In the Midst of Alarms
Part 1 out of 5
Produced by Lee Dawei, William A. Pifer-Foote, and the PG Online
IN THE MIDST OF ALARMS
In the marble-floored vestibule of the Metropolitan Grand Hotel in
Buffalo, Professor Stillson Renmark stood and looked about him with the
anxious manner of a person unused to The gaudy splendor of the modern
American house of entertainment. The professor had Paused halfway
between the door and the marble counter, because he began to fear that
he Had arrived at an inopportune time, that something unusual was going
on. The hurry and Bustle bewildered him.
An omnibus, partly filled with passengers, was standing at the door,
its steps backed Over the curbstone, and beside it was a broad, flat
van, on which stalwart porters were heaving great square, iron-bound
trunks belonging to commercial travelers, and the more fragile, but not
less bulky, saratogas, doubtless the property of the ladies who sat
patiently in the omnibus. Another vehicle which had just arrived was
backing up to the curb, and the irate driver used language suitable to
the occasion; for the two restive horses were not behaving exactly in
the way he liked.
A man with a stentorian, but monotonous and mournful, voice was filling
the air with the information that a train was about to depart for
Albany, Saratoga, Troy, Boston, New York, and the East. When he came to
the words "the East," his voice dropped to a sad Minor key, as if the
man despaired of the fate of those who took their departure in that
direction. Every now and then a brazen gong sounded sharply; and one of
the negroes who sat in a row on a bench along the marble-paneled wall
sprang forward to the counter, took somebody's handbag, and disappeared
in the direction of the elevator with the newly arrived guest following
him. Groups of men stood here and there conversing, heedless of the
rush of arrival and departure around them.
Before the broad and lofty plate-glass windows sat a row of men, some
talking, some reading, and some gazing outside, but all with their feet
on the brass rail which had been apparently put there for that purpose.
Nearly everybody was smoking a cigar. A lady of dignified mien came
down the hall to the front of the counter, and spoke quietly to the
clerk, who bent his well-groomed head deferentially on one side as he
listened to what she had to say. The men instantly made way for her.
She passed along among them as composedly as if she were in her own
drawing room, inclining her head slightly to one or other of her
acquaintances, which salutation was gravely acknowledged by the raising
of the hat and the temporary removal of the cigar from the lips.
All this was very strange to the professor, and he felt himself in a
new world, with whose customs he was not familiar. Nobody paid the
slightest attention to him as he stood there among it all with his
satchel in his hand. As he timidly edged up to the counter, and tried
to accumulate courage enough to address the clerk, a young man came
forward, flung his handbag on the polished top of the counter,
metaphorically brushed the professor aside, pulled the bulky register
toward him, and inscribed his name on the page with a rapidity equaled
only by the illegibility of the result.
"Hello, Sam!" he said to the clerk. "How's things? Get my telegram?"
"Yes," answered the clerk; "but I can't give you 27. It's been taken
for a week. I reserved 85 for you, and had to hold on with my teeth to
The reply of the young man was merely a brief mention of the place of
"It _is_ hot," said the clerk blandly. "In from Cleveland?"
"Yes. Any letters for me?"
"Couple of telegrams. You'll find them up in 85."
"Oh, you were cocksure I'd take that room?"
"I was cocksure you'd have to. It is that or the fifth floor. We're
full. Couldn't give a better room to the President if he came."
"Oh, well, what's good enough for the President I can put up with for a
couple of days."
The hand of the clerk descended on the bell. The negro sprang forward
and took the "grip."
"Eighty-five," said the clerk; and the drummer and the Negro
"Is there any place where I could leave my bag for a while?" the
professor at last said timidly to the clerk.
The professor held it up in view.
"Oh, your grip. Certainly. Have a room, sir?" And the clerk's hand
hovered over the bell.
"No. At least, not just yet. You see, I'm--"
"All right. The baggage man there to the left will check it for you."
"Any letters for Bond?" said a man, pushing himself in front of the
professor. The clerk pulled out a fat bunch of letters from the
compartment marked "B," and handed the whole lot to the inquirer, who
went rapidly over them, selected two that appeared to be addressed to
him, and gave the letters a push toward the clerk, who placed them
where they were before.
The professor paused a moment, then, realizing that the clerk had
forgotten him, sought the baggage man, whom he found in a room filled
with trunks and valises. The room communicated with the great hall by
means of a square opening whose lower ledge was breast high. The
professor stood before it, and handed the valise to the man behind this
opening, who rapidly attached one brass check to the handle with a
leather thong, and flung the other piece of brass to the professor. The
latter was not sure but there was something to pay, still he quite
correctly assumed that if there had been the somewhat brusque man would
have had no hesitation in mentioning the fact; in which surmise his
natural common sense proved a sure guide among strange surroundings.
There was no false delicacy about the baggage man.
Although the professor was to a certain extent bewildered by the
condition of things, there was still in his nature a certain dogged
persistence that had before now stood him in good stead, and which had
enabled him to distance, in the long run, much more brilliant men. He
was not at all satisfied with his brief interview with the clerk. He
resolved to approach that busy individual again, if he could arrest his
attention. It was some time before he caught the speaker's eye, as it
were, but when he did so, he said:
"I was about to say to you that I am waiting for a friend from New York
who may not yet have arrived. His name is Mr. Richard Yates of the--"
"Oh, Dick Yates! Certainly. He's here." Turning to the negro, he said:
"Go down to the billiard room and see if Mr. Yates is there. If he is
not, look for him at the bar."
The clerk evidently knew Mr. Dick Yates. Apparently not noticing the
look of amazement that had stolen over the professor's face, the clerk
"If you wait in the reading room, I'll send Yates to you when he comes.
The boy will find him if he's in the house; but he may be uptown."
The professor, disliking to trouble the obliging clerk further, did not
ask him where the reading room was. He inquired, instead, of a hurrying
porter, and received the curt but comprehensive answer:
"Dining room next floor. Reading, smoking, and writing rooms up the
hall. Billiard room, bar, and lavatory downstairs."
The professor, after getting into the barber shop and the cigar store,
finally found his way into the reading room. Numerous daily papers were
scattered around on the table, each attached to a long, clumsy cleft
holder made of wood; while other journals, similarly encumbered, hung
from racks against the wall. The professor sat down in one of the easy
leather-covered chairs, but, instead of taking up a paper, drew a thin
book from his pocket, in which he was soon so absorbed that he became
entirely unconscious of his strange surroundings. A light touch on the
shoulder brought him up from his book into the world again, and he saw,
looking down on him, the stern face of a heavily mustached stranger.
"I beg your pardon, sir, but may I ask if you are a guest of this
A shade of apprehension crossed the professor's face as he slipped the
book into his pocket. He had vaguely felt that he was trespassing when
he first entered the hotel, and now his doubts were confirmed.
"I--I am not exactly a guest," he stammered.
"What do you mean by not exactly a guest?" continued the other,
regarding the professor with a cold and scrutinizing gaze. "A man is
either a guest or he is not, I take it. Which is it in your case?"
"I presume, technically speaking, I am not."
"Technically speaking! More evasions. Let me ask you, sir, as an
ostensibly honest man, if you imagine that all this luxury--this--this
elegance--is maintained for nothing? Do you think, sir, that it is
provided for any man who has cheek enough to step out of the street and
enjoy it? Is it kept up, I ask, for people who are, technically
speaking, not guests?"
The expression of conscious guilt deepened on the face of the
unfortunate professor. He Had nothing, to say. He realized that his
conduct was too flagrant to admit of defense, so he attempted none.
Suddenly the countenance of his questioner lit up with a smile, and
he smote the professor on the shoulder.
"Well, old stick-in-the-mud, you haven't changed a particle in fifteen
years! You don't mean to pretend you don't know me?"
"You can't--you can't be Richard Yates?"
"I not only can, but I can't be anybody else. I know, because I have
often tried. Well, well, well, well! Stilly we used to call you; don't
you remember? I'll never forget that time we sang 'Oft in the stilly
night' in front of your window when you were studying for the exams.
You always _were_ a quiet fellow, Stilly. I've been waiting for
you nearly a whole day. I was up just now with a party of friends when
the boy brought me your card--a little philanthropic gathering--sort of
mutual benefit arrangement, you know: each of us contributed what we
could spare to a general fund, which was given to some deserving person
in the crowd."
"Yes," said the professor dryly. "I heard the clerk telling the boy
where he would be most likely to find you."
"Oh, you did, eh?" cried Yates, with a laugh. "Yes, Sam generally knows
ere to send for me; but he needn't have been so darned public about it.
Being a newspaper man, I know what ought to go in print and what should
have the blue pencil run through it. Sam is very discreet, as a general
thing; but then he knew, of course, the moment he set eyes on you, that
you were an old pal of mine."
Again Yates laughed, a very bright and cheery laugh for so evidently
wicked a man.
"Come along," he said, taking the professor by the arm. "We must get
They passed out into the hall, and drew up at the clerk's counter.
"I say, Sam," cried Yates, "can't you do something better for us than
the fifth floor? I didn't come to Buffalo to engage in ballooning. No
sky parlors for me, if I can help it."
"I'm sorry, Dick," said the clerk; "but I expect the fifth floor will
be gone when the Chicago express gets in."
"Well, what can you do for us, anyhow?"
"I can let you have 518. That's the next room to yours. Really, they're
the most comfortable rooms in the house this weather. Fine lookout over
the lake. I wouldn't mind having a sight of the lake myself, if I could
leave the desk."
"All right. But I didn't come to look at the lake, nor yet at the
railroad tracks this side, nor at Buffalo Creek either, beautiful and
romantic as it is, nor to listen to the clanging of the ten thousand
locomotives that pass within hearing distance for the delight of your
guests. The fact is that, always excepting Chicago, Buffalo is more
like--for the professor's sake I'll say Hades, than any other place in
"Oh. Buffalo's all right," said the clerk, with that feeling of local
loyalty which all Americans possess. "Say, are you here on this Fenian
"What Fenian snap?" asked the newspaper man.
"Oh! don't you know about it? I thought, the moment I saw you, that you
were here for this affair. Well, don't say I told you, but I can put
you on to one of the big guns if you want the particulars. They say
they're going to take Canada. I told 'em that I wouldn't take Canada as
a gift, let alone fight for it. I've _been_ there."
Yates' newspaper instinct thrilled him as he thought of the possible
sensation. Then the light slowly died out of his eyes when he looked at
the professor, who had flushed somewhat and compressed his lips as he
listened to the slighting remarks on his country.
"Well, Sam," said the newspaper man at last, "it isn't more than once
in a lifetime that you'll find me give the go-by to a piece of news,
but the fact is I'm on my vacation just now. About the first I've had
for fifteen years; so, you see, I must take care of it. No, let the
_Argus_ get scooped, if it wants to. They'll value my services all
the more when I get back. No. 518, I think you said?"
The clerk handed over the key, and the professor gave the boy the check
for his valise at Yates' suggestion.
"Now, get a move on you," said Yates to the elevator boy. "We're going
right through with you."
And so the two friends were shot up together to the fifth floor.
The sky parlor, as Yates had termed it, certainly commanded a very
extensive view. Immediately underneath was a wilderness of roofs.
Farther along were the railway tracks that Yates objected to; and a
line of masts and propeller funnels marked the windings of Buffalo
Creek, along whose banks arose numerous huge elevators, each marked by
some tremendous letter of the alphabet, done in white paint against the
somber brown of the big building. Still farther to the west was a more
grateful and comforting sight for a hot day. The blue lake, dotted with
white sails and an occasional trail of smoke, lay shimmering under the
broiling sun. Over the water, through the distant summer haze, there
could be seen the dim line of the Canadian shore.
"Sit you down," cried Yates, putting both hands on the other's
shoulders, and pushing him into a chair near the window. Then, placing
his finger on the electric button, he added: "What will you drink?"
"I'll take a glass of water, if it can be had without trouble," said
Yates' hand dropped from the electric button hopelessly to his side,
and he looked reproachfully at the professor.
"Great Heavens!" he cried, "have something mild. Don't go rashly in for
Buffalo water before you realize what it is made of. Work up to it
gradually. Try a sherry cobbler or a milk shake as a starter."
"Thank you, no. A glass of water will do very well for me. Order what
you like for yourself."
"Thanks, I can be depended on for doing that." He pushed the button,
and, when the boy appeared, said: "Bring up an iced cobbler, and charge
it to Professor Renmark, No. 518. Bring also a pitcher of ice water for
Yates, No. 520. There," he continued gleefully, "I'm going to have all
the drinks, except the ice water, charged to you. I'll pay the bill,
but I'll keep the account to hold over your head in the future.
Professor Stillson Renmark, debtor to Metropolitan Grand--one sherry
cobbler, one gin sling, one whisky cocktail, and so on. Now, then,
Stilly, let's talk business. You're not married, I take it, or you
wouldn't have responded to my invitation so promptly." The professor
shook his head. "Neither am I. You never had the courage to propose to
a girl; and I never had the time."
"Lack of self-conceit was not your failing in the old days, Richard,"
said Renmark quietly.
Yates laughed. "Well, it didn't hold me back any, to my knowledge. Now
I'll tell you how I've got along since we attended old Scragmore's
academy together, fifteen years ago. How time does fly! When I left, I
tried teaching for one short month. I had some theories on the
education of our youth which did not seem to chime in with the
prejudices the school trustees had already formed on the subject."
The professor was at once all attention. Touch a man on his business,
and he generally responds by being interested.
"And what were your theories?" he asked.
"Well, I thought a teacher should look after the physical as well as
the mental welfare of his pupils. It did not seem to me that his duty
to those under his charge ended with mere book learning."
"I quite agree with you," said the professor cordially.
"Thanks. Well, the trustees didn't. I joined the boys at their games,
hoping my example would have an influence on their conduct on the
playground as well as in the schoolroom. We got up a rattling good
cricket club. You may not remember that I stood rather better in
cricket at the academy than I did in mathematics or grammar. By
handicapping me with several poor players, and having the best players
among the boys in opposition, we made a pretty evenly matched team at
school section No. 12. One day, at noon, we began a game. The grounds
were in excellent condition, and the opposition boys were at their
best. My side was getting the worst of it. I was very much interested;
and, when one o'clock came, I thought it a pity to call school and
spoil so good and interesting a contest. The boys were unanimously of
the same opinion. The girls were happy, picnicking under the trees.
So we played cricket all the afternoon."
"I think that was carrying your theory a little too far," said the
"Just what the trustees thought when they came to hear of it. So they
dismissed me; and I think my leaving was the only case on record where
the pupils genuinely mourned a teacher's departure. I shook the dust of
Canada from my feet, and have never regretted it. I tramped to Buffalo,
continuing to shake the dust off at every step. (Hello! here's your
drinks at last, Stilly. I had forgotten about them--an unusual thing
with me. That's all right, boy; charge it to room 518. Ah! that hits
the spot on a hot day.) Well, where was I? Oh, yes, at Buffalo. I got a
place on a paper here, at just enough to keep life in me; but I liked
the work. Then I drifted to Rochester at a bigger salary, afterward to
Albany at a still bigger salary, and of course Albany is only a few
hours from New York, and that is where all newspaper men ultimately
land, if they are worth their salt. I saw a small section of the war as
special correspondent, got hurt, and rounded up in the hospital. Since
then, although only a reporter, I am about the top of the tree in that
line, and make enough money to pay my poker debts and purchase iced
drinks to soothe the asperities of the game. When there is anything big
going on anywhere in the country, I am there, with other fellows to do
the drudgery; I writing the picturesque descriptions and interviewing
the big men. My stuff goes red-hot over the telegraph wire, and the
humble postage stamp knows my envelopes no more. I am acquainted with
every hotel clerk that amounts to anything from New York to San
Francisco. If I could save money, I should be rich, for I make plenty;
but the hole at the top of my trousers pocket has lost me a lot of
cash, and I don't seem to be able to get it mended. Now, you've
listened with your customary patience in order to give my self-esteem,
as you called it, full sway. I am grateful. I will reciprocate. How
The professor spoke slowly. "I have had no such adventurous career," he
began. "I have not shaken Canadian dust from my feet, and have not made
any great success. I have simply plodded; and am in no danger of
becoming rich, although I suppose I spend as little as any man. After
you were expel--after you left the aca--"
"Don't mutilate the good old English language, Stilly. You were right
in the first place. I am not thin-skinned. You were saying after I was
expelled. Go on."
"I thought perhaps it might be a sore subject. You remember, you were
very indignant at the time, and--"
"Of course I was--and am still, for that matter. It was an outrage!"
"I thought it was proved that you helped to put the pony in the
"Oh, certainly. _That_. Of course. But what I detested was the way
the principal worked the thing. He allowed that villain Spink to turn
evidence against us, and Spink stated I originated the affair, whereas
I could claim no such honor. It was Spink's own project, which I fell
in with, as I did with every disreputable thing proposed. Of course the
principal believed at once that I was the chief criminal. Do you happen
to know if Spink has been hanged yet?"
"I believe he is a very reputable business man in Montreal, and much
"I might have suspected that. Well, you keep your eye on the respected
Spink. If he doesn't fail some day, and make a lot of money, I'm a
Dutchman. But go on. This is digression. By the way, just push that
electric button. You're nearest, and it is too hot to move. Thanks.
After I was expelled--"
"After your departure I took a diploma, and for a year or two taught a
class in the academy. Then, as I studied during my spare time, I got a
chance as master of a grammar school near Toronto, chiefly, as I think,
though the recommendation of Principal Scragmore. I had my degree by
this time. Then--"
There was a gentle tap at the door.
"Come in!" shouted Yates. "Oh, it's you. Just bring up another cooling
cobbler, will you? and charge it, as before, to Professor Renmark, room
518. Yes; and then--"
"And then there came the opening in University College, Toronto. I had
the good fortune to be appointed. There I am still, and there I suppose
I shall stay. I know very few people, and am better acquainted with
books than with men. Those whom I have the privilege of knowing are
mostly studious persons, who have made, or will make, their mark in the
world of learning. I have not had your advantage, of meeting statesmen
who guide the destinies of a great empire.
"No; you always were lucky, Stilly. My experience is that the chaps who
do the guiding are more anxious about their own pockets, or their own
political advancement, than they are of the destinies. Still, the
empire seems to take its course westward just the same. So old
Scragmore's been your friend, has he?"
"He has, indeed."
"Well, he insulted me only the other day."
"You astonish me. I cannot imagine so gentlemanly and scholarly a man
as Principal Scragmore insulting anybody."
"Oh, you don't know him as I do. It was like this: I wanted to find out
where you were, for reasons that I shall state hereafter. I cudgeled my
brains, and then thought of old Scrag. I wrote him, and enclosed a
stamped and addressed envelope, as all unsought contributors should do.
He answered--But I have his reply somewhere. You shall read it for
Yates pulled from his inside pocket a bundle of letters, which he
hurriedly fingered over, commenting in a low voice as he did so: "I
thought I answered that. Still, no matter. Jingo! haven't I paid that
bill yet? This pass is run out. Must get another." Then he smiled and
sighed as he looked at a letter in dainty handwriting; but apparently
he could not find the document he sought.
"Oh, well, it doesn't matter. I have it somewhere. He returned me the
prepaid envelope, and reminded me that United States stamps were of no
use in Canada, which of course I should have remembered. But he didn't
pay the postage on his own letter, so that I had to fork out double.
Still, I don't mind that, only as an indication of his meanness. He
went on to say that, of all the members of our class, you--_you!_
--were the only one who had reflected credit on it. That was the
insult. The idea of his making such a statement, when I had told him I
was on the New York _Argus!_ Credit to the class, indeed! I wonder
if he ever heard of Brown after he was expelled. You know, of course.
No? Well, Brown, by his own exertions, became president of the Alum
Bank in New York, wrecked it, and got off to Canada with a clear half
million. _Yes_, sir. I saw him in Quebec not six months ago. Keeps
the finest span and carriage in the city, and lives in a palace. Could
buy out old Scragmore a thousand times, and never feel it. Most liberal
contributor to the cause of education that there is in Canada. He says
education made him, and he's not a man to go back on education. And yet
Scragmore has the cheek to say that _you_ were the only man in the
class who reflects credit on it!"
The professor smiled quietly as the excited journalist took a cooling
sip of the cobbler.
"You see, Yates, people's opinions differ. A man like Brown may not be
Principal Scragmore's ideal. The principal may be local in his ideals
of a successful man, or of one who reflects credit on his teaching."
"Local? You bet he's local. Too darned local for me. It would do that
man good to live in New York for a year. But I'm going to get even with
him. I'm going to write him up. I'll give him a column and a half; see
if I don't. I'll get his photograph, and publish a newspaper portrait
of him. If that doesn't make him quake, he's a cast-iron man. Say, you
haven't a photograph of old Scrag that you can lend me, have you?"
"I have; but I won't lend it for such a purpose. However, never mind
the principal. Tell me your plans. I am at your disposal for a couple
of weeks, or longer if necessary."
"Good boy! Well, I'll tell you how it is. I want rest and quiet, and
the woods, for a week or two. This is how it happened: I have been
steadily at the grindstone, except for a while in the hospital; and
that, you will admit, is not much of a vacation. The work interests me,
and I am always in the thick of it. Now, it's like this in the
newspaper business: Your chief is never the person to suggest that you
take a vacation. He is usually short of men and long on things to do,
so if you don't worry him into letting you off, he won't lose any sleep
over it. He's content to let well enough alone every time. Then there
is always somebody who wants to get away on pressing business,--
grandmother's funeral, and that sort of thing,--so if a fellow is
content to work right along, his chief is quite content to let him.
That's the way affairs have gone for years with me. The other week I
went over to Washington to interview a senator on the political
prospects. I tell you what it is, Stilly, without bragging, there are
some big men in the States whom no one but me _can_ interview. And
yet old Scrag says I'm no credit to his class! Why, last year my
political predictions were telegraphed all over this country, and have
since appeared in the European press. No credit! By Jove, I would like
to have old Scrag in a twenty-four-foot ring, with thin gloves on, for
about ten minutes!"
"I doubt if he would shine under those circumstances. But never mind
him. He spoke, for once, without due reflection, and with perhaps an
exaggerated remembrance of your school-day offenses. What happened when
you went to Washington?"
"A strange thing happened. When I was admitted to the senator's
library, I saw another fellow, whom I thought I knew, sitting there. I
said to the senator: 'I will come when you are alone.' The senator
looked up in surprise, and said: 'I am alone.' I didn't say anything,
but went on with my interview; and the other fellow took notes all the
time. I didn't like this, but said nothing, for the senator is not a
man to offend, and it is by not offending these fellows that I can get
the information I do. Well, the other fellow came out with me, and as I
looked at him I saw that he was myself. This did not strike me as
strange at the time, but I argued with him all the way to New York, and
tried to show him that he wasn't treating me fairly. I wrote up the
interview, with the other fellow interfering all the while, so I
compromised, and half the time put in what he suggested, and half the
time what I wanted in myself. When the political editor went over the
stuff, he looked alarmed. I told him frankly just how I had been
interfered with, and he looked none the less alarmed when I had
finished. He sent at once for a doctor. The doctor metaphorically took
me to pieces, and then said to my chief: 'This man is simply worked to
death. He must have a vacation, and a real one, with absolutely nothing
to think of, or he is going to collapse, and that with a suddenness
which will surprise everybody.' The chief, to my astonishment,
consented without a murmur, and even upbraided me for not going away
sooner. Then the doctor said to me: 'You get some companion--some man
with no brains, if possible, who will not discuss politics, who has no
opinion on anything that any sane man would care to talk about, and who
couldn't say a bright thing if he tried for a year. Get such a man to
go off to the woods somewhere. Up in Maine or in Canada. As far away
from post offices and telegraph offices as possible. And, by the way,
don't leave your address at the _Argus_ office.' Thus it happened,
Stilly, when he described this man so graphically, I at once thought of
"I am deeply gratified, I am sure," said the professor, with the ghost
of a smile, "to be so promptly remembered in such a connection, and if
I can be of service to you, I shall be very glad. I take it, then, that
you have no intention of stopping in Buffalo?"
"You bet I haven't. I'm in for the forest primeval, the murmuring pines
and the hemlock, bearded with moss and green in the something or other
--I forget the rest. I want to quit lying on paper, and lie on my back
instead, on the sward or in a hammock. I'm going to avoid all boarding
houses or delightful summer resorts, and go in for the quiet of the
"There ought to be some nice places along the lake shore."
"No, sir. No lake shore for me. It would remind me of the Lake Shore
Railroad when it was calm, and of Long Branch when it was rough.
_No_, sir. The woods, the woods, and the woods. I have hired a
tent and a lot of cooking things. I'm going to take that tent over to
Canada to-morrow; and then I propose we engage a man with a team to
cart it somewhere into the woods, fifteen or twenty miles away. We
shall have to be near a farmhouse, so that we can get fresh butter,
milk, and eggs. This, of course, is a disadvantage; but I shall try to
get near someone who has never even heard of New York."
"You may find that somewhat difficult."
"Oh, I don't know. I have great hopes of the lack of intelligence in
"Often the narrowest," said the professor slowly, "are those who think
themselves the most cosmopolitan."
"Right you are," cried Yates, skimming lightly over the remark, and
seeing nothing applicable to his case in it. "Well, I've laid in about
half a ton, more or less, of tobacco, and have bought an empty jug."
"An empty one?"
"Yes. Among the few things worth having that the Canadians possess, is
good whisky. Besides, the empty jar will save trouble at the
customhouse. I don't suppose Canadian rye is as good as the Kentucky
article, but you and I will have to scrub along on it for a while. And,
talking of whisky, just press the button once again."
The professor did so, saying:
"The doctor made no remark, I suppose, about drinking less or smoking
less, did he?"
"In my case? Well, come to think of it, there _was_ some
conversation in that direction. Don't remember at the moment just what
it amounted to; but all physicians have their little fads, you know. It
doesn't do to humor them too much. Ah, boy, there you are again. Well,
the professor wants another drink. Make it a gin fizz this time, and
put plenty of ice in it; but don't neglect the gin on that account.
Certainly; charge it to room 518."
"What's all this tackle?" asked the burly and somewhat red-faced
customs officer at Fort Erie.
"This," said Yates, "is a tent, with the poles and pegs appertaining
thereto. These are a number of packages of tobacco, on which I shall
doubtless have to pay something into the exchequer of her Majesty. This
is a jug used for the holding of liquids. I beg to call your attention
to the fact that it is at present empty, which unfortunately prevents
me making a libation to the rites of good-fellowship. What my friend
has in that valise I don't know, but I suspect a gambling outfit, and
would advise you to search him."
"My valise contains books principally, with some articles of wearing
apparel," said the professor, opening his grip.
The customs officer looked with suspicion on the whole outfit, and
evidently did not like The tone of the American. He seemed to be
treating the customs department in a light and airy manner, and the
officer was too much impressed by the dignity of his position not to
resent flippancy. Besides, there were rumors of Fenian invasion in the
air, and the officer resolved that no Fenian should get into the
country without paying duty.
"Where are you going with this tent?"
"I'm sure I don't know. Perhaps you can tell us. I don't know the
country about here. Say, Stilly, I'm off uptown to attend to the
emptiness in this stone utensil. I've been empty too often myself not
to sympathize with its condition. You wrestle this matter out about the
tent. You know the ways of the country, whereas I don't."
It was perhaps as well that Yates left negotiations in the hands of his
friend. He was quick enough to see that he made no headway with the
officer, but rather the opposite. He slung the jar ostentatiously over
his shoulder, to the evident discomfort of the professor, and marched
up the hill to the nearest tavern, whistling one of the lately popular
"Now," he said to the barkeeper, placing the jar tenderly on the bar,
"fill that up to the nozzle with the best rye you have. Fill it with
the old familiar juice, as the late poet Omar saith."
The bartender did as he was requested.
"Can you disguise a little of that fluid in any way, so that it may be
taken internally without a man suspecting what he is swallowing?"
The barkeeper smiled. "How would a cocktail fill the vacancy?"
"I can suggest nothing better," replied Yates. "If you are sure you
know how to make it."
The man did not resent this imputation of ignorance. He merely said,
with the air of one who gives an incontrovertible answer:
I am a Kentucky man myself."
"Shake!" cried Yates briefly, as he reached his hand across the bar.
"How is it you happened to be here?"
"Well, I got in to a little trouble in Louisville, and here I am, where
I can at least look at God's country."
"Hold on," protested Yates. "You're making only _one_ cocktail."
"Didn't you say one?" asked the man, pausing in the compounding.
"Bless you, I never saw one cocktail made in my life. You are with me
"Just as you say," replied the other, as he prepared enough for two.
"Now I'll tell you my fix," said Yates confidentially. "I've got a tent
and some camp things down below at the customhouse shanty, and I want
to get them taken into the woods, where I can camp out with a friend. I
want a place where we can have absolute rest and quiet. Do you know the
country round here? Perhaps you could recommend a spot."
"Well, for all the time I've been here, I know precious little about
the back country. I've been down the road to Niagara Falls, but never
back in the woods. I suppose you want Some place by the lake or the
"No, I don't. I want to get clear back into the forest--if there is a
"Well, there's a man in to-day from somewhere near Ridgeway, I think.
He's got a hay rack with him, and that would be just the thing to take
your tent and poles. Wouldn't be very comfortable traveling for you,
but it would be all right for the tent, if it's a big one."
"That will suit us exactly. We don't care a cent about the comfort.
Roughing it is what we came for. Where will I find him?"
"Oh, he'll be along here soon. That's his team tied there on the side
street. If he happens to be in good humor, he'll take your things, and
as like as not give you a place to camp in his woods. Hiram Bartlett's
his name. And, talking of the old Nick himself, here he is. I say, Mr.
Bartlett, this gentleman was wondering if you couldn't tote out some of
his belongings. He's going out your way."
Bartlett was a somewhat uncouth and wiry specimen of the Canadian
farmer who evidently paid little attention to the subject of dress. He
said nothing, but looked in a lowering way at Yates, with something of
contempt and suspicion in his glance.
Yates had one receipt for making the acquaintance of all mankind. "Come
in, Mr. Bartlett," he said cheerily, "and try one of my friend's
"I take mine straight," growled Bartlett gruffly, although he stepped
inside the open door. "I don't want no Yankee mixtures in mine. Plain
whisky's good enough for any man, if he _is_ a man. I don't take
no water, neither. I've got trouble enough."
The bartender winked at Yates as he shoved the decanter over to the
"Right you are," assented Yates cordially.
The farmer did not thaw out in the least because of this prompt
agreement with him, but sipped his whisky gloomily, as if it were a
most disagreeable medicine.
"What did you want me to take out?" he said at last.
"A friend and a tent, a jug of whisky and a lot of jolly good tobacco."
"How much are you willing to pay?"
"Oh, I don't know. I'm always willing to do what's right. How would
five dollars strike you?"
The farmer scowled and shook his head.
"Too much," he said, as Yates was about to offer more. "'Taint worth
it. Two and a half would be about the right figure. Don'no but that's
too much. I'll think on it going home, and charge you what it's worth.
I'll be ready to leave in about an hour, if that suits you. That's my
team on the other side of the road. If it's gone when you come back,
I'm gone, an' you'll have to get somebody else."
With this Bartlett drew his coat sleeve across his mouth and departed.
"That's him exactly," said the barkeeper. "He's the most cantankerous
crank in the township. And say, let me give you a pointer. If the
subject of 1812 comes up,--the war, you know,--you'd better admit that
we got thrashed out of our boots; that is, if you want to get along
with Hiram. He hates Yankees like poison."
"And did we get thrashed in 1812?" asked Yates, who was more familiar
with current topics than with the history of the past.
"Blessed if I know. Hiram says we did. I told him, once that we got
what we wanted from old England, and he nearly hauled me over the bar.
So I give you the warning, if you want to get along with him."
"Thank you. I'll remember it. So long."
This friendly hint from the man in the tavern offers a key to the
solution of the problem Of Yates' success on the New York press. He
could get news when no other man could. Flippant and shallow as he
undoubtedly was, he somehow got into the inner confidences of all sorts
of men in a way that made them give him an inkling of anything that was
going on for the mere love of him; and thus Yates often received
valuable assistance from his acquaintances which other reporters could
not get for money.
The New Yorker found the professor sitting on a bench by the
customhouse, chatting with the officer, and gazing at the rapidly
flowing broad blue river in front of them.
"I have got a man," said Yates, "who will take us out into the
wilderness in about an hour's time. Suppose we explore the town. I
expect nobody will run away with the tent till we come back."
"I'll look after that," said the officer; and, thanking him, the two
friends strolled up the street. They were a trifle late in getting
back, and when they reached the tavern, they found Bartlett just on the
point of driving home. He gruffly consented to take them, if they did
not keep him more than five minutes loading up. The tent and its
belongings were speedily placed on the hay rack, and then Bartlett
drove up to the tavern and waited, saying nothing, although he had been
in such a hurry a few moments before. Yates did not like to ask the
cause of the delay; so the three sat there silently. After a while
Yates said as mildly as he could:
"Are you waiting for anyone, Mr. Bartlett?"
"Yes," answered the driver in a surly tone. "I'm waiting for you to go
in fur that jug. I don't suppose you filled it to leave it on the
"By Jove!" cried Yates, springing off, "I had forgotten all about it,
which shows the extraordinary effect this country has on me already."
The professor frowned, but Yates came out merrily, with the jar in his
hand, and Bartlett started his team. They drove out of the village and
up a slight hill, going for a mile or two along a straight and somewhat
sandy road. Then they turned into the Ridge Road, as Bartlett called
it, in answer to a question by the professor, and there was no need to
ask why it was so termed. It was a good highway, but rather stony, the
road being in places, on the bare rock. It paid not the slightest
attention to Euclid's definition of a straight line, and in this
respect was rather a welcome change from the average American road.
Sometimes they passed along avenues of overbranching trees, which were
evidently relics of the forest that once covered all the district. The
road followed the ridge, and on each side were frequently to be seen
wide vistas of lower lying country. All along the road were comfortable
farmhouses; and it was evident that a prosperous community flourished
along the ridge.
Bartlett spoke only once, and then to the professor, who sat next to
"You a Canadian?"
"Where's _he_ from?"
"My friend is from New York," answered the innocent professor.
"Humph!" grunted Bartlett, scowling deeper than ever, after which he
became silent again. The team was not going very fast, although neither
the load nor the road was heavy. Bartlett was muttering a good deal to
himself, and now and then brought down his whip savagely on one or the
other of the horses; but the moment the unfortunate animals quickened
their pace he hauled them in roughly. Nevertheless, they were going
quickly enough to be overtaking a young woman who was walking on alone.
Although she must have heard them coming over the rocky road she did
not turn her head, but walked along with the free and springy step of
one who is not only accustomed to walking, but who likes it. Bartlett
paid no attention to the girl; the professor was endeavoring to read
his thin book as well as a man might who is being jolted frequently;
but Yates, as soon as he recognized that the pedestrian was young,
pulled up his collar, adjusted his necktie with care, and placed his
hat in a somewhat more jaunty and fetching position.
"Are you going to offer that girl a ride?" he said to Bartlett.
"No, I'm not."
"I think that is rather uncivil," he added, forgetting the warning he
"You do, eh? Well, you offer her a ride. You hired the team."
"By Jove! I will," said Yates, placing his hand on the outside of the
rack, and springing lightly to the ground.
"Likely thing," growled Bartlett to the professor, "that she's going to
ride with the like of him."
The professor looked for a moment at Yates, politely taking off his hat
to the apparently astonished young woman, but he said nothing.
"Fur two cents," continued Bartlett, gathering up the reins, "I'd whip
up the horses, and let him walk the rest of the way."
"From what I know of my friend," answered the professor slowly, "I
think he would not object in the slightest."
Bartlett muttered something to himself, and seemed to change his mind
about galloping his horses.
Meanwhile, Yates, as has been said, took off his hat with great
politeness to the fair pedestrian, and as he did so he noticed, with a
thrill of admiration, that she was very handsome. Yates always had an
eye for the beautiful.
"Our conveyance," he began, "is not as comfortable as it might be, yet
I shall be very happy if you will accept its hospitalities."
The young woman flashed a brief glance at him from her dark eyes, and
for a moment Yates feared that his language had been rather too choice
for her rural understanding, but before he could amend his phrase she
"Thank you. I prefer to walk."
"Well, I don't know that I blame you. May I ask if you have come all
the way from the village?"
"That is a long distance, and you must be very tired." There was no
reply; so Yates continued. "At least, I thought it a long distance; but
perhaps that was because I was riding on Bartlett's hay rack. There is
no 'downy bed of ease' about his vehicle."
As he spoke of the wagon he looked at it, and, striding forward to its
side, said in a husky whisper to the professor:
"Say, Stilly, cover up that jug with a flap of the tent."
"Cover it up yourself," briefly replied the other; "it isn't mine."
Yates reached across and, in a sort of accidental way, threw the flap
of the tent over The too conspicuous jar. As an excuse for his action
he took up his walking cane and turned toward his new acquaintance. He
was flattered to see that she was loitering some distance behind the
wagon, and he speedily rejoined her. The girl, looking straight ahead,
now quickened her pace, and rapidly shortened the distance between
herself and the vehicle. Yates, with the quickness characteristic of
him, made up his mind that this was a case of country diffidence, which
was best to be met by the bringing down of his conversation to the
level of his hearer's intelligence.
"Have you been marketing?" he asked.
"Butter and eggs, and that sort of thing?"
"We are farmers," she answered, "and we sell butter and eggs"--a pause
--"and that sort of thing."
Yates laughed in his light and cheery way. As he twirled his cane he
looked at his pretty companion. She was gazing anxiously ahead toward a
turn in the road. Her comely face was slightly flushed, doubtless with
the exercise of walking.
"Now, in my country," continued the New Yorker, "we idolize our women.
Pretty girls don't tramp miles to market with butter and eggs."
"Aren't the girls pretty--in your country?"
Yates made a mental note that there was not as much rurality about this
girl as he had thought at first. There was a piquancy about the
conversation which he liked. That she shared his enjoyment was
doubtful, for a slight line of resentment was noticeable on her smooth
"You bet they're pretty! I think all American girls are pretty. It
seems their birthright. When I say American, I mean the whole
continent, of course. I'm from the States myself--from New York." He
gave an extra twirl to his cane as he said this, and bore himself with
that air of conscious superiority which naturally pertains to a citizen
of the metropolis. "But over in the States we think the men should do
all the work, and that the women should--well, spend the money. I must
do our ladies the justice to say that they attend strictly to their
share of the arrangement."
"It should be a delightful country to live in--for the women."
"They all say so. We used to have an adage to the effect that America
was paradise for women, purgatory for men, and--well, an entirely
different sort of place for oxen."
There was no doubt that Yates had a way of getting along with people.
As he looked at his companion he was gratified to note just the
faintest suspicion of a smile hovering about her lips. Before she could
answer, if she had intended to do so, there was a quick clatter of
hoofs on the hard road ahead, and next instant an elegant buggy, whose
slender jet-black polished spokes flashed and twinkled in the sunlight,
came dashing past the wagon. On seeing the two walking together the
driver hauled up his team with a suddenness that was evidently not
relished by the spirited dappled span he drove.
"Hello, Margaret!" he cried; "am I late? Have you walked in all the
"You are just in good time," answered the girl, without looking toward
Yates, who stood aimlessly twirling his cane. The young woman put her
foot on the buggy step, and sprang lightly in beside the driver. It
needed no second glance to see that he was her brother, not only on
account of the family resemblance between them, but also because he
allowed her to get into the buggy without offering the slightest
assistance, which, indeed, was not needed, and graciously permitted her
to place the duster that covered his knees over her own lap as well.
The restive team trotted rapidly down the road for a few rods, until
they came to a wide place in the highway, and then whirled around,
seemingly within an ace of upsetting the buggy; but the young man
evidently knew his business, and held them in with a firm hand. The
wagon was jogging along where the road was very narrow, and Bartlett
kept his team stolidly in the center of the way.
"Hello, there, Bartlett!" shouted the young man in the buggy; "half the
road, you know--half the road."
"Take it," cried Bartlett over his shoulder.
"Come, come, Bartlett, get out of the way, or I'll run you down."
"You just try it."
Bartlett either had no sense of humor or his resentment against his
young neighbor smothered it, since otherwise he would have recognized
that a heavy wagon was in no danger of being run into by a light and
expensive buggy. The young man kept his temper admirably, but he knew
just where to touch the elder on the raw. His sister's hand was placed
appealingly on his arm. He smiled, and took no notice of her.
"Come, now, you move out, or I'll have the law on you."
"The law!" roared Bartlett; "you just try it on."
"Should think you'd had enough of it by this time."
"Oh, don't, don't, Henry!" protested the girl in distress.
"There aint no law," yelled Bartlett, "that kin make a man with a load
move out fur anything."
"You haven't any load, unless it's in that jug."
Yates saw with consternation that the jar had been jolted out from
under its covering, but the happy consolation came to him that the two
in the buggy would believe it belonged to Bartlett. He thought,
however, that this dog-in-the-manger policy had gone far enough. He
stepped briskly forward, and said to Bartlett:
"Better drive aside a little, and let them pass."
"You 'tend to your own business," cried the thoroughly enraged farmer.
"I will," said Yates shortly, striding to the horses' heads. He took
them by the bits and, in spite of Bartlett's maledictions and pulling
at the lines, he drew them to one side, so that the buggy got by.
"Thank you!" cried the young man. The light and glittering carriage
rapidly disappeared up the Ridge Road.
Bartlett sat there for one moment the picture of baffled rage. Then he
threw the reins down on the backs of his patient horses, and descended.
"You take my horses by the head, do you, you good-fur-nuthin' Yank? You
do, eh? I like your cheek. Touch my horses an' me a-holdin' the lines!
Now you hear me? Your traps comes right off here on the road. You hear
"Oh, anybody within a mile can hear you."
"Kin they? Well, off comes your pesky tent."
"No, it doesn't."
"Don't it, eh? Well, then, you'll lick me fust; and that's something no
Yank ever did nor kin do."
"I'll do it with pleasure."
"Come, come," cried the professor, getting down on the road, "this has
gone far enough. Keep quiet, Yates. Now, Mr. Bartlett, don't mind it;
he means no disrespect."
"Don't you interfere. You're all right, an' I aint got nothin' ag'in
you. But I'm goin' to thrash this Yank within an inch of his life; see
if I don't. We met 'em in 1812, an' we fit 'em an' we licked 'em, an'
we can do it ag'in. I'll learn ye to take my horses by the head."
"Teach," suggested Yates tantalizingly.
Before he could properly defend himself, Bartlett sprang at him and
grasped him round the waist. Yates was something of a wrestler himself,
but his skill was of no avail on this occasion. Bartlett's right leg
became twisted around his with a steel-like grip that speedily
convinced the younger man he would have to give way or a bone would
break. He gave way accordingly, and the next thing he knew he came down
on his back with a thud that seemed to shake the universe.
"There, darn ye!" cried the triumphant farmer; "that's 1812 and
Queenstown Heights for ye. How do you like 'em?"
Yates rose to his feet with some deliberation, and slowly took off his
"Now, now, Yates," said the professor soothingly, "let it go at this.
You're not hurt, are you?" he asked anxiously, as he noticed how white
the young man was around the lips.
"Look here, Renmark; you're a sensible man. There is a time to
interfere and a time not to. This is the time not to. A certain
international element seems to have crept into this dispute. Now, you
stand aside, like a good fellow, for I don't want to have to thrash
both of you."
The professor stood aside, for he realized that, when Yates called him
by his last name, matters were serious.
"Now, old chucklehead, perhaps you would like to try that again."
"I kin do it a dozen times, if ye aint satisfied. There aint no Yank
ever raised on pumpkin pie that can stand ag'in that grapevine twist."
"Try the grapevine once more."
Bartlett proceeded more cautiously this time, for there was a look in
the young man's face he did not quite like. He took a catch-as-catch-
can attitude, and moved stealthily in a semi-circle around Yates, who
shifted his position constantly so as to keep facing his foe. At last
Bartlett sprang forward, and the next instant found himself sitting on
a piece of the rock of the country, with a thousand humming birds
buzzing in his head, while stars and the landscape around joined in a
dance together. The blow was sudden, well placed, and from the
"That," said Yates, standing over him, "is 1776--the Revolution--when,
to use your own phrase, we met ye, fit ye, and licked ye. How do you
like it? Now, if my advice is of any use to you, take a broader view of
history than you have done. Don't confine yourself too much to one
period. Study up the War of the Revolution a bit."
Bartlett made no reply. After sitting there for a while, until the
surrounding landscape assumed its normal condition, he arose leisurely,
without saying a word. He picked the reins from the backs of the horses
and patted the nearest animal gently. Then he mounted to his place and
drove off. The professor had taken his seat beside the driver, but
Yates, putting on his coat and picking up his cane, strode along in
front, switching off the heads of Canada thistles with his walking
stick as he proceeded.
Bartlett was silent for a long time, but there was evidently something
on his mind, for he communed with himself, his mutterings growing
louder and louder, until they broke the stillness; then he struck the
horses, pulled them in, and began his soliloquy over again. At last he
said abruptly to the professor:
"What's this Revolution he talked about?"
"It was the War of Independence, beginning in 1776."
"Never heard of it. Did the Yanks fight us?"
"The colonies fought with England."
"The country now called the United States."
"They fit with England, eh? Which licked?"
"The colonies won their independence."
"That means they licked us. I don't believe a word of it. 'Pears to me
I'd 'a' heard of it; fur I've lived in these parts a long time."
"It was a little before your day."
"So was 1812; but my father fit in it, an' I never heard him tell of
this Revolution. He'd 'a' known, I sh'd think. There's a nigger in the
"Well, England was rather busy at the time with the French."
"Ah, that was it, was it? I'll bet England never knew the Revolution
was a-goin' on till it was over. Old Napoleon couldn't thrash 'em, and
it don't stand to reason that the Yanks could. I thought there was some
skullduggery. Why, it took the Yanks four years to lick themselves. I
got a book at home all about Napoleon. He was a tough cuss."
The professor did not feel called upon to defend the character of
Napoleon, and so silence once more descended upon them. Bartlett seemed
a good deal disturbed by the news he had just heard of the Revolution,
and he growled to himself, while the horses suffered more than usual
from the whip and the hauling back that invariably followed the stroke.
Yates was some distance ahead, and swinging along at a great rate, when
the horses, apparently of their own accord, turned in at an open
gateway and proceeded, in their usual leisurely fashion, toward a large
barn, past a comfortable frame house with a wide veranda in front.
"This is my place," said Bartlett shortly.
"I wish you had told me a few minutes ago," replied the professor,
springing off, "so that I might have called to my friend."
"I'm not frettin' about him," said Bartlett, throwing the reins to a
young man who came out of the house.
Renmark ran to the road and shouted loudly to the distant Yates. Yates
apparently did not hear him, but something about the next house
attracted the pedestrian's attention, and after standing for a moment
and gazing toward the west he looked around and saw the professor
beckoning to him. When the two men met, Yates said:
"So we have arrived, have we? I say, Stilly, she lives in the next
house. I saw the buggy in the yard."
"Why, that good-looking girl we passed on the road. I'm going to buy
our supplies at that house, Stilly, if you have no objections. By the
way, how is my old friend 1812?"
"He doesn't seem to harbor any harsh feelings. In fact, he was more
troubled about the Revolution than about the blow you gave him."
"News to him, eh? Well, I'm glad I knocked something into his head."
"You certainly did it most unscientifically."
"How do you mean--unscientifically?"
"In the delivery of the blow. I never saw a more awkwardly delivered
Yates looked at his friend in astonishment. How should this calm,
learned man know anything about undercuts or science in blows?
"Well, you must admit I got there just the same."
"Yes, by brute force. A sledge hammer would have done as well. But you
had such an opportunity to do it neatly and deftly, without any display
of surplus energy, that I regretted to see such an opening thrown
"Heavens and earth, Stilly, this is the professor in a new light! What
do you teach in Toronto University, anyhow? The noble art of self-
"Not exactly; but if you intend to go through Canada in this
belligerent manner, I think it would be worth your while to take a few
hints from me."
"With striking examples, I suppose. By Jove! I will, Stilly."
As the two came to the house they found Bartlett sitting in a wooden
rocking chair on the veranda, looking grimly down the road.
"What an old tyrant that man must be in his home!" said Yates. There
was no time for the professor to reply before they came within earshot.
"The old woman's setting out supper," said the farmer gruffly, that
piece of information being apparently as near as he could get toward
inviting them to share his hospitality. Yates didn't know whether it
was meant for an invitation or not, but he answered shortly:
"Thanks, we won't stay."
"Speak fur yourself, please," snarled Bartlett.
"Of course I go with my friend," said Renmark; "but we are obliged for
"What's that?" cried a cheery voice from the inside of the house, as a
stout, rosy, and very good-natured-looking woman appeared at the front
door. "Won't stay? _Who_ won't stay? I'd like to see anybody leave
my house hungry when there's a meal on the table! And, young men, if
you can get a better meal anywhere on the Ridge than what I'll give
you, why, you're welcome to go there next time, but this meal you'll
have here, inside of ten minutes. Hiram, that's your fault. You always
invite a person to dinner as if you wanted to wrastle with him!"
Hiram gave a guilty start, and looked with something of mute appeal at
the two men, but said nothing.
"Never mind him," continued Mrs. Bartlett. "You're at my house; and,
whatever my neighbors may say ag'in me, I never heard anybody complain
of the lack of good victuals while I was able to do the cooking. Come
right in and wash yourselves, for the road between here and the fort is
dusty enough, even if Hiram never was taken up for fast driving.
Besides, a wash is refreshing after a hot day."
There was no denying the cordiality of this invitation, and Yates,
whose natural gallantry was at once aroused, responded with the
readiness of a courtier. Mrs. Bartlett led the way into the house; but
as Yates passed the farmer the latter cleared his throat with an
effort, and, throwing his thumb over his shoulder in the direction his
wife had taken, said in a husky whisper:
"No call to--to mention the Revolution, you know."
"Certainly not," answered Yates, with a wink that took in the
situation. "Shall we sample the jug before or after supper?"
"After, if it's all the same to you;" adding, "out in the barn."
Yates nodded, and followed his friend into the house.
The young men were shown into a bedroom of more than ordinary size, on
the upper floor. Everything about the house was of the most dainty and
scrupulous cleanliness, and an air of cheerful comfort pervaded the
place. Mrs. Bartlett was evidently a housekeeper to be proud of. Two
large pitchers of cool, soft water awaited them, and the wash, as had
been predicted, was most refreshing.
"I say," cried Yates, "it's rather cheeky to accept a man's hospitality
after knocking him down."
"It would be for most people, but I think you underestimate your cheek,
as you call it."
"Bravo, Stilly! You're blossoming out. That's repartee, that is." With
the accent on the rap, too. Never you mind; I think old 1812 and I will
get on all right after this. It doesn't seem to bother him any, so I
don't see why it should worry me. Nice motherly old lady, isn't she?"
"No; Mrs. 1812. I'm sorry I complimented you on your repartee. You'll
get conceited. Remember that what in the newspaper man is clever, in a
grave professor is rank flippancy. Let's go down."
The table was covered with a cloth as white and spotless as good linen
can well be. The bread was genuine homemade, a term so often misused in
the cities. It was brown as to crust, and flaky and light as to
interior. The butter, cool from the rock cellar, was of a refreshing
yellow hue. The sight of the well-loaded table was most welcome to the
eyes of hungry travelers. There was, as Yates afterward remarked,
"abundance, and plenty of it."
"Come, father!" cried Mrs. Bartlett, as the young men appeared; they
heard the rocking chair creak on the veranda in prompt answer to the
"This is my son, gentlemen," said Mrs. Bartlett, indicating the young
man who stood in a noncommittal attitude near a corner of the room. The
professor recognized him as the person who had taken charge of the
horses when his father came home. There was evidently something of his
father's demeanor about the young man, who awkwardly and silently
responded to the recognition of the strangers.
"And this is my daughter," continued the good woman. "Now, what might
your names be?"
"My name is Yates, and this is my friend Professor Renmark of T'ronto,"
pronouncing the name of the fair city in two syllables, as is, alas!
too often done. The professor bowed, and Yates cordially extended his
hand to the young woman. "How do you do, Miss Bartlett?" he said, "I am
happy to meet you."
The girl smiled very prettily, and said she hoped they had a pleasant
trip out from Fort Erie.
"Oh, we had," said Yates, looking for a moment at his host, whose eyes
were fixed on the tablecloth, and who appeared to be quite content to
let his wife run the show. "The road's a little rocky in places, but
it's very pleasant."
"Now, you sit down here, and you here," said Mrs. Bartlett; "and I do
hope you have brought good appetites with you."
The strangers took their places, and Yates had a chance to look at the
younger member of the family, which opportunity he did not let slip. It
was hard to believe that she was the daughter of so crusty a man as
Hiram Bartlett. Her cheeks were rosy, with dimples in them that
constantly came and went in her incessant efforts to keep from
laughing. Her hair, which hung about her plump shoulders, was a lovely
golden brown. Although her dress was of the cheapest material, it was
neatly cut and fitted; and her dainty white apron added that touch of
wholesome cleanliness which was so noticeable everywhere in the house.
A bit of blue ribbon at her white throat, and a pretty spring flower
just below it, completed a charming picture, which a more critical and
less susceptible man than Yates might have contemplated with pleasure.
Miss Bartlett sat smilingly at one end of the table, and her father
grimly at the other. The mother sat at the side, apparently looking on
that position as one of vantage for commanding the whole field, and
keeping her husband and her daughter both under her eye. The teapot and
cups were set before the young woman. She did not pour out the tea at
once, but seemed to be waiting instructions from her mother. That good
lady was gazing with some sternness at her husband, he vainly
endeavoring to look at the ceiling or anywhere but at her. He drew his
open hand nervously down his face, which was of unusual gravity even
for him. Finally he cast an appealing glance at his wife, who sat with
her hands folded on her lap, but her eyes were unrelenting. After a
moment's hopeless irresolution Bartlett bent his head over his plate
"For what we are about to receive, oh, make us truly thankful. Amen."
Mrs. Bartlett echoed the last word, having also bowed her head when she
saw surrender in the troubled eyes of her husband.
Now, it happened that Yates, who had seen nothing of this silent
struggle of the eyes, being exceedingly hungry, was making every
preparation for the energetic beginning of the meal. He had spent most
of his life in hotels and New York boarding houses, so that if he ever
knew the adage, "Grace before meat," he had forgotten it. In the midst
of his preparations came the devout words, and they came upon him as a
stupefying surprise. Although naturally a resourceful man, he was not
quick enough this time to cover his confusion. Miss Bartlett's golden
head was bowed, but out of the corner of her eye she saw Yates' look of
amazed bewilderment and his sudden halt of surprise. When all heads
were raised, the young girl's still remained where it was, while her
plump shoulders quivered. Then she covered her face with her apron, and
the silvery ripple of a laugh came like a smothered musical chime
trickling through her fingers.
"Why, _Kitty!_" cried her mother in astonishment, "whatever is the
matter with you?"
The girl could no longer restrain her mirth. "You'll have to pour out
the tea, mother!" She exclaimed, as she fled from the room.
"For the land's sake!" cried the astonished mother, rising to take her
frivolous daughter's place, "what ails the child? I don't see what
there is to laugh at."
Hiram scowled down the table, and was evidently also of the opinion
that there was no occasion for mirth. The professor was equally in the
"I am afraid, Mrs. Bartlett," said Yates, "that I am the innocent cause
of Miss Kitty's mirth. You see, madam--it's a pathetic thing to say,
but really I have had no home life. Although I attend church regularly,
of course," he added with jaunty mendacity, "I must confess that I
haven't heard grace at meals for years and years, and--well, I wasn't
just prepared for it. I have no doubt I made an exhibition of myself,
which your daughter was quick to see."
"It wasn't very polite," said Mrs. Bartlett with some asperity.
"I know that," pleaded Yates with contrition, "but I assure you it was
unintentional on my part."
"Bless the man!" cried his hostess. "I don't mean you. I mean Kitty.
But that girl never _could_ keep her face straight. She always
favored me more than her father."
This statement was not difficult to believe, for Hiram at that moment
looked as if he had never smiled in his life. He sat silent throughout
the meal, but Mrs. Bartlett talked quite enough for two.
"Well, for my part," she said, "I don't know what farming's coming to!
Henry Howard and Margaret drove past here this afternoon as proud as
Punch in their new covered buggy. Things is very different from what
they was when I was a girl. Then a farmer's daughter had to work. Now
Margaret's took her diploma at the ladies' college, and Arthur he's
begun at the university, and Henry's sporting round in a new buggy.
They have a piano there, with the organ moved out into the back room."
"The whole Howard lot's a stuck-up set," muttered the farmer.
But Mrs. Bartlett wouldn't have that. Any detraction that was necessary
she felt competent to supply, without help from the nominal head of the
"No, I don't go so far as to say that. Neither would you, Hiram, if you
hadn't lost your lawsuit about the line fence; and served you right,
too, for it wouldn't have been begun if I had been at home at the time.
Not but what Margaret's a good housekeeper, for she wouldn't be her
mother's daughter if she wasn't that; but it does seem to me a queer
way to raise farmers' children, and I only hope they can keep it up.
There were no pianos nor French and German in _my_ young days."
"You ought to hear her play! My lands!" cried young Bartlett, who spoke
for the first time. His admiration for her accomplishment evidently
went beyond his powers of expression.
Bartlett himself did not relish the turn the conversation had taken,
and he looked somewhat uneasily at the two strangers. The professor's
countenance was open and frank, and he was listening with respectful
interest to Mrs. Bartlett's talk. Yates bent over his plate with
flushed face, and confined himself strictly to the business in hand.
"I am glad," said the professor innocently to Yates, "that you made the
young lady's acquaintance. I must ask you for an introduction."
For once in his life Yates had nothing to say, but he looked at his
friend with an expression that was not kindly. The latter, in answer to
Mrs. Bartlett's inquiries, told how they had passed Miss Howard on the
road, and how Yates, with his usual kindness of heart, had offered the
young woman the hospitalities of the hay rack. Two persons at the table
were much relieved when the talk turned to the tent. It was young Hiram
who brought about this boon. He was interested in the tent, and he
wanted to know. Two things seemed to bother the boy: First, he was
anxious to learn what diabolical cause had been at work to induce two
apparently sane men to give up the comforts of home and live in this
exposed manner, if they were not compelled to do so. Second, he desired
to find out why people who had the privilege of living in large cities
came of their own accord into the uninteresting country, anyhow. Even
when explanations were offered, the problem seemed still beyond him.
After the meal they all adjourned to the veranda, where the air was
cool and the view extensive. Mrs. Bartlett would not hear of the young
men pitching the tent that night. "Goodness knows, you will have enough
of it, with the rain and the mosquitoes. We have plenty of room here,
and you will have one comfortable night on the Ridge, at any rate. Then
in the morning you can find a place in the woods to suit you, and my
boy will take an ax and cut stakes for you, and help to put up your
precious tent. Only remember that when it rains you are to come to the
house, or you will catch your deaths with cold and rheumatism. It will
be very nice till the novelty wears off; then you are quite welcome to
the front rooms upstairs, and Hiram can take the tent back to Erie the
first time he goes to town."
Mrs. Bartlett had a way of taking things for granted. It never seemed
to occur to her that any of her rulings might be questioned. Hiram sat
gazing silently at the road, as if all this was no affair of his.
Yates had refused a chair, and sat on the edge of the veranda, with his
back against one of the pillars, in such a position that he might,
without turning his head, look through the open doorway into the room.
where Miss Bartlett was busily but silently clearing away the tea
things. The young man caught fleeting glimpses of her as she moved
airily about her work. He drew a cigar from his case, cut off the end
with his knife, and lit a match on the sole of his boot, doing this
with an easy automatic familiarity that required no attention on his
part; all of which aroused the respectful envy of young Hiram, who sat
on a wooden chair, leaning forward, eagerly watching the man from New
"Have a cigar?" said Yates, offering the case to young Hiram.
"No, no; thank you," gasped the boy, aghast at the reckless audacity of
"What's that?" cried Mrs. Bartlett. Although she was talking volubly to
the professor, her maternal vigilance never even nodded, much less
slept. "A cigar? Not likely! I'll say this for my husband and my boy:
that, whatever else they may have done, they have never smoked nor
touched a drop of liquor since I've known them, and, please God, they
"Oh, I guess it wouldn't hurt them," said Yates, with a lack of tact
that was not habitual. He fell several degrees in the estimation of his
"Hurt 'em?" cried Mrs. Bartlett indignantly. "I guess it won't get a
chance to." She turned to the professor, who was a good listener--
respectful and deferential, with little to say for himself. She rocked
gently to and fro as she talked.
Her husband sat unbendingly silent, in a sphinxlike attitude that gave
no outward indication of his mental uneasiness. He was thinking
gloomily that it would be just his luck to meet Mrs. Bartlett
unexpectedly in the streets of Fort Erie on one of those rare occasions
when he was enjoying the pleasures of sin for a season. He had the most
pessimistic forebodings of what the future might have in store for him.
Sometimes, when neighbors or customers "treated" him in the village,
and he felt he had taken all the whisky that cloves would conceal, he
took a five-cent cigar instead of a drink. He did not particularly like
the smoking of it, but there was a certain devil-may-care recklessness
in going down the street with a lighted cigar in his teeth, which had
all the more fascination for him because of its manifest danger. He
felt at these times that he was going the pace, and that it is well our
women do not know of all the wickedness there is in this world. He did
not fear that any neighbor might tell his wife, for there were depths
to which no person could convince Mrs. Bartlett he would descend. But
he thought with horror of some combination of circumstances that might
bring his wife to town unknown to him on a day when he indulged. He
pictured, with a shudder, meeting her unexpectedly on the uncertain
plank sidewalk of Fort Erie, he smoking a cigar. When this nightmare
presented itself to him, he resolved never to touch a cigar again; but
he well knew that the best resolutions fade away if a man is excited
with two or three glasses of liquor.
When Mrs. Bartlett resumed conversation with the professor, Yates
looked up at young Hiram and winked. The boy flushed with pleasure
under the comprehensiveness of that wink. It included him in the
attractive halo of crime that enveloped the fascinating personality of
the man from New York. It seemed to say:
"That's all right, but we are men of the world. _We_ know."
Young Hiram's devotion to the Goddess Nicotine had never reached the
altitude of a cigar. He had surreptitiously smoked a pipe in a secluded
corner behind the barn in days when his father was away. He feared both
his father and his mother, and so was in an even more embarrassing
situation than old Hiram himself. He had worked gradually up to tobacco
by smoking cigarettes of cane made from abandoned hoop-skirts.
Crinoline was fashionable, even in the country, in those days, and ribs
of cane were used before the metallic distenders of dresses came in.
One hoop-skirt, whose usefulness as an article of adornment was gone,
would furnish delight and smoking material for a company of boys for a
month. The cane smoke made the tongue rather raw, but the wickedness
was undeniable. Yates' wink seemed to recognize young Hiram as a
comrade worthy to offer incense at the shrine, and the boy was a firm
friend of Yates from the moment the eyelid of the latter drooped.
The tea things having been cleared away, Yates got no more glimpses of
the girl through the open door. He rose from his lowly seat and
strolled toward the gate, with his hands in his pockets. He remembered
that he had forgotten something, and cudgeled his brains to make out
what it was. He gazed down the road at the house of the Howards, which
naturally brought to his recollection his meeting with the young girl
on the road. There was a pang of discomfiture in this thought when he
remembered the accomplishments attributed to her by Mrs. Bartlett. He
recalled his condescending tone to her, and recollected his anxiety
about the jar. The jar! That was what he had forgotten. He flashed a
glance at old Hiram, and noted that the farmer was looking at him with
something like reproach in his eyes. Yates moved his head almost
imperceptibly toward the barn, and the farmer's eyes dropped to the
floor of the veranda. The young man nonchalantly strolled past the end
of the house.
"I guess I'll go to look after the horses," said the farmer, rising.
"The horses are all right, father. I saw to them," put in his son, but
the old man frowned him down, and slouched around the corner of the
house. Mrs. Bartlett was too busy talking to the professor to notice.
So good a listener did not fall to her lot every day.
"Here's looking at you," said Yates, strolling into the barn, taking a
telescopic metal cup from his pocket, and clinking it into receptive
shape by a jerk of the hand. He offered the now elongated cup to Hiram,
who declined any such modern improvement.
"Help yourself in that thing. The jug's good enough for me."
"Three fingers" of the liquid gurgled out into the patented vessel, and
the farmer took the jar, after a furtive look over his shoulder.
"Well, here's luck." The newspaper man tossed off the potion with the
facility of long experience, shutting up the dish with his thumb and
finger, as if it were a metallic opera hat.
The farmer drank silently from the jar itself. Then he smote in the
cork with his open palm.
"Better bury it in the wheat bin," he said morosely. "The boy might
find it if you put it among the oats--feedin' the horses, ye know."
"Mighty good place," assented Yates, as the golden grain flowed in a
wave, over the submerged jar. "I say, old man, you know the spot;
you've been here before."
Bartlett's lowering countenance indicated resentment at the imputation,
but he neither affirmed nor denied. Yates strolled out of the barn,
while the farmer went through a small doorway that led to the stable. A
moment later he heard Hiram calling loudly to his son to bring the
pails and water the horses.
"Evidently preparing an _alibi,_" said Yates, smiling to himself,
as he sauntered toward the gate.
"What's up? what's up?" cried Yates drowsily next morning, as a
prolonged hammering at his door awakened him.
"Well, _you're_ not, anyhow." He recognized the voice of young
Hiram. "I say, breakfast's ready. The professor has been up an hour."
"All right; I'll be down shortly," said Yates, yawning, adding to
himself: "Hang the professor!" The sun was streaming in through the
east window, but Yates never before remembered seeing it such a short
distance above the horizon in the morning. He pulled his watch from the
pocket of his vest, hanging on the bedpost. It was not yet seven
o'clock. He placed it to his ear, thinking it had stopped, but found
"What an unearthly hour," he said, unable to check the yawns. Yates'
years on a morning newspaper had made seven o'clock something like
midnight to him. He had been unable to sleep until after two o'clock,
his usual time of turning in, and now this rude wakening seemed
thoughtless cruelty. However, he dressed, and yawned himself
They were all seated at breakfast when Yates entered the apartment,
which was at once dining room and parlor.
"Waiting for you," said young Hiram humorously, that being one of a set
of jokes which suited various occasions. Yates took his place near Miss
Kitty, who looked as fresh and radiant as a spirit of the morning.
"I hope I haven't kept you waiting long." he said.
"No fear," cried Mrs. Bartlett. "If breakfast's a minute later than
seven o'clock, we soon hear of it from the men-folks. They get precious
hungry by that time."
"By that time?" echoed Yates. "Then do they get up before seven?"
"Laws! what a farmer you would make, Mr. Yates!" exclaimed Mrs.
"Why, everything's done about the house and barn; horses fed, cows
milked--everything. There never was a better motto made than the one
you learned when you were a boy, and like as not have forgotten all
"'Early to bed and early to rise
Makes a man healthy, wealthy, and wise.'
I'm sorry you don't believe in it, Mr. Yates."
"Oh, that's all right," said Yates with some loftiness; "but I'd like
to see a man get out a morning paper on such a basis. I'm healthy
enough, quite as wealthy as the professor here, and everyone will admit
that I'm wiser than he is; yet I never go to bed until after two
o'clock, and rarely wake before noon."
Kitty laughed at this, and young Hiram looked admiringly at the New
Yorker, wishing he was as clever.
"For the land's sake!" cried Mrs. Bartlett, with true feminine
profanity, "What do you do up so late as that?"
"Writing, writing," said Yates airily; "articles that make dynasties
tremble next morning, and which call forth apologies or libel suits
afterward, as the case may be."
Young Hiram had no patience with one's profession as a topic of
conversation. The tent and its future position was the burning question
with him. He mumbled something about Yates having slept late in order
to avoid the hearing of the words of thankfulness at the beginning of
the meal. What his parents caught of this remark should have shown them
how evil communications corrupt good manners; for, big as he was, the
boy had never before ventured even to hint at ridicule on such a
subject. He was darkly frowned upon by his silent father, and sharply
reprimanded by his voluble mother. Kitty apparently thought it rather
funny, and would like to have laughed. As it was, she contented herself
with a sly glance at Yates, who, incredible as it may seem, actually
blushed at young Hiram's allusion to the confusing incident of the day
The professor, who was a kind-hearted man, drew a herring across the
"Mr. Bartlett has been good enough," said he, changing the subject, "to
say we may camp in the woods at the back of the farm. I have been out
there this morning, and it certainly is a lovely spot."
"We're awfully obliged, Mr. Bartlett," said Yates. "Of course Renmark
went out there merely to show the difference between the ant and the
butterfly. You'll find out what a humbug he is by and by, Mrs.
Bartlett. He looks honest; but you wait."
"I know just the spot for the tent," cried young Hiram--"down in the
hollow by the creek. Then you won't need to haul water."
"Yes, and catch their deaths of fever and ague," said Mrs. Bartlett.
Malaria had not then been invented. "Take my advice, and put your tent
--if you _will_ put it up at all--on the highest ground you can
find. Hauling water won't hurt you."
"I agree with you, Mrs. Bartlett. It shall be so. My friend uses no
water--you ought to have seen his bill at the Buffalo hotel. I have it
somewhere, and am going to pin it up on the outside of the tent as a
warning to the youth of this neighborhood--and what water I need I can
easily carry up from the creek."
The professor did not defend himself, and Mrs. Bartlett evidently took
a large discount from all that Yates said. She was a shrewd woman.
After breakfast the men went out to the barn. The horses were hitched
to the wagon, which still contained the tent and fittings. Young Hiram
threw an ax and a spade among the canvas folds, mounted to his place,
and drove up the lane leading to the forest, followed by Yates and
Renmark on foot, leaving the farmer in his barnyard with a cheery
good-by, which he did not see fit to return.
First, a field of wheat; next, an expanse of waving hay that soon would
be ready for the scythe; then, a pasture field, in which some young
horses galloped to the fence, gazing for a moment at the harnessed
horses, whinnying sympathetically, off the next with flying keels
wildly flung in the air, rejoicing in their own contrast of liberty,
standing at the farther corner and snorting defiance to all the world;
last, the cool shade of the woods into which the lane ran, losing its
identity as a wagon road in diverging cow paths. Young Hiram knew the
locality well, and drove direct to an ideal place for camping. Yates
was enchanted. He included all that section of the country in a
sweeping wave of his hand, and burst forth:
"'This is the spot, the center of the grove:
There stands the oak, the monarch of the wood.
In such a place as this, at such an hour,
We'll raise a tent to ward off sun and shower.'
"I think you are mistaken," said Renmark.
"Not a bit it. Couldn't be a better camping ground."
"Yes; I know that. I picked it out two hours ago. But you were wrong in
your quotation. It is not by Shakespeare and yourself, as you seem to
"Isn't it? Some other fellow, eh? Well, if Shake is satisfied, I am. Do
you know, Renny, I calculate that, line for line, I've written about
ten times as much as Shakespeare. Do the literati recognize that fact?
Not a bit of it. This is an ungrateful world, Stilly."
"It is, Dick. Now, what are you going to do toward putting up the
"Everything, my boy, everything. I know more about putting up tents
than you do about science, or whatever you teach. Now, Hiram, my boy,
you cut me some stakes about two feet long--stout ones. Here,
professor, throw off that coat and _neglige_ manner, and grasp
this spade. I want some trenches dug."
Yates certainly made good his words. He understood the putting up of
tents, his experience in the army being not yet remote. Young Hiram
gazed with growing admiration at Yates' deftness and evident knowledge
of what he was about, while his contempt for the professor's futile
struggle with a spade entangled in tree roots was hardly repressed.
"Better give me that spade," he said at length; but there was an
element of stubbornness in Renmark's character. He struggled on.
At last the work was completed, stakes driven, ropes tightened,
Yates danced, and gave the war whoop of the country.
"Thus the canvas tent has risen,
All the slanting stakes are driven,
Stakes of oak and stakes of beechwood:
Mops his brow, the tired professor;
Grins with satisfaction, Hiram;
Dances wildly, the reporter--
Calls aloud for gin and water.
Longfellow, old man, Longfellow. Bet you a dollar on it!" And the
frivolous Yates poked the professor in the ribs.
"Richard," said the latter, "I can stand only a certain amount of this
sort of thing. I don't wish to call any man a fool, but you act
remarkably like one."
"Don't be mealy-mouthed, Renny; call a spade a spade. By George! young
Hiram has gone off and forgotten his--And the ax, too! Perhaps they're
left for us. He's a good fellow, is young Hiram. A fool? Of course I'm
a fool. That's what I came for, and that's what I'm going to be for the
next two weeks. 'A fool--a fool, I met a fool i' the forest'--just the
spot for him. Who could be wise here after years of brick and mortar?
"Where are your eyes, Renny," he cried, "that you don't grow wild when
you look around you? See the dappled sunlight filtering through the
leaves; listen to the murmur of the wind in the branches; hear the
trickle of the brook down there; notice the smooth bark of the beech
and the rugged covering of the oak; smell the wholesome woodland
scents. Renmark, you have no soul, or you could not be so unmoved. It
is like paradise. It is--Say, Renny, by Jove, I've forgotten that jug
at the barn!"
"It will be left there."
"Will it? Oh, well, if you say so."
"I do say so. I looked around for it this morning to smash it, but
couldn't find it."
"Why didn't you ask old Bartlett?"
"I did; but he didn't know where it was."
Yates threw himself down on the moss and laughed, flinging his arms and
legs about with the joy of living.
"Say, Culture, have you got any old disreputable clothes with you?
Well, then, go into the tent and put them on; then come out and lie on
your back and look up at the leaves. You're a good fellow, Renny, but
decent clothes spoil you. You won't know yourself when you get ancient
duds on your back. Old clothes mean freedom, liberty, all that our
ancestors fought for. When you come out, we'll settle who's to cook and
who to wash dishes. I've settled it already in my own mind, but I am
not so selfish as to refuse to discuss the matter with you."
When the professor came out of the tent, Yates roared. Renmark himself
smiled; he knew the effect would appeal to Yates.
"By Jove! old man, I ought to have included a mirror in the outfit. The
look of learned respectability, set off with the garments of a
disreputable tramp, makes a combination that is simply killing. Well,
you can't spoil _that_ suit, anyhow. Now sprawl."
"I'm very comfortable standing up, thank you."
"Get down on your back. You hear me?"
"Put me there."
"You mean it?" asked Yates, sitting up.
"Say, Renny, beware. I don't want to hurt you."
"I'll forgive you for once."
"On your head be it."
"On my back, you mean."
"That's not bad, Renny," cried Yates, springing to his feet. "Now, it
will hurt. You have fair warning. I have spoken."
The young men took sparring attitudes. Yates tried to do it gently at
first, but, finding he could not touch his opponent, struck out more
earnestly, again giving a friendly warning. This went on ineffectually
for some time, when the professor, with a quick movement, swung around
his foot with the airy grace of a dancing master, and caught Yates
just behind the knee, at the same time giving him a slight tap on the
breast. Yates was instantly on his back.
"Oh, I say, Renny, that wasn't fair. That was a kick."
"No, it wasn't. It is merely a little French touch. I learned it in
Paris. They _do_ kick there, you know; and it is good to know how
to use your feet as well as your fists if you are set on by three, as I
was one night in the Latin Quarter."
Yates sat up.
"Look here, Renmark; when were you in Paris?"
Yates gazed at him for a few moments, then said:
"Renny, you improve on acquaintance. I never saw a Bool-var in my life.
You must teach me that little kick."
"With pleasure," said Renmark, sitting down, while the other sprawled
at full length. "Teaching is my business, and I shall be glad to
exercise any talents I may have in that line. In endeavoring to
instruct a New York man the first step is to convince him that he
doesn't know everything. That is the difficult point. Afterward
everything is easy."
"Mr. Stillson Renmark, you are pleased to be severe. Know that you are
forgiven. This delicious sylvan retreat does not lend itself to
acrimonious dispute, or, in plain English, quarreling. Let dogs
delight, if they want to; I refuse to be goaded by your querulous
nature into giving anything but the soft answer. Now to business.
Nothing is so conducive to friendship, when two people are camping out,
as a definition of the duties of each at the beginning. Do you follow
"Perfectly. What do you propose?"
"I propose that you do the cooking and I wash the dishes. We will
forage for food alternate days."
"Very well. I agree to that."
Richard Yates sat suddenly upright, looking at his friend with reproach
in his eyes. "See here, Renmark; are you resolved to force on an
international complication the very first day? That's no fair show to
give a man."
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