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Lord Oakhurst’s Curse

I

Lord Oakhurst lay dying in the oak chamber in the eastern wing of Oakhurst Castle. Through the open window in the calm of the summer evening, came the sweet fragrance of the early violets and budding trees, and to the dying man it seemed as if earth’s loveliness and beauty were never so apparent as on this bright June day, his last day of life.

His young wife, whom he loved with a devotion and strength that the presence of the king of terrors himself could not alter, moved about the apartment, weeping and sorrowful, sometimes arranging the sick man’s pillow and inquiring of him in low, mournful tones if anything could be done to give him comfort, and again, with stifled sobs, eating some chocolate caramels which she carried in the pocket of her apron. The servants went to and fro with that quiet and subdued tread which prevails in a house where death is an expected guest, and even the crash of broken china and shivered glass, which announced their approach, seemed to fall upon the ear with less violence and sound than usual.

Lord Oakhurst was thinking of days gone by, when he wooed and won his beautiful young wife, who was then but a charming and innocent girl. How clearly and minutely those scenes rose up at the call of his memory. He seemed to be standing once more beneath the old chestnut grove where they had plighted their troth in the twilight under the stars; while the rare fragrance of the June roses and the smell of supper came gently by on the breeze. There he had told her his love; how that his whole happiness and future joy lay in the hope that he might win her for a bride; that if she would trust her future to his care the devotedness of his lifetime should be hers, and his only thought would be to make her life one long day of sunshine and peanut candy.

How plainly he remembered how she had, with girlish shyness and coyness, at first hesitated, and murmured something to herself about “an old bald-beaded galoot,” but when he told her that to him life without her would be a blasted mockery, and that his income was £50,000 a year, she threw herself on to him and froze there with the tenacity of a tick on a brindled cow, and said, with tears of joy, “Hen-ery, I am thine.”

And now he was dying. In a few short hours his spirit would rise up at the call of the Destroyer and, quitting his poor, weak, earthly frame, would go forth into that dim and dreaded Unknown Land, and solve with certainty that Mystery which revealeth itself not to mortal man.

II

A carriage drove rapidly up the avenue and stopped at the door. Sir Everhard FitzArmond, the famous London physician, who had been telegraphed for, alighted and quickly ascended the marble steps. Lady Oakhurst met him at the door, her lovely face expressing great anxiety and grief. “Oh, Sir Everhard, I am so glad you have come. He seems to be sinking rapidly. Did you bring the cream almonds I mentioned in the telegram?”

Sir Everhard did not reply, but silently handed her a package, and, slipping a couple of cloves into his mouth, ascended the stairs that led to Lord Oakhurst’s apartment. Lady Oakhurst followed.

Sir Everhard approached the bedside of his patient and laid his hand gently on this sick man’s diagnosis. A shade of feeling passed over his professional countenance as he gravely and solemnly pronounced these words: “Madam, your husband has croaked.”

Lady Oakhurst at first did not comprehend his technical language, and her lovely mouth let up for a moment on the cream almonds. But soon his meaning flashed upon her, and she seized an axe that her husband was accustomed to keep by his bedside to mangle his servants with, and struck open Lord Oakhurst’s cabinet containing his private papers, and with eager hands opened the document which she took therefrom. Then, with a wild, unearthly shriek that would have made a steam piano go out behind a barn and kick itself in despair, she fell senseless to the floor.

Sir Everhard FitzArmond picked up the paper and read its contents. It was Lord Oakhurst’s will, bequeathing all his property to a scientific institution which should have for its object the invention of a means for extracting peach brandy from sawdust.

Sir Everhard glanced quickly around the room. No one was in sight. Dropping the will, he rapidly transferred some valuable ornaments and rare specimens of gold and silver filigree work from the centre table to his pockets, and rang the bell for the servants.

III

The Curse

Sir Everhard FitzArmond descended the stairway of Oakhurst Castle and passed out into the avenue that led from the doorway to the great iron gates of the park. Lord Oakhurst had been a great sportsman during his life and always kept a well-stocked kennel of curs, which now rushed out from their hiding places and with loud yelps sprang upon the physician, burying their fangs in his lower limbs and seriously damaging his apparel.

Sir Everhard, startled out of his professional dignity and usual indifference to human suffering, by the personal application of feeling, gave vent to a most horrible and blighting curse and ran with great swiftness to his carriage and drove off toward the city.

Bexar Scrip No. 2692

Whenever you visit Austin you should by all means go to see the General Land Office.

As you pass up the avenue you turn sharp round the corner of the courthouse, and on a steep hill before you you see a medieval castle.

You think of the Rhine; the “castled crag of Drachenfels”; the Lorelei; and the vine-clad slopes of Germany. And German it is in every line of its architecture and design.

The plan was drawn by an old draftsman from the “Vaterland,” whose heart still loved the scenes of his native land, and it is said he reproduced the design of a certain castle near his birthplace, with remarkable fidelity.

Under the present administration a new coat of paint has vulgarized its ancient and venerable walls. Modern tiles have replaced the limestone slabs of its floors, worn in hollows by the tread of thousands of feet, and smart and gaudy fixtures have usurped the place of the timeworn furniture that has been consecrated by the touch of hands that Texas will never cease to honor.

But even now, when you enter the building, you lower your voice, and time turns backward for you, for the atmosphere which you breathe is cold with the exudation of buried generations.

The building is stone with a coating of concrete; the walls are immensely thick; it is cool in the summer and warm in the winter; it is isolated and sombre; standing apart from the other state buildings, sullen and decaying, brooding on the past.

Twenty years ago it was much the same as now; twenty years from now the garish newness will be worn off and it will return to its appearance of gloomy decadence.

People living in other states can form no conception of the vastness and importance of the work performed and the significance of the millions of records and papers composing the archives of this office.

The title deeds, patents, transfers and legal documents connected with every foot of land owned in the state of Texas are filed here.

Volumes could be filled with accounts of the knavery, the double-dealing, the cross purposes, the perjury, the lies, the bribery, the alteration and erasing, the suppressing and destroying of papers, the various schemes and plots that for the sake of the almighty dollar have left their stains upon the records of the General Land Office.

No reference is made to the employees. No more faithful, competent and efficient force of men exists in the clerical portions of any government, but there is⁠—or was, for their day is now over⁠—a class of land speculators commonly called land sharks, unscrupulous and greedy, who have left their trail in every department of this office, in the shape of titles destroyed, patents cancelled, homes demolished and torn away, forged transfers and lying affidavits.

Before the modern tiles were laid upon the floors, there were deep hollows in the limestone slabs, worn by the countless feet that daily trod uneasily through its echoing corridors, pressing from file room to business room, from commissioner’s sanctum to record books and back again.

The honest but ignorant settler, bent on saving the little plot of land he called home, elbowed the wary land shark who was searching the records for evidence to oust him; the lordly cattle baron, relying on his influence and money, stood at the Commissioner’s desk side by side with the preemptor, whose little potato patch lay like a minute speck of island in the vast, billowy sea, of his princely pastures, and played the old game of “freeze-out,” which is as old as Cain and Abel.

The trail of the serpent is through it all.

Honest, earnest men have wrought for generations striving to disentangle the shameful coil that certain years of fraud and infamy have wound. Look at the files and see the countless endorsements of those in authority:

“Transfer doubtful⁠—locked up.”

“Certificate a forgery⁠—locked up.”

“Signature a forgery.”

“Patent refused⁠—duplicate patented elsewhere.”

“Field notes forged.”

“Certificates stolen from office”⁠—and so on ad infinitum.

The record books, spread upon long tables, in the big room upstairs, are open to the examination of all. Open them, and you will find the dark and greasy finger prints of half a century’s handling. The quick hand of the land grabber has fluttered the leaves a million times; the damp clutch of the perturbed tiller of the soil has left traces of his calling on the ragged leaves.

Interest centres in the file room.

This is a large room, built as a vault, fireproof, and entered by but a single door.

There is “No Admission” on the portal; and the precious files are handed out by a clerk in charge only on presentation of an order signed by the Commissioner or chief clerk.

In years past too much laxity prevailed in its management, and the files were handled by all comers, simply on their request, and returned at their will, or not at all.

In these days most of the mischief was done. In the file room, there are about ⸻ files, each in a paper wrapper, and comprising the title papers of a particular tract of land.

You ask the clerk in charge for the papers relating to any survey in Texas. They are arranged simply in districts and numbers.

He disappears from the door, you hear the sliding of a tin box, the lid snaps, and the file is in your hand.

Go up there some day and call for Bexar Scrip No. 2692.

The file clerk stares at you for a second, says shortly:

“Out of file.”

It has been missing twenty years.

The history of that file has never been written before.

Twenty years ago there was a shrewd land agent living in Austin who devoted his undoubted talents and vast knowledge of land titles, and the laws governing them, to the locating of surveys made by illegal certificates, or improperly made, and otherwise of no value through noncompliance with the statutes, or whatever flaws his ingenious and unscrupulous mind could unearth.

He found a fatal defect in the title of the land as on file in Bexar Scrip No. 2692 and placed a new certificate upon the survey in his own name.

The law was on his side.

Every sentiment of justice, of right, and humanity was against him.

The certificate by virtue of which the original survey had been made was missing.

It was not to be found in the file, and no memorandum or date on the wrapper to show that it had ever been filed.

Under the law the land was vacant, unappropriated public domain, and open to location.

The land was occupied by a widow and her only son, and she supposed her title good.

The railroad had surveyed a new line through the property, and it had doubled in value.

Sharp, the land agent, did not communicate with her in any way until he had filed his papers, rushed his claim through the departments and into the patent room for patenting.

Then he wrote her a letter, offering her the choice of buying from him or vacating at once.

He received no reply.

One day he was looking through some files and came across the missing certificate. Someone, probably an employee of the office, had by mistake, after making some examination, placed it in the wrong file, and curiously enough another inadvertence, in there being no record of its filing on the wrapper, had completed the appearance of its having never been filed.

Sharp called for the file in which it belonged and scrutinized it carefully, fearing he might have overlooked some endorsement regarding its return to the office.

On the back of the certificate was plainly endorsed the date of filing, according to law, and signed by the chief clerk.

If this certificate should be seen by the examining clerk, his own claim, when it came up for patenting, would not be worth the paper on which it was written.

Sharp glanced furtively around. A young man, or rather a boy about eighteen years of age, stood a few feet away regarding him closely with keen black eyes. Sharp, a little confused, thrust the certificate into the file where it properly belonged and began gathering up the other papers.

The boy came up and leaned on the desk beside him.

“A right interesting office, sir!” he said. “I have never been in here before. All those papers, now, they are about lands, are they not? The titles and deeds, and such things?”

“Yes,” said Sharp. “They are supposed to contain all the title papers.”

“This one, now,” said the boy, taking up Bexar Scrip No. 2692, “what land does this represent the title of? Ah, I see ‘Six hundred and forty acres in B⁠⸺ country? Absalom Harris, original grantee.’ Please tell me, I am so ignorant of these things, how can you tell a good survey from a bad one. I am told that there are a great many illegal and fraudulent surveys in this office. I suppose this one is all right?”

“No,” said Sharp. “The certificate is missing. It is invalid.”

“That paper I just saw you place in that file, I suppose is something else⁠—field notes, or a transfer probably?”

“Yes,” said Sharp, hurriedly, “corrected field notes. Excuse me, I am a little pressed for time.”

The boy was watching him with bright, alert eyes.

It would never do to leave the certificate in the file; but he could not take it out with that inquisitive boy watching him.

He turned to the file room, with a dozen or more files in his hands, and accidentally dropped part of them on the floor. As he stooped to pick them up he swiftly thrust Bexar Scrip No. 2692 in the inside breast pocket of his coat.

This happened at just half-past four o’clock, and when the file clerk took the files he threw them in a pile in his room, came out and locked the door.

The clerks were moving out of the doors in long, straggling lines.

It was closing time.

Sharp did not desire to take the file from the Land Office.

The boy might have seen him place the file in his pocket, and the penalty of the law for such an act was very severe.

Some distance back from the file room was the draftsman’s room now entirely vacated by its occupants.

Sharp dropped behind the outgoing stream of men, and slipped slyly into this room.

The clerks trooped noisily down the iron stairway, singing, whistling, and talking.

Below, the night watchman awaited their exit, ready to close and bar the two great doors to the south and cast.

It is his duty to take careful note each day that no one remains in the building after the hour of closing.

Sharp waited until all sounds had ceased.

It was his intention to linger until everything was quiet, and then to remove the certificate from the file, and throw the latter carelessly on some draftsman’s desk as if it had been left there during the business of the day.

He knew also that he must remove the certificate from the office or destroy it, as the chance finding of it by a clerk would lead to its immediately being restored to its proper place, and the consequent discovery that his location over the old survey was absolutely worthless.

As he moved cautiously along the stone floor the loud barking of the little black dog, kept by the watchman, told that his sharp ears had heard the sounds of his steps.

The great, hollow rooms echoed loudly, move as lightly as he could.

Sharp sat down at a desk and laid the file before him.

In all his queer practices and cunning tricks he had not yet included any act that was downright criminal.

He had always kept on the safe side of the law, but in the deed he was about to commit there was no compromise to be made with what little conscience he had left.

There is no well-defined boundary line between honesty and dishonesty.

The frontiers of one blend with the outside limits of the other, and he who attempts to tread this dangerous ground may be sometimes in one domain and sometimes in the other; so the only safe road is the broad highway that leads straight through and has been well defined by line and compass.

Sharp was a man of what is called high standing in the community. That is, his word in a trade was as good as any man’s; his check was as good as so much cash, and so regarded; he went to church regularly; went in good society and owed no man anything.

He was regarded as a sure winner in any land trade he chose to make, but that was his occupation.

The act he was about to commit now would place him forever in the ranks of those who chose evil for their portion⁠—if it was found out.

More than that, it would rob a widow and her son of property soon to be of great value, which, if not legally theirs, was theirs certainly by every claim of justice.

But he had gone too far to hesitate.

His own survey was in the patent room for patenting. His own title was about to be perfected by the State’s own hand.

The certificate must be destroyed.

He leaned his head on his hands for a moment, and as he did so a sound behind him caused his heart to leap with guilty fear, but before he could rise, a hand came over his shoulder and grasped the file.

He rose quickly, as white as paper, rattling his chair loudly on the stone floor.

The boy who land spoken to him earlier stood contemplating him with contemptuous and flashing eyes, and quietly placed the file in the left breast pocket of his coat.

“So, Mr. Sharp, by nature as well as by name,” he said, “it seems that I was right in waiting behind the door in order to see you safely out. You will appreciate the pleasure I feel in having done so when I tell you my name is Harris. My mother owns the land on which you have filed, and if there is any justice in Texas she shall hold it. I am not certain, but I think I saw you place a paper in this file this afternoon, and it is barely possible that it may be of value to me. I was also impressed with the idea that you desired to remove it again, but had not the opportunity. Anyway, I shall keep it until tomorrow and let the Commissioner decide.”

Far back among Mr. Sharp’s ancestors there must have been some of the old berserker blood, for his caution, his presence of mind left him, and left him possessed of a blind, devilish, unreasoning rage that showed itself in a moment in the white glitter of his eye.

“Give me that file, boy,” he said, thickly, holding out his hand.

“I am no such fool, Mr. Sharp,” said the youth. “This file shall be laid before the Commissioner tomorrow for examination. If he finds⁠—Help! Help!”

Sharp was upon him like a tiger and bore him to the floor. The boy was strong and vigorous, but the suddenness of the attack gave him no chance to resist. He struggled up again to his feet, but it was an animal, with blazing eyes and cruel-looking teeth that fought him, instead of a man.

Mr. Sharp, a man of high standing and good report, was battling for his reputation.

Presently there was a dull sound, and another, and still one more, and a blade flashing white and then red, and Edward Harris dropped down like some stuffed effigy of a man, that boys make for sport, with his limbs all crumpled and lax, on the stone floor of the Land Office.

The old watchman was deaf, and heard nothing.

The little dog barked at the foot of the stairs until his master made him come into his room.

Sharp stood there for several minutes holding in his hand his bloody clasp knife, listening to the cooing of the pigeons on the roof, and the loud ticking of the clock above the receiver’s desk.

A map rustled on the wall and his blood turned to ice; a rat ran across some strewn papers, and his scalp prickled, and he could scarcely moisten his dry lips with his tongue.

Between the file room and the draftsman’s room there is a door that opens on a small dark spiral stairway that winds from the lower floor to the ceiling at the top of the house.

This stairway was not used then, nor is it now.

It is unnecessary, inconvenient, dusty, and dark as night, and was a blunder of the architect who designed the building.

This stairway ends above at the tent-shaped space between the roof and the joists.

That space is dark and forbidding, and being useless is rarely visited.

Sharp opened this door and gazed for a moment up this narrow cobwebbed stairway.


After dark that night a man opened cautiously one of the lower windows of the Land Office, crept out with great circumspection and disappeared in the shadows.


One afternoon, a week after this time, Sharp lingered behind again after the clerks had left and the office closed. The next morning the first comers noticed a broad mark in the dust on the upstairs floor, and the same mark was observed below stairs near a window.

It appeared as if some heavy and rather bulky object had been dragged along through the limestone dust. A memorandum book with “E. Harris” written on the flyleaf was picked up on the stairs, but nothing particular was thought of any of these signs.

Circulars and advertisements appeared for a long time in the papers asking for information concerning Edward Harris, who left his mother’s home on a certain date and had never been heard of since.

After a while these things were succeeded by affairs of more recent interest, and faded from the public mind.


Sharp died two years ago, respected and regretted. The last two years of his life were clouded with a settled melancholy for which his friends could assign no reason. The bulk of his comfortable fortune was made from the land he obtained by fraud and crime.

The disappearance of the file was a mystery that created some commotion in the Land Office, but he got his patent.


It is a well-known tradition in Austin and vicinity that there is a buried treasure of great value somewhere on the banks of Shoal Creek, about a mile west of the city.

Three young men living in Austin recently became possessed of what they thought was a clue of the whereabouts of the treasure, and Thursday night they repaired to the place after dark and plied the pickaxe and shovel with great diligence for about three hours.

At the end of that time their efforts were rewarded by the finding of a box buried about four feet below the surface, which they hastened to open.

The light of a lantern disclosed to their view the fleshless bones of a human skeleton with clothing still wrapping its uncanny limbs.

They immediately left the scene and notified the proper authorities of their ghastly find.

On closer examination, in the left breast pocket of the skeleton’s coat, there was found a flat, oblong packet of papers, cut through and through in three places by a knife blade, and so completely soaked and clotted with blood that it had become an almost indistinguishable mass.

With the aid of a microscope and the exercise of a little imagination this much can be made out of the letter; at the top of the papers:

B⁠⸺⁠x a⁠⸺ ⸺⁠rip N⁠⸺⁠2⁠⸺⁠92.

Queries and Answers

Can you inform me where I can buy an interest in a newspaper of some kind? I have some money and would be glad to invest it in something of the sort, if someone would allow me to put in my capital against his experience.

College Graduate.

Telegraph us your address at once, day message. Keep telegraphing every ten minutes at our expense until we see you. Will start on first train after receiving your wire.


Who was the author of the line, “Breathes there a man with soul so dead?”

G. F.

This was written by a visitor to the State Saengerfest of 1892 while conversing with a member who had just eaten a large slice of limburger cheese.


Where can I get the “Testimony of the Rocks”?

Geologist.

See the reports of the campaign committees after the election in November.


Please state what the seven wonders of the world are. I know five of them, I think, but can’t find out the other two.

Scholar.

The Temple of Diana, at Lexington, Ky.; the Great Wall of China; Judge Von Rosenberg (the Colossus of Roads); the Hanging Gardens at Albany; a San Antonio Sunday school; Mrs. Frank Leslie, and the Populist party.


What day did Christmas come on in the year 1847?

Constant Reader.

The 25th of December.


What does an F.F.V. mean?

Ignorant.

What does he mean by what? If he takes you by the arm and tells you how much you are like a brother of his in Richmond, he means Feel For Your Vest, for he wants to borrow a five. If he holds his head high and don’t speak to you on the street he means that he already owes you ten and is Following a Fresh Victim.


Please decide a bet for us. My friend says that the sentence, “The negro bought the watermelon of the farmer” is correct, and I say it should be “The negro bought the watermelon from the farmer.” Which is correct?

R.

Neither. It should read, “The negro stole the watermelon from the farmer.”


When do the Texas game laws go into effect?

Hunter.

When you sit down at the table.


Do you know where I can trade a section of fine Panhandle land for a pair of pants with a good title?

Land Agent.

We do not. You can’t raise anything on land in that section. A man can always raise a dollar on a good pair of pants.


Name in order the three best newspapers in Texas.

Advertiser.

Well, the Galveston News runs about second, and the San Antonio Express third. Let us hear from you again.


Has a married woman any rights in Texas?

Prospector.

Hush, Mr. Prospector. Not quite so loud, if you please. Come up to the office some afternoon, and if everything seems quiet, come inside, and look at our eye, and our suspenders hanging on to one button, and feel the lump on the top of our head. Yes, she has some rights of her own, and everybody else’s she can scoop in.


Who was the author of the sayings, “A public office is a public trust,” and “I would rather be right than President”?

Eli Perkins.


Is the Lakeside Improvement Company making anything out of their own town tract on the lake?

Inquisitive.

Yes, lots.

Aristocracy Versus Hash

The snake reporter of The Rolling Stone was wandering up the avenue last night on his way home from the Y.M.C.A. rooms when he was approached by a gaunt, hungry-looking man with wild eyes and dishevelled hair. He accosted the reporter in a hollow, weak voice.

“Can you tell me, Sir, where I can find in this town a family of scrubs?”

“I don’t understand exactly.”

“Let me tell you how it is,” said the stranger, inserting his forefinger in the reporter’s buttonhole and badly damaging his chrysanthemum. “I am a representative from Soapstone County, and I and my family are houseless, homeless, and shelterless. We have not tasted food for over a week. I brought my family with me, as I have indigestion and could not get around much with the boys. Some days ago I started out to find a boarding house, as I cannot afford to put up at a hotel. I found a nice aristocratic-looking place, that suited me, and went in and asked for the proprietress. A very stately lady with a Roman nose came in the room. She had one hand laid across her stom⁠—across her waist, and the other held a lace handkerchief. I told her I wanted board for myself and family, and she condescended to take us. I asked for her terms, and she said $300 per week.

“I had two dollars in my pocket and I gave her that for a fine teapot that I broke when I fell over the table when she spoke.

“ ‘You appear surprised,’ says she. ‘You will please remembah that I am the widow of Governor Riddle of Georgiah; my family is very highly connected; I give you board as a favah; I nevah considah money any equivalent for the advantage of my society, I⁠—’

“Well, I got out of there, and I went to some other places. The next lady was a cousin of General Mahone of Virginia, and wanted four dollars an hour for a back room with a pink motto and a Burnet granite bed in it. The next one was an aunt of Davy Crockett, and asked eight dollars a day for a room furnished in imitation of the Alamo, with prunes for breakfast and one hour’s conversation with her for dinner. Another one said she was a descendant of Benedict Arnold on her father’s side and Captain Kidd on the other.

“She took more after Captain Kidd.

“She only had one meal and prayers a day, and counted her society worth $100 a week.

“I found nine widows of Supreme Judges, twelve relicts of Governors and Generals, and twenty-two ruins left by various happy Colonels, Professors, and Majors, who valued their aristocratic worth from $90 to $900 per week, with weak-kneed hash and dried apples on the side. I admire people of fine descent, but my stomach yearns for pork and beans instead of culture. Am I not right?”

“Your words,” said the reporter, “convince me that you have uttered what you have said.”

“Thanks. You see how it is. I am not wealthy; I have only my per diem and my perquisites, and I cannot afford to pay for high lineage and moldy ancestors. A little corned beef goes further with me than a coronet, and when I am cold a coat of arms does not warm me.”

“I greatly fear,” said the reporter, with a playful hiccup, “that you have run against a high-toned town. Most all the first-class boarding houses here are run by ladies of the old Southern families, the very first in the land.”

“I am now desperate,” said the Representative, as he chewed a tack awhile, thinking it was a clove. “I want to find a boarding house where the proprietress was an orphan found in a livery stable, whose father was a dago from East Austin, and whose grandfather was never placed on the map. I want a scrubby, ornery, low-down, snuff-dipping, back-woodsy, piebald gang, who never heard of finger bowls or Ward McAllister, but who can get up a mess of hot cornbread and Irish stew at regular market quotations.

“Is there such a place in Austin?”

The snake reporter sadly shook his head. “I do not know,” he said, “but I will shake you for the beer.”

Ten minutes later the slate in the Blue Ruin saloon bore two additional characters: 10.

Fickle Fortune or How Gladys Hustled

“Press me no more Mr. Snooper,” said Gladys Vavasour-Smith. “I can never be yours.”

“You have led me to believe different, Gladys,” said Bertram D. Snooper.

The setting sun was flooding with golden light the oriel windows of a magnificent mansion situated in one of the most aristocratic streets west of the brick yard.

Bertram D. Snooper, a poor but ambitious and talented young lawyer, had just lost his first suit. He had dared to aspire to the hand of Gladys Vavasour-Smith, the beautiful and talented daughter of one of the oldest and proudest families in the county. The bluest blood flowed in her veins. Her grandfather had sawed wood for the Hornsbys and an aunt on her mother’s side had married a man who had been kicked by General Lee’s mule.

The lines about Bertram D. Snooper’s hands and mouth were drawn tighter as he paced to and fro, waiting for a reply to the question he intended to ask Gladys as soon as he thought of one.

At last an idea occurred to him.

“Why will you not marry me?” he asked in an inaudible tone.

“Because,” said Gladys firmly, speaking easily with great difficulty, “the progression and enlightenment that the woman of today possesses demand that the man shall bring to the marriage altar a heart and body as free from the debasing and hereditary iniquities that now no longer exist except in the chimerical imagination of enslaved custom.”

“It is as I expected,” said Bertram, wiping his heated brow on the window curtain. “You have been reading books.”

“Besides that,” continued Gladys, ignoring the deadly charge, “you have no money.”

The blood of the Snoopers rose hastily and mantled the cheek of Bertram D. He put on his coat and moved proudly to the door.

“Stay here till I return,” he said, “I will be back in fifteen years.”

When he had finished speaking he ceased and left the room.

When he had gone, Gladys felt an uncontrollable yearning take possession of her. She said slowly, rather to herself than for publication, “I wonder if there was any of that cold cabbage left from dinner.”

She then left the room.

When she did so, a dark-complexioned man with black hair and gloomy, desperate looking clothes, came out of the fireplace where he had been concealed and stated:

“Aha! I have you in my power at last, Bertram D. Snooper. Gladys Vavasour-Smith shall be mine. I am in the possession of secrets that not a soul in the world suspects. I have papers to prove that Bertram Snooper is the heir to the Tom Bean estate,1 and I have discovered that Gladys’ grandfather who sawed wood for the Hornsby’s was also a cook in Major Rhoads Fisher’s command during the war. Therefore, the family repudiate her, and she will marry me in order to drag their proud name down in the dust. Ha, ha, ha!”

As the reader has doubtless long ago discovered, this man was no other than Henry R. Grasty. Mr. Grasty then proceeded to gloat some more, and then with a sardonic laugh left for New York.


Fifteen years have elapsed.

Of course, our readers will understand that this is only supposed to the case.

It really took less than a minute to make the little stars that represent an interval of time.

We could not afford to stop a piece in the middle and wait fifteen years before continuing it.

We hope this explanation will suffice. We are careful not to create any wrong impressions.

Gladys Vavasour-Smith and Henry R. Grasty stood at the marriage altar.

Mr. Grasty had evidently worked his rabbit’s foot successfully, although he was quite a while in doing so.

Just as the preacher was about to pronounce the fatal words on which he would have realized ten dollars and had the laugh on Mr. Grasty, the steeple of the church fell off and Bertram D. Snooper entered.

The preacher fell to the ground with a dull thud. He could ill afford to lose ten dollars. He was hastily removed and a cheaper one secured.

Bertram D. Snooper held a Statesman in his hand.

“Aha!” he said, “I thought I would surprise you. I just got in this morning. Here is a paper noticing my arrival.”

He handed it to Henry R. Grasty.

Mr. Grasty looked at the paper and turned deadly pale. It was dated three weeks after Mr. Snooper’s arrival.

“Foiled again!” he hissed.

“Speak, Bertram D. Snooper,” said Gladys, “why have you come between me and Henry?”

“I have just discovered that I am the sole heir to Tom Bean’s estate and am worth two million dollars.”

With a glad cry Gladys threw herself in Bertram’s arms.

Henry R. Grasty drew from his breast pocket a large tin box and opened it, took therefrom 467 pages of closely written foolscap.

“What you say is true, Mr. Snooper, but I ask you to read that,” he said, handing it to Bertram Snooper.

Mr. Snooper had no sooner read the document than he uttered a piercing shriek and bit off a large chew of tobacco.

“All is lost,” he said.

“What is that document?” asked Gladys. “Governor Hogg’s message?”

“It is not as bad as that,” said Bertram, “but it deprives me of my entire fortune. But I care not for that, Gladys, since I have won you.”

“What is it? Speak, I implore you,” said Gladys.

“Those papers,” said Henry R. Grasty, “are the proofs of my appointment as administrator of the Tom Bean estate.”

With a loving cry Gladys threw herself in Henry R. Grasty’s arms.


Twenty minutes later Bertram D. Snooper was seen deliberately to enter a beer saloon on Seventeenth Street.

A Strange Story

In the northern part of Austin there once dwelt an honest family by the name of Smothers. The family consisted of John Smothers, his wife, himself, their little daughter, five years of age, and her parents, making six people toward the population of the city when counted for a special write-up, but only three by actual count.

One night after supper the little girl was seized with a severe colic, and John Smothers hurried downtown to get some medicine.

He never came back.

The little girl recovered and in time grew up to womanhood.

The mother grieved very much over her husband’s disappearance, and it was nearly three months before she married again, and moved to San Antonio.

The little girl also married in time, and after a few years had rolled around, she also had a little girl five years of age.

She still lived in the same house where they dwelt when her father had left and never returned.

One night by a remarkable coincidence her little girl was taken with cramp colic on the anniversary of the disappearance of John Smothers, who would now have been her grandfather if he had been alive and had a steady job.

“I will go downtown and get some medicine for her,” said John Smith (for it was none other than he whom she had married).

“No, no, dear John,” cried his wife. “You, too, might disappear forever, and then forget to come back.”

So John Smith did not go, and together they sat by the bedside of little Pansy (for that was Pansy’s name).

After a little Pansy seemed to grow worse, and John Smith again attempted to go for medicine, but his wife would not let him.

Suddenly the door opened, and an old man, stooped and bent, with long white hair, entered the room.

“Hello, here is grandpa,” said Pansy. She had recognized him before any of the others.

The old man drew a bottle of medicine from his pocket and gave Pansy a spoonful.

She got well immediately.

“I was a little late,” said John Smothers, “as I waited for a street car.”

The Great French Detective, in Austin

A Successful Political Intrigue

I

It is not generally known that Tictocq, the famous French detective, was in Austin last week. He registered at the Avenue Hotel under an assumed name, and his quiet and reserved manners singled him out at once for one not to be singled out.

No one knows why he came to Austin, but to one or two he vouchsafed the information that his mission was an important one from the French Government.

One report is that the French Minister of State has discovered an old statute among the laws of the empire, resulting from a treaty between the Emperor Charlemagne and Governor Roberts which expressly provides for the north gate of the Capital grounds being kept open, but this is merely a conjecture.

Last Wednesday afternoon a well-dressed gentleman knocked at the door of Tictocq’s room in the hotel.

The detective opened the door.

“Monsieur Tictocq, I believe,” said the gentleman.

“You will see on the register that I sign my name Q. X. Jones,” said Tictocq, “and gentlemen would understand that I wish to be known as such. If you do not like being referred to as no gentleman, I will give you satisfaction any time after July 1st, and fight Steve O’Donnell, John McDonald, and Ignatius Donnelly in the meantime if you desire.”

“I do not mind it in the least,” said the gentleman. “In fact, I am accustomed to it. I am Chairman of the Democratic Executive Committee, Platform No. 2, and I have a friend in trouble. I knew you were Tictocq from your resemblance to yourself.”

Entrez vous,” said the detective.

The gentleman entered and was handed a chair.

“I am a man of few words,” said Tictoq. “I will help your friend if possible. Our countries are great friends. We have given you Lafayette and French fried potatoes. You have given us California champagne and⁠—taken back Ward McAllister. State your case.”

“I will be very brief,” said the visitor. “In room No. 76 in this hotel is stopping a prominent Populist Candidate. He is alone. Last night someone stole his socks. They cannot be found. If they are not recovered, his party will attribute their loss to the Democracy. They will make great capital of the burglary, although I am sure it was not a political move at all. The socks must be recovered. You are the only man that can do it.”

Tictocq bowed.

“Am I to have carte blanche to question every person connected with the hotel?”

“The proprietor has already been spoken to. Everything and everybody is at your service.”

Tictocq consulted his watch.

“Come to this room tomorrow afternoon at 6 o’clock with the landlord, the Populist Candidate, and any other witnesses elected from both parties, and I will return the socks.”

“Bien, Monsieur; schlafen sie wohl.”

Au revoir.”

The Chairman of the Democratic Executive Committee, Platform No.2, bowed courteously and withdrew.


Tictocq sent for the bell boy.

“Did you go to room 76 last night?”

“Yes, sir.”

“Who was there?”

“An old hayseed what come on the 7:25.”

“What did he want?”

“The bouncer.”

“What for?”

“To put the light out.”

“Did you take anything while in the room?”

“No, he didn’t ask me.”

“What is your name?”

“Jim.”

“You can go.”

II

The drawing-rooms of one of the most magnificent private residences in Austin are a blaze of lights. Carriages line the streets in front, and from gate to doorway is spread a velvet carpet, on which the delicate feet of the guests may tread.

The occasion is the entrée into society of one of the fairest buds in the City of the Violet Crown. The rooms are filled with the culture, the beauty, the youth and fashion of society. Austin society is acknowledged to be the wittiest, the most select, and the highest bred to be found southwest of Kansas City.

Mrs. Rutabaga St. Vitus, the hostess, is accustomed to draw around her a circle of talent, and beauty, rarely equalled anywhere. Her evenings come nearer approaching the dignity of a salon than any occasion, except, perhaps, a Tony Faust and Marguerite reception at the Iron Front.

Miss St. Vitus, whose advent into society’s maze was heralded by such an auspicious display of hospitality, is a slender brunette, with large, lustrous eyes, a winning smile, and a charming ingénue manner. She wears a china silk, cut princesse, with diamond ornaments, and a couple of towels inserted in the back to conceal prominence of shoulder blades. She is chatting easily and naturally on a plush covered tête-à-tête with Harold St. Clair, the agent for a Minneapolis pants company. Her friend and schoolmate, Elsie Hicks, who married three drummers in one day, a week or two before, and won a wager of two dozen bottles of Budweiser from the handsome and talented young hack-driver, Bum Smithers, is promenading in and out the low French windows with Ethelbert Windup, the popular young candidate for hide inspector, whose name is familiar to everyone who reads police court reports.

Somewhere, concealed by shrubbery, a band is playing, and during the pauses in conversation, onions can be smelt frying in the kitchen.

Happy laughter rings out from ruby lips, handsome faces grow tender as they bend over white necks and drooping beads; timid eyes convey things that lips dare not speak, and beneath silken bodice and broadcloth, hearts beat time to the sweet notes of “Love’s Young Dream.”

“And where have you been for some time past, you recreant cavalier?” says Miss St. Vitus to Harold St. Clair. “Have you been worshipping at another shrine? Are you recreant to your whilom friends? Speak, Sir Knight, and defend yourself.”

“Oh, come off,” says Harold, in his deep, musical baritone; “I’ve been having a devil of a time fitting pants on a lot of bowlegged jays from the cotton-patch. Got knobs on their legs, some of ’em big as gourds, and all expect a fit. Did you every try to measure a bowlegged⁠—I mean⁠—can’t you imagine what a jam-swizzled time I have getting pants to fit ’em? Business dull too, nobody wants ’em over three dollars.”

“You witty boy,” says Miss St. Vitus. “Just as full of bon mots and clever sayings as ever. What do you take now?”

“Oh, beer.”

“Give me your arm and let’s go into the drawing-room and draw a cork. I’m chewing a little cotton myself.”

Arm in arm, the handsome couple pass across the room, the cynosure of all eyes. Luderic Hetherington, the rising and gifted night-watchman at the Lone Star slaughter house, and Mabel Grubb, the daughter of the millionaire owner of the Humped-backed Camel saloon, are standing under the oleanders as they go by.

“She is very beautiful,” says Luderic.

“Rats,” says Mabel.

A keen observer would have noted all this time the figure of a solitary man who seemed to avoid the company but by adroit changing of his position, and perfectly cool and self-possessed manner, avoided drawing any especial attention to himself.

The lion of the evening is Herr Professor Ludwig von Bum, the pianist.

He had been found drinking beer in a saloon on East Pecan Street by Colonel St. Vitus about a week before, and according to the Austin custom in such cases, was invited home by the colonel, and the next day accepted into society, with large music classes at his service.

Professor von Bum is playing the lovely symphony in G minor from Beethoven’s “Songs Without Music.” The grand chords fill the room with exquisite harmony. He plays the extremely difficult passages in the obligato home run in a masterly manner, and when he finishes with that grand te deum with arpeggios on the side, there is that complete hush in the room that is dearer to the artist’s heart than the loudest applause.

The professor looks around.

The room is empty.

Empty with the exception of Tictocq, the great French detective, who springs from behind a mass of tropical plants to his side.

The professor rises in alarm.

“Hush,” says Tictocq: “Make no noise at all. You have already made enough.”

Footsteps are heard outside.

“Be quick,” says Tictocq: “give me those socks. There is not a moment to spare.”

Vas sagst du?

“Ah, he confesses,” says Tictocq. “No socks will do but those you carried off from the Populist Candidate’s room.”

The company is returning, no longer hearing the music.

Tictooq hesitates not. He seizes the professor, throws him upon the floor, tears off his shoes and socks, and escapes with the latter through the open window into the garden.

III

Tictocq’s room in the Avenue Hotel.

A knock is heard at the door.

Tictocq opens it and looks at his watch.

“Ah,” he says, “it is just six. Entrez, Messieurs.”

The messieurs entrez. There are seven of them; the Populist Candidate who is there by invitation, not knowing for what purpose; the chairman of the Democratic Executive Committee, platform No. 2, the hotel proprietor, and three or four Democrats and Populists, as near as could be found out.

“I don’t know,” begins the Populist Candidate, “what in the h⁠—”

“Excuse me,” says Tictocq, firmly. “You will oblige me by keeping silent until I make my report. I have been employed in this case, and I have unravelled it. For the honor of France I request that I be heard with attention.”

“Certainly,” says the chairman; “we will be pleased to listen.”

Tictocq stands in the centre of the room. The electric light burns brightly above him. He seems the incarnation of alertness, vigor, cleverness, and cunning.

The company seat themselves in chairs along the wall.

“When informed of the robbery,” begins Tictocq, “I first questioned the bell boy. He knew nothing. I went to the police headquarters. They knew nothing. I invited one of them to the bar to drink. He said there used to be a little colored boy in the Tenth Ward who stole things and kept them for recovery by the police, but failed to be at the place agreed upon for arrest one time, and had been sent to jail.

“I then began to think. I reasoned. No man, said I, would carry a Populist’s socks in his pocket without wrapping them up. He would not want to do so in the hotel. He would want a paper. Where would he get one? At the Statesman office, of course. I went there. A young man with his hair combed down on his forehead sat behind the desk. I knew he was writing society items, for a young lady’s slipper, a piece of cake, a fan, a half emptied bottle of cocktail, a bunch of roses, and a police whistle lay on the desk before him.

“ ‘Can you tell me if a man purchased a paper here in the last three months?’ I said.

“ ‘Yes,’ he replied; ‘we sold one last night.’

“ ‘Can you describe the man?’

“ ‘Accurately. He had blue whiskers, a wart between his shoulder blades, a touch of colic, and an occupation tax on his breath.’

“ ‘Which way did he go?’

“ ‘Out.’

“I then went⁠—”

“Wait a minute,” said the Populist Candidate, rising; “I don’t see why in the h⁠—”

“Once more I must beg that you will be silent,” said Tictocq, rather sharply. “You should not interrupt me in the midst of my report.”

“I made one false arrest,” continued Tictocq. “I was passing two finely dressed gentlemen on the street, when one of them remarked that he had ‘stole his socks.’ I handcuffed him and dragged him to a lighted store, when his companion explained to me that he was somewhat intoxicated and his tongue was not entirely manageable. He had been speaking of some business transaction, and what he intended to say was that he had ‘sold his stocks.’

“I then released him.

“An hour afterward I passed a saloon, and saw this Professor von Bum drinking beer at a table. I knew him in Paris. I said ‘here is my man.’ He worshipped Wagner, lived on limburger cheese, beer, and credit, and would have stolen anybody’s socks. I shadowed him to the reception at Colonel St. Vitus’s, and in an opportune moment I seized him and tore the socks from his feet. There they are.”

With a dramatic gesture, Tictocq threw a pair of dingy socks upon the table, folded his arms, and threw back his head.

With a loud cry of rage, the Populist Candidate sprang once more to his feet.

“Gol darn it! I will say what I want to. I⁠—”

The two other Populists in the room gazed at him coldly and sternly.

“Is this tale true?” they demanded of the Candidate.

“No, by gosh, it ain’t!” he replied, pointing a trembling finger at the Democratic Chairman. “There stands the man who has concocted the whole scheme. It is an infernal, unfair political trick to lose votes for our party. How far has this thing gone?” he added, turning savagely to the detective.

“All the newspapers have my written report on the matter, and the Statesman will have it in plate matter next week,” said Tictocq, complacently.

“All is lost!” said the Populists, turning toward the door.

“For God’s sake, my friends,” pleaded the Candidate, following them; “listen to me; I swear before high heaven that I never wore a pair of socks in my life. It is all a devilish campaign lie.”

The Populists turn their backs.

“The damage is already done,” they said. “The people have heard the story. You have yet time to withdraw decently before the race.”

All left the room except Tictocq and the Democrats.

“Let’s all go down and open a bottle of fizz on the Finance Committee,” said the Chairman of the Executive Committee, Platform No. 2.

Tracked to Doom

The Mystery of the Rue de Peychaud

’Tis midnight in Paris.

A myriad of lamps that line the Champs Élysées and the Rouge et Noir, cast their reflection in the dark waters of the Seine as it flows gloomily past the Place Vendôme and the black walls of the Convent Notadam.

The great French capital is astir.

It is the hour when crime and vice and wickedness reign.

Hundreds of fiacres drive madly through the streets conveying women, flashing with jewels and as beautiful as dreams, from opera and concert, and the little bijou supper rooms of the Café Tout le Temps are filled with laughing groups, while bon mots, persiflage and repartee fly upon the air⁠—the jewels of thought and conversation.

Luxury and poverty brush each other in the streets. The homeless gamin, begging a sou with which to purchase a bed, and the spendthrift roué, scattering golden louis d’or, tread the same pavement.

When other cities sleep, Paris has just begun her wild revelry.

The first scene of our story is a cellar beneath the Rue de Peychaud.

The room is filled with smoke of pipes, and is stifling with the reeking breath of its inmates. A single flaring gas jet dimly lights the scene, which is one Rembrandt or Moreland and Keisel would have loved to paint.

A garçon is selling absinthe to such of the motley crowd as have a few sous, dealing it out in niggardly portions in broken teacups.

Leaning against the bar is Carnaignole Cusheau⁠—generally known as the Gray Wolf.

He is the worst man in Paris.

He is more than four feet ten in height, and his sharp, ferocious looking face and the mass of long, tangled gray hair that covers his face and head, have earned for him the name he bears.

His striped blouse is wide open at the neck and falls outside of his dingy leather trousers. The handle of a deadly looking knife protrudes from his belt. One stroke of its blade would open a box of the finest French sardines.

“Voilà, Gray Wolf,” cries Couteau, the bartender. “How many victims today? There is no blood upon your hands. Has the Gray Wolf forgotten how to bite?”

“Sacrè Bleu, Mille Tonnerre, by George,” hisses the Gray Wolf. “Monsieur Couteau, you are bold indeed to speak to me thus.

“By Ventre St. Gris! I have not even dined today. Spoils indeed. There is no living in Paris now. But one rich American have I garroted in a fortnight.

“Bah! those Democrats. They have ruined the country. With their income tax and their free trade, they have destroyed the millionaire business. Carrambo! Diable! D⁠⸺⁠n it!”

“Hist!” suddenly says Chamounix the ragpicker, who is worth 20,000,000 francs, “someone comes!”

The cellar door opened and a man crept softly down the rickety steps. The crowd watches him with silent awe.

He went to the bar, laid his card on the counter, bought a drink of absinthe, and then drawing from his pocket a little mirror, set it up on the counter and proceeded to don a false beard and hair and paint his face into wrinkles, until he closely resembled an old man seventy-one years of age.

He then went into a dark corner and watched the crowd of people with sharp, ferret-like eyes.

Gray Wolf slipped cautiously to the bar and examined the card left by the newcomer.

“Holy Saint Bridget!” he exclaims. “It is Tictocq, the detective.”

Ten minutes later a beautiful woman enters the cellar. Tenderly nurtured, and accustomed to every luxury that money could procure, she had, when a young vivandière at the Convent of Saint Susan de la Montarde, run away with the Gray Wolf, fascinated by his many crimes and the knowledge that his business never allowed him to scrape his feet in the hall or snore.

Parbleu, Marie,” snarls the Gray Wolf. “Que voulez vous? Avez-vous le beau cheval de mon frère, oule joli chien de votre père?

“No, no, Gray Wolf,” shouts the motley group of assassins, rogues and pickpockets, even their hardened hearts appalled at his fearful words. “Mon Dieu! You cannot be so cruel!”

Tiens!” shouts the Gray Wolf, now maddened to desperation, and drawing his gleaming knife. “Voilà! Canaille! Tout le monde, carte blanche enbonpoint sauve que peut entre nous revenez nous a nous moutons!

The horrified sans-culottes shrink back in terror as the Gray Wolf seizes Maria by the hair and cuts her into twenty-nine pieces, each exactly the same size.

As he stands with reeking hands above the corpse, amid a deep silence, the old, gray-bearded man who has been watching the scene springs forward, tears off his false beard and locks, and Tictocq, the famous French detective, stands before them.

Spellbound and immovable, the denizens of the cellar gaze at the greatest modern detective as he goes about the customary duties of his office.

He first measures the distance from the murdered woman to a point on the wall, then he takes down the name of the bartender and the day of the month and the year. Then drawing from his pocket a powerful microscope, he examines a little of the blood that stands upon the floor in little pools.

“Mon Dieu!” he mutters, “it is as I feared⁠—human blood.”

He then enters rapidly in a memorandum book the result of his investigations, and leaves the cellar.

Tictocq bends his rapid steps in the direction of the headquarters of the Paris gendarmerie, but suddenly pausing, he strikes his hand upon his brow with a gesture of impatience.

Mille tonnerre,” he mutters. “I should have asked the name of that man with the knife in his hand.”


It is reception night at the palace of the Duchess Valerie du Bellairs.

The apartments are flooded with a mellow light from paraffine candles in solid silver candelabra.

The company is the most aristocratic and wealthy in Paris.

Three or four brass bands are playing behind a portière between the coal shed, and also behind time. Footmen in gay-laced livery bring in beer noiselessly and carry out apple-peelings dropped by the guests.

Valerie, seventh Duchess du Bellairs, leans back on a solid gold ottoman on eiderdown cushions, surrounded by the wittiest, the bravest, and the handsomest courtiers in the capital.

“Ah, madame,” said the Prince Champvilliers, of Palais Royale, corner of Seventy-third Street, “as Montesquiaux says, ‘Rien de plus bon tutti frutti’⁠—Youth seems your inheritance. You are tonight the most beautiful, the wittiest in your own salon. I can scarce believe my own senses, when I remember that thirty-one years ago you⁠—”

“Saw it off!” says the Duchess peremptorily.

The Prince bows low, and drawing a jewelled dagger, stabs himself to the heart.

“The displeasure of your grace is worse than death,” he says, as he takes his overcoat and hat from a corner of the mantelpiece and leaves the room.

“Voilà,” says Bèebè Francillon, fanning herself languidly. “That is the way with men. Flatter them, and they kiss your hand. Loose but a moment the silken leash that holds them captive through their vanity and self-opinionativeness, and the son-of-a-gun gets on his ear at once. The devil go with him, I say.”

“Ah, mon Princesse,” sighs the Count Pumpernickel, stooping and whispering with eloquent eyes into her ear. “You are too hard upon us. Balzac says, ‘All women are not to themselves what no one else is to another.’ Do you not agree with him?”

“Cheese it!” says the Princess. “Philosophy palls upon me. I’ll shake you.”

“Hosses?” says the Count.

Arm and arm they go out to the salon au Beurre.

Armande de Fleury, the young pianissimo danseuse from the Folies Bergère is about to sing.

She slightly clears her throat and lays a voluptuous cud of chewing gum upon the piano as the first notes of the accompaniment ring through the salon.

As she prepares to sing, the Duchess du Bellairs grasps the arm of her ottoman in a vice-like grip, and she watches with an expression of almost anguished suspense.

She scarcely breathes.

Then, as Armande de Fleury, before uttering a note, reels, wavers, turns white as snow and falls dead upon the floor, the Duchess breathes a sigh of relief.

The Duchess had poisoned her.

Then the guests crowd about the piano, gazing with bated breath, and shuddering as they look upon the music rack and observe that the song that Armande came so near singing is “Sweet Marie.”

Twenty minutes later a dark and muffled figure was seen to emerge from a recess in the mullioned wall of the Arc de Triomphe and pass rapidly northward.

It was no other than Tictocq, the detective.

The network of evidence was fast being drawn about the murderer of Marie Cusheau.


It is midnight on the steeple of the Cathedral of Notadam.

It is also the same time at other given points in the vicinity.

The spire of the Cathedral is 20,000 feet above the pavement, and a casual observer, by making a rapid mathematical calculation, would have readily perceived that this Cathedral is, at least, double the height of others that measure only 10,000 feet.

At the summit of the spire there is a little wooden platform on which there is room for but one man to stand.

Crouching on this precarious footing, which swayed, dizzily with every breeze that blew, was a man closely muffled, and disguised as a wholesale grocer.

Old François Beongfallong, the great astronomer, who is studying the sidereal spheres from his attic window in the Rue de Bologny, shudders as he turns his telescope upon the solitary figure upon the spire.

“Sacrè Bleu!” he hisses between his new celluloid teeth. “It is Tictocq, the detective. I wonder whom he is following now?”

While Tictocq is watching with lynx-like eyes the hill of Montmartre, he suddenly hears a heavy breathing beside him, and turning, gazes into the ferocious eyes of the Gray Wolf.

Carnaignole Cusheau had put on his W. U. Tel. Co. climbers and climbed the steeple.

Parbleu, monsieur,” says Tictocq. “To whom am I indebted for the honor of this visit?”

The Gray Wolf smiled softly and depreciatingly.

“You are Tictocq, the detective?” he said.

“I am.”

“Then listen. I am the murderer of Marie Cusheau. She was my wife and she had cold feet and ate onions. What was I to do? Yet life is sweet to me. I do not wish to be guillotined. I have heard that you are on my track. Is it true that the case is in your hands?”

“It is.”

“Thank le bon Dieu, then, I am saved.”

The Gray Wolf carefully adjusts the climbers on his feet and descends the spire.

Tictocq takes out his notebook and writes in it.

“At last,” he says, “I have a clue.”


Monsieur le Compte Carnaignole Cusheau, once known as the Gray Wolf, stands in the magnificent drawing-room of his palace on East 47th Street.

Three days after his confession to Tictocq, he happened to look in the pockets of a discarded pair of pants and found twenty million francs in gold.

Suddenly the door opens and Tictocq, the detective, with a dozen gensd’arme, enters the room.

“You are my prisoner,” says the detective.

“On what charge?”

“The murder of Marie Cusheau on the night of August 17th.”

“Your proofs?”

“I saw you do it, and your own confession on the spire of Notadam.”

The Count laughed and took a paper from his pocket. “Read this,” he said, “here is proof that Marie Cusheau died of heart failure.”

Tictocq looked at the paper.

It was a check for 100,000 francs.

Tictocq dismissed the gensd’arme with a wave of his hand.

“We have made a mistake, monsieurs,” he said, but as he turns to leave the room, Count Carnaignole stops him.

“One moment, monsieur.”

The Count Carnaignole tears from his own face a false beard and reveals the flashing eyes and well-known features of Tictocq, the detective.

Then, springing forward, he snatches a wig and false eyebrows from his visitor, and the Gray Wolf, grinding his teeth in rage, stands before him.

The murderer of Marie Cusheau was never discovered.

A Snapshot at the President

(It will be remembered that about a month ago there were special rates offered to the public for a round trip to the City of Washington. The price of the ticket being exceedingly low, we secured a loan of twenty dollars from a public-spirited citizen of Austin, by mortgaging our press and cow, with the additional security of our brother’s name and a slight draught on Major Hutchinson for $4,000.

We purchased a round trip ticket, two loaves of Vienna bread, and quite a large piece of cheese, which we handed to a member of our reportorial staff, with instructions to go to Washington, interview President Cleveland, and get a scoop, if possible, on all other Texas papers.

Our reporter came in yesterday morning, via the Manor dirt road, with a large piece of folded cotton bagging tied under each foot.

It seems that he lost his ticket in Washington, and having divided the Vienna bread and cheese with some disappointed office seekers who were coming home by the same route, he arrived home hungry, desiring food, and with quite an appetite.

Although somewhat late, we give his description of his interview with President Cleveland.)

I am chief reporter on the staff of The Rolling Stone.

About a month ago the managing editor came into the room where we were both sitting engaged in conversation and said:

“Oh, by the way, go to Washington and interview President Cleveland.”

“All right,” said I. “Take care of yourself.”

Five minutes later I was seated in a palatial drawing-room car bounding up and down quite a good deal on the elastic plush-covered seat.

I shall not linger upon the incidents of the journey. I was given carte blanche to provide myself with every comfort, and to spare no expense that I could meet. For the regalement of my inside the preparations had been lavish. Both Vienna and Germany had been called upon to furnish dainty viands suitable to my palate.

I changed cars and shirts once only on the journey. A stranger wanted me to also change a two-dollar bill, but I haughtily declined.

The scenery along the entire road to Washington is diversified. You find a portion of it on one hand by looking out of the window, and upon turning the gaze upon the other side the eye is surprised and delighted by discovering some more of it.

There were a great many Knights of Pythias on the train. One of them insisted upon my giving him the grip I had with me, but he was unsuccessful.

On arriving in Washington, which city I instantly recognized from reading the history of George, I left the car so hastily that I forgot to fee Mr. Pullman’s representative.

I went immediately to the Capitol.

In a spirit of jeu d’esprit I had had made a globular representation of a “rolling stone.” It was of wood, painted a dark color, and about the size of a small cannon ball. I had attached to it a twisted pendant about three inches long to indicate moss. I had resolved to use this in place of a card, thinking people would readily recognize it as an emblem of my paper.

I had studied the arrangement of the Capitol, and walked directly to Mr. Cleveland’s private office.

I met a servant in the hall, and held up my card to him smilingly.

I saw his hair rise on his head, and he ran like a deer to the door, and, lying down, rolled down the long flight of steps into the yard.

“Ah,” said I to myself, “he is one of our delinquent subscribers.”

A little farther along I met the President’s private secretary, who had been writing a tariff letter and cleaning a duck gun for Mr. Cleveland.

When I showed him the emblem of my paper he sprang out of a high window into a hothouse filled with rare flowers.

This somewhat surprised me.

I examined myself. My hat was on straight, and there was nothing at all alarming about my appearance.

I went into the President’s private office.

He was alone. He was conversing with Tom Ochiltree. Mr. Ochiltree saw my little sphere, and with a loud scream rushed out of the room.

President Cleveland slowly turned his eyes upon me.

He also saw what I had in my hand, and said in a husky voice:

“Wait a moment, please.”

He searched his coat pocket, and presently found a piece of paper on which some words were written.

He laid this on his desk and rose to his feet, raised one hand above him, and said in deep tones:

“I die for Free Trade, my country, and⁠—and⁠—all that sort of thing.”

I saw him jerk a string, and a camera snapped on another table, taking our picture as we stood.

“Don’t die in the House, Mr. President,” I said. “Go over into the Senate Chamber.”

“Peace, murderer!” he said. “Let your bomb do its deadly work.”

“I’m no bum,” I said, with spirit. “I represent The Rolling Stone, of Austin, Texas, and this I hold in my hand does the same thing, but, it seems, unsuccessfully.”

The President sank back in his chair greatly relieved.

“I thought you were a dynamiter,” he said. “Let me see; Texas! Texas!” He walked to a large wall map of the United States, and placing his finger thereon at about the location of Idaho, ran it down in a zigzag, doubtful way until he reached Texas.

“Oh, yes, here it is. I have so many things on my mind, I sometimes forget what I should know well.

“Let’s see; Texas? Oh, yes, that’s the State where Ida Wells and a lot of colored people lynched a socialist named Hogg for raising a riot at a camp-meeting. So you are from Texas. I know a man from Texas named Dave Culberson. How is Dave and his family? Has Dave got any children?”

“He has a boy in Austin,” I said, “working around the Capitol.”

“Who is President of Texas now?”

“I don’t exactly⁠—”

“Oh, excuse me. I forgot again. I thought I heard some talk of its having been made a Republic again.”

“Now, Mr. Cleveland,” I said, “you answer some of my questions.”

A curious film came over the President’s eyes. He sat stiffly in his chair like an automaton.

“Proceed,” he said.

“What do you think of the political future of this country?”

“I will state that political exigencies demand emergentistical promptitude, and while the United States is indissoluble in conception and invisible in intent, treason and internecine disagreement have ruptured the consanguinity of patriotism, and⁠—”

“One moment, Mr. President,” I interrupted; “would you mind changing that cylinder? I could have gotten all that from the American Press Association if I had wanted plate matter. Do you wear flannels? What is your favorite poet, brand of catsup, bird, flower, and what are you going to do when you are out of a job?”

“Young man,” said Mr. Cleveland, sternly, “you are going a little too far. My private affairs do not concern the public.”

I begged his pardon, and he recovered his good humor in a moment.

“You Texans have a great representative in Senator Mills,” he said. “I think the greatest two speeches I ever heard were his address before the Senate advocating the removal of the tariff on salt and increasing it on chloride of sodium.”

“Tom Ochiltree is also from our State,” I said.

“Oh, no, he isn’t. You must be mistaken,” replied Mr. Cleveland, “for he says he is. I really must go down to Texas some time, and see the State. I want to go up into the Panhandle and see if it is really shaped like it is on the map.”

“Well, I must be going,” said I.

“When you get back to Texas,” said the President, rising, “you must write to me. Your visit has awakened in me quite an interest in your State which I fear I have not given the attention it deserves. There are many historical and otherwise interesting places that you have revived in my recollection⁠—the Alamo, where Davy Jones fell; Goliad, Sam Houston’s surrender to Montezuma, the petrified boom found near Austin, five-cent cotton and the Siamese Democratic platform born in Dallas. I should so much like to see the gals in Galveston, and go to the wake in Waco. I am glad I met you. Turn to the left as you enter the hall and keep straight on out.” I made a low bow to signify that the interview was at an end, and withdrew immediately. I had no difficulty in leaving the building as soon as I was outside.

I hurried downtown in order to obtain refreshments at some place where viands had been placed upon the free list.

I shall not describe my journey back to Austin. I lost my return ticket somewhere in the White House, and was forced to return home in a manner not especially beneficial to my shoes. Everybody was well in Washington when I left, and all send their love.

Three Paragraphs

“Copy,” yelled the small boy at the door. The sick woman lying on the bed began to move her fingers aimlessly upon the worn counterpane. Her eyes were bright with fever; her face, once beautiful, was thin and pain drawn. She was dying, but neither she nor the man who held her hand and wrote on a paper tablet knew that the end was so near.

Three paragraphs were lacking to fill the column of humorous matter that the foreman had sent for. The small pay it brought them barely furnished shelter and food. Medicine was lacking but the need for that was nearly over.

The woman’s mind was wandering; she spoke quickly and unceasingly, and the man bit his pencil and stared at the pad of paper, holding her slim, hot hand.

“Oh, Jack; Jack, papa says no, I cannot go with you. Not love you! Jack, do you want to break my heart? Oh, look, look! the fields are like heaven, so filled with flowers. Why have you no ice? I had ice when I was at home. Can’t you give me just a little piece, my throat is burning?”

The humourist wrote: “When a man puts a piece of ice down a girl’s back at a picnic, does he give her the cold shoulder?”

The woman feverishly put back the loose masses of brown hair from her burning face.

“Jack, Jack, I don’t want to die! Who is that climbing in the window? Oh, it’s only Jack, and here is Jack holding my hand, too. How funny! We are going to the river tonight. The quiet, broad, dark, whispering river. Hold my hand tight. Jack, I can feel the water coming in. It is so cold. How queer it seems to be dead, dead, and see the trees above you.”

The humourist wrote: “On the dead square⁠—a cemetery lot.”

“Copy, sir,” yelled the small boy again. “Forms locked in half an hour.”

The man bit his pencil into splinters. The hand he held was growing cooler; surely her fever must be leaving. She was singing now, a little crooning song she might have learned at her mother’s knee, and her fingers had ceased moving.

“They told me,” she said weakly and sadly, “that hardships and suffering would come upon me for disobeying my parents and marrying Jack. Oh, dear, my head aches so I can’t think. No, no, the white dress with the lace sleeves, not that black, dreadful thing! Sailing, sailing, sailing, where does this river go? You are not Jack, you are too cold and stern. What is that red mark on your brow? Come, sister, let’s make some daisy chains and then hurry home, there is a great black cloud above us⁠—I’ll be better in the morning. Jack, if you’ll hold my hand tight. Jack, I feel as light as a feather⁠—I’m just floating, floating, right into the cloud and I can’t feel your hand. Oh, I see her now, and there is the old love and tenderness in her face. I must go to her. Jack. Mother, mother!”

The man wrote quickly:

“A woman generally likes her husband’s mother-in-law the best of all his relatives.”

Then he sprang to the door, dashed the column of copy into the boy’s hand, and moved swiftly to the bed.

He put his arm softly under the brown head that had suffered so much, but it turned heavily aside.

The fever was gone. The humourist was alone.

A Lunar Episode

The scene was one of supernatural weirdness. Tall, fantastic mountains reared their seamed peaks over a dreary waste of igneous rock and burned-out lava beds. Deep lakes of black water stood motionless as glass under frowning, honeycombed crags, from which ever and anon dropped crumbled masses with a sullen plunge. Vegetation there was none. Bitter cold reigned and ridges of black and shapeless rocks cut the horizon on all sides. An extinct volcano loomed against a purple sky, black as night and old as the world.

The firmament was studded with immense stars that shone with a wan and spectral light. Orion’s belt hung high above.

Aldebaran faintly shone millions of miles away, and the earth gleamed like a new-risen moon with a lurid, blood-like glow.

On a lofty mountain that hung toppling above an ink-black sea stood a dwelling built of stone. From its solitary window came a bright light that gleamed upon the misshapen rocks. The door opened and two men emerged locked in a deadly struggle.

They swayed and twisted upon the edge of the precipice, now one gaining the advantage, now the other.

Strong men they were, and stone rolled from their feet into the valley as each strove to overcome the other.

At length one prevailed. He seized his opponent, and raising him high above his head, hurled him into space.

The vanquished combatant shot through the air like a stone from a catapult in the direction of the luminous earth.

“That’s three of ’em this week,” said the Man in the Moon as he lit a cigarette and turned back into the house. “Those New York interviewers are going to make me tired if they keep this thing up much longer.”

The Sensitive Colonel Jay

The sun is shining brightly, and the birds are singing merrily in the trees! All nature wears an aspect of peace and harmony. On the porch of a little hotel in a neighboring county a stranger is sitting on a bench waiting for the train, quietly smoking his pipe.

Presently a tall man wearing boots and a slouch hat, steps to the door of the hotel from the inside with a six-shooter in his hand and fires. The man on the bench rolls over with a loud yell as the bullet grazes his ear. He springs to his feet in amazement and wrath and shouts:

“What are you shooting at me for?”

The tall man advances with his slouch hat in his hand, bows and says: “Beg pardon, sah. I am Colonel Jay, sah, and I understood you to insult me, sah, but I see I was mistaken. Am very glad I did not kill you, sah.”

“I insult you⁠—how?” inquires the stranger. “I never said a word.”

“You tapped on the bench, sah, as much as to say you was a woodpeckah, sah, and I belong to the other faction. I see now that you was only knockin’ the ashes from you’ pipe, sah. I ask yo’ pahdon, and that you will come in and have a drink with me, sah, to show that you do not harbor any ill feeling after a gentleman apologizes to you, sah.”

The Distraction of Grief

The other day a Houston man died and left a young and charming widow to mourn his loss. Just before the funeral, the pastor came around to speak what words of comfort he could, and learn her wishes regarding the obsequies. He found her dressed in a becoming mourning costume, sitting with her chin in her hand, gazing with far-off eyes in an unfathomable sea of retrospection.

The pastor approached her gently, and said: “Pardon me for intruding upon your grief, but I wish to know whether you prefer to have a funeral sermon preached, or simply to have the service read.”

The heartbroken widow scarcely divined his meaning, so deeply was she plunged in her sorrowful thoughts, but she caught some of his words, and answered brokenly:

“Oh, red, of course. Red harmonizes so well with black.”

A Sporting Interest

It is a busy scene in the rear of one of Houston’s greatest manufacturing establishments. A number of workmen are busy raising some heavy object by means of blocks and tackles. Somehow, a rope is worn in two by friction, and a derrick falls. There is a hurried scrambling out of the way, a loud jarring crash, a cloud of dust, and a man stretched out dead beneath the heavy timbers.

The others gather round and with herculean efforts drag the beams from across his mangled form. There is a hoarse murmur of pity from rough but kindly breasts, and the question runs around the group, “Who is to tell her?”

In a neat little cottage near the railroad, within their sight as they stand, a bright-eyed, brownhaired young woman is singing at her work, not knowing that death has snatched away her husband in the twinkling of an eye.

Singing happily at her work, while the hand that she had chosen to protect and comfort her through life lies stilled and fast turning to the coldness of the grave!

These rough men shrink like children from telling her. They dread to bear the news that will change her smiles to awful sorrow and lamentation.

“You go, Mike,” three or four of them say at once. “ ’Tis more lamin’ ye have than any av us, whatever, and ye’ll be afther brakin’ the news to her as aisy as ye can. Be off wid ye now, and shpake gently to Tim’s poor lassie while we thry to get the corpse in shape.”

Mike is a pleasant-faced man, young and stalwart, and with a last look at his unfortunate comrade he goes slowly down the street toward the cottage where the fair young wife⁠—alas, now a widow⁠—lives.

When he arrives, he does not hesitate. He is tenderhearted, but strong. He lifts the gate latch and walks firmly to the door. There is something in his face, before he speaks, that tells her the truth.

“What was it?” she asks, “spontaneous combustion or snakes?”

“Derrick fell,” says Mike.

“Then I’ve lost my bet,” she says. “I thought sure it would be whisky.”

Life, messieurs, is full of disappointments.

Had a Use for It

A strong scent of onions and the kind of whisky advertised “for mechanical purposes” came through the keyhole, closely followed by an individual bearing a bulky manuscript under his arm about the size of a roll of wall paper.

The individual was of the description referred to by our English cousins as “one of the lower classes,” and by Populist papers as “the bone and sinew of the country,” and the scene of his invasion was the sanctum of a great Texas weekly newspaper.

The editor sat at his desk with his hands clenched in his scanty hair, gazing despairingly at a typewritten letter from the house where he bought his paper supply.

The individual drew a chair close to the editor and laid the heavy manuscript upon the desk, which creaked beneath its weight.

“I’ve worked nineteen hours upon it,” he said, “but it’s done at last.”

“What is it?” asked the editor, “a lawn mower?”

“It is an answer, sir, to the President’s message: a refutation of each and every one of his damnable doctrines, a complete and scathing review of every assertion and every false insidious theory that he has advanced.”

“About how many⁠—er⁠—how many pounds do you think it contains?” said the editor thoughtfully.

“Five hundred and twenty-seven pages, sir, and⁠—”

“Written in pencil on one side of the paper?” asked the editor, with a strange light shining in his eye.

“Yes, and it treats of⁠—”

“You can leave it,” said the editor, rising from his chair. “I have no doubt I can use it to advantage.”

The individual, with a strong effort, collected his breath and departed, feeling that a fatal blow had been struck at those in high places.

Ten minutes later six india-rubber erasers had been purchased, and the entire office force were at work upon the manuscript.

The great weekly came out on time, but the editor gazed pensively at his last month’s unreceipted paper bill and said:

“So far, so good; but I wonder what we will print on next week!”

The Old Landmark

He was old and feeble and his sands of life were nearly run out. He walked with faltering steps along one of the most fashionable avenues in the city of Houston. He had left the city twenty years ago, when it was little more than a thriving village, and now, weary of wandering through the world and filled with an unutterable longing to rest his eyes once more upon the scenes of his youth, he had come back to find a bustling modern city covering the site of his former home. He sought in vain for some familiar object, some old time sight that would recall memories of bygone days. All had changed. On the site where his father’s cottage had stood, a stately mansion reared its walls; the vacant lot where he had played when a boy, was covered with modern buildings. Magnificent lawns stretched on either hand, running back to palatial dwellings. Not one of the sights of his boyhood days was left.

Suddenly, with a glad cry, he rushed forward with renewed vigor. He saw before him, untouched by the hand of man and unchanged by time, an old familiar object around which he had played when a child. He reached out his arms and ran toward it with a deep sigh of satisfaction.

Later on they found him asleep, with a peaceful smile on his face, lying on the old garbage pile in the middle of the street, the sole relic of his boyhood’s recollections.

Getting at the Facts

It was late in the afternoon and the day staff was absent. The night editor had just come in, pulled off his coat, vest, collar, and necktie, rolled up his shirtsleeves and eased down his suspenders, and was getting ready for work.

Someone knocked timidly outside the door, and the night editor yelled, “Come in.”

A handsome young lady with entreating blue eyes and a Psyche knot entered with a rolled manuscript in her hand.

The night editor took it silently and unrolled it. It was a poem and he read it half aloud with a convulsive jaw movement that resulted from his organs of speech being partially engaged with about a quarter of a plug of chewing tobacco. The poem ran thus:

A Requiem

The soft, sweet, solemn dawn stole through
The latticed room’s deep gloom;
He lay in pallid, pulseless peace,
Fulfilled his final doom.
Oh, breaking heart of mine⁠—oh, break!
Left lonely here to mourn;
My alter ego, mentor, friend
Thus from me rudely torn.
Within his chamber dead he lies,
And stilled is his sweet lyre;
How long he pored o’er midnight oil.
With grand poetic fire!
Till came the crash, when his bright light
Went out, and all was drear;
And my sad soul was left to wait
In grief and anguish here.

“When did this happen?” asked the night editor.

“I wrote it last night, sir,” said the young lady. “Is it good enough to print?”

“Last night! H’m. A little stale, but the other papers didn’t get it. Now, miss,” continued the night editor, smiling and throwing out his chest, “I’m going to teach you a lesson in the newspaper business. We can use this item, but it’s not in proper shape. Just take that chair, and I’ll rewrite it for you, showing you how to properly condense a news item in order to secure its insertion.”

The young lady seated herself and the night editor knitted his brows and read over the poem two or three times to get the main points. He then wrote a few lines upon a sheet of paper and said:

“Now, miss, here is the form in which your item will appear when we print it:

Fatal Accident

Last evening Mr. Alter Ego of this city was killed by the explosion of a kerosene lamp while at work in his room.

“Now, you see, miss, the item includes the main facts in the case, and⁠—”

“Sir!” said the young lady indignantly. “There is nothing of the kind intimated in the poem. The lines are imaginary and are intended to express the sorrow of a poet’s friend at his untimely demise.”

“Why, miss,” said the night editor, “it plainly refers to midnight oil, and a crash, and when the light blew up the gent was left for dead in the room.”

“You horrid thing,” said the young lady, “give me my manuscript. I will bring it back when the literary editor is in.”

“I’m sorry,” said the night editor as he handed her the roll. “We’re short on news tonight, and it would have made a nice little scoop. Don’t happen to know of any accidents in your ward: births, runaways, holdups, or breach of promise suits, do you?”

But the slamming of the door was the only answer from the fair poetess.

Too Wise

Here is a man in Houston who keeps quite abreast of the times. He reads the papers, has traveled extensively and is an excellent judge of human nature. He has a natural gift for detecting humbugs and fakirs, and it would be a smooth artist indeed who could impose upon him in any way.

Last night as he was going home, a shady looking man with his hat pulled over his eyes stepped out from a doorway and said:

“Say, gent, here’s a fine diamond ring I found in de gutter. I don’t want to get into no trouble wid it. Gimme a dollar and take it.”

The Houston man smiled as he looked at the flashy ring the man held toward him.

“A very good game, my man,” he said, “but the police are hot after you fellows. You had better select your rhinestone customers with better judgment. Good night.”

When the man got home he found his wife in tears.

“Oh, John,” she said. “I went shopping this afternoon and lost my solitaire diamond ring. Oh, what shall I⁠—”

John turned without a word and rushed back down the street, but the shady-looking man was not to be found.

His wife often wonders why he never scolded her for losing the ring.

Answers to Inquiries

Dear Editor: I want to ask a question in arithmetic. I am a school boy and am anxious to know the solution. If my pa, who keeps a grocery on Milam Street, sells four cans of tomatoes for twenty-five cents, and twenty-two pounds of sugar, and one can of extra evaporated apples and three cans of superior California plums, for only⁠—

There! There! little boy; that will do. Tell your pa to come around and see the advertising manager, who is quite an arithmetician, and will doubtless work the sum for you at the usual rates.

Hush Money

He was a great practical joker, and never lost a chance to get a good one on somebody. A few days ago he stopped a friend on Main Street and said, confidentially:

“I never would have believed it, but I believe it my duty to make it known. Mr. ⸻, the alderman for our ward, has been taking hush money.”

“Impossible!” said his friend.

“I tell you, it’s true, for I overheard the conversation and actually saw it handed over to him, and he took the money and put it in his pocket.”

Then he went on without explaining any further, and the thing got talked around considerably for a day or two.

He forgot all about it until one day he met the alderman and suffered from the encounter to the extent of two black eyes and a coat split up the back.

And then he had to go all round and explain that what he meant was that he had seen the alderman’s wife give him a dime to buy some paregoric for the baby.

Relieved

A Houston gentleman who is worth somewhere up in the hundreds of thousands and lives on eleven dollars a week, was sitting in his private office a few days ago, when a desperate looking man entered and closed the door carefully behind him. The man had an evil, villainous-looking face, and in his hand he held with the utmost care an oblong, square-shaped package. “What do you want?” asked the capitalist.

“I must have money,” hissed the stranger. “I am starving while you are rolling in wealth. Do you see this little package? Do you know what it contains?”

The wealthy citizen sprang from his desk in horror, pale with fright.

“No, no,” he gasped. “You would not be so cruel, so heartless.”

“This package,” continued the desperate man, “contains enough dynamite, if let fall upon the floor, to hurl this building into a shapeless mass of ruins.”

“Is that all?” said the capitalist, sinking into his chair and picking up his newspaper with a sigh of relief. “You don’t know how much you frightened me. I thought it was a gold brick.”

A Villainous Trick

When it becomes necessary for an actor to write a letter during the performance of a play, it is a custom to read the words aloud as he writes them. It is necessary to do this in order that the audience may be apprised of its contents, otherwise the clearness of the plot might be obscured. The writing of a letter upon the stage, therefore, generally has an important bearing upon the situation being presented, and of course the writer is forced to read aloud what he writes for the benefit of the audience. During the production of “Monbars” in Houston some days ago, the gentleman who assumed the character of the heavy villain took advantage of a situation of this description in a most cowardly manner.

In the last act, Mantell, as Monbars, writes a letter of vital importance, and, as customary, reads the lines aloud as he writes them. The villain hides behind the curtains of a couch and listens in fiendish glee to the contents of the letter as imparted by Mr. Mantell in strict confidence to the audience. He then uses the information obtained in this underhanded manner to further his own devilish designs.

Mr. Mantell ought not to allow this. A man who is a member of his own company, and who, no doubt is drawing a good salary, should be above taking a mean advantage of a mere stage technicality.

Book Reviews

Unabridged Dictionary by Noah Webster, LL.D.F.R.S.X.Y.Z.

We find on our table quite an exhaustive treatise on various subjects, written in Mr. Webster’s well-known, lucid, and piquant style. There is not a dull line between the covers of the book. The range of subjects is wide, and the treatment light and easy without being flippant. A valuable feature of the work is the arranging of the articles in alphabetical order, thus facilitating the finding of any particular word desired. Mr. Webster’s vocabulary is large, and he always uses the right word in the right place. Mr. Webster’s work is thorough and we predict that he will be heard from again.

Houston’s City Directory, by Morrison and Fourmy.

This new book has the decided merit of being non-sensational. In these days of erratic and ultra-imaginative literature of the modern morbid self-analytical school it is a relief to peruse a book with so little straining after effect, so well balanced, and so pure in sentiment. It is a book that a man can place in the hands of the most innocent member of his family with the utmost confidence. Its material is healthy, and its literary style excellent, as it adheres to the methods used with such thrilling effect by Mr. Webster in his famous dictionary, viz: alphabetical arrangement.

We venture to assert that no one can carefully and conscientiously read this little volume without being a better man, or lady, as circumstances over which they have no control may indicate.

A Conditional Pardon

The runaway couple had just returned, and she knelt at the old man’s feet and begged forgiveness.

“Yes, forgive us,” cried the newly wedded husband. “Forgive me for taking her away from you, but see, I have brought her back.”

“Yes,” said the old man, his voice trembling with emotion, “you have brought her back. You have brought her back. Bat that is not all, lad; you have brought her back, but you have also brought the part of her that eats provisions. I will forgive you for fifty dollars per month, lights and washing extra.”


It is but justice to the Pension Bureau at Washington to state that they have not yet granted the pension claimed by a man who was wounded in the late unpleasantness by the accidental discharge of his duty.


A careful inquiry has revealed the fact that Samson was the first man who rushed the growler.

Better blow your own horn than one you haven’t paid for.

If your rye offend you, buy a better quality.

Bill Nye

Bill Nye, who recently laid down his pen for all time, was a unique figure in the field of humor. His best work probably more nearly represented American humor than that of any other writer. Mr. Nye had a sense of ludicrous that was keen and judicious. His humor was peculiarly American in that it depended upon sharp and unexpected contrasts, and the bringing of opposites into unlooked-for comparison for its effect. Again, he had the true essence of kindliness, without which humor is stripped of its greatest component part.

Bill Nye’s jokes never had a sting. They played like summer lightning around the horizon of life, illuminating and spreading bright, if transitory, pictures upon the sky, but they were as harmless as the smile of a child. The brain of the man conceived the swift darts that he threw, but his great manly heart broke off their points.

He knew human nature as a scholar knows his book, and the knowledge did not embitter him. He saw all the goodness in frailty, and his clear eyes penetrated the frailty of goodness.

His was the child’s heart, the scholar’s knowledge, and the philosopher’s view of life. He might have won laurels in other fields, for he was a careful reasoner, and a close observer, but he showed his greatness in putting aside cold and fruitless discussions that have wearied the world long ago, and set himself the task of arousing bubbling laughter instead of consuming doubt.

The world has been better for him, and when that can be said of a man, the tears that drop upon his grave are more potent than the loud huzzas that follow the requiem of the greatest conqueror or the most successful statesman.

The kindliest thoughts and the sincerest prayers follow the great humanitarian⁠—for such he was into the great beyond, and such solace as the hearty condolement of a million people can bring to the bereaved loved ones of Bill Nye, is theirs.

A Guarded Secret

It is time to call a halt upon the persistent spreaders of the alleged joke that a woman can not keep a secret. No baser ingratitude has been shown by man toward the fair sex than the promulgation of this false report. Whenever a would-be humorous man makes use of this antiquated chestnut which his fellow men feel in duty bound to applaud, the face of the woman takes on a strange, inscrutable, pitying smile that few men ever read.

The truth is that it is only woman who can keep a secret. Only a divine intelligence can understand the marvelous power with which ninety-nine married women out of a hundred successfully hide from the rest of the world the secret that they have bound themselves to something unworthy of the pure and sacrificing love they have given them. She may whisper to her neighbor that Mrs. Jones has turned her old silk dress twice, but if she has in her breast anything affecting one she loves, the gods themselves could not drag it from her.

Weak man looks into the wine cup and behold, he babbles his innermost thoughts to any gaping bystander; woman can babble of the weather, and gaze with infantine eyes into the orbs of the wiliest diplomat, while holding easily in her breast the heaviest secrets of state.

Adam was the original blab; the first telltale, and we are not proud of him. With the dreamy, appealing eyes of Eve upon him⁠—she who was created for his comfort and pleasure⁠—even as she stood by his side, loving and fresh and fair as a spring moon, the wretched cad said, “The woman gave me and I did eat.” This reprehensible act in our distinguished forefather can not be excused by any gentleman who knows what is due to a lady.

Adam’s conduct would have caused his name to be stricken from the list of every decent club in the country. And since that day, woman has stood by man, faithful, true, and ready to give up all for his sake. She hides his puny peccadilloes from the world, she glosses over his wretched misdemeanors, and she keeps silent when a word would pierce his inflated greatness and leave him a shriveled and shrunken rag.

And man says that woman can not keep a secret!

Let him be thankful that she can, or his littleness would be proclaimed from the housetops.

A Universal Favorite

The most popular and best loved young lady in the United States is Miss Annie Williams of Philadelphia. Her picture is possessed by more men, and is more eagerly sought after than that of Lillian Russell, Mrs. Langtry, or any other famous beauty. There is more demand for her pictures than for the counterfeit presentments of all the famous men and women in the world combined. And yet she is a modest, charming, and rather retiring young lady, with a face less beautiful than of a clear and classic outline.

Miss Williams is soon to be married, but it is expected that the struggle for her pictures will go on as usual.

She is the lady the profile of whose face served as the model for the head of Liberty on our silver dollar.

Willing to Compromise

As he walked up to the bar he pulled up his collar with both hands and straightened the old red tie that was trying to creep around under one ear.

The bartender glanced at him and then went on chipping lemon peel into a saucer.

“Say,” said the man with the red tie, “it makes me right sick to think about it.”

“What?” said the bartender, “water?”

“No sir; the apathy displayed by the people of the state in regard to presenting the battleship Texas with a suitable present. It is a disgrace to our patriotism. I was talking to W. G. Cleveland this morning and we both agreed that something must be done at once. Would you give ten dollars toward a silver service to be presented to the ship?”

The bartender reached behind him and took up a glass that was sitting on the shelf.

“I don’t know that I would give you ten dollars,” he said, “but here’s some whisky that I put some turpentine in by mistake this morning and forgot to throw it out. Will that do as well?”

“It will,” said the man with the red tie, reaching for the glass, “and I am also soliciting aid for the Cuban patriots. If you want to assist the cause of liberty and can’t spare the cash, if you could rustle up a glass of beer with a fly in it, I would⁠—”

“Trot out, now,” said the bartender. “There’s a church member looking in the back door, and he won’t come in till everybody’s out.”

Ridiculous

The following conundrum was left at the office yesterday by a young man, who immediately fled:

“Why is the coming Sunday like a very young body?”

Answer: “Because it’s neck’s weak.”

We do not see any reason why this should be the case. It is impossible for Sunday or any other day in the week to have a neck. The thing is printed merely to show what kind of stuff people send in to the paper.

Guessed Everything Else

A man with a long, sharp nose and a big bundle which he carried by a strap went up the steps of the gloomy-looking brick house, set his bundle down, rang the bell, and took off his hat and wiped his brow.

A woman opened the door and he said: “Madam, I have a number of not only useful but necessary articles here that I would like to show you. First, I want you to look at these elegant illustrated books of travel and biography, written by the best authors. They are sold only by subscription. They are bound in⁠—”

“I don’t care to see them. We have sm⁠—”

“Small children only, eh? Well, Madam, here are some building blocks that are very instructive and amusing. No? Well, let me show you some beautiful lace window curtains for your sitting room, handmade and a great bargain. I can⁠—”

“I don’t want them. We have sm⁠—”

“Smoking in the house? It won’t injure them in the least. Just shake them out in the morning and I guarantee not a vestige of tobacco smoke will remain. Here also I have a very ingenious bell for awakening lazy servants in the morning. You simply touch a button and⁠—”

“I tell you we have sm⁠—”

“Have smart servants, have you? Well, that is a blessing. Now, here is a clothes line that is one of the wonders of the age. It needs no pins and can be fastened to anything⁠—fence, side of the house, or tree. It can be raised or lowered in an instant, and for a large washing is the most convenient and laborsaving invention that⁠—”

“I say we have small⁠—”

“Oh, you have a small family. Let’s see, then I have here a⁠—”

“I’m trying to tell you,” said the woman, “that we have smallpox in the family, and⁠—”

The long-nosed man made a convulsive grab at his goods and rolled down the steps in about two seconds, while the woman softly closed the door just as a man got out of a buggy and nailed a yellow flag on the house.

A Slight Mistake

An ordinary-looking man wearing a last season’s negligee shirt stepped into the business office and unrolled a strip of manuscript some three feet long.

“I wanted to see you about this little thing I want to publish in the paper. There are fifteen verses besides the other reading matter. The verses are on spring. My handwriting is a trifle illegible and I may have to read it over to you. This is the way it runs:

Spring

The air is full of gentle zephyrs,
Grass is growing green;
Winter now has surely left us.
Spring has come, I ween.

When the sun has set, the vapors
Rise from out the meadows low;
When the stars are lit like tapers
Then the night winds chilly blow.

“Take that stuff up to the editorial department,” said the business manager shortly.

“I have been up there already,” said the ordinary-looking man, “and they sent me down here. This will fill about a column. I want to talk with you about the price. The last verse runs this way:

Then it is that weakening languors
Thicken in our veins the blood
And we must ward off these dangers
Ere we find our names are “Mud.”

“The reading matter that follows is, as you see, typewritten, and easily read. Now, I⁠—”

“D⁠⸺⁠n it,” said the business manager. “Don’t you come in here reading your old spring poems to me. I’ve been bored already today with a lot of ink and paper drummers. Why don’t you go to work instead of fooling away your time on rot like that?”

“I didn’t mean to bother you,” said the other man, rolling up his manuscript. “Is there another paper in the city?”

“Yes, there’s a few. Have you got a family?”

“Yes, sir.”

“Then why in thunder don’t you get into some decent business, instead of going around writing confounded trash and reading it to busy people? Ain’t you got any manhood about you?”

“Excuse me for troubling you,” said the ordinary-looking man, as he walked toward the door. “I tell you how it is. I cleared over $80,000 last year on these little things I write. I am placing my spring and summer ads for the Sarsaparilla firm of which I am a member. I had decided to place about $1,000 in advertising in this town. I will see the other papers you spoke of. Good morning!”

The business manager has since become so cautious that all the amateur poets in the city now practice reading their verses to him, and he listens without a murmur.

A Good Story Spoiled

Few nights ago in a rather tough saloon in a little town on the Central Railroad, a big, strapping desperado, who had an unenviable reputation as a bad man generally, walked up to the bar and in a loud voice ordered everybody in the saloon to walk up and take a drink. The crowd moved quickly to the bar at his invitation, as the man was half drunk and was undoubtedly dangerous when in that condition.

One man alone failed to accept the invitation. He was a rather small man, neatly dressed, who sat calmly in his chair, gazing idly at the crowd. A student of physiognomy would have been attracted by the expression of his face, which was one of cool determination and force of will. His jaw was square and firm, and his eye gray and steady, with that peculiar gray glint in the iris that presages more danger than any other kind of optic.

The bully looked around and saw that someone had declined his invitation.

He repeated it in a louder voice.

The small man rose to his feet and walked coolly toward the desperado.

“Excuse me,” he said in a low but determined tone, “I’m a little deaf and didn’t hear you the first time. Gimme whisky straight.”

And another story was spoiled for the papers.

Revenge

The man, woman, child, or animal who pens “Postscripts” for the Houston Post is a weird, wild-eyed genius and ought to be captured and put on exhibition with the “nameless things” they are taking out of the government well at San Marcos. There is certainly a reward for both specimens.

Kyle Star-Vindicator

Although we can stand a great deal, this attack has goaded us to what is perhaps a bitter and cruel, but not entirely an unjustifiable revenge. Below will be found an editorial from the last number of the Star-Vindicator:

“Spring, with her magic word of music, pathos, and joy, has touched a thousand hills and vales, has set a million throats to warbling; sunshine, song, and flowers bedeck every altar and crown each day more glorious. Imperial spring is here⁠—the brightest, gayest, and best of all God’s seasons. Springtime is like the little child⁠—crowned with its own purity and love not tarnished and seared with the hand of Time. It is like the bright, sparkling miniature rivulet that bursts from the mountain side and goes merrily over the shining pebbles before it hastens into a dark, deep, dangerous river. The sweet cadence of music, the scent of wafted perfumes, the stretch of glorious landscape, radiated and beautified with lovely gems of Oriental hue, catch our attention at every step. The world today is a wilderness of flowers, a bower of beauty, and millions of sweet native warblers make its pastures concert halls, where we can go in peace at even-time, after the strife, the toil, the disappointments, and sorrows of our labors here and gather strength, courage, and hope to meet on the morrow life’s renewed duties and responsibilities.”

No Help for It

“John,” said a Houston grocer the other day to one of his clerks. “You have been a faithful and competent clerk, and in order to show my appreciation, I have decided to take you into partnership. From this time on you are to have a share in the business, and be a member of the firm.”

“But, sir,” said John anxiously, “I have a family to support. I appreciate the honor, but I fear I am too young for the responsibility. I would much rather retain my present place.”

“Can’t help it,” said the grocer. “Times are hard and I’ve got to cut down expenses if I have to take every clerk in the house into the firm.”

“Not So Much a Tam Fool”

A man without a collar, wearing a white vest and holes in his elbows, walked briskly into a Congress Street grocery last Saturday with a package in his hand and said:

“Here, Fritz, I bought two dozen eggs here this afternoon, and I find your clerk made a mistake, I⁠—”

“Coom here, Emil,” shouted the grocer, “you hof dis shentleman sheated mit dos rotten eggs. Gif him ein dozen more, und⁠—”

“But you don’t understand me,” said the man, with a pleasant smile. “The mistake is the other way. The eggs are all right; but you have given me too many. I only paid for two dozen, and on reaching home I find three dozen in the sack. I want to return the extra dozen, and I came back at once. I⁠—”

“Emil!” shouted the grocer again to his boy. “Gif dis man two dozen eggs at vonce. You haf sheated him mit pad eggs. Don’d you do dot any more times or I discharge you.”

“But, sir,” said the man with the white vest, anxiously. “You gave me too many eggs for my money, and I want to return a dozen. I am too honest to⁠—”

“Emil,” said the grocer, “gif dis man t’ree dozen goot fresh eggs at vonce and let him go. Ve makes pad eggs good ven ve sells dem. Hurry up quick and put in drei or four extra vons.”

“But, listen to me, sir,” said the man. “I want to⁠—”

“Say, mein frindt,” said the grocer in a lower voice, “you petter dake dose eggs und go home. I know vat you pring pack dose eggs for. If I dake dem, I say, ‘Veil, dot is ein very good man; he vas honest py dose eggs, aind’t it?’ Den you coom pack Monday und you puy nine tollers’ vorth of vlour and paeon and canned goots, and you say you bay me Saturday night. I was not so much a tarn fool as eferypody say I look like. You petter dake dose t’ree dozen eggs and call it skvare. Ve always correct leedle misdakes ven ve make dem. Emil, you petter make it t’ree dozen und a half fur good measure, and put in two t’ree stick candy for die kinder.”

A Guess-Proof Mystery Story

The most popular and recent advertising dodge in literature is the Grand Guess Contest Mystery Story. Everybody is invited to guess how the story will end, at any time before the last chapter is published, and incidentally to buy a paper or subscribe. It is the easiest thing in the world to write a story of mystery that will defy the most ingenious guessers in the country.

To prove it, here is one that we offer $10,000 to any man and $15,000 to any woman who guesses the mystery before the last chapter.

The synopsis of the story is alone given, as literary style is not our object⁠—we want mystery.

Chapter I

Judge Smith, a highly esteemed citizen of Plunkville, is found murdered in his bed at his home. He has been stabbed with a pair of scissors, poisoned with “rough on rats.” His throat has been cut with an ivory handled razor, an artery in his arm has been opened, and he has been shot full of buckshot from a double-barreled gun.

The coroner is summoned and the room examined. On the ceiling is a bloody footprint, and on the floor are found a lady’s lace handkerchief, embroidered with the initials “J. B.,” a package of cigarettes and a ham sandwich. The coroner renders a verdict of suicide.

Chapter II

The judge leaves a daughter, Mabel, aged eighteen, and ravishingly lovely. The night before the murder she exhibited a revolver and an axe in the principal saloon in town and declared her intention of “doing up” the old man. The judge has his life insured for $100,000 in her favor. Nobody suspects her of the crime.

Mabel is engaged to a young man named Charlie, who is seen on the night of the murder by several citizens climbing out the judge’s window with a bloody razor and a shotgun in his hand. Society gives Charlie the cold shoulder.

A tramp is run over by a street car and before dying confesses to having committed the murder, and at the judge’s funeral his brother, Colonel Smith, breaks down and acknowledges having killed the judge in order to get his watch. Mabel sends to Chicago and employs a skilled detective to work up the case.

Chapter III

A beautiful strange lady dressed in mourning comes to Plunkville and registers at the hotel as Jane Bumgartner. (The initials on the handkerchief!)

The next day a Chinaman is found who denies having killed the judge, and is arrested by the detective. The strange lady meets Charlie on the street, and, on smelling the smoke from his cigarette, faints. Mabel discards him and engages herself to the Chinaman.

Chapter IV

While the Chinaman is being tried for murder, Jane Bumgartner testifies that she saw the detective murder Judge Smith at the instance of the minister who conducted the funeral, and that Mabel is Charlie’s stepmother. The Chinaman is about to confess when footsteps are heard approaching. The next chapter will be the last, and it is safe to say that no one will find it easy to guess the ending of the story. To show how difficult this feat is, the last chapter is now given.

Chapter V

The footsteps prove to be those of Thomas R. Hefflebomer of Washington Territory, who introduces positive proof of having murdered the judge during a fit of mental aberration, and Mabel marries a man named Tompkins, whom she met two years later at Hot Springs.

An Inspiration

He was seated on an empty box on Main Street late yesterday evening during the cold drizzling rain. He was poorly clad and his thick coat was buttoned up high under his chin. He had a woeful, harassed appearance, and there was something about him that indicated that he was different from the average tramp who beats his way by lies and fraud.

The Post man felt a touch of sympathy and went up to him and said:

“There’s a place around the corner where you can get a lunch and lodging for a small sum. When did you strike town?”

The man gazed at the reporter out of his small, keen eyes and said:

“You’re a new man on the Post, are you not?”

“Yes, comparatively.”

“Do you see that block of three-story buildings over there?”

“Yes.”

“Well, I own them and was just sitting here studying what I’m going to do.”

“What’s the trouble?”

“Why, the walls are cracking and bulging out on the sides, and I’m afraid I’m going to have to put a lot of money into repairs. I’ve got over one hundred tenants in those buildings.”

“I’ll tell you what to do.”

“What?”

“You say the walls are bulging out?”

“Yes.”

“Well, that makes more room everywhere. You just raise all your tenants’ rent on account of the extra space.”

“Young man, you’re a genius. I’ll put rents up twenty percent tomorrow.”

And one more capitalist was saved.

Coming to Him

The man who keeps up with the latest scientific discoveries is abroad in the land. He knows all about bacilli, microbes, and all the various newly found foes to mankind. He reads the papers and heeds all the warnings that lead to longevity and safety to mind and limb. He stopped a friend on Main Street yesterday who was hurrying to the post-office and said excitedly:

“Wait a minute, Brown. Do you ever bite your finger nails?”

“I think so⁠—no, I don’t know; excuse me, please, I’ve got to catch that car.”

“Hold on, man; great goodness alive, you don’t know what danger you are in. If a sharp particle of the nail gets into your lungs, inflammation is bound to set in, and finally laceration, consumption, hemorrhage, fits, coma, tuberculosis, and death. Think of it! And by the way, a new bacillus has been found in water in which roses have been left standing that is very fatal. I want to warn you. Do you know that⁠—”

“Say, old man, I’m much obliged, but this letter⁠—”

“What is a letter compared with your life? There are 10,000,000 animalcules in a spoonful of ordinary hydrant water; there are 2,000 different varieties known. Do you ever put salt in your beer?”

“I don’t know; I really must go, I⁠—”

“Don’t hold me responsible for your life, I’m trying to save it. Why, Heavens, man, it’s nothing but a miracle that we live a single day. In every glass of beer there is an infinitesimal quantity of hydrochloric acid. Salt is a chloride of sodium, and the union releases the chlorine. You are drinking chlorine gas every day of your life. Pause, before it is too late.”

“I don’t drink beer.”

“But you breathe through your mouth when you are asleep. Do you know what that does? Brings on angina pectoris and bronchitis. Are you determined to let your ignorance carry you to your grave? Think of your wife and children! Do you know that the common house fly carries 40,000 microbes on his feet, and can convey cholera, typhoid fever, diphtheria, pyaemia, and⁠—”

“Dang your microbes. I’ve got just three minutes to catch that mail. So long.”

“Wait just a minute. Dr. Pasteur says that⁠—”

But the victim was gone.

Ten minutes later the heeder of new discoveries was knocked down by a wagon while trying to cross the street reading about a new filter, and was carried home by sympathizing friends.

His Pension

“Speaking of the $140,000,000 paid out yearly by the government in pensions,” said a prominent member of Hood’s brigade to the Post’s representative, “I am told that a man in Indiana applied for a pension last month on account of a surgical operation he had performed on him during the war. And what do you suppose that surgical operation was?”

“Haven’t the least idea.”

“He had his retreat cut off at the battle of Gettysburg!”

The Winner

After the performance of “In Old Kentucky” Friday night three old cronies went into a saloon with the inflexible determination of taking a drink. After doing so, they added an amendment in the shape of another and then tacked on an emergency clause.

When they got to feeling a little mellow they sat down at a table and commenced lying. Not maliciously, but just ordinary, friendly lying, about the things they had seen and done. They all tried their hand at relating experiences, and as the sky was clear, there was no matinee performance of the Ananias tragedy.

Finally the judge suggested the concoction of a fine large julep⁠—a julep that would render the use of curling irons unnecessary⁠—and the one who told the most improbable story should be allowed to produce the vacuum in the straws.

The major and the judge led off with a couple of marvelous narratives which were about a tie. The colonel moistened his lips as his eye rested on the big glass filled with diamonds and amber, and crowned with fragrant mint. He commenced his story:

“The incident I am about to relate is not only wonderful, but true. It happened in this very town on Saturday afternoon. I got up rather early Saturday morning, as I had a big day’s work ahead of me. My wife fixed me up a rattling good cocktail when I got up and I was feeling pretty good. When I came downstairs she handed me a five-dollar bill that had dropped out of my pocket and said: ‘John, you must really get a better looking housemaid. Jane is so homely, and you never did admire her. See if you can find a real nice-looking one⁠—and John, dear, you are working too hard. You must really have some recreation. Why not take Miss Muggins, your typewriter, out for a drive this afternoon? Then you might stop at the milliner’s and tell them not to send up that hat I ordered, and⁠—”

“Hold on. Colonel,” said the judge. “You just drink that mint julep right now. You needn’t go any further with your story.”

Hungry Henry’s Ruse

Hungry Henry: Madam, I am state agent for a new roller-action, unbreakable, double-elastic suspender. Can I show you some?

Mrs. Lonestreet: No, there ain’t no man on the place.

Hungry Henry: Well, then, I am also handling something unique in the way of a silvermounted, morocco leather, dog collar, with name engraved free of charge. Perhaps⁠—

Mrs. Lonestreet: ’Tain’t no use. I ain’t got a dog.

Hungry Henry: Hat’s what I wanted to know. Now fix me de best supper you’se kin, and do it quick or it won’t be healthy fur you. See?

One Consolation

Breakfast was over and Adam had gone to his daily occupation of pasting the names of the animals on their cages. Eve took the parrot to one side and said: “It was this way. He made a big kick about those biscuits not being good at breakfast.”

“And what did you say?” asked the parrot.

“I told him there was one consolation; he couldn’t say his mother ever made any better ones.”

An Unsuccessful Experiment

There is an old colored preacher in Texas who is a great admirer of the Rev. Sam Jones.2 Last Sunday he determined to drop his old style of exhorting the brethren, and pitch hot shot plump into the middle of their camp, after the manner so successfully followed by the famous Georgia evangelist. After the opening hymn had been sung, and the congregation led in prayer by a worthy deacon, the old preacher laid his spectacles on his Bible, and let out straight from the shoulder.

“My dearly belubbed,” he said, “I has been preachin’ to you fo’ mo’ dan five years, and de grace ob God hab failed to percolate in yo’ obstreperous hearts. I hab nebber seen a more or’nery lot dan dis belubbed congregation. Now dar is Sam Wadkins in de fo’th bench on de left. Kin anybody show me a no’counter, trashier, lowdowner buck nigger in dis community? Whar does the chicken feathers come from what I seen in his back yard dis mawnin’? Kin Brudder Wadkins rise and explain?”

Brother Wadkins sat in his pew with his eyes rolling and breathing hard, but was taken by surprise and did not respond.

“And dar is Elder Hoskins, on de right. Everybody knows he’s er lying, shiftless, beer-drinking bum. His wife supports him takin’ in washin’. What good is de blood of de Lamb done for him? Wonder ef he thinks dat he kin keep a lofin’ ’round in de kitchen ob de New Jerusalem?”

Elder Hoskins, goaded by these charges, rose in his seat, and said:

“Dat reminds me ob one thing. I doesn’t remember dat I hab ebber worked on de county road fur thirty days down in Bastrop County fur stealin’ a bale of cotton.”

“Who did? Who did?” said the parson, putting on his specs and glaring at the elder. “Who stole dat cotton? You shet yo’ mouf, niggah, fo’ I come down dah and bust you wide open. Den dar sets Miss Jinny Simpson. Look at dem fine clo’es she got on. Look at dem yallar shoes, and dem ostrick feathers, and dat silk waist and de white glubs. Whar she git de money to buy dem clo’es? She don’t work none. De Lawd am got his eye on dat triflin’ hussy, and He’s gwine ter fling her in de burnin’ brimstone and de squenchable pit.”

Miss Simpson arose, her ostrich plumes trembling with indignation.

“You mis’able lyin’ ol’ niggah,” she said. “You don’ pay fur none ob my clo’es. S’pose you tells dis ’sembled congregation who was it handed dat big bouquet and dat jib ob cider ober de fence to Liza Jackson yisterday mawnin’ when her old man gone to work?”

“Dat’s a lie, you sneakin’, low-down spyin’ daughter ob de debble. I wuz in my house ras’lin in pra’er fur de wicked sisters and brudders ob dis church. I come down dah an’ smack you in de mouf ef you don’t shet up. You is all boun’ for de fire ob destruction. You am all nothin’ but vile sweepins ob de yearth. I see Bill Rodgers ober dar, who am known to hab loaded dice fur playin’ craps, and he nebber pays a cent fur what his family eats. De Lawd am shore gwine ter smote him in de neck. De judgment ob de Spirit am gwine ter rise up an’ call him down.”

Bill Rodgers stood up and put his thumbs in the armholes of his vest. “I could name, sah,” he said, “a certain party who wuz run off ob Colonel Yancy’s fahm fo’ playin’ sebben up wid marked cya’ds, ef I choosed to.”

“Dat’s anudder lie,” said the preacher, closing his Bible and turning up his cuffs. “Look out, Bill Rodgers, I’m comin’ down dar to you.”

The preacher got out of his pulpit and made for Bill, but Miss Simpson got her hands in his wool first, and Sam Wadkins and Elder Hoskins came quickly to her assistance. Then the rest of the brothers and sisters joined in, and the flying hymn books and the sound of ripping clothes testified to the fact that Sam Jones’s style of preaching did not go in that particular church.

Even Worse

Two Houston men were going home one rainy night last week, and as they stumbled and plowed through the mud across one of the principal streets, one of them said:

“This is hell, isn’t it?”

“Worse,” said the other. “Even hell is paved with good intentions.”

The Shock

A man with a very pale face, wearing a woolen comforter and holding a slender stick in his hand, staggered into a Houston drug store yesterday and leaned against the counter, holding the other hand tightly against his breast.

The clerk got a graduating glass, and poured an ounce of spiritus frumenti into it quickly, and handed it to him. The man drank it at a gulp.

“Feel better?” asked the clerk.

“A little. Don’t know when I had such a shock. I can hardly stand. Just a little more, now⁠—”

The clerk gave him another ounce of whisky.

“My pulse has started again, I believe,” said the man. “It was terrible, though!”

“Fell off a wagon?” asked the clerk.

“No, not exactly.”

“Slip on a banana peel?”

“I think not. I’m getting faint again, if you⁠—”

The obliging clerk administered a third dose of the stimulant.

“Street car run over you?” he asked.

“No,” said the pale man. “I’ll tell you how it was. See that red-faced man out there swearing and dancing on the corner?”

“Yes.”

“He did it. I don’t believe I can stand up much longer. I⁠—thanks.”

The man tossed off the fourth reviver and began to look better.

“Shall I call a doctor?” asked the clerk.

“No, I guess not. Your kindness has revived me. I’ll tell you about it. I have one of those toy spiders attached to a string at the end of this stick, and I saw that red-faced man sitting on a doorstep with his back to me, and I let the spider down over his head in front of his nose. I didn’t know who he was, then.

“He fell over backwards and cut his ear on the foot-scraper and broke a set of sixty-dollar false teeth. That man is my landlord and I owe him $37 back rent, and he holds a ten-dollar mortgage on my cow, and has already threatened to break my back. I slipped in here and he hasn’t seen me yet. The shock to my feelings when I saw who it was, was something awful. If you have a little more of that spirits now, I⁠—”

The Cynic

Junior Partner: Here’s an honest firm!

Sharp and Simpson send us a check for $50 in addition to their monthly account, to cover difference in price of a higher grade of goods shipped them last time by mistake.

Senior Partner: Do they give us another order?

Junior Partner: Yes! The longest they have ever made.

Senior Partner: Ship ’em C.O.D.


“Well! how are they coming?”

“I’m getting a move on me,” said the checkerboard.

“And I’m getting a head in the world,” said the piece of sensation news.

“I’m dead in it,” said the spoiled bivalve at the clambake.

“I think I shall get along well,” said the artesian water company.

“And my work is all being cut out for me,” said the grape seed.

Speaking of Big Winds

The man with the bronzed face and distinguished air was a great traveler, and had just returned from a tour around the world. He sat around the stove at the Lamlor, and four or five drummers and men about town listened with much interest to his tales.

He was speaking of the fierce wind storms that occur in South America, when the long grass of the pampas is interlaced and blown so flat by the hurricanes that it is cut into strips and sold for the finest straw matting.

He spoke also of the great intelligence of the wild cattle which, he said, although blown about by the furious hurricanes and compelled to drift for days before the drenching floods of the rainy season, never lost their direction by day or night.

“How do they guide themselves?” asked the Topeka flour drummer.

“Oh, by their udders, of course,” said the traveler.

“I don’t see anything to laugh about,” said the Kansas man, “but speaking of big winds we have something of the kind in our state. You’ve all heard of the Kansas cyclones, but very few of you know what they are. We have plenty of them and some are pretty hard ones, too, but most of the stories you read about them are exaggerated. Still a good, full-grown cyclone can carry things pretty high sometimes. About the only thing they spend their fury upon in vain is a real estate agent. I know a fellow, named Bob Long, who was a real estate hustler from away back. Bob had bought up a lot of prairie land cheap, and was trying to sell it in small tracts for farms and truck patches. One day he took a man in his buggy out to this land and was showing it to him. ‘Just look at it,’ he said. ‘It is the finest, richest piece of ground in Kansas. Now it’s worth more, but to start things off, and get improvements to going, I’ll sell you 160 acres of this land at $40 per⁠—!’

“Before Bob could say ‘acre,’ a cyclone came along, and the edge of it took Bob up straight into the air. He went up till he was nothing but a black speck and the man stood there and watched him till he was out of sight.

“The man liked the land, so he bought it from Bob’s heirs, and pretty soon a railroad cut across it, and a fine flourishing town sprang up on the spot.

“Well, this man was standing on the sidewalk one day thinking of how lucky he had been, and about Bob’s unfortunate fate, when he happened to look up and saw something falling. It grew larger and larger, and finally it turned out to be a man.

“He came tumbling down, struck the sidewalk with a sound you could have heard four blocks away, bounded up at least ten feet, came down on his feet and shouted ‘Front foot!’

“It was Bob Long. His beard was a little grayer and longer, but he was all business still. He had noticed the changes that had taken place while he was coming down, and when he finished the sentence that he began when the cyclone took him up, he altered his language accordingly. Bob was a hustler. Sometime after that he⁠—”

“Never mind,” said the traveler. “Let’s go in and take something on this one first. I claim the usual time before the next round.”

An Original Idea

There is a lady in Houston who is always having original ideas.

Now, this is a very reprehensible thing in a woman and should be frowned down. A woman should find out what her husband thinks about everything and regulate her thoughts to conform with his. Of course, it would not be so bad if she would keep her independent ideas to herself, but who ever knew a woman to do that?

This lady in particular had a way of applying her original ideas to practical use, and her family, and even neighbors, were kept constantly on the lookout for something startling at her hands.

One day she read in the columns of an Austin newspaper an article that caused her at once to conceive an original idea. The article called attention to the well-known fact that if men’s homes supplied their wants and desires they would have no propensity to wander abroad, seeking distraction in gilded saloons. This struck the lady as a forcible truth, and she boldly plagiarized the idea and resolved to put it into immediate execution as an original invention.

That night when her husband came home he noticed a curtain stretched across one end of the sitting room, but he had so long been used to innovations of all sorts that he was rather afraid to investigate.

It might be stated apropos to the story that the lady’s husband was addicted to the use of beer.

He not only liked beer, but he fondly loved beer. Beer never felt the slightest jealousy when this gentleman was out of its sight.

After supper the lady said: “Now, Robert, I have a little surprise for you. There is no need of your going downtown tonight, as you generally do, because I have arranged our home so that it will supply all the pleasures that you go out to seek.”

With that she drew the curtain and Robert saw that one end of the sitting room had been fitted up as a bar⁠—or rather his wife’s idea of a bar.

A couple of strips of the carpet had been taken up and sawdust strewn on the floor. The kitchen table extended across the end of the room, and back of this on a shelf were arranged a formidable display of bottles, of all shapes and sizes, while the mirror of the best dresser had been taken off and placed artistically in the center.

On a trestle stood a fresh keg of beer and his wife, who had put on a coquettish-looking cap and apron, tripped lightly behind the bar, and waving a beer mug coyly at him said:

“It’s an idea I had, Robert. I thought it would be much nicer to have you spend your money at home, and at the same time have all the amusement and pleasure that you do downtown. What will you have, sir?” she continued, with fine, commercial politeness.

Robert leaned against the bar and pawed the floor fruitlessly three or four times, trying to find the foot rest. He was a little stunned, as he always was at his wife’s original ideas. Then he braced himself and tried to conjure up a ghastly imitation of a smile.

“I’ll take a beer, please,” he said.

His wife drew the beer, laid the nickel on the shelf and leaned on the bar, chatting familiarly on the topics of the day after the manner of bartenders.

“You must buy plenty, now,” she said archly, “for you are the only customer I have tonight.”

Robert felt a strong oppression of spirits, which he tried to hide. Besides the beer, which was first rate, there was little to remind him of the saloons where he had heretofore spent his money.

The lights, the glittering array of crystal, the rattle of dice, the funny stories of Brown, Jones, and Robinson, the motion and color that he found in the other places were wanting.

Robert stood still for quite a while and then an original idea struck him.

He pulled a handful of change from his pocket and began to call for glass after glass of beer. The lady behind the bar was beaming with pleasure at the success of her experiment. Ordinarily she had made quite a row, if her husband came home smelling of beer⁠—but now, when the profits were falling into her own hands, she made no complaint.

It is not known how many glasses she sold her husband but there was quite a little pile of nickels and dimes on the shelf, and two or three quarters.

Robert was leaning rather heavily against the bar, now and then raising his foot and making a dab for the rod that was not there, but he was saying very little. His wife ought to have known better, but the profits rendered her indiscreet.

Presently Robert remarked in a very loud tone:

“Gozzamighty, se’ ’m up all roun’ barkeep’n puzzom on slate ’m busted.”

His wife looked at him in surprise.

“Indeed, I will not, Robert,” she said. “You must pay me for everything you have. I thought you understood that.”

Robert looked in the mirror as straight as he could, counted his reflections, and then yelled loud enough to be heard a block away:

“Gosh dang it, gi’ us six glasses beer and put ’em on ice, Susie, old girl, or I’ll clean out your joint, ’n bus’ up business. Whoopee!”

“Robert!” said his wife, in a tone implying a growing suspicion, “you’ve been drinking!”

“Zas d⁠⸺⁠d lie!” said Robert, as he threw a beer glass through the mirror. “Been down t’ office helpin’ friend pos’ up books ’n missed last car. Say, now, Susie, old girl, you owe me two beers from las’ time. Give ’em to me or I’ll kick down bar.”

Robert’s wife was named Henrietta. When he made this remark she came around to the front and struck him over the eye with a lemon squeezer. Robert then kicked over the table, broke about half the bottles, spilled the beer, and used language not suited for the mailable edition.

Ten minutes later his wife had him tied with the clothes line, and during the intervals between pounding him on the head with a potato masher she was trying to think how to get rid of her last great original idea.

Calculations

A gentleman with long hair and an expression indicating heavenly resignation stepped off the twelve-thirty train at the Grand Central Depot yesterday. He had a little bunch of temperance tracts in his hand, and he struck a strong scent and followed it up to a red-nosed individual who was leaning on a trunk near the baggage room.

“My friend,” said the long-haired man, “do you know that if you had placed the price of three drinks out at compound interest at the time of the building of Solomon’s temple, you would now have $47,998,645.22?”

“I do,” said the red-nosed man. “I am something of a calculator myself. I also figured out when the doctor insisted on painting my nose with iodine to cure that boil, that the first lanternjawed, bone-spavined, rubbernecked son-of-a-gun from the amen corner of Meddlesome County that made any remarks about it would have to jump seventeen feet in nine seconds or get kicked thirteen times below the belt. You have just four seconds left.”

The long-haired man made a brilliant retreat within his allotted time, and bore down with his temperance tracts upon a suspicious-looking Houston man who was carrying home a bottle of mineral water wrapped in a newspaper to his mother-in-law.

A Valedictory

The “Some Postscripts” man on the Post has about reached the end of his vein. These spurts of brilliancy many are capable of, but the sustained light that burns for years to gladden and instruct is a rare quality, and the possessor should be appreciated by the people, for he is the true Messiah⁠—the eldest son of the great intellectual lord of the universe.

Brenham Press

Brother, you should not have given us away. We just had to salt that vein before we could get it in the market, and when the “salt” gave out, and the end of the vein was reached, we hoped you wouldn’t notice the fact. If you hadn’t mentioned it we might have gone on for years gladdening and instructing and drawing princely salary, but now our little spurt of our brilliancy will have to put on its pajamas and retire between the cold sheets of oblivion. We do not blame you at all for calling the public’s attention to the played-out lode, for it is a terrible responsibility to guide the footsteps of innocent purchasers who may be taken in by glittering, quartz and seductive pyrites of iron. To have one whom we regarded as a friend jerk us backward by the left leg when we had made such a successful sneak, and were about to scramble over the back fence of the temple of fame makes us sad, but we do not repine for:

“ ’Twere better to have spurted and lost
Than never to have spurted at all.”

We really intended our light to burn for years, and to have the wick snuffed so quickly, although done in sorrowing kindness, causes us to sputter and smoke a little as we go out.

When the true Messiah comes along and shies his valise over to the night clerk, and turns back his cuffs ready to fill the long-felt want; if he should ever hear the whoops of those unappreciative critics who would crucify him, these few lines may teach him to fly to Brenham where his papa, the great intellectual lord of the universe, will protect him.

Solemn Thoughts

The golden crescent of the new moon hung above the market house, and the night was cool, springlike, and perfect.

Five or six men were sitting in front of the Hutchins House, and they had gradually shifted their chairs until they were almost in a group.

They were men from different parts of the country, some of them from cities thousands of miles away. They had been rattled in the dice box of chance and thrown in a temporary cluster into the hospitable gates of the Magnolia city.

They smoked and talked, and that feeling of comradeship which seizes men who meet in the world far from their own homes, was strong upon them.

They told all their funny stories and compared experiences, and then a little silence fell upon them, and while the hanging strata of blue smoke grew thicker, their thoughts began to wander back⁠—as the cows stray homeward at eventide⁠—to other scenes and faces.

“ ‘And o’er them many a flaming range of vapor buoyed the crescent bark:
And rapt through many a rosy change
The twilight melted into dark,’ ”

quoted the New York drummer. “Heigho! I wish I was at home tonight.”

“Same here,” said the little man from St. Louis. “I can just see the kids now tumbling round on the floor and cutting up larks before Laura puts them to bed. There’s one blessing, though, I’ll be home on Thanksgiving.”

“I had a letter from home today,” said the white-bearded Philadelphian, “and it made me homesick. I would give a foot of that slushy pavement on Spruce Street for all these balmy airs and mockingbird solos in the South. I’m going to strike a bee line for the Quaker City in time for that fat turkey, I don’t care what my house says.”

“Yust hear dot band playing,” said the fat gentleman. “I can almost dink I vos back in Cincinnati ‘neber die Rhein’ mit dot schplendid little beautiful girl from de hat factory. I dink it is dese lovely nights vot makes us of home, sweet home, gedinken.”

“Now you’re shoutin’,” said the Chicago hardware drummer. “I wish I was in French Pete’s restaurant on State Street with a big bottle of beer and some chitterlings and lemon pie. I’m feelin’ kinder sentimental myself tonight.”

“The worst part of it is,” said the man with the gold nose glasses and green necktie, “that our dear ones are separated from us by many long and dreary miles, and we little know what obstacles in the shape of storm and flood and wreck lie in our way. If we could but annihilate time and space for a brief interval there are many of us who would clasp the forms of those we love to our hearts tonight. I, too, am a husband and father.”

“That breeze,” said the man from New York, “feels exactly like the ones that used to blow over the old farm in Montgomery County, and that ‘orchard and meadow, and deep tangled wildwood,’ etc., keep bobbing up in my memory tonight.”

“How many of us,” said the man with gold glasses, “realize the many pitfalls that Fate digs in our path? What a slight thing may sever the cord that binds us to life! There today, tomorrow gone forever from the world!”

“Too true,” said the Philadelphia man, wiping his spectacles.

“And leave those we love behind,” continued the other. “The affections of a lifetime, the love of the strongest hearts, ended in the twinkling of an eye. One loses the clasp of hands that would detain and drifts away into the sad, unknowable, other existence, leaving aching hearts to mourn forever. Life seems all a tragedy.”

“Banged if you ain’t rung the bell first shot,” said the Chicago drummer. “Our affections get busted up something worse’n killing hogs.”

The others frowned upon the Chicago drummer, for the man with gold glasses was about to speak again.

“We say,” he went on, “that love will live forever, and yet when we are gone others step into our places and the wounds our loss had made are healed. And yet there is an added pang to death that those of us that are wise can avoid, the sting of death and the victory of the grave can be lessened. When we know that our hours are numbered, and when we lie with ebbing breath and there comes

‘Unto dying ears the earliest pipe
Of half awakened birds;
And unto dying eyes
The casement slowly grows a glimmering square,’

there is sweet relief in knowing that those we leave behind us are shielded from want.

“Gentlemen, we are all far from home and you know the risks of travel. I am representing one of the best accident insurance companies on earth, and I want to write every one of you. I offer you the finest death, partial disablement, loss of finger or toe, nervous shock, sick benefit policy known to⁠—”

But the man with gold spectacles was talking to five empty chairs, and the moon slipped down below the roof of the market house with a sardonic smile.

Explaining It

A member of the Texas Legislature from one of the eastern counties was at the chrysanthemum show at Turner Hall last Thursday night, and was making himself agreeable to one of the lady managers.

“You were in the House at the last session, I believe?” she inquired.

“Well, madam,” he said, “I was in the House, but the Senate had me for about forty-five dollars when we adjourned.”

Her Failing

They were two Houston girls, and they were taking a spin on their wheels. They met a fluffy girl who didn’t “bike,” out driving with a young man in a buggy.

Of course they must say something about her⁠—as this is a true story and they were real, live girls⁠—so one of them said:

“I never did like that girl.”

“Why?”

“Oh, she’s too effeminate.”

A Disagreement

“Dat Mr. Bergman, vot run de obera house, not dread me right,” said a Houston citizen. “Ven I go dere und vant ein dicket to see dot ‘Schpider und dot Vly’ gompany de oder night, I asg him dot he let me in mit half brice, for I was teaf py von ear, and can not but one half of dot performance hear; und he dell me I should bay double brice, as it vould dake me dwice as long to hear de berformance as anypody else.”

An Expensive Veracity

A Houston man who attended a great many of Sam Jones’s sermons was particularly impressed with his denunciation of prevaricators, and of lies of all kinds, white, variegated, and black.

So strongly was he affected and in such fertile ground did the seed sown by the great evangelist fall, that the Houston man, who had been accustomed occasionally to evade the truth, determined one morning he would turn over a new leaf and tell the truth in all things, big and little. So he commenced the day by scorning to speak even a word that did not follow the exact truth for a model.

At breakfast, his wife said:

“How are the biscuit, Henry?”

“Rather heavy,” he answered, “and about half done.”

His wife flounced out of the dining room and he ate breakfast with the children. Ordinarily Henry would have said, “They are very fine, my dear,” and all would have been well.

As he went out the gate, his rich old aunt, with whom he had always been a favorite, drove up. She was curled, and stayed, and powdered to look as young as possible.

“Oh, Henry,” she simpered. “How are Ella and the children? I would come in but I’m looking such a fright today I’m not fit to be seen.”

“Yes,” said Henry, “you do. It’s a good thing your horse has a blind bridle on, for if he got a sight of you he’d run away and break your neck.”

His aunt glared furiously at him and drove away without saying a word.

Henry figured it up afterward and found that every word he said to her cost him $8,000.

Grounds for Uneasiness

When Sousa’s Band was in Houston a week or so ago, Professor Sousa was invited to dine with a prominent citizen who had met him while on a visit to the North.

This gentleman, while a man of high standing and reputation, has made quite a fortune by the closest kind of dealing. His economies in the smallest matters are a fruitful subject of discussion in his neighborhood, and one or two of his acquaintances have gone so far as to call him stingy.

After dinner Professor Sousa was asked to play upon the piano, of which instrument he is a master, and he did so, performing some lovely Beethoven sonatas, and compositions by the best masters.

While playing a beautiful adagio movement in a minor key, the Professor caught sight of his host casting uneasy glances out of the window and appearing very restless and worried. Presently the Houston gentleman came over to the piano and touched Professor Sousa on the shoulder.

“Say,” he said, “please play something livelier. Give us a jig or a quickstep⁠—something fast and jolly.”

“Ah,” said the Professor, “this sad music affects your spirits then?”

“No,” said the host, “I’ve got a man in the back yard sawing wood by the day, and he’s been keeping time to your music for the last half hour.”

Recognition

The new woman came in with a firm and confident tread. She hung her hat on a nail, stood her cane in the corner, and kissed her husband gayly as he was mixing the biscuit for supper.

“Any luck today, dearie?” asked the man as his careworn face took on an anxious expression.

“The best of luck,” she said with a joyous smile. “The day has come when the world recognizes woman as man’s equal in everything. She is no longer content to occupy a lower plane than his, and is his competitor in all the fields of action. I obtained a position today at fifty dollars per week for the entire season.”

“What is the position?”

“Female impersonator at the new theater.”

His Doubt

They lived in a neat little cottage on Prairie Avenue, and had been married about a year. She was young and sentimental and he was a clerk at fifty dollars per month. She sat rocking the cradle and looking at a bunch of something pink and white that was lying asleep, and he was reading the paper.

“Charlie,” she said, presently, “you must begin to realize that you must economize and lay aside something each month for the future. You must realize that the new addition to our home that will bring us joy arid pleasure and make sweet music around our fireside must be provided for. You must be ready to meet the obligations that will be imposed upon you, and remember that another than ourselves must be considered, and that as our hands strike the chords so shall either harmony or discord be made, and as the notes mount higher and higher, we shall be held to account for our trust here below. Do you realize the responsibility?”

Charlie said “Yes,” and then went out in the woodshed and muttered to himself: “I wonder whether she was talking about the kid, or means to buy a piano on the installment plan.”

A Cheering Thought

A weary-looking man with dejected auburn whiskers, walked into the police station yesterday afternoon and said to the officer in charge:

“I want to give myself up. I expect you had better handcuff me and put me into a real dark cell where there are plenty of spiders and mice. I’m one of the worst men you ever saw, and I waive trial. Please tell the jailer to give me moldy bread to eat, and hydrant water with plenty of sulphur in it.”

“What have you done?” asked the officer.

“I’m a miserable, low-down, lying, good-for-nothing, slandering, drunken, villainous, sacrilegious galoot, and I’m not fit to die. You might ask the jailer, also, to bring little boys in to look at me through the bars, while I gnash my teeth and curse in demoniac rage.”

“We can’t put you in jail unless you have committed some offense. Can’t you bring some more specific charge against yourself?”

“No, I just want to give myself up on general principles. You see, I went to hear Sam Jones last night, and he saw me in the crowd and diagnosed my case to a T. Up to that time I thought I was a four-horse team with a yellow dog under the wagon, but Sam took the negative side and won. I’m a danged old sore-eyed hound dog; I wouldn’t mind if you kicked me a few times before you locked me up, and sent my wife word that the old villain that has been abusin’ her for twenty years has met his deserts.”

“Aw, come now,” said the officer, “I don’t believe you are as bad as you think you are. You don’t know that Sam Jones was talking about you at all. It might have been somebody else he was hitting. Brace up and don’t let it worry you.”

“Lemme see,” said the weary-looking man reflectively. “Come to think of it there was one of my neighbors sitting right behind me who is the meanest man in Houston. He is a mangy pup, and no mistake. He beats his wife and has refused to loan me three dollars five different times. What Sam said just fits his case exactly. If I thought now⁠—”

“That’s the way to look at it,” said the officer. “The chances are Sam wasn’t thinking about you at all.”

“Durned if I believe he was, now I remember about that neighbor of mine,” said the penitent, beginning to brighten up. “You don’t know what a weight you’ve taken off my mind. I was just feeling like I was one of the worst sinners in the world. I’ll bet any man ten dollars he was talking right straight at that miserable, contemptible scalawag that sat right behind me. Say, come on and let’s go out and take somethin’, will you?”

The officer declined and the weary-looking man ran his finger down his neck and pulled his collar up into sight and said:

“I’ll never forget your kindness, sir, in helping me out of this worry. It has made me feel bad all day. I am going out to the racetrack now, and take the field against the favorite for a few plunks. Good day, I shall always remember your kindness.”

What It Was

There was something the matter with the electric lights Tuesday night, and Houston was as dark as Egypt when Moses blew the gas out. They were on Rusk Avenue, out on the lawn, taking advantage of the situation, and were holding as close a session as possible.

Presently she said:

“George, I know you love me, and I am sure that nothing in the world can change my affection for you, yet I feel that something has come between us, and although I have hesitated long to tell you, it is paining me very much.”

“What is it, my darling?” asked George, in an agony of suspense. “Speak, my own, and tell me what it is that has come between you and me?”

“I think, George” she softly sighed, “it is your watch.”

And George loosened his hold for a moment and shifted his Waterbury.

Identified

A stranger walked into a Houston bank the other day and presented a draft to the cashier for payment.

“You will have to be identified,” said the cashier, “by someone who knows your name to be Henry B. Saunders.”

“But I don’t know anybody in Houston,” said the stranger. “Here’s a lot of letters addressed to me, and a telegram from my firm, and a lot of business cards. Won’t they be identification enough?”

“I am sorry,” said the cashier, “but while I have no doubt that you are the party, our rule is to require better identification.”

The man unbuttoned his vest and showed the initial, H. B. S., on his shirt. “Does that go?” he asked. The cashier shook his head. “You might have Henry B. Saunders’ letters, and his papers, and also his shirt on, without being the right man. We are forced to be very careful.”

The stranger tore open his shirt front, and exhibited a large mustard plaster, covering his entire chest. “There,” he shouted, “if I wasn’t Henry B. Saunders, do you suppose I would go around wearing one of his mustard plasters stuck all over me? Do you think I would carry my impersonation of anybody far enough to blister myself to look like him? Gimme tens and fives, now, I haven’t got time to fool any more.”

The cashier hesitated and then shoved out the money. After the stranger had gone, the official rubbed his chin gently and said softly to himself: “That plaster might be somebody else’s after all, but no doubt it’s all right.”

Red Conlin’s Eloquence

They were speaking of the power of great orators, and each one had something to say of his especial favorite.

The drummer was for backing Bourke Cockran for oratory against the world, the young lawyer thought the suave Ingersoll the most persuasive pleader, and the insurance agent advanced the claims of the magnetic W. C. P. Breckenridge.

“They all talk some,” said the old cattle man, who was puffing his pipe and listening, “but they couldn’t hold a candle to Red Conlin, that run cattle below Santone in ’80. Ever know Red?”

Nobody had had the honor.

“Red Conlin was a natural orator; he wasn’t overcrowded with book learnin’, but his words come free and easy, like whisky out of a new faucet from a full barrel. He was always in a good humor and smilin’ clear across his face, and if he asked for a hot biscuit he did it like he was pleadin’ for his life. He was one man who had the gift of gab, and it never failed him.

“I remember once, in Atascosa County, the hoss thieves worried us right smart. There was a gang of ’em, and they got runnin’ off a caballaro every week or so. Some of us got together and raised a p’int of order and concluded to sustain it. The head of the gang was a fellow named Mullens, and a tough cuss he was. Fight, too, and warn’t particular when. Twenty of us saddled up and went into camp, loaded down with six-shooters and Winchesters. That Mullens had the nerve to try to cut off our saddle horses the first night, but we heard him, got mounted, and went hot on his trail. There was five or six others with Mullens.

“It was dark as thunder, and pretty soon we run one of them down. His horse was lame, and we knew it was Mullens by his big white hat and black beard. We didn’t hardly give him time to speak, we was so mad, but in two minutes there was a rope ’round his neck and Mullens was swung up at last. We waited about ten minutes till he was still, and then some fellow strikes a match out of curiosity and screeches out:

“ ‘Gosh a’mighty, boys, we’ve strung up the wrong man!”

“And we had.

“We reopened the fellow’s case and give him a new trial, and acquitted him, but it was too late to do him any good. He was as dead as Davy Crockett.

“It was Sandy McNeagh, one of the quietest, straightest, and best-respected men in the county, and what was worse, hadn’t been married but about three months.

“ ‘Whatever are we to do?’ says I, and it sure was a case to think about.

“ ‘We ought to be nigh Sandy’s house now,’ said one of the men, who was tryin’ to peer around and kind of locate the scene of our brilliant coop detaw, as they say.

“Just then we seen a light from a door that opened in the dark, and the house wasn’t two hundred yards away, and we saw what we knew must be Sandy’s wife in the door a-lookin’ for him.

“ ‘Somebody’s got to go and tell her,’ said I. I was kind o’ leadin’ the boys. ‘Who’ll do it?’ Nobody jumped at the proposition.

“ ‘Red Conlin’ says I, ‘you’re the man to tell her, and the only man here what could open his mouth to the poor girl. Go, like a man, and may the Lord teach you what to say, for d⁠⸺⁠d if I can.’

“That boy never hesitated. I saw him kind o’ wet his hand, and smooth back his red curls in the dark, and I seen his teeth shinin’ as he said:

“ ‘I’ll go, boys; wait for me.’

“He went and we saw the door open and let him in.

“ ‘May the Lord help that poor widder,’ we all said, ‘and d⁠⸺⁠n us for bunglin’, murderin’ butchers what ain’t no right to call ourselves men.’

“It was fifteen minutes, maybe, when Red came back.

“ ‘How is it’?’ we whispered, almost afraid to hear him speak.

“ ‘It’s fixed,’ says Red, ‘and the widdy and I asks ye to the weddin’ nixt Chuesday night.’

“That fellow Red Conlin could talk.”

Marvelous

There is one man we know who is about as clever a reasoner as this country has yet produced. He has a way of thinking out a problem that is sometimes little short of divination. One day last week his wife told him to make some purchases, and as with all his logical powers he is rather forgetful on ordinary subjects, she tied a string around his finger so he would not forget his errand. About nine o’clock that night while hurrying homeward, he suddenly felt the string on his finger and stopped short. Then for the life of him he could not remember for what purpose the string had been placed there.

“Let’s see,” he said. “The string was tied on my finger so I would not forget. Therefore it is a forget-me-not. Now forget-me-not is a flower. Ah, yes, that’s it. I was to get a sack of flour.”

The giant intellect had got in its work.

The Stranger’s Appeal

He was tall and angular and had a keen gray eye and a solemn face. His dark coat was buttoned high and had something of a clerical cut. His pepper and salt trousers almost cleared the tops of his shoes, but his tall hat was undeniably respectable, and one would have said he was a country preacher out for a holiday. He was driving a light wagon, and he stopped and climbed out when he came up to where five or six men were sitting on the post-office porch in a little country town in Texas.

“My friends,” he said, “you all look like intelligent men, and I feel it my duty to say a few words to you in regard to the terrible and deplorable state of things now existing in this section of the country. I refer to the horrible barbarities recently perpetrated in the midst of some of the most civilized of Texas towns, when human beings created in the image of their Maker were subjected to cruel torture and then inhumanly burned in the public streets. Something must be done to wipe the stigma from the fair name of your state. Do you not agree with me?”

“Are you from Galveston, stranger?” asked one of the men.

“No, sir. I am from Massachusetts, the cradle of liberty of the downtrodden negro, and the home of the champions of his cause. These burnings are causing us to weep tears of blood and I am here to see if I can not move your hearts to pity on his behalf.”

“I guess you might as well drive on,” said one of the group. “We are going to look out for ourselves and just so long as negroes keep on committing the crimes they have, just so long will we punish them.”

“And you will not repent of the lives you have taken by the horrible agency of fire?”

“Nary repent.”

“And you will continue to visit upon them the horrible suffering of being burned to death?”

“If the occasion demands it.”

“Well, then, gentlemen, since you are so determined, I want to sell you a few gross of the cheapest matches you ever laid your eyes upon. Step out to the wagon and see them. Warranted not to go out in a strong wind, and to strike on anything, wood, bricks, glass, bloomers, boot soles and iron. How many boxes will you take, gentlemen?”

The Colonel’s Romance

They were sitting around a stove and the tobacco was passed around. They began to grow introspective.

The talk turned upon their old homes and the changes that the cycling years bring about. They had lived in Houston for many years, but only one was a native Texan.

The colonel hailed from Alabama, the judge was born in the swamps of Mississippi, the grocer first saw the light in a frozen town of Maine, and the major proudly claimed Tennessee as his birthplace.

“Have any of you fellows been back home since you left there?” asked the colonel.

The judge had been back twice in twenty years, the major once, the grocer never.

“It’s a curious feeling,” said the colonel, “to go back to the old home where you were raised, after an absence of fifteen years. It is like seeing ghosts to be among people whom you have not seen in so long a time. Now I went back to Crosstree, Alabama, just fifteen years after I left there. The impression made upon me was one that never will be obliterated.

“There was a girl in Crosstree once that I loved better than anything in the world. One day I slipped away from everybody and went down to the little grove where I used to walk with her. I walked along the paths we used to tread. The oaks along the side had scarcely changed; the little blue flowers on either hand might have been the same ones she used to twine in her hair when she came to meet me.

“Our favorite walk had been along a line of thick laurels beyond which ran a little stream. Everything was the same. There was no change there to oppress my heart. Above were the same great sycamores and poplars; there ran the same brook; my feet trod the same path they had so often walked with her. It seemed that if I waited she would surely come again, tripping so lightly through the gloaming with her starry eyes, and nut-brown curls, and she loved me, too. It seemed then that nothing could ever have parted us⁠—no doubt, no misunderstanding, no falsehood. But who can tell?

“I went to the end of the path. There stood the old hollow tree in which we used to place notes to each other. What sweet words that old tree could tell if it had known! I had fancied that during the rubs and knocks I had received from the world my heart had grown calloused, but such was not the case.

“I looked down into the hollow of the tree, and saw something white. It was a folded piece of paper, yellow and stained with age. I opened it and read it with difficulty.

“ ‘Dearest Richard: You know I will marry you if you want me to. Come round early tonight and I will give you my answer in a better way. Your own Nellie.’

“Gentlemen, I stood there holding that little piece of paper in my hand like one in a dream. I had written her a note asking her to marry me and telling her to leave her answer in the old tree. She must have done so, and I never got it, and all those years had rolled away since.”

The crowd was silent. The major wiped his eyes, and the judge sniffed a little. They were middle-aged men now, but they, too, had known love.

“And then,” said the grocer, “you left right away for Texas and never saw her again?”

“No,” said the colonel. “When I didn’t come round that night she sent her father after me, and we were married two months later. She and the five kids are up at the house now. Pass the tobacco, please.”

A Narrow Escape

A meek-looking man, with one eye and a timid, shuffling gait, entered a Houston saloon while no one was in except the bartender, and said:

“Excuse me, sir, but would you permit me to step behind the bar for just a moment? You can keep your eye on me. There is something there I wanted to look at.”

The bartender was not busy, and humored him through curiosity.

The meek-looking man stepped around and toward the shelf back of the bar.

“Would you kindly remove that wine bottle and those glasses for a moment?”

The bartender did so, and disclosed a little plowed streak on the shelf and a small hole bored for quite a distance into the wall.

“Thanks, that’s all,” said the meek man, as he went around to the front again.

He leaned thoughtfully on the bar and said: “I shot that hole in there just nine years ago. I came in feeling pretty thirsty and had no money. The bartender refused me a drink and I commenced firing. That ball went through his ear and five bottles of champagne before it stopped. I then yelled quite loudly, and two men broke their arms trying to get out the door, and the bartender trembled so when he mixed a drink for me you would have thought he was putting up a milk shake for a girl who wanted to catch a street car.”

“Yes?” said the bartender.

“Yes, sir, I am feeling a little out of sorts today, and it always makes me real cross and impatient when I get that way. A little gin and bitters always helps me. It was six times, I think, that I fired, the time I was telling you about. Straight whisky would do if the gin is out.”

“If I had any fly paper,” said the bartender, sweetly, “I would stick you on it and set you in the back window; but I am out, consequently, I shall have to adopt harsher measures. I shall tie a knot in this towel, and then count ten, and walk around the end of the bar. That will give you time to do your shooting, and I’ll see that you let out that same old yell that you spoke of.”

“Wait a moment,” said the meek man. “Come to think of it, my doctor ordered me not to drink anything for six weeks. But you had a narrow escape all the same. I think I shall go down to the next drug store and fall in a fit on the sidewalk. That’s good for some peppermint and aromatic spirits of ammonia, anyhow.”

A Years Supply

He was one of the city’s wealthiest men, but he made no ostentatious display of his wealth. A little, thin, poorly clad girl stood looking in the window of the restaurant at the good things to eat. The man approached and touched her on the shoulder.

“What is your name, little girl?” he asked.

“Susie Tompkins, sir,” she answered, looking up at him with great, haunting, blue eyes.

There was something in her pleading, innocent voice that stirred a strange feeling in the millionaire’s heart. Still it may have been indigestion.

“Have you a father?” he asked.

“Oh, no, sir, mother has only me to support.”

“Is your mother very poor?”

“Oh, yes, sir.”

“What is your mother’s name?”

“Susan, sir. Just like mine.”

“Tell me, child,” said the wealthy man, clutching her arm in an agony of suspense. “Has your mother a wart on her nose, and does her breath smell of onions?”

“Yes, sir.”

The millionaire covered his face with his hands for a moment, and then said in a trembling voice:

“Little one, your mother and I once knew each other. You have her voice, her hair, and her eyes. If it had not been for a misunderstanding⁠—perhaps⁠—but that is all past now.”

The man unbuttoned his overcoat and took from his vest pocket a package.

“Take this,” he said. “I have more than I want. It will last you and your mother a year.”

The little girl took the package and ran home in glee.

“Oh, see, mama!” she cried. “A gentleman gave me this. He said it would last us a whole year.”

The pale woman unrolled the package with trembling hands.

It was a nice new calendar.

Slightly Mixed

A certain Houston racing man was married some months ago. He also is the proud possessor of a fine two-year-old filly that has made five and a half furlongs in 1:09 and he expects her to do better at the next races. He has named the filly after his wife and both of them are dear to his heart. A Post man who ran across him yesterday found him quite willing to talk.

“Yes,” he said, “I am the happiest man in Texas. Bessie and I are keeping house now and getting quite well settled down. That filly of mine is going to do wonders yet. Bessie takes as much interest in her as I do. You know I have named her for my wife. She is a thoroughbred. I tell you it’s fine to see her trotting around at home.”

“Who, the filly?”

“No, my wife. She’s going to bet twelve dozen pairs of kid gloves on Bessie next time she goes in. I have but one objection to her. She goes with her head on one side and is cross-legged, and tears off her shoes.

“Your w-w-wife?”

“No, what’s the matter with you? The filly. It pleases me very much to have my friends inquire about Bessie. She is getting to be quite a favorite. I had hard work to get her, too. She trots double without a break.”

“The filly, you mean?”

“No, my wife. I took Bessie out driving with the filly yesterday. Bessie’s a daisy. She’s a little high in one shoulder, and a trifle stiff in one leg, but her wind is all right. What do you think of her back?”

“Really, I⁠—I⁠—I never had the pleasure of meeting your wife, but I have no doubt⁠—”

“What are you talking about? I mean the filly. The races come off just on the anniversary of our marriage. The races are going to be a big thing. You know we have been married just a year. I expect Bessie to do wonders. There’s a newcomer going to be here, that we are looking for with much interest. You must really come out and see our first event.”

“I⁠—I⁠—I really, it would be indelicate⁠—you must really excuse me. I never saw anything of the kind. I⁠—I⁠—”

“Oh, there’s nothing wrong about horse racing. It’s fine sport. So long now. I’ve got to go and take Bessie out and sweat her a little.”

Knew What Was Needed

A gentleman from Ohio, who has come South on a hunting trip, arrived in Houston, rather late one night last week, and on his way to a hotel stopped in a certain saloon to get a drink. A colored man was behind the bar temporarily and served him with what he wanted. The gentleman had his shotgun in its case, and he laid it upon the bar while waiting.

“Is there any game about here?” he asked, after paying for his drink.

“I guess dey is, boss,” said the colored man, looking doubtfully at the gun on the counter, “but you jest wait a minute, boss, till I fixes you up in better shape.”

He opened a drawer and handed the gentleman a six-shooter.

“You take dis, Boss,” he said. “Dat dar gun ob yourn am too long fur you to get quick action in de game what we hab here. Now you jest go up dem steps and knock free times on de doah to your left.”

Some Ancient News Notes

It will be remembered that a short while ago, some very ancient documents and records were discovered in an old monastery on Mt. Sinai, where they have been kept filed away by the monks among their dusty archives. Some of them antedate the oldest writings previously known by one hundred years. The finders claim that among them are the original Scripture traced in Syriac language, and that they differ in many material ways from the translation in use. We have procured some advance sheets from the discoverers and in a few fragments given below our readers will perceive that human nature was pretty much the same a thousand years ago. It is evident from the palimpsests in our possession that newspapers were not entirely unknown even at that early date. We give some random translations from the original manuscripts:


“Commodore Noah, one of our oldest citizens, predicts a big rain soon. The commodore is building an up-to-date houseboat and expects to spend about six weeks afloat with his family and his private menagerie.”


“Colonel Goliath of Gath, and the new middleweight, Mr. David, are at their old tricks again blowing about the championship. Mr. David has one hand in a sling, but says he will be all right when the affair is pulled off. A little more fighting and less talking would please the readers of the Daily Cymbal.”


“Ladies, get one of those new fig leaves at the Eden Bazaar before the style is dropped.”


“The exposition at Shinar is going to be a grand success. Work on the New Woman’s Building called the Tower of Babel has been stopped on account of a misunderstanding. The lady managers have been holding meetings in the Tower for some time.”


“See Professor Daniel and his performing lions next Sunday.”


“Colonel Job, who has been suffering from quite a siege of boils at his residence on Avenue C, was arrested yesterday for cussing and disturbing the neighborhood. The colonel has generally a very equable temper, but completely lost his balance on finding that Mrs. Job had put a large quantity of starch in his only night robe.”


“About 1,500 extra deputy clerks were put on by the county clerk yesterday to assist in getting out summonses for witnesses in the divorce case recently brought by Judge Solomon against the last batch of his wives.”

A Sure Method

The editor sat in his palatially furnished sanctum bending over a mass of manuscripts, resting his beetling brow upon his hand. It wanted but one hour of the time of going to press and there was that editorial on the Venezuelan question to write. A pale, intellectual youth approached him with a rolled manuscript tied with a pink ribbon.

“It is a little thing,” said the youth, “that I dashed off in an idle moment.”

The editor unrolled the poem and glanced down the long row of verses. He then drew from his pocket a $20 bill and held it toward the poet. A heavy thud was heard, and at the tinkle of an electric bell the editor’s minions entered and carried the lifeless form of the poet away.

“That’s three today,” muttered the great editor as he returned the bill to his pocket. “It works better than a gun or a club and the coroner always brings in a verdict of heart failure.”

A Tragedy

“By the beard of the Prophet. Oh, Scheherezade, right well hast thou done,” said the Caliph, leaning back and biting off the end of a three-for.

For one thousand nights Scheherezade No. 2, daughter of the Grand Vizier, had sat at the feet of the mighty Caliph of the Indies relating tales that held the court entranced and breathless.

The soft, melodious sound of falling water from the fountain tinkled pleasantly upon the ear. Slaves sprinkled attar of roses upon the tessellated floor, and waved jeweled fans of peacock’s feathers in the air. Outside, in the palace gardens the bulbul warbled in the date trees, the hoodoo flitted among the banyan branches, and the dying song of the goo-goo floated in upon the breeze from New York.

“And, now, oh, Scheherezade,” continued the Caliph, “your contract calls for one more tale. One thousand have you told unto us, and we have rejoiced exceedingly at your narrative powers. Your stories are all new and do not weary us as do the chestnuts of Marshall P. Wilder. You are quite a peach. But, listen, oh, Daughter of the Moon, and first cousin to a phonograph, there is one more yet to come. Let it be one that has never before been related in the Kingdom. If it be thus, thou shalt have 10,000 gold pieces and a hundred slaves at thy command, but if it bear whiskers, then shall thy head pay the forfeit.”

The Caliph made a sign, and Mesrour, the executioner, stepped to the side of Scheherezade. In his dark hand he held a glittering scimeter. He folded his arms and stood like a statue as the Caliph spoke again.

“Now, oh, Scheherezade, let her go. If it be that thou givest us something like that tale No. 475, where the Bagdad merchant was found by his favorite wife at the roof-garden concert, with his typewriter, or No. 684, where the Cadi of a certain town came home late from the lodge with his shoes off and stepped upon a tack, all will be well, but if you work off a Joe Miller on us, verily you get it in the neck.”

Scheherezade took a fresh chew of gum, sat down on one foot and began.

“Oh, mighty Caliph, I have one story that would hold you spellbound. I call it my 288 story. But I really can not tell it. I⁠—”

“And why not, oh, Scheherezade?”

“Oh, Brother to the Sun, and Private Secretary to the Milky Way, I am a modest woman, it is too gross, too gross to relate.”

Scheherezade covered her face in confusion.

“Speak, I command you,” said the Caliph, drawing nearer. “You need not mind me. I have read Laura Lean Jibbey and Isben. Go on with 288.”

“I have said it, oh, Caliph. It is too gross.”

The Caliph made a sign: Mesrour, the executioner, whirled his scimeter through the air and the head of Scheherezade rolled upon the floor. The Caliph pulled his beard and muttered softly to himself:

“I knew all the time that 288 is two gross, but puns don’t go anywhere in my jurisdiction at present.”

A Houston Romance

About two years ago one of the most popular young society men in Houston mysteriously disappeared. He had been the glass of fashion and the mold of form of the Magnolia City for several years. Especially was he noted for his exquisite and fashionable dress, and he was regarded as the leader in bringing out the latest and correct styles of clothing. No one in Houston ever saw a wrinkle in his elegantly fitting clothes, or a spot upon his snowy linen. He possessed sufficient means to enable him to devote his whole time to society and the art of dress, and in his whole bearing and manners was well nigh equal to the famous Beau Brummel.

About a year ago it was noticed that he was beginning to grow preoccupied and reserved. His gay and gallant manner was as Chesterfieldian as ever, but he was becoming more silent and moody, and there seemed to be something weighing upon his mind. Suddenly, without a word of farewell, he disappeared, and no traces of him could be discovered. He left a good balance in the bank to his credit, and society racked its brains to conjecture some reason for his mysterious disappearance. He had no relatives in Houston, and with proverbial fickleness his acquaintances and butterfly friends soon allowed him to pass from their minds.


The mystery has at length been cleared up. A young Houston merchant who was an intimate associate with the young society man took a trip to Europe in September.

While in Italy he had a desire to visit one of the old monasteries among the Alps; so one day he ascended the Passo di San Giacomo, a road little wider than a bridle path that led up for 7000 feet among the glaciers of the Leopontine Alps. Far up, perched upon a snow-covered crag, he could see the monastery of the Franciscan monks⁠—the Minorite Friars of the Cismontana group of the Franciscans.

He picked his cautious way up the narrow way, pausing now and then to admire the rainbow hues that flashed from frozen glaciers, or the vast drifts of snow packed among the crevasses high above his head.

After six hours’ arduous toil he stood before the massive iron gates of the monastery. He rang the bell, and a grim warden bade him enter and partake of the hospitality of the brothers. He was ushered into a vast dim hall, with walls and floors of cold gray stone. The monk who admitted him bade him wait, as the brothers were about to pass through on their way to their cells from evening prayer. A deep-toned bell clanged once; a great door softly opened, and a procession of shaved monks filed slowly and noiselessly past. Theirs heads were bowed and, as they told their beads, their lips moved in silent prayer.

As they came past the visitor he was astounded to see among the devout monks the form of the man who had once been the curled darling and pattern of elegance in Houston.


He called his name and the monk, startled by his voice, raised his head and stepped from the ranks of his brother penitents. The others continued their silent march until another great door had closed behind them.

The Houston man gazed at the friar in wonder.

He wore a long black robe, slightly confined at the waist by a hempen cord, that hung to his feet in classic, shapely folds. The crown of his head was shaven and his face was as smooth as a maiden’s. But the most noticeable thing was the expression of absolute peace and serene happiness that shone from his features. There was no trace of the worried and absent look that his friends had noticed before he disappeared.

A calm and holy beatitude beamed from his face like a benison.

“In heaven’s name,” said his friend, “what brought you here to bury yourself forever from the world; why did you leave your friends and pleasures to pass your days in this dreary place?”

“Listen,” said the monk, “and I will tell you. I am now supremely and ecstatically happy. I have attained the goal of my desires. Look at this robe.” He glanced proudly at the dark, severe robe that swept downward from his waist in graceful folds.

“I am one man,” he continued, “who has arrived at the fruition of his dearest earthly hopes. I have got something on at least that will not bag at the knees.”

Nothing New Under the Sun

The wind tears at the shingles that poorly cover the attic at the top of seven flights of stairs. The snow crystals, blown as fine as frost by the force of the tempest, buzz through crannies and sift upon the mean bed. Some shutters outside slam and creak with every frequent gale, and the snow clouds sweeping southward suffer a splendent blue-tinged star to turn a radiant eye downward upon the world.

Through a rift in the roof of the attic the star alone sees what transpires there that night. On the bare floor stands some rickety furniture, and in the center is a table on which lie paper, pens and ink, and stands a lighted candle.

The man who sits in the wooden chair with his elbows on the table, and a hand clenched beneath his chin, does not feel the bitter cold, albeit he is shivering in every limb. His hair is tossed back confusedly from a high brow, and in his eyes there shines a light that the star knows as it twinkles down a brotherly greeting. Genius is heaven-born and its light comes from a height on a level with the source of the star’s rays.

Suddenly the man seizes the pen and writes. He bends over the paper and his hand flies. He does not heed the howling wind or the deadly snow mist that falls around him. He writes and writes. The clock strikes, and when the hour has passed, and it clangs again, he dashes down the pen, starts to his feet and raises a hand with the fine gesture of a conqueror. It is a natural movement, for there is no one to see him but the star. “By Heaven!” he mutters, “I have won. I am the first in the field. The thought is mine and mine alone. It will live forever. There is nothing like it in literature; but why, oh, why, have I been made to follow such rugged, weary paths to have it come upon me in a moment as easily as falls a moulting feather from the breast of the eagle?”

He sits down again and reads what he has written. Then he lays it lovingly down. He does not alter a letter or erase a word. He knows it is perfect, and so tells himself; for true genius knows no mock humility.

The man’s eyes soften. The fire dies from them, leaving a warm glow that the star does not respond to. About his lips plays a lingering, thin smile that shows half pleasure, half contempt. He is artist enough to know that he has created an original idea, and he knows its value.

His far-focused gaze sees warmth, love, pleasure, wine, crystal, mirth, and living beauty⁠—things that he is hungering for with a wolf-like hunger that adds self-contempt to his starved soul’s gnawings.

Suddenly the sharp whip of the present cracks in his ear and the cold strikes to his marrow and rouses him to action. He rises, dons a ragged overcoat, goes out the door, and down the seven flights of stairs. He returns directly with bread and cheese, wrapped in an old newspaper. He sits again, gulping down the food, which tastes like nectar of the gods. The star looks down through the crack and twinkles with heavenly sympathy, for the man has fought a long and very dreary fight to the end that he is now eating cheese crumbs, with drifting snow falling upon his shoulders. For the first time in many years the man wears the look of success.


He has gained in an hour what others have strived for during a life time without success. As the man eats he glances idly at the old newspaper that contains his food. The star sees him suddenly grip the paper convulsively with both hands, stare with burning eyes among its columns, and then, with a hoarse choking oath, stumble to his feet, whirl, and fall upon the bare floor.


In the morning, since he does not appear as usual, two men break open the attic door and find him there.

“Suicide?” says one.

“Starvation, more likely,” says the other.

“No, here’s bread and cheese. Case for the coroner, anyway. Cheerful sort of a den he lived in. Hullo, what’s this he’s been writing?”

One of them reads what the dead man has written, and says:

“It’s peculiar stuff. I can’t just make it out. Look at his hand; he’s got an old newspaper in it gripped like a vise.”

He stoops and forces the old paper from the cold fingers. He examines it from curiosity and dully stumbles upon the truth.

“Say, Bill,” he says, “here’s a funny thing. This old newspaper’s got an article in it very near exactly the same as that thing the gent wrote himself.”

A Matter of Loyalty

Two men were talking at the Grand Central depot yesterday, and one of them was telling about a difficulty he had recently been engaged in.

“He said I was the biggest liar ever heard in Texas,” said the man, “and I jumped on him and blacked both his eyes in about a minute.”

“That’s right,” said the other man, “a man ought to resent an imputation of that sort right away.”

“It wasn’t exactly that,” said the first speaker, “but Tom Achiltree is a second cousin of mine, and I won’t stand by and hear any man belittle him.”

By Easy Stages

“You’re at the wrong place,” said Cerberus. “This is the gate that leads to the infernal regions, while it is a passport to Heaven that you have handed me.”

“I know it,” said the departed shade wearily, “but it allows a stopover here; you see, I’m from Galveston and I have got to make the change gradually.”

Taking No Chances

“Let’s see,” said the genial manager as he looked over the atlas. “Here’s a town one might strike on our way back. Antananarivo, the capital of Madagascar, is a city of 100,000 inhabitants.”

“That sounds promising,” said Mark Twain, running his hands through his busy curls, “read some more about it.”

“The people of Madagascar,” continued the genial manager, reading from his book, “are not a savage race and few of the tribes could be classed as barbarian people. There are many native orators among them, and their language abounds in figures, metaphors, and parables, and ample evidence is given of the mental ability of the inhabitants.”

“Sounds like it might be all right,” said the humorist, “read some more.”

“Madagascar is the home,” read the manager, “of an enormous bird called the epyornis, that lays an egg 15½ by 9½ in. in size, weighing from ten to twelve pounds. These eggs⁠—”

“Never mind reading any more,” said Mark Twain. “We will not go to Madagascar.”

The Other Side of It

There is an item going the rounds of the press relative to the well-known curiosity of woman. It states that if a man brings a newspaper home out of which a piece has been clipped his wife will never rest until she has procured another paper to see what it was that had been cut out.

A Houston man was quite impressed with the idea, so he resolved to make the experiment. One night last week he cut out of the day’s paper a little two-inch catarrh cure advertisement, and left the mutilated paper on the table where his wife would be sure to read it.

He picked up a book and pretended to be interested, while he watched her glance over the paper. When she struck the place where the piece had been cut, she frowned and seemed to be thinking very seriously.

However, she did not say anything about it and the man was in doubt as to whether her curiosity had been aroused or not.

The next day when he came home to dinner she met him at the door with flashing eyes and an ominous look about her jaw.

“You miserable, deceitful wretch!” she cried. “After living all these years with you to find that you have been basely deceiving me and leading a double life, and bringing shame and sorrow upon your innocent family! I always thought you were a villain and a reprobate, and now I have positive proof of the fact.”

“Wh⁠—wha⁠—what do you mean, Maria?” he gasped. “I haven’t been doing anything.”

“Of course you are ready to add lying to your catalogue of vices. Since you pretend not to understand me⁠—look at this.”

She held up to his gaze a complete paper of the issue of the day before.

“You thought to hide your actions from me by cutting out part of the paper, but I was too sharp for you.”

“Why that was just a little joke, Maria. I didn’t think you would take it seriously. I⁠—”

“Do you call that a joke, you shameless wretch?” she cried, spreading the paper before him.

The man looked and read in dismay. In cutting out the catarrh advertisement he had never thought to see what was on the other side of it, and this was the item that appeared, to one reading the other side of the page, to have been clipped:

A gentleman about town, who stands well in business circles, had a high old time last night in a certain restaurant where he entertained at supper a couple of chorus ladies belonging to the comic opera company now in the city. Loud talking and breaking of dishes attracted some attention, but the matter was smoothed over, owing to the prominence of the gentleman referred to.

“You call that a joke, do you, you old reptile,” shrieked the excited lady. “I’m going home to mamma this evening and I’m going to stay there. Thought you’d fool me by cutting it out, did you? You sneaking, dissipated old snake you! I’ve got my trunk nicely packed and I’m going straight home⁠—don’t you come near me!”

“Maria,” gasped the bewildered man. “I swear I⁠—”

“Don’t add perjury to your crimes, sir!”

The man tried unsuccessfully to speak three or four times, and then grabbed his hat and ran downtown. Fifteen minutes later he came back bringing two new silk dress patterns, four pounds of caramels, and his bookkeeper and three clerks to prove that he was hard at work in the store on the night in question.

The affair was finally settled satisfactorily, but there is one Houston man who has no further curiosity about woman’s curiosity.

The Bruised Reed

The popular preacher sat in his study before a glowing grate, and a satisfied smile stole over his features, as he remembered his sermon of that morning. He had struck strong blows at sin; relating to his breathless congregation in plain and burning words, tales of the wickedness, debauchery, drunkenness and depravity that was going on in their very midst.

Following the prominent example of a certain pureminded and original servant of the Lord, he had gone down himself among the lowest haunts of vice and iniquity, and there sketched in his mind those flaming and accusive portraits that he had painted before the astonished eyes of his congregation, with a broad brush and vivid colors. He had heard blasphemies from lips that were once as pure as his sisters’; he had stood in the midst of unbridled vice, where wine flowed like water and amidst songs, curses, laughing and revelry, the chink of money, earned by dripping hearts’ blood, could be heard as it fell into the coffers of the devil. Oh, he had astonished his flock! He had hurled at them fiery words of blame that these things were allowed to exist. It had been a new departure for him, but he expected grand results. And now he sat by his anthracite fire, and thought over the success of his labors, and smiled with satisfaction. The latch of his study door clicked and a being entered. He was grizzly, rum-soaked, dirty, ragged, disreputable, blear-eyed and of uncertain step. Once, he might have been a man.

Across his forehead stretched a long strip of dingy court plaster; on the bridge of his nose an unhealed wound showed scarlet against the milder red of his face. He brought with him an odor of disrespectability, rum and unsanctification.

The preacher rose; a slight distension visible in his delicate nostril; a little shiver of repulsion rippling through his broadcloth-vestured figure. “What is it, my good man?” he asked.


The being spoke, and the preacher still standing, followed him through the husky labyrinth of his speech.

“Don’t yer know me? I lives in ‘Hell’s Delight.’ I knows you. You come down, you did, and wants ter take in ther sights. You asks Tony, the Dago, fer a guide and he sends yer to Creepy Jake. That’s me. I takes yer through the dives, one and all. I knows yer a preacher from the way yer did. Yer buys the wine like a gent, though⁠—like a real, high roller gent; anybody would ’a took yer fer a gent.”

“Excuse me,” said the preacher, “that wound on your forehead⁠—the blood seems to be dripping on those engravings⁠—allow me⁠—”

“Keep your hankcher, reverend,” said the being, as he raised a ragged coat tail and wiped the drops from his brow. “I won’t spile yer pictures. I’ll git off en yer carpet, and let some fresh air in in a minute. One time I could ’a told yer all about them pictures⁠—dat’s Una and de lion⁠—dat one’s the Venus of Milo⁠—de other one’s the disc thrower⁠—you wouldn’t believe, reverend, that I knowed de names, would you? One time I set in cheers like dat⁠—I allus liked dat Spanish leather upholstering, but your wainscotin’ ain’t right. De carvin’s allegorical and it don’t suit de modern panels⁠—’scuse me, reverend, dat ain’t what I come to say. After you took in de Tenderloin, I got to tinkin’ bout somethin’ you said one night after I went wid you to de tough dance at Gilligan’s. Dey was a cove dere dat twigged you as a parson and was about to biff you one on de ear, but he see’d my gun showin’ down in my pocket, and den he see’d my eye, and changed his mind⁠—but dat’s all right. You says to yerself dat night, but I heard yer: ‘De bruised reed he shall not quench, and de smokin’ flax he will not put out,’ or somethin’ like dat, and I got ter studyin’ over what a low down bum I’ve been, and I says, ‘I’m goin’ to de big bug church, and hear de bloke preach.’


“De boys an’ de tinhorns gimme de laugh and called me ‘Pious Jake,’ but today I went to der big church where you preaches, reverend. I says to myself dat I showed you round de Tenderloin, and stood by you when de rounders guyed you, and never let de coves work de flimflam on yer, and when I heard tell of the big sermons yer was preachin’ and de hot shot yer was shootin’ into de tough gang, I was real proud, and I felt like I kinder had a share in de business fer havin’ gone de rounds with yer. I says I’ll hear dat cove preach, and maybe de bruised reed’ll git a chance to straighten up⁠—‘scuse me, reverend, don’t git skeared, I ain’t goin’ to fall and spile yer carpet. I’m a little groggy. That cut on my head is bled a heap, but I ain’t drunk.”

“Perhaps you would like⁠—possibly, if you would sit⁠—just for a moment⁠—”

“Thanks, reverend, I won’t sit down. I’ve jest about finished shootin’ in my dye stuff. I goes to dat church and I goes in. I hears music playin’, and I suppose them was angels singin’ up in de peanut gallery, an’ I smelt⁠—such a smell ov violets and stuff like de hay when we used to cut it in de meaders when I wuz a kid. Dey wuz fine people in welvets and folderols, and way over at de oder end was you, reverend, standin’ in de gran’ stan’, lookin’ carm and fur away like, jest as yer did at Gilligan’s ball when de duck tried to guy yer, and I went in fur to hear yer preach.”


A flattering sentence from the report of his sermon in the morning paper came to the preacher’s mind:

“His wonderful, magnetic influence is as powerful to move the hearts of his roughest, most unlettered hearer, as it is to touch a responsive chord in the cultured brain of the man of refinement and taste.”

“And my sermon,” said the preacher, laying his delicate finger tips one against the other, and allowing the adulation even of this being to run with a slight exhilaration through his veins. “Did it awaken in you any remorse for the life of sin you have led, or bring any light of Divine pity and pardon to your soul, as He promises even unto the most degraded and wicked of creation?”

“Yer sermon, reverend?” asked the being, carrying a trembling hand to the disfiguring wounds upon his face. “Do you see them cuts and them bruises? Do you know where I got ’em? I never heard yer sermon. I got dese cuts on de rocks outside when de cop and yer usher fired me out de church. De bruised reed He will not quench, an’ de smokin’ flax He will not ’stinguish. Has you anything to say, reverend?”

Journalistically Impossible

“Did you report that suicide as I told you to do last night?” asked the editor of the new reporter, a graduate of a school of journalism.

“I saw the corpse, sir, but found it impossible to write a description of the affair.”

“Why?”

“How in the world was I to state that the man’s throat was cut from ear to ear when he had only one ear?”

The Power of Reputation

One night last week in San Antonio a tall, solemn-looking man, wearing a silk hat, walked into a hotel bar from the office, and stood by the stove where a group of men were sitting smoking and talking. A fat man, who noticed him go in, asked the hotel clerk who it was. The clerk told his name and the fat man followed the stranger into the barroom, casting at him glances of admiration and delight.

“Pretty cold night, gentlemen, for a warm country,” said the man in the silk hat.

“Oh⁠—ha⁠—ha⁠—ha⁠—ha⁠—ha!” yelled the fat man, bursting into a loud laugh. “That’s pretty good.”

The solemn man looked surprised and went on warming himself at the stove.

Presently one of the men sitting by the stove said:

“That old Turkey over in Europe doesn’t seem to be making much noise now.”

“No,” said the solemn man, “it seems like the other nations are doing all the gobbling.”

The fat man let out a yell and laid down and rolled over and over on the floor. “Gosh ding it,” he howled, “that’s the best thing I ever heard. Ah⁠—ha⁠—ha⁠—ha⁠—ha⁠—ha! Come on, gentlemen, and have something on that.”

The invitation seemed to all hands to be a sufficient apology for all his ill-timed merriment, and they ranged along the bar. While the drinks were being prepared, the fat man slipped along the line and whispered something in the ear of everyone, except the man with the silk hat. When he got through a broad smile spread over the faces of the crowd.

“Well, gentlemen, here’s fun!” said the solemn man as he raised his glass.

The whole party, with one accord, started off into a perfect roar of laughter, spilling half their drinks on the bar and floor.

“Did you ever hear such a flow of wit?” said one.

“Chock full of fun, ain’t he?”

“Same old fellow he used to be.”

“Best thing that’s been got off here in a year.”

“Gentlemen,” said the solemn man, “there seems to be a conspiracy among you to guy me. I like a joke myself, but I like to know what I’m being hurrahed about.”

Three men lay down in the sawdust and screamed, and the rest fell in chairs and leaned against the bar in paroxysms of laughter. Then three or four of them almost fought for the honor of setting them up again. The solemn man was suspicious and watchful, but he drank every time anyone proposed to treat. Whenever he made a remark, the whole gang would yell with laughter until the tears ran from their eyes.

“Well,” said the solemn man, after about twenty rounds had been paid for by the others, “the best of friends must part. I’ve got to get to my downy couch.”

“Good!” yelled the fat man. “Ha⁠—ha⁠—ha⁠—ha⁠—ha! ‘Downy couch’ is good. Best thing I ever heard. You are as good, by Gad, as you ever were. Never heard such impromptu wit. Texas is proud of you, old boy.”

“Good night, gentlemen,” said the solemn man. “I’ve got to get up early in the morning and go to work.”

“Hear that!” shouted the fat man. “Says he’s got to work. Ha⁠—ha⁠—ha⁠—ha⁠—ha!”

The whole crowd gave a parting roar of laughter as the solemn man walked to the door. He stopped for a moment and said: “Had a very (hic) pleasant evening (hic) gents. Hope’ll shee you (hic) ’n mornin’. Here’sh my card. Goo’ night.”

The fat man seized the card and shook the solemn man’s hand. When he had gone, he glanced at the card, and his face took on a serious frown.

“Gentlemen,” he said, “you all know who our friend is that we have been entertaining, don’t you?”

“Of course; you said it was Alex Sweet, the ‘Texas Siftings’ man.”

“So I understood,” said the fat man. “The hotel clerk said it was Alex Sweet.”

He handed them the card and skipped out the side door. The card read:

L. X. Wheat

Representing Kansas City

Smith and Jones Mo.

Wholesale Undertakers’ Supplies

The crowd was out $32 on treats, and they armed themselves and are laying for the fat man. When a stranger attempts to be funny in San Antonio now, he has to produce proper credentials in writing before he can raise a smile.

A Personal Insult

Young lady in Houston became engaged last summer to one of the famous shortstops of the Texas baseball league.

Last week he broke the engagement, and this is the reason why.

He had a birthday last Tuesday and she sent him a beautiful bound and illustrated edition of Coleridge’s famous poem, “The Ancient Mariner.”

The hero of the diamond opened the book with a puzzled look.

“What’s dis bloomin’ stuff about, anyways?” he said, and read:

It is the Ancient Mariner
And he stoppeth one of three⁠—

The famous shortstop threw the book out the window, stuck out his chin and said:

“No Texas sis can gimme de umpire face like dat. I swipes nine daisy cutters outer ten dat comes in my garden, I do.”

Reconciliation

A One-Act Drama

Dramatis Personae

Scene⁠—Her boudoir.

He And now, Viola, since we understand each other, let us never fall out again. Let us forget the bitter words that we have spoken one to another, and resolve to dwell always in love and affection. Places his arm around her waist.
She Oh, Charles, you don’t know how happy you make me! Of course we will never quarrel again. Life is too short to waste in petty bickerings and strife. Let us keep in the primrose path of love, and never stray from it any more. Oh, what bliss to think you love me and nothing can ever come between us! Just like the old days when we used to meet by the lilac hedge, isn’t it? Lays her head on his shoulder.
He Yes, and when I used to pull blossoms and twine them in your hair and call you Queen Titania.
She Oh, that was nice. I remember. Queen Titania? Oh, yes, she was one of Shakespeare’s characters, who fell in love with a man with a donkey’s head.
He H’m!
She Now don’t. I didn’t mean you. Oh, Charles, listen to the Christmas chimes! What a merry day it will be for us. Are you sure you love me as well as you used to?
He More. Smack.
She Does ’em fink me sweet?
He Smack. Smack!
She Wuz ’em’s toodleums?
He Awful heap. Who do you wuv?
She My ownest own old boy.
Both Smack!
He Listen, the bells are chiming again. We should be doubly happy, love, for we have passed through stormy seas of doubt and anger. But now, a light is breaking, and the rosy dawn of love has returned.
She And should abide with us forever. Oh, Charles, let us never again by word or look cause pain to each other.
He Never again. And you will not scold any more?
She No, dearest. You know I never have unless you gave me cause.
He Sometimes you have become angry and said hard things without any reason.
She Maybe you think so, but I don’t. Lifts her head from his shoulder.
He I know what I’m talking about. Takes his arm from her waist.
She You come home cross because you haven’t got sense enough to conduct your business properly, and take your spite out on me.
He You make me tired. You get on your ear because you are naturally one of the cain-raising, blab-mouthed kind and can’t help it.
She You old crosspatch of a liar from Liarsville, don’t you talk to me that way or I’ll scratch your eyes out.
He You blamed wildcat. I wish I had been struck by lightning before I ever met you.
She Seizing the broom. Biff! biff! biff.
He After reaching the sidewalk. I wonder if Colonel Ingersoll is right when he says suicide is no sin!

Curtain

Buying a Piano

A Houston man decided a few days ago to buy his wife a piano for a Christmas present. Now, there is more competition, rivalry, and push among piano agents than any other class of men. The insurance and fruit tree businesses are mild and retiring in comparison with the piano industry. The Houston man, who is a prominent lawyer, knew this, and he was careful not to tell too many people of his intentions, for fear the agents would annoy him. He inquired in a music store only once, regarding prices, etc., and intended after a week or so to make his selection.

When he left the store he went around by the post-office before going back to work.

When he reached his office he found three agents perched on his desk and in his chair waiting for him.

One of them got his mouth open first, and said: “Hear you want to buy a piano, sir. For sweetness, durability, finish, tone, workmanship, style, and quality the Steingay is⁠—”

“Nixy,” said another agent, pushing in between them and seizing the lawyer’s collar. “You get a Chitterling. Only piano in the world. For sweetness, durability, finish, tone, workmanship⁠—”

“Excuse me,” said the third agent. “I can’t stand by and see a man swindled. The Chronic and Bark piano, for sweetness, durability, finish⁠—”

“Get out, every one of you,” shouted the lawyer. “When I want a piano I’ll buy the one I please. Get out of the room!”

The agents left, and the lawyer went to work on a brief. During the afternoon, five of his personal friends called to recommend different makes of pianos, and the lawyer began to get snappish.

He went out and got a drink and the bartender said: “Say, gent, me brudder works in a piano factory and he gimme de tip dat you’se wants to buy one of de tum-tums. Me brudder says dat for sweetness, durability, finish⁠—”

“Devil take your brother,” said the lawyer.

He got on the street car to go home and four agents were already aboard waiting for him. He dodged back before they saw him and stood on the platform. Presently the brakeman leaned over and whispered in his ear:

“Frien’, the Epperson piano what me uncle handles in East Texas, fur sweetness, durability⁠—”

“Stop the car,” said the lawyer. He got off and skulked in a dark doorway until the four agents, who had also got off the car, rushed past, and then he picked up a big stone from the gutter and put it in his pocket. He went around a back way to his home and slipped up to the gate feeling pretty safe.

The minister of his church had been calling at the house, and came out the gate just as the lawyer reached it. The lawyer was the proud father of a brand-new, two-weeks-old baby, and the minister had just been admiring it, and wanted to congratulate him.

“My dear brother,” said the minister. “Your house will soon be filled with joy and music. I think it will be a great addition to your life. Now, there is nothing in the world that for sweetness⁠—”

“Confound you, you’re drumming for a piano, too, are you?” yelled the lawyer, drawing the stone from his pocket. He fired away and knocked the minister’s tall hat across the street, and kicked him in the shin. The minister believed in the church militant, and he gave the lawyer a one-two on the nose, and they clinched and rolled off the sidewalk on a pile of loose bricks. The neighbors heard the row and came out with shotguns and lanterns, and finally an understanding was arrived at.

The lawyer was considerably battered up, and the family doctor was sent for to patch him. As the doctor bent over him with sticking-plaster and a bottle of arnica, he said:

“You’ll be out in a day or two, and then I want you to come around and buy a piano from my brother. The one he is agent for is acknowledged to be the best one for sweetness, durability, style, quality, and action in the world.”

Too Late

Young Lieutenant Baldwin burst excitedly into his general’s room and cried hoarsely: “For God’s sake, General! Up! Up! and come. Spotted Lightning has carried off your daughter, Inez!”

General Splasher sprang to his feet in dismay. “What,” he cried, “not Spotted Lightning, the chief of the Kiomas, the most peaceful tribe in the reservation?”

“The same.”

“Good heavens! You know what this tribe is when aroused?”

The lieutenant cast a swift look of intelligence at his commander.

“They are the most revengeful, murderous, and vindictive Indians in the West when on the warpath, but for months they have been the most peaceable,” he answered.

“Come,” said the general, “we have not a moment to lose. What has been done?”

“There are fifty cavalrymen ready to start, with Bowie Knife Bill, the famous scout, to track them.”

Ten minutes later the general and the lieutenant, with Bowie Knife Bill at their side, set out at a swinging gallop at the head of the cavalry column.

Bowie Knife Bill, with the trained instincts of a border sleuthhound, followed the trail of Spotted Lightning’s horse with unerring swiftness.

“Pray God we may not be too late,” said the general as he spurred his panting steed⁠—“and Spotted Lightning, too, of all the chiefs! He has always seemed to be our friend.”

“On, on,” cried Lieutenant Baldwin, “there may yet be time.”

Mile after mile the pursuers covered, pausing not for food or water, until nearly sunset.

Bowie Knife Bill pointed to a thin column of smoke in the distance and said:

“Thar’s the varmints’ camp.”

The hearts of all the men bounded with excitement as they neared the spot.

“Are we in time?” was the silent question in the mind of each.

They dashed into an open space of prairie and drew rein near Spotted Lightning’s tent. The flap was closed. The troopers swung themselves from their horses.

“If it is as I fear,” muttered the general hoarsely to the lieutenant, “it means war with the Kioma nation. Oh, why did he not take some other instead of my daughter?”

At that instance the door of the tent opened and Inez Splasher, the general’s daughter, a maiden of about thirty-seven summers, emerged, bearing in her hand the gory scalp of Spotted Lightning.

“Too late!” cried the general as he fell senseless from his horse.

“I knew it,” said Bowie Knife Bill, folding his arms with a silent smile, “but what surprises me is how he ever got this far alive.”

A New Microbe

There is a Houston man who is a great lover of science and an ardent student of her mysteries. He has a small laboratory fitted up at home and spends a great deal of his time in experimenting with chemicals and analyzing different substances.

Of late he has been much interested in various germ theories, and has somewhat neglected his business to read Pasteur’s and Koch’s writings, and everything he could procure relating to sundry kinds of bacilli.

He has bought a new 900-power magnifying instrument, and hopes before long to add his quota to the number of valuable discoveries concerning germ life.

Last Tuesday night there was a sociable and supper given at one of the churches.

The man’s wife wanted him to go, but he begged off, saying that he would much rather stay at home and have a good quiet time with his microscope, while she went and took the children.

He had been reading ex-State Geologist Dumble’s report of his analysis of Houston bayou water, and he was anxious to verify that gentleman’s statements by an examination of his own.

So, immediately after supper he went through the kitchen and found a tin bucket full of water sitting on a bench by the hydrant and carried it at once to his laboratory and, fastening himself in, went to work.

After a time he heard his wife and children leave the house on their way to the supper at the church, which was only a block or two away, and he congratulated himself on the nice quiet time he was going to have.

He worked away for nearly three hours, repeatedly examining through the powerful microscope samples of the bayou water from the bucket.


At last he slapped his hand on his knee in triumph.

“Dumble’s wrong!” he exclaimed. “He says it’s the hybadid cystallis, and I’m certain he’s mistaken. The inhabitants of this water are schizomycetic bacteria, but they are neither macrocci of roseopersicina, nor have they iso-diametric cells.

“Can it be that I have discovered a new germ? Is scientific fame within my grasp?”

He seized his pen and began to write. In a little while his family came home and his wife came up to the laboratory. He generally refused to let her in, but on that occasion he opened the door and welcomed her enthusiastically.

“Ellen,” he cried, “since you have been gone I have won fame and perhaps fortune. I have discovered a new bacterium in the bayou water. Science describes nothing like it. I shall call it after you and your name will pass into eternal fame. Just take a look through the microscope.”

His wife shut one eye and looked into the cylinder.

“Funny little round things, ain’t they?” she said. “Are they injurious to the system?”

“Sure death. Get one of ’em in your alimentary canal and you’re a goner. I’m going to write to the London Lancet and the New York Academy of Sciences tonight. What shall we call ’em, Ellen? Let’s see⁠—Ellenobes, or Ellenites, or what?”

“Oh, John, you wretch!” shrieked his wife, as she caught sight of the tin bucket on the table. “You’ve got my bucket of Galveston oysters that I bought to take to the church supper! Microbes, indeed!”

A Story for Men

This little story will be a disappointment to women who read it. They will all say: “I don’t see anything in that.” Probably there isn’t much.

Mrs. Jessamine lives in Houston. You can meet any number of ladies every day out walking on Main Street that resemble her very much. She is not famous or extraordinary in any way. She has a nice family, is in moderate circumstances and lives in her own house. I would call her an average woman if that did not imply that some were below the average, which would be an ungallant insinuation. Mrs. Jessamine is a genuine woman. She always steps on a street car with her left foot first, wears her snowiest lace-trimmed sub-skirts on muddy days, and can cut a magazine, wind a clock, pick walnuts, open a trunk and clean out an inkstand, all with a hairpin. She can take twenty dollars worth of trimming and make over an old dress so you couldn’t tell it from a brand new fifteen dollar one. She is intelligent, reads the newspapers regularly and once cut a cooking recipe out of an old magazine that took the prize offered by a newspaper for the best original directions for making a green tomato pie. Her husband has such confidence in her household management that he trusts her with the entire housekeeping, sometimes leaving her in charge until a late hour of the night.

Mrs. Jessamine is thoughtful, kindhearted and an excellent manager. She has two children, a little boy of 7 and a little girl of 4, of whom she is extravagantly fond. The Jessamines are going to keep a cook as soon as Mr. Jessamine’s salary is raised, but just at present Mrs. Jessamine is doing her own work.

While she is attending to her duties she gives the children a paper of needles, the scissors, some sample packages of aniline dyes and a box of safety matches to play with, and during the intervals of baking and sweeping the rooms she rushes in, kisses and cuddles them and then flies back to her work singing merrily.


One afternoon last week Mrs. Jessamine was lying on the bed reading a Sunday paper. The children were blowing soap bubbles with some old pipestems of Mr. Jessamine’s that he had discarded because they were full of nicotine.

Mrs. Jessamine was reading an account of some cruel treatment of children that had been unearthed by the Gerry Society, and the tears came to her eyes as she thought of the heartless and criminally careless mothers of the land who are the cause of so much suffering to their innocent little ones.

Presently she fell asleep and dreamed this dream:

She was all alone in a great room. She heard the doorbell snap and footsteps leaving and dying away in the hall outside. The room was a strange one, and she went about to examine it. She paused in front of a mirror and saw her reflection, and lo, she was a little child, in a white pinafore, with wide-open, wondering eyes and tangled dark curls.

She heard the front door below stairs close and the gate open and shut. She began to play around the room with some dolls and pictures, and for a while was quite happy.

She undressed and dressed her doll and talked to it soothingly and put it to bed. She could see out the window, but there were some big trees growing in the yard and the wind blew a branch against the corner of the house, making a queer noise that rather frightened her. Then she saw the closet door standing open and a lot of different shaped bottles on a low shelf. She dragged a chair in front of the shelf and climbed into it. The bottles had all kinds of pretty colored liquids in them and she found some that she could pull the corks from quite easily. She tasted one or two of the corks. Some of them were sweet and nice and one was bitter and badtasting. One bottle was full of something clear like water, so she got that one and pulled out the cork, but the bottle slipped from her hand, fell to the floor and broke. Where the liquid spilled it fumed and sputtered and turned green, and a kind of hot, biting vapor arose. She climbed down and began to feel lonesome and scared. She called “Mamma,” three or four times loudly, but all the house was still. Then she began to cry and ran to the door. Just then she thought she heard something scratch behind the bed, and she screamed and beat upon the door with her hands, crying for her mamma to come. Nobody answered her.

Then she listened fearfully for a little and crept over and got her dolly from its bed and crouched in a corner whimpering and hugging her doll tightly, with her heart beating wildly, and watching the dark place under the bed with frightened eyes.

Presently she saw a pretty red box on a table and curiosity for the moment overcame her fear. She opened the box and saw a lot of funny little sticks, with little round heads on them. She played with them on the floor, building little pigpens and fences and houses.

In changing her position her heel fell upon the little sticks and the next moment a big blaze flared up, caught her dress, and with a loud scream she ran to the locked door, wrapped in burning, stinging flames, in an agony of pain and horror.


Mrs. Jessamine awoke with a start and sprang wildly from the bed. The children were playing merrily on the floor, and she ran to them and caught them in her arms in thankfulness that the terrible dream was over. How she wished for someone to whom she could relate it and gain sympathy. Three blocks away lived Mrs. Flutter, her best friend and confidante. Not for a long time had Mrs. Jessamine had a dream that made such an impression upon her mind.

She hastily put on her hat and cloak and said:

“Now, be good children till I come back.” Then she went out, locked the door and hurried away to Mrs. Flutter’s.

That is all.

Just a Little Damp

As the steamer reached Aransas Pass a Galveston man fell overboard. A life buoy was thrown him, but he thrust it aside contemptuously. A boat was hurriedly lowered, and reached him just as he came to the surface for the second time. Helping hands were stretched forth to rescue him, but he spurned their aid. He spat out about a pint of sea water and shouted:

“Go away and leave me alone. I’m walking on the bottom. You’ll run your boat aground in a minute. I’ll wade out when I get ready and go up to a barber shop and get dusted off. The ground’s damp a little, but I ain’t afraid of catching cold.”

He went under for the last time, and the boat pulled back for the ship. The Galveston man had exhibited to the last his scorn and contempt for any other port that claimed deep water.

Her Mysterious Charm

In the conservatory of a palatial Houston home Roland Pendergast stood with folded arms and an inscrutable smile upon his face, gazing down upon the upturned features of Gabrielle Smithers.

“Why is it,” he said, “that I am attracted by you? You are not beautiful, you lack aplomb, grace, and savoir faire. You are cold, unsympathetic and bowlegged.

“I have striven to analyze the power you have over me, but in vain. Some esoteric chain of mental telepathy binds us two together, but what is its nature? I dislike being in love with one who has neither chic, naivete nor front teeth, but fate has willed it so. You personally repel me, but I can not tear you from my heart. You are in my thoughts by day and nightmares by night.

“Your form reminds me of a hatrack, but when I press you to my heart I feel strange thrills of joy. I can no more tell you why I love you than I can tell why a barber can rub a man’s head fifteen minutes without touching the spot that itches. Speak, Gabrielle, and tell me what is this spell you have woven around me!”

“I will tell you,” said Gabrielle with a soft smile. “I have fascinated many men in the same way. When I help you on with your overcoat I never reach under and try to pull your other coat down from the top of your collar.”

Why He Hesitated

A man with a worn, haggard countenance that showed traces of deep sorrow and suffering rushed excitedly up the stairs into the editorial rooms of the Post.

The literary editor was alone in his corner and the man threw himself into a chair nearby and said:

“Excuse me, sir, for inflicting my troubles upon you, but I must unbosom myself to someone. I am the unhappiest of men. Two months ago, in a quiet little town in Eastern Texas, there was a family dwelling in the midst of peace and contentment. Hezekiah Skinner was the head of that family, and he almost idolized his wife, who appeared to completely return his affection. Alas, sir, she was deceiving him. Her protestations of love were but honeyed lies, intended to beguile and blind him. She had become infatuated with William Wagstaff, a neighbor, who had insidiously planned to capture her affections. She listened to Wagstaff’s pleadings and fled with him, leaving her husband with a wrecked home and a broken heart. Can you not feel for me, sir?”

“I do, indeed,” said the literary editor. “I can conceive the agony, the sorrow, the deep suffering that you must have felt.”

“For two months,” continued the man, “the home of Hezekiah Skinner has been desolate, and this woman and Wagstaff have been flying from his wrath.”

“What do you intend to do?” asked the literary editor.

“I scarcely know. I do not care for the woman any longer, but I cannot escape the tortures my mind is undergoing day after day.”

At this point a shrill woman’s voice was heard in the outer office, making some inquiry of the office boy.

“Great heavens, her voice!” said the man, rising to his feet greatly agitated. “I must get out of here. Quick! Is there no way for me to escape? A window⁠—a side door⁠—anywhere before she finds me.”

The literary editor rose with indignation in his face.

“For shame, sir,” he said, “do not act so unworthy a part. Confront your faithless wife, Mr. Skinner, and denounce her for wrecking your life and home. Why do you hesitate to stand up for your honor and your rights?”

“You do not understand,” said the man, his face white with fear and apprehension, as he climbed out the window upon a shed. “I am William Wagstaff.”

Convinced

Houston is the dwelling place of a certain young lady who is exceptionally blessed with the gifts of the goddess of fortune. She is very fair to look upon, bright, witty, and possesses that gracious charm so difficult to describe, but so potent to please, that is commonly called personal magnetism. Although cast in such a lonely world, and endowed with so many graces of mind and matter, she is no idle butterfly of fashion, and the adulation she receives from a numerous circle of admirers has not turned her head.

She has a close friend, a young lady of plain exterior, but a sensible and practical mind, whom she habitually consults as a wise counselor and advisor concerning the intricate problems of life.

One day she said to Marian⁠—the wise friend: “How I wish there was some way to find out who among these flattering suitors of mine is sincere and genuine in the compliments that are paid me. Men are such deceivers, and they all give me such unstinted praise, and make such pretty speeches to me, that I do not know who among them, if any, are true and sincere in their regard.”

“I will tell you a way,” said Marian. “The next evening when there are a number of them calling upon you, recite a dramatic poem, and then tell me how each one expresses his opinion of your effort.”

The young lady was much impressed with the idea, and on the following Friday evening when some half-dozen young men were in the parlor paying her attentions, she volunteered to recite. She has not the least dramatic talent, but she stood up and went through with a long poem, with many gestures and much rolling of eyes and pressing of her hands to her heart. She did it very badly, and without the least regard for the rules of elocution or expression.

Later on, her friend Marian asked her how her effort was received.

“Oh,” she said, “they all crowded around me, and appeared to be filled with the utmost delight. Tom, and Henry, and Jim, and Charlie were in raptures. They said that Mary Anderson could not have equaled it. They said they had never heard anything spoken with such dramatic effect and feeling.”

“Everyone praised you?” asked Marian.

“All but one. Mr. Judson sat back in his chair and never applauded at all. He told me after I had finished that he was afraid I had very little dramatic talent at all.”

“Now,” said Marian. “You know who is sincere and genuine?”

“Yes,” said the beautiful girl, with eyes shining with enthusiasm. “The test was a complete success. I detest that odious Judson, and I’m going to begin studying for the stage right away.”

How It Started

“You had better move your chair a little further back,” said the old resident. “I saw one of the Judkinses go into the newspaper office just now with his gun, and there may be some shooting.”

The reporter, who was in the town gathering information for the big edition, got his chair quickly behind a pillar of the hotel piazza, and asked what the trouble was about.

“It’s an old feud of several years’ standing,” said the old resident, “between the editor and the Judkins family. About every two months they get to shooting at one another. Everybody in town knows about it. This is the way it started. The Judkinses live in another town, and one time a good-looking young lady of the family came here on a visit to a Mrs. Brown. Mrs. Brown gave her a big party⁠—a regular high-toned affair, to get the young men acquainted with her. One young fellow fell in love with her, and sent a little poem to our paper, the Observer. This is the way it read:

To Miss Judkins
(Visiting Mrs. T. Montcalm Brown.)

We love to see her wear
A gown of simple white.
Nothing but a rose in her hair
At Mrs. Brown’s that night,
The fairest of them all
She stood, with blushes red,
While bright the gaslight shone
Upon her lovely head.

“That poem, now, was what started the feud.”

“I don’t see anything wrong with the poem,” said the reporter. “It seems a little crude, but contains nothing to give offense.”

“Well,” said the old resident, “the poem was all right as it was written. The trouble originated in the newspaper office. The morning after it was sent in the society editress got hold of it first. She is an old maid and she didn’t think the second line quite proper, so she ran her pencil through it. Then the advertising manager prowled around through the editor’s mail as usual, and read the poem. Old Brown owed the office $17 back subscription, and the advertising manager struck out the fourth line. He said old Brown shouldn’t get any free advertising in that office.

“Then the editor’s wife happened to come in to see if there was any square, perfumed envelopes among his mail, and she read it. She was at the Brown’s party herself, and when she read the line that proclaimed Miss Judkins ‘The fairest of them all’ she turned up her nose and scratched that out.

“Then the editor himself got hold of it. He is heavily interested in our new electric light plant, and his blue pencil jumped on the line ‘While bright the gaslight shone’ in a hurry. Later on one of the printers came in and grabbed a lot of copy, and this poem was among it. You know what printers will do if you give them a chance, so here is the way the poem came out in the paper:

To Miss Judkins
(Visiting Mrs. T. Montcalm Brown.)

We loved to see her wear
Nothing but a rose in her hair.
She stood with blushes red
Upon her lovely head.

“And you see,” continued the old resident, “the Judkinses got mad.”

His Dilemma

An old man with long white chin whiskers and a derby hat two sizes small, dropped into a Main Street drug store yesterday and beckoned a clerk over into a corner. He was about sixty-five years old, but he wore a bright red necktie, and was trying to smoke a very bad and strong cigar in as offhand a style as possible.

“Young man,” he said, “you lemme ask you a few questions, and I’ll send you a big watermelon up from the farm next summer. I came to Houston to see this here carnival, and do some tradin’. Right now, before I go any further, have you got any hair dye?”

“Plenty of it.”

“Any of this real black shiny dye that looks blue in the sunshine?”

“Yes.”

“All right then, now I’ll proceed. Do you know anything about this here Monroe docterin’?”

“Well, yes, something.”

“And widders; do you feel able to prognosticate a few lines about widders?”

“I can’t tell what you are driving at,” said the clerk. “What is it you want to know?”

“I’m gettin’ to the pint. Now there’s hair dye, Monroe docterin’, and widders. Got them all down in your mind?”

“Yes, but⁠—”

“Jest hold on, now, and I’ll explain. There’s the unhappiest fat and sassy widder moved into the adjinin’ farm to me, you ever see, and if I knows the female heart she has cast eyes of longin’ upon yours truly. Now if I dyes these here white whiskers I ketches her. By blackin’ said whiskers and insertin’ say four fingers of rye where it properly belongs, I kicks up my heels and I waltzes up and salutes the widder like a calf of forty.”

“Well,” said the clerk, “our hair dye is⁠—”

“Wait a minute, young feller. Now on the other hand I hears rumors of wars this mornin’, and I hears alarmin’ talk about this here Monroe docterin’. Ef I uses hair dye and trains down to thirty-eight or forty years of age, I ketches the widder, but I turns into a peart and chipper youth what is liable to be made to fight in this here great war. Ef I gives up the hair dye, the recrutin’ sargent salutes these white hairs and passes by, but I am takin’ big chances on the widder. She has been to meetin’ twicet with a man what has been divorced, and ties his own cree-vat, and this here Monroe docterin’ is all what keeps me from pulling out seventy-five cents and makin’ a strong play with said dye. What would you do, ef you was me, young feller?”

“I don’t think there will be any war soon,” said the clerk.

“Jerusalem; I’m glad to hear it! Gimme the biggest bottle of blue-black hair dye fur seventy-five cents that you got. I’m goin’ to purpose to that widder before it gets dry, and risk the chances of Monroe takin’ water again on this war business.”

Something for Baby

This is nothing but a slight jar in the happy holiday music; a minor note struck by the finger of Fate, slipping upon the keys, as anthems of rejoicing and Christmas carols make the Yuletide merry.

The Post man stood yesterday in one of the largest fancy and drygoods stores on Main Street, watching the throng of well-dressed buyers, mostly ladies, who were turning over the stock of Christmas notions and holiday goods.

Presently a little, slim, white-faced girl crept timidly through the crowd to the counter. She was dressed in thin calico, and her shoes were patched and clumsy.

She looked about her with a manner half mournful, half scared.

A clerk saw her and came forward.

“Well, what is it?” he asked rather shortly.

“Please, sir,” she answered in a weak voice, “Mamma gave me this dime to get something for baby.”

“Something for baby, for a dime? Want to buy baby a Christmas present, eh? Well now, don’t you think you had better run around to a toyshop? We don’t keep such things here. You want a tin horse, or a ball, or a jumping jack, now don’t you?”

“Please, sir, Mamma said I was to come here. Baby isn’t with us now. Mamma told me to get⁠—ten⁠—cents⁠—worth⁠—of⁠—crape, sir, if you please.”

A Righteous Outburst

He smelled of gin and his whiskers resembled the cylinder of a Swiss music box. He walked into a toy shop on Main Street yesterday and leaned sorrowfully against the counter.

“Anything today?” asked the proprietor coldly.

He wiped an eye with a dingy red handkerchief and said:

“Nothing at all, thank you. I just came inside to shed a tear. I do not like to obtrude my grief upon the passersby. I have a little daughter, sir; five years of age, with curly golden hair. Her name is Lilian. She says to me this morning: ‘Papa, will Santa Claus bring me a red wagon for Christmas?’ It completely unmanned me, sir, as, alas, I am out of work and penniless. Just think, one little red wagon would bring her happiness, and there are children who have hundreds of red wagons.”

“Before you go out,” said the proprietor, “which you are going to do in about fifteen seconds, I am willing to inform you that I have a branch store on Trains Street, and was around there yesterday. You came in and made the same talk about your little girl, whom you called Daisy, and I gave you a wagon. It seems you don’t remember your little girl’s name very well.”

The man drew himself up with dignity, and started for the door. When nearly there, he turned and said:

“Her name is Lilian Daisy, sir, and the wagon you gave me had a rickety wheel and some of the paint was scratched off the handle. I have a friend who tends bar on Willow Street, who is keeping it for me till Christmas, but I will feel a flush of shame on your behalf, sir, when Lilian Daisy sees that old, slab-sided, squeaking, secondhand, leftover-from-last-year’s-stock wagon. But, sir, when Lilian Daisy kneels at her little bed at night I shall get her to pray for you, and ask Heaven to have mercy on you. Have you one of your business cards handy, so Lilian Daisy can get your name right in her petitions?”

A Green Hand

“I shall never again employ any but experienced salesmen, who thoroughly understand the jewelry business,” said a Houston jeweler to a friend yesterday.

“You see, at Christmas time we generally need more help, and sometimes employ people who can sell goods, but are not familiar with the fine points of the business. Now, that young man over there is thoroughly good and polite to everyone, but he has just lost me one of my best customers.”

“How was that?” asked the friend.

“A man who always trades with us came in with his wife last week and with her assistance selected a magnificent diamond pin that he had promised her for a Christmas present and told this young man to lay it aside for him till today.”

“I see,” said the friend, “and he sold it to someone else and disappointed him.”

“It’s plain you don’t know much about married men,” said the jeweler. “That idiot of a clerk actually saved the pin for him and he had to buy it.”

A Fatal Error

“What are you looking so glum about?” asked a Houston man as he dropped into a friend’s office on Christmas Day.

“Same old fool break of putting a letter in the wrong envelope, and I’m afraid to go home. My wife sent me down a note by the hired man an hour ago, telling me to send her ten dollars, and asking me to meet her here at the office at three o’clock and go shopping with her. At the same time I got a bill for ten dollars from a merchant I owe, asking me to remit. I scribbled off a note to the merchant saying: ‘Can’t possibly do it. I’ve got to meet another little thing today that won’t be put off.’ I made the usual mistake and sent the merchant the ten dollars and my wife the note.”

“Can’t you go home and explain the mistake to your wife?”

“You don’t know her. I’ve done all I can. I’ve taken out an accident policy for $10,000 good for two hours, and I expect her here in fifteen minutes. Tell all the boys goodbye for me, and if you meet a lady on the stairs as you go down keep close to the wall.”

The Rake-Off

“Who bids?”

The auctioneer held up a child’s rocking-horse, battered and stained. It had belonged to some little member of the man’s family whose household property was being sold under the hammer.

He was utterly ruined. He had given up everything in the world to his creditors⁠—house, furniture, horses, stock of goods and lands. He stood among the crowd watching the sale that was scattering his household goods and his heirlooms among a hundred strange hands.

On his arm leaned a woman heavily veiled. “Who bids?”

The auctioneer held the rocking-horse high that it might be seen. Childish hands had torn away the scanty mane; the bridle was twisted and worn by tender little fingers. The crowd was still.

The woman under the heavy veil sobbed and stretched out her hands.

“No, no, no!” she cried.

The man was white with emotion. The little form that once so merrily rode the old rockinghouse had drifted away into the world years ago. This was the only relic left of his happy infancy.

The auctioneer, with a queer moisture in his eyes, handed the rocking-horse to the man without a word. He seized it with eager hands, and he and the veiled woman hurried away.

The crowd murmured with sympathy.

The man and the woman went into an empty room and set the rocking-horse down. He took out his knife, ripped open the front of the horse, and took out a roll of bills. He counted them and said: “It’s a cold day when I fail without a rake-off. Eight thousand five hundred dollars, but that auctioneer came very near busting up the game.”

The Telegram

Scene: Telegraph office in Houston.

Enter handsome black velour cape, trimmed with jet and braid, with Tibetan fur collar, all enclosing lovely young lady.
Young lady Oh, I want to send a telegram at once, if you please. Give me about six blanks, please. Writes about ten minutes. How much will this amount to, please?
Clerk Counting words. Sixteen dollars and ninety-five cents, ma’am.
Young lady Goodness gracious! I’ve only thirty cents with me. Suspiciously. How is it you charge so much, when the post-office only requires two cents?
Clerk We claim to deliver messages quicker than the post-office, ma’am. You can send ten words to Waco for twenty-five cents.
Young lady Give me another blank, please: I guess that will be enough. After five minutes’ hard work she produces the following: “Ring was awfully lovely. Come down as soon as you can. Mamie.”
Clerk This contains eleven words. That will be thirty cents.
Young lady Oh, gracious! I wanted that nickel to buy gum with.
Clerk Let’s see. You might strike out, “awfully,” and that will make it all right.
Young lady Indeed I shan’t. You ought to see that ring. I’ll give you the thirty cents.
Clerk To whom is this to be sent?
Young lady It seems to me you are rather inquisitive, sir.
Clerk Wearily. I assure you there is no personal interest expressed in the question. We have to know the name and address in order to send the message.
Young lady Oh, yes. I didn’t think of that. She writes the name and address, pays the thirty cents and departs. Twenty minutes later she returns, out of breath.
Young lady Oh, I forgot something. Have you sent it off yet?
Clerk Yes, ten minutes ago.
Young lady Oh, I’m so sorry. It isn’t the way I wanted it at all. Can’t you telegraph and have it changed for me?
Clerk Is it anything important?
Young lady Yes: I wanted to underscore the words “awfully lovely.” Will you have that attended to at once?
Clerk Certainly, and we have some real nice violet extract; would you like a few drops on your telegram?
Young lady Oh, yes: so kind of you. I expect to send all my telegrams through your office, you have been so accommodating. Good morning.

An Opportunity Declined

A farmer who lives about four miles from Houston noticed a stranger in his front yard one afternoon last week acting in a rather unusual manner. He wore a pair of duck trousers stuffed in his boots, and had a nose the color of Elgin pressed brick. In his hand he held a sharpened stake about two feet long, which he would stick into the ground, and after sighting over it at various objects would pull it up and go through the same performance at another place.

The farmer went out in the yard and inquired what he wanted.

“Wait just a minute,” said the stranger, squinting his eye over the stick at the chicken house. “Now, that’s it to a T. You see, I’m one of de odnance corps of engineers what’s runnin’ de line of the new railroad from Columbus, Ohio, to Houston. See? De other fellers is over de hill wid de transit and de baggage. Dere’s over a million dollars in de company. See? Dey sent me on ahead to locate a place for a big passenger depot, to cost $27,000. De foundation will commence right by your chicken house. Say, I gives you a pointer. You charge ’em high for dis land. Dey’ll stand fifty thousand. ’Cause why? ’Cause dey’s got de money and dey’s got to build de depot right where I says. See? I’ve got to go on into Houston to record a deed for a right of way, and I never thought to get fifty cents from de treasurer. He’s a little man with light pants. You might let me have de fifty cents and when de boys comes along in de mornin’ tell ’em what you did, and any one of ’em’ hand you a dollar. You might ask ’em fifty-five thousand, if you⁠—”

“You throw that stick over the fence, and get the axe and cut up exactly half a cord of that wood, stove length, and I’ll give you a quarter and your supper,” said the farmer. “Does the proposition strike you favorably?”

“And are you goin’ to t’row away de opportunity of havin’ dat depot built right here, and sellin’ out⁠—”

“Yes, I need the ground for my chicken coop.”

“You refuse to take $50,000 for de ground, den?”

“I do. Are you going to chop that wood, or shall I whistle for Tige?”

“Gimme dat axe, mister, and show me dat wood, and tell de missus to bake an extra pan of biscuits for supper. When dat Columbus and Houston grand trunk railway runs up against your front fence you’ll be sorry you didn’t take up dat offer. And tell her to fill up the molasses pitcher, too, and not to mind about putting the dish of cooking butter on de table. See?”

The Confession of a Murderer

He is dead and I killed him.

I gaze upon him, lying cold and still, with the crimson blood welling from his wound, and I laugh with joy. On my hand his life blood leaped and I hold it proudly aloft bearing it accusing stain and in my heart there is no pity, no remorse, no softness. Seeing him lie there crushed and pulseless is to me more than the pleasure of paradise. For months he escaped me. With all the intense hate I bore him at times, I felt admiration for his marvelous courage, his brazen effrontery, his absolute ignorance of fear. Why did I kill him? Because he had with a fixed purpose and a diabolical, persistent effrontery, conspired to rob me of that which is as dear to me as my life. Brave as I have said he was, he scarcely dared to cross my path openly, but with insidious cunning had ever sought to strike me a blow in the dark.

I did not fear him, but I knew his power, and I dared not give him his opportunity.

Many a sleepless night I have spent, planning some means to rid myself of his devilish machinations. He even attempted to torture me by seeking to harm her whom I love. He approached herewith the utmost care and cunning, wearing the guise of a friend, but striving to instill his poison into her innocent heart.

But, thank heaven, she was faithful and true and his honeyed songs and wiles had no effect. When she would tell me of his approaches, how I would grind my teeth and clench my hands in fury, and long for the time when I would wreak a just vengeance upon him. The time has come. I found him worn and helpless from cold and hunger, but there was no pity in my heart. I struck him down and reveled with heartfelt joy when I saw him sink down, bathed in blood, and die by my hands. I do not fear the consequences. When I tell my tale I will be upheld by all.

He is dead and I am satisfied.

I think he is the largest and fattest mosquito I ever saw.

A Startling Demonstration

What a terrible state of affairs it would be if we could read each other’s minds! It is safe to say that if such were the case, most of us would be afraid to think above a whisper.

As an illustration, a case might be cited that occurred in Houston. Some months ago a very charming young lady came to this city giving exhibitions in mind reading, and proved herself to be marvelously gifted in that respect. She easily read the thoughts of the audience, finding many articles hidden by simply holding the hand of the person secreting them, and read sentences written on little slips of paper by some at a considerable distance from her.

A young man in Houston fell in love with her, and married her after a short courtship. They went to housekeeping and for a time were as happy as mortals can be.

One evening they were sitting on the porch of their residence holding each other’s hands, and wrapt in the close communion of mutual love, when she suddenly rose and knocked him down the steps with a large flowerpot. He arose astonished, with a big bump on his head, and asked her, if it were not too much trouble, to explain.

“You can’t fool me,” she said with flashing eyes. “You were thinking of a redheaded girl named Maud with a gold plug in her front tooth and a light pink waist and a black silk skirt on Rusk Avenue, standing under a cedar bush chewing gum at twenty minutes to eight with your arm around her waist and calling her ‘sweetness,’ while she fooled with your watch chain and said: ‘Oh, George, give me a chance to breathe,’ and her mother was calling her to supper. Don’t you dare to deny it. Now, when you can get your mind on something better than that, you can come in the house and not before.”

Then the door slammed and George and the broken flowerpot were alone.

Leap Year Advice

Spinsters must be up and doing: 1896 will be the only leap year for the next eight years. Once in every four years the wise men who made the calendar insert an extra day so that the average year will not be so short. Once in every hundred years this extra day is omitted, and a leap year is also dropped. The year 1900 will not be a leap year. Unmarried ladies who yearn for matrimonial chains, and have been left standing in the comer by fickle man must get to work. If they fail in landing their prize during 1896 they will have to wait eight years more before they can propose again. Therefore they should work early and late during the present year.

The following communication pertaining to the subject was received yesterday.

Houston, Texas, January 1, 1896.

The Houston Post.

Gentlemen: This being leap year I arose this morning at daybreak, resolved to utilize every moment of the time possible. Four years ago, I wrote and received some very valuable advice from you in regard to the exercise of the privileges of my sex (female) during the leap year season. I followed your advice strictly, and in the year 1892 proposed marriage to twenty-seven different men. I am still single, but am not to blame for that. I was engaged to three men in 1892, and, but for the unforeseen bad luck, would certainly have married at least one of them. Two of them committed suicide the day before the wedding and the other got his hat and walking cane and went to Patagonia. I see in the papers that the year 1900 will not be a leap year, and I realize that for the next twelve months I have got to carry on a red hot aggressive campaign, as eight more years will decidedly weaken my chances. Any suggestions you may make that will aid me will be appreciated. I enclose my photo. I am nearly thirty-six, and sleep on my left side.

Faithfully yours,

Bettie Louis M⁠⸺⁠

This is an awful subject to speak lightly upon, and the few words of advice we propose giving are sincere and well weighed.

Your photograph shows that whatever you do must be done quickly. A good way for a lady of your age and cut of collar bones to open New Year would be with prayer and massage. It may be a defect in the retouching of your photo, but still, it would not be amiss to take a good Turkish bath and then go over low places with plaster of Paris applied with a common case knife with gentle downward motion, breathing as usual, and dry in the sun, turning over frequently two or three hours before eating. You should not waste any time in selecting a man. Try the milkman first, as he generally comes before it is very light.

As the milkman will no doubt refuse you, be prepared to give the postman a shock. Do not be too abrupt in proposing, as a rude shock of this nature will often cause a timid man to stampede, causing great loss of confidence and bric-a-brac.

After getting a victim to stand, speak gently to him until he ceases to quiver in his limbs and roll his eyes. Do not pat his chest, or rub his nose, as men will sometimes kick at this treatment. Bear in mind the fact that 1900 is not leap year, and keep between him and the door.

Approach the subject gradually, allowing him no time to pray and remove the cigars from his vest pocket. If he should shudder and turn pale, turn the conversation upon progressive euchre, Braun’s egotism, or some other light subject, until a handkerchief applied to his neck will not come off wet. If possible, get him to seat himself, and then, grasping both lapels of his coat, breathe heavily upon him, and speak of your lonely life.

At this stage he will mutter incoherently, answer at random, and try to climb up the chimney. When his pulse gets to 195, and he begins to babble of green fields and shows only the whites of his eyes, strike him on the point of the chin, propose, chloroform him, and telephone for a minister.

After Supper

Mr. Sharp: “My darling, it seems to me that every year that passes over your head but brings out some new charm, some hidden beauty, some added grace. There is a look in your eyes tonight that is as charming and girllike as when I first met you. What a blessing it is when two hearts can grow but fonder as time flies. You are scarcely less beautiful now than when⁠—”

Mrs. Sharp: “I had forgotten it was lodge night, Robert. Don’t be out much after twelve, if you can help it.”

His Only Opportunity

Last week “The Rainmakers” gave two performances in Houston. At the night performance a prominent local politician occupied one of the front seats, as near to the stage as possible. He carried in his hand a glossy silk hat, and he seemed to be in a state of anxious suspense, fidgeting about in his chair, and holding his hat in both hands straight before him. A friend who occupied a seat directly behind, leaned over and asked the cause of his agitation.

“I’ll tell you, Bill,” said the politician in a confidential whisper, “just how it is. I’ve been in politics now for ten years, and I’ve been bemoaned and abused and cussed out, and called so many hard names that I thought I’d like to be addressed in a decent manner once more before I die, and this is about the only opportunity I shall have. There is a sleight-of-hand performance between two of the acts in this show, and the professor is going to step down to the front and say: ‘Will some gentleman kindly loan me a hat?’ Then I’m going to stand up and give him mine, and it’ll make me feel good for a week. I haven’t been called a gentleman in so long. I expect I’ll whoop right out hard when he takes the hat. Excuse me now. I’ve got to be ready and get my hat in first. I see one of the city councilmen over there with an old derby in his hand, and I’ll bet he’s up to the same game.”

Correcting a Great Injustice

Something has been recently disclosed that will fill every chivalrous man in the country with contrition. For a long time men have supposed that the habit of wearing tall hats at the theater by the ladies was nothing more than a lack of consideration on their part for the unfortunate individuals who were so unlucky as to get a seat behind them.

It now appears that the supposition did the fair sex a great injustice. A noted female physician has exposed an affliction that the female sex has long suffered with, and have succeeded up to this time in keeping a profound secret. Their habit of wearing hats in places of public entertainment is the result of a necessity, and relieves them of the charge of selfish disregard of the convenience of others, which has been so often brought against them.

It appears that ladies who are past thirty-five years of age are peculiarly sensitive to the effect of a bright light striking upon their heads from above. The skull of a woman is quite different from that of a man, especially on the top, and at the age of thirty-five, the texture of the skull at this place becomes very light. Rays of light⁠—especially electric light⁠—have a peculiarly penetrating and disturbing effect upon the cerebral nerves.

Strange to say, this infirmity is never felt by a young woman, but as soon as she passes the heyday of youth, it is at once perceptible. The fact is generally known to women, and discussed among themselves, but they have jealously guarded the secret, even from their nearest male relatives and friends. The lady physician who recently exposed the matter in a scientific journal is the first of her sex to make it known to the public.

If anyone will take the trouble to make a test of the statement, its truth will be unquestionably proven. Engage a woman of middle age in conversation beneath a well-lighted chandelier, and in a few moments she will grow uneasy, and very soon the pain inflicted by the light will cause her to move away from under its source. On young and healthy girls the rays of light have no perceptible effect. So, when we see a lady at a theater wearing a tall and cumbersome hat, we should reflect that she is more than thirty-five years old, and is simply protecting herself from an affliction that advancing years have brought upon her. Whenever we observe one wearing small and unobtrusive headgear we know that she is still young and charming, and can yet sit beneath the rays of penetrating light without inconvenience.

No man who has had occasion to rail against woman’s supposed indifference to the public comfort in this respect, will hesitate to express sincere regret that he has so misunderstood them. It is characteristic of Americans to respect the infirmities of age, especially among the fair sex, and when the facts here narrated have been generally known, pity and toleration will take the place of censure. Henceforth a tall hat, with nodding feathers and clustering flowers and trimming, will not be regarded with aversion when we see it between us and the stage, but with respect, since we are assured that its wearer is no longer young, but is already on the down hill of life, and is forced to take the precaution that advancing years render necessary to infirm women.

Getting Acquainted

His coat was rusty and his hat out of style, but his nose glasses, secured by a black cord, lent him a distinguished air, and his manner was jaunty and assured. He stepped into a new Houston grocery yesterday, and greeted the proprietor cordially.

“I’ll have to introduce myself,” he said. “My name is ⸻, and I live next door to the house you have just moved in. Saw you at church Sunday. Our minister also observed you, and after church he says, ‘Brother ⸻, you must really find out who that intelligent-looking stranger is who listened so attentively today.’ How did you like the sermon?”

“Very well,” said the grocer as he picked some funny-looking currants with wings out of a jar.

“Yes, he is a very eloquent and pious man. You have not been in business long in Houston, have you?”

“Three weeks,” said the grocer, as he removed the cheese knife from the box to the shelf behind him.

“Our people,” said the rusty-looking man, “are whole-souled and hospitable. There is no welcome too warm for them to extend to a newcomer, and the members of our church in particular are especially friendly toward anyone who drops in to worship with us. You have a nice stock of goods.”

“So, so,” said the grocer, turning his back and gazing up at a supply of canned California fruits.

“Only last week now I had quite an altercation with the tradesman I deal with for sending me inferior goods. You have some nice hams, I suppose, and such staples as coffee and sugar?”

“Yep,” said the grocer.

“My wife was over to see your wife this morning, and enjoyed her visit very much. What time does your delivery wagon pass up our street?”

“Say,” said the grocer. “I bought out an old stock of groceries here, and put in a lot of new ones. I see your name on the old books charged with $87.10 balance on account. Did you want something more today?”

“No, sir,” said the rusty man, drawing himself up and glaring through his glasses. “I merely called in from a sense of Christian duty to extend you a welcome, but I see you are not the man I took you to be. I don’t want any of your groceries. I can see the mites in that cheese from the other side of the street, and my wife says your wife is wearing an underskirt made out of an old tablecloth. Several of our congregation were speaking of your smelling of toddy in church, and snoring during the prayers. My wife will return that cup of lard she borrowed at your house this morning just as quick as my last order comes up from the store where we trade. Good morning, sir.”

The grocer softly whispered, “There Won’t Anybody Play with Me,” and whittled a little lead out of one of his weights, in an absentminded way.

City Perils

Jeremiah Q. Dilworthy lives away up on San Jacinto Street. He walks home every night. On January first, he promised his wife he would not take another drink in a year. He forgot his promise and on Tuesday night we met some of the boys, and when he started home about nine o’clock he was feeling a trifle careless.

Mr. Dilworthy was an old resident of Houston, and on rainy nights he always walked in the middle of the street, which is well paved.

Alas! if Mr. Dilworthy had only remembered the promise made his wife!

He started out all right, and just as he was walking up San Jacinto Street he staggered over to one side of the street.

A policeman standing on the comer heard a loud yell of despair, and turning, saw a man throw up his arms and then disappear from sight. Before the policeman could call someone who could swim the man had gone for the third and last time.

Mr. Jeremiah Q. Dilworthy had fallen into the sidewalk.

Jack the Giant Killer

The other day a lady canvasser came up into the Post editorial room with a book she was selling. She went into the editor-in-chief’s office, and her little five-year-old girl, who came up with her, remained in the outer rooms, doubtless attracted by the brilliant and engaging appearance of the staff, which was lolling about at its various desks during one of its frequent intervals of leisure.

She was a bright, curly-haired maiden, of a friendly disposition, so she singled out the literary editor for attack, no doubt fascinated by his aristocratic air, and his peculiarity of writing with his gloves on.

“Tell me a ’tory,” she demanded, shaking her curls at him, and gazing up with eyes of commanding brown.

“A story, little one?” said the literary editor, with a sweet smile, as he stroked her shining curls.

“Most assuredly. What shall it be?”

“Tell me Dack, de Diant Killer.”

“Jack, the Giant Killer? little sunbeam; with all my heart.”

The literary editor helped the little lady upon a stool and began:

“Once upon a time, in immediate proximity to a primeval forest, in an humble abode, where pleasures of a bucolic existence were profitably mingled with the more laborious task of agricultural pursuits, dwelt Jack, the hero of my tale, with his widowed maternal progenitor. Scarcely of a parsimonious nature, yet perforce of economic character, the widow was compelled to resort to numerous expedients in order to prolong existence. She was the possessor of a bovine quadruped of most excellent virtues. Her generous store of lacteal fluid, her amicable and pacific nature, and her gentleness of demeanor had endeared her to both Jack and his mother. But, alas, the exigencies of the situation soon demanded that they part with their four-footed friend, and to Jack the sorrowful duty was delegated to lead with lacerated bosom and audible lamentations their bovine benefactor to the market, to be bartered for the more indispensable necessaries of life. So Jack⁠—”

“Say,” said the little girl, “when is ’ou doin’ to tell me dat ’tory?”

“See here,” said the sporting editor, coming over from his desk, “you can’t expect a kid like that to get a place on such a heavy track as yours. Your talk is all right for the grandstand, but you outclass that five-year-old. What’s the lay you’re on, anyway?”

“Tan ’ou tell me Dack, the Diant Killer?” asked the little girl, apparently favorably impressed with the goodhumored smile of the sporting editor.

“You can gamble on that, sissy,” said that cheerful gentleman, taking her on his knees. “And I’ll put it to you low down, right over the plate, without any literary curve to it.”


“Now you see,” said the sporting editor, “Jack and his mother were short on dough, and the old girl gave him the tip to sling a running noose around the hooker end of the old cow and steer her up against some guy who was willing to put up the scads for a genuine Jersey creamery. So Jack lined up early one morning with the cow in tow, and when the flag dropped he was on the three-quarters stretch for town. Presently a guy came along and offered to plank down a bag of blue beans for the cow. Jack was inclined to give him the marble face at first, but finally called him and the strange bloke got his gaffles in dead easy. Jack was a regular peach pie for a flim-flammer, and no mistake. Jack then slid for home base, and when he worked his chin at the old girl about what he had done she knocked him over the ropes in a pair of seconds. So he⁠—”

“When is ’ou doin’ to begin dat ’tory?” asked the little girl, looking up at him in wonder.

“Well, I’ll be turned out to grass!” said the sporting editor. “I thought I had begun it, sissy,” he said, “but it must have been a foul.”

“What are you fellows teasing that little girl about?” asked the railroad editor, as he came in and hung his cuffs on the gas burner.

“She wants to hear about Jack the Giant Killer,” said the sporting editor, “but doesn’t seem to greet our poor efforts with much hilarity. Do you speak English, or only railroad?”

“It’s not likely she would be able to flag down your cockpit dialect,” said the railroad editor with fine scorn. “Clear the track and let me show you how to interest the youthful mind.”

“Will ’ou tell me dat ’tory?” said the little maiden with a hopeful look in her eyes.

“I will that,” said the railroad editor, seating himself on a pile of exchanges. “You fellows waste too much steam in pulling out of the station. You want to get right into the exciting part from the first.


“Now, little one,” said the railroad editor, “you see Jack woke up one morning and looked out of the window, and the right of way was blockaded by a bean stalk that had run a grand trunk air line that went clear up out of sight. Jack took on coal and water, and, without waiting to see if he had the track, grabbed hold and steamed off up grade without even whistling at way stations. When he got to the end of the run he found a castle as big as a union depot. So he put on brakes and⁠—”

“Tan ’ou tell me de ’tory about Dack de Diant Killer?” asked the little girl.

Just then the lady came out, and the little girl jumped down and ran to her. They had a little consultation, and as they went out the door the staff heard the lady say:

“B’ess um’s heart, muzzer will tell ums all about Jack when us gets home.”

No Time to Lose

A young Houston mother rushed into die house the other day in the utmost excitement, calling out to her mother to put an iron on the fire as quick as possible.

“What is the matter?” asked the old lady.

“A dog has just bitten Tommy, and I am afraid it was mad. Oh, hurry up, mother; be as quick as you can!”

“Are you going to try to cauterize the wound?”

“No⁠—I’ve got to iron that blue skirt before I can wear it to go after the doctor. Do be in a hurry.”

Paderewski’s Hair

The Post Man had the pleasure of meeting Colonel Warburton Pollock yesterday in the rotunda of the New Hutchins.

Colonel Pollock is one of the most widely known men in this country, and has probably a more extended acquaintance with distinguished men of the times than any other living man. He is a wit, a raconteur of rare gifts, a born diplomat, and a man of worldwide travel and experience. Nothing pleases him so well as to relate his extremely interesting reminiscences of men and events to some congenial circle of listeners. His recollections of his associations with famous men and women would fill volumes.

Colonel Pollock has a suite of rooms permanently engaged in a Washington City hotel, where he passes, however, only a small portion of his time. He always spends his summers in Europe, principally in Naples and Florence, but he rarely stays in one place more than a few weeks or months.

Colonel Pollock is now on his way to South America to look after his interests in some valuable mahogany forests there.

The colonel chatted freely and most interestingly about his experiences, and told to an admiring and attentive group of listeners some excellent stories about well known people.

“Did I ever tell you?” he asked, as he puffed at his long black Principe, “about an adventure I had in Africa a few years ago? No? Well, I see Paderewski is coming to Houston soon, and the story may not be inapropos. You have all heard Paderewski’s wonderful hair spoken of, of course. Well, very few people know how he came by it. This is how it was. A few years ago, some of us made up a party to go lion hunting in Africa. There was Nat Goodwin, Paderewski, John L. Sullivan, Joe Pulitzer, and myself. That was before any of us had acquired fame, but we were all ambitious, and everyone of us needed the rest and recreation we were taking. We were a congenial, jolly crowd, and had a rattling good time on the trip. When we landed we hired guides, and stocked up with provisions and ammunition for a month’s trip into the Zambesi country.

“We were all anxious to kill a lion, and we penetrated into quite a wild and unexplored region.

“We had great times at night over our camp fire, chatting and chaffing one another, and thoroughly enjoying ourselves.

“Paderewski was the only member of our party who had been making money. It was just about the time there was such a furor about his playing, and he had plied up quite a neat sum from his piano recitals.

“One day Goodwin, Sullivan, Paderewski and I were loafing around camp just before dinner. We had been out hunting all the morning without success. Pulitzer had not yet shown up. Goodwin and Sullivan got into a dispute about the proper way to dodge and counter a certain upper cut made famous by Heenan. You know Nat Goodwin is quite an athlete himself, and handles his hands like a professional. Paderewski was always a quiet sort of fellow, but amiable and well liked by everyone. He was sitting on the stump of a banyan tree gazing into the distance with a dreamy look in his magnetic eyes. I was loading some cartridges, and not paying much attention until I heard Sullivan and Goodwin raise their voices in quite an angry dispute.

“ ‘If I had a pair of gloves, I’d soon prove I am right,’ said Nat.

“ ‘I wish you had,’ said John. ‘In a minute you wouldn’t know anything.’

“ ‘You couldn’t stand up two minutes before a man who knew the first principles of boxing,’ said Goodwin. ‘Your weight and your rush are the only points in your favor.’

“ ‘If we just had some gloves!’ said John, grinding his teeth.


“They both turned and looked at Paderewski as if by common consent.

“Paderewski at that time had coal black hair, as smooth and straight as an Indian’s, that hung down his back in a thick mass.

“Sullivan and Goodwin sprang upon him at the same time. I don’t know which of them did it, but there was the flash of a knife, and in two seconds Paderewski was scalped as neatly as a Comanche Indian could have done it.

“They divided the mass of hair in two parts, each stuffed his portion into two leather cartridge pouches, wound the straps around his wrists, and they went at each other in regular prize ring style with their extemporized boxing gloves.

“Paderewski gave a yell of pain and dismay, and clasped his hands to his bald head in horror.

“ ‘I am ruined,’ he said. ‘My professional career is at an end. What shall I do?’

“I tried to separate John and Nat, but I got a backhander from one of those Paderewski boxing gloves that stretched me out into a big cactus.


“Just then Joe Pulitzer came into camp, dragging a big lion by the tail he had just shot in a canebrake on the river.

“ ‘Vat’s dis?’ he asked, gazing through his spectacles at the two boxers who were hitting at each other and dodging around and at Paderewski, who was wailing and moaning at the loss of his scalp.

“ ‘I wouldn’t have taken $5,000 for that hair,’ he groaned.

“ ‘Vat vill you gif,’ said Pulitzer, ‘for another head of hair yoost as good?’

“He went up close to Paderewski and they whispered together for a few minutes. Then Joe got out a tape line and measured Paderewski’s head. Then he took a knife and cut out a piece the exact size from the back of the lion’s head and fitted it on Paderewski’s. He pressed it down close, and bound it with light bandages.

“It seems almost incredible, but in three days the skin had grown fast, the pain was gone, and Paderewski had the loveliest head of thick, tawny, flowing hair you ever laid your eyes on.

“I saw Paderewski give Pulitzer a check that evening behind the tent, and you can bet it was a stiff one. I don’t know the exact figure, but Joe bought out the World as soon as we got back to New York and has since done well.

“It simply made Paderewski’s fortune. That head of hair he wears will make him a millionaire yet. I never hear him bang down hard on the bass keys of a piano, but I think of a lion roaring in a South African forest, and I’ll bet he does, too.”


“I like stage people,” continued Colonel Pollock. “They are, as a rule, the jolliest companions in the world and the most entertaining. Hardly a year passes that I do not make up a congenial party for a pleasure trip of some kind, and I always have two or three actors in the crowd. Now, a year or two ago, some of us got together and took a three months’ voyage to see the sights. There were DeWolf Hopper, Dr. Parkhurst, Buffalo Bill, Eugene Field, Steve Brodie, Senator Sherman, General Coxey, and Hermann, the great magician, among the party.

“We were guests of the Prince of Wales, and went in his steam yacht, the Albion. None of us had been to Australia, and the prince wanted to show us around that country. We had a lovely trip. We were all congenial souls, and our time on shipboard was one long banquet and frolic during the whole journey.

“We landed at Melbourne and were met by the governor of Victoria and only a few dignitaries of the place, as the prince had sent word that he wished to pass his visit there strictly incog. In a day or two our entertainers took us on a little tour through New South Wales to show us the country, and give us some idea of the great mining and sheep raising industries of the country. We went through Wagga Wagga, Jumbo Junction, and Narraudera, and from there went on horseback through the great pasture country near Cudduldury.

“When we reached a little town named Cobar in the center of the sheep raising district, some loyal Englishmen living there recognized the prince, and in an hour the whole town was at our heels, following us about, huzzaring and singing ‘God save the Queen.’

“ ‘It’s annoying, Pollock,’ says the prince to me, ‘but it can’t be helped now.’

“Our party rode out into the country to have a look at the sheep ranches, and at least two hundred citizens followed us on foot, staring at us in the deepest admiration and wonder.

“It seemed that it had been a mighty bad year on the sheep men, and they were feeling gloomy and disheartened over the prospects. The great trouble in Australia is this: The whole continent is overrun with a prolific breed of rabbits that feed upon the grass and shrubs, sometimes completely destroying all vegetation within large areas. The government has a standing offer of something like 50,000 pounds for a plan by which these rabbits can be destroyed, but nothing has ever been discovered that will do the work.

“During years when these rabbits are unusually destructive, the sheep men suffer great losses by not having sufficient range for their sheep. At the time of our visit the rabbits had almost ruined the country. A few herds of sheep were trying to subsist by nibbling the higher branches that the rabbits could not reach, but many of the flocks had to be driven far into the interior. The people were feeling very sore and blue, and it made them angry to even hear anybody mention a rabbit.

“About noon we stopped for lunch near the outskirts of a little village, and the prince’s servants spread a fine cold dinner of potted game, pâté de foie gras, and cold fowls. The prince had ordered a large lot of wines to be sent along, and we had a merry repast.

“The villagers and sheep raisers loafed around by the hundred, watching us; and a hungry-looking, starved-out lot they were.


“Now, there isn’t a more vivacious, genial and convivial man in the world than Hermann, the great prestidigitateur. He was the life of the party, and as soon as the prince’s wine began to mellow him up, he began to show off his tricks. He threw things in the air that disappeared from sight, changed water into liquids of all colors, cooked an omelet in a hat; and pretty soon we were surrounded by a gaping, awestruck lot of bushmen, both natives and English born.

“Hermann was pleased with the open-mouthed attention he was creating, so he walked out into an open space where he could face them all, and began drawing rabbits out of his sleeves, his coat collar, his pockets by the half dozen. He threw them down, and as fast as they could scamper away the great magician kept on pulling out more rabbits to the view of the astonished natives.

“Suddenly, with a loud yell, the sheep raisers seized clubs and stones and drawing their long sheath knives, rushed upon our party.

“The prince seized my arm.

“ ‘Run for it, Pollock,’ he cried, ‘this rabbit business has set them wild. They’ll kill us all if we don’t cut our sticks.’ ”


“I believe,” said Colonel Pollock, “that that was the closest shave I ever had. I struck out as hard as I could run, with about forty natives after me, some of them throwing spears and boomerangs at me every jump. When I was going over a little hill I turned my head and looked back just in time to see Steve Brodie jump off a bridge into the Murrumbidgee river at least 200 feet high. All our party escaped, and came straggling back within two or three days, but they had some tough experiences. Senator Sherman was out two nights in the bush and was severely frostbitten.

“I understand DeWolf Hopper is going to dramatize the incident, and will produce it next season, appearing as a kangaroo.

“Coxey was caught on the edge of a little stream which he refused to enter, and the natives dragged him before an English justice of the peace who released him the next day. The prince took the whole thing as a good joke. He is an all round good fellow and no mistake.

“Sometime,” said Colonel Pollock, as he rose to receipt for a telegram, “I will tell you about an adventure I had among the Catacombs of Rome, along with Ralph Waldo Emerson, Barney Gibbs and the Shah of Persia.” Colonel Pollock leaves on the night train for San Antonio on his way to the City of Mexico.

Binkley’s Practical School of Journalism

Last Tuesday afternoon a ragged and disreputable-looking man was noticed standing on a corner of Main Street. Several persons who had occasion to pass a second time along the street saw him still standing there on their return.

He seemed to be waiting for someone. Finally a young man came down the sidewalk, and the ragged man sprang upon him without saying a word and engaged him in fierce combat.

The young man defended himself as well as he could, but he had been severely handled before the bystanders could separate them. Of course no policeman was in sight, and the affair ended with as little noise and confusion as it began with. The young man slunk away with a black eye and a bruised cheek, and the ragged man with a look of intense satisfaction on his face turned off’ down a side street.

A Post Man who had viewed the occurrence was struck with something extraordinary in the man’s appearance, and, satisfied that there was more in the situation than appeared on the face of it, followed the aggressor. As he came up behind him, the disreputable-looking man said aloud to himself in a voice that expressed a deep and triumphant joy:

“That’s the last of the lot. After all, the pursuit of revenge gives more pleasure than its attainment. I have robbed my existence of its aim.”

The man continued his course, turning corners in a hesitating way, with the manner of one unfamiliar with the town, and after a time entered an obscure saloon on Congress Street.

The Post Man also entered, and sipping a glass of water, which he begged of the saloon man, he saw the ragged man seat himself at a small table. Although his attire was mean and torn, and his hair disheveled and uncared for, his face showed evidence of much intelligence that rather belied his uncouth dress.

Spurred by curiosity, the Post Man also took a chair at the table. With the tact and enterprise of his craft he soon engaged the mysterious stranger in conversation and found him, as he had expected, to be a man of education and manners.

“When you tell me you are a newspaper man,” said he with a graceful wave of his hand, “you compel my confidence. I shall tell you my story. I once ran a newspaper myself.”

He rapped on the table, and when the waiter came he fished up from the depths of his rags a lean pocketbook, from which he shook upon the table a single dollar. Handing this to the waiter, he said:

“A bottle of your best wine and some good cigars.”

“Really,” said the Post Man, as he placed two fingers in his vest pocket, “I can not allow you⁠—you must let me⁠—”

“Not at all,” said the ragged man with dignity, “I have ordered.”

The Post Man gave a sigh of relief; the glasses were filled and emptied; filled again, and the cigars were lit, and the Post Man awaited with impatience the narrative of his strange entertainer.


“My name is Binkley,” said the ragged man. “I am the founder of Binkley’s Practical School of Journalism: the dollar I have just spent is the last dollar I have in the world, and the man I licked up town is the last one of the editorial and reportorial staff of my newspaper that I have treated in the same manner.

“About a year ago I had $15,000 in cash to invest. I could have invested it in many things that would have been safe and paid a fair percent, but I unluckily conceived an original idea for making a good deal more.

“I understood the newspaper business, as I had served eight or ten years on a first-class journal before I fell heir to the $15,000 on the death of an aunt. I had noticed that every newspaper in the country is besieged with ambitious youths who desire a position in order that they may learn journalism. They are for the most part college graduates, and a great many of them care little for the salaries connected with the positions. They are after experience.

“The idea struck me that they would be willing to pay handsomely for situations where they could imbibe the art of practical journalism as found in a first-class newspaper office. Several Schools of Journalism had already been started in the country and were succeeding well. I believed that a school of this nature, combined with a live, prospering newspaper that had a good circulation would prove a gold mine to its originator. In a school they could only learn a theory, in my school both theory and practice would walk hand in hand.

“It was a great idea.

“I found a newspaper that would sell out. It was in a large Southern city: I don’t care to give its name. The proprietor was in ill health and wanted to leave the country. It was a good plant, and it was clearing $3,000 a year above expenses. I got it for $12,000 cash, put $3,000 in bank and sat down and wrote out a neat little advertisement to catch the young would-be journalists. I sent these advertisements to some big Northern and Eastern papers and waited for responses.

“My paper was well known, and the idea of getting a place on it to learn journalism seemed to strike the people just right. I advertised that as there were only a limited number of places to be filled, I would have to consider applications in the form of bids, and the one bidding highest for each position got it.

“You wouldn’t believe it if I told the number of answers I got. I filed everything for about a week, and then I looked over the references they sent me, sized up the bids and selected my force. I ordered them to report on a certain day, and they were on time, eager to go to work. I got $50 per week from my editorial writer; $40 from my city editor; $25 each from three reporters; $20 from a dramatic critic; $35 from a literary editor, and $30 each from night and telegraph editors. I also accepted three special writers, who paid me $15 per week each for doing special assignments. I was managing editor and was to direct, criticize and instruct the staff.


“I discharged the old force, and after an hour’s course of instruction I turned my new staff loose upon their duties. Most of them had graduated with high honors at college and were of wealthy families, who could afford to pay well for the splendid advantage of entering them in Binkley’s Practical School of Journalism.

“When the staff dispersed, eager and anxious, to their several duties, I leaned back in my revolving chair with a smile of satisfaction. Here was an income of $1,400 per month coming from and not paid to my staff, besides the $3,000 yearly profit from the paper. Oh, it was a good thing.

“Of course, I expected a little crudeness and stiffness about the work of my staff at first, but I calculated that they would err on the side of fine writing rather than otherwise. I lit a cigar and strolled through the editorial rooms. The leader writer was at his desk working away, his high, intellectual forehead and broadcloth clothes presenting a fine appearance. The literary editor was consulting an encyclopedia with a knitted brow, and the dramatic critic was pasting a picture of Shakespeare above his desk. The city force were out news gathering.

“I began to feel sorry for people who were unable to think up such a fine scheme as I had. Everything was working as smooth as you please. I went downstairs and, rendered reckless by success, I hunted up an old friend and confided to him my wonderful scheme. He was impressed, and we hied ourselves to a caravansary and opened bottle after bottle in honor of the idea.

“When I returned to the office, the entire staff was there with their day’s work turned in. The truth is I was so exhilarated by what I had taken that I hardly knew what I was reading when I looked over their copy, but with a mistaken confidence in the ability of my scholars, I let the stuff all go on the file, and shortly afterward the foreman carried it away. I instructed the night editor as to his duties and went home, to dream of my good fortune.

“The next morning I came down town about 9 o’clock, and it seemed to me I couldn’t see anything but newsboys. The town was full of them, and people were buying my paper as fast as the boys could hand them out. I fairly swelled with satisfaction and pride. As I neared the office I saw five men with shotguns standing on the sidewalk.

“One of them caught sight of me, and took a snap shot at me as I turned the corner. A buckshot went through my ear and several through my hat. I didn’t wait for explanation, as the other four men also tried to get a shot at me, and I cut around the corner and dodged into a back lot full of empty dry goods boxes.

“A newsboy went by, calling the paper, and I whistled him up to a crack in the fence and bought one. I thought perhaps there might be something in the paper that had offended somebody.

“I crawled into a big box and opened the paper. The more I read the wilder I became. Excuse me for changing the subject,” continued the ragged man, “but you said something a while ago in reference to this liquid refreshment, which I perceive is already finished.”

The Post Man stammered, hesitated, felt in his vest pocket once more and then arose, and taking the saloon man aside, whispered with him for about fifteen minutes. The result was that the saloon man brought another bottle of wine, but with a very bad grace, slamming the bottle and glasses upon the table in an ill-bred and ungracious manner.

The ragged man smiled, filled the glasses, and then, his face taking on a deep frown as his mind reverted to his story, he continued.

“I turned first to the local page. The first item that met my eyes was this:

“ ‘Colonel J. Henry Gwinn, the administrator of the Perkins estate, has robbed the family of the deceased of over $75,000. The heirs will bring suit for that amount at an early date.’

“I remembered that the man who fired at me looked a good deal like Colonel J. Henry Gwinn. The next item was as follows:

“ ‘A certain city alderman residing not many miles from No. 1204 West Thirty-Second Street, has recently built a $10,000 residence. Votes in the city council must be getting higher.’

“There were about fifteen items of the same kind and every one of them was a dead shot for big damages. I glanced at the society columns and saw a few harmless little squibs like the following:

Mrs. General Crowder gave a big ball last night on Johnson Avenue. It does seem like she would get a divorce from that ticket agent in Kansas City before she tried to cut such a swell as old Crowder’s wife.’

“ ‘Henry Baumgarten beat his wife again last night.’

“ ‘The Ladies’ Histrionic Society met last evening over Klein’s music store. Miss Sadie Dodson was overcome by the heat and was taken home in a hack. Heat! That’s a new name for it.’

“These are some of the least objectionable items. There were some that made my hair rise slowly on my head as I read them.

“Mechanically I turned to the editorial page, thinking it hardly possible there could be anything wrong with it. The first article charged every city and county official with corruption in office, calling them by name, and wound up by offering to give $10,000 to any charity fund if the paper did not prove every charge within ten days.

“I crept through the lot, knocked a board off the next fence and made my way to the back stairway of the office. I found two of my reporters cursing and kicking in the back yard. One of them was in a heap of soft coal dust and the other was hanging by his coat tail on a picket fence. Somebody had thrown them out the window.

“Sick at heart I crept upstairs to the editorial rooms. There was considerable noise going on. I went in easy as I could and looked around. My $50 editorial writer was in a corner with half a chair in his hands defending himself manfully against a quorum of the city council. He had laid out three of them and was putting up a great fight. The city editor was lying on the floor with four men sitting on him, and a large, angry German was trying to punch the dramatic editor off the top of the book case with a piece of gas pipe.

“It is enough to discourage any man to have a staff that is paying him $1,400 per month treated that way.

“I went into my private office, and the enraged public followed me there. I knew it was no use to argue with them, so I pulled out my checkbook and tried to compromise. When all the money I had in the bank was exhausted, and another batch of infuriated citizens came in, I gave up in despair.

“At 11 o’clock the business office force came up in a body and resigned. At 12 o’clock damage suits were filed against the paper to the amount of $200,000, and I knew every one of them was good for a judgment. I went downstairs and got about nine drinks and came back. I met the editorial writer on the stairs, and I hit him on the point of the chin without saying a word. He still held one leg of the chair in his hand, and he swiped me over the head with it and ran. When I got inside I found that the dramatic critic was about to win the day. He was a college man and a great football player. He had thrashed the big German and had pulled the four citizens off the city editor, and they were waging great battle with the foe. Just then the society editor dashed into the room barefooted, in his shirt and trousers, and I heard a tremendous screeching and chattering, as if a thousand parrots were talking at once.


“ ‘Run!’ he gasped out. ‘The women are coming.’

“I looked out the window and saw that the sidewalk was full of them. I made a break for a back window, jumped off onto a shed, and never stopped until I was a mile out of town. That was the end of Binkley’s Practical School of Journalism. I have been tramping about the country ever since.

“The fellow I attacked on the street today was a special Houston correspondent I had engaged. I had a little grudge against him on account of the first communication he sent the paper. I gave him carte blanche to send in what he thought best, and he wired us 40,000 words the first day about the mockingbirds singing in the trees by the courthouse, while the snow was three feet deep in Dakota. Do you not think I have had some hard luck?”

“I must tell you,” said the Post Man, “that I don’t believe your story at all.”

The ragged man replied sadly and reproachfully: “Did I not pay my last dollar for refreshments while telling it to you? Have I asked you for anything?”

“Well,” said the Post Man, after reflecting a while, “it may be true, but⁠—”

The Apple

A youth held in his hand a round, red, luscious apple.

“Eat,” said the Spirit, “it is the apple of life.”

“I will have none of it,” said the Youth, and threw it far from him. “I will have success. I will have fame, fortune, power and knowledge.”

“Come, then,” said the Spirit.

They went together up steep and rocky paths. The sun scorched, the rain fell upon them, the mountain mists clung about them, and the snow fell in beautiful and treacherous softness, obscuring the way as they climbed. Time swiftly passed and the golden locks of the Youth took on the whiteness of the snow. His form grew bent with the toil of climbing; his hand grew weak and his voice quivering and high.

The Spirit had not changed and upon his face was the inscrutable smile of wisdom.

They stood at last upon the topmost peak. The old man that was the Youth said to the Spirit: “Give me the apple of Success. I have come upon the heights where it grows and it is mine. Be quick, for there is a strange dimness in my sight.”

The Spirit gave him an apple round and red and fair to behold.

The man bit into it and found rottenness and bitter dust.

“What is this?” he asked.

“It was the apple of Life,” said the Spirit. “It is now the apple of Success.”

A Pastel

Above all hangs the dreadful night.

He pleads with her.

His hand is on her arm.

They stand in the cold, solemn night, gazing into a brilliantly lighted room. His face is white and terror-stricken. Hers is willful, defiant, and white with the surging impulse of destiny.

Ten miles away on the Harrisburg road a draggle-tailed rooster crows, but the woman does not falter.

He pleads with her.

She shakes off his hand with a gesture of loathing, and takes a step forward toward the lighted room.

He pleads with her.

Crystal flakes of moonlight quiver on the trees above; star dust flecks the illimitable rim of the Ineligible. The whicheverness of the Absolute reigns preeminent.

Sin is below; peace above.

The whip of the north wind trails a keen lash upon them. Carriages sweep by. Frost creeps upon the stones, lies crustily along parapets, spangles and throws back in arctic scintillation the moon’s challenging rays.

He pleads with her.

At last she turns, conquered.

He has refused to treat to oysters.

A Night Errant

One of the greatest of books is the daily life around us. All that the human mind can conceive; all that the human heart can feel, and the lips tell are encompassed in the little world about us. He that beholds with understanding eyes can see beneath the thin veil of the commonplace, the romance, the tragedy and the broad comedy that is being played upon the world’s stage by the actors great and little who tread the boards of the Theater of the Universe.

Life is neither tragedy nor comedy. It is a mingling of both. High above us omnipotent hands pull the strings that choke our laughter with sobs and cause strange sounds of mirth to break in upon our deepest grief. We are marionettes that dance and cry, scarce at our own wills; and at the end, the flaring lights are out, we are laid to rest in our wooden boxes, and down comes the dark night to cover the scene of our brief triumph.

We elbow heroes on the streets as grand as any the poets have sung; in the faces of obscure women and prosy men a student of his kind can see the imprints of all the passions, both good and bad, that have illuminated the pages of song and story.

There is good in all, and we are none all good. The scholar in his library, the woodcutter in the forest, my lady in her boudoir and the painted, hard-eyed denizen of the byways⁠—we are all from the same clay.

And the hands of fate pull the strings, and we caper and pirouette; and some go up and some go down and haphazard chance or else an obscure divinity pulls us this way and that, and where are we left? Blind and chattering on the brink of an eternal unknowableness. We spring from a common root. The king and the bricklayer are equal except as to environs; the queen and the milkmaid may sit side by side with pail and crown on the ragged edge of destiny; the human heart is the same the world over; and when the judge sits upon the doings of his puppets, who will prevail?

The Post Man has an overcoat with a high collar. This is convenient in more ways than one. He turns it up when passing beggars upon the street corners, and thus shuts out their importunities and saves his conscience; he pulls it around his ears with dignified stateliness when meeting gentlemen who deal in goods which he hath bought anon; and lastly, it is useful when the weather is cold.

Sometimes when the purple shades begin to fall on Saturday evening and the cool mists creep up from the sluggish waters of the bayou the Post Man dons his useful article of apparel and hieth him forth among the hedges and the highways. He sees the seamy side through the gilding that covers the elect of the earth, and he sees the pure gold that glitters amid the mire where tread the lowly and meek of heart. He catches the note of discord in the prayer of the Pharisee on the street corner, and the jangle of the untuned bells that hang above many houses of worship. He sees strange deeds of nobility and lofty self-denial among people from whose touch respectability draws aside its skirts, and the mark of the beast upon the brow of the high and saintly.

A little here and there he jots down upon his pad; the greater part of the panorama goes by unrecorded until something comes in the vast To Be that will either explain⁠—or end.


Robert Burns has drawn a perfect picture of the purest peace and happiness in his “Cotter’s Saturday Night.” The laborer comes home from his work and is met by his joyful family. The fire burns brightly, the lamp is lit, and they draw the curtains and sit about their humble board, shutting in their little happy world from the cold and bleak night.

There are such homes now and always will be, but if one will traverse the streets of a city on Saturday night he will witness many scenes of a far different nature.

As the homeward bound columns file along the sidewalks there is much to be seen that presages sorrow and scant comfort to the waiting ones at their homes. There are staggering steps, loud speeches with rude and thickened tongues, and plentiful signs of misspent wages and the indulgence of debased appetites.

The saloons are reaping a rich harvest that should belong to wives and children. Some fling away in an hour what has taken them days to earn, and will carry home nothing but sullen looks and empty pockets. You can see all along the streets pale, anxious-looking women slipping through the crowd in the hope of meeting the providers and protectors of their homes, and inducing them to come there instead of lingering with their besotted comrades. What should be a season of rest and repose beneath the home vine and fig tree is turned into Saturnalia, and a loosing of bad passions.

Homeward flit the trim shop girls, the week’s work over, intent on the rest and pleasure of the morrow; threading their straightforward and dextrous way through the throng. Homeward plods the weary housekeeper with her basket of vegetables for Sunday’s dinner. Homeward goes the solid citizen laden with bundles and bags. Homeward slip weary working women, hurrying to fill the hungry mouths awaiting them. Respectability moves homeward, but as the everlasting stars creep out above, queer and warped things steal forth like imps of the night to hide, and sulk, and carouse, and prey upon whatever the darkness bringeth to them.

Down on the bank of the bayou, beyond the car shops, the foundries, the lumbermills and the great manufactories that go to make Houston the wonderful business and trade center she is, stands⁠—or rather, leans⁠—a little shanty. It is made of clapboards, old planks, pieces of tin and odds and ends of lumber picked up here and there. It is built close to the edge of the foul and sluggish bayou. Back of it rises the bank full ten feet high; below it, only a few feet, ripples the sullen tide.

In this squalid hut lives Crip. Crip is nine years old. He is freckled-faced, thin and subdued. From his knee his left leg is gone and in its place is a clumsy wooden stump, on which he limps around at quite a wonderful pace. Crip’s mother cleans up three or four offices on Main Street and takes in washing at other times. Somehow, they manage to live in this tottering habitation patched up by Crip’s father, who several years before had fallen into the bayou one night while drunk, and what was left of him by the catfish was buried upon the bank a hundred yards farther down. Of late, Crip had undertaken to assist in the mutual support.

One morning he came stumping timidly into the office of the Post and purchased a few papers. These he offered for sale upon the streets with great diffidence. Crip had no difficulty in selling his papers. People stopped and bought readily the wares of this shrinking, weak-voiced youngster. His wooden leg caught the eye of hurrying passersby and the nickels rained into his hand as long as he had any papers left.

One morning Crip failed to call for his papers. The next day he did not appear, nor the next, and one of the newsboys was duly questioned as to his absence.

“Crip’s got de pewmonia,” he said.


The Post Man, albeit weighed down by numerous tribulations of others and his own, when night comes puts on his overcoat and wends his way down the bayou toward the home of Crip.

The air is chilly and full of mist, and great puddles left by the recent rains glimmer and sparkle in the electric lights. No wonder that pneumonia has laid its cold hand upon the frail and weakly Crip, living as he does in the rain-soaked shanty down on the water’s edge. The Post Man goes to inquire if he has had a doctor and if he is supplied with the necessities his condition must require. He walks down the railroad tracks and comes close upon two figures marching with uncertain stateliness in the same direction.

One of them speaks loudly, with oratorical flourish, but with an exaggerated carefulness that proclaims he is in a certain stage of intoxication. His voice is well known in the drawing-rooms and the highest social circles of Houston. His name is⁠—well, let us call him Old Boy, for so do his admiring companions denominate him. There comes hurrying past them the form of a somberly-clad woman.

Intuitively the Post Man thinks she is of the house of Crip and accosts her with interrogatories. He gleans from her gasping brogue that a doctor has seen Crip and that he is very sick, but with proper medicines, nursing and food he will probably recover. She is now hastening to the drug store to buy⁠—with her last dollar, she says⁠—the medicine he must take at once.

“I will stay with him until you return,” says the Post Man, and with a fervent “Hiven bless you, sorr!” she melts away toward the lights of the city.

The house where Crip lives is on a kind of shelf on the bayou side and its approach from above must be made down a set of steep and roughly hewn steps cut into the bank by the deceased architect of the house. At the top of these stairs the two society lights stop.

“Old Boy,” says one of them, “give it up. It might be catching. And you are going to the dance tonight. This little rat of a newsboy⁠—why should you see him personally? Come, let’s go back. You’ve had so much⁠—”

“Bobby,” says the Old Boy, “have I labored all these years in vain, trying to convince you that you are an ass? I know I’m a devil of a buzzerfly, and glash of fashion, but I’ve gozzer see zat boy. Sold me papers a week, ’n now zey tell me he’s sick in this ratsh hole down here. Come on, Bobby, or else go’t devil. I’m going in.”

Old Boy pushes his silk hat to the back of his head and starts with dangerous rapidity down the steep stairs.

His friend, seeing that he is determined, takes his arm and they both sway and stagger down to the little shelf of land below.

The Post Man follows them silently, and they are too much occupied with their own unsteady progress to note his presence. He slips around them, raises the latch of the rickety door, stoops and enters the miserable hut.

Crip lies on a meager bed in the corner, with great, feverish eyes, and little, bony, restless fingers moving nervously upon the covers. The night wind blows in streamy draughts between the many crannies and flares the weak flame of a candle stuck in its own grease upon the top of a wooden box.

“Hello, mister,” says Crip. “I knows yer. Yer works on de paper. I been laid up wid a rattlin’ pain in me chist. Who wins de fight?”

“Fitzsimmons won,” says the Post Man, feeling his hot freckled hand. “Are you in much pain?”

“How many rounds?”

“First round. Less than two minutes. Can I do anything to make you easier?”

“Geeminetty! dat was quick. Yer might gimme a drink.”

The door opens again and two magnificent beings enter. Crip gives a little gasp as his quick eyes fall upon them. Old Boy acknowledges the presence of the Post Man by a deep and exaggerated but well intentioned bow, and then he goes and stands by Crip’s bedside.

“Old man,” he says, with solemnly raised eyebrows, “Whazzer mazzer?”

“Sick,” says Crip. “I know yer. Yer gimme a quarter for a paper one mornin’.”

Old Boy’s friend ranges himself in the background. He is a man in a dress suit with a mackintosh and cane, and is not of an obtrusive personality.

He shows an inclination to brace himself against something, but the fragile furniture of the hut not promising much support, he stands uneasily, with a perplexed frown upon his face, awaiting developments.

“You little devil,” says Old Boy, smiling down with mock anger at the little scrap of humanity under the covers, “Do you know why I’ve come to see you?”

“N-n-n-no, sir,” says Crip, the fever flush growing deeper on his cheeks. He has never seen anything so wonderful as this grand, tall, handsome man in his black evening suit, with the dark, half-smiling, half-frowning eyes, and the great diamond flashing on his snowy bosom, and the tall, shiny hat on the back of his head.

“Gen’lemen,” says Old Boy, with a comprehensive wave of his hand, “I don’t know myself, why I have come here, but I couldn’t help it. That little devil’s eyes have been in my head for a week. I’ve never sheen him ’n my life till a week ago; but I’ve sheen his eyes somewhere, long time ago. Sheems to me I knew this little rascal when I was a kid myself ’way back before I left Alabama; but, then, gentlemen, thash impossible. However, as Bobby will tell you, I made him walk all the way down here with me to shee zis little sick fellow, ’n now we mus’ do all we can for ’m.”

Old Boy runs his hands into his pockets and draws out the contents thereof and lays all, with lordly indiscrimination, on the ragged quilt that covers Crip.

“Little devil,” he says solemnly, “you mus’ buy medicine and get well and come back and shell me papers again. Where in thunder have I seen you before? Never mind. Come on, Bobby⁠—good boy to wait for me⁠—come on now and le’s get a zrink.”

The two magnificent gentlemen sway around grandly for a moment, make elaborate but silent adieus in the direction of Crip and the Post Man, and finally dwindle out into the darkness, where they can be heard urging each other forward to the tremendous feat of remounting the steps that lead to the path above.

Presently Crip’s mother returns with his medicine and proceeds to make him comfortable. She gives a screech of surprise at what she sees lying upon the bed, and proceeds to take an inventory. There are $42 in currency, $6.50 in silver, a lady’s silver slipper buckle and an elegant pearl-handled knife with four blades.

The Post Man sees Crip take his medicine and his fever go down, and promising him to bring down a paper that tells all about the great fight, he moves away. A thought strikes him, and he stops near the door and says:

“Your husband, now where was he from?”

“Oh, plaze yer honor,” says Crip’s mother, “from Alabama he was, and a gentleman born, as everyone could tell till the dhrink got away wid him, and thin he married me.”

As the Post Man departs he hears Crip say to his mother reverentially:

“Dat man what left de stuff, mammy, he couldn’t have been God, for God don’t get full; but if it wasn’t him, mammy, I bet a dollar he was Dan Stuart.”

As the Post Man trudges back along the dark road to the city, he says to himself:

“We have seen tonight good springing up where we would never have looked for it, and something of a mystery all the way from Alabama. Heigho! this is a funny little world.”

Board and Ancestors

The snake reporter of the Post was wending his way homeward last night when he was approached by a very gaunt, hungry-looking man with wild eyes and an emaciated face.

“Can you tell me, sir,” he inquired, “where I can find in Houston a family of lowborn scrubs?”

“I don’t exactly understand,” said the reporter.

“Let me tell you how it is,” said the emaciated man. “I came to Houston a month ago, and I hunted up a boarding house, as I can not afford to live at a hotel. I found a nice, aristocratic-looking place that suited me, and went inside. The landlady came in the parlor and she was a very stately lady with a Roman nose. I asked the price of board, and she said: ‘Eighty dollars per month.’ I fell against the door jamb with a dull thud, and she said:

“ ‘You seem surprised, sah. You will please remember that I am the widow of Governah Riddle of Virginia. My family is very highly connected; give you board as a favah; I never consider money an equivalent to advantage of my society. Will you have a room with a door in it?’

“ ‘I’ll call again,’ I said, and got out of the house, somehow, and went to another fine, three-storied house, with a sign ‘Board and Rooms’ on it.

“The next lady I saw had gray curls, and a soft gazelle-like eye. She was a cousin of General Mahone of Virginia and wanted $16 per week for a little back room with a pink motto and a picture of the battle of Chancellorsville in it.

“I went to some more boarding houses.

“The next lady said she was descended from Aaron Burr on one side and Captain Kidd on the other. She was using the Captain Kidd side in her business. She wanted to charge me sixty cents an hour for board and lodging. I traveled around all over Houston and found nine widows of Supreme Court judges, twelve relicts of governors and generals, and twenty-two ruins left by happy departed colonels, professors, and majors, who put fancy figures on the benefits of their society, and carried victuals as a side line.

“I finally grew desperately hungry and engaged a week’s board at a nice, stylish mansion in the third ward. The lady who kept it was tall and imposing. She kept one hand lying across her waist and the other held a prayer book and a pair of ice hooks. She said she was an aunt of Davy Crockett, and was still in mourning for him. Her family was one of the first in Texas. It was then supper time and I went in to supper. Supper was from six-fifty to seven, and consisted of baker’s bread, prayer, and cold slaw. I was so fatigued that I begged to be shown to my room immediately after the meal.

“I took the candle, went into the room she showed me, and locked the door quickly. The room was furnished in imitation of the Alamo. The walls and the floor were bare, and the bed was something like a monument only harder. About midnight I felt something as if I had fallen into a prickly pear bush, and jumped up and lit the candle. I looked in the bed and then put on my clothes, and exclaimed:

“ ‘Thermopylae had her messenger of defeat, but the Alamo had a thousand.’

“I slipped out of the door and left the house.

“Now, my dear sir, I am not wealthy, and I can not afford to pay for high lineage and moldy ancestors with my board. Corned beef goes further with me than a coronet, and when I am cold a coat-of-arms does not warm me. I am desperate and hungry, and I hate everybody who can trace their ancestors farther back than the late Confederate Reunion. I want to find a boarding house whose proprietress was left while an infant in a basket at a livery stable, whose father was an unnaturalized dago from the fifth ward, and whose grandfather was never placed upon the map. I want to strike a low-down, scrubby, piebald, sans-culotte outfit that never heard of finger bowls or grace before meals but who can get up a mess of hot corn bread and Irish stew at regular market quotations. Is there any such place in Houston?”

The snake reporter shook his head sadly. “I never heard of any,” he said. “The boarding houses here are run by ladies who do not take boarders to make a living; they are all trying to get a better rating in Bradstreet’s than Hetty Green.”

“Then,” said the emaciated man desperately, “I will shake you for a long toddy.”

The snake reporter felt in his vest pocket haughtily for a moment, and then refusing the proposition scornfully, moved away down the dimly lighted street.

An X-Ray Fable

And it came to pass that a man with a Cathode Ray went about the country finding out and showing the people, for a consideration, the insides of folks’ heads and what they were thinking about. And he never made a mistake.

And in a certain town lived a man whose name was Reuben and a maid whose name was Ruth. And the two were sweethearts and were soon to be married.

And Reuben came to the man and hired him with coin to take a snap shot at Ruth’s head, and find out whom she truly loved.

And later on Ruth came and also hired the man to find out whom Reuben truly loved. And the man did so and got two good negatives.

In the meantime Reuben and Ruth confessed to each other what they had done, and the next day they came together, hand in hand, to the man with the Ray, for their answer. The man saw them, and he wrote two names on two slips of paper and gave them into their hands.

“On these slips of paper,” he said, “you will find the name of the one whom each of you loves best in the world, as truly discovered by my wonderful Cathode Ray.”

And the man and the maid opened the pieces of paper and saw written on one “Reuben” and on the other “Ruth,” and they were filled with joy and happiness, and went away with arms about each other’s waists.

But the man with the Ray neglected to mention the fact that the photographs he had taken showed that Reuben’s head was full of deep and abiding love for Reuben and Ruth’s showed her to be passionately enamored of Ruth.

The moral is that the proprietor of the Ray probably knew his business.

The Sporting Editor on Culture

“Is the literary editor in?”

The sporting editor looked up from the paper he was reading, and saw a vision of female loveliness about twenty years of age, with soft blue eyes, and a heavy mass of golden brown hair arranged in a coiffure of the latest and most becoming style.

“Nope,” said the sporting editor, “you can bet your life he ain’t in. He’s out trying to get bail for having assaulted a man who wrote to the Letter Box to ask if ten men could build a house in twenty-seven and one-half days by working eight hours a day, how many buttons would be required for a coat of paint for same house. Did you call to see about a poem, or did you want him to sneak you some coupons for the bicycle contest?”

“Neither,” said the young lady, with dignity. “I am the secretary of the Houston Young Ladies’ Society of Ethical Culture, and I was appointed a committee to call upon the literary editor and consult him as to the best plan for the exercise of our various functions.”

“Now, that’s a good thing,” said the sporting editor. “I don’t seem to exactly catch on to ‘ethical,’ but if it’s anything like physical culture you girls are going in for, you’ve trotted up to the right rack. I can tell you more about the proper way to exercise your functions in one minute than the literary editor can in an hour. He understands all about the identity of the wherefore and the origin of the pyramids, but he can’t punch the bag, or give you any pointers how to increase your chest measurement. How long has your society been in training?”

“We organized last month,” answered the lady, looking at the cheerful face of the reporter rather doubtfully.

“Well, now, how do you girls breathe⁠—with your lungs or with your diaphragm?”

“Sir?”

“Oh, you’ll have to start in right, and you’ve got to know how to breathe. The first thing is to keep your chest out, your shoulders back, and go through arm exercises for a few days. Then you can try something like this: Keep the upper part of the figure erect, and standing on one leg, try to⁠—”

“Sir!” exclaimed the young lady severely, “you are presumptuous. I do not understand your obscure talk. Our society is not connected with a gymnasium. Our aim is the encouragement of social ethics.”

“Oh,” returned the sporting editor, in a disappointed tone, “you are on the society and pink tea racket. Sorry. That lets me out. Hoped you were going in for athletics. You could do it so well, too. Take my advice now, and try that little exercise every morning for a week. You’ll be surprised to see how much it will benefit your muscles. As I said, just stand on one⁠—”

Bang! went the door, and the blue-eyed young lady was gone.

“It’s a pity,” said the sporting editor, “that these girls don’t pay some attention to self-culture without that⁠—that ethical part.”

A Question of Direction

“Do you mean to tell me,” gasped the horrified gentleman from Boston, “that this man you speak of was shot and killed at a meeting of your debating society, and by the presiding officer himself, during the discussion of a question, simply because he arose and made a motion that was considered out of order?”

“He certainly was, sure,” said the colonel. “This is simply awful,” said the traveler. “I must make a note of this occurrence so that the people of my State can be apprised of the dreadful lawlessness that prevails in this section⁠—a man shot down and killed at a social and educational meeting for the infringement of an unimportant parliamentary error! It is awful to contemplate.”

“That’s whatever,” said the colonel reflectively. “It is for a fact. But you might state, in order to do justice to our community and town, which is, as it were, the Athens of Texas, that the motion made by the deceased was in the direction of his hip pocket. Shall we all liquor?”

The Prisoner of Zembla

By Anthony Hoke

So the king fell into a furious rage, so that none durst go near him for fear, and he gave out that since the Princess Astla had disobeyed him there would be a great tourney, and to the knight who should prove himself of the greatest valor he would give the hand of the princess.

And he sent forth a herald to proclaim that he would do this.

And the herald went about the country making his desire known, blowing a great tin horn and riding a noble steed that pranced and gamboled; and the villagers gazed upon him with awe and said: “Lo, that is one of them tin horn gamblers concerning which the chroniclers have told us.”

And when the day came, the king sat in the grandstand, holding the gage of battle in his hand, and by his side sat the Princess Astla, looking very pale and beautiful, but with mournful eyes from which she scarce could keep the tears, and the knights who came to the tourney gazed upon the princess in wonder at her beauty, and each swore to win her so that he could marry her and board with the king. Suddenly the heart of the princess gave a great bound, for she saw among the knights one of the poor students with whom she had been in love.

The knights mounted and rode in a line past the grandstand, and the king stopped the poor student, who had the worst horse and the poorest caparisons of any of the knights, and said:

“Sir knight, prithee tell me of what that marvelous shaky and rusty-looking armor of thine is made?”

“Oh, king,” said the young knight, “seeing that we are about to engage in a big fight, I would call it scrap iron, wouldn’t you?”

“Ods bodikins!” said the king. “The youth hath a pretty wit.”


The tourney lasted the whole day and at the end but two of the knights were left, one of them being the princess’s lover.

“Here’s enough for a fight, anyhow,” said the king. “Come hither, oh knights, will ye joust for the hand of this lady fair?”

“We joust will,” said the knights.

The two knights fought for two hours and at length the princess’s lover prevailed and stretched the other upon the ground. The victorious knight made his horse caracole before the king, and bowed low in his saddle.

On the Princess Astla’s cheek was a rosy flush; in her eyes the light of excitement vied with the soft glow of love; her lips were parted, her lovely hair unbound, and she grasped the arms of her chair and leaned forward with heaving bosom and happy smile to hear the words of her lover.

“You have fought well, sir knight,” said the king. “And if there is any boon you crave you have but to name it.”

“Then,” said the knight, “I will ask you this: I have bought the patent rights in your kingdom for Schneider’s celebrated monkey wrench and I want a letter from you endorsing it.”

“You shall have it,” said the king, “but I must tell you that there is not a monkey in my kingdom.”

With a yell of rage the victorious knight threw himself on his horse and rode away at a furious gallop.

The king was about to speak when a horrible suspicion flashed upon him and he fell dead upon the grandstand.

“My God!” he cried, as he expired, “he has forgotten to take the princess with him.”

Lucky Either Way

The Memphis Commercial-Appeal, in commenting on errors in grammar made by magazines, takes exception to an error in construction occurring in Gode’s Magazine in which, in J. H. Connelly’s story entitled “Mr. Pettigrew’s Bad Dog,” a character is made to say: “You will be lucky if you escape with only marrying one.”

A man says this to another one who is being besieged by two ladies, and the Commercial-Appeal thinks he intended to say: “You will be lucky if you escape with marrying only one.”

Now, after considering the question, it seems likely that there is more in Mr. J. H. Connelly’s remark than is dreamed of in the philosophy of the Commercial-Appeal.

The history of matrimony gives color to the belief that, to whichever one of the ladies the gentleman might unite himself, he would be lucky if he escaped with only marrying her. Getting married is the easiest part of the affair. It is what comes afterward that makes a man sometimes wish a wolf had carried him into the forest when he was a little boy. It takes only a little nerve, a black coat, from five to ten dollars, and a girl, for a man to get married. Very few men are lucky enough to escape with only marrying a woman. Women are sometimes so capricious and unreasonable that they demand that a man stay around afterward, and board and clothe them, and build fires, and chop wood, and rock the chickens out of the garden, and tell the dressmaker when to send in her bill again.

We would like to read “Mr. Pettigrew’s Bad Dog” and find out whether the man was lucky enough to only marry the lady, or whether she held on to him afterward and didn’t let him escape.

The “Bad Man”

A bold, bad man made a general display of himself in a Texas town a few days ago. It seems that he’d imbibed a sufficient number of drinks to become anxious to impress the town with his badness, and when the officers tried to arrest him he backed up against the side of a building and defied arrest. A considerable crowd of citizens, among whom were a number of drummers from a hotel close by, had gathered to witness the scene.

The bad man was a big, ferocious-looking fellow with long, curling hair that fell on his shoulders, a broad-brimmed hat, a buckskin coat with fringe around the bottom, and a picturesque vocabulary. He was flourishing a big six-shooter and swore by the bones of Davy Crockett that he would perforate the man who attempted to capture him.

The city marshal stood in the middle of the street and tried to reason with him, but the bad man gave a whoop and rose up on his toes, and the whole crowd fell back to the other side of the street. The police had a conference, but none of them would volunteer to lead the attack.

Presently a little, wizened, consumptive-looking drummer for a Connecticut shoe factory squeezed his way through the crowd on the opposite side of the street to have a peep at the desperado. He weighed about ninety pounds and wore double glass spectacles. Just then the desperado gave another whoop and yelled:

“Gol darn ye, why don’t some of ye come and take me? I’ll eat any five of ye without chawin’, and I ain’t hungry either⁠—whoopee!”

The crowd fell back a few yards further and the police turned pale again, but the skinny little man adjusted his spectacles with both hands, and stepped on to the edge of the sidewalk and took a good look at the bad men. Then he deliberately struck across the street at a funny hopping kind of a run right up to where the terror stood.

The crowd yelled at him to come back, and the desperado flourished his six-shooter again, but the little man went straight up to him and said something. The crowd shuddered and expected to see him fall with a forty-five bullet in him, but he didn’t. They saw the desperado lower his pistol and run his hand in his pocket and hand something to the little man.

Then the desperado walked sheepishly down the sidewalk, and the little man came back across the street.

“Bad man?” he said. “I guess not. He wouldn’t hurt a fly. That’s Zeke Skinner. He was raised on the farm next to me in Connecticut. He’s selling some kind of fake liver medicine, and that’s his street rig he’s got on now. I loaned him eight dollars in Hartford nine years ago, and never expected to see him again. Thought I knew his voice. Pay? I reckon he paid me. I calculate I always collect what’s owing to me.”

Then the crowd scattered and the twelve policeman headed Zeke off at the next corner and clubbed him all the way to the station house.

Simmon’s Saturday Night

How a Guileless Cattle Man Saw the Sights in Houston

One fine Saturday afternoon a young man got off the 9:10 p.m. Katy train at the Houston depot, and looked about him in rather a bewildered way. He was deliriously pastoral in his appearance, and presented an aspect almost as rural as that of the young countryman upon the stage as depicted by our leading comedians. He wore a very long black coat of the cut that has perpetuated the name of the late Prince Albert, such as is seen on Sundays at country churches, a pair of pantaloons too short for his somewhat lengthy limbs, and a wondrously tied scarf of deep crimson spotted with green. His face was smoothly shaven, and wore a look of deep wonder, if not apprehension, and his blue eyes were stretched to their widest as he viewed the sights about him. In his hand he carried a long carpet bag of the old style, made of some shiny substance resembling black oil cloth.

This young gentleman climbed nervously upon an electric car that was pointed out to him as going into the center of the city, and held his carpet bag upon his knees, clasping it with both hands, as if he distrusted the other people upon the car.

As the car started again with a loud hum and scattering of sparks, he grasped the arm of the seat in such a startled way that the conductor could not repress a smile.

When the young man was approached for his fare, he opened the carpet bag, pulling out a lot of socks and handkerchiefs, and after searching for some time drew forth an old-fashioned beaded purse from which he drew a nickel and handed it to the conductor.

When the car arrived at Main Street the young man requested that it be stopped, and climbed off. He wandered up the side walk, stopping to look with awe and admiration in the jewelers’ windows, and his long boot heels and awkward, mincing gait caused much amusement to passersby.

Then it was that a well-dressed gentleman wearing a handsome light Melton overcoat happened to pass, and his beautiful Malacca gold-headed cane accidentally touched the elbow of the verdant-looking young man.

“I beg a thousand pardons,” said the well-dressed gentleman.

“It’s all right, pardner,” said the young man with a friendly smile. “You ain’t done no damage. You can’t faze a Texas cow man with no plaything like that. Don’t mention it.”

The well-dressed man bowed, and went leisurely on his way. The young man stumbled on up Main Street to a corner, then turned in an aimless way to the right and walked another block. There he looked up and saw the illuminated clock in the market house tower, and drawing from his vest pocket an immense silver watch fully as large as a saucer, he wound it up with a key and set its hands with the clock in the tower. While he was doing this a well-dressed gentleman carrying a gold-headed Malacca cane slipped past and walked softly down the shady side of the street, stopped in a deep shadow and seemed to be waiting for someone.


About fifteen minutes later the young man entered a restaurant on Congress Street and took his seat timidly at a table. He drew another chair close to his side and deposited carefully therein his carpet bag. Five minutes later a well-dressed man with a gold-headed Malacca cane entered in a great hurry and after hanging up his silk hat, seated himself, almost out of breath, at the same table. Then, looking up, he recognized the young man whom he had seen gazing in the jeweler’s window, and smiling pleasantly remarked:

“Ah, we meet again, sir. I have just had a most exhausting race to catch a train. You see, I am the paymaster of the Southern Pacific Railway Company, and am on my way to pay off the hands down the road. I missed my train by about three minutes. It’s very awkward, too, as I have nearly two thousand dollars on my person, and I am entirely unacquainted in Houston.”

“Dod gast it, colonel,” said the young man, “I’m in the same fix. I’m just getting back from Kansas City, where I sold a drove of two-year-olds, and I haven’t had time to do anything with the money. You beat me on the amount, though; I ain’t got but $900.”

The well-dressed gentleman took a large roll of bills from his pocket, skinned off one with which to pay for his supper, and returned the rest carefully to the inside pocket of his coat.

“We seem to be about in the same situation, indeed,” he said. “I very much dislike to carry so much money on my person all night. Suppose we form a mutual protection society, and in the meantime walk about and see what sights there are to be seen in town.”

At first the young man appeared suddenly suspicious at this proposition, and became coldly reserved, but gradually thawed under the frank and unassuming politeness of the well-dressed man, and when that gentleman insisted upon paying for both suppers, his doubts seemed to vanish, and he became not only confidential, but actually loquacious. He informed the well-dressed man that his name was Simmons, that he owned a nice little ranch in Encinal County, and that this was his first trip out of Texas. The well-dressed man said his name was Clancy, called “Captain” by his friends, that he lived in Dallas, and was a member of the Young Men’s Christian Association at that place. He handed Mr. Simmons a card on which was printed “Captain Richard Saxon Clancy,” and below was scribbled somewhat hastily in pencil, “With M. K. & T. Ry. Co.


“Now,” said Mr. Simmons, when they had finished supper, “I’m sorter shy about proposin’ it, you bein’ a stranger, but I’m in for havin’ a glass of beer. If you don’t like the scheme, why, excuse me, and don’t think hard of me for suggestin’ it.”

Captain Chancy smiled indulgently. “Have a care,” he said, in a sprightly bantering tone. “Remember, you and I must take care of ourselves tonight. I am responsible to the railroad company for the funds I have, and besides, I rarely ever touch beer⁠—well, I guess one glass won’t hurt me.”

Mr. Simmons opened the carpet bag and after some search found the bead purse, from which he drew a dime, and suggested the immediate investment of it. Captain Clancy remembered to have heard a friend say that there was a quiet saloon on⁠—let’s see, what street was it?

After some hesitation and search they came upon a place with swinging doors where a light was hanging outside, and the captain suggested that they could probably get a glass of beer within. They entered and found themselves before a gorgeous bar, ablaze with lights and mirrors, at which lounged five or six men of a rather rough and night-owlish appearance.

Mr. Simmons called for two glasses of beer, and when they had drunk it he laid his dime upon the counter.

“Wot’s eatin’ you?” said the bartender. “They is two for. Cough up some more right away once.”

“See here,” said Mr. Simmons, “beer is 5 cents a glass everywheres. Don’t you take me for no country jay.”

Captain Clancy whispered that they had better pay what was asked than get into a difficulty. “It seems a rough sort of place,” he said, “and you must remember it won’t do to endanger ourselves while we have our money about us. Let me pay the 15 cents additional.”

“No, you don’t,” said Mr. Simmons. “I guess when I treat I foot the whole bill.” He went down into the carpet bag again and brought forth three more nickels.

Just then an orchestra near at hand struck up in a lively air, and Mr. Simmons turned to look whence it came.

The bartender winked at Captain Clancy and said softly:

“Struck it rich, eh, Jimmy, old boy?”

“Think it will pay,” said the captain, as softly, closing his left eye at the bartender.

“Say,” said Mr. Simmons, “whatever have you got in there?” pointing in the direction of the music.

“Finest high-class musical and dramatic entertainment in the South,” said the bartender. “Refined and elevatin’ specialties by distinguished artists. Walk in, gents.”

“It’s a play show, by gum,” said Mr. Simmons. “Shall we go in?”

“I don’t like the looks of the place much,” said Captain Clancy, “but let’s have a look at it, anyhow, to pass away the time; let’s see, it’s just half past ten; we can look on a while and then go up to the hotel and get to bed by eleven-thirty. Let me pay for tickets.”

“All right,” said Mr. Simmons, “I paid for the beer.”

The bartender pointed out the way through a little hallway, where they entered another door and found a very glib gentleman who persuaded them to buy tickets that admitted them upstairs. They ascended and found themselves in the family circle of a little theater. There were about twenty or thirty men and boys scattered about among the seats, and the performance seemed quite well under way. On the stage a very exaggerated Irishman was chasing a very exaggerated negro with an ax, while a soubrettish young lady dressed in a ruffle and blue tights stood upon a barrel and screamed something in a high, cracked voice.


“I shouldn’t like it if there should happen to be anyone downstairs that knows me,” said the captain. “Suppose we take one of these boxes.” They went into a little box, screened from view by soiled cheap lace curtains, containing four or five chairs and a little table with little rings all over it made by the bottoms of wet glasses.

Mr. Simmons was delighted with the performance. He laughed unrestrainedly at the jokes of the comedian, and leaned half out of the box to applaud when the DeVere sisters did their song and dance and split specialty. Captain Clancy leaned back in his chair and hardly looked at the stage, but on his face was an expression of large content, and a tranquil smile. Mr. Simmons kept the carpet bag in both hands all this time. Presently, while he was listening with apparent rapture to a topical song by Mlle. Fanchon, the Parisian nightingale, he felt a hand laid on his shoulder. He turned about and beheld a vision that seemed to take away his breath. Two radiant beings in white, with blue ribbons, and showing quite a stretch of black ribbed stockings were in the box. Mr. Simmons hugged his carpet bag to his breast and started up in embarrassed alarm.

“Don’t shy, old man,” said one of them. “Sit down and buy some beer.”

Mr. Simmons seemed so full of blushes and perturbation for a while that he scarcely knew what he was doing, but Captain Clancy seemed so cool and easy, and began to chat so companionably with the ladies that he presently took courage, and the next quarter of an hour found the four seated opposite one another at the little table, and a colored waiter was kept busy bringing bottles of beer from the bar and carrying away empty glasses. Mr. Simmons grew absolutely hilarious. He told funny stories about ranch life, and spoke quite boastingly about the gay times he had had in Kansas City during the three days he was there.

“Oh, you’re a bold, bad man,” said one of the young ladies, called Violet. “If Lillie and Jim⁠—I mean your friend, wasn’t in here I’d be real ’fraid of you.”

“Go way, now,” said Mr. Simmons; “you know I ain’t nothin’ of that sort. Bring some more beer there, you colored feller!”

The party certainly were enjoying themselves. Presently Violet leaned over the railing and called Mr. Simmons’ attention to a lady that was singing on the stage. Mr. Simmons turned his back, and as he did so Captain Clancy quickly drew from his pocket a small vial and poured the contents into the glass of beer on Mr. Simmons’ side of the waiter that had just been brought in.

“Here, you all,” called the lady addressed as Lillie, “the beer’s getting cold.” Mr. Simmons and Violet turned back to the table, and Mr. Simmons accidentally stumbled over his carpet bag, which he had actually set down for a moment upon the floor. He fell sprawling across the table, striking the edge of the waiter with his hand and nearly turning Captain Clancy over in his chair, but spilling none of the beer.

“Excuse me,” he said, turning very red. “Got my foot caught. I’m as awkward as a cowboy at a dance. Well, here’s luck.”

Everybody drank the beer, and Lillie began to hum a little song. In about a minute Violet reeled around in her chair and tumbled off on the floor in a confused heap of white muslin, blondined hair and black stockings.

Captain Clancy seemed much vexed. He shot a steel blue flash from his eyes at Lillie and said something very much like “d⁠⸺⁠n it” to himself.

“Great heavens!” cried Mr. Simmons, “this lady has fainted. Call a doctor, or get some water or somethin’ quick.”

“Say,” said Lillie, lighting a cigarette, “don’t get woozy. She’ll sleep it off. You gents get out for a while. Say, J-Mister, tell the bartender to send Sam up as you go out. Good night.”

“We had better go,” said the captain.

Mr. Simmons, with many protestations of sympathy and anxiety, was led away by Captain Clancy downstairs, where he delivered the message, and thence out into the cool night air.

He was feeling pretty strongly the effects of the beer he had drunk, and leaned heavily upon the captain’s arm. Captain Clancy assured him that the lady would be all right in a little while, that she had merely drunk a little too much beer, which had affected her rather suddenly, and succeeded in restoring Mr. Simmons to his former cheerful spirits.

“It is not yet half past eleven,” said the captain. “How would you like to go up into one of the gambling rooms just to look on a while? It is a very interesting sight.”

“Just the thing,” said Mr. Simmons. “They are not new things to me at all. Twice I have been in ’em in San Antone. Saw a feller win $18 one night in this game you play with little buttons on little boards.”

“Keno, I believe,” said the captain. “Yes, that’s it⁠—keno.”


I shall not undertake to describe the locality of the apartments to which our visitors next went. Gambling houses are almost unknown in Houston, and as this is a true story, the attempt to give a definite location to such an institution in a city of the well known morality of Houston would meet with incredulity. Neither is it clear how they managed to find such a place, both of them being strangers, but by some accidental blunder, Captain Clancy led Mr. Simmons up a brightly lighted and carpeted stair into a large apartment, where a goodly crowd of men were gathered, trying their luck at the different games usually found in a well appointed gambling house.

The stairway opened into the room nearly at the end farthest from the street. Immediately in front of the two gentlemen when they entered was a room in which were two or three round tables and chairs, at that time unoccupied.

Captain Clancy and Mr. Simmons walked about the larger room for a while, gazing upon the players as they won or lost in the vicissitudes and fortunes of the games. The men in the room viewed Mr. Simmons with ill-concealed hilarity. His carpet bag seemed to create a vast deal of merriment, and every man in the room, while betraying much amusement, still gazed upon him with longing and hungry eyes, as upon some choice titbit upon which they fain would feast.

One fat man with a dyed mustache nudged Captain Clancy in the side and said:

“Gad! Jimmy, can’t you let me in on it?”

The captain frowned and the fat man moved away with a sigh. Mr. Simmons was interested almost to excitement. Presently he said:

“Say, I don’t know how it will strike you, cap’n, but I guess I must have some sportin’ blood in me. Now, I don’t gamble, but I’m the darnedest checker player in Southwest Texas. Let’s go in that other room, and I’ll play you some checkers and the man what loses buys a glass of beer for both of us.”

“Now, Mr. Simmons,” said the captain, raising a warning finger and smiling. “Remember our mutual protection society. I don’t like this place at all. We had better be out of it. However, I used to be the crack checker and croquet player in our Young Men’s Christian Association⁠—just a game or two, now.”

They played a game or two, and then they played half a dozen more. The captain won every game. Mr. Simmons was much vexed. He grew very red in the face as his reputation as a checker player began to vanish.

“Confound it,” he said, “I’m out 70 cents. Gimmie a chance to get even. I’d give it to you if I was ahead.”

“Why, certainly,” said the captain, “but checkers is rather tiresome. Some other way suit you? Let’s have in a deck of cards and play a few hands until you get even.”

“Any way,” said Mr. Simmons. His hat was on the back of his head; his light-blue eyes were blinking and somewhat unsteady. His red and green spotted tie was almost under one ear. He sat with the black carpet bag in his lap, and his checked trousers had drawn half way up to his knees.

“What, oh, what,” said the captain softly, to himself, “have I done to deserve this manna descending to me in the wilderness; this good thing dropping into my hands as if it were greased; this great big soft snap coming my way without a ripple. It’s too good to be true.”

The captain struck a little bell and a waiter brought a deck of cards.

“Let’s call it poker,” said the captain. Mr. Simmons rose to his feet.

“That’s a gambling game,” he said severely. “I ain’t no gambler.”

“Neither am I, Mr. Simmons,” said the captain with a sudden dignity and a trifle of a frown. “A game of poker for insignificant stakes between gentlemen is entirely allowable in the circles in which I have moved, and any institution⁠—”

“Oh, dang it all,” said Mr. Simmons, “I didn’t mean anything. I’ve played some on the ranch with the boys of nights for grains of corn. Deal ’em out.”


The old story of the hawk and the pigeon has been told so often that the details are apt to weary. From a stake of 10 cents they rose to 50 cents and a dollar. Mr. Simmons won, of course. He had taken the bead purse out of his bag and therefrom abstracted certain silver dollars, and later on, $25 in bills. Once he held up a package from the carpet bag tied with a string and winked at the captain.

“That’s the nine hundred,” he said.

The captain won a pot occasionally, but the bulk of the money was going to Mr. Simmons, who was jubilant but sympathetic.

“You’re out of luck,” he said jollily, but thickly. He was considerably under the influence of the beer he had drunk, to all appearances. The captain looked worried and anxious.

“That’s nearly all my expense money,” he said moodily. “I say, Simmons, take off the limit and give a feller a chance to get even.”

“What’s that?” asked Mr. Simmons. “You mean bet any amount we please?”

“Yes.”

“Let ’er go,” said Mr. Simmons. “Shay, zis beer (hic) make’m me shorter shick.”

Mr. Simmons seemed to play a very loose game, and his luck began to desert him. He lost a large portion of his winnings on an ace full, and had several fine hands beaten. In a little while his velvet was gone and the next hand lost him all his little capital. He grew more deeply flushed, and his round light eyes shone with an excited stare. He once more opened the black carpet bag, took out his pocket knife and put both hands inside. The captain heard him cut the string of the package and out came the hands grasping a mass of fives, tens and twenties. The carpet bag still kept its place in his lap.

“Bring ’sh s’m beer,” said Mr. Simmons, loudly. “Jolly f’ler ze captain. Play’m all night ’f wanter. ’M a little full, but bes’ checker ’n poker player ’n Encinal County. Deal ’em.”


Captain Richard Saxon Clancy, paymaster (?) of the M. K. & T. Railway Company, drew himself together, his time had come. The manna was about to descend. The pigeon was already fluttering in his talons. The victim was in exactly the right stage of drunkenness; enough to be reckless and not too observant, but not too much so to prevent his playing the game.

The captain coughed rather loudly. One or two men strolled in from the other room and watched the game silently. The captain coughed again. A pale young man with gloomy eyes and an unhealthy-looking face lounged around somewhat back of Mr. Simmons’ chair, and listlessly looked on. Every time a hand was dealt or a draw made, he would scratch his ear, touch his nose, pull his mustache or play with a button on his vest. It was strange to see how much the captain watched this young man, who certainly had nothing to do with the game.

Still the captain won. When Mr. Simmons won a pot it was sure to be a small one.

The captain thought the time ripe for his coup de grâce. He struck the bell, and the waiter came.

“Bring a fresh deck, Mike,” he said, “these are getting worn.” Mr. Simmons was too confused to notice that the captain, a stranger in the city, called the waiter familiarly by his given name.

The captain dealt the cards, and Mr. Simmons cut them in an awkward and bungling way. Then the fatal hand was dealt. It was the captain’s favorite. Four kings and the seven of spades to his opponent, four aces and the deuce of diamonds to himself. Any other cards would do as well as the spade and the diamond, but the captain had a weakness for those two cards.

He noticed the ill-concealed pleasure on the face of Mr. Simmons as he gazed at his hand. Mr. Simmons stood pat; the captain drew one card. The young man behind Mr. Simmons’ chair had moved away. It was no longer necessary for him to scratch his ear and touch his vest button. He knew the captain’s coup de grâce as well as he himself.

Mr. Simmons clutched his cards tightly in his hand and tried in vain to conceal his eagerness. The captain examined the new card he had drawn with exaggerated anxiety, and heaved a sigh that intended to convey to Mr. Simmons the information that he had made his hand good.

The betting began. Mr. Simmons threw in his money feverishly and quickly; the captain saw each bet, and raised only after affected deep deliberation. Mr. Simmons raised back gleefully, drunkenly and confidently. When the pot contained about $200 the captain’s brows went together, and two faint lines traced themselves from his nostrils to the corners of his mouth, and he made a raise of a hundred. Mr. Simmons laid his hand down carefully on the table and went down in his carpet bag again. This time he drew out two $500 bills and laid them on top of the pot.

“I’m goin’ busted on this hand,” said Mr. Simmons. “ ’F I didn’t zhe boys ’n Encinal County ’d run me out for a coward. Whoop ’em up, cap’n.”

“Send Charlie over here,” said Captain Clancy to one of the bystanders. The fat man with the dyed mustache came over and whispered with the captain. Then he went away and came back with a stack of gold and bills and counted out the thousand dollars to call Mr. Simmons’ bet.

“I call,” said the captain.

Then a queer thing happened.

Mr. Simmons rose lightly to his feet, spread his hand face upward upon the table, and with the same arm movement swept the pile of money into his capacious carpet bag.

With bulging eyes and a sulphurous oath the captain looked for the four kings and the seven of spades he had dealth Mr. Simmons. What he saw was a queen high straight heart flush.

The captain made a spring, and the pale gentlemen standing about each took one cat-like step towards Mr. Simmons and then stopped. As the money went into the carpet bag there came out a blue-barreled six-shooter that now shone ominously in Mr. Simmons’ hand, and they looked into its barrel.

Mr. Simmons gave one lightning glance to his rear and then backed towards the door.

“Don’t make any mistake,” he said. There was a blue gleam in his eyes exactly the color of the shining metal of his weapon.

“Gentlemen,” he said, “I invite you all when in New York to call at my joint, at 2508 Bowery. Ask for Diamond Joe, and you’ll see me. I’m going into Mexico for two weeks to see after my mining plants and I’ll be at home any time after then. Upstairs, 2508 Bowery; don’t forget the number. I generally make my traveling expenses as I go. Good night.”

Mr. Simmons backed quickly out and disappeared.

Five minutes later Captain Richard Saxon Clancy, paymaster (?) for the M. K. & T. Railway Company, and member (?) of the Dallas Young Men’s Christian Association, alias “Jimmy,” stood at a corner bar and said: “Whiskey, old man, and⁠—say get a bigger glass than that, will you? I need it.”

The Wounded Veteran

A party of Northern tourists passed through Houston the other day, and while their train was waiting at the depot an old colored man, with one arm bandaged and hung in an old red handkerchief for a sling, walked along the platform.

“What’s the matter with your arm, uncle?” called out one of the tourists.

“It was hurt in de wah, sah. Hab you any ’bacco you could gib a po’ ole niggah, sah?”

Several of the tourists poked their heads out of the car windows to listen, and in a few moments the old darky had taken up a collection in his hat, consisting of a plug of tobacco, three or four cigars, and sundry nickels, dimes, and quarters.

“How were you wounded?” asked a tourist. “Were you shot in the arm?”

“No, sah; hit wusn’t exac’ by a shot.”

“Piece of shell strike you?”

“No, sah; wusn’t a shell.”

“Bayonet wound, maybe?”

“No, boss, hit wusn’t a bayonet.”

“What battle were you in?”

“Do’ know ef it had a name, but hit was a mighty hot fight while it lasted.”

“Do you draw a pension?”

“No, boss.”

“It seems it would be a charitable act,” said a tourist to the others, “to take this old darky’s name and see that he gets the pension he is certainly entitled to. What is your name, uncle?”

“Mose Atkisson, sah.”

“Now, Mose,” said the tourist, “give me the particulars of the engagement you were in, and the date, and all the information you possess about the manner in which you were wounded, and the government will pay you a nice little sum every three months to help you along.”

“Am dat so, boss?” asked the old darky, his eyes growing big with wonder. “Den I’ll sho tell you about hit. Hit wus jes’ befor’ supper en I was totin’ a big chance ob wood in to make a fiah, when⁠—”

“Never mind about what you did in camp,” said the tourist. “Tell us in which battle of the War of the Rebellion were you engaged.”

“It wusn’t dat wah, boss; it wus de wah wid Spain.”

“What do you mean?”

“Lemme tell you how it wus. I cuts wood and does odd jobs up to Cunnel Wadkinses. Cunnel Wadkins am de bigges’ fighter in de Souf. W’en dis here wah wid Spain cum up in de papers Cunnel Wadkins ’low he gwine ter pulverize de whole Spanish nation. He set all day in de saloon an’ he talk about it, an’ he cum home at meal time an’ he git out his ole’ s’ord, an’ he don’ talk about nuthin’ else.

“Mis’ Susie, de Cunnel’s wife, she suppote de family, an’ she do de cookin’. Las’ Sadday night de Cunnel cum home, an’ he been drinkin’ plenty. Mis’ Susie she look at him an’ shet her mouf tight, an’ say nothin’.

“De Cunnel git out de s’ord an’ ’low dat de day ob recknin’ am cum wid de cruel an’ bloodthusty Spaniards. Mis’ Susie went on fryin’ batter cakes, but Land! don’t I know dat woman gwine ter bus’ things wide open putty soon!

“I fetch in a turn ob wood; de Cunnel he settin’ by de kitchen stobe, kinder rockin’ roun’ in de chur. Es I cum in de do’ Cunnel say: ‘You is treat me col’, Madam, kase I uphol’ de dignity ob de Wadkins fambly. De Wadkinses nebber wuk; dey am solgers an’ am got ter keep ready fur der country’s call.’

“ ‘Treats you col’, does I?’ says Mis’ Susie. ‘Well, den, lemme treat you warm some,’ says she.

“She po’ out of de bilin’ tea-kittle a big pan full ob hot water an’ she fling it all ober de Cunnel. I gits a big lot ob it on dis arm as I was pilin’ de wood in de box, an’ it tuk de skin off, an’ I dun had it wrapped up fo’ days. De Cunnel am in bed yit, but he sw’ar w’en he git up he gwine ter wuk.

“Dat’s how dis here wah wid Spain done up dis ole niggah. ’Bout w’en, boss, will de fus’ payment ob dat penshun git here, do you recum?”

“The ignorance and stupidity,” said the tourist, as he shut down his window, “of the colored man in the South are appalling.”

Her Ruse

“How do I keep John home of nights?” asked a Houston lady of a friend the other day.

“Well, I struck a plan once by a sudden inspiration, and it worked very nicely. John had been in a habit of going downtown every night after supper and staying until ten or eleven o’clock. One night he left as usual, and after going three or four blocks he found he had forgotten his umbrella and came back for it. I was in the sitting room reading, and he slipped in the room on his tiptoes and came up behind me and put his hands over my eyes. John expected me to be very much startled, I suppose, but I only said softly, ‘Is that you, Tom?’ John hasn’t been downtown at night since.”

Why Conductors Are Morose

Street car conductors often have their tempers tried by the inconsiderate portion of the public, but they are not allowed to ease their feelings by “talking back.” One of them related yesterday an occurrence on his line a few days ago.

A very fashionably dressed lady, accompanied by a little boy, was in the car, which was quite full of people. “Conductor,” she said languidly, “let me know when we arrive at Peas Avenue.”

When the car arrived at that street the conductor rang the bell and the car stopped.

“Peas Avenue, ma’am,” he said, climbing off to assist her from the car.

The lady raised the little boy to his knees and pointed out the window at the name of the street which was on a board, nailed to the corner of a fence.

“Look, Freddy,” she said, “that tall, straight letter with a funny little curl at the top is a ‘P.’ Now don’t forget it again. You can go on, conductor; we get off at Gray Street.”

Led Astray

There was no happier family in all Houston than the O’Malleys. Mr. O’Malley held a responsible position in one of our large breweries, and was a thrifty citizen and an indulgent husband and father. His son Pat was part owner of a flourishing little grocery, and also played the E-flat horn in the band that discourses sweet music Sunday afternoons in a building on one of our quietest unpaved avenues.

The light and hope of the family was the youngest daughter, Kathleen, an ebon-haired girl of 19, with Madonna-like features, and eyes as black as the wings of the crow. They lived in a little rose-embowered cottage near the corner where the street car turns.

Kathleen was engaged to be married to Fergus O’Hollihan, a stalwart and handsome young man, who came to see her every night, with exquisitely washed hands and face, and wet hair, brushed down low upon a forehead that did not exactly retreat, but seemed to rather fall back for reinforcements. On Sunday nights Kathleen and Fergus would wander arm in arm over to the Gesundheit Bier Garten, and while the string band in the pavilion played the dear old Fatherland melodies they would sit at a little round table in some dark corner and click glasses in the most friendly and lover-like manner. The marriage was to come off in June, and Kathleen, after the custom of her people, had already prepared her bridal trousseau and housekeeping effects. In her wardrobe were great piles of beautifully embroidered things in fine linen and damask; heaps of table cloths, napkins and towels, and in the big drawers of her bureau were piles of dainty, lace-trimmed garments that Kathleen, being a modest Irish maiden and not a New York millionairess, kept shyly hidden from view, instead of having their description printed in the Post. Kathleen had made these garments herself, working with loving care and patience, and they were intended as a guarantee of good faith, and not for publication. The girls in the neighborhood all envied Kathleen her good luck, for Fergus was a fine-looking young man, and his business was prospering. He could drink more whiskey, tell funnier jokes and sing “The Wearin’ of the Green” so you could hear it farther on a still night than could any other young man of their acquaintance.

So, dark-haired Kathleen was happy, bending over her work with rosy cheeks and smiling lips, while, alas! already the serpent was at work that was to enter her Eden.


One day Kathleen was sitting at her window, half hidden by the climbing honeysuckle vines, when she saw Fergus pass down the street with another man, a low-browed, treacherous-looking person, with shifty eyes and a snakelike manner.

It was with a deep foreboding and a strange sinking of the heart that she recognized Fergus’ companion as a notorious member of the Young Men’s Christian Association of Houston. From that moment Kathleen’s peace of mind fled. When Fergus came to see her that night he seemed abstracted and different. His hand trembled when he took the glass of rye she handed him, and when he sang for her

“Let the huntsman graze his hounds
As the farmer does his grounds,”

that sad and melancholy old song that Irishmen always sing when they feel particularly jolly, his voice sounded plaintive and full of pathos.

Kathleen was far too wise to chide him. She tried to be gay and cheerful, though the change in Fergus made her heart very sad. Again the next day, and once more the following day but one, did she see him with the low-browed tempter that had wrought the change.

Day by day Fergus grew morose and pale. His once jolly and laughing face grew stern and thoughtful. He rarely spoke to anyone, and once when Mr. O’Malley handed him a big schooner from a keg fresh from the brewery, he heaved such a deep and mournful sigh that the foam flew half across the room.

“Kathleen,” said her papa one day, “what’s the matter wid that long-legged omadhaun Fergus? He looks like he was walking over his own grave.”

“Oh, papa,” said Kathleen, bursting into tears, “I do not know, he seems to be full of bayou water.”

Let us follow Fergus and the sinister stranger, and see what spell is upon our hero.


William K. Meeks was a member of the notorious Young Men’s Christian Association. His parents were honest and reputable citizens of Houston, and they had tried to inculcate in him the best principles, and train him to be a good and useful citizen. When about 18 years of age he met a man on the street one night who persuaded him to visit the rooms of the association.

After taking a bath and joining in the singing of a hymn, he was led into a game of checkers by some smooth talking young man, and finally threw all reserve to the winds and without a thought of his mother or his home, sank back into an arm chair and began to read the editorials in a religious newspaper.

After that his progress in the same direction was easy. He cultivated side whiskers and white ties and fell so swiftly into the alluring ways of his companions that no ice cream and strawberry sociable or Evening of Song in the hall of the association was complete without Mr. Meeks. He became what is known as a “capper” for the hall, and many poor wandering young fellows strolling aimlessly about the streets of Houston have good cause to remember the sly, suave, plausible voice of the low-browed William Meeks, as he addressed them in insinuating tones, and invited them to the gorgeously lighted rooms of the Young Men’s Christian Association.

William Meeks had for a long time had his eye upon Fergus O’Hollihan. The innocent straightforwardness of the young Irishman seemed to mark him as an easy prey.

One day he entered Fergus’ store, made some trifling purchase, and then invited him to the hall.

“All right,” said Fergus, “I’ll walk up with you, as trade is a little dull. Hadn’t we better take along a bottle of whiskey to help pass away the time?”

“No,” said William, with a sly smile. “There is no need. We have plenty to drink up there.”

They passed down the street together, and then it was that Kathleen saw them, and the cloud began to gather over her happy young life.

William led Fergus to the door of the steps leading up to the hall, gave a sharp glance around to see whether they were observed, and they ascended the stairs.

“What do you fellows do up there?” asked Fergus, gazing around the hall in wonder.

“We read and sing and pray,” said William. “Now, come over here, Mr. O’Hollihan, I have something to show you.”

William went to a large water cooler in the corner, drew a brimming glass of ice water, and with a cold and cruel smile curling his lips, handed it to Fergus.

Ah, little Kathleen, in thy rose-twined cottage, thy dark eyes have many a tear in waiting. Could love be omnipresent, that sparkling glass of water would be dashed to the floor ere it touched thy lover’s lips!

Fergus took the glass and gazed with wonder at its transparent contents; then seized with some sudden impulse he drained the glass of water to the last drop. As he drank, William Meeks, with a diabolical look of triumph on his face, rubbed his clammy hands together and exulted.

“What is this stuff?” asked Fergus; “this cold, refreshing liquid that with such exquisite freshness thrills through my heated frame? What nectar is this, tasteless, colorless and sweet as the morning air that quenches thirst, and does not excite the senses? Speak, Mr. Meeks, is it to be found elsewhere?”

“It is water,” said William, softly, “and it can be had in plenty.”

“I have often sailed on the bayou,” said Fergus, “and have washed my hands at the hydrant at home, but I have never before seen any water.”

Fergus drank glass after glass from the cooler, and finally suffered William to lead him, reluctant, from the hall.

They parted at the door, and as Fergus went down the street like one in some happy dream, saying softly to himself at intervals: “Water!” “Water!” William Meeks looked after him with a smile of devilish satisfaction upon his dark face.


That evening after he closed the store Fergus started home and suddenly felt an imperious thirst come upon him. He was already a slave to this wonderful new liquid that refreshed him so.

He entered a little corner saloon, where he had been in the habit of stopping to get a drink. The bartender seized a mug and reached for the bottle under the counter.

“Hold on,” said Fergus; “don’t be so fast. Give me a glass of water, please.”

“You owe me ein dollar und five cents,” he said. “Blease, Mr. Hollihan, bay me now pefore you go py yourself too much grazy to him remember, und I pe mooch obliged.”

Fergus then threw the money upon the counter and staggered out of the saloon.

He did not go to see Kathleen that night⁠—he was feeling too badly. He was wandering about in an agony of thirst, when he saw a piece of ice as large as a coconut fall from an ice wagon. He seized it in both hands, and hiding himself behind a pile of lumber sucked the ice greedily, with bloodshot eyes and trembling hands.

After that he kept a jug of water in the store behind some barrels under the counter, and when no one was looking he would stoop down, and holding up the jug, let the cursed stuff that was driving the light from Kathleen’s dark eyes trickle down his burning throat.


It was Kathleen’s wedding night. The parlor of the little cottage was brilliantly lit, and roses and evergreens were draped upon the walls. Cape jessamines filled the house with their delicious perfume and wreaths of white lilies were hung upon picture frames and the backs of chairs. The ceremony was to take place at 9 p.m., and by 7 o’clock the guests had begun to assemble, for the smell of the good things Mrs. O’Malley was cooking pervaded the whole neighborhood.

In the parlor, standing on a trestle decorated with violets and evergreens, stood a keg of whiskey as cold as ice, and on the center table were several beautifully decorated imported glasses, with quite a wedding-like polish upon their shining sides.

Kathleen’s heart grew lighter as the hour approached. “When Fergus is mine,” she said to herself, “I will be so loving and sweet to him that this strange melancholy will leave him. If it doesn’t, I will pull his hair out.”

The minutes crept by, and at half past eight, Kathleen, blushing and timid-eyed, and looking like the Lorelei that charmed men’s souls from their bodies on the purple heights of the Rhine, took her stand by the keg, and shyly drew for her father’s guests glass after glass of the ruby liquid, scarcely less red than the glow upon her own fair cheek.

At a quarter to nine Fergus had not come, and all hands began to grow anxious.

At ten minutes to nine, Mr. O’Malley brought in his shotgun and carefully loaded it. Kathleen burst into tears.

Where was Fergus O’Hollihan?


In the garish halls of the Young Men’s Christian Association were gathered a group of gay young men.

Little do the majority of our citizens know what scenes go on in places of this kind. Our police well know that these resorts exist, but such is our system of city government that rarely do the guardians of peace set foot in establishments of the kind. Two or three young men were playing checkers, feverishly crowning the kings of their opponents, and watching the board with that hollow-eyed absorption and compressed lips so often noted in men of that class. Another played upon the guitar, while in a corner harsh ribald laughter broke from the lips of a man who was reading the Austin Statesman.

At a little table at one side of the room sat Fergus O’Hollihan and William Meeks. Before them, on a waiter, were two large glasses of ice water. William Meeks was speaking in a low, treacherous voice, and Fergus was listening with an abandoned and reckless look upon his face.

“Sobriety,” said William, insinuatingly, as his snaky eyes were fixed upon the open and ingenious countenance of Fergus, “sobriety is one of our cardinal virtues. Why should a man debase himself, destroy his brain, deaden his conscience and forge chains that eventually will clog his best efforts and ruin his fondest hopes? Let us be men and live temperate and cleanly lives. Believe me, Mr. O’Hollihan, it is the better plan.”

Fergus’ unsteady hand went out to the glass of water and he tossed it down his throat. “More,” he gasped, gazing with feverish eyes. A member of the association in passing by stopped and laid his hand on William’s shoulder.

“Old man,” he said in a whisper, “the boys know you’ve struck a soft thing, but don’t carry it too far. We don’t want to have to bore another artesian well.”

William shot a glance of displeasure at the young man, and he went away.

Just then a quartette began to sing “Come, Thou Fount,” and Fergus, forgetting all his associations and best impulses, joined in with his strong tenor, and William Meeks’ face wore a look of fiendish gloating.

At this moment Kathleen was weeping in her mother’s arms. Mr. O’Malley was just ramming down the wad on the buckshot in his gun, and the beautiful wedding supper was growing cold upon the banquet table.

Suddenly in the street before the hall a brass band began to play an air that was Kathleen’s favorite. It brought Fergus to his senses. He sprang to his feet and overturned the table and William Meeks. William sprang to his feet, rushed to the cooler and drawing a glass of water thrust it into Fergus’ hands. Fergus hurled the glass to the floor and made a dash for the door. The secretary of the association met him there with the water hose and turned it full in his face. Fergus shut his mouth tightly, put the secretary to sleep with one on the point of his chin, and dashed down the stairs into the street.


As the clock struck nine, Mr. O’Malley placed two caps on his gun and one upon his head and started to find his son-in-law elect. The door burst open and Fergus rushed in. Kathleen ran to meet him with open arms, but he waved her sternly aside.

“I have first,” he said, “a duty to perform.” He knelt before the whiskey keg, closed his mouth over the faucet and turned on the handle.

Sing, happy birds, in the green trees, but your songs make not half the melody that ripples in the glad heart of little Kathleen.

When Fergus arose from the keg, he was the same old Fergus once more. He gathered his bride to his heart, and Mr. O’Malley fired both barrels of his gun into the ceiling with joy. Fergus was rescued.

The Mirage on the Frio

The sheep man rejected the offer of a match, and lit his pipe from a burning brand. We were down on Buffalo Bayou fishing, and had cooked and eaten supper. Fried fresh fish, coffee, corn bread, potatoes, and just enough crisp bacon to flavor gave us a supper at which none murmured.

We reclined at ease and worshipped the goddess Nicotine. The moon made a glory in the eastern sky and spread a white shimmering glamour upon the black water of the bayou. A phantom tug crept down stream, leaving a ghostly, wavering silver wake, and a mysterious lapping and washing along the unseen shores. Mosquitoes hummed angrily about the borders of the hanging cloud of tobacco smoke. A dank fresh smell arose from bursting buds and wild flowers. We five sat in the chiaroscuro of the live oaks and cypresses, and babbled as most men and all women will when Night, the tongue loosener, succeeds the discrete Day.

Night should be held responsible for poets, breach of promise suits, betrayed secrets and dull stories. The man who will not tell more than he knows in the moonlight of a spring night is a rarity. Four of us were more or less hardened to moonlight and roses; one among us was young enough to note the soft effect of Luna’s kiss upon the dim tree tops, the aerial perspective of the drifting gulf clouds, and the dim white eyes of the dogwood blossoms peering out of the wooded darkness. He noted and spake his thoughts without stint of adjectives, while we world-worn passengers grunted in reply; puffed at our cigars and pipes, and refused to commit ourselves on such trifling matters.

“Isn’t it beautiful?” asked the young man. “The sky like the derne of some dream temple, the woods dark with mystery and the silence broken only by the faint breathing of nature.”

“It’s nice, and no mistake,” answered the insurance agent, “but let me tell you, I’ve known men to plant the seeds of incurable disease along this old bayou. Feel that dampness rising every minute? A fellow never knows what is going to happen. Especially a man with a family dependent on him should⁠—”

“Shut up,” snapped the druggist. “For talking shop, recommend me to a man in your line. This is a pleasure trip we are on, and I have to have it spoiled by ringing in business. Talk about your malaria, why, two bottles of my⁠—”

“There you go, just as bad,” said the lawyer. “You fellows have run in the same old rut so long you can’t get your minds on anything else. Put me on the witness stand, and I’ll swear that I never mention my own business outside of my office; if I don’t, kick me clean out of court.”

“This night,” said the sheep man, “reminds me of the night I was lost in the brush along the Frio. That was the night before the morning I seen the mi-ridge.”

“The⁠—ah⁠—oh! the mirage?” said the young man.

“No,” said the sheep man, “it wasn’t no mi-rosh; this was a mi-ridge, and the plainest one I ever seen. They happened somethin’ queer about this one, too, and I don’t often tell it, after seein’ that incredoolity generally waits upon the relatin’ of it.”


“Light up,” said the druggist, reaching for the tobacco sack, “and let us have your yarn. There are very few things a man can’t believe nowadays.”

“It was in the fall of ’80,” said the sheep man, “when I was runnin’ sheep in La Salle County. There came a norther that scattered my flock of 1500 muttons to thunderation. The shepherd couldn’t hold ’em and they split up right and left, through the chaparral. I got on my hoss and hunted all one day, and I rounded up the biggest part of ’em during the afternoon. I seen a Mexican ridin’ along what told me they was a big ’tajo of ’em down near the Palo Blanco crossin’ of the Frio. I rode over that way, and when sundown come I was down in a big mesquite flat, where I couldn’t see fifty yards before me any ways. Well, I got lost. For some four or five hours my pony stumbled around in the sacuista grass, windin’ about this way and that, without knowin’ any more than I did where he was at. ’Bout 12 o’clock I give it up, staked my pony and laid down under my saddle blanket to wait till mornin’. I was awful worried about my wife and the kid, who was by themselves on the ranch, for I knew they’d be scared half to death. There wasn’t much to be afraid of, but you know how women folks are when night comes, ’specially when they wasn’t any neighbor in ten miles of ’em.


“I was up at daylight, and soon as I’d got my bearin’s I knowed just where I was. Right where I was I seen the Fort Ewell road, and a big dead elm on one side that I knew. I was just eighteen miles from my ranch. I jumped in the saddle, when all at once, looking across the Frio towards home, I seen this mi-ridge. These mi-ridges are sure wonderful. I never seen but three or four. It was a kind of misty mornin’, with woolly gulf clouds a-flyin’ across, and the hollows was all hazy. I seen my ranch house, shearin’ pen, the fences with saddles hangin’ on ’em, the wood pile, with the ax stickin’ in a log, and everything about the yard as plain as if they was only 200 yards away, and I was lookin’ at ’em on a foggy mornin’. Everything looked somewhat ghostly like, and a little taller and bigger than it really was, but I could see even the white curtains at the windows and the pet sheep grazin’ ’round the corral. It made me feel funny to see everything so close, when I knew I was eighteen miles away.

“All to once I seen the door open, and wife come out with the kid in her arms. It was all I could do to keep from hollerin’ at her. You bet, I was glad to see her anyhow, and know they was all safe. Just then I seen somethin’ big and black a-movin’, and it growed plainer, like it had kinder come into focus, and it was a Mexican with a broad-brimmed sombrero, on a hoss what rode up to the fence. He stopped there a minute and then I seen my wife run into the house and shut the door. I seen the Mexican jump off his hoss, try the door, and then go and get the ax at the wood pile. He came back and commenced to split down the door. The mi-ridge commenced to get dimmer and faint like. I don’t know what made me do such a fool thing, but I couldn’t help it. I jerked my Winchester out’n its scabbard, drawed a bead on the darned scoundrel and fired. Then I cussed myself for an idiot, for tryin’ to shoot somethin’ eighteen miles away, jabbed my Winchester back in the scabbard, stuck my spurs in my broncho, and split through the brush like a roadrunner after a rattlesnake.


“I made that eighteen miles in eighty minutes. I never took the road, but crashed through the chaparral, jumped prickly pear and arroyo just as they come. When I got to the ranch I fell off my pony, and he leaned up against the fence streamin’ wet and lookin’ at me mighty reproachful. I never breathed in jumpin’ from the fence to the back door. I clattered up the steps and yelled for Sallie, but my voice sounded to me like somebody else’s, ’way off. The door opened and out tumbled the wife and the kid, all right, but scared as wild ducks. ‘Oh, Jim,’ says the wife, ‘where, oh where have you been? A drunken Mexican attacked the house this morning and tried to cut down the door with an ax.’ I tried to ask some questions, but I couldn’t. ‘Look,’ says Sallie.

“The other door was busted all to pieces and the ax was lyin’ on the step, and the Mexican was lyin’ on the ground and a Winchester ball had passed clear through his head.”

“Who shot him?” asked the lawyer.

“I’ve told you all I know,” said the sheep man. “Sallie said the man dropped all of a sudden while he was choppin’ at the door, and she never heard no gun shoot. I don’t pretend to explain nothin’, I’m telling you what happened. You might say somebody in the brush seen him breakin’ in the door and shot him, usin’ noiseless powder, and then slipped away without leavin’ his card, or you might say you don’t know nothin’ at all about it, as I do.”

“Do you think⁠—” began the young man.

“No, I don’t think,” said the sheep man, rather shortly. “I said I’d tell you about the mi-ridge I seen, and I told you just as it happened. Is they any coffee left in that pot?”

The Legend of San Jacinto

The Hermit of the Battle Ground Relates an Ancient Tradition to a Post Man

The battle ground of San Jacinto is a historic spot, very dear to those who make the past reputation of Texas a personal matter. A Texan who does not thrill at the mention of the locality where General Sam Houston and other gentlemen named after the counties of Texas, captured Santa Anna and his portable bar and side arms, is a baseborn slave.

A few days ago a Post reporter who has a friend who is a pilot on the tug boat Hoodoo Jane went down the bayou to the battle ground with the intention of gathering from some of the old inhabitants a few of the stories and legends that are so plentiful concerning the events that occurred on that memorable spot.

The Hoodoo Jane let the reporter off at the battle ground, which is on the bank of the bayou, and he wandered about under the thick grove of trees and then out upon the low flat country where the famous battle is said to have raged. Down under a little bunch of elm trees was a little cabin, and the reporter wandered thither in the hope of finding an old inhabitant.

A venerable man emerged from the cabin, apparently between 15 and 80 years of age, with long white hair and silvery beard.

“Come hither, youth,” he said. “Would’st know the legend of this place? Then cross my palm with silver, and I’ll tell it thee.”

“Good father,” said the reporter, “Gramercy, and by my halidome, and Got wot, as you love me, ask me not for silver, but even fire away with your old legend.”

“Then sit you here,” said the hermit, “and I will tell you the legend of the battle ground of San Jacinto.

“A great many years ago, when these silver locks of mine were dark and my step as quick and blithe as thine, my mother told me this tale. How well I remember the day. It was twilight, and the evening shadows were growing long under the trees. She laid her hand upon my head and said:


“ ‘My boy, I will tell you the legend of San Jacinto. It is a beautiful story, and was told to me by my father, who was one of the earliest settlers in the State. Ah! what a man he was⁠—six feet in height, sinewy as an oaken withe, and as bold as a lion. One day, I remember, he came home after a long, hard fight with the Indians. He took me on his knee as gently as a woman would, this great strong father of mine, and said:

“ ‘ “Listen, little Sunbeam, and I will tell you the grand old story of San Jacinto. It is a legend known to few. It will make your bright eyes dance in your head with wonder. I heard it from my uncle, who was a strange man, and held in dread by all who knew him. One night when the moon was going down in the west and the big owls were hooting mournfully in the woods, he pointed out to me that great grove of trees on the bayou’s bank, and taking me by the arm whispered: ‘Do you see them, lad, do you see them?’

“ ‘ “It was almost dark where we stood alone in the deep grass, and the wind made strange sounds as it swept across the flat.

“ ‘ “ ‘I have never breathed to a mortal a word of this story, lad,’ said my uncle, ‘but it must out. Listen; when I was a child my grandmother told me the legend of San Jacinto. The next day she died. She told it to me at midnight on this very spot. There was a storm raging, and the furious wind beat us under this old oak for shelter. My grandmother’s eyes, ordinarily so dim and weak, blazed like stars. She seemed fifty years younger as she raised her trembling hand towards the old battle ground and said:

“ ‘ “ ‘ “Child, for the first time in many years a human tongue is about to reveal the secret that this silent spot holds in its eternal bosom. I will now tell you the legend of San Jacinto as told me by my father’s half-brother. He was a silent, moody man, fond of reading and solitary walks. One day I found him weeping. When he saw me he brushed the tears away from his eyes and said gently:


“ ‘ “ ‘ “ ‘Is that you, little one? Come and I will tell you something that I have kept locked in my breast for many a year. There is a mournful legend connected with this spot that must be told. Sit by my side, and I will tell it you. I had it from my grandmother’s sister, who was a well known character in her day. How well I remember her words. She was a gentle and lovely woman, and her sweet and musical tones added interest to the quaint and beautiful legend.

“ ‘ “ ‘ “ ‘ “Once upon a time,” she said, “I was riding with my uncle’s stepfather across this valley, when he gazed upon that grove of trees and said:

“ ‘ “ ‘ “ ‘ “ ‘Have you ever heard the legend of San Jacinto?’

“ ‘ “ ‘ “ ‘ “ ‘Nay,’ I said.

“ ‘ “ ‘ “ ‘ “ ‘I will tell it thee,’ he said. ‘Many years ago when I was a lad, my father and I stopped in the shade there to rest. The sun was just setting, and he pointed to the spot and said:

“ ‘ “ ‘ “ ‘ “ ‘ “My son, I am growing old and will not be with you long. There is an old legend connected with this ground, and I feel that it should be told you. A long time ago, before you were born my grandfather one day⁠—” ’ ” ’ ” ’ ” ’ ”

“See here, you old blatherskite,” said the Post reporter, “you’ve got this story back about 600 years before the Pontius Pilate’s time now. Don’t you know a news item from an inscription on the pyramids? Our paper doesn’t use plate matter. Why don’t you work this gag of yours off on the syndicates?”

The aged hermit then frowned and reached under his coat tail, and the reporter ran swiftly, but in a dignified manner, to the Hoodoo Jane and embarked. But there is a legend about the San Jacinto battle ground somewhere in the neighborhood, if one could only get at it.

In Mezzotint

The doctor had long ago ceased his hospital practice, but whenever there was a case of special interest among the wards, his spirited team of bays was sure to be seen standing at the hospital gates. Young, handsome, at the head of his profession, possessing an ample income, and married but six months to a beautiful girl who adored him, his lot was certainly one to be envied.

It must have been nine o’clock when he reached home. The stableman took the team, and he ran up the steps lightly. The door opened, and Doris’s arms were flung tightly about his neck, and her wet cheek pressed to his.

“Oh, Ralph,” she said, her voice quivering and plaintive, “you are so late. You can’t think how I miss you when you don’t come at the usual hour. I’ve kept supper warm for you. I’m so jealous of those patients of yours⁠—they keep you from me so much.”

“How fresh and sweet and wholesome you are, after the sights I have to see,” he said, smiling down at her girlish face with the airy confidence of a man who knows himself well beloved. “Now, pour my coffee, little one, while I go up and change clothes.”

After supper he sat in the library in his favorite arm chair, and she sat in her especial place upon the arm of the chair and held a match for him to light his cigar. She seemed so glad to have him with her; every touch was a caress, and every word she spoke had that lingering, loving drawl that a woman uses to but one man⁠—at a time.

“I lost my case of cerebrospinal meningitis tonight,” he said gravely.

“I have you, and I don’t have you,” she said. “Your thoughts are always with your profession, even when I think you are most mine. Ah, well,” with a sigh, “you help the suffering, and I would see all that suffer relieved or else like your cerebro⁠—what is it?⁠—patient, at rest.”

“A queer case, too,” said the doctor, patting his wife’s hand and gazing into the clouds of cigar smoke. “He should have recovered. I had him cured, and he died on my hands without any warning. Ungrateful, too, for I treated that case beautifully. Confound the fellow. I believe he wanted to die. Some nonsensical romance worried him into a fever.”

“A romance? Oh, Ralph, tell it to me. Just think! A romance in a hospital.”

“He tried to tell it to me this morning in snatches between paroxysms of pain. He was bending backward till his head almost touched his heels, and his ribs were nearly cracking, yet he managed to convey something of his life story.”

“Oh, how horrible,” said the doctor’s wife, slipping her arm between his neck and the chair.

“It seems,” went on the doctor, “as well as I could gather, that some girl had discarded him to marry a more well-to-do man, and he lost hope and interest in life, and went to the dogs. No, he refused to tell her name. There was a great pride in that meningitis case. He lied like an angel about his own name, and he gave his watch to the nurse and spoke to her as he would to a queen. I don’t believe I ever will forgive him for dying, for I worked the next thing to a miracle on him. Well, he died this morning, and⁠—let me get a match⁠—oh, yes, here’s a little thing in my pocket he gave me to have buried with him. He told me about starting to a concert with this girl one night, and they decided not to go in, but take a moonlight walk instead. She tore the ticket in two pieces, and gave him one-half and kept the other. Here’s his half, this little red piece of pasteboard with the word ‘Admit⁠—’ printed on it. Look out, little one⁠—that old chair arm is so slippery. Hurt you?”

“No, Ralph. I’m not so easy hurt. What do you think love is, Ralph?”

“Love? Little one! Oh, love is undoubtedly a species of mild insanity. An overbalance of the brain that leads to an abnormal state. It is as much a disease as measles, but as yet, sentimentalists refuse to hand it over to us doctors of medicine for treatment.”

His wife took the half of the little red ticket and held it up. “Admit⁠—” she said, with a little laugh. “I suppose by this time he’s admitted somewhere, isn’t he, Ralph?”

“Somewhere,” said the doctor, lighting his cigar afresh.

“Finish your cigar, Ralph, and then come up,” she said. “I’m a little tired, and I’ll wait for you above.”

“All right, little one,” said the doctor. “Pleasant dreams!” He smoked the cigar out, and then lit another.

It was nearly eleven when he went upstairs.

The light in his wife’s room was turned low, and she lay upon her bed undressed. As he stepped to her side and raised her hand, some steel instrument fell and jingled upon the floor, and he saw upon the white countenance a creeping red horror that froze his blood.

He sprang to the lamp and turned up the blaze. As he parted his lips to send forth a shout, he paused for a moment, with his eyes upon his dead patient’s half ticket that lay upon the table. The other half had been neatly fitted to it, and it now read:

Admit Two

Whiskey Did It

A solemn philanthropist was standing at a corner of the Market House square yesterday making a calculation in his head as to how long it would take a man to save enough beer money to build Solomon’s temple. While he was musing, a small, slender policeman with a fiery eye came along, dragging by the wrist a big negro man about twice as large as himself.

The policeman stopped for a moment on the steps to rest, and the philanthropist, with a pitying glance, said to the negro:

“My colored friend, what has been the cause of your coming to such a sorry plight? To what do you attribute your downfall into the clutches of the law?”

“Whisky, boss,” said the negro, rolling his eyes wildly at the officer.

“Ah, I thought so,” said the philanthropist, taking out his note book. “I am making a memorandum of your case for the benefit of some other poor wretch who is also struggling with the demon. Now, how did whisky bring you to this condition?”

“It done it in dis way,” said the negro, ducking his head as the policeman raised his hand to brush a fly off his nose. “I is one ob de wust niggers in dis town, en dey don’t no policeman got sand ’nuff to try en ’rest me fo’ de last two years. Dis mawnin’ dis here mis’able little dried-up ossifer what’s got me, goes out an’ fills hisse’f up wid mean whisky till he ain’t know what danger he am in, an’ he come an’ scoop me up. Dis little runt wid brass buttons wouldn’t er tetch me ef he ain’t plum full er whisky. Yes, boss, de whisky am done it, an’ nuffin’ else.”

The philanthropist put up his note book and walked away, while the officer whacked the negro over the head a couple of times with his club and dragged him down the steps, exclaiming:

“Come along ’n shuzzer mouse, you blacksh rascal. Strongarm e’r law gossher zis time, ’n no mistake.”

A Strange Case

A Post reporter met a young Houston physician the other afternoon, with whom he is well acquainted, and suggested that they go into a neighboring café and partake of a cooling lemonade. The physician agreed, and they were soon seated at a little table in a quiet corner, under an electric fan. After the physician had paid for the lemonade, the reporter turned the conversation upon his practice, and asked if he did not meet with some strange cases in his experience.

“Yes, indeed,” said the doctor, “many that professional etiquette will not allow me to mention, and others that involve no especial secrecy, but are quite as curious in their way. I had one case only a few weeks ago that I considered very unusual, and without giving names, I think I can relate it to you.”

“By all means do so,” said the reporter, “and while you are telling it, let us have another lemonade.” The young physician looked serious at this proposition, but after searching in his pocket and finding another quarter he assented.

“About a week ago,” he began, “I was sitting in my office, hoping for a patient to come in, when I heard footsteps, and looking up, saw a beautiful young lady enter the room. She advanced at the most curious gait I ever beheld in one so charming. She staggered from side to side and lurched one way and another, succeeding only by a supreme effort in reaching the chair I placed for her. Her face was very lovely, but showed signs of sadness and melancholy.

“ ‘Doctor,’ she said, in a very sweet, but sorrowful voice, ‘I want to consult you about my condition, and as it is a most unusual affection, I will have to trouble you to listen to a no doubt tedious discourse upon my family history.’

“ ‘Madam,’ said I, ‘my time is yours. Anything you have to say that will throw light upon your trouble will, of course, benefit me in my diagnosis.’

“She thanked me with a smile that for a moment erased the sad lines from her face.

“ ‘My father,’ she said, ‘was one of the Adamses of Eastern Texas. You have doubtless heard of the family.’

“ ‘Perhaps so,’ I replied, ‘but there are so many families by the name of Adams that⁠—’

“ ‘It is of no consequence,’ she continued with a little wave of her hand. ‘Fifty years ago a violent feud broke out between my grandfather’s family and another family of old Texas settlers named Redmond. The bloodshed and inhumanities exchanged between the people of each side would fill volumes. The horrors of the old Kentucky and West Virginia feuds were repeated by them. An Adams would shoot a Redmond from behind a fence, at his table while eating, in a church, or anywhere; and a Redmond would murder an Adams in like manner. The most violent hatred imaginable existed between them. They poisoned each other’s wells, they killed each other’s stock, and if an Adams met a Redmond, only one would leave the spot. The children of each family were taught to hate the others from the time they could speak, and so the legacy of antipathy was handed down from father to son and from mother to daughter. For thirty years this battle raged between them, and one by one the death-dealing rifle and revolver thinned the families until one day just twenty years ago there remained but a single representative of each family, Lemuel Adams and Louisa Redmond. They were both young and handsome, and at their first meeting forgot the ancient feud of their families and loved each other. They married at once, and thus ended the great Adams-Redmond feud. But, alas, sir, the inherited discord and hatred of so many years’ standing was destined to rebound upon an innocent victim.’

“ ‘I was the child of that marriage, and the Adams and Redmond blood would not mingle. As a babe I was like any other, and was even considered unusually prepossessing.’

“ ‘I can well believe that, madam,’ I interrupted.

“The lady colored slightly and went on: ‘As I grew older a strange warring and many adverse impulses began to sway me. Every thought or movement I made was met by a contradictory one. It was the result of hereditary antagonism. Half of me was Adams and the other half Redmond. If I attempted to look at an object, one of my eyes would gaze in another direction. If I tried to salt a potato while eating, the other hand would involuntarily reach out and sprinkle it with sugar.

“ ‘Hundreds of times while playing the piano, while one hand would strike the notes of a lovely Beethoven sonata, I could not keep the other from pounding out “Over the Garden Wall,” or “The Skidmore Guards.” The Adams and the Redmond blood would not flow in harmony. If I went into an ice cream saloon, I would order a vanilla cream in spite of myself, when my very soul was clamoring for lemon. Many a time I would strive with every nerve to disrobe for the night, and the opposing influence would be so strong that I have instead put on my finest and most elaborate clothing and retired with my shoes on. Have you ever met with a similar case, doctor?’

“ ‘Never,’ I said. ‘It is indeed remarkable. And you have never succeeded in overcoming the adverse tendency?’

“Oh, yes. By constant efforts and daily exercise I have succeeded so far that it troubles me now in one respect only. With one exception I am now entirely released from its influence. It is my locomotion that is affected. My l-lower limbs refuse to coincide in their movements. If I try to walk in a certain direction, one⁠—one of them will take the step I desire, and the other tries to go by an entirely different route. It seems that one l⁠—one of them is Adams, and the other Redmond. Absolutely the only time when they agree is when I ride a bicycle, and as one goes up when the other is going down, their opposite movements of course facilitate my progress; but when endeavoring to walk I find them utterly unmanageable. You observed my entrance into this room. Is there anything you can do for me, doctor?’

“ ‘Your case is indeed a strange one,’ I said. ‘I will consider the situation, and if you will call tomorrow at 10 o’clock I will prescribe for you.’

“She rose from her chair, and I assisted her down the stairs to her carriage, which waited below. Such a sprawling, ungainly, mixed up walk I never saw before.

“I meditated over her case for a long time that night and consulted all the authorities on locomotor ataxia, and diseases of the muscles, that I could find. I found nothing covering her case, and about midnight I wandered out along the streets for a breath of cool air. I passed a store kept by an old German whom I knew, and dropped in to speak a word with him. I had noticed some time before two tame deer he kept running about in a paddock in his yard. I asked him about them. He told me that they had been fighting, and had not been able to agree, so he had separated them, placing each one in a separate yard. Of a sudden an idea came to me.

“The next day at ten the young lady came to my office. I had a prescription ready for her. I gave it to her, she read it, flushed and was inclined to be angry.

“ ‘Try it, madam,’ I said.

“She agreed to do so, and only yesterday I saw her on the street, walking as gracefully and easily as any lady in the city.”

“What was your prescription?” asked the reporter.

“It was simply to wear a pair of bloomers,” said the young physician. “You see by separating the opposing factions harmony was restored. The Adams and the Redmond divisions no longer clashed, and the cure of the patient was complete. Let me see,” continued the physician, “it is nearly half past seven, and I have an engagement to call upon her at eight. In confidence, I may say that she has consented to change her name to mine at an early date. I would not have you repeat what I have told you, of course.”

“To be sure, I will not,” said the reporter. “But won’t you take another lemo⁠—”

“No, no, thank you,” said the doctor, rising hurriedly, “I must go. Good evening. I will see you again in a few days.”

How Willie Saved Father

Willie Flint was a little Houston boy, six years of age. He was a beautiful child, with long golden curls and wondering, innocent blue eyes. His father was a respectable, sober citizen, who owned four or five large business buildings on Main Street. All day long Mr. Flint toiled among his renters, collecting what was due him, patching up broken window panes, nailing down loose boards and repairing places where the plastering had fallen off. At noon he would sit down upon the stairs of one of his buildings and eat the frugal dinner he had brought, wrapped up in a piece of newspaper, and think about the hard times. Gay and elegantly attired clerks and business men would pass up and down the stairs, but Mr. Flint did not envy them. He lived in a little cottage near the large trash pile known as “Tomato Can Heights,” on one of the principal residence streets of Houston. He was perfectly contented to live there with his wife and little boy Willie, and eat his frugal but wholesome fare and draw his $1,400 per month rent for his buildings. He was industrious and temperate, and hardly a day passed that he did not raise the rent of some of his offices, and lay by a few more dollars for a rainy day.

One night Mr. Flint came home ill. He had been pasting up some cheap green wall paper on an empty stomach, or rather on the wall of one of his stores without eating, and it had not agreed with him. He went to bed flushed with fever, muttering: “God help my poor wife and child! What will become of them now?”

Mr. Flint sent Willie to the other side of the room and drew a roll of greenbacks from under his pillow.

“Take this,” he said to his wife, “to the bank and deposit it. There is only $900 there. Some of my renters have not paid me yet, and five of them want awnings put up at the windows. He who sent the ravens to feed Elijah will provide for us. Come by the baker’s and get a nickel loaf of bread, and then hurry back and pray.”

Willie was pretending to play with his Noah’s ark, by charging the animals for rent and water, and adding the amounts on his slate, but he heard what his father said.

As his mother went out, he asked: “Mamma, is papa too sick to work?”

“Yes, dear,” said Mrs. Flint; “he has a high fever, and I fear will be very ill.”

After his mother had gone Willie put on his hat and slipped out the front door.

“I want to do something to help my good, kind papa, who is sick,” he said to himself.

He wandered up to Main Street and stood looking at the tall buildings that his poor father owned.

Passersby smiled when they saw the little flaxen-haired boy, and many a rough face softened at the sight of his innocent blue eyes.

Poor little Willie. What could he do in the great, busy city to help his sick father?

“I know what I will do,” he said to himself presently. “I will go up and raise the rent of several offices and that will make my papa feel better.”

Willie toiled up three flights of stairs of one of his father’s largest buildings. He had to sit down quite often and rest, for he was short on wind.

Away up to the third story was an office rented by two young men who had just begun to practice law. They had their sign out, and had given their note to Mr. Flint for the first month’s rent. As Willie climbed the stairs the young lawyers were eating some cheese and crackers, with their feet on their desks, and six empty quart beer bottles stood upon a table. They were breathing hard, and one of them, who had a magnolia in his buttonhole, was telling a funny story about a girl.

Presently one of them took his feet off his desk, opened his eyes and said:

“Jeeminy! Bob, get onto his Fauntleroyets.”

The gentleman addressed as Bob also took his feet down, wiped his knife, with which he had been slicing cheese, on his hair, and looked around.

A little blue-eyed boy with long golden curls stood in the doorway.

“Come in, sissy,” said one of the young men.

Willie walked boldly into the room.

“I’m not a girl,” he said. “My name is Willie Flint, and I’ve come to raise the rent.”

“Now, that’s kind of you, Willie,” said the young man called Bob, “to come and do that, for we couldn’t do it if we were to be electrocuted. Is that your own hair, Willie, or do you ride a bicycle?”

“Don’t worry the little boy,” said the other young gentleman, whom Bob addressed as Sam. “I’m sure that this is a nice little boy. I say, Willie, did you ever hear a gumdrop?”

“Don’t tease him,” said Bob severely. “He reminds me of someone⁠—excuse my tears⁠—those curls, those bloomers. Say, Willie, speak quick, my child⁠—two hundred and ten years ago, were you standing⁠—”

“Oh, let him alone,” said Sam, frowning at the other young gentleman. “Willie, as a personal favor, would you mind weeping a while on the floor? I am overcome by ennui, and would be moved to joy.”

“My papa is very ill,” said Willie, bravely forcing back his tears, “and something must be done for him. Please, kind gentleman, let me raise the rent of this office so I can go back and tell him and make him better.”

“It’s old Flint’s kid,” said Bob. “Don’t he make your face wide? Say, Willie, how much do you want to raise the rent?”

“What do you pay now?” asked Willie.

“Ten dollars a month.”

“Could you make it twelve?”

“Call it fifty,” said Sam, lighting a black cigar, “at ninety days, and open the beer, Willie, and it’s a deal.”

“Don’t talk nonsense,” said Bob. “I say, Willie, you may raise the rent to twenty dollars if you like, and run and tell your father, if it will do him any good.”

“Oh, thank you,” cried Willie, and he ran home with a light heart, singing merrily.

When he got home he found Mr. Flint sinking fast and muttering something about giving his wife a ten-dollar bill.

“He is out of his head,” said Mrs. Flint, bursting into tears.

Willie ran to the bed and whispered to his father’s ear: “Papa, I have raised the rent of one of your offices from ten to twenty dollars.”

“You, my child!” said his father, laying his hand on Willie’s head. “God bless my brave little boy.”

Mr. Flint sank into a peaceful slumber and his fever left him. The next day he was able to sit up, and feeling much stronger, when Willie told him whose rent it was he had raised.

Mr. Flint then fell dead.

Alas! messieurs, life is full of disappointments!

Veriton Villa

The following story of Southern life and manners won a prize offered by a Boston newspaper, and was written by a young lady in Boston, a teacher in one of the advanced schools of that city. She has never visited the South, but the faithful local color and character drawing shows an intimate acquaintance with the works of Mrs. H. B. Stowe, Albion W. Tourgee and other well known chroniclers of Southern life. Everyone living in the South will recognize the accurate portraits of Southern types of character and realistic description of life among the Southern planters.

“Will you go, Penelope?” asked Cyrus.

“It is my duty,” I said. “It is a grand mission to go to Texas and carry what light I can to its benighted inhabitants. The school I am offered will pay me well, and if I can teach the savage people of that region something of our culture and refinement, I shall be happy.”

“Well, then, goodbye,” said Cyrus, offering me his hand.

I had never seen him so passionately aroused.

I took his hand for a second and then got upon the train that was to bear me to my new field of duty.

Cyrus and I had been engaged to be married for fifteen years. He was professor of chemistry in the Massachusetts State University. I had received an offer of $40 a month to teach a private school in a little town in Texas, and had accepted it. Cyrus received $20 per month from his chair in the university. He had waited for fifteen years for me to save up enough money for us to get married. I seized this chance in Texas, resolved to live economically, and in fifteen more years, if I kept the school that long, we could marry.

My board was to cost me nothing, as the DeVeres, one of the oldest and most aristocratic families anywhere in the South, offered me a place in their home. There were several children in the family, and they were anxious to secure a competent teacher for the little school which they attended.

The station where I got off was called Houston, and I found there a team waiting to convey me to Vereton, the little town six miles away, which was my destination.

The driver was a colored man, who approached me and asked respectfully if I was Miss Cook. My trunk was placed in the vehicle, which was an old rickety ambulance drawn by a pair of wretched mules, and I mounted beside the driver, whose name, he said, was Pete.

While we were driving along a shady road, Pete suddenly burst into tears and sobbed as if his heart were breaking.

“My friend,” said I, “will you not tell me what is the matter?”

“Ah, missie,” he said between sobs, “I happen to look at dat busted link hangin’ down from dat trace chain en it remind me of Massa Linkum what am in heb’n, what gib us po’ slaves freedom.”

“Pete,” said I, “do not weep. In the mansions of the blessed above, your godlike liberator awaits you. Singing among the hosts of heaven, Abraham Lincoln wears the brightest crown of glory.”

I laid my arm gently across Pete’s shoulder.

The poor, softhearted, grateful man, whose dark skin covered a heart as pure as snow, still sobbed at the remembrance of the martyred Lincoln, and I made him lay his head upon my breast, where he sobbed unrestrainedly as I drove the mules myself the rest of the way to Vereton.


Vereton was a typical Southern home. I had been informed that the DeVere family were still very wealthy, in spite of having lost a great deal during the rebellion, and that they still lived in the true aristocratic planter style.

The house was two-storied and square, with big white pillars in front. Large verandahs ran entirely around the house, about which climbed dense masses of ivy and honeysuckle.

As I alighted from the ambulance, I heard a chattering and saw a large mule run out the front door, driven by a lady with a broom. The mule lay down on the verandah and the lady advanced to meet me.

“Ah you Miss Cook?” she asked, in the soft slurring accent.

I bowed.

“Ah am Mrs. DeVere,” she said. “Come in, and look out for that dam mule. I can’t keep him out of the house.”

I went in the parlor and looked about me in amazement. The room was magnificently furnished, but I could see the Southern sloth and carelessness visible everywhere. A wheelbarrow full of dried mortar stood in one corner that had been left there when the masons built the house. Five or six chickens were roosting on the piano and a pair of pants were hanging on the chandelier.

Mrs. DeVere had a pale, aristocratic face, with Grecian features, and snowy hair arranged carefully in becoming ringlets. She was dressed in black satin and wore flashing diamonds on her hands and at her throat. Her eyes were black and piercing and her eyebrows dark. As I took my seat, she drew a long piece of plug tobacco from a silver card receiver, and bit off a chew.

“Do you indulge?” she asked smilingly.

I shook my head.

“The h⁠⸺⁠l you don’t!” she replied.

Just then a horse dashed up to the verandah⁠—or gallery, as they call it in Texas⁠—and someone dismounted and entered the room.


I shall never forget my first sight of Aubrey DeVere.

He was fully seven feet in height, and his face was perfect. It was the absolute image of Andrea del Sarto’s painting of the young Saint John. His eyes were immense, dark, and filled with a haunting sadness, and his pale, patrician features and air of haut monde stamped him at once as the descendant of a long line of aristocrats.

He wore a dress suit of the latest cut, but I noticed that he was barefooted, and down from each side of his mouth trickled a dark brown stream of tobacco juice.

On his head was an enormous Mexican sombrero. He wore no shirt, but his dress coat, thrown back from his broad chest, revealed an enormous scintillating diamond tied with a piece of twine strung into the meshes of his gauze undershirt.

“My son, Aubrey; Miss Cook,” said Mrs. DeVere languidly.

Mr. DeVere took a chew of tobacco from his mouth and tossed it behind the piano.

“The lady who has kindly consented to assume our scholastic duties, I presume,” he said, in a deep musical baritone.

I inclined my head.

“I know your countrymen,” he said with a dark frown upon his handsome face. “They still grope among their benighted traditions of ignorance and prejudice. What do you think of Jefferson Davis?”

I looked into his flashing eye without flinching.

“He was a traitor,” I said.

Mr. DeVere laughed musically, and stooping down drew a pine splinter from one of his toes. Then he approached his mother and saluted her with that chivalrous reverence and courtesy that still lingers among sons of the South.

“What shall we have for supper, mammy?” he said.

“Whatever you d⁠⸺ please,” said Mrs. DeVere.

Aubrey DeVere reached out his hand and seized one of the chickens that roosted upon the piano. He wrung its neck and threw its quivering and fluttering body upon the delicate Brussels carpet. He took a long stride and stood before me, towering like an avenging god, with one arm upraised, the other pointing to the fowl, struggling in its death agonies.

“That is the South,” he cried, in a voice of thunder; “the bleeding and dying South after Gettysburg. Tonight you will feast upon its carcass, as your countrymen have been doing for the last thirty years.”

He hurled the head of the chicken into my face with a terrible oath, and then dropped on one knee and bowed his kingly head.

“Pardon me, Miss Cook,” he said, “I do not mean to offend you. Twenty-eight years ago today, my father was killed at the battle of Shiloh.”


When the supper bell rang I was invited into a long, lofty room, wainscoted with dark oak and lighted by paraffine candles.

Aubrey DeVere sat at the foot of the table and carved. He had taken off his coat, and his clinging undershirt revealed every muscle of a torso as grand as that of the Dying Gladiator in the Vatican at Rome. The supper was truly a Southern one. At one end was an enormous grinning opossum and sweet potatoes, while the table was covered with dishes of cabbage, fried chicken, fruit cake, persimmons, hot raw biscuits, blackhaws, Maypops, fried catfish, maple syrup, hominy, ice cream, sausages, bananas, crackling bread, pineapples, squashes, wild grapes and apple pies.

Pete, the colored man, waited upon us, and once in handing Mr. DeVere the gravy he spilled a little of it upon the tablecloth. With a yell like a tiger, Aubrey DeVere sprang to his feet and hurled his carving knife to the handle in Pete’s breast. The poor colored man fell to the floor, and I ran and lifted his head.

“Goodbye, missie,” he whispered. “I hear de angels singing, and I sees de bressed Mars Abraham Linkum smilin’ at me from near de great white th’one. Goodbye missie, Ol’ Pete am goin’ home.”

I rose and faced Mr. DeVere.

“Inhuman monster!” I cried. “You have killed him!”

He touched a silver bell and another servant appeared.

“Take this body out and bring me a clean knife,” he commanded. “Resume your seat, Miss Cook. Like all your countrymen, you evince a penchant for dark meat. Mammy, dear, can I send you a choice bit of the ’possum?”


The next day I met the four DeVere children, and found them very bright and lovable. Two were boys and two girls, ranging from 10 to 16 years of age. The little school house was half a mile away down a beautiful country lane, full of grass and flowers. I had fifteen scholars in my school, and except for a few things my life at Vereton would have been like Paradise. The first month I saved up $42. My salary was $40, and I made the other two by loaning small sums to my scholars for a few days at a time, for which they paid me from 10 to 25 cents interest.

I took a curious interest in studying the character of Aubrey DeVere. His was one of the noblest and grandest natures I had ever known, but it was so far influenced by the traditions and customs of the people with whom he had lived, that scarcely a vestige of its natural good remained.

He had been splendidly educated at the University of Virginia, and was an accomplished orator, musician and painter, but from his early childhood he had been allowed to give way to every impulse and desire, and his manhood showed sadly his lack of self-control.

One evening I was in the music room in the second story of the DeVere mansion, playing over that loveliest of Schubert’s Leider, “Hark, Hark, the Lark,” when Aubrey DeVere entered. Of late, on account of some strange whim, he had become more careful in his dress.

This evening he wore a shirt, thrown open in front, exhibiting his massive collar bone, and a black velvet smoking jacket, trimmed with gold braid in a fanciful design. On his hands were white kid gloves, and I noticed that his feet, on which he absolutely refused to wear shoes, had been recently washed at the pump. He was in one of his most bitter and sneering moods, and launched forth into a most acrimonious tirade against Grant, Lincoln, George Francis Train and other heroes of the Union. He sat down upon the center table and began scratching one of his ankles with the toe of the other foot in a manner that he knew always irritated me.

Resolved not to become angry, I continued playing. Suddenly he said:

“Pardon me, Miss Cook, but you struck a wrong note in effecting the run in that diminished seventh.”

“I think not,” I answered.

“You are a liar!” he replied. “You struck a natural, when it should have been a sharp. This is the note you should have played.”

I heard something swish through the air. From where he sat on the center table, he shot between his teeth a solid stream of tobacco juice with deadly aim full upon the black key of A-sharp on the piano. I rose from the stool, somewhat nettled, but smiling.

“You are offended,” he said, sarcastically. “You do not like our Southern ways. You think me a mauvais sujet. You think we lack aplomb and savoir-vivre. With your Boston culture, you think you can detect a false note in our courtesy, a certain lack of fineness and refinement in our manners. Do not deny it.”

Mr. DeVere,” I said coldly, “your taunts are nothing to me. I am here to do my duty. In your own house you are at liberty to act as you choose. Will you move one of your feet and allow me to pass?”

Mr. DeVere suddenly sprang from the table and clasped me fiercely in his arms.

“Penelope,” he cried, in a terrible voice. “I love you! You miserable little dried-up, washed-out, white-eyed, sallow-cheeked, prim, angular Yankee schoolma’am. I loved you from the moment I laid eyes on you. Will you marry me?”

I struggled to get free.

“Put me down,” I cried. “Oh, if Cyrus were only here!”

“Cyrus!” shouted Mr. DeVere. “Who is Cyrus? Cyrus shall never have you, I swear.”

He raised me above his head with one hand and hurled me through the plate glass window into the yard below. Then he threw the furniture down upon me, piece by piece, the piano last of all. I then heard him rush down the stairs, and in a moment felt a stream of liquid trickling down among the broken furniture. I recognized the acrid smell of petroleum, heard the scratch of a match, and the fierce roaring of flames; felt a sudden scorching heat, and remembered no more.


When I regained consciousness I was lying in my own bed, and Mrs. DeVere was sitting beside me, fanning me.

I tried to rise, but was too weak.

“You must keep still,” said Mrs. DeVere gently. “You have been ill with fever for two weeks. You must excuse my son; I am afraid he startled you. He loves you very much, but he is so impulsive.”

“Where is he?” I asked.

“He has gone to bring Cyrus, and it is time he had returned.”

“How did I escape from that dreadful fire?”

“Aubrey rescued you. After his fit of passion had passed he dashed aside the burning furniture and carried you back upstairs.”

A few minutes later I heard the sound of footsteps, and looking up saw Aubrey DeVere and Cyrus Potts standing by my bedside.

“Cyrus,” I cried.

“How de do, Penelope,” said Cyrus.

Before I could reply there was a loud and fiendish yell outside. The front door was broken down and a dozen masked men dashed into the room.

“We hear there is a d⁠⸺ Yankee in here,” they cried. “Lynch him!”

Aubrey DeVere seized a table by the leg and killed every man of the lynching party.

“Cyrus Potts,” he thundered, “kiss that schoolma’am, or I’ll brain you as I did those other fellows.”

Cyrus dabbed an icy kiss in my direction.

A week later Cyrus and I left for Boston. His salary has been raised to $25 per month and I had saved $210.

Aubrey DeVere accompanied us to the train. Under his arm he carried a keg of blasting powder. As our train rolled out he sat down upon this keg and touched a lighted match to it.

One of his great toes fell through the car window and fell in my lap.

Cyrus is not of a jealous disposition, and I now have that great toe in a bottle of alcohol on my writing desk. We are married now, and I will never taken another trip to the South.

The Southern people are too impulsive.

A Mystery of Many Centuries

Up to a few years ago man regarded the means of locomotion possessed by the fair sex as a sacred areanum into which it were desecration to inquire.

The bicycle costume has developed the fact that there are two⁠—well, that there are two. Whereas man bowed down and worshipped what he could not understand nor see, when the veil of mystery was rent, his reverence departed. For generations woman has been supposed in moving from one place to another to simply get there. Whether borne like Venus in an invisible car drawn by two milk white doves, or wafted imperceptibly by the force of her own sweet will, admiring man did not pause to consider. He only knew that there was a soft rustle of unseen drapery, an entrancing frou-frou of something agitated but unknown and the lovely beings would be standing on another spot. Whereat he wondered, adoring, but uninquisitive. At times beneath the lace-hemmed snowy skirts might be seen the toe of a tiny slipper, and perhaps the gleam of a silver buckle upon the arch of an instep, but thence imagination retired, baffled, but enthralled. In olden times the sweetest singers among the poets sang to their lutes of those Lilliputian members, and romance struck a lofty note when it wove the deathless legend of Cinderella and the slipper of glass. Courtiers have held aloft the silken slipper of the adored one filled with champagne and drank her health. Where is the bicyclist hero who would undertake the task of draining to the good health of his lady love her bicycle gaiter filled with beer?

The mysterious and lovelorn damosel no longer chucks roses at us from her latticed window and sighs to us from afar. She has descended, borrowed our clothes, and is our good friend and demands equal rights. We no longer express our admiration by midnight serenades and sonnets. We slap her on the back and feel we have gained a good comrade.

But we feel like inserting the following want ad in every paper in the land:

Lost⁠—A maiden dressed in long skirts: blushes sometimes, and wears a placard round her neck, which says, “hands off.” A liberal reward will be paid for her return.


The other, day the Post Man saw a nice, clean-minded old gentleman, who is of the old school of cavaliers, and who is loath to see woman come down from the pedestal on which he has always viewed her.

He was watching a lady bicycle rider go by. The Post Man asked him what he thought.

“I never see a lady on a bicycle,” said he, “but I am reminded of God, for they certainly move in a mysterious way their wonders to perform.”

The Good Boy

(Mostly in Words of One Syllable)

James was a good boy.

He would not tease his cat or his dog.

He went to school.

One day as he went home he saw a lady cross the street, and some rude boys tried to guy her.

James took the lady by the hand and led her to a safe place.

“Oh, fie!” he said to the boys. “For shame, to talk so to the nice lady. A good, kind boy will be mild and love to help the old.”

At this the boys did rail and laugh.

“Oh, boys,” said James, “do not be rude and speak so harsh. At home, I have a dear old grandma, and this kind lady may be one, too.”

The lady took James by the ear and said: “You contemptible little rapscallion. I’ve a good mind to spank you until you can’t navigate. Grandmother, indeed! I’m only twenty-nine my last birthday, and I don’t feel a day over eighteen. Now, you clear out, or I’ll slap you good.”

The Dissipated Jeweler

You will not find the name of Thomas Keeling in the Houston city directory. It might have been there by this time, if Mr. Keeling had not discontinued his business a month or so ago and moved to other parts. Mr. Keeling came to Houston about that time and opened up a small detective bureau. He offered his services to the public as a detective in rather a modest way. He did not aspire to be a rival of the Pinkerton agency, but preferred to work along less risky lines.

If an employer wanted the habits of a clerk looked into, or a lady wanted an eye kept upon a somewhat too gay husband, Mr. Keeling was the man to take the job. He was a quiet, studious man with theories. He read Gaboriau and Conan Doyle and hoped some day to take a higher place in his profession. He had held a subordinate place in a large detective bureau in the East, but as promotion was slow, he decided to come West, where the field was not so well covered.

Mr. Keeling had saved during several years the sum of $900, which he deposited in the safe of a business man in Houston to whom he had letters of introduction from a common friend. He rented a small upstairs office on an obscure street, hung out a sign stating his business, and burying himself in one of Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes stories, waited for customers.

Three days after he opened his bureau, which consisted of himself, a client called to see him.

It was a young lady, apparently about 26 years of age. She was slender and rather tall and neatly dressed. She wore a thin veil which she threw back upon her black straw hat after she had taken the chair Mr. Keeling offered her. She had a delicate, refined face, with rather quick gray eyes, and a slightly nervous manner.


“I came to see you, sir,” she said in a sweet, but somewhat sad, contralto voice, “because you are comparatively a stranger, and I could not bear to discuss my private affairs with any of my friends. I desire to employ you to watch the movements of my husband. Humiliating as the confession is to me, I fear that his affections are no longer mine. Before I married him he was infatuated with a young woman connected with a family with whom he boarded. We have been married five years, and very happily, but this young woman has recently moved to Houston, and I have reasons to suspect that he is paying her attentions. I want you to watch his movements as closely as possible and report to me. I will call here at your office every other day at a given time to learn what you have discovered. My name is Mrs. R⁠⸺, and my husband is well known. He keeps a small jewelry store on Street. I will pay you well for your services and here is $20 to begin with.”

The lady handed Mr. Keeling the bill and he took it carelessly as if such things were very, very common in his business.

He assured her that he would carry out her wishes faithfully, and asked her to call again the afternoon after the next at four o’clock, for the first report.

The next day Mr. Keeling made the necessary inquiries toward beginning operations. He found the jewelry store, and went inside ostensibly to have the crystal of his watch tightened. The jeweler, Mr. R⁠⸺, was a man apparently 35 years of age, of very quiet manners and industrious ways. His store was small, but contained a nice selection of goods and quite a large assortment of diamonds, jewelry and watches. Further inquiry elicited the information that Mr. R was a man of excellent habits, never drank and was always at work at his jeweler’s bench.

Mr. Keeling loafed around near the door of the jewelry store for several hours that day and was finally rewarded by seeing a flashily dressed young woman with black hair and eyes enter the store. Mr. Keeling sauntered nearer the door, where he could see what took place inside. The young woman walked confidently to the rear of the store, leaned over the counter and spoke familiarly to Mr. R⁠⸺. He rose from his bench and they talked in low tones for a few minutes. Finally, the jeweler handed her some coins, which Mr. Keeling heard clinking as they passed into her hands. The woman then came out and walked rapidly down the street.


Mr. Keeling’s client was at his office promptly at the time agreed upon. She was anxious to know if he had seen anything to corroborate her suspicions. The detective told her what he had seen.

“That is she,” said the lady, when he had described the young woman who had entered the store. “The brazen, bold thing! And so Charles is giving her money. To think that things should come to this pass.”

The lady pressed her handkerchief to her eyes in an agitated way.

Mrs. R⁠⸺,” said the detective, “what is your desire in this matter? To what point do you wish me to prosecute inquiries?”

“I want to see with my own eyes enough to convince me of what I suspect. I also want witnesses, so I can instigate suit for divorce. I will not lead the life I am now living any longer.”

She then handed the detective a ten-dollar bill.

On the day following the next, when she came to Mr. Keeling’s office to hear his report, he said:

“I dropped into the store this afternoon on some trifling pretext. This young woman was already there, but she did not remain long. Before she left, she said: ‘Charlie, we will have a jolly little supper tonight as you suggest; then we will come around to the store and have a nice chat while you finish that setting for the diamond broach with no one to interrupt us.’ Tonight, Mrs. R⁠⸺, I think, will be a good time for you to witness the meeting between your husband and the object of his infatuation, and satisfy your mind how matters stand.”

“The wretch,” cried the lady with flashing eyes. “He told me at dinner that he would be detained late tonight with some important work. And this is the way he spends his time away from me!”

“I suggest,” said the detective, “that you conceal yourself in the store, so you can hear what they say, and when you have heard enough you can summon witnesses and confront your husband before them.”

“The very thing,” said the lady. “I believe there is a policeman whose beat is along the street the store is on who is acquainted with our family. His duties will lead him to be in the vicinity of the store after dark. Why not see him, explain the whole matter to him and when I have heard enough, let you and him appear as witnesses?”

“I will speak with him,” said the detective, “and persuade him to assist us, and you will please come to my office a little before dark tonight, so we can arrange to trap them.”


The detective hunted up the policeman and explained the situation.

“That’s funny,” said the guardian of the peace. “I didn’t know R⁠⸺ was a gay boy at all. But, then, you can never tell about anybody. So his wife wants to catch him tonight. Let’s see, she wants to hide herself inside the store and hear what they say. There’s a little room in the back of the store where R⁠⸺ keeps his coal and old boxes. The door between is locked, of course, but if you can get her through that into the store she can hide somewhere. I don’t like to mix up in these affairs, but I sympathize with the lady. I’ve known her ever since we were children and don’t mind helping her to do what she wants.”

About dusk that evening the detective’s client came hurriedly to his office. She was dressed plainly in black and wore a dark round hat and her face was covered with a veil.

“If Charlie should see me he will not recognize me,” she said.

Mr. Keeling and the lady strolled down the street opposite the jewelry store, and about eight o’clock the young woman they were watching for entered the store. Immediately afterwards she came out with Mr. R⁠⸺, took his arm, and they hurried away, presumably to their supper.

The detective felt the arm of the lady tremble.

“The wretch,” she said bitterly. “He thinks me at home innocently waiting for him while he is out carousing with that artful, designing minx. Oh, the perfidy of man.”

Mr. Keeling took the lady through an open hallway that led into the back yard of the store. The outer door of the back room was unlocked, and they entered.

“In the store,” said Mrs. R⁠⸺, “near the bench where my husband works is a large table, the cover of which hangs to the floor. If I could get under that I could hear every word that was said.”

Mr. Keeling took a big bunch of skeleton keys from his pocket and in a few minutes found one that opened the door into the jewelry store. The gas was burning from one jet turned very low.

The lady stepped into the store and said: “I will bolt this door from the inside, and I want you to follow my husband and that woman. See if they are at supper, and if they are, when they start back, you must come back to this room and let me know by tapping thrice on the door. After I listen to their conversation long enough I will unbolt the door, and we will confront the guilty pair together. I may need you to protect me, for I do not know what they might attempt to do to me.”


The detective made his way softly out and followed the jeweler and the woman. He soon discovered that they had taken a private room in a little out of the way restaurant and had ordered supper. He lingered about until they came out and then hurried back to the store, and entering the back room, tapped three times on the door.

In a few minutes the jeweler entered with the woman and the detective saw the light shine more brightly through a crack in the door. He could hear the man and woman conversing familiarly and constantly, but could not distinguish their words. He slipped around again to the street, and looking through the window, could see Mr. R⁠⸺ working away at his jeweler’s bench, while the black-haired woman sat close to his side and talked.

“I’ll give them a little time,” thought Mr. Keeling, and he strolled down the street.

The policeman was standing on the corner.

The detective told him that Mrs. R⁠⸺ was concealed in the store, and that the scheme was working nicely.

“I’ll drop back behind now,” said Mr. Keeling, “so as to be ready when the lady springs her trap.”

The policeman walked back with him, and took a look through the window.

“They seem to have made up all right,” said he. “Where’s the other woman gotten to?”

“Why, there she is sitting by him,” said the detective.

“I’m talking about the girl R⁠⸺ had out to supper.”

“So am I,” said the detective.

“You seem to be mixed up,” said the policeman. “Do you know that lady with R⁠⸺?”

“That’s the woman he was out with.”

“That’s R⁠⸺’s wife,” said the policeman. “I’ve known her for fifteen years.”

“Then, who⁠—?” gasped the detective, “Lord A’mighty, then who’s under the table?”

Mr. Keeling began to kick at the door of the store. Mr. R⁠⸺ came forward and opened it. The policeman and the detective entered. “Look under that table, quick,” yelled the detective.

The policeman raised the cover and dragged out a blade dress, a black veil and a woman’s wig of black hair.

“Is this lady your w-w-wife?” asked Mr. Keeling excitedly, pointing out the dark-eyed young woman, who was regarding them in great surprise.

“Certainly,” said the jeweler. “Now what the thunder are you looking under my tables and kicking down my door for, if you please?”

“Look in your show cases,” said the policeman, who began to size up the situation.


The diamond rings and watches that were missing amounted to $800, and the next day the detective settled the bill.

Explanations were made to the jeweler that night, and an hour later Mr. Keeling sat in his office busily engaged in looking over his albums of crook’s photos.

At last he found one, and he stopped turning over the leaves and tore his hair. Under the picture of a smooth-faced young man, with delicate features was the following description:

James H. Miggles, alias Slick Simon, alias The Weeping Widow, alias Bunco Kate, alias Jimmy the Sneak, General confidence man and burglar. Works generally in female disguises. Very plausible and dangerous. Wanted in Kansas City, Oshkosh, New Orleans and Milwaukee.”

This is why Mr. Thomas Keeling did not continue his detective business in Houston.

Sufficient Provocation

“He hit me fust.”

“He gimme de probumcation, judge.”

“Nebber touched dat nigger tell he up en hit me wid er cheer.”

They were two Houston negroes, and they were up before the recorder for fighting.

“What did you strike this man with a chair for?” asked the recorder.

“I wuz playin’ de French hahp, judge, to de ball ob de Sebem ’Mancipated Sons ob de Lebem Virgins, en Sam Hobson he wuz playin’ de guitar fur de niggers to dance by. Dis here coon what I hit thinks he kin play de French hahp, too, but he kaint.”

“Dat’s a lie, I kin play⁠—”

“Keep still,” said the recorder sternly. “Go on with your statement.”

“I wuz playin’ en up comes dis here coon what I hit. He am pow’ful jealous ob my playin’ en he wuz mad ’coz de flo’ committee selected me to puhfahm. While I wuz playin’ dis obstrepelous coon came right close up to me en he say: ‘Watermillions be gittin’ ripe now in nudder mont’. I keeps on playin’. He says: ‘Sposin’ you had a great big ripe watermillion, wid red meat en black seeds.’ I keeps on playin’. He says: ‘You take him en bus him open on a rock, en you scoop up a big han’ful ob de heart, en you look all roun’ en nobody come.’ I keeps on playin. He says: ‘You cram de heart in yo’ mouf, en crunch down on hit, en de juice hit run down yo’ ahm en hit run down yo’ chin to yo’ neck, en de sweetness run down you’ th’oat.’ Den my mouf water so it fill dat French hahp plum full, en de music stop, en de flo’ committee look aroun’. Den I up wit a chair en bus’ dis coon ober de head, en I flings myself on de mussy ob dis co’t, kase, Mars Judge, you knows what dese here sandy lan’ watermillions is yo’sef.”

“Get out of here, both of you,” said the recorder. “Next case.”

The Pint Flask

A prominent Houston colonel, who is also a leading church member, started for church last Sunday morning with his family, as was his custom. He was serene and solid-looking, and his black frock coat and light gray trousers fitted him snugly and stylishly. They passed along Main Street on the way to church, and the colonel happened to think of a letter on his desk that he wanted, so he told his family to wait at the door a moment while he stopped in his office to get it. He went in and got the letter, and, to his surprise, there was a disreputable-looking pint whisky flask with about an ounce of whisky left in it standing on his desk. The colonel abominates whisky and never touches a drop of anything strong. He supposed that someone, knowing this, had passed his desk, and set the flask there by way of a mild joke.

He looked about for a place to throw the bottle, but the back door was locked, and he tried unsuccessfully to raise the window that overlooked the alley. The colonel’s wife, wondering why he was so long in coming, opened the door and surprised him, so that scarcely thinking what he was doing he thrust the flask under his coat tail into his hip pocket.

“Why don’t you come on?” asked his wife. “Didn’t you find the letter?”

He couldn’t do anything but go with her. He should have produced the bottle right there, and explained the situation, but he neglected his opportunity. He went on down Main Street with his family, with the pint flask feeling as big as a keg in his pocket. He was afraid some of them would notice it bulging under his coat, so he lagged somewhat in the rear. When he entered his pew at church and sat down there was a sharp crack, and the odor of mean whisky began to work its way around the church. The colonel saw several people elevate their noses and look inquiringly around, and he turned as red as a beet. He heard a female voice in the pew behind him whisper loudly:

“Old Colonel J is drunk again. They say he is hardly ever sober now, and some people say he beats his wife nearly every day.”

The colonel recognized the voice of one of the most notorious female gossipers in Houston. He turned around and glared at her. She then whispered a little louder:

“Look at him. He really looks dangerous. And to come to church that way, too!”


The colonel knew that the bottle had cracked and he was afraid to move, but a piece of it fell out on the floor. He usually knelt during prayer, but today he sat bolt upright on the seat. His wife noticed his unusual behavior and whispered:

“James, you don’t know how you pain me. You don’t pray any more. I knew what the result would be when I let you go to hear Ingersoll lecture. You are an infidel. And⁠—what is that I smell? Oh, James, you have been drinking, and on Sunday, too!”

The colonel’s wife put her handkerchief to her eyes, and he ground his teeth in rage.

After the services were over, and they had reached home, his wife took her seat on the back porch and began to cap some strawberries for dinner. This prevented his going out in the back yard and throwing the bottle over the fence, as he had intended. His two little boys hung close around him, as they always did on Sunday, and he found it impossible to get rid of it. He took them out for a stroll in the front yard. Finally, he sent them both in the house on some pretext, and drawing out the bottle hurled it into the street. The crack in it had been only a slight one, and as it struck a soft heap of trash when it fell, it did not break.

The colonel felt immediately relieved, but just as the little boys ran back he heard a voice in the street say:

“See here, sir, law’s against throwing glass in the street. I saw you do it, but take it back, and it’ll be all right this time.”

The colonel turned and saw a big policeman handing the terrible bottle towards him over the fence. He took it and thrust it back into his pocket with a low but expressive remark. His little boys ran up and shouted:

“Oh, papa, what was that the policeman gave you? Let’s see it!”

They clutched at his coat tails, and grabbed for his pockets, and the colonel backed against the fence.

“Go away from here, you little devils,” he yelled. “Go in the house or I’ll thrash you both.”


The colonel went into the house and put on his hat. He resolved to get rid of the bottle if he had to walk a mile to do it.

“Where are you going?” asked his wife in astonishment. “Dinner is almost ready. Why don’t you pull off your coat and cool off, James, as you usually do?”

She gazed at him with the deepest suspicion, and that irritated him.

“Confound the dinner,” he said, angrily. “I’m hungry⁠—no, I mean I’m sick; I don’t want any dinner⁠—I’m going to take a walk.”

“Papa, please show us what the policeman gave you,” said one of his little boys.

“Policeman!” echoed the colonel’s wife. “Oh, James, to think that you would act this way! I know you haven’t been drinking, but what is the matter with you? Come in and lie down. Let me pull off your coat.”

She tried to pull off the colonel’s Prince Albert, as she generally did, but he got furiously angry and danced away from her.

“Take your hands off me, woman,” he cried. “I’ve got a headache, and I’m going for a walk. I’ll throw the blamed thing away if I have to go to the North Pole to do it.”

The colonel’s wife shook her head as he went out the gate.

“He’s working too hard,” she said. “Maybe a walk will do him good.”

The colonel went down several blocks watching for an opportunity to dispose of the flask. There were a good many people on the streets, and there seemed to be always somebody looking at him.

Two or three of the colonel’s friends met him, and stared at him curiously. His face was much flushed, his hat was on the back of his head and there was a wild glare in his eyes. Some of them passed without speaking, and the colonel laughed bitterly. He was getting desperate. Whenever he would get to a vacant lot, he would stop and gaze searchingly in every direction to see if the coast was clear, so that he could pull out the flask and drop it. People began to watch him from windows, and two or three little boys began to follow him. The colonel turned around and spoke sharply to them, and they replied:

“Look at the old guy with a jag on lookin’ for a place to lie down. W’y don’t yer go to de calaboose and snooze it off, mister?”


The colonel finally dodged the boys, and his spirits rose as he saw before him a vacant square covered with weeds, in some places as high as his head.

Here was a place where he could get rid of the bottle. The minister of his church lived on the opposite side of the vacant square, but the weeds were so high that the house was completely hidden.

The colonel looked guiltily around and seeing no one, plunged into a path that led through the weeds. When he reached the center, where they were highest, he stopped and drew the whisky flask from his pocket. He looked at it a moment; smiled grimly, and said aloud:

“Well, you’ve given me lots of trouble that nobody knows anything about but me.”

He was about to drop the flask when he heard a noise, and looking up he saw his minister standing in the path before him, gazing at him with horrified eyes.

“My dear Colonel J⁠⸺,” said the good man. “You distress me beyond measure. I never knew that you drank. I am indeed deeply grieved to see you here in this condition.”

The colonel was infuriated beyond control. “Don’t give a d⁠⸺ if you are,” he shouted. “I’m drunk as a biled owl, and I don’t care who knows it. I’m always drunk. I’ve drunk 15,000 gallons of whisky in the last two weeks. I’m a bad man about this time every Sunday. Here goes the bottle once more for luck.”

He hurled the flask at the minister and it struck him on the ear and broke into twenty pieces. The minister let out a yell and turned and ran back to his house.

The colonel gathered a pile of stones and hid among the tall weeds, resolved to fight the whole town as long as his ammunition held out. His hard luck had made him desperate. An hour later three mounted policemen got into the weeds, and the colonel surrendered. He had cooled off by that time enough to explain matters, and as he was well known to be a perfectly sober and temperate citizen, he was allowed to go home.

But you can’t get him to pick up a bottle now, empty or full.

An Unknown Romance

The first pale star peeped down the gorge. Above, to illimitable heights reached the Alps, snow-white above, shadowy around, and black in the depths of the gorge.

A young and stalwart man, clad in the garb of a chamois hunter, passed up the path. His face was bronzed with sun and wind, his eye was frank and clear, his step agile and firm. He was singing fragments of a Bavarian hunting song, and in his hand he held a white blossom of the edelweiss he had plucked from the cliff. Suddenly he paused, and the song broke, and dropped from his lips. A girl, costumed as the Swiss peasants are, crossed the path along one that bisected his, carrying a small stone pitcher full of water. Her hair was of the lightest gold and hung far below her trim waist in a heavy braid. Her eyes shone through the gathering twilight, and her lips, slightly parted, showed a faint gleam of the whitest teeth.

As if impelled by a common impulse, the hunter and the maiden paused, each with their eyes fixed upon the other. Then the man advanced, and doffing his feathered hat, bowed low and spake some words in the German language. The maiden answered, speaking haltingly and low.

Then a door opened in a cottage almost hidden among the trees, and a babble of voices was heard. The maiden’s cheeks turned crimson, and she started to go, but as she went, she turned her eyes and looked at the hunter still. He took a step after her, and stretched out his hand as if to stay her. She tore a bunch of blue gentians from her bosom and threw them towards him. He caught them as they fell, then ran lightly and gave into her hand the edelweiss bloom that he carried. She thrust it into her bosom, then ran like a mountain sprite into the cottage, where the voices were.

The hunter stopped for a while, then went his way more slowly up the mountain path, and he sang no more. As he went he pressed the flowers frequently to his lips.


The wedding was to be one of the showiest, and the society of the metropolis was almost begging for invitations.

The groom-elect brought the ancient lineage of the Van Winklers and a position at the top notch of society for his portion. The bride brought a beauty that was flawless, and five million dollars. The arrangement had been made in a businesslike manner. There had been no question of love. He had been courteous, and politely attentive, and she had acquiesced listlessly. They had first met at a fashionable summer resort. The family of the Van Winklers and the money of the Vances were about to unite.

The wedding was to be at high noon.

Pelham Van Winkler had had a fire built in the ancient tiled fireplace of one of his rooms, although the weather was warm. He sat on the edge of a writing table, and tossed handfuls of square-shaped letters, some tied with ribbons, into the fire. He smiled a little ironically as they flamed up, or as here and there among them he would find a withered flower, a scented glove or a lock of beribboned hair.

The last sacrifice to the flames was a dried and pressed cluster of blue gentians.

Van Winkler sighed, and the smile left his face. He recalled the twilight scene among the Alps mountains, where he was wandering with three or four companions on a summer tour, gay and careless, and dressed in the picturesque garb of chamois hunters. He recalled the picture of a lovely peasant girl with eyes that held him with a charm of power, crossing the mountain road, and pausing for a moment to toss him the bunch of gentian flowers. Had he not been a Van Winkler and owed a duty to the name, he would have sought her out and married her, for her image had never left his eyes or his heart since that twilight eve. But society and the family name claimed him, and today, at high noon, he was to marry Miss Vance, the daughter of the millionaire iron founder.

Pelham Van Winkler tossed the bunch of blue gentians into the fire and rang for his valet.


Miss Augusta Vance had flown from the irritating presence of fussy female friends and hysterical relatives to her boudoir for a few moments’ quiet. She had no letters to burn; no past to bury. Her mother was in an ecstasy of delight, for the family millions had brought them places in the front row of Vanity Fair.

Her marriage to Pelham Van Winkler was to be at high noon. Miss Vance fell suddenly into a dreamy reverie. She recalled a trip she had taken with her family a year before, to Europe, and her mind dwelt lingeringly upon a week they had spent among the foothills of the Alps in the cottage of a Swiss mountaineer. One evening at twilight she had gone with a pitcher across the road and filled it from a spring. She had fancied to put on that day the peasant costume of Babette, the daughter of their host. It had become her well, with her long braid of light-gold hair and blue eyes. A hunter had crossed the road as she was returning⁠—an Alpine chamois hunter, strong, stalwart, bronzed and free. She had looked up and caught his eyes, and his held hers. She went on, and still those magnetic eyes claimed her own. The door of the cottage had opened and voices called. She started and obeyed the impulse to tear a bunch of gentians from her bosom and throw them to him. He had caught them, and springing forward gave her an edelweiss flower. Not since that evening had the image of that chamois hunter left her. Surely fate had led him to her, and he seemed a man among men. But Miss Augusta Vance, with a dowry of five millions, could not commit the folly of thinking of a common hunter of the Alps mountains.

Miss Vance arose and opened a gold locket that lay upon her dressing case. She took from it a faded edelweiss flower and slowly crumpled it to dust between her fingers. Then she rang for her maid, as the church bells began to chime outside for the marriage.

How She Got in the Swim

There was no happier couple in all Houston than George W. St. Bibbs and his wife before the shadow of the tempter crossed their path. It is remarkable how the tempter always comes up so his shadow will fall across one’s path, isn’t it? It seems as if a tempter who knew his business would either approach on the other side or select a cloudy day for crossing people’s paths. But, we digress.

The St. Bibbses lived in a cosy and elegantly furnished cottage, and had everything that could be procured on credit. They had two charming little girls named Dolly and Polly.

George St. Bibbs loved fashionable society and his wife was domestic in her ways, so she had made him move to Houston, so that he would not have a chance to gratify his tastes. However, George still went to functions, and things of that kind, and left his wife at home.

One night there was to be a very high-toned blowout by society people, gotten up by the Business League and the Daughters of the Survivors of the Confederate Reunion.

After George had left, his wife looked into her little hand mirror and said to herself:

“I’ll bet a dollar there isn’t a lady at that ball that stacks up half as well as I do when I fix up.”

Then an idea struck her.

She rang for her maid and told her to bring a cup of hot tea, and then she dressed in a magnificent evening dress, left the maid to look after Dolly and Polly and got on the street car and went to the ball.

George was at the ball enjoying himself very much. All the tony people were there, and music’s voluptuous swell rose like everything, and soft eyes looked love to eyes that spake again, and all that sort of thing.

Among the guests was the Vicomte Carolus de Villiers, a distinguished French nobleman, who had been forced to leave Paris on account of some political intrigue, and who now worked on a large strawberry farm near Alvin.

The viscount stood near a portiére picking his teeth, when he saw Mrs. St. Bibbs enter.

He was at her side in a moment, and had written his name opposite hers for every dance.

George looked over and saw them, and gasped in surprise: “Jerusalem, that’s Molly!”

He leaned against a velvet cul-de-sac near the doorway and watched them. Mrs. St. Bibbs was the belle of the evening. Everybody crowded about her, and the viscount leaned over her and talked in his most engaging manner, fanning her with an old newspaper, as she smiled brightly upon him, a brilliant stream of wit, persiflage and repartee falling from her lips.

Mon dieu!” said the viscount to himself, as his ardent gaze rested upon her, “I wish I knew who she is.”

At supper Mrs. St. Bibbs was the life of the gang. She engaged in a witty discussion with the brightest intellects around the table, completely overwhelming the boss joshers of the town. She conversed readily with gents from the wards, speaking their own dialect, and even answered without hesitation a question put to her by a man who had a sister attending the State University.

George could scarcely believe that this fascinating, brilliant woman of the world was the quiet little wife he had left at home that evening.

When the ball was over and the musicians had been stood off, George went up to his wife, feeling ashamed and repentant.

“Molly,” he said, “forgive me. I didn’t know how beautiful and gay you could be in swell society. The next time our Longfellow Literary Coterie gives a fish fry at the Hook and Ladder Company Hall I’ll take you along.”

Mrs. St. Bibbs took her husband’s arm with a sweet smile.

“All right, George,” she said, “I just wanted you to see that this town can’t put up no society shindigs that are too high up for me to tackle. I once spent two weeks in Galveston, and I generally catch on to what’s proper as quick as anybody.”

At present there are no two society people in town more sought after and admired than George St. Bibbs and his accomplished wife.

An Odd Character

A Post Reporter stood on the San Jacinto Street bridge last night. Half of a May moon swam in a sea of buttermilky clouds high in the east. Below, the bayou gleamed dully in the semidarkness, merging into inky blackness farther down. A steam tug glided noiselessly down the sluggish waters, leaving a shattered trail of molten silver. Foot passengers across the bridge were scarce. A few belated Fifth-Warders straggled past, clattering along the uneven planks of the footway. The reporter took off his hat and allowed a cool breath of a great city to fan his brow. A mellow voice, with, however, too much dramatic inflection, murmured at his elbow, and quoted incorrectly from Byron:

“Oh, moon, and darkening river, ye are wondrous strong;
Yet lovely in your strength as is the light of a dark eye in woman.”

The reporter turned and saw a magnificent specimen of the genus tramp. He was attired in a garb to be viewed with wonder, and even awe. His coat was a black frock, fallen into decay some years ago. Under it he wore a jaunty striped blazer, too tight to button, and the ghost of a collar peered above its intricacies. His trousers were patched, and torn, and frayed, and faded away at the bottom into ghostly, indescribable feet shod in shapeless leather and dust.

His face, however, was the face of a hilarious faun. His eyes were brilliant and piercing, and a godlike smile lit up a face that owed little to art or soap.

His nose was classic, and his nostrils thin and nervous, betokening either race or fever. His brow was high and smooth, and his regard lofty and superior, though a bristly beard of uncertain cut and grisly effect covered the lower part of his countenance.

“Do you know what I am, sir?” asked this strange being. The reporter gazed at his weird form and shook his head.

“Your reply reassures me,” said the wanderer. “It convinces me that I have not made a mistake in addressing you. You have some of the instincts of a gentleman, because you forbore to say what you know well, namely, that I am a tramp. I look like a tramp and I am one, but no ordinary one. I have a university education, I am a Greek and Latin scholar, and I have held the chair of English literature in a college known all over the world. I am a biologist, and more than all, I am a student of the wonderful book, man. The last accomplishment is the only one I still practice. If I am not grown unskilled, I can read you.”

He bent a discriminating look upon the reporter. The reporter puffed at his cigar and submitted to the scrutiny.

“You are a newspaper man,” said the tramp. “I will tell you how I reached the conclusion. I have been watching you for ten minutes. I knew you were not a man of leisure, for you walked upon the bridge with a somewhat rapid step. You stopped and began to watch the effect of the moon upon the water. A business man would have been hurrying along to supper. When you got your cigar out you had to feel in three or four pockets before you found one. A newspaper man has many cigars forced upon him in the course of a day, and he has to distribute them among several pockets. Again, you have no pencil sticking out of your pocket. No newspaper man ever has. Am I right in my conjecture?”

The reporter made a shrewd guess.

“You are right,” he said, “and your having seen me going into a newspaper office some time ago no doubt assisted you in your diagnosis.”

The tramp laughed.

“You are wrong,” he said. “You were coming out when I saw you yesterday. I like a man like you. You can give and take. I have been in Houston now for three months, and you are the first man to whom I have spoken of myself. You have not offered me money, and by that have won my esteem. I am a tramp, but I never accept money from anyone. Why should I? The richest man in your town is a pauper compared with me. I see you smile. Come, sir, indulge me for a while. I am afflicted at times with cacoethes loquendi, and rarely do I meet a gentleman who will give me an ear.”

The Post Man had seen so many people with the corners rubbed off, so many men who always say and do what they are expected to, that he fell into the humor of listening to this man who said unexpected things. And then he was so strange to look upon.

The tramp was not drunk, and his appearance was not that of a drinking man. His features were refined and clear-cut in the moonlight; and his voice⁠—well, his voice was queer. It sounded like a man talking plainly in his sleep.

The Post Man concluded that his mind was unbalanced.

The tramp spoke again.

“I said I had plenty of money,” he continued, “and I have. I will show a few⁠—a very few of the wonders that you respectable, plodding, well-dressed people do not imagine to exist. Look at this ring.”

He took from his finger a curious carved ring of beaten copper, wrought into a design that the moonlight did not suffer to be deciphered, and handed it to the reporter.

“Rub that ring thrice with the thumb of your left hand,” said the tramp.

The reporter did so, with a creepy feeling that made him smile to himself. The tramp’s eyes beamed, and he pointed into the air, following with his finger the movements of some invisible object.

“It is Artamela,” he said, “the slave of the ring⁠—catch!”

He swept his hollowed hand into space, scooping up something, and handed it to the reporter.

“See!” he said, “golden coins. I can bring them at will in unlimited numbers. Why should I beg?”

He held his empty hand with a gesture toward the reporter, who pretended to accept its visionary contents.

The tramp took off his hat and let the breeze sift through his tangled hair.

“What would you think,” he said, “if I should tell you that I am 241 years old?”

“Knock off a couple of centuries,” said the reporter, “and it will go all right.”

“This ring,” said the tramp, “was given me by a Buddhist priest in Benares, India, a hundred years before America was discovered. It is an inexhaustible source of wealth, life and good luck. It has brought me every blessing that man can enjoy. With such fortune as that there is no one on earth that I envy. I am blissfully happy and I lead the only ideal life.”

The tramp leaned on the railing and gazed down the bayou for a long time without speaking. The reporter made a movement as if to go, and he started violently and faced around. A change had come over him. His brow was lowering and his manner cringing. He shivered and pulled his coat tight about him.

“Wot wuz I sayin’?” he said in a gruff, husky voice. “Wuz I a talkin’? Hello, there, mister, can’t you give a feller a dime to get him some supper?”

The reporter, struck by the transformation, gazed at him in silence.

The tramp muttered to himself, and with shaking hands drew from his pocket something wrapped in paper.

He unrolled it, took something from it between his thumb and finger and thrust it into his mouth.

The sickly, faint, sweet odor of gum opium reached the reporter.

The mystery about the tramp was solved.

The Barber Talks

The Post Man slid into the chair with an apologetic manner, for the barber’s gaze was superior and scornful. He was so devilish, cool and selfpossessed, and held the public in such infinite contempt.

The Post Man’s hair had been cut close with the clippers on the day before.

“Haircut?” asked the barber in a quiet but thoroughly dangerous tone.

“Shave,” said the Post Man.

The barber raised his eyebrows, gave his victim a look of deep disdain, and hurled the chair with a loud rattle and crash back to a reclining position.

Then he seized a mug and brush and, after bestowing upon the Post Man a look of undying contumely, turned with a sneer to the water faucet. Thence he returned, enveloped the passive victim in a voluminous cloth, and with a pitiless hand daubed a great brushful of sweetish tasting lather across his mouth.

Then he began to talk.

“Ever been in Seattle, Washington Territory?” he asked.

“Blub-a-lub-blub,” said the Post Man, struggling against the soap, and then he shook his head feebly.

“Neither have I,” said the barber, “but I have a brother named Bill who runs an orange orchard nine miles from St. John, Fla. That’s only a split hair on your neck; it’s growing the wrong way. They are caused by shaving the neck in the wrong direction. Sometimes whiskey will make them do that way. Whisky is a terrible thing. Do you drink it?”

The Post Man only had one eye of all his features uncovered by lather and he tried to throw an appealing expression implying negation into this optic, but the barber was too quick for him and filled the eye with soap by a dextrous flap of his brush.

“My brother Bill used to drink,” continued the barber. “He could drink more whiskey than any man in Houston, but he never got drunk. He had a chair in my shop, but I had to let him go. Bill had a wonderful constitution. When he got all he could hold he would quit drinking. The only way he showed it was in his eyes. They would get kind of glazed and fishy and wouldn’t turn in his head. When Bill wanted to look to one side he used to take his fingers and turn his eyeballs a little the way he wanted to see. His eyes looked exactly like those little round windows you see in the dome of the postoffice. You could hear Bill breathe across the street when he was full. He could shave people when he was drunk as well as he could sober.⁠—Razor hurt you?”

The Post Man tried to wave one of his hands to disclaim any sense of pain, but the barber’s quick eye caught the motion and he leaned his weight against the hand, crushing it against the chair.

“I kept noticing,” went on the barber, “that Bill was getting about four customers to my one, even if he did drink so much. People would come in three or four at a time and sit down and wait their turns with Bill when my chair was vacant. I didn’t know what to make of it. Bill had all he could do, and he was so crowded that he didn’t have time to go out to a saloon, but he kept a big jug in the back room, and every few minutes he would slip in there and take a drink.

“One day I noticed a man that got out of Bill’s chair acting queer and he staggered as he went out. A day or two afterwards the shop was full of customers from morning till night, and one man came back and had a shave three different times in the forenoon. In a couple of days more there was a crowd of men in the shop, and they had a line formed outside two or three doors down the sidewalk. Bill made $9.00 that day. That evening a policeman came in and jerked me up for running a saloon without a license. It seems that Bill’s breath was so full of whiskey that every man he shaved went out feeling pretty hilarious and sent his friends there to be shaved. It cost me $300 to get out of it, and I shipped Bill to Florida pretty soon afterward.”


“I was sent for once,” went on the barber, as he seized his victim by the ear and slammed his head over on the other side, “to go out on Piney Street and shave a dead man. Barbers don’t much like a job of that kind, although they get from $5 to $10 for the work. It was 1908 Piney Street. I started about 11 o’clock at night. I found the street all right and I counted from the corner until I found 1908. I had my razors, soap and mug in a little case I use for such purposes. I went in and knocked at the door. An old man opened it and his eye fell on my case.

“ ‘You’ve come, have you?’ he asked. ‘Well, go upstairs; he’s in the front room to your right. There’s nobody with him. He hasn’t any friends or relatives in town; he’s only been boarding here about a week.’

“ ‘How long since he⁠—since it occurred?’ I asked.

“ ‘About an hour, I guess,’ says the old man. I was glad of that because corpses always shave better before they get good and cold. I went in the room and turned up the lamp. The man was laid out on the bed. He was warm yet and he had about a week’s growth of beard on. I got to work and in half an hour I had given him a nice clean shave that would have done his heart good if he had been alive. Then I went downstairs and saw the old man.

“ ‘What success?’ he asked.

“ ‘Good,’ says I. ‘He’s fixed up all right. Who’s to pay?’

“ ‘He gave me $30 to send his folks in Alabama yesterday,’ says the old man. ‘I guess your fee will have to come out of it.’

“ ‘It’ll be five,’ I said.

“The old man handed me a five dollar bill and I went home very well satisfied.”

Here the barber seized the chair, hurled it upright, snatched off the cloth, buried his hands in the Post Man’s hair and tore out a handful, bumped and thumped his head, shook it violently and hissed sarcastically: “Bay rum?”

The Post Man nodded stupidly, closed his eyes and tried unsuccessfully to recall a prayer.

“Next day,” said the barber, “I heard some news. It seems that a man had died at 1908 Piney Street and just a little while before a man in the next house had taken poison. The folks in one house sent for a doctor and the ones in the other sent for a barber. The funny part is the doctor and I both made a mistake and got into the wrong house. He went in to see the dead man and found the family doctor just getting ready to leave. The doctor didn’t waste any time asking questions, but got out his stomach pump, stuck it into the dead man and went to work pumping the poison out. All this time I was busy shaving the man who had taken poison. And the funniest part of it all is that after the doctor had pumped all the other doctor’s medicine out of the dead man, he opened his eyes, raised up in bed and asked for a steak and potatoes.

“This made the family doctor mad, and he and the doctor with a stomach pump got into a fight and fell down the stairs and broke the hat rack all to pieces.”

“And how about your man who had taken poison?” asked the Post Man timidly.

“Him?” said the barber, “why he died, of course, but he died with one of the beautifulest shaves that ever a man had.⁠—Brush!”

An African of terrible aspect bore down upon the Post Man, struck him violently with the stub of a whisk broom, seized his coat at the back and ripped it loose from its collar.

“Call again,” growled the barber in a voice of the deepest menace, as the scribe made a rush for the door and escaped.

The Sunday Excursionist

Somebody⁠—who it was doesn’t make any difference⁠—has said something like the following: “There is something grand in the grief of the Common People, but there is no sadder sight on earth than that of a Philistine enjoying himself.”

If a man would realize the truth of this, let him go on a Sunday excursion. The male Sunday excursionist enjoys himself, as the darkies say, “a gwine and a cornin’.” No other being on earth can hold quite so much bubbling and vociferous joy. The welkin that would not ring when the Sunday excursionist opens his escape valve is not worth a cent. Six days the Sunday excursionist labors and does his work, but he does his best to refute the opponents of the theory of the late Charles Darwin. He occupies all the vacant seats in the car with his accomplices, and lets his accursed good nature spray over the rest of the passengers. He is so infernally happy that he wants everybody, to the brakeman on the rear car, to know it. He is so devilish agreeable, so perniciously jolly and so abominably entertaining that people who were bom with or have acquired brains love him most vindictively.

People who become enamored of the Sunday excursionist are apt to grow insanely jealous, and have been known to rise up and murder him when a stranger enters the car and he proceeds to repeat his funny remarks for the benefit of a fresh audience.

The female Sunday excursionist generally accompanies him. She brings her laugh with her, and does a turn in the pauses of his low comedy work. She never by any accident misplaces her laugh or allows it to get out of curl. It ripples naturally and conforms readily to the size of the car. She puts on the male Sunday excursionist’s hat, and he puts on hers, and if the other passengers are feeling worse than usual, they sing “The Swanee River.” There is enough woe and sorrow in the world without augmenting it in this way.

Men who have braved the deepest troubles and emerged unscathed from the heaviest afflictions have gone down with a shriek of horror and despair before the fatal hilarity of the Sunday excursionist. There is no escape from his effects.

Barbershop Adventure

When the Post Man entered the shop yesterday the chairs were full of customers, and for a brief moment he felt a thrill of hope that he might escape, but the barber’s eye, deadly and gloomy fixed itself upon him.

“You’re next,” he said, with a look of diabolical malevolence, and the Post Man sank into a hard chair nailed to the wall, with a feeling of hopeless despair.

In a few moments there was a rattle and a bang, the customer in the chair was thrown violently on his feet, and fled out of the shop pursued by the African who was making vicious dabs at him with a whisk broom full of tacks and splinters.

The Post Man took a long look at the sunlight, pinned a little note to his tie with his scarf pin, giving his address, in case the worst should happen, and settled into the chair.

He informed the barber, in answer to a stern inquiry, that he did not want his hair cut, and in turn received a look of cold incredulity and contempt.

The chair was hurled to a reclining position, the lather was mixed, and as the deadly brush successively stopped all sense of hearing, sight and smell, the Post Man sank into a state of collapse, from which he was aroused by the loud noise of a steel instrument with which the barber was scraping off the lather and wiping it on the Post Man’s shirt sleeve.


“Everybody’s riding bicycles now,” said the barber, “and it’s going to be very difficult for the fashionable people to keep it an exclusive exercise. You see, you can’t prevent anybody from riding a bicycle that wants to, and the streets are free for everyone. I don’t see any harm in the sport, myself, and it’s getting more popular every day. After a while, riding will become so general that a lady on a wheel will not create any more notice than she would walking. It’s good exercise for the ladies, and that makes up for their looking like a bag full of fighting cats slung over a clothes line when they ride.

“But the pains they do take to make themselves mannish! Why can’t a lady go in for athletics without trying to look and dress tough? If I should tell you what one of them did the other day you wouldn’t believe it.”

The barber here glared so fiercely at the Post Man that he struggled up to the top of the lather by a superhuman effort and assured the artist that anything he said would be received with implicit faith.

“I was sent for,” continued the barber, “to go up on McKinney Avenue and was to bring my razor and shaving outfit. I went up and found the house.

“A good-looking young lady was riding a bicycle up and down in front of the gate. She had on a short skirt, leggings, and a sack coat, cut like a man’s.

“I went in and knocked and they showed me into a side room. In a few minutes the young lady came in, sat down on a chair and an old lady whom I took to be her ma dropped in.

“ ‘Shave,’ said the young lady. ‘Twice over, and be in a hurry; I’ve an engagement.’

“I was nearly knocked down with surprise, but I managed to get my outfit in shape. It was evident that that young lady ruled the house. The old lady said to me in a whisper that her daughter was one of the leaders among the girls who believed in the emancipation of women, and she had resolved to raise a moustache and thus get ahead of her young lady companions.

“The young lady leaned back in the chair and closed her eyes.

“I dipped my brush in the lather and ran it across her upper lip. As soon as I did so she sprang to her feet, her eyes flashing with rage.

“ ‘How dare you insult me!’ she stormed, looking as if she would like to eat me up. ‘Leave the house, immediately,’ she went on.

“I was dumbfounded. I thought perhaps she was a trifle flighty, so I put up my utensils and started for the door. When I got there, I recovered my presence of mind enough to say:

“Miss, I am sure I have done nothing to offend you. I always try to act a gentleman whenever it is convenient. In what way have I insulted you?

“ ‘Take your departure,’ she said angrily. ‘I guess I know when a man kisses me.’

“And so I left. Now, what do you think of that?” asked the barber, as he pushed about an ounce of soap into the Post Man’s mouth with his thumb.

“I think that’s a pretty tough story to believe,” said the Post Man, summoning up his courage.

The barber stopped shaving and bent a gaze of such malignant and cool ferocity upon his victim that the Post Man hastened to say:

“But no doubt it occurred as you have stated.”

“It did,” said the barber. “I don’t ask you to take my word for it. I can prove it. Do you see that blue mug on the shelf, the third from the right? Well, that’s the mug I carried with me that day. I guess you’ll believe it now.”

“Speaking of bald heads,” went on the barber, although no one had said a word about bald heads, “reminds me of how a man worked a game on me once right here in Houston. You know there’s nothing in the world that will make hair grow on a bald head. Lots of things are sold for that purpose, but if the roots are dead nothing can bring them to life. A man came into my shop one day last fall and had a shave. His head was as bald and smooth as a tea cup. All the tonics in the world couldn’t have started one hair growing there. The man was a stranger to me, but said he ran a truck garden out on the edge of town. He came in about three times and got shaved and then he struck me to fix him up something to make his hair grow.”

The barber here reached back upon a shelf and got a strip of sticking plaster. Then he cut a gash along the Post Man’s chin and stuck the plaster over it.

“When a man asks for a hair tonic,” continued the barber, “in a barbershop he always gets it. You can fix up a mixture that a man may use on his head for a long time before he finds it is doing him no good. In the meantime he continues to shave in your shop.

“I told my customer that I had invented a hair tonic that if its use were persisted in would certainly cause the hair to grow on the smoothest head. I sat down and wrote him out a formula and told him to have it prepared at a drug store and not to give away the information, as I intended after a while to have it patented and sell it on a large scale. The recipe contained a lot of harmless stuff, some salts of tartar, oil of almonds, bay rum, rose water, tincture of myrrh and some other ingredients. I wrote them down at random just as they came into my head, and half an hour afterwards I couldn’t have told what it was composed of myself. The man took it, paid me a dollar for the formula and went off to get it filled at a drug store.

“He came back twice that week to get shaved, and he said he was using it faithfully. Then he didn’t come any more for about two weeks. He dropped in one afternoon and hung his hat up, and it nearly knocked me down when I saw that the finest kind of a suit of hair had started on his head. It was growing splendidly, and only two weeks before his head had been as bald as a door knob.

“He said he was awfully pleased with my tonic, and well he might be. While I was shaving him I tried to think what the ingredients were that I had written down for him to use, but I couldn’t remember the quantities or half the things I had used. I knew that I had accidentally struck upon a tonic that would make the hair grow, and I knew furthermore that that formula was worth a million dollars to any man if it would do the work. Making hair grow on bald heads, if it could be done, would be better than any gold mine ever worked. I made up my mind to have that formula. When he was about to start away I said carelessly:

“ ‘By the way, Mr. Plunket, I have mislaid my memorandum book that has the formula of my tonic in it and I want to have a bottle or two prepared this morning. If you have the one I gave you I’d like to make a copy of it while you are here.’

“I must have looked too anxious, for he looked at me for a few minutes and then broke out into a laugh.

“ ‘By Jiminy,’ he said, ‘I don’t believe you’ve got a copy of it anywheres. I believe you just happend to hit on the right thing and you don’t remember what it was. I ain’t half as green as I look. That hair grower is worth a fortune, and a big one, too. I think I’ll just keep my recipe and get somebody to put the stuff up and sell it.’

“He started out, and I called him into the back room and talked to him half an hour.

“I finally made a trade with him and bought the formula back for $250 cash. I went up to the bank and got the money which I had there saving up to build a house. He then gave me back the recipe I had given him and signed a paper relinquishing all rights to it. He also agreed to sign a testimonial about the stuff having made his hair grow out in two weeks.”

The barber began to look gloomy and ran his fingers inside the Post Man’s shirt collar, tearing out the button hole, and the collar button flew out the door across the sidewalk into the gutter.

“I went to work next day,” said the barber, “and filed application at Washington for a patent on my tonic and arranged with a big drug firm in Houston to put it on the market for me. I had a million dollars in sight. I fixed up a room where I mixed the tonic⁠—for I wouldn’t let the druggists or anybody else know what was in it⁠—and then the druggists bottled and labeled it.

“I quit working in the shop and put all my time into my tonic.

Mr. Plunket came into the shop once or twice within the next two weeks and his hair was still growing finely. Pretty soon I had about $200 worth of the tonic ready for the market, and Mr. Plunket was to come in town on Saturday and give me his testimonial to print on advertising dodgers and circulars with which I was going to flood the country.

“I was waiting in the room where I mixed my tonic about 11 o’clock Saturday when the door opened and Mr. Plunket came in. He was very much excited and very angry.

“ ‘Look here,’ he cried, ‘what’s the matter with your infernal stuff?’

“He pulled off his hat, and his head was as shiny and bare as a china egg.

“ ‘It all came out,’ he said roughly. ‘It was growing all right until yesterday morning, when it commenced to fall out, and this morning there wasn’t a hair left.’

“I examined his head and there wasn’t the ghost of a hair to be found anywhere.

“ ‘What’s the good of your stuff,” he asked angrily, ‘if it makes your hair grow and then all fall out again?’

“ ‘For heaven’s sake, Mr. Plunket,’ I said, ‘don’t say anything about it or you’ll ruin me. I’ve got every cent I’ve got in the world invested in this hair tonic, and I’ve got to get my money back. It made your hair grow, give me the testimonial and let me sell what I’ve got put up, anyway. You are $250 ahead on it and you ought to help me out of it.’

“He was very mad and cut up quite roughly and said he had been swindled and would expose the tonic as a fraud and a lot of things like that. Finally he agreed that if I would pay him $100 more he would give me the testimonial to the effect that the tonic had made his hair grow and say nothing about its having fallen out again. If I could sell what I had put up at $1.00 per bottle I would come out about even.

“I went out and borrowed the money and paid it to him and he signed the testimonial and left.”


“Did you sell your tonic out?” asked the Post Man, trying to speak in a tone calculated not to give offense.

The barber gave him a look of derisive contempt and then said in a tone of the utmost sarcasm:

“Oh, yes, I sold it out. I sold exactly five bottles, and the purchasers, after using the mixture faithfully for a month, came back and demanded their money. Not one of them that used it ever had a new hair to start on his head.”

“How do you account for its having made the hair grow on Mr. Plunket’s head?” asked the Post Man.

“How do I account for it?” repeated the barber in so dangerous a tone that the Post Man shuddered. “How do I account for it? I’ll tell you how I account for it. I went out one day to where Mr. Plunket lived on the edge of town and asked for him.

“ ‘Which Mr. Plunket?’ asked a man who came out to the gate?

“ ‘Come off,’ I said, ‘the Plunket that lives here.’

“ ‘They’ve both moved,’ said the man.

“ ‘What do you mean by “both?” ’ I said, and then I began to think, and I said to the man:

“ ‘What kind of looking men were the Plunkets?’

“ ‘As much like as two peas,’ said the man. ‘They were twins, and nobody could tell ’em apart from their faces or their talk. The only difference between ’em was that one of ’em was as bald-headed as a hen egg and the other had plenty of hair.’ ”

“Now,” said the barber as he poured about two ounces of bay rum down the Post Man’s shirt front, “that’s how I account for it. The bald-headed Plunket would come in my shop one time and the one with hair would come in another, and I never knew the difference.”

When the barber finished the Post Man saw the African with the whisk broom waiting for him near the front door, so he fled by the back entrance, climbed a brick wall and escaped by a side street.

Somebody Lied

Two men went into a saloon on Main Street yesterday and braced up solemnly to the bar. One was an old man with gray whiskers, the other was a long, lanky youth, evidently his son. Both were dressed like farm hands and they appeared somewhat bewildered at the splendor of the saloon.

The bartender asked them what they would have.

The old man leaned across the bar and said hoarsely and mysteriously: “You see, mister, me an’ Lem just sold a load of tomatters and green corn fer nineteen dollars en a half. The old woman at home figgered we’d git just sixteen dollars and a quarter fer the truck, so me and Lem is three twenty-five ahead. When folks makes a big strike they most al’ays gets drunk, and es me and Lem never was drunk, we says, we’ll git drunk and see how it feels. The feelin’s pretty bully, ain’t it?”

“Some think so,” said the bartender, “what’ll you have?”

They both called for whisky and stood against the bar until they had taken some five or six drinks apiece.

“Feel good, Lem?” asked the old man.

“Not a dam bit,” said the son.

“Don’t feel like shoutin’ and raisin’ Cain?”

“No.”

“Don’t feel good at all?”

“No. Feel like the devil. Feel sick, en burnin’ inside.”

“Is yer head buzzin’, Lem, and er achin’?”

“Yes, Dad, en is yer knees a kind er wobblin’, en yer eyes a waterin’?”

“You bet, en is yer stummick er gripin’ en does yer feel like yer had swallowed a wild cat en er litter of kittens?”

“Yes, Dad, and don’t you wish we wuz to home, whar we could lie down in ther clover patch en kick?”

“Yes, sonny, this here is what comes of goin’ back on yer ma. Does yer feel real bad?”

“Bad ez ther devil, Dad.”

“Look a here, mister,” said the old man to the bartender, “somebody has lied to us about the fun in gettin’ drunk. We’re a goin’ home and never goin’ to do it again. I’d ruther hev the blind staggers, the itch, en the cramp colic all to onct, then ter git drunk. Come on, sonny, en let’s hunt the waggin.”

The Lotus and the Cockleburrs

There are yet tales of the Spanish Main. That grim coast washed by the tempestuous Caribbean, and presenting to the sea a formidable border of tropical jungle topped by the overweening Cordilleras, is still begirt by mystery and romance.

Buccaneers and revolutionists have roused the echoes of its cliffs, and the condor has wheeled perpetually above where, in the dark green jungles, they made food for him with their pikes and cutlasses. Taken and retaken by pirates, by adverse powers, and by sudden uprising of rebellious factions, the old towns along the historic 300 miles of adventurous coast have scarcely known for hundreds of years whom rightly to call their master. Pizarro, Balboa, Sir Francis Drake, and Bolivar did what they could to make it a port of Christendom. Sir John Morgan, Lafitte, and other eminent sea-rovers, bombarded and pounded it in the name of Abaddon.

The game still goes on. The tintype man, the enlarged photograph brigand, and the kodaking tourist have found it out. The hucksters of Germany, France, and Syria bag its small change across their counters. The gentleman adventurer throngs the waiting-rooms of its rulers with propositions for railways and concessions. The little, opera bouffe nations play at government and intrigue until some day a big, silent gunboat glides into the offing and warns them not to break their toys. It was in these latter days that Johnny Atwood added his handiwork to the list of casualties along the Spanish Main by his famous manipulation of the shoe market, and his unparalleled feat of elevating that despised and useless weed product, the cockleburr, from its obscurity to be a valuable product in international commerce.

The trouble began, as trouble often begins instead of ending, with a romance. There was a man names Hemstetter, who came to the little Southern town where Johnny lived, to open a general store. His family consisted of one daughter called Rosine, a name that atoned much for “Hemstetter.” This young woman was possessed of sufficient pulchritude to agitate the young men of the community. Johnny, who was among the more violently agitated, was the son of Judge Atwood, who lived in the colonial mansion near the edge of Dalesburg. Being a young man of address and spirit, as well as scion of one of the oldest families in the State, it would seem that the desirable Rosine should have been pleased to return his affection, and be received into the stately but rather empty colonial mansion. But no. There was a cloud on the horizon in the shape of a lively and shrewd young farmer in the neighborhood who dared to enter the lists as a rival to the highborn Atwood.

One night Johnny propounded to Rosine a question that is considered of great importance by the young. The accessories were all there⁠—moonlight, oleanders, magnolias, and the mock-bird’s song. Whether or no the shadow of Pinkney Dawson, the prosperous young farmer, came between them, is not known; but Johnny was declined. Hesitatingly, blushingly, flutteringly, it is true⁠—but declined. Could the blood of an Atwood brook declination? Johnny bowed to the ground and went away with head high, but mortified and bruised in his pedigree and heart. A Hemstetter refuse an Atwood!

Among other accidents of that year was a Democratic President. Judge Atwood was a warhorse of Democracy. Johnny set the wheels moving. He would go away⁠—away! Rosine should never look upon his face again. Perhaps in years to come she would look back with regret upon the pure and faithful love that⁠—etc., etc.

The wheels of politics revolved, and John De Graffenreid Atwood was appointed United States Consul at Vibora. Just before leaving he dropped in at Hemstetter’s to say goodbye. Pink Dawson was there, of course, talking about his 80-acre field, and the 3-mile meadow, and the 200-acre pasture, and the 40-acre hill-tract. Johnny shook hands with Rosine as cooly as if he were only going to run up to Vicksburg for a week.

“If you happen to strike a good thing in the way of an investment down there, Johnny,” said Pink Dawson, “just let me know, will you? I reckon I could rustle up a thousand or two ’most any time for a profitable deal.”

“All right, Pink,” said Johnny, pleasantly. “If I strike anything I’ll let you know, sure.”

So Johnny went to New Orleans, and took a steamer down to his post at Vibora.

Vibora was a town of about 3,000 inhabitants, set in the curve of a little half-moon harbor. It lay on a narrow strip of alluvial deposit hemmed in by morose mountains at its rear, and by the sea in front. The population was Carib, Spanish-Indian half-breeds, and negroes, with a disturbing leaven of the froth and scum of half a dozen other nations. The streets were merely grass-grown spaces between the red-tiled, squatty houses. Through the grass were crisscrossing paths made by the bare feet of the dwellers. Two or three Americans and four or five Germans and French represented the more enlightened races. The sole source of the town’s life and income was the exportation of fruit, a little rubber, and a few of the valuable woods.

John De Graffenreid Atwood, the newly appointed consul, plunged into his work, which was principally to sprawl in a hammock, and to try to forget Rosine Hemstetter. We are to suppose that he has been thus occupied for one year. Then will begin the story of the exploit that made Johnny a hero in commerce, agriculture, and love.

Johnny ate of the lotus, root, stem, and flower. The tropics gobbled him up. They who dine on the lotus rarely consume it plain, as a healthy salad should be eaten. There is a sauce au diable that goes with it, and the distillers are the chefs who prepare it. And on Johnny’s menu card it read brandy and the native red rum. His particular friend in Vibora was Billy Keogh, an American, who was interested in mahogany. The two would sit on the little porch of the consulate at night and roar out great, indecorous songs, until the natives, slipping past in the grass outside, would shrug a shoulder and mutter things in Spanish to themselves about the “diablos Americanos.”

One day Johnny’s mozo brought the mail and dumped it on the table. Johnny leaned from his hammock, and fingered the four or five letters dejectedly. Keogh had come over from his bamboo shack in pajamas, although it was nearly noon, and was smoking and chopping lazily with a paper-knife at the legs of a centipede that crawled across the table. Johnny was in that mood of lotus-eating when the world tastes bitter in one’s mouth.

“Same old thing,” he complained. “Fool people writing for information about the country. They want to know all about raising coffee and fruit, and how to make a fortune without work. Half of ’em don’t even send stamps for an answer. They must think a consul has nothing to do but write letters. Open those letters for me, old man, and see what they want. I’m feeling too rocky to move.”

Keogh, acclimated beyond all possibility of ill-humor, drew his chair to the table with smiling compliance on his rose-pink countenance, and began to slit open the letters. Four of them were from citizens in various parts of the United States who seemed to regard the consul at Vibora as a cyclopaedia of information. They asked long lists of questions, numerically arranged, about the climate, products, possibilities, laws, business chances, and statistics of the country in which the consul had the honor representing his own government.

“Write ’em, please, Billy,” said that inert official, “just a line, referring them to the latest consular report. Tell ’em the State Department will be delighted to furnish the literary gems. Sign my name. Don’t let your pen scratch, Billy; it’ll keep me awake.”

“Don’t snore,” said Keogh, amiably, “and I’ll do your work for you. You need a corps of assistants, anyhow. Don’t see how you ever get out a report. Wake up a minute!⁠—here’s one more letter⁠—it’s from your own town, too⁠—Dalesburg.”

“That so?” murmured Johnny, showing a mild and obligatory interest. “What’s it about?”

“Postmaster writes,” explained Keogh. “Says a citizen of the town wants some facts and advice from you. Says the citizen has an idea in his head of coming down where you are and opening a shoe store. Wants to know if you think the business would pay. Says he’s heard of the boom along this coast, and wants to get in on the ground floor.”

In spite of the heat and his bad temper, Johnny’s hammock swayed with his laughter. Keogh laughed too; and the pet monkey on the top shelf of the bookcase chattered in shrill sympathy with the ironical reception of the letter from Dalesburg.

“Great bunions!” exclaimed the consul. “Shoe store! What’ll they ask about next, I wonder? Overcoat factory, I reckon. Say, Billy⁠—of our 3,000 citizens, how many do you suppose ever had on a pair of shoes?”

Keogh reflected judicially.

“Let’s see⁠—there’s you and me and⁠—”

“Not me,” said Johnny, promptly and incorrectly, holding up a foot encased in a disreputable deerskin zapato. “I haven’t been a victim to shoes in six months.”

“You’ve got ’em, anyhow,” went on Keogh. “And there’s Bridger, and Henschel, and Lutz, and Blanchard, and the two Lecouvres, and the quarantine doctor, and that Italian that’s agent for the banana company, and old Delgado⁠—no; he wears sandals. The comandante wears boots on parade day, and the juez politico wears cloth gaiters when he holds court. And⁠—oh, yes⁠—la Madama Mercedes Quintero Tomabilla Oliveras y Guerrera had on a pair of red kid slippers at the baile the other night. That’s about all. Don’t the soldiers at the cuartel?⁠—no, that’s so⁠—they are allowed shoes only when on the march. In town they turn their little toeses out to grass.”

“ ’Bout right,” agreed the consul. “Not over twenty out of the 3,000 ever felt leather on their walking arrangements. Oh, yes, Vibora is just the town for an enterprising shoe store⁠—that doesn’t want to part with its shoes. Wonder if old Patterson is trying to jolly me. He always was full of things he called jokes. We’ll jolly him back a few.”

Keogh dipped his pen, and wrote at Johnny’s dictation. Around many pauses, filled in with smoke and sundry travellings of the bottle and glasses, the following answer to the Dalesburg communication was perpetrated:

Mr. Obadiah Patterson,
Dalesburg, Miss.

Dear Sir: In reply to your favor of July 2nd, I have the honor to inform you that, according to my opinion, there is no place on the habitable globe that presents to the eye stronger evidence of the need of a first-class shoe store than does the town of Vilabora. There are 3,000 inhabitants in the place, and not a single shoe store! The situation speaks for itself. This coast is rapidly becoming the goal of enterprising business men, but the shoe business is one that has been sadly overlooked or neglected. In fact, there is a considerable number of our citizens actually without shoes at present.

Besides the want above mentioned, there is also a crying need for a brewery, a college of higher mathematics, a coal yard, and a clean and intellectual Punch and Judy show. I have the honor to be, sir,

Your Obt. Servant,

John De Graffenreid Atwood,

U.S. Consul at Vibora

P.S.⁠—Hello! Uncle Obadiah. How’s the old burg racking along? What would the government do without you and me? Look out for a green-headed parrot and a bunch of bananas soon, from your old friend

Johnny

“I throw in that postscript,” explained the consul, “so Uncle Obadiah won’t take offence at the official tone of the letter! Now, Billy, you get that correspondence fixed up and send Pancho to the estafeta with it. The Ariadne takes the mail out tomorrow if they make up that load of fruit today.”

The night programme in Vibora never varied. The recreations of the populace were soporific and flat. The people wandered about, barefoot, aimless, and silent, each with lighted cigar or cigarette. Looking down the dimly lighted ways you seemed to see a threading maze of brunette ghosts tangled with an accompanying procession of insane fireflies. In some houses the thrumming of lugubrious guitars added to the depression of the triste night. Giant tree-frogs rattled in the foliage as loudly as the end-man’s “bones” in a minstrel troupe. By nine o’clock the streets were vacant, and all were abed.

Nor at the consulate was there often a change of bill. Keogh came there nightly, for Vibora is close to the gratings of Avernus, and its one cool place was the consul’s little porch overlooking the sea. The brandy would be kept moving, and by ten o’clock sentiment would begin to stir in the heart of the self-exiled Johnny. Then he would relate to Keogh the story of his ended romance. Each night Keogh would be ready with untiring sympathy.

“But don’t think for a minute”⁠—thus would Johnny always conclude his woeful tale⁠—“that I’m grieving about that girl, Billy. I’ve forgotten her. She hardly ever enters my mind. If she would walk in that door right now my pulse wouldn’t gain a beat. That’s all over long ago.”

“Don’t I know it?” Keogh would answer. “Of course you’ve forgotten her. Proper thing to do. Wasn’t quite OK of her to listen to the knocks that⁠—er⁠—Dink Pawson kept giving you.”

“Pink Dawson!”⁠—a world of contempt would be in Johnny’s tones. “Poor white trash! Had a 500-acre farm, though, and that counted. Maybe I’ll get back at him some day. He told Rosine all about how wild I was, and kept her posted. All right. I never did anything low-down. Everybody in Mississippi knows the Atwoods. Say, Billy⁠—did you know my mother was a De Graffenreid?”

“Why, no,” Keogh would say; “is that so?” He had heard it some 300 times.

“Fact. The De Graffenreids of Hancock County. But I never think of that girl any more, do I, Billy?”

At this point Johnny would fall into a gentle slumber, and Keogh would saunter out to his own shack under the calabash tree at the edge of the plaza.

In a day or two the letter from the Dalesburg postmaster and its answer had been forgotten by the Vibora exiles. But on the 26th day of the July the fruit of the reply appeared upon the tree of events.

The Andador, a fruit steamer that visited Vibora regularly, drew into the harbor and anchored. The beach was lined with spectators while the quarantine doctor and the customhouse crew rowed out to attend to their duties.

An hour later Billy Keogh lounged into the consulate, clean and cool in his linen clothes, and grinning like a pleased shark.

“Guess what?” he said to Johnny, lounging in his hammock.

“Too hot to guess,” said Johnny, lazily.

“Your shoe-store man’s come,” said Keogh, rolling the sweet morsel on his tongue, “with a stock of goods big enough to supply the continent as far down as Tierra del Fuego. They’re carting his cases over to the customhouse now. Six barges full they brought ashore and have paddled back for the rest. Oh, ye saints in glory! won’t there be regalements in the air when he gets on to the joke and has an interview with Mr. Consul? It’ll be worth nine years in the tropics just to witness that one joyful moment.”

Keogh loved to take his mirth easily. He selected a clean place on the matting and lay upon the floor. The walls shook with his enjoyment. Johnny turned half over and blinked.

“Don’t tell me,” he said, “that anybody was fool enough to take that letter seriously.”

“Four-thousand-dollar stock of goods!” gasped Keogh, in ecstasy. “Talk about coals to Newcastle! Why didn’t he take a shipload of palm-leaf fans to Spitzbergen while he was about it? Saw the old codger on the beach. You ought to have been there when he put on his specs and squinted at the 500 or so barefooted citizens standing around.”

“Are you telling the truth, Billy?” asked the consul, weakly.

“Am I? You ought to see the buncoed gentleman’s daughter he brought along. Looks! She’d stack up like a thousand bricks at an inaugural ball. She makes the brick-dust señoritas here look like tar-babies.”

“Go on,” said Johnny, “if you can stop that asinine giggling. I hate to see a grown man make a laughing hyena of himself.”

“Name’s Hemstetter,” went on Keogh. “He’s a⁠—Hello! what’s the matter now?”

Johnny’s moccasined feet struck the floor with a thud as he wriggled out of his hammock.

“Get up, you idiot,” he said sternly, “or I’ll brain you with this inkstand. That’s Rosine and her father. Gad! what a drivelling idiot old Patterson is! Get up, here, Billy Keogh, and help me. What the devil are we going to do? Has all the world gone crazy?”

Keogh rose and dusted himself. He managed to regain a decorous demeanor.

“Situation has got to be met, Johnny,” he said, with some success at seriousness. “I didn’t think about its being your girl until you spoke. First thing to do is to get them comfortable quarters. You go down and face the music, and I’ll trot up to Henschel’s and see if Mrs. Henschel won’t take them in. They’ve got the decentest house in town.”

“Bless you, Billy!” said the consul. “I knew you wouldn’t desert me. The world’s bound to come to an end, but maybe we can stave it off for a day or two.”

Keogh hoisted his umbrella and set off for the Henschels’. Johnny put on his coat and hat. He picked up the brandy bottle, but set it down again without drinking, and marched bravely down to the beach.

In the shade of the customhouse walls he found Mr. Hemstetter and Rosine surrounded by a mass of gaping citizens. The customs officers were ducking and scraping, while the captain of the Andador interpreted the business of the new arrivals. Rosine looked healthy and very much alive. She was gazing at the strange scenes around her with amused interest. There was a faint blush upon her round cheek as she greeted her old admirer. Mr. Hemstetter shook hands with Johnny in a very friendly way. He was an oldish, impractical man⁠—one of the numerous class of erratic business men who are ever seeking a change.

“I am very glad to see you again, John⁠—may I call you John?” he said. “Let me thank you for your kind answer to our postmaster’s letter of inquiry. He volunteered to write to you on my behalf. I was looking about for something different in the way of a business in which the profits would be a little livelier. I had noticed in the papers that this coast was receiving much attention from investors. I am extremely grateful for your advice. I sold out everything I possessed and put the proceeds in as fine a stock of shoes as could be bought in the North. You have a picturesque town here, John. I hope business will be as good as your letter justifies me in anticipating.”

Johnny’s agony was abbreviated by the arrival of Keogh, who hurried up with the news that Mrs. Henshel woud be much pleased to place a couple of rooms at the service of Mr. Atwood’s friends. So there Mr. Hemstetter and his daughter were at once conducted and left to recuperate from their voyage, while Johny went down to see that the cases of shoes were safely stored after they had been opened and examined at the customhouse.

That night the consul and Keogh held a desperate consultation on the breezy porch.

“Send ’em back home,” suggested Keogh, reading Johnny’s thoughts.

“I would,” said the consul, after a little silence, “but I’ve been lying to you, Billy.”

“All right about that,” said Keogh, affably.

“I told you hundreds of times,” said Johnny, slowly, “that I’d forgotten that girl, didn’t I?”

“About three hundred and seventy-five,” admitted the monument of patience.

“I lied,” repeated the consul, “every time. I never forgot her for one minute. I was an obstinate ass for running away just because she said ‘no’ once. And I was too proud a fool to go back. I talked with Rosine a few minutes up at Henschel’s. I found out one thing. You remember the farmer fellow who was after her?”

“Dink Pawson?” asked Keogh.

“Pink Dawson. Well, he wasn’t a hill of beans to her. She says she didn’t believe the hard things he told her about me. But I’m sewed up now, Billy. That tomfool letter I sent has ruined whatever chance I had left. She’ll despise me when she finds out that her old father has been made the victim of a joke that a decent schoolboy wouldn’t have been guilty of. Shoes! Why he couldn’t sell twenty pairs of shoes in Vibora if he kept store here for twenty years. You put a pair of shoes on one of these Caribs or Spanish brown boys and what’d he do? Stand on his head and squeal until he’d kicked ’em off. None of ’em ever wore shoes and they never will. If I send ’em back home I’ll have to tell the whole story, and what’ll she think of me? I want that girl worse than ever, Billy, and now when she’s in reach I’ve lost her forever because I tried to be funny when the thermometer was at 102.”

“Keep cheerful,” said the optimistic Keogh. “Then let ’em open the store. I’ve been busy myself this afternoon. We can stir up a temporary boom in footgear anyhow. I’ll buy six pairs when the doors open. I’ve been around and seen all the fellows and explained the catastrophe. Lutz will take half a dozen pairs, Blanchard four, and the others anywhere from three to five. Old man Lecouvre is good for a dozen pairs, for he caught a glimpse of Miss Hemstetter, and he’s a Frenchman.”

“A dozen customers,” said Johnny, “for a $4,000 stock of shoes! It won’t work. There’s a big problem here to figure out. You go home, Billy, and leave me alone. I’ve got to work at it all by myself. Take that bottle of three-star along with you⁠—no, sir; not another ounce of booze for the United States consul. I’ll sit here tonight and pull out the think stop. If there’s a soft place on this proposition anywhere I’ll land on it. If there isn’t there’ll be another wreck to the credit of the gorgeous tropics.”

Keogh left, feeling that he could be of no use. Johnny laid a handful of cigars on a table and stretched himself in a steamer chair. When the sudden daylight broke, silvering the harbor ripples, he was still sitting there. Then he got up, whistling a little tune, and took his bath.

At nine o’clock he walked down to the dingy little cable office and hung for half an hour over a blank. The result of his application was the following message which he had transmitted at a cost of $33:

To Pinkney Dawson

Dalesburg, Miss.

Draft for $100 comes to you next mail. Ship me immediately 500 pounds stiff, dry cockleburrs. New use here in arts. Market price twenty cents pound. Further orders likely. Rush.

Within three or four days a suitable building was secured for Mr. Hemstetter’s store on the main street of the town which ran parallel to the beach. The rent was moderate, and the stock of shoes made a fine showing on the shelves in their neat, white boxes.

Johnny’s friends stood by him loyally. On the first day Keogh strolled into the store about once every hour, and bought a pair of shoes. After he had purchased a pair each of extension soles, congress gaiters, button kids, gum boots, suede slippers, low-quartered calfs and dancing pumps, he sought out Johnny to find if there were any more kinds he could call for. The other English-speaking residents also played their parts nobly, by buying often and liberallly. Keogh marshalled them and made them distribute their patronage, thus keeping up a fair run of trade for about a week. Mr. Hemstetter was gratified with the business done thus far, but expressed some surprise that the natives were so backward with their custom.

“Oh, they’re awfully shy,” explained Johnny. “They’ll get the habit pretty soon and you’ll do some lively business with Maduro gang.”

Two weeks after the consul sent his cable, a fruit steamer brought him a huge, mysterious brown bale of some unknown commodity. Johnny’s influence with the customhouse people was sufficiently strong for him to get the goods turned over to him without the usual inspection. He had the bale taken to the consulate and snugly stowed in the backroom. That night he ripped open a corner of it and took out a handful of the cockleburrs. They were the ripe August product as hard as filberts and bristling with spines and tough and sharp as needles. Johnny whistled his same little tune again, and went to find Billy Keogh.

Later in the night, when Vibora was steeped in slumber, he and Billy went forth into the deserted streets with their coats bulging like balloons. All up and down the main street they went, sowing the sharp burrs carefully in the sand, along every footpath, upon every yard of grass between the silent houses. No place where the foot of man, woman, or child might fall was slighted. And then they took the side streets and byways, missing none. Many trips they made to and from the prickly hoard. They sowed with the accuracy of Satan sowing tares and with the perseverance of Paul planting. And then, late in the night, they laid themselves down to sleep calmly as great generals do after laying their plans in accordance with the revised tactics.

With the first blush of dawn the purveyors of fruits and meats arranged their wares in and around the little market-house. Next from every ’dobe and palm hut and grass-thatched shack and dim patio glided women⁠—black women, brown women, lemon-colored women, women dun and yellow and tawny. They were the marketers starting to purchase the family supply of cassava, plantains, meat, fowls, and tortillas. Décoletté they were and bare-armed and barefooted, with a single skirt reaching below the knee. Stolid and ox-eyed, they stepped from their doorways into the narrow paths or upon the soft grass of the streets.

The first to emerge uttered ambiguous squeals, and raised one foot quickly. Another step and they sat down, with shrill cries of alarm, to pick at the new and painful insects that had stung them upon the feet. “Que picadores diablos!” they screeched to one another across the narrow ways. Some tried the grass instead of the paths, but there they were also stung and bitten by the strange little prickly balls. They plumped down in the grass, and added their lamentations to those of their sisters in the sandy paths. All through the town was heard the plaint of feminine jabber. The vendors in the market wondered why no customers came.

Then men, lords of the earth, came forth. They, too, began to hop, to dance, to limp, and to curse. They stood stranded and foolish, or stooped to pluck at the scourge that attacked their feet and ankles. Some loudly proclaimed the pest to be poisonous insects of an unknown species.

And then the children ran out for their morning romp. And now to the uproar was added the howls of limping infants and cockleburred childhood. Every minute the advancing day brought forth fresh victims.

Doña Maria Castillas y Buenventura de las Casas stepped from her honored doorway, as was her daily custom, to procure fresh bread from the panaderia across the street. She was clad in a skirt of flowered yellow satin, a chemise of ruffled linen, and wore a purple mantilla from the looms of Spain. Her lemon-tinted feet, alas! were bare. Her progress was majestic, for were not her ancestors hidalgos of Aragon? Three steps she made across the velvety grass, and set her aristocratic sole upon a bunch of Johnny’s burrs. Doña Maria Castillas y Buenventura de las Casas emitted a yowl even as a wildcat. Turning about, she fell upon hands and knees, and crawled⁠—ay, like a beast of the fields she crawled back to her honorable doorsill.

Don Señor Ildefonso Federico Valdazar, Juez de la Paz, weighing 20 stone, attempted to convey his bulk to the cantina at the corner of the plaza in order to assuage his matutinal thirst. The first plunge of his unshod foot into the cool grass struck a concealed mine. Don Ildefonso fell like a crumbled cathedral, crying out that he had been fatally bitten by a deadly scorpion. Everywhere were the shoeless citizens hopping, stumbling, limping, and picking from their feet the venemous insects that had come in a single night to harass them.

The first to perceive the remedy was Simon Benavides, the barber, a man of travel and education. Sitting upon a stone, he plucked burrs from his toes, and made oration:

“Behold, my friends, these bugs of the devil! I know them well. They soar through the skies in swarms like pigeons. These are dead ones that fell during the night. In Yucatan I have seen them as large as oranges. No! There they hiss like serpents, and have wings like bats. It is the shoes⁠—the shoes that one needs! Zapatos⁠—zapatos por mi!

Simon hobbled to Mr. Hemstetter’s store and bought shoes. Coming out, he swaggered with impunity down the street. Men, women, and children took up the cry, “Zapatos!” That day Mr. Hemstetter sold 300 pairs of shoes.

Each night Johnny and Keogh sowed the crop that grew dollars by day. At the end of ten days, two-thirds of the stock of shoes were sold, and the store of cockleburrs were exhausted. Johnny cabled to Pink Dawson for another 500 pounds, paying twenty cents, as before.

One night Johnny took Rosine under a mango-tree and confessed everything. Then he repeated a question he had asked her once before, and wound up with a masterly “Now, what are you going to do about it?”

Rosine looked him in the eye and said: “You are a very wicked man. What am I going to do about it? How can I do anything? I have always understood that it took a minister to attend to the matter properly.”

Johnny bolted down the street, and routed out Keogh and a malarial Methodist minister who had a chapel in a lemon-grove. They all went to Henschel’s, and Johnny and Rosine were married, while Mrs. Henschel wept miserably with joy. Then Johnny went down to the store and addressed Mr. Hemstetter as “father-in-law,” and also confessed to him. Mr. Hemstetter put on his spectacles and said: “You strike me as being a most extraordinary young scamp. Now, what about the rest of the stock of shoes?”

When the second invoice of cockleburrs came in Johnny loaded them and the remainder of the shoes into a sloop and sailed down to Carrizo, a town twelve miles below. There he repeated the Vibora success, and came back with a bag of money and not so much as a shoestring.

As soon as Johnny could get the department to accept his resignation he left for the States with his happy bride and Mr. Hemstetter, who was inclined to attribute the success of the shoe enterprise to his own business sagacity. Keogh was appointed consul pro tempore.

Four days after Johnny’s departure a three-masted schooner tacked into the harbor, and a sunburnt young man with a shrewd eye was rowed ashore. He inquired the way to the consul’s office, and got him thither at a nervous gait.

Keogh was drawing a caricature of Uncle Sam on a pad of official letterheads. He looked up at his visitor.

“Where’s Johnny Atwood?” asked the sunburnt young man, in a business tone of voice.

“Gone,” said Keogh, working carefully at Uncle Sam’s goatee.

“Just like him,” said the nut-brown one. “Always gallivanting around instead of ’tending to business.”

“I’m looking after the business, just now,” remarked Keogh, making large stars on his Uncle’s vest.

“Are you⁠—then, say!⁠—I’ve got a whole load of them things in the basement of that ship out in that pond. I’ve got four tons and a half! Where’s the factory?”

“What things? What factory?” asked the new consul, with mild interest.

“Why, them cockleburrs,” said the visitor. “You know. Where’s the factory where you use ’em? I’ll give you a bargain in this lot. I’ve had everybody for ten miles around picking ’em for a month. I hired this ship to bring ’em over in. Fifteen cents a pound takes the load. Shall I drive the ship in and hitch?”

A look of supreme, almost incredulous delight dawned in Keogh’s ruddy countenance. He dropped his pencil. His eyes gloated upon his visitor. He trembled lest this great joy he felt was approaching should turn into a dream.

“For God’s sake, tell me,” said Keogh, earnestly, “are you Dink Pawson?”

“My name is Pink Dawson,” said the cornerer of the burr market.

Billy Keogh slid gently from his chair to his favorite strip of matting on the floor.

There were not many sounds in Vibora on that sultry afternoon. Of such that were may be mentioned a noise of unrighteous laughter from an Irish-American, while a sunburnt young man with a shrewd eye looked upon him with amazement. Also the “tramp, tramp” of many well-shod feet in the main street outside. Also the lonesome wash of the waves that beat along the shores of the Spanish Main.

The Proem

By the Carpenter

They will tell you in Anchuria, that President Miraflores, of that volatile republic, died by his own hand in the coast town of Coralio; that he had reached thus far in flight from the inconveniences of an imminent revolution; and that one hundred thousand dollars, government funds, which he carried with him in an American leather valise as a souvenir of his tempestuous administration, was never afterward recovered.

For a real, a boy will show you his grave. It is back of the town near a little bridge that spans a mangrove swamp. A plain slab of wood stands at its head. Someone has burned upon the headstone with a hot iron this inscription:

Ramon Angel de las Cruzes

Y miraflores

Presidente de la Republica

de Anchuria

Que Sea su Juez Dios

It is characteristic of this buoyant people that they pursue no man beyond the grave. “Let God be his judge!”⁠—Even with the hundred thousand unfound, though greatly coveted, the hue and cry went no further than that.

To the stranger or the guest the people of Coralio will relate the story of the tragic end of their former president; how he strove to escape from the country with the public funds and also with Doña Isabel Guilbert, the young American opera singer; and how, being apprehended by members of the opposing political party in Coralio, he shot himself through the head rather than give up the funds, and, in consequence, the Señorita Guilbert. They will relate further that Doña Isabel, her adventurous bark of fortune shoaled by the simultaneous loss of her distinguished admirer and the souvenir hundred thousand, dropped anchor on this stagnant coast, awaiting a rising tide.

They say, in Coralio, that she found a prompt and prosperous tide in the form of Frank Goodwin, an American resident of the town, an investor who had grown wealthy by dealing in the products of the country⁠—a banana king, a rubber prince, a sarsaparilla, indigo, and mahogany baron. The Señorita Guilbert, you will be told, married Señor Goodwin one month after the president’s death, thus, in the very moment when Fortune had ceased to smile, wresting from her a gift greater than the prize withdrawn.

Of the American, Don Frank Goodwin, and of his wife the natives have nothing but good to say. Don Frank has lived among them for years, and has compelled their respect. His lady is easily queen of what social life the sober coast affords. The wife of the governor of the district, herself, who was of the proud Castilian family of Monteleon y Dolorosa de los Santos y Mendez, feels honoured to unfold her napkin with olive-hued, ringed hands at the table of Señora Goodwin. Were you to refer (with your northern prejudices) to the vivacious past of Mrs. Goodwin when her audacious and gleeful abandon in light opera captured the mature president’s fancy, or to her share in that statesman’s downfall and malfeasance, the Latin shrug of the shoulder would be your only answer and rebuttal. What prejudices there were in Coralio concerning Señora Goodwin seemed now to be in her favour, whatever they had been in the past.

It would seem that the story is ended, instead of begun; that the close of tragedy and the climax of a romance have covered the ground of interest; but, to the more curious reader it shall be some slight instruction to trace the close threads that underlie the ingenuous web of circumstances.

The headpiece bearing the name of President Miraflores is daily scrubbed with soap-bark and sand. An old half-breed Indian tends the grave with fidelity and the dawdling minuteness of inherited sloth. He chops down the weeds and ever-springing grass with his machete, he plucks ants and scorpions and beetles from it with his horny fingers, and sprinkles its turf with water from the plaza fountain. There is no grave anywhere so well kept and ordered.

Only by following out the underlying threads will it be made clear why the old Indian, Galvez, is secretly paid to keep green the grave of President Miraflores by one who never saw that unfortunate statesman in life or in death, and why that one was wont to walk in the twilight, casting from a distance looks of gentle sadness upon that unhonoured mound.

Elsewhere than at Coralio one learns of the impetuous career of Isabel Guilbert. New Orleans gave her birth and the mingled French and Spanish creole nature that tinctured her life with such turbulence and warmth. She had little education, but a knowledge of men and motives that seemed to have come by instinct. Far beyond the common woman was she endowed with intrepid rashness, with a love for the pursuit of adventure to the brink of danger, and with desire for the pleasures of life. Her spirit was one to chafe under any curb; she was Eve after the fall, but before the bitterness of it was felt. She wore life as a rose in her bosom.

Of the legion of men who had been at her feet it was said that but one was so fortunate as to engage her fancy. To President Miraflores, the brilliant but unstable ruler of Anchuria, she yielded the key to her resolute heart. How, then, do we find her (as the Coralians would have told you) the wife of Frank Goodwin, and happily living a life of dull and dreamy inaction?

The underlying threads reach far, stretching across the sea. Following them out it will be made plain why “Shorty” O’Day, of the Columbia Detective Agency, resigned his position. And, for a lighter pastime, it shall be a duty and a pleasing sport to wander with Momus beneath the tropic stars where Melpomene once stalked austere. Now to cause laughter to echo from those lavish jungles and frowning crags where formerly rang the cries of pirates’ victims; to lay aside pike and cutlass and attack with quip and jollity; to draw one saving titter of mirth from the rusty casque of Romance⁠—this were pleasant to do in the shade of the lemon-trees on that coast that is curved like lips set for smiling.

For there are yet tales of the Spanish Main. That segment of continent washed by the tempestuous Caribbean, and presenting to the sea a formidable border of tropical jungle topped by the overweening Cordilleras, is still begirt by mystery and romance. In past times buccaneers and revolutionists roused the echoes of its cliffs, and the condor wheeled perpetually above where, in the green groves, they made food for him with their matchlocks and toledos. Taken and retaken by sea rovers, by adverse powers and by sudden uprising of rebellious factions, the historic 300 miles of adventurous coast has scarcely known for hundreds of years whom rightly to call its master. Pizarro, Balboa, Sir Francis Drake, and Bolivar did what they could to make it a part of Christendom. Sir John Morgan, Lafitte and other eminent swashbucklers bombarded and pounded it in the name of Abaddon.

The game still goes on. The guns of the rovers are silenced; but the tintype man, the enlarged photograph brigand, the kodaking tourist and the scouts of the gentle brigade of fakirs have found it out, and carry on the work. The hucksters of Germany, France, and Sicily now bag its small change across their counters. Gentleman adventurers throng the waiting-rooms of its rulers with proposals for railways and concessions. The little opéra-bouffe nations play at government and intrigue until some day a big, silent gunboat glides into the offing and warns them not to break their toys. And with these changes comes also the small adventurer, with empty pockets to fill, light of heart, busy-brained⁠—the modern fairy prince, bearing an alarm clock with which, more surely than by the sentimental kiss, to awaken the beautiful tropics from their centuries’ sleep. Generally he wears a shamrock, which he matches pridefully against the extravagant palms; and it is he who has driven Melpomene to the wings, and set Comedy to dancing before the footlights of the Southern Cross.

So, there is a little tale to tell of many things. Perhaps to the promiscuous ear of the Walrus it shall come with most avail; for in it there are indeed shoes and ships and sealing-wax and cabbage-palms and presidents instead of kings.

Add to these a little love and counterplotting, and scatter everywhere throughout the maze a trail of tropical dollars⁠—dollars warmed no more by the torrid sun than by the hot palms of the scouts of Fortune⁠—and, after all, here seems to be Life, itself, with talk enough to weary the most garrulous of Walruses.

“Fox-In-The-Morning”

Coralio reclined, in the midday heat, like some vacuous beauty lounging in a guarded harem. The town lay at the sea’s edge on a strip of alluvial coast. It was set like a little pearl in an emerald band. Behind it, and seeming almost to topple, imminent, above it, rose the sea-following range of the Cordilleras. In front the sea was spread, a smiling jailer, but even more incorruptible than the frowning mountains. The waves swished along the smooth beach; the parrots screamed in the orange and ceiba-trees; the palms waved their limber fronds foolishly like an awkward chorus at the prima donna’s cue to enter.

Suddenly the town was full of excitement. A native boy dashed down a grass-grown street, shrieking: “Busca el Señor Goodwin. Ha venido un telégrafo por el!

The word passed quickly. Telegrams do not often come to anyone in Coralio. The cry for Señor Goodwin was taken up by a dozen officious voices. The main street running parallel to the beach became populated with those who desired to expedite the delivery of the despatch. Knots of women with complexions varying from palest olive to deepest brown gathered at street corners and plaintively carolled: “Un telégrafo por Señor Goodwin!” The comandante, Don Señor el Coronel Encarnación Rios, who was loyal to the Ins and suspected Goodwin’s devotion to the Outs, hissed: “Aha!” and wrote in his secret memorandum book the accusive fact that Señor Goodwin had on that momentous date received a telegram.

In the midst of the hullabaloo a man stepped to the door of a small wooden building and looked out. Above the door was a sign that read “Keogh and Clancy”⁠—a nomenclature that seemed not to be indigenous to that tropical soil. The man in the door was Billy Keogh, scout of fortune and progress and latter-day rover of the Spanish Main. Tintypes and photographs were the weapons with which Keogh and Clancy were at that time assailing the hopeless shores. Outside the shop were set two large frames filled with specimens of their art and skill.

Keogh leaned in the doorway, his bold and humorous countenance wearing a look of interest at the unusual influx of life and sound into the street. When the meaning of the disturbance became clear to him he placed a hand beside his mouth and shouted: “Hey! Frank!” in such a robustious voice that the feeble clamour of the natives was drowned and silenced.

Fifty yards away, on the seaward side of the street, stood the abode of the consul for the United States. Out from the door of this building tumbled Goodwin at the call. He had been smoking with Willard Geddie, the consul, on the back porch of the consulate, which was conceded to be the coolest spot in Coralio.

“Hurry up,” shouted Keogh. “There’s a riot in town on account of a telegram that’s come for you. You want to be careful about these things, my boy. It won’t do to trifle with the feelings of the public this way. You’ll be getting a pink note some day with violet scent on it; and then the country’ll be steeped in the throes of a revolution.”

Goodwin had strolled up the street and met the boy with the message. The ox-eyed women gazed at him with shy admiration, for his type drew them. He was big, blonde, and jauntily dressed in white linen, with buckskin zapatos. His manner was courtly, with a sort of kindly truculence in it, tempered by a merciful eye. When the telegram had been delivered, and the bearer of it dismissed with a gratuity, the relieved populace returned to the contiguities of shade from which curiosity had drawn it⁠—the women to their baking in the mud ovens under the orange-trees, or to the interminable combing of their long, straight hair; the men to their cigarettes and gossip in the cantinas.

Goodwin sat on Keogh’s doorstep, and read his telegram. It was from Bob Englehart, an American, who lived in San Mateo, the capital city of Anchuria, eighty miles in the interior. Englehart was a gold miner, an ardent revolutionist and “good people.” That he was a man of resource and imagination was proven by the telegram he had sent. It had been his task to send a confidential message to his friend in Coralio. This could not have been accomplished in either Spanish or English, for the eye politic in Anchuria was an active one. The Ins and the Outs were perpetually on their guard. But Englehart was a diplomatist. There existed but one code upon which he might make requisition with promise of safety⁠—the great and potent code of Slang. So, here is the message that slipped, unconstrued, through the fingers of curious officials, and came to the eye of Goodwin:

His Nibs skedaddled yesterday per jackrabbit line with all the coin in the kitty and the bundle of muslin he’s spoony about. The boodle is six figures short. Our crowd in good shape, but we need the spondulicks. You collar it. The main guy and the dry goods are headed for the briny. You know what to do.

Bob

This screed, remarkable as it was, had no mystery for Goodwin. He was the most successful of the small advance-guard of speculative Americans that had invaded Anchuria, and he had not reached that enviable pinnacle without having well exercised the arts of foresight and deduction. He had taken up political intrigue as a matter of business. He was acute enough to wield a certain influence among the leading schemers, and he was prosperous enough to be able to purchase the respect of the petty officeholders. There was always a revolutionary party; and to it he had always allied himself; for the adherents of a new administration received the rewards of their labours. There was now a Liberal party seeking to overturn President Miraflores. If the wheel successfully revolved, Goodwin stood to win a concession to 30,000 manzanas of the finest coffee lands in the interior. Certain incidents in the recent career of President Miraflores had excited a shrewd suspicion in Goodwin’s mind that the government was near a dissolution from another cause than that of a revolution, and now Englehart’s telegram had come as a corroboration of his wisdom.

The telegram, which had remained unintelligible to the Anchurian linguists who had applied to it in vain their knowledge of Spanish and elemental English, conveyed a stimulating piece of news to Goodwin’s understanding. It informed him that the president of the republic had decamped from the capital city with the contents of the treasury. Furthermore, that he was accompanied in his flight by that winning adventuress Isabel Guilbert, the opera singer, whose troupe of performers had been entertained by the president at San Mateo during the past month on a scale less modest than that with which royal visitors are often content. The reference to the “jackrabbit line” could mean nothing else than the mule-back system of transport that prevailed between Coralio and the capital. The hint that the “boodle” was “six figures short” made the condition of the national treasury lamentably clear. Also it was convincingly true that the ingoing party⁠—its way now made a pacific one⁠—would need the “spondulicks.” Unless its pledges should be fulfilled, and the spoils held for the delectation of the victors, precarious indeed, would be the position of the new government. Therefore it was exceeding necessary to “collar the main guy,” and recapture the sinews of war and government.

Goodwin handed the message to Keogh.

“Read that, Billy,” he said. “It’s from Bob Englehart. Can you manage the cipher?”

Keogh sat in the other half of the doorway, and carefully perused the telegram.

“ ’Tis not a cipher,” he said, finally. “ ’Tis what they call literature, and that’s a system of language put in the mouths of people that they’ve never been introduced to by writers of imagination. The magazines invented it, but I never knew before that President Norvin Green had stamped it with the seal of his approval. ’Tis now no longer literature, but language. The dictionaries tried, but they couldn’t make it go for anything but dialect. Sure, now that the Western Union endorses it, it won’t be long till a race of people will spring up that speaks it.”

“You’re running too much to philology, Billy,” said Goodwin. “Do you make out the meaning of it?”

“Sure,” replied the philosopher of Fortune. “All languages come easy to the man who must know ’em. I’ve even failed to misunderstand an order to evacuate in classical Chinese when it was backed up by the muzzle of a breechloader. This little literary essay I hold in my hands means a game of Fox-in-the-Morning. Ever play that, Frank, when you was a kid?”

“I think so,” said Goodwin, laughing. “You join hands all ’round, and⁠—”

“You do not,” interrupted Keogh. “You’ve got a fine sporting game mixed up in your head with ‘All Around the Rosebush.’ The spirit of ‘Fox-in-the-Morning’ is opposed to the holding of hands. I’ll tell you how it’s played. This president man and his companion in play, they stand up over in San Mateo, ready for the run, and shout: ‘Fox-in-the-Morning!’ Me and you, standing here, we say: ‘Goose and the Gander!’ They say: ‘How many miles is it to London town?’ We say: ‘Only a few, if your legs are long enough. How many comes out?’ They say: ‘More than you’re able to catch.’ And then the game commences.”

“I catch the idea,” said Goodwin. “It won’t do to let the goose and gander slip through our fingers, Billy; their feathers are too valuable. Our crowd is prepared and able to step into the shoes of the government at once; but with the treasury empty we’d stay in power about as long as a tenderfoot would stick on an untamed bronco. We must play the fox on every foot of the coast to prevent their getting out of the country.”

“By the mule-back schedule,” said Keogh, “it’s five days down from San Mateo. We’ve got plenty of time to set our outposts. There’s only three places on the coast where they can hope to sail from⁠—here and Solitas and Alazan. They’re the only points we’ll have to guard. It’s as easy as a chess problem⁠—fox to play, and mate in three moves. Oh, goosey, goosey, gander, whither do you wander? By the blessing of the literary telegraph the boodle of this benighted fatherland shall be preserved to the honest political party that is seeking to overthrow it.”

The situation had been justly outlined by Keogh. The down trail from the capital was at all times a weary road to travel. A jiggety-joggety journey it was; ice-cold and hot, wet and dry. The trail climbed appalling mountains, wound like a rotten string about the brows of breathless precipices, plunged through chilling snow-fed streams, and wriggled like a snake through sunless forests teeming with menacing insect and animal life. After descending to the foothills it turned to a trident, the central prong ending at Alazan. Another branched off to Coralio; the third penetrated to Solitas. Between the sea and the foothills stretched the five miles breadth of alluvial coast. Here was the flora of the tropics in its rankest and most prodigal growth. Spaces here and there had been wrested from the jungle and planted with bananas and cane and orange groves. The rest was a riot of wild vegetation, the home of monkeys, tapirs, jaguars, alligators and prodigious reptiles and insects. Where no road was cut a serpent could scarcely make its way through the tangle of vines and creepers. Across the treacherous mangrove swamps few things without wings could safely pass. Therefore the fugitives could hope to reach the coast only by one of the routes named.

“Keep the matter quiet, Billy,” advised Goodwin. “We don’t want the Ins to know that the president is in flight. I suppose Bob’s information is something of a scoop in the capital as yet. Otherwise he would not have tried to make his message a confidential one; and besides, everybody would have heard the news. I’m going around now to see Dr. Zavalla, and start a man up the trail to cut the telegraph wire.”

As Goodwin rose, Keogh threw his hat upon the grass by the door and expelled a tremendous sigh.

“What’s the trouble, Billy?” asked Goodwin, pausing. “That’s the first time I ever heard you sigh.”

“ ’Tis the last,” said Keogh. “With that sorrowful puff of wind I resign myself to a life of praiseworthy but harassing honesty. What are tintypes, if you please, to the opportunities of the great and hilarious class of ganders and geese? Not that I would be a president, Frank⁠—and the boodle he’s got is too big for me to handle⁠—but in some ways I feel my conscience hurting me for addicting myself to photographing a nation instead of running away with it. Frank, did you ever see the ‘bundle of muslin’ that His Excellency has wrapped up and carried off?”

“Isabel Guilbert?” said Goodwin, laughing. “No, I never did. From what I’ve heard of her, though, I imagine that she wouldn’t stick at anything to carry her point. Don’t get romantic, Billy. Sometimes I begin to fear that there’s Irish blood in your ancestry.”

“I never saw her either,” went on Keogh; “but they say she’s got all the ladies of mythology, sculpture, and fiction reduced to chromos. They say she can look at a man once, and he’ll turn monkey and climb trees to pick coconuts for her. Think of that president man with Lord knows how many hundreds of thousands of dollars in one hand, and this muslin siren in the other, galloping down hill on a sympathetic mule amid songbirds and flowers! And here is Billy Keogh, because he is virtuous, condemned to the unprofitable swindle of slandering the faces of missing links on tin for an honest living! ’Tis an injustice of nature.”

“Cheer up,” said Goodwin. “You are a pretty poor fox to be envying a gander. Maybe the enchanting Guilbert will take a fancy to you and your tintypes after we impoverish her royal escort.”

“She could do worse,” reflected Keogh; “but she won’t. ’Tis not a tintype gallery, but the gallery of the gods that she’s fitted to adorn. She’s a very wicked lady, and the president man is in luck. But I hear Clancy swearing in the back room for having to do all the work.” And Keogh plunged for the rear of the “gallery,” whistling gaily in a spontaneous way that belied his recent sigh over the questionable good luck of the flying president.

Goodwin turned from the main street into a much narrower one that intersected it at a right angle.

These side streets were covered by a growth of thick, rank grass, which was kept to a navigable shortness by the machetes of the police. Stone sidewalks, little more than a ledge in width, ran along the base of the mean and monotonous adobe houses. At the outskirts of the village these streets dwindled to nothing; and here were set the palm-thatched huts of the Caribs and the poorer natives, and the shabby cabins of negroes from Jamaica and the West India islands. A few structures raised their heads above the red-tiled roofs of the one-story houses⁠—the bell tower of the Calaboza, the Hotel de los Estranjeros, the residence of the Vesuvius Fruit Company’s agent, the store and residence of Bernard Brannigan, a ruined cathedral in which Columbus had once set foot, and, most imposing of all, the Casa Morena⁠—the summer “White House” of the President of Anchuria. On the principal street running along the beach⁠—the Broadway of Coralio⁠—were the larger stores, the government bodega and post-office, the cuartel, the rum-shops and the market place.

On his way Goodwin passed the house of Bernard Brannigan. It was a modern wooden building, two stories in height. The ground floor was occupied by Brannigan’s store, the upper one contained the living apartments. A wide cool porch ran around the house half way up its outer walls. A handsome, vivacious girl neatly dressed in flowing white leaned over the railing and smiled down upon Goodwin. She was no darker than many an Andalusian of high descent; and she sparkled and glowed like a tropical moonlight.

“Good evening, Miss Paula,” said Goodwin, taking off his hat, with his ready smile. There was little difference in his manner whether he addressed women or men. Everybody in Coralio liked to receive the salutation of the big American.

“Is there any news, Mr. Goodwin? Please don’t say no. Isn’t it warm? I feel just like Mariana in her moated grange⁠—or was it a range?⁠—it’s hot enough.”

“No, there’s no news to tell, I believe,” said Goodwin, with a mischievous look in his eye, “except that old Geddie is getting grumpier and crosser every day. If something doesn’t happen to relieve his mind I’ll have to quit smoking on his back porch⁠—and there’s no other place available that is cool enough.”

“He isn’t grumpy,” said Paula Brannigan, impulsively, “when he⁠—”

But she ceased suddenly, and drew back with a deepening colour; for her mother had been a mestizo lady, and the Spanish blood had brought to Paula a certain shyness that was an adornment to the other half of her demonstrative nature.

The Lotus and the Bottle

Willard Geddie, consul for the United States in Coralio, was working leisurely on his yearly report. Goodwin, who had strolled in as he did daily for a smoke on the much coveted porch, had found him so absorbed in his work that he departed after roundly abusing the consul for his lack of hospitality.

“I shall complain to the civil service department,” said Goodwin;⁠—“or is it a department?⁠—perhaps it’s only a theory. One gets neither civility nor service from you. You won’t talk; and you won’t set out anything to drink. What kind of a way is that of representing your government?”

Goodwin strolled out and across to the hotel to see if he could bully the quarantine doctor into a game on Coralio’s solitary billiard table. His plans were completed for the interception of the fugitives from the capital; and now it was but a waiting game that he had to play.

The consul was interested in his report. He was only twenty-four; and he had not been in Coralio long enough for his enthusiasm to cool in the heat of the tropics⁠—a paradox that may be allowed between Cancer and Capricorn.

So many thousand bunches of bananas, so many thousand oranges and coconuts, so many ounces of gold dust, pounds of rubber, coffee, indigo and sarsaparilla⁠—actually, exports were twenty percent greater than for the previous year!

A little thrill of satisfaction ran through the consul. Perhaps, he thought, the State Department, upon reading his introduction, would notice⁠—and then he leaned back in his chair and laughed. He was getting as bad as the others. For the moment he had forgotten that Coralio was an insignificant town in an insignificant republic lying along the byways of a second-rate sea. He thought of Gregg, the quarantine doctor, who subscribed for the London Lancet, expecting to find it quoting his reports to the home Board of Health concerning the yellow fever germ. The consul knew that not one in fifty of his acquaintances in the States had ever heard of Coralio. He knew that two men, at any rate, would have to read his report⁠—some underling in the State Department and a compositor in the Public Printing Office. Perhaps the typesticker would note the increase of commerce in Coralio, and speak of it, over the cheese and beer, to a friend.

He had just written: “Most unaccountable is the supineness of the large exporters in the United States in permitting the French and German houses to practically control the trade interests of this rich and productive country”⁠—when he heard the hoarse notes of a steamer’s siren.

Geddie laid down his pen and gathered his Panama hat and umbrella. By the sound he knew it to be the Valhalla, one of the line of fruit vessels plying for the Vesuvius Company. Down to niños of five years, everyone in Coralio could name you each incoming steamer by the note of her siren.

The consul sauntered by a roundabout, shaded way to the beach. By reason of long practice he gauged his stroll so accurately that by the time he arrived on the sandy shore the boat of the customs officials was rowing back from the steamer, which had been boarded and inspected according to the laws of Anchuria.

There is no harbour at Coralio. Vessels of the draught of the Valhalla must ride at anchor a mile from shore. When they take on fruit it is conveyed on lighters and freighter sloops. At Solitas, where there was a fine harbour, ships of many kinds were to be seen, but in the roadstead off Coralio scarcely any save the fruiters paused. Now and then a tramp coaster, or a mysterious brig from Spain, or a saucy French barque would hang innocently for a few days in the offing. Then the customhouse crew would become doubly vigilant and wary. At night a sloop or two would be making strange trips in and out along the shore; and in the morning the stock of Three-Star Hennessey, wines and drygoods in Coralio would be found vastly increased. It has also been said that the customs officials jingled more silver in the pockets of their red-striped trousers, and that the record books showed no increase in import duties received.

The customs boat and the Valhalla gig reached the shore at the same time. When they grounded in the shallow water there was still five yards of rolling surf between them and dry sand. Then half-clothed Caribs dashed into the water, and brought in on their backs the Valhalla’s purser and the little native officials in their cotton undershirts, blue trousers with red stripes, and flapping straw hats.

At college Geddie had been a treasure as a first-baseman. He now closed his umbrella, stuck it upright in the sand, and stooped, with his hands resting upon his knees. The purser, burlesquing the pitcher’s contortions, hurled at the consul the heavy roll of newspapers, tied with a string, that the steamer always brought for him. Geddie leaped high and caught the roll with a sounding “thwack.” The loungers on the beach⁠—about a third of the population of the town⁠—laughed and applauded delightedly. Every week they expected to see that roll of papers delivered and received in that same manner, and they were never disappointed. Innovations did not flourish in Coralio.

The consul re-hoisted his umbrella and walked back to the consulate.

This home of a great nation’s representative was a wooden structure of two rooms, with a native-built gallery of poles, bamboo and nipa palm running on three sides of it. One room was the official apartment, furnished chastely with a flattop desk, a hammock, and three uncomfortable cane-seated chairs. Engravings of the first and latest president of the country represented hung against the wall. The other room was the consul’s living apartment.

It was eleven o’clock when he returned from the beach, and therefore breakfast time. Chanca, the Carib woman who cooked for him, was just serving the meal on the side of the gallery facing the sea⁠—a spot famous as the coolest in Coralio. The breakfast consisted of shark’s fin soup, stew of land crabs, breadfruit, a boiled iguana steak, aguacates, a freshly cut pineapple, claret and coffee.

Geddie took his seat, and unrolled with luxurious laziness his bundle of newspapers. Here in Coralio for two days or longer he would read of goings-on in the world very much as we of the world read those whimsical contributions to inexact science that assume to portray the doings of the Martians. After he had finished with the papers they would be sent on the rounds of the other English-speaking residents of the town.

The paper that came first to his hand was one of those bulky mattresses of printed stuff upon which the readers of certain New York journals are supposed to take their Sabbath literary nap. Opening this the consul rested it upon the table, supporting its weight with the aid of the back of a chair. Then he partook of his meal deliberately, turning the leaves from time to time and glancing half idly at the contents.

Presently he was struck by something familiar to him in a picture⁠—a half-page, badly printed reproduction of a photograph of a vessel. Languidly interested, he leaned for a nearer scrutiny and a view of the florid headlines of the column next to the picture.

Yes; he was not mistaken. The engraving was of the eight-hundred-ton yacht Idalia, belonging to “that prince of good fellows, Midas of the money market, and society’s pink of perfection, J. Ward Tolliver.”

Slowly sipping his black coffee, Geddie read the column of print. Following a listed statement of Mr. Tolliver’s real estate and bonds, came a description of the yacht’s furnishings, and then the grain of news no bigger than a mustard seed. Mr. Tolliver, with a party of favoured guests, would sail the next day on a six weeks’ cruise along the Central American and South American coasts and among the Bahama Islands. Among the guests were Mrs. Cumberland Payne and Miss Ida Payne, of Norfolk.

The writer, with the fatuous presumption that was demanded of him by his readers, had concocted a romance suited to their palates. He bracketed the names of Miss Payne and Mr. Tolliver until he had well-nigh read the marriage ceremony over them. He played coyly and insinuatingly upon the strings of “on dit” and “Madame Rumour” and “a little bird” and “no one would be surprised,” and ended with congratulations.

Geddie, having finished his breakfast, took his papers to the edge of the gallery, and sat there in his favourite steamer chair with his feet on the bamboo railing. He lighted a cigar, and looked out upon the sea. He felt a glow of satisfaction at finding he was so little disturbed by what he had read. He told himself that he had conquered the distress that had sent him, a voluntary exile, to this far land of the lotus. He could never forget Ida, of course; but there was no longer any pain in thinking about her. When they had had that misunderstanding and quarrel he had impulsively sought this consulship, with the desire to retaliate upon her by detaching himself from her world and presence. He had succeeded thoroughly in that. During the twelve months of his life in Coralio no word had passed between them, though he had sometimes heard of her through the dilatory correspondence with the few friends to whom he still wrote. Still he could not repress a little thrill of satisfaction at knowing that she had not yet married Tolliver or anyone else. But evidently Tolliver had not yet abandoned hope.

Well, it made no difference to him now. He had eaten of the lotus. He was happy and content in this land of perpetual afternoon. Those old days of life in the States seemed like an irritating dream. He hoped Ida would be as happy as he was. The climate as balmy as that of distant Avalon; the fetterless, idyllic round of enchanted days; the life among this indolent, romantic people⁠—a life full of music, flowers, and low laughter; the influence of the imminent sea and mountains, and the many shapes of love and magic and beauty that bloomed in the white tropic nights⁠—with all he was more than content. Also, there was Paula Brannigan.

Geddie intended to marry Paula⁠—if, of course, she would consent; but he felt rather sure that she would do that. Somehow, he kept postponing his proposal. Several times he had been quite near to it; but a mysterious something always held him back. Perhaps it was only the unconscious, instinctive conviction that the act would sever the last tie that bound him to his old world.

He could be very happy with Paula. Few of the native girls could be compared with her. She had attended a convent school in New Orleans for two years; and when she chose to display her accomplishments no one could detect any difference between her and the girls of Norfolk and Manhattan. But it was delicious to see her at home dressed, as she sometimes was, in the native costume, with bare shoulders and flowing sleeves.

Bernard Brannigan was the great merchant of Coralio. Besides his store, he maintained a train of pack mules, and carried on a lively trade with the interior towns and villages. He had married a native lady of high Castilian descent, but with a tinge of Indian brown showing through her olive cheek. The union of the Irish and the Spanish had produced, as it so often has, an offshoot of rare beauty and variety. They were very excellent people indeed, and the upper story of their house was ready to be placed at the service of Geddie and Paula as soon as he should make up his mind to speak about it.

By the time two hours were whiled away the consul tired of reading. The papers lay scattered about him on the gallery. Reclining there, he gazed dreamily out upon an Eden. A clump of banana plants interposed their broad shields between him and the sun. The gentle slope from the consulate to the sea was covered with the dark-green foliage of lemon-trees and orange-trees just bursting into bloom. A lagoon pierced the land like a dark, jagged crystal, and above it a pale ceiba-tree rose almost to the clouds. The waving coconut palms on the beach flared their decorative green leaves against the slate of an almost quiescent sea. His senses were cognizant of brilliant scarlet and ochres amid the vert of the coppice, of odours of fruit and bloom and the smoke from Chanca’s clay oven under the calabash-tree; of the treble laughter of the native women in their huts, the song of the robin, the salt taste of the breeze, the diminuendo of the faint surf running along the shore⁠—and, gradually, of a white speck, growing to a blur, that intruded itself upon the drab prospect of the sea.

Lazily interested, he watched this blur increase until it became the Idalia steaming at full speed, coming down the coast. Without changing his position he kept his eyes upon the beautiful white yacht as she drew swiftly near, and came opposite to Coralio. Then, sitting upright, he saw her float steadily past and on. Scarcely a mile of sea had separated her from the shore. He had seen the frequent flash of her polished brass work and the stripes of her deck-awnings⁠—so much, and no more. Like a ship on a magic lantern slide the Idalia had crossed the illuminated circle of the consul’s little world, and was gone. Save for the tiny cloud of smoke that was left hanging over the brim of the sea, she might have been an immaterial thing, a chimera of his idle brain.

Geddie went into his office and sat down to dawdle over his report. If the reading of the article in the paper had left him unshaken, this silent passing of the Idalia had done for him still more. It had brought the calm and peace of a situation from which all uncertainty had been erased. He knew that men sometimes hope without being aware of it. Now, since she had come two thousand miles and had passed without a sign, not even his unconscious self need cling to the past any longer.

After dinner, when the sun was low behind the mountains, Geddie walked on the little strip of beach under the coconuts. The wind was blowing mildly landward, and the surface of the sea was rippled by tiny wavelets.

A miniature breaker, spreading with a soft “swish” upon the sand brought with it something round and shiny that rolled back again as the wave receded. The next influx beached it clear, and Geddie picked it up. The thing was a long-necked wine bottle of colourless glass. The cork had been driven in tightly to the level of the mouth, and the end covered with dark-red sealing-wax. The bottle contained only what seemed to be a sheet of paper, much curled from the manipulation it had undergone while being inserted. In the sealing-wax was the impression of a seal⁠—probably of a signet-ring, bearing the initials of a monogram; but the impression had been hastily made, and the letters were past anything more certain than a shrewd conjecture. Ida Payne had always worn a signet-ring in preference to any other finger decoration. Geddie thought he could make out the familiar “I P”; and a queer sensation of disquietude went over him. More personal and intimate was this reminder of her than had been the sight of the vessel she was doubtless on. He walked back to his house, and set the bottle on his desk.

Throwing off his hat and coat, and lighting a lamp⁠—for the night had crowded precipitately upon the brief twilight⁠—he began to examine his piece of sea salvage.

By holding the bottle near the light and turning it judiciously, he made out that it contained a double sheet of notepaper filled with close writing; further, that the paper was of the same size and shade as that always used by Ida; and that, to the best of his belief, the handwriting was hers. The imperfect glass of the bottle so distorted the rays of light that he could read no word of the writing; but certain capital letters, of which he caught comprehensive glimpses, were Ida’s, he felt sure.

There was a little smile both of perplexity and amusement in Geddie’s eyes as he set the bottle down, and laid three cigars side by side on his desk. He fetched his steamer chair from the gallery, and stretched himself comfortably. He would smoke those three cigars while considering the problem.

For it amounted to a problem. He almost wished that he had not found the bottle; but the bottle was there. Why should it have drifted in from the sea, whence come so many disquieting things, to disturb his peace?

In this dreamy land, where time seemed so redundant, he had fallen into the habit of bestowing much thought upon even trifling matters.

He began to speculate upon many fanciful theories concerning the story of the bottle, rejecting each in turn.

Ships in danger of wreck or disablement sometimes cast forth such precarious messengers calling for aid. But he had seen the Idalia not three hours before, safe and speeding. Suppose the crew had mutinied and imprisoned the passengers below, and the message was one begging for succour! But, premising such an improbable outrage, would the agitated captives have taken the pains to fill four pages of notepaper with carefully penned arguments to their rescue.

Thus by elimination he soon rid the matter of the more unlikely theories, and was reduced⁠—though aversely⁠—to the less assailable one that the bottle contained a message to himself. Ida knew he was in Coralio; she must have launched the bottle while the yacht was passing and the wind blowing fairly toward the shore.

As soon as Geddie reached this conclusion a wrinkle came between his brows and a stubborn look settled around his mouth. He sat looking out through the doorway at the gigantic fireflies traversing the quiet streets.

If this was a message to him from Ida, what could it mean save an overture toward a reconciliation? And if that, why had she not used the same methods of the post instead of this uncertain and even flippant means of communication? A note in an empty bottle, cast into the sea! There was something light and frivolous about it, if not actually contemptuous.

The thought stirred his pride and subdued whatever emotions had been resurrected by the finding of the bottle.

Geddie put on his coat and hat and walked out. He followed a street that led him along the border of the little plaza where a band was playing and people were rambling, carefree and indolent. Some timorous señoritas scurrying past with fireflies tangled in the jetty braids of their hair glanced at him with shy, flattering eyes. The air was languorous with the scent of jasmin and orange-blossoms.

The consul stayed his steps at the house of Bernard Brannigan. Paula was swinging in a hammock on the gallery. She rose from it like a bird from its nest. The colour came to her cheek at the sound of Geddie’s voice.

He was charmed at the sight of her costume⁠—a flounced muslin dress, with a little jacket of white flannel, all made with neatness and style. He suggested a stroll, and they walked out to the old Indian well on the hill road. They sat on the curb, and there Geddie made the expected but long-deferred speech. Certain though he had been that she would not say him nay, he was thrilled with joy at the completeness and sweetness of her surrender. Here was surely a heart made for love and steadfastness. Here was no caprice or questionings or captious standards of convention.

When Geddie kissed Paula at her door that night he was happier than he had ever been before. “Here in this hollow lotus land, ever to live and lie reclined” seemed to him, as it has seemed to many mariners, the best as well as the easiest. His future would be an ideal one. He had attained a Paradise without a serpent. His Eve would be indeed a part of him, unbeguiled, and therefore more beguiling. He had made his decision tonight, and his heart was full of serene, assured content.

Geddie went back to his house whistling that finest and saddest love song, “La Golondrina.” At the door his tame monkey leaped down from his shelf, chattering briskly. The consul turned to his desk to get him some nuts he usually kept there. Reaching in the half-darkness, his hand struck against the bottle. He started as if he had touched the cold rotundity of a serpent.

He had forgotten that the bottle was there.

He lighted the lamp and fed the monkey. Then, very deliberately, he lighted a cigar, and took the bottle in his hand, and walked down the path to the beach.

There was a moon, and the sea was glorious. The breeze had shifted, as it did each evening, and was now rushing steadily seaward.

Stepping to the water’s edge, Geddie hurled the unopened bottle far out into the sea. It disappeared for a moment, and then shot upward twice its length. Geddie stood still, watching it. The moonlight was so bright that he could see it bobbing up and down with the little waves. Slowly it receded from the shore, flashing and turning as it went. The wind was carrying it out to sea. Soon it became a mere speck, doubtfully discerned at irregular intervals; and then the mystery of it was swallowed up by the greater mystery of the ocean. Geddie stood still upon the beach, smoking and looking out upon the water.

“Simon!⁠—Oh, Simon!⁠—wake up there, Simon!” bawled a sonorous voice at the edge of the water.

Old Simon Cruz was a half-breed fisherman and smuggler who lived in a hut on the beach. Out of his earliest nap Simon was thus awakened.

He slipped on his shoes and went outside. Just landing from one of the Valhalla’s boats was the third mate of that vessel, who was an acquaintance of Simon’s, and three sailors from the fruiter.

“Go up, Simon,” called the mate, “and find Dr. Gregg or Mr. Goodwin or anybody that’s a friend to Mr. Geddie, and bring ’em here at once.”

“Saints of the skies!” said Simon, sleepily, “nothing has happened to Mr. Geddie?”

“He’s under that tarpauling,” said the mate, pointing to the boat, “and he’s rather more than half drownded. We seen him from the steamer nearly a mile out from shore, swimmin’ like mad after a bottle that was floatin’ in the water, outward bound. We lowered the gig and started for him. He nearly had his hand on the bottle, when he gave out and went under. We pulled him out in time to save him, maybe; but the doctor is the one to decide that.”

“A bottle?” said the old man, rubbing his eyes. He was not yet fully awake. “Where is the bottle?”

“Driftin’ along out there some’eres,” said the mate, jerking his thumb toward the sea. “Get on with you, Simon.”

Smith

Goodwin and the ardent patriot, Zavalla, took all the precautions that their foresight could contrive to prevent the escape of President Miraflores and his companion. They sent trusted messengers up the coast to Solitas and Alazan to warn the local leaders of the flight, and to instruct them to patrol the water line and arrest the fugitives at all hazards should they reveal themselves in that territory. After this was done there remained only to cover the district about Coralio and await the coming of the quarry. The nets were well spread. The roads were so few, the opportunities for embarkation so limited, and the two or three probable points of exit so well guarded that it would be strange indeed if there should slip through the meshes so much of the country’s dignity, romance, and collateral. The president would, without doubt, move as secretly as possible, and endeavour to board a vessel by stealth from some secluded point along the shore.

On the fourth day after the receipt of Englehart’s telegram the Karlsefin, a Norwegian steamer chartered by the New Orleans fruit trade, anchored off Coralio with three hoarse toots of her siren. The Karlsefin was not one of the line operated by the Vesuvius Fruit Company. She was something of a dilettante, doing odd jobs for a company that was scarcely important enough to figure as a rival to the Vesuvius. The movements of the Karlsefin were dependent upon the state of the market. Sometimes she would ply steadily between the Spanish Main and New Orleans in the regular transport of fruit; next she would be making erratic trips to Mobile or Charleston, or even as far north as New York, according to the distribution of the fruit supply.

Goodwin lounged upon the beach with the usual crowd of idlers that had gathered to view the steamer. Now that President Miraflores might be expected to reach the borders of his abjured country at any time, the orders were to keep a strict and unrelenting watch. Every vessel that approached the shores might now be considered a possible means of escape for the fugitives; and an eye was kept even on the sloops and dories that belonged to the seagoing contingent of Coralio. Goodwin and Zavalla moved everywhere, but without ostentation, watching the loopholes of escape.

The customs officials crowded importantly into their boat and rowed out to the Karlsefin. A boat from the steamer landed her purser with his papers, and took out the quarantine doctor with his green umbrella and clinical thermometer. Next a swarm of Caribs began to load upon lighters the thousands of bunches of bananas heaped upon the shore and row them out to the steamer. The Karlsefin had no passenger list, and was soon done with the attention of the authorities. The purser declared that the steamer would remain at anchor until morning, taking on her fruit during the night. The Karlsefin had come, he said, from New York, to which port her latest load of oranges and coconuts had been conveyed. Two or three of the freighter sloops were engaged to assist in the work, for the captain was anxious to make a quick return in order to reap the advantage offered by a certain dearth of fruit in the States.

About four o’clock in the afternoon another of those marine monsters, not very familiar in those waters, hove in sight, following the fateful Idalia⁠—a graceful steam yacht, painted a light buff, clean-cut as a steel engraving. The beautiful vessel hovered off shore, seesawing the waves as lightly as a duck in a rain barrel. A swift boat manned by a crew in uniform came ashore, and a stocky-built man leaped to the sands.

The newcomer seemed to turn a disapproving eye upon the rather motley congregation of native Anchurians, and made his way at once toward Goodwin, who was the most conspicuously Anglo-Saxon figure present. Goodwin greeted him with courtesy.

Conversation developed that the newly landed one was named Smith, and that he had come in a yacht. A meagre biography, truly; for the yacht was most apparent; and the “Smith” not beyond a reasonable guess before the revelation. Yet to the eye of Goodwin, who had seen several things, there was a discrepancy between Smith and his yacht. A bullet-headed man Smith was, with an oblique, dead eye and the moustache of a cocktail-mixer. And unless he had shifted costumes before putting off for shore he had affronted the deck of his correct vessel clad in a pearl-gray derby, a gay plaid suit and vaudeville neckwear. Men owning pleasure yachts generally harmonize better with them.

Smith looked business, but he was no advertiser. He commented upon the scenery, remarking upon its fidelity to the pictures in the geography; and then inquired for the United States consul. Goodwin pointed out the starred-and-striped bunting hanging above the little consulate, which was concealed behind the orange-trees.

Mr. Geddie, the consul, will be sure to be there,” said Goodwin. “He was very nearly drowned a few days ago while taking a swim in the sea, and the doctor has ordered him to remain indoors for some time.”

Smith plowed his way through the sand to the consulate, his haberdashery creating violent discord against the smooth tropical blues and greens.

Geddie was lounging in his hammock, somewhat pale of face and languid in pose. On that night when the Valhalla’s boat had brought him ashore apparently drenched to death by the sea, Doctor Gregg and his other friends had toiled for hours to preserve the little spark of life that remained to him. The bottle, with its impotent message, was gone out to sea, and the problem that it had provoked was reduced to a simple sum in addition⁠—one and one make two, by the rule of arithmetic; one by the rule of romance.

There is a quaint old theory that man may have two souls⁠—a peripheral one which serves ordinarily, and a central one which is stirred only at certain times, but then with activity and vigour. While under the domination of the former a man will shave, vote, pay taxes, give money to his family, buy subscription books and comport himself on the average plan. But let the central soul suddenly become dominant, and he may, in the twinkling of an eye, turn upon the partner of his joys with furious execration; he may change his politics while you could snap your fingers; he may deal out deadly insult to his dearest friend; he may get him, instanter, to a monastery or a dance hall; he may elope, or hang himself⁠—or he may write a song or poem, or kiss his wife unasked, or give his funds to the search of a microbe. Then the peripheral soul will return; and we have our safe, sane citizen again. It is but the revolt of the Ego against Order; and its effect is to shake up the atoms only that they may settle where they belong.

Geddie’s revulsion had been a mild one⁠—no more than a swim in a summer sea after so inglorious an object as a drifting bottle. And now he was himself again. Upon his desk, ready for the post, was a letter to his government tendering his resignation as consul, to be effective as soon as another could be appointed in his place. For Bernard Brannigan, who never did things in a halfway manner, was to take Geddie at once for a partner in his very profitable and various enterprises; and Paula was happily engaged in plans for refurnishing and decorating the upper story of the Brannigan house.

The consul rose from his hammock when he saw the conspicuous stranger in his door.

“Keep your seat, old man,” said the visitor, with an airy wave of his large hand. “My name’s Smith; and I’ve come in a yacht. You are the consul⁠—is that right? A big, cool guy on the beach directed me here. Thought I’d pay my respects to the flag.”

“Sit down,” said Geddie. “I’ve been admiring your craft ever since it came in sight. Looks like a fast sailer. What’s her tonnage?”

“Search me!” said Smith. “I don’t know what she weighs in at. But she’s got a tidy gait. The Rambler⁠—that’s her name⁠—don’t take the dust of anything afloat. This is my first trip on her. I’m taking a squint along this coast just to get an idea of the countries where the rubber and red pepper and revolutions come from. I had no idea there was so much scenery down here. Why, Central Park ain’t in it with this neck of the woods. I’m from New York. They get monkeys, and coconuts, and parrots down here⁠—is that right?”

“We have them all,” said Geddie. “I’m quite sure that our fauna and flora would take a prize over Central Park.”

“Maybe they would,” admitted Smith, cheerfully. “I haven’t seen them yet. But I guess you’ve got us skinned on the animal and vegetation question. You don’t have much travel here, do you?”

“Travel?” queried the consul. “I suppose you mean passengers on the steamers. No; very few people land in Coralio. An investor now and then⁠—tourists and sightseers generally go further down the coast to one of the larger towns where there is a harbour.”

“I see a ship out there loading up with bananas,” said Smith. “Any passengers come on her?”

“That’s the Karlsefin,” said the consul. “She’s a tramp fruiter⁠—made her last trip to New York, I believe. No; she brought no passengers. I saw her boat come ashore, and there was no one. About the only exciting recreation we have here is watching steamers when they arrive; and a passenger on one of them generally causes the whole town to turn out. If you are going to remain in Coralio a while, Mr. Smith, I’ll be glad to take you around to meet some people. There are four or five American chaps that are good to know, besides the native highfliers.”

“Thanks,” said the yachtsman, “but I wouldn’t put you to the trouble. I’d like to meet the guys you speak of, but I won’t be here long enough to do much knocking around. That cool gent on the beach spoke of a doctor; can you tell me where I could find him? The Rambler ain’t quite as steady on her feet as a Broadway hotel; and a fellow gets a touch of seasickness now and then. Thought I’d strike the croaker for a handful of the little sugar pills, in case I need ’em.”

“You will be apt to find Dr. Gregg at the hotel,” said the consul. “You can see it from the door⁠—it’s that two-story building with the balcony, where the orange-trees are.”

The Hotel de los Estranjeros was a dreary hostelry, in great disuse both by strangers and friends. It stood at a corner of the Street of the Holy Sepulchre. A grove of small orange-trees crowded against one side of it, enclosed by a low, rock wall over which a tall man might easily step. The house was of plastered adobe, stained a hundred shades of colour by the salt breeze and the sun. Upon its upper balcony opened a central door and two windows containing broad jalousies instead of sashes.

The lower floor communicated by two doorways with the narrow, rock-paved sidewalk. The pulperia⁠—or drinking shop⁠—of the proprietress, Madama Timotea Ortiz, occupied the ground floor. On the bottles of brandy, anisada, Scotch “smoke” and inexpensive wines behind the little counter the dust lay thick save where the fingers of infrequent customers had left irregular prints. The upper story contained four or five guestrooms which were rarely put to their destined use. Sometimes a fruit-grower, riding in from his plantation to confer with his agent, would pass a melancholy night in the dismal upper story; sometimes a minor native official on some trifling government quest would have his pomp and majesty awed by Madama’s sepulchral hospitality. But Madama sat behind her bar content, not desiring to quarrel with Fate. If anyone required meat, drink or lodging at the Hotel de los Estranjeros they had but to come, and be served. Está bueno. If they came not, why, then, they came not. Está bueno.

As the exceptional yachtsman was making his way down the precarious sidewalk of the Street of the Holy Sepulchre, the solitary permanent guest of that decaying hotel sat at its door, enjoying the breeze from the sea.

Dr. Gregg, the quarantine physician, was a man of fifty or sixty, with a florid face and the longest beard between Topeka and Terra del Fuego. He held his position by virtue of an appointment by the Board of Health of a seaport city in one of the Southern states. That city feared the ancient enemy of every Southern seaport⁠—the yellow fever⁠—and it was the duty of Dr. Gregg to examine crew and passengers of every vessel leaving Coralio for preliminary symptoms. The duties were light, and the salary, for one who lived in Coralio, ample. Surplus time there was in plenty; and the good doctor added to his gains by a large private practice among the residents of the coast. The fact that he did not know ten words of Spanish was no obstacle; a pulse could be felt and a fee collected without one being a linguist. Add to the description the facts that the doctor had a story to tell concerning the operation of trepanning which no listener had ever allowed him to conclude, and that he believed in brandy as a prophylactic; and the special points of interest possessed by Dr. Gregg will have become exhausted.

The doctor had dragged a chair to the sidewalk. He was coatless, and he leaned back against the wall and smoked, while he stroked his beard. Surprise came into his pale blue eyes when he caught sight of Smith in his unusual and prismatic clothes.

“You’re Dr. Gregg⁠—is that right?” said Smith, feeling the dog’s head pin in his tie. “The constable⁠—I mean the consul, told me you hung out at this caravansary. My name’s Smith; and I came in a yacht. Taking a cruise around, looking at the monkeys and pineapple-trees. Come inside and have a drink, Doc. This café looks on the blink, but I guess it can set out something wet.”

“I will join you, sir, in just a taste of brandy,” said Dr. Gregg, rising quickly. “I find that as a prophylactic a little brandy is almost a necessity in this climate.”

As they turned to enter the pulperia a native man, barefoot, glided noiselessly up and addressed the doctor in Spanish. He was yellowish-brown, like an overripe lemon; he wore a cotton shirt and ragged linen trousers girded by a leather belt. His face was like an animal’s, live and wary, but without promise of much intelligence. This man jabbered with animation and so much seriousness that it seemed a pity that his words were to be wasted.

Dr. Gregg felt his pulse.

“You sick?” he inquired.

Mi mujer está enferma en la casa,” said the man, thus endeavouring to convey the news, in the only language open to him, that his wife lay ill in her palm-thatched hut.

The doctor drew a handful of capsules filled with a white powder from his trousers pocket. He counted out ten of them into the native’s hand, and held up his forefinger impressively.

“Take one,” said the doctor, “every two hours.” He then held up two fingers, shaking them emphatically before the native’s face. Next he pulled out his watch and ran his finger round its dial twice. Again the two fingers confronted the patient’s nose. “Two⁠—two⁠—two hours,” repeated the doctor.

Si, Señor,” said the native, sadly.

He pulled a cheap silver watch from his own pocket and laid it in the doctor’s hand. “Me bring,” said he, struggling painfully with his scant English, “other watchy tomorrow.” Then he departed downheartedly with his capsules.

“A very ignorant race of people, sir,” said the doctor, as he slipped the watch into his pocket. “He seems to have mistaken my directions for taking the physic for the fee. However, it is all right. He owes me an account, anyway. The chances are that he won’t bring the other watch. You can’t depend on anything they promise you. About that drink, now? How did you come to Coralio, Mr. Smith? I was not aware that any boats except the Karlsefin had arrived for some days.”

The two leaned against the deserted bar; and Madama set out a bottle without waiting for the doctor’s order. There was no dust on it.

After they had drank twice Smith said:

“You say there were no passengers on the Karlsefin, Doc? Are you sure about that? It seems to me I heard somebody down on the beach say that there was one or two aboard.”

“They were mistaken, sir. I myself went out and put all hands through a medical examination, as usual. The Karlsefin sails as soon as she gets her bananas loaded, which will be about daylight in the morning, and she got everything ready this afternoon. No, sir, there was no passenger list. Like that Three-Star? A French schooner landed two slooploads of it a month ago. If any customs duties on it went to the distinguished republic of Anchuria you may have my hat. If you won’t have another, come out and let’s sit in the cool a while. It isn’t often we exiles get a chance to talk with somebody from the outside world.”

The doctor brought out another chair to the sidewalk for his new acquaintance. The two seated themselves.

“You are a man of the world,” said Dr. Gregg; “a man of travel and experience. Your decision in a matter of ethics and, no doubt, on the points of equity, ability and professional probity should be of value. I would be glad if you will listen to the history of a case that I think stands unique in medical annals.

“About nine years ago, while I was engaged in the practice of medicine in my native city, I was called to treat a case of contusion of the skull. I made the diagnosis that a splinter of bone was pressing upon the brain, and that the surgical operation known as trepanning was required. However, as the patient was a gentleman of wealth and position, I called in for consultation Dr.⁠—”

Smith rose from his chair, and laid a hand, soft with apology, upon the doctor’s shirt sleeve.

“Say, Doc,” he said, solemnly, “I want to hear that story. You’ve got me interested; and I don’t want to miss the rest of it. I know it’s a loola by the way it begins; and I want to tell it at the next meeting of the Barney O’Flynn Association, if you don’t mind. But I’ve got one or two matters to attend to first. If I get ’em attended to in time I’ll come right back and hear you spiel the rest before bedtime⁠—is that right?”

“By all means,” said the doctor, “get your business attended to, and then return. I shall wait up for you. You see, one of the most prominent physicians at the consultation diagnosed the trouble as a blood clot; another said it was an abscess, but I⁠—”

“Don’t tell me now, Doc. Don’t spoil the story. Wait till I come back. I want to hear it as it runs off the reel⁠—is that right?”

The mountains reached up their bulky shoulders to receive the level gallop of Apollo’s homing steeds, the day died in the lagoons and in the shadowed banana groves and in the mangrove swamps, where the great blue crabs were beginning to crawl to land for their nightly ramble. And it died, at last, upon the highest peaks. Then the brief twilight, ephemeral as the flight of a moth, came and went; the Southern Cross peeped with its topmost eye above a row of palms, and the fireflies heralded with their torches the approach of soft-footed night.

In the offing the Karlsefin swayed at anchor, her lights seeming to penetrate the water to countless fathoms with their shimmering, lanceolate reflections. The Caribs were busy loading her by means of the great lighters heaped full from the piles of fruit ranged upon the shore.

On the sandy beach, with his back against a coconut-tree and the stubs of many cigars lying around him, Smith sat waiting, never relaxing his sharp gaze in the direction of the steamer.

The incongruous yachtsman had concentrated his interest upon the innocent fruiter. Twice had he been assured that no passengers had come to Coralio on board of her. And yet, with a persistence not to be attributed to an idling voyager, he had appealed the case to the higher court of his own eyesight. Surprisingly like some gay-coated lizard, he crouched at the foot of the coconut palm, and with the beady, shifting eyes of the selfsame reptile, sustained his espionage on the Karlsefin.

On the white sands a whiter gig belonging to the yacht was drawn up, guarded by one of the white-ducked crew. Not far away in a pulperia on the shore-following Calle Grande three other sailors swaggered with their cues around Coralio’s solitary billiard-table. The boat lay there as if under orders to be ready for use at any moment. There was in the atmosphere a hint of expectation, of waiting for something to occur, which was foreign to the air of Coralio.

Like some passing bird of brilliant plumage, Smith alights on this palmy shore but to preen his wings for an instant and then to fly away upon silent pinions. When morning dawned there was no Smith, no waiting gig, no yacht in the offing. Smith left no intimation of his mission there, no footprints to show where he had followed the trail of his mystery on the sands of Coralio that night. He came; he spake his strange jargon of the asphalt and the cafés; he sat under the coconut-tree, and vanished. The next morning Coralio, Smithless, ate its fried plantain and said: “The man of pictured clothing went himself away.” With the siesta the incident passed, yawning, into history.

So, for a time, must Smith pass behind the scenes of the play. He comes no more to Coralio nor to Doctor Gregg, who sits in vain, wagging his redundant beard, waiting to enrich his derelict audience with his moving tale of trepanning and jealousy.

But prosperously to the lucidity of these loose pages, Smith shall flutter among them again. In the nick of time he shall come to tell us why he strewed so many anxious cigar stumps around the coconut palm that night. This he must do; for, when he sailed away before the dawn in his yacht Rambler, he carried with him the answer to a riddle so big and preposterous that few in Anchuria had ventured even to propound it.

Caught

The plans for the detention of the flying President Miraflores and his companion at the coast line seemed hardly likely to fail. Dr. Zavalla himself had gone to the port of Alazan to establish a guard at that point. At Solitas the Liberal patriot Varras could be depended upon to keep close watch. Goodwin held himself responsible for the district about Coralio.

The news of the president’s flight had been disclosed to no one in the coast towns save trusted members of the ambitious political party that was desirous of succeeding to power. The telegraph wire running from San Mateo to the coast had been cut far up on the mountain trail by an emissary of Zavalla’s. Long before this could be repaired and word received along it from the capital the fugitives would have reached the coast and the question of escape or capture been solved.

Goodwin had stationed armed sentinels at frequent intervals along the shore for a mile in each direction from Coralio. They were instructed to keep a vigilant lookout during the night to prevent Miraflores from attempting to embark stealthily by means of some boat or sloop found by chance at the water’s edge. A dozen patrols walked the streets of Coralio unsuspected, ready to intercept the truant official should he show himself there.

Goodwin was very well convinced that no precautions had been overlooked. He strolled about the streets that bore such high-sounding names and were but narrow, grass-covered lanes, lending his own aid to the vigil that had been entrusted to him by Bob Englehart.

The town had begun the tepid round of its nightly diversions. A few leisurely dandies, clad in white duck, with flowing neckties, and swinging slim bamboo canes, threaded the grassy byways toward the houses of their favoured señoritas. Those who wooed the art of music dragged tirelessly at whining concertinas, or fingered lugubrious guitars at doors and windows. An occasional soldier from the cuartel, with flapping straw hat, without coat or shoes, hurried by, balancing his long gun like a lance in one hand. From every density of the foliage the giant tree frogs sounded their loud and irritating clatter. Further out, where the byways perished at the brink of the jungle, the guttural cries of marauding baboons and the coughing of the alligators in the black estuaries fractured the vain silence of the wood.

By ten o’clock the streets were deserted. The oil lamps that had burned, a sickly yellow, at random corners, had been extinguished by some economical civic agent. Coralio lay sleeping calmly between toppling mountains and encroaching sea like a stolen babe in the arms of its abductors. Somewhere over in that tropical darkness⁠—perhaps already threading the profundities of the alluvial lowlands⁠—the high adventurer and his mate were moving toward land’s end. The game of Fox-in-the-Morning should be coming soon to its close.

Goodwin, at his deliberate gait, passed the long, low cuartel where Coralio’s contingent of Anchuria’s military force slumbered, with its bare toes pointed heavenward. There was a law that no civilian might come so near the headquarters of that citadel of war after nine o’clock, but Goodwin was always forgetting the minor statutes.

Quién vive?” shrieked the sentinel, wrestling prodigiously with his lengthy musket.

Americano,” growled Goodwin, without turning his head, and passed on, unhalted.

To the right he turned, and to the left up the street that ultimately reached the Plaza Nacional. When within the toss of a cigar stump from the intersecting Street of the Holy Sepulchre, he stopped suddenly in the pathway.

He saw the form of a tall man, clothed in black and carrying a large valise, hurry down the cross-street in the direction of the beach. And Goodwin’s second glance made him aware of a woman at the man’s elbow on the farther side, who seemed to urge forward, if not even to assist, her companion in their swift but silent progress. They were no Coralians, those two.

Goodwin followed at increased speed, but without any of the artful tactics that are so dear to the heart of the sleuth. The American was too broad to feel the instinct of the detective. He stood as an agent for the people of Anchuria, and but for political reasons he would have demanded then and there the money. It was the design of his party to secure the imperilled fund, to restore it to the treasury of the country, and to declare itself in power without bloodshed or resistance.

The couple halted at the door of the Hotel de los Estranjeros, and the man struck upon the wood with the impatience of one unused to his entry being stayed. Madama was long in response; but after a time her light showed, the door was opened, and the guests housed.

Goodwin stood in the quiet street, lighting another cigar. In two minutes a faint gleam began to show between the slats of the jalousies in the upper story of the hotel. “They have engaged rooms,” said Goodwin to himself. “So, then, their arrangements for sailing have yet to be made.”

At that moment there came along one Estebán Delgado, a barber, an enemy to existing government, a jovial plotter against stagnation in any form. This barber was one of Coralio’s saddest dogs, often remaining out of doors as late as eleven, post meridian. He was a partisan Liberal; and he greeted Goodwin with flatulent importance as a brother in the cause. But he had something important to tell.

“What think you, Don Frank!” he cried, in the universal tone of the conspirator. “I have tonight shaved la barba⁠—what you call the ‘weeskers’ of the Presidente himself, of this countree! Consider! He sent for me to come. In the poor casita of an old woman he awaited me⁠—in a verree leetle house in a dark place. Carramba!⁠—el Señor Presidente to make himself thus secret and obscured! I think he desired not to be known⁠—but, carajo! can you shave a man and not see his face? This gold piece he gave me, and said it was to be all quite still. I think, Don Frank, there is what you call a chip over the bug.”

“Have you ever seen President Miraflores before?” asked Goodwin.

“But once,” answered Estebán. “He is tall; and he had weeskers, verree black and sufficient.”

“Was anyone else present when you shaved him?”

“An old Indian woman, Señor, that belonged with the casa, and one señorita⁠—a ladee of so much beautee!⁠—ah, Dios!

“All right, Estebán,” said Goodwin. “It’s very lucky that you happened along with your tonsorial information. The new administration will be likely to remember you for this.”

Then in a few words he made the barber acquainted with the crisis into which the affairs of the nation had culminated, and instructed him to remain outside, keeping watch upon the two sides of the hotel that looked upon the street, and observing whether anyone should attempt to leave the house by any door or window. Goodwin himself went to the door through which the guests had entered, opened it and stepped inside.

Madama had returned downstairs from her journey above to see after the comfort of her lodgers. Her candle stood upon the bar. She was about to take a thimbleful of rum as a solace for having her rest disturbed. She looked up without surprise or alarm as her third caller entered.

“Ah! it is the Señor Goodwin. Not often does he honour my poor house by his presence.”

“I must come oftener,” said Goodwin, with the Goodwin smile. “I hear that your cognac is the best between Belize to the north and Rio to the south. Set out the bottle, Madama, and let us have the proof in un vasito for each of us.”

“My aguardiente,” said Madama, with pride, “is the best. It grows, in beautiful bottles, in the dark places among the banana-trees. Si, Señor. Only at midnight can they be picked by sailor-men who bring them, before daylight comes, to your back door. Good aguardiente is a verree difficult fruit to handle, Señor Goodwin.”

Smuggling, in Coralio, was much nearer than competition to being the life of trade. One spoke of it slyly, yet with a certain conceit, when it had been well accomplished.

“You have guests in the house tonight,” said Goodwin, laying a silver dollar upon the counter.

“Why not?” said Madama, counting the change. “Two; but the smallest while finished to arrive. One señor, not quite old, and one señorita of sufficient handsomeness. To their rooms they have ascended, not desiring the to-eat nor the to-drink. Two rooms⁠—Numero 9 and Numero 10.”

“I was expecting that gentleman and that lady,” said Goodwin. “I have important negocios that must be transacted. Will you allow me to see them?”

“Why not?” sighed Madama, placidly. “Why should not Señor Goodwin ascend and speak to his friends? Está bueno. Room Numero 9 and room Numero 10.”

Goodwin loosened in his coat pocket the American revolver that he carried, and ascended the steep, dark stairway.

In the hallway above, the saffron light from a hanging lamp allowed him to select the gaudy numbers on the doors. He turned the knob of Number 9, entered and closed the door behind him.

If that was Isabel Guilbert seated by the table in that poorly furnished room, report had failed to do her charms justice. She rested her head upon one hand. Extreme fatigue was signified in every line of her figure; and upon her countenance a deep perplexity was written. Her eyes were gray-irised, and of that mould that seems to have belonged to the orbs of all the famous queens of hearts. Their whites were singularly clear and brilliant, concealed above the irises by heavy horizontal lids, and showing a snowy line below them. Such eyes denote great nobility, vigour, and, if you can conceive of it, a most generous selfishness. She looked up when the American entered with an expression of surprised inquiry, but without alarm.

Goodwin took off his hat and seated himself, with his characteristic deliberate ease, upon a corner of the table. He held a lighted cigar between his fingers. He took this familiar course because he was sure that preliminaries would be wasted upon Miss Guilbert. He knew her history, and the small part that the conventions had played in it.

“Good evening,” he said. “Now, madame, let us come to business at once. You will observe that I mention no names, but I know who is in the next room, and what he carries in that valise. That is the point which brings me here. I have come to dictate terms of surrender.”

The lady neither moved nor replied, but steadily regarded the cigar in Goodwin’s hand.

“We,” continued the dictator, thoughtfully regarding the neat buckskin shoe on his gently swinging foot⁠—“I speak for a considerable majority of the people⁠—demand the return of the stolen funds belonging to them. Our terms go very little further than that. They are very simple. As an accredited spokesman, I promise that our interference will cease if they are accepted. Give up the money, and you and your companion will be permitted to proceed wherever you will. In fact, assistance will be given you in the matter of securing a passage by any outgoing vessel you may choose. It is on my personal responsibility that I add congratulations to the gentleman in Number 10 upon his taste in feminine charms.”

Returning his cigar to his mouth, Goodwin observed her, and saw that her eyes followed it and rested upon it with icy and significant concentration. Apparently she had not heard a word he had said. He understood, tossed the cigar out the window, and, with an amused laugh, slid from the table to his feet.

“That is better,” said the lady. “It makes it possible for me to listen to you. For a second lesson in good manners, you might now tell me by whom I am being insulted.”

“I am sorry,” said Goodwin, leaning one hand on the table, “that my time is too brief for devoting much of it to a course of etiquette. Come, now; I appeal to your good sense. You have shown yourself, in more than one instance, to be well aware of what is to your advantage. This is an occasion that demands the exercise of your undoubted intelligence. There is no mystery here. I am Frank Goodwin; and I have come for the money. I entered this room at a venture. Had I entered the other I would have had it before now. Do you want it in words? The gentleman in Number 10 has betrayed a great trust. He has robbed his people of a large sum, and it is I who will prevent their losing it. I do not say who that gentleman is; but if I should be forced to see him and he should prove to be a certain high official of the republic, it will be my duty to arrest him. The house is guarded. I am offering you liberal terms. It is not absolutely necessary that I confer personally with the gentleman in the next room. Bring me the valise containing the money, and we will call the affair ended.”

The lady arose from her chair and stood for a moment, thinking deeply.

“Do you live here, Mr. Goodwin?” she asked, presently.

“Yes.”

“What is your authority for this intrusion?”

“I am an instrument of the republic. I was advised by wire of the movements of the⁠—gentleman in Number 10.”

“May I ask you two or three questions? I believe you to be a man more apt to be truthful than⁠—timid. What sort of a town is this⁠—Coralio, I think they call it?”

“Not much of a town,” said Goodwin, smiling. “A banana town, as they run. Grass huts, ’dobes, five or six two-story houses, accommodations limited, population half-breed Spanish and Indian, Caribs and blackamoors. No sidewalks to speak of, no amusements. Rather unmoral. That’s an offhand sketch, of course.”

“Are there any inducements, say in a social or in a business way, for people to reside here?”

“Oh, yes,” answered Goodwin, smiling broadly. “There are no afternoon teas, no hand-organs, no department stores⁠—and there is no extradition treaty.”

“He told me,” went on the lady, speaking as if to herself, and with a slight frown, “that there were towns on this coast of beauty and importance; that there was a pleasing social order⁠—especially an American colony of cultured residents.”

“There is an American colony,” said Goodwin, gazing at her in some wonder. “Some of the members are all right. Some are fugitives from justice from the States. I recall two exiled bank presidents, one army paymaster under a cloud, a couple of manslayers, and a widow⁠—arsenic, I believe, was the suspicion in her case. I myself complete the colony, but, as yet, I have not distinguished myself by any particular crime.”

“Do not lose hope,” said the lady, dryly; “I see nothing in your actions tonight to guarantee you further obscurity. Some mistake has been made; I do not know just where. But him you shall not disturb tonight. The journey has fatigued him so that he has fallen asleep, I think, in his clothes. You talk of stolen money! I do not understand you. Some mistake has been made. I will convince you. Remain where you are and I will bring you the valise that you seem to covet so, and show it to you.”

She moved toward the closed door that connected the two rooms, but stopped, and half turned and bestowed upon Goodwin a grave, searching look that ended in a quizzical smile.

“You force my door,” she said, “and you follow your ruffianly behaviour with the basest accusations; and yet”⁠—she hesitated, as if to reconsider what she was about to say⁠—“and yet⁠—it is a puzzling thing⁠—I am sure there has been some mistake.”

She took a step toward the door, but Goodwin stayed her by a light touch upon her arm. I have said before that women turned to look at him in the streets. He was the viking sort of man, big, good-looking, and with an air of kindly truculence. She was dark and proud, glowing or pale as her mood moved her. I do not know if Eve were light or dark, but if such a woman had stood in the garden I know that the apple would have been eaten. This woman was to be Goodwin’s fate, and he did not know it; but he must have felt the first throes of destiny, for, as he faced her, the knowledge of what report named her turned bitter in his throat.

“If there has been any mistake,” he said, hotly, “it was yours. I do not blame the man who has lost his country, his honour, and is about to lose the poor consolation of his stolen riches as much as I blame you, for, by Heaven! I can very well see how he was brought to it. I can understand, and pity him. It is such women as you that strew this degraded coast with wretched exiles, that make men forget their trusts, that drag⁠—”

The lady interrupted him with a weary gesture.

“There is no need to continue your insults,” she said, coldly. “I do not understand what you are saying, nor do I know what mad blunder you are making; but if the inspection of the contents of a gentleman’s portmanteau will rid me of you, let us delay it no longer.”

She passed quickly and noiselessly into the other room, and returned with the heavy leather valise, which she handed to the American with an air of patient contempt.

Goodwin set the valise quickly upon the table and began to unfasten the straps. The lady stood by, with an expression of infinite scorn and weariness upon her face.

The valise opened wide to a powerful, sidelong wrench. Goodwin dragged out two or three articles of clothing, exposing the bulk of its contents⁠—package after package of tightly packed United States bank and treasury notes of large denomination. Reckoning from the high figures written upon the paper bands that bound them, the total must have come closely upon the hundred thousand mark.

Goodwin glanced swiftly at the woman, and saw, with surprise and a thrill of pleasure that he wondered at, that she had experienced an unmistakable shock. Her eyes grew wide, she gasped, and leaned heavily against the table. She had been ignorant, then, he inferred, that her companion had looted the government treasury. But why, he angrily asked himself, should he be so well pleased to think this wandering and unscrupulous singer not so black as report had painted her?

A noise in the other room startled them both. The door swung open, and a tall, elderly, dark complexioned man, recently shaven, hurried into the room.

All the pictures of President Miraflores represent him as the possessor of a luxuriant supply of dark and carefully tended whiskers; but the story of the barber, Estebán, had prepared Goodwin for the change.

The man stumbled in from the dark room, his eyes blinking at the lamplight, and heavy from sleep.

“What does this mean?” he demanded in excellent English, with a keen and perturbed look at the American⁠—“robbery?”

“Very near it,” answered Goodwin. “But I rather think I’m in time to prevent it. I represent the people to whom this money belongs, and I have come to convey it back to them.” He thrust his hand into a pocket of his loose, linen coat.

The other man’s hand went quickly behind him.

“Don’t draw,” called Goodwin, sharply; “I’ve got you covered from my pocket.”

The lady stepped forward, and laid one hand upon the shoulder of her hesitating companion. She pointed to the table. “Tell me the truth⁠—the truth,” she said, in a low voice. “Whose money is that?”

The man did not answer. He gave a deep, long-drawn sigh, leaned and kissed her on the forehead, stepped back into the other room and closed the door.

Goodwin foresaw his purpose, and jumped for the door, but the report of the pistol echoed as his hand touched the knob. A heavy fall followed, and someone swept him aside and struggled into the room of the fallen man.

A desolation, thought Goodwin, greater than that derived from the loss of cavalier and gold must have been in the heart of the enchantress to have wrung from her, in that moment, the cry of one turning to the all-forgiving, all-comforting earthly consoler⁠—to have made her call out from that bloody and dishonoured room⁠—“Oh, mother, mother, mother!”

But there was an alarm outside. The barber, Estebán, at the sound of the shot, had raised his voice; and the shot itself had aroused half the town. A pattering of feet came up the street, and official orders rang out on the still air. Goodwin had a duty to perform. Circumstances had made him the custodian of his adopted country’s treasure. Swiftly cramming the money into the valise, he closed it, leaned far out of the window and dropped it into a thick orange-tree in the little enclosure below.

They will tell you in Coralio, as they delight in telling the stranger, of the conclusion of that tragic flight. They will tell you how the upholders of the law came apace when the alarm was sounded⁠—the Comandante in red slippers and a jacket like a head waiter’s and girded sword, the soldiers with their interminable guns, followed by outnumbering officers struggling into their gold lace and epaulettes; the barefooted policemen (the only capables in the lot), and ruffled citizens of every hue and description.

They say that the countenance of the dead man was marred sadly by the effects of the shot; but he was identified as the fallen president by both Goodwin and the barber Estebán. On the next morning messages began to come over the mended telegraph wire; and the story of the flight from the capital was given out to the public. In San Mateo the revolutionary party had seized the sceptre of government, without opposition, and the vivas of the mercurial populace quickly effaced the interest belonging to the unfortunate Miraflores.

They will relate to you how the new government sifted the towns and raked the roads to find the valise containing Anchuria’s surplus capital, which the president was known to have carried with him, but all in vain. In Coralio Señor Goodwin himself led the searching party which combed that town as carefully as a woman combs her hair; but the money was not found.

So they buried the dead man, without honours, back of the town near the little bridge that spans the mangrove swamp; and for a real a boy will show you his grave. They say that the old woman in whose hut the barber shaved the president placed the wooden slab at his head, and burned the inscription upon it with a hot iron.

You will hear also that Señor Goodwin, like a tower of strength, shielded Doña Isabel Guilbert through those subsequent distressful days; and that his scruples as to her past career (if he had any) vanished; and her adventuresome waywardness (if she had any) left her, and they were wedded and were happy.

The American built a home on a little foothill near the town. It is a conglomerate structure of native woods that, exported, would be worth a fortune, and of brick, palm, glass, bamboo and adobe. There is a paradise of nature about it; and something of the same sort within. The natives speak of its interior with hands uplifted in admiration. There are floors polished like mirrors and covered with handwoven Indian rugs of silk fibre, tall ornaments and pictures, musical instruments and papered walls⁠—“figure-it-to-yourself!” they exclaim.

But they cannot tell you in Coralio (as you shall learn) what became of the money that Frank Goodwin dropped into the orange-tree. But that shall come later; for the palms are fluttering in the breeze, bidding us to sport and gaiety.

Cupid’s Exile Number Two

The United States of America, after looking over its stock of consular timber, selected Mr. John De Graffenreid Atwood, of Dalesburg, Alabama, for a successor to Willard Geddie, resigned.

Without prejudice to Mr. Atwood, it will have to be acknowledged that, in this instance, it was the man who sought the office. As with the self-banished Geddie, it was nothing less than the artful smiles of lovely woman that had driven Johnny Atwood to the desperate expedient of accepting office under a despised Federal Government so that he might go far, far away and never see again the false, fair face that had wrecked his young life. The consulship at Coralio seemed to offer a retreat sufficiently removed and romantic enough to inject the necessary drama into the pastoral scenes of Dalesburg life.

It was while playing the part of Cupid’s exile that Johnny added his handiwork to the long list of casualties along the Spanish Main by his famous manipulation of the shoe market, and his unparalleled feat of elevating the most despised and useless weed in his own country from obscurity to be a valuable product in international commerce.

The trouble began, as trouble often begins instead of ending, with a romance. In Dalesburg there was a man named Elijah Hemstetter, who kept a general store. His family consisted of one daughter called Rosine, a name that atoned much for “Hemstetter.” This young woman was possessed of plentiful attractions, so that the young men of the community were agitated in their bosoms. Among the more agitated was Johnny, the son of Judge Atwood, who lived in the big colonial mansion on the edge of Dalesburg.

It would seem that the desirable Rosine should have been pleased to return the affection of an Atwood, a name honoured all over the state long before and since the war. It does seem that she should have gladly consented to have been led into that stately but rather empty colonial mansion. But not so. There was a cloud on the horizon, a threatening, cumulus cloud, in the shape of a lively and shrewd young farmer in the neighbourhood who dared to enter the lists as a rival to the highborn Atwood.

One night Johnny propounded to Rosine a question that is considered of much importance by the young of the human species. The accessories were all there⁠—moonlight, oleanders, magnolias, the mock-bird’s song. Whether or no the shadow of Pinkney Dawson, the prosperous young farmer, came between them on that occasion is not known; but Rosine’s answer was unfavourable. Mr. John De Graffenreid Atwood bowed till his hat touched the lawn grass, and went away with his head high, but with a sore wound in his pedigree and heart. A Hemstetter refuse an Atwood! Zounds!

Among other accidents of that year was a Democratic president. Judge Atwood was a warhorse of Democracy. Johnny persuaded him to set the wheels moving for some foreign appointment. He would go away⁠—away. Perhaps in years to come Rosine would think how true, how faithful his love had been, and would drop a tear⁠—maybe in the cream she would be skimming for Pink Dawson’s breakfast.

The wheels of politics revolved; and Johnny was appointed consul to Coralio. Just before leaving he dropped in at Hemstetter’s to say goodbye. There was a queer, pinkish look about Rosine’s eyes; and had the two been alone, the United States might have had to cast about for another consul. But Pink Dawson was there, of course, talking about his 400-acre orchard, and the three-mile alfalfa tract, and the 200-acre pasture. So Johnny shook hands with Rosine as coolly as if he were only going to run up to Montgomery for a couple of days. They had the royal manner when they chose, those Atwoods.

“If you happen to strike anything in the way of a good investment down there, Johnny,” said Pink Dawson, “just let me know, will you? I reckon I could lay my hands on a few extra thousands ’most any time for a profitable deal.”

“Certainly, Pink,” said Johnny, pleasantly. “If I strike anything of the sort I’ll let you in with pleasure.”

So Johnny went down to Mobile and took a fruit steamer for the coast of Anchuria.

When the new consul arrived in Coralio the strangeness of the scenes diverted him much. He was only twenty-two; and the grief of youth is not worn like a garment as it is by older men. It has its seasons when it reigns; and then it is unseated for a time by the assertion of the keen senses.

Billy Keogh and Johnny seemed to conceive a mutual friendship at once. Keogh took the new consul about town and presented him to the handful of Americans and the smaller number of French and Germans who made up the “foreign” contingent. And then, of course, he had to be more formally introduced to the native officials, and have his credentials transmitted through an interpreter.

There was something about the young Southerner that the sophisticated Keogh liked. His manner was simple almost to boyishness; but he possessed the cool carelessness of a man of far greater age and experience. Neither uniforms nor titles, red tape nor foreign languages, mountains nor sea weighed upon his spirits. He was heir to all the ages, an Atwood, of Dalesburg; and you might know every thought conceived in his bosom.

Geddie came down to the consulate to explain the duties and workings of the office. He and Keogh tried to interest the new consul in their description of the work that his government expected him to perform.

“It’s all right,” said Johnny from the hammock that he had set up as the official reclining place. “If anything turns up that has to be done I’ll let you fellows do it. You can’t expect a Democrat to work during his first term of holding office.”

“You might look over these headings,” suggested Geddie, “of the different lines of exports you will have to keep account of. The fruit is classified; and there are the valuable woods, coffee, rubber⁠—”

“That last account sounds all right,” interrupted Mr. Atwood. “Sounds as if it could be stretched. I want to buy a new flag, a monkey, a guitar and a barrel of pineapples. Will that rubber account stretch over ’em?”

“That’s merely statistics,” said Geddie, smiling. “The expense account is what you want. It is supposed to have a slight elasticity. The ‘stationery’ items are sometimes carelessly audited by the State Department.”

“We’re wasting our time,” said Keogh. “This man was born to hold office. He penetrates to the root of the art at one step of his eagle eye. The true genius of government shows its hand in every word of his speech.”

“I didn’t take this job with any intention of working,” explained Johnny, lazily. “I wanted to go somewhere in the world where they didn’t talk about farms. There are none here, are there?”

“Not the kind you are acquainted with,” answered the ex-consul. “There is no such art here as agriculture. There never was a plow or a reaper within the boundaries of Anchuria.”

“This is the country for me,” murmured the consul, and immediately he fell asleep.

The cheerful tintypist pursued his intimacy with Johnny in spite of open charges that he did so to obtain a preemption on a seat in that coveted spot, the rear gallery of the consulate. But whether his designs were selfish or purely friendly, Keogh achieved that desirable privilege. Few were the nights on which the two could not be found reposing there in the sea breeze, with their heels on the railing, and the cigars and brandy conveniently near.

One evening they sat thus, mainly silent, for their talk had dwindled before the stilling influence of an unusual night.

There was a great, full moon; and the sea was mother-of-pearl. Almost every sound was hushed, for the air was but faintly stirring; and the town lay panting, waiting for the night to cool. Offshore lay the fruit steamer Andador, of the Vesuvius line, full-laden and scheduled to sail at six in the morning. There were no loiterers on the beach. So bright was the moonlight that the two men could see the small pebbles shining on the beach where the gentle surf wetted them.

Then down the coast, tacking close to shore, slowly swam a little sloop, white-winged like some snowy sea fowl. Its course lay within twenty points of the wind’s eye; so it veered in and out again in long, slow strokes like the movements of a graceful skater.

Again the tactics of its crew brought it close in shore, this time nearly opposite the consulate; and then there blew from the sloop clear and surprising notes as if from a horn of elfland. A fairy bugle it might have been, sweet and silvery and unexpected, playing with spirit the familiar air of “Home, Sweet Home.”

It was a scene set for the land of the lotus. The authority of the sea and the tropics, the mystery that attends unknown sails, and the prestige of drifting music on moonlit waters gave it an anodynous charm. Johnny Atwood felt it, and thought of Dalesburg; but as soon as Keogh’s mind had arrived at a theory concerning the peripatetic solo he sprang to the railing, and his ear-rending yawp fractured the silence of Coralio like a cannon shot.

“Mel-lin-ger a-hoy!”

The sloop was now on its outward tack; but from it came a clear, answering hail:

“Goodbye, Billy⁠ ⁠… going home⁠—bye!”

The Andador was the sloop’s destination. No doubt some passenger with a sailing permit from some up-the-coast point had come down in this sloop to catch the regular fruit steamer on its return trip. Like a coquettish pigeon the little boat tacked on its eccentric way until at last its white sail was lost to sight against the larger bulk of the fruiter’s side.

“That’s old H. P. Mellinger,” explained Keogh, dropping back into his chair. “He’s going back to New York. He was private secretary of the late hotfoot president of this grocery and fruit stand that they call a country. His job’s over now; and I guess old Mellinger is glad.”

“Why does he disappear to music, like Zo-zo, the magic queen?” asked Johnny. “Just to show ’em that he doesn’t care?”

“That noise you heard is a phonograph,” said Keogh. “I sold him that. Mellinger had a graft in this country that was the only thing of its kind in the world. The tooting machine saved it for him once, and he always carried it around with him afterward.”

“Tell me about it,” demanded Johnny, betraying interest.

“I’m no disseminator of narratives,” said Keogh. “I can use language for purposes of speech; but when I attempt a discourse the words come out as they will, and they may make sense when they strike the atmosphere, or they may not.”

“I want to hear about that graft,” persisted Johnny. “You’ve got no right to refuse. I’ve told you all about every man, woman and hitching post in Dalesburg.”

“You shall hear it,” said Keogh. “I said my instincts of narrative were perplexed. Don’t you believe it. It’s an art I’ve acquired along with many other of the graces and sciences.”

The Phonograph and the Graft

“What was this graft?” asked Johnny, with the impatience of the great public to whom tales are told.

“ ’Tis contrary to art and philosophy to give you the information,” said Keogh, calmly. “The art of narrative consists in concealing from your audience everything it wants to know until after you expose your favourite opinions on topics foreign to the subject. A good story is like a bitter pill with the sugar coating inside of it. I will begin, if you please, with a horoscope located in the Cherokee Nation; and end with a moral tune on the phonograph.

“Me and Henry Horsecollar brought the first phonograph to this country. Henry was a quarter-breed, quarterback Cherokee, educated East in the idioms of football, and West in contraband whisky, and a gentleman, the same as you and me. He was easy and romping in his ways; a man about six foot, with a kind of rubber-tire movement. Yes, he was a little man about five foot five, or five foot eleven. He was what you would call a medium tall man of average smallness. Henry had quit college once, and the Muscogee jail three times⁠—the last-named institution on account of introducing and selling whisky in the territories. Henry Horsecollar never let any cigar stores come up and stand behind him. He didn’t belong to that tribe of Indians.

“Henry and me met at Texarkana, and figured out this phonograph scheme. He had $360 which came to him out of a land allotment in the reservation. I had run down from Little Rock on account of a distressful scene I had witnessed on the street there. A man stood on a box and passed around some gold watches, screw case, stem-winders, Elgin movement, very elegant. Twenty bucks they cost you over the counter. At three dollars the crowd fought for the tickers. The man happened to find a valise full of them handy, and he passed them out like putting hot biscuits on a plate. The backs were hard to unscrew, but the crowd put its ear to the case, and they ticked mollifying and agreeable. Three of these watches were genuine tickers; the rest were only kickers. Hey? Why, empty cases with one of them horny black bugs that fly around electric lights in ’em. Them bugs kick off minutes and seconds industrious and beautiful. So, this man I was speaking of cleaned up $288; and then he went away, because he knew that when it came time to wind watches in Little Rock an entomologist would be needed, and he wasn’t one.

“So, as I say, Henry had $360, and I had $288. The idea of introducing the phonograph to South America was Henry’s; but I took to it freely, being fond of machinery of all kinds.

“ ‘The Latin races,’ says Henry, explaining easy in the idioms he learned at college, ‘are peculiarly adapted to be victims of the phonograph. They have the artistic temperament. They yearn for music and color and gaiety. They give wampum to the hand-organ man and the four-legged chicken in the tent when they’re months behind with the grocery and the breadfruit tree.’

“ ‘Then,’ says I, ‘we’ll export canned music to the Latins; but I’m mindful of Mr. Julius Caesar’s account of ’em where he says: “Omnia Gallia in tres partes divisa est”; which is the same as to say, “We will need all of our gall in devising means to tree them parties.” ’

“I hated to make a show of education; but I was disinclined to be overdone in syntax by a mere Indian, a member of a race to which we owe nothing except the land on which the United States is situated.

“We bought a fine phonograph in Texarkana⁠—one of the best make⁠—and half a trunkful of records. We packed up, and took the T. & P. for New Orleans. From that celebrated centre of molasses and disfranchised coon songs we took a steamer for South America.

“We landed at Solitas, forty miles up the coast from here. ’Twas a palatable enough place to look at. The houses were clean and white; and to look at ’em stuck around among the scenery they reminded you of hard-boiled eggs served with lettuce. There was a block of skyscraper mountains in the suburbs; and they kept pretty quiet, like they had crept up there and were watching the town. And the sea was remarking ‘Sh-sh-sh’ on the beach; and now and then a ripe coconut would drop kerblip in the sand; and that was all there was doing. Yes, I judge that town was considerably on the quiet. I judge that after Gabriel quits blowing his horn, and the car starts, with Philadelphia swinging to the last strap, and Pine Gully, Arkansas, hanging onto the rear step, this town of Solitas will wake up and ask if anybody spoke.

“The captain went ashore with us, and offered to conduct what he seemed to like to call the obsequies. He introduced Henry and me to the United States Consul, and a roan man, the head of the Department of Mercenary and Licentious Dispositions, the way it read upon his sign.

“ ‘I touch here again a week from today,’ says the captain.

“ ‘By that time,’ we told him, ‘we’ll be amassing wealth in the interior towns with our galvanized prima donna and correct imitations of Sousa’s band excavating a march from a tin mine.’

“ ‘Ye’ll not,’ says the captain. ‘Ye’ll be hypnotized. Any gentleman in the audience who kindly steps upon the stage and looks this country in the eye will be converted to the hypothesis that he’s but a fly in the Elgin creamery. Ye’ll be standing knee deep in the surf waiting for me, and your machine for making Hamburger steak out of the hitherto respected art of music will be playing “There’s no place like home.” ’

“Henry skinned a twenty off his roll, and received from the Bureau of Mercenary Dispositions a paper bearing a red seal and a dialect story, and no change.

“Then we got the consul full of red wine, and struck him for a horoscope. He was a thin, youngish kind of man, I should say past fifty, sort of French-Irish in his affections, and puffed up with disconsolation. Yes, he was a flattened kind of a man, in whom drink lay stagnant, inclined to corpulence and misery. Yes, I think he was a kind of Dutchman, being very sad and genial in his ways.

“ ‘The marvelous invention,’ he says, ‘entitled the phonograph, has never invaded these shores. The people have never heard it. They would not believe it if they should. Simple-hearted children of nature, progress has never condemned them to accept the work of a can-opener as an overture, and ragtime might incite them to a bloody revolution. But you can try the experiment. The best chance you have is that the populace may not wake up when you play. There’s two ways,’ says the consul, ‘they may take it. They may become inebriated with attention, like an Atlanta colonel listening to “Marching Through Georgia,” or they will get excited and transpose the key of the music with an axe and yourselves into a dungeon. In the latter case,’ says the consul, ‘I’ll do my duty by cabling to the State Department, and I’ll wrap the Stars and Stripes around you when you come to be shot, and threaten them with the vengeance of the greatest gold export and financial reserve nation on earth. The flag is full of bullet holes now,’ says the consul, ‘made in that way. Twice before,’ says the consul, ‘I have cabled our government for a couple of gunboats to protect American citizens. The first time the Department sent me a pair of gum boots. The other time was when a man named Peas was going to be executed here. They referred that appeal to the Secretary of Agriculture. Let us now disturb the señor behind the bar for a subsequence of the red wine.’

“Thus soliloquized the consul of Solitas to me and Henry Horsecollar.

“But, notwithstanding, we hired a room that afternoon in the Calle de los Angeles, the main street that runs along the shore, and put our trunks there. ’Twas a good-sized room, dark and cheerful, but small. ’Twas on a various street, diversified by houses and conservatory plants. The peasantry of the city passed to and fro on the fine pasturage between the sidewalks. ’Twas, for the world, like an opera chorus when the Royal Kafoozlum is about to enter.

“We were rubbing the dust off the machine and getting fixed to start business the next day, when a big, fine-looking white man in white clothes stopped at the door and looked in. We extended the invitations, and he walked inside and sized us up. He was chewing a long cigar, and wrinkling his eyes, meditative, like a girl trying to decide which dress to wear to the party.

“ ‘New York?’ he says to me finally.

“ ‘Originally, and from time to time,’ I says. ‘Hasn’t it rubbed off yet?’

“ ‘It’s simple,’ says he, ‘when you know how. It’s the fit of the vest. They don’t cut vests right anywhere else. Coats, maybe, but not vests.’

“The white man looks at Henry Horsecollar and hesitates.

“ ‘Injun,’ says Henry; ‘tame Injun.’

“ ‘Mellinger,’ says the man⁠—‘Homer P. Mellinger. Boys, you’re confiscated. You’re babes in the wood without a chaperon or referee, and it’s my duty to start you going. I’ll knock out the props and launch you proper in the pellucid waters of this tropical mud puddle. You’ll have to be christened, and if you’ll come with me I’ll break a bottle of wine across your bows, according to Hoyle.’

“Well, for two days Homer P. Mellinger did the honors. That man cut ice in Anchuria. He was It. He was the Royal Kafoozlum. If me and Henry was babes in the wood, he was a Robin Redbreast from the topmost bough. Him and me and Henry Horsecollar locked arms, and toted that phonograph around, and had wassail and diversions. Everywhere we found doors open we went inside and set the machine going, and Mellinger called upon the people to observe the artful music and his two lifelong friends, the Señors Americanos. The opera chorus was agitated with esteem, and followed us from house to house. There was a different kind of drink to be had with every tune. The natives had acquirements of a pleasant thing in the way of a drink that gums itself to the recollection. They chop off the end of a green coconut, and pour in on the juice of it French brandy and other adjuvants. We had them and other things.

“Mine and Henry’s money was counterfeit. Everything was on Homer P. Mellinger. That man could find rolls of bills concealed in places on his person where Hermann the Wizard couldn’t have conjured out a rabbit or an omelette. He could have founded universities, and made orchid collections, and then had enough left to purchase the colored vote of his country. Henry and me wondered what his graft was. One evening he told us.

“ ‘Boys,’ said he, ‘I’ve deceived you. You think I’m a painted butterfly; but in fact I’m the hardest worked man in this country. Ten years ago I landed on its shores; and two years ago on the point of its jaw. Yes, I guess I can get the decision over this ginger cake commonwealth at the end of any round I choose. I’ll confide in you because you are my countrymen and guests, even if you have assaulted my adopted shores with the worst system of noises ever set to music.

“ ‘My job is private secretary to the president of this republic; and my duties are running it. I’m not headlined in the bills, but I’m the mustard in the salad dressing just the same. There isn’t a law goes before Congress, there isn’t a concession granted, there isn’t an import duty levied but what H. P. Mellinger he cooks and seasons it. In the front office I fill the president’s inkstand and search visiting statesmen for dirks and dynamite; but in the back room I dictate the policy of the government. You’d never guess in the world how I got my pull. It’s the only graft of its kind on earth. I’ll put you wise. You remember the old top-liner in the copy book⁠—“Honesty is the Best Policy”? That’s it. I’m working honesty for a graft. I’m the only honest man in the republic. The government knows it; the people know it; the boodlers know it; the foreign investors know it. I make the government keep its faith. If a man is promised a job he gets it. If outside capital buys a concession it gets the goods. I run a monopoly of square dealing here. There’s no competition. If Colonel Diogenes were to flash his lantern in this precinct he’d have my address inside of two minutes. There isn’t big money in it, but it’s a sure thing, and lets a man sleep of nights.’

“Thus Homer P. Mellinger made oration to me and Henry Horsecollar. And, later, he divested himself of this remark:

“ ‘Boys, I’m to hold a soirée this evening with a gang of leading citizens, and I want your assistance. You bring the musical corn sheller and give the affair the outside appearance of a function. There’s important business on hand, but it mustn’t show. I can talk to you people. I’ve been pained for years on account of not having anybody to blow off and brag to. I get homesick sometimes, and I’d swap the entire perquisites of office for just one hour to have a stein and a caviar sandwich somewhere on Thirty-fourth Street, and stand and watch the street cars go by, and smell the peanut roaster at old Giuseppe’s fruit stand.’

“ ‘Yes,’ said I, ‘there’s fine caviar at Billy Renfrew’s café, corner of Thirty-fourth and⁠—’

“ ‘God knows it,’ interrupts Mellinger, ‘and if you’d told me you knew Billy Renfrew I’d have invented tons of ways of making you happy. Billy was my side-kicker in New York. There is a man who never knew what crooked was. Here I am working Honesty for a graft, but that man loses money on it. Carrambos! I get sick at times of this country. Everything’s rotten. From the executive down to the coffee pickers, they’re plotting to down each other and skin their friends. If a mule driver takes off his hat to an official, that man figures it out that he’s a popular idol, and sets his pegs to stir up a revolution and upset the administration. It’s one of my little chores as private secretary to smell out these revolutions and affix the kibosh before they break out and scratch the paint off the government property. That’s why I’m down here now in this mildewed coast town. The governor of the district and his crew are plotting to uprise. I’ve got every one of their names, and they’re invited to listen to the phonograph tonight, compliments of H. P. M. That’s the way I’ll get them in a bunch, and things are on the programme to happen to them.’

“We three were sitting at table in the cantina of the Purified Saints. Mellinger poured out wine, and was looking some worried; I was thinking.

“ ‘They’re a sharp crowd,’ he says, kind of fretful. ‘They’re capitalized by a foreign syndicate after rubber, and they’re loaded to the muzzle for bribing. I’m sick,’ goes on Mellinger, ‘of comic opera. I want to smell East River and wear suspenders again. At times I feel like throwing up my job, but I’m d⁠⸺⁠n fool enough to be sort of proud of it. “There’s Mellinger,” they say here. “Por Dios! you can’t touch him with a million.” I’d like to take that record back and show it to Billy Renfrew some day; and that tightens my grip whenever I see a fat thing that I could corral just by winking one eye⁠—and losing my graft. By ⸻, they can’t monkey with me. They know it. What money I get I make honest and spend it. Some day I’ll make a pile and go back and eat caviar with Billy. Tonight I’ll show you how to handle a bunch of corruptionists. I’ll show them what Mellinger, private secretary, means when you spell it with the cotton and tissue paper off.’

“Mellinger appears shaky, and breaks his glass against the neck of the bottle.

“I says to myself, ‘White man, if I’m not mistaken there’s been a bait laid out where the tail of your eye could see it.’

“That night, according to arrangements, me and Henry took the phonograph to a room in a ’dobe house in a dirty side street, where the grass was knee high. ’Twas a long room, lit with smoky oil lamps. There was plenty of chairs, and a table at the back end. We set the phonograph on the table. Mellinger was there, walking up and down, disturbed in his predicaments. He chewed cigars and spat ’em out, and he bit the thumb nail of his left hand.

“By and by the invitations to the musicale came sliding in by pairs and threes and spade flushes. Their colour was of a diversity, running from a three-days’ smoked meerschaum to a patent-leather polish. They were as polite as wax, being devastated with enjoyments to give Señor Mellinger the good evenings. I understood their Spanish talk⁠—I ran a pumping engine two years in a Mexican silver mine, and had it pat⁠—but I never let on.

“Maybe fifty of ’em had come, and was seated, when in slid the king bee, the governor of the district. Mellinger met him at the door, and escorted him to the grandstand. When I saw that Latin man I knew that Mellinger, private secretary, had all the dances on his card taken. That was a big, squashy man, the colour of a rubber overshoe, and he had an eye like a head waiter’s.

“Mellinger explained, fluent, in the Castilian idioms, that his soul was disconcerted with joy at introducing to his respected friends America’s greatest invention, the wonder of the age. Henry got the cue and run on an elegant brass-band record and the festivities became initiated. The governor man had a bit of English under his hat, and when the music was choked off he says:

“ ‘Ver-r-ree fine. Gr-r-r-r-racias, the American gentleemen, the so esplendeed moosic as to playee.’

“The table was a long one, and Henry and me sat at the end of it next the wall. The governor sat at the other end. Homer P. Mellinger stood at the side of it. I was just wondering how Mellinger was going to handle his crowd, when the home talent suddenly opened the services.

“That governor man was suitable for uprisings and policies. I judge he was a ready kind of man, who took his own time. Yes, he was full of attention and immediateness. He leaned his hands on the table and imposed his face toward the secretary man.

“ ‘Do the American señors understand Spanish?’ he asks in his native accents.

“ ‘They do not,’ says Mellinger.

“ ‘Then listen,’ goes on the Latin man, prompt. ‘The musics are of sufficient prettiness, but not of necessity. Let us speak of business. I well know why we are here, since I observe my compatriots. You had a whisper yesterday, Señor Mellinger, of our proposals. Tonight we will speak out. We know that you stand in the president’s favour, and we know your influence. The government will be changed. We know the worth of your services. We esteem your friendship and aid so much that’⁠—Mellinger raises his hand, but the governor man bottles him up. ‘Do not speak until I have done.’

“The governor man then draws a package wrapped in paper from his pocket, and lays it on the table by Mellinger’s hand.

“ ‘In that you will find fifty thousand dollars in money of your country. You can do nothing against us, but you can be worth that for us. Go back to the capital and obey our instructions. Take that money now. We trust you. You will find with it a paper giving in detail the work you will be expected to do for us. Do not have the unwiseness to refuse.’

“The governor man paused, with his eyes fixed on Mellinger, full of expressions and observances. I looked at Mellinger, and was glad Billy Renfrew couldn’t see him then. The sweat was popping out on his forehead, and he stood dumb, tapping the little package with the ends of his fingers. The colorado-maduro gang was after his graft. He had only to change his politics, and stuff five fingers in his inside pocket.

“Henry whispers to me and wants the pause in the programme interpreted. I whisper back: ‘H. P. is up against a bribe, senator’s size, and the coons have got him going.’ I saw Mellinger’s hand moving closer to the package. ‘He’s weakening,’ I whispered to Henry. ‘We’ll remind him,’ says Henry, ‘of the peanut-roaster on Thirty-fourth Street, New York.’

“Henry stooped down and got a record from the basketful we’d brought, slid it in the phonograph, and started her off. It was a cornet solo, very neat and beautiful, and the name of it was ‘Home, Sweet Home.’ Not one of them fifty odd men in the room moved while it was playing, and the governor man kept his eyes steady on Mellinger. I saw Mellinger’s head go up little by little, and his hand came creeping away from the package. Not until the last note sounded did anybody stir. And then Homer P. Mellinger takes up the bundle of boodle and slams it in the governor man’s face.

“ ‘That’s my answer,’ says Mellinger, private secretary, ‘and there’ll be another in the morning. I have proofs of conspiracy against every man of you. The show is over, gentlemen.’

“ ‘There’s one more act,’ puts in the governor man. ‘You are a servant, I believe, employed by the president to copy letters and answer raps at the door. I am governor here. Señores, I call upon you in the name of the cause to seize this man.’

“That brindled gang of conspirators shoved back their chairs and advanced in force. I could see where Mellinger had made a mistake in massing his enemy so as to make a grandstand play. I think he made another one, too; but we can pass that, Mellinger’s idea of a graft and mine being different, according to estimations and points of view.

“There was only one window and door in that room, and they were in the front end. Here was fifty odd Latin men coming in a bunch to obstruct the legislation of Mellinger. You may say there were three of us, for me and Henry, simultaneous, declared New York City and the Cherokee Nation in sympathy with the weaker party.

“Then it was that Henry Horsecollar rose to a point of disorder and intervened, showing, admirable, the advantages of education as applied to the American Indian’s natural intellect and native refinement. He stood up and smoothed back his hair on each side with his hands as you have seen little girls do when they play.

“ ‘Get behind me, both of you,’ says Henry.

“ ‘What’s it to be, chief?’ I asked.

“ ‘I’m going to buck centre,’ says Henry, in his football idioms. ‘There isn’t a tackle in the lot of them. Follow me close, and rush the game.’

“Then that cultured Red Man exhaled an arrangement of sounds with his mouth that made the Latin aggregation pause, with thoughtfulness and hesitations. The matter of his proclamation seemed to be a cooperation of the Carlisle war-whoop with the Cherokee college yell. He went at the chocolate team like a bean out of a little boy’s nigger shooter. His right elbow laid out the governor man on the gridiron, and he made a lane the length of the crowd so wide that a woman could have carried a stepladder through it without striking against anything. All Mellinger and me had to do was to follow.

“It took us just three minutes to get out of that street around to military headquarters, where Mellinger had things his own way. A colonel and a battalion of bare-toed infantry turned out and went back to the scene of the musicale with us, but the conspirator gang was gone. But we recaptured the phonograph with honours of war, and marched back to the cuartel with it playing ‘All Coons Look Alike to Me.’

“The next day Mellinger takes me and Henry to one side, and begins to shed tens and twenties.

“ ‘I want to buy that phonograph,’ says he. ‘I liked that last tune it played at the soirée.’

“ ‘This is more money than the machine is worth,’ says I.

“ ‘ ’Tis government expense money,’ says Mellinger. ‘The government pays for it, and it’s getting the tune-grinder cheap.’

“Me and Henry knew that pretty well. We knew that it had saved Homer P. Mellinger’s graft when he was on the point of losing it; but we never let him know we knew it.

“ ‘Now you boys better slide off further down the coast for a while,’ says Mellinger, ‘till I get the screws put on these fellows here. If you don’t they’ll give you trouble. And if you ever happen to see Billy Renfrew again before I do, tell him I’m coming back to New York as soon as I can make a stake⁠—honest.’

“Me and Henry laid low until the day the steamer came back. When we saw the captain’s boat on the beach we went down and stood in the edge of the water. The captain grinned when he saw us.

“ ‘I told you you’d be waiting,’ he says. ‘Where’s the Hamburger machine?’

“ ‘It stays behind,’ I says, ‘to play “Home, Sweet Home.” ’

“ ‘I told you so,’ says the captain again. ‘Climb in the boat.’

“And that,” said Keogh, “is the way me and Henry Horsecollar introduced the phonograph into this country. Henry went back to the States, but I’ve been rummaging around in the tropics ever since. They say Mellinger never travelled a mile after that without his phonograph. I guess it kept him reminded about his graft whenever he saw the siren voice of the boodler tip him the wink with a bribe in its hand.”

“I suppose he’s taking it home with him as a souvenir,” remarked the consul.

“Not as a souvenir,” said Keogh. “He’ll need two of ’em in New York, running day and night.”

Money Maze

The new administration of Anchuria entered upon its duties and privileges with enthusiasm. Its first act was to send an agent to Coralio with imperative orders to recover, if possible, the sum of money ravished from the treasury by the ill-fated Miraflores.

Colonel Emilio Falcon, the private secretary of Losada, the new president, was despatched from the capital upon this important mission.

The position of private secretary to a tropical president is a responsible one. He must be a diplomat, a spy, a ruler of men, a bodyguard to his chief, and a smeller-out of plots and nascent revolutions. Often he is the power behind the throne, the dictator of policy; and a president chooses him with a dozen times the care with which he selects a matrimonial mate.

Colonel Falcon, a handsome and urbane gentleman of Castilian courtesy and débonnaire manners, came to Coralio with the task before him of striking upon the cold trail of the lost money. There he conferred with the military authorities, who had received instructions to cooperate with him in the search.

Colonel Falcon established his headquarters in one of the rooms of the Casa Morena. Here for a week he held informal sittings⁠—much as if he were a kind of unified grand jury⁠—and summoned before him all those whose testimony might illumine the financial tragedy that had accompanied the less momentous one of the late president’s death.

Two or three who were thus examined, among whom was the barber Estebán, declared that they had identified the body of the president before its burial.

“Of a truth,” testified Estebán before the mighty secretary, “it was he, the president. Consider!⁠—how could I shave a man and not see his face? He sent for me to shave him in a small house. He had a beard very black and thick. Had I ever seen the president before? Why not? I saw him once ride forth in a carriage from the vapor in Solitas. When I shaved him he gave me a gold piece, and said there was to be no talk. But I am a Liberal⁠—I am devoted to my country⁠—and I spake of these things to Señor Goodwin.”

“It is known,” said Colonel Falcon, smoothly, “that the late President took with him an American leather valise, containing a large amount of money. Did you see that?”

De veras⁠—no,” Estebán answered. “The light in the little house was but a small lamp by which I could scarcely see to shave the President. Such a thing there may have been, but I did not see it. No. Also in the room was a young lady⁠—a señorita of much beauty⁠—that I could see even in so small a light. But the money, señor, or the thing in which it was carried⁠—that I did not see.”

The comandante and other officers gave testimony that they had been awakened and alarmed by the noise of a pistol-shot in the Hotel de los Estranjeros. Hurrying thither to protect the peace and dignity of the republic, they found a man lying dead, with a pistol clutched in his hand. Beside him was a young woman, weeping sorely. Señor Goodwin was also in the room when they entered it. But of the valise of money they saw nothing.

Madame Timotea Ortiz, the proprietress of the hotel in which the game of Fox-in-the-Morning had been played out, told of the coming of the two guests to her house.

“To my house they came,” said she⁠—“one señor, not quite old, and one señorita of sufficient handsomeness. They desired not to eat or to drink⁠—not even of my aguardiente, which is the best. To their rooms they ascended⁠—Numero Nueve and Numero Diez. Later came Señor Goodwin, who ascended to speak with them. Then I heard a great noise like that of a canon, and they said that the pobre Presidente had shot himself. Está bueno. I saw nothing of money or of the thing you call veliz that you say he carried it in.”

Colonel Falcon soon came to the reasonable conclusion that if anyone in Coralio could furnish a clue to the vanished money, Frank Goodwin must be the man. But the wise secretary pursued a different course in seeking information from the American. Goodwin was a powerful friend to the new administration, and one who was not to be carelessly dealt with in respect to either his honesty or his courage. Even the private secretary of His Excellency hesitated to have this rubber prince and mahogany baron haled before him as a common citizen of Anchuria. So he sent Goodwin a flowery epistle, each word-petal dripping with honey, requesting the favour of an interview. Goodwin replied with an invitation to dinner at his own house.

Before the hour named the American walked over to the Casa Morena, and greeted his guest frankly and friendly. Then the two strolled, in the cool of the afternoon, to Goodwin’s home in the environs.

The American left Colonel Falcon in a big, cool, shadowed room with a floor of inlaid and polished woods that any millionaire in the States would have envied, excusing himself for a few minutes. He crossed a patio, shaded with deftly arranged awnings and plants, and entered a long room looking upon the sea in the opposite wing of the house. The broad jalousies were opened wide, and the ocean breeze flowed in through the room, an invisible current of coolness and health. Goodwin’s wife sat near one of the windows, making a watercolor sketch of the afternoon seascape.

Here was a woman who looked to be happy. And more⁠—she looked to be content. Had a poet been inspired to pen just similes concerning her favour, he would have likened her full, clear eyes, with their white-encircled, gray irises, to moonflowers. With none of the goddesses whose traditional charms have become coldly classic would the discerning rhymester have compared her. She was purely Paradisaic, not Olympian. If you can imagine Eve, after the eviction, beguiling the flaming warriors and serenely re-entering the Garden, you will have her. Just so human, and still so harmonious with Eden seemed Mrs. Goodwin.

When her husband entered she looked up, and her lips curved and parted; her eyelids fluttered twice or thrice⁠—a movement remindful (Poesy forgive us!) of the tail-wagging of a faithful dog⁠—and a little ripple went through her like the commotion set up in a weeping willow by a puff of wind. Thus she ever acknowledged his coming, were it twenty times a day. If they who sometimes sat over their wine in Coralio, reshaping old, diverting stories of the madcap career of Isabel Guilbert, could have seen the wife of Frank Goodwin that afternoon in the estimable aura of her happy wifehood, they might have disbelieved, or have agreed to forget, those graphic annals of the life of the one for whom their president gave up his country and his honour.

“I have brought a guest to dinner,” said Goodwin. “One Colonel Falcon, from San Mateo. He is come on government business. I do not think you will care to see him, so I prescribe for you one of those convenient and indisputable feminine headaches.”

“He has come to inquire about the lost money, has he not?” asked Mrs. Goodwin, going on with her sketch.

“A good guess!” acknowledged Goodwin. “He has been holding an inquisition among the natives for three days. I am next on his list of witnesses, but as he feels shy about dragging one of Uncle Sam’s subjects before him, he consents to give it the outward appearance of a social function. He will apply the torture over my own wine and provender.”

“Has he found anyone who saw the valise of money?”

“Not a soul. Even Madama Ortiz, whose eyes are so sharp for the sight of a revenue official, does not remember that there was any baggage.”

Mrs. Goodwin laid down her brush and sighed.

“I am so sorry, Frank,” she said, “that they are giving you so much trouble about the money. But we can’t let them know about it, can we?”

“Not without doing our intelligence a great injustice,” said Goodwin, with a smile and a shrug that he had picked up from the natives. “Americano, though I am, they would have me in the calaboza in half an hour if they knew we had appropriated that valise. No; we must appear as ignorant about the money as the other ignoramuses in Coralio.”

“Do you think that this man they have sent suspects you?” she asked, with a little pucker of her brows.

“He’d better not,” said the American, carelessly. “It’s lucky that no one caught a sight of the valise except myself. As I was in the rooms when the shot was fired, it is not surprising that they should want to investigate my part in the affair rather closely. But there’s no cause for alarm. This colonel is down on the list of events for a good dinner, with a dessert of American ‘bluff’ that will end the matter, I think.”

Mrs. Goodwin rose and walked to the window. Goodwin followed and stood by her side. She leaned to him, and rested in the protection of his strength, as she had always rested since that dark night on which he had first made himself her tower of refuge. Thus they stood for a little while.

Straight through the lavish growth of tropical branch and leaf and vine that confronted them had been cunningly trimmed a vista, that ended at the cleared environs of Coralio, on the banks of the mangrove swamp. At the other end of the aerial tunnel they could see the grave and wooden headpiece that bore the name of the unhappy President Miraflores. From this window when the rains forbade the open, and from the green and shady slopes of Goodwin’s fruitful lands when the skies were smiling, his wife was wont to look upon that grave with a gentle sadness that was now scarcely a mar to her happiness.

“I loved him so, Frank!” she said, “even after that terrible flight and its awful ending. And you have been so good to me, and have made me so happy. It has all grown into such a strange puzzle. If they were to find out that we got the money do you think they would force you to make the amount good to the government?”

“They would undoubtedly try,” answered Goodwin. “You are right about its being a puzzle. And it must remain a puzzle to Falcon and all his countrymen until it solves itself. You and I, who know more than anyone else, only know half of the solution. We must not let even a hint about this money get abroad. Let them come to the theory that the president concealed it in the mountains during his journey, or that he found means to ship it out of the country before he reached Coralio. I don’t think that Falcon suspects me. He is making a close investigation, according to his orders, but he will find out nothing.”

Thus they spake together. Had anyone overheard or overseen them as they discussed the lost funds of Anchuria there would have been a second puzzle presented. For upon the faces and in the bearing of each of them was visible (if countenances are to be believed) Saxon honesty and pride and honourable thoughts. In Goodwin’s steady eye and firm lineaments, moulded into material shape by the inward spirit of kindness and generosity and courage, there was nothing reconcilable with his words.

As for his wife, physiognomy championed her even in the face of their accusive talk. Nobility was in her guise; purity was in her glance. The devotion that she manifested had not even the appearance of that feeling that now and then inspires a woman to share the guilt of her partner out of the pathetic greatness of her love. No, there was a discrepancy here between what the eye would have seen and the ear have heard.

Dinner was served to Goodwin and his guest in the patio, under cool foliage and flowers. The American begged the illustrious secretary to excuse the absence of Mrs. Goodwin, who was suffering, he said, from a headache brought on by a slight calentura.

After the meal they lingered, according to the custom, over their coffee and cigars. Colonel Falcon, with true Castilian delicacy, waited for his host to open the question that they had met to discuss. He had not long to wait. As soon as the cigars were lighted, the American cleared the way by inquiring whether the secretary’s investigations in the town had furnished him with any clue to the lost funds.

“I have found no one yet,” admitted Colonel Falcon, “who even had sight of the valise or the money. Yet I have persisted. It has been proven in the capital that President Miraflores set out from San Mateo with one hundred thousand dollars belonging to the government, accompanied by Señorita Isabel Guilbert, the opera singer. The Government, officially and personally, is loathe to believe,” concluded Colonel Falcon, with a smile, “that our late President’s tastes would have permitted him to abandon on the route, as excess baggage, either of the desirable articles with which his flight was burdened.”

“I suppose you would like to hear what I have to say about the affair,” said Goodwin, coming directly to the point. “It will not require many words.

“On that night, with others of our friends here, I was keeping a lookout for the president, having been notified of his flight by a telegram in our national cipher from Englehart, one of our leaders in the capital. About ten o’clock that night I saw a man and a woman hurrying along the streets. They went to the Hotel de los Estranjeros, and engaged rooms. I followed them upstairs, leaving Estebán, who had come up, to watch outside. The barber had told me that he had shaved the beard from the president’s face that night; therefore I was prepared, when I entered the rooms, to find him with a smooth face. When I apprehended him in the name of the people he drew a pistol and shot himself instantly. In a few minutes many officers and citizens were on the spot. I suppose you have been informed of the subsequent facts.”

Goodwin paused. Losada’s agent maintained an attitude of waiting, as if he expected a continuance.

“And now,” went on the American, looking steadily into the eyes of the other man, and giving each word a deliberate emphasis, “you will oblige me by attending carefully to what I have to add. I saw no valise or receptacle of any kind, or any money belonging to the Republic of Anchuria. If President Miraflores decamped with any funds belonging to the treasury of this country, or to himself, or to anyone else, I saw no trace of it in the house or elsewhere, at that time or at any other. Does that statement cover the ground of the inquiry you wished to make of me?”

Colonel Falcon bowed, and described a fluent curve with his cigar. His duty was performed. Goodwin was not to be disputed. He was a loyal supporter of the government, and enjoyed the full confidence of the new president. His rectitude had been the capital that had brought him fortune in Anchuria, just as it had formed the lucrative “graft” of Mellinger, the secretary of Miraflores.

“I thank you, Señor Goodwin,” said Falcon, “for speaking plainly. Your word will be sufficient for the president. But, Señor Goodwin, I am instructed to pursue every clue that presents itself in this matter. There is one that I have not yet touched upon. Our friends in France, señor, have a saying, ‘Cherchez la femme,’ when there is a mystery without a clue. But here we do not have to search. The woman who accompanied the late President in his flight must surely⁠—”

“I must interrupt you there,” interposed Goodwin. “It is true that when I entered the hotel for the purpose of intercepting President Miraflores I found a lady there. I must beg of you to remember that that lady is now my wife. I speak for her as I do for myself. She knows nothing of the fate of the valise or of the money that you are seeking. You will say to his excellency that I guarantee her innocence. I do not need to add to you, Colonel Falcon, that I do not care to have her questioned or disturbed.”

Colonel Falcon bowed again.

Por supuesto, no!” he cried. And to indicate that the inquiry was ended he added: “And now, señor, let me beg of you to show me that sea view from your galeria of which you spoke. I am a lover of the sea.”

In the early evening Goodwin walked back to the town with his guest, leaving him at the corner of the Calle Grande. As he was returning homeward one “Beelzebub” Blythe, with the air of a courtier and the outward aspect of a scarecrow, pounced upon him hopefully from the door of a pulperia.

Blythe had been re-christened “Beelzebub” as an acknowledgment of the greatness of his fall. Once in some distant Paradise Lost, he had foregathered with the angels of the earth. But Fate had hurled him headlong down to the tropics, where flamed in his bosom a fire that was seldom quenched. In Coralio they called him a beachcomber; but he was, in reality, a categorical idealist who strove to anamorphosize the dull verities of life by the means of brandy and rum. As Beelzebub, himself, might have held in his clutch with unwitting tenacity his harp or crown during his tremendous fall, so his namesake had clung to his gold-rimmed eyeglasses as the only souvenir of his lost estate. These he wore with impressiveness and distinction while he combed beaches and extracted toll from his friends. By some mysterious means he kept his drink-reddened face always smoothly shaven. For the rest he sponged gracefully upon whomsoever he could for enough to keep him pretty drunk, and sheltered from the rains and night dews.

“Hallo, Goodwin!” called the derelict, airily. “I was hoping I’d strike you. I wanted to see you particularly. Suppose we go where we can talk. Of course you know there’s a chap down here looking up the money old Miraflores lost.”

“Yes,” said Goodwin, “I’ve been talking with him. Let’s go into Espada’s place. I can spare you ten minutes.”

They went into the pulperia and sat at a little table upon stools with rawhide tops.

“Have a drink?” said Goodwin.

“They can’t bring it too quickly,” said Blythe. “I’ve been in a drought ever since morning. Hi⁠—muchacho!⁠—el aguardiente por acá.”

“Now, what do you want to see me about?” asked Goodwin, when the drinks were before them.

“Confound it, old man,” drawled Blythe, “why do you spoil a golden moment like this with business? I wanted to see you⁠—well, this has the preference.” He gulped down his brandy, and gazed longingly into the empty glass.

“Have another?” suggested Goodwin.

“Between gentlemen,” said the fallen angel, “I don’t quite like your use of that word ‘another.’ It isn’t quite delicate. But the concrete idea that the word represents is not displeasing.”

The glasses were refilled. Blythe sipped blissfully from his, as he began to enter the state of a true idealist.

“I must trot along in a minute or two,” hinted Goodwin. “Was there anything in particular?”

Blythe did not reply at once.

“Old Losada would make it a hot country,” he remarked at length, “for the man who swiped that gripsack of treasury boodle, don’t you think?”

“Undoubtedly, he would,” agreed Goodwin calmly, as he rose leisurely to his feet. “I’ll be running over to the house now, old man. Mrs. Goodwin is alone. There was nothing important you had to say, was there?”

“That’s all,” said Blythe. “Unless you wouldn’t mind sending in another drink from the bar as you go out. Old Espada has closed my account to profit and loss. And pay for the lot, will you, like a good fellow?”

“All right,” said Goodwin. “Buenas noches.”

“Beelzebub” Blythe lingered over his cups, polishing his eyeglasses with a disreputable handkerchief.

“I thought I could do it, but I couldn’t,” he muttered to himself after a time. “A gentleman can’t blackmail the man that he drinks with.”

The Admiral

Spilled milk draws few tears from an Anchurian administration. Many are its lacteal sources; and the clocks’ hands point forever to milking time. Even the rich cream skimmed from the treasury by the bewitched Miraflores did not cause the newly-installed patriots to waste time in unprofitable regrets. The government philosophically set about supplying the deficiency by increasing the import duties and by “suggesting” to wealthy private citizens that contributions according to their means would be considered patriotic and in order. Prosperity was expected to attend the reign of Losada, the new president. The ousted officeholders and military favourites organized a new “Liberal” party, and began to lay their plans for a re-succession. Thus the game of Anchurian politics began, like a Chinese comedy, to unwind slowly its serial length. Here and there Mirth peeps for an instant from the wings and illumines the florid lines.

A dozen quarts of champagne in conjunction with an informal sitting of the president and his cabinet led to the establishment of the navy and the appointment of Felipe Carrera as its admiral.

Next to the champagne the credit of the appointment belongs to Don Sabas Placido, the newly confirmed Minister of War.

The president had requested a convention of his cabinet for the discussion of questions politic and for the transaction of certain routine matters of state. The session had been signally tedious; the business and the wine prodigiously dry. A sudden, prankish humour of Don Sabas, impelling him to the deed, spiced the grave affairs of state with a whiff of agreeable playfulness.

In the dilatory order of business had come a bulletin from the coast department of Orilla del Mar reporting the seizure by the customhouse officers at the town of Coralio of the sloop Estrella del Noche and her cargo of drygoods, patent medicines, granulated sugar and three-star brandy. Also six Martini rifles and a barrel of American whisky. Caught in the act of smuggling, the sloop with its cargo was now, according to law, the property of the republic.

The Collector of Customs, in making his report, departed from the conventional forms so far as to suggest that the confiscated vessel be converted to the use of the government. The prize was the first capture to the credit of the department in ten years. The collector took opportunity to pat his department on the back.

It often happened that government officers required transportation from point to point along the coast, and means were usually lacking. Furthermore, the sloop could be manned by a loyal crew and employed as a coast guard to discourage the pernicious art of smuggling. The collector also ventured to nominate one to whom the charge of the boat could be safely entrusted⁠—a young man of Coralio, Felipe Carrera⁠—not, be it understood, one of extreme wisdom, but loyal and the best sailor along the coast.

It was upon this hint that the Minister of War acted, executing a rare piece of drollery that so enlivened the tedium of executive session.

In the constitution of this small, maritime banana republic was a forgotten section that provided for the maintenance of a navy. This provision⁠—with many other wiser ones⁠—had lain inert since the establishment of the republic. Anchuria had no navy and had no use for one. It was characteristic of Don Sabas⁠—a man at once merry, learned, whimsical and audacious⁠—that he should have disturbed the dust of this musty and sleeping statute to increase the humour of the world by so much as a smile from his indulgent colleagues.

With delightful mock seriousness the Minister of War proposed the creation of a navy. He argued its need and the glories it might achieve with such gay and witty zeal that the travesty overcame with its humour even the swart dignity of President Losada himself.

The champagne was bubbling trickily in the veins of the mercurial statesmen. It was not the custom of the grave governors of Anchuria to enliven their sessions with a beverage so apt to cast a veil of disparagement over sober affairs. The wine had been a thoughtful compliment tendered by the agent of the Vesuvius Fruit Company as a token of amicable relations⁠—and certain consummated deals⁠—between that company and the republic of Anchuria.

The jest was carried to its end. A formidable, official document was prepared, encrusted with chromatic seals and jaunty with fluttering ribbons, bearing the florid signatures of state. This commission conferred upon el Señor Don Felipe Carrera the title of Flag Admiral of the Republic of Anchuria. Thus within the space of a few minutes and the dominion of a dozen “extra dry,” the country took its place among the naval powers of the world, and Felipe Carrera became entitled to a salute of nineteen guns whenever he might enter port.

The southern races are lacking in that particular kind of humour that finds entertainment in the defects and misfortunes bestowed by Nature. Owing to this defect in their constitution they are not moved to laughter (as are their northern brothers) by the spectacle of the deformed, the feebleminded or the insane.

Felipe Carrera was sent upon earth with but half his wits. Therefore, the people of Coralio called him “El pobrecito loco”⁠—“the poor little crazed one”⁠—saying that God had sent but half of him to earth, retaining the other half.

A sombre youth, glowering, and speaking only at the rarest times, Felipe was but negatively “loco.” On shore he generally refused all conversation. He seemed to know that he was badly handicapped on land, where so many kinds of understanding are needed; but on the water his one talent set him equal with most men. Few sailors whom God had carefully and completely made could handle a sailboat as well. Five points nearer the wind than even the best of them he could sail his sloop. When the elements raged and set other men to cowering, the deficiencies of Felipe seemed of little importance. He was a perfect sailor, if an imperfect man. He owned no boat, but worked among the crews of the schooners and sloops that skimmed the coast, trading and freighting fruit out to the steamers where there was no harbour. It was through his famous skill and boldness on the sea, as well as for the pity felt for his mental imperfections, that he was recommended by the collector as a suitable custodian of the captured sloop.

When the outcome of Don Sabas’ little pleasantry arrived in the form of the imposing and preposterous commission, the collector smiled. He had not expected such prompt and overwhelming response to his recommendation. He despatched a muchacho at once to fetch the future admiral.

The collector waited in his official quarters. His office was in the Calle Grande, and the sea breezes hummed through its windows all day. The collector, in white linen and canvas shoes, philandered with papers on an antique desk. A parrot, perched on a pen rack, seasoned the official tedium with a fire of choice Castilian imprecations. Two rooms opened into the collector’s. In one the clerical force of young men of variegated complexions transacted with glitter and parade their several duties. Through the open door of the other room could be seen a bronze babe, guiltless of clothing, that rollicked upon the floor. In a grass hammock a thin woman, tinted a pale lemon, played a guitar and swung contentedly in the breeze. Thus surrounded by the routine of his high duties and the visible tokens of agreeable domesticity, the collector’s heart was further made happy by the power placed in his hands to brighten the fortunes of the “innocent” Felipe.

Felipe came and stood before the collector. He was a lad of twenty, not ill-favoured in looks, but with an expression of distant and pondering vacuity. He wore white cotton trousers, down the seams of which he had sewed red stripes with some vague aim at military decoration. A flimsy blue shirt fell open at his throat; his feet were bare; he held in his hand the cheapest of straw hats from the States.

“Señor Carrera,” said the collector, gravely, producing the showy commission, “I have sent for you at the president’s bidding. This document that I present to you confers upon you the title of Admiral of this great republic, and gives you absolute command of the naval forces and fleet of our country. You may think, friend Felipe, that we have no navy⁠—but yes! The sloop the Estrella del Noche, that my brave men captured from the coast smugglers, is to be placed under your command. The boat is to be devoted to the services of your country. You will be ready at all times to convey officials of the government to points along the coast where they may be obliged to visit. You will also act as a coastguard to prevent, as far as you may be able, the crime of smuggling. You will uphold the honour and prestige of your country at sea, and endeavour to place Anchuria among the proudest naval powers of the world. These are your instructions as the Minister of War desires me to convey them to you. Por Dios! I do not know how all this is to be accomplished, for not one word did his letter contain in respect to a crew or to the expenses of this navy. Perhaps you are to provide a crew yourself, Señor Admiral⁠—I do not know⁠—but it is a very high honour that has descended upon you. I now hand you your commission. When you are ready for the boat I will give orders that she shall be made over into your charge. That is as far as my instructions go.”

Felipe took the commission that the collector handed to him. He gazed through the open window at the sea for a moment, with his customary expression of deep but vain pondering. Then he turned without having spoken a word, and walked swiftly away through the hot sand of the street.

Pobrecito loco!” sighed the collector; and the parrot on the pen racks screeched “Loco!⁠—loco!⁠—loco!”

The next morning a strange procession filed through the streets to the collector’s office. At its head was the admiral of the navy. Somewhere Felipe had raked together a pitiful semblance of a military uniform⁠—a pair of red trousers, a dingy blue short jacket heavily ornamented with gold braid, and an old fatigue cap that must have been cast away by one of the British soldiers in Belize and brought away by Felipe on one of his coasting voyages. Buckled around his waist was an ancient ship’s cutlass contributed to his equipment by Pedro Lafitte, the baker, who proudly asserted its inheritance from his ancestor, the illustrious buccaneer. At the admiral’s heels tagged his newly-shipped crew⁠—three grinning, glossy, black Caribs, bare to the waist, the sand spurting in showers from the spring of their naked feet.

Briefly and with dignity Felipe demanded his vessel of the collector. And now a fresh honour awaited him. The collector’s wife, who played the guitar and read novels in the hammock all day, had more than a little romance in her placid, yellow bosom. She had found in an old book an engraving of a flag that purported to be the naval flag of Anchuria. Perhaps it had so been designed by the founders of the nation; but, as no navy had ever been established, oblivion had claimed the flag. Laboriously with her own hands she had made a flag after the pattern⁠—a red cross upon a blue-and-white ground. She presented it to Felipe with these words: “Brave sailor, this flag is of your country. Be true, and defend it with your life. Go you with God.”

For the first time since his appointment the admiral showed a flicker of emotion. He took the silken emblem, and passed his hand reverently over its surface. “I am the admiral,” he said to the collector’s lady. Being on land he could bring himself to no more exuberant expression of sentiment. At sea with the flag at the masthead of his navy, some more eloquent exposition of feelings might be forthcoming.

Abruptly the admiral departed with his crew. For the next three days they were busy giving the Estrella del Noche a new coat of white paint trimmed with blue. And then Felipe further adorned himself by fastening a handful of brilliant parrot’s plumes in his cap. Again he tramped with his faithful crew to the collector’s office and formally notified him that the sloop’s name had been changed to El Nacional.

During the next few months the navy had its troubles. Even an admiral is perplexed to know what to do without any orders. But none came. Neither did any salaries. El Nacional swung idly at anchor.

When Felipe’s little store of money was exhausted he went to the collector and raised the question of finances.

“Salaries!” exclaimed the collector, with hands raised; “Válgame Dios! not one centavo of my own pay have I received for the last seven months. The pay of an admiral, do you ask? Quién sabe? Should it be less than three thousand pesos? Mira! you will see a revolution in this country very soon. A good sign of it is when the government calls all the time for pesos, pesos, pesos, and pays none out.”

Felipe left the collector’s office with a look almost of content on his sombre face. A revolution would mean fighting, and then the government would need his services. It was rather humiliating to be an admiral without anything to do, and have a hungry crew at your heels begging for reales to buy plantains and tobacco with.

When he returned to where his happy-go-lucky Caribs were waiting they sprang up and saluted, as he had drilled them to do.

“Come, muchachos,” said the admiral; “it seems that the government is poor. It has no money to give us. We will earn what we need to live upon. Thus will we serve our country. Soon”⁠—his heavy eyes almost lighted up⁠—“it may gladly call upon us for help.”

Thereafter El Nacional turned out with the other coast craft and became a wage-earner. She worked with the lighters freighting bananas and oranges out to the fruit steamers that could not approach nearer than a mile from the shore. Surely a self-supporting navy deserves red letters in the budget of any nation.

After earning enough at freighting to keep himself and his crew in provisions for a week Felipe would anchor the navy and hang about the little telegraph office, looking like one of the chorus of an insolvent comic opera troupe besieging the manager’s den. A hope for orders from the capital was always in his heart. That his services as admiral had never been called into requirement hurt his pride and patriotism. At every call he would inquire, gravely and expectantly, for despatches. The operator would pretend to make a search, and then reply:

“Not yet, it seems, Señor el Almirante⁠—poco tiempo!

Outside in the shade of the lime-trees the crew chewed sugar cane or slumbered, well content to serve a country that was contented with so little service.

One day in the early summer the revolution predicted by the collector flamed out suddenly. It had long been smouldering. At the first note of alarm the admiral of the navy force and fleet made all sail for a larger port on the coast of a neighbouring republic, where he traded a hastily collected cargo of fruit for its value in cartridges for the five Martini rifles, the only guns that the navy could boast. Then to the telegraph office sped the admiral. Sprawling in his favourite corner, in his fast-decaying uniform, with his prodigious sabre distributed between his red legs, he waited for the long-delayed, but now soon expected, orders.

“Not yet, Señor el Almirante,” the telegraph clerk would call to him⁠—“poco tiempo!

At the answer the admiral would plump himself down with a great rattling of scabbard to await the infrequent tick of the little instrument on the table.

“They will come,” would be his unshaken reply; “I am the admiral.”

The Flag Paramount

At the head of the insurgent party appeared that Hector and learned Theban of the southern republics, Don Sabas Placido. A traveller, a soldier, a poet, a scientist, a statesman and a connoisseur⁠—the wonder was that he could content himself with the petty, remote life of his native country.

“It is a whim of Placido’s,” said a friend who knew him well, “to take up political intrigue. It is not otherwise than as if he had come upon a new tempo in music, a new bacillus in the air, a new scent, or rhyme, or explosive. He will squeeze this revolution dry of sensations, and a week afterward will forget it, skimming the seas of the world in his brigantine to add to his already world-famous collections. Collections of what? Por Dios! of everything from postage stamps to prehistoric stone idols.”

But, for a mere dilettante, the aesthetic Placido seemed to be creating a lively row. The people admired him; they were fascinated by his brilliancy and flattered by his taking an interest in so small a thing as his native country. They rallied to the call of his lieutenants in the capital, where (somewhat contrary to arrangements) the army remained faithful to the government. There was also lively skirmishing in the coast towns. It was rumoured that the revolution was aided by the Vesuvius Fruit Company, the power that forever stood with chiding smile and uplifted finger to keep Anchuria in the class of good children. Two of its steamers, the Traveler and the Salvador, were known to have conveyed insurgent troops from point to point along the coast.

As yet there had been no actual uprising in Coralio. Military law prevailed, and the ferment was bottled for the time. And then came the word that everywhere the revolutionists were encountering defeat. In the capital the president’s forces triumphed; and there was a rumour that the leaders of the revolt had been forced to fly, hotly pursued.

In the little telegraph office at Coralio there was always a gathering of officials and loyal citizens, awaiting news from the seat of government. One morning the telegraph key began clicking, and presently the operator called, loudly: “One telegram for el Almirante, Don Señor Felipe Carrera!”

There was a shuffling sound, a great rattling of tin scabbard, and the admiral, prompt at his spot of waiting, leaped across the room to receive it.

The message was handed to him. Slowly spelling it out, he found it to be his first official order⁠—thus running:

Proceed immediately with your vessel to mouth of Rio Ruiz; transport beef and provisions to barracks at Alforan.

Martinez, General.

Small glory, to be sure, in this, his country’s first call. But it had called, and joy surged in the admiral’s breast. He drew his cutlass belt to another buckle hole, roused his dozing crew, and in a quarter of an hour El Nacional was tacking swiftly down coast in a stiff landward breeze.

The Rio Ruiz is a small river, emptying into the sea ten miles below Coralio. That portion of the coast is wild and solitary. Through a gorge in the Cordilleras rushes the Rio Ruiz, cold and bubbling, to glide, at last, with breadth and leisure, through an alluvial morass into the sea.

In two hours El Nacional entered the river’s mouth. The banks were crowded with a disposition of formidable trees. The sumptuous undergrowth of the tropics overflowed the land, and drowned itself in the fallow waters. Silently the sloop entered there, and met a deeper silence. Brilliant with greens and ochres and floral scarlets, the umbrageous mouth of the Rio Ruiz furnished no sound or movement save of the seagoing water as it purled against the prow of the vessel. Small chance there seemed of wresting beef or provisions from that empty solitude.

The admiral decided to cast anchor, and, at the chain’s rattle, the forest was stimulated to instant and resounding uproar. The mouth of the Rio Ruiz had only been taking a morning nap. Parrots and baboons screeched and barked in the trees; a whirring and a hissing and a booming marked the awakening of animal life; a dark blue bulk was visible for an instant, as a startled tapir fought his way through the vines.

The navy, under orders, hung in the mouth of the little river for hours. The crew served the dinner of shark’s fin soup, plantains, crab gumbo and sour wine. The admiral, with a three-foot telescope, closely scanned the impervious foliage fifty yards away.

It was nearly sunset when a reverberating “hal-lo-o-o!” came from the forest to their left. It was answered; and three men, mounted upon mules, crashed through the tropic tangle to within a dozen yards of the river’s bank. There they dismounted; and one, unbuckling his belt, struck each mule a violent blow with his sword scabbard, so that they, with a fling of heels, dashed back again into the forest.

Those were strange-looking men to be conveying beef and provisions. One was a large and exceedingly active man, of striking presence. He was of the purest Spanish type, with curling, gray-besprinkled, dark hair, blue, sparkling eyes, and the pronounced air of a caballero grande. The other two were small, brown-faced men, wearing white military uniforms, high riding boots and swords. The clothes of all were drenched, bespattered and rent by the thicket. Some stress of circumstance must have driven them, diable à quatre, through flood, mire and jungle.

O-hé! Señor Almirante,” called the large man. “Send to us your boat.”

The dory was lowered, and Felipe, with one of the Caribs, rowed toward the left bank.

The large man stood near the water’s brink, waist deep in the curling vines. As he gazed upon the scarecrow figure in the stern of the dory a sprightly interest beamed upon his mobile face.

Months of wageless and thankless service had dimmed the admiral’s splendour. His red trousers were patched and ragged. Most of the bright buttons and yellow braid were gone from his jacket. The visor of his cap was torn, and depended almost to his eyes. The admiral’s feet were bare.

“Dear admiral,” cried the large man, and his voice was like a blast from a horn, “I kiss your hands. I knew we could build upon your fidelity. You had our despatch⁠—from General Martinez. A little nearer with your boat, dear Admiral. Upon these devils of shifting vines we stand with the smallest security.”

Felipe regarded him with a stolid face.

“Provisions and beef for the barracks at Alforan,” he quoted.

“No fault of the butchers, Almirante mio, that the beef awaits you not. But you are come in time to save the cattle. Get us aboard your vessel, señor, at once. You first, caballeros⁠—á priesa! Come back for me. The boat is too small.”

The dory conveyed the two officers to the sloop, and returned for the large man.

“Have you so gross a thing as food, good admiral?” he cried, when aboard. “And, perhaps, coffee? Beef and provisions! Nombre de Dios! a little longer and we could have eaten one of those mules that you, Colonel Rafael, saluted so feelingly with your sword scabbard at parting. Let us have food; and then we will sail⁠—for the barracks at Alforan⁠—no?”

The Caribs prepared a meal, to which the three passengers of El Nacional set themselves with famished delight. About sunset, as was its custom, the breeze veered and swept back from the mountains, cool and steady, bringing a taste of the stagnant lagoons and mangrove swamps that guttered the lowlands. The mainsail of the sloop was hoisted and swelled to it, and at that moment they heard shouts and a waxing clamour from the bosky profundities of the shore.

“The butchers, my dear admiral,” said the large man, smiling, “too late for the slaughter.”

Further than his orders to his crew, the admiral was saying nothing. The topsail and jib were spread, and the sloop glided out of the estuary. The large man and his companions had bestowed themselves with what comfort they could about the bare deck. Belike, the thing big in their minds had been their departure from that critical shore; and now that the hazard was so far reduced their thoughts were loosed to the consideration of further deliverance. But when they saw the sloop turn and fly up coast again they relaxed, satisfied with the course the admiral had taken.

The large man sat at ease, his spirited blue eye engaged in the contemplation of the navy’s commander. He was trying to estimate this sombre and fantastic lad, whose impenetrable stolidity puzzled him. Himself a fugitive, his life sought, and chafing under the smart of defeat and failure, it was characteristic of him to transfer instantly his interest to the study of a thing new to him. It was like him, too, to have conceived and risked all upon this last desperate and madcap scheme⁠—this message to a poor, crazed fanatico cruising about with his grotesque uniform and his farcical title. But his companions had been at their wits’ end; escape had seemed incredible; and now he was pleased with the success of the plan they had called crackbrained and precarious.

The brief, tropic twilight seemed to slide swiftly into the pearly splendour of a moonlit night. And now the lights of Coralio appeared, distributed against the darkening shore to their right. The admiral stood, silent, at the tiller; the Caribs, like black panthers, held the sheets, leaping noiselessly at his short commands. The three passengers were watching intently the sea before them, and when at length they came in sight of the bulk of a steamer lying a mile out from the town, with her lights radiating deep into the water, they held a sudden voluble and close-headed converse. The sloop was speeding as if to strike midway between ship and shore.

The large man suddenly separated from his companions and approached the scarecrow at the helm.

“My dear admiral,” he said, “the government has been exceedingly remiss. I feel all the shame for it that only its ignorance of your devoted service has prevented it from sustaining. An inexcusable oversight has been made. A vessel, a uniform and a crew worthy of your fidelity shall be furnished you. But just now, dear admiral, there is business of moment afoot. The steamer lying there is the Salvador. I and my friends desire to be conveyed to her, where we are sent on the government’s business. Do us the favour to shape your course accordingly.”

Without replying, the admiral gave a sharp command, and put the tiller hard to port. El Nacional swerved, and headed straight as an arrow’s course for the shore.

“Do me the favour,” said the large man, a trifle restively, “to acknowledge, at least, that you catch the sound of my words.” It was possible that the fellow might be lacking in senses as well as intellect.

The admiral emitted a croaking, harsh laugh, and spake.

“They will stand you,” he said, “with your face to a wall and shoot you dead. That is the way they kill traitors. I knew you when you stepped into my boat. I have seen your picture in a book. You are Sabas Placido, traitor to your country. With your face to a wall. So, you will die. I am the admiral, and I will take you to them. With your face to a wall. Yes.”

Don Sabas half turned and waved his hand, with a ringing laugh, toward his fellow fugitives. “To you, caballeros, I have related the history of that session when we issued that O! so ridiculous commission. Of a truth our jest has been turned against us. Behold the Frankenstein’s monster we have created!”

Don Sabas glanced toward the shore. The lights of Coralio were drawing near. He could see the beach, the warehouse of the Bodega Nacional, the long, low cuartel occupied by the soldiers, and, behind that, gleaming in the moonlight, a stretch of high adobe wall. He had seen men stood with their faces to that wall and shot dead.

Again he addressed the extravagant figure at the helm.

“It is true,” he said, “that I am fleeing the country. But, receive the assurance that I care very little for that. Courts and camps everywhere are open to Sabas Placido. Vaya! what is this molehill of a republic⁠—this pig’s head of a country⁠—to a man like me? I am a paisano of everywhere. In Rome, in London, in Paris, in Vienna, you will hear them say: ‘Welcome back, Don Sabas.’ Come!⁠—tonto⁠—baboon of a boy⁠—admiral, whatever you call yourself, turn your boat. Put us on board the Salvador, and here is your pay⁠—five hundred pesos in money of the Estados Unidos⁠—more than your lying government will pay you in twenty years.”

Don Sabas pressed a plump purse against the youth’s hand. The admiral gave no heed to the words or the movement. Braced against the helm, he was holding the sloop dead on her shoreward course. His dull face was lit almost to intelligence by some inward conceit that seemed to afford him joy, and found utterance in another parrot-like cackle.

“That is why they do it,” he said⁠—“so that you will not see the guns. They fire⁠—oom!⁠—and you fall dead. With your face to the wall. Yes.”

The admiral called a sudden order to his crew. The lithe, silent Caribs made fast the sheets they held, and slipped down the hatchway into the hold of the sloop. When the last one had disappeared, Don Sabas, like a big, brown leopard, leaped forward, closed and fastened the hatch and stood, smiling.

“No rifles, if you please, dear admiral,” he said. “It was a whimsey of mine once to compile a dictionary of the Carib lengua. So, I understood your order. Perhaps now you will⁠—”

He cut short his words, for he heard the dull “swish” of iron scraping along tin. The admiral had drawn the cutlass of Pedro Lafitte, and was darting upon him. The blade descended, and it was only by a display of surprising agility that the large man escaped, with only a bruised shoulder, the glancing weapon. He was drawing his pistol as he sprang, and the next instant he shot the admiral down.

Don Sabas stooped over him, and rose again.

“In the heart,” he said briefly. “Señores, the navy is abolished.”

Colonel Rafael sprang to the helm, and the other officer hastened to loose the mainsail sheets. The boom swung round; El Nacional veered and began to tack industriously for the Salvador.

“Strike that flag, señor,” called Colonel Rafael. “Our friends on the steamer will wonder why we are sailing under it.”

“Well said,” cried Don Sabas. Advancing to the mast he lowered the flag to the deck, where lay its too loyal supporter. Thus ended the Minister of War’s little piece of after-dinner drollery, and by the same hand that began it.

Suddenly Don Sabas gave a great cry of joy, and ran down the slanting deck to the side of Colonel Rafael. Across his arm he carried the flag of the extinguished navy.

Mire! mire! señor. Ah, Dios! Already can I hear that great bear of an Oestreicher shout, ‘Du hast mein herz gebrochen!’ Mire! Of my friend, Herr Grunitz, of Vienna, you have heard me relate. That man has travelled to Ceylon for an orchid⁠—to Patagonia for a headdress⁠—to Benares for a slipper⁠—to Mozambique for a spearhead to add to his famous collections. Thou knowest, also, amigo Rafael, that I have been a gatherer of curios. My collection of battle flags of the world’s navies was the most complete in existence until last year. Then Herr Grunitz secured two, O! such rare specimens. One of a Barbary state, and one of the Makarooroos, a tribe on the west coast of Africa. I have not those, but they can be procured. But this flag, señor⁠—do you know what it is? Name of God! do you know? See that red cross upon the blue and white ground! You never saw it before? Seguramente no. It is the naval flag of your country. Mire! This rotten tub we stand upon is its navy⁠—that dead cockatoo lying there was its commander⁠—that stroke of cutlass and single pistol shot a sea battle. All a piece of absurd foolery, I grant you⁠—but authentic. There has never been another flag like this, and there never will be another. No. It is unique in the whole world. Yes. Think of what that means to a collector of flags! Do you know, Coronel mio, how many golden crowns Herr Grunitz would give for this flag? Ten thousand, likely. Well, a hundred thousand would not buy it. Beautiful flag! Only flag! Little devil of a most heaven-born flag! O-hé! old grumbler beyond the ocean. Wait till Don Sabas comes again to the Königin Strasse. He will let you kneel and touch the folds of it with one finger. O-hé! old spectacled ransacker of the world!”

Forgotten was the impotent revolution, the danger, the loss, the gall of defeat. Possessed solely by the inordinate and unparalleled passion of the collector, he strode up and down the little deck, clasping to his breast with one hand the paragon of a flag. He snapped his fingers triumphantly toward the east. He shouted the paean to his prize in trumpet tones, as though he would make old Grunitz hear in his musty den beyond the sea.

They were waiting, on the Salvador, to welcome them. The sloop came close alongside the steamer where her sides were sliced almost to the lower deck for the loading of fruit. The sailors of the Salvador grappled and held her there.

Captain McLeod leaned over the side.

“Well, señor, the jig is up, I’m told.”

“The jig is up?” Don Sabas looked perplexed for a moment. “That revolution⁠—ah, yes!” With a shrug of his shoulders he dismissed the matter.

The captain learned of the escape and the imprisoned crew.

“Caribs?” he said; “no harm in them.” He slipped down into the sloop and kicked loose the hasp of the hatch. The black fellows came tumbling up, sweating but grinning.

“Hey! black boys!” said the captain, in a dialect of his own; “you sabe, catchy boat and vamos back same place quick.”

They saw him point to themselves, the sloop and Coralio. “Yas, yas!” they cried, with broader grins and many nods.

The four⁠—Don Sabas, the two officers and the captain⁠—moved to quit the sloop. Don Sabas lagged a little behind, looking at the still form of the late admiral, sprawled in his paltry trappings.

Pobrecito loco,” he said softly.

He was a brilliant cosmopolite and a cognoscente of high rank; but, after all, he was of the same race and blood and instinct as this people. Even as the simple paisanos of Coralio had said it, so said Don Sabas. Without a smile, he looked, and said, “The poor little crazed one!”

Stooping he raised the limp shoulders, drew the priceless and induplicable flag under them and over the breast, pinning it there with the diamond star of the Order of San Carlos that he took from the collar of his own coat.

He followed after the others, and stood with them upon the deck of the Salvador. The sailors that steadied El Nacional shoved her off. The jabbering Caribs hauled away at the rigging; the sloop headed for the shore.

And Herr Grunitz’s collection of naval flags was still the finest in the world.

The Shamrock and the Palm

One night when there was no breeze, and Coralio seemed closer than ever to the gratings of Avernus, five men were grouped about the door of the photograph establishment of Keogh and Clancy. Thus, in all the scorched and exotic places of the earth, Caucasians meet when the day’s work is done to preserve the fullness of their heritage by the aspersion of alien things.

Johnny Atwood lay stretched upon the grass in the undress uniform of a Carib, and prated feebly of cool water to be had in the cucumber-wood pumps of Dalesburg. Dr. Gregg, through the prestige of his whiskers and as a bribe against the relation of his imminent professional tales, was conceded the hammock that was swung between the door jamb and a calabash-tree. Keogh had moved out upon the grass a little table that held the instrument for burnishing completed photographs. He was the only busy one of the group. Industriously from between the cylinders of the burnisher rolled the finished depictments of Coralio’s citizens. Blanchard, the French mining engineer, in his cool linen viewed the smoke of his cigarette through his calm glasses, impervious to the heat. Clancy sat on the steps, smoking his short pipe. His mood was the gossip’s; the others were reduced, by the humidity, to the state of disability desirable in an audience.

Clancy was an American with an Irish diathesis and cosmopolitan proclivities. Many businesses had claimed him, but not for long. The roadster’s blood was in his veins. The voice of the tintype was but one of the many callings that had wooed him upon so many roads. Sometimes he could be persuaded to oral construction of his voyages into the informal and egregious. Tonight there were symptoms of divulgement in him.

“ ’Tis elegant weather for filibusterin’,” he volunteered. “It reminds me of the time I struggled to liberate a nation from the poisonous breath of a tyrant’s clutch. ’Twas hard work. ’Tis strainin’ to the back and makes corns on the hands.”

“I didn’t know you had ever lent your sword to an oppressed people,” murmured Atwood, from the grass.

“I did,” said Clancy; “and they turned it into a ploughshare.”

“What country was so fortunate as to secure your aid?” airily inquired Blanchard.

“Where’s Kamchatka?” asked Clancy, with seeming irrelevance.

“Why, off Siberia somewhere in the Arctic regions,” somebody answered, doubtfully.

“I thought that was the cold one,” said Clancy, with a satisfied nod. “I’m always gettin’ the two names mixed. ’Twas Guatemala, then⁠—the hot one⁠—I’ve been filibusterin’ with. Ye’ll find that country on the map. ’Tis in the district known as the tropics. By the foresight of Providence, it lies on the coast so the geography man could run the names of the towns off into the water. They’re an inch long, small type, composed of Spanish dialects, and, ’tis my opinion, of the same system of syntax that blew up the Maine. Yes, ’twas that country I sailed against, single-handed, and endeavoured to liberate it from a tyrannical government with a single-barreled pickaxe, unloaded at that. Ye don’t understand, of course. ’Tis a statement demandin’ elucidation and apologies.

“ ’Twas in New Orleans one morning about the first of June; I was standin’ down on the wharf, lookin’ about at the ships in the river. There was a little steamer moored right opposite me that seemed about ready to sail. The funnels of it were throwin’ out smoke, and a gang of roustabouts were carryin’ aboard a pile of boxes that was stacked up on the wharf. The boxes were about two feet square, and somethin’ like four feet long, and they seemed to be pretty heavy.

“I walked over, careless, to the stack of boxes. I saw one of them had been broken in handlin’. ’Twas curiosity made me pull up the loose top and look inside. The box was packed full of Winchester rifles. ‘So, so,’ says I to myself; ‘somebody’s gettin’ a twist on the neutrality laws. Somebody’s aidin’ with munitions of war. I wonder where the popguns are goin’?’

“I heard somebody cough, and I turned around. There stood a little, round, fat man with a brown face and white clothes, a first-class-looking little man, with a four-karat diamond on his finger and his eye full of interrogations and respects. I judged he was a kind of foreigner⁠—may be from Russia or Japan or the archipelagoes.

“ ‘Hist!’ says the round man, full of concealments and confidences. ‘Will the señor respect the discoveryments he has made, that the mans on the ship shall not be acquaint? The señor will be a gentleman that shall not expose one thing that by accident occur.’

“ ‘Monseer,’ says I⁠—for I judged him to be a kind of Frenchman⁠—‘receive my most exasperated assurances that your secret is safe with James Clancy. Furthermore, I will go so far as to remark, Veev la Liberty⁠—veev it good and strong. Whenever you hear of a Clancy obstructin’ the abolishment of existin’ governments you may notify me by return mail.’

“ ‘The señor is good,’ says the dark, fat man, smilin’ under his black mustache. ‘Wish you to come aboard my ship and drink of wine a glass.’

“Bein’ a Clancy, in two minutes me and the foreigner man were seated at a table in the cabin of the steamer, with a bottle between us. I could hear the heavy boxes bein’ dumped into the hold. I judged that cargo must consist of at least 2,000 Winchesters. Me and the brown man drank the bottle of stuff, and he called the steward to bring another. When you amalgamate a Clancy with the contents of a bottle you practically instigate secession. I had heard a good deal about these revolutions in them tropical localities, and I begun to want a hand in it.

“ ‘You goin’ to stir things up in your country, ain’t you, monseer?’ says I, with a wink to let him know I was on.

“ ‘Yes, yes,’ said the little man, pounding his fist on the table. ‘A change of the greatest will occur. Too long have the people been oppressed with the promises and the never-to-happen things to become. The great work it shall be carry on. Yes. Our forces shall in the capital city strike of the soonest. Carrambos!

“ ’Carrambos is the word,’ says I, beginning to invest myself with enthusiasm and more wine, ‘likewise veeva, as I said before. May the shamrock of old⁠—I mean the banana-vine or the pieplant, or whatever the imperial emblem may be of your downtrodden country, wave forever.’

“ ‘A thousand thank-yous,’ says the round man, ‘for your emission of amicable utterances. What our cause needs of the very most is mans who will the work do, to lift it along. Oh, for one thousands strong, good mans to aid the General De Vega that he shall to his country bring those success and glory! It is hard⁠—oh, so hard to find good mans to help in the work.’

“ ‘Monseer,’ says I, leanin’ over the table and graspin’ his hand, ‘I don’t know where your country is, but me heart bleeds for it. The heart of a Clancy was never deaf to the sight of an oppressed people. The family is filibusterers by birth, and foreigners by trade. If you can use James Clancy’s arms and his blood in denudin’ your shores of the tyrant’s yoke they’re yours to command.’

“General De Vega was overcome with joy to confiscate my condolence of his conspiracies and predicaments. He tried to embrace me across the table, but his fatness, and the wine that had been in the bottles, prevented. Thus was I welcomed into the ranks of filibustery. Then the general man told me his country had the name of Guatemala, and was the greatest nation laved by any ocean whatever anywhere. He looked at me with tears in his eyes, and from time to time he would emit the remark, ‘Ah! big, strong, brave mans! That is what my country need.’

“General De Vega, as was the name by which he denounced himself, brought out a document for me to sign, which I did, makin’ a fine flourish and curlycue with the tail of the ‘y.’

“ ‘Your passage-money,’ says the general, businesslike, ‘shall from your pay be deduct.’

“ ’Twill not,’ says I, haughty. ‘I’ll pay my own passage.’ A hundred and eighty dollars I had in my inside pocket, and ’twas no common filibuster I was goin’ to be, filibusterin’ for me board and clothes.

“The steamer was to sail in two hours, and I went ashore to get some things together I’d need. When I came aboard I showed the general with pride the outfit. ’Twas a fine Chinchilla overcoat, Arctic overshoes, fur cap and earmuffs, with elegant fleece-lined gloves and woolen muffler.

“ ‘Carrambos!’ says the little general. ‘What clothes are these that shall go to the tropic?’ And then the little spalpeen laughs, and he calls the captain, and the captain calls the purser, and they pipe up the chief engineer, and the whole gang leans against the cabin and laughs at Clancy’s wardrobe for Guatemala.

“I reflects a bit, serious, and asks the general again to denominate the terms by which his country is called. He tells me, and I see then that ’twas the t’other one, Kamchatka, I had in mind. Since then I’ve had difficulty in separatin’ the two nations in name, climate and geographic disposition.

“I paid my passage⁠—twenty-four dollars, first cabin⁠—and ate at table with the officer crowd. Down on the lower deck was a gang of second-class passengers, about forty of them, seemin’ to be Dagoes and the like. I wondered what so many of them were goin’ along for.

“Well, then, in three days we sailed alongside that Guatemala. ’Twas a blue country, and not yellow as ’tis miscolored on the map. We landed at a town on the coast, where a train of cars was waitin’ for us on a dinky little railroad. The boxes on the steamer were brought ashore and loaded on the cars. The gang of Dagoes got aboard, too, the general and me in the front car. Yes, me and General De Vega headed the revolution, as it pulled out of the seaport town. That train travelled about as fast as a policeman goin’ to a riot. It penetrated the most conspicuous lot of fuzzy scenery ever seen outside a geography. We run some forty miles in seven hours, and the train stopped. There was no more railroad. ’Twas a sort of camp in a damp gorge full of wildness and melancholies. They was gradin’ and choppin’ out the forests ahead to continue the road. ‘Here,’ says I to myself, ‘is the romantic haunt of the revolutionists. Here will Clancy, by the virtue that is in a superior race and the inculcation of Fenian tactics, strike a tremendous blow for liberty.’

“They unloaded the boxes from the train and begun to knock the tops off. From the first one that was open I saw General De Vega take the Winchester rifles and pass them around to a squad of morbid soldiery. The other boxes was opened next, and, believe me or not, divil another gun was to be seen. Every other box in the load was full of pickaxes and spades.

“And then⁠—sorrow be upon them tropics⁠—the proud Clancy and the dishonoured Dagoes, each one of them, had to shoulder a pick or a spade, and march away to work on that dirty little railroad. Yes; ’twas that the Dagoes shipped for, and ’twas that the filibusterin’ Clancy signed for, though unbeknownst to himself at the time. In after days I found out about it. It seems ’twas hard to get hands to work on that road. The intelligent natives of the country was too lazy to work. Indeed, the saints know, ’twas unnecessary. By stretchin’ out one hand, they could seize the most delicate and costly fruits of the earth, and, by stretchin’ out the other, they could sleep for days at a time without hearin’ a seven-o’clock whistle or the footsteps of the rent man upon the stairs. So, regular, the steamers travelled to the United States to seduce labour. Usually the imported spade-slingers died in two or three months from eatin’ the overripe water and breathin’ the violent tropical scenery. Wherefore they made them sign contracts for a year, when they hired them, and put an armed guard over the poor divils to keep them from runnin’ away.

“ ’Twas thus I was double-crossed by the tropics through a family failin’ of goin’ out of the way to hunt disturbances.

“They gave me a pick, and I took it, meditatin’ an insurrection on the spot; but there was the guards handlin’ the Winchesters careless, and I come to the conclusion that discretion was the best part of filibusterin’. There was about a hundred of us in the gang startin’ out to work, and the word was given to move. I steps out of the ranks and goes up to that General De Vega man, who was smokin’ a cigar and gazin’ upon the scene with satisfactions and glory. He smiles at me polite and devilish. ‘Plenty work,’ says he, ‘for big, strong mans in Guatemala. Yes. T’irty dollars in the month. Good pay. Ah, yes. You strong, brave man. Bimeby we push those railroad in the capital very quick. They want you go work now. Adios, strong mans.’

“ ‘Monseer,’ says I, lingerin’, ‘will you tell a poor little Irishman this: When I set foot on your cockroachy steamer, and breathed liberal and revolutionary sentiments into your sour wine, did you think I was conspirin’ to sling a pick on your contemptuous little railroad? And when you answered me with patriotic recitations, humping up the star-spangled cause of liberty, did you have meditations of reducin’ me to the ranks of the stump-grubbin’ Dagoes in the chain-gangs of your vile and grovelin’ country?’

“The general man expanded his rotundity and laughed considerable. Yes, he laughed very long and loud, and I, Clancy, stood and waited.

“ ‘Comical mans!’ he shouts, at last. ‘So you will kill me from the laughing. Yes; it is hard to find the brave, strong mans to aid my country. Revolutions? Did I speak of r-r-revolutions? Not one word. I say, big, strong mans is need in Guatemala. So. The mistake is of you. You have looked in those one box containing those gun for the guard. You think all boxes is contain gun? No.

“ ‘There is not war in Guatemala. But work? Yes. Good. T’irty dollar in the month. You shall shoulder one pickaxe, señor, and dig for the liberty and prosperity of Guatemala. Off to your work. The guard waits for you.’

“ ‘Little, fat, poodle dog of a brown man,’ says I, quiet, but full of indignations and discomforts, ‘things shall happen to you. Maybe not right away, but as soon as J. Clancy can formulate somethin’ in the way of repartee.’

“The boss of the gang orders us to work. I tramps off with the Dagoes, and I hears the distinguished patriot and kidnapper laughin’ hearty as we go.

“ ’Tis a sorrowful fact, for eight weeks I built railroads for that misbehavin’ country. I filibustered twelve hours a day with a heavy pick and a spade, choppin’ away the luxurious landscape that grew upon the right of way. We worked in swamps that smelled like there was a leak in the gas mains, trampin’ down a fine assortment of the most expensive hothouse plants and vegetables. The scene was tropical beyond the wildest imagination of the geography man. The trees was all skyscrapers; the underbrush was full of needles and pins; there was monkeys jumpin’ around and crocodiles and pink-tailed mockin’-birds, and ye stood knee-deep in the rotten water and grabbled roots for the liberation of Guatemala. Of nights we would build smudges in camp to discourage the mosquitoes, and sit in the smoke, with the guards pacin’ all around us. There was two hundred men workin’ on the road⁠—mostly Dagoes, nigger-men, Spanish-men and Swedes. Three or four were Irish.

“One old man named Halloran⁠—a man of Hibernian entitlements and discretions, explained it to me. He had been workin’ on the road a year. Most of them died in less than six months. He was dried up to gristle and bone, and shook with chills every third night.

“ ‘When you first come,’ says he, ‘ye think ye’ll leave right away. But they hold out your first month’s pay for your passage over, and by that time the tropics has its grip on ye. Ye’re surrounded by a ragin’ forest full of disreputable beasts⁠—lions and baboons and anacondas⁠—waitin’ to devour ye. The sun strikes ye hard, and melts the marrow in your bones. Ye get similar to the lettuce-eaters the poetry-book speaks about. Ye forget the elevated sintiments of life, such as patriotism, revenge, disturbances of the peace and the dacint love of a clane shirt. Ye do your work, and ye swallow the kerosene ile and rubber pipestems dished up to ye by the Dago cook for food. Ye light your pipeful, and say to yoursilf, “Nixt week I’ll break away,” and ye go to sleep and call yersilf a liar, for ye know ye’ll never do it.’

“ ‘Who is this general man,’ asks I, ‘that calls himself De Vega?’

“ ‘ ’Tis the man,’ says Halloran, ‘who is tryin’ to complete the finishin’ of the railroad. ’Twas the project of a private corporation, but it busted, and then the government took it up. De Vegy is a big politician, and wants to be prisident. The people want the railroad completed, as they’re taxed mighty on account of it. The De Vegy man is pushin’ it along as a campaign move.’

“ ‘ ’Tis not my way,’ says I, ‘to make threats against any man, but there’s an account to be settled between the railroad man and James O’Dowd Clancy.’

“ ‘ ’Twas that way I thought, mesilf, at first,’ Halloran says, with a big sigh, ‘until I got to be a lettuce-eater. The fault’s wid these tropics. They rejuices a man’s system. ’Tis a land, as the poet says, “Where it always seems to be after dinner.” I does me work and smokes me pipe and sleeps. There’s little else in life, anyway. Ye’ll get that way yersilf, mighty soon. Don’t be harbourin’ any sintiments at all, Clancy.’

“ ‘I can’t help it,’ says I; ‘I’m full of ’em. I enlisted in the revolutionary army of this dark country in good faith to fight for its liberty, honours and silver candlesticks; instead of which I am set to amputatin’ its scenery and grubbin’ its roots. ’Tis the general man will have to pay for it.’

“Two months I worked on that railroad before I found a chance to get away. One day a gang of us was sent back to the end of the completed line to fetch some picks that had been sent down to Port Barrios to be sharpened. They were brought on a handcar, and I noticed, when I started away, that the car was left there on the track.

“That night, about twelve, I woke up Halloran and told him my scheme.

“ ‘Run away?’ says Halloran. ‘Good Lord, Clancy, do ye mean it? Why, I ain’t got the nerve. It’s too chilly, and I ain’t slept enough. Run away? I told you, Clancy, I’ve eat the lettuce. I’ve lost my grip. ’Tis the tropics that’s done it. ’Tis like the poet says: “Forgotten are our friends that we have left behind; in the hollow lettuce-land we will live and lay reclined.” You better go on, Clancy. I’ll stay, I guess. It’s too early and cold, and I’m sleepy.’

“So I had to leave Halloran. I dressed quiet, and slipped out of the tent we were in. When the guard came along I knocked him over, like a ninepin, with a green coconut I had, and made for the railroad. I got on that handcar and made it fly. ’Twas yet a while before daybreak when I saw the lights of Port Barrios about a mile away. I stopped the handcar there and walked to the town. I stepped inside the corporations of that town with care and hesitations. I was not afraid of the army of Guatemala, but me soul quaked at the prospect of a hand-to-hand struggle with its employment bureau. ’Tis a country that hires its help easy and keeps ’em long. Sure I can fancy Missis America and Missis Guatemala passin’ a bit of gossip some fine, still night across the mountains. ‘Oh, dear,’ says Missis America, ‘and it’s a lot of trouble I’m havin’ ag’in with the help, señora, ma’am.’ ‘Laws, now!’ says Missis Guatemala, ‘you don’t say so, ma’am! Now, mine never think of leavin’ me⁠—te-he! ma’am,’ snickers Missis Guatemala.

“I was wonderin’ how I was goin’ to move away from them tropics without bein’ hired again. Dark as it was, I could see a steamer ridin’ in the harbour, with smoke emergin’ from her stacks. I turned down a little grass street that run down to the water. On the beach I found a little brown nigger-man just about to shove off in a skiff.

“ ‘Hold on, Sambo,’ says I, ‘savve English?’

“ ‘Heap plenty, yes,’ says he, with a pleasant grin.

“ ‘What steamer is that?’ I asks him, ‘and where is it going? And what’s the news, and the good word and the time of day?’

“ ‘That steamer the Conchita,’ said the brown man, affable and easy, rollin’ a cigarette. ‘Him come from New Orleans for load banana. Him got load last night. I think him sail in one, two hour. Verree nice day we shall be goin’ have. You hear some talkee ’bout big battle, maybe so? You think catchee General De Vega, señor? Yes? No?’

“ ‘How’s that, Sambo?’ says I. ‘Big battle? What battle? Who wants catchee General De Vega? I’ve been up at my old gold mines in the interior for a couple of months, and haven’t heard any news.’

“ ‘Oh,’ says the nigger-man, proud to speak the English, ‘verree great revolution in Guatemala one week ago. General De Vega, him try be president. Him raise armee⁠—one⁠—five⁠—ten thousand mans for fight at the government. Those one government send five⁠—forty⁠—hundred thousand soldier to suppress revolution. They fight big battle yesterday at Lomagrande⁠—that about nineteen or fifty mile in the mountain. That government soldier wheep General De Vega⁠—oh, most bad. Five hundred⁠—nine hundred⁠—two thousand of his mans is kill. That revolution is smash suppress⁠—bust⁠—very quick. General De Vega, him r-r-run away fast on one big mule. Yes, carrambos! The general, him r-r-run away, and his armee is kill. That government soldier, they try find General De Vega verree much. They want catchee him for shoot. You think they catchee that general, señor?’

“ ‘Saints grant it!’ says I. “ ’Twould be the judgment of Providence for settin’ the warlike talent of a Clancy to gradin’ the tropics with a pick and shovel. But ’tis not so much a question of insurrections now, me little man, as ’tis of the hired-man problem. ’Tis anxious I am to resign a situation of responsibility and trust with the white wings department of your great and degraded country. Row me in your little boat out to that steamer, and I’ll give ye five dollars⁠—sinker pacers⁠—sinker pacers,’ says I, reducin’ the offer to the language and denomination of the tropic dialects.

“ ’Cinco pesos,’ repeats the little man. ‘Five dollee, you give?’

“ ’Twas not such a bad little man. He had hesitations at first, sayin’ that passengers leavin’ the country had to have papers and passports, but at last he took me out alongside the steamer.

“Day was just breakin’ as we struck her, and there wasn’t a soul to be seen on board. The water was very still, and the nigger-man gave me a lift from the boat, and I climbed onto the steamer where her side was sliced to the deck for loadin’ fruit. The hatches was open, and I looked down and saw the cargo of bananas that filled the hold to within six feet of the top. I thinks to myself, ‘Clancy, you better go as a stowaway. It’s safer. The steamer men might hand you back to the employment bureau. The tropic’ll get you, Clancy, if you don’t watch out.’

“So I jumps down easy among the bananas, and digs out a hole to hide in among the bunches. In an hour or so I could hear the engines goin’, and feel the steamer rockin’, and I knew we were off to sea. They left the hatches open for ventilation, and pretty soon it was light enough in the hold to see fairly well. I got to feelin’ a bit hungry, and thought I’d have a light fruit lunch, by way of refreshment. I creeped out of the hole I’d made and stood up straight. Just then I saw another man crawl up about ten feet away and reach out and skin a banana and stuff it into his mouth. ’Twas a dirty man, black-faced and ragged and disgraceful of aspect. Yes, the man was a ringer for the pictures of the fat Weary Willie in the funny papers. I looked again, and saw it was my general man⁠—De Vega, the great revolutionist, mule-rider and pickaxe importer. When he saw me the general hesitated with his mouth filled with banana and his eyes the size of coconuts.

“ ‘Hist!’ I says. ‘Not a word, or they’ll put us off and make us walk. “Veev la Liberty!” ’ I adds, copperin’ the sentiment by shovin’ a banana into the source of it. I was certain the general wouldn’t recognize me. The nefarious work of the tropics had left me lookin’ different. There was half an inch of roan whiskers coverin’ me face, and me costume was a pair of blue overalls and a red shirt.

“ ‘How you come in the ship, señor?’ asked the general as soon as he could speak.

“ ‘By the back door⁠—whist!’ says I. ‘ ’Twas a glorious blow for liberty we struck,’ I continues; ‘but we was overpowered by numbers. Let us accept our defeat like brave men and eat another banana.’

“ ‘Were you in the cause of liberty fightin’, señor?’ says the general, sheddin’ tears on the cargo.

“ ‘To the last,’ says I. ‘ ’Twas I led the last desperate charge against the minions of the tyrant. But it made them mad, and we was forced to retreat. ’Twas I, general, procured the mule upon which you escaped. Could you give that ripe bunch a little boost this way, general? It’s a bit out of my reach. Thanks.’

“ ‘Say you so, brave patriot?’ said the general, again weepin’. ‘Ah, Dios! And I have not the means to reward your devotion. Barely did I my life bring away. Carrambos! what a devil’s animal was that mule, señor! Like ships in one storm was I dashed about. The skin on myself was ripped away with the thorns and vines. Upon the bark of a hundred trees did that beast of the infernal bump, and cause outrage to the legs of mine. In the night to Port Barrios I came. I dispossess myself of that mountain of mule and hasten along the water shore. I find a little boat to be tied. I launch myself and row to the steamer. I cannot see any mans on board, so I climbed one rope which hang at the side. I then myself hide in the bananas. Surely, I say, if the ship captains view me, they shall throw me again to those Guatemala. Those things are not good. Guatemala will shoot General De Vega. Therefore, I am hide and remain silent. Life itself is glorious. Liberty, it is pretty good; but so good as life I do not think.’

“Three days, as I said, was the trip to New Orleans. The general man and me got to be cronies of the deepest dye. Bananas we ate until they were distasteful to the sight and an eyesore to the palate, but to bananas alone was the bill of fare reduced. At night I crawls out, careful, on the lower deck, and gets a bucket of fresh water.

“That General De Vega was a man inhabited by an engorgement of words and sentences. He added to the monotony of the voyage by divestin’ himself of conversation. He believed I was a revolutionist of his own party, there bein’, as he told me, a good many Americans and other foreigners in its ranks. ’Twas a braggart and a conceited little gabbler it was, though he considered himself a hero. ’Twas on himself he wasted all his regrets at the failin’ of his plot. Not a word did the little balloon have to say about the other misbehavin’ idiots that had been shot, or run themselves to death in his revolution.

“The second day out he was feelin’ pretty braggy and uppish for a stowed-away conspirator that owed his existence to a mule and stolen bananas. He was tellin’ me about the great railroad he had been buildin’, and he relates what he calls a comic incident about a fool Irishman he inveigled from New Orleans to sling a pick on his little morgue of a narrow-gauge line. ’Twas sorrowful to hear the little, dirty general tell the opprobrious story of how he put salt upon the tail of that reckless and silly bird, Clancy. Laugh, he did, hearty and long. He shook with laughin’, the black-faced rebel and outcast, standin’ neck-deep in bananas, without friends or country.

“ ‘Ah, señor,’ he snickers, ‘to the death you would have laughed at that drollest Irish. I say to him: “Strong, big mans is need very much in Guatemala.” “I will blows strike for your down-pressed country,” he say. “That shall you do,” I tell him. Ah! it was an Irish so comic. He sees one box break upon the wharf that contain for the guard a few gun. He think there is gun in all the box. But that is all pickaxe. Yes. Ah! señor, could you the face of that Irish have seen when they set him to the work!’

“ ’Twas thus the ex-boss of the employment bureau contributed to the tedium of the trip with merry jests and anecdote. But now and then he would weep upon the bananas and make oration about the lost cause of liberty and the mule.

“ ’Twas a pleasant sound when the steamer bumped against the pier in New Orleans. Pretty soon we heard the pat-a-pat of hundreds of bare feet, and the Dago gang that unloads the fruit jumped on the deck and down into the hold. Me and the general worked a while at passin’ up the bunches, and they thought we were part of the gang. After about an hour we managed to slip off the steamer onto the wharf.

“ ’Twas a great honour on the hands of an obscure Clancy, havin’ the entertainment of the representative of a great foreign filibusterin’ power. I first bought for the general and myself many long drinks and things to eat that were not bananas. The general man trotted along at my side, leavin’ all the arrangements to me. I led him up to Lafayette Square and set him on a bench in the little park. Cigarettes I had bought for him, and he humped himself down on the seat like a little, fat, contented hobo. I look him over as he sets there, and what I see pleases me. Brown by nature and instinct, he is now brindled with dirt and dust. Praise to the mule, his clothes is mostly strings and flaps. Yes, the looks of the general man is agreeable to Clancy.

“I ask him, delicate, if, by any chance, he brought away anybody’s money with him from Guatemala. He sighs and bumps his shoulders against the bench. Not a cent. All right. Maybe, he tells me, some of his friends in the tropic outfit will send him funds later. The general was as clear a case of no visible means as I ever saw.

“I told him not to move from the bench, and then I went up to the corner of Poydras and Carondelet. Along there is O’Hara’s beat. In five minutes along comes O’Hara, a big, fine man, red-faced, with shinin’ buttons, swingin’ his club. ’Twould be a fine thing for Guatemala to move into O’Hara’s precinct. ’Twould be a fine bit of recreation for Danny to suppress revolutions and uprisin’s once or twice a week with his club.

“ ‘Is 5046 workin’ yet, Danny?’ says I, walkin’ up to him.

“ ‘Overtime,’ says O’Hara, lookin’ over me suspicious. ‘Want some of it?’

“Fifty-forty-six is the celebrated city ordinance authorizin’ arrest, conviction and imprisonment of persons that succeed in concealin’ their crimes from the police.

“ ‘Don’t ye know Jimmy Clancy?’ says I. ‘Ye pink-gilled monster.’ So, when O’Hara recognized me beneath the scandalous exterior bestowed upon me by the tropics, I backed him into a doorway and told him what I wanted, and why I wanted it. ‘All right, Jimmy,’ says O’Hara. ‘Go back and hold the bench. I’ll be along in ten minutes.’

“In that time O’Hara strolled through Lafayette Square and spied two Weary Willies disgracin’ one of the benches. In ten minutes more J. Clancy and General De Vega, late candidate for the presidency of Guatemala, was in the station house. The general is badly frightened, and calls upon me to proclaim his distinguishments and rank.

“ ‘The man,’ says I to the police, ‘used to be a railroad man. He’s on the bum now. ’Tis a little bughouse he is, on account of losin’ his job.’

“ ‘Carrambos!’ says the general, fizzin’ like a little soda-water fountain, ‘you fought, señor, with my forces in my native country. Why do you say the lies? You shall say I am the General De Vega, one soldier, one caballero⁠—’

“ ‘Railroader,’ says I again. ‘On the hog. No good. Been livin’ for three days on stolen bananas. Look at him. Ain’t that enough?’

“Twenty-five dollars or sixty days, was what the recorder gave the general. He didn’t have a cent, so he took the time. They let me go, as I knew they would, for I had money to show, and O’Hara spoke for me. Yes; sixty days he got. ’Twas just so long that I slung a pick for the great country of Kam⁠—Guatemala.”

Clancy paused. The bright starlight showed a reminiscent look of happy content on his seasoned features. Keogh leaned in his chair and gave his partner a slap on his thinly-clad back that sounded like the crack of the surf on the sands.

“Tell ’em, ye divil,” he chuckled, “how you got even with the tropical general in the way of agricultural maneuverings.”

“Havin’ no money,” concluded Clancy, with unction, “they set him to work his fine out with a gang from the parish prison clearing Ursulines Street. Around the corner was a saloon decorated genially with electric fans and cool merchandise. I made that me headquarters, and every fifteen minutes I’d walk around and take a look at the little man filibusterin’ with a rake and shovel. ’Twas just such a hot broth of a day as this has been. And I’d call at him ‘Hey, monseer!’ and he’d look at me black, with the damp showin’ through his shirt in places.

“ ‘Fat, strong mans,’ says I to General De Vega, ‘is needed in New Orleans. Yes. To carry on the good work. Carrambos! Erin go bragh!’ ”

The Remnants of the Code

Breakfast in Coralio was at eleven. Therefore the people did not go to market early. The little wooden market-house stood on a patch of short-trimmed grass, under the vivid green foliage of a breadfruit tree.

Thither one morning the venders leisurely convened, bringing their wares with them. A porch or platform six feet wide encircled the building, shaded from the mid-morning sun by the projecting, grass-thatched roof. Upon this platform the venders were wont to display their goods⁠—newly-killed beef, fish, crabs, fruit of the country, cassava, eggs, dulces and high, tottering stacks of native tortillas as large around as the sombrero of a Spanish grandee.

But on this morning they whose stations lay on the seaward side of the market-house, instead of spreading their merchandise formed themselves into a softly jabbering and gesticulating group. For there upon their space of the platform was sprawled, asleep, the unbeautiful figure of “Beelzebub” Blythe. He lay upon a ragged strip of cocoa matting, more than ever a fallen angel in appearance. His suit of coarse flax, soiled, bursting at the seams, crumpled into a thousand diversified wrinkles and creases, enclosed him absurdly, like the garb of some effigy that had been stuffed in sport and thrown there after indignity had been wrought upon it. But firmly upon the high bridge of his nose reposed his gold-rimmed glasses, the surviving badge of his ancient glory.

The sun’s rays, reflecting quiveringly from the rippling sea upon his face, and the voices of the market-men woke “Beelzebub” Blythe. He sat up, blinking, and leaned his back against the wall of the market. Drawing a blighted silk handkerchief from his pocket, he assiduously rubbed and burnished his glasses. And while doing this he became aware that his bedroom had been invaded, and that polite brown and yellow men were beseeching him to vacate in favour of their market stuff.

If the señor would have the goodness⁠—a thousand pardons for bringing to him molestation⁠—but soon would come the compradores for the day’s provisions⁠—surely they had ten thousand regrets at disturbing him!

In this manner they expanded to him the intimation that he must clear out and cease to clog the wheels of trade.

Blythe stepped from the platform with the air of a prince leaving his canopied couch. He never quite lost that air, even at the lowest point of his fall. It is clear that the college of good breeding does not necessarily maintain a chair of morals within its walls.

Blythe shook out his wry clothing, and moved slowly up the Calle Grande through the hot sand. He moved without a destination in his mind. The little town was languidly stirring to its daily life. Golden-skinned babies tumbled over one another in the grass. The sea breeze brought him appetite, but nothing to satisfy it. Throughout Coralio were its morning odors⁠—those from the heavily fragrant tropical flowers and from the bread baking in the outdoor ovens of clay and the pervading smoke of their fires. Where the smoke cleared, the crystal air, with some of the efficacy of faith, seemed to remove the mountains almost to the sea, bringing them so near that one might count the scarred glades on their wooded sides. The light-footed Caribs were swiftly gliding to their tasks at the waterside. Already along the bosky trails from the banana groves files of horses were slowly moving, concealed, except for their nodding heads and plodding legs, by the bunches of green-golden fruit heaped upon their backs. On doorsills sat women combing their long, black hair and calling, one to another, across the narrow thoroughfares. Peace reigned in Coralio⁠—arid and bald peace; but still peace.

On that bright morning when Nature seemed to be offering the lotus on the Dawn’s golden platter “Beelzebub” Blythe had reached rock bottom. Further descent seemed impossible. That last night’s slumber in a public place had done for him. As long as he had had a roof to cover him there had remained, unbridged, the space that separates a gentleman from the beasts of the jungle and the fowls of the air. But now he was little more than a whimpering oyster led to be devoured on the sands of a Southern sea by the artful walrus, Circumstance, and the implacable carpenter, Fate.

To Blythe money was now but a memory. He had drained his friends of all that their good-fellowship had to offer; then he had squeezed them to the last drop of their generosity; and at the last, Aaron-like, he had smitten the rock of their hardening bosoms for the scattering, ignoble drops of Charity itself.

He had exhausted his credit to the last real. With the minute keenness of the shameless sponger he was aware of every source in Coralio from which a glass of rum, a meal or a piece of silver could be wheedled. Marshalling each such source in his mind, he considered it with all the thoroughness and penetration that hunger and thirst lent him for the task. All his optimism failed to thresh a grain of hope from the chaff of his postulations. He had played out the game. That one night in the open had shaken his nerves. Until then there had been left to him at least a few grounds upon which he could base his unblushing demands upon his neighbours’ stores. Now he must beg instead of borrowing. The most brazen sophistry could not dignify by the name of “loan” the coin contemptuously flung to a beachcomber who slept on the bare boards of the public market.

But on this morning no beggar would have more thankfully received a charitable coin, for the demon thirst had him by the throat⁠—the drunkard’s matutinal thirst that requires to be slaked at each morning station on the road to Tophet.

Blythe walked slowly up the street, keeping a watchful eye for any miracle that might drop manna upon him in his wilderness. As he passed the popular eating house of Madama Vasquez, Madama’s boarders were just sitting down to freshly-baked bread, aguacates, pines and delicious coffee that sent forth odorous guarantee of its quality upon the breeze. Madama was serving; she turned her shy, stolid, melancholy gaze for a moment out the window; she saw Blythe, and her expression turned more shy and embarrassed. “Beelzebub” owed her twenty pesos. He bowed as he had once bowed to less embarrassed dames to whom he owed nothing, and passed on.

Merchants and their clerks were throwing open the solid wooden doors of their shops. Polite but cool were the glances they cast upon Blythe as he lounged tentatively by with the remains of his old jaunty air; for they were his creditors almost without exception.

At the little fountain in the plaza he made an apology for a toilet with his wetted handkerchief. Across the open square filed the dolorous line of friends of the prisoners in the calaboza, bearing the morning meal of the immured. The food in their hands aroused small longing in Blythe. It was drink that his soul craved, or money to buy it.

In the streets he met many with whom he had been friends and equals, and whose patience and liberality he had gradually exhausted. Willard Geddie and Paula cantered past him with the coolest of nods, returning from their daily horseback ride along the old Indian road. Keogh passed him at another corner, whistling cheerfully and bearing a prize of newly-laid eggs for the breakfast of himself and Clancy. The jovial scout of Fortune was one of Blythe’s victims who had plunged his hand oftenest into his pocket to aid him. But now it seemed that Keogh, too, had fortified himself against further invasions. His curt greeting and the ominous light in his full, grey eye quickened the steps of “Beelzebub,” whom desperation had almost incited to attempt an additional “loan.”

Three drinking shops the forlorn one next visited in succession. In all of these his money, his credit and his welcome had long since been spent; but Blythe felt that he would have fawned in the dust at the feet of an enemy that morning for one draught of aguardiente. In two of the pulperias his courageous petition for drink was met with a refusal so polite that it stung worse than abuse. The third establishment had acquired something of American methods; and here he was seized bodily and cast out upon his hands and knees.

This physical indignity caused a singular change in the man. As he picked himself up and walked away, an expression of absolute relief came upon his features. The specious and conciliatory smile that had been graven there was succeeded by a look of calm and sinister resolve. “Beelzebub” had been floundering in the sea of improbity, holding by a slender lifeline to the respectable world that had cast him overboard. He must have felt that with this ultimate shock the line had snapped, and have experienced the welcome ease of the drowning swimmer who has ceased to struggle.

Blythe walked to the next corner and stood there while he brushed the sand from his garments and re-polished his glasses.

“I’ve got to do it⁠—oh, I’ve got to do it,” he told himself, aloud. “If I had a quart of rum I believe I could stave it off yet⁠—for a little while. But there’s no more rum for⁠—‘Beelzebub,’ as they call me. By the flames of Tartarus! if I’m to sit at the right hand of Satan somebody has got to pay the court expenses. You’ll have to pony up, Mr. Frank Goodwin. You’re a good fellow; but a gentleman must draw the line at being kicked into the gutter. Blackmail isn’t a pretty word, but it’s the next station on the road I’m travelling.”

With purpose in his steps Blythe now moved rapidly through the town by way of its landward environs. He passed through the squalid quarters of the improvident negroes and on beyond the picturesque shacks of the poorer mestizos. From many points along his course he could see, through the umbrageous glades, the house of Frank Goodwin on its wooded hill. And as he crossed the little bridge over the lagoon he saw the old Indian, Galvez, scrubbing at the wooden slab that bore the name of Miraflores. Beyond the lagoon the lands of Goodwin began to slope gently upward. A grassy road, shaded by a munificent and diverse array of tropical flora wound from the edge of an outlying banana grove to the dwelling. Blythe took this road with long and purposeful strides.

Goodwin was seated on his coolest gallery, dictating letters to his secretary, a sallow and capable native youth. The household adhered to the American plan of breakfast; and that meal had been a thing of the past for the better part of an hour.

The castaway walked to the steps, and flourished a hand.

“Good morning, Blythe,” said Goodwin, looking up. “Come in and have a chair. Anything I can do for you?”

“I want to speak to you in private.”

Goodwin nodded at his secretary, who strolled out under a mango tree and lit a cigarette. Blythe took the chair that he had left vacant.

“I want some money,” he began, doggedly.

“I’m sorry,” said Goodwin, with equal directness, “but you can’t have any. You’re drinking yourself to death, Blythe. Your friends have done all they could to help you to brace up. You won’t help yourself. There’s no use furnishing you with money to ruin yourself with any longer.”

“Dear man,” said Blythe, tilting back his chair, “it isn’t a question of social economy now. It’s past that. I like you, Goodwin; and I’ve come to stick a knife between your ribs. I was kicked out of Espada’s saloon this morning; and Society owes me reparation for my wounded feelings.”

“I didn’t kick you out.”

“No; but in a general way you represent Society; and in a particular way you represent my last chance. I’ve had to come down to it, old man⁠—I tried to do it a month ago when Losada’s man was here turning things over; but I couldn’t do it then. Now it’s different. I want a thousand dollars, Goodwin; and you’ll have to give it to me.”

“Only last week,” said Goodwin, with a smile, “a silver dollar was all you were asking for.”

“An evidence,” said Blythe, flippantly, “that I was still virtuous⁠—though under heavy pressure. The wages of sin should be something higher than a peso worth forty-eight cents. Let’s talk business. I am the villain in the third act; and I must have my merited, if only temporary, triumph. I saw you collar the late president’s valiseful of boodle. Oh, I know it’s blackmail; but I’m liberal about the price. I know I’m a cheap villain⁠—one of the regular sawmill-drama kind⁠—but you’re one of my particular friends, and I don’t want to stick you hard.”

“Suppose you go into the details,” suggested Goodwin, calmly arranging his letters on the table.

“All right,” said “Beelzebub.” “I like the way you take it. I despise histrionics; so you will please prepare yourself for the facts without any red fire, calcium or grace notes on the saxophone.

“On the night that His Fly-by-night Excellency arrived in town I was very drunk. You will excuse the pride with which I state that fact; but it was quite a feat for me to attain that desirable state. Somebody had left a cot out under the orange trees in the yard of Madama Ortiz’s hotel. I stepped over the wall, laid down upon it, and fell asleep. I was awakened by an orange that dropped from the tree upon my nose; and I laid there for awhile cursing Sir Isaac Newton, or whoever it was that invented gravitation, for not confining his theory to apples.

“And then along came Mr. Miraflores and his truelove with the treasury in a valise, and went into the hotel. Next you hove in sight, and held a powwow with the tonsorial artist who insisted upon talking shop after hours. I tried to slumber again; but once more my rest was disturbed⁠—this time by the noise of the popgun that went off upstairs. Then that valise came crashing down into an orange tree just above my head; and I arose from my couch, not knowing when it might begin to rain Saratoga trunks. When the army and the constabulary began to arrive, with their medals and decorations hastily pinned to their pajamas, and their snickersnees drawn, I crawled into the welcome shadow of a banana plant. I remained there for an hour, by which time the excitement and the people had cleared away. And then, my dear Goodwin⁠—excuse me⁠—I saw you sneak back and pluck that ripe and juicy valise from the orange tree. I followed you, and saw you take it to your own house. A hundred-thousand-dollar crop from one orange tree in a season about breaks the record of the fruit-growing industry.

“Being a gentleman at that time, of course, I never mentioned the incident to anyone. But this morning I was kicked out of a saloon, my code of honour is all out at the elbows, and I’d sell my mother’s prayerbook for three fingers of aguardiente. I’m not putting on the screws hard. It ought to be worth a thousand to you for me to have slept on that cot through the whole business without waking up and seeing anything.”

Goodwin opened two more letters, and made memoranda in pencil on them. Then he called “Manuel!” to his secretary, who came, spryly.

“The Ariel⁠—when does she sail?” asked Goodwin.

“Señor,” answered the youth, “at three this afternoon. She drops down-coast to Punta Soledad to complete her cargo of fruit. From there she sails for New Orleans without delay.”

Bueno!” said Goodwin. “These letters may wait yet awhile.”

The secretary returned to his cigarette under the mango tree.

“In round numbers,” said Goodwin, facing Blythe squarely, “how much money do you owe in this town, not including the sums you have ‘borrowed’ from me?”

“Five hundred⁠—at a rough guess,” answered Blythe, lightly.

“Go somewhere in the town and draw up a schedule of your debts,” said Goodwin. “Come back here in two hours, and I will send Manuel with the money to pay them. I will also have a decent outfit of clothing ready for you. You will sail on the Ariel at three. Manuel will accompany you as far as the deck of the steamer. There he will hand you one thousand dollars in cash. I suppose that we needn’t discuss what you will be expected to do in return.”

“Oh, I understand,” piped Blythe, cheerily. “I was asleep all the time on the cot under Madama Ortiz’s orange trees; and I shake off the dust of Coralio forever. I’ll play fair. No more of the lotus for me. Your proposition is OK. You’re a good fellow, Goodwin; and I let you off light. I’ll agree to everything. But in the meantime⁠—I’ve a devil of a thirst on, old man⁠—”

“Not a centavo,” said Goodwin, firmly, “until you are on board the Ariel. You would be drunk in thirty minutes if you had money now.”

But he noticed the blood-streaked eyeballs, the relaxed form and the shaking hands of “Beelzebub;” and he stepped into the dining room through the low window, and brought out a glass and a decanter of brandy.

“Take a bracer, anyway, before you go,” he proposed, even as a man to the friend whom he entertains.

“Beelzebub” Blythe’s eyes glistened at the sight of the solace for which his soul burned. Today for the first time his poisoned nerves had been denied their steadying dose; and their retort was a mounting torment. He grasped the decanter and rattled its crystal mouth against the glass in his trembling hand. He flushed the glass, and then stood erect, holding it aloft for an instant. For one fleeting moment he held his head above the drowning waves of his abyss. He nodded easily at Goodwin, raised his brimming glass and murmured a “health” that men had used in his ancient Paradise Lost. And then so suddenly that he spilled the brandy over his hand, he set down his glass, untasted.

“In two hours,” his dry lips muttered to Goodwin, as he marched down the steps and turned his face toward the town.

In the edge of the cool banana grove “Beelzebub” halted, and snapped the tongue of his belt buckle into another hole.

“I couldn’t do it,” he explained, feverishly, to the waving banana fronds. “I wanted to, but I couldn’t. A gentleman can’t drink with the man that he blackmails.”

Shoes

John De Graffenreid Atwood ate of the lotus, root, stem, and flower. The tropics gobbled him up. He plunged enthusiastically into his work, which was to try to forget Rosine.

Now, they who dine on the lotus rarely consume it plain. There is a sauce au diable that goes with it; and the distillers are the chefs who prepare it. And on Johnny’s menu card it read “brandy.” With a bottle between them, he and Billy Keogh would sit on the porch of the little consulate at night and roar out great, indecorous songs, until the natives, slipping hastily past, would shrug a shoulder and mutter things to themselves about the “Americanos diablos.”

One day Johnny’s mozo brought the mail and dumped it on the table. Johnny leaned from his hammock, and fingered the four or five letters dejectedly. Keogh was sitting on the edge of the table chopping lazily with a paper knife at the legs of a centipede that was crawling among the stationery. Johnny was in that phase of lotus-eating when all the world tastes bitter in one’s mouth.

“Same old thing!” he complained. “Fool people writing for information about the country. They want to know all about raising fruit, and how to make a fortune without work. Half of ’em don’t even send stamps for a reply. They think a consul hasn’t anything to do but write letters. Slit those envelopes for me, old man, and see what they want. I’m feeling too rocky to move.”

Keogh, acclimated beyond all possibility of ill-humour, drew his chair to the table with smiling compliance on his rose-pink countenance, and began to slit open the letters. Four of them were from citizens in various parts of the United States who seemed to regard the consul at Coralio as a cyclopaedia of information. They asked long lists of questions, numerically arranged, about the climate, products, possibilities, laws, business chances, and statistics of the country in which the consul had the honour of representing his own government.

“Write ’em, please, Billy,” said that inert official, “just a line, referring them to the latest consular report. Tell ’em the State Department will be delighted to furnish the literary gems. Sign my name. Don’t let your pen scratch, Billy; it’ll keep me awake.”

“Don’t snore,” said Keogh, amiably, “and I’ll do your work for you. You need a corps of assistants, anyhow. Don’t see how you ever get out a report. Wake up a minute!⁠—here’s one more letter⁠—it’s from your own town, too⁠—Dalesburg.”

“That so?” murmured Johnny showing a mild and obligatory interest. “What’s it about?”

“Postmaster writes,” explained Keogh. “Says a citizen of the town wants some facts and advice from you. Says the citizen has an idea in his head of coming down where you are and opening a shoe store. Wants to know if you think the business would pay. Says he’s heard of the boom along this coast, and wants to get in on the ground floor.”

In spite of the heat and his bad temper, Johnny’s hammock swayed with his laughter. Keogh laughed too; and the pet monkey on the top shelf of the bookcase chattered in shrill sympathy with the ironical reception of the letter from Dalesburg.

“Great bunions!” exclaimed the consul. “Shoe store! What’ll they ask about next, I wonder? Overcoat factory, I reckon. Say, Billy⁠—of our 3,000 citizens, how many do you suppose ever had on a pair of shoes?”

Keogh reflected judicially.

“Let’s see⁠—there’s you and me and⁠—”

“Not me,” said Johnny, promptly and incorrectly, holding up a foot encased in a disreputable deerskin zapato. “I haven’t been a victim to shoes in months.”

“But you’ve got ’em, though,” went on Keogh. “And there’s Goodwin and Blanchard and Geddie and old Lutz and Doc Gregg and that Italian that’s agent for the banana company, and there’s old Delgado⁠—no; he wears sandals. And, oh, yes; there’s Madama Ortiz, ‘what kapes the hotel’⁠—she had on a pair of red slippers at the baile the other night. And Miss Pasa, her daughter, that went to school in the States⁠—she brought back some civilized notions in the way of footgear. And there’s the comandante’s sister that dresses up her feet on feast-days⁠—and Mrs. Geddie, who wears a two with a Castilian instep⁠—and that’s about all the ladies. Let’s see⁠—don’t some of the soldiers at the cuartel⁠—no: that’s so; they’re allowed shoes only when on the march. In barracks they turn their little toeses out to grass.”

“ ’Bout right,” agreed the consul. “Not over twenty out of the three thousand ever felt leather on their walking arrangements. Oh, yes; Coralio is just the town for an enterprising shoe store⁠—that doesn’t want to part with its goods. Wonder if old Patterson is trying to jolly me! He always was full of things he called jokes. Write him a letter, Billy. I’ll dictate it. We’ll jolly him back a few.”

Keogh dipped his pen, and wrote at Johnny’s dictation. With many pauses, filled in with smoke and sundry travellings of the bottle and glasses, the following reply to the Dalesburg communication was perpetrated:

Mr. Obadiah Patterson, Dalesburg, Ala.

Dear Sir: In reply to your favour of July 2nd, I have the honour to inform you that, according to my opinion, there is no place on the habitable globe that presents to the eye stronger evidence of the need of a first-class shoe store than does the town of Coralio. There are 3,000 inhabitants in the place, and not a single shoe store! The situation speaks for itself. This coast is rapidly becoming the goal of enterprising business men, but the shoe business is one that has been sadly overlooked or neglected. In fact, there are a considerable number of our citizens actually without shoes at present.

Besides the want above mentioned, there is also a crying need for a brewery, a college of higher mathematics, a coal yard, and a clean and intellectual Punch and Judy show. I have the honour to be, sir,

Your Obt. Servant,

John De Graffenreid Atwood,

U.S. Consul at Coralio.

P.S.⁠—Hello! Uncle Obadiah. How’s the old burg racking along? What would the government do without you and me? Look out for a green-headed parrot and a bunch of bananas soon, from your old friend

Johnny

“I throw in that postscript,” explained the consul, “so Uncle Obadiah won’t take offence at the official tone of the letter! Now, Billy, you get that correspondence fixed up, and send Pancho to the post-office with it. The Ariadne takes the mail out tomorrow if they make up that load of fruit today.”

The night programme in Coralio never varied. The recreations of the people were soporific and flat. They wandered about, barefoot and aimless, speaking lowly and smoking cigar or cigarette. Looking down on the dimly lighted ways one seemed to see a threading maze of brunette ghosts tangled with a procession of insane fireflies. In some houses the thrumming of lugubrious guitars added to the depression of the triste night. Giant tree-frogs rattled in the foliage as loudly as the end man’s “bones” in a minstrel troupe. By nine o’clock the streets were almost deserted.

Nor at the consulate was there often a change of bill. Keogh would come there nightly, for Coralio’s one cool place was the little seaward porch of that official residence.

The brandy would be kept moving; and before midnight sentiment would begin to stir in the heart of the self-exiled consul. Then he would relate to Keogh the story of his ended romance. Each night Keogh would listen patiently to the tale, and be ready with untiring sympathy.

“But don’t you think for a minute”⁠—thus Johnny would always conclude his woeful narrative⁠—“that I’m grieving about that girl, Billy. I’ve forgotten her. She never enters my mind. If she were to enter that door right now, my pulse wouldn’t gain a beat. That’s all over long ago.”

“Don’t I know it?” Keogh would answer. “Of course you’ve forgotten her. Proper thing to do. Wasn’t quite OK of her to listen to the knocks that⁠—er⁠—Dink Pawson kept giving you.”

“Pink Dawson!”⁠—a world of contempt would be in Johnny’s tones⁠—“Poor white trash! That’s what he was. Had five hundred acres of farming land, though; and that counted. Maybe I’ll have a chance to get back at him some day. The Dawsons weren’t anybody. Everybody in Alabama knows the Atwoods. Say, Billy⁠—did you know my mother was a De Graffenreid?”

“Why, no,” Keogh would say; “is that so?” He had heard it some three hundred times.

“Fact. The De Graffenreids of Hancock County. But I never think of that girl any more, do I, Billy?”

“Not for a minute, my boy,” would be the last sounds heard by the conqueror of Cupid.

At this point Johnny would fall into a gentle slumber, and Keogh would saunter out to his own shack under the calabash tree at the edge of the plaza.

In a day or two the letter from the Dalesburg postmaster and its answer had been forgotten by the Coralio exiles. But on the 26th day of July the fruit of the reply appeared upon the tree of events.

The Andador, a fruit steamer that visited Coralio regularly, drew into the offing and anchored. The beach was lined with spectators while the quarantine doctor and the customhouse crew rowed out to attend to their duties.

An hour later Billy Keogh lounged into the consulate, clean and cool in his linen clothes, and grinning like a pleased shark.

“Guess what?” he said to Johnny, lounging in his hammock.

“Too hot to guess,” said Johnny, lazily.

“Your shoe-store man’s come,” said Keogh, rolling the sweet morsel on his tongue, “with a stock of goods big enough to supply the continent as far down as Terra del Fuego. They’re carting his cases over to the customhouse now. Six barges full they brought ashore and have paddled back for the rest. Oh, ye saints in glory! won’t there be regalements in the air when he gets onto the joke and has an interview with Mr. Consul? It’ll be worth nine years in the tropics just to witness that one joyful moment.”

Keogh loved to take his mirth easily. He selected a clean place on the matting and lay upon the floor. The walls shook with his enjoyment. Johnny turned half over and blinked.

“Don’t tell me,” he said, “that anybody was fool enough to take that letter seriously.”

“Four-thousand-dollar stock of goods!” gasped Keogh, in ecstasy. “Talk about coals to Newcastle! Why didn’t he take a shipload of palm-leaf fans to Spitzbergen while he was about it? Saw the old codger on the beach. You ought to have been there when he put on his specs and squinted at the five hundred or so barefooted citizens standing around.”

“Are you telling the truth, Billy?” asked the consul, weakly.

“Am I? You ought to see the buncoed gentleman’s daughter he brought along. Looks! She makes the brick-dust señoritas here look like tar-babies.”

“Go on,” said Johnny, “if you can stop that asinine giggling. I hate to see a grown man make a laughing hyena of himself.”

“Name is Hemstetter,” went on Keogh. “He’s a⁠—Hello! what’s the matter now?”

Johnny’s moccasined feet struck the floor with a thud as he wriggled out of his hammock.

“Get up, you idiot,” he said, sternly, “or I’ll brain you with this inkstand. That’s Rosine and her father. Gad! what a drivelling idiot old Patterson is! Get up, here, Billy Keogh, and help me. What the devil are we going to do? Has all the world gone crazy?”

Keogh rose and dusted himself. He managed to regain a decorous demeanour.

“Situation has got to be met, Johnny,” he said, with some success at seriousness. “I didn’t think about its being your girl until you spoke. First thing to do is to get them comfortable quarters. You go down and face the music, and I’ll trot out to Goodwin’s and see if Mrs. Goodwin won’t take them in. They’ve got the decentest house in town.”

“Bless you, Billy!” said the consul. “I knew you wouldn’t desert me. The world’s bound to come to an end, but maybe we can stave it off for a day or two.”

Keogh hoisted his umbrella and set out for Goodwin’s house. Johnny put on his coat and hat. He picked up the brandy bottle, but set it down again without drinking, and marched bravely down to the beach.

In the shade of the customhouse walls he found Mr. Hemstetter and Rosine surrounded by a mass of gaping citizens. The customs officers were ducking and scraping, while the captain of the Andador interpreted the business of the new arrivals. Rosine looked healthy and very much alive. She was gazing at the strange scenes around her with amused interest. There was a faint blush upon her round cheek as she greeted her old admirer. Mr. Hemstetter shook hands with Johnny in a very friendly way. He was an oldish, impractical man⁠—one of that numerous class of erratic business men who are forever dissatisfied, and seeking a change.

“I am very glad to see you, John⁠—may I call you John?” he said. “Let me thank you for your prompt answer to our postmaster’s letter of inquiry. He volunteered to write to you on my behalf. I was looking about for something different in the way of a business in which the profits would be greater. I had noticed in the papers that this coast was receiving much attention from investors. I am extremely grateful for your advice to come. I sold out everything that I possess, and invested the proceeds in as fine a stock of shoes as could be bought in the North. You have a picturesque town here, John. I hope business will be as good as your letter justifies me in expecting.”

Johnny’s agony was abbreviated by the arrival of Keogh, who hurried up with the news that Mrs. Goodwin would be much pleased to place rooms at the disposal of Mr. Hemstetter and his daughter. So there Mr. Hemstetter and Rosine were at once conducted and left to recuperate from the fatigue of the voyage, while Johnny went down to see that the cases of shoes were safely stored in the customs warehouse pending their examination by the officials. Keogh, grinning like a shark, skirmished about to find Goodwin, to instruct him not to expose to Mr. Hemstetter the true state of Coralio as a shoe market until Johnny had been given a chance to redeem the situation, if such a thing were possible.

That night the consul and Keogh held a desperate consultation on the breezy porch of the consulate.

“Send ’em back home,” began Keogh, reading Johnny’s thoughts.

“I would,” said Johnny, after a little silence; “but I’ve been lying to you, Billy.”

“All right about that,” said Keogh, affably.

“I’ve told you hundreds of times,” said Johnny, slowly, “that I had forgotten that girl, haven’t I?”

“About three hundred and seventy-five,” admitted the monument of patience.

“I lied,” repeated the consul, “every time. I never forgot her for one minute. I was an obstinate ass for running away just because she said ‘No’ once. And I was too proud a fool to go back. I talked with Rosine a few minutes this evening up at Goodwin’s. I found out one thing. You remember that farmer fellow who was always after her?”

“Dink Pawson?” asked Keogh.

“Pink Dawson. Well, he wasn’t a hill of beans to her. She says she didn’t believe a word of the things he told her about me. But I’m sewed up now, Billy. That tomfool letter we sent ruined whatever chance I had left. She’ll despise me when she finds out that her old father has been made the victim of a joke that a decent school boy wouldn’t have been guilty of. Shoes! Why he couldn’t sell twenty pairs of shoes in Coralio if he kept store here for twenty years. You put a pair of shoes on one of these Caribs or Spanish brown boys and what’d he do? Stand on his head and squeal until he’d kicked ’em off. None of ’em ever wore shoes and they never will. If I send ’em back home I’ll have to tell the whole story, and what’ll she think of me? I want that girl worse than ever, Billy, and now when she’s in reach I’ve lost her forever because I tried to be funny when the thermometer was at 102.”

“Keep cheerful,” said the optimistic Keogh. “And let ’em open the store. I’ve been busy myself this afternoon. We can stir up a temporary boom in footgear anyhow. I’ll buy six pairs when the doors open. I’ve been around and seen all the fellows and explained the catastrophe. They’ll all buy shoes like they was centipedes. Frank Goodwin will take cases of ’em. The Geddies want about eleven pairs between ’em. Clancy is going to invest the savings of weeks, and even old Doc Gregg wants three pairs of alligator-hide slippers if they’ve got any tens. Blanchard got a look at Miss Hemstetter; and as he’s a Frenchman, no less than a dozen pairs will do for him.”

“A dozen customers,” said Johnny, “for a $4,000 stock of shoes! It won’t work. There’s a big problem here to figure out. You go home, Billy, and leave me alone. I’ve got to work at it all by myself. Take that bottle of Three-star along with you⁠—no, sir; not another ounce of booze for the United States consul. I’ll sit here tonight and pull out the think stop. If there’s a soft place on this proposition anywhere I’ll land on it. If there isn’t there’ll be another wreck to the credit of the gorgeous tropics.”

Keogh left, feeling that he could be of no use. Johnny laid a handful of cigars on a table and stretched himself in a steamer chair. When the sudden daylight broke, silvering the harbour ripples, he was still sitting there. Then he got up, whistling a little tune, and took his bath.

At nine o’clock he walked down to the dingy little cable office and hung for half an hour over a blank. The result of his application was the following message, which he signed and had transmitted at a cost of $33:

To Pinkney Dawson, Dalesburg, Ala.

Draft for $100 comes to you next mail. Ship me immediately 500 pounds stiff, dry cockleburrs. New use here in arts. Market price twenty cents pound. Further orders likely. Rush.

Ships

Within a week a suitable building had been secured in the Calle Grande, and Mr. Hemstetter’s stock of shoes arranged upon their shelves. The rent of the store was moderate; and the stock made a fine showing of neat white boxes, attractively displayed.

Johnny’s friends stood by him loyally. On the first day Keogh strolled into the store in a casual kind of way about once every hour, and bought shoes. After he had purchased a pair each of extension soles, congress gaiters, button kids, low-quartered calfs, dancing pumps, rubber boots, tans of various hues, tennis shoes and flowered slippers, he sought out Johnny to be prompted as to names of other kinds that he might inquire for. The other English-speaking residents also played their parts nobly by buying often and liberally. Keogh was grand marshal, and made them distribute their patronage, thus keeping up a fair run of custom for several days.

Mr. Hemstetter was gratified by the amount of business done thus far; but expressed surprise that the natives were so backward with their custom.

“Oh, they’re awfully shy,” explained Johnny, as he wiped his forehead nervously. “They’ll get the habit pretty soon. They’ll come with a rush when they do come.”

One afternoon Keogh dropped into the consul’s office, chewing an unlighted cigar thoughtfully.

“Got anything up your sleeve?” he inquired of Johnny. “If you have it’s about time to show it. If you can borrow some gent’s hat in the audience, and make a lot of customers for an idle stock of shoes come out of it, you’d better spiel. The boys have all laid in enough footwear to last ’em ten years; and there’s nothing doing in the shoe store but dolcy far nienty. I just came by there. Your venerable victim was standing in the door, gazing through his specs at the bare toes passing by his emporium. The natives here have got the true artistic temperament. Me and Clancy took eighteen tintypes this morning in two hours. There’s been but one pair of shoes sold all day. Blanchard went in and bought a pair of fur-lined house-slippers because he thought he saw Miss Hemstetter go into the store. I saw him throw the slippers into the lagoon afterwards.”

“There’s a Mobile fruit steamer coming in tomorrow or next day,” said Johnny. “We can’t do anything until then.”

“What are you going to do⁠—try to create a demand?”

“Political economy isn’t your strong point,” said the consul, impudently. “You can’t create a demand. But you can create a necessity for a demand. That’s what I am going to do.”

Two weeks after the consul sent his cable, a fruit steamer brought him a huge, mysterious brown bale of some unknown commodity. Johnny’s influence with the customhouse people was sufficiently strong for him to get the goods turned over to him without the usual inspection. He had the bale taken to the consulate and snugly stowed in the back room.

That night he ripped open a corner of it and took out a handful of the cockleburrs. He examined them with the care with which a warrior examines his arms before he goes forth to battle for his ladylove and life. The burrs were the ripe August product, as hard as filberts, and bristling with spines as tough and sharp as needles. Johnny whistled softly a little tune, and went out to find Billy Keogh.

Later in the night, when Coralio was steeped in slumber, he and Billy went forth into the deserted streets with their coats bulging like balloons. All up and down the Calle Grande they went, sowing the sharp burrs carefully in the sand, along the narrow sidewalks, in every foot of grass between the silent houses. And then they took the side streets and byways, missing none. No place where the foot of man, woman or child might fall was slighted. Many trips they made to and from the prickly hoard. And then, nearly at the dawn, they laid themselves down to rest calmly, as great generals do after planning a victory according to the revised tactics, and slept, knowing that they had sowed with the accuracy of Satan sowing tares and the perseverance of Paul planting.

With the rising sun came the purveyors of fruits and meats, and arranged their wares in and around the little market-house. At one end of the town near the seashore the market-house stood; and the sowing of the burrs had not been carried that far. The dealers waited long past the hour when their sales usually began. None came to buy. “Qué hay?” they began to exclaim, one to another.

At their accustomed time, from every ’dobe and palm hut and grass-thatched shack and dim patio glided women⁠—black women, brown women, lemon-colored women, women dun and yellow and tawny. They were the marketers starting to purchase the family supply of cassava, plantains, meat, fowls, and tortillas. Décolleté they were and bare-armed and barefooted, with a single skirt reaching below the knee. Stolid and ox-eyed, they stepped from their doorways into the narrow paths or upon the soft grass of the streets.

The first to emerge uttered ambiguous squeals, and raised one foot quickly. Another step and they sat down, with shrill cries of alarm, to pick at the new and painful insects that had stung them upon the feet. “Qué picadores diablos!” they screeched to one another across the narrow ways. Some tried the grass instead of the paths, but there they were also stung and bitten by the strange little prickly balls. They plumped down in the grass, and added their lamentations to those of their sisters in the sandy paths. All through the town was heard the plaint of the feminine jabber. The venders in the market still wondered why no customers came.

Then men, lords of the earth, came forth. They, too, began to hop, to dance, to limp, and to curse. They stood stranded and foolish, or stooped to pluck at the scourge that attacked their feet and ankles. Some loudly proclaimed the pest to be poisonous spiders of an unknown species.

And then the children ran out for their morning romp. And now to the uproar was added the howls of limping infants and cockleburred childhood. Every minute the advancing day brought forth fresh victims.

Doña Maria Castillas y Buenventura de las Casas stepped from her honoured doorway, as was her daily custom, to procure fresh bread from the panaderia across the street. She was clad in a skirt of flowered yellow satin, a chemise of ruffled linen, and wore a purple mantilla from the looms of Spain. Her lemon-tinted feet, alas! were bare. Her progress was majestic, for were not her ancestors hidalgos of Aragon? Three steps she made across the velvety grass, and set her aristocratic sole upon a bunch of Johnny’s burrs. Doña Maria Castillas y Buenventura de las Casas emitted a yowl even as a wildcat. Turning about, she fell upon hands and knees, and crawled⁠—ay, like a beast of the field she crawled back to her honourable doorsill.

Don Señor Ildefonso Federico Valdazar, Juez de la Paz, weighing twenty stone, attempted to convey his bulk to the pulperia at the corner of the plaza in order to assuage his matutinal thirst. The first plunge of his unshod foot into the cool grass struck a concealed mine. Don Ildefonso fell like a crumpled cathedral, crying out that he had been fatally bitten by a deadly scorpion. Everywhere were the shoeless citizens hopping, stumbling, limping, and picking from their feet the venomous insects that had come in a single night to harass them.

The first to perceive the remedy was Estebán Delgado, the barber, a man of travel and education. Sitting upon a stone, he plucked burrs from his toes, and made oration:

“Behold, my friends, these bugs of the devil! I know them well. They soar through the skies in swarms like pigeons. These are the dead ones that fell during the night. In Yucatan I have seen them as large as oranges. Yes! There they hiss like serpents, and have wings like bats. It is the shoes⁠—the shoes that one needs! Zapatos⁠—zapatos para mi!

Estebán hobbled to Mr. Hemstetter’s store, and bought shoes. Coming out, he swaggered down the street with impunity, reviling loudly the bugs of the devil. The suffering ones sat up or stood upon one foot and beheld the immune barber. Men, women and children took up the cry: “Zapatos! zapatos!

The necessity for the demand had been created. The demand followed. That day Mr. Hemstetter sold three hundred pairs of shoes.

“It is really surprising,” he said to Johnny, who came up in the evening to help him straighten out the stock, “how trade is picking up. Yesterday I made but three sales.”

“I told you they’d whoop things up when they got started,” said the consul.

“I think I shall order a dozen more cases of goods, to keep the stock up,” said Mr. Hemstetter, beaming through his spectacles.

“I wouldn’t send in any orders yet,” advised Johnny. “Wait till you see how the trade holds up.”

Each night Johnny and Keogh sowed the crop that grew dollars by day. At the end of ten days two-thirds of the stock of shoes had been sold; and the stock of cockleburrs was exhausted. Johnny cabled to Pink Dawson for another 500 pounds, paying twenty cents per pound as before. Mr. Hemstetter carefully made up an order for $1,500 worth of shoes from Northern firms. Johnny hung about the store until this order was ready for the mail, and succeeded in destroying it before it reached the postoffice.

That night he took Rosine under the mango tree by Goodwin’s porch, and confessed everything. She looked him in the eye, and said: “You are a very wicked man. Father and I will go back home. You say it was a joke? I think it is a very serious matter.”

But at the end of half an hour’s argument the conversation had been turned upon a different subject. The two were considering the respective merits of pale blue and pink wall paper with which the old colonial mansion of the Atwoods in Dalesburg was to be decorated after the wedding.

On the next morning Johnny confessed to Mr. Hemstetter. The shoe merchant put on his spectacles, and said through them: “You strike me as being a most extraordinary young scamp. If I had not managed this enterprise with good business judgment my entire stock of goods might have been a complete loss. Now, how do you propose to dispose of the rest of it?”

When the second invoice of cockleburrs arrived Johnny loaded them and the remainder of the shoes into a schooner, and sailed down the coast to Alazan.

There, in the same dark and diabolical manner, he repeated his success; and came back with a bag of money and not so much as a shoestring.

And then he besought his great Uncle of the waving goatee and starred vest to accept his resignation, for the lotus no longer lured him. He hankered for the spinach and cress of Dalesburg.

The services of Mr. William Terence Keogh as acting consul, pro tem, were suggested and accepted, and Johnny sailed with the Hemstetters back to his native shores.

Keogh slipped into the sinecure of the American consulship with the ease that never left him even in such high places. The tintype establishment was soon to become a thing of the past, although its deadly work along the peaceful and helpless Spanish Main was never effaced. The restless partners were about to be off again, scouting ahead of the slow ranks of Fortune. But now they would take different ways. There were rumours of a promising uprising in Peru; and thither the martial Clancy would turn his adventurous steps. As for Keogh, he was figuring in his mind and on quires of Government letterheads a scheme that dwarfed the art of misrepresenting the human countenance upon tin.

“What suits me,” Keogh used to say, “in the way of a business proposition is something diversified that looks like a longer shot than it is⁠—something in the way of a genteel graft that isn’t worked enough for the correspondence schools to be teaching it by mail. I take the long end; but I like to have at least as good a chance to win as a man learning to play poker on an ocean steamer, or running for governor of Texas on the Republican ticket. And when I cash in my winnings, I don’t want to find any widows’ and orphans’ chips in my stack.”

The grass-grown globe was the green table on which Keogh gambled. The games he played were of his own invention. He was no grubber after the diffident dollar. Nor did he care to follow it with horn and hounds. Rather he loved to coax it with egregious and brilliant flies from its habitat in the waters of strange streams. Yet Keogh was a business man; and his schemes, in spite of their singularity, were as solidly set as the plans of a building contractor. In Arthur’s time Sir William Keogh would have been a Knight of the Round Table. In these modern days he rides abroad, seeking the Graft instead of the Grail.

Three days after Johnny’s departure, two small schooners appeared off Coralio. After some delay a boat put off from one of them, and brought a sunburned young man ashore. This young man had a shrewd and calculating eye; and he gazed with amazement at the strange things that he saw. He found on the beach someone who directed him to the consul’s office; and thither he made his way at a nervous gait.

Keogh was sprawled in the official chair, drawing caricatures of his Uncle’s head on an official pad of paper. He looked up at his visitor.

“Where’s Johnny Atwood?” inquired the sunburned young man, in a business tone.

“Gone,” said Keogh, working carefully at Uncle Sam’s necktie.

“That’s just like him,” remarked the nut-brown one, leaning against the table. “He always was a fellow to gallivant around instead of ’tending to business. Will he be in soon?”

“Don’t think so,” said Keogh, after a fair amount of deliberation.

“I s’pose he’s out at some of his tomfoolery,” conjectured the visitor, in a tone of virtuous conviction. “Johnny never would stick to anything long enough to succeed. I wonder how he manages to run his business here, and never be ’round to look after it.”

“I’m looking after the business just now,” admitted the pro tem consul.

“Are you⁠—then, say!⁠—where’s the factory?”

“What factory?” asked Keogh, with a mildly polite interest.

“Why, the factory where they use them cockleburrs. Lord knows what they use ’em for, anyway! I’ve got the basements of both them ships out there loaded with ’em. I’ll give you a bargain in this lot. I’ve had every man, woman and child around Dalesburg that wasn’t busy pickin’ ’em for a month. I hired these ships to bring ’em over. Everybody thought I was crazy. Now, you can have this lot for fifteen cents a pound, delivered on land. And if you want more I guess old Alabam’ can come up to the demand. Johnny told me when he left home that if he struck anything down here that there was any money in he’d let me in on it. Shall I drive the ships in and hitch?”

A look of supreme, almost incredulous, delight dawned in Keogh’s ruddy countenance. He dropped his pencil. His eyes turned upon the sunburned young man with joy in them mingled with fear lest his ecstasy should prove a dream.

“For God’s sake, tell me,” said Keogh, earnestly, “are you Dink Pawson?”

“My name is Pinkney Dawson,” said the cornerer of the cockleburr market.

Billy Keogh slid rapturously and gently from his chair to his favourite strip of matting on the floor.

There were not many sounds in Coralio on that sultry afternoon. Among those that were may be mentioned a noise of enraptured and unrighteous laughter from a prostrate Irish-American, while a sunburned young man, with a shrewd eye, looked on him with wonder and amazement. Also the “tramp, tramp, tramp” of many well-shod feet in the streets outside. Also the lonesome wash of the waves that beat along the historic shores of the Spanish Main.

Masters of Arts

A two-inch stub of a blue pencil was the wand with which Keogh performed the preliminary acts of his magic. So, with this he covered paper with diagrams and figures while he waited for the United States of America to send down to Coralio a successor to Atwood, resigned.

The new scheme that his mind had conceived, his stout heart endorsed, and his blue pencil corroborated, was laid around the characteristics and human frailties of the new president of Anchuria. These characteristics, and the situation out of which Keogh hoped to wrest a golden tribute, deserve chronicling contributive to the clear order of events.

President Losada⁠—many called him Dictator⁠—was a man whose genius would have made him conspicuous even among Anglo-Saxons, had not that genius been intermixed with other traits that were petty and subversive. He had some of the lofty patriotism of Washington (the man he most admired), the force of Napoleon, and much of the wisdom of the sages. These characteristics might have justified him in the assumption of the title of “The Illustrious Liberator,” had they not been accompanied by a stupendous and amazing vanity that kept him in the less worthy ranks of the dictators.

Yet he did his country great service. With a mighty grasp he shook it nearly free from the shackles of ignorance and sloth and the vermin that fed upon it, and all but made it a power in the council of nations. He established schools and hospitals, built roads, bridges, railroads and palaces, and bestowed generous subsidies upon the arts and sciences. He was the absolute despot and the idol of his people. The wealth of the country poured into his hands. Other presidents had been rapacious without reason. Losada amassed enormous wealth, but his people had their share of the benefits.

The joint in his armour was his insatiate passion for monuments and tokens commemorating his glory. In every town he caused to be erected statues of himself bearing legends in praise of his greatness. In the walls of every public edifice, tablets were fixed reciting his splendour and the gratitude of his subjects. His statuettes and portraits were scattered throughout the land in every house and hut. One of the sycophants in his court painted him as St. John, with a halo and a train of attendants in full uniform. Losada saw nothing incongruous in this picture, and had it hung in a church in the capital. He ordered from a French sculptor a marble group including himself with Napoleon, Alexander the Great, and one or two others whom he deemed worthy of the honour.

He ransacked Europe for decorations, employing policy, money and intrigue to cajole the orders he coveted from kings and rulers. On state occasions his breast was covered from shoulder to shoulder with crosses, stars, golden roses, medals and ribbons. It was said that the man who could contrive for him a new decoration, or invent some new method of extolling his greatness, might plunge a hand deep into the treasury.

This was the man upon whom Billy Keogh had his eye. The gentle buccaneer had observed the rain of favors that fell upon those who ministered to the president’s vanities, and he did not deem it his duty to hoist his umbrella against the scattering drops of liquid fortune.

In a few weeks the new consul arrived, releasing Keogh from his temporary duties. He was a young man fresh from college, who lived for botany alone. The consulate at Coralio gave him the opportunity to study tropical flora. He wore smoked glasses, and carried a green umbrella. He filled the cool, back porch of the consulate with plants and specimens so that space for a bottle and chair was not to be found. Keogh gazed on him sadly, but without rancour, and began to pack his gripsack. For his new plot against stagnation along the Spanish Main required of him a voyage overseas.

Soon came the Karlsefin again⁠—she of the trampish habits⁠—gleaning a cargo of coconuts for a speculative descent upon the New York market. Keogh was booked for a passage on the return trip.

“Yes, I’m going to New York,” he explained to the group of his countrymen that had gathered on the beach to see him off. “But I’ll be back before you miss me. I’ve undertaken the art education of this piebald country, and I’m not the man to desert it while it’s in the early throes of tintypes.”

With this mysterious declaration of his intentions Keogh boarded the Karlsefin.

Ten days later, shivering, with the collar of his thin coat turned high, he burst into the studio of Carolus White at the top of a tall building in Tenth Street, New York City.

Carolus White was smoking a cigarette and frying sausages over an oil stove. He was only twenty-three, and had noble theories about art.

“Billy Keogh!” exclaimed White, extending the hand that was not busy with the frying pan. “From what part of the uncivilized world, I wonder!”

“Hello, Carry,” said Keogh, dragging forward a stool, and holding his fingers close to the stove. “I’m glad I found you so soon. I’ve been looking for you all day in the directories and art galleries. The free-lunch man on the corner told me where you were, quick. I was sure you’d be painting pictures yet.”

Keogh glanced about the studio with the shrewd eye of a connoisseur in business.

“Yes, you can do it,” he declared, with many gentle nods of his head. “That big one in the corner with the angels and green clouds and bandwagon is just the sort of thing we want. What would you call that, Carry⁠—scene from Coney Island, ain’t it?”

“That,” said White, “I had intended to call ‘The Translation of Elijah,’ but you may be nearer right than I am.”

“Name doesn’t matter,” said Keogh, largely; “it’s the frame and the varieties of paint that does the trick. Now, I can tell you in a minute what I want. I’ve come on a little voyage of two thousand miles to take you in with me on a scheme. I thought of you as soon as the scheme showed itself to me. How would you like to go back with me and paint a picture? Ninety days for the trip, and five thousand dollars for the job.”

“Cereal food or hair-tonic posters?” asked White.

“It isn’t an ad.”

“What kind of a picture is it to be?”

“It’s a long story,” said Keogh.

“Go ahead with it. If you don’t mind, while you talk I’ll just keep my eye on these sausages. Let ’em get one shade deeper than a Vandyke brown and you spoil ’em.”

Keogh explained his project. They were to return to Coralio, where White was to pose as a distinguished American portrait painter who was touring in the tropics as a relaxation from his arduous and remunerative professional labours. It was not an unreasonable hope, even to those who had trod in the beaten paths of business, that an artist with so much prestige might secure a commission to perpetuate upon canvas the lineaments of the president, and secure a share of the pesos that were raining upon the caterers to his weaknesses.

Keogh had set his price at ten thousand dollars. Artists had been paid more for portraits. He and White were to share the expenses of the trip, and divide the possible profits. Thus he laid the scheme before White, whom he had known in the West before one declared for Art and the other became a Bedouin.

Before long the two machinators abandoned the rigour of the bare studio for a snug corner of a café. There they sat far into the night, with old envelopes and Keogh’s stub of blue pencil between them.

At twelve o’clock White doubled up in his chair, with his chin on his fist, and shut his eyes at the unbeautiful wallpaper.

“I’ll go you, Billy,” he said, in the quiet tones of decision. “I’ve got two or three hundred saved up for sausages and rent; and I’ll take the chance with you. Five thousand! It will give me two years in Paris and one in Italy. I’ll begin to pack tomorrow.”

“You’ll begin in ten minutes,” said Keogh. “It’s tomorrow now. The Karlsefin starts back at four p.m. Come on to your painting shop, and I’ll help you.”

For five months in the year Coralio is the Newport of Anchuria. Then only does the town possess life. From November to March it is practically the seat of government. The president with his official family sojourns there; and society follows him. The pleasure-loving people make the season one long holiday of amusement and rejoicing. Fiestas, balls, games, sea bathing, processions and small theatres contribute to their enjoyment. The famous Swiss band from the capital plays in the little plaza every evening, while the fourteen carriages and vehicles in the town circle in funereal but complacent procession. Indians from the interior mountains, looking like prehistoric stone idols, come down to peddle their handiwork in the streets. The people throng the narrow ways, a chattering, happy, careless stream of buoyant humanity. Preposterous children rigged out with the shortest of ballet skirts and gilt wings, howl, underfoot, among the effervescent crowds. Especially is the arrival of the presidential party, at the opening of the season, attended with pomp, show and patriotic demonstrations of enthusiasm and delight.

When Keogh and White reached their destination, on the return trip of the Karlsefin, the gay winter season was well begun. As they stepped upon the beach they could hear the band playing in the plaza. The village maidens, with fireflies already fixed in their dark locks, were gliding, barefoot and coy-eyed, along the paths. Dandies in white linen, swinging their canes, were beginning their seductive strolls. The air was full of human essence, of artificial enticement, of coquetry, indolence, pleasure⁠—the man-made sense of existence.

The first two or three days after their arrival were spent in preliminaries. Keogh escorted the artist about town, introducing him to the little circle of English-speaking residents and pulling whatever wires he could to effect the spreading of White’s fame as a painter. And then Keogh planned a more spectacular demonstration of the idea he wished to keep before the public.

He and White engaged rooms in the Hotel de los Estranjeros. The two were clad in new suits of immaculate duck, with American straw hats, and carried canes of remarkable uniqueness and inutility. Few caballeros in Coralio⁠—even the gorgeously uniformed officers of the Anchurian army⁠—were as conspicuous for ease and elegance of demeanour as Keogh and his friend, the great American painter, Señor White.

White set up his easel on the beach and made striking sketches of the mountain and sea views. The native population formed at his rear in a vast, chattering semicircle to watch his work. Keogh, with his care for details, had arranged for himself a pose which he carried out with fidelity. His role was that of friend to the great artist, a man of affairs and leisure. The visible emblem of his position was a pocket camera.

“For branding the man who owns it,” said he, “a genteel dilettante with a bank account and an easy conscience, a steam-yacht ain’t in it with a camera. You see a man doing nothing but loafing around making snapshots, and you know right away he reads up well in ‘Bradstreet.’ You notice these old millionaire boys⁠—soon as they get through taking everything else in sight they go to taking photographs. People are more impressed by a kodak than they are by a title or a four-carat scarf-pin.” So Keogh strolled blandly about Coralio, snapping the scenery and the shrinking señoritas, while White posed conspicuously in the higher regions of art.

Two weeks after their arrival, the scheme began to bear fruit. An aide-de-camp of the president drove to the hotel in a dashing victoria. The president desired that Señor White come to the Casa Morena for an informal interview.

Keogh gripped his pipe tightly between his teeth. “Not a cent less than ten thousand,” he said to the artist⁠—“remember the price. And in gold or its equivalent⁠—don’t let him stick you with this bargain-counter stuff they call money here.”

“Perhaps it isn’t that he wants,” said White.

“Get out!” said Keogh, with splendid confidence. “I know what he wants. He wants his picture painted by the celebrated young American painter and filibuster now sojourning in his downtrodden country. Off you go.”

The victoria sped away with the artist. Keogh walked up and down, puffing great clouds of smoke from his pipe, and waited. In an hour the victoria swept again to the door of the hotel, deposited White, and vanished. The artist dashed up the stairs, three at a step. Keogh stopped smoking, and became a silent interrogation point.

“Landed,” exclaimed White, with his boyish face flushed with elation. “Billy, you are a wonder. He wants a picture. I’ll tell you all about it. By Heavens! that dictator chap is a corker! He’s a dictator clear down to his finger-ends. He’s a kind of combination of Julius Caesar, Lucifer and Chauncey Depew done in sepia. Polite and grim⁠—that’s his way. The room I saw him in was about ten acres big, and looked like a Mississippi steamboat with its gilding and mirrors and white paint. He talks English better than I can ever hope to. The matter of the price came up. I mentioned ten thousand. I expected him to call the guard and have me taken out and shot. He didn’t move an eyelash. He just waved one of his chestnut hands in a careless way, and said, ‘Whatever you say.’ I am to go back tomorrow and discuss with him the details of the picture.”

Keogh hung his head. Self-abasement was easy to read in his downcast countenance.

“I’m failing, Carry,” he said, sorrowfully. “I’m not fit to handle these man’s-size schemes any longer. Peddling oranges in a pushcart is about the suitable graft for me. When I said ten thousand, I swear I thought I had sized up that brown man’s limit to within two cents. He’d have melted down for fifteen thousand just as easy. Say⁠—Carry⁠—you’ll see old man Keogh safe in some nice, quiet idiot asylum, won’t you, if he makes a break like that again?”

The Casa Morena, although only one story in height, was a building of brown stone, luxurious as a palace in its interior. It stood on a low hill in a walled garden of splendid tropical flora at the upper edge of Coralio. The next day the president’s carriage came again for the artist. Keogh went out for a walk along the beach, where he and his “picture box” were now familiar sights. When he returned to the hotel White was sitting in a steamer-chair on the balcony.

“Well,” said Keogh, “did you and His Nibs decide on the kind of a chromo he wants?”

White got up and walked back and forth on the balcony a few times. Then he stopped, and laughed strangely. His face was flushed, and his eyes were bright with a kind of angry amusement.

“Look here, Billy,” he said, somewhat roughly, “when you first came to me in my studio and mentioned a picture, I thought you wanted a Smashed Oats or a Hair Tonic poster painted on a range of mountains or the side of a continent. Well, either of those jobs would have been Art in its highest form compared to the one you’ve steered me against. I can’t paint that picture, Billy. You’ve got to let me out. Let me try to tell you what that barbarian wants. He had it all planned out and even a sketch made of his idea. The old boy doesn’t draw badly at all. But, ye goddesses of Art! listen to the monstrosity he expects me to paint. He wants himself in the centre of the canvas, of course. He is to be painted as Jupiter sitting on Olympus, with the clouds at his feet. At one side of him stands George Washington, in full regimentals, with his hand on the president’s shoulder. An angel with outstretched wings hovers overhead, and is placing a laurel wreath on the president’s head, crowning him⁠—Queen of the May, I suppose. In the background is to be cannon, more angels and soldiers. The man who would paint that picture would have to have the soul of a dog, and would deserve to go down into oblivion without even a tin can tied to his tail to sound his memory.”

Little beads of moisture crept out all over Billy Keogh’s brow. The stub of his blue pencil had not figured out a contingency like this. The machinery of his plan had run with flattering smoothness until now. He dragged another chair upon the balcony, and got White back to his seat. He lit his pipe with apparent calm.

“Now, sonny,” he said, with gentle grimness, “you and me will have an Art to Art talk. You’ve got your art and I’ve got mine. Yours is the real Pierian stuff that turns up its nose at bock-beer signs and oleographs of the Old Mill. Mine’s the art of Business. This was my scheme, and it worked out like two-and-two. Paint that president man as Old King Cole, or Venus, or a landscape, or a fresco, or a bunch of lilies, or anything he thinks he looks like. But get the paint on the canvas and collect the spoils. You wouldn’t throw me down, Carry, at this stage of the game. Think of that ten thousand.”

“I can’t help thinking of it,” said White, “and that’s what hurts. I’m tempted to throw every ideal I ever had down in the mire, and steep my soul in infamy by painting that picture. That five thousand meant three years of foreign study to me, and I’d almost sell my soul for that.”

“Now it ain’t as bad as that,” said Keogh, soothingly. “It’s a business proposition. It’s so much paint and time against money. I don’t fall in with your idea that that picture would so everlastingly jolt the art side of the question. George Washington was all right, you know, and nobody could say a word against the angel. I don’t think so bad of that group. If you was to give Jupiter a pair of epaulets and a sword, and kind of work the clouds around to look like a blackberry patch, it wouldn’t make such a bad battle scene. Why, if we hadn’t already settled on the price, he ought to pay an extra thousand for Washington, and the angel ought to raise it five hundred.”

“You don’t understand, Billy,” said White, with an uneasy laugh. “Some of us fellows who try to paint have big notions about Art. I wanted to paint a picture some day that people would stand before and forget that it was made of paint. I wanted it to creep into them like a bar of music and mushroom there like a soft bullet. And I wanted ’em to go away and ask, ‘What else has he done?’ And I didn’t want ’em to find a thing; not a portrait nor a magazine cover nor an illustration nor a drawing of a girl⁠—nothing but the picture. That’s why I’ve lived on fried sausages, and tried to keep true to myself. I persuaded myself to do this portrait for the chance it might give me to study abroad. But this howling, screaming caricature! Good Lord! can’t you see how it is?”

“Sure,” said Keogh, as tenderly as he would have spoken to a child, and he laid a long forefinger on White’s knee. “I see. It’s bad to have your art all slugged up like that. I know. You wanted to paint a big thing like the panorama of the battle of Gettysburg. But let me kalsomine you a little mental sketch to consider. Up to date we’re out $385.50 on this scheme. Our capital took every cent both of us could raise. We’ve got about enough left to get back to New York on. I need my share of that ten thousand. I want to work a copper deal in Idaho, and make a hundred thousand. That’s the business end of the thing. Come down off your art perch, Carry, and let’s land that hatful of dollars.”

“Billy,” said White, with an effort, “I’ll try. I won’t say I’ll do it, but I’ll try. I’ll go at it, and put it through if I can.”

“That’s business,” said Keogh heartily. “Good boy! Now, here’s another thing⁠—rush that picture⁠—crowd it through as quick as you can. Get a couple of boys to help you mix the paint if necessary. I’ve picked up some pointers around town. The people here are beginning to get sick of Mr. President. They say he’s been too free with concessions; and they accuse him of trying to make a dicker with England to sell out the country. We want that picture done and paid for before there’s any row.”

In the great patio of Casa Morena, the president caused to be stretched a huge canvas. Under this White set up his temporary studio. For two hours each day the great man sat to him.

White worked faithfully. But, as the work progressed, he had seasons of bitter scorn, of infinite self-contempt, of sullen gloom and sardonic gaiety. Keogh, with the patience of a great general, soothed, coaxed, argued⁠—kept him at the picture.

At the end of a month White announced that the picture was completed⁠—Jupiter, Washington, angels, clouds, cannon and all. His face was pale and his mouth drawn straight when he told Keogh. He said the president was much pleased with it. It was to be hung in the National Gallery of Statesmen and Heroes. The artist had been requested to return to Casa Morena on the following day to receive payment. At the appointed time he left the hotel, silent under his friend’s joyful talk of their success.

An hour later he walked into the room where Keogh was waiting, threw his hat on the floor, and sat upon the table.

“Billy,” he said, in strained and labouring tones, “I’ve a little money out West in a small business that my brother is running. It’s what I’ve been living on while I’ve been studying art. I’ll draw out my share and pay you back what you’ve lost on this scheme.”

“Lost!” exclaimed Keogh, jumping up. “Didn’t you get paid for the picture?”

“Yes, I got paid,” said White. “But just now there isn’t any picture, and there isn’t any pay. If you care to hear about it, here are the edifying details. The president and I were looking at the painting. His secretary brought a bank draft on New York for ten thousand dollars and handed it to me. The moment I touched it I went wild. I tore it into little pieces and threw them on the floor. A workman was repainting the pillars inside the patio. A bucket of his paint happened to be convenient. I picked up his brush and slapped a quart of blue paint all over that ten-thousand-dollar nightmare. I bowed, and walked out. The president didn’t move or speak. That was one time he was taken by surprise. It’s tough on you, Billy, but I couldn’t help it.”

There seemed to be excitement in Coralio. Outside there was a confused, rising murmur pierced by high-pitched cries. “Bajo el traidor⁠—Muerte el traidor!” were the words they seemed to form.

“Listen to that!” exclaimed White, bitterly: “I know that much Spanish. They’re shouting, ‘Down with the traitor!’ I heard them before. I felt that they meant me. I was a traitor to Art. The picture had to go.”

“ ‘Down with the blank fool’ would have suited your case better,” said Keogh, with fiery emphasis. “You tear up ten thousand dollars like an old rag because the way you’ve spread on five dollars’ worth of paint hurts your conscience. Next time I pick a side-partner in a scheme the man has got to go before a notary and swear he never even heard the word ‘ideal’ mentioned.”

Keogh strode from the room, white-hot. White paid little attention to his resentment. The scorn of Billy Keogh seemed a trifling thing beside the greater self-scorn he had escaped.

In Coralio the excitement waxed. An outburst was imminent. The cause of this demonstration of displeasure was the presence in the town of a big, pink-cheeked Englishman, who, it was said, was an agent of his government come to clinch the bargain by which the president placed his people in the hands of a foreign power. It was charged that not only had he given away priceless concessions, but that the public debt was to be transferred into the hands of the English, and the customhouses turned over to them as a guarantee. The long-enduring people had determined to make their protest felt.

On that night, in Coralio and in other towns, their ire found vent. Yelling mobs, mercurial but dangerous, roamed the streets. They overthrew the great bronze statue of the president that stood in the centre of the plaza, and hacked it to shapeless pieces. They tore from public buildings the tablets set there proclaiming the glory of the “Illustrious Liberator.” His pictures in the government offices were demolished. The mobs even attacked the Casa Morena, but were driven away by the military, which remained faithful to the executive. All the night terror reigned.

The greatness of Losada was shown by the fact that by noon the next day order was restored, and he was still absolute. He issued proclamations denying positively that any negotiations of any kind had been entered into with England. Sir Stafford Vaughn, the pink-cheeked Englishman, also declared in placards and in public print that his presence there had no international significance. He was a traveller without guile. In fact (so he stated), he had not even spoken with the president or been in his presence since his arrival.

During this disturbance, White was preparing for his homeward voyage in the steamship that was to sail within two or three days. About noon, Keogh, the restless, took his camera out with the hope of speeding the lagging hours. The town was now as quiet as if peace had never departed from her perch on the red-tiled roofs.

About the middle of the afternoon, Keogh hurried back to the hotel with something decidedly special in his air. He retired to the little room where he developed his pictures.

Later on he came out to White on the balcony, with a luminous, grim, predatory smile on his face.

“Do you know what that is?” he asked, holding up a 4 × 5 photograph mounted on cardboard.

“Snapshot of a señorita sitting in the sand⁠—alliteration unintentional,” guessed White, lazily.

“Wrong,” said Keogh with shining eyes. “It’s a slung-shot. It’s a can of dynamite. It’s a gold mine. It’s a sight-draft on your president man for twenty thousand dollars⁠—yes, sir⁠—twenty thousand this time, and no spoiling the picture. No ethics of art in the way. Art! You with your smelly little tubes! I’ve got you skinned to death with a kodak. Take a look at that.”

White took the picture in his hand, and gave a long whistle.

“Jove!” he exclaimed, “but wouldn’t that stir up a row in town if you let it be seen. How in the world did you get it, Billy?”

“You know that high wall around the president man’s back garden? I was up there trying to get a bird’s-eye of the town. I happened to notice a chink in the wall where a stone and a lot of plaster had slid out. Thinks I, I’ll take a peep through to see how Mr. President’s cabbages are growing. The first thing I saw was him and this Sir Englishman sitting at a little table about twenty feet away. They had the table all spread over with documents, and they were hobnobbing over them as thick as two pirates. ’Twas a nice corner of the garden, all private and shady with palms and orange trees, and they had a pail of champagne set by handy in the grass. I knew then was the time for me to make my big hit in Art. So I raised the machine up to the crack, and pressed the button. Just as I did so them old boys shook hands on the deal⁠—you see they took that way in the picture.”

Keogh put on his coat and hat.

“What are you going to do with it?” asked White.

“Me,” said Keogh in a hurt tone, “why, I’m going to tie a pink ribbon to it and hang it on the whatnot, of course. I’m surprised at you. But while I’m out you just try to figure out what ginger-cake potentate would be most likely to want to buy this work of art for his private collection⁠—just to keep it out of circulation.”

The sunset was reddening the tops of the coconut palms when Billy Keogh came back from Casa Morena. He nodded to the artist’s questioning gaze; and lay down on a cot with his hands under the back of his head.

“I saw him. He paid the money like a little man. They didn’t want to let me in at first. I told ’em it was important. Yes, that president man is on the plenty-able list. He’s got a beautiful business system about the way he uses his brains. All I had to do was to hold up the photograph so he could see it, and name the price. He just smiled, and walked over to a safe and got the cash. Twenty one-thousand-dollar brand-new United States Treasury notes he laid on the table, like I’d pay out a dollar and a quarter. Fine notes, too⁠—they crackled with a sound like burning the brush off a ten-acre lot.”

“Let’s try the feel of one,” said White, curiously. “I never saw a thousand-dollar bill.” Keogh did not immediately respond.

“Carry,” he said, in an absentminded way, “you think a heap of your art, don’t you?”

“More,” said White, frankly, “than has been for the financial good of myself and my friends.”

“I thought you were a fool the other day,” went on Keogh, quietly, “and I’m not sure now that you wasn’t. But if you was, so am I. I’ve been in some funny deals, Carry, but I’ve always managed to scramble fair, and match my brains and capital against the other fellow’s. But when it comes to⁠—well, when you’ve got the other fellow cinched, and the screws on him, and he’s got to put up⁠—why, it don’t strike me as being a man’s game. They’ve got a name for it, you know; it’s⁠—confound you, don’t you understand? A fellow feels⁠—it’s something like that blamed art of yours⁠—he⁠—well, I tore that photograph up and laid the pieces on that stack of money and shoved the whole business back across the table. ‘Excuse me, Mr. Losada,’ I said, ‘but I guess I’ve made a mistake in the price. You get the photo for nothing.’ Now, Carry, you get out the pencil, and we’ll do some more figuring. I’d like to save enough out of our capital for you to have some fried sausages in your joint when you get back to New York.”

Dicky

There is little consecutiveness along the Spanish Main. Things happen there intermittently. Even Time seems to hang his scythe daily on the branch of an orange tree while he takes a siesta and a cigarette.

After the ineffectual revolt against the administration of President Losada, the country settled again into quiet toleration of the abuses with which he had been charged. In Coralio old political enemies went arm-in-arm, lightly eschewing for the time all differences of opinion.

The failure of the art expedition did not stretch the cat-footed Keogh upon his back. The ups and downs of Fortune made smooth travelling for his nimble steps. His blue pencil stub was at work again before the smoke of the steamer on which White sailed had cleared away from the horizon. He had but to speak a word to Geddie to find his credit negotiable for whatever goods he wanted from the store of Brannigan & Company. On the same day on which White arrived in New York Keogh, at the rear of a train of five pack mules loaded with hardware and cutlery, set his face toward the grim, interior mountains. There the Indian tribes wash gold dust from the auriferous streams; and when a market is brought to them trading is brisk and muy bueno in the Cordilleras.

In Coralio Time folded his wings and paced wearily along his drowsy path. They who had most cheered the torpid hours were gone. Clancy had sailed on a Spanish barque for Colon, contemplating a cut across the isthmus and then a further voyage to end at Calao, where the fighting was said to be on. Geddie, whose quiet and genial nature had once served to mitigate the frequent dull reaction of lotus eating, was now a home-man, happy with his bright orchid, Paula, and never even dreaming of or regretting the unsolved, sealed and monogramed Bottle whose contents, now inconsiderable, were held safely in the keeping of the sea.

Well may the Walrus, most discerning and eclectic of beasts, place sealing-wax midway on his programme of topics that fall pertinent and diverting upon the ear.

Atwood was gone⁠—he of the hospitable back porch and ingenuous cunning. Dr. Gregg, with his trepanning story smouldering within him, was a whiskered volcano, always showing signs of imminent eruption, and was not to be considered in the ranks of those who might contribute to the amelioration of ennui. The new consul’s note chimed with the sad sea waves and the violent tropical greens⁠—he had not a bar of Scheherezade or of the Round Table in his lute. Goodwin was employed with large projects: what time he was loosed from them found him at his home, where he loved to be. Therefore it will be seen that there was a dearth of fellowship and entertainment among the foreign contingent of Coralio.

And then Dicky Maloney dropped down from the clouds upon the town, and amused it.

Nobody knew where Dicky Maloney hailed from or how he reached Coralio. He appeared there one day; and that was all. He afterward said that he came on the fruit steamer Thor; but an inspection of the Thor’s passenger list of that date was found to be Maloneyless. Curiosity, however, soon perished; and Dicky took his place among the odd fish cast up by the Caribbean.

He was an active, devil-may-care, rollicking fellow with an engaging gray eye, the most irresistible grin, a rather dark or much sunburned complexion, and a head of the fieriest red hair ever seen in that country. Speaking the Spanish language as well as he spoke English, and seeming always to have plenty of silver in his pockets, it was not long before he was a welcome companion whithersoever he went. He had an extreme fondness for vino blanco, and gained the reputation of being able to drink more of it than any three men in town. Everybody called him “Dicky”; everybody cheered up at the sight of him⁠—especially the natives, to whom his marvellous red hair and his free-and-easy style were a constant delight and envy. Wherever you went in the town you would soon see Dicky or hear his genial laugh, and find around him a group of admirers who appreciated him both for his good nature and the white wine he was always so ready to buy.

A considerable amount of speculation was had concerning the object of his sojourn there, until one day he silenced this by opening a small shop for the sale of tobacco, dulces and the handiwork of the interior Indians⁠—fibre-and-silk-woven goods, deerskin zapatos and basketwork of tule reeds. Even then he did not change his habits; for he was drinking and playing cards half the day and night with the comandante, the collector of customs, the Jefe Politico and other gay dogs among the native officials.

One day Dicky saw Pasa, the daughter of Madama Ortiz, sitting in the side-door of the Hotel de los Estranjeros. He stopped in his tracks, still, for the first time in Coralio; and then he sped, swift as a deer, to find Vasquez, a gilded native youth, to present him.

The young men had named Pasa “La Santita Naranjadita.” Naranjadita is a Spanish word for a certain colour that you must go to more trouble to describe in English. By saying “The little saint, tinted the most beautiful-delicate-slightly-orange-golden,” you will approximate the description of Madama Ortiz’s daughter.

La Madama Ortiz sold rum in addition to other liquors. Now, you must know that the rum expiates whatever opprobrium attends upon the other commodities. For rum-making, mind you, is a government monopoly; and to keep a government dispensary assures respectability if not preeminence. Moreover, the saddest of precisians could find no fault with the conduct of the shop. Customers drank there in the lowest of spirits and fearsomely, as in the shadow of the dead; for Madama’s ancient and vaunted lineage counteracted even the rum’s behest to be merry. For, was she not of the Iglesias, who landed with Pizarro? And had not her deceased husband been comisionado de caminos y puentes for the district?

In the evenings Pasa sat by the window in the room next to the one where they drank, and strummed dreamily upon her guitar. And then, by twos and threes, would come visiting young caballeros and occupy the prim line of chairs set against the wall of this room. They were there to besiege the heart of “La Santita.” Their method (which is not proof against intelligent competition) consisted of expanding the chest, looking valorous, and consuming a gross or two of cigarettes. Even saints delicately oranged prefer to be wooed differently.

Doña Pasa would tide over the vast chasms of nicotinized silence with music from her guitar, while she wondered if the romances she had read about gallant and more⁠—more contiguous cavaliers were all lies. At somewhat regular intervals Madama would glide in from the dispensary with a sort of drought-suggesting gleam in her eye, and there would be a rustling of stiffly-starched white trousers as one of the caballeros would propose an adjournment to the bar.

That Dicky Maloney would, sooner or later, explore this field was a thing to be foreseen. There were few doors in Coralio into which his red head had not been poked.

In an incredibly short space of time after his first sight of her he was there, seated close beside her rocking chair. There were no back-against-the-wall poses in Dicky’s theory of wooing. His plan of subjection was an attack at close range. To carry the fortress with one concentrated, ardent, eloquent, irresistible escalade⁠—that was Dicky’s way.

Pasa was descended from the proudest Spanish families in the country. Moreover, she had had unusual advantages. Two years in a New Orleans school had elevated her ambitions and fitted her for a fate above the ordinary maidens of her native land. And yet here she succumbed to the first red-haired scamp with a glib tongue and a charming smile that came along and courted her properly.

Very soon Dicky took her to the little church on the corner of the plaza, and “Mrs. Maloney” was added to her string of distinguished names.

And it was her fate to sit, with her patient, saintly eyes and figure like a bisque Psyche, behind the sequestered counter of the little shop, while Dicky drank and philandered with his frivolous acquaintances.

The women, with their naturally fine instinct, saw a chance for vivisection, and delicately taunted her with his habits. She turned upon them in a beautiful, steady blaze of sorrowful contempt.

“You meat-cows,” she said, in her level, crystal-clear tones; “you know nothing of a man. Your men are maromeros. They are fit only to roll cigarettes in the shade until the sun strikes and shrivels them up. They drone in your hammocks and you comb their hair and feed them with fresh fruit. My man is of no such blood. Let him drink of the wine. When he has taken sufficient of it to drown one of your flaccitos he will come home to me more of a man than one thousand of your pobrecitos. My hair he smooths and braids; to me he sings; he himself removes my zapatos, and there, there, upon each instep leaves a kiss. He holds⁠—Oh, you will never understand! Blind ones who have never known a man.”

Sometimes mysterious things happened at night about Dicky’s shop. While the front of it was dark, in the little room back of it Dicky and a few of his friends would sit about a table carrying on some kind of very quiet negocios until quite late. Finally he would let them out the front door very carefully, and go upstairs to his little saint. These visitors were generally conspirator-like men with dark clothes and hats. Of course, these dark doings were noticed after a while, and talked about.

Dicky seemed to care nothing at all for the society of the alien residents of the town. He avoided Goodwin, and his skilful escape from the trepanning story of Dr. Gregg is still referred to, in Coralio, as a masterpiece of lightning diplomacy.

Many letters arrived, addressed to “Mr. Dicky Maloney,” or “Señor Dickee Maloney,” to the considerable pride of Pasa. That so many people should desire to write to him only confirmed her own suspicion that the light from his red head shone around the world. As to their contents she never felt curiosity. There was a wife for you!

The one mistake Dicky made in Coralio was to run out of money at the wrong time. Where his money came from was a puzzle, for the sales of his shop were next to nothing, but that source failed, and at a peculiarly unfortunate time. It was when the comandante, Don Señor el Coronel Encarnacion Rios, looked upon the little saint seated in the shop and felt his heart go pitapat.

The comandante, who was versed in all the intricate arts of gallantry, first delicately hinted at his sentiments by donning his dress uniform and strutting up and down fiercely before her window. Pasa, glancing demurely with her saintly eyes, instantly perceived his resemblance to her parrot, Chichi, and was diverted to the extent of a smile. The comandante saw the smile, which was not intended for him. Convinced of an impression made, he entered the shop, confidently, and advanced to open compliment. Pasa froze; he pranced; she flamed royally; he was charmed to injudicious persistence; she commanded him to leave the shop; he tried to capture her hand⁠—and Dicky entered, smiling broadly, full of white wine and the devil.

He spent five minutes in punishing the comandante scientifically and carefully, so that the pain might be prolonged as far as possible. At the end of that time he pitched the rash wooer out the door upon the stones of the street, senseless.

A barefooted policeman who had been watching the affair from across the street blew a whistle. A squad of four soldiers came running from the cuartel around the corner. When they saw that the offender was Dicky, they stopped, and blew more whistles, which brought out reenforcements of eight. Deeming the odds against them sufficiently reduced, the military advanced upon the disturber.

Dicky, being thoroughly imbued with the martial spirit, stooped and drew the comandante sword, which was girded about him, and charged his foe. He chased the standing army four squares, playfully prodding its squealing rear and hacking at its ginger-coloured heels.

But he was not so successful with the civic authorities. Six muscular, nimble policemen overpowered him and conveyed him, triumphantly but warily, to jail. “El Diablo Colorado” they dubbed him, and derided the military for its defeat.

Dicky, with the rest of the prisoners, could look out through the barred door at the grass of the little plaza, at a row of orange trees and the red tile roofs and ’dobe walls of a line of insignificant stores.

At sunset along a path across this plaza came a melancholy procession of sad-faced women bearing plantains, cassaba, bread and fruit⁠—each coming with food to some wretch behind those bars to whom she still clung and furnished the means of life. Twice a day⁠—morning and evening⁠—they were permitted to come. Water was furnished to her compulsory guests by the republic, but no food.

That evening Dicky’s name was called by the sentry, and he stepped before the bars of the door. There stood his little saint, a black mantilla draped about her head and shoulders, her face like glorified melancholy, her clear eyes gazing longingly at him as if they might draw him between the bars to her. She brought a chicken, some oranges, dulces and a loaf of white bread. A soldier inspected the food, and passed it in to Dicky. Pasa spoke calmly, as she always did, briefly, in her thrilling, flute-like tones. “Angel of my life,” she said, “let it not be long that thou art away from me. Thou knowest that life is not a thing to be endured with thou not at my side. Tell me if I can do aught in this matter. If not, I will wait⁠—a little while. I come again in the morning.”

Dicky, with his shoes removed so as not to disturb his fellow prisoners, tramped the floor of the jail half the night condemning his lack of money and the cause of it⁠—whatever that might have been. He knew very well that money would have bought his release at once.

For two days succeeding Pasa came at the appointed times and brought him food. He eagerly inquired each time if a letter or package had come for him, and she mournfully shook her head.

On the morning of the third day she brought only a small loaf of bread. There were dark circles under her eyes. She seemed as calm as ever.

“By jingo,” said Dicky, who seemed to speak in English or Spanish as the whim seized him, “this is dry provender, muchachita. Is this the best you can dig up for a fellow?”

Pasa looked at him as a mother looks at a beloved but capricious babe.

“Think better of it,” she said, in a low voice; “since for the next meal there will be nothing. The last centavo is spent.” She pressed closer against the grating.

“Sell the goods in the shop⁠—take anything for them.”

“Have I not tried? Did I not offer them for one-tenth their cost? Not even one peso would anyone give. There is not one real in this town to assist Dickee Malonee.”

Dick clenched his teeth grimly. “That’s the comandante,” he growled. “He’s responsible for that sentiment. Wait, oh, wait till the cards are all out.”

Pasa lowered her voice to almost a whisper. “And, listen, heart of my heart,” she said, “I have endeavoured to be brave, but I cannot live without thee. Three days now⁠—”

Dicky caught a faint gleam of steel from the folds of her mantilla. For once she looked in his face and saw it without a smile, stern, menacing and purposeful. Then he suddenly raised his hand and his smile came back like a gleam of sunshine. The hoarse signal of an incoming steamer’s siren sounded in the harbour. Dicky called to the sentry who was pacing before the door: “What steamer comes?”

“The Catarina.”

“Of the Vesuvius line?”

“Without doubt, of that line.”

“Go you, picarilla,” said Dicky joyously to Pasa, “to the American consul. Tell him I wish to speak with him. See that he comes at once. And look you! let me see a different look in those eyes, for I promise your head shall rest upon this arm tonight.”

It was an hour before the consul came. He held his green umbrella under his arm, and mopped his forehead impatiently.

“Now, see here, Maloney,” he began, captiously, “you fellows seem to think you can cut up any kind of row, and expect me to pull you out of it. I’m neither the War Department nor a gold mine. This country has its laws, you know, and there’s one against pounding the senses out of the regular army. You Irish are forever getting into trouble. I don’t see what I can do. Anything like tobacco, now, to make you comfortable⁠—or newspapers⁠—”

“Son of Eli,” interrupted Dicky, gravely, “you haven’t changed an iota. That is almost a duplicate of the speech you made when old Koen’s donkeys and geese got into the chapel loft, and the culprits wanted to hide in your room.”

“Oh, heavens!” exclaimed the consul, hurriedly adjusting his spectacles. “Are you a Yale man, too? Were you in that crowd? I don’t seem to remember anyone with red⁠—anyone named Maloney. Such a lot of college men seem to have misused their advantages. One of the best mathematicians of the class of ’91 is selling lottery tickets in Belize. A Cornell man dropped off here last month. He was second steward on a guano boat. I’ll write to the department if you like, Maloney. Or if there’s any tobacco, or newspa⁠—”

“There’s nothing,” interrupted Dicky, shortly, “but this. You go tell the captain of the Catarina that Dicky Maloney wants to see him as soon as he can conveniently come. Tell him where I am. Hurry. That’s all.”

The consul, glad to be let off so easily, hurried away. The captain of the Catarina, a stout man, Sicilian born, soon appeared, shoving, with little ceremony, through the guards to the jail door. The Vesuvius Fruit Company had a habit of doing things that way in Anchuria.

“I am exceedingly sorry⁠—exceedingly sorry,” said the captain, “to see this occur. I place myself at your service, Mr. Maloney. What you need shall be furnished. Whatever you say shall be done.”

Dicky looked at him unsmilingly. His red hair could not detract from his attitude of severe dignity as he stood, tall and calm, with his now grim mouth forming a horizontal line.

“Captain De Lucco, I believe I still have funds in the hands of your company⁠—ample and personal funds. I ordered a remittance last week. The money has not arrived. You know what is needed in this game. Money and money and more money. Why has it not been sent?”

“By the Cristobal,” replied De Lucco, gesticulating, “it was despatched. Where is the Cristobal? Off Cape Antonio I spoke her with a broken shaft. A tramp coaster was towing her back to New Orleans. I brought money ashore thinking your need for it might not withstand delay. In this envelope is one thousand dollars. There is more if you need it, Mr. Maloney.”

“For the present it will suffice,” said Dicky, softening as he crinkled the envelope and looked down at the half-inch thickness of smooth, dingy bills.

“The long green!” he said, gently, with a new reverence in his gaze. “Is there anything it will not buy, Captain?”

“I had three friends,” replied De Lucco, who was a bit of a philosopher, “who had money. One of them speculated in stocks and made ten million; another is in heaven, and the third married a poor girl whom he loved.”

“The answer, then,” said Dicky, “is held by the Almighty, Wall Street and Cupid. So, the question remains.”

“This,” queried the captain, including Dicky’s surroundings in a significant gesture of his hand, “is it⁠—it is not⁠—it is not connected with the business of your little shop? There is no failure in your plans?”

“No, no,” said Dicky. “This is merely the result of a little private affair of mine, a digression from the regular line of business. They say for a complete life a man must know poverty, love and war. But they don’t go well together, capitán mio. No; there is no failure in my business. The little shop is doing very well.”

When the captain had departed Dicky called the sergeant of the jail squad and asked:

“Am I preso by the military or by the civil authority?”

“Surely there is no martial law in effect now, señor.”

Bueno. Now go or send to the alcalde, the Jues de la Paz and the Jefe de los Policios. Tell them I am prepared at once to satisfy the demands of justice.” A folded bill of the “long green” slid into the sergeant’s hand.

Then Dicky’s smile came back again, for he knew that the hours of his captivity were numbered; and he hummed, in time with the sentry’s tread:

“They’re hanging men and women now,
For lacking of the green.”

So, that night Dicky sat by the window of the room over his shop and his little saint sat close by, working at something silken and dainty. Dicky was thoughtful and grave. His red hair was in an unusual state of disorder. Pasa’s fingers often ached to smooth and arrange it, but Dicky would never allow it. He was poring, tonight, over a great litter of maps and books and papers on his table until that perpendicular line came between his brows that always distressed Pasa. Presently she went and brought his hat, and stood with it until he looked up, inquiringly.

“It is sad for you here,” she explained. “Go out and drink vino blanco. Come back when you get that smile you used to wear. That is what I wish to see.”

Dicky laughed and threw down his papers. “The vino blanco stage is past. It has served its turn. Perhaps, after all, there was less entered my mouth and more my ears than people thought. But, there will be no more maps or frowns tonight. I promise you that. Come.”

They sat upon a reed silleta at the window and watched the quivering gleams from the lights of the Catarina reflected in the harbour.

Presently Pasa rippled out one of her infrequent chirrups of audible laughter.

“I was thinking,” she began, anticipating Dicky’s question, “of the foolish things girls have in their minds. Because I went to school in the States I used to have ambitions. Nothing less than to be the president’s wife would satisfy me. And, look, thou red picaroon, to what obscure fate thou hast stolen me!”

“Don’t give up hope,” said Dicky, smiling. “More than one Irishman has been the ruler of a South American country. There was a dictator of Chili named O’Higgins. Why not a President Maloney, of Anchuria? Say the word, santita mia, and we’ll make the race.”

“No, no, no, thou red-haired, reckless one!” sighed Pasa; “I am content”⁠—she laid her head against his arm⁠—“here.”

Rouge Et Noir

It has been indicated that disaffection followed the elevation of Losada to the presidency. This feeling continued to grow. Throughout the entire republic there seemed to be a spirit of silent, sullen discontent. Even the old Liberal party to which Goodwin, Zavalla and other patriots had lent their aid was disappointed. Losada had failed to become a popular idol. Fresh taxes, fresh import duties and, more than all, his tolerance of the outrageous oppression of citizens by the military had rendered him the most obnoxious president since the despicable Alforan. The majority of his own cabinet were out of sympathy with him. The army, which he had courted by giving it license to tyrannize, had been his main, and thus far adequate support.

But the most impolitic of the administration’s moves had been when it antagonized the Vesuvius Fruit Company, an organization plying twelve steamers and with a cash capital somewhat larger than Anchuria’s surplus and debt combined.

Reasonably an established concern like the Vesuvius would become irritated at having a small, retail republic with no rating at all attempt to squeeze it. So when the government proxies applied for a subsidy they encountered a polite refusal. The president at once retaliated by clapping an export duty of one real per bunch on bananas⁠—a thing unprecedented in fruit-growing countries. The Vesuvius Company had invested large sums in wharves and plantations along the Anchurian coast, their agents had erected fine homes in the towns where they had their headquarters, and heretofore had worked with the republic in goodwill and with advantage to both. It would lose an immense sum if compelled to move out. The selling price of bananas from Vera Cruz to Trinidad was three reals per bunch. This new duty of one real would have ruined the fruit growers in Anchuria and have seriously discommoded the Vesuvius Company had it declined to pay it. But for some reason, the Vesuvius continued to buy Anchurian fruit, paying four reals for it; and not suffering the growers to bear the loss.

This apparent victory deceived His Excellency; and he began to hunger for more of it. He sent an emissary to request a conference with a representative of the fruit company. The Vesuvius sent Mr. Franzoni, a little, stout, cheerful man, always cool, and whistling airs from Verdi’s operas. Señor Espirition, of the office of the Minister of Finance, attempted the sandbagging in behalf of Anchuria. The meeting took place in the cabin of the Salvador, of the Vesuvius line.

Señor Espirition opened negotiations by announcing that the government contemplated the building of a railroad to skirt the alluvial coast lands. After touching upon the benefits such a road would confer upon the interests of the Vesuvius, he reached the definite suggestion that a contribution to the road’s expenses of, say, fifty thousand pesos would not be more than an equivalent to benefits received.

Mr. Franzoni denied that his company would receive any benefits from a contemplated road. As its representative he must decline to contribute fifty thousand pesos. But he would assume the responsibility of offering twenty-five.

Did Señor Espirition understand Señor Franzoni to mean twenty-five thousand pesos?

By no means. Twenty-five pesos. And in silver; not in gold.

“Your offer insults my government,” cried Señor Espirition, rising with indignation.

“Then,” said Mr. Franzoni, in warning tone, “we will change it.”

The offer was never changed. Could Mr. Franzoni have meant the government?

This was the state of affairs in Anchuria when the winter season opened at Coralio at the end of the second year of Losada’s administration. So, when the government and society made its annual exodus to the seashore it was evident that the presidential advent would not be celebrated by unlimited rejoicing. The tenth of November was the day set for the entrance into Coralio of the gay company from the capital. A narrow-gauge railroad runs twenty miles into the interior from Solitas. The government party travels by carriage from San Mateo to this road’s terminal point, and proceeds by train to Solitas. From here they march in grand procession to Coralio where, on the day of their coming, festivities and ceremonies abound. But this season saw an ominous dawning of the tenth of November.

Although the rainy season was over, the day seemed to hark back to reeking June. A fine drizzle of rain fell all during the forenoon. The procession entered Coralio amid a strange silence.

President Losada was an elderly man, grizzly bearded, with a considerable ratio of Indian blood revealed in his cinnamon complexion. His carriage headed the procession, surrounded and guarded by Captain Cruz and his famous troop of one hundred light horse “El Ciento Huilando.” Colonel Rocas followed, with a regiment of the regular army.

The president’s sharp, beady eyes glanced about him for the expected demonstration of welcome; but he faced a stolid, indifferent array of citizens. Sightseers the Anchurians are by birth and habit, and they turned out to their last able-bodied unit to witness the scene; but they maintained an accusive silence. They crowded the streets to the very wheel ruts; they covered the red tile roofs to the eaves, but there was never a “viva” from them. No wreaths of palm and lemon branches or gorgeous strings of paper roses hung from the windows and balconies as was the custom. There was an apathy, a dull, dissenting disapprobation, that was the more ominous because it puzzled. No one feared an outburst, a revolt of the discontents, for they had no leader. The president and those loyal to him had never even heard whispered a name among them capable of crystallizing the dissatisfaction into opposition. No, there could be no danger. The people always procured a new idol before they destroyed an old one.

At length, after a prodigious galloping and curvetting of red-sashed majors, gold-laced colonels and epauletted generals, the procession formed for its annual progress down the Calle Grande to the Casa Morena, where the ceremony of welcome to the visiting president always took place.

The Swiss band led the line of march. After it pranced the local comandante, mounted, and a detachment of his troops. Next came a carriage with four members of the cabinet, conspicuous among them the Minister of War, old General Pilar, with his white moustache and his soldierly bearing. Then the president’s vehicle, containing also the Ministers of Finance and State; and surrounded by Captain Cruz’s light horse formed in a close double file of fours. Following them, the rest of the officials of state, the judges and distinguished military and social ornaments of public and private life.

As the band struck up, and the movement began, like a bird of ill-omen the Valhalla, the swiftest steamship of the Vesuvius line, glided into the harbour in plain view of the president and his train. Of course, there was nothing menacing about its arrival⁠—a business firm does not go to war with a nation⁠—but it reminded Señor Espirition and others in those carriages that the Vesuvius Fruit Company was undoubtedly carrying something up its sleeve for them.

By the time the van of the procession had reached the government building, Captain Cronin, of the Valhalla, and Mr. Vincenti, member of the Vesuvius Company, had landed and were pushing their way, bluff, hearty and nonchalant, through the crowd on the narrow sidewalk. Clad in white linen, big, debonair, with an air of good-humoured authority, they made conspicuous figures among the dark mass of unimposing Anchurians, as they penetrated to within a few yards of the steps of the Casa Morena. Looking easily above the heads of the crowd, they perceived another that towered above the undersized natives. It was the fiery poll of Dicky Maloney against the wall close by the lower step; and his broad, seductive grin showed that he recognized their presence.

Dicky had attired himself becomingly for the festive occasion in a well-fitting black suit. Pasa was close by his side, her head covered with the ubiquitous black mantilla.

Mr. Vincenti looked at her attentively.

“Botticelli’s Madonna,” he remarked, gravely. “I wonder when she got into the game. I don’t like his getting tangled with the women. I hoped he would keep away from them.”

Captain Cronin’s laugh almost drew attention from the parade.

“With that head of hair! Keep away from the women! And a Maloney! Hasn’t he got a license? But, nonsense aside, what do you think of the prospects? It’s a species of filibustering out of my line.”

Vincenti glanced again at Dicky’s head and smiled.

“Rouge et noir,” he said. “There you have it. Make your play, gentlemen. Our money is on the red.”

“The lad’s game,” said Cronin, with a commending look at the tall, easy figure by the steps. “But ’tis all like fly-by-night theatricals to me. The talk’s bigger than the stage; there’s a smell of gasoline in the air, and they’re their own audience and scene-shifters.”

They ceased talking, for General Pilar had descended from the first carriage and had taken his stand upon the top step of Casa Morena. As the oldest member of the cabinet, custom had decreed that he should make the address of welcome, presenting the keys of the official residence to the president at its close.

General Pilar was one of the most distinguished citizens of the republic. Hero of three wars and innumerable revolutions, he was an honoured guest at European courts and camps. An eloquent speaker and a friend to the people, he represented the highest type of the Anchurians.

Holding in his hand the gilt keys of Casa Morena, he began his address in a historical form, touching upon each administration and the advance of civilization and prosperity from the first dim striving after liberty down to present times. Arriving at the regime of President Losada, at which point, according to precedent, he should have delivered a eulogy upon its wise conduct and the happiness of the people, General Pilar paused. Then he silently held up the bunch of keys high above his head, with his eyes closely regarding it. The ribbon with which they were bound fluttered in the breeze.

“It still blows,” cried the speaker, exultantly. “Citizens of Anchuria, give thanks to the saints this night that our air is still free.”

Thus disposing of Losada’s administration, he abruptly reverted to that of Olivarra, Anchuria’s most popular ruler. Olivarra had been assassinated nine years before while in the prime of life and usefulness. A faction of the Liberal party led by Losada himself had been accused of the deed. Whether guilty or not, it was eight years before the ambitious and scheming Losada had gained his goal.

Upon this theme General Pilar’s eloquence was loosed. He drew the picture of the beneficent Olivarra with a loving hand. He reminded the people of the peace, the security and the happiness they had enjoyed during that period. He recalled in vivid detail and with significant contrast the last winter sojourn of President Olivarra in Coralio, when his appearance at their fiestas was the signal for thundering vivas of love and approbation.

The first public expression of sentiment from the people that day followed. A low, sustained murmur went among them like the surf rolling along the shore.

“Ten dollars to a dinner at the Saint Charles,” remarked Mr. Vincenti, “that rouge wins.”

“I never bet against my own interests,” said Captain Cronin, lighting a cigar. “Long-winded old boy, for his age. What’s he talking about?”

“My Spanish,” replied Vincenti, “runs about ten words to the minute; his is something around two hundred. Whatever he’s saying, he’s getting them warmed up.”

“Friends and brothers,” General Pilar was saying, “could I reach out my hand this day across the lamentable silence of the grave to Olivarra ‘the Good,’ to the ruler who was one of you, whose tears fell when you sorrowed, and whose smile followed your joy⁠—I would bring him back to you, but⁠—Olivarra is dead⁠—dead at the hands of a craven assassin!”

The speaker turned and gazed boldly into the carriage of the president. His arm remained extended aloft as if to sustain his peroration. The president was listening, aghast, at this remarkable address of welcome. He was sunk back upon his seat, trembling with rage and dumb surprise, his dark hands tightly gripping the carriage cushions.

Half rising, he extended one arm toward the speaker, and shouted a harsh command at Captain Cruz. The leader of the “Flying Hundred” sat his horse, immovable, with folded arms, giving no sign of having heard. Losada sank back again, his dark features distinctly paling.

“Who says that Olivarra is dead?” suddenly cried the speaker, his voice, old as he was, sounding like a battle trumpet. “His body lies in the grave, but to the people he loved he has bequeathed his spirit⁠—yes, more⁠—his learning, his courage, his kindness⁠—yes, more⁠—his youth, his image⁠—people of Anchuria, have you forgotten Ramon, the son of Olivarra?”

Cronin and Vincenti, watching closely, saw Dicky Maloney suddenly raise his hat, tear off his shock of red hair, leap up the steps and stand at the side of General Pilar. The Minister of War laid his arm across the young man’s shoulders. All who had known President Olivarra saw again his same lion-like pose, the same frank, undaunted expression, the same high forehead with the peculiar line of the clustering, crisp black hair.

General Pilar was an experienced orator. He seized the moment of breathless silence that preceded the storm.

“Citizens of Anchuria,” he trumpeted, holding aloft the keys to Casa Morena, “I am here to deliver these keys⁠—the keys to your homes and liberty⁠—to your chosen president. Shall I deliver them to Enrico Olivarra’s assassin, or to his son?”

“Olivarra! Olivarra!” the crowd shrieked and howled. All vociferated the magic name⁠—men, women, children and the parrots.

And the enthusiasm was not confined to the blood of the plebs. Colonel Rocas ascended the steps and laid his sword theatrically at young Ramon Olivarra’s feet. Four members of the cabinet embraced him. Captain Cruz gave a command, and twenty of El Ciento Huilando dismounted and arranged themselves in a cordon about the steps of Casa Morena.

But Ramon Olivarra seized that moment to prove himself a born genius and politician. He waved those soldiers aside, and descended the steps to the street. There, without losing his dignity or the distinguished elegance that the loss of his red hair brought him, he took the proletariat to his bosom⁠—the barefooted, the dirty, Indians, Caribs, b