It’s about time for that carriage, I guess.”

“I haven’t told you all my plans,” George tried to go on, but Al cut him off.

“You might as well quit that. I don’t want any of your soapy talking. You treat me like a child. I’m not a child. My mind’s made up, and I’ll show you how long it can stay made up. You needn’t talk to me. I don’t care a rap for what you’re going to say.”

A baleful light was in his eyes, and to his brother he seemed for all the world like a cornered rat, desperate and ready to fight. As George looked at him he remembered back to their childhood, and it came to him that at last was aroused in Al the same old stubborn strain that had enabled him, as a child, to stand against all force and persuasion.

George abandoned hope. He had lost. This creature was not human. The last fine instinct of the human had fled. It was a brute, sluggish and stolid, impossible to move--just the raw stuff of life, combative, rebellious, and indomitable. And as he contemplated his brother he felt in himself the rising up of a similar brute. He became suddenly aware that his fingers were tensing and crooking like a thug’s, and he knew the desire to kill. And his reason, turned traitor at last, counselled that he should kill, that it was the only thing left for him to do.

He was aroused by a servant calling to him through the trees that the carriage was waiting. He answered. Then, looking straight before him, he discovered his brother. He had forgotten it was his brother. It had been only a thing the moment before. He began to talk, and as he talked the way became clear to him His reason had not turned traitor.

The brute in him had. merely orientated his reason

“You are no earthly good, Al,” he said. “You know that. You’ve made Mary’s life a hell You are a curse to your children And you have not made life exactly a paradise for the rest of us.”

“There’s no use your talking,” Al interjected. “I’m not going to stay here.”

“That’s what I’m coming to,” George continued. “You don’t have stay here.” (Al’s face brightened, and he involuntarily made a movement, I meet, as though about to start toward the carriage.) “On the other hand, it is not necessary that you should return with me. There is another way.”

George’s hand went to his hip pocket and appeared with a revolver. It lay along his palm, the butt toward Al, and toward Al he extended it. At the same time, with his head, he indicated the near-by thicket.

“You can’t bluff me,” Al snarled.

“It is not a bluff, Al. Look at me. I mean it. And if you don’t do it for yourself, I shall have to do it for you.”

They faced each other, the proffered revolver still extended. Al debated for a moment, then his eyes blazed. With a quick movement he seized the revolver.

“My God! I’ll do it,” he said. “I’ll show you what I’ve got in me.”

George felt suddenly sick. He turned away. He did not see his brother enter the thicket, but he heard the passage of his body through the leaves and branches.

“Good-by, Al,” he called.

“Good-by,” came from the thicket.

George felt the sweat upon his forehead. He began mopping his face with his handkerchief. He heard, as from a remote distance, the voice of the servant again calling to him that the carriage was waiting. The woodpecker dropped down through the mottled sunshine and lighted on the trunk of a tree a dozen feet away. George felt that it was all a dream, and yet through it all he felt supreme justification. It was the right thing to do. It was the only thing.

His whole body gave a spasmodic start, as though the revolver had been fired. It was the voice of Al, close at his back.

“Here’s your gun,” Al said. “I’ll stay.”

The servant appeared among the trees, approaching rapidly and calling anxiously. George put the weapon in his pocket and caught both his brother’s hands in his own.

“God bless you, old man,” he murmured; “and”--with a final ueeze of the hands--“good luck!”

“I’m coming,” he called to the servant; and turned and ran through the trees toward the carriage.

A Curious Fragment

[The capitalist, or industrial oligarch, Roger Vanderwater, mentioned in the narrative, has been identified as the ninth in the line of the Vanderwaters that controlled for hundreds of years the cotton factories of the South. This Roger Vanderwater flourished in the last decades of the twentysixth century after Christ, which was the fifth century of the terrible industrial oligarchy that was reared upon the ruins of the early Republic.

From internal evidences we are convinced that the narrative which follows was not reduced to writing till the twenty-ninth century. Not only was it unlawful to write or print such matter during that period, but the working-class was so illiterate that only in rare instances were its members able to read and write. This was the dark reign of the overman, in whose speech the great mass of the people were characterized as the “herd animals.” AII literacy was frowned upon and stamped out. From the statute books of the times may be instanced that black law that made it a capital offence for any man, no matter of what class, to teach even the alphabet to a member of the working-class. Such stringent limitation of education to the ruling class was necessary if that class was to continue to rule.

One result of the foregoing was the development of the professional story-tellers. These story-tellers were paid by the oligarchy, and the tales they told were legendary, mythical, romantic, and harmless. But the spirit of freedom never quite died out, and agitators, under the guise of storytellers, preached revolt to the slave class. That the following tale was banned by the oligarchs we have proof from the records of the criminal police court of Ashbury, wherein, on January 27, 2734, one John Tourney, found guilty of telling the tale in a boozing-ken of laborers, was sentenced to five years’ penal servitude in the borax mines of the Arizona Desert.

— EDITOR’S NOTE.]

LISTEN, my brothers, and I will tell you a tale of an arm. It was the arm of Tom Dixon, and Tom Dixon was a weaver of the first class in a factory of that hell-hound and master, Roger Vanderwater. This factory was called “Hell’s Bottom” . . . by the slaves who toiled in it, and I guess they ought to know; and it was situated in Kingsbury, at the other end of the town from Vanderwater’s summer palace. You do not know where Kingsbury is? There are many things, my brothers, that you do not know, and it is sad. It is because you do not know that you are slaves. When I have told you this tale, I should like to form a class among you for the learning of written and printed speech. Our masters read and write and possess many books, and it is because of that that they are our masters, and live in palaces, and do not work. When the toilers learn to read and write,--all of them,--they will grow strong; then they will use their strength to break their bonds, and there will be no more masters and no more slaves.

Kingsbury, my brothers, is in the old State of Alabama. For three hundred years the Vanderwaters have owned Kingsbury and its slave pens and factories, and slave pens and factories in many other places and States. You have heard of the Vanderwaters,--who has not?--but let me tell you things you do not know about them. The first Vanderwater was a slave, even as you and I. Have you got that? He was a slave, and that was over three hundred years ago. His father was a machinist in the slave pen of Alexander Burrell, and his mother was a washerwoman in the same slave pen. There is no doubt about this. I am telling you truth. It is history. It is printed, every word of it, in the history books of our masters, which you cannot read because your masters will not permit you to learn to read. You can understand why they will not permit you to learn to read, when there are such things in the books. They know, and they are very wise. If you did read such things, you might be wanting in respect to your masters, which would be a dangerous thing . . . to your masters. But I know, for I can read, and I am telling you what I have read with my own eyes in the history books of our masters.

The first Vanderwater’s name was not Vanderwater; it was Vange--Bill Vange, the son of Yergis Vange, the machinist, and Laura Carnly, the washerwoman. Young Bill Vange was strong. He might have remained with the slaves and led them to freedom; instead, however, he served the masters and was well rewarded. He began his service, when yet a small child, as a spy in his home slave pen. He is known to have informed on his own father for seditious utterance. This is fact. I have read it with my own eyes in the records. He was too good a slave for the slave pen. Alexander Burrell took him out, while yet a child, and he was taught to read and write. He was taught many things, and he was entered in the secret service of the government. Of course, he no longer wore the slave dress, except for disguise at such times when he sought to penetrate the secrets and plots of the slaves. It was he, when but eighteen years of age, who brought that great hero and comrade, Ralph Jacobus, to trial and execution in the electric chair. Of course, you have all heard the sacred name of Ralph Jacobus, but it is news to you that he was brought to his death by the first Vanderwater, whose name was Vange. I know. I have read it in the books. There are many interesting things like that in the books.

And after Ralph Jacobus died his shameful death, Bill Vange’s name began the many changes it was to undergo. He was known as “Sly Vange” far and wide. He rose high in the secret service, and he was rewarded in grand ways, but still he was not a member of the master class. The men were willing that he should become so; it was the women of the master class who refused to have Sly Vange one of them. Sly Vange gave good service to the masters. He had been a slave himself, and he knew the ways of the slaves. There was no fooling him. In those days the slaves were braver than now, and they were always trying for their freedom. And Sly Vange was everywhere, in all their schemes and plans, bringing their schemes and plans to naught and their leaders to the electric chair. It was in 2255 that his name was next changed for him. It was in that year that the Great Mutiny took place. In that region west of the Rocky Mountains, seventeen millions of slaves strove bravely to overthrow their masters. Who knows, if Sly Vange had not lived, but that they would have succeeded? But Sly Vange was very much alive. The masters gave him supreme command of the situation. In eight months of fighting, one million and three hundred and fifty thousand slaves were killed. Vange, Bill Vange, Sly Vange, killed them, and he broke the Great Mutiny. And he was greatly rewarded, and so red were his hands with the blood of the slaves that thereafter he was called “Bloody Vange.” You see, my brothers, what interesting things are to be found in the books when one can read them. And, take my word for it, there are many other things, even more interesting, in the books. And if you will but study with me, in a year’s time you can read those books for yourselves--ay, in six months some of you will be able to read those books for yourselves.

Bloody Vange lived to a ripe old age, and always, to the last, was he received in the councils of the masters; but never was he made a master himself. He had first opened his eyes, you see, in a slave pen. But oh, he was well rewarded! He had a dozen palaces in which to live. He, who was no master, owned thousands of slaves. He had a great pleasure yacht upon the sea that was a floating palace, and he owned a whole island in the sea where toiled ten thousand slaves on his coffee plantations. But in his old age he was lonely, for he lived apart, hated by his brothers, the slaves, and looked down upon by those he had served and who refused to be his brothers. The masters looked down upon him because he had been born a slave. Enormously wealthy he died; but he died horribly, tormented by his conscience, regretting all he had done and the red stain on his name.

But with his children it was different. They had not been born in the slave pen, and by the special ruling of the Chief Oligarch of that time, John Morrison, they were elevated to the master class. And it was then that the name of Vange disappears from the page of history. It becomes Vanderwater, and Jason Vange, the son of Bloody Vange, becomes Jason Vanderwater, the founder of the Vanderwater line. But that was three hundred years ago, and the Vanderwaters of to-day forget their beginnings and imagine that somehow the clay of their bodies is different stuff from the clay in your body and mine and in the bodies of all slaves. And I ask you, Why should a slave become the master of another slave? And why should the son of a slave become the master of many slaves? I leave these questions for you to answer for yourselves, but do not forget that in the beginning the Vanderwaters were slaves.

And now, my brothers, I come back to the beginning of my tale to tell you of Tom Dixon’s arm. Roger Vanderwater’s factory in Kingsbury was rightly named “Hell’s Bottom,” but the men who toiled in it were men, as you shall see. Women toiled there, too, and children, little children. All that toiled there had the regular slave rights under the law, but only under the law, for they were deprived of many of their rights by the two overseers of Hell’s Bottom, Joseph Clancy and Adolph Munster.

It is a long story, but I shall not tell all of it to you. I shall tell only about the arm. It happened that, according to the law, a portion of the starvation wage of the slaves was held back each month and put into a fund. This fund was for the purpose of helping such unfortunate fellow-workmen as happened to be injured by accidents or to be overtaken by sickness. As you know with yourselves, these funds are controlled by the overseers. It is the law, and so it was that the fund at Hell’s Bottom was controlled by the two overseers of accursed memory.

Now, Clancy and Munster took this fund for their own use. When accidents happened to the workmen, their fellows, as was the custom, made grants from the fund; but the overseers refused to pay over the grants. What could the slaves do ? They had their rights under the law, but they had no access to the law. Those that complained to the overseers were punished. You know yourselves what form such punishment takes--the fines for faulty work that is not faulty; the overcharging of accounts in the Company’s store; the vile treatment of one’s women and children; and the allotment to bad machines whereon, work as one will, he starves.

Once, the slaves of Hell’s Bottom protested to Vanderwater. It was the time of the year when he spent several months in Kingsbury. One of the slaves could write; it chanced that his mother could write, and she had secretly taught him as her mother had secretly taught her. So this slave wrote a round robin, wherein was contained their grievances, and all the slaves signed by mark. And, with proper stamps upon the envelope, the round robin was mailed to Roger Vanderwater. And Roger Vanderwater did nothing, save to turn the round robin over to the two overseers. Clancy and Munster were angered. They turned the guards loose at night on the slave pen. The guards were armed with pick handles. It is said that next day only half of the slaves were able to work in Hell’s Bottom. They were well beaten. The slave who could write was so badly beaten that he lived only three months. But before he died, he wrote once more, to what purpose you shall hear.

Four or five weeks afterward, Tom Dixon, a slave, had his arm torn off by a belt in Hell’s Bottom. His fellow-workmen, as usual, made a grant to him from the fund, and Clancy and Munster, as usual, refused to pay it over from the fund. The slave who could write, and who even then was dying, wrote anew a recital of their grievances. And this docu-ment was thrust into the hand of the arm that had been torn from Tom Dixon’s body.

Now it chanced that Roger Vanderwater was Iying ill in his palace at the other end of Kingsbury--not the dire illness that strikes down you and me, brothers; just a bit of biliousness, mayhap, or no more than a bad headache because he had eaten too heartily or drunk too deeply. But it was enough for him, being tender and soft from careful rearing. Such men, packed in cotton wool all their lives, are exceeding tender and soft. Believe me, brothers, Roger Vanderwater felt as badly with his aching head, or thought he felt as badly, as Tom Dixon really felt with his arm torn out by the roots.

It happened that Roger Vanderwater was fond of scientific farming, and that on his farm, three miles outside of Kingsbury, he had managed to grow a new kind of strawberry. He was very proud of that new strawberry of his, and he would have been out to see and pick the first ripe ones, had it not been for his illness. Because of his illness he had ordered the old farm slave to bring in personally the first box of the berries. All this was learned from the gossip of a palace scullion, who slept each night in the slave pen. The overseer of the plantation should have brought in the berries, but he was on his back with a broken leg from trying to break a colt. The scullion brought the word in the night, and it was known that next day the berries would come in. And the men in the slave pen of Hell’s Bottom, being men and not cowards, held a council.

The slave who could write, and who was sick and dying from the pick-handle beating, said he would carry Tom Dixon’s arm; also, he said he must die anyway, and that it mattered nothing if he died a little sooner. So five slaves stole from the slave pen that night after the guards had made their last rounds. One of the slaves was the man who could write. They lay in the brush by the roadside until late in the morning, when the old farm slave came driving to town with the precious fruit for the master. What of the farm slave being old and rheumatic, and of the slave who could write being stiff and injured from his beating, they moved their bodies about when they walked, very much in the same fashion. The slave who could write put on the other’s clothes, pulled the broad-brimmed hat over his eyes, climbed upon the seat of the wagon, and drove on to town. The old farm slave was kept tied all day in the bushes until evening, when the others loosed him and went back to the slave pen to take their punishment for having broken bounds.

In the meantime, Roger Vanderwater lay waiting for the berries in his wonderful bedroom--such wonders and such comforts were there that they would have blinded the eyes of you and me who have never seen such things. The slave who could write said afterward that it was like a glimpse of Paradise. And why not? The labor and the lives of ten thousand slaves had gone to the making of that bedchamber, while they themselves slept in vile lairs like wild beasts. The slave who could l write brought in the berries on a silver tray or platter--you see, Roger Vanderwater wanted to speak with him in person about the berries. The slave who could write tottered his dying body across the wonderful room and knelt by the couch of Vanderwater, holding out before him the tray. Large, green leaves covered the top of the tray, and these the body-servant alongside whisked away so that Vanderwater could see. And Roger Vanderwater, propped upon his elbow, saw. He saw the fresh, wonderful fruit Iying there like precious jewels, and in the midst of it the arm of Tom Dixon as it had been torn from his body, wellwashed, of course, my brothers, and very white against the blood-red fruit. And also he saw, clutched in the stiff, dead fingers, the petition of his slaves who toiled in Hell’s Bottom.

“Take and read,” said the slave who could write. And even as the master took the petition, the body-servant, who till then had been motionless with surprise, struck with his fist the kneeling slave upon the mouth. The slave was dying anyway, and was very weak, and did not mind. He made no sound, and, having fallen over on his side, he lay there quietly, bleeding from the blow on the mouth. The physician, who had run for the palace guards, came back with them, and the slave was dragged upright upon his feet. But as they dragged him up, his hand clutched Tom Dixon’s arm from where it had fallen on the floor.

“He shall be flung alive to the hounds!” the body-servant was crying in great wrath. “He shall be flung alive to the hounds!”

But Roger Vanderwater, forgetting his headache, still leaning on his elbow, commanded silence, and went on reading the petition. And while he read, there was silence, all standing upright, the wrathful body-servant, the physician, the palace guards, and in their midst the slave, bleeding at the mouth and still holding Tom Dixon’s arm. And when Roger Vanderwater had done, he turned upon the slave, saying:--

“If in this paper there be one lie, you shall be sorry that you were ever born.”

And the slave said, “I have been sorry all my life that I was born.”

Roger Vanderwater looked at him closely, and the slave said:--

“You have done your worst to me. I am dying now. In a week I shall.

“What do you with that?” the master asked, pointing to the arm; and the slave made answer:--

“I take it back to the pen to give it burial. Tom Dixon was my friend. We worked beside each other at our looms.”

There is little more to my tale, brothers. The slave and the arm were sent back in a cart to the pen. Nor were any of the slaves punished for what they had done. Instead, Roger Vanderwater made investigation and punished the two overseers, Joseph Clancy and Adolph Munster. Their freeholds were taken from them. They were branded, each upon the forehead, their right hands were cut off, and they were turned loose upon the highway to wander and beg until they died. And the fund was managed rightfully thereafter for a time--for a time, only, my brothers; for after Roger Vanderwater came his son, Albert, who was a cruel master and half mad.

Brothers, that slave who carried the arm into the presence of the master was my father. He was a brave man. And even as his mother secretly taught him to read, so did he teach me. Because he died shortly after from the pick-handle beating, Roger Vanderwater took me out of the slave pen and tried to make various better things out of me. I might have become an overseer in Hell’s Bottom, but I chose to become a story-teller, wandering over the land and getting close to my brothers, the slaves, everywhere. And I tell you stories like this, secretly, know-ing that you will not betray me; for if you did, you know as well as I that my tongue will be torn out and that I shall tell stories no more. And my message is, brothers, that there is a good time coming, when all will be well in the world and there will be neither masters nor slaves. But first you must prepare for that good time by learning to read. There is power in the printed word. And here am I to teach you to read, and as well there are others to see that you get the books when I am gone along upon my way--the history books wherein you will learn about your masters, and learn to become strong even as they.

A Daughter of the Aurora

“You--what you call--lazy mans, you lazy mans would desire me to haf for wife. It is not good. Nevaire, no, nevaire, will lazy mans my hoosband be.”

Thus Joy Molineau spoke her mind to Jack Harrington, even as she had spoken it, but more tritely and in his own tongue, to Louis Savoy the previous night.

“Listen, Joy--“

“No, no; why moos’ I listen to lazy mans? It is vaire bad, you hang rount, make visitation to my cabin, and do nothing. How you get grub for the famine? Why haf not you the dust? Odder mans haf plentee.”

“But I work hard, Joy. Never a day am I not on trail or up creek. Even now have I just come off. My dogs are yet tired. Other men have luck and find plenty of gold; but I--I have no luck.”

“Ah! But when this mans with the wife which is Indian, this mans McCormack, when him discovaire the Klondike, you go not. Odder mans go; odder mans now rich.”

“You know I was prospecting over on the head-reaches of the Tanana,” Harrington protested, “and knew nothing of the Eldorado or Bonanza until it was too late.”

“That is deeferent; only you are--what you call way off.”

“What?”

“Way off. In the--yes--in the dark. It is nevaire too late. One vaire rich mine is there, on the creek which is Eldorado. The mans drive the stake and him go ‘way. No odddr mans know what of him become. The mans, him which drive the stake, is nevaire no more. Sixty days no mans on that claim file the papaire. Then odder mans, plentee odder mans--what you call--jump that claim. Then they race, O so queek, like the wind, to file the papaire. Him be vaire rich. Him get grub for famine.”

Harrington hid the major portion of his interest.

“When’s the time up?” he asked. “What claim is it?”

“So I speak Louis Savoy last night,” she continued, ignoring him. “Him I think the winnaire.”

“Hang Louis Savoy!”

“So Louis Savoy speak in my cabin last night. Him say, ‘Joy, I am strong mans. I haf good dogs. I haf long wind. I will be winnaire. Then you will haf me for hoosband?’ And I say to him, I say--“

“What’d you say?”

“I say, ‘If Louis Savoy is winnaire, then will he haf me for wife.’“

“And if he don’t win?”

“Then Louis Savoy, him will not be--what you call--the father of my children.”

“And if I win?”

“You winnaire? Ha! ha! Nevaire!”

Exasperating as it was, Joy Molineau’s laughter was pretty to hear. Harrington did not mind it. He had long since been broken in. Besides, he was no exception. She had forced all her lovers to suffer in kind. And very enticing she was just then, her lips parted, her color heightened by the sharp kiss of the frost, her eyes vibrant with the lure which is the greatest of all lures and which may be seen nowhere save in woman’s eyes. Her sled-dogs clustered about her in hirsute masses, and the leader, Wolf Fang, laid his long snout softly in her lap.

“If I do win?” Harrington pressed.

She looked from dog to lover and back again.

“What you say, Wolf Fang? If him strong mans and file the papaire, shall we his wife become? Eh? What you say?”

Wolf Fang picked up his ears and growled at Harrington.

“It is vaire cold,” she suddenly added with feminine irrelevance, rising to her feet and straightening out the team.

Her lover looked on stolidly. She had kept him guessing from the first time they met, and patience had been joined unto his virtues.

“Hi! Wolf Fang!” she cried, springing upon the sled as it leaped into sudden motion. “Ai! Ya! Mush-on!”

From the corner of his eye Harrington watched her swinging down the trail to Forty Mile. Where the road forked and crossed the river to Fort Cudahy, she halted the dogs and turned about.

“O Mistaire Lazy Mans!” she called back. “Wolf Fang, him say yes--if you winnaire!”

But somehow, as such things will, it leaked out, and all Forty Mile, which had hitherto speculated on Joy Molineau’s choice between her two latest lovers, now hazarded bets and guesses as to which would win in the forthcoming race. The camp divided itself into two factions, and every effort was put forth in order that their respective favorites might be the first in at the finish. There was a scramble for the best dogs the country could afford, for dogs, and good ones, were essential, above all, to success. And it meant much to the victor. Besides the possession of a wife, the like of which had yet to be created, it stood for a mine worth a million at least.

That fall, when news came down of McCormack’s discovery on Bonanza, all the Lower Country, Circle City and Forty Mile included, had stampeded up the Yukon,--at least all save those who, like Jack Harrington and Louis Savoy, were away prospecting in the west. Moose pastures and creeks were staked indiscriminately and promiscuously; and incidentally, one of the unlikeliest of creeks, Eldorado. Olaf Nelson laid claim to five hundred of its linear feet, duly posted his notice, and as duly disappeared. At that time the nearest recording office was in the police barracks at Fort Cudahy, just across the river from Forty Mile; but when it became bruited abroad that Eldorado Creek was a treasure-house, it was quickly discovered that Olaf Nelson had failed to make the down-Yukon trip to file upon his property. Men cast hungry eyes upon the ownerless claim, where they knew a thousand-thousand dollars waited but shovel and sluice-box. Yet they dared not touch it; for there was a law which permitted sixty days to lapse between the staking and the filing, during which time a claim was immune. The whole country knew of Olaf Nelson’s disappearance, and scores of men made preparation for the jumping and for the consequent race to Fort Cudahy.

But competition at Forty Mile was limited. With the camp devoting its energies to the equipping either of Jack Harrington or Louis Savoy, no man was unwise enough to enter the contest single-handed. It was a stretch of a hundred miles to the Recorder’s office, and it was planned that the two favorites should have four relays of dogs stationed along the trail. Naturally, the last relay was to be the crucial one, and for these twenty-five miles their respective partisans strove to obtain the strongest possible animals. So bitter did the factions wax, and so high did they bid, that dogs brought stiffer prices than ever before in the annals of the country. And, as it chanced, this scramble for dogs turned the public eye still more searchingly upon Joy Molineau. Not only was she the cause of it all, but she possessed the finest sled-dog from Chilkoot to Bering Sea. As wheel or leader, Wolf Fang had no equal. The man whose sled he led down the last stretch was bound to win. There could be no doubt of it. But the community had an innate sense of the fitness of things, and not once was Joy vexed by overtures for his use. And the factions drew consolation from the fact that if one man did not profit by him, neither should the other.

However, since man, in the individual or in the aggregate, has been so fashioned that he goes through life blissfully obtuse to the deeper subtleties of his womankind, so the men of Forty Mile failed to divine the inner deviltry of Joy Molineau. They confessed, afterward, that they had failed to appreciate this dark-eyed daughter of the aurora, whose father had traded furs in the country before ever they dreamed of invading it, and who had herself first opened eyes on the scintillant northern lights. Nay, accident of birth had not rendered her less the woman, nor had it limited her woman’s understanding of men. They knew she played with them, but they did not know the wisdom of her play, its deepness and its deftness. They failed to see more than the exposed card, so that to the very last Forty Mile was in a state of pleasant obfuscation, and it was not until she cast her final trump that it came to reckon up the score.

Early in the week the camp turned out to start Jack Harrington and Louis Savoy on their way. They had taken a shrewd margin of time, for it was their wish to arrive at Olaf Nelson’s claim some days previous to the expiration of its immunity, that they might rest themselves, and their dogs be fresh for the first relay. On the way up they found the men of Dawson already stationing spare dog teams along the trail, and it was manifest that little expense had been spared in view of the millions at stake.

A couple of days after the departure of their champions, Forty Mile began sending up their relays,--first to the seventy-five station, then to the fifty, and last to the twenty-five. The teams for the last stretch were magnificent, and so equally matched that the camp discussed their relative merits for a full hour at fifty below, before they were permitted to pull out. At the last moment Joy Molineau dashed in among them on her sled. She drew Lon McFane, who had charge of Harrington’s team, to one side, and hardly had the first words left her lips when it was noticed that his lower jaw dropped with a celerity and emphasis suggestive of great things. He unhitched Wolf Fang from her sled, put him at the head of Harrington’s team, and mushed the string of animals into the Yukon trail.

“Poor Louis Savoy!” men said; but Joy Molineau flashed her black eyes defiantly and drove back to her father’s cabin.

Midnight drew near on Olaf Nelson’s claim. A few hundred fur-clad men had preferred sixty below and the jumping, to the inducements of warm cabins and comfortable bunks. Several score of them had their notices prepared for posting and their dogs at hand. A bunch of Captain Constantine’s mounted police had been ordered on duty that fair play might rule. The command had gone forth that no man should place a stake till the last second of the day had ticked itself into the past. In the northland such commands are equal to Jehovah’s in the matter of potency; the dum-dum as rapid and effective as the thunderbolt. It was clear and cold. The aurora borealis painted palpitating color revels on the sky. Rosy waves of cold brilliancy swept across the zenith, while great coruscating bars of greenish white blotted out the stars, or a Titan’s hand reared mighty arches above the Pole. And at this mighty display the wolf-dogs howled as had their ancestors of old time.

A bearskin-coated policeman stepped prominently to the fore, watch in hand. Men hurried among the dogs, rousing them to their feet, untangling their traces, straightening them out. The entries came to the mark, firmly gripping stakes and notices. They had gone over the boundaries of the claim so often that they could now have done it blindfolded. The policeman raised his hand. Casting off their superfluous furs and blankets, and with a final cinching of belts, they came to attention.

“Time!”

Sixty pairs of hands unmitted; as many pairs of moccasins gripped hard upon the snow.

“Go!”

They shot across the wide expanse, round the four sides, sticking notices at every corner, and down the middle where the two centre stakes were to be planted. Then they sprang for the sleds on the frozen bed of the creek. An anarchy of sound and motion broke out. Sled collided with sled, and dog-team fastened upon dog-team with bristling manes and screaming fangs. The narrow creek was glutted with the struggling mass. Lashes and butts of dog-whips were distributed impartially among men and brutes. And to make it of greater moment, each participant had a bunch of comrades intent on breaking him out of jam. But one by one, and by sheer strength, the sleds crept out and shot from sight in the darkness of the overhanging banks.

Jack Harrington had anticipated this crush and waited by his sled until it untangled. Louis Savoy, aware of his rival’s greater wisdom in the matter of dog-driving, had followed his lead and also waited. The rout had passed beyond ear-shot when they took the trail, and it was not till they had travelled the ten miles or so down to Bonanza that they came upon it, speeding along in single file, but well bunched. There was little noise, and less chance of one passing another at that stage. The sleds, from runner to runner, measured sixteen inches, the trail eighteen; but the trail, packed down fully a foot by the traffic, was like a gutter. On either side spread the blanket of soft snow crystals. If a man turned into this in an endeavor to pass, his dogs would wallow perforce to their bellies and slow down to a snail’s pace. So the men lay close to their leaping sleds and waited. No alteration in position occurred down the fifteen miles of Bonanza and Klondike to Dawson, where the Yukon was encountered. Here the first relays waited. But here, intent to kill their first teams, if necessary, Harrington and Savoy had had their fresh teams placed a couple of miles beyond those of the others. In the confusion of changing sleds they passed full half the bunch. Perhaps thirty men were still leading them when they shot on to the broad breast of the Yukon. Here was the tug. When the river froze in the fall, a mile of open water had been left between two mighty jams. This had but recently crusted, the current being swift, and now it was as level, hard, and slippery as a dance floor. The instant they struck this glare ice Harrington came to his knees, holding precariously on with one hand, his whip singing fiercely among his dogs and fearsome abjurations hurtling about their ears. The teams spread out on the smooth surface, each straining to the uttermost. But few men in the North could lift their dogs as did Jack Harrington. At once he began to pull ahead, and Louis Savoy, taking the pace, hung on desperately, his leaders running even with the tail of his rival’s sled.

Midway on the glassy stretch their relays shot out from the bank. But Harrington did not slacken. Watching his chance when the new sled swung in close, he leaped across, shouting as he did so and jumping up the pace of his fresh dogs. The other driver fell off somehow. Savoy did likewise with his relay, and the abandoned teams, swerving to right and left, collided with the others and piled the ice with confusion. Harrington cut out the pace; Savoy hung on. As they neared the end of the glare ice, they swept abreast of the leading sled. When they shot into the narrow trail between the soft snowbanks, they led the race; and Dawson, watching by the light of the aurora, swore that it was neatly done.

When the frost grows lusty at sixty below, men cannot long remain without fire or excessive exercise, and live. So Harrington and Savoy now fell to the ancient custom of “ride and run.” Leaping from their sleds, tow-thongs in hand, they ran behind till the blood resumed its wonted channels and expelled the frost, then back to the sleds till the heat again ebbed away. Thus, riding and running, they covered the second and third relays. Several times, on smooth ice, Savoy spurted his dogs, and as often failed to gain past. Strung along for five miles in the rear, the remainder of the race strove to overtake them, but vainly, for to Louis Savoy alone was the glory given of keeping Jack Harrington’s killing pace.

As they swung into the seventy-five-mile station, Lon McFane dashed alongside; Wolf Fang in the lead caught Harrington’s eye, and he knew that the race was his. No team in the North could pass him on those last twenty-five miles. And when Savoy saw Wolf Fang heading his rival’s team, he knew that he was out of the running, and he cursed softly to himself, in the way woman is most frequently cursed. But he still clung to the other’s smoking trail, gambling on chance to the last. And as they churned along, the day breaking in the southeast, they marvelled in joy and sorrow at that which Joy Molineau had done.

Forty Mile had early crawled out of its sleeping furs and congregated near the edge of the trail. From this point it could view the up-Yukon course to its first bend several miles away. Here it could also see across the river to the finish at Fort Cudahy, where the Gold Recorder nervously awaited. Joy Molineau had taken her position several rods back from the trail, and under the circumstances, the rest of Forty Mile forbore interposing itself. So the space was clear between her and the slender line of the course. Fires had been built, and around these men wagered dust and dogs, the long odds on Wolf Fang.

“Here they come!” shrilled an Indian boy from the top of a pine.

Up the Yukon a black speck appeared against the snow, closely followed by a second. As these grew larger, more black specks manifested themselves, but at a goodly distance to the rear. Gradually they resolved themselves into dogs and sleds, and men lying flat upon them. “Wolf Fang leads,” a lieutenant of police whispered to Joy. She smiled her interest back.

“Ten to one on Harrington!” cried a Birch Creek King, dragging out his sack.

“The Queen, her pay you not mooch?” queried Joy.

The lieutenant shook his head.

“You have some dust, ah, how mooch?” she continued.

He exposed his sack. She gauged it with a rapid eye.

“Mebbe--say--two hundred, eh? Good. Now I give--what you call--the tip. Covaire the bet.” Joy smiled inscrutably. The lieutenant pondered. He glanced up the trail. The two men had risen to their knees and were lashing their dogs furiously, Harrington in the lead.

“Ten to one on Harrington!” bawled the Birch Creek King, flourishing his sack in the lieutenant’s face.

“Covaire the bet,” Joy prompted.

He obeyed, shrugging his shoulders in token that he yielded, not to the dictate of his reason, but to her charm. Joy nodded to reassure him.

All noise ceased. Men paused in the placing of bets.

Yawing and reeling and plunging, like luggers before the wind, the sleds swept wildly upon them. Though he still kept his leader up to the tail of Harrington’s sled, Louis Savoy’s face was without hope. Harrington’s mouth was set. He looked neither to the right nor to the left. His dogs were leaping in perfect rhythm, firm-footed, close to the trail, and Wolf Fang, head low and unseeing, whining softly, was leading his comrades magnificently.

Forty Mile stood breathless. Not a sound, save the roar of the runners and the voice of the whips.

Then the clear voice of Joy Molineau rose on the air. “Ai! Ya! Wolf Fang! Wolf Fang!”

Wolf Fang heard. He left the trail sharply, heading directly for his mistress. The team dashed after him, and the sled poised an instant on a single runner, then shot Harrington into the snow. Savoy was by like a flash. Harrington pulled to his feet and watched him skimming across the river to the Gold Recorder’s. He could not help hearing what was said.

“Ah, him do vaire well,” Joy Molineau was explaining to the lieutenant. “Him--what you call--set the pace. Yes, him set the pace vaire well.”

A Day’s Lodging

It was the gosh-dangdest stampede I ever seen. A thousand dog-teams hittin’ the ice. You couldn’t see ‘m fer smoke. Two white men an’ a Swede froze to death that night, an’ there was a dozen busted their lungs. But didn’t I see with my own eyes the bottom of the water-hole? It was yellow with gold like a mustard-plaster. That’s why I staked the Yukon for a minin’ claim. That’s what made the stampede. An’ then there was nothin’ to it. That’s what I said — NOTHIN’ to it. An’ I ain’t got over guessin’ yet.

— Narrative of Shorty.

JOHN MESSNER clung with mittened hand to the bucking gee-pole and held the sled in the trail. With the other mittened hand he rubbed his cheeks and nose. He rubbed his cheeks and nose every little while. In point of fact, he rarely ceased from rubbing them, and sometimes, as their numbness increased, he rubbed fiercely. His forehead was covered by the visor of his fur cap, the flaps of which went over his ears. The rest of his face was protected by a thick beard, golden-brown under its coating of frost.

Behind him churned a heavily loaded Yukon sled, and before him toiled a string of five dogs. The rope by which they dragged the sled rubbed against the side of Messner’s leg. When the dogs swung on a bend in the trail, he stepped over the rope. There were many bends, and he was compelled to step over it often. Sometimes he tripped on the rope, or stumbled, and at all times he was awkward, betraying a weariness so great that the sled now and again ran upon his heels.

When he came to a straight piece of trail, where the sled could get along for a moment without guidance, he let go the gee-pole and batted his right hand sharply upon the hard wood. He found it difficult to keep up the circulation in that hand. But while he pounded the one hand, he never ceased from rubbing his nose and cheeks with the other.

“It’s too cold to travel, anyway,” he said. He spoke aloud, after the manner of men who are much by themselves. “Only a fool would travel at such a temperature. If it isn’t eighty below, it’s because it’s seventy-nine.”

He pulled out his watch, and after some fumbling got it back into the breast pocket of his thick woollen jacket. Then he surveyed the heavens and ran his eye along the white sky-line to the south.

“Twelve o’clock,” he mumbled, “A clear sky, and no sun.”

He plodded on silently for ten minutes, and then, as though there had been no lapse in his speech, he added:

“And no ground covered, and it’s too cold to travel.”

Suddenly he yelled “Whoa!” at the dogs, and stopped. He seemed in a wild panic over his right hand, and proceeded to hammer it furiously against the gee-pole.

“You — poor — devils!” he addressed the dogs, which had dropped down heavily on the ice to rest. His was a broken, jerky utterance, caused by the violence with which he hammered his numb hand upon the wood. “What have you done anyway that a two-legged other animal should come along, break you to harness, curb all your natural proclivities, and make slave-beasts out of you?”

He rubbed his nose, not reflectively, but savagely, in order to drive the blood into it, and urged the dogs to their work again. He travelled on the frozen surface of a great river. Behind him it stretched away in a mighty curve of many miles, losing itself in a fantastic jumble of mountains, snow-covered and silent. Ahead of him the river split into many channels to accommodate the freight of islands it carried on its breast. These islands were silent and white. No animals nor humming insects broke the silence. No birds flew in the chill air. There was no sound of man, no mark of the handiwork of man. The world slept, and it was like the sleep of death.

John Messner seemed succumbing to the apathy of it all. The frost was benumbing his spirit. He plodded on with bowed head, unobservant, mechanically rubbing nose and cheeks, and batting his steering hand against the gee-pole in the straight trail-stretches.

But the dogs were observant, and suddenly they stopped, turning their heads and looking back at their master out of eyes that were wistful and questioning. Their eyelashes were frosted white, as were their muzzles, and they had all the seeming of decrepit old age, what of the frost-rime and exhaustion.

The man was about to urge them on, when he checked himself, roused up with an effort, and looked around. The dogs had stopped beside a water-hole, not a fissure, but a hole man-made, chopped laboriously with an axe through three and a half feet of ice. A thick skin of new ice showed that it had not been used for some time. Messner glanced about him. The dogs were already pointing the way, each wistful and hoary muzzle turned toward the dim snow@path that left the main river trail and climbed the bank of the island.

“All right, you sore-footed brutes,” he said. “I’ll investigate. You’re not a bit more anxious to quit than I am.”

He climbed the bank and disappeared. The dogs did not lie down, but on their feet eagerly waited his return. He came back to them, took a hauling-rope from the front of the sled, and put it around his shoulders. Then he GEE’D the dogs to the right and put them at the bank on the run. It was a stiff pull, but their weariness fell from them as they crouched low to the snow, whining with eagerness and gladness as they struggled upward to the last ounce of effort in their bodies. When a dog slipped or faltered, the one behind nipped his hind quarters. The man shouted encouragement and threats, and threw all his weight on the hauling-rope.

They cleared the bank with a rush, swung to the left, and dashed up to a small log cabin. It was a deserted cabin of a single room, eight feet by ten on the inside. Messner unharnessed the animals, unloaded his sled and took possession. The last chance wayfarer had left a supply of firewood. Messner set up his light sheet-iron stove and starred a fire. He put five sun-cured salmon into the oven to thaw out for the dogs, and from the water-hole filled his coffee-pot and cooking-pail.

While waiting for the water to boil, he held his face over the stove. The moisture from his breath had collected on his beard and frozen into a great mass of ice, and this he proceeded to thaw out. As it melted and dropped upon the stove it sizzled and rose about him in steam. He helped the process with his fingers, working loose small ice-chunks that fell rattling to the floor.

A wild outcry from the dogs without did not take him from his task. He heard the wolfish snarling and yelping of strange dogs and the sound of voices. A knock came on the door.

“Come in,” Messner called, in a voice muffled because at the moment he was sucking loose a fragment of ice from its anchorage on his upper lip.

The door opened, and, gazing out of his cloud of steam, he saw a man and a woman pausing on the threshold.

“Come in,” he said peremptorily, “and shut the door!”

Peering through the steam, he could make out but little of their personal appearance. The nose and cheek strap worn by the woman and the trail-wrappings about her head allowed only a pair of black eyes to be seen. The man was dark-eyed and smooth-shaven all except his mustache, which was so iced up as to hide his mouth.

“We just wanted to know if there is any other cabin around here,” he said, at the same time glancing over the unfurnished state of the room. “We thought this cabin was empty.”

“It isn’t my cabin,” Messner answered. “I just found it a few minutes ago. Come right in and camp. Plenty of room, and you won’t need your stove. There’s room for all.”

At the sound of his voice the woman peered at him with quick curiousness.

“Get your things off,” her companion said to her. “I’ll unhitch and get the water so we can start cooking.”

Messner took the thawed salmon outside and fed his dogs. He had to guard them against the second team of dogs, and when he had reentered the cabin the other man had unpacked the sled and fetched water. Messner’s pot was boiling. He threw in the coffee, settled it with half a cup of cold water, and took the pot from the stove. He thawed some sour-dough biscuits in the oven, at the same time heating a pot of beans he had boiled the night before and that had ridden frozen on the sled all morning.

Removing his utensils from the stove, so as to give the newcomers a chance to cook, he proceeded to take his meal from the top of his grub-box, himself sitting on his bed-roll. Between mouthfuls he talked trail and dogs with the man, who, with head over the stove, was thawing the ice from his mustache. There were two bunks in the cabin, and into one of them, when he had cleared his lip, the stranger tossed his bed-roll.

“We’ll sleep here,” he said, “unless you prefer this bunk. You’re the first comer and you have first choice, you know.”

“That’s all right,” Messner answered. “One bunk’s just as good as the other.”

He spread his own bedding in the second bunk, and sat down on the edge. The stranger thrust a physician’s small travelling case under his blankets at one end to serve for a pillow.

“Doctor?” Messner asked.

“Yes,” came the answer, “but I assure you I didn’t come into the Klondike to practise.”

The woman busied herself with cooking, while the man sliced bacon and fired the stove. The light in the cabin was dim, filtering through in a small window made of onion-skin writing paper and oiled with bacon grease, so that John Messner could not make out very well what the woman looked like. Not that he tried. He seemed to have no interest in her. But she glanced curiously from time to time into the dark corner where he sat.

“Oh, it’s a great life,” the doctor proclaimed enthusiastically, pausing from sharpening his knife on the stovepipe. “What I like about it is the struggle, the endeavor with one’s own hands, the primitiveness of it, the realness.”

“The temperature is real enough,” Messner laughed.

“Do you know how cold it actually is?” the doctor demanded.

The other shook his head.

“Well, I’ll tell you. Seventy-four below zero by spirit thermometer on the sled.”

“That’s one hundred and six below freezing point — too cold for travelling, eh?”

“Practically suicide,” was the doctor’s verdict. “One exerts himself. He breathes heavily, taking into his lungs the frost itself. It chills his lungs, freezes the edges of the tissues. He gets a dry, hacking cough as the dead tissue sloughs away, and dies the following summer of pneumonia, wondering what it’s all about. I’ll stay in this cabin for a week, unless the thermometer rises at least to fifty below.”

“I say, Tess,” he said, the next moment, “don’t you think that coffee’s boiled long enough!”

At the sound of the woman’s name, John Messner became suddenly alert. He looked at her quickly, while across his face shot a haunting expression, the ghost of some buried misery achieving swift resurrection. But the next moment, and by an effort of will, the ghost was laid again. His face was as placid as before, though he was still alert, dissatisfied with what the feeble light had shown him of the woman’s face.

Automatically, her first act had been to set the coffee-pot back. It was not until she had done this that she glanced at Messner. But already he had composed himself. She saw only a man sitting on the edge of the bunk and incuriously studying the toes of his moccasins. But, as she turned casually to go about her cooking, he shot another swift look at her, and she, glancing as swiftly back, caught his look. He shifted on past her to the doctor, though the slightest smile curled his lip in appreciation of the way she had trapped him.

She drew a candle from the grub-box and lighted it. One look at her illuminated face was enough for Messner. In the small cabin the widest limit was only a matter of several steps, and the next moment she was alongside of him. She deliberately held the candle close to his face and stared at him out of eyes wide with fear and recognition. He smiled quietly back at her.

“What are you looking for, Tess?” the doctor called.

“Hairpins,” she replied, passing on and rummaging in a clothes-bag on the bunk.

They served their meal on their grub-box, sitting on Messner’s grub-box and facing him. He had stretched out on his bunk to rest, lying on his side, his head on his arm. In the close quarters it was as though the three were together at table.

“What part of the States do you come from?” Messner asked.

“San Francisco,” answered the doctor. “I’ve been in here two years, though.”

“I hail from California myself,” was Messner’s announcement.

The woman looked at him appealingly, but he smiled and went on:

“Berkeley, you know.”

The other man was becoming interested.

“U. C.?” he asked.

“Yes, Class of ‘86.”

“I meant faculty,” the doctor explained. “You remind me of the type.”

“Sorry to hear you say so,” Messner smiled back. “I’d prefer being taken for a prospector or a dog-musher.”

“I don’t think he looks any more like a professor than you do a doctor,” the woman broke in.

“Thank you,” said Messner. Then, turning to her companion, “By the way, Doctor, what is your name, if I may ask?”

“Haythorne, if you’ll take my word for it. I gave up cards with civilization.”

“And Mrs. Haythorne,” Messner smiled and bowed.

She flashed a look at him that was more anger than appeal.

Haythorne was about to ask the other’s name. His mouth had opened to form the question when Messner cut him off.

“Come to think of it, Doctor, you may possibly be able to satisfy my curiosity. There was a sort of scandal in faculty circles some two or three years ago. The wife of one of the English professors — er, if you will pardon me, Mrs. Haythorne — disappeared with some San Francisco doctor, I understood, though his name does not just now come to my lips. Do you remember the incident?”

Haythorne nodded his head. “Made quite a stir at the time. His name was Womble — Graham Womble. He had a magnificent practice. I knew him somewhat.”

“Well, what I was trying to get at was what had become of them. I was wondering if you had heard. They left no trace, hide nor hair.”

“He covered his tracks cunningly.” Haythorne cleared his throat. “There was rumor that they went to the South Seas — were lost on a trading schooner in a typhoon, or something like that.”

“I never heard that,” Messner said. “You remember the case, Mrs. Haythorne?”

“Perfectly,” she answered, in a voice the control of which was in amazing contrast to the anger that blazed in the face she turned aside so that Haythorne might not see.

The latter was again on the verge of asking his name, when Messner remarked:

“This Dr. Womble, I’ve heard he was very handsome, and — er — quite a success, so to say, with the ladies.”

“Well, if he was, he finished himself off by that affair,” Haythorne grumbled.

“And the woman was a termagant — at least so I’ve been told. It was generally accepted in Berkeley that she made life — er — not exactly paradise for her husband.”

“I never heard that,” Haythorne rejoined. “In San Francisco the talk was all the other way.”

“Woman sort of a martyr, eh? — crucified on the cross of matrimony?”

The doctor nodded. Messner’s gray eyes were mildly curious as he went on:

“That was to be expected — two sides to the shield. Living in Berkeley I only got the one side. She was a great deal in San Francisco, it seems.”

“Some coffee, please,” Haythorne said.

The woman refilled his mug, at the same time breaking into light laughter.

“You’re gossiping like a pair of beldames,” she chided them.

“It’s so interesting,” Messner smiled at her, then returned to the doctor. “The husband seems then to have had a not very savory reputation in San Francisco?”

“On the contrary, he was a moral prig,” Haythorne blurted out, with apparently undue warmth. “He was a little scholastic shrimp without a drop of red blood in his body.”

“Did you know him?”

“Never laid eyes on him. I never knocked about in university circles.”

“One side of the shield again,” Messner said, with an air of weighing the matter judicially. While he did not amount to much, it is true — that is, physically — I’d hardly say he was as bad as all that. He did take an active interest in student athletics. And he had some talent. He once wrote a Nativity play that brought him quite a bit of local appreciation. I have heard, also, that he was slated for the head of the English department, only the affair happened and he resigned and went away. It quite broke his career, or so it seemed. At any rate, on our side the shield, it was considered a knock-out blow to him. It was thought he cared a great deal for his wife.”

Haythorne, finishing his mug of coffee, grunted uninterestedly and lighted his pipe.

“It was fortunate they had no children,” Messner continued.

But Haythorne, with a glance at the stove, pulled on his cap and mittens.

“I’m going out to get some wood,” he said. “Then I can take off my moccasins and he comfortable.”

The door slammed behind him. For a long minute there was silence. The man continued in the same position on the bed. The woman sat on the grub-box, facing him.

“What are you going to do?” she asked abruptly.

Messner looked at her with lazy indecision. “What do you think I ought to do? Nothing scenic, I hope. You see I am stiff and trail-sore, and this bunk is so restful.”

She gnawed her lower lip and fumed dumbly.

“But — ” she began vehemently, then clenched her hands and stopped.

“I hope you don’t want me to kill Mr. — er — Haythorne,” he said gently, almost pleadingly. “It would be most distressing, and, I assure you, really it is unnecessary.”

“But you must do something,” she cried.

“On the contrary, it is quite conceivable that I do not have to do anything.”

“You would stay here?”

He nodded.

She glanced desperately around the cabin and at the bed unrolled on the other bunk. “Night is coming on. You can’t stop here. You can’t! I tell you, you simply can’t!”

“Of course I can. I might remind you that I found this cabin first and that you are my guests.”

Again her eyes travelled around the room, and the terror in them leaped up at sight of the other bunk.

“Then we’ll have to go,” she announced decisively.

“Impossible. You have a dry, hacking cough — the sort Mr. — er — Haythorne so aptly described. You’ve already slightly chilled your lungs. Besides, he is a physician and knows. He would never permit it.”

“Then what are you going to do?” she demanded again, with a tense, quiet utterance that boded an outbreak.

Messner regarded her in a way that was almost paternal, what of the profundity of pity and patience with which he contrived to suffuse it.

“My dear Theresa, as I told you before, I don’t know. I really haven’t thought about it.”

“Oh! You drive me mad!” She sprang to her feet, wringing her hands in impotent wrath. “You never used to be this way.”

“I used to be all softness and gentleness,” he nodded concurrence. “Was that why you left me?”

“You are so different, so dreadfully calm. You frighten me. I feel you have something terrible planned all the while. But whatever you do, don’t do anything rash. Don’t get excited — ”

“I don’t get excited any more,” he interrupted. “Not since you went away.”

“You have improved — remarkably,” she retorted.

He smiled acknowledgment. “While I am thinking about what I shall do, I’ll tell you what you will have to do — tell Mr. — er — Haythorne who I am. It may make our stay in this cabin more — may I say, sociable?”

“Why have you followed me into this frightful country?” she asked irrelevantly.

“Don’t think I came here looking for you, Theresa. Your vanity shall not be tickled by any such misapprehension. Our meeting is wholly fortuitous. I broke with the life academic and I had to go somewhere. To be honest, I came into the Klondike because I thought it the place you were least liable to be in.”

There was a fumbling at the latch, then the door swung in and Haythorne entered with an armful of firewood. At the first warning, Theresa began casually to clear away the dishes. Haythorne went out again after more wood.

“Why didn’t you introduce us?” Messner queried.

“I’ll tell him,” she replied, with a toss of her head. “Don’t think I’m afraid.”

“I never knew you to be afraid, very much, of anything.”

“And I’m not afraid of confession, either,” she said, with softening face and voice.

“In your case, I fear, confession is exploitation by indirection, profit-making by ruse, self-aggrandizement at the expense of God.”

“Don’t be literary,” she pouted, with growing tenderness. “I never did like epigrammatic discussion. Besides, I’m not afraid to ask you to forgive me.”

“There is nothing to forgive, Theresa. I really should thank you. True, at first I suffered; and then, with all the graciousness of spring, it dawned upon me that I was happy, very happy. It was a most amazing discovery.”

“But what if I should return to you?” she asked.

“I should” (he looked at her whimsically), “be greatly perturbed.”

“I am your wife. You know you have never got a divorce.”

“I see,” he meditated. “I have been careless. It will be one of the first things I attend to.”

She came over to his side, resting her hand on his arm. “You don’t want me, John?” Her voice was soft and caressing, her hand rested like a lure. “If I told you I had made a mistake? If I told you that I was very unhappy? — and I am. And I did make a mistake.”

Fear began to grow on Messner. He felt himself wilting under the lightly laid hand. The situation was slipping away from him, all his beautiful calmness was going. She looked at him with melting eyes, and he, too, seemed all dew and melting. He felt himself on the edge of an abyss, powerless to withstand the force that was drawing him over.

“I am coming back to you, John. I am coming back to-day . . . now.”

As in a nightmare, he strove under the hand. While she talked, he seemed to hear, rippling softly, the song of the Lorelei. It was as though, somewhere, a piano were playing and the actual notes were impinging on his ear-drums.

Suddenly he sprang to his feet, thrust her from him as her arms attempted to clasp him, and retreated backward to the door. He was in a panic.

“I’ll do something desperate!” he cried.

“I warned you not to get excited.” She laughed mockingly, and went about washing the dishes. “Nobody wants you. I was just playing with you. I am happier where I am.”

But Messner did not believe. He remembered her facility in changing front. She had changed front now. It was exploitation by indirection. She was not happy with the other man. She had discovered her mistake. The flame of his ego flared up at the thought. She wanted to come back to him, which was the one thing he did not want. Unwittingly, his hand rattled the door-latch.

“Don’t run away,” she laughed. “I won’t bite you.”

“I am not running away,” he replied with child-like defiance, at the same time pulling on his mittens. “I’m only going to get some water.”

He gathered the empty pails and cooking pots together and opened the door. He looked back at her.

“Don’t forget you’re to tell Mr. — er — Haythorne who I am.”

Messner broke the skin that had formed on the water-hole within the hour, and filled his pails. But he did not return immediately to the cabin. Leaving the pails standing in the trail, he walked up and down, rapidly, to keep from freezing, for the frost bit into the flesh like fire. His beard was white with his frozen breath when the perplexed and frowning brows relaxed and decision came into his face. He had made up his mind to his course of action, and his frigid lips and cheeks crackled into a chuckle over it. The pails were already skinned over with young ice when he picked them up and made for the cabin.

When he entered he found the other man waiting, standing near the stove, a certain stiff awkwardness and indecision in his manner. Messner set down his water-pails.

“Glad to meet you, Graham Womble,” he said in conventional tones, as though acknowledging an introduction.

Messner did not offer his hand. Womble stirred uneasily, feeling for the other the hatred one is prone to feel for one he has wronged.

“And so you’re the chap,” Messner said in marvelling accents. “Well, well. You see, I really am glad to meet you. I have been — er — curious to know what Theresa found in you — where, I may say, the attraction lay. Well, well.”

And he looked the other up and down as a man would look a horse up and down.

“I know how you must feel about me,” Womble began.

“Don’t mention it,” Messner broke in with exaggerated cordiality of voice and manner. “Never mind that. What I want to know is how do you find her? Up to expectations? Has she worn well? Life been all a happy dream ever since?”

“Don’t be silly,” Theresa interjected.

“I can’t help being natural,” Messner complained.

“You can be expedient at the same time, and practical,” Womble said sharply. “What we want to know is what are you going to do?”

Messner made a well-feigned gesture of helplessness. “I really don’t know. It is one of those impossible situations against which there can be no provision.”

“All three of us cannot remain the night in this cabin.”

Messner nodded affirmation.

“Then somebody must get out.”

“That also is incontrovertible,” Messner agreed. “When three bodies cannot occupy the same space at the same time, one must get out.”

“And you’re that one,” Womble announced grimly. “It’s a ten-mile pull to the next camp, but you can make it all right.”

“And that’s the first flaw in your reasoning,” the other objected. “Why, necessarily, should I be the one to get out? I found this cabin first.”

“But Tess can’t get out,” Womble explained. “Her lungs are already slightly chilled.”

“I agree with you. She can’t venture ten miles of frost. By all means she must remain.”

“Then it is as I said,” Womble announced with finality.

Messner cleared his throat. “Your lungs are all right, aren’t they?”

“Yes, but what of it?”

Again the other cleared his throat and spoke with painstaking and judicial slowness. “Why, I may say, nothing of it, except, ah, according to your own reasoning, there is nothing to prevent your getting out, hitting the frost, so to speak, for a matter of ten miles. You can make it all right.”

Womble looked with quick suspicion at Theresa and caught in her eyes a glint of pleased surprise.

“Well?” he demanded of her.

She hesitated, and a surge of anger darkened his face. He turned upon Messner.

“Enough of this. You can’t stop here.”

“Yes, I can.”

“I won’t let you.” Womble squared his shoulders. “I’m running things.”

“I’ll stay anyway,” the other persisted.

“I’ll put you out.”

“I’ll come back.”

Womble stopped a moment to steady his voice and control himself. Then he spoke slowly, in a low, tense voice.

“Look here, Messner, if you refuse to get out, I’ll thrash you. This isn’t California. I’ll beat you to a jelly with my two fists.”

Messner shrugged his shoulders. “If you do, I’ll call a miners’ meeting and see you strung up to the nearest tree. As you said, this is not California. They’re a simple folk, these miners, and all I’ll have to do will be to show them the marks of the beating, tell them the truth about you, and present my claim for my wife.”

The woman attempted to speak, but Womble turned upon her fiercely.

“You keep out of this,” he cried.

In marked contrast was Messner’s “Please don’t intrude, Theresa.”

What of her anger and pent feelings, her lungs were irritated into the dry, hacking cough, and with blood-suffused face and one hand clenched against her chest, she waited for the paroxysm to pass.

Womble looked gloomily at her, noting her cough.

“Something must be done,” he said. “Yet her lungs can’t stand the exposure. She can’t travel till the temperature rises. And I’m not going to give her up.”

Messner hemmed, cleared his throat, and hemmed again, semi-apologetically, and said, “I need some money.”

Contempt showed instantly in Womble’s face. At last, beneath him in vileness, had the other sunk himself.

“You’ve got a fat sack of dust,” Messner went on. “I saw you unload it from the sled.”

“How much do you want?” Womble demanded, with a contempt in his voice equal to that in his face.

“I made an estimate of the sack, and I — ah — should say it weighed about twenty pounds. What do you say we call it four thousand?”

“But it’s all I’ve got, man!” Womble cried out.

“You’ve got her,” the other said soothingly. “She must be worth it. Think what I’m giving up. Surely it is a reasonable price.”

“All right.” Womble rushed across the floor to the gold-sack. “Can’t put this deal through too quick for me, you — you little worm!”

“Now, there you err,” was the smiling rejoinder. “As a matter of ethics isn’t the man who gives a bribe as bad as the man who takes a bribe? The receiver is as bad as the thief, you know; and you needn’t console yourself with any fictitious moral superiority concerning this little deal.”

“To hell with your ethics!” the other burst out. “Come here and watch the weighing of this dust. I might cheat you.”

And the woman, leaning against the bunk, raging and impotent, watched herself weighed out in yellow dust and nuggets in the scales erected on the grub-box. The scales were small, making necessary many weighings, and Messner with precise care verified each weighing.

“There’s too much silver in it,” he remarked as he tied up the gold-sack. “I don’t think it will run quite sixteen to the ounce. You got a trifle the better of me, Womble.”

He handled the sack lovingly, and with due appreciation of its preciousness carried it out to his sled.

Returning, he gathered his pots and pans together, packed his grub-box, and rolled up his bed. When the sled was lashed and the complaining dogs harnessed, he returned into the cabin for his mittens.

“Good-by, Tess,” he said, standing at the open door.

She turned on him, struggling for speech but too frantic to word the passion that burned in her.

“Good-by, Tess,” he repeated gently.

“Beast!” she managed to articulate.

She turned and tottered to the bunk, flinging herself face down upon it, sobbing: “You beasts! You beasts!”

John Messner closed the door softly behind him, and, as he started the dogs, looked back at the cabin with a great relief in his face. At the bottom of the bank, beside the water-hole, he halted the sled. He worked the sack of gold out between the lashings and carried it to the water-hole. Already a new skin of ice had formed. This he broke with his fist. Untying the knotted mouth with his teeth, he emptied the contents of the sack into the water. The river was shallow at that point, and two feet beneath the surface he could see the bottom dull-yellow in the fading light. At the sight of it, he spat into the hole.

He started the dogs along the Yukon trail. Whining spiritlessly, they were reluctant to work. Clinging to the gee-pole with his right band and with his left rubbing cheeks and nose, he stumbled over the rope as the dogs swung on a bend.

“Mush-on, you poor, sore-footed brutes!” he cried. “That’s it, mush-on!”

The Death of Ligoun

Blood for blood, rank for rank.

— Thlinket Code.

“Hear now the death of Ligoun — ”

The speaker ceased, or rather suspended utterance, and gazed upon me with an eye of understanding. I held the bottle between our eyes and the fire, indicated with my thumb the depth of the draught, and shoved it over to him; for was he not Palitlum, the Drinker? Many tales had he told me, and long had I waited for this scriptless scribe to speak of the things concerning Ligoun; for he, of all men living, knew these things best.

He tilted back his head with a grunt that slid swiftly into a gurgle, and the shadow of a man’s torso, monstrous beneath a huge inverted bottle, wavered and danced on the frown of the cliff at our backs. Palitlum released his lips from the glass with a caressing suck and glanced regretfully up into the ghostly vault of the sky where played the wan white light of the summer borealis.

“It be strange,” he said; “cold like water and hot like fire. To the drinker it giveth strength, and from the drinker it taketh away strength. It maketh old men young, and young men old. To the man who is weary it leadeth him to get up and go onward, and to the man unweary it burdeneth him into sleep. My brother was possessed of the heart of a rabbit, yet did he drink of it, and forthwith slay four of his enemies. My father was like a great wolf, showing his teeth to all men, yet did he drink of it and was shot through the back, running swiftly away. It be most strange.”

“It is ‘Three Star,’ and a better than what they poison their bellies with down there,” I answered, sweeping my hand, as it were, over the yawning chasm of blackness and down to where the beach fires glinted far below — tiny jets of flame which gave proportion and reality to the night.

Palitlum sighed and shook his head. “Wherefore I am here with thee.”

And here he embraced the bottle and me in a look which told more eloquently than speech of his shameless thirst.

“Nay,” I said, snuggling the bottle in between my knees. “Speak now of Ligoun. Of the ‘Three Star’ we will hold speech hereafter.”

“There be plenty, and I am not wearied,” he pleaded brazenly. “But the feel of it on my lips, and I will speak great words of Ligoun and his last days.”

“From the drinker it taketh away strength,” I mocked, “and to the man unweary it burdeneth him into sleep.”

“Thou art wise,” he rejoined, without anger and pridelessly. “Like all of thy brothers, thou art wise. Waking or sleeping, the ‘Three Star’ be with thee, yet never have I known thee to drink overlong or overmuch. And the while you gather to you the gold that hides in our mountains and the fish that swim in our seas; and Palitlum, and the brothers of Palitlum, dig the gold for thee and net the fish, and are glad to be made glad when out of thy wisdom thou deemest it fit that the ‘Three Star’ should wet our lips.”

“I was minded to hear of Ligoun,” I said impatiently. “The night grows short, and we have a sore journey to-morrow.”

I yawned and made as though to rise, but Palitlum betrayed a quick anxiety, and with abruptness began: —

“It was Ligoun’s desire, in his old age, that peace should be among the tribes. As a young man he had been first of the fighting men and chief over the war-chiefs of the Islands and the Passes. All his days had been full of fighting. More marks he boasted of bone and lead and iron than any other man. Three wives he had, and for each wife two sons; and the sons, eldest born and last and all died by his side in battle. Restless as the bald-face, he ranged wide and far — north to Unalaska and the Shallow Sea; south to the Queen Charlottes, ay, even did he go with the Kakes, it is told, to far Puget Sound, and slay thy brothers in their sheltered houses.

“But, as I say, in his old age he looked for peace among the tribes. Not that he was become afraid, or overfond of the corner by the fire and the well-filled pot. For he slew with the shrewdness and blood-hunger of the fiercest, drew in his belly to famine with the youngest, and with the stoutest faced the bitter seas and stinging trail. But because of his many deeds, and in punishment, a warship carried him away, even to thy country, O Hair-Face and Boston Man; and the years were many ere he came back, and I was grown to something more than a boy and something less than a young man. And Ligoun, being childless in his old age, made much of me, and grown wise, gave me of his wisdom.

“‘It be good to fight, O Palitlum,’ said he. Nay, O Hair-Face, for I was unknown as Palitlum in those days, being called Olo, the Ever-Hungry. The drink was to come after. ‘It be good to fight,’ spoke Ligoun, ‘but it be foolish. In the Boston Man Country, as I saw with mine eyes, they are not given to fighting one with another, and they be strong. Wherefore, of their strength, they come against us of the Islands and Passes, and we are as camp smoke and sea mist before them. Wherefore I say it be good to fight, most good, but it be likewise foolish.’

“And because of this, though first always of the fighting men, Ligoun’s voice was loudest, ever, for peace. And when he was very old, being greatest of chiefs and richest of men, he gave a potlatch. Never was there such a potlatch. Five hundred canoes were lined against the river bank, and in each canoe there came not less than ten of men and women. Eight tribes were there; from the first and oldest man to the last and youngest babe were they there. And then there were men from far-distant tribes, great travellers and seekers who had heard of the potlatch of Ligoun. And for the length of seven days they filled their bellies with his meat and drink. Eight thousand blankets did he give to them, as I well know, for who but I kept the tally and apportioned according to degree and rank? And in the end Ligoun was a poor man; but his name was on all men’s lips, and other chiefs gritted their teeth in envy that he should be so great.

“And so, because there was weight to his words, he counselled peace; and he journeyed to every potlatch and feast and tribal gathering that he might counsel peace. And so it came that we journeyed together, Ligoun and I, to the great feast given by Niblack, who was chief over the river Indians of the Skoot, which is not far from the Stickeen. This was in the last days, and Ligoun was very old and very close to death. He coughed of cold weather and camp smoke, and often the red blood ran from out his mouth till we looked for him to die.

“‘Nay,’ he said once at such time; ‘it were better that I should die when the blood leaps to the knife, and there is a clash of steel and smell of powder, and men crying aloud what of the cold iron and quick lead.’ So, it be plain, O Hair-Face, that his heart was yet strong for battle.

“It is very far from the Chilcat to the Skoot, and we were many days in the canoes. And the while the men bent to the paddles, I sat at the feet of Ligoun and received the Law. Of small need for me to say the Law, O Hair-Face, for it be known to me that in this thou art well skilled. Yet do I speak of the Law of blood for blood, and rank for rank. Also did Ligoun go deeper into the matter, saying: —

“‘But know this, O Olo, that there be little honor in the killing of a man less than thee. Kill always the man who is greater, and thy honor shall be according to his greatness. But if, of two men, thou killest the lesser, then is shame thine, for which the very squaws will lift their lips at thee. As I say, peace be good; but remember, O Olo, if kill thou must, that thou killest by the Law.’

“It is a way of the Thlinket-folk,” Palitlum vouchsafed half apologetically.

And I remembered the gun-fighters and bad men of my own Western land, and was not perplexed at the way of the Thlinket-folk.

“In time,” Palitlum continued, “we came to Chief Niblack and the Skoots. It was a feast great almost as the potlatch of Ligoun. There were we of the Chilcat, and the Sitkas, and the Stickeens who are neighbors to the Skoots, and the Wrangels and the Hoonahs. There were Sundowns and Tahkos from Port Houghton, and their neighbors the Awks from Douglass Channel; the Naass River people, and the Tongas from north of Dixon, and the Kakes who come from the island called Kupreanoff. Then there were Siwashes from Vancouver, Cassiars from the Gold Mountains, Teslin men, and even Sticks from the Yukon Country.

“It was a mighty gathering. But first of all, there was to be a meeting of the chiefs with Niblack, and a drowning of all enmities in quass. The Russians it was who showed us the way of making quass, for so my father told me, — my father, who got it from his father before him. But to this quass had Niblack added many things, such as sugar, flour, dried apples, and hops, so that it was a man’s drink, strong and good. Not so good as ‘Three Star,’ O Hair-Face, yet good.

“This quass-feast was for the chiefs, and the chiefs only, and there was a score of them. But Ligoun being very old and very great, it was given that I walk with him that he might lean upon my shoulder and that I might ease him down when he took his seat and raise him up when he arose. At the door of Niblack’s house, which was of logs and very big, each chief, as was the custom, laid down his spear or rifle and his knife. For as thou knowest, O Hair-Face, strong drink quickens, and old hates flame up, and head and hand are swift to act. But I noted that Ligoun had brought two knives, the one he left outside the door, the other slipped under his blanket, snug to the grip. The other chiefs did likewise, and I was troubled for what was to come.

“The chiefs were ranged, sitting, in a big circle about the room. I stood at Ligoun’s elbow. In the middle was the barrel of quass, and by it a slave to serve the drink. First, Niblack made oration, with much show of friendship and many fine words. Then he gave a sign, and the slave dipped a gourd full of quass and passed it to Ligoun, as was fit, for his was the highest rank.

“Ligoun drank it, to the last drop, and I gave him my strength to get on his feet so that he, too, might make oration. He had kind speech for the many tribes, noted the greatness of Niblack to give such a feast, counselled for peace as was his custom, and at the end said that the quass was very good.

“Then Niblack drank, being next of rank to Ligoun, and after him one chief and another in degree and order. And each spoke friendly words and said that the quass was good, till all had drunk. Did I say all? Nay, not all, O Hair-Face. For last of them was one, a lean and catlike man, young of face, with a quick and daring eye, who drank darkly, and spat forth upon the ground, and spoke no word.

“To not say that the quass was good were insult; to spit forth upon the ground were worse than insult. And this very thing did he do. He was known for a chief over the Sticks of the Yukon, and further naught was known of him.

“As I say, it was an insult. But mark this, O Hair-Face: it was an insult, not to Niblack the feast-giver, but to the man chiefest of rank who sat among those of the circle. And that man was Ligoun. There was no sound. All eyes were upon him to see what he might do. He made no movement. His withered lips trembled not into speech; nor did a nostril quiver, nor an eyelid droop. But I saw that he looked wan and gray, as I have seen old men look of bitter mornings when famine pressed, and the women wailed and the children whimpered, and there was no meat nor sign of meat. And as the old men looked, so looked Ligoun.

“There was no sound. It were as a circle of the dead, but that each chief felt beneath his blanket to make sure, and that each chief glanced to his neighbor, right and left, with a measuring eye. I was a stripling; the things I had seen were few; yet I knew it to be the moment one meets but once in all a lifetime.

“The Stick rose up, with every eye upon him, and crossed the room till he stood before Ligoun.

“‘I am Opitsah, the Knife,’ he said.

“But Ligoun said naught, nor looked at him, but gazed unblinking at the ground.

“‘You are Ligoun,’ Opitsah said. ‘You have killed many men. I am still alive.’

“And still Ligoun said naught, though he made the sign to me and with my strength arose and stood upright on his two feet. He was as an old pine, naked and gray, but still a-shoulder to the frost and storm. His eyes were unblinking, and as he had not heard Opitsah, so it seemed he did not see him.

“And Opitsah was mad with anger, and danced stiff-legged before him, as men do when they wish to give another shame. And Opitsah sang a song of his own greatness and the greatness of his people, filled with bad words for the Chilcats and for Ligoun. And as he danced and sang, Opitsah threw off his blanket and with his knife drew bright circles before the face of Ligoun. And the song he sang was the Song of the Knife.

“And there was no other sound, only the singing of Opitsah, and the circle of chiefs that were as dead, save that the flash of the knife seemed to draw smouldering fire from their eyes. And Ligoun, also, was very still. Yet did he know his death, and was unafraid. And the knife sang closer and yet closer to his face, but his eyes were unblinking and he swayed not to right or left, or this way or that.

“And Opitsah drove in the knife, so, twice on the forehead of Ligoun, and the red blood leaped after it. And then it was that Ligoun gave me the sign to bear up under him with my youth that he might walk. And he laughed with a great scorn, full in the face of Opitsah, the Knife. And he brushed Opitsah to the side, as one brushes to the side a low-hanging branch on the trail and passes on.

“And I knew and understood, for there was but shame in the killing of Opitsah before the faces of a score of greater chiefs. I remembered the Law, and knew Ligoun had it in mind to kill by the Law. And who, chiefest of rank but himself, was there but Niblack? And toward Niblack, leaning on my arm, he walked. And to his other arm, clinging and striking, was Opitsah, too small to soil with his blood the hands of so great a man. And though the knife of Opitsah bit in again and again, Ligoun noted it not, nor winced. And in this fashion we three went our way across the room, Niblack sitting in his blanket and fearful of our coming.

“And now old hates flamed up and forgotten grudges were remembered. Lamuk, a Kake, had had a brother drowned in the bad water of the Stickeen, and the Stickeens had not paid in blankets for their bad water, as was the custom to pay. So Lamuk drove straight with his long knife to the heart of Klok-Kutz the Stickeen. And Katchahook remembered a quarrel of the Naass River people with the Tongas of north of Dixon, and the chief of the Tongas he slew with a pistol which made much noise. And the blood-hunger gripped all the men who sat in the circle, and chief slew chief, or was slain, as chance might be. Also did they stab and shoot at Ligoun, for whoso killed him won great honor and would be unforgotten for the deed. And they were about him like wolves about a moose, only they were so many they were in their own way, and they slew one another to make room. And there was great confusion.

“But Ligoun went slowly, without haste, as though many years were yet before him. It seemed that he was certain he would make his kill, in his own way, ere they could slay him. And as I say, he went slowly, and knives bit into him, and he was red with blood. And though none sought after me, who was a mere stripling, yet did the knives find me, and the hot bullets burn me. And still Ligoun leaned his weight on my youth, and Opitsah struck at him, and we three went forward. And when we stood by Niblack, he was afraid, and covered his head with his blanket. The Skoots were ever cowards.

“And Goolzug and Kadishan, the one a fish-eater and the other a meat-killer, closed together for the honor of their tribes. And they raged madly about, and in their battling swung against the knees of Opitsah, who was overthrown and trampled upon. And a knife, singing through the air, smote Skulpin, of the Sitkas, in the throat, and he flung his arms out blindly, reeling, and dragged me down in his fall.

“And from the ground I beheld Ligoun bend over Niblack, and uncover the blanket from his head, and turn up his face to the light. And Ligoun was in no haste. Being blinded with his own blood, he swept it out of his eyes with the back of his hand, so he might see and be sure. And when he was sure that the upturned face was the face of Niblack, he drew the knife across his throat as one draws a knife across the throat of a trembling deer. And then Ligoun stood erect, singing his death-song and swaying gently to and fro. And Skulpin, who had dragged me down, shot with a pistol from where he lay, and Ligoun toppled and fell, as an old pine topples and falls in the teeth of the wind.”

Palitlum ceased. His eyes, smouldering moodily, were bent upon the fire, and his cheek was dark with blood.

“And thou, Palitlum?” I demanded. “And thou?”

“I? I did remember the Law, and I slew Opitsah the Knife, which was well. And I drew Ligoun’s own knife from the throat of Niblack, and slew Skulpin, who had dragged me down. For I was a stripling, and I could slay any man and it were honor. And further, Ligoun being dead, there was no need for my youth, and I laid about me with his knife, choosing the chiefest of rank that yet remained.”

Palitlum fumbled under his shirt and drew forth a beaded sheath, and from the sheath, a knife. It was a knife home-wrought and crudely fashioned from a whip-saw file; a knife such as one may find possessed by old men in a hundred Alaskan villages.

“The knife of Ligoun?” I said, and Palitlum nodded.

“And for the knife of Ligoun,” I said, “will I give thee ten bottles of ‘Three Star.’“

But Palitlum looked at me slowly. “Hair-Face, I am weak as water, and easy as a woman. I have soiled my belly with quass, and hooch, and ‘Three Star.’ My eyes are blunted, my ears have lost their keenness, and my strength has gone into fat. And I am without honor in these days, and am called Palitlum, the Drinker. Yet honor was mine at the potlatch of Niblack, on the Skoot, and the memory of it, and the memory of Ligoun, be dear to me. Nay, didst thou turn the sea itself into ‘Three Star’ and say that it were all mine for the knife, yet would I keep the knife. I am Palitlum, the Drinker, but I was once Olo, the Ever-Hungry, who bore up Ligoun with his youth!”

“Thou art a great man, Palitlum,” I said, “and I honor thee.”

Palitlum reached out his hand.

“The ‘Three Star’ between thy knees be mine for the tale I have told,” he said.

And as I looked on the frown of the cliff at our backs, I saw the shadow of a man’s torso, monstrous beneath a huge inverted bottle.

Demetrios Contos

It must not be thought, from what I have told of the Greek fishermen, that they were altogether bad. Far from it. But they were rough men, gathered together in isolated communities and fighting with the elements for a livelihood. They lived far away from the law and its workings, did not understand it, and thought it tyranny. Especially did the fish laws seem tyrannical. And because of this, they looked upon the men of the fish patrol as their natural enemies.

We menaced their lives, or their living, which is the same thing, in many ways. We confiscated illegal traps and nets, the materials of which had cost them considerable sums and the making of which required weeks of labor. We prevented them from catching fish at many times and seasons, which was equivalent to preventing them from making as good a living as they might have made had we not been in existence. And when we captured them, they were brought into the courts of law, where heavy cash fines were collected from them. As a result, they hated us vindictively. As the dog is the natural enemy of the cat, the snake of man, so were we of the fish patrol the natural enemies of the fishermen.

But it is to show that they could act generously as well as hate bitterly that this story of Demetrios Contos is told. Demetrios Contos lived in Vallejo. Next to Big Alec, he was the largest, bravest, and most influential man among the Greeks. He had given us no trouble, and I doubt if he would ever have clashed with us had he not invested in a new salmon boat. This boat was the cause of all the trouble. He had had it built upon his own model, in which the lines of the general salmon boat were somewhat modified.

To his high elation he found his new boat very fast-in fact, faster than any other boat on the bay or rivers. Forthwith he grew proud and boastful: and, our raid with the Mary Rebecca on the Sunday salmon fishers having wrought fear in their hearts, he sent a challenge up to Benicia. One of the local fishermen conveyed it to us; it was to the effect that Demetrios Contos would sail up from Vallejo on the following Sunday, and in the plain sight of Benicia set his net and catch salmon, and that Charley Le Grant, patrolman, might come and get him if he could. Of course Charley and I had heard nothing of the new boat. Our own boat was pretty fast, and we were not afraid to have a brush with any other that happened along.

Sunday came. The challenge had been bruited abroad, and the fishermen and seafaring folk of Benicia turned out to a man, crowding Steamboat Wharf till it looked like the grand stand at a football match. Charley and I had been sceptical, but the fact of the crowd convinced us that there was something in Demetrios Contos’s dare.

In the afternoon, when the sea-breeze had picked up in strength, his sail hove into view as he bowled along before the wind. He tacked a score of feet from the wharf, waved his hand theatrically, like a knight about to enter the lists, received a hearty cheer in return, and stood away into the Straits for a couple of hundred yards. Then he lowered sail, and, drifting the boat sidewise by means of the wind, proceeded to set his net. He did not set much of it, possibly fifty feet; yet Charley and I were thunderstruck at the man’s effrontery. We did not know at the time, but we learned afterward, that the net he used was old and worthless. It could catch fish, true; but a catch of any size would have torn it to pieces.

Charley shook his head and said:

“I confess, it puzzles me. What if he has out only fifty feet? He could never get it in if we once started for him. And why does he come here anyway, flaunting his law-breaking in our faces? Right in our home town, too.”

Charley’s voice took on an aggrieved tone, and he continued for some minutes to inveigh against the brazenness of Demetrios Contos.

In the meantime, the man in question was lolling in the stern of his boat and watching the net floats. When a large fish is meshed in a gill-net, the floats by their agitation advertise the fact. And they evidently advertised it to Demetrios, for he pulled in about a dozen feet of net, and held aloft for a moment, before he flung it into the bottom of the boat, a big, glistening salmon. It was greeted by the audience on the wharf with round after round of cheers. This was more than Charley could stand.

“Come on, lad,” he called to me; and we lost no time jumping into our salmon boat and getting up sail.

The crowd shouted warning to Demetrios, and as we darted out from the wharf we saw him slash his worthless net clear with a long knife. His sail was all ready to go up, and a moment later it fluttered in the sunshine. He ran aft, drew in the sheet, and filled on the long tack toward the Contra Costa Hills.

By this time we were not more than thirty feet astern. Charley was jubilant. He knew our boat was fast, and he knew, further, that in fine sailing few men were his equals. He was confident that we should surely catch Demetrios, and I shared his confidence. But somehow we did not seem to gain.

It was a pretty sailing breeze. We were gliding sleekly through the water, but Demetrios was slowly sliding away from us. And not only was he going faster, but he was eating into the wind a fraction of a point closer than we. This was sharply impressed upon us when he went about under the Contra Costa Hills and passed us on the other tack fully one hundred feet dead to windward.

“Whew!” Charley exclaimed. “Either that boat is a daisy, or we’ve got a five-gallon coal-oil can fast to our keel!”

It certainly looked it one way or the other. And by the time Demetrios made the Sonoma Hills, on the other side of the Straits, we were so hopelessly outdistanced that Charley told me to slack off the sheet, and we squared away for Benicia. The fishermen on Steamboat Wharf showered us with ridicule when we returned and tied up. Charley and I got out and walked away, feeling rather sheepish, for it is a sore stroke to one’s pride when he thinks he has a good boat and knows how to sail it, and another man comes along and beats him.

Charley mooned over it for a couple of days; then word was brought to us, as before, that on the next Sunday Demetrios Contos would repeat his performance. Charley roused himself. He had our boat out of the water, cleaned and repainted its bottom, made a trifling alteration about the centre-board, overhauled the running gear, and sat up nearly all of Saturday night sewing on a new and much larger sail. So large did he make it, in fact, that additional ballast was imperative, and we stowed away nearly five hundred extra pounds of old railroad iron in the bottom of the boat.

Sunday came, and with it came Demetrios Contos, to break the law defiantly in open day. Again we had the afternoon sea-breeze, and again Demetrios cut loose some forty or more feet of his rotten net, and got up sail and under way under our very noses. But he had anticipated Charley’s move, and his own sail peaked higher than ever, while a whole extra cloth had been added to the after leech.

It was nip and tuck across to the Contra Costa Hills, neither of us seeming to gain or to lose. But by the time we had made the return tack to the Sonoma Hills, we could see that, while we footed it at about equal speed, Demetrios had eaten into the wind the least bit more than we. Yet Charley was sailing our boat as finely and delicately as it was possible to sail it, and getting more out of it than he ever had before.

Of course, he could have drawn his revolver and fired at Demetrios; but we had long since found it contrary to our natures to shoot at a fleeing man guilty of only a petty offence. Also a sort of tacit agreement seemed to have been reached between the patrolmen and the fishermen. If we did not shoot while they ran away, they, in turn, did not fight if we once laid hands on them. Thus Demetrios Contos ran away from us, and we did no more than try our best to overtake him; and, in turn, if our boat proved faster than his, or was sailed better, he would, we knew, make no resistance when we caught up with him.

With our large sails and the healthy breeze romping up the Carquinez Straits, we found that our sailing was what is called “ticklish.” We had to be constantly on the alert to avoid a capsize, and while Charley steered I held the main-sheet in my hand with but a single turn round a pin, ready to let go at any moment. Demetrios, we could see, sailing his boat alone, had his hands full.

But it was a vain undertaking for us to attempt to catch him. Out of his inner consciousness he had evolved a boat that was better than ours. And though Charley sailed fully as well, if not the least bit better, the boat he sailed was not so good as the Greek’s.

“Slack away the sheet,” Charley commanded; and as our boat fell off before the wind, Demetrios’s mocking laugh floated down to us.

Charley shook his head, saying, “It’s no use. Demetrios has the better boat. If he tries his performance again, we must meet it with some new scheme.”

This time it was my imagination that came to the rescue.

“What’s the matter,” I suggested, on the Wednesday following, “with my chasing Demetrios in the boat next Sunday, while you wait for him on the wharf at Vallejo when he arrives?”

Charley considered it a moment and slapped his knee.

“A good idea! You’re beginning to use that head of yours. A credit to your teacher, I must say.”

“But you mustn’t chase him too far,” he went on, the next moment, “or he’ll head out into San Pablo Bay instead of running home to Vallejo, and there I’ll be, standing lonely on the wharf and waiting in vain for him to arrive.”

On Thursday Charley registered an objection to my plan.

“Everybody’ll know I’ve gone to Vallejo, and you can depend upon it that Demetrios will know, too. I’m afraid we’ll have to give up the idea.”

This objection was only too valid, and for the rest of the day I struggled under my disappointment. But that night a new way seemed to open to me, and in my eagerness I awoke Charley from a sound sleep.

“Well,” he grunted, “what’s the matter? House afire?”

“No,” I replied, “but my head is. Listen to this. On Sunday you and I will be around Benicia up to the very moment Demetrios’s sail heaves into sight. This will lull everybody’s suspicions. Then, when Demetrios’s sail does heave in sight, do you stroll leisurely away and up-town. All the fishermen will think you’re beaten and that you know you’re beaten.”

“So far, so good,” Charley commented, while I paused to catch breath.

“And very good indeed,” I continued proudly. “You stroll carelessly up-town, but when you’re once out of sight you leg it for all you’re worth for Dan Maloney’s. Take the little mare of his, and strike out on the country road for Vallejo. The road’s in fine condition, and you can make it in quicker time than Demetrios can beat all the way down against the wind.”

“And I’ll arrange right away for the mare, first thing in the morning,” Charley said, accepting the modified plan without hesitation.

“But, I say,” he said, a little later, this time waking me out of a sound sleep.

I could hear him chuckling in the dark.

“I say, lad, isn’t it rather a novelty for the fish patrol to be taking to horseback?”

“Imagination,” I answered. “It’s what you’re always preaching-‘keep thinking one thought ahead of the other fellow, and you’re bound to win out.’“

“He! he!” he chuckled. “And if one thought ahead, including a mare, doesn’t take the other fellow’s breath away this time, I’m not your humble servant, Charley Le Grant.”

“But can you manage the boat alone?” he asked, on Friday. “Remember, we’ve a ripping big sail on her.”

I argued my proficiency so well that he did not refer to the matter again till Saturday, when he suggested removing one whole cloth from the after leech. I guess it was the disappointment written on my face that made him desist; for I, also, had a pride in my boat-sailing abilities, and I was almost wild to get out alone with the big sail and go tearing down the Carquinez Straits in the wake of the flying Greek.

As usual, Sunday and Demetrios Contos arrived together. It had become the regular thing for the fishermen to assemble on Steamboat Wharf to greet his arrival and to laugh at our discomfiture. He lowered sail a couple of hundred yards out and set his customary fifty feet of rotten net.

“I suppose this nonsense will keep up as long as his old net holds out,” Charley grumbled, with intention, in the hearing of several of the Greeks.

“Den I give-a heem my old-a net-a,” one of them spoke up, promptly and maliciously, “I don’t care,” Charley answered. “I’ve got some old net myself he can have-if he’ll come around and ask for it.”

They all laughed at this, for they could afford to be sweet-tempered with a man so badly outwitted as Charley was.

“Well, so long, lad,” Charley called to me a moment later. “I think I’ll go up-town to Maloney’s.”

“Let me take the boat out?” I asked.

“If you want to,” was his answer, as he turned on his heel and walked slowly away.

Demetrios pulled two large salmon out of his net, and I jumped into the boat. The fishermen crowded around in a spirit of fun, and when I started to get up sail overwhelmed me with all sorts of jocular advice. They even offered extravagant bets to one another that I would surely catch Demetrios, and two of them, styling themselves the committee of judges, gravely asked permission to come along with me to see how I did it.

But I was in no hurry. I waited to give Charley all the time I could, and I pretended dissatisfaction with the stretch of the sail and slightly shifted the small tackle by which the huge sprit forces up the peak. It was not until I was sure that Charley had reached Dan Maloney’s and was on the little mare’s back, that I cast off from the wharf and gave the big sail to the wind. A stout puff filled it and suddenly pressed the lee gunwale down till a couple of buckets of water came inboard. A little thing like this will happen to the best small-boat sailors, and yet, though I instantly let go the sheet and righted, I was cheered sarcastically, as though I had been guilty of a very awkward blunder.

When Demetrios saw only one person in the fish patrol boat, and that one a boy, he proceeded to play with me. Making a short tack out, with me not thirty feet behind, he returned, with his sheet a little free, to Steamboat Wharf. And there he made short tacks, and turned and twisted and ducked around, to the great delight of his sympathetic audience. I was right behind him all the time, and I dared to do whatever he did, even when he squared away before the wind and jibed his big sail over-a most dangerous trick with such a sail in such a wind.

He depended upon the brisk sea breeze and the strong ebb-tide, which together kicked up a nasty sea, to bring me to grief. But I was on my mettle, and never in all my life did I sail a boat better than on that day. I was keyed up to concert pitch, my brain was working smoothly and quickly, my hands never fumbled once, and it seemed that I almost divined the thousand little things which a small-boat sailor must be taking into consideration every second.

It was Demetrios who came to grief instead. Something went wrong with his centre-board, so that it jammed in the case and would not go all the way down. In a moment’s breathing space, which he had gained from me by a clever trick, I saw him working impatiently with the centre-board, trying to force it down. I gave him little time, and he was compelled quickly to return to the tiller and sheet.

The centre-board made him anxious. He gave over playing with me, and started on the long beat to Vallejo. To my joy, on the first long tack across, I found that I could eat into the wind just a little bit closer than he. Here was where another man in the boat would have been of value to him; for, with me but a few feet astern, he did not dare let go the tiller and run amidships to try to force down the centre-board.

Unable to hang on as close in the eye of the wind as formerly, he proceeded to slack his sheet a trifle and to ease off a bit, in order to outfoot me. This I permitted him to do till I had worked to windward, when I bore down upon him. As I drew close, he feinted at coming about. This led me to shoot into the wind to forestall him. But it was only a feint, cleverly executed, and he held back to his course while I hurried to make up lost ground.

He was undeniably smarter than I when it came to manoeuvring. Time after time I all but had him, and each time he tricked me and escaped. Besides, the wind was freshening, constantly, and each of us had his hands full to avoid capsizing. As for my boat, it could not have been kept afloat but for the extra ballast. I sat cocked over the weather gunwale, tiller in one hand and sheet in the other; and the sheet, with a single turn around a pin, I was very often forced to let go in the severer puffs. This allowed the sail to spill the wind, which was equivalent to taking off so much driving power, and of course I lost ground. My consolation was that Demetrios was as often compelled to do the same thing.

The strong ebb-tide, racing down the Straits in the teeth of the wind, caused an unusually heavy and spiteful sea, which dashed aboard continually. I was dripping wet, and even the sail was wet half-way up the after leech. Once I did succeed in outmanoeuvring Demetrios, so that my bow bumped into him amidships. Here was where I should have had another man. Before I could run forward and leap aboard, he shoved the boats apart with an oar, laughing mockingly in my face as he did so.

We were now at the mouth of the Straits, in a bad stretch of water. Here the Vallejo Straits and the Carquinez Straits rushed directly at each other. Through the first flowed all the water of Napa River and the great tide-lands; through the second flowed all the water of Suisun Bay and the Sacramento and San Joaquin rivers. And where such immense bodies of water, flowing swiftly, clashed together, a terrible tide-rip was produced. To make it worse, the wind howled up San Pablo Bay for fifteen miles and drove in a tremendous sea upon the tide-rip.

Conflicting currents tore about in all directions, colliding, forming whirlpools, sucks, and boils, and shooting up spitefully into hollow waves which fell aboard as often from leeward as from windward. And through it all, confused, driven into a madness of motion, thundered the great smoking seas from San Pablo Bay.

I was as wildly excited as the water. The boat was behaving splendidly, leaping and lurching through the welter like a race-horse. I could hardly contain myself with the joy of it. The huge sail, the howling wind, the driving seas, the plunging boat-I, a pygmy, a mere speck in the midst of it, was mastering the elemental strife, flying through it and over it, triumphant and victorious.

And just then, as I roared along like a conquering hero, the boat received a frightful smash and came instantly to a dead stop. I was flung forward and into the bottom. As I sprang up I caught a fleeting glimpse of a greenish, barnacle-covered object, and knew it at once for what it was, that terror of navigation, a sunken pile. No man may guard against such a thing. Water-logged and floating just beneath the surface, it was impossible to sight it in the troubled water in time to escape.

The whole bow of the boat must have been crushed in, for in a few seconds the boat was half full. Then a couple of seas filled it, and it sank straight down, dragged to bottom by the heavy ballast. So quickly did it all happen that I was entangled in the sail and drawn under. When I fought my way to the surface, suffocating, my lungs almost bursting, I could see nothing of the oars. They must have been swept away by the chaotic currents. I saw Demetrios Contos looking back from his boat, and heard the vindictive and mocking tones of his voice as he shouted exultantly. He held steadily on his course, leaving me to perish.

There was nothing to do but to swim for it, which, in that wild confusion, was at the best a matter of but a few moments. Holding my breath and working with my hands, I managed to get off my heavy sea-boots and my jacket. Yet there was very little breath I could catch to hold, and I swiftly discovered that it was not so much a matter of swimming as of breathing.

I was beaten and buffeted, smashed under by the great San Pablo whitecaps, and strangled by the hollow tide-rip waves which flung themselves into my eyes, nose, and mouth. Then the strange sucks would grip my legs and drag me under, to spout me up in some fierce boiling, where, even as I tried to catch my breath, a great whitecap would crash down upon my head.

It was impossible to survive any length of time. I was breathing more water than air, and drowning all the time. My senses began to leave me, my head to whirl around. I struggled on, spasmodically, instinctively, and was barely half conscious when I felt myself caught by the shoulders and hauled over the gunwale of a boat.

For some time I lay across a seat where I had been flung, face downward, and with the water running out of my mouth. After a while, still weak and faint, I turned around to see who was my rescuer. And there, in the stern, sheet in one hand and tiller in the other, grinning and nodding good-naturedly, sat Demetrios Contos. He had intended to leave me to drown,-he said so afterward,-but his better self had fought the battle, conquered, and sent him back to me.

“You all-a right?” he asked.

I managed to shape a “yes” on my lips, though I could not yet speak.

“You sail-a de boat verr-a good-a,” he said. “So good-a as a man.”

A compliment from Demetrios Contos was a compliment indeed, and I keenly appreciated it, though I could only nod my head in acknowledgment.

We held no more conversation, for I was busy recovering and he was busy with the boat. He ran in to the wharf at Vallejo, made the boat fast, and helped me out. Then it was, as we both stood on the wharf, that Charley stepped out from behind a net-rack and put his hand on Demetrios Contos’s arm.

“He saved my life, Charley,” I protested; “and I don’t think he ought to be arrested.”

A puzzled expression came into Charley’s face, which cleared immediately after, in a way it had when he made up his mind.

“I can’t help it, lad,” he said kindly. “I can’t go back on my duty, and it’s plain duty to arrest him. To-day is Sunday; there are two salmon in his boat which he caught to-day. What else can I do?”

“But he saved my life,” I persisted, unable to make any other argument.

Demetrios Contos’s face went black with rage when he learned Charley’s judgment. He had a sense of being unfairly treated. The better part of his nature had triumphed, he had performed a generous act and saved a helpless enemy, and in return the enemy was taking him to jail.

Charley and I were out of sorts with each other when we went back to Benicia. I stood for the spirit of the law and not the letter; but by the letter Charley made his stand. As far as he could see, there was nothing else for him to do. The law said distinctly that no salmon should be caught on Sunday. He was a patrolman, and it was his duty to enforce that law. That was all there was to it. He had done his duty, and his conscience was clear. Nevertheless, the whole thing seemed unjust to me, and I felt very sorry for Demetrios Contos.

Two days later we went down to Vallejo to the trial. I had to go along as a witness, and it was the most hateful task that I ever performed in my life when I testified on the witness stand to seeing Demetrios catch the two salmon Charley had captured him with.

Demetrios had engaged a lawyer, but his case was hopeless. The jury was out only fifteen minutes, and returned a verdict of guilty. The judge sentenced Demetrios to pay a fine of one hundred dollars or go to jail for fifty days.

Charley stepped up to the clerk of the court. “I want to pay that fine,” he said, at the same time placing five twenty-dollar gold pieces on the desk. “It-it was the only way out of it, lad,” he stammered, turning to me.

The moisture rushed into my eyes as I seized his hand. “I want to pay-“ I began.

“To pay your half?” he interrupted. “I certainly shall expect you to pay it.”

In the meantime Demetrios had been informed by his lawyer that his fee likewise had been paid by Charley.

Demetrios came over to shake Charley’s hand, and all his warm Southern blood flamed in his face. Then, not to be outdone in generosity, he insisted on paying his fine and lawyer’s fee himself, and flew half-way into a passion because Charley refused to let him.

More than anything else we ever did, I think, this action of Charley’s impressed upon the fishermen the deeper significance of the law. Also Charley was raised high in their esteem, while I came in for a little share of praise as a boy who knew how to sail a boat. Demetrios Contos not only never broke the law again, but he became a very good friend of ours, and on more than one occasion he ran up to Benicia to have a gossip with us.

The Devil’s Dice Box

We worshipped at alien altars; we bowed our heads in the dust;

Our Law was might is the mightiest; our Creed was unholy lust;

Our Law and our Creed we followed — strange is the tale to tell —

For our Law and our Creed we followed into the pit of hell.

The Mammon Worshippers

NOT only do I know of these things from the finding of the manuscript, but I helped bury the Man who came out of the East; I knew the other men before they disappeared into the East; and I also know that they never came back. It occurred in the old days before the great discoveries on Bonanza and Eldorado, in the times we called the Clondyke the Reindeer River. There were about one hundred white men scattered through all that vast wilderness; perhaps a score of us, because of a great faith in the Upper Country, being in winter quarters where the Stuart River flows into the Yukon.

It was in April, when our grub was running short, that I trailed a wounded moose through many creeks and over many divides, camping on the track by night and hungering for the kill. On this day he headed for the north east, doubled, then broke for the Stuart River, crossing it fifty miles from its mouth. I found a dead Indian woman on the ice, a half-breed, and for all she must have suffered, still very beautiful. She had starved to death, for her squirrel-skin parka had been cut away, strip after strip, and the tops of her moccasins also showed the Indian manner of appeasing hunger. I looted her, and being in great pain through lack of food, continued after the moose, leaving the body to go down with the ice when the river broke. I found in the grub pouch a piece of partially chewed leather, a little over five pounds of large nuggets, and Ae birch-bark manuscript which is here printed. I purposely disguise the location of the place, for some day I shall go there myself, and come back very rich.

(here begins the story proper)

It is all so strange and horrible — I can hardly realize it, hardly realize that I am dying. And to die in the possession of boundless wealth, to die in the treasure chamber of the world, is the hardest part of it. And again, the strange fatality; is it merely a peculiar chain of circumstances? or is it a curse imposed by that First Man from over the mountains? 0 why this medley of bloodshed, murder, death? Can none escape the — but I must calm myself. Let me begin at the beginning. This Indian woman was once a Mission girl of the Coast, and she writes as I tell her. Perhaps after I am dead she may reach civilization and give my tale to the world.

In the beginning, there were seven of us, eight, counting the girl, located on the third island below the mouth of the Stuart. We were soldiers of fortune whom chance had thrown together, and little was known of each other’s antecedents. We had all been several years in the Yukon Basin, while our leader, Innuit Kid, had put in no less than seven and knew the country as few men ever did or ever will. The half-breed, Lucy, was his wife whom he had brought from Haine’s Mission on the Coast. Then there were the two Randolf brothers, claiming kinship with the famous Kentucky family of that name; two sailors who had adventured together the whole world over; and a young college graduate (Yale man, if I remember rightly) named Charley. We never knew him by any other, for he had evidently fled some scrape at home and desired to hide it. As for myself, the least said the better. Let it suffice that I had lost my partner in an ice-jam the preceding fall and then drifted into my present company.

It was in the short days of December that the first of the many things I shall speak of occurred. Night had just fallen, and we were smoking, yarning, and sewing moccasins, when the dogs set up a racket. Then we heard some one cursing and the sharp slash of a dog whip, followed by a knock at the door. Before we could open it, the Man from out of the East came in. His first words were ‘For Christ’s sake, a smoke!” Charley thrust a live pipe into his hand, and he fell to puffing with long sighs of satisfaction. Tall, dark-eyed and black-whiskered, with the muscular leanness habitual to one who travels the Long Trail, he was as graceful and handsome a man as ever delighted the eye of woman. I have often thought that this was the cause of the trouble which afterward came upon him. In answer to our question as to where he came from, he pointed toward the east and went on smoking and sighing. We scented a mystery; never before had we heard of a man coming out of tie east, nor had we ever dreamed of it being done in winter time. We male him comfortable, however, and as he stayed over several days to buy dogs for the trip to Dyea, we managed to get a few inklings to his history.

In the first place, we back-tripped his trail and found it led out of Stuart River; and in the second, he had brought over a hundred pounds of gold on his sled, every bit of it being large nuggets with an assay value of over eighteen dollars. These are the facts, the rest beingcaught from his lips and pieced together. In the summer of two years previous, in the company of two French-Canadian half-breeds, he canoed and portaged from Lake Athabasca to Great Slave Lake, and then down the Mackenzie to the sixty-fifth degree or in a line with Bear Lake There they waited till the first snow, when they abandoned the river and faced west into the Rockies. After a year’s wandering in that unknown region, ever continuing westward, he had encountered the head-waters of the Stuart and journeyed down to the Yukon. He spoke incidentally of the loss of his two comrades, nor was he shy in the exhibition of his gold, frankly telling us that it was merely a sample of what he had discovered. Beyond this we could gain nothing, for he kept his lips resolutely sealed on his previous life. Still, disguise it as he would, there was a certain, vague smack of the man of the world about him which I could not fail to recognize.

Despite our solicitations, he prepared to set out on Christmas Day. He had just harnessed his dogs and was preparing to pull out, when a bunch of dog teams, fresh from the Coast, pulled in. We were at once struck by the similarity between him and the leader of the arrivals. Even before salutations could be exchanged, the explosion took place. The new arrival gave a start of surprise and covered our guest with his rile. The latter’s sang froid was remarkable, for he smiled with a peculiar niockery of the lips and said, “Ah! brother mine.” That was all; not another word passed between them; their understanding was too good for that.

The scene which followed would be highly improbable among ordinary people, but all things are possible to the men who face the dangers of the dreary Northland. It seemed like an appointment, long since made, to be kept at this time and place. Rifle in hand and back to back, each paced off fifty yards and faced about, while we drew out ofthe line of fire.

Never did Christmas Day look down on stranger scene. It was high noon, and the upper rim of the sun, barely showing above the southern horizon, cast a blood-red streak athwart the heavens. On either hand a sun dog blazed, while the air was filled with scintillating particles of frost. A great silence prevailed. The vast expanse of snow seemed a Sahara of monotonous white, broken only by the dark forms of the brothers. A moment they faced each other, then, as the new arrival counted the customary “One, two, three,” rifles came to shoulders and began to speak. Such was the rapidity of our guest’s fire, that for six shots he kept a shell constantly in the air and then went down, bored through the lungs. His opponent was more deliberate, firing but three. J But he had not escaped unscathed, for a bullet had cut his mitten string, a second had smashed a couple of ribs, while his right arm hung useless, the work of a third.

He staggered across the snow to his brother and gazed upon him with great satisfaction. We raised the stricken man to a sitting posture, and as he showed a desire to speak, his brother bent over him. We never knew what he whispered, but his look of mockery as his soul passed was a keynote to the stranger’s sudden anger. He unsheathed his hunting-knife and would have stabbed the dying man, had not Innuit Kid dashed his fist into his face, knocking him backward into the snow. There was a slipping of mittens and a clicking of rifles among the newcomers, and the broil would have become general, had not the stranger gained his feet and stepped between. In response to his orders, the sleds were un-lashed, the loads shifted, and his wounds dressed. Then he was swathed in robes and tied to a sled. The whole thing had happened in less than five minutes — the stranger had arrived, killed our guest, and departed. Men think and act quickly in the Northland.

Stowing the body on the roof of the cabin so that the dogs could not get at it, we entered and held a council of war. The sailors emptied the; two fifty-pound sacks of nuggets on the table, and from this moment the Madness began to grow. Even Lucy, for all her impassive Indian nature, was so fascinated by the glittering heap that she could hardly cook dinner. After a few minutes of talk and conjecture, Innuit Kid returned with the information that the strangers had turned into the Stuart River. Confusion prevailed. Even the woman understood its import. Charley thanked all the heathen gods that men could not hide their trail in the Arctic, while Innuit Kid thumped the table and swore that he would be the first in at the kill.

Then came the planning and the question as to who should stay behind. Then the Madness broke out. Man after man swore roundly that he would not be left, while the quivering of Lucy’s nostrils and the fact that she always followed her lord and master settled the matter for her. And there we sat, gazing on the yellow heap, thinking the strange things and dreaming the strange dreams that men always do, when this thirst of thirsts is on them.

We soon settled it by all hands going, and buckled down to the work of getting ready. Sleds were strengthened, harnesses and moccasins made and repaired, and every dog and every pound of dog-food to be obtained for love or money skirmished from White and Indian. So bust were we, that when we pulled out the following morning, we left a notice for the first comer to bury the man on the roof. And so the Madness grew; for when one fails to bury the dead at his door, he is indeed ready to be destroyed.

A brave sight we made with our eight sleds and five score dogs. While the ordinary team is from five to seven dogs, we had twelve to the sled. Still, though we did not have to go ahead and break trail for our dogs, we were three days in overtaking them. It was plain that they were traveling fast. Contrary to our expectations, however, there was no trouble when they discovered our pursuit — nay, they did not evince the slightest surprise when we overhauled them. We did not like this, and that night and for many nights we kept watch. Nor were we alone, for reconnoitering in the direction of their camp Abe Randolph discovered that they had taken similar precautions.

Though we knew they knew the location of the treasure, they did not know that we were ignorant of it. Each party knew that the other could not give it the slip, because the pursued always breaks a trail for the pursuer in an Arctic chase. It was like two racers, riding easily and waiting for the sprint at the finish to settle the matter. To an onlooker our race must have appeared ludicrous, for we alternated, day by day, in going to the fore and breaking trail. Yet this was the only understanding, for both parties maintained a rigid silence.

Such a contest would have been bearable under ordinary circumstances, but here food was too precious to lag by the wayside. How the dogs suffered; we were forced to stint them in their allowance, at the same time working them to the utmost. By the time we entered on the third hundred miles they began to play out; these we shot and fed to those which still kept their legs. The January days were very short, and at the best we could not knock out more than twenty miles, often not as much as ten. But the heavy work told on us, and at night we crawled into the snow and slept like dead men. How the leader of the other party stood it, I cannot imagine. Often we heard him cursing with the pain, when the sled he was lashed to jolted over rough ice. But his was an indomitable spirit. Not only did he stand it, but his ribs so knitted and healed that when the period of intense cold came, he began to leave the sled and walk. It was a case of have-to, though, else he would have frozen.

But we were all tired and worn, and one of our party began to break under the strain. It was not the girl. God bless her, for she was born and bred to the trail, but the Yale man. He finally became so weak that he could do nothing. Then we forced him onto the trail as soon as he had breakfasted, while we broke camp, lashed the sleds and harnessed thef dogs. We always overtook and passed him in a couple of hours, and long after we had pitched camp and eaten supper, he would come staggering in, nearly dead. Though also very tired, the other party was in fair condition, and perceiving our plight, cruelly though of course fairly, took advantage of it. They increased the hours of traveling; yet while we kept up, it was too much for Charley. They no longer waited for us tol take our turn in breaking trail, and gradually began to pull away from us. What could we do? We had lost so many dogs that we had already abandoned four of the sleds and every surplus article we possessed. Each man even carried his rifle and ammunition, when previously they had been packed on the sleds.

Slowly, though we never spoke or hinted of it, the question took shape. Were we to abandon Charley or the treasure? Three more days we forced him to the pace, but by the last day he no longer suffered. Though he still stumbled along on his snow shoes, he had lost consciousness, and laughed and cried and babbled about his people, his home, his childhood days. Once he regained consciousness long enough to realize how slender was his thread of life, and to beg us to shoot him. That night the other party traveled four hours after dark, and it exhausted Abe and John Randolph to drag him into camp. He could not eat and slept like a log where he fell, his moccasins scorching in the fire. Next morning they broke camp two hours earlier than usual, and wel found it impossible to get Charley up. His brain would rouse but his body could not respond. He was not sick, only exhausted. Rest was the only medicine for him, and we could not give it. We found four more of the dogs unfit for travel and had to shoot them, else we would have lashed him to a sled.

The sleds were loaded, the dogs were harnessed, but we waited and tried and tried in vain. As Old Sol dipped over the horizon at meridian, we rose to our feet. The moment had come. We looked into each other’s eyes coldly and without emotion. Lucy’s face, though her throat was silent, voiced an eloquent appeal. The Madness was on us; we could not yield. The snapping whips and lunging dogs roused him, and by the look on his face, we knew he understood. It was a piteous look — the look of a wounded doe or of a seal at the killing. So we left him because of the Madness, and small wonder that our gods forsook us as we forsook our comrade.

We took to the trail in silence, the first to break it being Lucy, who dropped back to the side of Innuit Kid and pleaded in low tones. He reluctantly consented to her taking the back trail. She was with us in a few minutes, but we noticed that the holster above the hip was empty. Then a shot rang out, and we knew that Charley had passed beyond the toil of the camps and trail.

They were so bent on losing us that they traveled far into the night — so far that we could not overtake them. The next day had a similar ending, and it was not till the evening of the third day that we pulled into their camp. As before, they showed no signs of surprise, though we could see that they eyed us pretty thoroughly and noted Charley’s absence. With shame, we had noted the same; but by neither sign or word did one comrade show another his heart.

We were sorely tried by the work, by the inexorable morrow which constantly fled across the snow. Hard as it was to struggle on, still harder was it to struggle against the desire for rest. What would I not have given just to cease for one day from all action. How I envied my prosaic boyhood days — nay, I even envied Charley. Often I thought of blowing out my brains to get the peace I so hungered for. For the first time I understood the terrible significance of Longfellow’s lines:

The sea is still and deep;

All things within its bosom sleep;

A single step and all is o’er;

A plunge, a bubble, and no more.

And during the long hours of toil, with the monotonous grind of ihe steel-shod sleds and the perpetual uplifting of the snow shoes, they were always in my thoughts. But the great lust, the Madness, kept me up and prevented me throwing my revolver away. Nor did I suffer alone, for we were all light-headed, babbling and staggering along like drunken men. All, except Innuit Kid and Lucy; their pluck was superhuman. Not only did they take their pain without sign, but at the labor of cooking, pitching and breaking camp, they did double duty.

The intense cold made it harder. For two weeks the thermometer had been ranging under fifty degrees below zero; for eight days it had been below sixty; and now it sank past seventy-four. At this temperature, our “painkiller” (our only and entire medicine chest) froze solid. How much colder it got we could not tell. Our faces were frozen a purplish-black and covered with great scabs, while we were in continual agony from our feet. Constant snow shoeing had developed large run-I ning sores on the soles. Our dogs were dropping fast. There were barely twenty left out of our five score. But it could not last forever, and one morning our quarry turned out of the river, taking a small tributary entering from the left. The chase was drawing to a close.

A day’s journey up this brought us to its forks, where we camped, a good watch being kept so they could not slip away from us in the dark. Dawn found us under way again. We were in the Rockies now, almost to the backbone, and the branch had become a gorge. We felt sure that the end was at hand, looked to our weapons, and made all arrangements for the final sprint. All day we fought our way through the cold and snow, and when nightfall and the end of the gorge appeared, we were sorely disappointed. But imagine our astonishment when the quarry strained at the divide, and with axes, began to cut steps in the hard snow for themselves and dogs. No sign of camping, so we figured that our goal must be very near.

We cleared the crest as the rising moon silvered the snow, and found ourselves on a large plateau, above which towered lofty peaks, dismal and repellent in their white splendor. Up to now the course had evidently been clear, but when the other party began to travel by compass, we swung abreast and feigned great interest in our own. So well did we play our game, that our opponents never knew our utter ignorance of the location of the treasure. It was a beautiful night, and the ghostly, Arctic silence enveloped us like a shroud. The cold was bitter, every breath cutting our lungs like a knife, while our faces were massed I with ice. And on all our misery, the stars looked down unpityingly — nay, exultantly, as they danced and leaped as they always do in the Great Cold.

Suddenly, in the very center of the plateau, their dogs were forced to a gallop. There was a general loosening of knives and pistols as we followed suit and swept along, still abreast. It was weird indeed, this last stretch of a mighty race — men, gold-thirsty, a thousand miles beyond the uttermost bounds of civilization, in the heart of the Northland wastes, running neck and neck for they knew not what. Of a sudden the dogs threw themselves back on their haunches. We were on the edge of a great hole, which seemed to sink to the heart of the tableland. Round, perhaps three hundred feet in diameter, it was a sheer thousand to bottom. The walls were everywhere perpendicular, save in one place on the opposite place, where erosion and successive slides had broken up the precipitous formation. It seemed like a great dice box, and to complete the illusion, at the bottom were five enormous cubes of stone.

Cursing, lashing, mushing the dogs, we skirted the dizzy edge at full gallop; nor paused, taking the steep descent like mad-men. Side by side, Innuit Kid and the stranger leader led, followed by both parties, men and dogs, confusedly mixed together. The sleds turned over and went down sideways, backwards and upside down, dragging after them the dogs, which had flown at each other’s throats. We tried to escape the tangle but were swept off our feet and carried along. It was a veritable avalanche of life. In our pell-mell progress we dislodged great quantities of snow, on the breast of which we were carried along like a swimmer on the crest of a wave. We overtook and enveloped the two leaders in the common ruin, and naught could be heard above the roar of our transit, save a confused treble of snarling and cursing.

I cannot even now understand how we escaped total destruction; but escape we did, fetching up among the great blocks of stone on the bottom. Groaning from our wounds, we dragged each other out of the mess, disentangled the dogs, and counted losses. Two of their men had been badly crushed; one of our sailors had broken both legs; while half a dozen dogs had been torn to pieces in the fighting.

The moon had now passed beyond the rim of the pit and darkness was about us. We stumbled upon a small, single-roomed log cabin, and into this both gangs crowded. After a little delay in thawing the fat, a bacon-grease slush-lamp was lighted and we gazed about us. It was an ordinary cabin, with a rock fireplace and chinked with moss; but on a rough table was heaped a pile of nuggets, worth perhaps forty or fifty thousand dollars. As this was but a foretaste, we paid little attention to it. Underneath the table were fragments of a human skeleton, perchance that of the original discoverer. On top the gold we found numerous pieces of birch bark, covered with writing. It was in French, and one of the other party translated it aloud.

Over twenty years before, we learned, the writer, “sick unto death and deserted by his comrade,” had laid him down to die. He had wandered here from the Hudson Bay Company’s posts above Athabasca, and discovered the treasure. He described his theory of its deposit, and dwelt at great length on the cowardice and treachery of his partner, concluding by calling down a curse upon the gold in the name of all that was most holy and most diabolical. (I shudder now, as I think of those terrible words, and if ever a curse was efficacious, this one was.) Beneath it, another hand had dated ten years later and written:

Ha! Ha! Though his partner died, I am here, and by all the Saints it won’t work with me.

— Donald Ross.”

Another one took up the strain, evidently our unlucky December guest, for it was dated but three months back. It ran:

“Poor devil! he laughed before he was out of the woods. But he laughs best who laughs last. Ha! Ha! Ha!

— Griffith Benson.”

We all burst into laughter as the reading finished — partly hysterical, I’ll admit, but with a ring of derision, satisfaction, and blind egotism. Of course the others had succumbed to the potency of that First Man’s curse, but we knew it was different with us. Most truly were we mad.

The fireplace was soon roaring, supper cooked and eaten, the wounded men made comfortable, and the rest of us turned in. The cabin had been divided between the two gangs, each setting a watch through fear of treachery.

Morning brought with it the discovery of the mine — in short, the whole bottom of the pit was the mine. Bed-rock had been tapped inl several previous workings, and every one was rich, beyond our wildest dreams. Fine gold, coarse gold, nuggets — one could simply shovel it out. Panning and rocking was unnecessary; it had only to be picked up. Evidently in the cycles of the dim past, a great quartz ledge had reared itself for thousands of feet above the present hole; and by erosion, thel action of ice during the Glacial Period, or some other freak of nature, it had disintegrated and deposited its golden spoil. We could not even hazard a guess as to how the pit had been formed or what had comej of the debris, though we were sure of some subterranean outlet, else would it have been filled with water.

Gold there was, and in plenty for all, and I believe we would have soon reached an amicable division of it, had not Fate been against us. Both parties were at the tail end of their grub. We killed our dogs one by one, went on short rations, and searched the whole country round for game. Moose or cariboo, and all would have been well; but the best the hunting parties could do was to knock over an occasional partridge or snowshoe rabbit. The country seemed barren, and even this small game disappeared at last.

It was now straight dog. But the dogs were thin and the men hungry, so they did not go very far. We had still four left when the other party reached the end of its tether. For two days their hunters returned empty handed and food did not pass their mouths. Of course we could not whack up, and of course they could not starve peaceably. The outlook was dark indeed, and though no word was spoken, many the black scowl was cast between.

Affairs reached a crisis on the evening of the third day. After lengthy consultation in a corner, their leader left the cabin. There was a snarling among the remnant of the dogs, and the next instant he staggered in, dragging one of them by the scruff of the neck. Everything followed like a flash. Lucy sprang for the dog, but Innuit Kid caught her a back-handed sweep of the arm, hurling her into the corner. At the same instant the Frenchman threw his hunting-knife. Just as Innuit Kid clenched with the stranger, it whistled through the air, burying itself in his shoulder. The work was too close for rifles, but revolvers and knives played merrily. The golden table and the slush-lamp went crashing over, and by the deceptive firelight we fought like fiends. It was give and take, without mercy and without quarter; when opportunity permitted, a wounded adversary was always finished. Even the stricken, underfoot, used the overhand stab on the combatants above them, or gave each other the quietus. Two men clinched and rolled into the fireplace, from which arose the sickening smell of burning flesh. Nor was I idle, till I went underfoot and a great darkness came upon me.

I have heard of the Kilkenny Cats, but never did I dream of taking part in a similar combat. A week has passed since the battle, and I alone am left. In fact, I alone had life when Lucy overhauled the shambles. Grim is the irony of Fate; shortly after the battle she shot two moose, 50 she is in no danger of starving. But she is busy preparing a stock of “^eat, and I know that she will strike out as soon as I am dead. Heaven ^Ip her, for she faces what few men dare face. Should she succeed, of ^omsoever gets this I ask to treat her kindly, and if any of the treasure is obtained to give her a fair share. I would advise him, though, to shun this spot, for of a verity it is the pit of hell; but I know it is useless, for what can bid him pause when the thirst of thirsts is on him?

My time is near. Though I may wander, I behold the signs. Often I hear thunder of the rolling dice and see my comrades there at play. Soon I shall go to join them in the game. Should this chance the eyes of my people, I sign my name. Thus may they know my death, and that in sorrow for the wrong I did them, I met it.

The Devils of Fuatino

I

Of his many schooners, ketches and cutters that nosed about among the coral isles of the South Seas, David Grief loved most the Rattler--a yacht-like schooner of ninety tons with so swift a pair of heels that she had made herself famous, in the old days, opium-smuggling from San Diego to Puget Sound, raiding the seal-rookeries of Bering Sea, and running arms in the Far East. A stench and an abomination to government officials, she had been the joy of all sailormen, and the pride of the shipwrights who built her. Even now, after forty years of driving, she was still the same old Rattler, fore-reaching in the same marvellous manner that compelled sailors to see in order to believe and that punctuated many an angry discussion with words and blows on the beaches of all the ports from Valparaiso to Manila Bay.

On this night, close-hauled, her big mainsail preposterously flattened down, her luffs pulsing emptily on the lift of each smooth swell, she was sliding an easy four knots through the water on the veriest whisper of a breeze. For an hour David Grief had been leaning on the rail at the lee fore-rigging, gazing overside at the steady phosphorescence of her gait. The faint back-draught from the headsails fanned his cheek and chest with a wine of coolness, and he was in an ecstasy of appreciation of the schooner’s qualities.

“Eh!--She’s a beauty, Taute, a beauty,” he said to the Kanaka lookout, at the same time stroking the teak of the rail with an affectionate hand.

“Ay, skipper,” the Kanaka answered in the rich, big-chested tones of Polynesia. “Thirty years I know ships, but never like ‘this. On Raiatea we call her Fanauao.”

“The Dayborn,” Grief translated the love-phrase. “Who named her so?”

About to answer, Taute peered ahead with sudden intensity. Grief joined him in the gaze.

“Land,” said Taute.

“Yes; Fuatino,” Grief agreed, his eyes still fixed on the spot where the star-luminous horizon was gouged by a blot of blackness. “It’s all right. I’ll tell the captain.”

The Rattler slid along until the loom of the island could be seen as well as sensed, until the sleepy roar of breakers and the blatting of goats could be heard, until the wind, off the land, was flower-drenched with perfume.

“If it wasn’t a crevice, she could run the passage a night like this,” Captain Glass remarked regretfully, as he watched the wheel lashed hard down by the steersman.

The Rattler, run off shore a mile, had been hove to to wait until daylight ere she attempted the perilous entrance to Fuatino. It was a perfect tropic night, with no hint of rain or squall. For’ard, wherever their tasks left them, the Raiatea sailors sank down to sleep on deck. Aft, the captain and mate and Grief spread their beds with similar languid unconcern. They lay on their blankets, smoking and murmuring sleepy conjectures about Mataara, the Queen of Fuatino, and about the love affair between her daughter, Naumoo, and Motuaro.

“They’re certainly a romantic lot,” Brown, the mate, said. “As romantic as we whites.”

“As romantic as Pilsach,” Grief laughed, “and that is going some. How long ago was it, Captain, that he jumped you?”

“Eleven years,” Captain Glass grunted resentfully.

“Tell me about it,” Brown pleaded. “They say he’s never left Fuatino since. Is that right?”

“Right O,” the captain rumbled. “He’s in love with his wife--the little hussy! Stole him from me, and as good a sailorman as the trade has ever seen--if he is a Dutchman.”

“German,” Grief corrected.

“It’s all the same,” was the retort. “The sea was robbed of a good man that night he went ashore and Notutu took one look at him. I reckon they looked good to each other. Before you could say skat, she’d put a wreath of some kind of white flowers on his head, and in five minutes they were off down the beach, like a couple of kids, holding hands and laughing. I hope he’s blown that big coral patch out of the channel. I always start a sheet or two of copper warping past.”

“Go on with the story,” Brown urged.

“That’s all. He was finished right there. Got married that night. Never came on board again. I looked him up next day. Found him in a straw house in the bush, barelegged, a white savage, all mixed up with flowers and things and playing a guitar. Looked like a bally ass. Told me to send his things ashore. I told him I’d see him damned first. And that’s all. You’ll see her to-morrow. They’ve got three kiddies now--wonderful little rascals. I’ve a phonograph down below for him, and about a million records.”

“And then you made him trader?” the mate inquired of Grief.

“What else could I do? Fuatino is a love island, and Filsach is a lover. He knows the native, too--one of the best traders I’ve got, or ever had. He’s responsible. You’ll see him to-morrow.”

“Look here, young man,” Captain Glass rumbled threateningly at his mate. “Are you romantic? Because if you are, on board you stay. Fuatino’s the island of romantic insanity. Everybody’s in love with somebody. They live on love. It’s in the milk of the cocoa-nuts, or the air, or the sea. The history of the island for the last ten thousand years is nothing but love affairs. I know. I’ve talked with the old men. And if I catch you starting down the beach hand in hand--“

His sudden cessation caused both the other men to look at him. They followed his gaze, which passed across them to the main rigging, and saw what he saw, a brown hand and arm, muscular and wet, being joined from overside by a second brown hand and arm. A head followed, thatched with long elfin locks, and then a face, with roguish black eyes, lined with the marks of wildwood’s laughter.

“My God!” Brown breathed. “It’s a faun--a sea-faun.”

“It’s the Goat Man,” said Glass.

“It is Mauriri,” said Grief. “He is my own blood brother by sacred plight of native custom. His name is mine, and mine is his.”

Broad brown shoulders and a magnificent chest rose above the rail, and, with what seemed effortless ease, the whole grand body followed over the rail and noiselessly trod the deck. Brown, who might have been other things than the mate of an island schooner, was enchanted. All that he had ever gleaned from the books proclaimed indubitably the faun-likeness of this visitant of the deep. “But a sad faun,” was the young man’s judgment, as the golden-brown woods god strode forward to where David Grief sat up with outstretched hand.

“David,” said David Grief.

“Mauriri, Big Brother,” said Mauriri.

And thereafter, in the custom of men who have pledged blood brotherhood, each called the other, not by the other’s name, but by his own. Also, they talked in the Polynesian tongue of Fuatino, and Brown could only sit and guess.

“A long swim to say talofa,” Grief said, as the other sat and streamed water on the deck.

“Many days and nights have I watched for your coming, Big Brother,” Mauriri replied. “I have sat on the Big Rock, where the dynamite is kept, of which I have been made keeper. I saw you come up to the entrance and run back into darkness. I knew you waited till morning, and I followed. Great trouble has come upon us. Mataara has cried these many days for your coming. She is an old woman, and Motauri is dead, and she is sad.”

“Did he marry Naumoo?” Grief asked, after he had shaken his head and sighed by the custom.

“Yes. In the end they ran to live with the goats, till Mataara forgave, when they returned to live with her in the Big House. But he is now dead, and Naumoo soon will die. Great is our trouble, Big Brother. Tori is dead, and Tati-Tori, and Petoo, and Nari, and Pilsach, and others.”

“Pilsach, too!” Grief exclaimed. “Has there been a sickness?”

“There has been much killing. Listen, Big Brother, Three weeks ago a strange schooner came. From the Big Rock I saw her topsails above the sea. She towed in with her boats, but they did not warp by the big patch, and she pounded many times. She is now on the beach, where they are strengthening the broken timbers. There are eight white men on board. They have women from some island far to the east. The women talk a language in many ways like ours, only different. But we can understand. They say they were stolen by the men on the schooner. We do not know, but they sing and dance and are happy.”

“And the men?” Grief interrupted.

“They talk French. I know, for there was a mate on your schooner who talked French long ago. There are two chief men, and they do not look like the others. They have blue eyes like you, and they are devils. One is a bigger devil than the other. The other six are also devils. They do not pay us for our yams, and taro, and breadfruit. They take everything from us, and if we complain they kill us. Thus was killed Tori, and Tati-Tori, and Petoo, and others. We cannot fight, for we have no guns--only two or three old guns.

“They ill-treat our women. Thus was killed Motuaro, who made defence of Naumoo, whom they have now taken on board their schooner. It was because of this that Pilsach was killed. Him the chief of the two chief men, the Big Devil, shot once in his whaleboat, and twice when he tried to crawl up the sand of the beach. Pilsach was a brave man, and Notutu now sits in the house and cries without end. Many of the people are afraid, and have run to live with the goats. But there is not food for all in the high mountains. And the men will not go out and fish, and they work no more in the gardens because of the devils who take all they have. And we are ready to fight.

“Big Brother, we need guns, and much ammunition. I sent word before I swam out to you, and the men are waiting. The strange white men do not know you are come. Give me a boat, and the guns, and I will go back before the sun. And when you come to-morrow we will be ready for the word from you to kill the strange white men. They must be killed. Big Brother, you have ever been of the blood with us, and the men and women have prayed to many gods for your coming. And you are come.”

“I will go in the boat with you,” Grief said.

“No, Big Brother,” was Mauriri’s reply. “You must be with the schooner. The strange white men will fear the schooner, not us. We will have the guns, and they will not know. It is only when they see your schooner come that they will be alarmed. Send the young man there with the boat.”

So it was that Brown, thrilling with all the romance and adventure he had read and guessed and never lived, took his place in the sternsheets of a whaleboat, loaded with rifles and cartridges, rowed by four Baiatea sailors, steered by a golden-brown, sea-swimming faun, and directed through the warm tropic darkness toward the half-mythical love island of Fuatino, which had been invaded by twentieth century pirates.

II

If a line be drawn between Jaluit, in the Marshall Group, and Bougainville, in the Solomons, and if this line be bisected at two degrees south of the equator by a line drawn from Ukuor, in the Carolines, the high island of Fuatino will be raised in that sun-washed stretch of lonely sea. Inhabited by a stock kindred to the Hawaiian, the Samoan, the Tahitian, and the Maori, Fuatino becomes the apex of the wedge driven by Polynesia far to the west and in between Melanesia and Micronesia. And it was Fuatino that David Grief raised next morning, two miles to the east and in direct line with the rising sun. The same whisper of a breeze held, and the Rattler slid through the smooth sea at a rate that would have been eminently proper for an island schooner had the breeze been thrice as strong.

Fuatino was nothing else than an ancient crater, thrust upward from the sea-bottom by some primordial cataclysm. The western portion, broken and crumbled to sea level, was the entrance to the crater itself, which constituted the harbour. Thus, Fuatino was like a rugged horseshoe, the heel pointing to the west. And into the opening at the heel the Rattler steered. Captain Glass, binoculars in hand and peering at the chart made by himself, which was spread on top the cabin, straightened up with an expression on his face that was half alarm, half resignation.

“It’s coming,” he said. “Fever. It wasn’t due till to-morrow. It always hits me hard, Mr. Grief. In five minutes I’ll be off my head. You’ll have to con the schooner in. Boy! Get my bunk ready! Plenty of blankets! Fill that hot-water bottle! It’s so calm, Mr. Grief, that I think you can pass the big patch without warping. Take the leading wind and shoot her. She’s the only craft in the South Pacific that can do it, and I know you know the trick. You can scrape the Big Rock by just watching out for the main boom.”

He had talked rapidly, almost like a drunken man, as his reeling brain battled with the rising shock of the malarial stroke. When he stumbled toward the companionway, his face was purpling and mottling as if attacked by some monstrous inflammation or decay. His eyes were setting in a glassy bulge, his hands shaking, his teeth clicking in the spasms of chill.

“Two hours to get the sweat,” he chattered with a ghastly grin. “And a couple more and I’ll be all right. I know the damned thing to the last minute it runs its course. Y-y-you t-t-take ch-ch-ch-ch----“

His voice faded away in a weak stutter as he collapsed down into the cabin and his employer took charge. The Rattler was just entering the passage. The heels of the horseshoe island were two huge mountains of rock a thousand feet high, each almost broken off from the mainland and connected with it by a low and narrow peninsula. Between the heels was a half-mile stretch, all but blocked by a reef of coral extending across from the south heel. The passage, which Captain Glass had called a crevice, twisted into this reef, curved directly to the north heel, and ran along the base of the perpendicular rock. At this point, with the main-boom almost grazing the rock on the port side, Grief, peering down on the starboard side, could see bottom less than two fathoms beneath and shoaling steeply. With a whaleboat towing for steerage and as a precaution against back-draughts from the cliff, and taking advantage of a fan of breeze, he shook the Rattler full into it and glided by the big coral patch without warping. As it was, he just scraped, but so softly as not to start the copper.

The harbour of Fuatino opened before him. It was a circular sheet of water, five miles in diameter, rimmed with white coral beaches, from which the verdure-clad slopes rose swiftly to the frowning crater walls. The crests of the walls were saw-toothed, volcanic peaks, capped and halo’d with captive trade-wind clouds. Every nook and crevice of the disintegrating lava gave foothold to creeping, climbing vines and trees--a green foam of vegetation. Thin streams of water, that were mere films of mist, swayed and undulated downward in sheer descents of hundreds of feet. And to complete the magic of the place, the warm, moist air was heavy with the perfume of the yellow-blossomed cassi.

Fanning along against light, vagrant airs, the Rattler worked in. Calling the whale-boat on board, Grief searched out the shore with his binoculars. There was no life. In the hot blaze of tropic sun the place slept. There was no sign of welcome. Up the beach, on the north shore, where the fringe of cocoanut palms concealed the village, he could see the black bows of the canoes in the canoe-houses. On the beach, on even keel, rested the strange schooner. Nothing moved on board of her or around her. Not until the beach lay fifty yards away did Grief let go the anchor in forty fathoms. Out in the middle, long years before, he had sounded three hundred fathoms without reaching bottom, which was to be expected of a healthy crater-pit like Fuatino. As the chain roared and surged through the hawse-pipe he noticed a number of native women, lusciously large as only those of Polynesia are, in flowing ahu’s, flower-crowned, stream out on the deck of the schooner on the beach. Also, and what they did not see, he saw from the galley the squat figure of a man steal for’ard, drop to the sand, and dive into the green screen of bush.

While the sails were furled and gasketed, awnings stretched, and sheets and tackles coiled harbour fashion, David Grief paced the deck and looked vainly for a flutter of life elsewhere than on the strange schooner. Once, beyond any doubt, he heard the distant crack of a rifle in the direction of the Big Rock. There were no further shots, and he thought of it as some hunter shooting a wild goat.

At the end of another hour Captain Glass, under a mountain of blankets, had ceased shivering and was in the inferno of a profound sweat.

“I’ll be all right in half an hour,” he said weakly.

“Very well,” Grief answered. “The place is dead, and I’m going ashore to see Mataara and find out the situation.”

“It’s a tough bunch; keep your eyes open,” the captain warned him. “If you’re not back in an hour, send word off.”

Grief took the steering-sweep, and four of his Raiatea men bent to the oars. As they landed on the beach he looked curiously at the women under the schooner’s awning. He waved his hand tentatively, and they, after giggling, waved back.

“Talofa!” he called.

They understood the greeting, but replied, “Iorana,” and he knew they came from the Society Group.

“Huahine,” one of his sailors unhesitatingly named their island. Grief asked them whence they came, and with giggles and laughter they replied, “Huahine.”

“It looks like old Dupuy’s schooner,” Grief said, in Tahitian, speaking in a low voice. “Don’t look too hard. What do you think, eh? Isn’t it the Valetta?”

As the men climbed out and lifted the whale-boat slightly up the beach they stole careless glances at the vessel.

“It is the Valetta,” Taute said. “She carried her topmast away seven years ago. At Papeete they rigged a new one. It was ten feet shorter. That is the one.”

“Go over and talk with the women, you boys. You can almost see Huahine from Raiatea, and you’ll be sure to know some of them. Find out all you can. And if any of the white men show up, don’t start a row.”

An army of hermit crabs scuttled and rustled away before him as he advanced up the beach, but under the palms no pigs rooted and grunted. The cocoanuts lay where they had fallen, and at the copra-sheds there were no signs of curing. Industry and tidiness had vanished. Grass house after grass house he found deserted. Once he came upon an old man, blind, toothless, prodigiously wrinkled, who sat in the shade and babbled with fear when he spoke to him. It was as if the place had been struck with the plague, was Grief’s thought, as he finally approached the Big House. All was desolation and disarray. There were no flower-crowned men and maidens, no brown babies rolling in the shade of the avocado trees. In the doorway, crouched and rocking back and forth, sat Mataara, the old queen. She wept afresh at sight of him, divided between the tale of her woe and regret that no follower was left to dispense to him her hospitality.

“And so they have taken Naumoo,” she finished. “Motauri is dead. My people have fled and are starving with the goats. And there is no one to open for you even a drinking cocoa-nut. O Brother, your white brothers be devils.”

“They are no brothers of mine, Mataara,” Grief consoled. “They are robbers and pigs, and I shall clean the island of them----“

He broke off to whirl half around, his hand flashing to his waist and back again, the big Colt’s levelled at the figure of a man, bent double, that rushed at him from out of the trees. He did not pull the trigger, nor did the man pause till he had flung himself headlong at Grief’s feet and begun to pour forth a stream of uncouth and awful noises. He recognized the creature as the one he had seen steal from the Valetta and dive into the bush; but not until he raised him up and watched the contortions of the hare-lipped mouth could he understand what he uttered.

“Save me, master, save me!” the man yammered, in English, though he was unmistakably a South Sea native. “I know you! Save me!”

And thereat he broke into a wild outpour of incoherence that did not cease until Grief seized him by the shoulders and shook him into silence.

“I know you,” Grief said. “You were cook in the French Hotel at Papeete two years ago. Everybody called you ‘Hare-Lip.’“

The man nodded violently.

“I am now cook of the Valetta,” he spat and spluttered, his mouth writhing in a fearful struggle with its defect. “I know you. I saw you at the hotel. I saw you at Lavina’s. I saw you on the Kittiwake. I saw you at the Mariposa wharf. You are Captain Grief, and you will save me. Those men are devils. They killed Captain Dupuy. Me they made kill half the crew. Two they shot from the cross-trees. The rest they shot in the water. I knew them all. They stole the girls from Huahine. They added to their strength with jail-men from Noumea. They robbed the traders in the New Hebrides. They killed the trader at Vanikori, and stole two women there. They----“

But Grief no longer heard. Through the trees, from the direction of the harbour, came a rattle of rifles, and he started on the run for the beach. Pirates from Tahiti and convicts from New Caledonia! A pretty bunch of desperadoes that even now was attacking his schooner. Hare-Lip followed, still spluttering and spitting his tale of the white devils’ doings.

The rifle-firing ceased as abruptly as it had begun, but Grief ran on, perplexed by ominous conjectures, until, in a turn of the path, he encountered Mauriri running toward him from the beach.

“Big Brother,” the Goat Man panted, “I was too late. They have taken your schooner. Come! For now they will seek for you.”

He started back up the path away from the beach.

“Where is Brown?” Grief demanded.

“On the Big Rock. I will tell you afterward. Come now!”

“But my men in the whaleboat?”

Mauriri was in an agony of apprehension.

“They are with the women on the strange schooner. They will not be killed. I tell you true. The devils want sailors. But you they will kill. Listen!” From the water, in a cracked tenor voice, came a French hunting song. “They are landing on the beach. They have taken your schooner--that I saw. Come!”

III

Careless of his own life and skin, nevertheless David Grief was possessed of no false hardihood. He knew when to fight and when to run, and that this was the time for running he had no doubt. Up the path, past the old men sitting in the shade, past Mataara crouched in the doorway of the Big House, he followed at the heels of Mauriri. At his own heels, doglike, plodded Hare-Lip. From behind came the cries of the hunters, but the pace Mauriri led them was heartbreaking. The broad path narrowed, swung to the right, and pitched upward. The last grass house was left, and through high thickets of cassi and swarms of great golden wasps the way rose steeply until it became a goat-track. Pointing upward to a bare shoulder of volcanic rock, Mauriri indicated the trail across its face.

“Past that we are safe, Big Brother,” he said. “The white devils never dare it, for there are rocks we roll down on their heads, and there is no other path. Always do they stop here and shoot when we cross the rock. Come!”

A quarter of an hour later they paused where the trail went naked on the face of the rock.

“Wait, and when you come, come quickly,” Mauriri cautioned.

He sprang into the blaze of sunlight, and from below several rifles pumped rapidly. Bullets smacked about him, and puffs of stone-dust flew out, but he won safely across. Grief followed, and so near did one bullet come that the dust of its impact stung his cheek. Nor was Hare-Lip struck, though he essayed the passage more slowly.

For the rest of the day, on the greater heights, they lay in a lava glen where terraced taro and papaia grew. And here Grief made his plans and learned the fulness of the situation.

“It was ill luck,” Mauriri said. “Of all nights this one night was selected by the white devils to go fishing. It was dark as we came through the passage. They were in boats and canoes. Always do they have their rifles with them. One Raiatea man they shot. Brown was very brave. We tried to get by to the top of the bay, but they headed us off, and we were driven in between the Big Rock and the village. We saved the guns and all the ammunition, but they got the boat. Thus they learned of your coming. Brown is now on this side of the Big Rock with the guns and the ammunition.”

“But why didn’t he go over the top of the Big Rock and give me warning as I came in from the sea?” Grief criticised.

“They knew not the way. Only the goats and I know the way. And this I forgot, for I crept through the bush to gain the water and swim to you. But the devils were in the bush shooting at Brown and the Raiatea men; and me they hunted till daylight, and through the morning they hunted me there in the low-lying land. Then you came in your schooner, and they watched till you went ashore, and I got away through the bush, but you were already ashore.”

“You fired that shot?”

“Yes; to warn you. But they were wise and would not shoot back, and it was my last cartridge.”

“Now you, Hare-Lip?” Grief said to the Valetta’s cook.

His tale was long and painfully detailed. For a year he had been sailing out of Tahiti and through the Paumotus on the Valetta. Old Dupuy was owner and captain. On his last cruise he had shipped two strangers in Tahiti as mate and supercargo. Also, another stranger he carried to be his agent on Fanriki. Raoul Van Asveld and Carl Lepsius were the names of the mate and supercargo.

“They are brothers, I know, for I have heard them talk in the dark, on deck, when they thought no one listened,” Hare-Lip explained.

The Valetta cruised through the Low Islands, picking up shell and pearls at Dupuy’s stations. Frans Amundson, the third stranger, relieved Pierre Gollard at Fanriki. Pierre Gollard came on board to go back to Tahiti. The natives of Fanriki said he had a quart of pearls to turn over to Dupuy. The first night out from Fanriki there was shooting in the cabin. Then the bodies of Dupuy and Pierre Gollard were thrown overboard. The Tahitian sailors fled to the forecastle. For two days, with nothing to eat and the Valetta hove to, they remained below. Then Raoul Van Asveld put poison in the meal he made Hare-Lip cook and carry for’ard. Half the sailors died.

“He had a rifle pointed at me, master; what could I do?” Hare-Lip whimpered. “Of the rest, two went up the rigging and were shot. Fanriki was ten miles away. The others went overboard to swim. They were shot as they swam. I, only, lived, and the two devils; for me they wanted to cook for them. That day, with the breeze, they went back to Fanrika and took on Frans Amundson, for he was one of them.”

Then followed Hare-Lip’s nightmare experiences as the schooner wandered on the long reaches to the westward. He was the one living witness and knew they would have killed him had he not been the cook. At Noumea five convicts had joined them. Hare-Lip was never permitted ashore at any of the islands, and Grief was the first outsider to whom he had spoken.

“And now they will kill me,” Hare-Lip spluttered, “for they will know I have told you. Yet am I not all a coward, and I will stay with you, master, and die with you.”

The Goat Man shook his head and stood up.

“Lie here and rest,” he said to Grief. “It will be a long swim to-night. As for this cook-man, I will take him now to the higher places where my brothers live with the goats.”

IV

“It is well that you swim as a man should, Big Brother,” Mauriri whispered.

From the lava glen they had descended to the head of the bay and taken to the water. They swam softly, without splash, Mauriri in the lead. The black walls of the crater rose about them till it seemed they swam on the bottom of a great bowl. Above was the sky of faintly luminous star-dust. Ahead they could see the light which marked the Rattler, and from her deck, softened by distance, came a gospel hymn played on the phonograph intended for Pilsach.

The two swimmers bore to the left, away from the captured schooner. Laughter and song followed on board after the hymn, then the phonograph started again. Grief grinned to himself at the appositeness of it as “Lead, Kindly Light,” floated out over the dark water.

“We must take the passage and land on the Big Rock,” Mauriri whispered. “The devils are holding the low land. Listen!”

Half a dozen rifle shots, at irregular intervals, attested that Brown still held the Rock and that the pirates had invested the narrow peninsula.

At the end of another hour they swam under the frowning loom of the Big Rock. Mauriri, feeling his way, led the landing in a crevice, up which for a hundred feet they climbed to a narrow ledge.

“Stay here,” said Mauriri. “I go to Brown. In the morning I shall return.”

“I will go with you, Brother,” Grief said.

Mauriri laughed in the darkness.

“Even you, Big Brother, cannot do this thing. I am the Goat Man, and I only, of all Fuatino, can go over the Big Rock in the night. Furthermore, it will be the first time that even I have done it. Put out your hand. You feel it? That is where Pilsach’s dynamite is kept. Lie close beside the wall and you may sleep without falling. I go now.”

And high above the sounding surf, on a narrow shelf beside a ton of dynamite, David Grief planned his campaign, then rested his cheek on his arm and slept.

In the morning, when Mauriri led him over the summit of the Big Rock, David Grief understood why he could not have done it in the night. Despite the accustomed nerve of a sailor for height and precarious clinging, he marvelled that he was able to do it in the broad light of day. There were places, always under minute direction of Mauriri, that he leaned forward, falling, across hundred-foot-deep crevices, until his outstretched hands struck a grip on the opposing wall and his legs could then be drawn across after. Once, there was a ten-foot leap, above half a thousand feet of yawning emptiness and down a fathom’s length to a meagre foothold. And he, despite his cool head, lost it another time on a shelf, a scant twelve inches wide, where all hand-holds seemed to fail him. And Mauriri, seeing him sway, swung his own body far out and over the gulf and passed him, at the same time striking him sharply on the back to brace his reeling brain. Then it was, and forever after, that he fully knew why Mauriri had been named the Goat Man.

V

The defence of the Big Rock had its good points and its defects. Impregnable to assault, two men could hold it against ten thousand. Also, it guarded the passage to open sea. The two schooners, Raoul Van Asveld, and his cutthroat following were bottled up. Grief, with the ton of dynamite, which he had removed higher up the rock, was master. This he demonstrated, one morning, when the schooners attempted to put to sea. The Valetta led, the whaleboat towing her manned by captured Fuatino men. Grief and the Goat Man peered straight down from a safe rock-shelter, three hundred feet above. Their rifles were beside them, also a glowing fire-stick and a big bundle of dynamite sticks with fuses and decanators attached. As the whaleboat came beneath, Mauriri shook his head.

“They are our brothers. We cannot shoot.”

For’ard, on the Valetta, were several of Grief’s own Raiatea sailors. Aft stood another at the wheel. The pirates were below, or on the other schooner, with the exception of one who stood, rifle in hand, amidships. For protection he held Naumoo, the Queen’s daughter, close to him.

“That is the chief devil,” Mauriri whispered, “and his eyes are blue like yours. He is a terrible man. See! He holds Naumoo that we may not shoot him.”

A light air and a slight tide were making into the passage, and the schooner’s progress was slow.

“Do you speak English?” Grief called down.

The man startled, half lifted his rifle to the perpendicular, and looked up. There was something quick and catlike in his movements, and in his burned blond face a fighting eagerness. It was the face of a killer.

“Yes,” he answered. “What do you want?”

“Turn back, or I’ll blow your schooner up,” Grief warned. He blew on the fire-stick and whispered, “Tell Naumoo to break away from him and run aft.”

From the Rattler, close astern, rifles cracked, and bullets spatted against the rock. Van Asveld laughed defiantly, and Mauriri called down in the native tongue to the woman. When directly beneath, Grief, watching, saw her jerk away from the man. On the instant Grief touched the fire-stick to the match-head in the split end of the short fuse, sprang into view on the face of the rock, and dropped the dynamite. Van Asveld had managed to catch the girl and was struggling with her. The Goat Man held a rifle on him and waited a chance. The dynamite struck the deck in a compact package, bounded, and rolled into the port scupper. Van Asveld saw it and hesitated, then he and the girl ran aft for their lives. The Goat Man fired, but splintered the corner of the galley. The spattering of bullets from the Rattler increased, and the two on the rock crouched low for shelter and waited. Mauriri tried to see what was happening below, but Grief held him back.

“The fuse was too long,” he said. “I’ll know better next time.”

It was half a minute before the explosion came. What happened afterward, for some little time, they could not tell, for the Rattler’s marksmen had got the range and were maintaining a steady fire. Once, fanned by a couple of bullets, Grief risked a peep. The Valetta, her port deck and rail torn away, was listing and sinking as she drifted back into the harbour. Climbing on board the Rattler were the men and the Huahine women who had been hidden in the Valetta’s cabin and who had swum for it under the protecting fire. The Fuatino men who had been towing in the whaleboat had cast off the line, dashed back through the passage, and were rowing wildly for the south shore.

From the shore of the peninsula the discharges of four rifles announced that Brown and his men had worked through the jungle to the beach and were taking a hand. The bullets ceased coming, and Grief and Mauriri joined in with their rifles. But they could do no damage, for the men of the Rattler were firing from the shelter of the deck-houses, while the wind and tide carried the schooner farther in.

There was no sign of the Valetta, which had sunk in the deep water of the crater.

Two things Raoul Van Asveld did that showed his keenness and coolness and that elicited Grief’s admiration. Under the Rattler’s rifle fire Raoul compelled the fleeing Fuatino men to come in and surrender. And at the same time, dispatching half his cutthroats in the Rattler’s boat, he threw them ashore and across the peninsula, preventing Brown from getting away to the main part of the island. And for the rest of the morning the intermittent shooting told to Grief how Brown was being driven in to the other side of the Big Rock. The situation was unchanged, with the exception of the loss of the Valetta.

VI

The defects of the position on the Big Rock were vital. There was neither food nor water. For several nights, accompanied by one of the Raiatea men, Mauriri swam to the head of the bay for supplies. Then came the night when lights flared on the water and shots were fired. After that the water-side of the Big Rock was invested as well.

“It’s a funny situation,” Brown remarked, who was getting all the adventure he had been led to believe resided in the South Seas. “We’ve got hold and can’t let go, and Raoul has hold and can’t let go. He can’t get away, and we’re liable to starve to death holding him.”

“If the rain came, the rock-basins would fill,” said Mauriri. It was their first twenty-four hours without water. “Big Brother, to-night you and I will get water. It is the work of strong men.”

That night, with cocoanut calabashes, each of quart capacity and tightly stoppered, he led Grief down to the water from the peninsula side of the Big Rock. They swam out not more than a hundred feet. Beyond, they could hear the occasional click of an oar or the knock of a paddle against a canoe, and sometimes they saw the flare of matches as the men in the guarding boats lighted cigarettes or pipes.

“Wait here,” whispered Mauriri, “and hold the calabashes.”

Turning over, he swam down. Grief, face downward, watched his phosphorescent track glimmer, and dim, and vanish. A long minute afterward Mauriri broke surface noiselessly at Grief’s side.

“Here! Drink!”

The calabash was full, and Grief drank sweet fresh water which had come up from the depths of the salt.

“It flows out from the land,” said Mauriri.

“On the bottom?”

“No. The bottom is as far below as the mountains are above. Fifty feet down it flows. Swim down until you feel its coolness.”

Several times filling and emptying his lungs in diver fashion, Grief turned over and went down through the water. Salt it was to his lips, and warm to his flesh; but at last, deep down, it perceptibly chilled and tasted brackish. Then, suddenly, his body entered the cold, subterranean stream. He removed the small stopper from the calabash, and, as the sweet water gurgled into it, he saw the phosphorescent glimmer of a big fish, like a sea ghost, drift sluggishly by.

Thereafter, holding the growing weight of the calabashes, he remained on the surface, while Mauriri took them down, one by one, and filled them.

“There are sharks,” Grief said, as they swam back to shore.

“Pooh!” was the answer. “They are fish sharks. We of Fuatino are brothers to the fish sharks.”

“But the tiger sharks? I have seen them here.”

“When they come, Big Brother, we will have no more water to drink--unless it rains.”

VII

A week later Mauriri and a Raiatea man swam back with empty calabashes. The tiger sharks had arrived in the harbour. The next day they thirsted on the Big Rock.

“We must take our chance,” said Grief. “Tonight I shall go after water with Mautau. Tomorrow night, Brother, you will go with Tehaa.”

Three quarts only did Grief get, when the tiger sharks appeared and drove them in. There were six of them on the Rock, and a pint a day, in the sweltering heat of the mid-tropics, is not sufficient moisture for a man’s body. The next night Mauriri and Tehaa returned with no water. And the day following Brown learned the full connotation of thirst, when the lips crack to bleeding, the mouth is coated with granular slime, and the swollen tongue finds the mouth too small for residence.

Grief swam out in the darkness with Mautau. Turn by turn, they went down through the salt, to the cool sweet stream, drinking their fill while the calabashes were filling. It was Mau-tau’s turn to descend with the last calabash, and Grief, peering down from the surface, saw the glimmer of sea-ghosts and all the phosphorescent display of the struggle. He swam back alone, but without relinquishing the precious burden of full calabashes.

Of food they had little. Nothing grew on the Rock, and its sides, covered with shellfish at sea level where the surf thundered in, were too precipitous for access. Here and there, where crevices permitted, a few rank shellfish and sea urchins were gleaned. Sometimes frigate birds and other sea birds were snared. Once, with a piece of frigate bird, they succeeded in hooking a shark. After that, with jealously guarded shark-meat for bait, they managed on occasion to catch more sharks.

But water remained their direst need. Mauriri prayed to the Goat God for rain. Taute prayed to the Missionary God, and his two fellow islanders, backsliding, invoked the deities of their old heathen days. Grief grinned and considered. But Brown, wild-eyed, with protruding blackened tongue, cursed. Especially he cursed the phonograph that in the cool twilights ground out gospel hymns from the deck of the Rattler. One hymn in particular, “Beyond the Smiling and the Weeping,” drove him to madness. It seemed a favourite on board the schooner, for it was played most of all. Brown, hungry and thirsty, half out of his head from weakness and suffering, could lie among the rocks with equanimity and listen to the tinkling of ukuleles and guitars, and the hulas and himines of the Huahine women. But when the voices of the Trinity Choir floated over the water he was beside himself. One evening the cracked tenor took up the song with the machine:

“Beyond the smiling and the weeping, I shall be soon. Beyond the waking and the sleeping, Beyond the sowing and the reaping, I shall be soon, I shall be soon.”

Then it was that Brown rose up. Again and again, blindly, he emptied his rifle at the schooner. Laughter floated up from the men and women, and from the peninsula came a splattering of return bullets; but the cracked tenor sang on, and Brown continued to fire, until the hymn was played out.

It was that night that Grief and Mauriri came back with but one calabash of water. A patch of skin six inches long was missing from Grief’s shoulder in token of the scrape of the sandpaper hide of a shark whose dash he had eluded.

VIII

In the early morning of another day, before the sun-blaze had gained its full strength, came an offer of a parley from Raoul Van Asveld.

Brown brought the word in from the outpost among the rocks a hundred yards away. Grief was squatted over a small fire, broiling a strip of shark-flesh. The last twenty-four hours had been lucky. Seaweed and sea urchins had been gathered. Tehaa had caught a shark, and Mauriri had captured a fair-sized octopus at the base of the crevice where the dynamite was stored. Then, too, in the darkness they had made two successful swims for water before the tiger sharks had nosed them out.

“Said he’d like to come in and talk with you,” Brown said. “But I know what the brute is after. Wants to see how near starved to death we are.”

“Bring him in,” Grief said.

“And then we will kill him,” the Goat Man cried joyously.

Grief shook his head.

“But he is a killer of men, Big Brother, a beast and a devil,” the Goat Man protested.

“He must not be killed, Brother. It is our way not to break our word.”

“It is a foolish way.”

“Still it is our way,” Grief answered gravely, turning the strip of shark-meat over on the coals and noting the hungry sniff and look of Tehaa. “Don’t do that, Tehaa, when the Big Devil comes. Look as if you and hunger were strangers. Here, cook those sea urchins, you, and you, Big Brother, cook the squid. We will have the Big Devil to feast with us. Spare nothing. Cook all.”

And, still broiling meat, Grief arose as Raoul Van Asveld, followed by a large Irish terrier, strode into camp. Raoul did not make the mistake of holding out his hand.

“Hello!” he said. “I’ve heard of you.”

“I wish I’d never heard of you,” Grief answered.

“Same here,” was the response. “At first, before I knew who it was, I thought I had to deal with an ordinary trading captain. That’s why you’ve got me bottled up.”

“And I am ashamed to say that I underrated you,” Grief smiled. “I took you for a thieving beachcomber, and not for a really intelligent pirate and murderer. Hence, the loss of my schooner. Honours are even, I fancy, on that score.”

Raoul flushed angrily under his sunburn, but he contained himself. His eyes roved over the supply of food and the full water-calabashes, though he concealed the incredulous surprise he felt. His was a tall, slender, well-knit figure, and Grief, studying him, estimated his character from his face. The eyes were keen and strong, but a bit too close together--not pinched, however, but just a trifle near to balance the broad forehead, the strong chin and jaw, and the cheekbones wide apart. Strength! His face was filled with it, and yet Grief sensed in it the intangible something the man lacked.

“We are both strong men,” Raoul said, with a bow. “We might have been fighting for empires a hundred years ago.”

It was Grief’s turn to bow.

“As it is, we are squalidly scrapping over the enforcement of the colonial laws of those empires whose destinies we might possibly have determined a hundred years ago.”

“It all comes to dust,” Raoul remarked sen-tentiously, sitting down. “Go ahead with your meal. Don’t let me interrupt.”

“Won’t you join us?” was Grief’s invitation.

The other looked at him with sharp steadiness, then accepted.

“I’m sticky with sweat,” he said. “Can I wash?”

Grief nodded and ordered Mauriri to bring a calabash. Raoul looked into the Goat Man’s eyes, but saw nothing save languid uninterest as the precious quart of water was wasted on the ground.

“The dog is thirsty,” Raoul said.

Grief nodded, and another calabash was presented to the animal.

Again Raoul searched the eyes of the natives and learned nothing.

“Sorry we have no coffee,” Grief apologized. “You’ll have to drink plain water. A calabash, Tehaa. Try some of this shark. There is squid to follow, and sea urchins and a seaweed salad. I’m sorry we haven’t any frigate bird. The boys were lazy yesterday, and did not try to catch any.”

With an appetite that would not have stopped at wire nails dipped in lard, Grief ate perfunctorily, and tossed the scraps to the dog.

“I’m afraid I haven’t got down to the primitive diet yet,” he sighed, as he sat back. “The tinned goods on the Rattler, now I could make a hearty meal off of them, but this muck----“ He took a half-pound strip of broiled shark and flung it to the dog. “I suppose I’ll come to it if you don’t surrender pretty soon.”

Raoul laughed unpleasantly.

“I came to offer terms,” he said pointedly.

Grief shook his head.

“There aren’t any terms. I’ve got you where the hair is short, and I’m not going to let go.”

“You think you can hold me in this hole!” Raoul cried.

“You’ll never leave it alive, except in double irons.” Grief surveyed his guest with an air of consideration. “I’ve handled your kind before. We’ve pretty well cleaned it out of the South Seas. But you are a--how shall I say?--a sort of an anachronism. You’re a throwback, and we’ve got to get rid of you. Personally, I would advise you to go back to the schooner and blow your brains out. It is the only way to escape what you’ve got coming to you.”

The parley, so far as Raoul was concerned, proved fruitless, and he went back into his own lines convinced that the men on the Big Rock could hold out for years, though he would have been swiftly unconvinced could he have observed Tehaa and the Raiateans, the moment his back was turned and he was out of sight, crawling over the rocks and sucking and crunching the scraps his dog had left uneaten.

IX

“We hunger now, Brother,” Grief said, “but it is better than to hunger for many days to come. The Big Devil, after feasting and drinking good water with us in plenty, will not stay long in Fuatino. Even to-morrow may he try to leave. To-night you and I sleep over the top of the Rock, and Tehaa, who shoots well, will sleep with us if he can dare the Rock.”

Tehaa, alone among the Raiateans, was cragsman enough to venture the perilous way, and dawn found him in a rock-barricaded nook, a hundred yards to the right of Grief and Mauriri.

The first warning was the firing of rifles from the peninsula, where Brown and his two Raiateans signalled the retreat and followed the besiegers through the jungle to the beach. From the eyrie on the face of the rock Grief could see nothing for another hour, when the Rattler appeared, making for the passage. As before, the captive Fuatino men towed in the whaleboat. Mauriri, under direction of Grief, called down instructions to them as they passed slowly beneath. By Grief’s side lay several bundles of dynamite sticks, well-lashed together and with extremely short fuses.

The deck of the Rattler was populous. For’ard, rifle in hand, among the Raiatean sailors, stood a desperado whom Mauriri announced was Raoul’s brother. Aft, by the helmsman, stood another. Attached to him, tied waist to waist, with slack, was Mataara, the old Queen. On the other side of the helmsman, his arm in a sling, was Captain Glass. Amidships, as before, was Raoul, and with him, lashed waist to waist, was Naumoo.

“Good morning, Mister David Grief,” Raoul called up.

“And yet I warned you that only in double irons would you leave the island,” Grief murmured down with a sad inflection.

“You can’t kill all your people I have on board,” was the answer.

The schooner, moving slowly, jerk by jerk, as the men pulled in the whaleboat, was almost directly beneath. The rowers, without ceasing, slacked on their oars, and were immediately threatened with the rifle of the man who stood for’ard.

“Throw, Big Brother!” Naumoo called up in the Fuatino tongue. “I am filled with sorrow and am willed to die. His knife is ready with which to cut the rope, but I shall hold him tight. Be not afraid, Big Brother. Throw, and throw straight, and good-bye.”

Grief hesitated, then lowered the fire-stick which he had been blowing bright.

“Throw!” the Goat Man urged.

Still Grief hesitated.

“If they get to sea, Big Brother, Naumoo dies just the same. And there are all the others. What is her life against the many?”

“If you drop any dynamite, or fire a single shot, we’ll kill all on board,” Raoul cried up to them. “I’ve got you, David Grief. You can’t kill these people, and I can. Shut up, you!”

This last was addressed to Naumoo, who was calling up in her native tongue and whom Raoul seized by the neck with one hand to choke to silence. In turn, she locked both arms about him and looked up beseechingly to Grief.

“Throw it, Mr. Grief, and be damned to them,” Captain Glass rumbled in his deep voice. “They’re bloody murderers, and the cabin’s full of them.”

The desperado who was fastened to the old Queen swung half about to menace Captain Glass with his rifle, when Tehaa, from his position farther along the Rock, pulled trigger on him. The rifle dropped from the man’s hand, and on his face was an expression of intense surprise as his legs crumpled under him and he sank down on deck, dragging the Queen with him.

“Port! Hard a port!” Grief cried.

Captain Glass and the Kanaka whirled the wheel over, and the bow of the Rattler headed in for the Rock. Amidships Raoul still struggled with Naumoo. His brother ran from for’ard to his aid, being missed by the fusillade of quick shots from Tehaa and the Goat Man. As Raoul’s brother placed the muzzle of his rifle to Naumoo’s side Grief touched the fire-stick to the match-head in the split end of the fuse. Even as with both hands he tossed the big bundle of dynamite, the rifle went off, and Naumoo’s fall to the deck was simultaneous with the fall of the dynamite. This time the fuse was short enough. The explosion occurred at the instant the deck was reached, and that portion of the Rattler, along with Raoul, his brother, and Naumoo, forever disappeared.

The schooner’s side was shattered, and she began immediately to settle. For’ard, every Raiatean sailor dived overboard. Captain Glass met the first man springing up the com-panionway from the cabin, with a kick full in the face, but was overborne and trampled on by the rush. Following the desperadoes came the Huahine women, and as they went overboard, the Rattler sank on an even keel close to the base of the Rock. Her cross-trees still stuck out when she reached bottom.

Looking down, Grief could see all that occurred beneath the surface. He saw Mataara, a fathom deep, unfasten herself from the dead pirate and swim upward. As her head emerged she saw Captain Glass, who could not swim, sinking several yards away. The Queen, old woman that she was, but an islander, turned over, swam down to him, and held him up as she struck out for the unsubmerged cross-trees.

Five heads, blond and brown, were mingled with the dark heads of Polynesia that dotted the surface. Grief, rifle in hand, watched for a chance to shoot. The Goat Man, after a minute, was successful, and they saw the body of one man sink sluggishly. But to the Raiatean sailors, big and brawny, half fish, was the vengeance given. Swimming swiftly, they singled out the blond heads and the brown. Those from above watched the four surviving desperadoes, clutched and locked, dragged far down beneath and drowned like curs.

In ten minutes everything was over. The Huahine women, laughing and giggling, were holding on to the sides of the whaleboat which had done the towing. The Raiatean sailors, waiting for orders, were about the cross-tree to which Captain Glass and Mataara clung.

“The poor old Rattler,” Captain Glass lamented.

“Nothing of the sort,” Grief answered. “In a week we’ll have her raised, new timbers amidships, and we’ll be on our way.” And to the Queen, “How is it with you, Sister?”

“Naumoo is gone, and Motauri, Brother, but Fuatino is ours again. The day is young. Word shall be sent to all my people in the high places with the goats. And to-night, once again, and as never before, we shall feast and rejoice in the Big House.”

“She’s been needing new timbers abaft the beam there for years,” quoth Captain Glass. “But the chronometers will be out of commission for the rest of the cruise.”

THE END.

A Dream Image

“WHOOP! Rah! Rah! Rah! Get out of the way!” — A thunder of hoofs from behind, and she sprang to the roadside as the turbulent troop dashed by, and in an anarchy of dust and tumult, was lost round the next turn of the road. But in the passing, she had time to note the fierce beauty, the rugged manhood of each flying figure. “Always the same, reckless fools and madmen,” she thought, as she heard them swing to the left at the cross-roads and take the giddy path by the cliffs at a killing lope. Now they stood out in bold relief as they scaled the frightful head of Point Pedro, and she counted six riders ere they turned its flank and were out of sight.

Yes, they were all there, each strapping, wayward son of Old Ralston — Old Ralston, who was as effeminate as any man possibly could be. Whence came this wild strain? And she pondered over the enigma which had so worried the countryside these many years. True, their beauty had come from the mother; but she had never evinced any signs of that savage unconventionality which had been theirs from the cradle. Helen was conversant with the ordinary history of the family. Old Ralston was a self-made man, who, from the drudgery of office boy and clerk, had become a merchant prince. Retiring from business at forty-five, he had married, purchased his beautiful country home, and settled down to become the progenitor of this marvelous race. What wild ancestral strains had been reborn in this wild progeny, she had often peculated on, and her thoughts had always strayed to a picturesque buccaneer of the Spanish Main. It was a pretty fancy, and about the only one she could harmonize with the subject.

And the boyhood of this ungovernable brood: That of the elder sons had come before her time; but like legends, the history of their doings had gone from mouth to mouth. As a little girl she remembered much of the younger boys, and particularly of the youngest, the seventh son. And she remembered now, with a merry smile, an incident of her childhood. How she, six years of age, had been exposed to the wicked wiles of this lad of eight. Meeting accidentally and for the first and last time, in his father’s woods, where she had disobediently wandered, he stormed her heart so valiantly that she surrendered on the spot. There they plighted their troth and spent the afternoon in childish frolic. And when discovered by her people, they found a much-berumpled little maid, crowned with wild flowers and honeysuckle, goddesslike, smiling on young Guilbert’s homage. And then the scene — how he threw one arm about her and doubled up his fist in angry menace. And the attack — how he struck John and kicked his shins, twice returning to the repulse; once, leaving an arm of his jacket in his captor’s clutch and attacking her father so vigorously from behind, as to rip his broadcloth all up the back; and again, when the coachman held him, wriggling from out the jacket’s remnants and striking him so as to quite blacken one I eye. And the retreat — how he crept from tree to tree, bellowing like a young bull in the rutting season. Then the incessant fusillade of clods and stones, and the spattering of mud he gave them as they recrossed the brook. And as they neared the house his attacks became so bold that they sought refuge in the hot-houses. HERE he smashed the glass and behaved so outrageously, that they were forced to gain the shelter of the roof-tree while the coachman was engaged in giving him a good trouncing. But nothing seemed to daunt the little savage, for all during tea he wandered round and round the house, howling in insatiable fury. Nor did he retreat till after having fruitlessly challenged every, male inmate, from her father to the gardener’s boy, and then it was to escape from his father’s servants, who had made a sally in force.

The boyhood of each had been very similar. After terrorizing the country till their sixteenth or eighteenth years, each had followed in the footsteps of the other, by running away. At first, this characteristic had sorely perplexed the father, but he soon grew to regard it as a childish ill, similar to mumps and measles; and when his last-born, Guilbert, at twenty had manifested none such symptoms, he was surprised and feared for the boy greatly. But Guilbert redeemed the family trait by disappearing while still in his nonage. A living refutation of wagging heads and muttered hints of bad endings, they all came back. And save the broadened polish of the world, they were in no wise changed. Always the same — generous, brave, impulsive; indomitable, wild and fiercely unconventional. But they only sought the home as a pleasant asylum, in which to rest a space from their many adventures, and it was rare coincidence to find the six together in their father’s house. As a household, theirs seemed the reverse of a circle of world-weary wanderers, seeking seclusion from the rush of events. Every outside sport was theirs, and the countryside saw them continually, but the social side, never. Their stables and kennels were a sportman’s delight; their gymnasium and training quarters a miniature duplicate of those found in the best colleges; and their boathouse the finest on Arunda Bay. Passionately fond, were they, of the water, and in Ralston’s Cove, besides the litter of smaller craft, lay six trim yachts — the best productions of the most famous shipyards. And they were not bay craft, either, but outside schooners, the sum of whose voyages embraced the four quarters.

Yet the gossips, as the countryside, had forgotten Guilbert, the last to leave the nest. He seemed more like the dim recollection of a dream-image, merged in past obscurity. So long had his returning been delayed, that, though with an intuitive belief that it would happen, they no more expected him to appear than Christ himself to herald the Millenium. Of his wild doings there had at first been dreadful tidings; but so completely had he gone beyond the ken of rumor, that in the last several years nothing had been heard of him — of course by the countryside, for what the ostracised Ralstons knew was kept to themselves. But the impression prevailed that Guilbert was the worst, the wildest of the whole brood; that in him was the ripened maturity of every trait which had so served to make the Ralston name notorious. In truth, vague as the impression was, it was so strong, that he was never mentioned without a certain indefinable awe, such as is unconsciously used when men speak of things unusually sacred or terribly evil.

As she continued her stroll, she thought of these things. And as she paused at the cross-roads to drink in the beauty of the nestling bay, she burst into merry laughter, as for the moment she wandered in that magic glen with eight years old Guilbert. — This Guilbert, and she imagined the man he had evolved into; and herself, Helen Garthwaithe, Masters of Arts and Doctor of Philosophy, the college bred woman who had seen and understood the world. The juxtaposition, in thought, of a rnan such as he must have become, with a woman such as she felt herself to be, was indeed ludicrous.

However, all thought of the wild Ralston race vanished with the contusion of her stroll, when she found herself on the busy pier, pleasuring in the throb of life about her. But her interest lay in a yacht, which had just come to anchor on the channel’s edge. Already a boat had been lowered and covered half the distance, springing gayly to each quick stroke of the oars. As it makes the landing, two flannel-clad men leap ashore, saluting and receiving her welcome. One, slender and boyish, with the first down of manhood sullying his rosy cheek, crushes her in a bearish hug — her brother, returning from his summer holidays to spend a short week or so at home before the opening of the college year. The other, broad-shouldered, not over handsome, but whose powerful face bore the stamp of intense intellectuality and whose eyes emitted the deep gaze of the thinker, took her hand with a subdued expression I of earnest regard. He was her brother’s friend — not chum, but rather idol, at whose shrine he worshipped with the enthusiasm of youth. He was a marvel of learning, and could string behind his name many proud degrees of collegiate endowment, had played “full,” pulled stroke on the ‘Varsity, and broken more than one inter-collegiate record, and again; since entering the world, had well laid the foundation for a brilliant literary and scientific career — in short, was one of those bright, all-round men which the American universities have so well succeeded in turning out. By the analytical mind, such friendships are easily accounted for. But when the childish fondness of the one is reciprocated by the other to such an extent that he is willing to waste his vacations and spare moments upon him, even to going down to visit his people and to endure the usual inflictions of such rashness — well, the analytical mind searches for some hidden spring, while the unconsciously logical animal asks “What’s the sister like?”

Having received the assurance of a late tea and the carriage’s arrival within the hour, Albert descried a group of chums down the pier, and with the glaringly bald diplomacy of all brothers, was off and away. It was not the first time that he had thus displayed his nude tact, and the bareness of it would have been embarrassing, but that they merrily laughed at him and themselves and frankly accepted the situation.

Merged in easy conversation, they strolled down the pier. As they reached its end, his description of the trip was interrupted by the espial of a large schooner-yacht entering the bay, and they paused to admire her beautiful appearance. A gallant sight she was, as she scudded the channel swell. When well a-breast, spinnakers, balloon jib and water-sails came in on the run, and she luffed up, full and by, heading directly for the pier. A hum of admiration rose all a-down the jetty at the searnanship displayed in this manoeuver. On she came, a towering pyramid of snowy canvass above a leaping hull of ebon-black. Nearer and nearer — the yachtsmen began to show surprise and Stanton remarked that it were time she went about. Still on she came, devouring the intervening water at racehorse speed. The old salts began to murmur and in a panic, the crowd swayed back from the pier’s end, leaving Stanton and Helen behind. Each had been in momentary expectancy that she would change her course, but her proximity now denied it. The crash seemed inevitable. Stanton threw an arm about Helen’s waist to drag her back. But at that instant, clear as a bell, with the quick incisiveness of accustomed command, came the order “Hard-a-lee!”

Slapping and snarling, the three jib sheets were cast off; the topsail halyards let go and clewed up on the run by the down-hauls; and the mainsail backed over to windward with a weather tackle. They saw the bow sheer into the wind; but so close, that they crouched to avoid the overhanging bowsprit, which descried an aerial circle above them as it swept up, obedient to the helm.

Parallel with the pier and not a dozen feet away, glided the yacht, the cynosure of all eyes. The recklessness of the exploit and the perfection of its execution drew the praise from Stanton’s lips, as they gazed upon the long sweep of the decks. Beautiful as was the picture, it served but as a background for the real picture. Lightly twirling the wheel part over and gazing at the astonished pier with a wickedly exasperating smile, stood a man of such attractive aspect that every eye was drawn to him. His excellent physique was shown off to advantage in an easy yachting costume. But it was in his face that attraction chiefly centered. Handsome were not strong, nor beautiful appropriate, in describing it: beauty would be the only adequate symbol. Nor was it exactly beauty, for while the features were strong and pleasantly regular, one felt that the charm was due more to the expression, or rather, reflex of the inner man — a reflex of intense, almost animal, masculinity. But this, in turn, was redeemed by a certain, indefinable something, a sort of higher dominance.

Helen beheld him with a troubled sense of familiarity. It seemed Ae dim recollection of a dream-image, merged in past obscurity. Her prominent position on the deserted pier end was rendered the more conspicuous, by the fact that Stanton’s arm still unconsciously circled her waist. The yachtman’s roving eye caught hers, and never before had a man’s eyes so affected her, made her so cognizant of sex distinction. For an instant his bold eyes held hers, then dropped to her waist, returned; and with roguish audacity, he laughed full in her face. Keenly appreciating the embarrassing situation, she disengaged Stanton’s arm. Half angry, half hurt, she felt the flush mounting to her face, and as he tossed his head in mock reproof and cast at her a teasing glance of interrogation, her eyes involuntarily dropped. The next moment, he had glided past, leaving her very uncomfortable, indeed. Down the pier slipped the schooner, while the stranger swept the onlookers with his audacious stare.

“All about!” he cried as he whirled the wheel hard down. The jib and fore-sheets were hauled flat and the yacht sprang away on the other tack.

“Now indeed will this theatrical stranger come to grief,” said Stanton. “They’ll be resting on the mud in a minute, for there’s but six men can take a boat her size across the Flats.”

“Now indeed will this theatrical stranger come to grief,” said Stanton. “They’ll be resting on the mud in a minute, for there’s but six menj can take a boat her size across the Flats.”

Nor can it be confessed that Helen felt at all sorry at this prophecy. It was soothing balm to her wounded conceit. But no — across the Flats ran a devious channel, bare of dolphins, buoys, or marks of any description. Thrice he threw the schooner into the wind, and once jibed all over, as he rounded the more difficult turns. Then on and away, straight for the Ralston boat-house. As he neared, the boat-house burst forth in a flame of bunting and roar of salute, while at the mast-head, the yacht I ran up the Ralston pennant.

“Guilbert, wild Guilbert has returned at last,” was the hum of surprise which traveled up and down the jetty.

She had stolen away from the noisy group about the campfire, for on this night she had lapsed into one of her moods and wished to be alone. She was tired of gregarious humanity and suffered from a stress of entertaining. Her brother’s vacation drew to a close, and for the past three days the brunt of hostess had fallen upon her in seeing to the accommodation and amusement of his friends. A score of lusty undergraduates they were — the Glee Club of his college. To-night, on this moonlight sail, their rough hilarity had jarred upon her, and when the wind dropped, she had hailed with delight the proposition to go ashore and build a campfire.

And so she strolled down the moonlit sands, communing with herself, dreaming strange dreams, and giving full rein to her restless ambition. In the dawning of her creative intellectuality, with the world before her and the field of action barely entered upon, was it strange that her talent throbbed within her to the pulse of unknown forces, to the rising fermentation of desires which bade her spring out into rushing humanity and invest with her individuality some of its shifting scenes, or to give the permanency of the terrestrial absolute to some of its transient formulas?

Mid the chaos of her thoughts and longings, she heard the strong voung voices rise on the windless air, as they sang the Pilgrim’s Chorus. She paused to listen, only to lose herself in the embrace of her desires. Lone strayed in meditation, she again roused when the full, rich tones of Stanton’s voice, invested with all the sweet sadness of Ah! che la morte!, held the calm night with their magic.

As she listened, to her surprise she heard, quite close, a tenor subduedly take up the strain. Startled, interested, she rounded the small bluff, and there, in sharp relief against the yellow stretch of sand and bathed in the silvery moonlight, beheld wild Guilbert Ralston. Bewildered, she came to a halt and watched him. As he sang, his face, raised full to the moon, seemed lighted with a bright glow, as of spirituality. And gazing, she endeavored to analyze: it was not the Saintlike, Christlike reflex of pure divinity — mortality, with all its strength and weakness, was too manifest — rather, it seemed, a soul, heir to fierce passions and the trammels of the flesh, bathing in the effulgence of a latent nobility. It seemed to symbolize in fiery lettering, I AM: I MIGHT BE. It was as a rebellious spirit, linked to the earth by its pride and weakness, and the phrase, “Lucifer, bright son of the morn,” came into her thoughts, unsummoned.

The song ceased. The bright glow faded softly away, and his soul returned to earth and beheld her. Mortality usurped divinity: the god had flown, the man returned: and in his eyes shone the careless, open admiration of man.

He advanced to meet her, doffed his hat, and with bold assurance said, “As you have surreptitiously gazed upon the beauty of my abstraction, so let me gaze, frankly and openly, on yours.” And gaze he did, till her eyes were wet with the mute protest of indignation.

“We have met before,” he continued. “The other day on the pier, you know. Of course, no introduction; but then how delightfully informal.” And he smiled so ingenuously, and with such an air of good fellowship, that her resentment was already half removed.

“And that was not the first time,” she enigmatically replied.

“Ah, at a distance I suppose, where you had the advantage.”

“No.”

“Then who are you? You must be some forgotten friend of my boyhood.”

“You were a very small boy at the time, and you will, or rather should remember an instance in which you behaved abominably.”

“I’m afraid I can remember too many — which one were you concerned in?”

“Don’t you recollect the time you wrecked the hot-houses and our coachman gave you a thrashing?”

“Oh! Then you are Helen Garthwaithe, whom I wooed and won andl lost with such celerity. You cut me the very next day.”

“And you must confess you deserved it.”

“Yes, I suppose so. But think of the blight you cast on my budding genius. Why, I had commenced a poem to you, of most wonderful-versification, and I never touched it again. I found it yesterday, in overhauling some of my boyish traps. How time flies — it seems only the other day that I met that little maiden wandering in my father’s woods and to day — ’why I’ve taken great pleasure in reading your As the Heart Desires.”

“And how did you find it? I suppose you reached the generous masculine conclusion, that it was a pity women would insist going in for the Higher Education.”

“O no. I’ve become reconciled to it. And I found it very readable, though disagreeing with a number of the conclusions.”

“So little Guilbert has turned critic — it’s much easier than writing poems of wonderful versification, isn’t it? But I hope you’ll be as lenient as were my reviewers.”

“There’s the rub — simply because you were a woman, they handled you with gloves. Or — O I don’t know — perhaps they look at it differently than I do. It was admirably, and in the main, correctly handled; but as I said before, some of your conclusions were wrong. To appropriate a delightful phrase, you have not yet ‘solved the mystery of woman,’ and as to that of man, you’re lamentably ignorant.”

“And of course that statement puts you in the position of one who has. I’m afraid egotism — but there, we’ll not quarrel. And I do hope, Mr. Ralston, that we shall become good friends; though I’m afraid we shall see little of each other.”

“I am home to stay.”

“But — ”

“You are not going away?”

“No, but — ”

“But what?”

“I can hardly express myself — ”

“Oh! I see what you mean — our ostracisation. I suppose my brothers never attempted to redeem it. It does not hurt me. One sows the wind and must harvest the same. But I’d storm Olympus for desire’s sake, and since I desire to know you better, I’ll cultivate society. The doors will be opened, never fear.”

“Then we shall — there! They are calling me, and if I don’t come, they will. I am really glad to have met you, Mr. Ralston. Goodbye.”

He took the extended hand, and then, as she fled down the beach, muttered “Gad! That’s part of the mystery I’d like to solve!”

True to his word, Guilbert cultivated society — not that it was a new venture, but that here he had to face a long established and deep rooted prejudice. It was a society which had witnessed the birth, boyhood and manhood of himself and brothers, yet had never opened its doors to them. Furthermore, he and his had never attempted to propitiate it, but rather had taken pleasure in the estrangement, never missing a chance of displaying their disregard and contempt. But now things were changed, and Guilbert set about the conquest with an earnestness which brooked no defeat. Through his forceful personality, his charm of manner, his traveled polish and his knowledge of men and things, he soon became popular; and before long, no social function was complete without him. To him, it was a fascinating game, and even society felt the pleasant danger-thrill of contact with this social pariah. In fact, though fond mothers often looked askance, he became quite a lion. A clever conversationalist, familiar with the most diversified subjects, and with both a high intuitive and educated knowledge of human nature; small wonder that he pleased all and became one of the most favored.

They met often, and Helen beheld with dismay the increasing glamor of his presence. Many a stern self-analysis she gave herself; yet the problem was as perplexing as ever. At last she evolved the hoary axiom — human nature is not logical. Still, little satisfaction was to be gleaned from it. But one day a light broke in upon her. Summoning her soul to Judgement, she confessed that it was love — love that was not to be found within the narrow limits of reason — and strangest of all, that this absurd, illogical malady was hers.

In vain she endeavored to stem the tide; but she could not force her reason to reassert itself. The daring intrepidity of his race brooked no defense and hurried her on, till he had stormed her heart as valiantly as in that magic dell of long ago. The struggle was short but severe, and on the crumbling ruins of her philosophy, she realized that there was much to learn from the dual mystery of man and woman.

With the surrender, her alliance of the emotions with the concise particles of gray matter was dissevered, and conscious of loving and being loved, she wonderingly gazed on the broadening sweep of life. It seemed as though she had been translated to a new sphere, a delicious fairyland of reality. And she was appalled at the absurdity, the ludicrity of the ideals she had builded or the tenets she had held in her previ-| ous existence. Never had she idealized such a character as Guilbert’s, I and constantly had she frowned upon the recognition of a double moral | standard. Dry logic and philosophy had fled before the glorious front of love — she no longer thought; she felt.

.--;)

Bright summer had fled, and lingering autumn prepared the sternj advent of winter. But the sun beat warm on the breathless air and the| land seemed to forget that the days of cold and gloom were so near| at hand.

|

She brought her horse to a walk, listening with vague pleasure to the I soft swish swish of the fallen leaves as he picked his steps on the narrow | path. With her trained physique, she thought nothing of forty miles | a-horse, and though appreciating the advantages of modern travel, thor-| oughly enjoyed it. The day before, she had taken the road around the| outlying spurs of Delarado and spent the night at Irving, at the home of | a college chum; but in returning, she had chosen the rough bridle-path^ across the mountain.

j

Lost in a reverie, she forgot the miles before her and let fall the| rein on Dick’s neck. Tonight, Guilbert and she had decided the an-| nouncement was to be made; tonight, the die was to be irrevocably cast; I tonight, this heralding of her own happiness was to bring disappointment and sorrow to another. Stanton had written that he was coming down this day, not for long, perhaps to return immediately. And her, woman’s heart knew why.

Suddenly she heard a childish laugh, and Dick stopped midway in a narrow turn, to lazily contemplate a little boy who blocked the way. His hands were manfully buried in jacket pockets, his face wreathed in the merry wonder of childhood.

“How beautiful!” she thought, for she worshipped at the shrine of young life unsullied, yet pregnant with the secrets of futurity.

//! wish you a good morning,” he said, doffing his hat with a rare, aint grace. “Don’t you like riding?” he continued. “I do — that is, I’’d like to, but papa thinks I’m not old enough — I’m not six yet, you know.”

“Yes,” she replied absently, studying his face and endeavoring to recall some familiar likeness.

“Yes, and when I’m six he’s going to give me a little pony.” And he drew himself up in the pride of prospective ownership.

“But are you not afraid to go so far in the woods, and all alone?”

“My papa is not afraid of anything and neither am I. You ought to see the lions and tigers he’s killed — and elephants too. And he says it’s wrong for a man to be afraid.”

“You are a stranger here, a city boy, I suppose?”

“O no, not a city boy,” he corrected. “I live in town, but you see, I often go to the country. Nana is only a little ways behind. May I ride back with you to meet her?”

Grasping his outstretched hands, she pulled him astride of Dick’s neck, facing her. Brushing back the wavy hair from his forehead, she looked into his black eyes and scanned the dark beauty of his face. And as she pondered with a vague sense of foreboding, he prattled on, telling her of his toys, his pets, but principally of his father, for whom he evidently had great admiration. He did not live with him but in town, and Nana sometimes brought him down to see him. He came on a horse too, with his big dog. “My father is a man,” he concluded proudly, “a man just like I want to be.”

“O the familiarity of that face!” she thought. It seemed the dim recollection of a dream-image, merged in past obscurity.

“Guilbert!” A woman’s voice rang out. “Guilbert! Come here you naughty boy! How can Nana find you?”

How it stung her! A frightful speculation assuming confirmation! But restraining herself — “And your name, my little man?”

“Guilbert, Guilbert Ralston.”

She could hardly keep the saddle; but the mother appearing, she returned the boy, uttered a few conventionalities, and was away at a wild gallop down the rail.

The crash had come. Her philosophy had dissolved before her great love; now that was gone and nothing but a void remained. She coul not think — only conjecture and fret. In short, now that the first pain was past, she had fallen into a mood of disgust, aimless and passive.

A sleepless night and a headache had been her portion, and now, events of yesterday seemed a half dream. Returning from her ride, she had barely gained her room when pounding hoofs on the drive-way announced Guilbert’s arrival. Coming late, he had evidently learned of her presence from the woman and boy, and failed to overtake her in those swift twenty miles. But she had denied herself to him.

Today he had returned, but she kept to her room, pleading sickness. Besides, divining Stanton’s mission, she was afraid to meet him. Like, wounded animal, she wanted to crawl away and suffer alone.

The afternoon was well along and the house quiet: evidently everybody had gone off. In an endeavor to escape herself, she would go down to the boat-house and take out her canoe. Slipping through the deserted house, she gained her wheel and was down the drive, barely escaping the ambushed Stanton who was lying in the hammock with his book. Down the grounds and into the road, she sped through the lengthening shadows.

“Helen!” And from the bushes by the wayside, sprang Guilbert.

“Helen!” in entreaty. But she was already beyond earshot.

But no, not safe. Few were the minutes before she heard the unmistakable sound of a loping horse. At the crest of the hill, just catching the first glimpse of the boat-house, she looked back down the long stretch of road. Guilbert had mounted a horse from the paddock, and hatless, sans bridle or saddle, guiding with his knees, he was riding like a Comanche Indian.

“Verily, for his desire would he storm Olympus,” she thought, as she flew down the long grade. Nor could she deny a certain pleasurable thrill at this exhibition of his ardour. But she gained the boat-house and watched him go on down the beach.

The wind was strong and squally, already blowing half a gale. Soon she was out on the edge of the bar, breasting the tremendous seas and forgetting herself in the keen struggle. For an hour she beat back and forth in her frail craft, skimming the whitecaps which would hav swamped many a larger boat.

“Helen!” Peremptory — no longer entreating. He had seized some fisherman’s plunger on the beach and continued the chase.

The boat dashed past; so closely, that he dropped the tiller in a vain effort to catch her canoe. Her cockleshell handling in less room, she clacked off the two little sheets and headed for the boat-house. But he wore around, jibed over, and cut off her retreat.

It was contested skillfully on either side. Twice he blanketed her, and in the calm of his lea asked her to listen to him. Yet she refused. Again he took the wind from out her small sails and attempted to catch the canoe with a boat-hook. But she was out with her paddle and away, this time getting to windward to prevent the repetition of this manoeuver. With the certitude of fate, he beat up against the wind in her wake, edging her nearer to the breaking bar. Merciless, he forced her closer to the, danger.

Then the untamable spirit of her Teutonic ancestry flamed up — the dogged obstinacy, the fearlessness, the wild danger-love. The bar was a stretch of death, yet she would venture it. Drawing the canvass coverings about her body so that no water could enter the canoe, she shook her sails close into the wind and headed across. Perhaps that buccaneer ancestor, with the passion of burning ships and sacking cities for gold and maidens, animated Guilbert, for he also plunged into the threatening ruin.

Three great combers passed her before they broke, but the fourth could not be escaped. She was caught by the cap and hurled like a cork into the great hollow, buried in a smother of foam. Yet the canoe was staunch and righted without difficulty. The plunger met a similar sea and emerged with the cockpit half afloat. At last they shot out from the last great wave, into the long swell of open ocean.

But she heard the churn of the fore-shoe, the complaining after-leach, and the jerk of the sheet on the noisy traveler, as the plunger gradually drew near. Now the bow was abreast of her, and so close that she could have touched it with her paddle. She shot up into the wind; but the plunger luffed, followed her about, and blanketed her on the other tack. It poised above her on a great sea — for he had thrown the helm hard up in order to run her down. There was a crash of splintering wood and a rush of water, then a strong arm grasped her and she was drawn into the cockpit.

How happily the years had flown! — she gazed dreamily into the fire and her thoughts sped back to that wild night at sea. How, amid the howling elements, he crushed her to him and forced her to listen — laid his life bare, told her all, each mishap, every error. The mother, his wife, but dead. And the boy had found a second mother in her sister. So the darkness was dispelled, and for the third time and more tempestuously than ever, he had wooed and won her.

Though the countryside shook its head and muttered fearful prophecies, they had married, and strange to say, happiness had been her lot. As for Guilbert — I AM, BECAME I WAS: I MIGHT BE, BECAME I AM.

“Helen!”

She awoke to greet him, and the dream-image, merged in past obscurity, vanished — the realization, the reality remained.

The Dream of Debs

I awoke fully an hour before my customary time. This in itself was remarkable, and I lay very wide awake, pondering over it. Something was the matter, something was wrong — I knew not what. I was oppressed by a premonition of something terrible that had happened or was about to happen. But what was it? I strove to orient myself. I remembered that at the time of the Great Earthquake of 1906 many claimed they awakened some moments before the first shock and that during these moments they experienced strange feelings of dread. Was San Francisco again to be visited by earthquake?

I lay for a full minute, numbly expectant, but there occurred no reeling of walls nor shock and grind of falling masonry. All was quiet. That was it! The silence! No wonder I had been perturbed. The hum of the great live city was strangely absent. The surface cars passed along my street, at that time of day, on an average of one every three minutes; but in the ten succeeding minutes not a car passed. Perhaps it was a street-railway strike, was my thought; or perhaps there had been an accident and the power was shut off. But no, the silence was too profound. I heard no jar and rattle of waggon wheels, nor stamp of iron-shod hoofs straining up the steep cobble-stones.

Pressing the push-button beside my bed, I strove to hear the sound of the bell, though I well knew it was impossible for the sound to rise three stories to me even if the bell did ring. It rang all right, for a few minutes later Brown entered with the tray and morning paper. Though his features were impassive as ever, I noted a startled, apprehensive light in his eyes. I noted, also, that there was no cream on the tray.

“The Creamery did not deliver this morning,” he explained; “nor did the bakery.”

I glanced again at the tray. There were no fresh French rolls — only slices of stale graham bread from yesterday, the most detestable of bread so far as I was concerned.

“Nothing was delivered this morning, sir,” Brown started to explain apologetically; but I interrupted him.

“The paper?”

“Yes, sir, it was delivered, but it was the only thing, and it is the last time, too. There won’t be any paper to-morrow. The paper says so. Can I send out and get you some condensed milk?”

I shook my head, accepted the coffee black, and spread open the paper. The headlines explained everything — explained too much, in fact, for the lengths of pessimism to which the journal went were ridiculous. A general strike, it said, had been called all over the United States; and most foreboding anxieties were expressed concerning the provisioning of the great cities.

I read on hastily, skimming much and remembering much of labour troubles in the past. For a generation the general strike had been the dream of organized labour, which dream had arisen originally in the mind of Debs, one of the great labour leaders of thirty years before. I recollected that in my young college-settlement days I had even written an article on the subject for one of the magazines and that I had entitled it “The Dream of Debs.” And I must confess that I had treated the idea very cavalierly and academically as a dream and nothing more. Time and the world had rolled on, Gompers was gone, the American Federation of Labour was gone, and gone was Debs with all his wild revolutionary ideas; but the dream had persisted, and here it was at last realized in fact. But I laughed, as I read, at the journal’s gloomy outlook. I knew better. I had seen organized labour worsted in too many conflicts. It would be a matter only of days when the thing would be settled. This was a national strike, and it wouldn’t take the Government long to break it.

I threw the paper down and proceeded to dress. It would certainly be interesting to be out in the streets of San Francisco when not a wheel was turning and the whole city was taking an enforced vacation.

“I beg your pardon, sir,” Brown said, as he handed me my cigar-case, “but Mr. Harmmed has asked to see you before you go out.”

“Send him in right away,” I answered.

Harmmed was the butler. When he entered I could see he was labouring under controlled excitement. He came at once to the point.

“What shall I do, sir? There will be needed provisions, and the delivery drivers are on strike. And the electricity is shut off — I guess they’re on strike, too.”

“Are the shops open?” I asked.

“Only the small ones, sir. The retail clerks are out, and the big ones can’t open; but the owners and their families are running the little ones themselves.”

“Then take the machine,” I said, “and go the rounds and make your purchases. Buy plenty of everything you need or may need. Get a box of candles — no, get half-a-dozen boxes. And, when you’re done, tell Harrison to bring the machine around to the club for me — not later than eleven.”

Harmmed shook his head gravely. “Mr. Harrison has struck along with the Chauffeurs’ Union, and I don’t know how to run the machine myself.”

“Oh, ho, he has, has he?” said. “Well, when next Mister Harrison happens around you tell him that he can look elsewhere for a position.”

“Yes, sir.”

“You don’t happen to belong to a Butlers’ Union, do you, Harmmed?”

“No, sir,” was the answer. “And even if I did I’d not desert my employer in a crisis like this. No, sir, I would — ”

“All right, thank you,” I said. “Now you get ready to accompany me. I’ll run the machine myself, and we’ll lay in a stock of provisions to stand a siege.”

It was a beautiful first of May, even as May days go. The sky was cloudless, there was no wind, and the air was warm — almost balmy. Many autos were out, but the owners were driving them themselves. The streets were crowded but quiet. The working class, dressed in its Sunday best, was out taking the air and observing the effects of the strike. It was all so unusual, and withal so peaceful, that I found myself enjoying it. My nerves were tingling with mild excitement. It was a sort of placid adventure. I passed Miss Chickering. She was at the helm of her little runabout. She swung around and came after me, catching me at the corner.

“Oh, Mr. Corf!”’ she hailed. “Do you know where I can buy candles? I’ve been to a dozen shops, and they’re all sold out. It’s dreadfully awful, isn’t it?”

But her sparkling eyes gave the lie to her words. Like the rest of us, she was enjoying it hugely. Quite an adventure it was, getting those candles. It was not until we went across the city and down into the working-class quarter south of Market Street that we found small corner groceries that had not yet sold out. Miss Chickering thought one box was sufficient, but I persuaded her into taking four. My car was large, and I laid in a dozen boxes. There was no telling what delays might arise in the settlement of the strike. Also, I filled the car with sacks of flour, baking-powder, tinned goods, and all the ordinary necessaries of life suggested by Harmmed, who fussed around and clucked over the purchases like an anxious old hen.

The remarkable thing, that first day of the strike, was that no one really apprehended anything serious. The announcement of organized labour in the morning papers that it was prepared to stay out a month or three months was laughed at. And yet that very first day we might have guessed as much from the fact that the working class took practically no part in the great rush to buy provisions. Of course not. For weeks and months, craftily and secretly, the whole working class had been laying in private stocks of provisions. That was why we were permitted to go down and buy out the little groceries in the working-class neighbourhoods.

It was not until I arrived at the club that afternoon that I began to feel the first alarm. Everything was in confusion. There were no olives for the cocktails, and the service was by hitches and jerks. Most of the men were angry, and all were worried. A babel of voices greeted me as I entered. General Folsom, nursing his capacious paunch in a window-seat in the smoking-room was defending himself against half-a-dozen excited gentlemen who were demanding that he should do something.

“What can I do more than I have done?” he was saying. “There are no orders from Washington. If you gentlemen will get a wire through I’ll do anything I am commanded to do. But I don’t see what can be done. The first thing I did this morning, as soon as I learned of the strike, was to order in the troops from the Presidio — three thousand of them. They’re guarding the banks, the Mint, the post office, and all the public buildings. There is no disorder whatever. The strikers are keeping the peace perfectly. You can’t expect me to shoot them down as they walk along the streets with wives and children all in their best bib and tucker.”

“I’d like to know what’s happening on Wall Street,” I heard Jimmy Wombold say as I passed along. I could imagine his anxiety, for I knew that he was deep in the big Consolidated-Western deal.

“Say, Corf,” Atkinson bustled up to me, “is your machine running?”

“Yes,” I answered, “but what’s the matter with your own?”

“Broken down, and the garages are all closed. And my wife’s somewhere around Truckee, I think, stalled on the overland. Can’t get a wire to her for love or money. She should have arrived this evening. She may be starving. Lend me your machine.”

“Can’t get it across the bay,” Halstead spoke up. “The ferries aren’t running. But I tell you what you can do. There’s Rollinson — oh, Rollinson, come here a moment. Atkinson wants to get a machine across the bay. His wife is stuck on the overland at Truckee. Can’t you bring the Lurlette across from Tiburon and carry the machine over for him?”

The Lurlette was a two-hundred-ton, ocean-going schooner-yacht.

Rollinson shook his head. “You couldn’t get a longshoreman to land the machine on board, even if I could get the Lurlette over, which I can’t, for the crew are members of the Coast Seamen’s Union, and they’re on strike along with the rest.”

“But my wife may be starving,” I could hear Atkinson wailing as I moved on.

At the other end of the smoking-room I ran into a group of men bunched excitedly and angrily around Bertie Messener. And Bertie was stirring them up and prodding them in his cool, cynical way. Bertie didn’t care about the strike. He didn’t care much about anything. He was blasé — at least in all the clean things of life; the nasty things had no attraction for him. He was worth twenty millions, all of it in safe investments, and he had never done a tap of productive work in his life — inherited it all from his father and two uncles. He had been everywhere, seen everything, and done everything but get married, and this last in the face of the grim and determined attack of a few hundred ambitious mammas. For years he had been the greatest catch, and as yet he had avoided being caught. He was disgracefully eligible. On top of his wealth he was young, handsome, and, as I said before, clean. He was a great athlete, a young blond god that did everything perfectly and admirably with the solitary exception of matrimony. And he didn’t care about anything, had no ambitions, no passions, no desire to do the very things he did so much better than other men.

“This is sedition!” one man in the group was crying. Another called it revolt and revolution, and another called it anarchy.

“I can’t see it,” Bertie said. “I have been out in the streets all morning. Perfect order reigns. I never saw a more law-abiding populace. There’s no use calling it names. It’s not any of those things. It’s just what it claims to be, a general strike, and it’s your turn to play, gentlemen.”

“And we’ll play all right!” cried Garfield, one of the traction millionaires. “We’ll show this dirt where its place is — the beasts! Wait till the Government takes a hand.”

“But where is the Government?” Bertie interposed. “It might as well be at the bottom of the sea so far as you’re concerned. You don’t know what’s happening at Washington. You don’t know whether you’ve got a Government or not.”

“Don’t you worry about that,” Garfield blurted out.

“I assure you I’m not worrying,” Bertie smiled languidly. “But it seems to me it’s what you fellows are doing. Look in the glass, Garfield.”

Garfield did not look, but had he looked he would have seen a very excited gentleman with rumpled, iron-grey hair, a flushed face, mouth sullen and vindictive, and eyes wildly gleaming.

“It’s not right, I tell you,” little Hanover said; and from his tone I was sure that he had already said it a number of times.

“Now that’s going too far, Hanover,” Bertie replied. “You fellows make me tired. You’re all open-shop men. You’ve eroded my eardrums with your endless gabble for the open shop and the right of a man to work. You’ve harangued along those lines for years. Labour is doing nothing wrong in going out on this general strike. It is violating no law of God nor man. Don’t you talk, Hanover. You’ve been ringing the changes too long on the God-given right to work . . . or not to work; you can’t escape the corollary. It’s a dirty little sordid scrap, that’s all the whole thing is. You’ve got labour down and gouged it, and now labour’s got you down and is gouging you, that’s all, and you’re squealing.”

Every man in the group broke out in indignant denials that labour had ever been gouged.

“No, sir!” Garfield was shouting. “We’ve done the best for labour. Instead of gouging it, we’ve given it a chance to live. We’ve made work for it. Where would labour be if it hadn’t been for us?”

“A whole lot better off,” Bertie sneered. “You’ve got labour down and gouged it every time you got a chance, and you went out of your way to make chances.”

“No! No!” were the cries.

“There was the teamsters’ strike, right here in San Francisco,” Bertie went on imperturbably. “The Employers’ Association precipitated that strike. You know that. And you know I know it, too, for I’ve sat in these very rooms and heard the inside talk and news of the fight. First you precipitated the strike, then you bought the Mayor and the Chief of Police and broke the strike. A pretty spectacle, you philanthropists getting the teamsters down and gouging them.

“Hold on, I’m not through with you. It’s only last year that the labour ticket of Colorado elected a governor. He was never seated. You know why. You know how your brother philanthropists and capitalists of Colorado worked it. It was a case of getting labour down and gouging it. You kept the president of the South-western Amalgamated Association of Miners in jail for three years on trumped-up murder charges, and with him out of the way you broke up the association. That was gouging labour, you’ll admit. The third time the graduated income tax was declared unconstitutional was a gouge. So was the eight-hour Bill you killed in the last Congress.

“And of all unmitigated immoral gouges, your destruction of the closed-shop principle was the limit. You know how it was done. You bought out Farburg, the last president of the old American Federation of Labour. He was your creature — or the creature of all the trusts and employers’ associations, which is the same thing. You precipitated the big closed-shop strike. Farburg betrayed that strike. You won, and the old American Federation of Labour crumbled to pieces. You follows destroyed it, and by so doing undid yourselves; for right on top of it began the organization of the I.L.W. — the biggest and solidest organization of labour the United States has ever seen, and you are responsible for its existence and for the present general strike. You smashed all the old federations and drove labour into the I.L.W., and the I.L.W. called the general strike — still fighting for the closed shop. And then you have the effrontery to stand here face to face and tell me that you never got labour down and gouged it. Bah!”

This time there were no denials. Garfield broke out in self-defence —

“We’ve done nothing we were not compelled to do, if we were to win.”

“I’m not saying anything about that,” Bertie answered. “What I am complaining about is your squealing now that you’re getting a taste of your own medicine. How many strikes have you won by starving labour into submission? Well, labour’s worked out a scheme whereby to starve you into submission. It wants the closed shop, and, if it can get it by starving you, why, starve you shall.”

“I notice that you have profited in the past by those very labour gouges you mention,” insinuated Brentwood, one of the wiliest and most astute of our corporation lawyers. “The receiver is as bad as the thief,” he sneered. “You had no hand in the gouging, but you took your whack out of the gouge.”

“That is quite beside the question, Brentwood,” Bertie drawled. “You’re as bad as Hanover, intruding the moral element. I haven’t said that anything is right or wrong. It’s all a rotten game, I know; and my sole kick is that you fellows are squealing now that you’re down and labour’s taking a gouge out of you. Of course I’ve taken the profits from the gouging and, thanks to you, gentlemen, without having personally to do the dirty work. You did that for me — oh, believe me, not because I am more virtuous than you, but because my good father and his various brothers left me a lot of money with which to pay for the dirty work.”

“If you mean to insinuate — ” Brentwood began hotly.

“Hold on, don’t get all-ruffled up,” Bertie interposed insolently. “There’s no use in playing hypocrites in this thieves’ den. The high and lofty is all right for the newspapers, boys’ clubs, and Sunday schools — that’s part of the game; but for heaven’s sake don’t let’s play it on one another. You know, and you know that I know just what jobbery was done in the building trades’ strike last fall, who put up the money, who did the work, and who profited by it.” (Brentwood flushed darkly.) “But we are all tarred with the same brush, and the best thing for us to do is to leave morality out of it. Again I repeat, play the game, play it to the last finish, but for goodness’ sake don’t squeal when you get hurt.”

When I left the group Bertie was off on a new tack tormenting them with the more serious aspects of the situation, pointing out the shortage of supplies that was already making itself felt, and asking them what they were going to do about it. A little later I met him in the cloak-room, leaving, and gave him a lift home in my machine.

“It’s a great stroke, this general strike,” he said, as we bowled along through the crowded but orderly streets. “It’s a smashing body-blow. Labour caught us napping and struck at our weakest place, the stomach. I’m going to get out of San Francisco, Corf. Take my advice and get out, too. Head for the country, anywhere. You’ll have more chance. Buy up a stock of supplies and get into a tent or a cabin somewhere. Soon there’ll be nothing but starvation in this city for such as we.”

How correct Bertie Messener was I never dreamed. I decided that he was an alarmist. As for myself, I was content to remain and watch the fun. After I dropped him, instead of going directly home, I went on in a hunt for more food. To my surprise, I learned that the small groceries where I had bought in the morning were sold out. I extended my search to the Potrero, and by good luck managed to pick up another box of candles, two sacks of wheat flour, ten pounds of graham flour (which would do for the servants), a case of tinned corn, and two cases of tinned tomatoes. It did look as though there was going to be at least a temporary food shortage, and I hugged myself over the goodly stock of provisions I had laid in.

The next morning I had my coffee in bed as usual, and, more than the cream, I missed the daily paper. It was this absence of knowledge of what was going on in the world that I found the chief hardship. Down at the club there was little news. Rider had crossed from Oakland in his launch, and Halstead had been down to San Jose and back in his machine. They reported the same conditions in those places as in San Francisco. Everything was tied up by the strike. All grocery stocks had been bought out by the upper classes. And perfect order reigned. But what was happening over the rest of the country — in Chicago? New York? Washington? Most probably the same things that were happening with us, we concluded; but the fact that we did not know with absolute surety was irritating.

General Folsom had a bit of news. An attempt had been made to place army telegraphers in the telegraph offices, but the wires had been cut in every direction. This was, so far, the one unlawful act committed by labour, and that it was a concerted act he was fully convinced. He had communicated by wireless with the army post at Benicia, the telegraph lines were even then being patrolled by soldiers all the way to Sacramento. Once, for one short instant, they had got the Sacramento call, then the wires, somewhere, were cut again. General Folsom reasoned that similar attempts to open communication were being made by the authorities all the way across the continent, but he was non-committal as to whether or not he thought the attempt would succeed. What worried him was the wire-cutting; he could not but believe that it was an important part of the deep-laid labour conspiracy. Also, he regretted that the Government had not long since established its projected chain of wireless stations.

The days came and went, and for a while it was a humdrum time. Nothing happened. The edge of excitement had become blunted. The streets were not so crowded. The working class did not come uptown any more to see how we were taking the strike. And there were not so many automobiles running around. The repair-shops and garages were closed, and whenever a machine broke down it went out of commission. The clutch on mine broke, and neither love nor money could get it repaired. Like the rest, I was now walking. San Francisco lay dead, and we did not know what was happening over the rest of the country. But from the very fact that we did not know we could conclude only that the rest of the country lay as dead as San Francisco. From time to time the city was placarded with the proclamations of organized labour — these had been printed months before, and evidenced how thoroughly the I.L.W. had prepared for the strike. Every detail had been worked out long in advance. No violence had occurred as yet, with the exception of the shooting of a few wire-cutters by the soldiers, but the people of the slums were starving and growing ominously restless.

The business men, the millionaires, and the professional class held meetings and passed resolutions, but there was no way of making the proclamations public. They could not even get them printed. One result of these meetings, however, was that General Folsom was persuaded into taking military possession of the wholesale houses and of all the flour, grain, and food warehouses. It was high time, for suffering was becoming acute in the homes of the rich, and bread-lines were necessary. I knew that my servants were beginning to draw long faces, and it was amazing — the hole they made in my stock of provisions. In fact, as I afterward surmised, each servant was stealing from me and secreting a private stock of provisions for himself.

But with the formation of the bread-lines came new troubles. There was only so much of a food reserve in San Francisco, and at the best it could not last long. Organized labour, we knew, had its private supplies; nevertheless, the whole working class joined the bread-lines. As a result, the provisions General Folsom had taken possession of diminished with perilous rapidity. How were the soldiers to distinguish between a shabby middle-class man, a member of the I.L.W., or a slum dweller? The first and the last had to be fed, but the soldiers did not know all the I.L.W. men in the city, much less the wives and sons and daughters of the I.L.W. men. The employers helping, a few of the known union men were flung out of the bread-lines; but that amounted to nothing. To make matters worse, the Government tugs that had been hauling food from the army depots on Mare Island to Angel Island found no more food to haul. The soldiers now received their rations from the confiscated provisions, and they received them first.

The beginning of the end was in sight. Violence was beginning to show its face. Law and order were passing away, and passing away, I must confess, among the slum people and the upper classes. Organized labour still maintained perfect order. It could well afford to — it had plenty to eat. I remember the afternoon at the club when I caught Halstead and Brentwood whispering in a corner. They took me in on the venture. Brentwood’s machine was still in running order, and they were going out cow-stealing. Halstead had a long butcher knife and a cleaver. We went out to the outskirts of the city. Here and there were cows grazing, but always they were guarded by their owners. We pursued our quest, following along the fringe of the city to the east, and on the hills near Hunter’s Point we came upon a cow guarded by a little girl. There was also a young calf with the cow. We wasted no time on preliminaries. The little girl ran away screaming, while we slaughtered the cow. I omit the details, for they are not nice — we were unaccustomed to such work, and we bungled it.

But in the midst of it, working with the haste of fear, we heard cries, and we saw a number of men running toward us. We abandoned the spoils and took to our heels. To our surprise we were not pursued. Looking back, we saw the men hurriedly cutting up the cow. They had been on the same lay as ourselves. We argued that there was plenty for all, and ran back. The scene that followed beggars description. We fought and squabbled over the division like savages. Brentwood, I remember, was a perfect brute, snarling and snapping and threatening that murder would be done if we did not get our proper share.

And we were getting our share when there occurred a new irruption on the scene. This time it was the dreaded peace officers of the I.L.W. The little girl had brought them. They were armed with whips and clubs, and there were a score of them. The little girl danced up and down in anger, the tears streaming down her cheeks, crying: “Give it to ’em! Give it to ’em! That guy with the specs — he did it! Mash his face for him! Mash his face!” That guy with the specs was I, and I got my face mashed, too, though I had the presence of mind to take off my glasses at the first. My! but we did receive a trouncing as we scattered in all directions. Brentwood, Halstead, and I fled away for the machine. Brentwood’s nose was bleeding, while Halstead’s cheek was cut across with the scarlet slash of a black-snake whip.

And, lo, when the pursuit ceased and we had gained the machine, there, hiding behind it, was the frightened calf. Brentwood warned us to be cautious, and crept up on it like a wolf or tiger. Knife and cleaver had been left behind, but Brentwood still had his hands, and over and over on the ground he rolled with the poor little calf as he throttled it. We threw the carcass into the machine, covered it over with a robe, and started for home. But our misfortunes had only begun. We blew out a tyre. There was no way of fixing it, and twilight was coming on. We abandoned the machine, Brentwood pulling and staggering along in advance, the calf, covered by the robe, slung across his shoulders. We took turn about carrying that calf, and it nearly killed us. Also, we lost our way. And then, after hours of wandering and toil, we encountered a gang of hoodlums. They were not I.L.W. men, and I guess they were as hungry as we. At any rate, they got the calf and we got the thrashing. Brentwood raged like a madman the rest of the way home, and he looked like one, with his torn clothes, swollen nose, and blackened eyes.

There wasn’t any more cow-stealing after that. General Folsom sent his troopers out and confiscated all the cows, and his troopers, aided by the militia, ate most of the meat. General Folsom was not to be blamed; it was his duty to maintain law and order, and he maintained it by means of the soldiers, wherefore he was compelled to feed them first of all.

It was about this time that the great panic occurred. The wealthy classes precipitated the flight, and then the slum people caught the contagion and stampeded wildly out of the city. General Folsom was pleased. It was estimated that at least 200,000 had deserted San Francisco, and by that much was his food problem solved. Well do I remember that day. In the morning I had eaten a crust of bread. Half of the afternoon I had stood in the bread-line; and after dark I returned home, tired and miserable, carrying a quart of rice and a slice of bacon. Brown met me at the door. His face was worn and terrified. All the servants had fled, he informed me. He alone remained. I was touched by his faithfulness and, when I learned that he had eaten nothing all day, I divided my food with him. We cooked half the rice and half the bacon, sharing it equally and reserving the other half for morning. I went to bed with my hunger, and tossed restlessly all night. In the morning I found Brown had deserted me, and, greater misfortune still, he had stolen what remained of the rice and bacon.

It was a gloomy handful of men that came together at the club that morning. There was no service at all. The last servant was gone. I noticed, too, that the silver was gone, and I learned where it had gone. The servants had not taken it, for the reason, I presume, that the club members got to it first. Their method of disposing of it was simple. Down south of Market Street, in the dwellings of the I.L.W., the housewives had given square meals in exchange for it. I went back to my house. Yes, my silver was gone — all but a massive pitcher. This I wrapped up and carried down south of Market Street.

I felt better after the meal, and returned to the club to learn if there was anything new in the situation. Hanover, Collins, and Dakon were just leaving. There was no one inside, they told me, and they invited me to come along with them. They were leaving the city, they said, on Dakon’s horses, and there was a spare one for me. Dakon had four magnificent carriage horses that he wanted to save, and General Folsom had given him the tip that next morning all the horses that remained in the city were to be confiscated for food. There were not many horses left, for tens of thousands of them had been turned loose into the country when the hay and grain gave out during the first days. Birdall, I remember, who had great draying interests, had turned loose three hundred dray horses. At an average value of five hundred dollars, this had amounted to $150,000. He had hoped, at first, to recover most of the horses after the strike was over, but in the end he never recovered one of them. They were all eaten by the people that fled from San Francisco. For that matter, the killing of the army mules and horses for food had already begun.

Fortunately for Dakon, he had had a plentiful supply of hay and grain stored in his stable. We managed to raise four saddles, and we found the animals in good condition and spirited, withal unused to being ridden. I remembered the San Francisco of the great earthquake as we rode through the streets, but this San Francisco was vastly more pitiable. No cataclysm of nature had caused this, but, rather, the tyranny of the labour unions. We rode down past Union Square and through the theatre, hotel, and shopping districts. The streets were deserted. Here and there stood automobiles, abandoned where they had broken down or when the gasolene had given out. There was no sign of life, save for the occasional policemen and the soldiers guarding the banks and public buildings. Once we came upon an I.L.W. man pasting up the latest proclamation. We stopped to read. “We have maintained an orderly strike,” it ran; “and we shall maintain order to the end. The end will come when our demands are satisfied, and our demands will be satisfied when we have starved our employers into submission, as we ourselves in the past have often been starved into submission.”

“Messener’s very words,” Collins said. “And I, for one, am ready to submit, only they won’t give me a chance to submit. I haven’t had a full meal in an age. I wonder what horse-meat tastes like?”

We stopped to read another proclamation: “When we think our employers are ready to submit we shall open up the telegraphs and place the employers’ associations of the United States in communication. But only messages relating to peace terms shall be permitted over the wires.”

We rode on, crossed Market Street, and a little later were passing through the working-class district. Here the streets were not deserted. Leaning over the gates or standing in groups were the I.L.W. men. Happy, well-fed children were playing games, and stout housewives sat on the front steps gossiping. One and all cast amused glances at us. Little children ran after us, crying: “Hey, mister, ain’t you hungry?” And one woman, nursing a child at her breast, called to Dakon: “Say, Fatty, I’ll give you a meal for your skate — ham and potatoes, currant jelly, white bread, canned butter, and two cups of coffee.”

“Have you noticed, the last few days,” Hanover remarked to me, “that there’s not been a stray dog in the streets?”

I had noticed, but I had not thought about it before. It was high time to leave the unfortunate city. We at last managed to connect with the San Bruno Road, along which we headed south. I had a country place near Menlo, and it was our objective. But soon we began to discover that the country was worse off and far more dangerous than the city. There the soldiers and the I.L.W. kept order; but the country had been turned over to anarchy. Two hundred thousand people had fled from San Francisco, and we had countless evidences that their flight had been like that of an army of locusts.

They had swept everything clean. There had been robbery and fighting. Here and there we passed bodies by the roadside and saw the blackened ruins of farm-houses. The fences were down, and the crops had been trampled by the feet of a multitude. All the vegetable patches had been rooted up by the famished hordes. All the chickens and farm animals had been slaughtered. This was true of all the main roads that led out of San Francisco. Here and there, away from the roads, farmers had held their own with shotguns and revolvers, and were still holding their own. They warned us away and refused to parley with us. And all the destruction and violence had been done by the slum-dwellers and the upper classes. The I.L.W. men, with plentiful food supplies, remained quietly in their homes in the cities.

Early in the ride we received concrete proof of how desperate was the situation. To the right of us we heard cries and rifle-shots. Bullets whistled dangerously near. There was a crashing in the underbrush; then a magnificent black truck-horse broke across the road in front of us and was gone. We had barely time to notice that he was bleeding and lame. He was followed by three soldiers. The chase went on among the trees on the left. We could hear the soldiers calling to one another. A fourth soldier limped out upon the road from the right, sat down on a boulder, and mopped the sweat from his face.

“Militia,” Dakon whispered. “Deserters.”

The man grinned up at us and asked for a match. In reply to Dakon’s “What’s the word?” he informed us that the militiamen were deserting. “No grub,” he explained. “They’re feedin’ it all to the regulars.” We also learned from him that the military prisoners had been released from Alcatraz Island because they could no longer be fed.

I shall never forget the next sight we encountered. We came upon it abruptly around a turn of the road. Overhead arched the trees. The sunshine was filtering down through the branches. Butterflies were fluttering by, and from the fields came the song of larks. And there it stood, a powerful touring car. About it and in it lay a number of corpses. It told its own tale. Its occupants, fleeing from the city, had been attacked and dragged down by a gang of slum dwellers — hoodlums. The thing had occurred within twenty-four hours. Freshly opened meat and fruit tins explained the reason for the attack. Dakon examined the bodies.

“I thought so,” he reported. “I’ve ridden in that car. It was Perriton — the whole family. We’ve got to watch out for ourselves from now on.”

“But we have no food with which to invite attack,” I objected.

Dakon pointed to the horse I rode, and I understood.

Early in the day Dakon’s horse had cast a shoe. The delicate hoof had split, and by noon the animal was limping. Dakon refused to ride it farther, and refused to desert it. So, on his solicitation, we went on. He would lead the horse and join us at my place. That was the last we saw of him; nor did we ever learn his end.

By one o’clock we arrived at the town of Menlo, or, rather, at the site of Menlo, for it was in ruins. Corpses lay everywhere. The business part of the town, as well as part of the residences, had been gutted by fire. Here and there a residence still held out; but there was no getting near them. When we approached too closely we were fired upon. We met a woman who was poking about in the smoking ruins of her cottage. The first attack, she told us had been on the stores, and as she talked we could picture that raging, roaring, hungry mob flinging itself on the handful of townspeople. Millionaires and paupers had fought side by side for the food, and then fought with one another after they got it. The town of Palo Alto and Stanford University had been sacked in similar fashion, we learned. Ahead of us lay a desolate, wasted land; and we thought we were wise in turning off to my place. It lay three miles to the west, snuggling among the first rolling swells of the foothills.

But as we rode along we saw that the devastation was not confined to the main roads. The van of the flight had kept to the roads, sacking the small towns as it went; while those that followed had scattered out and swept the whole countryside like a great broom. My place was built of concrete, masonry, and tiles, and so had escaped being burned, but it was gutted clean. We found the gardener’s body in the windmill, littered around with empty shot-gun shells. He had put up a good fight. But no trace could we find of the two Italian labourers, nor of the house-keeper and her husband. Not a live thing remained. The calves, the colts, all the fancy poultry and thoroughbred stock, everything, was gone. The kitchen and the fireplaces, where the mob had cooked, were a mess, while many camp-fires outside bore witness to the large number that had fed and spent the night. What they had not eaten they had carried away. There was not a bite for us.

We spent the rest of the night vainly waiting for Dakon, and in the morning, with our revolvers, fought off half-a-dozen marauders. Then we killed one of Dakon’s horses, hiding for the future what meat we did not immediately eat. In the afternoon Collins went out for a walk, but failed to return. This was the last straw to Hanover. He was for flight there and then, and I had great difficulty in persuading him to wait for daylight. As for myself, I was convinced that the end of the general strike was near, and I was resolved to return to San Francisco. So, in the morning, we parted company, Hanover heading south, fifty pounds of horse-meat strapped to his saddle, while I, similarly loaded, headed north. Little Hanover pulled through all right, and to the end of his life he will persist, I know, in boring everybody with the narrative of his subsequent adventures.

I got as far as Belmont, on the main road back, when I was robbed of my horse-meat by three militiamen. There was no change in the situation, they said, except that it was going from bad to worse. The I.L.W. had plenty of provisions hidden away and could last out for months. I managed to get as far as Baden, when my horse was taken away from me by a dozen men. Two of them were San Francisco policemen, and the remainder were regular soldiers. This was ominous. The situation was certainly extreme when the regulars were beginning to desert. When I continued my way on foot, they already had the fire started, and the last of Dakon’s horses lay slaughtered on the ground.

As luck would have it, I sprained my ankle, and succeeded in getting no farther than South San Francisco. I lay there that night in an out-house, shivering with the cold and at the same time burning with fever. Two days I lay there, too sick to move, and on the third, reeling and giddy, supporting myself on an extemporized crutch, I tottered on toward San Francisco. I was weak as well, for it was the third day since food had passed my lips. It was a day of nightmare and torment. As in a dream I passed hundreds of regular soldiers drifting along in the opposite direction, and many policemen, with their families, organized in large groups for mutual protection.

As I entered the city I remembered the workman’s house at which I had traded the silver pitcher, and in that direction my hunger drove me. Twilight was falling when I came to the place. I passed around by the alleyway and crawled up the black steps, on which I collapsed. I managed to reach out with the crutch and knock on the door. Then I must have fainted, for I came to in the kitchen, my face wet with water, and whisky being poured down my throat. I choked and spluttered and tried to talk. I began saying something about not having any more silver pitchers, but that I would make it up to them afterward if they would only give me something to eat. But the housewife interrupted me.

“Why, you poor man,” she said, “haven’t you heard? The strike was called off this afternoon. Of course we’ll give you something to eat.”

She bustled around, opening a tin of breakfast bacon and preparing to fry it.

“Let me have some now, please,” I begged; and I ate the raw bacon on a slice of bread, while her husband explained that the demands of the I.L.W. had been granted. The wires had been opened up in the early afternoon, and everywhere the employers’ associations had given in. There hadn’t been any employers left in San Francisco, but General Folsom had spoken for them. The trains and steamers would start running in the morning, and so would everything else just as soon as system could be established.

And that was the end of the general strike. I never want to see another one. It was worse than a war. A general strike is a cruel and immoral thing, and the brain of man should be capable of running industry in a more rational way. Harrison is still my chauffeur. It was part of the conditions of the I.L.W. that all of its members should be reinstated in their old positions. Brown never came back, but the rest of the servants are with me. I hadn’t the heart to discharge them — poor creatures, they were pretty hard-pressed when they deserted with the food and silver. And now I can’t discharge them. They have all been unionized by the I.L.W. The tyranny of organized labour is getting beyond human endurance. Something must be done.

Dutch Courage

“JUST our luck!”

Gus Lafee finished wiping his hands and sullenly threw the towel upon the rocks. His attitude was one of deep dejection. The light seemed gone out of the day and the glory from the golden sun. Even the keen mountain air was devoid of relish, and the early morning no longer yielded its customary zest.

“Just our luck!” Gus repeated, this time avowedly for the edification of another young fellow who was busily engaged in sousing his head in the water of the lake.

“What are you grumbling about, anyway?” Hazard Van Dorn lifted a soap-rimmed face questioningly. His eyes were shut. “What’s our luck?”

“Look there!” Gus threw a moody glance skyward. “Some duffer’s got ahead of us. We’ve been scooped, that’s all!”

Hazard opened his eyes, and caught a fleeting glimpse of a white flag waving arrogantly on the edge of a wall of rock nearly a mile above his head. Then his eyes closed with a snap, and his face wrinkled spasmodically. Gus threw him the towel, and uncommiseratingly watched him wipe out the offending soap. He felt too blue himself to take stock in trivialities.

Hazard groaned.

“Does it hurt-much?” Gus queried, coldly, without interest, as if it were no more than his duty to ask after the welfare of his comrade.

“I guess it does,” responded the suffering one.

“Soap’s pretty strong, eh?--Noticed it myself.”

“’Tisn’t the soap. It’s-it’s that!” He opened his reddened eyes and pointed toward the innocent white little flag. “That’s what hurts.”

Gus Lafee did not reply, but turned away to start the fire and begin cooking breakfast. His disappointment and grief were too deep for anything but silence, and Hazard, who felt likewise, never opened his mouth as he fed the horses, nor once laid his head against their arching necks or passed caressing fingers through their manes. The two boys were blind, also, to the manifold glories of Mirror Lake which reposed at their very feet. Nine times, had they chosen to move along its margin the short distance of a hundred yards, could they have seen the sunrise repeated; nine times, from behind as many successive peaks, could they have seen the great orb rear his blazing rim; and nine times, had they but looked into the waters of the lake, could they have seen the phenomena reflected faithfully and vividly. But all the Titanic grandeur of the scene was lost to them. They had been robbed of the chief pleasure of their trip to Yosemite Valley. They had been frustrated in their long-cherished design upon Half Dome , and hence were rendered disconsolate and blind to the beauties and the wonders of the place.

Half Dome rears its ice-scarred head fully five thousand feet above the level floor of Yosemite Valley. In the name itself of this great rock lies an accurate and complete description. Nothing more nor less is it than a cyclopean, rounded dome, split in half as cleanly as an apple that is divided by a knife. It is, perhaps, quite needless to state that but onehalf remains, hence its name, the other half having been carried away by the great ice-river in the stormy time of the Glacial Period. In that dim day one of those frigid rivers gouged a mighty channel from out the solid rock. This channel to-day is Yosemite Valley. But to return to the Half Dome. On its northeastern side, by circuitous trails and stiff climbing, one may gain the Saddle. Against the slope of the Dome the Saddle leans like a gigantic slab, and from the top of this slab, one thousand feet in length, curves the great circle to the summit of the Dome. A few degrees too steep for unaided climbing, these one thousand feet defied for years the adventurous spirits who fixed yearning eyes upon the crest above.

One day, a couple of clear-headed mountaineers had proceeded to insert iron eye-bolts into holes which they drilled into the rock every few feet apart. But when they found themselves three hundred feet above the Saddle, clinging like flies to the precarious wall with on either hand a yawning abyss, their nerves failed them and they abandoned the enterprise. So it remained for an indomitable Scotchman, one George Anderson, finally to achieve the feat. Beginning where they had left off, drilling and climbing for a week, he had at last set foot upon that awful summit and gazed down into the depths where Mirror Lake reposed, nearly a mile beneath.

In the years which followed, many bold men took advantage of the huge rope ladder which he had put in place; but one winter ladder, cables and all were carried away by the snow and ice. True, most of the eye-bolts, twisted and bent, remained. But few men had since essayed the hazardous undertaking, and of those few more than one gave up his life on the treacherous heights, and not one succeeded.

But Gus Lafee and Hazard Van Dorn had left the smiling valley-land of California and journeyed into the high Sierras, intent on the great adventure. And thus it was that their disappointment was deep and grievous when they awoke on this morning to receive the forestalling message of the little white flag.

“Camped at the foot of the Saddle last night and went up at the first peep of day,” Hazard ventured, long after the silent breakfast had been tucked away and the dishes washed.

Gus nodded. It was not in the nature of things that a youth’s spirits should long remain at low ebb, and his tongue was beginning to loosen.

“Guess he’s down by now, lying in camp and feeling as big as Alexander,” the other went on. “And I don’t blame him, either; only I wish it were we.”

“You can be sure he’s down,” Gus spoke up at last. “It’s mighty warm on that naked rock with the sun beating down on it at this time of year. That was our plan, you know, to go up early and come down early. And any man, sensible enough to get to the top, is bound to have sense enough to do it before the rock gets hot and his hands sweaty.”

“And you can be sure he didn’t take his shoes with him.” Hazard rolled over on his back and lazily regarded the speck of flag fluttering briskly on the sheer edge of the precipice. “Say!” He sat up with a start. “What’s that?”

A metallic ray of light flashed out from the summit of Half Dome, then a second and a third. The heads of both boys were craned backward on the instant, agog with excitement.

“What a duffer!” Gus cried. “Why didn’t he come down when it was cool?”

Hazard shook his head slowly, as if the question were too deep for immediate answer and they had better defer judgment.

The flashes continued, and as the boys soon noted, at irregular intervals of duration and disappearance. Now they were long, now short; and again they came and went with great rapidity, or ceased altogether for several moments at a time.

“I have it!” Hazard’s face lighted up with the coming of understanding. “I have it! That fellow up there is trying to talk to us. He’s flashing the sunlight down to us on a pocket-mirror--dot, dash; dot, dash; don’t you see?”

The light also began to break in Gus’s face. “Ah, I know! It’s what they do in war-time--signaling. They call it heliographing, don’t they? Same thing as telegraphing, only it’s done without wires. And they use the same dots and dashes, too.”

“Yes, the Morse alphabet. Wish I knew it.”

“Same here. He surely must have something to say to us, or he wouldn’t be kicking up all that rumpus.”

Still the flashes came and went persistently, till Gus exclaimed: “That chap’s in trouble, that’s what’s the matter with him! Most likely he’s hurt himself or something or other.”

“Go on!” Hazard scouted.

Gus got out the shotgun and fired both barrels three times in rapid succession. A perfect flutter of flashes came back before the echoes had ceased their antics. So unmistakable was the message that even doubting Hazard was convinced that the man who had forestalled them stood in some grave danger.

“Quick, Gus,” he cried, “and pack! I’ll see to the horses. Our trip hasn’t come to nothing, after all. We’ve got to go right up Half Dome and rescue him. Where’s the map? How do we get to the Saddle?”

“‘Taking the horse-trail below the Vernal Falls,”‘ Gus read from the guide-book, “‘one mile of brisk traveling brings the tourist to the world-famed Nevada Fall. Close by, rising up in all its pomp and glory, the Cap of Liberty stands guard-“

“Skip all that!” Hazard impatiently interrupted. “The trail’s what we want. “

“Oh, here it is! ‘Following the trail up the side of the fall will bring you to the forks. The left one leads to Little Yosemite Valley, Cloud’s Rest, and other points.”‘

“Hold on; that’ll do! I’ve got it on the map now,” again interrupted Hazard. “From the Cloud’s Rest trail a dotted line leads off to Half Dome. That shows the trail’s abandoned. We’ll have to look sharp to find it. It’s a day’s journey.”

“And to think of all that traveling, when right here we’re at the bottom of the Dome!” Gus complained, staring up wistfully at the goal.

“That’s because this is Yosemite, and all the more reason for us to hurry. Come on! Be lively, now!”

Well used as they were to trail life, but few minutes sufficed to see the camp equipage on the backs of the packhorses and the boys in the saddle. In the late twilight of that evening they hobbled their animals in a tiny mountain meadow, and cooked coffee and bacon for themselves at the very base of the Saddle. Here, also, before they turned into their blankets, they found the camp of the unlucky stranger who was destined to spend the night on the naked roof of the Dome.

Dawn was brightening into day when the panting lads threw themselves down at the summit of the Saddle and began taking off their shoes. Looking down from the great height, they seemed perched upon the ridge-pole of the world, and even the snow-crowned Sierra peaks seemed beneath them. Directly below, on the one hand, lay Little Yosemite Valley, half a mile deep; on the other hand, Big Yosemite, a mile. Already the sun’s rays were striking about the adventurers, but the darkness of night still shrouded the two great gulfs into which they peered. And above them, bathed in the full day, rose only the majestic curve of the Dome.

“What’s that for?” Gus asked, pointing to a leather-shielded flask which Hazard was securely fastening in his shirt pocket.

“Dutch courage, of course,” was the reply. “We’ll need all our nerve in this undertaking, and a little bit more, and,” he tapped the flask significantly, “here’s the little bit more.”

“Good idea,” Gus commented.

How they had ever come possessed of this erroneous idea, it would be hard to discover; but they were young yet, and there remained for them many uncut pages of life. Believers, also, in the efficacy of whisky as a remedy for snake-bite, they had brought with them a fair supply of medicine-chest liquor. As yet they had not touched it.

“Have some before we start?” Hazard asked.

Gus looked into the gulf and shook his head. “Better wait till we get up higher and the climbing is more ticklish.”

Some seventy feet above them projected the first eye-bolt. The winter accumulations of ice had twisted and bent it down till it did not stand more than a bare inch and a half above the rock--a most difficult object to lasso at such a distance. Time and again Hazard coiled his lariat in true cowboy fashion and made the cast, and time and again was he baffled by the elusive peg. Nor could Gus do better. Taking advantage of inequalities in the surface, they scrambled twenty feet up the Dome and found they could rest in a shallow crevice . The cleft side of the Dome was so near that they could look over its edge from the crevice and gaze down the smooth, vertical wall for nearly two thousand feet. It was yet too dark down below for them to see farther.

The peg was now fifty feet away, but the path they must cover to get to it was quite smooth, and ran at an inclination of nearly fifty degrees. It seemed impossible, in that intervening space, to find a resting-place. Either the climber must keep going up, or he must slide down; he could not stop. But just here rose the danger. The Dome was sphere-shaped, and if he should begin to slide, his course would be, not to the point from which he had started and where the Saddle would catch him, but off to the south toward Little Yosemite. This meant a plunge of half a mile.

“I’ll try it,” Gus said simply.

They knotted the two lariats together, so that they had over a hundred feet of rope between them; and then each boy tied an end to his waist.

“If I slide,” Gus cautioned, “come in on the slack and brace yourself. If you don’t, you’ll follow me, that’s all!”

“Ay, ay!” was the confident response. “Better take a nip before you start?”

Gus glanced at the proffered bottle. He knew himself and of what he was capable. “Wait till I make the peg and you join me. All ready?”

“Ay.”

He struck out like a cat, on all fours, clawing energetically as he urged his upward progress, his comrade paying out the rope carefully. At first his speed was good, but gradually it dwindled. Now he was fifteen feet from the peg, now ten, now eight-but going, oh, so slowly! Hazard, looking up from his crevice, felt a contempt for him and disappointment in him. It did look easy. Now Gus was five feet away, and after a painful effort, four feet. But when only a yard intervened, he came to a standstill-not exactly a standstill, for, like a squirrel in a wheel, he maintained his position on the face of the Dome by the most desperate clawing.

He had failed, that was evident. The question now was, how to save himself. With a sudden, catlike movement he whirled over on his back, caught his heel in a tiny, saucer-shaped depression and sat up. Then his courage failed him. Day had at last penetrated to the floor of the valley, and he was appalled at the frightful distance.

“Go ahead and make it!” Hazard ordered; but Gus merely shook his head.

“Then come down!”

Again he shook his head. This was his ordeal, to sit, nerveless and insecure, on the brink of the precipice. But Hazard, lying safely in his crevice, now had to face his own ordeal, but one of a different nature. When Gus began to slide-as he soon must-would he, Hazard, be able to take in the slack and then meet the shock as the other tautened the rope and darted toward the plunge? It seemed doubtful. And there he lay, apparently safe, but in reality harnessed to death. Then rose the temptation. Why not cast off the rope about his waist? He would be safe at all events. It was a simple way out of the difficulty. There was no need that two should perish. But it was impossible for such temptation to overcome his pride of race, and his own pride in himself and in his honor. So the rope remained about him.

“Come down!” he ordered; but Gus seemed to have become petrified.

“Come down,” he threatened, “or I’ll drag you down!” He pulled on the rope to show he was in earnest.

“Don’t you dare!” Gus articulated through his clenched teeth.

“Sure I will, if you don’t come!” Again he jerked the rope.

With a despairing gurgle Gus started, doing his best to work sideways from the plunge. Hazard, every sense on the alert, almost exulting in his perfect coolness, took in the slack with deft rapidity. Then, as the rope began to tighten, he braced himself. The shock drew him half out of the crevice; but he held firm and served as the center of the circle, while Gus, with the rope as a radius, described the circumference and ended up on the extreme southern edge of the Saddle. A few moments later Hazard was offering him the flask.

“Take some yourself,” Gus said.

“No; you. I don’t need it.”

“And I’m past needing it.” Evidently Gus was dubious of the bottle and its contents.

Hazard put it away in his pocket. “Are you game,” he asked, “or are you going to give it up?”

“Never!” Gus protested. “I am game. No Lafee ever showed the white feather yet. And if I did lose my grit up there, it was only for the moment-sort of like seasickness. I’m all right now, and I’m going to the top.”

“Good!” encouraged Hazard. “You lie in the crevice this time, and I’ll show you how easy it is.”

But Gus refused. He held that it was easier and safer for him to try again, arguing that it was less difficult for his one hundred and sixteen pounds to cling to the smooth rock than for Hazard’s one hundred and sixty-five; also that it was easier for one hundred and sixty-five pounds to bring a sliding one hundred and sixteen to a stop than vice versa. And further, that he had the benefit of his previous experience. Hazard saw the justice of this, although it was with great reluctance that he gave in.

Success vindicated Gus’s contention. The second time, just as it seemed as if his slide would be repeated, he made a last supreme effort and gripped the coveted peg. By means of the rope, Hazard quickly joined him. The next peg was nearly sixty feet away; but for nearly half that distance the base of some glacier in the forgotten past had ground a shallow furrow. Taking advantage of this, it was easy for Gus to lasso the eye-bolt. And it seemed, as was really the case, that the hardest part of the task was over. True, the curve steepened to nearly sixty degrees above them, but a comparatively unbroken line of eye-bolts, six feet apart, awaited the lads. They no longer had even to use the lasso. Standing on one peg it was child’s play to throw the bight of the rope over the next and to draw themselves up to it.

A bronzed and bearded man met them at the top and gripped their hands in hearty fellowship.

“Talk about your Mont Blancs!” he exclaimed, pausing in the midst of greeting them to survey the mighty panorama. “But there’s nothing on all the earth, nor over it, nor under it, to compare with this! “ Then he recollected himself and thanked them for coming to his aid. No, he was not hurt or injured in any way. Simply because of his own carelessness, just as he had arrived at the top the previous day, he had dropped his climbing rope. Of course it was impossible to descend without it. Did they understand heliographing? No? That was strange! How did they

“Oh, we knew something was the matter,” Gus interrupted, “from the way you flashed when we fired off the shotgun.”

“Find it pretty cold last night without blankets?” Hazard queried.

“I should say so. I’ve hardly thawed out yet.”

“Have some of this.” Hazard shoved the flask over to him.

The stranger regarded him quite seriously for a moment, then said,

“My dear fellow, do you see that row of pegs? Since it is my honest intention to climb down them very shortly, I am forced to decline. No, I don’t think I’ll have any, though I thank you just the same.”

Hazard glanced at Gus and then put the flask back in his pocket. But when they pulled the doubled rope through the last eye-bolt and set foot on the Saddle, he again drew out the bottle.

“Now that we’re down, we don’t need it,” he remarked, pithily. “And I’ve about come to the conclusion that there isn’t very much in Dutch courage, after all.” He gazed up the great curve of the Dome. “Look at what we’ve done without it!”

Several seconds thereafter a party of tourists, gathered at the margin of Mirror Lake, were astounded at the unwonted phenomenon of a whisky flask descending upon them like a comet out of a clear sky; and all the way back to the hotel they marveled greatly at the wonders of nature, especially meteorites.

The End of the Chapter

“YOU’VE been beastly. You’ve taken no interest in anything, gone nowhere, done nothing — played the hermit. What’s come over you, anyway? Hermitage, old man, is a synonym for hell.”

“Why search so far?” Jack Lennon favored his interlocutor with an apathetic glance. “The world complies more precisely with the invoice. The world, dear chap, is the only original and simon-pure synonym for hell.”

“Not so long as it holds one honest man or woman.”

“Go on, Lennon prompted. “It’s certainly invigorating to listen. The enthusiasms of youth, its unsullied ideals, were ever a pleasure to me. They come like the fresh winds of the sea, rampant with the large airs of unworldly wisdom — ”

“And killing with their salt the dismal fungus which rots on the worldly wise.”

“Good! It is a dismal fungus — rotten, noisome. Keep to your potent illusions. Like the chastity of woman, like the bloom on her cheek, they can never renew. Once brushed aside, they can but curse by recollection: memory becomes a blight, a blasted tablet to one’s own iniquities. Ah, Golden Youth, thrice Golden Youth, trail thou thy clouds of glory elsewhere. I’m going home.”

“I say, don’t be in a rush. Let’s wander around town and have a — a — dickens of a time. Come on, I’ll cheer you up.”

“Avoid the paths of dalliance, O Golden Youth; for with the primroses you gather, one by one; just so, one by one, do your bright-winged illusions slip away. You cannot eat your cake and keep it. I’m going home. Good-night.”

“Blues, blacker than the hinges of Sheol!” the Golden Youth commended with himself as he watched Jack Lennon’s back disappear through the swinging doors. “Ten thousand a year, and not an interest in life. And nothing the matter with him.” There was an aggrieved pitch to his thought. “First thing I know I’ll be called out of bed at an unseemly hour to identify some horrible cadaver at the morgue. See if I don’t. Scare-heads in the morning papers. Shocking Event. Prominent Clubman. The Erstwhile Jolly Bohemian — ough!”

The Gilded Youth shivered and sought refuge from his imagination in the noise and clatter of the billiard-room.

Home! Jack Lennon mouthed the word with intense vindictiveness and loathing of spirit, Home! This bemirrored hotel, this gaudy palace — home. He rubbed shoulders with his gregarious species, and took the elevator through the many-floored, many roomed bee-hive to his own apartments.

“Ring up for a whiskey and soda,” he said to his brass-imaged serving man, “and then you can go.”

“Go?”

“Yes, go! To bed — anywhere. I won’t need you. In the morning, before you do anything else, you will find a couple of letters on my desk. Mail them. Understand? Before you do anything else.”

“Yes, sir.”

Left to himself, for a while he stood absently at the window, mooning down upon the scintillating street. Then, as though in sudden recollection of an appointment, he proceeded to make his toilet, scrupulously, if anything, with more than his customary care. When he shaved, it was with the greatest circumspection that he went over with his razor a second time. Even from the corruption of death do they draw their vigor, he thought; and Hawthorne’s auburn-haired woman in her secret sepulchre came to him with unpleasant vividness.

After manicuring his nails with fastidious consideration, and pinning a bud to the lapel of his coat, he wrote a couple of short notes at his desk, addressing, sealing, stamping them with the business-like precision of a clerk. It seemed as though many little things clamored for his attention, and that there should be nothing slovenly in the attention he afforded them. He paused in the act of drawing a black leather case from the desk drawer to light a cigar. The anodyne of the weed painted its pleasure in his eyes. Then he secured a current magazine from the reading stand, and in the company of the black leather case, stretched himself with a comfortable sigh on the sofa.

For while he read, consciously, receptively, so much so that he permitted the cigar to go out. He laid the periodical aside in order to relight it.

“The end of the chapter,” he murmured aloud, idly watching the fantastic smoke-wreathes ascend toward the frescoed ceiling.

And why not? Was not that the one prerogative granted to him and denied to God? And being granted, why should he not exercise it? Unbidden he had come; without summons he could go. Who should say him nay? An experiment, he remembered some one had said, a question put by man to nature, an endeavor to force from her the fecund mystery or the barren falsity of existence. And either way, he reasoned, there was little to lose and much to gain.

He smiled at his dialectical subtleties, and fell to watching the lengthing ash of his Havana. Then his thoughts flew to Claudio’s panic terror and grewsome speculations on the aftermath of death: “Or to be worse than worst of those that lawless and uncertain thoughts imagine howling.”

He laughed softly at the wanton vagaries of his mind, and returned to the smoke-wreathes. The humors of his imagination seized upon him, and he gave free rein, following its whimsicalities through the eddying draperies in much the manner of a bubble-blowing child. It gave zest to the game, to play thus on the giddy verge. The mood pleased him.

But suddenly, so swift that he failed to trace the nexus of his jostling fancies, the smoke resolved itself into white surf thundering on an ocean shore. The couch took unto itself the likeness of a yellow-sanded sea-beach. The golden-balled sun poised at the zenith, while far away, in the haze of the windless sea, melting into the mists of the sky-line, he could discern the dim canvas of a merchant-man.

He was interested. His curiosity was aroused. For a moment he tore himself away from his subjective self that he might identify the scene. Somewhere, sometime, it had been recorded on his brain, had been one of the countless factors in deepening the convolutions of his rugged gray matter. When? Where? Ah, the day he had dared Kitty to be a child again and go in wading! And did she dare? Yes; for he remembered their Predicament — how the wet sand clung to their feet when they came to resume the wool and leather gear of civilization; how they buried them in warm sand till the tiny particles were dried and brushed away; how they laughed, devoid of guile or convention. Jove! a day for the gods!

Where was Kitty? He returned to the thundering surf and the yellow beach. Holding his breath the while, he brushed the sand from one rose-tinted foot. How small it was! and soft! He caught himself covertly comparing it with his own. And he smiled at his grave deceit as he needlessly protracted the task. And the final inspection, in case one glittering grain remained — from the slender ankle, discreetly veiled by the corduroy-braided skirt, over the white-arched instep, down to the last pink wee toe. Jove!

His cigar was out. With the vision still strong upon him, he opened the black leather case and drew forth the world’s modern asp — that which was to drop the last period at the chapter’s end. He threw out the cylinder with an adroit twist of the wrist, assured himself of its contents, and jerked it into place again. But up there, among the vanishing smoke clouds, palpitated a foot, rose-tinted, white-arching. He laid the revolver on his breast and closed his eyes. It was still there, shimmering through his eyelids as though they were of gauze. A foot, replete with tender and bewitching memories. A foot, which had tripped lightly across his life’s scroll and left no trace. Well, well, the confounded thing was pretty. He would wait until it was gone. His aesthetic sense revolted at doing the deed in so fair a presence. Yes, he would wait until it saw fit to go.

An hour later he came to his feet with sudden determination and looked at himself in the mirror. A facetious smile played upon his lips.

“Jack Lennon,” he said, “you’ve been a fool, a gorgeous fool, and now you’re going to bed to escape being a greater one.”

One hand drew the bud from his coat lapel; with the other he aided the two notes in a precipitate descent from the writing desk to the paper basket.

As he drew the coverings to his chin and felt the cool contact of the sheets, he muttered: “The world? Not so long as one woman’s foot twinkles above ground. For with each foot there goes a chapter, and there be many such feet.”

The End of the Story

I

The table was of hand-hewn spruce boards, and the men who played whist had frequent difficulties in drawing home their tricks across the uneven surface. Though they sat in their undershirts, the sweat noduled and oozed on their faces; yet their feet, heavily moccasined and woollen-socked, tingled with the bite of the frost. Such was the difference of temperature in the small cabin between the floor level and a yard or more above it. The sheet-iron Yukon Stove roared red-hot, yet, eight feet away, on the meat-shelf, placed low and beside the door, lay chunks of solidly frozen moose and bacon. The door, a third of the way up from the bottom, was a thick rime. In the chinking between the logs at the back of the bunks the frost showed white and glistening. A window of oiled paper furnished light. The lower portion of the paper, on the inside, was coated an inch deep with the frozen moisture of the men’s breath.

They played a momentous rubber of whist, for the pair that lost was to dig a fishing hole through the seven feet of ice and snow that covered the Yukon.

“It’s mighty unusual, a cold snap like this in March,” remarked the man who shuffled. “What would you call it, Bob?”

“Oh, fifty-five or sixty below — all of that. What do you make it, Doc?”

Doc turned his head and glanced at the lower part of the door with a measuring eye.

“Not a bit worse than fifty. If anything, slightly under — say forty-nine. See the ice on the door. It’s just about the fifty mark, but you’ll notice the upper edge is ragged. The time she went seventy the ice climbed a full four inches higher.” He picked up his hand, and without ceasing from sorting called “Come in,” to a knock on the door.

The man who entered was a big, broad-shouldered Swede, though his nationality was not discernible until he had removed his ear-flapped cap and thawed away the ice which had formed on beard and moustache and which served to mask his face. While engaged in this, the men at the table played out the hand.

“I hear one doctor faller stop this camp,” the Swede said inquiringly, looking anxiously from face to face, his own face haggard and drawn from severe and long endured pain. “I come long way. North fork of the Whyo.”

“I’m the doctor. What’s the matter?”

In response, the man held up his left hand, the second finger of which was monstrously swollen. At the same time he began a rambling, disjointed history of the coming and growth of his affliction.

“Let me look at it,” the doctor broke in impatiently. “Lay it on the table. There, like that.”

Tenderly, as if it were a great boil, the man obeyed.

“Humph,” the doctor grumbled. “A weeping sinew. And travelled a hundred miles to have it fixed. I’ll fix it in a jiffy. You watch me, and next time you can do it yourself.”

Without warning, squarely and at right angles, and savagely, the doctor brought the edge of his hand down on the swollen crooked finger. The man yelled with consternation and agony. It was more like the cry of a wild beast, and his face was a wild beast’s as he was about to spring on the man who had perpetrated the joke.

“That’s all right,” the doctor placated sharply and authoritatively. “How do you feel? Better, eh? Of course. Next time you can do it yourself — Go on and deal, Strothers. I think we’ve got you.”

Slow and ox-like, on the face of the Swede dawned relief and comprehension. The pang over, the finger felt better. The pain was gone. He examined the finger curiously, with wondering eyes, slowly crooking it back and forth. He reached into his pocket and pulled out a gold-sack.

“How much?”

The doctor shook his head impatiently. “Nothing. I’m not practising — Your play, Bob.”

The Swede moved heavily on his feet, re-examined the finger, then turned an admiring gaze on the doctor.

“You are good man. What your name?”

“Linday, Doctor Linday,” Strothers answered, as if solicitous to save his opponent from further irritation.

“The day’s half done,” Linday said to the Swede, at the end of the hand, while he shuffled. “Better rest over to-night. It’s too cold for travelling. There’s a spare bunk.”

He was a slender brunette of a man, lean-cheeked, thin-lipped, and strong. The smooth-shaven face was a healthy sallow. All his movements were quick and precise. He did not fumble his cards. The eyes were black, direct, and piercing, with the trick of seeming to look beneath the surfaces of things. His hands, slender, fine and nervous, appeared made for delicate work, and to the most casual eye they conveyed an impression of strength.

“Our game,” he announced, drawing in the last trick. “Now for the rub and who digs the fishing hole.”

A knock at the door brought a quick exclamation from him.

“Seems we just can’t finish this rubber,” he complained, as the door opened. “What’s the matter with you?” — this last to the stranger who entered.

The newcomer vainly strove to move his icebound jaws and jowls. That he had been on trail for long hours and days was patent. The skin across the cheekbones was black with repeated frost-bite. From nose to chin was a mass of solid ice perforated by the hole through which he breathed. Through this he had also spat tobacco juice, which had frozen, as it trickled, into an amber-coloured icicle, pointed like a Van Dyke beard.

He shook his head dumbly, grinned with his eyes, and drew near to the stove to thaw his mouth to speech. He assisted the process with his fingers, clawing off fragments of melting ice which rattled and sizzled on the stove.

“Nothing the matter with me,” he finally announced. “But if they’s a doctor in the outfit he’s sure needed. They’s a man up the Little Peco that’s had a ruction with a panther, an’ the way he’s clawed is something scand’lous.”

“How far up?” Doctor Linday demanded.

“A matter of a hundred miles.”

“How long since?”

“I’ve ben three days comin’ down.”

“Bad?”

“Shoulder dislocated. Some ribs broke for sure. Right arm broke. An’ clawed clean to the bone most all over but the face. We sewed up two or three bad places temporary, and tied arteries with twine.”

“That settles it,” Linday sneered. “Where were they?”

“Stomach.”

“He’s a sight by now.”

“Not on your life. Washed clean with bug-killin’ dope before we stitched. Only temporary anyway. Had nothin’ but linen thread, but washed that, too.”

“He’s as good as dead,” was Linday’s judgment, as he angrily fingered the cards.

“Nope. That man ain’t goin’ to die. He knows I’ve come for a doctor, an’ he’ll make out to live until you get there. He won’t let himself die. I know him.”

“Christian Science and gangrene, eh?” came the sneer. “Well, I’m not practising. Nor can I see myself travelling a hundred miles at fifty below for a dead man.”

“I can see you, an’ for a man a long ways from dead.”

Linday shook his head. “Sorry you had your trip for nothing. Better stop over for the night.”

“Nope. We’ll be pullin’ out in ten minutes.”

“What makes you so cocksure?” Linday demanded testily.

Then it was that Tom Daw made the speech of his life.

“Because he’s just goin’ on livin’ till you get there, if it takes you a week to make up your mind. Besides, his wife’s with him, not sheddin’ a tear, or nothin’, an’ she’s helpin’ him live till you come. They think a almighty heap of each other, an’ she’s got a will like hisn. If he weakened, she’d just put her immortal soul into hisn an’ make him live. Though he ain’t weakenin’ none, you can stack on that. I’ll stack on it. I’ll lay you three to one, in ounces, he’s alive when you get there. I got a team of dawgs down the bank. You ought to allow to start in ten minutes, an’ we ought to make it back in less’n three days because the trail’s broke. I’m goin’ down to the dawgs now, an’ I’ll look for you in ten minutes.”

Tom Daw pulled down his earflaps, drew on his mittens, and passed out.

“Damn him!” Linday cried, glaring vindictively at the closed door.

II

That night, long after dark, with twenty-five miles behind them, Linday and Tom Daw went into camp. It was a simple but adequate affair: a fire built in the snow; alongside, their sleeping-furs spread in a single bed on a mat of spruce boughs; behind the bed an oblong of canvas stretched to refract the heat. Daw fed the dogs and chopped ice and firewood. Linday’s cheeks burned with frost-bite as he squatted over the cooking. They ate heavily, smoked a pipe and talked while they dried their moccasins before the fire, and turned in to sleep the dead sleep of fatigue and health.

Morning found the unprecedented cold snap broken. Linday estimated the temperature at fifteen below and rising. Daw was worried. That day would see them in the canyon, he explained, and if the spring thaw set in the canyon would run open water. The walls of the canyon were hundreds to thousands of feet high. They could be climbed, but the going would be slow.

Camped well in the dark and forbidding gorge, over their pipe that evening they complained of the heat, and both agreed that the thermometer must be above zero — the first time in six months.

“Nobody ever heard tell of a panther this far north,” Daw was saying. “Rocky called it a cougar. But I shot a-many of ’em down in Curry County, Oregon, where I come from, an’ we called ’em panther. Anyway, it was a bigger cat than ever I seen. It was sure a monster cat. Now how’d it ever stray to such out of the way huntin’ range? — that’s the question.”

Linday made no comment. He was nodding. Propped on sticks, his moccasins steamed unheeded and unturned. The dogs, curled in furry balls, slept in the snow. The crackle of an ember accentuated the profound of silence that reigned. He awoke with a start and gazed at Daw, who nodded and returned the gaze. Both listened. From far off came a vague disturbance that increased to a vast and sombre roaring. As it neared, ever-increasing, riding the mountain tops as well as the canyon depths, bowing the forest before it, bending the meagre, crevice-rooted pines on the walls of the gorge, they knew it for what it was. A wind, strong and warm, a balmy gale, drove past them, flinging a rocket-shower of sparks from the fire. The dogs, aroused, sat on their haunches, bleak noses pointed upward, and raised the long wolf howl.

“It’s the Chinook,” Daw said.

“It means the river trail, I suppose?”

“Sure thing. And ten miles of it is easier than one over the tops.” Daw surveyed Linday for a long, considering minute. “We’ve just had fifteen hours of trail,” he shouted above the wind, tentatively, and again waited. “Doc,” he said finally, “are you game?”

For answer, Linday knocked out his pipe and began to pull on his damp moccasins. Between them, and in few minutes, bending to the force of the wind, the dogs were harnessed, camp broken, and the cooking outfit and unused sleeping furs lashed on the sled. Then, through the darkness, for a night of travel, they churned out on the trail Daw had broken nearly a week before. And all through the night the Chinook roared and they urged the weary dogs and spurred their own jaded muscles. Twelve hours of it they made, and stopped for breakfast after twenty-seven hours on trail.

“An hour’s sleep,” said Daw, when they had wolfed pounds of straight moose-meat fried with bacon.

Two hours he let his companion sleep, afraid himself to close his eyes. He occupied himself with making marks upon the soft-surfaced, shrinking snow. Visibly it shrank. In two hours the snow level sank three inches. From every side, faintly heard and near, under the voice of the spring wind, came the trickling of hidden waters. The Little Peco, strengthened by the multitudinous streamlets, rose against the manacles of winter, riving the ice with crashings and snappings.

Daw touched Linday on the shoulder; touched him again; shook, and shook violently.

“Doc,” he murmured admiringly. “You can sure go some.”

The weary black eyes, under heavy lids, acknowledged the compliment.

“But that ain’t the question. Rocky is clawed something scand’lous. As I said before, I helped sew up his in’ards. Doc....” He shook the man, whose eyes had again closed. “I say, Doc! The question is: can you go some more? — hear me? I say, can you go some more?”

The weary dogs snapped and whimpered when kicked from their sleep. The going was slow, not more than two miles an hour, and the animals took every opportunity to lie down in the wet snow.

“Twenty miles of it, and we’ll be through the gorge,” Daw encouraged. “After that the ice can go to blazes, for we can take to the bank, and it’s only ten more miles to camp. Why, Doc, we’re almost there. And when you get Rocky fixed up, you can come down in a canoe in one day.”

But the ice grew more uneasy under them, breaking loose from the shore-line and rising steadily inch by inch. In places where it still held to the shore, the water overran and they waded and slushed across. The Little Peco growled and muttered. Cracks and fissures were forming everywhere as they battled on for the miles that each one of which meant ten along the tops.

“Get on the sled, Doc, an’ take a snooze,” Daw invited.

The glare from the black eyes prevented him from repeating the suggestion.

As early as midday they received definite warning of the beginning of the end. Cakes of ice, borne downward in the rapid current, began to thunder beneath the ice on which they stood. The dogs whimpered anxiously and yearned for the bank.

“That means open water above,” Daw explained. “Pretty soon she’ll jam somewheres, an’ the river’ll raise a hundred feet in a hundred minutes. It’s us for the tops if we can find a way to climb out. Come on! Hit her up I! An’ just to think, the Yukon’ll stick solid for weeks.”

Unusually narrow at this point, the great walls of the canyon were too precipitous to scale. Daw and Linday had to keep on; and they kept on till the disaster happened. With a loud explosion, the ice broke asunder midway under the team. The two animals in the middle of the string went into the fissure, and the grip of the current on their bodies dragged the lead-dog backward and in. Swept downstream under the ice, these three bodies began to drag to the edge the two whining dogs that remained. The men held back frantically on the sled, but were slowly drawn along with it. It was all over in the space of seconds. Daw slashed the wheel-dog’s traces with his sheath-knife, and the animal whipped over the ice-edge and was gone. The ice on which they stood, broke into a large and pivoting cake that ground and splintered against the shore ice and rocks. Between them they got the sled ashore and up into a crevice in time to see the ice-cake up-edge, sink, and down-shelve from view.

Meat and sleeping furs were made into packs, and the sled was abandoned. Linday resented Daw’s taking the heavier pack, but Daw had his will.

“You got to work as soon as you get there. Come on.”

It was one in the afternoon when they started to climb. At eight that evening they cleared the rim and for half an hour lay where they had fallen. Then came the fire, a pot of coffee, and an enormous feed of moosemeat. But first Linday hefted the two packs, and found his own lighter by half.

“You’re an iron man, Daw,” he admired.

“Who? Me? Oh, pshaw! You ought to see Rocky. He’s made out of platinum, an’ armour plate, an’ pure gold, an’ all strong things. I’m mountaineer, but he plumb beats me out. Down in Curry County I used to ‘most kill the boys when we run bear. So when I hooks up with Rocky on our first hunt I had a mean idea to show ‘m a few. I let out the links good an’ generous, ‘most nigh keepin’ up with the dawgs, an’ along comes Rocky a-treadin’ on my heels. I knowed he couldn’t last that way, and I just laid down an’ did my dangdest. An’ there he was, at the end of another hour, a-treadin’ steady an’ regular on my heels. I was some huffed. ‘Mebbe you’d like to come to the front an’ show me how to travel,’ I says. ‘Sure,’ says he. An’ he done it! I stayed with ‘m, but let me tell you I was plumb tuckered by the time the bear tree’d.

“They ain’t no stoppin’ that man. He ain’t afraid of nothin’. Last fall, before the freeze-up, him an’ me was headin’ for camp about twilight. I was clean shot out — ptarmigan — an’ he had one cartridge left. An’ the dawgs tree’d a she grizzly. Small one. Only weighed about three hundred, but you know what grizzlies is. ‘Don’t do it,’ says I, when he ups with his rifle. ‘You only got that one shot, an’ it’s too dark to see the sights.’

“‘Climb a tree,’ says he. I didn’t climb no tree, but when that bear come down a-cussin’ among the dawgs, an’ only creased, I want to tell you I was sure hankerin’ for a tree. It was some ruction. Then things come on real bad. The bear slid down a hollow against a big log. Downside, that log was four feet up an’ down. Dawgs couldn’t get at bear that way. Upside was steep gravel, an’ the dawgs’d just naturally slide down into the bear. They was no jumpin’ back, an’ the bear was a-manglin’ ’em fast as they come. All underbrush, gettin’ pretty dark, no cartridges, nothin’.

“What’s Rocky up an’ do? He goes downside of log, reaches over with his knife, an’ begins slashin’. But he can only reach bear’s rump, an’ dawgs bein’ ruined fast, one-two-three time. Rocky gets desperate. He don’t like to lose his dawgs. He jumps on top log, grabs bear by the slack of the rump, an’ heaves over back’ard right over top of that log. Down they go, kit an’ kaboodle, twenty feet, bear, dawgs, an’ Rocky, slidin’, cussin’, an’ scratchin’, ker-plump into ten feet of water in the bed of stream. They all swum out different ways. Nope, he didn’t get the bear, but he saved the dawgs. That’s Rocky. They’s no stoppin’ him when his mind’s set.”

It was at the next camp that Linday heard how Rocky had come to be injured.

“I’d ben up the draw, about a mile from the cabin, lookin’ for a piece of birch likely enough for an axe-handle. Comin’ back I heard the darndest goings-on where we had a bear trap set. Some trapper had left the trap in an old cache an’ Rocky’d fixed it up. But the goings-on. It was Rocky an’ his brother Harry. First I’d hear one yell and laugh, an’ then the other, like it was some game. An’ what do you think the fool game was? I’ve saw some pretty nervy cusses down in Curry County, but they beat all. They’d got a whoppin’ big panther in the trap an’ was takin’ turns rappin’ it on the nose with a light stick. But that wa’n’t the point. I just come out of the brush in time to see Harry rap it. Then he chops six inches off the stick an’ passes it to Rocky. You see, that stick was growin’ shorter all the time. It ain’t as easy as you think. The panther’d slack back an’ hunch down an’ spit, an’ it was mighty lively in duckin’ the stick. An’ you never knowed when it’d jump. It was caught by the hind leg, which was curious, too, an’ it had some slack I’m tellin’ you.

“It was just a game of dare they was playin’, an’ the stick gettin’ shorter an’ shorter an’ the panther madder ‘n madder. Bimeby they wa’n’t no stick left — only a nubbin, about four inches long, an’ it was Rocky’s turn. ‘Better quit now,’ says Harry. ‘What for?’ says Rocky. ‘Because if you rap him again they won’t be no stick left for me,’ Harry answers. ‘Then you’ll quit an’ I win,’ says Rocky with a laugh, an’ goes to it.

“An’ I don’t want to see anything like it again. That cat’d bunched back an’ down till it had all of six feet slack in its body. An’ Rocky’s stick four inches long. The cat got him. You couldn’t see one from t’other. No chance to shoot. It was Harry, in the end, that got his knife into the panther’s jugular.”

“If I’d known how he got it I’d never have come,” was Linday’s comment.

Daw nodded concurrence.

“That’s what she said. She told me sure not to whisper how it happened.”

“Is he crazy?” Linday demanded in his wrath.

“They’re all crazy. Him an’ his brother are all the time devilin’ each other to tom-fool things. I seen them swim the riffle last fall, bad water an’ mush-ice runnin’ — on a dare. They ain’t nothin’ they won’t tackle. An’ she’s ‘most as bad. Not afraid some herself. She’ll do anything Rocky’ll let her. But he’s almighty careful with her. Treats her like a queen. No camp-work or such for her. That’s why another man an’ me are hired on good wages. They’ve got slathers of money an’ they’re sure dippy on each other. ‘Looks like good huntin’,’ says Rocky, when they struck that section last fall. ‘Let’s make a camp then,’ says Harry. An’ me all the time thinkin’ they was lookin’ for gold. Ain’t ben a prospect pan washed the whole winter.”

Linday’s anger mounted. “I haven’t any patience with fools. For two cents I’d turn back.”

“No you wouldn’t,” Daw assured him confidently. “They ain’t enough grub to turn back, an’ we’ll be there to-morrow. Just got to cross that last divide an’ drop down to the cabin. An’ they’s a better reason. You’re too far from home, an’ I just naturally wouldn’t let you turn back.”

Exhausted as Linday was, the flash in his black eyes warned Daw that he had overreached himself. His hand went out.

“My mistake, Doc. Forget it. I reckon I’m gettin’ some cranky what of losin’ them dawgs.”

III

Not one day, but three days later, the two men, after being snowed in on the summit by a spring blizzard, staggered up to a cabin that stood in a fat bottom beside the roaring Little Peco. Coming in from the bright sunshine to the dark cabin, Linday observed little of its occupants. He was no more than aware of two men and a woman. But he was not interested in them. He went directly to the bunk where lay the injured man. The latter was lying on his back, with eyes closed, and Linday noted the slender stencilling of the brows and the kinky silkiness of the brown hair. Thin and wan, the face seemed too small for the muscular neck, yet the delicate features, despite their waste, were firmly moulded.

“What dressings have you been using?” Linday asked of the woman.

“Corrosive, sublimate, regular solution,” came the answer.

He glanced quickly at her, shot an even quicker glance at the face of the injured man, and stood erect. She breathed sharply, abruptly biting off the respiration with an effort of will. Linday turned to the men.

“You clear out — chop wood or something. Clear out.”

One of them demurred.

“This is a serious case,” Linday went on. “I want to talk to his wife.”

“I’m his brother,” said the other.

To him the woman looked, praying him with her eyes. He nodded reluctantly and turned toward the door.

“Me, too?” Daw queried from the bench where he had flung himself down.

“You, too.”

Linday busied himself with a superficial examination of the patient while the cabin was emptying.

“So?” he said. “So that’s your Rex Strang.”

She dropped her eyes to the man in the bunk as if to reassure herself of his identity, and then in silence returned Linday’s gaze.

“Why don’t you speak?”

She shrugged her shoulders. “What is the use? You know it is Rex Strang.”

“Thank you. Though I might remind you that it is the first time I have ever seen him. Sit down.” He waved her to a stool, himself taking the bench. “I’m really about all in, you know. There’s no turnpike from the Yukon here.”

He drew a penknife and began extracting a thorn from his thumb.

“What are you going to do?” she asked, after a minute’s wait.

“Eat and rest up before I start back.”

“What are you going to do about....” She inclined her head toward the unconscious man.

“Nothing.”

She went over to the bunk and rested her fingers lightly on the tight-curled hair.

“You mean you will kill him,” she said slowly. “Kill him by doing nothing, for you can save him if you will.”

“Take it that way.” He considered a moment, and stated his thought with a harsh little laugh. “From time immemorial in this weary old world it has been a not uncommon custom so to dispose of wife-stealers.”

“You are unfair, Grant,” she answered gently. “You forget that I was willing and that I desired. I was a free agent. Rex never stole me. It was you who lost me. I went with him, willing and eager, with song on my lips. As well accuse me of stealing him. We went together.”

“A good way of looking at it,” Linday conceded. “I see you are as keen a thinker as ever, Madge. That must have bothered him.”

“A keen thinker can be a good lover — ”

“And not so foolish,” he broke in.

“Then you admit the wisdom of my course?”

He threw up his hands. “That’s the devil of it, talking with clever women. A man always forgets and traps himself. I wouldn’t wonder if you won him with a syllogism.”

Her reply was the hint of a smile in her straight-looking blue eyes and a seeming emanation of sex pride from all the physical being of her.

“No, I take that back, Madge. If you’d been a numbskull you’d have won him, or any one else, on your looks, and form, and carriage. I ought to know. I’ve been through that particular mill, and, the devil take me, I’m not through it yet.”

His speech was quick and nervous and irritable, as it always was, and, as she knew, it was always candid. She took her cue from his last remark.

“Do you remember Lake Geneva?”

“I ought to. I was rather absurdly happy.”

She nodded, and her eyes were luminous. “There is such a thing as old sake. Won’t you, Grant, please, just remember back ... a little ... oh, so little ... of what we were to each other ... then?”

“Now you’re taking advantage,” he smiled, and returned to the attack on his thumb. He drew the thorn out, inspected it critically, then concluded. “No, thank you. I’m not playing the Good Samaritan.”

“Yet you made this hard journey for an unknown man,” she urged.

His impatience was sharply manifest. “Do you fancy I’d have moved a step had I known he was my wife’s lover?”

“But you are here ... now. And there he lies. What are you going to do?”

“Nothing. Why should I? I am not at the man’s service. He pilfered me.”

She was about to speak, when a knock came on the door.

“Get out!” he shouted.

“If you want any assistance — ”

“Get out! Get a bucket of water! Set it down outside!”

“You are going to....?” she began tremulously.

“Wash up.”

She recoiled from the brutality, and her lips tightened.

“Listen, Grant,” she said steadily. “I shall tell his brother. I know the Strang breed. If you can forget old sake, so can I. If you don’t do something, he’ll kill you. Why, even Tom Daw would if I asked.”

“You should know me better than to threaten,” he reproved gravely, then added, with a sneer: “Besides, I don’t see how killing me will help your Rex Strang.”

She gave a low gasp, closed her lips tightly, and watched his quick eyes take note of the trembling that had beset her.

“It’s not hysteria, Grant,” she cried hastily and anxiously, with clicking teeth. “You never saw me with hysteria. I’ve never had it. I don’t know what it is, but I’ll control it. I am merely beside myself. It’s partly anger — with you. And it’s apprehension and fear. I don’t want to lose him. I do love him, Grant. He is my king, my lover. And I have sat here beside him so many dreadful days now. Oh, Grant, please, please.”

“Just nerves,” he commented drily. “Stay with it. You can best it. If you were a man I’d say take a smoke.”

She went unsteadily back to the stool, where she watched him and fought for control. From the rough fireplace came the singing of a cricket. Outside two wolf-dogs bickered. The injured man’s chest rose and fell perceptibly under the fur robes. She saw a smile, not altogether pleasant, form on Linday’s lips.

“How much do you love him?” he asked.

Her breast filled and rose, and her eyes shone with a light unashamed and proud. He nodded in token that he was answered.

“Do you mind if I take a little time?” He stopped, casting about for the way to begin. “I remember reading a story — Herbert Shaw wrote it, I think. I want to tell you about it. There was a woman, young and beautiful; a man magnificent, a lover of beauty and a wanderer. I don’t know how much like your Rex Strang he was, but I fancy a sort of resemblance. Well, this man was a painter, a bohemian, a vagabond. He kissed — oh, several times and for several weeks — and rode away. She possessed for him what I thought you possessed for me ... at Lake Geneva. In ten years she wept the beauty out of her face. Some women turn yellow, you know, when grief upsets their natural juices.

“Now it happened that the man went blind, and ten years afterward, led as a child by the hand, he stumbled back to her. There was nothing left. He could no longer paint. And she was very happy, and glad he could not see her face. Remember, he worshipped beauty. And he continued to hold her in his arms and believe in her beauty. The memory of it was vivid in him. He never ceased to talk about it, and to lament that he could not behold it.

“One day he told her of five great pictures he wished to paint. If only his sight could be restored to paint them, he could write finis and be content. And then, no matter how, there came into her hands an elixir. Anointed on his eyes, the sight would surely and fully return.”

Linday shrugged his shoulders.

“You see her struggle. With sight, he could paint his five pictures. Also, he would leave her. Beauty was his religion. It was impossible that he could abide her ruined face. Five days she struggled. Then she anointed his eyes.”

Linday broke off and searched her with his eyes, the high lights focused sharply in the brilliant black.

“The question is, do you love Rex Strang as much as that?”

“And if I do?” she countered.

“Do you?”

“Yes.”

“You can sacrifice? You can give him up?”

Slow and reluctant was her “Yes.”

“And you will come with me?”

“Yes.” This time her voice was a whisper. “When he is well — yes.”

“You understand. It must be Lake Geneva over again. You will be my wife.”

She seemed to shrink and droop, but her head nodded.

“Very well.” He stood up briskly, went to his pack, and began unstrapping. “I shall need help. Bring his brother in. Bring them all in. Boiling water — let there be lots of it. I’ve brought bandages, but let me see what you have in that line. — Here, Daw, build up that fire and start boiling all the water you can. — Here you,” to the other man, “get that table out and under the window there. Clean it; scrub it; scald it. Clean, man, clean, as you never cleaned a thing before. You, Mrs. Strang, will be my helper. No sheets, I suppose. Well, we’ll manage somehow. — You’re his brother, sir. I’ll give the anæsthetic, but you must keep it going afterward. Now listen, while I instruct you. In the first place — but before that, can you take a pulse?...”

IV

Noted for his daring and success as a surgeon, through the days and weeks that followed Linday exceeded himself in daring and success. Never, because of the frightful mangling and breakage, and because of the long delay, had he encountered so terrible a case. But he had never had a healthier specimen of human wreck to work upon. Even then he would have failed, had it not been for the patient’s catlike vitality and almost uncanny physical and mental grip on life.

There were days of high temperature and delirium; days of heart-sinking when Strang’s pulse was barely perceptible; days when he lay conscious, eyes weary and drawn, the sweat of pain on his face. Linday was indefatigable, cruelly efficient, audacious and fortunate, daring hazard after hazard and winning. He was not content to make the man live. He devoted himself to the intricate and perilous problem of making him whole and strong again.

“He will be a cripple?” Madge queried.

“He will not merely walk and talk and be a limping caricature of his former self,” Linday told her. “He shall run and leap, swim riffles, ride bears, fight panthers, and do all things to the top of his fool desire. And, I warn you, he will fascinate women just as of old. Will you like that? Are you content? Remember, you will not be with him.”

“Go on, go on,” she breathed. “Make him whole. Make him what he was.”

More than once, whenever Strang’s recuperation permitted, Linday put him under the anæsthetic and did terrible things, cutting and sewing, rewiring and connecting up the disrupted organism. Later, developed a hitch in the left arm. Strang could lift it so far, and no farther. Linday applied himself to the problem. It was a case of more wires, shrunken, twisted, disconnected. Again it was cut and switch and ease and disentangle. And all that saved Strang was his tremendous vitality and the health of his flesh.

“You will kill him,” his brother complained. “Let him be. For God’s sake let him be. A live and crippled man is better than a whole and dead one.”

Linday flamed in wrath. “You get out! Out of this cabin with you till you can come back and say that I make him live. Pull — by God, man, you’ve got to pull with me with all your soul. Your brother’s travelling a hairline razor-edge. Do you understand? A thought can topple him off. Now get out, and come back sweet and wholesome, convinced beyond all absoluteness that he will live and be what he was before you and he played the fool together. Get out, I say.”

The brother, with clenched hands and threatening eyes, looked to Madge for counsel.

“Go, go, please,” she begged. “He is right. I know he is right.”

Another time, when Strang’s condition seemed more promising, the brother said:

“Doc, you’re a wonder, and all this time I’ve forgotten to ask your name.”

“None of your damn business. Don’t bother me. Get out.”

The mangled right arm ceased from its healing, burst open again in a frightful wound.

“Necrosis,” said Linday.

“That does settle it,” groaned the brother.

“Shut up!” Linday snarled. “Get out! Take Daw with you. Take Bill, too. Get rabbits — alive — healthy ones. Trap them. Trap everywhere.”

“How many?” the brother asked.

“Forty of them — four thousand — forty thousand — all you can get. You’ll help me, Mrs. Strang. I’m going to dig into that arm and size up the damage. Get out, you fellows. You for the rabbits.”

And he dug in, swiftly, unerringly, scraping away disintegrating bone, ascertaining the extent of the active decay.

“It never would have happened,” he told Madge, “if he hadn’t had so many other things needing vitality first. Even he didn’t have vitality enough to go around. I was watching it, but I had to wait and chance it. That piece must go. He could manage without it, but rabbit-bone will make it what it was.”

From the hundreds of rabbits brought in, he weeded out, rejected, selected, tested, selected and tested again, until he made his final choice. He used the last of his chloroform and achieved the bone-graft — living bone to living bone, living man and living rabbit immovable and indissolubly bandaged and bound together, their mutual processes uniting and reconstructing a perfect arm.

And through the whole trying period, especially as Strang mended, occurred passages of talk between Linday and Madge. Nor was he kind, nor she rebellious.

“It’s a nuisance,” he told her. “But the law is the law, and you’ll need a divorce before we can marry again. What do you say? Shall we go to Lake Geneva?”

“As you will,” she said.

And he, another time: “What the deuce did you see in him anyway? I know he had money. But you and I were managing to get along with some sort of comfort. My practice was averaging around forty thousand a year then — I went over the books afterward. Palaces and steam yachts were about all that was denied you.”

“Perhaps you’ve explained it,” she answered. “Perhaps you were too interested in your practice. Maybe you forgot me.”

“Humph,” he sneered. “And may not your Rex be too interested in panthers and short sticks?”

He continually girded her to explain what he chose to call her infatuation for the other man.

“There is no explanation,” she replied. And, finally, she retorted, “No one can explain love, I least of all. I only knew love, the divine and irrefragable fact, that is all. There was once, at Fort Vancouver, a baron of the Hudson Bay Company who chided the resident Church of England parson. The dominie had written home to England complaining that the Company folk, from the head factor down, were addicted to Indian wives. ‘Why didn’t you explain the extenuating circumstances?’ demanded the baron. Replied the dominie: ‘A cow’s tail grows downward. I do not attempt to explain why the cow’s tail grows downward. I merely cite the fact.’“

“Damn clever women!” cried Linday, his eyes flashing his irritation.

“What brought you, of all places, into the Klondike?” she asked once.

“Too much money. No wife to spend it. Wanted a rest. Possibly overwork. I tried Colorado, but their telegrams followed me, and some of them did themselves. I went on to Seattle. Same thing. Ransom ran his wife out to me in a special train. There was no escaping it. Operation successful. Local newspapers got wind of it. You can imagine the rest. I had to hide, so I ran away to Klondike. And — well, Tom Daw found me playing whist in a cabin down on the Yukon.”

Came the day when Strang’s bed was carried out of doors and into the sunshine.

“Let me tell him now,” she said to Linday.

“No; wait,” he answered.

Later, Strang was able to sit up on the edge of the bed, able to walk his first giddy steps, supported on either side.

“Let me tell him now,” she said.

“No. I’m making a complete job of this. I want no set-backs. There’s a slight hitch still in that left arm. It’s a little thing, but I am going to remake him as God made him. Tomorrow I’ve planned to get into that arm and take out the kink. It will mean a couple of days on his back. I’m sorry there’s no more chloroform. He’ll just have to bite his teeth on a spike and hang on. He can do it. He’s got grit for a dozen men.”

Summer came on. The snow disappeared, save on the far peaks of the Rockies to the east. The days lengthened till there was no darkness, the sun dipping at midnight, due north, for a few minutes beneath the horizon. Linday never let up on Strang. He studied his walk, his body movements, stripped him again and again and for the thousandth time made him flex all his muscles. Massage was given him without end, until Linday declared that Tom Daw, Bill, and the brother were properly qualified for Turkish bath and osteopathic hospital attendants. But Linday was not yet satisfied. He put Strang through his whole repertoire of physical feats, searching him the while for hidden weaknesses. He put him on his back again for a week, opened up his leg, played a deft trick or two with the smaller veins, scraped a spot of bone no larger than a coffee grain till naught but a surface of healthy pink remained to be sewed over with the living flesh.

“Let me tell him,” Madge begged.

“Not yet,” was the answer. “You will tell him only when I am ready.”

July passed, and August neared its end, when he ordered Strang out on trail to get a moose. Linday kept at his heels, watching him, studying him. He was slender, a cat in the strength of his muscles, and he walked as Linday had seen no man walk, effortlessly, with all his body, seeming to lift the legs with supple muscles clear to the shoulders. But it was without heaviness, so easy that it invested him with a peculiar grace, so easy that to the eye the speed was deceptive. It was the killing pace of which Tom Daw had complained. Linday toiled behind, sweating and panting; from time to time, when the ground favoured, making short runs to keep up. At the end of ten miles he called a halt and threw himself down on the moss.

“Enough!” he cried. “I can’t keep up with you.”

He mopped his heated face, and Strang sat down on a spruce log, smiling at the doctor, and, with the camaraderie of a pantheist, at all the landscape.

“Any twinges, or hurts, or aches, or hints of aches?” Linday demanded.

Strang shook his curly head and stretched his lithe body, living and joying in every fibre of it.

“You’ll do, Strang. For a winter or two you may expect to feel the cold and damp in the old wounds. But that will pass, and perhaps you may escape it altogether.”

“God, Doctor, you have performed miracles with me. I don’t know how to thank you. I don’t even know your name.”

“Which doesn’t matter. I’ve pulled you through, and that’s the main thing.”

“But it’s a name men must know out in the world,” Strang persisted. “I’ll wager I’d recognise it if I heard it.”

“I think you would,” was Linday’s answer. “But it’s beside the matter. I want one final test, and then I’m done with you. Over the divide at the head of this creek is a tributary of the Big Windy. Daw tells me that last year you went over, down to the middle fork, and back again, in three days. He said you nearly killed him, too. You are to wait here and camp to-night. I’ll send Daw along with the camp outfit. Then it’s up to you to go to the middle fork and back in the same time as last year.”

V

“Now,” Linday said to Madge. “You have an hour in which to pack. I’ll go and get the canoe ready. Bill’s bringing in the moose and won’t get back till dark. We’ll make my cabin to-day, and in a week we’ll be in Dawson.”

“I was in hope....” She broke off proudly.

“That I’d forego the fee?”

“Oh, a compact is a compact, but you needn’t have been so hateful in the collecting. You have not been fair. You have sent him away for three days, and robbed me of my last words to him.”

“Leave a letter.”

“I shall tell him all.”

“Anything less than all would be unfair to the three of us,” was Linday’s answer.

When he returned from the canoe, her outfit was packed, the letter written.

“Let me read it,” he said, “if you don’t mind.”

Her hesitation was momentary, then she passed it over.

“Pretty straight,” he said, when he had finished it. “Now, are you ready?”

He carried her pack down to the bank, and, kneeling, steadied the canoe with one hand while he extended the other to help her in. He watched her closely, but without a tremor she held out her hand to his and prepared to step on board.

“Wait,” he said. “One moment. You remember the story I told you of the elixir. I failed to tell you the end. And when she had anointed his eyes and was about to depart, it chanced she saw in the mirror that her beauty had been restored to her. And he opened his eyes, and cried out with joy at the sight of her beauty, and folded her in his arms.”

She waited, tense but controlled, for him to continue, a dawn of wonder faintly beginning to show in her face and eyes.

“You are very beautiful, Madge.” He paused, then added drily, “The rest is obvious. I fancy Rex Strang’s arms won’t remain long empty. Good-bye.”

“Grant....” she said, almost whispered, and in her voice was all the speech that needs not words for understanding.

He gave a nasty little laugh. “I just wanted to show you I wasn’t such a bad sort. Coals of fire, you know.”

“Grant....”

He stepped into the canoe and put out a slender, nervous hand.

“Good-bye,” he said.

She folded both her own hands about his.

“Dear, strong hand,” she murmured, and bent and kissed it.

He jerked it away, thrust the canoe out from the bank, dipped the paddle in the swift rush of the current, and entered the head of the riffle where the water poured glassily ere it burst into a white madness of foam.

The Enemy of All the World

It was Silas Bannerman who finally ran down that scientific wizard and arch-enemy of mankind, Emil Gluck. Gluck’s confession, before he went to the electric chair, threw much light upon the series of mysterious events, many apparently unrelated, that so perturbed the world between the years 1933 and 1941. It was not until that remarkable document was made public that the world dreamed of there being any connection between the assassination of the King and Queen of Portugal and the murders of the New York City police officers. While the deeds of Emil Gluck were all that was abominable, we cannot but feel, to a certain extent, pity for the unfortunate, malformed, and maltreated genius. This side of his story has never been told before, and from his confession and from the great mass of evidence and the documents and records of the time we are able to construct a fairly accurate portrait of him, and to discern the factors and pressures that moulded him into the human monster he became and that drove him onward and downward along the fearful path he trod.

Emil Gluck was born in Syracuse, New York, in 1895. His father, Josephus Gluck, was a special policeman and night watchman, who, in the year 1900, died suddenly of pneumonia. The mother, a pretty, fragile creature, who, before her marriage, had been a milliner, grieved herself to death over the loss of her husband. This sensitiveness of the mother was the heritage that in the boy became morbid and horrible.

In 1901, the boy, Emil, then six years of age, went to live with his aunt, Mrs. Ann Bartell. She was his mother’s sister, but in her breast was no kindly feeling for the sensitive, shrinking boy. Ann Bartell was a vain, shallow, and heartless woman. Also, she was cursed with poverty and burdened with a husband who was a lazy, erratic ne’er-do-well. Young Emil Gluck was not wanted, and Ann Bartell could be trusted to impress this fact sufficiently upon him. As an illustration of the treatment he received in that early, formative period, the following instance is given.

When he had been living in the Bartell home a little more than a year, he broke his leg. He sustained the injury through playing on the forbidden roof — as all boys have done and will continue to do to the end of time. The leg was broken in two places between the knee and thigh. Emil, helped by his frightened playmates, managed to drag himself to the front sidewalk, where he fainted. The children of the neighbourhood were afraid of the hard-featured shrew who presided over the Bartell house; but, summoning their resolution, they rang the bell and told Ann Bartell of the accident. She did not even look at the little lad who lay stricken on the sidewalk, but slammed the door and went back to her wash-tub. The time passed. A drizzle came on, and Emil Gluck, out of his faint, lay sobbing in the rain. The leg should have been set immediately. As it was, the inflammation rose rapidly and made a nasty case of it. At the end of two hours, the indignant women of the neighbourhood protested to Ann Bartell. This time she came out and looked at the lad. Also she kicked him in the side as he lay helpless at her feet, and she hysterically disowned him. He was not her child, she said, and recommended that the ambulance be called to take him to the city receiving hospital. Then she went back into the house.

It was a woman, Elizabeth Shepstone, who came along, learned the situation, and had the boy placed on a shutter. It was she who called the doctor, and who, brushing aside Ann Bartell, had the boy carried into the house. When the doctor arrived, Ann Bartell promptly warned him that she would not pay him for his services. For two months the little Emil lay in bed, the first month on his back without once being turned over; and he lay neglected and alone, save for the occasional visits of the unremunerated and over-worked physician. He had no toys, nothing with which to beguile the long and tedious hours. No kind word was spoken to him, no soothing hand laid upon his brow, no single touch or act of loving tenderness — naught but the reproaches and harshness of Ann Bartell, and the continually reiterated information that he was not wanted. And it can well be understood, in such environment, how there was generated in the lonely, neglected boy much of the bitterness and hostility for his kind that later was to express itself in deeds so frightful as to terrify the world.

It would seem strange that, from the hands of Ann Bartell, Emil Gluck should have received a college education; but the explanation is simple. Her ne’er-do-well husband, deserting her, made a strike in the Nevada goldfields, and returned to her a many-times millionaire. Ann Bartell hated the boy, and immediately she sent him to the Farristown Academy, a hundred miles away. Shy and sensitive, a lonely and misunderstood little soul, he was more lonely than ever at Farristown. He never came home, at vacation, and holidays, as the other boys did. Instead, he wandered about the deserted buildings and grounds, befriended and misunderstood by the servants and gardeners, reading much, it is remembered, spending his days in the fields or before the fire-place with his nose poked always in the pages of some book. It was at this time that he over-used his eyes and was compelled to take up the wearing of glasses, which same were so prominent in the photographs of him published in the newspapers in 1941.

He was a remarkable student. Application such as his would have taken him far; but he did not need application. A glance at a text meant mastery for him. The result was that he did an immense amount of collateral reading and acquired more in half a year than did the average student in half-a-dozen years. In 1909, barely fourteen years of age, he was ready — “more than ready” the headmaster of the academy said — to enter Yale or Harvard. His juvenility prevented him from entering those universities, and so, in 1909, we find him a freshman at historic Bowdoin College. In 1913 he graduated with highest honours, and immediately afterward followed Professor Bradlough to Berkeley, California. The one friend that Emil Gluck discovered in all his life was Professor Bradlough. The latter’s weak lungs had led him to exchange Maine for California, the removal being facilitated by the offer of a professorship in the State University. Throughout the year 1914, Emil Gluck resided in Berkeley and took special scientific courses. Toward the end of that year two deaths changed his prospects and his relations with life. The death of Professor Bradlough took from him the one friend he was ever to know, and the death of Ann Bartell left him penniless. Hating the unfortunate lad to the last, she cut him off with one hundred dollars.

The following year, at twenty years of age, Emil Gluck was enrolled as an instructor of chemistry in the University of California. Here the years passed quietly; he faithfully performed the drudgery that brought him his salary, and, a student always, he took half-a-dozen degrees. He was, among other things, a Doctor of Sociology, of Philosophy, and of Science, though he was known to the world, in later days, only as Professor Gluck.

He was twenty-seven years old when he first sprang into prominence in the newspapers through the publication of his book, Sex and Progress. The book remains to-day a milestone in the history and philosophy of marriage. It is a heavy tome of over seven hundred pages, painfully careful and accurate, and startlingly original. It was a book for scientists, and not one calculated to make a stir. But Gluck, in the last chapter, using barely three lines for it, mentioned the hypothetical desirability of trial marriages. At once the newspapers seized these three lines, “played them up yellow,” as the slang was in those days, and set the whole world laughing at Emil Gluck, the bespectacled young professor of twenty-seven. Photographers snapped him, he was besieged by reporters, women’s clubs throughout the land passed resolutions condemning him and his immoral theories; and on the floor of the California Assembly, while discussing the state appropriation to the University, a motion demanding the expulsion of Gluck was made under threat of withholding the appropriation — of course, none of his persecutors had read the book; the twisted newspaper version of only three lines of it was enough for them. Here began Emil Gluck’s hatred for newspaper men. By them his serious and intrinsically valuable work of six years had been made a laughing-stock and a notoriety. To his dying day, and to their everlasting regret, he never forgave them.

It was the newspapers that were responsible for the next disaster that befell him. For the five years following the publication of his book he had remained silent, and silence for a lonely man is not good. One can conjecture sympathetically the awful solitude of Emil Gluck in that populous University; for he was without friends and without sympathy. His only recourse was books, and he went on reading and studying enormously. But in 1927 he accepted an invitation to appear before the Human Interest Society of Emeryville. He did not trust himself to speak, and as we write we have before us a copy of his learned paper. It is sober, scholarly, and scientific, and, it must also be added, conservative. But in one place he dealt with, and I quote his words, “the industrial and social revolution that is taking place in society.” A reporter present seized upon the word “revolution,” divorced it from the text, and wrote a garbled account that made Emil Gluck appear an anarchist. At once, “Professor Gluck, anarchist,” flamed over the wires and was appropriately “featured” in all the newspapers in the land.

He had attempted to reply to the previous newspaper attack, but now he remained silent. Bitterness had already corroded his soul. The University faculty appealed to him to defend himself, but he sullenly declined, even refusing to enter in defence a copy of his paper to save himself from expulsion. He refused to resign, and was discharged from the University faculty. It must be added that political pressure had been put upon the University Regents and the President.

Persecuted, maligned, and misunderstood, the forlorn and lonely man made no attempt at retaliation. All his life he had been sinned against, and all his life he had sinned against no one. But his cup of bitterness was not yet full to overflowing. Having lost his position, and being without any income, he had to find work. His first place was at the Union Iron Works, in San Francisco, where he proved a most able draughtsman. It was here that he obtained his firsthand knowledge of battleships and their construction. But the reporters discovered him and featured him in his new vocation. He immediately resigned and found another place; but after the reporters had driven him away from half-a-dozen positions, he steeled himself to brazen out the newspaper persecution. This occurred when he started his electroplating establishment — in Oakland, on Telegraph Avenue. It was a small shop, employing three men and tw