The Cruise of the Jasper B.
Part 1 out of 4
THE CRUISE OF THE JASPER B.
BY DON MARQUIS
TO ALL THE COPYREADERS ON ALL THE NEWSPAPERS OF AMERICA
A BRIGHT BLADE LEAPS FROM A RUSTY SCABBARD
On an evening in April, 191-, Clement J. Cleggett walked sedately
into the news room of the New York Enterprise with a drab-colored
walking-stick in his hand. He stood the cane in a corner,
changed his sober street coat for a more sober office jacket,
adjusted a green eyeshade below his primly brushed grayish hair,
unostentatiously sat down at the copy desk, and unobtrusively
opened a drawer.
From the drawer he took a can of tobacco, a pipe, a pair of
scissors, a paste-pot and brush, a pile of copy paper, a penknife
and three half-lengths of lead pencil.
The can of tobacco was not remarkable. The pipe was not
picturesque. The scissors were the most ordinary of scissors.
The copy paper was quite undistinguished in appearance. The lead
pencils had the most untemperamental looking points.
Cleggett himself, as he filled and lighted the pipe, did it in
the most matter-of-fact sort of way. Then he remarked to the head
of the copy desk, in an average kind of voice:
"H'lo, Clegg," said Jim, without looking up. "Might as well begin
on this bunch of early copy, I guess."
For more than ten years Cleggett had done the same thing at the
same time in the same manner, six nights of the week.
What he did on the seventh night no one ever thought to inquire.
If any member of the Enterprise staff had speculated about it at
all he would have assumed that Cleggett spent that seventh
evening in some way essentially commonplace, sober, unemotional,
quiet, colorless, dull and Brooklynitish.
Cleggett lived in Brooklyn. The superficial observer might have
said that Cleggett and Brooklyn were made for each other.
The superficial observer! How many there are of him! And how
much he misses! He misses, in fact, everything.
At two o'clock in the morning a telegraph operator approached the
copy desk and handed Cleggett a sheet of yellow paper, with the
It was a night letter, and glancing at the signature Cleggett saw
that it was from his brother who lived in Boston. It ran:
Uncle Tom died yesterday. Don't faint now.
He splits bulk fortune between you and me.
Lawyers figure nearly $500,000 each. Mostly
easily negotiable securities. New will made
month ago while sore at president temperance
outfit. Blood thicker than Apollinaris after all.
Poor Uncle Tom.
Despite Edward's thoughtful warning, Cleggett did nearly faint.
Nothing could have been less expected. Uncle Tom was an
irascible prohibitionist, and one of the most deliberately
disobliging men on earth. Cleggett and his brother had long
ceased to expect anything from him. For twenty years it had been
thoroughly understood that Uncle Tom would leave his entire
estate to a temperance society. Cleggett had ceased to think of
Uncle Tom as a possible factor in his life. He did not doubt
that Uncle Tom had changed the will to gain some point with the
officials of the temperance society, intending to change it once
again after he had been deferred to, cajoled, and flattered
enough to placate his vanity. But death had stepped in just in
time to disinherit the enemies of the Demon Rum.
Cleggett read the wire through twice, and then folded it and put
it into his pocket. He rose and walked toward the managing
editor's room. As he stepped across the floor there was a little
dancing light in his eyes, there was a faint smile upon his lips,
that were quite foreign to the staid and sober Cleggett that the
world knew. He was quiet, but he was almost jaunty, too; he felt
a little drunk, and enjoyed the feeling.
He opened the managing editor's door with more assurance than he
had ever displayed before. The managing editor, a pompous, tall,
thin man with a drooping frosty mustache, and cold gray eyes in a
cold gray face that somehow reminded one of the visage of a
walrus, was preparing to go home.
"Well?" he said, shortly.
He was a man for whom Cleggett had long felt a secret antipathy.
The man was, in short, the petty tyrant of Cleggett's little
"Can you spare me a couple of minutes, Mr. Wharton?" said
Cleggett. But he did not say it with the air of a person who
really sues for a hearing.
"Yes, yes--go on." Mr. Wharton, who had risen from his chair,
sat down again. He was distinctly annoyed. He was ungracious.
He was usually ungracious with Cleggett. His face set itself in
the expression it always took when he declined to consider
raising a man's salary. Cleggett, who had been refused a raise
regularly every three months for the past two years, was familiar
with the look.
"Go on, go on--what is it?" asked Mr. Wharton unpleasantly,
frowning and stroking the frosty mustache, first one side and
then the other.
"I just stepped in to tell you," said Cleggett quietly, "that I
don't think much of the way you are running the Enterprise."
Wharton stopped stroking his mustache so quickly and so amazedly
that one might have thought he had run into a thorn amongst the
hirsute growth and pricked a finger. He glared. He opened his
mouth. But before he could speak Cleggett went on:
"Three years ago I made a number of suggestions to you. You
treated me contemptuously--very contemptuously!"
Cleggett paused and drew a long breath, and his face became quite
red. It was as if the anger in which he could not afford to
indulge himself three years before was now working in him with
cumulative effect. Wharton, only partially recovered from the
shock of Cleggett's sudden arraignment, began to stammer and
bluster, using the words nearest his tongue:
"You d-damned im-p-pertinent------"
"Just a moment," Cleggett interrupted, growing visibly angrier,
and seeming to enjoy his anger more and more. "Just a word more.
I had intended to conclude my remarks by telling you that my
contempt for YOU, personally, is unbounded. It is boundless,
sir! But since you have sworn at me, I am forced to conclude
this interview in another fashion."
And with a gesture which was not devoid of dignity Cleggett drew
from an upper waistcoat pocket a card and flung it on Wharton's
desk. After which he stepped back and made a formal bow.
Wharton looked at the card. Bewilderment almost chased the anger
from his face.
"Eh," he said, "what's this?"
"My card, sir! A friend will wait on you tomorrow!"
"Tomorrow? A friend? What for?"
Cleggett folded his arms and regarded the managing editor with a
touch of the supercilious in his manner.
"If you were a gentleman," he said, "you would have no difficulty
in understanding these things. I have just done you the honor of
challenging you to a duel."
Mr. Wharton's mouth opened as if he were about to explode in a
roar of incredulous laughter. But meeting Cleggett's eyes, which
were, indeed, sparkling with a most remarkable light, his jaw
dropped, and he turned slightly pale. He rose from his chair and
put the desk between himself and Cleggett, picking up as he did
so a long pair of shears.
"Put down the scissors," said Cleggett, with a wave of his hand.
"I do not propose to attack you now."
And he turned and left the managing editor's little office,
closing the door behind him.
The managing editor tiptoed over to the door and, with the
scissors still grasped in one hand, opened it about a quarter of
an inch. Through this crack Wharton saw Cleggett walk jauntily
towards the corner where his hat and coat were hanging. Cleggett
took off his worn office jacket, rolled it into a ball, and flung
it into a waste paper basket. He put on his street coat and hat
and picked up the drab-colored cane. Swinging the stick he moved
towards the door into the hall. In the doorway he paused, cocked
his hat a trifle, turned towards the managing editor's door,
raised his hand with his pipe in it with the manner of one who
points a dueling pistol, took careful aim at the second button of
the managing editor's waistcoat, and clucked. At the cluck the
managing editor drew back hastily, as if Cleggett had actually
presented a firearm; Cleggett's manner was so rapt and fatal that
it carried conviction. Then Cleggett laughed, cocked his hat on
the other side of his head and went out into the corridor
whistling. Whistling, and, since faults as well as virtues must
be told, swaggering just a little.
When the managing editor had heard the elevator come up, pause,
and go down again, he went out of his room and said to the city
"Mr. Herbert, don't ever let that man Cleggett into this office
again. He is off--off mentally. He's a dangerous man. He's a
homicidal maniac. More'n likely he's been a quiet, steady drinker
for years, and now it's begun to show on him."
But nothing was further from Cleggett than the wish ever to go
into the Enterprise office again. As he left the elevator on the
ground floor he stabbed the astonished elevator boy under the
left arm with his cane as a bayonet, cut him harmlessly over the
head with his cane as a saber, tossed him a dollar, and left the
"Oh, the Beau Sabreur of the Grande Armee
Was the Captain Tarjeanterre!"
It is thus, with a single twitch of her playful fingers, that
Fate will sometimes pluck from a man the mask that has obscured
his real identity for many years. It is thus that Destiny will
suddenly draw a bright blade from a rusty scabbard!
THE ROOM OF ILLUSION
That part of Brooklyn in which Cleggett lived overlooks a wide
sweep of water where the East River merges with New York Bay.
From his windows he could gaze out upon the bustling harbor craft
and see the ships going forth to the great mysterious sea.
He walked home across the Brooklyn Bridge, and as he walked he
still hummed tunes. Occasionally, still with the rapt and fatal
manner which had daunted the managing editor, he would pause and
flex his wrist, and then suddenly deliver a ferocious thrust with
The fifth of these lunges had an unexpected result. Cleggett
directed it toward the door of an unpainted toolhouse, a
temporary structure near one of the immense stone pillars from
which the bridge is swung. But, as he lunged, the toolhouse door
opened, and a policeman, who was coming out wiping his mouth on
the back of his hand, received a jab in the pit of a somewhat
The officer grunted and stepped backward; then he came on,
raising his night-stick.
"Why, it's--it's McCarthy!" exclaimed Cleggett, who had also
sprung back, as the light fell on the other's face.
"Mr. Cleggett, by the powers!" said the officer, pausing and
lowering his lifted club. "Are ye soused, man? Or is it your
way of sayin' good avenin' to your frinds?"
Cleggett smiled. He had first known McCarthy years before when
he was a reporter, and more recently had renewed the acquaintance
in his walks across the bridge.
"I didn't know you were there, McCarthy," he said.
"No?" said the officer. "And who were ye jabbin' at, thin?"
"I was just limbering up my wrist," said Cleggett.
"'Tis a quare thing to do," persisted McCarthy, albeit
good-humoredly. "And now I mind I've seen ye do the same before,
Mr. Cleggett. You're foriver grinnin' to yersilf an' makin' thim
funny jabs at nothin' as ye cross the bridge. Are ye subjict to
stiffness in the wrists, Mr. Cleggett?"
"Perhaps it's writer's cramp," said Cleggett, indulging the
pleasant humor that was on him. He was really thinking that, with
$500,000 of his own, he had written his last headline, edited his
last piece of copy, sharpened his last pencil.
"Writer's cramp? Is it so?" mused McCarthy. "Newspapers is great
things, ain't they now? And so's writin' and readin'. Gr-r-reat
things! But if ye'll take my advise, Mr. Cleggett, ye'll kape
that writin' and readin' within bounds. Too much av thim rots
"I'll remember that," said Cleggett. And he playfully jabbed the
officer again as he turned away.
"G'wan wid ye!" protested McCarthy. "Ye're soused! The scent av
it's in the air. If I'm compilled to run yez in f'r assaultin'
an officer ye'll get the cramps out av thim wrists breakin'
stone, maybe. Cr-r-r-amps, indade!"
Cramps, indeed! Oh, Clement J. Cleggett, you liar! And yet, who
does not lie in order to veil his inmost, sweetest thoughts from
an unsympathetic world?
That was not an ordinary jab with an ordinary cane which Cleggett
had directed towards the toolhouse door. It was a thrust en
carte; the thrust of a brilliant swordsman; the thrust of a
master; a terrible thrust. It was meant for as pernicious a
bravo as ever infested the pages of romantic fiction. Cleggett
had been slaying these gentry a dozen times a day for years. He
had pinked four of them on the way across the bridge, before
McCarthy, with his stomach and his realism, stopped the lunge
intended for the fifth. But this is not exactly the sort of
thing one finds it easy to confide to a policeman, be he ever so
friendly a policeman.
Cleggett--Old Clegg, the copyreader--Clegg, the commonplace--C.
J. Cleggett, the Brooklynite-this person whom young reporters
conceived of as the staid, dry prophet of the dusty Fact--was
secretly a mighty reservoir of unwritten, unacted, unlived,
unspoken romance. He ate it, he drank it, he breathed it, he
dreamed it. The usual copyreader, when he closes his eyes and
smiles upon a pleasant inward vision, is thinking of starting a
chicken-farm in New Jersey. But Cleggett--with gray sprinkled in
his hair, sober of face and precise of manner, as the world knew
him--lived a hidden life which was one long, wild adventure.
Nobody had ever suspected it. But his room might have given to
the discerning a clue to the real man behind the mask which he
assumed--which he had been forced to assume in order to earn a
living. When he reached the apartment, a few minutes after his
encounter on the bridge, and switched the electric light on, the
gleams fell upon an astonishing clutter of books and arms. . . .
Stevenson, cavalry sabers, W. Clark Russell, pistols, and Dumas;
Jack London, poignards, bowie knives, Stanley Weyman, Captain
Marryat, and Dumas; sword canes, Scottish claymores, Cuban
machetes, Conan Doyle, Harrison Ainsworth, dress swords, and
Dumas; stilettos, daggers, hunting knives, Fenimore Cooper, G. P.
R. James, broadswords, Dumas; Gustave Aimard, Rudyard Kipling,
dueling swords, Dumas; F. Du Boisgobey, Malay krises, Walter
Scott, stick pistols, scimitars, Anthony Hope, single sticks,
foils, Dumas; jungles of arms, jumbles of books; arms of all
makes and periods; arms on the walls, in the corners, over the
fireplace, leaning against the bookshelves, lying in ambush under
the bed, peeping out of the wardrobe, propping the windows open,
serving as paper weights; pictures, warlike and romantic prints
and engravings, pinned to the walls with daggers; in the
wardrobe, coats and hats hanging from poignards and stilettos
thrust into the wood instead of from nails or hooks. But of all
the weapons it was the rapiers, of all the books it was Dumas,
that he loved. There was Dumas in French, Dumas in English,
Dumas with pictures, Dumas unillustrated, Dumas in cloth, Dumas
in leather, Dumas in boards, Dumas in paper covers. Cleggett had
been twenty years getting these arms and books together; often he
had gone without a dinner in order to make a payment on some
blade he fancied. And each weapon was also a book to him; he
sensed their stories as he handled them; he felt the
personalities of their former owners stirring in him when he
picked them up. It was in that room that he dreamed; which is to
say, it was in that room that he lived his real life.
Cleggett walked over to his writing desk and pulled out a bulky
manuscript. It was his own work. Is it necessary to hint that
it was a tale essentially romantic in character?
He flung it into the grate and set fire to it. It represented
the labor of two years, but as he watched it burn, stirring the
sheets now and then so the flames would catch them more readily,
he smiled, unvisited by even the most shadowy second thought of
For why the deuce should a man with $500,000 in his pocket write
romances? Why should anyone write anything who is free to live?
For the first time in his existence Cleggett was free.
He picked up a sword. It was one of his favorite rapiers.
Sometimes people came out of the books--sometimes shadowy forms
came back to claim the weapons that had been theirs--and Cleggett
fought them. There was not an unscarred piece of furniture in
the place. He bent the flexible blade in his hands, tried the
point of it, formally saluted, brought the weapon to parade,
dallied with his imaginary opponent's sword for an instant. . . .
It seemed as if one of those terrible, but brilliant, duels, with
which that room was so familiar, was about to be enacted. . . .
But he laid the rapier down. After all, the rapier is scarcely a
thing of this century. Cleggett, for the first time, felt a
little impatient with the rapier. It is all very well to DREAM
with a rapier. But now, he was free; reality was before him; the
world of actual adventure called. He had but to choose!
He considered. He tried to look into that bright, adventurous
future. Presently he went to the window, and gazed out. Tides
of night and mystery, flooding in from the farther, dark,
mysterious ocean, all but submerged lower Manhattan; high and
beautiful above these waves of shadow, triumphing over them and
accentuating them, shone a star from the top of the Woolworth
building; flecks of light indicated the noble curve of that great
bridge which soars like a song in stone and steel above the
shifting waters; the river itself was dotted here and there with
moving lights; it was a nocturne waiting for its Whistler; here
sea and city met in glamour and beauty and illusion.
But it was not the city which called to Cleggett. It was the sea.
A breeze blew in from the bay and stirred his window curtains; it
was salt in his nostrils. . . .And, staring out into the
breathing night, he saw a succession of pictures. . . .
Stripped to a pair of cotton trousers, with a dripping cutlass in
one hand and a Colt's revolver in the other, an adventurer at the
head of a bunch of dogs as desperate as himself fought his way
across the reeking decks of a Chinese junk, to close in single
combat with a gigantic one-eyed pirate who stood by the helm with
a ring of dead men about him and a great two-handed sword
upheaved. . . . This adventurer was--Clement J. Cleggett! . . .
Through the phosphorescent waters of a summer sea, reckless of
cruising sharks, a sailor's clasp knife in his teeth, glided
noiselessly a strong swimmer; he reached the side of a schooner
yacht from which rose the wild cries of beauty in distress,
swarmed aboard with a muttered prayer that was half a curse,
swept the water from his eyes, and with pale, stern face went
about the bloody business of a hero. . . . Again, this
adventurer was Clement J. Cleggett!
Cleggett turned from the window.
"I'll do it," he cried. "I'll do it!"
He grasped a cutlass.
"Pirates!" he cried, swinging it about his head. "That's the
thing--pirates and the China Seas!"
And with one frightful sweep of his blade he disemboweled a sofa
cushion; the second blow clove his typewriting machine clean to
the tattoo marks upon its breast; the third decapitated a
But what is a sectional bookcase to a man with $500,000 in his
pocket and the Seven Seas before him?
A SCHOONER, A SKIPPER, AND A SKULL
It was a few days later, when a goodly number of the late Uncle
Tom's easily negotiable securities had been converted into cash,
and the cash deposited in the bank, that Cleggett bought the
He discovered her near the town of Fairport, Long Island, one
afternoon. The vessel lay in one of the canals which reach
inward from the Great South Bay. She looked as if she might have
been there for some time. Evidently, at one period, the Jasper
B. had played a part in some catch-coin scheme of summer
entertainment; a scheme that had failed. Little trace of it
remained except a rotting wooden platform, roofless and built
close to the canal, and a gangway arrangement from this platform
to the deck of the vessel.
The Jasper B. had seen better days; even a landsman could tell
that. But from the blunt bows to the weather-scarred stern, on
which the name was faintly discernible, the hulk had an air about
it, the air of something that has lived; it was eloquent of a
varied and interesting past.
And, to complete the picture, there sat on her deck a gnarled and
brown old man. He smoked a short pipe which was partially hidden
in a tangle of beard that had once been yellowish red but was now
streaked with dirty white; he fished earnestly without apparent
result, and from time to time he spat into the water. Cleggett's
nimble fancy at once put rings into his ears and dowered him with
Cleggett noticed, as he walked aboard the vessel, that she seemed
to be jammed not merely against, but into the bank of the canal.
She was nearer the shore than he had ever seen a vessel of any
sort. Some weeds grew in soil that had lodged upon the deck; in
a couple of places they sprang as high as the rail. Weeds grew
on shore; in fact, it would have taken a better nautical
authority than Cleggett to tell offhand just exactly where the
land ended and the Jasper B. began. She seemed to be possessed
of an odd stability; although the tide was receding the Jasper B.
was not perceptibly agitated by the motion of the water. Of
anchor, or mooring chains or cables of any sort, there was no
The brown old man--he was brown not only as to the portions of
his skin visible through his hair and whiskers, but also as to
coat and trousers and worn boots and cap and pipe and flannel
shirt--turned around as Cleggett stepped aboard, and stared at
the invader with a shaggy-browed intensity that was embarrassing.
It occurred to Cleggett that the old man might own the vessel and
make a home of her.
"I beg your pardon if I am intruding," ventured Cleggett,
politely, "but do you live here?"
The brown old man made an indeterminate motion of his head,
without otherwise replying at once. Then he took a cake of dark,
hard-looking tobacco from the starboard pocket of his trousers
and a clasp knife from the port side. He shaved off a fresh
pipeful, rolled it in his palms, knocked the old ash from his
pipe, refilled and relighted it, all with the utmost
deliberation. Then he cut another small piece of tobacco from
the "plug" and popped it into his mouth. Cleggett perceived with
surprise that he smoked and chewed tobacco at the same time. As
he thus refreshed himself he glanced from time to time at
Cleggett as if unfavorably impressed. Finally he closed his
knife with a click and suddenly piped out in a high, shrill
"No! Do you?"
"I--er--do I what?" It had taken the old man so long to answer
that Cleggett had forgotten his own question, and the shrill
fierceness of the voice was disconcerting.
He regarded Cleggett contemptuously, spat on the deck, and then
"D'ye want to buy any seed potatoes?"
"Why--er, no," said Cleggett.
"Humph!" said the brown one, with the air of meaning that it was
only to be expected of an idiot like Cleggett that he would NOT
want to buy any seed potatoes. But after a further embarrassing
silence he relented enough to give Cleggett another chance.
"You want some seed corn!" he announced rather than asked.
"Tomato plants!" shrilled the brown one, as if daring him to deny
He turned his back on Cleggett, as if he had lost interest, and
began to wind up his fishing line on a squeaky reel.
"Who owns this boat?" Cleggett touched him on the elbow.
"Thinkin' of buyin' her?"
"Perhaps. Who owns her?"
"What would you do with her?"
"I might fix her up and sail her. Who owns her?"
"She'll take a sight o' fixin'."
"No doubt. Who did you say owned her?"
The old man, who had finished with the rusty reel, deigned to
look at Cleggett again.
"Dunno as I said."
"But who DOES own her?"
"She's stuck fast in the mud and her rudder's gone."
"I see you know a lot about ships," said Cleggett, deferentially,
giving up the attempt to find out who owned her. "I picked you
out for an old sailor the minute I saw you." He thought he
detected a kindlier gleam in the old man's eye as that person
listened to these words.
"The' ain't a stick in her," said the ancient fisherman. "She's
got no wheel and she's got no nothin'. She used to be used as a
kind of a barroom and dancin' platform till the fellow that used
her for such went out o' business."
He paused, and then added:
"What might your name be?"
He appeared to reflect on the name. But he said:
"If you was to ask me, I'd say her timbers is sound."
"Tell me," said Cleggett, "was she a deep-water ship? Could a
ship like her sail around the world, for instance? I can tell
that you know all about ships."
Something like a grin of gratified vanity began to show on the
brown one's features. He leaned back against the rail and looked
at Cleggett with the dawn of approval in his eyes.
"My name's Abernethy," he suddenly volunteered. "Isaiah
Abernethy. The fellow that owns her is Goldberg. Abraham
Goldberg. Real estate man."
"Cleggett began to get an insight into Mr. Abernethy's peculiar
ideas concerning conversation. A native spirit of independence
prevented Mr. Abernethy from dealing with an interlocutor's
remarks in the sequence that seemed to be desired by the
interlocutor. He took a selection of utterances into his mind,
rolled them over together, and replied in accordance with some
esoteric system of his own.
"Where is Mr. Goldberg's office?" asked Cleggett.
"You've come to the proper party to get set right about ships,"
said Mr. Abernethy, complacently. "Either you was sent to me by
someone that knows I'm the proper party to set you right about
ships, or else you got an eye in your own head that can recognize
a man that comes of a seafarin' fambly."
"You ARE an old sailor, then? Maybe you are an old skipper?
Perhaps you're one of the retired Long Island sea captains we're
always hearing so much about?"
"So fur as sailin' her around the world is concerned," said Mr.
Abernethy, glancing over the hulk, "if she was fixed up she could
be sailed anywheres--anywheres!"
"What would you call her--a schooner?"
"This here Goldberg," said Mr. Abernethy, "has his office over
town right accost from the railroad depot."
And with that he put his fishing pole over his shoulder and
prepared to leave--a tall, strong-looking old man with long legs
and knotty wrists, who moved across the deck with surprising
spryness. At the gangplank he sang out without turning his head:
"As far as my bein' a skipper's concerned, they's no law agin'
callin' me Cap'n Abernethy if you want to. I come of a seafarin'
He crossed the platform; when he had gone thirty yards further he
stopped, turned around, and shouted:
"Is she a schooner, hey? You want to know is she a schooner? If
you was askin' me, she ain't NOTHIN' now. But if you was to ask
me again I might say she COULD be schooner-rigged. Lots of boats
There are affinities between atom and atom, between man and
woman, between man and man. There are also affinities between men
and things-if you choose to call a ship, which has a spirit of
its own, merely a thing. There must have been this affinity
between Cleggett and the Jasper B. Only an unusual person would
have thought of buying her. But Cleggett loved her at first
Within an hour after he had first seen her he was in Mr. Abraham
As he was concluding his purchase--Mr. Goldberg having phoned
Cleggett's bankers--he was surprised to discover that he was
buying about half an acre of Long Island real estate along with
her. For that matter he had thought it a little odd in the first
place when he had been directed to a real estate agent as the
owner of the craft. But as he knew very little about business,
and nothing at all about ships, he assumed that perhaps it was
quite the usual thing for real estate dealers to buy and sell
ships abutting on the coast of Long Island.
"I had only intended to buy the vessel," said Cleggett. "I don't
know that I'll be able to use the land."
Mr. Goldberg looked at Cleggett with a slight start, as if he
were not sure that he had heard aright, and opened his mouth as
if to say something. But nothing came of it--not just then, at
least. When the last signature had been written, and Clegget's
check had been folded by Mr. Goldberg's plump, bejeweled fingers
and put into Mr. Goldberg's pocketbook, Mr. Goldberg remarked:
"You say you can't use the ship?"
"No; the land. I'm surprised to find that the land goes with the
"Why, it doesn't," said Mr. Goldberg. "It's the ship that goes
with the land. She was on the land when I bought the plot, and I
just left her there. Nobody's paid any attention to her for
The words "on the land" grated on Cleggett.
"You mean on the water, don't you?"
"In the mud, then," suggested Mr. Goldberg.
"But she'll sail all right," said Cleggett.
"I suppose if she was decorated up with sails and things she'd
sail. Figuring on sailing her anywhere in particular?"
"Subtly irritated, Cleggett answered: "Oh, no, no! Not anywhere
"Going to live on her this summer?--Outdoor sleeping room, and
"I'm thinking of it."
"You could turn her into a house boat easy enough. I had a
friend who turned an old barge like that into a house boat and
had a lot of fun with her."
"Barge?" Cleggett rose and buttoned his coat; the conversation
was somehow growing more and more distasteful to him. "You
wouldn't call the Jasper B. a BARGE, would you?"
"Well, you wouldn't call her a YACHT, would you?" said Mr.
"Perhaps not," admitted Cleggett, "perhaps not. She's more like a
bark than a yacht."
"A bark? I dunno. Always thought a bark was bigger. A scow's
more her size, ain't it?"
"Scow?" Cleggett frowned. The Jasper B. a scow! "You mean a
schooner, don't you?"
"Schooner?" Mr. Goldberg grinned good-naturedly at his departing
customer. "A kind of a schooner-scow, huh?"
"No, sir, a schooner!" said Cleggett, reddening, and turning in
the doorway. "Understand me, Mr. Goldberg, a schooner, sir! A
And standing with a frown on his face until every vestige of the
smile had died from Mr. Goldberg's lips, Cleggett repeated once
more: "A schooner, Mr. Goldberg!"
"Yes, sir--there's no doubt of it--a schooner, Mr. Cleggett,"
said Mr. Goldberg, turning pale and backing away from the door.
The ordinary man inspects a house or a horse first and buys it,
or fails to buy it, afterward; but genius scorns conventions;
Cleggett was not an ordinary man; he often moved straight towards
his object by inspiration; great poets and great adventurers
share this faculty; Cleggett paid for the Jasper B. first and
went back to inspect his purchase later.
The vessel lay about two miles from the center of Fairport. He
could get within half a mile of it by trolley. Nevertheless,
when he reached the Jasper B. again after leaving Mr. Goldberg it
was getting along towards dusk.
He first entered the cabin. It was of a good size and divided
into several compartments. But it was in a state of dilapidation
and littered with a jumble of odds and ends which looked like the
ruins of a barroom. As he turned to ascend to the deck again,
after possibly five minutes, intending to take a look at the
forecastle next, he heard the sound of a motor.
Looking out of the cabin he saw a taxicab approaching the boat
from the direction of Fairport. It was a large machine, but it
was overloaded with seven or eight men. It stopped within twenty
yards of the vessel, and two men got out, one of them evidently a
person who imposed some sort of leadership on the rest of the
party. This was a tall fellow, with a slouching gait and round
shoulders. And yet, to judge from his movements, he was both
quick and powerful. The other was a short, stout man with a
commonplace, broad red face and flaxen hair. The two stood for a
moment in colloquy in the road that led from Fairport proper to
the bayside, passing near the Jasper B., and Cleggett heard the
shorter of the two men say:
"I'm sure I saw somebody aboard of her."
"How long ago, Heinrich?" asked the tall man.
"An hour or so," said Heinrich.
"It was old man Abernethy; he's harmless," said the tall fellow.
"He's the only person that's been aboard her in years."
"There was someone else," persisted Heinrich. "Someone who was
talking to Abernethy."
The tall man mumbled something about having been a fool not to
buy her before this; Cleggett did not catch all of the remark.
Then the tall fellow said:
"We'll go aboard, Heinrich, and take a look around."
With that they advanced towards the vessel. Cleggett stepped on
deck from the cabin companionway, and both men stopped short at
the sight of him, Heinrich obviously a trifle confused, but the
other one in no wise abashed. He made no attempt, this tall
fellow, to give the situation a casual turn. What he did was to
stand and stare at Cleggett, candidly, and with more than a touch
of insolence, as if trying to beat down Cleggett's gaze.
Cleggett, staring in his turn, perceived that the tall man,
ungainly as he was, affected a bizarre individualism in the
matter of dress. His clothing cried out, rather than suggested,
that it was expensive. His feet were cased in button shoes with
fancy tops; his waistcoat, cut in the extreme of style, revealed
that little strip of white which falsely advertises a second
waistcoat beneath, but in his case the strip was too broad.
There were diamonds on the fingers of both powerful hands. But
the thing that grated particularly upon Cleggett was the
character of the man's scarfpin. It was by far the largest
ornament of the sort that Cleggett had ever seen; he was near
enough to the fellow to make out that it had been carved from a
piece of solid ivory in the likeness of a skull. In the eyeholes
of the skull two opals flamed with an evil levin. The man
suggested to Cleggett, at first glance, a bartender who had come
into money, or a drayman who had been promoted to an important
office in a labor union and was spending the most of a
considerable salary on his person. And yet his face, more
closely observed, somehow gave the lie to his clothes, for it was
not lacking in the signs of intelligence. In spite of his taste,
or rather lack of taste, there was no hint of weakness in his
physiognomy. His features were harsh, bold, predatory; a
slightly yellowish tinge about the temples and cheek bones,
suggestive of the ivory ornament, proclaimed a bilious
Cleggett, both puzzled and nettled by the man's persistent gaze,
advanced towards him across the deck of the Jasper B. and down
the gangplank, hand on hip, and called out sharply:
"Well, my friend, you will know me the next time you see me!"
The tall man turned without a word and walked back to the
taxicab, the occupants of which had watched this singular duel of
looks in silence. In the act of getting into the machine he face
about again and said, with a lift of the lip that showed two
long, protruding canine teeth of an almost saffron hue:
"I WILL know you again."
He spoke with a kind of cold hostility that gave his words all
the effect of a threat. Cleggett felt the blood leap faster
through his veins; he tingled with a fierce, illogical desire to
strike the fellow on the mouth; his soul stirred with a
premonition of conflict, and the desire for it. And yet, on the
surface of things at least, the man had been nothing more than
rude; as Cleggett watched the machine make off towards an
isolated road house on the bayside he wondered at the quick
intensity of his own antipathy. Unconsciously he flexed his
wrist in his characteristic gesture. Scarcely knowing that he
spoke, he murmured:
"That man gets on my nerves."
That man was destined to do something more than get on Cleggett's
nerves before the adventures of the Jasper B. were ended.
A BAD MAN TO CROSS
The isolated road house on the bay was a nondescript, jumbled,
dilapidated-looking assemblage of structures, rather than one
house. It was known simply as Morris's. It stood a few hundred
yards west of the end of the canal which opened into the bay and
was about a quarter of a mile from the Jasper B.
The canal itself was broad, straight, low-banked, and about
three-quarters of a mile in length. The town had thrown out a
few ranks of cottages in the direction of the canal. But these
were all summer bungalows, occupied only from June until the
middle of September. The solider and more permanent part of
Fairport was well withdrawn from the sandy, sedgy stretches that
bordered on tidewater.
At the north and inland terminus of the quiet strip of water in
which the Jasper B. reposed was a collection of buildings
including bathhouses, a boathouse, and a sort of shed where "soft
drinks" and sea food were served during the bathing season. This
place was known as Parker's Beach and was open only during the
Morris's was of quite a different character from Parker's Beach.
One could bathe at Morris's, but the beach near by was not
particularly good. One could hire boats there and buy bait for a
fishing trip. In one of its phases it made some pretensions to
being a summer hotel. It had an extensive barroom. There was a
dancing floor, none too smooth. There were long verandahs on
three sides. That on the south side was built on piles' people
ate and drank there in the summer; beneath it the water swished
and gurgled when the tide was in.
The townspeople of Fairport, or the more respectable ones, kept
away from Morris's, summer and winter. Summer transients,
inhabitants of the bungalows during the bathing season,
patronized the place. But most of the patronage at all seasons
seemed to consist of automobile parties from the city; people
apparently drawn from all classes, or eluding definite
classification entirely. In the bleakest season there was always
a little stir of dubious activity about Morris's. In the summer
it impressed you with its look of cheapness. In the winter,
squatted by the cold water amidst its huddle of unpainted
outhouses, at the end of a stretch of desolate beach, the fancy
gave Morris's a touch of the sinister.
Cleggett was anxious to get the Jasper B. into seaworthy
condition as soon as possible. It occurred to him that the
employment of expert advice should be his first step, and early
the next morning he hired Captain Abernethy. That descendant of
a seafaring family, though he felt it incumbent upon him to offer
objections that had to be overcome with a great show of respect,
was really overjoyed at the commission. He left his own cottage
a mile or so away and took up his abode in the forecastle at
once. By nine o'clock that morning Cleggett had a force of
workmen renovating both cabin and forecastle, putting the cook's
galley into working order, and cleansing the decks of soil and
sand. That night Cleggett spent on the vessel, with Captain
By Saturday of the same week--Cleggett had bought the vessel on
Wednesday--he was able to take up his abode in the cabin with his
books and arms about him. To his library he had added a treatise
on navigation. And, reflecting that his firearms were worthless,
considered as modern weapons, he also purchased a score of .44
caliber Colt's revolvers and automatic pistols of the latest
pattern, and a dozen magazine rifles.
He brought on board at the same time, for cook and cabin boy, a
Japanese lad, who said he was a sailor, and who called himself
Yoshahira Kuroki, and a Greek, George Stefanopolous.
The latter was a handsome, rather burly fellow of about thirty, a
man with a kindling eye and a habit of boasting of his ancestors.
Among them, he declared, was Leonidas, the hero of Thermopylae.
George admitted he was not a sailor, but professed a willingness
to learn, and looked so capable, as he squared his bulky
shoulders and twisted his fine black mustache, that Cleggett
engaged him, taking him immediately from the dairy lunch room in
which he had been employed. George's idea was to work his way
back to Greece, he said, on the Jasper B. If she did not sail
for Greece for some time, George was willing to wait; he was
patient; sometime, no doubt, she would touch the shores of
The hold of the Jasper B. Cleggett and Captain Abernethy found to
be in a chaotic state. Casks, barrels, empty bottles by the
hundred, ruins of benches, tables, chairs, old nondescript pieces
of planking, broken crates and boxes, were flung together there
in moldering confusion. It was evident that after the scheme of
using the Jasper B.'s hulk as one of the attractions of a
pleasure resort had failed, all the debris of the failure had
simply been thrown pell-mell into the hold. Cleggett and Captain
Abernethy decided that the vessel, which was stepped for two
masts, should be rigged as a schooner. The Captain was soon busy
securing estimates on the amount of work that would have to be
done, and the cost of it. The pile of rubbish in the hold, which
filled it to such an extent that Cleggett gave up the attempt to
examine it, was to be removed by the same contractor who put in
All the activity on board and about the Jasper B. had not gone on
without attracting the attention of Morris's. Cleggett noticed
that there was usually someone in the neighborhood of that
dubious resort cocking an eye in the direction of the vessel.
Indeed, the interest became so pronounced, and seemed of a
quality so different from ordinary frank rustic curiosity, that
it looked very like espionage. It had struck Cleggett that
Morris's seemed at all times to have more than its share of
idlers and hangers-on; men who appeared to make the place their
headquarters and were not to be confused with the occasional
off-season parties from the city.
On Sunday morning Cleggett was awakened by Captain Abernethy, who
"Strange craft lookin' us over mighty close, sir."
"A strange craft? Where is she?" Cleggett was instantly alert.
"She's a house boat, if you was to ask me," said the brown old
man--in a new brown suit and with his whiskers newly trimmed he
gave the impression of having been overhauled and freshly
"Where is she?" repeated Cleggett, beginning to get into his
"She must 'a' sneaked up an' anchored mighty early this mornin',"
pursued Cap'n Abernethy, true to his conversational principles.
"Is she in the bay or in the canal?"
"She looks like a mighty toney kind o' vessel," said Cap'n
Abernethy. "If I was to make a guess I'd say she was one of them
craft that sails herself along when she wants to with one of
these newfangled gasoline engines."
"She wasn't towed here then?" Cleggett gave up the attempt to
learn from the Captain just where the house boat was.
"She lies in the canal," said the Cap'n. Having established the
point that he could not be FORCED to tell where she lay, he
volunteered the information as a personal favor from one
gentleman to another. "She lies ahead of us in the canal, a
p'int or so off our port bow, I should say. And if you was to ask
me I'd say she wasn't layin' there for any good purpose."
"What do you think she's up to? What makes you suspicious of
"No, sir, she wasn't towed in," said Cap'n Abernethy, "or I'd 'a'
heard a tug towin' her. Comin' of a seafarin' fambly I'm a light
sleeper by nature."
Cleggett finished dressing and went on deck. Sure enough, towards
the south end of the canal, three or four hundred yards south of
the Jasper B., and about the same distance east of Morris's, was
anchored a house boat. She was painted a slaty gray color. As
Cleggett looked at her a man stepped up on the deck, and, putting
a binocular glass to his eye, began to study the Jasper B. After
a few minutes of steady scrutiny this person turned his attention
Looking towards Morris's himself Cleggett saw a man standing on
the east verandah of that resort intently scanning the house boat
through a glass. Cleggett went into the cabin and got his own
Presently the man on Morris's verandah and the man of the house
boat ceased to scrutinize each other and both turned their
glasses upon the Jasper B. But the moment they perceived that
Cleggett was provided with a glass each turned hastily and
entered, the one Morris's place, and the other the cabin of the
house boat. But Cleggett had already recognized the man at
Morris's as the stoop-shouldered man of tall stature and fanciful
dress who had tried to stare him down some days before.
As for the man on the house boat (which, as Cleggett had made
out, was named the Annabel Lee), there was something vaguely
familiar about his general appearance which puzzled and
tantalized our hero.
As the morning wore on Cleggett became certain that the Jasper B.
was closely watched by both the Annabel Lee and Morris's,
although the watchers avoided showing themselves plainly. A
slightly agitated blind at a second story window over the
verandah showed him where the tall man or one of his associates
gazed out from Morris's; and from a porthole of the Annabel Lee
he could see a glass thrust forth from time to time. It was
evident to him that the Annabel Lee and Morris's were suspicious
of each other, and that both suspected the Jasper B. But of what
did they suspect Cleggett? What intention did they impute to
him? He could only wonder.
Through the entire morning he was conscious of the continuance of
this watch. He thought it ceased about luncheon time; but at two
in the afternoon he was certain that, if so, it had been resumed.
Cleggett, innocent and honorable, began to get impatient of this
persistent scrutiny. And in spite of his courage a vague
uneasiness began to possess him. Towards the end of the
afternoon he called his little company aft and spoke to them.
"My men," he said, "I do not like the attitude of our neighbors.
To put it briefly, there may be squalls ahead of the Jasper B.
This is a wild and desolate coast, comparatively speaking.
Strange things have happened to innocent people before this along
the shores of Long Island. It is well to be prepared. I intend
to serve out to each of you two hundred cartridges and a .44
caliber Colt's. In case of an attempt to board, you may find
these cutlasses handy.
"Cap'n Abernethy, in all nautical matters you will still be in
command of the ship, but in case of a military demonstration, all
of you will look to me for leadership. You may go now and rig up
a jury mast and bend the American colors to the peak--and in case
of blows, may God defend the right! I know I do not need to
exhort you to do your duty!"
As Cleggett spoke the spirit which animated him seemed to
communicate itself to his listeners. Their eyes kindled and the
keen joy that gallant men always feel in the anticipation of
conflict flushed their faces.
"I am a son of Leonidas," said George Stefanopolous, proudly.
And he secreted not merely one, but two, of Cleggett's daggers
about his body, in addition to the revolver given him. As George
had already possessed a dagger or two and an automatic pistol, it
was now almost impossible for him to lay his hand casually on any
part of his person without its coming into contact with a deadly
weapon ready for instant use. Cap'n Abernethy picked up a
cutlass, "hefted" it thoughtfully, rolled his sleeve back upon a
lean and sinewy old arm that was tanned until it looked like a
piece of weathered oak, spat upon his hand and whirled the weapon
till it whistled in the air. "I come of a seafarin' fambly,"
said the Cap'n, sententiously.
As for Kuroki, he said nothing. He was not given to speech at
any time. But he picked up a Malay kris and ran his thumb along
the edge of it critically like a man to whom such a weapon is not
altogether unfamiliar. A pleased smile stole over his face; he
handled the wicked knife almost affectionately; he put it down
with a little loving pat.
"Brave boys," murmured Cleggett, as he watched them. He smiled,
but at the same time something like a tear blurred his eloquent
and magnetic eye for a moment. "Brave boys," he murmured, "we
were made for each other!"
The display of the American flag by the Jasper B. had an effect
that could not have been foreseen.
Almost immediately the Annabel Lee herself flung an exactly
similar American flag to the breeze. But a strange thing happened
at Morris's. An American flag was first hung from an upper
window over the east verandah. Then, after a moment, it was
withdrawn. Then a red flag was put out. But almost immediately
Cleggett saw a man rip the red flag from its fastenings and fling
it to the ground.
Cleggett, resorting to his glass, perceived that it was the tall
man with the stoop shoulders and incongruous clothing who had
torn down the red flag. He was now in violent altercation with
the man who had hung it out--the fellow whom he had called
Heinrich some days before.
As Cleggett watched, the two men came to blows; then they
clinched and struggled, swaying back and forth within the open
window, like a moving picture in a frame. Suddenly the tall
fellow seemed to get the upper hand; exerting all his strength,
he bent the other backward over the window sill. The two
contending figures writhed desperately a moment and then the tall
man shifted one powerful, sinewy hand to Heinrich's throat.
The binoculars brought the thing so near to Cleggett that it
seemed as if he could touch the contorted faces; he could see the
tall man's neck muscles work as if that person were panting; he
could see the signs of suffocation in Heinrich's countenance.
The fact that he saw so plainly and yet could hear no sound of
the struggle somehow added to its horror.
All at once the tall man put his knee upon the other's chest, and
flung his weight upon Heinrich with a vehement spring. Then he
tumbled Heinrich out of the window onto the roof of the verandah.
He stepped out of the window himself, picked Heinrich up with an
ease that testified to his immense strength, and flung him over
the edge of the verandah onto the ground. A few moments later a
couple of men ran out from Morris's, busied themselves about
reviving the fellow, and helped him into the house. If Heinrich
was not badly injured, certainly all the fight had been taken out
of him for one day.
With Heinrich thus disposed of, the tall man turned composedly to
the task of putting out the American flag again. Through the
glass Cleggett perceived that his face was twisted by a peculiar
smile; a smile of joyous malevolence.
"A bad man to cross, that tall man," said Cleggett, musingly.
And indeed, his violence with Heinrich had seemed out of all
proportion to the apparent grounds of the quarrel; for it was
evident to Cleggett that Heinrich and the tall man had differed
merely about the policy of displaying the red flag. "A man
determined to have his way," mused Cleggett. "If he and I should
meet------" Cleggett did not finish the sentence in words, but
his hand closed over the butt of his revolver.
His musing was interrupted by the noise of an approaching
automobile. Turning, he saw a vehicle, the rather long body of
which was covered so that it resembled a merchant's delivery
wagon, coming along the road from Fairport.
It stopped opposite the Jasper B., and from the seat beside the
driver leaped lightly the most beautiful woman Cleggett had ever
seen, and walked hesitatingly but gracefully towards him.
She was agitated. She was, in fact, sobbing; and a Pomeranian
dog which she carried in her arms was whimpering excitedly as if
in sympathy with its mistress. Cleggett, soul of chivalry that
he was, born cavalier of beauty in distress, removed his hat and
advanced to meet her.
BEAUTY IN DISTRESS
"Can you tell me where I can get some ice? Can you sell me some
ice?" cried the lady excitedly, when she was still some yards
distant from Cleggett.
"Ice?" The request was so unusual that Cleggett was not certain
that he had understood.
"Yes, ice! Ice!" There was no mistaking the genuine character
of her eagerness; if she had been begging for her life she could
not have been more in earnest. "Don't tell me that you have none
on your boat. Don't tell me that! Don't tell me that!"
And suddenly, like a woman who has borne all that she can bear,
she burst undisguisedly into a paroxysm of weeping. Cleggett,
stirred by her beauty and her trouble, stepped nearer to her, for
she swayed with her emotion as if she were about to fall.
Impulsively she put a hand on his arm, and the Pomeranian,
dropped unceremoniously to the ground, sprang at Cleggett
snarling and snapping as if sure he were the author of the lady's
"You will think I am mad," said the lady, endeavoring to control
her tears, "but I MUST have ice. Don't tell me that you have no
"My dear lady," said Cleggett, unconsciously clasping, in his
anxiety to reassure her, the hand that she had laid upon his arm,
"I have ice--you shall have all the ice you want!"
"Oh," she murmured, leaning towards him, "you cannot know----"
But the rest was lost in an incoherent babble, and with a deep
sigh she fell lax into Cleggett's arms. The reaction from
despair had been too much for her; it had come too suddenly; at
the first word of reassurance, at the first ray of dawning hope,
she had fainted. High-strung natures, intrepid in the face of
danger, are apt to such collapses in the moment of deliverance;
and, whatever the nature of the lady's trouble, Cleggett gained
from her swoon a sharp sense of its intensity.
Cleggett was not used to having beautiful women faint and fall
into his arms, and he was too much of a gentleman to hold one
there a single moment longer than was absolutely necessary. He
turned his head rather helplessly towards the vehicle in which
the lady had arrived. To his consternation and surprise it had
turned around and the chauffeur was in the act of starting back
towards Fairport. But he had left behind him a large zinc bucket
with a cover on it, a long unpainted, oblong box, and two steamer
trunks; on the oblong box sat a short, squat young man in an
attitude of deep dejection.
"Hi there! Stop!" cried Cleggett to the chauffeur. That person
stopped his machine. He did more. He arose in the seat, applied
his thumb to his nose, and vigorously and vivaciously waggled his
outspread fingers at Cleggett in a gesture, derisive and
inelegant, that is older than the pyramids. Then he started his
machine again and made all speed in the direction of Fairport.
"I say, you, come here!" Cleggett called to the squat young man.
"Can't you see that the lady's fainted?"
The squat young man, thus exhorted, sadly approached.
"Can't you see the lady has fainted?" repeated Cleggett.
"Skoits often does," said the squat young man, looking over the
situation in a detached, judicial manner. He spoke out of the
left corner of his mouth in a hoarse voice, without moving the
right side of his face at all, and he seemed to feel that the
responsibility of the situation was Cleggett's.
"But, don't you know her? Didn't you come here with her?"
The squat young man appeared to debate some moral issue inwardly
for a moment. And then, speaking this time out of the right
corner of his mouth, which was now nearer Cleggett, without
disturbing the left half of his face, he pointed towards the
oblong box and murmured huskily: "That's my job." He went and
sat down on the box again.
Without more ado Cleggett lifted the lady and bore her onto the
Jasper B. She was a heavy burden, but Cleggett declined the
assistance of Cap'n Abernethy and George the Greek, who had come
tardily out of the forecastle and now offered their assistance.
"Get a bottle of wine," he told Yosh, as he passed the Japanese
on the deck, "and then make some tea."
Cleggett laid the lady on a couch in the cabin, and then lighted
a lamp, as it got dark early in these quarters. While he waited
for Yoshahira Kuroki and the wine, he looked at her. In her
appealing helplessness she looked even more beautiful than she
had at first. She was a blonde, with eyebrows and lashes darker
than her hair; and, even in her swoon, Cleggett could see that
she was of the thin-skinned, high-colored type. Her eyes, as he
had seen before she swooned, were of a deep, dark violet color.
She was no chit of a girl, but a mature woman, tall and splendid
in the noble fullness of her contours. The high nose spoke of
love of activity and energy of character. The full mouth
indicated warmth of heart; the chin was of that sort which we
have been taught to associate with determination.
The Japanese brought the wine, and Cleggett poured a few
spoonfuls down the lady's throat. Presently she sighed and
stirred and began to show signs of returning animation.
The Pomeranian, which had followed them into the cabin, and which
now lay whimpering at her feet, also seemed to feel that she was
awakening, and, crawling higher, began to lick one of her hands.
"Make some tea, Yosh," said Cleggett. "What is it?"
This last was addressed to the lady herself. Her eyes had opened
for a fleeting instant as Cleggett spoke to the Japanese, and her
lips had moved. Cleggett bent his head nearer, while Yosh picked
up the dog, which violently objected, and asked again: "What is
"Orange pekoe, please," the lady murmured, dreamily.
And then she sat up with a start, struggled to recover herself,
and looked about her wildly.
"Where am I?" she cried. "What has happened?" She passed her
hand across her brow, frowning.
"You fainted, madam," said Cleggett.
"Oh!" Suddenly recollection came to her, and her anxieties
rushed upon her once more. "The ice! The ice!" She sprang to
her feet, and grasped Cleggett by both shoulders, searching his
face with eager eyes. "You did not lie to me, did you? You
promised me ice! Where is the ice?"
"You shall have the ice," said Cleggett, "at once."
"Thank God!" she said. And then: "Where are Elmer and the box?"
"Elmer? Oh, the short man! On shore. I believe that he and
your chauffeur had some sort of an altercation, for the chauffeur
went off and left him."
"Yes," she said, simply, as they passed up the companionway to
the deck together, "that man, the driver, refused to bring us any
Cleggett must have looked a little blank at that, for she
suddenly threw back her head and laughed at him. And then,
sobering instantly, she called to the squat young man:
"Elmer! Oh, Elmer! You may bring the boxes on board!" She
turned to Cleggett: "He may, mayn't he? Thank you--I was sure
you would say he might. And if one of your men could just give
him a lift? And--the ice?"
"George," called Cleggett, "help the man get the boxes aboard.
Kuroki, bring fifty pounds of ice on deck."
She sighed as she heard him give these orders, but it was a sigh
of satisfaction, and she smiled at Cleggett as she signed.
Sometimes a great deal can happen in a very short space of time.
Ten minutes before, Cleggett had never seen this lady, and now he
was giving orders at her merest suggestion. But in those ten
minutes he had seen her weep, he had seen her faint, he had seen
her recover herself; he had seen her emerge from the depths of
despair into something more like self-control; he had carried her
in his arms, she had laughed at him, she had twice impulsively
grasped him by the arm, she had smiled at him three times, she
had sighed twice, she had frowned once; she had swept upon him
bringing with her an impression of the mysterious. Many men are
married to women for years without seeing their wives display so
many and such varied phases; to Cleggett it seemed not so much
that he was making a new acquaintance as renewing one that had
been broken off suddenly at some distant date. Cleggett, like
the true-hearted gentleman and born romanticist that he was,
resolved to serve her without question until such time as she
chose to make known to him her motives for her actions.
"Do you know," she said, softly and gravely to Cleggett as George
and Elmer deposited the oblong box upon a spot which she
indicated near the cabin, "I have met very few men in my life who
are capable of what you are doing?"
"I?" said Cleggett, surprised. "I have done nothing."
"You have found a woman in a strange position--an unusual
position, indeed!--and you have helped her without persecuting
her with questions."
"It is nothing," murmured Cleggett.
"Would you think me too impulsive," she said, with a rare smile,
"if I told you that you are the sort of man whom women are ready
to trust implicitly almost at first sight?"
Cleggett did not permit himself to speak for fear that the thrill
which her words imparted to him would carry him too far. He
"But I think you mentioned tea?" she said. "Did I hear you say
it was orange pekoe, or did I dream that? And couldn't we have
it on deck?"
While Kuroki was bringing a table and chairs on deck and busying
himself about that preparation of tea, Cleggett watched Elmer,
the squat young man, with a growing curiosity. George and Cap'n
Abernethy were also watching Elmer from a discreet distance.
Even Kuroki, silent, swift, and well-trained Kuroki, could not
but steal occasional glances at Elmer. Had Cleggett been of a
less lofty and controlled spirit he would certainly have asked
For Elmer, having uncovered the zinc can and taken from it a
hammer and a large tin funnel, proceeded to break the big chunk
of ice which Kuroki had brought him, into half a dozen smaller
pieces. These smaller lumps, with the exception of two, he put
into the zinc bucket, wrapped around with pieces of coffee
sacking. Then he put the cover on the bucket to exclude the air.
The zinc bucket was thus a portable refrigerator, or rather, ice
Taking one of the lumps of ice which he had left out of the zinc
bucket for immediate use, Elmer carefully and methodically broke
it into still smaller pieces--pieces about the size of an English
walnut, but irregular in shape. Then he inserted the tin funnel
into a small hole in the uppermost surface of the unpainted,
oblong box and dropped in twenty or more of the little pieces of
ice. When a piece proved to be too big to go through the funnel
Elmer broke it again.
Cleggett noticed that there were five of these small holes in the
box, and that Elmer was slowly working his way down the length of
it from hole to hole, sitting astride of it the while.
From the way in which he worked, and the care with which he
conserved every smallest particle of ice, Elmer's motto seemed to
be: "Haste not, waste not." But he did not appear to derive any
great satisfaction from his task, let alone joy. In fact, Elmer
seemed to be a joyless individual; one who habitually looked
forward to the worst. On his broad face, of the complexion
described in police reports as "pasty," melancholy sat enthroned.
His nose was flat and broad, and flat and broad were his cheek
bones, too. His hair was cut very short everywhere except in
front; in front it hung down to his eyebrows in a straggling
black fringe or "bang." Not that the fringe would have covered
the average person's forehead; this "bang" was not long; but the
truth is that Elmer's forehead was lower than the average
person's and therefore easily covered. He had what is known in
certain circles as a cauliflower, or chrysanthemum, ear.
But melancholy as he looked, Elmer had evidently had his moments
of struggle against dejection. One of these moments had been when
he bought the clothes he was wearing. His hat had a bright, red
and black band around it; his tweed suit was of a startling light
gray, marked off into checks with stripes of green; his waistcoat
was of lavender, and his hose were likewise of lavender, but red
predominated in both his shirt and his necktie. His collar was
too high for his short neck, and seemed to cause him discomfort.
But this attempt at gayety of dress was of no avail; one felt at
once that it was a surface thing and had no connection with
Elmer's soul; it stood out in front of the background of his
sorrowful personality, accentuating the gloom, as a blossom may
grow upon a bleak rock. As Elmer carefully dropped ice, piece by
piece, into the oblong box, progressing slowly from hole to hole,
Cleggett thought he had never seen a more depressed young man.
Captain Abernethy approached Cleggett. There was hesitation in
the brown old man's feet, there was doubt upon his wrinkled brow,
but there was the consciousness of duty in the poise of his
shoulders, there was determination in his eyes.
The blonde lady laughed softly as the sailing-master of the
Jasper B. saluted the owner of the vessel.
"He is going to tell you," she said to Cleggett, including the
Captain himself in her flashing look and her remark, "he is going
to tell you that you really should get rid of me and my boxes at
once--I can see it in his face!"
Captain Abernethy stopped short at this, and stared. It was
precisely what he HAD planned to say after drawing Cleggett
discreetly aside. But it is rather startling to have one's
thoughts read in this manner.
He frowned at the lady. She smiled at him. The smile seemed to
say to the Cap'n: "You ridiculous old dear, you! You KNOW
that's what you were going to advise, so why deny it? I've found
you out, but we both might just as well be good-humored about it,
"Ma'am," said the Cap'n, evidently struggling between a suddenly
born desire to quit frowning and a sense that he had a perfect
right to frown as much as he wished, "Ma'am, if you was to ask
me, I'd say ridin' on steamships and ridin' on sailin' vessels is
two different matters entirely."
"Cap'n Abernethy," said Cleggett, attempting to indicate that his
sailing master's advice was not absolutely required, "if you have
something to say to me, perhaps later will do just as well."
"As fur as the Jasper B. is concerned," said the Cap'n, ignoring
Cleggett's remark, and still addressing the lady, "I dunno as you
could call her EITHER a sailin' vessel, OR a steamship, as at
"You want to get me off your boat at once," said the lady. "You
know you do." And her manner added: "CAN'T you act like a good-
natured old dear? You really are one, you know!"
The Cap'n became embarrassed. He began to fuss with his necktie,
as if tying it tighter would assist him to hold on to his frown.
He felt the frown slipping, but it was a point of honor with him
to retain it.
"She WILL be a sailin' vessel when she gets her sticks into her,"
said the Cap'n, fumbling with his neckwear.
"Let me fix that for you," said the lady. And before the Cap'n
could protest she was arranging his tie for him. "You old sea
captains!------" she said, untying the scarf and making the ends
even. "As if anyone could possibly be afraid to sail in anything
one of YOU had charge of!" She gave the necktie a little final
pat. "There, now!"
The Captain's frown was gone past replacement. But he still felt
that he owed something to himself.
"If you was to ask me," he said, turning to Cleggett, "whether
what I'd got to say to you would do later, or whether it wouldn't
do later, I'd answer you it would, or it wouldn't, all accordin'
to whether you wanted to hear it now, or whether you wanted to
hear it later. And as far as SAILIN' her is concerned, Mr.
Cleggett, I'll SAIL her, whether you turn her into a battleship
or into one of these here yachts. I come of a seafarin' fambly."
And then he said to the lady, indicating the tie and bobbing his
head forward with a prim little bow: "Thank ye, ma'am."
"Isn't he a duck!" said the lady, following him with her eyes, as
he went behind the cabin. There the Cap'n chewed, smoked, and
fished, earnestly and simultaneously, for ten minutes.
Indeed, the blonde lady, from the moment when Elmer began to put
ice into the box, seemed to have regained her spirits. The
little dog, which was an indicator of her moods, had likewise
lost its nervousness. When Kuroki had tea ready, the dog lay
down at his mistress' feet, beside the table.
"Dear little Teddy," said the lady, patting the animal upon the
"Teddy?" said Cleggett.
"I have named him," she said, "after a great American. To my
mind, the greatest--Theodore Roosevelt. His championship of the
cause of votes for women at a time when mere politicians were
afraid to commit themselves is enough in itself to gain him a
place in history."
She spoke with a kindling eye, and Cleggett had no doubt that
there was before him one of those remarkable women who make the
early part of the twentieth century so different from any other
historical period. And he was one with her in her admiration for
Roosevelt--a man whose facility in finding adventures and whose
behavior when he had found them had always made a strong appeal
to Cleggett. If he could not have been Cleggett he would have
liked to have been either the Chevalier d'Artagnan or Theodore
"He is a great man," said Cleggett.
But the lady, with her second cup of tea in her hand, was
evidently thinking of something else. Leaning back in her chair,
she said to Cleggett:
"It is no good for you to deny that you think I'm a horridly
unconventional sort of person!"
Cleggett made a polite, deprecatory gesture.
"Yes, yes, you do," she said, decidedly. "And, really, I am! I
am impulsive! I am TOO impulsive!" She raised the cup to her
lips, drank, and looked off towards the western horizon, which
the sun was beginning to paint ruddily; she mused, murmuring as
if to herself: "Sir Archibald always thought I was too
impulsive, dear man."
After a meditative pause she said, leaning her elbows on the
table and gazing searchingly into Cleggett's eyes:
"I am going to trust you. I am going to reward your kindness by
telling you a portion of my strange story. I am going to depend
upon you to understand it."
Cleggett bowed and murmured his gratitude at the compliment.
Then he said:
"You could trust me with------" But he stopped. He did not wish
to be premature.
"With my life. I could trust you with my life," finished the
lady, gravely. "I know that. I believe that. I feel it,
somehow. It is because I do feel it that I tell you----" She
paused, as if, after all, she lacked the courage. Cleggett said
nothing. He was too fine in grain to force a confidence. After a
moment she continued: "I can tell you this," she said, with a
catch in her voice that was almost a sob, "that I am practically
friendless. When you call a taxicab for me in a few moments, and
I leave you, with Elmer and my boxes, I shall have no place to
"But, surely, madam----"
"Do not call me madam. Call me Lady Agatha. I am Lady Agatha
Fairhaven. What is your name?"
Cleggett told her.
"You have heard of me?" asked Lady Agatha.
Cleggett was obliged to confess that he had not. He thought that
a shade of disappointment passed over the lady's face, but in a
moment she smiled and remarked:
"How relative a thing is fame! You have never heard of me! And
yet I can assure you that I am well enough known in England. I
was one of the very first militant suffragettes to break a
window--if not the very first. The point is, indeed, in dispute.
And were it not for my devotion to the cause I would not now be
in my present terrible plight--doomed to wander from pillar to
post with that thing" (she pointed with a shudder to the box into
which Elmer was still gloomily poking ice)-"chained to me like
a--like a----" She hesitated for a word, and Cleggett, tactlessly
enough, with some vague recollection of a classical tale in his
"Like a corpse."
Lady Agatha turned pale. She gazed at Cleggett with
terror-stricken eyes, her beautiful face became almost haggard in
an instant; he thought she was about to faint again, but she did
not. As he looked upon the change his words had wrought, filled
with wonder and compunction, Cleggett suddenly divined that her
occasional flashes of gayety had been, all along, merely the
forced vivacity of a brave and clever woman who was making a
gallant fight against total collapse.
"Mr. Cleggett," she said, in a voice that was scarcely louder
than a whisper, "I am going to confide everything to you--the
whole truth. I will spare myself nothing; I will throw myself
upon your mercy.
"I firmly believe, Mr. Cleggett--I am practically certain--that
the box there, upon which Elmer is sitting, contains the body of
Reginald Maltravers, natural son of the tenth Earl of Claiborne,
and the cousin of my late husband, Sir Archibald Fairhaven."
LADY AGATHA'S STORY
It was with the greatest difficulty that Cleggett repressed a
start. Another man might have shown the shock he felt. But
Cleggett had the iron nerve of a Bismarck and the fine manner of
a Richelieu. He did not even permit his eyes to wander towards
the box in question. He merely sat and waited.
Lady Agatha, having brought herself to the point of revelation,
seemed to find a difficulty in proceeding. Cleggett, mutely
asking permission, lighted a cigarette.
"Oh--if you will!" said Lady Agatha, extending her hand towards
the case. He passed it over, and when she had chosen one of the
little rolls and lighted it she said:
"Mr. Cleggett, have you ever lived in England?"
"I have never even visited England."
"I wish you knew England." She watched the curling smoke from
her tobacco as it drifted across the table. "If you knew England
you would comprehend so much more readily some parts of my story.
"But, being an American, you can have no adequate conception of
the conservatism that still prevails in certain quarters. I
refer to the really old families among the landed aristocracy.
Some of them have not changed essentially, in their attitude
towards the world in general, since the reign of Queen Elizabeth.
They make of family a fetish. They are ready to sacrifice
everything upon the altar of family. They may exhibit this pride
of race less obviously than some of the French or Germans or
Italians; but they have a deeper sense of their own dignity, and
of what is due to it, than any of your more flighty and
picturesque continentals. There are certain things that are
done. Certain things are not done. One must conform or----"
She interrupted herself and delicately flicked the ash from her
"Conform, or be jolly well damned," she finished, crossing one
leg over the other and leaning back in her chair. "This, by the
way, is the only decent cigarette I have found in America. I
hate to smoke perfume--I like tobacco--and most of your shops
seem to keep nothing but the highly scented Turkish and Egyptian
"They were made in London," said Cleggett, bowing.
"Ah! But where was I? Oh, yes--one must conform. Especially if
one belongs to, or has married into, the Claiborne family. Of
all the men in England the Earl of Claiborne is the most
conservative, the most reactionary, the most deeply encrusted
with prejudice. He would stop at little where the question
concerned the prestige of the aristocracy in general; he would
stop at nothing where the Claiborne family is concerned.
"I am telling you all this so that you may get an inkling of the
blow it was to him when I became a militant suffragist. It was
blow enough to his nephew, Sir Archibald, my late husband. The
Earl maintains that it hastened poor Archibald's death. But that
is ridiculous. Archibald had undermined his constitution with
dissipation, and died following an operation for gravel. He was
to have succeeded to the title, as both of the Earl's legitimate
sons were dead without issue--one of them perished in the Boer
War, and the other was killed in the hunting field.
"Upon Archibald's death the old Earl publicly acknowledged
Reginald Maltravers, his natural son, and took steps to have him
legitimatized. For all of the bend sinister upon his escutcheon,
Reginald Maltravers was as fanatical concerning the family as his
father. Perhaps more fanatical, because he secretly suffered for
the irregularity of his own position in the world.
"At any rate, supported at first by the old Earl, he began a
series of persecutions designed to make me renounce my suffragist
principles, or at least to make me cease playing a conspicuous
public part in the militant propaganda. As my husband was dead
and there were no children, I could not see that I was
accountable to the Claiborne family for my actions. But the
Claibornes took a different view of it. In their philosophy,
once a Claiborne, always a Claiborne. I was bringing disgrace
and humiliation upon the family, in their opinion. Knowing the
old Earl as I do, I am aware that his suffering was genuine and
intense. But what was I to do? One cannot desert one's
principles merely because they cause suffering; otherwise there
could be no such thing as revolution.
"Reginald Maltravers had another reason for his persecution.
After the death of Sir Archibald he himself sought my hand in
marriage. I shall always remember the form of his proposal; it
concluded with these words: 'Had Archibald lived you would have
been a countess. You may still be a countess--but you must drop
this suffragist show, you know. It is all bally rot, Agatha, all
bally rot.' I would not have married him without the condition,
for I despised the man himself; but the condition made me furious
and I drove him from my sight with words that turned him white
and made him my enemy forever. 'You will not be my countess,
then,' he said. 'Very well--but I can promise you that you will
cease to be a suffragist.' I can still see the evil flash of his
eye behind his monocle as he uttered these words and turned
Lady Agatha shuddered at the recollection, and took a cup of tea.
"It was then," she resumed, "that the real persecution began. I
was peculiarly helpless, as I have no near relations who might
have come to my defense. Representing himself always as the
agent of his father, but far exceeding the Earl in the
malevolence of his inventions, Reginald Maltravers sought by
every means he could command to drive me from public life in
"Three times he succeeded in having me flung into Holloway Jail.
I need not tell you of the terrors of that institution, nor of
the degrading horrors of forcible feeding. They are known to a
shocked and sympathetic world. But Reginald Maltravers
contrived, in my case, to add to the usual brutalities a peculiar
and personal touch. By bribery, as I believe, he succeeded in
getting himself into the prison as a turnkey. It was his custom,
when I lay weak and helpless in the semistupor of starvation, to
glide into my cell and, standing by my couch, to recite to me the
list of tempting viands that might appear daily upon the board of
a Countess of Claiborne.
"He soon learned that his very presence itself was a persecution.
After my release from jail the last time, he began to follow me
everywhere. Turn where I would, there was Reginald Maltravers.
At suffrage meetings he took his station directly before the
speaker's stand, stroked his long blond mustache with his long
white fingers, and stared at me steadfastly through his monocle,
with an evil smile upon his face. Formerly he had, in several
instances, prevented me from attending suffrage meetings; once he
had me spirited away and imprisoned for a week when it fell to my
lot to burn a railroad station for the good of the cause. He
strove to ruin me with my leaders in this despicable manner.
"But in the end he took to showing himself; he stood and stared.
Merely that. He was subtle enough to shift the persecution from
the province of the physical to the realm of the psychological.
It was like being haunted. Even when I did not see him, I began
to THINK that I saw him. He deliberately planted that
hallucination in my mind. It is a wonder that I did not go mad.
"I finally determined to flee to America. I made all my
arrangements with care and--as I thought--with secrecy. I
imagined that I had given him the slip. But he was too clever
for me. The third day out, as one of the ship's officers was
showing me about the vessel, I detected Reginald Maltravers in
the hold. It is not usual to allow women so far below decks; but
I had insisted on seeing everything. Perspiring, begrimed, and
mopping the moisture from his brow with a piece of cotton waste,
there he stood in the guise of a--of--a croaker, is it, Mr.
"Stoker, I believe," said Cleggett.
"Stoker. Thank you. He turned away in confusion when he saw
that he was discovered. I perceived that, designing to cross on
the same ship with me, he had thought himself hidden there. He
was not wearing his monocle, but I would know that sloping
forehead, that blond mustache, and that long, high, bony nose
Lady Agatha broke off for a moment. She was extremely agitated.
But presently she continued: "I endeavored to evade him. The
attempt was useless. He found me out at once. The persecution
went on. It was more terrible here than it had been in England.
There I had friends. I had hours, sometimes even whole days, to
"But this was not the worst. A new phase developed. From his
appearance it suddenly became apparent to me that Reginald
Maltravers could not stop haunting me if he wished!"
"COULD not stop?" cried Cleggett.
"COULD not," said Lady Agatha. "The hunt had become a monomania
with him. It had become an obsession. He had given his whole
mentality to it and it had absorbed all his faculties. He was
now the victim of it. He had grown powerless in the grip of the
idea; he had lost volition in the matter.
"You can imagine my consternation when I realized this. I began
to fear the day when his insanity would take some violent form
and he would endeavor to do me a personal injury. I determined
to have a bodyguard. I wanted a man inured to danger; one
capable of meeting violence with violence, if the need arose. It
struck me that if I could get into touch with one of those
chivalrous Western outlaws, of whom we read in American works of
fiction, he would be just the sort of man I needed to protect me
from Reginald Maltravers.
"I did not consider appealing to the authorities, for I have no
confidence in your American laws, Mr. Cleggett. But I did not
know how to go about finding a chivalrous Western outlaw. So
finally I put an advertisement in the personal column of one of
your morning papers for a reformed convict."
"A reformed convict!" exclaimed Cleggett. "May I ask how you
worded the ad.?"
"Ad.? Oh, advertisement? I will get it for you."
She went into the stateroom and was back in a moment with a
newspaper cutting which she handed to Cleggett. It read:
Convict recently released from Sing Sing, if
his reform is really genuine, may secure honest
employment by writing to A. F., care Morning Dispatch.
"Out of the answers," she resumed, "I selected four and had their
writers call for a personal interview. But only two of them
seemed to me to be really reformed, and of these two Elmer's
reform struck me as being the more genuine. You may have noticed
that Elmer gives the appearance of being done with worldly
"He does seem depressed," said Cleggett, "but I had imputed it
largely to the nature of his present occupation."
"It is due to his attempt to lead a better life--or at least so
he tells me," said Lady Agatha. "Morality does not come easy to
Elmer, he says, and I believe him. Elmer's time is largely taken
up by inward moral debate as to the right or wrong of particular
hypothetical cases which his imagination insists on presenting to
"I can certainly imagine no state of mind less enjoyable," said
"Nor I," replied Lady Agatha. "But to resume: The very fact
that I had employed a guard seemed to put Reginald Maltravers
beside himself. He followed me more closely than ever.
Regardless of appearances, he would suddenly plant himself in
front of me in restaurants and tramcars, in the streets or parks
when I went for an airing, even in the lifts and corridors of the
apartment hotel where I stopped, and stare at me intently through
his monocle, caressing his mustache the while. I did not dare
make a scene; the thing was causing enough remark without that; I
was, in fact, losing my reputation.
"Finally, goaded beyond endurance, I called Elmer into my
apartment one day and put the whole case before him.
"'I will pay almost any price short of participation in actual
crime,' I told him, 'for a fortnight of freedom from that man's
presence. I can stand it no longer; I feel my reason slipping
from me. Have I not heard that there are in New York creatures
who are willing, on the payment of a certain stipulated sum, to
guarantee to chastise a person so as to disable him for a
definite period, without doing him permanent injury? You must
know some such disreputable characters. Procure me some wretches
of this sort!'
"Elmer replied that such creatures do, indeed, exist. He called
them--what did he call them?"
"Gunmen?" suggested Cleggett.
"Yes, thank you. He brought two of them to me whom he introduced
She paused. "The names escape me," she said. She called: "Elmer,
just step here a moment, please."
Elmer, who was still putting ice into the oblong box, moodily
laid away his tools and approached.
"What WERE the odd names of your friends? The ones who--who made
the mistake?" asked Lady Agatha, resuming her seat.
Elmer rolled a bilious eye at Cleggett and asked Lady Agatha, out
of that corner of his mouth nearer to her:
"Is th' guy right?"
"Mr. Cleggett is a friend of mine and can keep a secret, if that
is what you mean," said Lady Agatha. And the words sent a thrill
of elation through Cleggett's being.
"M' friends w'at makes the mistake," said Elmer, apparently
satisfied with the assurance, and offering the information to
Cleggett out of the side of his mouth which had not been involved
in his question to Lady Agatha, "goes by th' monakers of Dopey
Eddie and Izzy the Cat."
"Picturesque," murmured Cleggett.
"Picture--what? Picture not'in!" said Elmer, huskily. "The
bulls got not'in' on them boys. Them guys never been mugged.
Them guys is too foxy t' get mugged."
"I infer that you weren't always so foxy," said Cleggett, eyeing
The remark seemed to touch a sensitive spot. Elmer flushed and
shuffled from one foot to the other, hanging his head as if in
embarrassment. Finally he said, earnestly:
"I wasn't no boob, Mr. Cleggett. It was a snitch got ME settled.
I was a good cracksman, honest I was. But I never had no luck."
"I intended no reflection on your professional ability," said
"Oh, that's all right, Mr. Cleggett," said Elmer, forgivingly.
"Nobody's feelin's is hoited. And any friend of th' little dame
here is a friend o' mine." The diminutive, on Elmer's lips, was
intended as a compliment; Lady Agatha was not a small woman.
"Elmer," said Lady Agatha, "tell Mr. Cleggett how the mistake
Oratory was evidently not Elmer's strongest point. But he braced
himself for the effort and began:
"When th' skoit here says she wants the big boob punched I says
to m'self, foist of all: 'Is it right or is it wrong?' Oncet
youse got that reform high sign put onto youse, youse can't be
too careful. Do youse get me? So when th' skoit here puts it up
to me I thinks foist off: 'Is it right or is it wrong?' See?
So I thinks it over and I says to m'self th' big boob's been
pullin' rough stuff on th' little dame here. Do youse get me?
So I says to m'self, the big boob ought to get a wallop on the
nut. See? What th' big gink needs is someone to bounce a brick
off his bean, f'r th' dame here's a square little dame. Do youse
get me? So I says to the little dame: 'I'm wit' youse, see?
W'at th' big gink needs is a mont' in th' hospital.' An' the
little dame here says he's not to be croaked, but----"
But at that instant Teddy, the Pomeranian, sprang towards the
uncovered hatchway that gave into the hold, barking violently.
Lady Agatha, who could see into the opening, arose with a scream.
Cleggett, leaping towards the hatchway, was just in time to see
two men jump backward from the bottom of the ladder into the murk
of the hold. They had been listening. Drawing his pistol, and
calling to the crew of the Jasper B. to follow him, Cleggett
plunged recklessly downward and into the darkness.
FIRST BLOOD FOR CLEGGETT
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