The Red Cross Girl
Richard Harding Davis
Part 3 out of 5
of Cuba were fighting the mother country for their independence.
"If I were a Son of the Revolution," said Emily, "I'd go to Cuba
and help free it."
"Don't talk nonsense," cried David. "If I did that I'd lose my
job, and we'd never be able to marry. Besides, what's Cuba done
for me? All I know about Cuba is, I once smoked a Cuban cigar and
it made me ill."
"Did Lafayette talk like that?" demanded Emily. "Did he ask what
have the American rebels ever done for me?"
"If I were in Lafayette's class," sighed David, "I wouldn't be
selling automatic punches."
"There's your trouble," declared Emily "You lack self-
confidence. You're too humble, you've got fighting blood and you
ought to keep saying to yourself, 'Blood will tell,' and the
first thing you know, it WILL tell! You might begin by going into
politics in your ward. Or, you could join the militia. That takes
only one night a week, and then, if we DID go to war with Spain,
you'd get a commission, and come back a captain!"
Emily's eyes were beautiful with delight. But the sight gave
David no pleasure. In genuine distress, he shook his head.
"Emily," he said, "you're going to be awfully disappointed in
Emily's eyes closed as though they shied at some mental picture.
But when she opened them they were bright, and her smile was kind
"No, I'm not," she protested; "only I want a husband with a
career, and one who'll tell me to keep quiet when I try to run it
"I've often wished you would," said David.
"Would what? Run your career for you?"
"No, keep quiet. Only it didn't seem polite to tell you so."
"Maybe I'd like you better," said Emily, "if you weren't so
A week later, early in the spring of 1897, the unexpected
happened, and David was promoted into the flying squadron. He now
was a travelling salesman, with a rise in salary and a commission
on orders. It was a step forward, but as going on the road meant
absence from Emily, David was not elated. Nor did it satisfy
Emily. It was not money she wanted. Her ambition for David could
not be silenced with a raise in wages. She did not say this, but
David knew that in him she still found something lacking, and
when they said good-by they both were ill at ease and completely
unhappy. Formerly, each day when Emily in passing David in the
office said good-morning, she used to add the number of the days
that still separated them from the vacation which also was to be
their honeymoon. But, for the last month she had stopped counting
the days--at least she did not count them aloud.
David did not ask her why this was so. He did not dare. And,
sooner than learn the truth that she had decided not to marry
him, or that she was even considering not marrying him, he asked
no questions, but in ignorance of her present feelings set forth
on his travels. Absence from Emily hurt just as much as he had
feared it would. He missed her, needed her, longed for her. In
numerous letters he told her so. But, owing to the frequency with
which he moved, her letters never caught up with him. It was
almost a relief. He did not care to think of what they might tell
The route assigned David took him through the South and kept him
close to the Atlantic seaboard. In obtaining orders he was not
unsuccessful, and at the end of the first month received from the
firm a telegram of congratulation. This was of importance chiefly
because it might please Emily. But he knew that in her eyes the
great-great-grandson of Hiram Greene could not rest content with
a telegram from Burdett and Sons. A year before she would have
considered it a high honor, a cause for celebration. Now, he
could see her press her pretty lips together and shake her pretty
head. It was not enough. But how could he accomplish more. He
began to hate his great-great-grandfather. He began to wish Hiram
Greene had lived and died a bachelor.
And then Dame Fortune took David in hand and toyed with him and
spanked him, and pelted and petted him, until finally she made
him her favorite son. Dame Fortune went about this work in an
abrupt and arbitrary manner.
On the night of the 1st of March, 1897, two trains were scheduled
to leave the Union Station at Jacksonville at exactly the same
minute, and they left exactly on time. As never before in the
history of any Southern railroad has this miracle occurred, it
shows that when Dame Fortune gets on the job she is omnipotent.
She placed David on the train to Miami as the train he wanted
drew out for Tampa, and an hour later, when the conductor looked
at David's ticket, he pulled the bell-cord and dumped David over
the side into the heart of a pine forest. If he walked back along
the track for one mile, the conductor reassured him, he would
find a flag station where at midnight he could flag a train going
north. In an hour it would deliver him safely in Jacksonville.
There was a moon, but for the greater part of the time it was
hidden by fitful, hurrying clouds, and, as David stumbled
forward, at one moment he would see the rails like streaks of
silver, and the next would be encompassed in a complete and
bewildering darkness. He made his way from tie to tie only by
feeling with his foot. After an hour he came to a shed. Whether
it was or was not the flag station the conductor had in mind, he
did not know, and he never did know. He was too tired, too hot,
and too disgusted to proceed, and dropping his suit case he sat
down under the open roof of the shed prepared to wait either for
the train or daylight. So far as he could see, on every side of
him stretched a swamp, silent, dismal, interminable. From its
black water rose dead trees, naked of bark and hung with
streamers of funereal moss. There was not a sound or sign of
human habitation. The silence was the silence of the ocean at
night David remembered the berth reserved for him on the train to
Tampa and of the loathing with which he had considered placing
himself between its sheets. But now how gladly would he welcome
it! For, in the sleeping-car, ill-smelling, close, and stuffy, he
at least would have been surrounded by fellow-sufferers of his
own species. Here his companions were owls, water-snakes, and
I am alone," he told himself, "on a railroad embankment, entirely
surrounded by alligators."
And then he found he was not alone.
In the darkness, illuminated by a match, not a hundred yards from
him there flashed suddenly the face of a man. Then the match went
out and the face with it. David noted that it had appeared at
some height above the level of the swamp, at an elevation higher
even than that of the embankment. It was as though the man had
been sitting on the limb of a tree. David crossed the tracks and
found that on the side of the embankment opposite the shed there
was solid ground and what once had been a wharf. He advanced over
this cautiously, and as he did so the clouds disappeared, and in
the full light of the moon he saw a bayou broadening into a
river, and made fast to the decayed and rotting wharf an
ocean-going tug. It was from her deck that the man, in lighting
his pipe, had shown his face. At the thought of a warm
engine-room and the company of his fellow creatures, David's
heart leaped with pleasure. He advanced quickly. And then
something in the appearance of the tug, something mysterious,
secretive, threatening, caused him to halt. No lights showed from
her engine-room, cabin, or pilot-house. Her decks were empty.
But, as was evidenced by the black smoke that rose from her
funnel, she was awake and awake to some purpose. David stood
uncertainly, questioning whether to make his presence known or
return to the loneliness of the shed. The question was decided
for him. He had not considered that standing in the moonlight he
was a conspicuous figure. The planks of the wharf creaked and a
man came toward him. As one who means to attack, or who fears
attack, he approached warily. He wore high boots, riding
breeches, and a sombrero. He was a little man, but his movements
were alert and active. To David he seemed unnecessarily excited.
He thrust himself close against David.
"Who the devil are you?" demanded the man from the tug. "How'd
you get here?"
"I walked," said David.
"Walked?" the man snorted incredulously.
"I took the wrong train," explained David pleasantly. "They put
me off about a mile below here. I walked back to this flag
station. I'm going to wait here for the next train north."
The little man laughed mockingly.
"Oh, no you're not," he said. "If you walked here, you can just
walk away again!" With a sweep of his arm, he made a vigorous and
"You walk!" he commanded.
"I'll do just as I please about that," said David.
As though to bring assistance, the little man started hastily
toward the tug.
"I'll find some one who'll make you walk!" he called. "You WAIT,
that's all, you WAIT!"
David decided not to wait. It was possible the wharf was private
property and he had been trespassing. In any case, at the flag
station the rights of all men were equal, and if he were in for a
fight he judged it best to choose his own battle-ground. He
recrossed the tracks and sat down on his suit case in a dark
corner of the shed. Himself hidden in the shadows he could see in
the moonlight the approach of any other person.
"They're river pirates," said David to himself, "or smugglers.
They're certainly up to some mischief, or why should they object
to the presence of a perfectly harmless stranger?"
Partly with cold, partly with nervousness, David shivered.
"I wish that train would come," he sighed. And instantly? as
though in answer to his wish, from only a short distance down the
track he heard the rumble and creak of approaching cars. In a
flash David planned his course of action.
The thought of spending the night in a swamp infested by
alligators and smugglers had become intolerable. He must escape,
and he must escape by the train now approaching. To that end the
train must be stopped. His plan was simple. The train was moving
very, very slowly, and though he had no lantern to wave, in order
to bring it to a halt he need only stand on the track exposed to
the glare of the headlight and wave his arms. David sprang
between the rails and gesticulated wildly. But in amazement his
arms fell to his sides. For the train, now only a hundred yards
distant and creeping toward him at a snail's pace, carried no
head-light, and though in the moonlight David was plainly
visible, it blew no whistle, tolled no bell. Even the passenger
coaches in the rear of the sightless engine were wrapped in
darkness. It was a ghost of a train, a Flying Dutchman of a
train, a nightmare of a train. It was as unreal as the black
swamp, as the moss on the dead trees, as the ghostly tug-boat
tied to the rotting wharf.
"Is the place haunted!" exclaimed David.
He was answered by the grinding of brakes and by the train coming
to a sharp halt. And instantly from every side men fell from it
to the ground, and the silence of the night was broken by a
confusion of calls and eager greeting and questions and sharp
words of command.
So fascinated was David in the stealthy arrival of the train and
in her mysterious passengers that, until they confronted him, he
did not note the equally stealthy approach of three men. Of these
one was the little man from the tug. With him was a fat, red-faced
Irish-American He wore no coat and his shirt-sleeves were drawn
away from his hands by garters of pink elastic, his derby hat was
balanced behind his ears, upon his right hand flashed an enormous
diamond. He looked as though but at that moment he had stopped
sliding glasses across a Bowery bar. The third man carried the
outward marks of a sailor. David believed he was the tallest man
he had ever beheld, but equally remarkable with his height was
his beard and hair, which were of a fierce brick-dust red. Even
in the mild moonlight it flamed like a torch.
"What's your business?" demanded the man with the flamboyant
"I came here," began David, "to wait for a train--"
The tall man bellowed with indignant rage.
"Yes," he shouted; "this is the sort of place any one would pick
out to wait for a train!"
In front of David's nose he shook a fist as large as a catcher's
glove. "Don't you lie to ME!" he bullied. "Do you know who I am?
Do you know WHO you're up against? I'm--"
The barkeeper person interrupted.
"Never mind who you are," he said. "We know that. Find out who HE
David turned appealingly to the barkeeper.
"Do you suppose I'd come here on purpose?" he protested. "I'm a
"You won't travel any to-night," mocked the red-haired one.
"You've seen what you came to see, and all you want now is to get
to a Western Union wire. Well, you don't do it. You don't leave
As though he thought he had been neglected, the little man in
riding-boots pushed forward importantly.
"Tie him to a tree!" he suggested.
"Better take him on board," said the barkeeper, "and send him
back by the pilot. When we're once at sea, he can't hurt us any."
"What makes you think I want to hurt you?" demanded David. "Who
do you think I am?"
"We know who you are," shouted the fiery-headed one. "You're a
blanketty-blank spy! You're a government spy or a Spanish spy,
and whichever you are you don't get away to-night!"
David had not the faintest idea what the man meant, but he knew
his self-respect was being ill-treated, and his self-respect
"You have made a very serious mistake," he said, "and whether you
like it or not, I AM leaving here to-night, and YOU can go to the
Turning his back David started with great dignity to walk away.
It was a short walk. Something hit him below the ear and he found
himself curling up comfortably on the ties. He had a strong
desire to sleep, but was conscious that a bed on a railroad
track, on account of trains wanting to pass, was unsafe. This
doubt did not long disturb him. His head rolled against the steel
rail, his limbs relaxed. From a great distance, and in a strange
sing-song he heard the voice of the barkeeper saying,
When David came to his senses his head was resting on a coil of
rope. In his ears was the steady throb of an engine, and in his
eyes the glare of a lantern. The lantern was held by a
pleasant-faced youth in a golf cap who was smiling
sympathetically. David rose on his elbow and gazed wildly about
him. He was in the bow of the ocean-going tug, and he saw that
from where he lay in the bow to her stern her decks were packed
with men. She was steaming swiftly down a broad river. On either
side the gray light that comes before the dawn showed low banks
studded with stunted palmettos. Close ahead David heard the roar
of the surf.
"Sorry to disturb you," said the youth in the golf cap, "but we
drop the pilot in a few minutes and you're going with him."
David moved his aching head gingerly, and was conscious of a bump
as large as a tennis ball behind his right ear.
"What happened to me?" he demanded.
"You were sort of kidnapped, I guess," laughed the young man. "It
was a raw deal, but they couldn't take any chances. The pilot
will land you at Okra Point. You can hire a rig there to take you
to the railroad."
"But why?" demanded David indignantly. "Why was I kidnapped? What
had I done? Who were those men who--"
From the pilot-house there was a sharp jangle of bells to the
engine-room, and the speed of the tug slackened.
"Come on," commanded the young man briskly. "The pilot's going
ashore. Here's your grip, here's your hat. The ladder's on the
port side. Look where you're stepping. We can't show any lights,
and it's dark as--"
But, even as he spoke, like a flash of powder, as swiftly as one
throws an electric switch, as blindingly as a train leaps from
the tunnel into the glaring sun, the darkness vanished and the
tug was swept by the fierce, blatant radiance of a search-light.
It was met by shrieks from two hundred throats, by screams,
oaths, prayers, by the sharp jangling of bells, by the blind rush
of many men scurrying like rats for a hole to hide in, by the
ringing orders of one man. Above the tumult this one voice rose
like the warning strokes of a fire-gong, and looking up to the
pilot-house from whence the voice came, David saw the barkeeper
still in his shirt-sleeves and with his derby hat pushed back
behind his ears, with one hand clutching the telegraph to the
engine-room, with the other holding the spoke of the wheel.
David felt the tug, like a hunter taking a fence, rise in a great
leap. Her bow sank and rose, tossing the water from her in black,
oily waves, the smoke poured from her funnel, from below her
engines sobbed and quivered, and like a hound freed from a leash
she raced for the open sea. But swiftly as she fled, as a thief
is held in the circle of a policeman's bull's-eye, the shaft of
light followed and exposed her and held her in its grip. The
youth in the golf cap was clutching David by the arm. With his
free hand he pointed down the shaft of light. So great was the
tumult that to be heard he brought his lips close to David's ear.
"That's the revenue cutter!" he shouted. "She's been laying for
us for three weeks, and now," he shrieked exultingly, "the old
man's going to give her a race for it."
From excitement, from cold, from alarm, David's nerves were
getting beyond his control.
"But how," he demanded, "how do I get ashore?"
"When he drops the pilot, don't I--"
"How can he drop the pilot?" yelled the youth. "The pilot's got
to stick by the boat. So have you."
David clutched the young man and swung him so that they stood
face to face.
"Stick by what boat?" yelled David. "Who are these men? Who are
you? What boat is this?"
In the glare of the search-light David saw the eyes of the youth
staring at him as though he feared he were in the clutch of a
madman. Wrenching himself free, the youth pointed at the
pilot-house. Above it on a blue board in letters of gold-leaf a
foot high was the name of the tug. As David read it his breath
left him, a finger of ice passed slowly down his spine. The name
he read was The Three Friends.
"THE THREE FRIENDS!" shrieked David. "She's a filibuster! She's a
pirate! Where're we going?
David emitted a howl of anguish, rage, and protest.
"What for?" he shrieked.
The young man regarded him coldly.
"To pick bananas," he said.
"I won't go to Cuba," shouted David. "I've got to work! I'm paid
to sell machinery. I demand to be put ashore. I'll lose my job if
I'm not put ashore. I'll sue you! I'll have the law--"
David found himself suddenly upon his knees. His first thought
was that the ship had struck a rock, and then that she was
bumping herself over a succession of coral reefs. She dipped,
dived, reared, and plunged. Like a hooked fish, she flung herself
in the air, quivering from bow to stern. No longer was David of a
mind to sue the filibusters if they did not put him ashore. If
only they had put him ashore, in gratitude he would have crawled
on his knees. What followed was of no interest to David, nor to
many of the filibusters, nor to any of the Cuban patriots. Their
groans of self-pity, their prayers and curses in eloquent
Spanish, rose high above the crash of broken crockery and the
pounding of the waves. Even when the search-light gave way to a
brilliant sunlight the circumstance was unobserved by David. Nor
was he concerned in the tidings brought forward by the youth in
the golf cap, who raced the slippery decks and vaulted the
prostrate forms as sure-footedly as a hurdler on a cinder track.
To David, in whom he seemed to think he had found a congenial
spirit, he shouted Joyfully, "She's fired two blanks at us!" he
cried; "now she's firing cannon-balls!"
"Thank God," whispered David; "perhaps she'll sink us!"
But The Three Friends showed her heels to the revenue cutter, and
so far as David knew hours passed into days and days into weeks.
It was like those nightmares in which in a minute one is whirled
through centuries of fear and torment. Sometimes, regardless of
nausea, of his aching head, of the hard deck, of the waves that
splashed and smothered him, David fell into broken slumber.
Sometimes he woke to a dull consciousness of his position. At
such moments he added to his misery by speculating upon the other
misfortunes that might have befallen him on shore. Emily, he
decided, had given him up for lost and married--probably a navy
officer in command of a battle-ship. Burdett and Sons had cast
him off forever. Possibly his disappearance had caused them to
suspect him; even now they might be regarding him as a defaulter,
as a fugitive from justice. His accounts, no doubt, were being
carefully overhauled. In actual time, two days and two nights had
passed; to David it seemed many ages.
On the third day he crawled to the stern, where there seemed less
motion, and finding a boat's cushion threw it in the lee scupper
and fell upon it. From time to time the youth in the golf cap had
brought him food and drink, and he now appeared from the cook's
galley bearing a bowl of smoking soup.
David considered it a doubtful attention.
But he said, "You're very kind. How did a fellow like you come to
mix up with these pirates?"
The youth laughed good-naturedly.
"They're not pirates, they're patriots," he said, "and I'm not
mixed up with them. My name is Henry Carr and I'm a guest of
Jimmy Doyle, the captain."
"The barkeeper with the derby hat?" said David.
"He's not a barkeeper, he's a teetotaler," Carr corrected, "and
he's the greatest filibuster alive. He knows these waters as you
know Broadway, and he's the salt of the earth. I did him a favor
once; sort of mouse-helping-the-lion idea. Just through dumb luck
I found out about this expedition. The government agents in New
York found out I'd found out and sent for me to tell. But I
didn't, and I didn't write the story either. Doyle heard about
that. So, he asked me to come as his guest, and he's promised
that after he's landed the expedition and the arms I can write as
much about it as I darn please."
"Then you're a reporter?" said David.
"I'm what we call a cub reporter," laughed Carr. "You see, I've
always dreamed of being a war correspondent. The men in the
office say I dream too much. They're always guying me about it.
But, haven't you noticed, it's the ones who dream who find their
dreams come true. Now this isn't real war, but it's a near war,
and when the real thing breaks loose, I can tell the managing
editor I served as a war correspondent in the Cuban-Spanish
campaign. And he may give me a real job!"
"And you LIKE this?" groaned David.
"I wouldn't, if I were as sick as you are," said Carr, "but I've
a stomach like a Harlem goat." He stooped and lowered his voice.
"Now, here are two fake filibusters," he whispered. "The men you
read about in the newspapers. If a man's a REAL filibuster,
nobody knows it!"
Coming toward them was the tall man who had knocked David out,
and the little one who had wanted to tie him to a tree.
"All they ask," whispered Carr, "is money and advertisement. If
they knew I was a reporter, they'd eat out of my hand. The tall
man calls himself Lighthouse Harry. He once kept a light-house on
the Florida coast, and that's as near to the sea as he ever got.
The other one is a dare-devil calling himself Colonel Beamish. He
says he's an English officer, and a soldier of fortune, and that
he's been in eighteen battles. Jimmy says he's never been near
enough to a battle to see the red-cross flags on the base
hospital. But they've fooled these Cubans. The Junta thinks
they're great fighters, and it's sent them down here to work the
machine guns. But I'm afraid the only fighting they will do will
be in the sporting columns, and not in the ring."
A half dozen sea-sick Cubans were carrying a heavy, oblong box.
They dropped it not two yards from where David lay, and with a
screwdriver Lighthouse Harry proceeded to open the lid.
Carr explained to David that The Three Friends was approaching
that part of the coast of Cuba on which she had arranged to land
her expedition, and that in case she was surprised by one of the
Spanish patrol boats she was preparing to defend herself.
"They've got an automatic gun in that crate," said Carr, "and
they're going to assemble it. You'd better move; they'll be
tramping all over you.
David shook his head feebly.
"I can't move!" he protested. "I wouldn't move if it would free
For several hours with very languid interest David watched
Lighthouse Harry and Colonel Beamish screw a heavy tripod to the
deck and balance above it a quick-firing one-pounder. They worked
very slowly, and to David, watching them from the lee scupper,
they appeared extremely unintelligent.
"I don't believe either of those thugs put an automatic gun
together in his life," he whispered to Carr. "I never did,
either, but I've put hundreds of automatic punches together, and
I bet that gun won't work."
"What's wrong with it?" said Carr.
Before David could summon sufficient energy to answer, the
attention of all on board was diverted, and by a single word.
Whether the word is whispered apologetically by the smoking-room
steward to those deep in bridge, or shrieked from the tops of a
sinking ship it never quite fails of its effect. A sweating
stoker from the engine-room saw it first.
"Land!" he hailed.
The sea-sick Cubans raised themselves and swung their hats; their
voices rose in a fierce chorus.
"Cuba libre!" they yelled.
The sun piercing the morning mists had uncovered a coast-line
broken with bays and inlets. Above it towered green hills, the
peak of each topped by a squat blockhouse; in the valleys and
water courses like columns of marble rose the royal palms.
"You MUST look!" Carr entreated David. "it's just as it is in the
"Then I don't have to look," groaned David.
The Three Friends was making for a point of land that curved like
a sickle. On the inside of the sickle was Nipe Bay. On the
opposite shore of that broad harbor at the place of rendezvous a
little band of Cubans waited to receive the filibusters. The goal
was in sight. The dreadful voyage was done. Joy and excitement
thrilled the ship's company. Cuban patriots appeared in uniforms
with Cuban flags pinned in the brims of their straw sombreros.
From the hold came boxes of small-arm ammunition of Mausers,
rifles, machetes, and saddles. To protect the landing a box of
shells was placed in readiness beside the one-pounder.
"In two hours, if we have smooth water," shouted Lighthouse
Harry, "we ought to get all of this on shore. And then, all I
ask," he cried mightily, "is for some one to kindly show me a
His heart's desire was instantly granted. He was shown not only
one Spaniard, but several Spaniards. They were on the deck of one
of the fastest gun-boats of the Spanish navy. Not a mile from The
Three Friends she sprang from the cover of a narrow inlet. She
did not signal questions or extend courtesies. For her the name
of the ocean-going tug was sufficient introduction. Throwing
ahead of her a solid shell, she raced in pursuit, and as The
Three Friends leaped to full speed there came from the gun-boat
the sharp dry crackle of Mausers.
With an explosion of terrifying oaths Lighthouse Harry thrust a
shell into the breech of the quick-firing gun. Without waiting to
aim it, he tugged at the trigger. Nothing happened! He threw open
the breech and gazed impotently at the base of the shell. It was
untouched. The ship was ringing with cries of anger, of hate,
with rat-like squeaks of fear.
Above the heads of the filibusters a shell screamed and within a
hundred feet splashed into a wave.
From his mat in the lee scupper David groaned miserably. He was
far removed from any of the greater emotions.
"It's no use!" he protested. "They can't do! It's not connected!"
"WHAT'S not connected?" yelled Carr. He fell upon David. He
half-lifted, half-dragged him to his feet.
"If you know what's wrong with that gun, you fix it! Fix it," he
shouted, "or I'll--"
David was not concerned with the vengeance Carr threatened. For,
on the instant a miracle had taken place. With the swift
insidiousness of morphine, peace ran through his veins, soothed
his racked body, his jangled nerves. The Three Friends had made
the harbor, and was gliding through water flat as a pond. But
David did not know why the change had come. He knew only that his
soul and body were at rest, that the sun was shining, that he had
passed through the valley of the shadow, and once more was a
sane, sound young man.
With a savage thrust of the shoulder he sent Lighthouse Harry
sprawling from the gun. With swift, practised fingers he fell
upon its mechanism. He wrenched it apart. He lifted it, reset,
Ignorant themselves, those about him saw that he understood, saw
that his work was good.
They raised a joyous, defiant cheer. But a shower of bullets
drove them to cover, bullets that ripped the deck, splintered the
superstructure, smashed the glass in the air ports, like angry
wasps sang in a continuous whining chorus. Intent only on the
gun, David worked feverishly. He swung to the breech, locked it,
and dragged it open, pulled on the trigger and found it gave
before his forefinger.
He shouted with delight.
"I've got it working," he yelled.
He turned to his audience, but his audience had fled. From
beneath one of the life-boats protruded the riding-boots of
Colonel Beamish, the tall form of Lighthouse Harry was doubled
behind a water butt. A shell splashed to port, a shell splashed
to starboard. For an instant David stood staring wide-eyed at the
greyhound of a boat that ate up the distance between them, at the
jets of smoke and stabs of flame that sprang from her bow, at the
figures crouched behind her gunwale, firing in volleys.
To David it came suddenly, convincingly, that in a dream he had
lived it all before, and something like raw poison stirred in
David, something leaped to his throat and choked him, something
rose in his brain and made him see scarlet. He felt rather than
saw young Carr kneeling at the box of ammunition, and holding a
shell toward him. He heard the click as the breech shut, felt the
rubber tire of the brace give against the weight of his shoulder,
down a long shining tube saw the pursuing gun-boat, saw her again
and many times disappear behind a flash of flame. A bullet gashed
his forehead, a bullet passed deftly through his forearm, but he
did not heed them. Confused with the thrashing of the engines,
with the roar of the gun he heard a strange voice shrieking
"Cuba libre!" it yelled. "To hell with Spain!" and he found that
the voice was his own.
The story lost nothing in the way Carr wrote it.
"And the best of it is," he exclaimed joyfully, "it's true!"
For a Spanish gun-boat HAD been crippled and forced to run
herself aground by a tug-boat manned by Cuban patriots, and by a
single gun served by one man, and that man an American. It was
the first sea-fight of the war. Over night a Cuban navy had been
born, and into the limelight a cub reporter had projected a new
"hero," a ready-made, warranted-not-to-run, popular idol.
They were seated in the pilot-house, "Jimmy" Doyle, Carr, and
David, the patriots and their arms had been safely dumped upon
the coast of Cuba, and The Three Friends was gliding swiftly and,
having caught the Florida straits napping, smoothly toward Key
West. Carr had just finished reading aloud his account of the
You will tell the story just as I have written it," commanded the
proud author. "Your being South as a travelling salesman was only
a blind. You came to volunteer for this expedition. Before you
could explain your wish you were mistaken for a secret-service
man, and hustled on board. That was just where you wanted to be,
and when the moment arrived you took command of the ship and
single-handed won the naval battle of Nipe Bay."
Jimmy Doyle nodded his head approvingly. "You certainty did,
Dave," protested the great man, "I seen you when you done it!"
At Key West Carr filed his story and while the hospital surgeons
kept David there over one steamer, to dress his wounds, his fame
and features spread across the map of the United States.
Burdett and Sons basked in reflected glory. Reporters besieged
their office. At the Merchants Down-Town Club the business men of
lower Broadway tendered congratulations.
"Of course, it's a great surprise to us," Burdett and Sons would
protest and wink heavily. "Of course, when the boy asked to be
sent South we'd no idea he was planning to fight for Cuba! Or we
wouldn't have let him go, would we?" Then again they would wink
heavily. "I suppose you know," they would say, "that he's a
direct descendant of General Hiram Greene, who won the battle of
Trenton. What I say is, 'Blood will tell!'" And then in a body
every one in the club would move against the bar and exclaim:
"Here's to Cuba libre!"
When the Olivette from Key West reached Tampa Bay every Cuban in
the Tampa cigar factories was at the dock. There were thousands
of them and all of the Junta, in high hats, to read David an
address of welcome.
And, when they saw him at the top of the gang-plank with his head
in a bandage and his arm in a sling, like a mob of maniacs they
howled and surged toward him. But before they could reach their
hero the courteous Junta forced them back, and cleared a pathway
for a young girl. She was travel-worn and pale, her shirt-waist
was disgracefully wrinkled, her best hat was a wreck. No one on
Broadway would have recognized her as Burdett and Sons' most
immaculate and beautiful stenographer.
She dug the shapeless hat into David's shoulder, and clung to
him. "David!" she sobbed, "promise me you'll never, never do it
Chapter 5. THE SAILORMAN
Before Latimer put him on watch, the Nantucket sailorman had not
a care in the world. If the wind blew from the north, he spun to
the left; if it came from the south, he spun to the right. But it
was entirely the wind that was responsible. So, whichever way he
turned, he smiled broadly, happily. His outlook upon the world
was that of one who loved his fellowman. He had many brothers as
like him as twins all over Nantucket and Cape Cod and the North
Shore, smiling from the railings of verandas, from the roofs of
bungalows, from the eaves of summer palaces. Empaled on their
little iron uprights, each sailorman whirled--sometimes
languidly, like a great lady revolving to the slow measures of a
waltz, sometimes so rapidly that he made you quite dizzy, and had
he not been a sailorman with a heart of oak and a head and
stomach of pine, he would have been quite seasick. But the
particular sailorman that Latimer bought for Helen Page and put
on sentry duty carried on his shoulders most grave and unusual
responsibilities. He was the guardian of a buried treasure, the
keeper of the happiness of two young people. It was really asking
a great deal of a care-free, happy-go-lucky weather-vane.
Every summer from Boston Helen Page's people had been coming to
Fair Harbor. They knew it when what now is the polo field was
their cow pasture. And whether at the age of twelve or of twenty
or more, Helen Page ruled Fair Harbor. When she arrived the
"season" opened; when she departed the local trades-people
sighed and began to take account of stock. She was so popular
because she possessed charm, and because she played no favorites.
To the grooms who held the ponies on the sidelines her manner was
just as simple and interested as it was to the gilded youths who
came to win the championship cups and remained to try to win
Helen. She was just as genuinely pleased to make a four at tennis
with the "kids" as to take tea on the veranda of the club-house
with the matrons. To each her manner was always as though she
were of their age. When she met the latter on the beach road, she
greeted them riotously and joyfully by their maiden names. And
the matrons liked it. In comparison the deference shown them by
the other young women did not so strongly appeal.
"When I'm jogging along in my station wagon," said one of them,
"and Helen shrieks and waves at me from her car, I feel as though
I were twenty, and I believe that she is really sorry I am not
sitting beside her, instead of that good-looking Latimer man,
who never wears a hat. Why does he never wear a hat? Because he
knows he's good-looking, or because Helen drives so fast he can't
keep it on?"
"Does he wear a hat when he is not with Helen?" asked the new
arrival. "That might help some."
"We will never know," exclaimed the young matron; "he never
This was so true that it had become a public scandal. You met
them so many times a day driving together, motoring together,
playing golf together, that you were embarrassed for them and did
not know which way to look. But they gloried in their shame. If
you tactfully pretended not to see them, Helen shouted at you.
She made you feel you had been caught doing something indelicate
The mothers of Fair Harbor were rather slow in accepting young
Latimer. So many of their sons had seen Helen shake her head in
that inarticulate, worried way, and look so sorry for them, that
any strange young man who apparently succeeded where those who
had been her friends for years had learned they must remain
friends, could not hope to escape criticism. Besides, they did
not know him: he did not come from Boston and Harvard, but from a
Western city. They were told that at home, at both the law and
the game of politics, he worked hard and successfully; but it was
rather held against him by the youth of Fair Harbor that he
played at there games, not so much for the sake of the game as
for exercise. He put aside many things, such as whiskey and soda
at two in the morning, and bridge all afternoon, with the remark:
"I find it does not tend toward efficiency." It was a remark that
irritated and, to the minds of the men at the country clubs,
seemed to place him. They liked to play polo because they liked
to play polo, not because it kept their muscles limber and their
"Some Western people were telling me," said one of the matrons,
"that he wants to be the next lieutenant-governor. They say he is
very ambitious and very selfish."
"Any man is selfish," protested one who for years had attempted
to marry Helen, "who wants to keep Helen to himself. But that he
should wish to be a lieutenant-governor, too, is rather an
anticlimax. It makes one lose sympathy."
Latimer went on his way without asking any sympathy. The
companionship of Helen Page was quite sufficient. He had been
working overtime and was treating himself to his first vacation
in years--he was young--he was in love and he was very happy. Nor
was there any question, either, that Helen Page was happy. Those
who had known her since she was a child could not remember when
she had not been happy, but these days she wore her joyousness
with a difference. It was in her eyes, in her greetings to old
friends: it showed itself hourly in courtesies and kindnesses.
She was very kind to Latimer, too. She did not deceive him. She
told him she liked better to be with him than with any one
else,--it would have been difficult to deny to him what was
apparent to an entire summer colony,--but she explained that that
did not mean she would marry him. She announced this when the
signs she knew made it seem necessary. She announced it in what
was for her a roundabout way, by remarking suddenly that she did
not intend to marry for several years.
This brought Latimer to his feet and called forth from him
remarks so eloquent that Helen found it very difficult to keep
her own. She as though she had been caught in an undertow and was
being whirled out to sea. When, at last, she had regained her
breath, only because Latimer had paused to catch his, she shook
her head miserably.
"The trouble is," she complained, "there are so many think the
"What do they think?" demanded Latimer.
"That they want to marry me."
Checked but not discouraged, Latimer attacked in force.
"I can quite believe that," he agreed, "but there's this
important difference: no matter how much a man wants to marry
you, he can't LOVE you as I do!"
"That's ANOTHER thing they think," sighed Helen.
"I'm sorry to be so unoriginal," snapped Latimer.
"PLEASE don't!" pleaded Helen. "I don't mean to be unfeeling. I'm
not unfeeling. I'm only trying to be fair. If I don't seem to
take it to heart, it's because I know it does no good. I can see
how miserable a girl must be if she is loved by one man and can't
make up her mind whether or not she wants to marry him. But when
there's so many she just stops worrying; for she can't possibly
marry them all."
"ALL!" exclaimed Latimer. "It is incredible that I have
undervalued you, but may I ask how many there are?"
"I don't know," sighed Helen miserably. "There seems to be
something about me that--"
"There is!" interrupted Latimer. "I've noticed it. You don't have
to tell me about it. I know that the Helen Page habit is a damned
difficult habit to break!"
It cannot be said that he made any violent effort to break it. At
least, not one that was obvious to Fair Harbor or to Helen.
One of their favorite drives was through the pine woods to the
point on which stood the lighthouse, and on one of these
excursions they explored a forgotten wood road and came out upon
a cliff. The cliff overlooked the sea, and below it was a jumble
of rocks with which the waves played hide and seek. On many
afternoons and mornings they returned to this place, and, while
Latimer read to her, Helen would sit with her back to a tree and
toss pine-cones into the water. Sometimes the poets whose works
he read made love so charmingly that Latimer was most grateful to
them for rendering such excellent first aid to the wounded, and
into his voice he would throw all that feeling and music that
from juries and mass meetings had dragged tears and cheers and
But when his voice became so appealing that it no longer was
possible for any woman to resist it, Helen would exclaim
excitedly: "Please excuse me for interrupting, but there is a
large spider--" and the spell was gone.
One day she exclaimed: "Oh!" and Latimer patiently lowered the
"Oxford Book of Verse," and asked: "What is it, NOW?"
"I'm so sorry," Helen said, "but I can't help watching that
Chapman boy; he's only got one reef in, and the next time he jibs
he'll capsize, and he can't swim, and he'll drown. I told his
mother only yesterday--"
"I haven't the least interest in the Chapman boy," said Latimer,
"or in what you told his mother, or whether he drowns or not! I'm
a drowning man myself!"
Helen shook her head firmly and reprovingly. "Men get over THAT
kind of drowning," she said.
"Not THIS kind of man doesn't!" said Latimer. "And don't tell
me," he cried indignantly, "that that's ANOTHER thing they all
"If one could only be sure!" sighed Helen. "If one could only be
sure that you--that the right man would keep on caring after you
marry him the way he says he cares before you marry him. If you
could know that, it would help you a lot in making up your mind."
"There is only one way to find that out," said Latimer; "that is
to marry him. I mean, of course," he corrected hastily, "to marry
One day, when on their way to the cliff at the end of the wood
road, the man who makes the Nantucket sailor and peddles him
passed through the village; and Latimer bought the sailorman and
carried him to their hiding-place. There he fastened him to the
lowest limb of one of the ancient pine-trees that helped to
screen their hiding-place from the world. The limb reached out
free of the other branches, and the wind caught the sailorman
fairly and spun him like a dancing dervish. Then it tired of him,
and went off to try to drown the Chapman boy, leaving the
sailorman motionless with his arms outstretched, balancing in
each hand a tiny oar and smiling happily.
"He has a friendly smile," said Helen; "I think he likes us."
"He is on guard," Latimer explained. "I put him there to warn us
if any one approaches, and when we are not here, he is to
frighten away trespassers. Do you understand?" he demanded of the
sailorman. "Your duty is to protect this beautiful lady. So long
as I love her you must guard this place. It is a life sentence.
You are always on watch. You never sleep. You are her slave. She
says you have a friendly smile. She wrongs you. It is a
beseeching, abject, worshipping smile. I am sure when I look at
her mine is equally idiotic. In fact, we are in many ways alike.
I also am her slave. I also am devoted only to her service. And I
never sleep, at least not since I met her."
From her throne among the pine needles Helen looked up at the
sailorman and frowned.
"It is not a happy simile," she objected. "For one thing, a
sailorman has a sweetheart in every port."
"Wait and see," said Latimer.
"And," continued the girl with some asperity, "if there is
anything on earth that changes its mind as often as a
weather-vane, that is less CERTAIN, less CONSTANT--"
"Constant?" Latimer laughed at her in open scorn. "You come back
here," he challenged, "months from now, years from now, when the
winds have beaten him, and the sun blistered him, and the snow
frozen him, and you will find him smiling at you just as he is
now, just as confidently, proudly, joyously, devotedly. Because
those who are your slaves, those who love YOU, cannot come to any
harm; only if you disown them, only if you drive them away!
The sailorman, delighted at such beautiful language, threw
himself about in a delirium of joy. His arms spun in their
sockets like Indian clubs, his oars flashed in the sun, and his
eyes and lips were fixed in one blissful, long-drawn-out,
When the golden-rod turned gray, and the leaves red and yellow,
and it was time for Latimer to return to his work in the West, he
came to say good-by. But the best Helen could do to keep hope
alive in him was to say that she was glad he cared. She added it
was very helpful to think that a man such as he believed you were
so fine a person, and during the coming winter she would try to
be like the fine person he believed her to be, but which, she
assured him, she was not.
Then he told her again she was the most wonderful being in the
world, to which she said: "Oh, indeed no!" and then, as though he
were giving her a cue, he said: "Good-by!" But she did not take
up his cue, and they shook hands. He waited, hardly daring to
"Surely, now that the parting has come," he assured himself, "she
will make some sign, she will give me a word, a look that will
write 'total' under the hours we have spent together, that will
help to carry me through the long winter."
But he held her hand so long and looked at her so hungrily that
he really forced her to say: "Don't miss your train," which kind
consideration for his comfort did not delight him as it should.
Nor, indeed, later did she herself recall the remark with
With Latimer out of the way the other two hundred and forty-nine
suitor attacked with renewed hope. Among other advantages they
had over Latimer was that they were on the ground. They saw Helen
daily, at dinners, dances, at the country clubs, in her own
drawing-room. Like any sailor from the Charlestown Navy Yard and
his sweetheart, they could walk beside her in the park and throw
peanuts to the pigeons, and scratch dates and initials on the
green benches; they could walk with her up one side of
Commonwealth Avenue and down the south bank of the Charles, when
the sun was gilding the dome of the State House, when the bridges
were beginning to deck themselves with necklaces of lights. They
had known her since they wore knickerbockers; and they shared
many interests and friends in common; they talked the same
language. Latimer could talk to her only in letters, for with her
he shared no friends or interests, and he was forced to choose
between telling her of his lawsuits and his efforts in politics
or of his love. To write to her of his affairs seemed wasteful
and impertinent, and of his love for her, after she had received
what he told of it in silence, he was too proud to speak. So he
wrote but seldom, and then only to say: "You know what I send
you." Had he known it, his best letters were those he did not
send. When in the morning mail Helen found his familiar
handwriting, that seemed to stand out like the face of a friend
in a crowd, she would pounce upon the letter, read it, and,
assured of his love, would go on her way rejoicing. But when in
the morning there was no letter, she wondered why, and all day
she wondered why. And the next morning when again she was
disappointed, her thoughts of Latimer and her doubts and
speculations concerning him shut out every other interest. He
became a perplexing, insistent problem. He was never out of her
mind. And then he would spoil it all by writing her that he loved
her and that of all the women in the world she was the only one.
And, reassured upon that point, Helen happily and promptly would
forget all about him.
But when she remembered him, although months had passed since she
had seen him, she remembered him much more distinctly, much more
gratefully, than that one of the two hundred and fifty with whom
she had walked that same afternoon. Latimer could not know it,
but of that anxious multitude he was first, and there was no
second. At least Helen hoped, when she was ready to marry, she
would love Latimer enough to want to marry him. But as yet she
assured herself she did not want to marry any one. As she was,
life was very satisfactory. Everybody loved her, everybody
invited her to be of his party, or invited himself to join hers,
and the object of each seemed to be to see that she enjoyed every
hour of every day. Her nature was such that to make her happy was
not difficult. Some of her devotees could do it by giving her a
dance and letting her invite half of Boston, and her kid brother
could do it by taking her to Cambridge to watch the team at
She thought she was happy because she was free. As a matter of
fact, she was happy because she loved some one and that
particular some one loved her. Her being "free" was only her
mistaken way of putting it. Had she thought she had lost Latimer
and his love, she would have discovered that, so far from being
free, she was bound hand and foot and heart and soul.
But she did not know that, and Latimer did not know that.
Meanwhile, from the branch of the tree in the sheltered, secret
hiding-place that overlooked the ocean, the sailorman kept watch.
The sun had blistered him, the storms had buffeted him, the snow
had frozen upon his shoulders. But his loyalty never relaxed. He
spun to the north, he spun to the south, and so rapidly did he
scan the surrounding landscape that no one could hope to creep
upon him unawares. Nor, indeed, did any one attempt to do so.
Once a fox stole into the secret hiding-place, but the sailorman
flapped his oars and frightened him away. He was always
triumphant. To birds, to squirrels, to trespassing rabbits he was
a thing of terror. Once, when the air was still, an impertinent
crow perched on the very limb on which he stood, and with
scornful, disapproving eyes surveyed his white trousers, his blue
reefer, his red cheeks. But when the wind suddenly drove past
them the sailorman sprang into action and the crow screamed in
alarm and darted away. So, alone and with no one to come to his
relief, the sailorman stood his watch. About him the branches
bent with the snow, the icicles froze him into immobility, and in
the tree-tops strange groanings filled him with alarms. But
undaunted, month after month, alert and smiling, he waited the
return of the beautiful lady and of the tall young man who had
devoured her with such beseeching, unhappy eyes.
Latimer found that to love a woman like Helen Page as he loved
her was the best thing that could come into his life. But to sit
down and lament over the fact that she did not love him did not,
to use his favorite expression, "tend toward efficiency." He
removed from his sight the three pictures of her he had cut from
illustrated papers, and ceased to write to her.
In his last letter he said: "I have told you how it is, and that
is how it is always going to be. There never has been, there
never can be any one but you. But my love is too precious, too
sacred to be brought out every week in a letter and dangled
before your eyes like an advertisement of a motor-car. It is too
wonderful a thing to be cheapened, to be subjected to slights and
silence. If ever you should want it, it is yours. It is here
waiting. But you must tell me so. I have done everything a man
can do to make you understand. But you do not want me or my love.
And my love says to me: 'Don't send me there again to have the
door shut in my face. Keep me with you to be your inspiration, to
help you to live worthily.' And so it shall be."
When Helen read that letter she did not know what to do. She did
not know how to answer it. Her first impression was that suddenly
she had grown very old, and that some one had turned off the sun,
and that in consequence the world had naturally grown cold and
dark. She could not see why the two hundred and forty-nine
expected her to keep on doing exactly the same things she had
been doing with delight for six months, and indeed for the last
six years. Why could they not see that no longer was there any
pleasure in them? She would have written and told Latimer that
she found she loved him very dearly if in her mind there had not
arisen a fearful doubt. Suppose his letter was not quite honest?
He said that he would always love her, but how could she now know
that? Why might not this letter be only his way of withdrawing
from a position which he wished to abandon, from which, perhaps,
he was even glad to escape? Were this true, and she wrote and
said all those things that were in her heart, that now she knew
were true, might she not hold him to her against his will? The
love that once he had for her might no longer exist, and if, in
her turn, she told him she loved him and had always loved him,
might he not in some mistaken spirit of chivalry feel it was his
duty to pretend to care? Her cheeks burned at the thought. It was
intolerable. She could not write that letter. And as day
succeeded day, to do so became more difficult. And so she never
wrote and was very unhappy. And Latimer was very unhappy. But he
had his work, and Helen had none, and for her life became a game
of putting little things together, like a picture puzzle, an hour
here and an hour there, to make up each day. It was a dreary
From time to time she heard of him through the newspapers. For,
in his own State, he was an "Insurgent" making a fight, the
outcome of which was expected to show what might follow
throughout the entire West. When he won his fight much more was
written about him, and he became a national figure. In his own
State the people hailed him as the next governor, promised him a
seat in the Senate. To Helen this seemed to take him further out
of her life. She wondered if now she held a place even in his
At Fair Harbor the two hundred and forty-nine used to joke with
her about her politician. Then they considered Latimer of
importance only because Helen liked him. Now they discussed him
impersonally and over her head, as though she were not present,
as a power, an influence, as the leader and exponent of a new
idea. They seemed to think she no longer could pretend to any
peculiar claim upon him, that now he belonged to all of them.
Older men would say to her: "I hear you know Latimer? What sort
of a man is he?"
Helen would not know what to tell them. She could not say he was
a man who sat with his back to a pine-tree, reading from a book
of verse, or halting to devour her with humble, entreating eyes.
She went South for the winter, the doctors deciding she was run
down and needed the change. And with an unhappy laugh at her own
expense she agreed in their diagnosis. She was indifferent as to
where they sent her, for she knew wherever she went she must
still force herself to go on putting one hour on top of another,
until she had built up the inexorable and necessary twenty-four.
When she returned winter was departing, but reluctantly, and
returning unexpectedly to cover the world with snow, to eclipse
the thin spring sunshine with cheerless clouds. Helen took
herself seriously to task. She assured herself it was weak-minded
to rebel. The summer was coming and Fair Harbor with all its old
delights was before her. She compelled herself to take heart, to
accept the fact that, after all, the world is a pretty good
place, and that to think only of the past, to live only on
memories and regrets, was not only cowardly and selfish, but, as
Latimer had already decided, did not tend toward efficiency.
Among the other rules of conduct that she imposed upon herself
was not to think of Latimer. At least, not during the waking
hours. Should she, as it sometimes happened, dream of him--should
she imagine they were again seated among the pines, riding across
the downs, or racing at fifty miles an hour through country
roads, with the stone fences flying past, with the wind and the
sun in their eyes, and in their hearts happiness and
content--that would not be breaking her rule. If she dreamed of
him, she could not be held responsible. She could only be
And then, just as she had banished him entirely from her mind, he
came East. Not as once he had planned to come, only to see her,
but with a blare of trumpets, at the command of many citizens, as
the guest of three cities. He was to speak at public meetings, to
confer with party leaders, to carry the war into the enemy's
country. He was due to speak in Boston at Faneuil Hall on the
first of May, and that same night to leave for the West, and
three days before his coming Helen fled from the city. He had
spoken his message to Philadelphia, he had spoken to New York,
and for a week the papers had spoken only of him. And for that
week, from the sight of his printed name, from sketches of him
exhorting cheering mobs, from snap-shots of him on rear platforms
leaning forward to grasp eager hands, Helen had shut her eyes.
And that during the time he was actually in Boston she might
spare herself further and more direct attacks upon her feelings
she escaped to Fair Harbor, there to remain until, on the first
of May at midnight, he again would pass out of her life, maybe
forever. No one saw in her going any significance. Spring had
come, and in preparation for the summer season the house at Fair
Harbor must be opened and set in order, and the presence there of
some one of the Page family was easily explained.
She made the three hours' run to Fair Harbor in her car, driving
it herself, and as the familiar landfalls fell into place, she
doubted if it would not have been wiser had she stayed away. For
she found that the memories of more than twenty summers at Fair
Harbor had been wiped out by those of one summer, by those of one
man. The natives greeted her joyously: the boatmen, the
fishermen, her own grooms and gardeners, the village postmaster,
the oldest inhabitant. They welcomed her as though they were her
vassals and she their queen. But it was the one man she had
exiled from Fair Harbor who at every turn wrung her heart and
caused her throat to tighten. She passed the cottage where he had
lodged, and hundreds of years seemed to have gone since she used
to wait for him in the street, blowing noisily on her automobile
horn, calling derisively to his open windows. Wherever she turned
Fair Harbor spoke of him. The golf-links; the bathing beach; the
ugly corner in the main street where he always reminded her that
it was better to go slow for ten seconds than to remain a long
time dead; the old house on the stone wharf where the schooners
made fast, which he intended to borrow for his honeymoon; the
wooden trough where they always drew rein to water the ponies;
the pond into which he had waded to bring her lilies.
On the second day of her stay she found she was passing these
places purposely, that to do so she was going out of her way.
They no longer distressed her, but gave her a strange comfort.
They were old friends, who had known her in the days when she was
rich in happiness.
But the secret hiding-place--their very own hiding-place, the
opening among the pines that overhung the jumble of rocks and the
sea--she could not bring herself to visit. And then, on the
afternoon of the third day when she was driving alone toward the
lighthouse, her pony, of his own accord, from force of habit,
turned smartly into the wood road. And again from force of habit,
before he reached the spot that overlooked the sea, he came to a
full stop. There was no need to make him fast. For hours,
stretching over many summer days, he had stood under those same
branches patiently waiting.
On foot, her heart beating tremulously, stepping reverently, as
one enters the aisle of some dim cathedral, Helen advanced into
the sacred circle. And then she stood quite still. What she had
expected to find there she could not have told, but it was gone.
The place was unknown to her. She saw an opening among gloomy
pines, empty, silent, unreal. No haunted house, no barren moor,
no neglected graveyard ever spoke more poignantly, more
mournfully, with such utter hopelessness. There was no sign of
his or of her former presence. Across the open space something
had passed its hand, and it had changed. What had been a
trysting-place, a bower, a nest, had become a tomb. A tomb, she
felt, for something that once had been brave, fine, and
beautiful, but which now was dead. She had but one desire, to
escape from the place, to put it away from her forever, to
remember it, not as she now found it, but as first she had
remembered it, and as now she must always remember It. She turned
softly on tiptoe as one who has intruded on a shrine.
But before she could escape there came from the sea a sudden gust
of wind that caught her by the skirts and drew her back, that set
the branches tossing and swept the dead leaves racing about her
ankles. And at the same instant from just above her head there
beat upon the air a violent, joyous tattoo--a sound that was
neither of the sea nor of the woods, a creaking, swiftly repeated
sound, like the flutter of caged wings.
Helen turned in alarm and raised her eyes--and beheld the
Tossing his arms in a delirious welcome, waltzing in a frenzy of
joy, calling her back to him with wild beckonings, she saw him
smiling down at her with the same radiant, beseeching,
worshipping smile. In Helen's ears Latimer's commands to the
sailorman rang as clearly as though Latimer stood before her and
had just spoken. Only now they were no longer a jest; they were a
vow, a promise, an oath of allegiance that brought to her peace,
and pride, and happiness.
"So long as I love this beautiful lady," had been his foolish
words, "you will guard this place. It is a life sentence!"
With one hand Helen Page dragged down the branch on which the
sailorman stood, with the other she snatched him from his post of
duty. With a joyous laugh that was a sob, she clutched the
sailorman in both her hands and kissed the beseeching,
An hour later her car, on its way to Boston, passed through Fair
Harbor at a rate of speed that caused her chauffeur to pray
between his chattering teeth that the first policeman would save
their lives by landing them in jail.
At the wheel, her shoulders thrown forward, her eyes searching
the dark places beyond the reach of the leaping head-lights Helen
Page raced against time, against the minions of the law, against
sudden death, to beat the midnight train out of Boston, to assure
the man she loved of the one thing that could make his life worth
And close against her heart, buttoned tight beneath her
great-coat, the sailorman smiled in the darkness, his long watch
over, his soul at peace, his duty well performed.
Chapter 6. THE MIND READER
When Philip Endicott was at Harvard, he wrote stories of
undergraduate life suggested by things that had happened to
himself and to men he knew. Under the title of "Tales of the
Yard" they were collected in book form, and sold surprisingly
well. After he was graduated and became a reporter on the New
York Republic, he wrote more stories, in each of which a reporter
was the hero, and in which his failure or success in gathering
news supplied the plot. These appeared first in the magazines,
and later in a book under the title of "Tales of the Streets."
They also were well received.
Then came to him the literary editor of the Republic, and said:
"There are two kinds of men who succeed in writing fiction--men
of genius and reporters. A reporter can describe a thing he has
seen in such a way that he can make the reader see it, too. A man
of genius can describe something he has never seen, or any one
else for that matter, in such a way that the reader will exclaim:
'I have never committed a murder; but if I had, that's just the
way I'd feel about it.' For instance, Kipling tells us how a
Greek pirate, chained to the oar of a trireme, suffers; how a
mother rejoices when her baby crawls across her breast. Kipling
has never been a mother or a pirate, but he convinces you he
knows how each of them feels. He can do that because he is a
genius; you cannot do it because you are not. At college you
wrote only of what you saw at college; and now that you are in
the newspaper business all your tales are only of newspaper work.
You merely report what you see. So, if you are doomed to write
only of what you see, then the best thing for you to do is to see
as many things as possible. You must see all kinds of life. You
must progress. You must leave New York, and you had better go to
"But on the Republic," Endicott pointed out, "I get a salary. And
in London I should have to sweep a crossing."
"Then," said the literary editor, "you could write a story about
a man who swept a crossing."
It was not alone the literary editor's words of wisdom that had
driven Philip to London. Helen Carey was in London, visiting the
daughter of the American Ambassador; and, though Philip had known
her only one winter, he loved her dearly. The great trouble was
that he had no money, and that she possessed so much of it that,
unless he could show some unusual quality of mind or character,
his asking her to marry him, from his own point of view at least,
was quite impossible. Of course, he knew that no one could love
her as he did, that no one so truly wished for her happiness, or
would try so devotedly to make her happy. But to him it did not
seem possible that a girl could be happy with a man who was not
able to pay for her home, or her clothes, or her food, who would
have to borrow her purse if he wanted a new pair of gloves or a
hair-cut. For Philip Endicott, while rich in birth and education
and charm of manner, had no money at all. When, in May, he came
from New York to lay siege to London and to the heart of Helen
Carey he had with him, all told, fifteen hundred dollars. That
was all he possessed in the world; and unless the magazines
bought his stories there was no prospect of his getting any more.
Friends who knew London told him that, if you knew London well,
it was easy to live comfortably there and to go about and even to
entertain modestly on three sovereigns a day. So, at that rate,
Philip calculated he could stay three months. But he found that
to know London well enough to be able to live there on three
sovereigns a day you had first to spend so many five-pound notes
in getting acquainted with London that there were no sovereigns
left. At the end of one month he had just enough money to buy him
a second-class passage back to New York, and he was as far from
Helen as ever.
Often he had read in stories and novels of men who were too poor
to marry. And he had laughed at the idea. He had always said that
when two people truly love each other it does not matter whether
they have money or not. But when in London, with only a
five-pound note, and face to face with the actual proposition of
asking Helen Carey not only to marry him but to support him, he
felt that money counted for more than he had supposed. He found
money was many different things--it was self-respect, and proper
pride, and private honors and independence. And, lacking these
things, he felt he could ask no girl to marry him, certainly not
one for whom he cared as he cared for Helen Carey. Besides, while
he knew how he loved her, he had no knowledge whatsoever that she
loved him. She always seemed extremely glad to see him; but that
might be explained in different ways. It might be that what was
in her heart for him was really a sort of "old home week"
feeling; that to her it was a relief to see any one who spoke her
own language, who did not need to have it explained when she was
jesting, and who did not think when she was speaking in perfectly
satisfactory phrases that she must be talking slang.
The Ambassador and his wife had been very kind to Endicott, and,
as a friend of Helen's, had asked him often to dinner and had
sent him cards for dances at which Helen was to be one of the
belles and beauties. And Helen herself had been most kind, and
had taken early morning walks with him in Hyde Park and through
the National Galleries; and they had fed buns to the bears in the
Zoo, and in doing so had laughed heartily. They thought it was
because the bears were so ridiculous that they laughed. Later
they appreciated that the reason they were happy was because they
were together. Had the bear pit been empty, they still would have
On the evening of the thirty-first of May, Endicott had gone to
bed with his ticket purchased for America and his last five-pound
note to last him until the boat sailed. He was a miserable young
man. He knew now that he loved Helen Carey in such a way that to
put the ocean between them was liable to unseat his courage and
his self-control. In London he could, each night, walk through
Carlton House Terrace and, leaning against the iron rails of the
Carlton Club, gaze up at her window. But, once on the other side
of the ocean, that tender exercise must be abandoned. He must
even consider her pursued by most attractive guardsmen,
diplomats, and belted earls. He knew they could not love her as
he did; he knew they could not love her for the reasons he loved
her, because the fine and beautiful things in her that he saw and
worshipped they did not seek, and so did not find. And yet, for
lack of a few thousand dollars, he must remain silent, must put
from him the best that ever came into his life, must waste the
wonderful devotion he longed to give, must starve the love that
he could never summon for any other woman.
On the thirty-first of May he went to sleep utterly and
completely miserable. On the first of June he woke hopeless and
And then the miracle came.
Prichard, the ex-butler who valeted all the young gentlemen in
the house where Philip had taken chambers, brought him his
breakfast. As he placed the eggs and muffins on the tables to
Philip it seemed as though Prichard had said: "I am sorry he is
leaving us. The next gentleman who takes these rooms may not be
so open-handed. He never locked up his cigars or his whiskey. I
wish he'd give me his old dress-coat. It fits me, except across
Philip stared hard at Prichard; but the lips of the valet had not
moved. In surprise and bewilderment, Philip demanded:
"How do you know it fits? Have you tried it on?"
"I wouldn't take such a liberty," protested Prichard. "Not with
any of our gentlemen's clothes."
"How did you know I was talking about clothes," demanded Philip.
"You didn't say anything about clothes, did you?"
"No, sir, I did not; but you asked me, sir, and I--"
"Were you thinking of clothes?"
"Well, sir, you might say, in a way, that I was, answered the
valet. "Seeing as you're leaving, sir, and they're not over-new,
I thought "
"It's mental telepathy," said Philip.
"I beg your pardon," exclaimed Prichard.
"You needn't wait," said Philip.
The coincidence puzzled him; but by the time he had read the
morning papers he had forgotten about it, and it was not until he
had emerged into the street that it was forcibly recalled. The
street was crowded with people; and as Philip stepped in among
them, It was as though every one at whom he looked began to talk
aloud. Their lips did not move, nor did any sound issue from
between them; but, without ceasing, broken phrases of thoughts
came to him as clearly as when, in passing in a crowd, snatches
of talk are carried to the ears. One man thought of his debts;
another of the weather, and of what disaster it might bring to
his silk hat; another planned his luncheon; another was rejoicing
over a telegram he had but that moment received. To himself he
kept repeating the words of the telegram--"No need to come, out
of danger." To Philip the message came as clearly as though he
were reading it from the folded slip of paper that the stranger
clutched in his hand.
Confused and somewhat frightened, and in order that undisturbed
he might consider what had befallen him, Philip sought refuge
from the crowded street in the hallway of a building. His first
thought was that for some unaccountable cause his brain for the
moment was playing tricks with him, and he was inventing the
phrases he seemed to hear, that he was attributing thoughts to
others of which they were entirely innocent. But, whatever it was
that had befallen him, he knew it was imperative that he should
at once get at the meaning of it.
The hallway in which he stood opened from Bond Street up a flight
of stairs to the studio of a fashionable photographer, and
directly in front of the hallway a young woman of charming
appearance had halted. Her glance was troubled, her manner ill at
ease. To herself she kept repeating: "Did I tell Hudson to be
here at a quarter to eleven, or a quarter past? Will she get the
telephone message to bring the ruff? Without the ruff it would be
absurd to be photographed. Without her ruff Mary Queen of Scots
would look ridiculous!"
Although the young woman had spoken not a single word, although
indeed she was biting impatiently at her lower lip, Philip had
distinguished the words clearly. Or, if he had not distinguished
them, he surely was going mad. It was a matter to be at once
determined, and the young woman should determine it. He advanced
boldly to her, and raised his hat.
"Pardon me," he said, "but I believe you are waiting for your
As though fearing an impertinence, the girl regarded him in
"I only wish to make sure," continued Philip, "that you are she
for whom I have a message. You have an appointment, I believe, to
be photographed in fancy dress as Mary Queen of Scots?"
"Well?" assented the girl.
"And you telephoned Hudson," he continued, "to bring you your
The girl exclaimed with vexation.
"Oh!" she protested; "I knew they'd get it wrong! Not muff, ruff!
I want my ruff."
Philip felt a cold shiver creep down his spine.
"For the love of Heaven!" he exclaimed in horror; "it's true!"
"What's true?" demanded the young woman in some alarm.
"That I'm a mind reader," declared Philip. "I've read your mind!
I can read everybody's mind. I know just what you're thinking
now. You're thinking I'm mad!"
The actions of the young lady showed that again he was correct.
With a gasp of terror she fled past him and raced up the stairs
to the studio. Philip made no effort to follow and to explain.
What was there to explain? How could he explain that which, to
himself, was unbelievable? Besides, the girl had served her
purpose. If he could read the mind of one, he could read the
minds of all. By some unexplainable miracle, to his ordinary
equipment of senses a sixth had been added. As easily as, before
that morning, he could look into the face of a fellow-mortal, he
now could look into the workings of that fellow-mortal's mind.
The thought was appalling. It was like living with one's ear to a
key-hole. In his dismay his first idea was to seek medical
advice--the best in London. He turned instantly in the direction
of Harley Street. There, he determined, to the most skilled
alienist in town he would explain his strange plight. For only as
a misfortune did the miracle appear to him. But as he made his
way through the streets his pace slackened.
Was he wise, he asked himself, in allowing others to know he
possessed this strange power? Would they not at once treat him as
a madman? Might they not place him under observation, or even
deprive him of his liberty? At the thought he came to an abrupt
halt His own definition of the miracle as a "power" had opened a
new line of speculation. If this strange gift (already he was
beginning to consider it more leniently) were concealed from
others, could he not honorably put it to some useful purpose?
For, among the blind, the man with one eye is a god. Was not
he--among all other men the only one able to read the minds of
all other men--a god? Turning into Bruton Street, he paced its
quiet length considering the possibilities that lay within him.
It was apparent that the gift would lead to countless
embarrassments. If it were once known that he possessed it, would
not even his friends avoid him? For how could any one, knowing
his most secret thought was at the mercy of another, be happy in
that other's presence? His power would lead to his social
ostracism. Indeed, he could see that his gift might easily become
a curse. He decided not to act hastily, that for the present he
had best give no hint to others of his unique power.
As the idea of possessing this power became more familiar, he
regarded it with less aversion. He began to consider to what
advantage he could place it. He could see that, given the right
time and the right man, he might learn secrets leading to
far-reaching results. To a statesman, to a financier, such a gift
as he possessed would make him a ruler of men. Philip had no
desire to be a ruler of men; but he asked himself how could he
bend this gift to serve his own? What he most wished was to marry
Helen Carey; and, to that end, to possess money. So he must meet
men who possessed money, who were making money. He would put
questions to them. And with words they would give evasive
answers; but their minds would tell him the truth.
The ethics of this procedure greatly disturbed him. Certainly it
was no better than reading other people's letters. But, he
argued, the dishonor in knowledge so obtained would lie only in
the use he made of it. If he used it without harm to him from
whom it was obtained and with benefit to others, was he not
justified in trading on his superior equipment? He decided that
each case must be considered separately in accordance with the
principle involved. But, principle or no principle, he was
determined to become rich. Did not the end justify the means?
Certainly an all-wise Providence had not brought Helen Carey into
his life only to take her away from him. It could not be so
cruel. But, in selecting them for one another, the all-wise
Providence had overlooked the fact that she was rich and he was
poor. For that oversight Providence apparently was now
endeavoring to make amends. In what certainly was a fantastic and
roundabout manner Providence had tardily equipped him with a gift
that could lead to great wealth. And who was he to fly in the
face of Providence? He decided to set about building up a
fortune, and building it in a hurry.
From Bruton Street he had emerged upon Berkeley Square; and, as
Lady Woodcote had invited him to meet Helen at luncheon at the
Ritz, he turned in that direction. He was too early for luncheon;
but in the corridor of the Ritz he knew he would find persons of
position and fortune, and in reading their minds he might pass
the time before luncheon with entertainment, possibly with
profit. For, while pacing Bruton Street trying to discover the
principles of conduct that threatened to hamper his new power, he
had found that in actual operation it was quite simple. He
learned that his mind, in relation to other minds, was like the
receiver of a wireless station with an unlimited field. For,
while the wireless could receive messages only from those
instruments with which it was attuned, his mind was in key with
all other minds. To read the thoughts of another, he had only to
concentrate his own upon that person; and to shut off the
thoughts of that person, he had only to turn his own thoughts
elsewhere. But also he discovered that over the thoughts of those
outside the range of his physical sight he had no control. When
he asked of what Helen Carey was at that moment thinking, there
was no result. But when he asked, "Of what is that policeman on
the corner thinking?" he was surprised to find that that officer
of the law was formulating regulations to abolish the hobble
skirt as an impediment to traffic.
As Philip turned into Berkeley Square, the accents of a mind in
great distress smote upon his new and sixth sense. And, in the
person of a young gentleman leaning against the park railing, he
discovered the source from which the mental sufferings emanated.
The young man was a pink-cheeked, yellow-haired youth of
extremely boyish appearance, and dressed as if for the
race-track. But at the moment his pink and babyish face wore an
expression of complete misery. With tear-filled eyes he was
gazing at a house of yellow stucco on the opposite side of the
street. And his thoughts were these: "She is the best that ever
lived, and I am the most ungrateful of fools. How happy were we
in the house of yellow stucco! Only now, when she has closed its
doors to me, do I know how happy! If she would give me another
chance, never again would I distress or deceive her."
So far had the young man progressed in his thoughts when an
automobile of surprising smartness swept around the corner and
drew up in front of the house of yellow stucco, and from it
descended a charming young person. She was of the Dresden-
shepherdess type, with large blue eyes of haunting beauty and
"My wife!" exclaimed the blond youth at the railings. And
instantly he dodged behind a horse that, while still attached to
a four-wheeler, was contentedly eating from a nose-bag.
With a key the Dresden shepherdess opened the door to the yellow
house and disappeared.
The calling of the reporter trains him in audacity, and to act
quickly. He shares the troubles of so many people that to the
troubles of other people he becomes callous, and often will rush
in where friends of the family fear to tread. Although Philip was
not now acting as a reporter, he acted quickly. Hardly had the
door closed upon the young lady than he had mounted the steps and
rung the visitor's bell. As he did so, he could not resist
casting a triumphant glance in the direction of the outlawed
husband. And, in turn, what the outcast husband, peering from
across the back of the cab horse, thought of Philip, of his
clothes, of his general appearance, and of the manner in which he
would delight to alter all of them, was quickly communicated to
the American. They were thoughts of a nature so violent and
uncomplimentary that Philip hastily cut off all connection.
As Philip did not know the name of the Dresden-china doll, it was
fortunate that on opening the door, the butler promptly
"Her ladyship is not receiving."
"Her ladyship will, I think, receive me," said Philip pleasantly,
"when you tell her I come as the special ambassador of his
From a tiny reception-room on the right of the entrance-hall
there issued a feminine exclamation of surprise, not unmixed with
joy; and in the hall the noble lady instantly appeared.
When she saw herself confronted by a stranger, she halted in
embarrassment. But as, even while she halted, her only thought
had been, "Oh! if he will only ask me to forgive him!" Philip
felt no embarrassment whatsoever. Outside, concealed behind a cab
horse, was the erring but bitterly repentant husband; inside, her
tenderest thoughts racing tumultuously toward him, was an unhappy
child-wife begging to be begged to pardon.
For a New York reporter, and a Harvard graduate of charm and good
manners, it was too easy.
"I do not know you," said her ladyship. But even as she spoke she
motioned to the butler to go away. "You must be one of his new
friends." Her tone was one of envy.
"Indeed, I am his newest friend," Philip assured her; "but I can
safely say no one knows his thoughts as well as I. And they are
all of you!"
The china shepherdess blushed with happiness, but instantly she
shook her head.
"They tell me I must not believe him," she announced. "They tell
"Never mind what they tell you," commanded Philip. "Listen to ME.
He loves you. Better than ever before, he loves you. All he asks
is the chance to tell you so. You cannot help but believe him.
Who can look at you, and not believe that he loves you! Let me,"
he begged, "bring him to you." He started from her when,
remembering the somewhat violent thoughts of the youthful
husband, he added hastily: "Or perhaps it would be better if you
called him yourself."
"Called him!" exclaimed the lady. "He is in Paris-at the
"If they tell you that sort of thing," protested Philip
indignantly, "you must listen to me. He is not in Paris. He is
not with her. There never was a her!"
He drew aside the lace curtains and pointed. "He is there--
behind that ancient cab horse, praying that you will let him tell
you that not only did he never do it; but, what is much more
important, he will never do it again."
The lady herself now timidly drew the curtains apart, and then
more boldly showed herself upon the iron balcony. Leaning over
the scarlet geraniums, she beckoned with both hands. The result
was instantaneous. Philip bolted for the front door, leaving it
open; and, as he darted down the steps, the youthful husband, in
strides resembling those of an ostrich, shot past him. Philip did
not cease running until he was well out of Berkeley Square. Then,
not ill-pleased with the adventure, he turned and smiled back at
the house of yellow stucco.
"Bless you, my children," he murmured; "bless you!"
He continued to the Ritz; and, on crossing Piccadilly to the
quieter entrance to the hotel in Arlington Street, found gathered
around it a considerable crowd drawn up on either side of a red
carpet that stretched down the steps of the hotel to a court
carriage. A red carpet in June, when all is dry under foot and
the sun is shining gently, can mean only royalty; and in the rear
of the men in the street Philip halted. He remembered that for a
few days the young King of Asturia and the Queen Mother were at
the Ritz incognito; and, as he never had seen the young man who
so recently and so tragically had been exiled from his own
kingdom, Philip raised himself on tiptoe and stared expectantly.
As easily as he could read their faces could he read the thoughts
of those about him. They were thoughts of friendly curiosity, of
pity for the exiles; on the part of the policemen who had
hastened from a cross street, of pride at their temporary
responsibility; on the part of the coachman of the court
carriage, of speculation as to the possible amount of his
Majesty's tip. The thoughts were as harmless and protecting as
the warm sunshine.
And then, suddenly and harshly, like the stroke of a fire bell at
midnight, the harmonious chorus of gentle, hospitable thoughts
was shattered by one that was discordant, evil, menacing. It was
the thought of a man with a brain diseased; and its purpose was
"When they appear at the doorway," spoke the brain of the maniac,
"I shall lift the bomb from my pocket. I shall raise it above my
head. I shall crash it against the stone steps. It will hurl them
and all of these people into eternity and me with them. But I
shall LIVE--a martyr to the Cause. And the Cause will flourish!"
Through the unsuspecting crowd, like a football player diving for
a tackle, Philip hurled himself upon a little dark man standing
close to the open door of the court carriage. From the rear
Philip seized him around the waist and locked his arms behind
him, elbow to elbow. Philip's face, appearing over the man's
shoulder, stared straight into that of the policeman.
"He has a bomb in his right-hand pocket!" yelled Philip. "I can
hold him while you take it! But, for Heaven's sake, don't drop
it!" Philip turned upon the crowd. "Run! all of you!" he shouted.
"Run like the devil!"
At that instant the boy King and his Queen Mother, herself still
young and beautiful, and cloaked with a dignity and sorrow that
her robes of mourning could not intensify, appeared in the
"Go back, sir!" warned Philip. "He means to kill you!"
At the words and at sight of the struggling men, the great lady
swayed helplessly, her eyes filled with terror. Her son sprang
protectingly in front of her. But the danger was past. A second
policeman was now holding the maniac by the wrists, forcing his
arms above his head; Philip's arms, like a lariat, were wound
around his chest; and from his pocket the first policeman
gingerly drew forth a round, black object of the size of a glass
fire-grenade. He held it high in the air, and waved his free hand
warningly. But the warning was unobserved. There was no one
remaining to observe it. Leaving the would-be assassin struggling
and biting in the grasp of the stalwart policeman, and the other
policeman unhappily holding the bomb at arm's length, Philip
sought to escape into the Ritz. But the young King broke through
the circle of attendants and stopped him.
"I must thank you," said the boy eagerly; "and I wish you to tell
me how you came to suspect the man's purpose."
Unable to speak the truth, Philip, the would-be writer of
fiction, began to improvise fluently.
"To learn their purpose, sir," he said, "is my business. I am of
the International Police, and in the secret service of your
"Then I must know your name," said the King, and added with a
dignity that was most becoming, "You will find we are not
Philip smiled mysteriously and shook his head.
"I said in your secret service," he repeated. "Did even your
Majesty know me, my usefulness would be at an end." He pointed
toward the two policemen. "If you desire to be just, as well as
gracious, those are the men to reward."
He slipped past the King and through the crowd of hotel officials
into the hall and on into the corridor.
The arrest had taken place so quietly and so quickly that through
the heavy glass doors no sound had penetrated, and of the fact
that they had been so close to a possible tragedy those in the
corridor were still ignorant. The members of the Hungarian
orchestra were arranging their music; a waiter was serving two
men of middle age with sherry; and two distinguished-looking
elderly gentlemen seated together on a sofa were talking in
One of the two middle-aged men was well known to Philip, who as a
reporter had often, in New York, endeavored to interview him on
matters concerning the steel trust. His name was Faust. He was a
Pennsylvania Dutchman from Pittsburgh, and at one time had been a
foreman of the night shift in the same mills he now controlled.
But with a roar and a spectacular flash, not unlike one of his
own blast furnaces, he had soared to fame and fortune. He
recognized Philip as one of the bright young men of the Republic;
but in his own opinion he was far too self-important to betray
Philip sank into an imitation Louis Quatorze chair beside a
fountain in imitation of one in the apartment of the Pompadour,
and ordered what he knew would be an execrable imitation of an
American cocktail. While waiting for the cocktail and Lady
Woodcote's luncheon party, Philip, from where he sat, could not
help but overhear the conversation of Faust and of the man with
him. The latter was a German with Hebraic features and a pointed
beard. In loud tones he was congratulating the American many-time
millionaire on having that morning come into possession of a rare
and valuable masterpiece, a hitherto unknown and but recently
discovered portrait of Philip IV by Velasquez.
Philip sighed enviously.
"Fancy," he thought, "owning a Velasquez! Fancy having it all to
yourself! It must be fun to be rich. It certainly is hell to be
The German, who was evidently a picture-dealer, was exclaiming in
tones of rapture, and nodding his head with an air of awe and
"I am telling you the truth, Mr. Faust," he said. "In no gallery
in Europe, no, not even in the Prado, is there such another
Velasquez. This is what you are doing, Mr. Faust, you are robbing
Spain. You are robbing her of something worth more to her than
Cuba. And I tell you, so soon as it is known that this Velasquez
is going to your home in Pittsburgh, every Spaniard will hate you
and every art-collector will hate you, too. For it is the most
wonderful art treasure in Europe. And what a bargain, Mr. Faust!
What a bargain!"
To make sure that the reporter was within hearing, Mr. Faust
glanced in the direction of Philip and, seeing that he had heard,
frowned importantly. That the reporter might hear still more, he
also raised his voice.
"Nothing can be called a bargain, Baron," he said, "that costs
three hundred thousand dollars!"
Again he could not resist glancing toward Philip, and so eagerly
that Philip deemed it would be only polite to look interested. So
he obligingly assumed a startled look, with which he endeavored
to mingle simulations of surprise, awe, and envy.
The next instant an expression of real surprise overspread his
Mr. Faust continued. "If you will come upstairs," he said to the
picture-dealer, "I will give you your check; and then I should
like to drive to your apartments and take a farewell look at the
"I am sorry," the Baron said, "but I have had it moved to my art
gallery to be packed."
"Then let's go to the gallery," urged the patron of art. "We've
just time before lunch." He rose to his feet, and on the instant
the soul of the picture-dealer was filled with alarm.
In actual words he said: "The picture is already boxed and in its
lead coffin. No doubt by now it is on its way to Liverpool. I am
sorry." But his thoughts, as Philip easily read them, were:
"Fancy my letting this vulgar fool into the Tate Street workshop!
Even HE would know that old masters are not found in a
half-finished state on Chelsea-made frames and canvases. Fancy my
letting him see those two half-completed Van Dycks, the new Hals,
the half-dozen Corots. He would even see his own copy of
Velasquez next to the one exactly like it--the one MacMillan
finished yesterday and that I am sending to Oporto, where next
year, in a convent, we shall 'discover' it."
Philip's surprise gave way to intense amusement. In his delight
at the situation upon which he had stumbled, he laughed aloud.
The two men, who had risen, surprised at the spectacle of a young
man laughing at nothing, turned and stared. Philip also rose.
"Pardon me," he said to Faust, "but you spoke so loud I couldn't
help overhearing. I think we've met before, when I was a reporter
on the Republic."
The Pittsburgh millionaire made a pretense, of annoyance.
"Really!" he protested irritably, "you reporters butt in
everywhere. No public man is safe. Is there no place we can go
where you fellows won't annoy us?"
"You can go to the devil for all I care," said Philip, "or even
He saw the waiter bearing down upon him with the imitation
cocktail, and moved to meet it. The millionaire, fearing the
reporter would escape him, hastily changed his tone. He spoke
with effective resignation.
"However, since you've learned so much," he said, "I'll tell you
the whole of it. I don't want the fact garbled, for it is of
international importance. Do you know what a Velasquez is?"
"Do you?" asked Philip.
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