Saucy Stories Vol. VI, No. 4 (May 1919), ed. by Wyndham Martyn. New York: Inter-Continental Publishing Corp., pp. 136.

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MAY 1919
Price 20c
Love in the Jungle
A Wonderful Novel
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MAY, 1919
VOL. VI No. 4
Please address all manuscripts to "Editor of SAUCY STORIES"
LOVE IN THE JUNGLE May Freud Dickenson 3
(complete novelette)
TRAGEDY Frederick Moxon 35
LIMBERING UP EBENEZER Harry Irving Shuroway 37
DESIRE Hale Mcrriman 40
THE GREEN HAT V. Omar Whitehead 41
WHOSE WAS THE HAND? Francis Harmer 47
SHE HAD TO PLAY THE LEAD William Grenvil 51
DO YOU KNOW? Arthur Bowie Chrisman 63
"TILL DEATH US DO PART" Hilliard Booth 65
(one-act play)
VERSE (A la Alice) Murray Leinster 72
MAY J. R. McCarthy 78
HATS Frank Dorrancc Hopley 79
THE DAYS OF OLD Hale Mcrriman 84
LONELY HEART Harry C. Harvey, Jr. 85
MEN Viola Brothers Shore 97
THE LAST JOB Harold de Polo 99
A WAR MEMORY Frederick Moxon 106
THE COMET AND THE STAR Louise Winter 107
O WOMAN! WOMAN! M. A. Hitchcock 116
THE FOOL Charles Woodstock 117
MY FRIEND Karl R. Coolidge 120
HER HORRIBLE REVENGE Terrell Love Holliday 121
EXPLANATION Virginia Biddle 122
On sale at all the principal Bookstores, Newsstands, Hotels and Exchanges throughout the world. Wyndham Martyn, Editor. A.W. Sutton, President and Treasurer. Wyndham Martyn, Vice- President. J. W. Glenister Secretary and Circulation Director. The entire contents of this maga- zine is protected by copyright and must not be reprinted. Issued monthly by Inter-Continental Publishing Corporation, West 45th Street, New York City, New York.
Western Advertising Office, Westminster Bldg., Chicago, Ill. Copyright, 1910, by Inter-Continental Publishing Corporation. Entered as second-class matter September 10, 1916, at the Post Office at New York City, N. Y., under Act of March 3, 1879
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From the Editorial Point of View
THERE is an unusually interesting novelette next month by Elizabeth Walsh called MISS BROAD- WAY OF NOWHERE. It is the story of Nat Seccombe, open-handed, young, rich, unscrupulous and popular. Baby Morrison, the latest beauty on the theatrical firmament, who is twenty but looks sixteen, plays a leading part in this gripping novel; but the best is reserved for Lois, who is almost run down by the young millionaire's car. He determines to take her to the big banquet he is giving to his friends. Against her will she is dragged in to the brilliant scene and introduced as MISS BROAD- WAY OF NOWHERE. What happens to her, the love that is made to her by the wrong and the right sort of men, the jealousy of the better known beauties, is told in such a manner as to hold one's interest to the last sentence.
NEXT month we shall begin a series of unusual stories called THE MAN WHOM LIFE PASSED BY. Winson Bouve is the author and the first of the series is A DAUGHTER OF JOY. The man whom life has passed by is a rich, lonely cripple who because of his affliction has awakened love in no woman's heart. He lives alone in a big house, rarely going out except at night. It was on one of these rambles he meets the woman whose pity he is able to buy.
THE WISE GUY, by Dayton Stoddart, is the amusing story of Jimmy Tilford who belonged to the class which always has a large waiting list. A wise guy is one who falls twice as hard and fast as the rest. Jimmy regarded girls as pleasant playthings to pass on to the next when their mission so far as he was concerned was done. Jimmy fell fast and hard as you will find out.
HOME TOWN STUFF is a most entertaining story. It is about Patsy of the Gaiety and William Walker Jackson, who sent his card to her dressing room by a stage hand. "Did he say he was a friend of mine?" she asked. "Yeh," said the stage hand, "said he was from your home town—Boobville, I think he said." Out of this usual beginning an unusual and amusing story grows. Carolina Jewett wrote it.
Other stories will be by Harold de Polo, C. S. Montanve, Murray Leinster, and Thomas Edgelow, all of whom are old favorites.
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Love in the Jungle
A Complete Novelette
By May Freud Dickenson
RHODA WALER gazed eagerly out of the first- class compartment of the Calcutta-Bombay express. At last she was really in India—India, where her father had spent most of his life—India, the land of mystery about which so many of her dreams had centered—India the mag- nificent, the gorgeous, with her gold- trapped elephants, her jeweled temples, her royal rajahs.
Her cheeks pressed against the rain- flecked window pane, the girl saw flat, water-soaked paddy fields where the vivid, yellow-green spears of young rice just pierced the dark muti. Here and there palm trees or clumps of feathery bamboo shaded the miserable clustered mud-huts of the villages. A crumbling mosque blurred past through the driz- zling mist of the monsoon.
Rhoda gave a disappointed little shiv- er. It was dreary and dirty and ugly, not a bit like what she had imagined. Bare, brown, half-naked figures scur- ried along under soiled white cotton um- brellas; in the shallow pools along the railroad track, men and women bathed in the muddy slime, washed out their clothes and drew their drinking-water in terra-cotta jars. She saw huge steel gray buffaloes, hump-backed bullocks, scrawny, under-sized cows and herds of frisking goats. On every station plat-
form were hordes of men in flowing dhotis and women with rings in their noses, their ears rimmed with jewelry, massive anklets on their bare feet, glass and brass bangles on their arms, their faces painted with caste marks, their black, oily hair covered by coarse draped saris.
A sense of depression stole over the girl. Perhaps it was because she was going to face the unknown—a father she could not remember and of whom she knew practically nothing. He had simply been the source of a generous quarterly allowance which had given her all the necessities and put her com- fortably through college.
Her mother had died in India and Rhoda had been sent back to the States to be reared and educated by an old aunt; but she had always determined to come out to India some day and get to know this father of hers. She had written him numberless letters telling that she meant to come, but invariably his answer had been emphatically to urge her to stay at home. On her graduation from Radcliffe, however, the girl took things into her own hands.
She was all alone in the world now, the old aunt having died and left Rhoda a modest legacy. This was her chance to go out to see her father before she should start teaching school, so as to earn her own living. She packed her bags and trunks, wrote her father a gaily defiant letter announcing her de-
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4 Love in the Jungle
parture and set off in high spirits for Barampadar, India.
And this was the last lap of her long and wonderful journey. In less than half an hour she would be there. She had cabled from Singapore, saying she was on her way and wired from Cal- cutta, stating the hour of her arrival. Of course he would be down at the sta- tion to meet her. How strange it would be to see one's own father for the first time in fifteen years!
Rhoda forcibly shook off all gloomy thoughts and smiled at herself in the mirror of her vanity case; she hoped he would like her, find her pretty and nice. Back in Boston, people had been in- clined to rave extravagantly over the girl's delicate charm, but it had never spoiled her. "My hair's just a faded yellow," she would laugh, "and my poor nose is so unclassic." Withal, how- ever, she was sweet to look on, a slight bit of a thing, dainty and lovable.
At last the train pulled in at Rhoda's station; the little cars jerked to a stop and the girl leaned eagerly out of the window to catch a first glimpse of her father. She was positive she would know him from his photographs, if not from the tumultuous beating of her heart when they should meet. He would take her in his arms and kiss her; surely he would be glad to see her after she had come such a long, long way.
The door of her compartment was thrown open; Rhoda stood ready to get off. A half a dozen ragged coolies scrambled into the car, quarreling over the luggage. The girl jumped to the ground, looking eagerly about her.
The usual jabbering crowd of turbaned natives squatted on their haunches on the damp platform; half a dozen lay sprawled out asleep, like filthy corpses with their faces covered.
Rhoda noticed anxiously that there was no one waiting to meet her.
A sinking sense of alarm seized her
—the bedlam of chattering bewildered her. Her bags and boxes piled about her, she looked nervously up and down the platform.
No one seemed to pay the slightest attention to her except occasionally to stare into her face with the crudest curiosity. Rhoda felt the quick tears burn in her eyes. What was she to do? Where was she to go? Her father might surely have come to meet her or at least have sent someone.
A railway guard with a red flap like a rabbit's ear protruding from his pur- garee passed her. Rhoda tried to ask him if he knew where her father was, but he understood no English and her efforts were futile.
Just as the girl had determined to abandon her luggage and go to find someone to whom she could explain her predicament, she saw a man on horseback in a white tophee galloping rapidly toward the station.
It must be her father hurrying to welcome her; a lump came into her throat. She saw him throw himself out of the saddle and come swiftly to her; she moved toward him, her hands out- stretched, her eager little face tender with emotion.
But as he came closer she saw with a start of the keenest disappointment that it was not, could not be her father. This man was young and despite the perfect Europeanization of his riding- clothes unmistakably a native. His dark eyes burned in his finely cut sallow face, his black hair waved back from his forehead as he raised his tophee.
"Miss Waler, I believe," he said in a voice in which only the slightest accent lingered to mar the perfection of the English. "A thousand pardons for hav- ing kept you waiting. Your father—"
"Yes," she interrupted.
"Mr. Waler was away so he did not receive your Calcutta wire. He is ex-
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Love in the Jungle 5
pected to return, though, this evening, so I came to meet you."
"That was very kind of you, Mr. -?" she hesitated.
"Das," he answered. "Ganesh Das. I am your father's assistant."
They walked through the station to the rear. He turned to give the coolies directions in rapid Hindustani and the contrast in his almost obsequious man- ner to her, and his harsh imperiousness in addressing the coolies struck Rhoda as singularly unpleasant. Of course she was immensely relieved that he had come for her, but there was something scarcely definable about him that she did not like.
"I am prejudiced," Rhoda said to her- self ; "it's only because he isn't white."
"I am afraid, Miss Waler," Das said regretfully, "it may not be very com- fortable for you getting to the bungalow from here. The roads are almost im- passable or I should suggest a tonga. However, I believe unless you would consent to ride my horse, a palky would be the best way."
"I do not ride," said Rhoda staring curiously at a large, black, coffin-shaped box on the ground before them.
"The Mohammedan ladies use these," Das said, tapping the palanquin with his riding crop, "they are quite purdah then." He pushed back a little sliding shutter.
"Am I to get in that?" cried the girl in amazement.
"I think it is really the best way," he answered. "You will be carried and we'll make good time."
Rhoda could not overcome her re- luctance to get in; it looked so stuffy and horrid. Imagine females boxing themselves up in this absurd fashion when they wanted to go out. She knew that women in the East were veiled, but somehow she thought it belonged more in fiction than fact.
Smiling a little at the ridiculousness
of the situation, she crawled into the palky and settling herself on the cush- ions felt the jerking lift as the coolies picked her up and started off.
"You will find Barampadar interest- ing," he said presently; "you're in a na- tive state, right in the heart of the jungle. The natives are neither Hindu nor Moslem, but one of the aboriginal tribes driven back into these hills. They do not speak Hindustani, but have an unwritten language of their own. As yet they are fairly unspoiled and abso- lutely primitive; you'll see them go out into the jungle to hunt wild elephants and leopards, armed with nothing but poisoned arrows and bows."
"How thrilling!" cried Rhoda. "And are they very ferocious?"
"Not at all," he said, "they are quite tame. The Santals are a very peaceful people until," he paused significantly, "until aroused."
Rhoda glanced up at him and sur- prised on his face a flash of expression so utterly malevolent that she caught her breath sharply. It frightened her, but in a second it was gone and he was bending toward her, suave, pleasant and smiling.
"Just at present there is a little dis- turbance simmering," he continued. "That is what prevented Mr. Waler from meeting you."
"There's danger then!" the girl cried.
"None," he answered, "though I am sure had your father thought that you would be here so soon he might have made other arrangements for you. However," and his white teeth gleamed through his full lips, "there's nothing to be afraid of, I assure you. The Santals are not like the war-like border tribes of whom you are probably thinking."
Rhoda said no more. She felt vague- ly disturbed, oppressed as by a forebod- ing of evil.
"You are a Radcliffe girl, I believe,"
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6 Love in the Jungle
Das said, breaking the short silence. "I am Harvard, 1909."
"Are you?" said Rhoda with forced cordiality. She was beginning to feel that there was something presumptuous about him. She glanced at him critic- ally, rather resenting the fact that he should have gone to Harvard. She had to admit, though, that he cut a distinctly presentable figure—his clothes were ir- reproachable, he sat his horse well, his skin was light in color and yet the girl told herself, though she could not say just why, she found him utterly detest- able.
"I am sometimes sorry that I left the States," Das went on smugly. "I had a splendid time at college; I won the swimming championship, my junior year."
He waited for a response from the girl, but receiving none went placidly on: "Did you know the Willowthorpes of Back Bay? Anne Willowthorpe was a great friend of mine. A couple of chaps I know have stayed in Boston; lots of them have brought back Ameri- can wives."
And then Rhoda was able to define the subtle antipathy that he roused in her. It was just that—in his eyes, no barrier stood between the native and the white.
She wished suddenly the jolting ride would end.
"You can see the bungalow ahead," said the Bengalee; "the mine is just beyond it."
Rhoda looked eagerly. They passed through a wide, rickety gate into the compound of a large bungalow with the dilapidated look which age gives build- ings in the tropics. Bold red and yel- low blotched cannas flanked the un- cared-for garden paths, the marigolds were rank and overgrown, banana and papaya trees grew in irregular confu- sion, but two mighty mangos on either side of the bungalow loaned it a dig-
nity that its lack of paint and straggly vines denied it.
In front of the door, Rhoda got out of the palky and looked about her The sun was sinking garishly behind the purpling hills—the air of neglect and desolation about the place chilled her.
"It will be seven o'clock before Mr. Waler returns," Das said standing be- side her, his tophee in his hand. "He would wish you to go in and make yourself comfortable."
Rhoda slowly climbed the low flight of steps on to the screened-in verandah. A half dozen turbaned servants in more or less immaculate white salaamed as she entered.
"Thank you very much for bringing me here," said the girl, turning to the Bengalee, who stood waiting outside.
"It was a pleasure, Miss Waler," he said. "Good evening," and he walked away, his horse following him.
Rhoda let the screen door slam be- hind her and took a few impatient steps up and down the porch. A minar bird in a wicker cage fluttered its wings drowsily—behind her the "salaam mem- sahib" of the servants droned in her ears. She was conscious of the faint jingle of bracelets and of being watched by many eyes.
How she wished her father would come! How terribly lonely it was here, surrounded by all these dark, strange people. She saw the slit of a shutter move slightly and with a frown fol- lowed the bearer into her father's house.
It was nearly seven o'clock when Rhoda, washed and brushed up after her trip, stepped out again on to the screened-in verandah.
What a dreadful place the bungalow was! The huge, high-ceilinged rooms were bleak and ugly as a barracks, un- cared for and untidy.
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Love in the Jungle 7
The durries on the floors had become mouldy, the woodwork was half eaten away by white ants, and spider webs spanned the punkah ropes, heavy and gray with dust. Out on the porch the curtains were torn and hung askew from the pulleys, a kerosene lamp smoked on a broken wicker table and great bugs and bats attracted by the light within, beat violently against the screens.
A restlessness possessed Rhoda. She went back into the living-room—little lizards ran over the white washed walls, where some cigarette ads and a couple of Gibson girl posters hung crookedly. A worn card-table, a soot-smeared fire- place and a couple of tumble-down chairs completed the furnishings.
Rhoda went swiftly through the din- ing-room, out on the back porch, and then into the deepening twi- light.
Suddenly she caught her breath and gave a little choked cry. A man had just ridden up on horseback and spring- ing from the saddle, shouted for the boy.
Rhoda stopped a moment in the shad- ows of the great mango, her hands clasped over her beating heart. It was her father. Even in the faint light she recognized the thin, straight nose and the close-clipped moustache of the pho- tograph she had of him at home.
"Gawan," he called, cursing so vio- lently in a mixture of Hindustani and English that the girl shrank back, terri- fied.
Once again he called, and as the na- tive groom came running forward, still winding his purgaree about his head, Waler turned on him fiercely. Rhoda did not know what he said—she only saw her father lift his riding crop and bring it crashingly down on the bare black shoulders of the native.
She gave a low cry. A second blow slashed across the skin of the whimper-
ing wretch as he cowered before Waler and then led away the pony.
Rhoda could scarcely creep out from under the mango. Fear and horror filled her—what kind of a brute or ty- rant was this father of hers. She saw him go up on to the porch, she must go to him. Just as she moved a step for- ward Gawan, the syce, passed close by her, muttering to himself, his fist clenched vengefully, his dark face livid with hatred. In the shadows, he turned about and spat contemptuously toward the bungalow.
Rhoda slipped away silently. Her breath came brokenly, her hand trem- bled as she lightly pushed open the screen door. She could see her father lying back in a great scoop-shaped lounge-chair, a peg on the wide arm beside him. He saw her, but made no motion to get up; instead he looked at her, hard and steadily, for a full mo- ment.
"So you've come after all," he said brusqttely. "I told you, begged you to stay at home." His hands twitched nervously as he gulped down his whis- key and soda. "I never imagined you'd get here so soon," he concluded irri- tably.
His curt tone cut the girl to the heart. "You are not angry at me for coming?" she pleaded wistfully. Her impulse was to fling herself into her father's arms— this seemed so strange and cold a greet- ing after so many years; he must care for her a little—she was his only child. She glanced shyly at the lean face over which the colorless, dried skin seemed drawn too taut, at the haggard line of nose and mouth.
"You're blonde like your mother," he said slowly, shifting himself erect in his chair. "You should not have come, though," he said curtly. "Had I known in time or received your wire, you should never have come here; this is no place for you. There's not a white
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8 Love in the Jungle
woman here, and I'm the only European for forty miles."
"But I didn't come to be with other people," urged Rhoda. "I just want to stay with you a little while—to get to know you—"
"It's out of the question," Waler in- terrupted. "You do not understand conditions. We are in India, not in the U. S. A. There are a dozen reasons why I can't have you here—it's not fit for you."
"But if it's good enough for you, father," she said with trembling lips.
"Besides, it's the rainy season," he went on impatiently. "This is a regu- lar fever trap, a pest hole, and if you want further reasons, just at present conditions here are upset and decidedly unsafe."
"Please, father," she persisted, "I do want to stay; I can do so many things for you. This place looks as though it needed a woman—I can be good to you and make you so comfortable."
"You do not know what you're talk- ing about," said Waler, looking nerv- ously behind him over his shoulder. "I shall send a chit immediately and wire Mrs. Townsend in at Tashi to expect you."
Rhoda felt that her heart must break with the agony of her disappointment. She could say no more, but stood with eyes downcast, her hands twisting pa- thetically.
"Sit down, sit down," Waler said more kindly. "I do not mean to be harsh, but it was foolhardy of you to come. There's no train away from here until noon tomorrow, and it's taking a chance you're even being here tonight." He ran his thin browned hand over his prematurely white hair and again glanced furtively behind him as if con- scious of being under observation. "The servants made you comfortable?" he in- quired. "I was sorry that I could not meet you."
He jerked himself out of the low chair and stood for a moment in front of his daughter.
"I'll go get ready for kana," he said. In the doorway he turned back to look at the girl. "By God, but you're like your mother," he said hoarsely and went into the house.
For a moment, Rhoda stood fighting back her choking sobs. A sense of des- olation and terrible loneliness overcame her—her father was angry that she had come, he had not been glad to see her. He was making her leave the next day —he was the only one she had in the whole world and he did not want her.
Through her tears she saw a slender crescent moon, low cradled in the sap- phire sky—one by one the stars pierced the darkness. Far off she could hear the plaintive cooing of the doves, the howling of the jackals and the monoto- nous, mournful beat of the tomtoms in the native village.
The weird fascination of India seemed to sway over her like a spell. She took a deep breath of the flower- scented air, pungent with the odor of marigolds and stretched out her arms forlornly. She would have to go away —leave this land of charm and mystery and return to Boston prosaically to teach school. It was all that was left for her to do. She dabbed her tear- stained eyes and stiffened her quivering lips.
"I don't want to leave India," she murmured rebelliously just as the clam- or of many voices reached her ears. She looked out through the screens; a half a dozen lanterns were moving rapidly to- ward the bungalow and their flickering light showed up an excited, gesticula- ting group hurriedly approaching.
A thrill of nervous excitement seized Rhoda. The word "danger" seemed to reverberate through her brain
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Love in the Jungle 9
—the insinuation of trouble in what the Bengalee had told her and her father's outspoken hint came forcibly to her.
The lantern light flashed on thin, black limbs and then Rhoda was able to distinguish a half a dozen coolies, some babus, their shirt-tails hanging loose, a little man in European clothes and Ga- nesh Das.
"Good evening, Miss Waler," the Bengalee said courteously.
The little Parsee raised the queer, stiff, black cap he wore and bowed deeply.
"Mr. Waler has returned," he said. "May we see him?"
Rhoda heard her father's voice be- hind her. "Well," he snapped irritably, "what's the row now?"
"These junglies report," said Das, pointing to the coolies, naked except for a strip of loin cloth, their long black hair lying on their shoulders or twisted into a pug at the back of the neck, "that Peripadar, three miles away, has just been looted and burned."
"The Knot has been sent here, sir," the Parsee added. His face was drawn with fear and his limbs shook.
Groans of abject terror rose from the group about him; the store babu, his eyes bulging, wrung his hands; the doc- tor babu clutched his orange cashmere shawl about him, shivering miserably.
"So the Knot has been sent here, eh?" Waler repeated thoughtfully. "You're sure, Pestonjee?"
"Absolutely certain, sir," the little Parsee quavered. "These coolies of mine have told me five police also, sir, have been killed. Miss Waler, if I may be excused, should on no account re- main here."
Waler chewed viciously at the ragged end of his gray moustache. Then he turned to his daughter. "You must not be alarmed, my dear," he said, his eyes blazing contemptuously. "These people are the most wretched, whining, ex-
citable cowards on earth. Sure, Peston- jee." he sneered, "it was only five po- lice, not twenty-five, they killed?"
"Positively, sir," returned the Parsee, "the brother of this man here saw three of them lying dead in the bazaar with their throats cut from ear to ear. I assure you, sir, the mawaris all fled, taking their families with them, but one who stayed behind was driven into his house with his wife and children and the place burnt about them." Beads of sweat stood out on the forehead of the little man; he was spokesman for the others, who shuddered at the tale.
"They broke into the treasury of the Maharajah and took a lak of rupees," Pestonjee hurried on, "and we have several thousands in the safe to pay off the coolies."
Throughout all the excited, high- pitched talk Ganesh Das stood slightly aside, a superior smile on his lips as if in this crisis to emulate the poise and calm of the white man.
"The station babu," Pestonjee went on, "has taken his family to hide in the jungle." He gazed again significantly at the girl, then his own anxiety re- overwhelming him, he mopped his head. "The money, sir—what is to be done about that? They know I have it here —if I hide it they will torture me till I give it up."
"Shut up your infernal whimpering," snarled Waler. "Go back to your quarters, you'll be safe enough." He paused dramatically. "I've wired for help already. There will be troops here on a special tonight."
The relief of Pestonjee and the babus was not less extreme than had been their distress. They began chattering eagerly, gesticulating wildly, their teeth gleaming in smiles of satisfaction. Only the Bengalee seemed unmoved, and Rhoda, glancing down curiously at this demonstration of unrepressed emotion, saw again on his face that malevolent
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10 Love in the Jungle
expression that had startled her in the afternoon.
"The troops are expected here to- night, sir?" he asked quietly.
"Yes," Waler said, and turning on his heel, strode back into the bungalow.
The very suaveness of Das' voice seemed to fill the girl with alarm. Some- thing underhand and sinister threatened them—something terrible was going to happen.
It was as if the exaggerated fear of the natives had communicated itself to the girl. She saw the little group melt hurriedly away into the darkness; only the Bengalee lingered.
"I hope. Miss Waler," he said, "you are not distressed by all this excite- ment."
"I'm not," she answered; "but what is this Knot they are talking about?"
"It is a symbol among these Santals —a few cotton threads dipped, I be- lieve, in camphor and tied in a knot. It is sent at night from village to village, from house to house. It binds them to stick together for whatever may happen. In my province, Bengal, they send five mango leaves, some chillies and a pinch of salt. It usually means trouble."
"What is the matter now?" asked Rhoda.
"Some new forest and liquor taxes Heckers, the Political Agent, has just put into force. They are thoroughly aroused about it, for they in their primi- tive way, too, believe in India for the Indians."
Rhoda remained silent for a moment. There was a veritable threat in his words "India for the Indians." Ter- rible tales she had read of the Mutiny drifted through her brain.
In the half light his eyes blazed wild- ly, then suddenly, as if recalling him- self, he added in a low voice, "For speaking as I have done to you, were I to be overheard they might send me to the Andaman Islands. There are many
of us in exile, such is the tyranny under which we suffer."
"But," argued Rhoda, "I have always read and heard that English rule was the salvation of India."
"We cannot drive the European out of India," he said, "but there is one simple solution of the problem."
"What is that?" asked Rhoda.
"Intermarriage," he answered quickly, "the breaking down of the false barrier between race and race."
Instinctively the girl shrank from him, all the innate pride of blood and birth flaming in her delicate face.
"You," he went on passionately, "lovely and young and beautiful—why should you not stay among us, be one of us? I loved you the moment I saw you. My blood seemed turned to fire, my heart to flames—all my life I have waited for that divine thrill. The women of my country cannot stir my senses as you have done; you with your skin of milk and pale roses, your hair of gold, your face uncovered—I shall give you jewels, everything—"
"Stop!" cried the girl fiercely, her lips quivering with indignation. "How dare you speak to me like this! I shall tell my father."
"Your father," he sneered. "Yes, tell your father. Ask him what he thinks of intermarriage."
"At home," Rhoda said in a low voice, "you would be horsewhipped for this. Good night."
She turned sharply on her heel but he caught her wrist and drew her to- wards him.
"You do not know what you say, Miss Waler," he cried thickly. "Do not be rash. Dangers surround you of which you know nothing. Your father for years has been harsh and cruel to the coolies here; they are going to have their revenge, and you will share it un- less you let me protect you."
"You coward!" she breathed. "Let
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Love in the Jungle 11
go my wrist or I shall call my father."
"You shall listen to me yet," he said in her ear. "You and I shall taste to- gether the sweets of Indian love."
With all her slight strength the girl wrenched herself from his hold and, trembling with rage and revulsion, fled back into the bungalow.
It was ten o'clock when Rhoda, wear- ied and discouraged, crept under the canopy of the mosquito net into her bed.
She was too excited and upset to sleep, but lay tossing restlessly under the slow swing of the squeaking punkah.
It seemed that she lay there hours, when the roar of a train speeding through the night startled her.
It must be the special with the troops her father had spoken of.
She sat up, her two braids of light hair falling over her shoulders and giv- ing her small face a wistfully childlike look. She was inexpressibly glad they had come; now her father would be safe from the coolies who threatened him and Das could not harm her. She listened sharply—then in a short while again she heard the clamor of many voices, and through her wide French window she could see the flicker of lan- terns, moving toward the bungalow.
Slipping on her kimono, Rhoda stood up in the bed, afraid to step down again on the treacherous floor. She could hear the regular tramp of booted feet on the path outside, then the slam of the screen door and a man's voice calling, "Waler—Waler."
There was no reply. Rhoda clutched her kimono closer. She had left her father in the living-room; he told her that he would sit up and wait until the soldiers came; he had probably fallen asleep or gone to bed.
"I say, Waler!" the voice called out
again more impatiently — and again there was no answer.
"I must go see," said Rhoda, and screwing up her courage she cautiously got into her sandals and hurried out through the window onto the veran- dah.
A tall man in khaki shorts started in astonishment at sight of the girl.
For a flustered second, Rhoda was conscious of her hanging braids and negligee, then shuffling a few steps for- ward looked up at him. "I am Mr. Waler's daughter," she said a little nervously. "I think my father must be asleep."
"My name's Goring," he answered. "I did not expect to find a memsahib here," he frowned anxiously.
"No, I just came," said Rhoda. "I'll go find my father."
She went into the living-room of the bungalow; across the old card-table Waler lay sprawled, an empty whiskey bottle beside him, a broken glass on the floor at his feet.
"Father, father," cried the girl, "wake up, dear. The soldiers have come." She tried to shake him with her cold little hands, but she could not stir his limp weight. Quick, mortified tears filled her eyes. He was drunk— her father! No one must know; she would go out and tell this stranger that he was sick and could not see him.
She moved slowly back to where Gor- ing stood waiting. His broad shoulders and muscular bulk seemed to tower above her.
"Father is not well," she said with trembling lips. "I am afraid he cannot see you."
"That is too bad," he answered quiet- ly. "Is he very ill? It is rather im- portant that I have a few words with him."
Something kind in his voice, the gen- tleness in his keen eyes behind his glasses, broke down the bitterness of
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12 Love in the Jungle
Rhoda's pride. She was alone—so des- perately alone. "Come," she said, beckoning him into the bungalow, "he's here."
There was something tremendously pathetic to Goring about this slight bit of a girl standing before him, her head tilted high and the tears running down her cheeks. He bent over the prostrate man for a moment.
"I'll just take him off to bed, Miss Waler," he said, feigning a cheerfulness of manner he was far from feeling. "I know the way, I've been here before." He picked Waler up in his strong arms and carried him into the next room.
In a moment or two he was back again. "He'll be quite all right in the morning," he said, dropping the purdah behind him, "but it is most awkward. I am afraid I shall have to leave you in command here, Miss Waler."
"Yes," said Rhoda. His very pres- ence soothed and comforted her, his clever, kindly face gave her strength and courage.
"I'm an I. C. S. man—that means," he explained, "Indian civil service. I am on my way now to try and settle this unrest among these natives, before they do any more damage. Heckers has quite lost touch with affairs, but there's a Bengalee babu at the bottom of this; there always is when there's any trou- ble in India." He paused a moment to run a firm hand over his brown hair; then his quick, decisive voice went on, "If Waler hadn't been pretty certain of a disturbance here, he'd have been the last man to have wired for help. I shall leave six of my Gurkas down in the village and four up here to guard the bungalow; it is absolutely every man I have to spare. Usually when these junglies know there are troops about they do not come; however, I be- lieve you will be safe till you can get away on tomorrow's noon train. San-
tals don't generally travel in the dark."
Rhoda's wide blue eyes met his bravely.
"Now, Miss Waler, I must go. I am obliged to get to Peripadar tonight," he spoke almost reluctantly.
"Oh, you're going away?" cried the girl, her courage suddenly ebbing.
"I only wish I could stay," he said gravely. "I do not relish the idea of leaving a white woman here with really no protection. You can trust these Gurkas, but this is India. Can you use a gun, Miss Waler?"
"No," said Rhoda with a little shiver.
"It's a wise precaution to have one," said Goring, "though you may not use it." He took a small 32-Colt out of his hip pocket and laid it on the table. "It's loaded—all you do is to point it at what- ever you want to hit and pull the trig- ger."
"It sounds horrible," said the girl. "I'll try to—if I must."
"Good! I'll be much easier in my mind now about leaving you; if there should be any trouble or you be in any danger, I shall leave my chiprosee here. He will carry any message you may wish to send me—and remember I shall be only three miles away at the Peripa- dar bungalow. And now good-bye and good luck, Miss Waler."
He turned slowly on his heel to leave her. The girl watched him go with de- spairing reluctance—he seemed her one hope and refuge—he looked so big and strong and able to do things. She noted his khaki shirt unbuttoned at the throat, the firm line of the jaw, the shrewd, clever brown eyes behind his glasses. It was very weak of her, but she did so wish that he did not have to go and leave her.
Goring stopped on the threshold, seemingly as anxious to stay as she was to have him, The girl made an appeal-
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Love in the Jungle 13
ing picture in her dark blue kimono,her fair hair smoothed back from her fore- head in sleep-tossed little curls.
"Remember, if you need me, I'm not very far away," he said, coming back toward her and holding out his hand. "I am very glad to have met you, Miss Waler."
Rhoda's cold little fingers slipped into his warm clasp. "Good-bye, Mr. Gor- ing," she said in a low voice.
Goring was suddenly conscious of the absurdity of these formalities. He knew with absolute certainty that he would not be able to shake off the spell of this girl's troubled blue eyes. It was not easy to go away and leave her—she was so young, so helpless, so sweetly pretty, and the first white woman he had seen in weeks. Then a stern sense of duty crushed down the vain dreams the sight of Rhoda had awakened. Women could have no place in his life; he was a wanderer, an adventurer—a man who drifted into wild places and did reckless things. It would be differ- ent were there any immediate hopes of his being made a Political Agent; then there would be a pucca home and posi- tion for his wife, now there was noth- ing to it but for him to say good-bye and try to forget her.
"Promise me," he said, compromising with his own anxiety, "that you will not remain here after tomorrow."
"Why do you all want me to go away from here?" she cried, fighting back her tears. "My father is the only person I have to care for in all the world; I have come so far to be with him. It seems cruel that you won't let me stay."
For one wild moment Goring longed to snatch her up in his arms and carry her off with him, away from her drunken and depraved father, out of this house of danger and shame.
"There are many reasons why you should not be here," he said sternly.
"The jungly trouble is not the only one. Please believe me, I am not intruding, but mean it for your good."
"I am sure you do," said Rhoda hope- lessly, "but you are troubling yourself too much about me."
"We few white people in India," he answered, "are bound together by a bond of brotherhood closer than you can realize. And a girl like you com- ing here, so sweet and fresh, is some- thing very rare and precious—we must guard you most tenderly."
There was something so fine, so gen- tle in the tone that Rhoda gazed at him, admiration kindling in her eyes. Here was a man a woman could look up to and adore.
Perhaps he read the thoughts reflect- ed on her expressive little face for something of her own emotion leaped within him.
How fine she was and how game— what a plucky little fighter she was! The impulse to gather her slender body in his arms and dry her tears with kisses nearly mastered Goring. He pulled him- self together with an effort; this was neither the time nor the place to add to her problems.
"Good-bye again, Miss Waler," he said. "I hope to see you some time soon in Tashi."
"Good-bye and thank you," Rhoda said faintly and watched him as he went out of the bungalow and the screen door banged behind him.
Then she threw herself into a chair by the table and sobbed bitterly. His coming and going away had left her more alone and desolate than ever. Suddenly her fingers fell on something cold and hard; she started shudderingly and looking down saw she had touched the revolver Goring had given her. For a full moment she stared at it fearfully and then unaccountably caught it up and pressing it to her lips, kissed it passionately.
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14 Love in the Jungle
A groan from her father's room brought the thought of him sharply and reproachfully to her mind. He was ill. She must go to him.
The chill midnight damp seemed to creep into her bones as she went into his room. Lying on an iron cot under the punkah was her father; his eyes were closed but his lips were mumbling curses. Beside him stood a charpoy or native bed of rough wood and woven twine.
In the dim light of an oil wall-lamp Rhoda saw only her father's drawn face, his twitching hands, his huddled limbs. She hurried to his side, bending tenderly over him, moved to love and overwhelming pity for him. She reached out and as her hand lay lightly on his forehead she was sharply aware of the jingle of bangles and a squatting native woman rose from the other side of the cot and faced Rhoda.
She was still young and her black eyes glowed boldly in her dark face. A pink silk sari had half-fallen back from her oily, straight hair; a dozen silver rings rimmed the lobes of her ears, a heavy gold ornament hung on her breast, her arms were covered with bangles and her lips crimson with the smear of betel nut.
For a moment Rhoda looked at her breathless, then the full, degrading sig- nificance of this woman's presence at her father's side broke upon her—this black and shameless creature standing in her dead mother's place. A cold rage possessed her—she pointed to the door with a trembling hand.
"Go," she said in a low tone.
The woman looked at her with sullen defiance but made no move to leave the room.
"I told you to go," Rhoda repeated.
Her voice or the touch of her hand roused the man on the bed. He opened
his bloodshot eyes wearily, then the agony in his daughter's white and pit- eous face seemed to rouse him. He turned fiercely on the native woman.
"Jao!" he cried hoarsely. "Jao!" and burst into a torrent of Hindustani curses.
The woman slinked back a pace along the wall, her vicious, evil eyes fixed on the girl, her lips muttering threats.
"Jao!" shouted Waler, sitting up in bed. His clenched fist raised, he struck out at the woman; she shrank cowering before the blow, then lifting her arms above her head gave a shrill, terrible cry and glided out of the room.
Rhoda clung to the side of the cot, trembling.
"I married her," Waler moaned, sink- ing back on the pillow, "God knows why, but a man goes mad out here alone. She's ruined me, dragged me down till my own kind shrink from me. It's what has kept me all these years down in this hole, shunted off on to a siding." He clutched the girl's hand, his ravaged, haggard face taking on a look of animal cunning. "Come closer," he whispered; "she's always spying and listening—I'm afraid of her. You don't know what these people are. God! Oh, God! She gives me hemp to keep me in her power; it steals away the brains—steals them away. But I can't get rid of her; it's terrible, isn't it, Rhoda?" he groaned, hiding his face in his shaking hands, then drew the girl still closer. "Be careful," he breathed; "watch your every move. Don't eat or drink anything the bawarchi himself does not bring you. She'll have it in for you now; she'll kill you if she can— she's afraid you'll take me away from her. Thank God by tomorrow you'll be gone."
"And you, father!" cried the girl, flinging herself on her knees beside him. "You are coming away, too. You're coming back home with me, away from
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Love in the Jungle 15
this horrible place; you'll come, father, dear—won't you? I'll make you happy —so happy."
"No," he said, shaking his gray head sorrowfully, "it's too late—too late. It's got me—the fever and booze and the dope—I'm not fifty, but I am an old and broken man. It's too late."
"It's never too late, father, dear," cried the girl.
"I told you it had got me," he an- swered impatiently. "I can't last long and if it won't be that way these jung- lies have had it in for me for years. A poisoned arrow'll do for me one day —the sooner, the better." He sighed heavily. Then roused himself again. "Goring and the troops," he snapped. "They haven't come—damn him if he doesn't get here on time."
"Mr. Goring has been here," said Rhoda. "He has left six Gurkas in the village and four to guard the bungalow. He has gone on to Peripadar."
"Thank God!" muttered Waler, "you'll be all right now; but watch Rani—they're treacherous as snakes." His eyes drooped wearily. "I'm tired —tired—I think I shall sleep." He rolled on his side and through tear- blinded eyes the girl saw that he was again asleep.
She tried kneeling on the cold con- crete floor to pray. For a long time she crouched, murmuring incoherent and passionate appeals to God to save her father, lying before her, body and brain wrecked by sin and disease. She would again beg him implore him to come away with her—he would be un- able to resist her, and then together they should leave this strangely beautiful yet terrible country.
Out through the window she saw the stars, shining above the darkness of the mango tree—it seemed somehow a sym- bol of hope and happiness.
Her thoughts drifted to Goring riding out under those stars into danger. His
name fell softly from her lips in a half- unspoken prayer and she wondered if she would ever see him again. Sudden- ly she began to shiver; she rose swiftly to her feet; she must go back to bed or she would get fever and be ill.
Stooping over her father, she gently smoothed his rumpled pillow and kissed his forehead; then went silently out of the room.
On the card-table Goring's revolver was still lying. Perhaps if she put it under her pillow she might have sweet dreams. She picked it up firmly, smi- ling a little at her own courage, and pushing aside the purdah started to go into her room.
A slight, breathless noise behind her and the muffled jingle of a bracelet startled her. She wheeled about and just in time to escape the upraised knife in the clenched brown fist of Rani, the native woman.
The girl gave a sharp cry and back- ing against the wall faced the woman with horror-stricken eyes. Rani's bosom beneath the pink sari heaved tu- multuously, her face was a livid mask of writhing passion, her eyes blazed with hate and a merciless revenge.
Rhoda knew she was face to face with a treacherous death; she tried to scream out, but her voice choked in her throat. The woman glided closer, her breath coming pantingly through her crimson blotched lips; then she gath- ered herself leopard like for a spring.
Rhoda's fingers with subconscious in- stinct tightened on the gun she held in her hand. She raised it unsteadily, "Don't," she whispered, "or I shall shoot."
The maddened native woman leapt upon her—Rhoda pulled the trigger, dizzily aware of a stabbing pain in her arm. There was the report of the gun
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16 Love in the Jungle
and then through the lifting smoke the girl saw Rani fleeing from the room.
Rhoda's brain was reeling. She stag- gered against the wall, the gun fell from her rigid, nerveless fingers and when she raised her hand to the burning pain in her arm, she took it away red with dripping blood.
For a moment, she fought for her self control. How still it was! Why had no one come at the report of the gun; it had not even wakened her fath- er. How fearfully silent the night was! Then she remembered her arm, she must wash it out and bind up the wound; she must call the boy to have him bring her some warm water. The punkah walla or the chokidar must hear her.
She raised her voice calling for the boy, but no one came to her.
She sank into a chair and bunching the folds of her kimona against her bleeding arm, sobbed forlornly.
She heard her name called from the doorway and looking up saw Das, the Bengalee.
"Can I be of any assistance, Miss Waler?" he inquired, coming toward her.
Rhoda stared at him, bewildered. How had he come there? Had he heard the shot?
"I was just on my way to warn you; you must leave here immediately," he said, answering her unspoken question; then noting her pallor and the blood- stained kimona, he bent over her. "You have been wounded, hurt," he cried sharply. "I said you were not to be injured," he broke off abruptly, under his breath.
"Please send one of the servants for the doctor," said Rhoda weakly.
"Your servants have all run away. Miss Waler—and the doctor as well; the village is entirely deserted. You had better let me help you bind up your arm and then come, too."
He moved into the dining room, tak- ing a napkin from the drawer of the dinner wagon and filling a finger bowl with water from the filter; then he came back to the girl and pulling back the sleeve of her kimona, bathed the ugly, gaping cut.
"It's only a flesh wound," he said, working with almost frenzied haste.
Rhoda was too dizzy to make the slightest resistance, but his touch filled her with antagonism. He bound up her arm with his handkerchief. "There is not a moment to be lost, Miss Waler," he said, "the junglies are coming—they will be here, perhaps, within an hour. You must not remain here."
His excited manner left Rhoda con- temptuously cool. "I could not think of leaving my father," she answered, "he is ill."
"You do not realize," Das cried, "thousands of them will pour in by dawn. Even I can not say to what ex- tremes they will go; they get drunk and there is no controlling them." His eyes glazed with fear, "they burn, kill, de- stroy most horribly. They have sworn vengeance on your father—and you are his daughter."
"My father must go also, then," said Rhoda.
"Thousands of them," Das raved on, "moving silently as the tiger through the jungle. Come, there is not a minute to waste—I alone can save you, they will not harm me. Come!"
He laid his hand eagerly on the girl's arm.
"No," she cried, flinging off his hold. Her thoughts flew to Goring. "There are Gurkas here, we shall not be hurt."
"Gurkas," he sneered, "six against six thousand. Do you think they are so mad as to face certain death? They have heard and seen what happened to the police at Peripadar; they, too, will flee and leave you."
"They will not do that," Rhoda said
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Love in the Jungle 17
resolutely, keeping Goring's words in mind, though despite herself her hopes were sinking. Suppose these men should prove faithless, what would be- come of her and her father?
"Come with me," the Bengalese pleaded, "and I promise you your father shall not be harmed. If you re- fuse me, his throat shall be slit and this bungalow razed to the ground." His voice and eyes were ugly with pas- sion.
"You can not frighten me," said Rhoda, the blood of her fighting fore- fathers stirring in her veins. "We shall not be harmed and I shall not go with you."
"You shall," he cried; "you shall come with me and be mine—mine. Even as your father married one of us so shall you marry me, my beautiful."
"Leave this house," said the girl, ris- ing unsteadily to her feet.
For answer he seized her in his arms, forcing back her head until the cords stood out in her slender throat. In the struggle to free herself the flimsy ki- mona was turn open and she could feel his eyes revelling in her white shoul- ders and arms.
"Let me go," she panted. She was weak and dizzy from loss of blood; she swayed in his rough gasp; she felt his passionate kisses burning on her lips.
A physical revulsion seized the girl. With one desperate effort she shoved his gloating face from her own and screamed with every ounce of her re- maining strength. The shrill, piercing note reached the drug befuddled senses of the man on the bed in the next room; he stirred uneasily, puzzling over what had awakened him.
"My queen, my jewel!" cried the Bengalee. He forced the girl toward the door with him, her slight body crushed in his arms.
"Father, father," sobbed the girl; "oh, my God!"
The low, despairing cry roused Wa- ler. He stumbled to his feet, trying to place the terrible sound; his shaking hand groped toward his dull, aching head. Then suddenly he remembered Rhoda—it was her voice he ha[d] heard, a woman's scream of terror. He sprang toward the door, tearing down the purdah.
For a second he stood, a wild and disheveled figure, the bloodshot eyes glaring in his ghastly, haggard face; then the wasted, ruined manhood with- in him, roused and redeemed, he flung himself on Das, crashing into his face with his great clenched fist and shout- ing curses at him.
"Take your hands off my daughter or I'll brain you," he yelled, "you dirty nigger, you." His hands clutched the Bengalee's throat; for a moment they swayed, locked like two jungle beasts. Then the color in Das' face slowly thickened and darkened; he let slip his hold of the girl, his tongue protruded, his blackening lips tried to plead for mercy.
"Father," cried Rhoda, "do not kill him." She caught hold of his arm, try- ing to loosen his grip.
"Death's too good for him," panted Waler, and catching the Bengalee under the jaw, flung him heavily to the floor. He lay there stunned and bleed- ing.
"We must not stay here," cried the girl breathlessly, "the natives are com- ing. He said they would be here in an hour—and kill you."
"I'll not run from a cowardly pack of swine," cried Waler violently, "my gun will send a hundred flying; I'll pot them as they come." He laughed wildly then turned sharply to the girl, "this is no place for a woman, Rhoda, you must go. They're ugly brutes," he kicked the Bengalee lying at his feet. Once again the old energy animated him; he shook the grizzled hair out of
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18 Love in the Jungle
his eves and wiped his sweat-beaded forehead.
"Goring left some Gurkas here, you say—four to guard the bungalow. My God, I've been dreaming of the fight we'd have, those little chaps and me against the junglies—but you must take them, they'll guard you till you get to Goring. He'll see you safe into Tashi; I'll wire Mrs. Townsend you're coming; she'll be good to you. Now go hurry and dress yourself. You'll have to ride my pony—there's nothing but a kutcha road. You'll find an old riding habit in the bottom of the almirah in your room. Put it on—it was your mother's."
He half shoved the girl toward the door. She clung to him.
"Father, you will come, too," she pleaded. "You are sending me away with your only means of protection. You'll be here all alone."
"Nonsense," he said, "they'll steer clear enough of the bungalow when they know Sam Waler's inside with his pop gun. Go now, I'll be easier in my mind when you're out of this cursed hole and if I'm here they'll not follow you." Rhoda felt the purdah drop behind her. In the bottom of the almirah she found the old riding habit, moth-eaten and faded. She slipped into it with trembling hands, then picking up the bag she had scarcely unpacked, hurried back to her father.
He was just leading up a gray Bhutia pony in front of the bungalow. His gaunt face was drawn with anxiety.
"Gawan was't there, though I'd swear I saw that confounded syce skulking behind the well," he muttered. At sight of Rhoda an almost tender line curved his thin lips.
"You've brought your mother back to me," he said slowly "I thought I'd forgotten her years ago."
"Father, dear," the girl said solemn- ly, "promise me you will come away
with me when this trouble is over. Promise me you'll come home."
He lifted her into the saddle. "Yes," he answered, "if it comes out all right, I'll go home."
She leaned toward him; for a moment her soft cheek lay against his. Then he led her along the garden path through the compound.
"Hold on tight and go slow," he said. "Don't be nervous."
At the rickety gate a little Gurka sergeant advanced smartly to the salute. Waler gave his orders crisply.
"Achcha sabi," the Gurka replied, his beady Chinese eyes snapping.
"And if harm comes to the mem- sahib," Waler ended, "Goring sahib will have the life of each and every one of you. Go now and go swiftly."
The Gurka saluted, clicked his heels and shouted for his men. They came silently, little brown men in khaki; they formed themselves into a bodyguard, two on each side of Rhoda's horse.
"Good-bye, my girl," said Waler. "God bless you," and he looked away toward the lifting gray behind the hills in the east.
Sobs choked Rhoda. She felt the pony being led away and looking back through her tears, tried in vain to wave a last good-bye to the lank, wasted fig- ure watching her go under the fading stars.
For a long while Waler stood looking after the girl until the curve of the nullah shut her from sight. He sighed heavily—she would be safe; the jungle would hide her, the Gurkas protect her, Goring see her safely to Tashi. How like her mother she was with her blue eyes and pale gold hair—she brought back to him the blue skies of Massa- chusetts and the sea breeze, stirring the lilacs and apple blossoms in Spring.
Perhaps she was right and it was not too late after all; she would lead him back to the old life. The light of
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Love in the Jungle 19
the coming day fell softly on the thin face from which all the harshness had vanished.
"Dawn is here," thought Waler, "the junglies will be coming." He turned quickly on his heel to go back to the bungalow for his gun.
A swish in the grass, the snap of a twig, the flash of a dark body from be- hind the wide trunk of a mawa tree, then the whir of a poisoned arrow speeding through the dawn pierced Wale; to the heart.
"Damn," he snarled, falling heavily against the rickety gate as noiselessly through the thick jungle Gawan, the syce, his wrongs avenged, fled to lose himself among the hordes of advancing Santals.
Rhoda Waler clung desperately on to the little Bhutia pony. She had never ridden before and the trail was rough and uncertain.
Black spots began to dance before Rhoda's eyes—she felt a desperate de- sire to slip to the ground. A sinking faintness overcame her; half lying on the Bhutia's back she felt herself carried along. Pains shot down her neck and back, her forehead burned, her throat was parched and dry.
Far ahead the noisy quarreling of thousands of ravens hovering like an inky cloud over the Peripadar with its dead cattle and scattered stores, roused the girl. Then she noticed that her pony had stopped in front of a large mud hut, the roof heavily thatched with dried rice grass, the tiny windows barred, iron bolts clanking on the door. A huge elephant chained to the trunk of a sal tree, swayed restlessly.
"Dak bungalow hie, memsahib," the little Gurka said, saluting.
Rhoda tried to climb to the ground. Everything swam before her, but she
was sharply aware of the figure of a man in khaki hurrying toward her. She raised her heavy, smarting eyes, trying to call out his name; then she slid from the saddle to be caught in Goring's strong arms.
"Miss Waler!" he cried, holding her tenderly as he carried her into the bungalow.
It was bare inside except for Goring's camp furniture. He laid her on the canvas cot; she was limp and utterly exhausted and her small white face was pinched with pain.
Goring raised her hand gently, pour- ing some water through her pale lips. It revived her a little; she looked up at him gratefully.
"Father made me come," she said faintly, "he said 'it wasn't safe there.' Oh, it's all been horrible, horrible!"
"Try not to remember any thing but that you're safe here with me," said Goring. Though he tried to speak cheerfully, his jaw was grim with anxiety; he looked down at the girl as she lay there, her eyes too big and too bright and the crimson of high fever staining her cheeks. Her frail loveli- ness stirred him to the depths of his be- ing. How sweet she was! His to guard and cherish for the hour at least.
"My father is coming away with me," she began rapidly, "how hot it is—I am burning. How the sun glares and the bats beat against the screen. She is going to kill me—save me, save me!" She flung herself wildly into Goring's arms, clinging to his breast and raving deliriously. "He wants to take me away with him—that native, but I will not go." She sprang up from the cot shivering from head to foot and only Goring's firm hold stopped her from tearing out again into the noon- day heat.
"Listen, little girl," he said, "you must lie still. You don't want to be sick, do you?"
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20 Love in the Jungle
"Don't let him take me," she panted, "he wants to marry me, but you won't let him, will you?" Her little hands gripped his shirt violently, the muscles of her delicate face twitching.
"No one shall take you—no one shall hurt you." Goring said quietly, putting his arms about her.
His voice soothed the girl. She lay down again on the cot and drank the medicine he mixed for her from his leather case.
"Punkah kars," said Goring. The hot air wafted above the girl's face, stirring the tendrils of her fair hair; her two burning little palms clasped his hand. Once again the man fought back the wild desire to gather her in his arms, to keep her forever. He glanced bitterly around at the kutcha mud walls and floor. What sort of a place was this for a woman. It might be years before he became a Political Agent and this life was not one to ask a girl to share. No —he must let her go and he must not see her any more, lest the very sweet- ness of her weaken his resolution.
Outside the wind whirled a mad eddy of dried leaves high in the air, the bam- boos swayed tipsily. Behind the hills the thunder pounded, the lightning tore forkedly through the sky, great clouds rolled heavily black with the coming rain; then with a roar like the rattle of musketry the monsoon came, beating on the thatch and in a few moments turn- ing the trail into a rushing, muddy stream. Above the clamor of the storm Goring heard a man's shout and through the open dor saw the chipros- sie he had left at Barampadar running unsteadily toward him.
"Sahib, Sahib Hazur," the man cried. He fell across the threshold salaaming Goring. The little Gurka sergeant and his handful of men gathered outside; the chiprossie's words tumbled out con- fusedly, his face fearful with horror.
"The junglies had gone to Baram-
padar," he said in Hindustani, "they had burnt the company cooly lines, they had sacked the babu quarters, had robbed the bazaar. In the office they had broken open the safe and stolen 800 rupees; the Parsee contractor had fled into the jungle, but Waler Sahib had been killed, found dead with an arrow in his heart and no one to say who had done the deed. Oh, Protector of the Poor, great will be the vengeance the Sahiblog will take upon the Santals. Fifty of their villages shall be burnt and their crops destroyed; so one of the Tesseldars had told them, bidding them hasten back to their homes, but Das babu still drives them on. The Gurkas fight sahib until every man falls dead hacked by little axes, but I, the faithful servant of my lord, hasten here to warn him the Bengalee sends them here to seize the memsahib. Much liquor has he given them and told them the memsahib is the evil spirit who has brought upon them all these misfor- tunes. It is not wise for the lord of my father to remain here."
Goring listened, his brows knit, his face hard and grim. The girl beside him tried to follow what was being said: she heard her father's name, but though she could not understand in- tiutively she knew that whatever word had come was not good.
"My father, what does he say of him?" she whispered to Goring.
He turned away for a moment. Un- strung and ill as she was, now was not the time to tell her how Waler had died.
"Do not be anxious," he answered gently.
"Maharaj—sahib—Hazur," the chi- prossie rolled at Goring's feet, kissing the ground before him, "the lord of my father will listen to the word of his poor servant. Thousands are coming, women and children as well. From be- hind the trees they will slay us all; it is not well for the sahib to stay."
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Love in the Jungle 21
Goring bit his lip. It was against his every instinct to run away from danger; he wanted to stay and face the junglies even as Waler had done. His word had always borne weight with these people. He liked them— they were a splendid, virile race until corrupted and tampered with. Now a Bengalee babu was urging them on to further mischief to gain his own ends. The girl! Goring was able to piece to- gether the entire story.
He must take no chances in getting her to safety. If any thing were to happen to him in a fight in the heart of the jungle, what would become of Rhoda?
Goring stood up abruptly. While it was raining the junglies would not move. The elephant must be loaded and they start at once; he gave his or- ders quickly—the girl must be gotten safely to Tashi before he returned to settle his accounts with the Santals.
With wonderful rapidity the little camp dissolved about them and great loads were slung over the back of the elephant. The mahout ran nimbly up the trunk squatting in front of the dirty pad and the mighty beast plodded off, its little beady black eyes gleaming wickedly.
"Miss Waler," Goring said, stoop- ing over Rhoda, "it is most regrettable but we have to move along. It will not be very far, though; we will cut across the river and get the train just beyond it. I am only concerned if you will be able to stand the trip," he regarded her anxiously, his shrewd brown eyes on her face.
"I can go," she answered bravely.
He helped her to her feet, wrapping his raincoat around her; she was quite lost in its bulky voluminousness. "You're a brave girl," he said admiring- ly as they went toward the door.
"I'm a bit wobbly," she said, smiling up at him.
His horse and the Bhutia she had ridden were waiting in the downpour of drenching rain.
At sight of the pony Rhoda shrank back.
"Oh, I can't ride," she said, "I ache so and I've never ridden before; I'd surely fall off this time."
"I shall take you on my horse," he said, "I'll be very careful of you if you will only hold on to me good and tight." He lifted her into the saddle, springing on behind her and gathering her close into his arms.
The rain beat down upon them with the force of many little blows; he pulled the raincoat over her and nestled her closer to him.
"Are you comfortable?" he asked with a slight grin as they started off.
"Very," she whispered feeling strangely, wondrously at peace. She was not afraid with him holding her; a sense almost of happiness stole over her as she caught glimpses of Goring, his khaki shirt soaked and clinging close to his splendid body, his face un- der his dripping tophee, stern and yet so kind.
And the man feeling the gentle pres- sure of the girl against his breast, smiled as he thought of how he had wanted to carry her away with him on his horse and how his wish was being so strangely and miraculously fulfilled.
Torrents of muddy water tore by them, the nullahs seethed and over- flowed. Golu, the elephant, plodded heavily along, feeling his way cau- tiously with a great front pow where the rain had dislodged the banks or loosened some treacherous stone. Now and again he wrenched a branch out of his way, or uprooted a young tree to clear a path for himself.
Goring's horse stumbled along under
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22 Love in the Jungle
the double burden and as the river of crocodiles came into sight beyond the green of the jungle, the man suddenly wished that this ride would not end so soon—that it might go on forever.
He looked down at the girl; her damp light hair lay against his breast. He could see the soft curve of her cheek, the pink of her little ear, the parted line of her mouth. The sweetness of her was irresistible, the moment was his. Goring bent over and kissed her on the lips.
Then he leaned closer to see if she were angry, but only a deepening of the color in her fever-flushed face be- trayed anything to him, for she dropped her eyes so that he should not see the gladness in their blue depths.
A great joy stirred the man. She was not the kind of a girl who would un- protestingly let him kiss her unless she cared a little. The wonder of it filled his heart—he gathered her closer to him, something fiercely protective in his clasp. She was his to guard and defend through these golden moments, which when she had gone again as she must go, would be the one real memory of his life.
So they went on oblivious of every- thing but each other and the new-found glory of their love. The girl quivering and radiant despite the pain that racked her body, the man's heart big with pas- sion and heavy with despair because he knew he must lose her so very soon.
It tied his tongue. Honor forbade him to tell her that he loved her—to win from her a shy confession that she too cared. His country needed him; some of her sons she sent to the field of battle, others she kept back to guard the outposts of her Empire. Now was not the time to quit or shirk with the Motherland fighting for her very exist- ence. Heckers was good for twenty years and Political agencies are not to be had every day in the I. C. S.
So while Rhoda's thoughts drifted happily, the man's crashed from dreams of what might have been, to the harsh- est of realities. In less than an hour he must bid her good-bye, for months, perhaps never to see her again. There was no dodging the issue—he must not even win from her a promise not to forget. Her young life should not be ruined waiting for him. No—he must let her go, not knowing how much he cared nor how hard it was to give her up. He must make their parting as commonplace as possible.
It was the little Gurka sergeant who brought Goring sharply back to present facts.
"Sahib," he cried, his yellow face wrinkled with alarm, "junglies hie," he pointed to a bael tree from whose branches one of his men was just scrambling down.
Goring peered back through the blur of rain. In the distance, half hidden by a low hillock, he made out a dark mov- ing mass.
"We've got to make the river," he said grimly, spurring on his flagging horse. The great elephant as if sensing danger, quickened his pace.
The Muggerudder or river of croco- diles had overflowed its banks as the Indian rivers do in the monsoon. The low lying paddy fields lay deep under water, the wreckage of some jungle huts floated past. The surging rush of wa- ters reached them as they came out along the inundated shore. Goring's horse splashed through the eddying mud a foot deep; it reared on its haunches quivering with fear and refusing to go further.
The man's face grew gray with anx- iety. He tried in vain to spur on his beast, yet knowing that it was useless —the river was too deep to be forded. For a moment he sat, the girl clutched desperately against his heart.
At all costs she must get across;
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Love in the Jungle 23
this was no place for her. If there was to be a fight and he should go under, what would become of her? Once on the other side of the river he and his men could hold back the junglies until she had reached the railway station; but how to get her across that turbid, treacherous stream?
Then insistently from behind them a noise rose gradually above the patter of the rain and the rush of the river, an ominous, terrifying noise, murmurous and swelling into a bedlam of drunken yells and shouts. Goring turned in his saddle and saw a man in a white tophee on horseback, leading on a mob of hun- dreds of black Santalis.
"It's Das," whispered Rhoda clutch- ing his arm. She leaned closer, "Lis- ten," she breathed, "he's after me; if you put me down he will go away and not harm you. If you don't—you'll be killed." A sob choked her.
For answer Goring dismounted and lifted her from the saddle. The water swished about them as he put her be- hind the shelter of a bit of bush; then he pulled out his automatic.
"I'll leave a last shot in it for you," he said and placed himself in front of her. He turned to his men giving his orders sharply.
The Gurkas knelt waist deep in wa- ter, their black eyes agleam with the lust of battle, their rifles leveled.
"Crouch low as you can," Goring said to the girl as an arrow whirred through the air above his head.
"Fire!" he snapped and the Gurkas' rifles flashed.
A half dozen black bodies in the jungle beyond fell heavily on their faces. There was the rush of retreat; then the skulking dark forms creeping up closer to shoot from behind the shelter of the trees.
"I must get her across," Goring mut- tered, the sweat of agony standing out on his forehead. If she were to be
hurt! If one of those deadly arrows were to strike her—or their ammuni- tion gone and his little party annihilated, what worse fate might not befall her?
Suddenly his eye fell on Golu, the elephant, thrashing his trunk impatient- ly, his wicked little eyes almost un- canny with intelligence.
"By Jove," cried Goring, "he'll do it. Cut," he cried, to the little Gurka as he tugged at the ropes that bound the packs of the great beast's sides. A half dozen kukris flashed out hacking at the hempen cords and freeing the elephant of its load.
"Hath! jaiga!" Goring cried, pointing across the river. Golu knelt down at the mahout's word.
"You must cross on the elephant," Goring said rapidly to girl. "You'll be safe, I'll send two of my men with you."
"Don't make me go," pleaded Rhoda. "I am not afraid. Let me stay with you."
"For my sake, go," he panted, lifting her high in his arms for his men to help on to the great beast's back. She cowered a moment in the twisted roll of sacking, looking down at his drawn face.
"If anything should happen to you," she breathed, her hands clutched to- gether.
"God bless and protect you," he an- swered, as the elephant rose to its feet and prodded by the mahout's steel- shafted goad, plunged toward the river, snorting angrily.
Rhoda looked around with tear wet eyes. "I love you, I love you," she murmured, looking back at the man who was going to fight, perhaps to die for her. Incoherent prayers poured from her white lips as she heard the harsh bark of the rifles behind her.
She could see the Gurkas crouched low behind the meager shelter of the sparse underbrush and the black forms of the junglies maddened by her pos-
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24 Love in the Jungle
sible escape pouring down to the river bank.
She clung desperately to the swaying pad as the muddy waters deepened about them and she thought they must surely be swept off and drowned. The great beast sensing his peril reared his trunk, trumpeting with rage, and plunged on, rearing himself from the flood and half swimming, struggled on till he secured a slippery foothold on the opposite bank.
Above the roaring in her ears Rhoda could hear the crack of the rifles now growing less frequent, and then her terrified eyes saw a dugout hauled from a cove up stream and launched, four natives standing in it and paddling vigorously toward her.
She covered her face. From the patch of scrub where she knew Goring was, flashed three shots; two of the Santals fell into the bottom of the canoe, one toppled heavily and the last sprang into the water with a yell, swim- ming back for the shore. The un- guided canoe whirled about and started swiftly down stream.
On the shore the last of the brave Gurkas fell, pierced in the back by an arrow. Goring emptied his automatic at the jungle that had killed his little sergeant. That death faced him was as nothing to the fact that they would recover the dugout and cross again af- ter Rhoda.
Out on the stream the canoe glided past. A wild impulse seized the man. Flinging aside, his gun he ran toward the river, plunging into the water and swimming after the canoe.
He looked once and saw the tiny fig- ure of the girl vanishing in the blur of the distance. It gave him hope and strength—he struggled on against the swiftness of the current. The dugout was his only chance as well as hers now. He gained rapidly on it until the splash of waters behind him warned him of
peril; looking over his shoulder, he saw swimming after him Das the Bengalee, his face livid with passion, a knife be- tween his gleaming teeth.
For a moment despair seized Goring —exhausted and unarmed, he took hold of the side of the drifting boat and looked to where he knew the girl now was safe.
Behind him the Bengalee gained; to let him get the dugout meant Rhoda's doom. He saw the gleam of the knife tipraised in the babu's hand—his own right arm shot out to stay the blow which never came.
The hate on the Bengalee's face turned to horror; the knife dropped; a gurgling shriek bubbled up from below —a dark form cut the stream. Half- maddened with fear, Goring hauled himself into the boat. On the muddy water a red blotch swirled above the spot where Das had been dragged un- der. The Muggerudder had not belied its name.
Howls of terror rose from the shore where the Santals, demoralized by the wrath of the demon of the river, fled back to their jungles, not even stopping to despoil the dead.
Picking up a blood-stained paddle from the bottom of the canoe, Goring made his way slowly to the opposite bank.
A pretty bit of compound lay about the station platform where Golu the elephant, his massive sides caked with mud, stopped. Roses and crepe myrtle, hibiscus and alamander stood dripping with rain. A tub of gardenias filled the air with perfume, gay-colored Indian pinks bordered the geometrically laid- out flower-beds.
A thick mist like drizzle filled the air. The usual crowd of idlers huddled to- gether squatting—a beggar with the hid-
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Love in the Jungle 25
eous stump of an amputated limb whined monotonously, holding out his brass bowl for alms—a low-casle Mo- hammedan woman in tight-fitting red print trousers stood smoking a brown cigarette; a box walla or travelling merchant, carrying his umbrella, ap- proached, followed by three cooly women bearing steel trunks and huge bundles balanced on their heads; a Hindu bride of about eight passed, gar- landed, newly nose-ringed and wearing a mustard-yellow sari.
But Rhoda noted nothing. She sat down in the chair the station babu brought her, thinking, praying for but one thing—that Goring might come to her—that he might have been spared to return to her.
When at last she saw him coming to- ward her, a cry sprang to her lips. She ran eagerly toward him, her hands out- stretched, her eyes wide with thankful- ness.
"Oh, I am so glad—you're here safe!" she sobbed in half-hysterical re- lief.
He clasped her hand in his, soothing her as he might have hushed a bewil- dered child, and only the thin line of his mouth betrayed the strain he had undergone. He led her back to the chair and made her sit down again.
"You are all right, you are not hurt?" cried the girl.
"Yes, I am all right," he answered, and looked away not to see the tender- ness in her eyes.
"The train is about due now," he said at last, to break the silence that fell be- tween them; then, as if to stifle the words that trembled on his lips, he add- ed, "You know people in Tashi?"
"No, I know no one; but father told me he would wire a Mrs. Townsend that I was coming."
"Cecile Townsend, well I should say," Goring said, glad of the opportu- nity to be commonplace. "She's about
the whitest woman in India." Then he frowned—the wire Waler had told her he would send had probably never gone.
"I shall send word to Mrs. Townsend to expect you," he said; "you'll get into Tashi this evening."
"You—you're not coming then?" said Rhoda, trying to keep the keenness of disappointment out of her voice.
"No," he said slowly, "I have my work still to do," and he looked behind him. He moved away abruptly. It was not easy to hear the low tones of her voice and remember only the harsh- ness of duty. "I shall send a message directly," and proceeded to telegraph to Mrs. Townsend; among other facts he asked that the news of her father's death might be broken to Rhoda as soon as she seemed able to bear the shock. With the set face of a man relentlessly forcing himself to do a difficult thing and with a sense of impending loss, he went back to the girl.
She sat, a wistful little figure against the background of gray rain and gay flower-beds. Her body was racked with pain and her heart seemed suddenly dead within her. She could not help but notice that Goring's manner toward her had indefinably changed; he was formal, courteous, but evidently wanted to show her that those hours of stress that had seemed to bind them so won- drously close were over—had meant nothing after all. It puzzled her but hurt her terribly. Had she been too forward, too bold?—she had let him kiss her—and yet it must have been but the kiss a man steals from any pretty girl when circumstances permit. The crimson of mortification darkened her cheeks; she was weak and all in, her pride was gone or he could not have the power to so make her suffer.
"You will be most comfortable with the Townsends," Goring was forcing himself to say. "Their only son has just been sent back from Mesopotamia
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26 Love in the Jungle
pretty badly banged up." He did not know how to continue; every word he uttered was hollow and false, when the mad beating of his heart urged him to pour out to her his inmost thoughts. Suddenly his thoughts drifted back to the dak bungalow outside the ruins of Peripadar and the work in the jungles beyond, that his country called on him to do.
"Perhaps," he said with an effort, "I shall see you shortly in Tashi, Miss Waler."
"I don't know," said Rhoda unstead- ily, fighting back her tears. "I shall not stay in India very long; father has promised me to come home."
Goring turned away quickly — her father had promised her to go home— well, he had kept his promise. Poor little girl.
Rhoda looked down the track. A bell rang—the train was coming, she was going away. She had even told him she was leaving India but he had said nothing—he did not care. What a pitiful fool she was to have imagined what did not exist, to have left her over-soft heart drift so irrevocably to a man who would forget her existence almost before she was out of his sight! What a farce it had all been—even the burning shame of the kiss he had given her!
She rose weakly; she felt dizzy and wretchedly ill.
"Good-bye, Mr. Goring," she said, holding out her little hand. "You know I never can thank you enough for all you have done for me. You've—" but she broke off, unable to go on.
"Good-bye," he said hoarsely, but through the stinging tears which blind- ed the girl, she did not see the look on the man's face.
The locomotive pulled up; the little cars on their spindly-looking wheels came to a stop. Dark faces smeared with ashes and painted with caste
marks stared at the memsahib, whose face was the whitest they had ever seen.
Goring lifted the girl into a first-class compartment and stood at the window below her.
"Perhaps," he said, "you will send me a line sometime telling me how you are getting on."
"I'll send you a picture post-card from Boston," she smiled rather drearily.
The railroad guard with the rabbit's ear flap of pugaree shouted deafening- ly, waving a flag; a babel of tongues rose about them. The door of the car- riage was slammed shut. She was go- ing away—leaving him forever.
In the anguish of this thought she forgot everything; she leaned toward him, her eyes telling what her lips re- fused to betray.
"Good-bye," she whispered as the train moved off.
She heard his low good-bye above the rattle of the puffing engine. She looked back at the tall, strong figure in khaki until it blurred into the mists of the distance; she then flung herself on the wide leather seat and sobbed bit- terly.
How different this ride was from the trip of hopes and dreams up from Cal- cutta! Her whole life was changed; from the carefree girl she had become the woman who must suffer. And she would never, never see him again.
The tears smarted on her burning cheeks; the late afternoon shadows grew longer, the train sped roaringly through the flat, gray-shrouded land. Suddenly Rhoda roused herself; the rabbit-eared guard had flung open the door of her compartment and she knew she was in Tashi.
Rhoda hurriedly dabbed her face and smoothed back her damp, ruffled hair. She was dully aware of her strange ap-
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Love in the Jungle 27
pearance in the shabby, faded riding habit. She jumped out of the train and almost ran into the arms of a large, motherly lady waiting for her.
"I am Mrs. Townsend," she said, "and you are Miss Waler." She took the girl's arm and led her through the station to where a big car stood wait- ing. She was one of those frowsy Eng- lish women given to lavender muslins and floppy garden hats; her face was bleached of all color and had that look of premature age life in the tropics gives, but her eyes were wonderfully kind.
"I was at the Gymkhana," she went on, settling the girl in the machine, "but my son opened the wire and telephoned me. I got here just in time to meet you."
"I am afraid I have put you out a great deal," said Rhoda as the Sikh chauffeur touched a hand to his enor- mous white pugaree and they started.
"I am so glad to have you, my dear," said Mrs. Townsend, her heart warm- ing at the wistful prettiness of the girl beside her. "You see, I have a daugh- ter of my own. She is up at Simla for the rains now, but Larry, my son, Cap- tain Townsend, is with me now." Her face clouded over. "Ah, here we are at home."
Rhoda gave a little smile of pleasure and sank gratefully into a wicker lounge chair her hostess pushed forward.
"You will have a peg, my dear," said Mrs. Townsend, clapping her hands; "it will pull you together and do you good." She gave her orders to the barefoot, turbaned servant who appeared noise- lessly. Then she picked up the wire laying on a table beside her and as she read it her face quickened with sym- pathy. Poor little thing, she had lost her father and did not know it. Sam Waler, whom she remembered as bring- ing his bride out years ago—the same Sam Waler who had been kicked out of
the Club at Tashi. She looked down thoughtfully at Rhoda; she seemed so frail, so exhausted, she must have a day or two of rest before she should be told.
Rhoda lay back in the chair, her fever-flushed face against the cretonne of the cushions.
"If you will excuse me, dear," said Mrs. Townsend, tucking the telegram into her blouse, "I'll go see that your room is made ready for you. In India we always keep our guest-room beds stripped," and with a gentle smile she left the girl.
Rhoda drank the whiskey and soda with a little grimace of distaste; she hated Scotch, but it would make her feel better and her bones ached so and she was so tired. She wondered how she would ever drag herself out of the big chair or move again; she longed to sleep for hours and hours, but she must not be rude. Mrs. Townsend was be- ing so good, so kind to her, she must ex- ert herself to be bright and friendly in return. Despite herself her eyes drooped wearily. Goring—would she ever see him again, ever hear his voice, look into his eyes again? A wistful lit- tle line twisted her lips. Suddenly she started wide awake—a tall man in khaki was coming into the room—Goring!
A low cry caught in her throat—he had come after all. Then as the man moved nearer she saw that it was not Goring but a younger man, and even in one fleeting glance the beauty and trag- edy of his eyes struck her.
He walked stiffly, as if in pain, but at sight of the girl stopped abruptly.
"Oh, I say, beg pardon," he said. "I didn't know anyone was here." Then, coming closer, "You are Miss Waler, are you not?"
"Yes," said Rhoda, "and you are Captain Townsend."
"Rum go, that Santal trouble," said the boy, sitting down beside her. "Wish I had a good machine gun squad out
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28 Love in the Jungle
there, I'd clean them up, I can tell you; they and all the rest of these cursed blacks." His voice had all the repres- sion of bitterness in it. "Fine mess the Turks made of me. It would have been better if they'd done for me."
Rhoda turned toward him, her fine face alive with compassion. "I wouldn't say that if I were you," she said softly.
"Never to be good for anything again! They've patched me up, shrapnel and all. The mater doesn't know—thinks I'll be all right again in a little while. No more polo, no tennis—oh, I tell you it's hell to be half dead when your life is only beginning."
He clenched his fists passionately, his handsome, boyish face haggard with agony.
"I think perhaps we all have to suf- fer," she answered in a low voice.
Townsend glanced at her eagerly. She, too, was very young, but her eyes were deep with understanding. Some- thing in her very frailness disarmed the boy's pride; he resented the world's pity, but this girl—he should not mind if she were to be a little sorry for him.
"Who'd look at a chap like me now?" he demanded harshly. "Not twenty-five yet and the whole thing over—life— work—love. I'm not grouching; I've done my bit, but when I see a girl like you and know no woman will ever care for me now, I just about go mad."
"Don't talk like that," said Rhoda, looking into the boy's appealing face. "I am sure if anyone loved you she'd care all the more because you needed her a little, and she'd remember what you had done and be awfully proud of you."
"Could you feel like that for a man?" he asked eagerly.
"Yes," she answered quietly, "if I cared." And unconsciously her thoughts flew to Goring and her lips curved softly.
Perhaps the boy misinterpreted the
tenderness of her expression, perhaps it was only the words of hope she had spoken to him, but he straightened in his chair, his despondency giving way to a new look of courage.
"What bricks some of you women are!" he said. "You've made me see things altogether differently. By Jove, I'm glad you've come."
Mrs. Townsend, coming into the room, smiled swiftly on Rhoda, her mother heart in her eyes. "You've cheered my boy already," she said, lay- ing a gentle hand on her son's fair hair. "I see, Larry, you know Miss Waler; I am sure you'll be great chums. Now I must carry you off, dear, to get ready for dinner. Then early to bed; Mr. Goring insists that you rest."
"Damn Goring!" said the Captain as Rhoda left the room.
"I shall send you my ayah." said Mrs. Townsend as she switched on the dressing-table lights and turned the punkah on full. "She'll wait outside the door. If you need her, call her. You will find a whole closet full of Bes- sie's things; she's just about your size, dear; take any and everything you re- quire. The panne walla has just brought your bath. We dine at half after eight, or whenever you are ready."
Rhoda sank into a boudoir chair; she felt hardly able to stand.
"Perhaps you would rather have some tea and a bite sent in to you?" Mrs. Townsend inquired.
"I will be ready in half an hour," Rhoda said, smiling bravely. She could see that Mrs. Townsend would be dis- appointed if she failed to join them.
"Hokigan is quite efficient," said the Englishwoman, and then with a dem- onstrativeness rather foreign to her, bent over and kissed the girl's cheek. "Larry seemed so glad to have you
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Love in the Jungle 29
here," she said softly and went out of the room.
For a few moments the girl huddled in the chair, holding her aching head in her hot hands; then slowly she took off the riding habit and laid it down rever- ently.
Her arm where Rani had stabbed her was stained with dried and clotted blood, the handkefehief Das had tied around it was stiff and blackened, the pain of the torn flesh was almost un- bearable. Biting her lips to grit her- self for the effort, Rhoda slipped out of her clothes and went into the bath- room and washed out the ugly cut; then with infinite patience she wound a clean handkerchief over it, tying the knot with one hand and her teeth. Having bathed she opened the closet and taking down a simple frock of blue silk, did her hair and called the ayah to hook her up.
The little woman came, her white sari bunched about her, her wrinkled face curious as a monkey's. She fas- tened the dress nimbly, marvelling at the light gold hair of the pretty missy sahib.
When Rhoda was dressed she glanced into the long mirror and knew that she had never in her life looked more at- tractive; her face was vivid with color, her blue eyes unnaturally bright. If only Goring could see her now perhaps he might have loved her. Once he had seen her in the blue kimono, with her hair down, and then in the old gray rid- ing habit—no wonder he had not cared.
The ayah squatting at her feet, sen- sing the girl's thoughts of love, mur- mured a charm that the eyes of the Captain sahib might be pleased with the work of Hokigan's hands.
Rhoda never knew how she got through that dinner. She was con- scious of a kindly-faced, bearded man at the head of the table across the bowls of saffron roses and maiden-hair
fern; he was Larry's father. His mother sat beside her and her eyes seemed to plead with the girl, "Be kind, be kind to my boy."
The Captain sat on her right, his hag- gard young face animated by a new en- thusiasm. He told stories of the trenches, of the march on Bagdad, of the horrors of the hospital and once he laughed heartily. Mrs. Townsend ex- changed a look with her husband and the expression on her face made the girl's heart ache.
She knew what they were thinking, hoping—that their son would fall in love with her and that she would bring him back to them and to life and hope once more.
Young Townsend led Rhoda out on the terrace for coffee and cigarettes. His father and mother strolled by once or twice and then went into the living- room for their nightly game of crib- bage.
It left the boy and girl together under the magic of a full moon floating like a bubble of gold across the star-shot sky. It was a night for romance and love such as only India can give—the perfume of a thousand flowers floated on the air, around the servants' quarters the doves cooed drowsily.
"I say, a chap can't forget the things you said before dinner," Larry began eagerly. "With a girl like you to care a fellow could begin over again and win out after all. Couldn't he now?"
"Yes, he could," said Rhoda. An overwhelming pity stirred within her; his face, beautiful in the moonlight, haunted her. He was going to ask her to give him something, it was going to be so hard to refuse.
"You may think me a mad fool," he cried passionately, "but I know you are the one girl I want to have care. Of course you hardly know me, but just tell me one thing, dear—do I stand a chance?"
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30 Love in the Jungle
Rhoda looked off toward the living- room, where, under the shaded light, she could see the boy's mother and fa- ther, face to face at the small card- table. How could she tell him there was no chance, that her heart already lay bruised and crushed within her— that she had nothing to give.
He understood her silence. "You were just talking then," he said bitterly. "It was only words; you didn't mean it."
"Yes, I did mean it," she answered.
"You mean you couldn't care for me," he cried fiercely, "that's it, is it? I'm too smashed up, too—"
"No, no," she interrupted.
"There's someone else then," he said, his eyes on her.
For a long moment she gazed off into the night. "No," she said at last, very slowly, "it's no one else, but I am go- ing to take my father home, away from this terrible country."
"Your father!" he repeated. "Why, you—" He broke off abruptly. "Is that your only reason for turning me down? Is that all that stands between us?" He gripped her hand almost roughly. Goring had wired to break the news to her; she did not know yet that her father was dead.
"What do you mean, all that stands between us?" she cried. "My father is everything I have in the world. For years he has supported me, sacrificed his health, everything, to send me plenty of money and educate me; now I am going to make it up to him. I am going to devote my life to being good to him."
"You can't do that now, little girl," said the boy, who had seen death face to face.
"You mean—something has happened to him, he's—" she cried wildly. "No, it can't be true—it can't be—" She pressed her fists against her quivering lips.
"It is true," he answered solemnly, "but I was a brute to have told you." He reached out and took her hot little hand in his and kissed it tenderly. "I want to spend the rest of my life being good to you, dear—if you'll let me."
The girl made no reply. A deadly numbness seemed to enfold her, a wave of ice to engulf her. She slipped for- ward against the vine-clung railing and fell to the terrace in merciful uncon- sciousness.
"I told her about her father," young Townsend said to his mother an hour later. "It's all my fault; if she gets sick it is as if I had deliberately hurt her. It's all my cursed selfishness. I will never forgive myself."
"Don't be foolish, dear heart. The doctor says it is fever and a touch of the sun. She should never have gone to Barampadar in the rains and she has been exposed getting away from there. The shock of what you told her made her faint, but with the loss of blood from that cut in her arm the doctor wonders how she managed to keep up as long as she did. It is my fault for not putting the poor child to bed as soon as she came; but I didn't realize, and you, Larry, seemed so pleased to have her here."
The boy gripped his mother's hand. "Get her well soon, mater," he said hoarsely. "She's the pluckiest, gamest girl I've ever met; and even if she does turn me down it has made a new man of me just knowing her. There's some- thing else to be got out of the game be- side sports—she's taught me that."
"God bless her for that," said his mother. "I'll take good care of her for your sake, Larry, to keep her for us all."
And she kept her word. For ten days, shoulder to shoulder with the little
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Love in the Jungle 31
Scotch doctor, she battled for the girl's life and reason. Day after day Larry Townsend haunted the porch outside her room, sending confused appeals to God, from whom he had never begged grace before; day after day Hokigan prostrated herself and laid offerings of rice and ghee before her many gods, praying for the life of the missy sahib.
Then one day as the crusty Saunders hurried away from the bungalow to his motorcycle, he threw the first word of comfort to the boy hanging on his every word and expression.
"She'll pull through," he said gruffly, "but something is worrying her, eating her heart out. Can't make out why she doesn't pick up—the fever's left her and she's young and healthy." He frowned, rumpling his grizzly eyebrows. "Never let anything drop in her ravings—al- ways been about home and college days and girl chums. She's not in love with you, is she, young fellow?"
"Not with me nor with anyone else that I know of," said Larry with a wry smile.
The next morning Larry sat beside his father as the car bowled along the wide roads to the offices of the Copper Company of which the elder Townsend was General Manager.
"I want a job, Dad," said the boy. "I'm on sick leave for six months, but there's no use just lying around, being idle. I won't be able to break rock, of course, but I'll earn my salary."
"This is the happiest moment I have known since you went to the front," said the father, clasping his son's hand.
While Rhoda slowly and feebly strug- gled back to health, Larry Townsend worked at his father's side, animated by Quixotic enthusiasm and eager hopes. Then one afternoon when he came home he found Rhoda out on the maidan, lying back in the big cretonne and wicker lounge-chair in which he had first seen her.
She looked so small and fragile and white that he hesitated by an orange tree to look at her.
The young man took a step forward. She seemed all that was sweet and won- derful in life—the rose lights from a sinking sun tinted her thin little face, her hands lying in her lap looked trans- parent, her fair hair brushed back from her forehead gave her an almost child- ish look, but Larry did not see the sad- ness in her eyes.
"How good it is to see you out!" he said eagerly. "No wonder the sun runs away and hides."
Rhoda looked at him—what a dear, splendid boy he was, how good to her! Then, with the hurt in her heart which was ever present, she thought of Gor- ing—Goring, who during all these three weeks and more had never written or even sent to inquire about her. He might not know that she was sick, but she could not drive out of her mind his indifference and complete forgetfulness of her. And these other people! Larry and his mother; her very own could not have been more kind. How could she ever thank them enough, repay them? There was only one way—she read the answer in Larry's eager eyes.
The tears ran slowly down her cheeks, she gave a little shiver.
"You are cold, my darling," he said in a low voice. It was his first out- spoken tenderness. She felt him take her hand in his and she could not draw it away; she could not bear the thought of hurting him, for his own sake and because he was his mother's son. There was nothing she would not do to avoid wounding these people who had loved and cared for her in her hour of great- est need.
"You know I love you, dear," he said, his fine young face close to hers. "I love you."
"I know," she answered in a low voice.
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32 Love in the Jungle
"I shall win your whole love, Rhoda," he said, "God willing. You like me a little already, do you not, dear?"
"I like you—a great deal," she an- swered gravely.
"Then love will follow," he cried ra- diantly. "You know, of course," he added after a pause, "that your father has left an unexpected account in a Cal- cutta bank. Word only came of it a few days ago; it is not very much, but plenty, dear, to see you home, should you want to go." He tried to make his manner matter-of-fact, but his voice faltered a little. "I should be—we'd all be awfully cut up, Rhoda, if you wouldn't stay," he ended.
This thought it was which burned it- self into the girl's brain. Gratitude! There was but one return for all the kindness she had received. Other dreams she might have had—Goring's indifference had shattered. And Larry! No woman could help learning to care for him; time would teach her to love him.
She felt him bending over her, his kiss on her soft hair.
"Come in, dear," he said gently, "mother will be happy to see us," and he led her into the bungalow.
Though Miss Waler did not defi- nitely announce her engagement to Cap- tain Townsend, she made no efforts to deny it. A kind of apathy seized her, a touch of the fatalism of the country. She let things drift. Why struggle? What for—an empty dream that was over.
She would make Larry a good wife. He needed her and her reward was in the new happiness she saw coming back into his face, some of the sunshine of his boyhood days; she noted the quiet joyousness of his mother, the reborn
pride in his father's eyes as he looked on the son given back to him.
A peace seemed to enter Rhoda's soul, the content that only unselfishness can give. The clamorous longing, the passionate hopes, the madness of joy of those few hours she had known Gor- ing passed from her, taking some of her youth with it.
As she grew stronger the people of the station began to drop in to tea. They congratulated Rhoda and won- dered what the stunning young Captain could see in that poor, washed-out- looking little mite who seemed so un- enthusiastic over her engagement.
It was all too ridiculous for words— who was she anyway? An American, a mere nobody picked up goodness knows where, without any clothes or money; why, she was wearing all Bes- sie Townsend's last season's frocks. Her father had been mine manager at Barampadar — not that unspeakable creature, Sam Waler, they had thrown out of the Club! He was dead now— well, really, she came of elegant stock!
But Larry's devotion left no doubt in the minds of the several disappointed and highly eligible young ladies that he was desperately in love with the girl; and Mrs. Townsend seemed as de- lighted as her son.
"Where did you meet the Captain?" a certain Miss Witherspoon inquired one afternoon with a chilly simper meant to be sentimental.
"Miss Waler has only been in India a very short time," Mrs. Townsend an- swered, seeing that the girl looked pale ana tired. "It was Mr. Goring who in- troduced her to us."
"You mean Temple Goring, the I.C.S. man?" gushed Miss Weather- spoon. "Have you heard the latest about him?"
"No," came an interested chorus over the teacups.
Rhoda felt the blood leap suddenly in
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Love in the Jungle 33
her veins; she was stifled, as if the mention of his name had roused emo- tions she thought were dead. Her thin little hands gripped the sides of her chair; she must escape out into the compound or surely betray herself.
"It seems," continued Miss Weather- spoon, thoroughly relishing the recital of her bit of gossip, "that the Govern- ment is perfectly furious at Mr. Fleck- ers for the way he has let this Santali trouble get out of hand. They hold him responsible and quite rightly, too; he has never moved out of the Resi- dency here, and it was Goring who went right out into the jungle, rounded up the natives, had some kind of a palaver with them and got them positively to lay down their bows and arrows and give up the ring leaders. It is next door to a miracle, they say, his settling it all peacefully. It's a regular triumph for Temple Goring, and the long and the short of it is," she poised a diminu- tive sandwich under a generously pro- portioned nose, pausing dramatically, "Mr. Heckers has been given the sack and Temple Goring is to be Political Agent in his place."
In the confusion of exclamations and excitement over this startling informa- tion, Rhoda slipped away unostenta- tiously into the garden and sat down on a vine-twisted, rustic seat. Success and promotion had come to him, but he had not had time or thought to even send her a line.
What a fool she was to be pining for such a man—her heart hardened sud- denly against him. She would put him out of her mind and marry Larry— dear, gallant Larry. She would make him wonderfully happy.
Far down the road she heard the snort of his motor horn and the tearing of a machine toward the bungalow. He was coming home earlier than usual, hurrying to her. She rose slowly to meet him—she would tell him this eve-
ning what he wanted to hear, promise to marry him whenever he wished.
Her eyes on the ground, her heart dull and heavy, she passed under the rose arbor. A trailing spray thick with blossoms caught in the lace of her skirt; she stooped to disentangle herself from the thorns. A man's step came rapidly toward her; she could hear the crunch of gravel under his grinding heel. She looked up and a cry escaped her. It was not Townsend but Goring himself.
"Miss Waler," he said eagerly look- ing hungrily into the girl's face.
To Rhoda he seemed thinner, brown- er than when she had seen him last, but there was a wonderful light in the keen eyes behind the glasses.
"How you surprised me!" she said in a low voice. "You were the last per- son I expected to see. I was waiting for Captain Townsend." She said the last stiffly and with a slight effort.
"I grabbed Townsend's car—didn't even wait to ask him for it. I was so anxious to get here to see you."
Rhoda made no reply. Goring's face sobered swiftly. She was displeased, angry at him. How small she looked and how terribly frail! There was no color in her face and her slender body seemed wasted.
"You are not glad to see me," he said quietly.
"I cannot be very enthusiastic after your neglect of all these days. You never troubled to write or inquire."
"Write or inquire!" he cried in amazement. "Why, my dear child, for the last month I have been miles and miles back in the jungle, away from communication of any sort. It was not until today that I heard of my ap- pointment and I came right here—to you."
"I must congratulate you, Mr. Gor- ing," she said coldly. How surprisingly easy it was to go through with forms after one's heart was broken.
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34 Love in the Jungle
The joyous, eager look had left Gor- ing's face.
"You must congratulate me, too," Rhoda went on, viciously tearing a rose bud to pieces. He had made her suffer —perhaps in turn she would hurt him. "I am engaged to Captain Townsend."
"No!" he cried sharply. He took a step toward her as if his towering bulk might overwhelm her into a denial. Rage seized him for a moment—it had meant nothing to her after all. She had let him kiss her lightly as pretty girls sometimes do; he had held her in his arms close against his heart and the dreams he had dreamed were all lies.
What did his advancement mean to him now? She was going to marry another. The home and position he had gloated over because he could have given them to her, what did it amount to, after all?
"Good-bye, Miss Waler," he said at last, breaking the strained silence as the bruised petals of the flower fluttered to his feet. "I shall not go up to the bun- galow just now; I'll pay my respects to Mrs. Townsend later. I hope you will be very happy." His voice was not quite steady. "I know he will be if you love him." He held out his hand to her, but she trembled so she could not touch his fingers.
He looked down at her sharply. How dark the shadows were under her blue eyes! For a moment the desire to take her in his arms, to feel again the sweet- ness of her close against his heart, stirred the man's every sense; but she did not love him—she was going to marry Townsend. In honor he was bound to go away and leave her, not to see her any more.
He would refuse the new appoint- ment. It would be madness for him to try and live in the same station with her; he cared too much, he would al- ways care. He would apply for a trans- fer to another post where climatic con-
ditions made for frequent vacancies.
"I shall say good-bye again, Miss Waler," he said. "I shall not see you again. I am leaving Tashi directly."
"But," faltered Rhoda, "I thought you were to be the Political Agent here."
"I shall not accept," he answered.
"Why?" she asked. She could not be blind now, nor harden herself com- pletely to the suffering in his eyes.
"Because I love you," he answered in a low voice. "I could not tell you that before. I had nothing to offer you— and I cannot tell you now. I have been a conceited fool. Good-bye," and he turned away from her.
Above her head a hawk circled grace- fully. There was a roaring in the girl's ears. Out on the road she could hear a motor stop again before the gates of the compound. Instinctively she reached out her hands; it had all been a ghastly mistake—he cared after all—nothing else mattered.
"Don't go!" she breathed, but so softly that he scarcely heard.
He turned to her.
"You mean—" he cried, his voice trembling.
She lifted her face to his. "I love you," she said simply. "I loved you from the first—but I did not think you —liked me."
"Didn't like you!" he cried, crushing her hands in his.
"I have been so sick," the girl went on, "and they were all so good to me; I should have died if it hadn't been for his mother. I suppose it was weak of me, but I couldn't say ‘no' and I was sure you had forgotten me."
"My girl, my poor little girl," he said, holding her hungrily against his breast. He lifted her face and looked into her eyes. "You believe now that I have not forgotten you—that I care?" and he kissed her on the lips.
There was a step behind them on the
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Love in the Jungle 35
gravel path, a spray of roses swayed violently.
"Beg pardon," said Larry Townsend, his young face desperately white.
"Larry," said the girl, "I've done wrong. Though you may come to for- give me, I shall not forgive myself. I never loved you as I should have done, but I hadn't the courage to refuse you."
"I knew you did not care the way I did," the boy answered. "I thought in time I could make you. I see now that was impossible." And he glanced bit- terly at Goring.
"You are angry at me," she said sadly.
"How could I be," he said. "I love you very much; I don't regret that and just knowing you has given me back
everything I thought was gone. I'm not going to lose out just because the odds are against me." He turned away for a moment, his lips twitching, then he held out his hand to Goring.
"Good luck, old man," he said hoarse- ly. "Be good to her."
"God helping me, I will," said Gor- ing.
"I wish it had been I they'd sent to fix up the Santals and you to fight the Turks," the boy said with a whimsical smile, and turning slowly, left them.
Hand in hand, the man and the girl watched him go.
In the deepening twilight a thousand fireflies flitted in the shrubbery like tiny dancing stars, a crescent moon swung fairly in the violet sky, as, hidden by the roses, Goring kissed her again.
By Frederick Moxon
YOU did not know! And I must live Remembering the hurt, whose pain A poignant memory shall remain, Although I love you, and forgive. You did not know.
It was not any word you said (Your speech was honeyed kindliness), That turned my joy to swift distress And struck my dearest rapture dead. You did not know.
I smiled, and still danced on, for O! How women hide their hurts from men: And yet I could have killed you, when You kicked the chilblain on my toe! You did not know.
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Reflections of a Vampire
By June Gibson
GAZE at Paul through lowered lashes and he thinks I tempt . . . and pants. ... If I looked open-eyed upon his freck- led nose and florid neck I would order him from the house.
Harry's wife does not know that there are two kinds of wives: those who manage their husbands and those who pretend they do not.
When I pass my hands lingeringly across Robert's sleek hair, he trembles. He does not know that my jeweled fingers are more pleasing to look upon than the top of his head where it is beginning to grow bald.
John brings me pearls to match my exquisite beauty. When he comes again I am wearing a clever duplicate of paste. . . . The pearls are edu- cating my grandchildren.
Peter thrills at my anger when he drops a roll of crisp green bills in my
lap. It pleases him to think my love for him genuine, not to be bought. ... I am angry because he gives me the bills before my servant to whom I owe three months' wages.
As I throw myself with abandon in- to Vincent's arms he does not know that his scarf pin is being concealed in the folds of my gown.
Yesterday Frank's wife pleaded with me. She does not know that it is better to have a husband who is false than to have no husband to be false.
I clutch my bosom when Harold kisses me. He imagines he has aroused my passion. ... I catch the odor of corned beef and cabbage escaping from the kitchen.
There are two kinds of women: those who are not afraid of mice and those who have well-shaped legs.
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Limbering Up Ebenezer
By Harry Irving Shumway
ONCE a man there was, a fat man, strange to say, who just loved to have money around him. He didn't have the first nickel he ever made because he swapped it for a dime with another kid; he told the other kid that the nickel was bigger than the dime and therefore must be worth lots more.
This Ebenezer went from boyhood to manhood and only one person had ever seen him spend anything. But how could this trusting observer know that it was a lead nickel that the tightwad was springing on a slot machine for chocolate?
Shortly after he had got so used to walking in long pants that his gait had little or no suggestion of the spring halt, he began to look around for a cheap wife. Sad to say, most of the girls in his town cared for candy. Many of them had been known to express a de- sire to attend dances. Flowers he wasn't afraid of; was not the wayside unprofitably gay with the choicest blooms that any girl could wish? It was a long still-hunt and many times he lost the scent and had to go back and pick up the long, long trail all over again. But he had the tenacity of a coon hound. If there was an inexpensive wife in embryo or any other place, he would bring her to earth. So one day he espied one who had all the earmarks of a girl who might become passionate- ly fond of a calico wrapper. She fitted into the landscape, which was mostly of granite.
"Do you really like water to drink?" asked the Ebenezer, as he watched her sipping from the tin dipper at the well.
"I love it. It is the only drink in the world," she answered, smiling.
"What beautiful teeth you have! I'll bet you never eat candy; otherwise those pearls would not shine so."
"I loathe it," replied the one made to order.
"What is that gown you have on, cal- ico or gingham?" he inquired, his hands trembling like those of one reaching for a blind man's cup.
"Neither. It is a cotton print. Don't you love it?"
The Ebenezer had to dig his finger- nails into the palms of his hands to keep from yelling "Hallelujah." He plucked a spray of goldenrod from the roadside and presented it to her.
"Oh, how sweet! Thank you."
"Wait here," breathed the pecuniary Lothario. He skipped first and second, and went right into high speed, headed in the general direction of the Town Hall. As he passed the half-mile post he remembered that the Congregational minister owed him two bucks. The Ebenezer had been raised an Episcopa- lian, but two bucks are two bucks and the knot would be tied by the Congre- gationalist.
As he breezed abaft the three-quarter post, breathing a bit but compression one hundred per cent, he recalled that he had something coming from a brake- man on the P. & R. The P. & R. was only a branch road, boasting of a pano- rama of stock-yards, rolling mills and much swamp. But what place has
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38 Limbering Up Ebenezer
scenery when two economical hearts beat in rhythm? The brakeman had a pass for self and wife was the idea. The Ebenezer could take it away from him and use it himself.
He had to put on both brakes to keep from going right through the Town Hall. At the sign marked "Licenses" he stopped.
"I would like a license," he remarked.
"Dog or Marriage?" inquired the offi- cial wag.
"How much are they?"
"Dog two dollars, Marriage one dol- lar."
"Gimme a Marriage license then," said Ebenezer, beginning to feel that it really was a better bargain than he had thought.
The two gay birds, now man and wife, eased out of the home town on the milk train the next morning. The sun came up just as they opened up the shoe box of tongue sandwiches and home-made pickles. And it was a glo- rious sight. At the Junction he punched the slot for a small piece of gum. He broke it in two pieces, putting one into his mouth and retrieving the other to Bessie. She was, as he had surmised, staggered with the munificence of the gift. The thing was going off beauti- fully. About ten miles further on, a driving shaft broke and the engineer had to stop for repairs. Was it not Providence itself that had snapped the steel right in the midst of the loveliest bed of wild roses? The Ebenezer gar- nered a huge bouquet of these and brought them to his sweetheart. She said she had never seen such wonderful flowers and he smiled like a man who has just been notified by the Savings Bank that he had deposited to the limit.
The turtle-doves flew into town late that night in a cloud of soft coal smoke, but happy. The exchequer had been called upon to the extent of one cent.
It was the end of an almost perfect day, the penny spoiling the score.
They went to housekeeping in a little gray house, with Gothic here and there, mixed with a little real American 1881 period. There were no iron setters guarding the moat, but from the back attic window you could catch a glimpse of Swift River.
When ten years had been marked off by the speedometer, Bessie found that her mileage had been good, but that speed had been sadly lacking. Even though one at eighteen sees nothing but beauty in a cotton print of Persian de- rivation, it is no sign that later on it will still bring the same throb of pleas- ure. Though goldenrod may have seemed pretty once, it gives some people hay fever. And after a while one sees there is so much water in the world that it would be hopeless to try to drink all of it. In other words, ten years had made Bessie long for the things she often read about in the magazine that came to the house, free of charge, every month.
The Ebenezer was so enraptured with addition that he had forgotten all about that charming pastime, subtraction.
Along about this time, Bessie's sister from the city paid her a visit. Six trunks preceded her and more were to follow. When Ebenezer met her at the station he took a long breath before checking up the inventory. Her clothes, he knew, amounted to enough to clear the mortgage on the church. Had he thought quickly enough he would have put her back on the train, but by the time his brain had worked it out cor- rectly the wheels were rolling along.
Of course the sisters had a good long talk, when the Ebenezer had gone back to the works. That is, sister talked. Bessie listened.
"Dear, I can see that you have some- thing coming to you. How long have you been here?"
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Limbering Up Ebenezer 39
"Ten years."
"Have you ever seen a movie?"
"Can you do the fox-trot?"
"What is it?"
"How often does Ebenezer bring you orchids?"
"Never. I don't care for fruit."
"Well, let's have a cocktail and talk things over."
"We sold the poultry two weeks ago. Ebenezer said the market was right."
"It is as I thought," said sister, roll- ing up her sleeves. "Listen. This Midas X. Bluebeard has perpetrated high crime upon you. You have been in jail ten years and never even asked the guard the way out. First, where does the ogre keep the scads, the ma- zuma, the pieces of eight?"
"If you mean money, every bank in the county."
"Have you ever asked for any of it?"
"Once. Then when I saw how cruel I was to even think of it I was so sorry. He forgave me though, after a while."
Sister looked at her long and thought- fully. Then she told her all about it. When she got through, Bessie realized how thoroughly well done she had been. The light broke through the mist and birds began to twitter.
"It is going to be rough work, getting this Reserve Bank to come across. What is his weakness?" asked sister.
"Carry on. You are on vacant land," answered Bessie, or words to that effect.
"Then we must get something on him. Has he ever done anything that wouldn't check up with Blackstone? Has he ever toyed with the widows and orphans?"
"He has never actually murdered anybody with a knife," answered the wronged wife. "But the other things, I guess, he has done."
"You are sure?"
"Fairly. Nobody has ever been able to bring him up short. But with your
advice and what I know, maybe we can do it."
"Good," said sister. "I fancy I can hear the purse-strings loosening now."
Suffice it to say that the work was done. These two innocent women gath- ered enough general and particular in- formation to satisfy the most fastidious. Bessie unlocked the volcano one night at supper.
"Ebenezer," she said, with the utmost assurance, "I want twenty thousand dollars."
A wound like that is liable to bring on fatal results, but Ebenezer had faced many a wronged party and he had the recipe.
"Ha, ha! That's a good one. Where did you get it? Out of the magazine, I'll bet. Tell me another while I eat."
"This isn't on the funny page, Eben- ezer. Kindly be good to my ears and lay off the soup. Now let's begin."
Ebenezer didn't believe he was living, but decided to say nothing. Bessie went on.
"For ten years you have been my hus- band, and if you wish to continue in that role, why you may have the same part, but there will be new stage busi- ness. Any wife ought to have at least two thousand dollars a year for herself to keep the ennui from the door. Ten of these years would be twenty thou- sand dollars, just the amount I asked you for. You see, I am generous; I haven't asked for any interest while you have had the money. Although, I ex- pect you will force it on me anyway. Now, Eb, if the money is forthcoming and a regular monthly amount at that rate henceforth, why we can go right ahead with the soup. Otherwise we talk on.
"Madame, you are either crazy or the victim of something. I refuse to listen to you."
"Why, you old rat," hissed the ten- year Rip Van Winkle. "You say you
[Page 040]
40 Limbering Up Ebenezer
won't listen to me? If you don't want the skids put under you, you had better harken. I have enough on you to send you to the pen for 400 years. You were too clever for anybody else to check you up, but I have it on you."
"What d'you mean?" gasped the Eb- enezer, backed against the wall.
"How about the bonds you stole from Widow Wilkes? How about the pho- ney mortgage you foreclosed on Mrs. Smith? How about the perfectly good railway bonds you transferred for worthless oil stock, while trustee for Bascom's boy? How about that deal with old blind Peters? And the other dirty job you did to Old Man Jenkins? Do you want the whole list?"
"Enough!" squealed Ebenezer.
"Well, how about it? Am I going to wear orchids for breakfast or do you
want to swap that alpaca coat for a striped one?"
"You win, my dear," said Ebenezer. "Shall I bring it home or bank it for you ?"
"I want one of those dinky little checkbooks. Have it upholstered in mauve and plenty of blanks."
Bessie left two days later for the big city. Her plan was to enjoy everything there was there, and send home what she didn't have time for at the moment.
Everything was working fine and the dollars were chasing each other like automobiles out of Detroit, when one day the Ebenezer got up nerve enough to ask Bessie how she found him out.
"Easy," she answered. "You talk fluently and in detail every night in your sleep."
If you have no sister, ask a friend.
By Hale Merriman
I'D like to marry one of them— Kitty, bright and naughty— Jolly, carefree little Em'— Evelyn, who's haughty—
There's Katherine, who's very fair— But neither fat nor forty— And Dixie, with the baby stare— And Geraldine—sporty—
Dear Pollyanua, fond of wine— Alice, pert and saucy— Cora, June and Adeline— Even Corrinne, bossy—
To hold my lips against the gem Of one's sweet lips would salve be; I'd like to marry one of them— If—one of them would have me!
[Page 041]
The Green Hat
By V. Omar Whitehead
HE street was deserted save for the usual be- rated policeman, and a few amorous cats, which oblivious to all but "l'amour," made pledges and sang serenades in their fashion, even though draggled and cold from the fog which mantled all in a diaphanous but disagreeable cloak, through which the moon shone fitfully.
It was in that part of the city which belonged to the Bohemian element, and though eminently respectable to look at, was often the scene of boisterous hilarity; but now even the night hawk had long since wobbled his way home. The fog had put down a dampener against which even the spontaneous spirits of Bohemia could not prevail, and one might, at this hour, imagine that these houses were inhabited by the most sober of longhairs.
On the steps of a house rather more pretentious than its neighbors, two cats sang in melancholy unison, and nearby the policeman seeking what shelter he could find, enjoyed even their compan- ionship, as compared to the deadly hush of the fog blanketed street. Without preface, the door of the house was suddenly flung open, and the cats with one dismal but most vociferous yowl sprang apart, and there followed a si- lence so profound that the policeman could hear the heavy breathing of the man who stood for a moment in the doorway; a red shaded lamp somewhere back in the interior, throwing his fig- ure into a shadowy silhouette. Leaving the door slightly ajar the man ran swiftly but none too steadily down the
steps and turned along the street away from the policeman. Used to such sights, the guardian of the peace watched the man disappear in the mist. And now that the entertaining cats had vanished, the hushed silence, which only a fog can produce, left him no other companionship than that of his own footfalls, so he continued on his beat.
He had taken but a few steps when the stillness was broken by shrieks, the shrieks of a woman in terror, perhaps in mortal agony, a light in the house flashed on and off, and the screams died down, or as the policeman thought, were choked back, and again there was the peculiar quietness of the fog laden air.
The neighbors used to all kinds of noises, paid no attention, but the police- man, his professional acumen aroused, investigated.
The following morning Brainerd Bennison was late down to breakfast, and his wife, a little dark-eyed woman, remarked with a suggestion of reproach in her voice, as she handed him the morning paper.
"You had to work late again on that old case last night. I might just as well be a doctor's wife, the little I see of you."
And Bennison snapped back, as a man will when trying to cover his own fail- ings,
"Well, why didn't you marry Doctor Illington, he wanted you bad enough, and you still seem to enjoy his atten- tions."
After a momen[t]'s hesitation which Bennison did not notice, she said: "I think you are horrid, Brainerd. Ever since little Marie came I have seen less
[Page 042]
42 The Green Hat
and less of you. It's no wonder I—"
"There, Aileen, I'm sorry, I'm upset this morning. I was thinking on my way home last night we would start in studying my cases together again," he propitiated, reaching over and patting her hand which rested on the table be- side him.
"Oh, that would be lovely. Do you really mean it? Why what's the mat- ter? You are hurting me, Brainerd!"
Looking down at him she saw beads of perspiration break out on his fore- head, as gripping both newspaper and her hand he gazed fixedly at the bold headings which confronted him, and Aileen following his eyes read over his shoulder, "Attempted Murder Of Doris Dacre. Only Clue A Man's Green Hat."
"Why she is your client in the case you were working on last night, isn't she, Brainerd?"
"Yes—I— Good God!" he ex- claimed, as he ran his hand back over his head. "It can't be true."
Aileen read aloud; "The Only Clue A Man's Green Hat!"
"You needn't read it aloud, I'm quite capable of reading for myself," Brain- erd interrupted irritably, and added nervously. "I must get down to the office they—they may need me."
"But, Brainerd, you haven't eaten any breakfast."
"No, I can't eat any, either. You do not understand how—how this has up- set me." He pushed her aside almost roughly as he went past her into the hall.
As he was putting on his coat Aileen opened the door to the hall, which he had closed.
"You are not going without kissing me, are you, dear?"
"Why, no, of course not," he replied, and kissing her somewhat hurriedly, he said,
"There, don't stand in the hall, it's
cold," at the same time taking her by the arm he urged her back into the room and closed the door, making sure that it was latched; he turned to the hat rack, took down a hat and left.
Aileen, when she heard the door close, went to the window and looked out af- ter him, then back to the hall where she glanced at the hat rack, and stood pondering a few moments; presently she gave her shoulders a little shake as if to throw off a burden, and went up- stairs to little Marie.
Brainerd Bennison did not go to the office that day, but telephoned instead that he would be out of town. His partner, junior in age and action, sur- mising to the stenographer, remarked,
"Gone on a little detective work in the Dacre case, I expect. I shouldn't wonder if the attack on her was con- nected with the damage suit."
"Well, I dunno," disagreed the sten- ographer, who was perhaps a little older than the junior partner. "Maybe he has, but I've a sneaking idea he'd be studying the case at the hospital. Where is this damage suit I'd like to know? I think it's a cam-u-flage. You know yourself there have been no pa- pers, indeed nothing drawn up, except two chairs in his office. I don't be- lieve there was ever anything damaged but her character and you can't damage what's already spoilt."
The junior partner drew himself up with the dignity which he supposed his position demanded.
"I think, Miss Goran, we are assum- ing too much. Will you please take this letter?"
And Miss Goran, because stenogra- phy was her living, her profession, if you please, said no more, at least not to the junior partner, but—she had many friends who found her quite en- tertaining as a raconteur.
Contrary to their imaginings, Brain- erd Bennison had gone to the hills,
[Page 043]
The Green Hat 43
where seated with his back to a rock, in a secluded spot some distance from the regular trail, he took out the news- paper and was again confronted by the glaring headlines that seemed to have been seared into his brain.
He read again: "Attempted Murder of Doris Dacre. Only Clue Man's Green Hat." With nerve tensed mus- cles he continued through the narration which followed.
"Doris Dacre, who won her way into the hearts of the multitude with her wonderful voice and most human por- trayals, will never again delight the senses of her patrons and admirers. She was found stabbed, probably to death, and the only clue to her assassin thus far discoverable, is a man's green hat, which he most evidently forgot in his hurry to escape before her screams brought assistance; screams which the knife wound in her throat had sudden- ly shut off.
"Admired by all men and sought by many, she whose voice and personal charm have brought her many tri- umphs, is now lying at death's door in St. Bartholomew's Hospital. Unable to speak and according to the doctors never again likely to; though they are still hoping against hope that she will recover sufficiently to give the name of her cowardly assassin.
"Conjecture naturally points to jeal- ousy as the cause; for a woman of her magnetic power, whose beautiful form and sparkling vitality have been the envy of women and the admiration of men, is sure to have lovers, and it is suggested that among them may be found the murderer. The ordinary stage Johnnies may easily be eliminated for they would never have the nerve nor the strength, which, according to the condition of the room and its con- tents, must have been used in the struggle.
"It might have been a jealous woman,
for more than one married man has worshipped at her shrine, but the green hat is mute though convincing evidence to the contrary, and those who have seen Miss Dacre say that everything points to the fact that a man both physi- cally and passionately strong committed the crime.
"The police are sure that it will be easy to trace the owner of the hat and are promising some startling develop- ments before night.
"In an interview, Policeman Leary, who found Miss Dacre, deposed that he was attracted by her screams, and that a short time before hearing them he had seen a man leave her house, but had paid little attention to this.
" ‘Them Bohemians have company at all times of the night,' he explained.
"He was unable to see what the man looked like, or to say if he wore a hat, it was too foggy to see. But, he volun- teered, there had been one man calling pretty frequently of late, who wore a hat like the one found, whom he thought he could identify should he see him. He believed the man whom he saw leave the house had time to return before he heard the screams, and stated he had stumbled over the green hat as he entered the room where he found Miss Dacre, and upon seeing that she still breathed he had called an ambu- lance."
There were more details and some suppositions advanced, all of which Bennison read and re-read till his brain seemed dulled and every nerve tingled.
"Fool," he said to the surrounding hills. "Fool! to leave my hat."
Thrusting the newspaper in his inside pocket, he rose and walked off at a nervous speed, he did not know why nor where, only that he was climbing, that the physical exercise was what he needed to offset the turmoil of his brain.
As he walked his brain cleared, and
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44 The Green Hat
he saw himself in a new light. He became his own denunciator. He tore his character to shreds. He had a vi- sion of himself in court his life held up to public view, and winced.
Women always appealed to Bennison, especially if they gave him a little flat- tery, but he soon tired of them, he wanted variety, the excitement of the chase; still through every affair he had always loved his wife. No one could take her place.
Women, et id genus omne, stirred him, but being aesthetic in his taste, his affaires d'amour had been limited.
It was, he accused himself, his fear of public opinion which held him in check, for he had always managed to carry his amours to an exciting pitch, and, well, he had never gotten himself into trouble before.
His common sense had told him to keep away from actresses, but Doris Dacre had been irresistible, and last night had been the culmination. If only he had brought away his hat, no one need have known. Of course, they would find that she had cut her own throat; he had not thought she would do that. The doctors said she might not recover, he hoped she would not, then hated himself for the thought, giv- ing, however, the sop to his conscience that it would be better than to ruin the happiness of his wife and baby.
He saw himself hung by circumstan- tial evidence; the tracing of the hat and the recognition by the policeman, con- victing him.
One moment he was filled with self pity, the next he was blurting out self accusations. Fear of the consequences was followed by resolutions and prom- ises that if he ever got out of this he would forever leave women alone.
He understood for the first time that the sanctity of the home depends as much on the man as on the woman.
Scared and contrite, in this hour he
was sure that all women save his wife were anathema. He had walked over mountains and through gullies, paying little attention to where he was going, till tired mentally and physically, his thoughts turned to home and wife. She at least would not believe him guilty of murder. And of the other? If she knew, perhaps she would condone, for- give.
At home comfort awaited for both body and spirit; so like a wayward child who had run away from punishment, and found the terrors mentally con- jured worse than the penalty he had fled, he turned back home willing to take the punishment, because he knew it would be tempered by love.
Avoiding frequented places, going by by-ways, he drew near his home. De- siring but fearing to hear what devel- opments had evolved during the day he gave a wide berth to all places where such news might be heard.
As he drew nearer home his thoughts flew thick and fast, wavering between a resolve to make a clean breast of all his actions and relations between Doris Dacre and himself, to a self-imposed view of the situation which pictured the suffering of his wife and child. He told himself it was for their sake he must avoid any disclosure, but knew it was himself of whom he was thinking.
Half a block from his house he saw the light from the front room glowing across the sidewalk, and knew his wife was waiting for him, that little Marie would be expecting some candy, and af- ter giving him a big "yug" as she called it, would begin searching his pockets, a game they played when he reached home before she went to bed; which, of late, had not been often, he remembered.
For a moment he stood outside, and a wave of love surged through him, love for his home, his wife and child. The travail of his conscience and the re- birth of his love contending with his
[Page 045]
The Green Hat 45
selfishness seemed as if it would tear him apart. A sob rose in his throat, of love or self pity, possibly of both, but he knew in that moment he loved his wife and child, that their love and re- spect was more to be desired than all the flatteries and passions of secret paramours.
Quietly he inserted the key in the door, and opened and closed it behind him. The hall was dimly lighted by one small globe set in the ceiling; its one object seemingly to make shadows rather than to give light.
He took off his hat, reached out to hang it on the rack and stopped mid- way, his eyes staring wildly. Was it an hallucination? His green hat hung there! Then they had found him. Gone now was his bravery, he would have run away only he thought detectives had seen him enter the house, and had surrounded it to prevent his escape, perhaps they were in the house. He looked into the shadows.
Trembling he reached out to see if the hat were real, and the nervous shak- ing of his hand dislodged something which fell with a loud clatter to the floor. He heard whispered words in the room, followed by a silence, then receding footsteps, and his ears attuned by fright, detected lighter ones as if tip- toeing, coming toward him; he dis- tinctly heard the opening and closing of a door in the back of the house. Paralyzed he braced himself against the moment when he should feel the hand on his shoulder and hear a voice pro- claim his arrest.
The door to the front room opened, he watched it fascinated, expecting he knew not what, and when his wife stood revealed in the flood of light, he blink- ingly looked beyond her seeking that which his fear led him to expect. Con- scious that his wife was talking nerv- ously he let her lead him into the dining room, his eyes searching, his senses
alert, he heard but did not sense her words. Seated at the table he took the evening paper which she held out to him, while his eyes searched her face. Supersensitive, he read there that she knew, and because her eyes would not meet his own, supposed she was trying to keep it from him.
As she would have left him, he said in a voice that did not sound like his own.
"Wait, Aileen."
But the look on her face when she returned he could not interpret.
"It is useless," he said looking away and trying to control his voice, "for you to pretend," he paused and cleared his throat—had he been looking he would have seen Aileen grasp the door for support—"to pretend you do not know, it was my green hat which was found at Doris Dacre's. I saw that you suspected it this morning, and, of course, now that the police have brought it back—"
"Brought it back! Your hat?" Aileen stammered.
"Let me finish, dear. I have spent the day in retrospections and self crim- inations. I have not been as loyal to you as I expected you to be to me. I saw where I might be accused of mur- der, and it was the faith that you would believe in my innocence which brought me back."
He read relief in her face.
"And, Aileen, I want you to know that the events of the last twenty-four hours have brought me to my senses. I am going to be different, but it is no use my making promises. Will you take me back, at least on probation?"
"Why, Brainerd I—I— Yes—I?"
She stuttered with a confusion for which at the time he could not account, but waiting no longer, he pushed his chair back so that it fell over, went quickly to her and took her in his arms.
Still ardourously clasping her, he
[Page 046]
46 The Green Hat
asked, "When did they bring back my hat?" As she hesitated, he added, "I saw it in the hall, you know."
He felt Aileen turn cold in his arms, and saw her eyes grow round with fear.
"Come, dear," he encouraged, "I can stand the worst."
"They didn't bring it," Aileen whis- pered in a frightened voice. "It—is— was—" she hesitated, sparring for time. Then suddenly:
"You say you saw I suspected about the hat this morning. Well, when I read the paper and noticed you did not wear your green hat, and then later that it was not on the rack, I went out and b—"
"Daddy! Daddy, you did come back! Now muvvy it's my turn to be yugged." And Marie in her tiny blue pajamas pushed in between them, and clambered up till her soft arms were entwined around his neck.
The tears started from his eyes. There was nothing in all the world worth this, and he held her close to his heart.
"Yere 'at was a big yug," she de- clared in her baby talk and climbed down. "Now, where is my candy?" she asked.
He let her search for a while, en- joying the ramblings of her tiny hands. Impetuously he picked her up.
"Daddy," he said, "forgot all about your candy, Marie, so he'll have to put
some money in your bank." And with much ceremony he deposited "a whole big nickel."
"Now, Marie, must go to bed like a good little girl," he enjoined, and glan- cing over at Aileen who still stood by the door white and immobile, he added: "poor muvvy's tired."
"Muvvy?" inquired Marie without warning, "Why did the man go 'ivout his pitty green hat?"
Brainerd shot a glance at his wife, who was leaning heavily on the door.
"What man, Marie?" he asked.
"Why, Doctor Illington, he went out the back door like this." She struggled from his arms and tiptoed out of the door looking back over her shoulder.
Brainerd did not look at his wife, in- stead he chased Marie crying:
"You rascal, run along to bed," and gave her a spank as she ran up the stairs.
Returning he found his wife still standing, but now in a defiant attitude. Ignoring the challenge in her eyes he clasped her in his arms and kissed her, then suddenly burst out laughing.
Aileen pulled away from him.
"I don't see anything to laugh at," she bristled.
He held her at arm's length and Smiled teasingly,
"Don't you? Well, I was thinking that now, it will be Illington who will have to worry about the loss of a green hat."
BROTHER— "Do you think father and mother ought to be allowed to see this play?"
Sister— "Why not? They're so old-fashioned that its risqué lines will be over their heads."
[Page 047]
Whose Was the Hand?
By Francis Harmer
THE doctor turned sym- pathetically to the wife, as she followed him from her husband's room.
"You will try stimu- lants?" she said. Her voice sounded like the muted strings of a violin. It was low, and rich, but curi- ously muffled.
He shook his head.
"My dear Madam—if you insist. But my many years of practice have shown me that stimulants are often—a need- less cruelty. He is passing peacefully, painlessly away. Stimulants would possibly prolong his life by some hours and deprive him of that passing. He might die in agony. Can you wish that?"
The wife, a tall, slender woman, with an oval face of much calm and passion- less beauty, shook her head. The doc- tor, looking at her, wondered what lay behind that placid exterior. He re- membered to have heard that the Cal- houns were reported as rather unhap- pily mated—yet she seemed anxious to have all done that could be done, for her dying husband.
"I am sure," the pause had been per- ceptible, "that you know best."
"Of course," the physician answered, hastily, "I am more than willing for a consultation, if—"
Mrs. Calhoun lifted her hand.
"You are at the head of the medical profession within reach," she negatived. "It would be—useless"
She bowed him out, and turned to face the nurse, who was coming out of
the dining room. She seemed almost out of place in the darkened, gloomy house, for she was young and rosy, and her blue eyes were full of fire and feeling. She carried a little tray on which Mrs. Calhoun saw a spirit lamp, a bowl of beef tea, and a spoon.
"The doctor said no more stimu- lants," Mrs. Calhoun reminded her.
"I know, Mrs. Calhoun. But I saved my mother's life—she is well and hearty now—by disregarding the doctor's or- ders, and giving her, every thirty sec- onds, alternate half tea spoonfuls of fine champagne and beef tea—no more than half a teaspoonful. The doctor said nothing could do any harm. Won't you let me try?"
"How long did you keep that up?" Mrs. Calhoun's dark eyes were staring out in the darkness of the rear hall.
"All night, I think. The time went by like a flash. If you will let me—?"
"No." Eleanor Calhoun took the tray from the nurse's hand. "I will do that—myself. Bring me the cham- pagne, will you? Opened, of course. And you sleep in the little room, that I may call you, if there is need."
The nurse, though obviously disap- pointed, obeyed at once. Mrs. Calhoun went slowly into the sick room and ar- ranged a stand near her husband's side, pulling a chair into place, adding cush- ions and a footstool, that she might have the necessary physical ease in her work.
The nurse re-entered the room, with the bottle and glass, and another spoon. Then, with unfeigned reluctance she
[Page 048]
48 Whose Was the Hand?
left the wife to what might be the watches by the dead—or, might not!
Eleanor looked at the invalid. A big man, with evidences of having been a handsome one. His hair, longer than he wore it when in health, curled over the broad, white brow. The regular features had already settled, it seemed to her, into the peace of death.
For a few minutes the wife sat very still on her elevated seat, the restora- tives within easy reach, the flame of the spirit lamp under the bubbling liquid turned to its lowest. Her mind, a va- grant wanderer, swept the past five years of her married life.
Two had been of ecstatic bliss—for with all her heart and soul, her jealous heart, her fiery soul, she had loved the man she married. The third had been clouded by the fear that his passion was dying, the fourth darkened by the certainty that her fears were realized, the last had been aflame with anguish and fury when she knew that he had, for two years, been absorbed, at inter- vals with Marion Beresford. Marion, younger than herself, beautiful, bril- liant, intellectual, a woman who laughed at convention, yet of whom the world spoke kindly. One man, she remem- bered, had called the lovely and daring young widow a reincarnation of As- pasia! And Eleanor, who was not men- tally endowed, whom books other than the lightest fiction bored, had grown to know that whole tracts of her hus- band's mind were unexplored, as far as her researches went—that he knew things, thought of things, was inter- ested in things whose very names were meaningless to her ears.
Once, she had been content that her beauty enthralled him. Now, she was jealous of his thoughts.
His illness had given her a ferocious joy. His mistress could not penetrate the fastnesses of the home of her lov- er's wife. From the day on which the
epidemic had smitten him down, he had been her own, her very own. The nurse first chosen had been dismissed on a clumsy pretext because she had been professionally authoritative and had tried to bar the wife on the plea that her visits sent up the patient's tem- perature! The little one who had fi- nally pleased her was less experienced, more docile.
And now, with the night falling about her, with the doors closed, he was her own—while he lived.
Of his death, she thought quite calm- ly. A grave that she could visit daily, that she could keep beautiful with flow- ers, making it a monument to her own devotion—that would be peace, almost bliss, compared to the Dejanira robe of flame in which she would see his first convalescent strength employed—to call on Marion Beresford! No, she was de- termined. She had saved the officious little nurse from subjecting her to that renewal of torture. A flame swept over her at the thought of Marion, watching for his car, Marion, flying down the steps to meet him, Marion, drawing him with both hands into her flower-filled room, and inducting him into her deep- est chair, Marion, offering restoratives, Marion, smiling, kneeling beside him, lifting her face—!
The wine and the extract under her hand should remain untouched. The painless passing that meant peace to him, and to her own soul, should not be interfered with, nor delayed. But, that the little blue-eyed nurse might not suspect, the alcohol in the lamp should burn itself out, and, when the gray morning dawned, she would throw away the beef tea and the right quan- tity of champagne. To know just what that quantity should be, she must, every thirty seconds, pour out half a teaspoon- ful, and put it into the glass.
The night was cold, but the furnace was, of course, kept going, and an
[Page 049]
Whose Was the Hand? 49
even temperature secured for the sick room. It was now half-past eleven. She turned to the bottle of champagne, and poured out half a teaspoonful.
Slowly, as she was about to put this into the glass, she was aware that an impulse, as much beyond her control as her comprehension, guided her hand away from the glass, and to the sick man's lips. With no volition of her own, she forced the pointed spoon be- tween them and the drops of wine down his throat.
The terror that her doing this brought about her, made her replace the spoon on the tray. She took off her wrist watch and laid it beside the spoon. Why—why—had she done this?
"Oh, but if I do give him a few drops of each, I can say, with my eyes meet- ing any one's," she was thinking of the eyes of the little nurse, "that I did— did—try!"
The thirty seconds had gone by in the removing of the watch, and the con- current reasoning. She took another spoon and administered a few drops of the beef extract.
When five minutes had gone, she said:
"That is enough. Not—any—more!"
Yet, at the exact moment called for by the little nurse's schedule, she found herself automatically pouring the wine and giving it to the unconscious man! And, at the next swiftly recurring thir- tieth second, the extract.
"I will not do it! I will not do it!" she told herself. Her heart was pound- ing against her side, the sweat was on her brow. By every physical law she knew, her hands should have been shak- ing so that the power to guide the spoon, its contents unspilled, would not have been hers. But it was not so. As though controlled by some external and invisible force, her white fingers closed round the champagne bottle and care- fully measured the prescribed quantity
into the spoon, as carefully conveyed the wine to her husband's lips, which, as she saw now, had lost a little of their death-like whiteness and rigidity.
She felt her very soul quailing within her at this failure of volition. At the same moment, some section of her in- telligence marvelled that the thought of Robert's return to her aroused no feel- ing whatever, either of the joy that would have been natural, or of the re- sentful fear of his again leaving her for Marion Beresford. She had not been entirely rendered dumb, since she was terrified of the control possessing her, but some tracts of feeling were de- void of sensation now—why and how?
All the time she wondered and rea- soned, and feared and struggled—so vainly—for power to resist, to repossess herself—her hands were moving swift- ly, unerringly, conveying life to the dying man. At one o'clock he drew a deep, easy, natural breath. At half past he turned upon his side, away from her, and then turned back.
Suddenly a light came to her.
The little nurse!
She had prepared so eagerly for this vigil, she had so entreated, with her blue eyes, for this task, she had been so dis- appointed when sent away!
"I will ring for her. I will ask how she dare—"
Eleanor gave the half spoonful of wine. This took longer than the ex- tract of beef which she had merely to dip up from the silver saucepan on the spirit stove. The movements of lifting the bottle, and pouring the wine, occupied at least twice as many sec- onds. She waited till she had performed the easier task, then rose to go to the bell which would wake the nurse.
She had just reached it, when she felt an impulse turning her round. The bell should have been near the bed, and, when the furniture stood in its nor- mal position, was near it, but Robert
[Page 050]
50 Whose Was the Hand?
had insisted on having his head to the north, and so the bed had been moved. Thus, Eleanor had to traverse the long room before she could put her fingers on the little mother-o'-pearl button. She did not reach it before she was—sent back—and found by her watch it was time for the wine again!
She had moved too slowly, too cau- tiously, as if afraid of something. She must wait, and give the extract, and then—go quickly.
Twice she essayed and failed. The third time she pressed the button hard, and returned to her post on the second.
But the nurse, usually so alert, so wakeful, did not respond. It was as if the universe slept.
Terror uncontrollable urged her heart to fast and furious beating, drenched her body in the sweat of fear. Only her hands and arms, seemingly no part of her own mechanism, detached from it, and obedient to something not her- self, only her hands and arms never ceased their tireless ministrations.
And those ministrations were becom- ing more and more effective. The sick man's breathing was deep and easy, a faint color came, in order, to lips, to nostrils, to cheeks. A light perspira- tion bedewed his forehead, and once he flung his hands out upon the coverlet.
He would live!
The little nurse had saved him, in spite of his wife!
Through the drawn back curtains, the first pale gray of dawn dimmed the morning stars. Turning her head in the brief intervals of her tending, Eleanor knew that another day was born.
And then, suddenly, whatever had been her master in this strange task,
left her. Her hands fell to her sides, numb, powerless. She felt that she would faint, that life itself was leav- ing her.
She looked around for help, but no help was near. The light, pale still, was yet the light of morning.
She heard her husband stir. She saw his eyes open, his lips move. She waited in anguish—for she was once again her- self—lest his first words should be for another.
Instead, he whispered faintly.
She leaned over to him, tears pour- ing from her eyes, the old tenderness welling up in her heart. The door opened and the little nurse came in, fresh, alert, with coffee on a silver tray.
"Oh, Mrs. Calhoun—oh!"
For she had seen the miracle.
"If he had died," she whispered, trembling, "I should never have taken another case! For I heard your bell, Mrs. Calhoun, and I was too tired, to move—think of that, for a nurse! I could not move!"
Whatever she had done, then, had been done unconsciously.
That was Eleanor's last thought, as darkness closed about her.
* * * *
Eleanor had left Robert to the little nurse, and was taking time to read the papers gathered since the beginning of his crisis. As her eyes fell on one, her heart seemed to miss a beat:
"DIED: On Thursday night, at half- past eleven, Marion, widow of the late John Beresford, at her residence, The Damozel, Riverside Drive. Kind- ly omit flowers."
[Page 051]
She Had to Play the Lead
By William Grenvil
Mary Gray, a country girl in New York who wants to become a movie actress, has come to the end of her resources. Wandering along Fifth Avenue one even- ing, a well-dressed woman accosts her and engages her to play in some amateur theatricals at her home. Mary is taken by the woman and her husband, who call themselves Mr. and Mrs. Van Horne, to a great country estate. There she finds they are criminals and want, her aid. As she cannot escape she has to listen to them. They want her to impersonate the celebrated movie star Rita Duval and induce a millionaire who has fallen in love with her on the screen to give her enough money to start her own producing company. The two crooks say Mary may even have to marry Rufus Green.
"BUT I don't want to play- such a part," Mary protested.
"You got to," Nell Schirmer said, and there was a menace under her seemingly friendly attitude.
"But that would be dishonest," she cried, "it would be obtaining money un- der false pretenses. I won't do it!"
"Come, come," said Steve puffing at his cigar, "that won't get you nowhere. This ain't the first time you've got things under false pretenses."
"I've never done such a thing in my life," she declared indignantly.
"Wait a bit," said Steve, "what about beating Mrs. O'Ryan out of four weeks' board and lodging?"
"That was different," she asserted.
"Not a bit," he said, "the judge would look at it in the same may and it would be the good old Island for thirty days."
"How did you know about it?" she asked.
"I was looking for a ringer for Rita Duval and I saw you on the street. I
marked down your house and went and told Nell. Then I got the Van Horne sedan and was coming to talk it over when Mother O'Ryan threw you out. She didn't whisper it."
"If I did what you want me to, I should go to prison."
"You'll go if you don't," he snapped grimly. "If you play under my direc- tion you can't go wrong. This fellow Rufus Green is no good anyhow. He's a get-rich-quick crook and it would be a kind action to take some of his dirty dough."
"But you said I might have to marry him!"
"What's a fake ceremony between friends?" he said easily. "That guy isn't playing straight. I happen to know he hasn't got his divorce yet. I dearly love to skin that sort."
Mary Gray looked at the twain in de- spair. Why was it they persisted in thinking she would enter such a shame- ful scheme with them? Steve went on genially:
"You know what a hard game life is even if you're willing to work like a
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52 She Had to Play the Lead
slave. What we offer you is ten thou- sand dollars, or maybe more, for less than a week's easy work. He shan't pull any rough stuff with our darling daugh- ter, shall he, mother? I'm your loving father," he added, "and you are our only joy."
"You needn't be afraid of Sam or Steve," Nell said quickly, as she saw a look of fear creep into the girl's face. "Sam hates the sex, and if Steve looks at a woman in a way I don't like he gets hell from me."
"What about it?" Steve demanded. "Are you going back to face your land- lady's charge or are you coming in with us?"
"I shall go home to my uncle," she cried. No matter what harsh measures the judge might deal out, it would be better than remaining with these people, who wanted to use her as a tool and then have her for ever in their power. "He'll come and fetch me."
Steve looked at her in open admira- tion as she stood defying him. She was of middle height, slim, and her almond- shaped, red-brown eyes flashed fire. She was prettier, had she known it, than ever her idol Rita Duval could hope to be.
"There's things against that," he said slowly, "first, how is he going to know where you are? Will Mother O'Ryan tell him? Not a soul knows you are here, and not a soul will unless we tell them. Be sensible. If you only knew it, there's thousands would jump at your chance. Ten thousand for a week's work. That's Rital Duval's salary, and you wouldn't ask any better than that. Nell, you take her up to bed and tell her not to get up till she's told to."
"You are threatening me," she said, her face flushing.
"I'm taking care of my leading lady," Steve smiled. It seemed that he was certain she would neither escape nor fail to follow his directions.
Upstairs—three flights up—in a long, low room, thirty feet from the ground, she had plenty of sleepless hours to think matters over. She did not believe she was in danger so long as she fol- lowed instructions. But the thought of meeting this coarse Rufus Green, wheedling his money from him, and perhaps sealing the bargain with the in- timacy of a forced marriage, was revolt- ing. "Never," she said to herself, "Never."
She was essentially a lovable, roman- tic girl, waiting as all such do for the coming of the man of men. To him she would go willingly and proudly.
When she awoke from troubled sleep next morning she decided it would be best to offer no open rebellion to her jailers. Sooner or later there would come an opportunity to make a break for freedom. But before making it she must disarm suspicion. She was not allowed to go downstairs until noon. When she did she was surprised at the altered appearance of the place. Plate, linen, fine glass and china had been brought in from somewhere or other and electric light, water and gas were now installed. It was remarkable, she thought, that these crooks could have accomplished so much.
Nell Schirmer told her how it hap- pened as they had lunch.
"Sam is the caretaker," she said. "He got the job in the nick of time. He beat up a policeman in Jersey City and had to keep out of sight. This place here used to get broken into regular by a gang of tough kids, but not with Sam on the job. Sam was welter weight champion once. Steve had a piece put in the papers that young Van Horne, who owns this, was coming home."
"Is he?" Mary demanded.
"He's shooting bears in Alaska," Nell told her. "That's all he does—shoots bears and tigers and lions. Steve fig-
[Page 053]
She Had to Play the Lead 53
ured it out that if that got in the papers we could get credit for eats and drinks from the stores in New York where the Van Hornes used to deal. It worked like magic. Say, the drinks would knock your eye out—champagne, port, Scotch, everything. They think Steve is his private secretary. That automo- bile you came out in has the Van Horne crest on it. Steve can imitate writing to beat the band. He—"
"You mean he can forge other peo- ple's writing," said Mary severely.
Nell was too good-tempered to resent the charge.
"It's a gift," Nell returned simply. "The electric light, water and gas peo- ple fell for Sam's imitation of young Van Horne's writing. We had to pay the help to scrub and clean up, but we got some useful pointers that way."
Mary Gray looked at her curiously.
"Don't you realize you are putting a lot of information in my way that I could use against you?"
The girl was again conscious of the ruthlessness of this easy-going, pleas- ure-loving Nell Schirmer. Of the two, she felt she would fear Steve less.
"I'm telling you because you are in on this trick. You've got to be. There's no risk. When it's over you just fade out and do what you like with the money you'll get. If you make a squeal you'll go to the Island and then the bulls will take you in whenever [t]hey feel like it. They'll come and look at you as you're doing your thirty days, and when they see you back in the city, they'll re- member. Another thing, girlie, don't try to make a getaway. Sam ain't very good tempered. He never has been since Joe Walcott beat him up bad at Coney, so don't take any chances with him. And one thing more, we've got our friends on the outside, and they'd only bring you back here."
Chapter II
Nell's warnings did not deter the girl from watching her opportunity to escape. She felt if once she were the other side of the high stone walls she would find some good Samaritan. She was rested and strong and used to ath- letic sports. She doubted if Sam or Steve could catch her in a footrace.
When she found Nell unobservant she ran upstairs to see if from some high window she could get an idea of the lie of the land. She hoped to be able to see some nearby town, but all that was visible wfas hill and treetops.
She was making her way across the corridor to another room facing in a contrary direction, when, red-faced and angry at having to take so much exer- tion, Nell came puffing up the stairs.
"If Steve gets good and sore on you," Nell began, "you'll be sorry. You come down with me and begin to dress the part. She looked at Mary's clothes with scorn, "Rufus Green won't fall for you if you look like that. Rita Duval is the swellest dresser in the movies."
The first thought of rebellion was crushed when Nell gripped the girl's arm. The elder woman smiled a little as the girl's face bore tribute to her strength.
"Didn't think I was so strong, did you?" she smiled. "Well, dearie, when I met Steve I was a headliner in vaude- ville in an acrobatic act." Nell went on talking as she piloted the other down- stairs. "Did I tell you we had friends on the outside who'd bring you back if you got away?"
"Haven't you any pity at all?" the girl cried. "Do you suppose I want to let this man Green make love to me thinking I'm someone else?"
"Stuff!" said Nell. "Pity? Ain't I offering you more money than you'd make honestly in twenty years? He won't be here till tomorrow and we'll
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54 She Had to Play the Lead
see he behaves. Now, come and see the swell clothes you're going to wear. They'll be yours from now on," she added.
Said Nell a few hours later, when it was dark, "She's all right now, Steve. You should have seen her face change when she saw them clothes! She's got Rita faded off the screen for looks. This one is more class than Rita. Her uncle's a judge up-state. You've got to see that Rufus doesn't get too fresh."
"That'll be an awkward proposition," said Steve frowning. "From what I bear he has speed to him and ain't par- ticular about his way of expressing him- self. You see, Nell, we've got to see that he puts up the money and he won't do that unless she plays up to us. Bring her in. I've got to see she understands. I'm not going to have any failure when the biggest thing I ever went after is al- most ripe. She's in deadly fear of get- ting her name in the papers and I'll throw a scare into her that'll make her eat out of my hand."
"My God!" cried Nell a half minute later, "she's gone! I'd a sworn she was in that next room!"
Steve rushed into the adjoining apartment with an oath. It was plain that she had sprung from the window to the shrubbery eight feet beneath.
Mary's pleasure at the sight of the beautiful clothes was perfectly genuine. All her life she had wanted just such lovely things. Yet much as she desired them the price to pay was too great. She was a romantic girl and wanted to be loved. But the idea of being forced into the arms of a sensualist like Green was too horrible. By this time she was too near hysteria to count the cost. As a siphon of aerated water diluted Steve's whisky with its sibilant sound she opened the window and jumped out unnoticed and unheard.
As she ran across the grass she heard
the opening door and the voices of Sam and Steve shouting. Blindly she rushed on, falling headlong over flower bed and sunken path, until the lovely clinging dress of blue charmeuse was torn and stained. And always the high stone wall for which she sought eluded her.
Sometimes the pursuers came within a few yards of her, flashing their lights, but failing to find her in the gloom. At last she came in sight of the great iron gates. But they were locked or fast- ened in such a way that she could not open them.
Behind her, coming fast down the drive, was the pattering of feet.
Looking over her shoulder she could see from the lights on the gate posts that it was Sam and that he was angry. The excitement, the fatigue attendant on her struggle and her fear of this swearing, angry beast almost upon her, made the girl for the first time in her life faint dead away.
Sam picked her up and took her near- er the light. It was on this frail girl that his hope of rich reward depended, and he had to stop himself from shak- ing her angrily as was his first desire.
"What's the trouble?" said a voice from the other side of the gates.
Sam looked up to see a tall man gaz- ing at him, a man with a stern expres- sion and the air of habitual authority.
"Mr. Green," he gasped, "we didn't expect you till tomorrow."
"You didn't," said the stranger. "Who are you and what's the matter with that girl?"
"She's just fainted," said Sam, trying to appear natural. "I'm Sam. I'm care- taker here, sir, but you're expected."
He unlocked the door and let the tall stranger enter.
As he did so. bearing the girl's weight easily on one arm, she recovered con- sciousness, and looked up to see a strange man staring at her with uncom- mon interest.
[Page 055]
She Had to Play the Lead 55
"Miss Rita," said Sam, with an exag- gerated air of respect, "here's Mr. Ru- fus Green come a day before we ex- pected him. Your paw and maw will be tickled." He turned to the other man, "Mr. Green, sir, I don't have to intro- duce you to Miss Rita Duval, the Non- pareil star."
"No," said Mr. Green, removing his hat, "I have seen her a hundred times already."
He gripped her hand hard. Even in that moment of depression Mary was relieved to find him better looking than she had expected. From his reputation she imagined Green would be coarser, harder, less gentle. But, she reflected, a man with his looks and assumed man- ners would be all the more difficult to deal with. Could she, the girl wondered, lead him on to give money to this pre- cious pair who held her in bondage? Or would she be able to make her es- cape before that dreaded moment?
"You must let me help you," Green said courteously, taking her arm.
"Thank you," she returned stiffly, "I am perfectly capable of walking."
"But you just fainted," he protested. "That was from overwork," Sam in- terjected. "A star like Miss Duval has to work awful hard."
"I suppose so," said Mr. Green slow- ly.
"Indeed yes," Sam continued, evi- dently fearing the agitated girl would not keep up the deception sufficiently well. "That's why Mr. Duval and her mother want her to have her own com- pany. Rita Duval is a big drawing card, as you know." Sam winked, but the darkness did the action. He did not let go of the girl's arm. She felt utterly powerless and hopeless, very weak and small and friendless. Her heroines on the screen would no doubt know how to act, but she was without inspiration. All she knew was that the con- spiracy was involving her and the scene
she was to play was close at hand.
Only once in the long walk to the house did Green speak.
"You expected me tomorrow then?"
"Why, yes, Mr. Green," Sam an- swered. "You sent a telegram. Made good connections, I suppose?"
"That was it," the other man re- turned.
Sam would have liked to run on and warn his fellow crooks but he dared neither release the girl nor entrust her to Green. But it happened that Nell heard his voice, and seeing the tall man by his side guessed what had happened. They received Mr. Green with great cordiality. Again they assumed a dif- ferent bearing and accent. They were no longer Nell and Steve, but the proud parents of a world famous star.
"My staff of servants has not yet ar- rived," Steve said, apologizing for the absence of his butler and maids.
Mr. Green looked about the great hall and noble stairways with marked inter- est. It was an impressive interior.
"What a splendid place!" he ejacu- lated. "Did I understand that you had bought it?"
"I'm considering it," Mr. Duval said pompously. "If Rita forms her own company and stays east I shall buy it for her. You will find your room com- fortable, I hope."
"You insist on my staying then?"
"Absolutely," said Nell. "There's another member of the family who'll be disappointed too, if you don't." She looked across at her supposed daughter and Green followed her gaze. "I guess you two have gotten friendly in your letters."
Green thought Rita's blush the most beautiful thing he had ever seen. But he said nothing for a moment. Instead he stood there frowning, and the two watching men, Sam and Steve, quaked a little at his silence. They were play- ing a risky game, and he might have
[Page 056]
56 She Had to Play the Lead
found out that this was a fake star they were displaying. But they had made certain precautions through their friends and confederates which mini- mized the chances of detection. Green was true to the descriptions they had received of him. He was a tall, red- haired man of great physical strength and imperious temper. But just as Mary Gray feared him for his mask of kindliness, so did this plotting trio be- cause he did not show his hand. It was plain that the proposition must come from Steve. Like most rich men, Green would sit back and let the other fellow put his cards on the table.
"Good God, Nell," he said a little later after one of these long silences on Green's part, "I believe he's peeved be- cause we don't leave him alone with the kid. What about it? Can you see she doesn't queer us?"
Nell was very kindly and sympathetic as she drew Mary to a corner and gave her some instructions.
"Evidently he wants to talk to you alone. Now don't you be nervous. If he starts to talk about your company tell him you leave all business to your father. All you do is live for Art. Rita had that in an interview I read only last week. You have got to look pretty. If you do what we want you'll be in luck."
For some reason or other Mr. Green behaved exceedingly well. That he ad- mired her the girl knew instinctively. Men had looked at her with admiration long before Mr. Burke induced her to leave her home for a film career. Frank- ly, she was afraid of this man, who chose to show her the deference and chivalry that was not in his nature. If Steve thought his reputation bad there was no doubt about it. A dozen times she had heard him say that Rufus Green was a "bad actor."
The family, servants and guest re- tired early. Nell and Steve were grati-
fied to hear Green say that although he had known Rita Duval for a long time on the screen and in illustrated maga- zines, he had underestimated her charm.
The self-styled Rita smiled charming- ly, but she avoided the intense, burn- ing glance he threw at her as she went up the winding stairway. And she was angry that she could not find it in her heart to dislike him. But she knew that the men who had the greatest success with women never showed their true selves to their victims until too late. It wasn't fair, she told herself, that he should be the very type she had always admired.
"Now, Mr. Duval," said Rufus Green, looking at that smiling gentle- man with scrutiny that was disturbing, "shall we talk business? I'm curious to know a great many things. These let- ters I wrote to your daughter, for in- stance—you must know a man can't re- member everything he puts in things of that sort."
"But you meant 'em, eh?" said Steve.
"I mean everything I write," said Rufus Green.
"And you won't go back on your word?" Steve tried not to seem anxious.
"What I agree to do I carry out," said Green with a snap of his strong jaw. "Make your proposition, Mr. Du- val."
Steve was a clever talker. It was his strongest asset. He proved conclusive- ly that if Mr. Green backed his daugh- ter in her own producing company the scheme would pay a hundred per cent. He talked with a fluency that was im- pressive. Evidently Mr. Green thought so, too, for he smiled.
"I'll sleep over it," he said at length.
Chapter III
When Duval returned to the matter at breakfast he found the capitalist still enthusiastic.
[Page 057]
She Hud to Play the Lead 57
"I want to talk it over with your daughter first," he said. "Let's go for a walk, Miss Rita. I want your ideas on it."
"Surely," said Mr. Duval, but feeling less confident than he seemed to be. Then he turned to Nell, "You take a walk with Rita and Mr. Green."
"I'm going to star Rita, not her mother," said the guest, smiling at the elder woman. "I want a little talk with your daughter first."
The look the twain gave to the girl plainly told her that if she betrayed them she would suffer. But Mary Gray was not of the soft, easily-welded metal they supposed. When she and Green were clear of the house on a little knoll among the pines, where was a rustic bench, she knew she was free at last from eavesdropping. She was white- faced as she turned to speak.
"This must go no further," she said.
"What mustn't?" he demanded.
"This farce," she said. "I'm not Rita Duval. My name is Mary Gray and I'm being forced to play this part in or- der to get your money. I don't know what they'll do to me, but I can't go through with this."
"Tell me the whole thing," he com- manded.
When she had finished he put his arm protectingly about her. It was a ten- der, sympathetic action.
"Poor little girl," he said. "I haven't always lived as I might have done, and there are episodes in my life I wouldn't want to talk about, but I felt certain you were not what you pretended to be. Cheer up, Mary Gray. I'll think out a way to score on that hound Steve."
"I'm afraid of him," she said, look- ing up appealingly.
"I've dealt with worse than that kind," he returned. "I'm going to get you out of this, and I'm going to get you a real job so that you can pay Mrs. O'Ryan and not go home to the Judge.
Sam, prying on them as best he might, returned to tell his cronies that things were progressing finely. He had seen Green's arm go about the girl and had noted she did not shrink from him.
This promise sent Mary's spirits up and she lost the look of fear. Never had the man seen so attractive a girl.
He amazed her presently by speaking of the real Rita Duval.
"I knew you were a fraud," he said, "because I happen to know her chief camera man and met him at Chicago two days ago. Rita was on the same train headed for Hollywood. I saw her."
"Why didn't you say so?" she de- manded.
"I thought it would be interesting to find out just how far those precious scoundrels would go."
"What will you do?" she demanded. There was still the fear of Steve the ruthless, of the strong-armed smiling Nell and the sullen, vindictive pugilist.
"See how far they go," he replied. "If they think they will get a cent of Rufus Green's millions, they'll be mis- taken."
"They are dangerous," she said. "Suppose they hurt you."
"You are right," he said a little som- brely. "They are very dangerous. I can see that, and if they suspect you and me, it might get uncomfortable, espe- cially as they probably suppose I carry a pretty big roll with me. I'll tell you what we must do to be safe."
"What?" she asked with interest.
"Be quite friendly and give the im- pression that you liked those love let- ters I'm supposed to have sent you?"
"Didn't you send them?" she queried.
"But not to you, alas," he answered. "You mustn't mind if I take your arm. It will please them."
"You think so?" she said doubtfully. It would never do to let him think the idea was not a bit displeasing to her.
[Page 058]
58 She Had to Play the Lead
"Surest thing you know," he cried enthusiastically. "Don't turn around but I can see your fake father and mother coming through some trees. If you want to disarm suspicion don't make a scene when I do this."
"But I didn't say you could kiss me," she cried.
"It was the only thing to do under the circumstances," he said smiling down at her in a way that set her heart beating faster.
"Oh, you young people!" exclaimed Nell, cheerily, a minute later.
Steve was enchanted at the readiness with which Rufus Green agreed to his proposition after lunch. It was all right, said the amorous financier. He had long admired Rita Duval and a quarter of a million he had cleaned up on silver recently could be devoted to no better investment. Tomorrow he would put the deal through.
"Champagne," said Steve loudly, "Sam bring in a magnum. We've got to drink to success."
It was an hilarious meal. Rufus Green was smiling constantly. All his sombre reserve had fallen from him. Steve had yet a very difficult corner to negotiate. It was well enough to have Rufus Green declare he would invest but the difficulty was to have the invest- ment made in a way he, Steve, could profit by. To go to New York and talk to Green's lawyer was no part of Steve's plan. There wasn't a chance that such a scheme would go by undetected. Steve wanted a nice certified check. In order to get it he had long ago determined to sacrifice Mary Gray if the thing became necessary.
That Green was behaving well now was no criterion that he would continue to do so. Steve concluded that Green was drinking next to nothing because he was between two "periodic souses" as he explained to Nell. "From what I
hear, when he breaks out he's a holy terror. That's why I'm keeping whisky away from him until we know where we stand."
"Suppose he don't come across?" asked Nell who, when she could not un-. derstand a man, was afraid of him.
"His roll would choke a hippopota- mus," Steve smiled. "He ain't had much chance to spend it here. What'n 'ell's that?" he demanded as there was the imperious tooting of an automobile horn outside.
"Sam must have left the gates open," Nell frowned, as the ex-prize fighter hurried quickly to the door.
When Sam came back to the room his face was contorted with rage. He looked at Mary and the capitalist so wrapped in one another's society that they had heard nothing of the machine on the gravelled drive outside.
"I'd like to announce," said Sam loudly, "Mr. Rufus Green."
Mary, glancing up now with as much eagerness as the others, saw a big, burly man flushed of face and slightly sway- ing as he leaned against the lintel of the door. It was a red-haired man with a heavy, freckled, sensual face. He had eyes for none but Rita and came to- ward her with outstretched arms. As she shrank back the first Mr. Green, fists clenched, rose to his feet. The two men glared at one another. Every mo- ment Mary feared they would spring at one another's throat.
"What's this?" Steve cried.
"That's the real Green," Sam said pointing to the last comer, "and the other feller's a fake."
"Who's a fake?" the red headed giant demanded angrily.
"I am," said the other man. "They thought I was you. Until I'd seen you I thought it was a joke. Now I think it's an insult."
"You did, did you?" said Steve, his thin lips like a gash in his pale face.
[Page 059]
She Had to Play the Lead 59
"I'll show you something that'll stop you from playing that game with me again as long as you live."
Sam said nothing. He was a silent fighter but he lined up beside his friend. As for the real Rufus Green he had understood little of what was going on. But what he did see plainly was that the Rita Duval who attracted him with terrific intensity was clinging to this tall, straight stranger as if she loved him, certainly as if his safety was dear to her. For her oldtime admirer she had no look but one of loathing. With a roar like a beast of prey he sprang forward.
"Wait a moment," said the masquer- ader coolly, "This thing has gone far enough. Now it's my turn."
But the time had gone by for him to stay their fury with wait. There were three balked, furious, violent men against him and murder looked out of the eyes into which he gazed courage- ously. But he had seen too much vio- lence, and fought too often, not to realize that unarmed as he was and fur- ther handicapped by this clinging girl, he could do nothing against them.
As Steve made a grab at him the masquerader allowed himself time for one blow. Not only did it knock Steve down but it swept Sam into the path of the lumbering giant and delayed their attack for a few blessed moments.
"Come," he said to the girl. Grasp- ing her wrist he turned and sprang up the three steps that led from the dining room to the main hall.
The pursuers were close at his feet as he made for the stairway. Then along a corridor at racing speed he dragged the girl.
"If we get to that door ahead," he whispered, "we'll be safe."
Even in that moment of desperation Mary thought how foolish it was to suppose they could hold out against the other three men with but the barrier
of a door between them. However strong it could be battered down in a few minutes.
He bolted it against the shouting men with a split second of time to spare. She was amazed that at a moment like this he could smile. But there he stood chuckling like a boy. He even took her in his arms and after a kiss dragged her unwilling feet in a few steps of a dancing measure.
Then he did an even more amazing thing. It was a big, bare room in which they were with three long windows. One of these he opened. Then he came to an open fireplace, boarded up. On either side of it was a pillar sup- porting a carved wooden overmantel. She wondered why he kneeled beside one while those outside were shouting to Nell to bring them an axe.
She saw the reason when suddenly the panel behind the pillar swung back and disclosed a dark, brick-lined pas- sage. Quickly he pushed her into it and the darkness told her the panel had closed again.
"I must carry you," he whispered.
It seemed they must have traversed Hundreds of yards in these dark bowels of the old house, stooping all the time to avoid the roof of the passages, when suddenly he stood straight up. Light- ing a match Mary could see she was in a brick chamber some ten feet square. On a shelf was a candle. When it spluttered into light she could see that there was a plain table and two old chairs. It was amazing.
"What is this?" she demanded.
"It's a place where the Tories were hidden in the Revolution," he told her. This house was built by Sir Richard Chester who had a grant of land from the English king. His grandson was hidden in this very chamber for months while Westchester County was searched for him."
"You are sure they won't find us
[Page 060]
60 She Had to Play the Lead
here?" she said. The girl was still trembling from fear and excitement.
"Certain," he said firmly, "we are as safe here as Colonel Chester was."
"But we don't want to stay here for months," she returned dismally.
"You won't have to," he comforted her. "When you feel all right we can go down some steps and come out in an old cow barn that is never used. Then we can watch our opportunity to cut through the woods to a side road that leads to Brewster. I can get you away from here a dozen ways and all of them safe ones."
She looked at him wonderingly. "How is it you are so much at home here and know all these secrets?"
"You see the place belongs to me," he said. "I'm the last of the Van Hornes. My great-grandmother, who was born a Chester, brought it to us."
By tortuous ways, through dark pas- sages and cobwebbed doors, Mary at last saw through a chink in the shin- gles of the barn the little path that led to safety.
When they could see and hear noth- ing of the pursuers they made their way through the pines to the main road.
In the train to the city he told her a great deal about himself. That it was by accident he chanced to come to the old place on that particular day. He had not been near it since he was a schoolboy. When Sam, who had been engaged by the New York agent, had addressed him as Mr. Green and he had seen that his house was occupied by invaders he determined to find out the reason, Mary herself could take up
the threads from that until now they were nearing the city.
"What's going to happen to you?" he demanded.
A look of misery came into her eyes. But she felt she could not ask help from him. The comedy was finished. Their play-acting was over. She would not let him see how helpless she was.
"I shall get along all right," she said with an attempt at lightness.
"No you won't," he said, "you're miserable, Mary. You're afraid of yourself. You dread trying to hunt up a job. You dread going to your uncle and saying you've failed. You can't think of Mrs. O'Ryan without thinking of the police. Confess I'm right."
"If you are why are you so cruel as to remind me of it?"
"Because you've, forgotten I prom- ised to give you a real job."
She looked so troubled that his heart ached for her.
"Why did you forget it?" he persist- ed.
"You didn't mean it," she said de- jectedly.
"There's a lot of hard work attached to it," he told her.
"I'd welcome it," she cried, "the harder the better. Do you really think you could help me to a position?"
"You might not accept it," he said.
"But I will!" she exclaimed. "Just give me a chance."
He sighed. "Splendid, Mary, and I did so dread proposing."
"Proposing?" she repeated.
"Don't you understand," he smiled, "that you've accepted me?"
[Page 061]
The Sting of Victory
By Paul Vernier
"AH," sighed McManner, sad- ly, "she has the hair and eyes of Nellie McNalligan, and she eats like Nellie used to eat."
For an active de- tective he was growing very stout, and he glanced sorrowfully from his own grapefruit salad and lemon ice, al- lowed by his diet, to the succulent steak and mushrooms of the black-eyed bru- nette across the way.
I suspected that a story was lurking in the offing McManner had enjoyed the show that night and had heartily indorsed the judgment and valor of the indefatigable hero, who, like himself, was a detective.
"Yes," said McManner, "that girl re- minds me of Nellie McNalligan, and that reminds me that the victor doesn't always get the spoils."
"Now that fellow in the show to- night," said McManner, knitting his brows, "got some reward for his work, and right there he differed from me when I courted Nellie McNalligan.
"You see," he began, as he lit a long, black cigar, "there was a fairly good counterfeit nickel being floated down in Lawrence County, and we had traced the source down to Greenvale.
"The force was pretty busy those days, and so the Chief sent me out on the job all on my lone. It was the first time I had been given a free hand in a case of any importance, and I worked like a Trojan.
"In a week or so, working day and
night—like a kid does—I had the case narrowed down to a restaurant building on Main Street, with offices on the sec- ond floor and apartments above.
"I recognized the restaurant proprie- tor at the first glance, without entering his place. He was a Greek, Popiklos by name, and I knew that he would remem- ber me if he saw me, for we used to see each other every day when I lived in Altoona and he ran a place there.
"Well, rather than put another fel- low on the job, I decided to adopt a good disguise and carry the thing through myself. I was thinner in those days than I am now, and I made myself up to look like one of these Spanish or French dukes, you know—goatee, mus- tache, black hair, olive complexion— see?
"As John McManner I simply van- ished from that town, reappearing as Pierre Gaspin, interested in starting a restaurant.
"My first week's work had made me pretty sure that the Greek was the ring- leader of the gang. Three others of his fellow countrymen had been assisting in passing the bad nickel, but investigation of the rooms in their boarding houses disclosed nothing. They seemed to have no room to set up any machinery in private, while Popiklos, the Greek, on the other hand, had two stories and the basement of the restaurant building in which to work.
"But the very first night I stepped inside that restaurant I almost forgot all about my case. Nellie McNalligan herself brought my ham and eggs that night, and if there ever was a pretty
[Page 062]
62 The Sting of Victory
Irish girl it was Nellie. Black hair, saucy blue eyes, and a dimple in her cheek when she laughed—that was Nel- lie. I liked Nellie—and Nellie seemed to like me—from the very first.
"From that night on I took all my meals at the Popiklos Restaurant, and late each night I would drop in for a lunch and then see Nellie home. I didn't like to let Nellie know that I was a detective right away. Some way, I felt it might frighten her, and then she might think me a poor proposition to tie up to—a detective having to lead a fairly roving life, you know.
"So I just dawdled along for a couple of weeks, reporting progress back to the Chief in my weekly statements—and real "progress" I was making, too—and finally, one night I put the question squarely up to Nellie and she said she would be mine.
"I was the happiest man in Green- vale that night, but after I got back to my room I pulled myself up short and said, ‘Look here, old man, you've been letting this case hang fire while you courted this girl. Get busy now and do something on the job!'
"So I apprised Nellie of the nature of my occupation, which she took quite calmly, and began to question her in real earnest, and from points I got out of her I decided the little mint was in the basement. The proprietor, Popi- klos, spent a lot of time down there with his visitors, and while they pretended they were drinking, the party never were really intoxicated.
"I made arrangements to change my room to one across the street, which only meant carrying my suitcase a couple blocks, and Nellie agreed to put three catsup bottles in a row in the front window whenever the Greek went out and conditions were favorable for me to examine the basement.
"The very first afternoon after I had changed my lodging place, what does
Nellie do but come to the window and give me the signal, and over I went to the restaurant.
"Nellie was the only waitress on the job at the time, and the cooks being spooning with some policemen, she guided me down into the basement with no one the wiser.
"I didn't have to look long to find the coining apparatus. 'Way back in the rear, under some storeboxes, there she was, fine as anything. I tell you I felt a glow of pride. I had found my prey! The quarry was in my hands!
"I was as tickled as a kid detective naturally would be over pulling off a stunt like that. In the pride of victory I jerked off my wig, mustache and goatee, and says I, ‘Nellie, you see be- fore you John McManner, some day the world's greatest detective,' just like that.
"Nellie threw up her hands, like this, and ‘Oh, My Gawd!' she cries, with a gasp, she was that surprised and dum- founded at the change I had made. ‘This is the last of Pierre Gaspin,' says I, ‘and tonight I'll be back as myself, John McManner, and pull a single- handed pinch that will make the natives open their eyes.' And out I went, to be gone before the Greek got back and suspected something.
"About nine o'clock that night, when I saw Popiklos was in his restaurant, I shoved a couple of loaded Colts into my pockets and a brace of handcuffs and walks into Popiklos' place big as life, with the town constable for an aide.
"Popiklos stared when he saw me: he knew me right away. ‘Hello, Mc- Manner,' he cries, ‘how are you, and what will you have?" Nellie was standing right there to see me pull the final act.
" ‘I'm sorry, Popiklos,' says I, shov- ing the two Colts into his face, ‘but I'll
[Page 063]
The Sting of Victory 63
have you! You're wanted for counter- feiting!'
"He threw up his hands without any hesitation. ‘But,' says he, ‘you're all wrong, McManner; you've got the wrong man.'
" ‘We'll see about that,' says I, and turns him over, handcuffed, to the proud town constable. Well, I got a couple young fellows that were in the restaurant to go along as witnesses, and went down cellar to get the molds and stuff.
"By George, they weren't there! We looked and we looked, and spent nearly three hours going over the basement, the restaurant and the third floor of that building, but not a solitary thing could we find. Then we searched all the of- fices on the second floor, and finally went around and looked up the lodging- places of the other three Greeks. Everything was as innocent as a new- born babe.
"It was about half-past three by that time, and I felt like a fool. I dragged myself back to the restaurant, where the sleepy cbnstable was still holding Popi- klos, and let him release the Greek. What else could I do? I thanked the stars Nellie wasn't there to see the cli- max.
" ‘Very well, Johnny, my boy,' says I, when I got back to my room, ‘you've
lost the case, but you've got the finest wife in Lawrence County by it. We'll just take the bride-to-be down to Wash- ington and make a clean breast of it to the chief.'
"So next morning I hunted up Nellie, bright and early, and ‘Nellie,' says I, ‘sweetheart, we'll just run over to Washington tonight and get the knot tied. It looks as though it were all over here on this case. Something went wrong.'
" ‘If you mean it's all over for you,' says she, ‘you guessed right, for I'll have nothing to do with men that run around with false faces breaking an honest girl's heart with their sham good looks, and then try to take the bread out of her mouth by having her em- ployer hung for his patriotism.'
" ‘Patriotism,' says I, ‘the man's a counterfeiter, Nellie.'
" ‘He is not,' said Nellie. ‘He told me he was making medals for our sol- diers in the Spanish War, and I'd soon- er believe him than a false villain like yourself.'
McManner sighed deeply, and looked again at the brunette on the other side of the cafe.
"What became of Nellie?" I asked.
"She married Popiklos," said Mc- Manner, sadly.
Do You Know?
By Arthur Bowie Chrisman
MARRIAGES are made in Heaven, So the young declare; Yes, Marriages are made in Heaven— Only knows just where.
[Page 064]
Excuses We Have Never Heard
By Otis C. Little
I'M late this morning, sir, simply because I rolled over and took another nap after the alarm went off."
"Sorry I wasn't home for dinner last night, dear, but I ran across a couple of old pals of mine and we all went out for a time."
"I'd have been on time for this ap- pointment, old man, but I knew you'd be late anyway."
"Sorry I can't accommodate you, old chap, but I know you'd never return the ten."
"Yes, Your Honor, I was going forty all right, but I was only doing it to try and get away from the speed cop."
What Little Girls Were Made For
By H. Thompson Rich
LITTLE girls were made to hold By horrid savage men and bold.
Little eyes were made to see Beauty under savagery.
Little lips were made to feast And soothe and calm the savage beast.
Little arms were made to press Tighter still the lips' caress.
Little breasts were made to lay Savage heads upon and pray.
Little girls were made to share Savage triumph and despair.
[Page 065]
"Till Death Us Do Part"
A Play in One Act
By Hilliard Booth
Jim Raxter Lem Hamilton May Allison Granny Allison
THE rising curtain shows the clean but crude interior of a cabin on Little River in the Blueridge mountains of North Caro- lina. The entrance door is at one side; opposite this is the door to the only other room of the house. Beside it is a fire-place. At rear is a small window and a closet just large enough for a man to squeeze into.
A table, chairs and a bureau compose the furniture of the room. On the table stands a new straw suit-case, partly packed. It is noon of a day of the present.
Granny Allison is helping her grandchild, May, fill the suit-
case. Granny is a bent and withered but vigorous old lady of eighty years, dressed in drab-color homespun. May is a fresh and unusually pretty girl of eighteen years wearing her first white silk dress.
Granny : I can hear the folks down by the falls; hit's almost time now, May.
May: Where's my red scarf?
Granny: Hit's in the bed-room. I always thought you'd marry a likelier man than Jim Raxter.
May: This suit-case'll never hold my things.
Granny: Jim's a steady worker and I reckon he'll make you a good husband, but I looked for you to marry a fancier man,
May. And hit don't seem like you had the true bride-spirit!
May : Have you got the tables spread, Granny?
Granny : I'll see about 'em directly. There's a crowd of folks to feed; seems as if the whole district had come to see the wedding under High Falls. That was a pretty idea of yours, being married under the falls, May—hit's like being married in the lap of God. I never did hold for house-weddings. But I al- ways thought you'd marry Lem Hamil- ton.
S.—May—5 65
[Page 066]
66 "Till Death Us Do Part"
May: What made you think that?
Granny: Lem liked you for sure, and you went together a lot. What made you turn Lem down?
May : There wasn't any question of mar- riage between Lem and me, Granny.
Granny: His leaving the district so sudden made folks think you'd jilted him. But I reckon folks knows now why Lem left these parts!
May: (Alarmed.) You think they know?
Granny: Yes. Porter Creasman's girl met up with an accident; she give her parents an unlooked for grandchild. They say that Lem's the man.
May: That's a lie!
Granny : You seem mighty certain!
May: Lem never cared for that frump of a Creasman girl!
Granny: Why did he go away, then?
May: Why do you look at me like that? How do I know? Why do you ask me?
Granny: There, there; I reckon hit's getting married that makes you so easy upset. Here's Jim.
(Jim Raxter enters at the house- door; he is a heavy-set, stolid-looking young mountaineer -wearing a suit of homespun.)
Raxter: Preacher's coming over the river. May, and half the county's waiting on us at the foot of the falls. Ready?
Granny: That preacher can just wait till I get my tables spread! Half the county! Hit'll be the biggest wedding ever seen on Little River!
(She hurries out through the house- door, filled with importance.)
Raxter: Give us a kiss, sweetie.
May: (Avoiding him.) Time enough for foolishness after we're married.
Raxter : A life time for hit! Seems like a miracle, you're marrying me, May! You could have picked the best of us, and you took me! I can't figure hit out, unless hit's because I love you with a love that's just reached for you ever since I first set eyes on you five years ago. I'd never have married if I couldn't have married you. And now I've won you, I'm going to keep you, till death us do part!
(He nears her; his deep feeling ap- parent in voice and face. May moves quickly away from him.)
May: I don't like the look in your eyes, Jim!
Raxter: (Stops and then laughs shortly.) You're not aiming to marry a dummy, are you? Well, I reckon I can wait till after the preacher makes us man and wife. Wife! And to think I used to be jealous of Sam and Dal and Lem! At one time I thought you and Lem were sure going to make a match of hit.
[Page 067]
"Till Death Us Do Part" 67
May: They say Porter Creasman's girl's in trouble.
Raxter : Yes. Now we know why Lem lit out for foreign-parts!
May: Lem's not the man!
Raxter : Don't you believe it! Lem was one of them pretty boys that could pull the wool over any girl's eyes! What did he clear out for if hit wasn't to save his skin and single-blessedness?
May : How do I know? Why do you ask me?
(Granny enters at the house-door.)
Granny: Get me that last plate of sandwiches from the closet, Jim. From talk I heard I reckon the boys is going to play some trick on you.
Jim: Going to try to kidnap me, are they, like they did Tom Yancey! They held him for a ransom of kisses from the bride, and delayed the wedding two hours; while the preacher filled in the time with a surprise-marriage and two baptisms! Well, they don't get Jim Raxter; and no one but Jim Raxter gets any kisses from you, May.
(He takes the plate of sandwiches from the closet at rear and gives it to Granny.)
You'll find me waiting on you at the Falls, bride of mine!
(He goes out through the house- door.)
Granny: If you see them Slater girls going heavy on the cake, tell 'em hit's bad luck to eat more than one piece of wed- ding-cake, or there won't be enough to
go round. That suit-case is as full as you can get hit, May.
May: There's my red scarf to go in yet.
(She goes into the bed-room. Boys' voices are heard from outside calling. Jim Raxter runs in at the house-door.)
Raxter: The boys tried to trap me, but I gave 'em the slip! There'll be no two hour delay to this wedding. Head the boys off, Granny!
(He squeezes himself into the closet at rear and closes the door. Granny speaks through the open house-door as the voices of the boys are heard near- ing.)
Granny: Jim left the house just a bit ago, boys; I reckon he gave you the slip!
(She laughs and goes out through the house-door with the plate of sand- wiches. The boys' voices are heard re- ceding rapidly. May enters from the bed-room with a red scarf in her hand. As she crosses the room Lem Hamil- ton enters at the house-door. May stops with a gasp as she sees him. Lem is a tall, good-looking and graceful young fellow with easy manners and a winning smile.)
May: Lem!
Hamilton : I've come back for you, May!
(Raxter sees Hamilton as he en- ters, and starts to open the closet-door. As Hamilton speaks Raxter pulls the closet-door slowly shut and remains hid- den.)
May: This is my wedding-day!
Hamilton : Yes, and I'm the man you're going to marry!
[Page 068]
68 "Till Death Us Do Part"
May: I'm going to marry Jim Raxter!
Hamilton: You're going to marry me; I love you, May!
May: Is that why you ran away and left me?
Hamilton: I couldn't forget you. I thought of you by day and I dreamed of you by night. When I heard you were going to marry Jim Raxter, I knew you could never be anybody's wife but mine! I've come back for you!
May: Hit's too late!
Hamilton : You don't love Jim!
May: Jim's waiting on me at the foot of the falls with the preacher and half the county!
Hamilton : You belong to me!
(He nears her, but stops as the girl speaks with sudden fury.)
May : Why don't you marry Porter Creas- man's girl?
Hamilton : Why should I marry her?
May: They say you're to blame for her shame!
Hamilton : That's an evil lie! I never went with the Creasman girl—I never cared for her!
May : I knew it was a lie— Oh, I knew it!
Look here, May, what did you prom- ise to marry Jim for?
May : Jim asked me to marry him, and—!
Hamilton : You mean—?
May: I'm not looking for shame like the Creasman girl's!
Hamilton : May!
(He takes Iter in his arms. May sur- renders herself to the love she feels for him. She clings to him, sobbing.)
May: What'll we do? What'll we do? Jim'll never give me up! How can I face Granny and all the people?
Hamilton : Why face them at all? We'll run away. I'll slip around by the upper trail and wait for you at the top of the falls. When Granny takes you down to the folks tell her you've got to go back to the house for something you forgot—and meet me at the head of the upper trail. I've got a horse and buggy at the fork of the roads. By the time Granny and the folks wake up to the fact that you've cut and run we'll be on the down train at Penrose!
May: Yes, yes, that's best!
Hamilton : I'll take your suit-case.
May: No, they might see you! I'll take hit.
Hamilton : Put this in it—in case anything goes wrong you can follow me to Penrose. Tickets for Greenville.
[Page 069]
"Till Death Us Do Part" 69
(He takes two railroad tickets from his pocket and gives one of them to May. May puts it in the suit-case.)
May: You bought two tickets! You were mighty sure of me!
Hamilton : I had a right to be!
May: Thank God you came for me, Lem— thank God you came!
{She throws her arms about the man's neck and kisses him.)
Hamilton : We'll be married in Greenville, and you'll never be sorry for it, I swear it! Quickly, now!
(He looks off through the house- door. May begins feverishly to put the last things in the suit-case and to close it.)
May: This scarf won't go in.
Hamilton : Give it here, I'll put it in my pocket.
(He takes the red scarf and thrusts it in his pocket. May closes the suit- case and fastens it.)
May: I'll get my hat; I'll follow you right along.
Hamilton : I'll be at the top of the falls.
May: I'll meet you there!
(Hamilton kisses her again and then hurries out through the house-door. May, happy, excited, runs into the bed- room. Jim Raxter comes out of the closet at rear. He is breathing hard and his stolid features are white and drawn. He moves swiftly and silently to the table, opens the suit-case, re- moves the railroad ticket, then closes
the suit-case again and fastens it. He hesitates a second as he looks tozvard the bed-room, then pulls himself to- gether and goes out quickly through the house-door.
May re-enters from the bed-room, wearing a large lace hat adorned zuith flowers. She is singing gayly. Granny enters at the house-door.)
Granny : My tables are spread and the preach- er's waiting! And now you've got the true bride-spirit, May!
May: Yes, now I've got the true bride- spirit! Oh, Granny, I'm the happiest girl on all Little River!
Granny : Now I know you and Jim are going to be happy!
May: I'm going to be the happiest wife in the world, Granny! I want you to re- member I said hit.
Granny: I reckon the boys didn't find Jim in the closet, did they?
May: In the closet?
Granny: Jim was hiding from the boys in the closet.
{She goes up to the closet and opens the door.)
No—he's gone.
May: (Her gayety falling from her like a cloak as sudden fear grips her heart.) When—when was Jim in the closet?
Granny: A few minutes back. What's the matter, child, you're as white as a sheet!
[Page 070]
70 "Till Death Us Do Part"
May: Was he there when—; no. no. he couldn't have been, he couldn't have been!
Granny: What's that?
May: Where's Jim now?
Granny: I reckon he's waiting on you at the foot of the falls. Come, May, hit's time for the marriage.
May: Granny, I'm afraid—I'm afraid!
(Her knees give way, she sinks trembling into a chair.)
Granny: I've heard of brides took like this at the last minute, but I didn't think you was one of them foolish kind, May.
(From the distance sounds a scream followed by excited voices.)
Granny : Listen! What's that?
May: Oh, God! (She buries her face in her hands with a moan.)
Granny: Something's happened! Wait here, May!
(She hurries out through the house- door. Voices are heard nearing. May rises and crosses toward the house-door, but courage and strength fail her. Mas- tered by terror she collapses into a chair by the door. Granny hurries in, dis- tressed.)
Granny: May, May—a man's killed, killed on your wedding-day! Hit's bad luck, hit's a bad omen!
May: Who—who—?
Granny : Of all men hit's Lem Hamilton! He fell over the falls right down in front of all the wedding-party! He smashed his head on a rock. He was killed!
May: Lem's killed—murdered!
(She sways back and forth, moan- ing.)
Granny : Hit was an accident! He fell over the falls. He must have been coming back for the wedding, and hearing the folks down below he must have leaned over the falls and slipped. God help us, he fell over the falls right in front of all the wedding-party! He smashed his head on a rock. He was killed!
May : (Rising with the strength of sudden fury.) Where's Jim?
(Jim Raxter enters at the house- door.)
Granny : May's all upset over this terrible acci- dent! Poor Lem! Hit's a bad omen— better put off the wedding!
Raxter: Putting off a wedding's bad luck. Lem was nothing to May or me. We'll be married just the same. What do you say, sweetie?
(May regards the stolid man with amazement, uncertain; their eyes do battle.)
Granny: A man's days are numbered, but God knows Lem Hamilton must have come back to these parts to do the right thing by the Creasman girl, for there was two railroad tickets to Greenville in his pocket.
May: Two tickets? (She turns to the suit-case, throws it open and searches with nervous haste
[Page 071]
"Till Death Us Do Part" 71
for the ticket which she put there. Her breath comes harder as she realises the tickct is gone.)
Granny : Two tickets and his wallet was all they found in his pocket.
May : My scarf!
Granny : Have you lost your scarf?
Raxter : (Unobserved by the others, removes the red scarf from his pocket and holds it out toward May.) I reckon this is your scarf, May.
(May recoils as she sees the scarf; she regards Raxter with horror.)
Granny: Yes, that's hit.
Raxter: I found hit on the floor.
May: Where—where—; how did you get hit?
Granny : Didn't you hear Jim say he picked hit up off the floor ?
Raxter : Hit was lying right here by the chair.
Granny: Will you be married to-day in the face of this terrible accident?
Raxter : That's for May to say!
(May breaks down sobbing at the table.)
Granny: I'll see what the preacher thinks is best. God knows hit's a bad omen!
(She goes out through the house- door. May speaks with lozv vehemence as she, checks her sobs and faces Rax- ter.)
May: You killed him! You killed Lem Hamilton! You threw him over the falls—you murdered him!
Raxter : You're out of your head, May!
May: You followed him to the falls, you set on him and you threw him over the top! You killed him, you killed him, and I'll tell all the folks down there you killed him!
Raxter: Why should I kill Lem? Can you tell all the folks that?
(May shrinks away from him, fear replacing fury as she realises her posi- tion.)
Lem came to his death by an accident. Too bad hit smashed in that pretty face of his! But you and me'U be married just the same.
May: You think I'll marry you now?
Raxter : I think you had some reason for promising to marry me, and I reckon your feeling still holds good! You haven't got to marry me, have you?
(May's eyes fall before his; she sinks to a chair, trembling. Granny enters at the house-door.)
Granny : Preacher says hit's best to go through with the wedding if we have the cere- mony here in the house. Does that suit you both?
Raxter : Suits me, all right.
Granny: How about you, May?
(May hesitates, unable to control her voice. Then she gives a quick nod.)
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72 "Till Death Us Do Part"
Granny: I'll tell the folks to come along!
(She goes out through the house-door. Raxter leans over May to kiss her. The girl springs to her feet.)
May: Don't touch me!
(Raxter puts his arms about her and laughs shortly as she struggles against him.)
Raxter: You devil-cat!
(He forces her arms to her side, kisses her warmly and then releases her.)
May: (White with fury.) I hate you, I hate you, I hate you from the bottom of
my soul, with all the feeling there is in me! I always will hate you!
Raxter : And I love you with a love that ain't stopping at nothing this side of hell!
(Granny enters at the house-door, calling to the others.)
Granny: Come right in, folks, and see Jim and May made one.
Raxter : Till death us do part!
(He holds out his hand to May with a grim expression on his stolid face. May, white and still, takes her place by his side. As the people are heard ap- proaching the house,
the curtain falls
Verse (A la Alice)
By Murray Leinster
IF things had happened quite my way, We would not be in this cafe.
If you had not insisted on it, I would gladly have foregone it.
But you announced an appetite And said you always dined at night.
But you need not have ordered duck. It's that that makes me out of luck.
So I must tell you I'm not able To pay for what is on the table.
So when you've eaten all you want, They'll throw us from this restaurant.
[Page 073]
When Father Forbids
By Thomas Edgelow
FORBES COLLINS was forty-six. Joyce Collins was seventeen. Forbes Collins was rich—quite the richest man in Min- erva, New York. Joyce Collins depended upon her father for every cent that she spent. Forbes Collins was stoutish, middle- aged, blue-eyed and had a neat, fairish moustache and a clipped beard. Joyce Collins had hair that Willie Scott said was not hair at all but just an impris- oned sunbeam. Joyce Collins, still ac- cording to Willie, had no eyes at all— just twin lakes of sapphire blue. Joyce Collins was not fat—and certainly she was not thin—so she must have been just about perfect. At least, Willie swore that she was.
So there you have them—father and daughter, Forbes Collins and his only offspring, Joyce.
Again a difference between them: Forbes Collins was a widower, while naturally Joyce was unmarried. All the same, both of them were secretly contemplating marriage. Joyce wanted to marry Willie Scott, who was twenty- three and dark-haired and romantic and everything that Joyce adored. Then Forbes Collins secretly had his eye on that beautiful widow, Mrs. Townsend—Diana Townsend, who had just come to dive in Minerva in a small house on Maple Avenue.
Then, besides Forbes Collins and his daughter, Joyce, and Willie Scott and Mrs. Townsend and everybody, there was Bertram Valentine, and he, too, played a part in it.
Bertram Valentine was tall—very tall. Thin he was—very thin—and (and here again we must look through some- body else's eyes, using Joyce's for a change)—Bertram Valentine was a caricature of a man, with a long, thin red beak of a nose—with a thin-lipped mouth and with great hands and feet that were freckled redly. His hair, which was thin on top, was sandy-red too, and Joyce hated him, just as much as her father liked and encouraged him.
For Forbes Collins was practically Collins' Trust Company, so naturally Forbes Collins both liked and appreci- ated money. And Bertram Valentine was making money with his biscuit fac- tory that reared its hideous buildings on the outskirts of the little up-state city.
As for Willie, why Willie hated Val- entine almost as much as he adored Joyce. To love and to hate was about all that Willie had to do. Quite recently he had returned to Minerva from one of the lesser known colleges and so far Willie had not determined what he wanted to do with his life—other than to love Joyce.
And then came an evening when the June moon was shining and the June roses were making everything fragrant. Forbes Collins presented himself at the door of Diana Townsend's cottage.
"Won't you come and stroll in my garden?" he asked. "There is a moon and it will be light enough to show you the flowers."
Leaving the house, Mrs. Townsend put one deliciously cool hand on Collins' arm and allowed him to pretend to show
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74 When Father Forbids
her the way. As they came behind the house, suddenly Collins paused and pointed up to the windows above the garage. Mrs. Townsend looked up, and as the elder pair stood below, a match flared and Joyce was seen re- posing in Willie's arms as he lit a ciga- rette.
Now the garage in the Collins home boasted a second story where the chauf- feur-handy-man-gardener could have been quartered, only the Collins facto- tum went home every night to his wife and children. So Joyce had introduced an old couch, a couple of ancient arm- chairs, and a curtain, and quite un- known to her father was in the habit of seeing Willie here.
"Come down! Come down, both of you at once!" bellowed Collins.
"What shall we do?" asked Willie with an uncomfortable feeling of chill running up and down his spine.
"What shall we do?" repeated Joyce. "Why, go down and talk to them. You can ask Dad if you can marry me." Putting her head out of the window, Joyce called sweetly: "All right, dear Papa, I hear your tuneful summons. Have patience and we will be with you."
She laughed mockingly, and presently Joyce and Willie emerged on the gravel path in front of the garage.
"Good evening Mrs. Townsend," Joyce said pleasantly. "Lovely night, isn't it? Don't run away. You may be good for Dad's temper—and Willie is just going to ask him if he can marry me."
"You absurd child!" Mrs. Town- send said indulgently, as she patted Joyce affectionately on the arm.
But Willie had gathered all the forti- tude that he possessed, and in a kind of desperation he looked at Collins and said:
"Look here, Mr. Collins—I—Joyce— that is, we love each other—so how's
chances of you being a good sport and saying ‘yes' ?"
Collins glowered at him. However, Mrs. Townsend's presence was not without its influence.
"How's chances of me saying yes?" he queried disagreeably. "Pretty slim, my boy—pretty slim."
"But why?" demanded Willie hotly. "I love her—and she loves me."
"Oh, she does, does she?" Collins sneered. "That's very nice, isn't it? But how do you propose to support my daughter? You don't expect me to keep you, do you? I'll tell you what I'll do with you," he went on with a sidelong glance at Mrs. Townsend as though to call her to witness what an excellent "sport" he was. "I'll tell you what I'll do with you. You run off and show me that you can make money —I don't care how—that's for you to determine—but it's reasonable for me to expect you to show me the goods. If you can come to me—within the next few months—and show me that you have got hold of some real money— why, then—you can have my daughter."
"How much must I show you?" asked Willie eagerly.
"How much?" asked Collins thought- fully. Then he laughed. "Look here, young fellow, you come to me within six months and show me twenty-five hundred dollars that you've gotten your- self—and the girl's yours! I'll give you a job in the bank and let you marry her. Is that fair enough?"
Willie was about to protest at the enormity of the task set him, when a sudden idea struck Joyce. It would be of little use to argue with her father. He had made a certain offer, so they had better conserve their energies to concentrate upon getting the fabulous sum he demanded!
"All right—Dad," she said quickly, "you're on—only don't back out and try and evade it when Willie comes through
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When Father Forbids 75
with that twenty-five hundred. You think now that he can't do it—and I tell you that he can. At least, be a sport when it comes to a showdown."
"I have yet to experience a time when I have gone back on my word," Collins snapped at her. "Let the young fool produce twenty-five hundred dollars, that he's made himself, within six months—and you'll find I'll make good —and then much happiness he'll bring you!"
It was on the next afternoon, while Joyce was swinging lazily in the ham- mock on the porch, that Bertram Val- entine came suddenly upon her.
"I saw you swinging there from the road," he said in what he imagined was an ingratiating way, "and I couldn't re- sist the temptation to stop the car and come in and see how you were."
"Thank you, I'm quite all right," Joyce said with all the chill of which seventeen is capable.
Joyce was perfectly well aware of how pretty she was, and she was in- tensely suspicious of this man since her row with her father during the dinner of the previous evening.
As for Valentine, he merely liked to flirt with any pretty girl with whom he came in contact.
"I wonder if you know how pretty you are?" blundered Valentine, little reckoning with the terrible wrath and the equally terrible rudeness of seven- teen.
"Supposing I were to make personal remarks about you?" she flashed at him. "Who asked you to come and tell me what I look like?"
Picking up his hat, Valentine strode angrily off the porch, and a moment la- ter his car could be heard as he started up the engine.
As for Forbes Collins, in the next week he hardly spoke to his daughter, so angry was he at her behaviour, but this was not destined to last, for anger
gave place in Collins's heart to a great fear.
It was just over a week after his last quarrel with Joyce that Collins returned at his usual hour for dinner, and, when that meal was served, Joyce failed to put in an appearance. In moody silence Collins ate his dinner alone, but when ten o'clock came and no Joyce, Collins became a little alarmed.
Determining that Joyce must be out somewhere with Willie, Collins rang up the Scotts' house to ask Willie's parents if they knew anything of his where- abouts.
To Collins's surprise, it was Willie himself who answered the telephone, and Willie's voice was crammed full of frightened surprise when Mr. Collins asked him where Joyce was.
"I saw her this afternoon—we went out for a little turn in her car," Willie admitted over the wire. "Are you sure she is not above the garage, Mr. Col- lins?"
"No," replied Collins apprehensively, "I looked there before I rang you up,"
"I'm coming right round myself," Willie told him without waiting for his permission.
A few minutes, and apparently en- tirely forgetting his late differences of opinion with Joyce's father, Willie stormed into the house.
"This is all your fault," he exclaimed hotly. "Every bit your fault," he went on, seeing that Collins took a very humble attitude over it all. "You've been such a brute to her that she's run away! That's what she's done—and I don't blame her! If you don't love her, I do—and by jiminy I'm going to find her!"
He prepared to dash from the house, but Collins, by now thoroughly fright- ened, stopped him with a gesture.
"I don't understand it," the elder man mused aloud. "You would have
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76 When Father Forbids
thought that she would have told you about it!"
"For God's sake don't stand argu- ing," Willie snapped back at him, and it was proof of how disturbed Collins was in his mind in that he did not re- buke the boy for his tone. "For God's sake get on the phone and call up the police. Call up New York—get busy —do something—or I will."
Willie went quickly to the telephone, and shortly afterwards both the Mi- nerva police and the headquarters of police in New York knew that the sev- enteen-year-old daughter of the banker had mysteriously disappeared.
Collins almost collapsed, for deep in his heart he was devoted to Joyce, and their frequent quarrels were only caused by a too great similarity of nature.
Somehow the night dragged through. Willie, despite telephonic commands from home, refused to return there. Instead, he sat in Collins's library and the telephone was kept busy all night.
Collins, on Willie's suggestion, caught the eight-thirty-two for New York the next morning, but his journey proved fruitless. After harassing the police and having enlisted the aid of the press, having used his influence with a big politician and having generally taken up every possible clue, Collins re- turned to Minerva, reaching there late the same evening. He had telephoned from New York the train he was trav- elling on, and so it was Willie who met him at the station.
"Any news?" asked the father breath- lessly.
"None," Willie told him as they en- tered Collins's car and drove to the house. "I have a clue, though!"
"What is it?" Collins nearly hit a lamp-post in his excitement.
"I've only just got it," Willie re- turned excitedly, "but Valentine is not in town!"
"What do you mean by that?" flashed Collins at him.
"At first, I thought of white slav- ers," Willie answered thoughtfully, "but then Joyce is so clever. Now that I find Valentine is gone—well—I don't know what to think. I saw his house- keeper—and she didn't know anything about him except that he had telephoned to ask if there was any mail for him from East Marling."
"That's only about sixty miles," Col- lins said shortly. "What's the time?" He looked at the clock on the dash- board, which showed it to be twenty minutes to eleven.
"We could make it before one," Wil- lie suggested, but already Collins had turned his car and was speeding East.
Mile after mile flew by in silence, and Collins exceeded every known speed law.
"I've advertised a five-thousand-dol- lar reward," Collins remarked once.
"Well, I intend to get that money," Willie returned grimly. "I want the girl more, though!"
"You can have your five thousand," the other growled.
As they entered the city limits of East Marling the clock showed it to be a quarter past twelve. Collins slowed down.
"There is only one decent hotel," Wil- lie remarked. "It's a kind of road- house—a cabaret and all the rest of it. Better go there first. Turn to the right after the next corner."
Later, Collins drew up before the roadhouse. It was typical of that kind of place, where exorbitant prices, infe- rior music and insolent service pre- vailed.
"Better go about it cautiously," Wil- lie advised, and Collins nodded assent.
The place was also a hotel, and Col- lins strode up to the desk.
"I want to register," he told the night clerk.
As he did so his eye caught the sig-
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When Father Forbids 77
nature of Bertram Valentine after which Valentine had written the damn- ing words "and wife."
Collins turned to the boy. Willie laughed feebly. Evidently the strain had been too much for him for the boy seemed to have gone to pieces. He continued to laugh almost hysterically, and then he pulled himself together with an awful effort.
"Not a word," he whispered. "Let's get upstairs. I saw the number of their room."
Later, an officious bellboy having left them in the rooms they had taken, Col- lins, followed by Willie, tiptoed down the corridor and stopped at a door on which the former knocked loudly.
It was Valentine in pajamas and dressing-gown who opened the door, and it was Collins's fist that crashed into that surprised man's face. He staggered and almost fell, as Collins dashed by him into the room, closely followed by Willie.
A woman's voice screamed — but screamed subduedly, so that with the noise of the orchestra downstairs no one paid any attention.
With his mouth wide open with sur- prise, Collins viewed Diana, who was exquisite in a negligee.
"We were married this evening, dear Mr. Collins," explained Diana brightly, having immediately regained her poise. "And what do you mean by knocking my poor husband about?"
Followed explanations—explanations that were so thoroughly satisfactory that even the injured Valentine forgave the blow and wished the frightened fa- ther luck in his search.
"I never thought it of her," Collins growled as his car flew along the roads on the homeward journey a few min- utes later.
"Well." remarked Willie cheerfully, "you certainly pasted that beast, Valen- tine, one! I owed him one myself for
daring to look at Joyce—but I've got another idea about her."
"Your ideas seem a damn lot of good!" retorted Collins. "Still, what is it?"
"If you don't like my ideas, I won't tell you," Willie answered sulkily. "I'll wait till we get back."
As they entered on Maple Avenue, Willie stopped the car and alighted.
"I'll ring you up in a few minutes if my clue is any good," he said and dis- appeared into the darkness.
Greatly perturbed and yet believing strongly that his daughter, who was well-informed as to the dangers that threaten pretty young girls, would yet be all right, Collins let himself into his house.
About twenty minutes later, and the front door, which was unlocked, burst open, and Joyce, tugging Willie by the hand, entered breathlessly.
After her father's natural anxiety and excitement had calmed down, he turned to Willie and stretched out his hand.
"How did you do it?" he asked. "Now you must tell me all about it— now she is safe."
"You write me out a check for five thousand first," returned Willie cal- lously. "Now don't back down—you promised it."
"I didn't know you were such a mer- cenary blackguard," Collins retorted hotly.
Nevertheless, he went there and then to his desk, and when he returned he handed Willie his check for five thou- sand dollars.
"I'll give you back twenty-five hun- dred in the morning," Willie said as he put the check in his pocket.
"You mean—" began Collins as he saw a great white light.
"Just that!" chuckled Willie. "Joyce and I thought it all out. You said I had to make twenty-five hundred dollars. I only knew two men who
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78 When Father Forbids
had that amount lying around loose in Minerva. Valentine was one—and he was impossible—and you were the other—so Joyce and I helped our- selves."
He came and stood by Joyce and placed a bold arm around her waist. "You can't refuse me the girl now," Willie went on as Joyce encouraged him by her smile. "You said twenty- five hundred—and I've made by my own wits—or by Joyce's, which is the same thing—double that. Do I get your consent or not?"
Collins gasped—then he chuckled— then he burst into a roar of relieved laughter.
"You get her, boy—you get her—and the job in the bank as well. Now tell me—where was Joyce all the time ?"
"In my mother's spare room," Willie grinned. "To please me, Mother even fooled Dad. It was difficult—but we
did it—and I knew the police were such fools that it was quite safe to pull them!"
"And I got ever so tired of being shut up there," Joyce added.
"But how did you know about Valen- tine?" Collins persisted.
"That was luck," Willie admitted. "His housekeeper told me what I told you—and I jumped to the conclusion that it might be Mrs. Townsend—Val- entine, as she now is. I wanted to make sure that you should find her out —for I knew Valentine had been flirt- ing with her. Then, I wanted to be sure that you would come across with that five thousand. As to the hotel— there is only one—and, anyway, it was worth taking a chance on your gaso- line!"
"I think," Collins admitted, "that I may yet make a banker of you," but Willie's real reward came in Joyce's good night kiss.
By J. R. McCarthy
WHO'LL listen if I sing of May? Nobody. Who cares a darn that May is gay? Nobody. Who sees the fawn-flower's cup of gold? Nobody. Who loves the fair marsh-marigold? Nobody!
Ah! They are praising Mary at The movies. They're watching Charlie chase a cat In movies. They see balloons and swimming maids In movies. And what are May or May's green glades To movies?
[Page 079]
By Frank Dorrance Hopley
WHEN Beatrice op- ened her eyes they looked up into the face of a young man who was bending over her.
"Are you hurt?" he asked anxiously.
"I don't know," replied Beatrice, trying to sit up, and falling back onto the pillows again. "Where am I?"
"On a lounge in the back of your store," responded the young man. "I carried you there when you fell and—"
"Fell!" interrtipted Beatrice. "I don't remember! What happened?" "You were in the window. Going to trim it up, I guess, and I was pass- ing. You had your back towards the street and I stopped to watch you. Then you started to go up the step- ladder. It tipped a little and you lost your balance and fell I ran in and picked you up, and carried you to the lounge. Here! Take a drink of water and maybe you'll feel bet- ter. It's lucky you weren't killed. You certainly came down with a smash!"
Beatrice suddenly stopped drinking the glass of water the young man had handed her.
"Oh!" she cried anxiously. "Oh! were they hurt too?"
"Pink Lady, and Spangles, and Pop- py and Pearl, and Blue Beauty and Rosemary!"
The young man looked at her curi- ously. Evidently he thought the fall,
for the moment, had impaired her reason.
"I didn't see anybody but you," he answered. "Who are all these people you're so worried about?
"Oh! the hats!"
"Yes," said Beatrice leaning over the end of the lounge in order to get a better view of the store window. "Every hat I make I give a name. It's just like a child to me. For instance, that pink one all covered with chiffon and roses, I call ‘Pink Lady'!"
"I see!" said the young man, laugh- ing. "It's a great idea. No! the hats weren't hurt. They're on the counter just where you put them before you stood on the ladder!"
"I'm so glad! If I'd smashed them it would have been terrible. Just as if some one died."
"It would!" said the young man solemnly. "But. say!" he added. "What do you do when you sell one? Doesn't it make you feel badly to part with them ?"
Beatrice laughed. She was feeling better!
"I have yet to experience my first sorrow," she said. "You see I've only- had the shop open a little over a month, and I haven't sold any yet."
"Open a month and not made a sale?"
"No. I'm afraid the location isn't a very good one. I thought being near the avenue I would get a good deal of trade. But it hasn't come yet."
The young man was silent a moment. Then he rose and reached for his hat.
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80 Hats!
"If you're all right," he said smiling, "I'll be going. I've an appointment at ten and it's ten-thirty now. I'm so glad the fall didn't hurt you."
Beatrice put out her hand.
"I don't know how I can ever thank you for helping me," she said. "I might have laid in the window all the morning if it hadn't been for you, Mr.—"
"Cummings," finished the young man. "Howard Cummings! But say! Don't think you're going to get rid of me as easy as this, for you're not. Our introduction wasn't exactly ac- cording to Hoyle, but it was a regular knock-down, wasn't it," and he laughed boyishly. "I've got to go out of town for a few days on business, but when I get back I'm coming around and take you out to dinner. Will you go?"
"What's your business?" asked Bea- trice, choosing to ignore his question.
"Yes! The same as yours. Only I sell them raw, without the fixings. But you didn't answer my question about going out with me. Will you?"
"Perhaps," said Beatrice a little doubtfully. "If you're in the hat busi- ness, maybe I could buy some of you when I've sold all I've got on hand. While we were having dinner we could talk business, couldn't we?"
"We could," said Cummings smiling- ly. "There's many a deal been made over a table-cloth. It's a go then! Make it Thursday night. I'll be back by that time!"
Beatrice was pretty! Even an ene- my, if she had one, could not have truthfully denied that fact!
She was also young, which was an added charm!
Her figure was well rounded. Arms plump and pink, and her complexion as delicate as the tint of a sea-shell. Take it all in all, she was a com-
panion not to be despised, from the viewpoint of a man of the world.
Howard Cummings took this all in at a glance, as he stepped into the lit- tle hat shop, at precisely six o'clock on that Thursday evening.
Of a sudden, that day, Beatrice had come to the determination to wear one of the hats she had on sale.
"Mine looks so shoppy," she told herself in justification of her act.
All day long she had been trying to decide which of the six favorite ones it should be. Finally the choice nar- rowed down to "Pink Lady" and "Blue Beauty," and in the final count "Pink Lady" won.
When Cummings opened the door she had just put it on, and turned from the mirror to greet him. She was standing under a chandelier the light from which threw a sort of halo around her head.
Cummings stopped with the door half open, and looked at her admiringly!
"Well!" she said, flushing a little un- der his gaze. "Will I do?"
"You're beautiful," replied Cum- mings. "Beautiful!"
Beatrice blushed prettily. It was the first time she had ever received a com- pliment from a man.
"Come!" she said. "Let's go. I'm ravenous, aren't you? Which way shall we go?"
"Thought I'd take you down to my rooms," replied Cummings carelessly. "I've got a taxi outside and it won't take us long to get there. I hate res- taurants! I've arranged to have din- ner sent in from Masgetti's, an Italian place, nearby. There'll be just two of us. It'll be jolly, won't it?"
"Real spiffy," replied Beatrice laugh- ing, yet inwardly wondering if she was doing the right thing in going. "Is it far?"
"Stuyvesant Square," said Cum- mings, as they came out and Beatrice
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Hats! 81
locked the door. "We'll be there in ten minutes!"
Cummings occupied three rooms on the second floor of a house near the Square, which had once been the abode of some of the elect. The drift uptown, however, had changed the character of the locality of late years, and the ap- pearance of the place was far from what it once had been.
Entering the house, Cummings took Beatrice quickly up the stairs, and opening the door, switched on the light.
"Come in," he said, "this is where I hang out. What do you think of it?"
Beatrice looked around and gasped a little. It was far more gorgeous than anything she had ever seen.
"It's great!" she exclaimed admiring- ly. "Simply great. I could spend all the evening looking at the pictures!"
"I thought you were hungry," re- joined Cummings, laughing. "If you're not, I am! The pictures can wait. Come in here," opening the door of an- other room. "Dinner's all ready, eh, Verdi?"
The waiter smiled and nodded and showed Beatrice to a seat.
Then the dinner began!
It was different from anything Bea- trice had ever known before. The queer dishes awed and fascinated her. She laughed at her vain attempts to corral the elusive spaghetti, which with Cummings' help, she at last succeeded in eating. When, finally, at his solici- tation, she had been persuaded to par- take of the somewhat odoriferous cheese, she laid down her knife and fork with a sigh of contentment.
"It was the best dinner I ever had," she said happily. "And to think, it's all over.
Cummings laughed, and even the solemn-faced Verdi smiled.
"That will do, Verdi," said Cum- mings. "You may go now. I'll at- tend to the rest!"
"Is there going to be anything more?" asked Beatrice, as Verdi closed the door with a grin. "I couldn't eat another thing for hours and hours!"
"We'll have a little wine to top off with," said Cummings, rising. "What kind do you like, red or white?"
Beatrice laughed.
"I never drank in my life before," she said, "and I don't suppose I ought to now, but just for once I'll take some red. That will match up with ‘Pink Lady,' won't it?"
"And your cheeks," laughed Cum- mings. "You wait here and I'll get it. I won't be long."
As Cummings passed the door lead- ing to the hall he turned the key in the lock and put it in his pocket. Then he went into the further room and opened a cupboard.
Beatrice closed her eyes for a mo- ment. Then opened them again and jumped up.
"I'm going into the other room and look at the pictures," she called. "I didn't see half of them before dinner!"
She walked about the room looking at the paintings, and wondering why it took Cummings so long! What was he doing?
When at last he returned with a tray with two glasses upon it, Beatrice was standing before a picture of a woman, which hung over the mantel.
"Who is that?" she asked.
"My mother!" replied Cummings, and a note of tenderness came into his voice.
Beatrice turned slowly and faced him.
"She's a perfect dear," she said. "She looks exactly like my mother does! Isn't it great that we both have such good mothers? Do you know, I was a little bit afraid to come here with you tonight alone. I didn't know— well—you know the things you see in the movies! But now I've seen your
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82 Hats!
mother's picture, I know I'm as safe as I would be at home. A man with such a mother couldn't do wrong. Oh! is that the wine? Isn't it pretty and pink? Which glass do I take?"
A strange look came into Cummings' eyes and the tray he held in his hand trembled. Before Beatrice could take a glass he suddenly drew back. His elbow hit against a chair and the glasses were overturned and fell to the floor.
"Oh!" exclaimed Beatrice. "Did I do that? I'm so sorry, but the glasses didn't break!"
"No," said Cummings quietly, "it was all my fault. There's no more wine, though, so we'll have to go without."
"It doesn't matter," said Beatrice sweetly, "but I'm sorry it got spilled!"
Cummings made no reply but went to the window and threw up the shade. For several minutes he stood there si- lently watching the lights gleaming in the square below. When he turned to Beatrice again his face was pale but he had regained his composure.
"Tell me!" he said, "how's business? Made any sales yet?"
Beatrice shook her head a little sadly.
"No," she said, "and what's more it don't look as if I was going to. I've about made up my mind to close the shop and look around for a job."
"Oh, I wouldn't do that," exclaimed Cummings. "Stick it out, you'll surely do business in time!"
Beatrice laughed!
"That's all very well," she said. "But when it comes time to pay the rent and there isn't anything to pay with, one don't know what to do."
"Oh! that's how it is," said Cum- mings gravely. "I see! But perhaps you'll have better luck soon."
Beatrice sighed.
"I hope so," she said, "but it's got to come soon. Then, as she counted the strokes of a clock in a nearby
church tower, "I must be going now. Mother will be waiting. She isn't very well and I don't want to keep her up late. I don't know how I can ever thank you for such a lovely evening. It's the best I ever had in my life!"
"I'm glad you've enjoyed yourself," said Cummings as he handed her "Pink Lady" and watched her put it on. "I hope this won't be the last dinner we'll have together. And we'll hope for bet- ter luck at the store!"
And on the wings of the wish, luck came flying!
The very next day a woman walked past the little hat shop, looked in the window, and came back. For a few moments she stood gazing at the hats, then she entered the shop.
When she came out, "Pink Lady" was reposing in a box, tagged and ad- dressed, while Beatrice gazed lovingly at four ten-dollar bills which she held in her hand.
The following afternoon two girls came in, and with many expressions of delight, purchased "Poppy" and "Blue Beauty."
Within ten days the other hats in the window which Beatrice had ca- ressed and chided for not captivating the feminine public, had gone the way of the others, and she was busy making more to take their place.
Only once during that time had she seen Cummings. Then he had just dropped in to ask how she was getting along. He was as pleased as Beatrice to hear of her success.
"As soon as the rush is over at our shop we'll have another dinner to- gether," he said. "We're working nearly every night now getting out or- ders."
"I'm ready," laughed Beatrice. "That was the best dinner I ever had. I won- der if the next will taste as good!"
A week later Beatrice decided she must have some more hats!
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Hats! 83
"I'll close early and run down to Mr. Cummings' shop, and see what he's got," she said one rainy afternoon. "It's on Houston street, near Lafayette, he said. I guess I can find it."
Ten minutes later Beatrice climbed aboard a Broadway car and soon alighted amid that seething mass of humanity from the old and new world which nightly throngs that part of the city.
As she entered the shop of Cum- mings and Son, it appeared that busi- ness was about to cease for the day.
"We're not working tonight," said Cummings as he ushered her into his little office. "But I'll show you what we've got after the girls are gone."
"I'll just look over the stock and see if there's anything I can use!" said Beatrice loftily.
Cummings laughed!
A girl put her head in the door. "Good night, Mr. Cummings," she said.
"Good night, Mollie," he answered! Two more flung back their farewells as they passed out.
As Beatrice looked at them she grew puzzled. They appeared strangely familiar. Where had she seen them before, she wondered.
Then, as three others went by and waved to Cummings, she gasped.
"Oh!" she said. "Oh! Look!"
"What?" asked Cummings curiously.
"Those girls! Who are they?"
"They work here. Why?"
"Their hats!"
"What about them?"
"Why, there's ‘Pink Lady,' and ‘Pop- py,' and ‘Blue Beauty,' and ‘Rosemary,' and all of them. All my hats that I sold!"
Cummings started and his face red- dened.
"Oh!" said Beatrice, looking first at him and then at the disappearing girls with their gorgeous headgears. "Did
you—? You did—! I know you did!"
"Yes," admitted Cummings. "I did tell them about your shop and that it was a fine place to get hats. I believe they are all very well pleased with their purchases."
Beatrice stood regarding him seri- ously.
"You can't spoof me," she said. "I know those girls couldn't afford to buy those kind of hats. You did it! You told them to buy the hats and gave them the money to pay for them, just to help me out. I know you did. And oh! I thought I was building up a fine trade, and now—" and Beatrice's lips quivered.
Cummings looked towards the door. It was closed! All the girls had gone! He went over to where Beatrice was standing!
"Yes," he said, "I'll plead guilty! I did do it. It was the only way I could think of to help you! I knew you wouldn't let me give you the money. I didn't suppose, though, you'd come down here and see them with the hats on. But now I'm glad you did, for it gives me a chance to tell you some- thing I've been wanting to for some time."
"What?" said Beatrice, looking up quickly.
Cummings hesitated. He didn't seem to know how to begin.
"I've another confession to make," he said at last, a little nervously. "It's about that night you had dinner with me in my rooms. I don't know how to say it exactly, but—I had other plans when I took you there, than you knew —I—"
Beatrice was regarding him gravely.
"Yes," she said slowly, "I know! "That's why you locked the door, wasn't it?"
Cummings started!
"You saw me do that?" he asked in astonishment.
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84 Hats!
"Yes," replied Beatrice, "and I was scared stiff. Then I thought if I got you talking about your mother it would be all right. And it was."
Cummings laid his hand on Beatrice's arm.
"I'm going to ask your forgiveness," he said earnestly. "Please don't think badly of me! Give me another chance!
And some day when you have learned you can really trust me, Beatrice, I'm going to tell you something, and I hope you will listen. Will you?"
Beatrice looked up shyly.
"Yes," she said, "when that time comes I'll listen, Howard! In the meantime, suppose we just talk about —Hats!"
The Days of Old
By Hale Merriman
OLD man, your day is over, Go put your slippers on; Like old dog Tray, you've had your day, But now your day is gone!
You heard the call of April And with her danced awhile, Like springtime flood your aged blood Surged warm beneath her smile.
From firesides warm and cosy, From easy chairs you came, With toothless smiles and ancient wiles To play at April's game.
You had your Indian summer, A sweet, brief while to play, While soldiers brave across the wave Mixed in the battle fray.
But now your hour is ended, No longer may you dance! Yield to the truth—our nation's youth Is home again from France.
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Lonely Heart
By Harry C. Harvey, Jr.
THE lamps of Shadwell High Street splashed against the savage purple of the night; there was no brightness to them, noth- ing to relieve the gloom of the crowded, toppling houses. They were oppressive. They were ghastly—and they only served to increase the palpitations of my heart.
I am not a nervous man, but I had heard wild tales of Shadwell and St. George's, of the gaping maws of their black alleys . . . and of little children's screams that cut the night like a sharp blade.
"Don't be moved by a pale face, pale hair and a plaintive appeal," my friend Ronald Braithwaite, of Scotland Yard, had warned me. "If I were you, I wouldn't go into Shadwell alone. You're taking your life in your own hands. But you Americans are all bull- headed ..."
Too late I began to value his advice. I knew nothing of this dark quarter of London where the weird dusk crushed your very soul with terror . . . and the smell of bilge-water and other offen- sive odors made you sick; I only knew that out of idle American curiosity I was seeking a certain Olaf Bjorn's beer-house where I would enquire for a man called Yan Ericsson.
I had made up my mind that I would not leave the Greatest City in the World until I visited the various quarters. I had spent an evening in Limehouse, Stepney, Blackwall, Whitechapel, the Isle of Dogs, but my curiosity would not be quenched until I had viewed the
blond giants who come up from the lap- ping Thames to drink vile beer and make eyes at the pallid girls of Lon- don's Scandinavian quarter. I chose the hours after dusk for my visits be- cause there is something alluring about the nocturnal. Day is derisive; night hides the bitter scars that dawn reveals in argent irony.
At intervals in the street the black opening of an alley leered at me and from its dark recesses came brutal curses in some guttural foreign tongue —at least I supposed they were curses. They sounded terrible. Occasionally I saw a shadowy person slinking among the piles of tumbled dwellings, or the gleam of a light in an open window, but for the main part the street was de- serted and lonely. It was more than lonely; it was frightful. And those yawning alleyways!
After a deal of observation and ma- neuvering, I finally located a place that —according to Braithwaite's descrip- tion—resembled Olaf Bjorn's. I stood outside a moment, wondering whether or not I should enter. It was not invit- ing. A pale lamp gasped above the sign that bore what suggested Swedish let- tering. And through the cracks of a sagging door a few streams of light struggled out. The windows were cov- ered. From the interior came sounds of boorish mirth.
At length I summed up courage and pushed the sagging door open. If I ex- pected my entrance to be noticed I was disappointed; no one looked at me. They were too interested in their beer and loud talk. I was almost choked by
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the reek of stale beer, of musty food— and men. It was horrible.
Striding past the tables nearest the door, I sat down in the corner, attempt- ing to be as inconspicuous as possible. As is the way when one tries to be in- conspicuous, I failed. Every face in the room seemed suddenly turned upon me. I wished that I had never come. I was vaguely wondering what their opinion of me was when a big blond slouched up and asked in broken Eng- lish what I wanted. I told him beer. When he returned I enquired if he knew Yan Ericsson. He grunted.
"Ay tank so," he said gruffly.
"Is he here this evening?"
The big blond surveyed me stupidly.
"Ay tank so," he said gruffly.
I asked if I might see him. His face never relaxed.
"Ay tank so," he said again, and without speaking lumbered out of the door at my side.
The beer was vile. I wanted to spit it out but I didn't dare. I only sat there in silent agony for what seemed an interminable stretch of time. Finally Ericsson came. He loomed up out of the darkness in the doorway, a huge hulk of Swedish manhood, large blue, eyes looking out from beneath a mop of uncombed yellow hair. He held a pipe between his teeth.
"You want to see me?" he asked, a good-natured smile lighting his frank features. His English was splendid. The only perceptible foreign accent was a slight hesitation before each word. I liked Yan Ericsson immediately. He looked honest.
"Why, yes," I said, secretly admiring the sinewy muscles exposed by his short sleeves. "My friend Mr. Braithwaite told me to look you up. You know, Braithwaite of—"
A peculiar expression in his eyes stopped me. He sat down, removing the pipe from between his teeth.
"I don't think I would say Scotland Yard so anybody hear," he almost whis- pered. He winked. "They might . . ." I understood.
"He tells me you've helped him of- ten," I remarked.
Yan grinned.
"Oh, sometime I help him, but I don't think I help much."
"He said you would show me a bit of Shadwell," I said. "You know, I'm one of those inquisitive, snooping Yan- kees." I smiled.
"I been to America twice. . . . Ship. . . . New York each time. I like New York. ..."
But my interest had been diverted from my companion's conversation. Where I was sitting I could see the door near me and the darkness beyond. It was a moving figure that attracted me—a figure that detached itself from the shadows and assumed the propor- tions of a slender girl. For a full mo- ment she hovered in the aperture, her thin face revealed in all its pallor, her luminous eyes upon me. Such pallid cheeks! Such pallid hands! And the speechless aching of a million years in her young eyes! She seemed a dim dream that hung there an instant and was gone. But her eyes were not gone —nor the white face and the thin lips that moved in silent appeal. She dared not speak, yet sent an appeal more touching than if it had been voiced. I forgot Braithwaite's warning. There could be no deception in those young eyes, no lie in the soul of someone that seemed clean and untouched despite the filth of surroundings. I thought of a white pond lily struggling to life from a bed of mud. I started to rise.
"No!" hissed Ericsson. He saw my involuntary movement and his muscu- lar arm shot out. My eyes sought his. They were burning blue. The vise closed tighter about my wrist. I saw
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the huge muscles of his forearm grow taut.
"Ericsson!" I half whispered, sinking into my seat. The next moment he was smiling, his dirty pipe clamped between his teeth.
"I like New York," he said jovially. "Lots of nice people."
"But man!" I persisted, "she was in trouble!"
He grinned. "I like New York," he repeated. "Lots of nice people." Sud- denly he leaned across the table to me. His blue eyes burned again. But they were honest. "If she is in trouble," I heard him say, "You can't help her; no- body can!" There was something fierce in his tone.
"And you'll show me around Shad- well?" I began lamely. He nodded.
"There's nothing to see—but dirt. I'll take you though. Not tonight." He looked behind him. "You better go. Come back tomorrow."
"I'll find you here?" I asked as I rose. He grinned and got up.
And I left the reeking place. But I could not leave the memory of that pale face, of those eyes; of the tall blond Swede with his strange actions. They haunted me and would not go away.
Who was that girl in the dark door- way? Why had she stood there a mo- ment, looking at me in appeal? Who was Yan Ericsson, the big Viking who spoke such good English? Why did he force me back into my chair when I at- tempted to follow her? What was she to him—if anything?
I didn't know.
But I wanted to know.
As I left Olaf Bjorn's I looked at my watch. It was ten-thirty. Too early to end my evening—but what could I do? I did not particularly relish wan-
dering blindly in Shadwell, for it did not appeal to me as a place to wander in. Every black alley mouth held a nameless terror, every doorway masked a lurking marauder. Why was I so nervous? Why did I start and look be- hind me at every sound? And of what was I afraid? Of nothing human; of something that crouched back of an in- visible veil of the supernatural, that could not be hurt by earthly blows or invention. Have you ever been afraid of—something?
It was not cold, but I drew my coat around me and hurried down the street, past the alleys where now and then the shadow of a child threw itself against the hideous mouth. I shunned them as if they were lepers. Their smiles were so strangely cold. Not the smile of a normal child.
Then I heard someone scream.
I wonder if you have ever heard a girl scream in the night? It is bad enough anywhere—but in Shadwell! I don't think I shall ever forget it. I of- ten wake from a peaceful slumber now and hear the echo of that scream.
"You're taking your life in your own hands ..."
I forgot the warning. I only heard that awful cry. It chilled me. My heart almost stopped beating. Yes, I was afraid—for who wouldn't be? But someone was in trouble, perhaps one of those pale little girls I had passed in the throats of those alleys, perhaps—
The noise came from the black open- ing on my right. I could see nothing, only a blot of sickly light in the farthest recess. The light was not from a door- way, for it fell in ghostly wash over something that looked like the outlines of an entrance. It probably spilled from some window in the upper story.
Hesitating no longer, I entered the alley. Its vague, damp walls choked me, but I determined to find the source of that scream. If I found it I didn't
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know what I would do—probably stare like an idiot—and get killed; I merely obeyed an impulse that was anything but heroic. Perhaps I was morbidly curious. . . . Perhaps I was horribly afraid—for I have heard that under the influence of fear one often does strange things. Perhaps—but there is no use to attempt analysis. It wouldn't suit the story.
In the rear of the black hole I was confronted by a door. Over my head I saw an open window coughing pitiful gusts of light. I was standing where the light fell upon me and as I moved into the protecting shadow of the door- way some heavy object hurled from above crashed on the stone paving. A fragment of it struck me on the cheek. The pain of countless needles shot through my face. I caught my upper lip between my teeth in an effort to con- trol myself—a habit of mine. That blow stung me to action. It made me mad. I felt as though I could batter the door down with my fists.
"Dammit!" I whispered tersely. I am not often profane, but that seemed the only possible way to express my feelings. I hurled myself against the door and it crashed in. It must not have been bolted, for I was flung for- ward face downward on the floor. An instant I lay there stunned.
"Dammit!" I said again, between my teeth. Unseen hands grabbed me. They tore at me. I heard my clothing rip.
"Dammit!" I choked, for the third time. "Let me . .
It felt as though my skull was crushed. It burned with the heat of a thousand flames. There was nothing but darkness.
I could see a light like a star—so very, very dim that it must have been a million miles away. The happenings of that period of unconsciousness are so
twisted that I only retain a slight knowl- edge of when I first opened my eyes. There were many shadows—and in the shadows a face.
"Are you awake?" I heard a voice asking. The words were far away.
"Are you awake?" it repeated. Then the veil was drawn. I struggled to a sitting position, my head swimming horribly.
"Who are you?" I asked. But even as I asked it I knew. I could never forget the pitiful face. She seemed more forlorn than ever in the dimness of the room, her large eyes more poign- ant than stars.
"I think I know who you are," I said. "I saw you at Olaf Bjorn's, didn't I?"
She nodded slowly.
"My name is Clelia," she announced in good English, her eyes never leav- ing me.
"Clelia!" I repeated. "What an odd name!"
"I am partly English—my mother. . . . We have always lived in London." Her eyes were more solemn than ever. "Her father's mother was from Venice. Clelia is Italian. My mother like the name."
Suddenly I remembered where I was and what had happened. My head ached terrifically.
"But tell me about ... all this," I asked. "Didn't I hear someone scream ?"
A little smile twisted her lips.
"I am sorry. I had to scream," she confessed.
"Someone was hurting you?"
Clelia shook her head. "Oh, no; my father told me to scream."
"You mean that you did it deliber- ately—to lure me here?" At a sudden thought I felt for my pocketbook. It was gone. "I've been robbed!"
"That was why I screamed," she said calmly. "But I am sorry, oh, so sorry. I wouldn't have done it for the world!"
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Lonely Heart 89
"Then why did you do it?"
"Because he told me to."
"Do you do everything your father tells you to do, whether it is good or bad?" I questioned.
She nodded.
"I don't want to, oh, no!—but I have learned that it is best." She reached up and opened her waist, revealing a soft white shoulder and the suggestion of an immature breast. The pale skin was covered with bruises.
"He beat you?"
"Of course," she said. "They ar- rested him for it once, but he got away. He didn't beat me after that. I was so tired that I promised I would do every- thing he told me if he wouldn't touch me. But he talks to me so terribly— swears at me—and oh, I want someone to love me instead of that!"
Something glistened on her eyelashes. I swallowed hard.
"Your mother, where is she?"
She crossed to the open window. Through the aperture I could see the night sky and a few stars, the house- tops rising oixt of a low mist.
"See, up there . . . beyond the stars," she said, pointing out of the window. It was such a childish movement, so full of faith—yet how old!—more ancient than human history! She was young, this child of London, but a soul older than the crumbled walls of Babylon looked out from her eyes.
"Why do you submit to it? Why don't you run away?"
She smiled wearily. "It's no use. I tried. And anyway, he promised he would not make a bargain if I would do as he told me."
"What do you mean ‘a bargain'?"
She looked at me in surprise. "Why, don't you know? . . . There are lots of young girls in Shadwell, and nearly every night the big sailors come up from their boats on the Thames. They
have been out at sea for a long while. . . . When they leave the fathers of those little girls have more money for beer. ..."
It made me sick. I understood the cold smiles of those little girls clinging to the mouths of the alleys. The faces of the huge blond sailors at Olaf Bjorn's rose up before me. Suddenly all the glamour and romance faded. It was tragedy. The mirth of the reek- ing beer-house was bestial. I could not restrain a shudder.
"And your father promised not to make one of these bargains?"
Something stirred the dreaminess of her eyes. "He promised," she whis- pered, "but he has broken that prom- ise ..."
For a long while I could not speak.
"When did it happen?" I asked.
"Oh, no, not yet!" She glanced out of the window. "See," she said, point- ing to a bright star that lingered just above the jagged housetops, "that is the Love Star. Every evening it comes up from the other side of the world and scrapes along the tops of the houses. My mother told me it was the Love Star. I used to sit in this window look- ing at it. After my mother went away I longed for someone else who would be kind to me. . . . He came, after so long a time, and oh, he was so good! He called me Lonely Heart. I used to slip out at night and meet him down on the docks. My mother taught me good English and I tried to help him to speak correctly, too. And every night we used to watch the Love Star . . . and dream—until something happened. One night he told me that we must never meet again. When I returned my fa- ther said that he had made a bargain— one of the sailors who would love me a great deal. . . . This sailor was going out to sea, to another country—and he would take me with him!"
She was crying softly.
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90 Lonely Heart
"But you're not going?"
"Yes, I'm going."
"But you don't want to?"
She repressed a shudder. "Oh, no —no!"
"Then why are you going?"
"What else is there to do?" She made a helpless gesture.
"Run away," I suggested.
She laughed. It was a bitter laugh. It sounded almost hideous coming from one so young. "Run away?" Her lips twisted into a cynical smile. "And where would I go? To some home for Helpless Girls where they wear horri- bly clean brown dresses and eat por- ridge and have to listen to lectures by goggle-eyed old men who aren't good enough to kiss a snake? Holy God, no! Poverty is bad enough—but that!"
"How old are you?" I asked.
"Sixteen," came the answer. Six- teen! And I wondered if ever she had been a child, if ever sweet laughter had brushed her pale little lips, if ever her bitter heart had leaped joyously at the call of Spring, when the heaths are sprayed with wild roses.
"Surely in all London there is some place for you to go," I ventured. "Don't you know some kind people who—"
"Kind people?" she burst forth in tones that were worse than gall, "Are there any kind people? Anyway, my father would follow me. You don't know him. And—and it may not be so bad, it—" She stopped suddenly.
"What do you mean, ‘it may not be so bad'?" I asked.
"To go away with him. He may do whatever he likes," she said softly, "but I will be untouched. ..." It seemed suddenly as if the light from one of those stars in the window caught the gleam of her eyes. "I shall not be his —never—never—never!"
"There must be some way to save you from such a fate, "I said at length, des-
perately. "What of this man, the one you used to meet?"
"That is what I can't understand. I've seen him twice since that night when he told me we must never see each other again, but was only able to speak to him one time for a few sec- onds. It is not like him."
"There is . . ." she whispered, "I knew that there was a way when I saw you at Olaf Bjorn's. Won't you take me away with you?"
I could not answer; I didn't know what to say.
"I will think it over and—"
"It may be too late!" she cried pit- eously. "Oh, take me away—take me away!" She had fallen on her knees before me, her white hands clutching mine. Her uplifted eyes made my heart ache.
"I will!" I cried impulsively. "I'll make arrangements tomorrow for us to cross the Channel and go to Paris. I will put you in safe hands in Paris."
She was sobbing. I lifted her head.
"Child, child," I said, "you mustn't cry. I'll meet you to morrow night at the entrance of the alley about nine o'clock."
"Something may happen before then," she whispered.
"I hardly think so. Try to control yourself. I must hurry. Your father might find us here. Which way do I go?"
She got up. I followed her into the adjoining apartment which, as the other room, was gray and squalid and pov- erty-ravished. The reek and filth of it almost nauseated me.
"You will have to drop from this window into the alley," she said, indi- cating a shattered window casement. "It is the alley that you first came in to."
Half over the sill I paused.
"Good night, Clelia," I said, taking
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her white hand in mine. "Don't be afraid. I will come."
"You won't forget?"
She looked at me steadily for a few seconds.
"No," she said, "you will not forget. . . . But oh, if only he had done this!" And clinging with my hands to the sill, I lowered myself into what looked like a bottomless abyss. I dropped and my feet touched the hard stone. In the window above me I caught a last glimpse of a pallid face and eyes that were more pitiful than the aching womb of night.
The following evening somewhere about eight o'clock I called Scotland Yard over the telephone and enquired for Braithwaite. After a short while of waiting I heard his voice over the wire.
"Hello," I said, "Braithwaite? . . . This is Lombard. Yes. Are you very busy? I'd like to see you shortly."
"I'll be there as soon as I can get a car. I suppose you found something interesting last night?" he asked, then laughed. "I thought you would . . ." And I heard the instrument click.
In about three-quarters of an hour Braithwaite knocked at the door of my room and I admitted him.
"Didn't have any trouble, did you?" was his first question. I showed him the bump on my head.
"Robbery—and something else."
"Hurry and tell me, old chap; I'll bet there was a girl, too!"
"Exactly!" I exclaimed.
"You heard someone scream, and quite the good fellow that you are, you thought someone was in trouble—even after my warning! I know."
"But someone was in trouble," I an- nounced. And I told him the whole story.
"It does sound interesting," he said when I had finished. "But are you sure she wasn't spoofing you?"
"I would swear it!" I said emphat- ically.
"And why did you call me?"
"I want you to go with me tonight," I said.
He smiled. "I don't think I could trust you to go alone again," then he suddenly sprang to his feet. "By George! Quick! Describe her to me more minutely. Did she have large eyes, yellow hair and—"
"Yes; eyes sadder than the most tragic."
"Was she pale?"
"Paler than death itself!"
"Did she appear to be about sixteen or seventeen, yet with a strangely old expression?"
"Yes; why?"
"What a fool I am! What a dolt!" He crossed the room and lifted the re- ceiver of the telephone. "Hello. Have a cab waiting in front when I get down. Room 624. I'm in a hurry. . ." He picked up my hat from where it was lying on the table. "Here—we must hurry. Even now we may be too late."
"But tell me—"
"Wait till we get started in the car," he snapped.
I followed him to the lift, down, and through the office to the entrance of the hotel. A large limousine was waiting. "Room 624—East India Dock, just above the Reach. . ." Braithwaite flung at the chauffeur as we jumped in. "And double fare if you hurry!" "Well," I said sarcastically as the car leaped forward, "do you think you have time now to tell me what all this is about?"
He grinned. "Awfully sorry, old fellow, but I didn't want to waste time.
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92 Lonely Heart
I think I have seen your Lonely Heart —and tonight! Rather a singular coin- cidence. I happened to be down on East India Dock, and as I passed one of the shipping schooners, a fair-sized craft, I saw a man and a girl. It seemed rather strange to take a girl aboard one of those vessels, but even at that I wouldn't have paid them any spe- cial notice if she hadn't seemed reluc- tant to accompany him. I wasn't sure at the time, but now I am positive that her hands were bound. She looked back over her shoulder and in a sort of hazy way I saw her face. It had the expression of a captured animal. I be- lieve she started to speak. I passed on, giving it very little more thought. But her face haunted me. I had proceeded only a short distance when I thought I heard a scream. I stopped for a sec- and, but hearing no repetition decided I was mistaken. I'd be willing to swear now that it your Lonely Heart and her master."
"Do you remember the name of the boat?"
"Fortunately; it was the Wilhelmina. . . . Hello, I believe we're here."
He thrust open the door and jumped out before the car came to a standstill. I followed close at his heels.
"Wait till we return," he instructed the chauffeur, pushing a banknote into his hand.
Misty darkness brooded over the squatty, dark buildings of East India Dock. A stillness broken only by the shrilling of a river boat pervaded the air. From where we were I could see the outline of the river front. I walked close to Braithwaite's side. His head was bent forward slightly, his keen eyes scrutinizing the semi-darkness before him. Suddenly he stopped.
"Damnation!" burst from his lips. "There's no need to go any further. Her mooring-place is vacant. I can see from here. There's just one more
chance. Come on, we're going to Olaf Bjora's!"
"Why to Olaf Bjorn's?" I asked as we were once more deposited in the limousine.
"You'll see," he snapped. "I've been a big ass. I should have gone back when I heard that scream. This last chance is based only on a sudden thought of mine."
It seemed years before the car drew up before the Swedish beer-house. In- structing the chauffeur to wait, we en- tered the stuffy place with its sawdust covered floor. The usual motley crowd was there—drinking that unspeakable beer. Braithwaite sought out the slov- enly blond waiter whom I had seen on the preceding night and asked for Erics- son.
"Upstairs," came the surly reply.
"Come on," my companion flung over his shoulder as he hurried from the room. Up a pair of creaking stairs I followed him into a musty hall. He pushed open a door just above the landing. Yan Ericsson was sitting be- fore a table, his pipe between his teeth, his yellow hair more tousled than ever. He looked up surprised as we en- tered.
"Ericsson," Braithwaite snapped, "you're the damndest fool I ever knew!"
The big Swede got up. He didn't know whether to smile or frown.
"What do you mean?"
"I mean that even a boy of fifteen wouldn't let his girl be taken away from him and sold like a piece of cattle!"
An angry snarl curled the big blond's lips.
"It's a lie!" he screamed. He start- ed to make a leap, but Braithwaite whipped out his pistol.
"No you don't. Sit down!"
The Swede never moved.
"Sit down!" my friend repeated. Ericsson obeyed in a surly manner.
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Lonely Heart 93
"Now you listen to me. I oughtn't to do it, but I'm going to help you save your girl. I don't know any of the cir- cumstances, but from what Lombard told me and from what I imagine, I think you're either a badly fooled per- son or the damndest cad in London! What is the name of the girl you were telling me about not long ago?"
"Clelia," he replied. Braithwaite looked at me with a smile.
"That's what I thought, and you al- lowed her to be bartered off by her father to some scum of the sea to be taken away on his vessel—"
"I did not!" Ericsson cried savagely. "He won her by rights!"
"What do you mean, ‘won her by rights'?" I questioned.
The Swede's eyes fell to the floor. He did not speak for a few seconds. "One night I was gambling with Sig- urd Vannis and a few of my other friends. We drank a lot, too much beer. I can't remember exactly how it happened. I lost a lot of money, all I had, and Sigurd suggested that I put up my girl against his pile. It made me mad at first, but he said he had seen her and he loved her and he wanted to marry her. He said cards would be a good way to settle the matter. I was drunk and I agreed. We flayed to see whether he or I would make Clelia his wife. He won. . . . The next night I told her that we mustn't see each other any more. I was ashamed to tell her the reason. I avoided her, thinking that if she was to marry—"
"But this fellow didn't intend to marry her!" I cut in. He looked at me sharply.
"What do you mean?" he asked.
"I mean that Sigurd, your friend, bought her from her father to take with him on his voyage."
"But Sigurd is my friend!"
"Nevertheless, Sigurd deceived you!" I said.
"How do you know this?" he ques- tioned, still doubtful.
"Because," said Braithwaite, "I saw him taking her aboard the schooner!"
His blue eyes were like needles.
"But what can we do?" he said help- lessly.
"I'll telephone and have one of the police boats meet us at the nearest moorings," said Braithwaite. "I'm go- ing to do what I can for you. It's al- most madness, but we'll follow the schooner Wilhelmina!"
The Thames was shrouded in an evil mist. Occasionally a smudge of light drifted past us on the remote bank. I stood in the bow of the little cutter, Braithwaite and the Swede, Ericsson, beside me. The latter stood staring over the bow, his head thrown back, the wind waving his long yellow hair. I could see his big fists. They were clinched.
"This is the maddest thing I've ever done," Braithwaite said to me. "It's risking our lives, too, for God alone knows how far out the schooner is by now. However, I think it will be inter- esting to get the fellow Vannis. I can find out the father of the girl and begin cleaning up that child-bargaining that's been going on so long in Shadwell."
I shivered. The cruel wind whipped against my cheeks, cut sharply through my clothing to the bare skin. The men beside me looked as though they were suspended in the mist. Ahead there was nothing but darkness—a darkness that seemed more horrible than the cor- ridors of sudden Death—and behind the monotonous throbbing of the motor. From the rear came the sudden clamour of bells. I could hear the water churn- ing.
"Launch on the starboard, sir!" someone behind me shouted. The cut-
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94 Lonely Heart
ter made a swerve and ploughed on through the fog.
"Wot the bloody 'ell d'ye think this is?" a voice from the distance bellowed. A black blot in the wake of the boat marked the swiftly diminishing shadow of the launch.
"This is Limehouse Reach," Braith- waite told me. It was a mystery how the cutter held her course as well as she did in that awful fog. I expected at any moment to crash into some other craft and begin an unpremeditated ex- ploration of Nirvana.
"Easy on the port, sir!" shot to my ears out of the fog.
‘‘Aye, aye, sir!"
"A little more! There!"
"Aye, aye. ..." The voices were drowned in the wailing of a siren.
"Sharp lookout!" shouted Braith- waite.
"Where are we?" I asked. "I can't see a damned thing in this mist!"
"Past Blackwall; I think that was the Reach. ..."
I looked at the illuminated dial of my watch. Three o'clock to the minute. Gray hulls, seeming monstrous in the density of the overhanging vapour, small tugs, crafts of even more diminu- tive proportions swept past us. Now and then I caught a brief glimpse through the fog of a face peering from the lighted window of some vessel. The Thames seemed suddenly to have opened its mouth. The banks were spreading farther away, the lights growing dimmer and farther between. Indistinguishable blurs bulged out of the mist, which now seemed to be clear- ing, and evaporated.
"Can't you make it a few knots hard- er?" Braithwaite yelled over his shoul- der.
"Tight forward, sir; she's doing the best she can!"
I became aware of a slight rolling of the little boat. A grim smile hovered
on Braithwaite's mouth. The Swede was a statue. He had not moved since we left the down-Thames dock. A big hulk appeared suddenly along- side us.
"Ahoy there!" Braithwaite shouted, using his hands as a megaphone.
"Ahoy yer'sel'!" came back to him. A dim light glimmered on the port side. "An' watch where you're goin'!"
"Seen anything of a big schooner go- ing seaward?" the man from Scotland Yard bellowed, still using his hands as a megaphone.
"Seen two!"
"Which way?"
"Beyond the Nore! 'Bout 'arf hour ago."
"Where the devil are we?"
I just caught the words—"Off Sheer- ness ..."
"Good God!" I muttered aloud. "It's madness to go any farther!"
For the first time Ericsson spoke. "No!" he said fiercely.
Braithwaite laughed harshly. "It was madness to ever come, but I've gone this far ..."
Pitching and rolling the little cutter rode the waves, which now were burst- ing over the bow. I was almost drenched. I expected any moment to be hurled into the thrashing water.
An hour. The Nore Light lay ahead. Cold sea winds, blown from dreary ex- panses of winter ocean, sprang up with new force. The cutter had weathered good so far, but the sea was becoming too strong. The fog drifted away on the wings of the wind and as far as the eye could see was nothing but an awful darkness.
"Hardly enough juice to make it to land, sir!" someone in the rear shouted.
"Damn the land!" Braithwaite hurled back at him. "I'm not going to be beat this late in the game! I—"
"Schooner on the starboard!" inter- rupted his sentence.
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Lonely Heart 95
Yes! A dark blur, long and vague, lay to the starboard.
"The searchlight!" roared Braith- waite.
Like a sinuous finger the light broke through the veil touching the dark blur. I could see the sails unfurled, boom and mast straight and clearly defined.
"Can you make out the name?" I inquired.
Borne upward on the crest of a wave, we hung there a second and plunged nose down into the trough. The little craft trembled at the force of the im- pact, reeled, then righted herself. The Swede had lost his balance, but clung to the rail, his eyes following the trail of light.
"Yes!" burst from his lips, "the— Wilhelmina!"
"How can we ever make it?" I screamed, hanging to the slippery rail.
"We've got to!" came back to me, then: "Stop . . . in the King's name!"
Something guttural floated back across the water.
". . . In the King's name! . . . Alongsides! Quick, dammit, quick!"
Only a few yards separated us. We were in the trough—no! We seemed suspended in the air over the black ex- panse, then down . . . down. Good God!" someone screamed. I braced myself for what was coming.
"Every man for his own!"
Only Providence saved us from being driven hard against the side of the ves- sel and hurled without mercy into the sea, whose fangs seemed drawn to de- vour every living thing. The day of miracles is not gone; we swept along- side, the rope ladder dangling near us. Several sailors grabbed the mooring lines.
"Hold! Hold!" I shouted. And they held! God! I do not know how they did! Ericsson had clutched the rope ladder, the muscles of his big arms bulging, and with the leap of every
wave we crashed against the side of the schooner. No human force could di- vert the madness of that sea.
"Up on deck!" Braithwaite yelled. "Every man for the ladder! She won't last long!"
I saw the engineer swing out on the mooring lines. Braithwaite shoved me toward the ladder and before I could move or protest I was lifted up and found myself clambering over the rail of the deck. Looking backward I saw the men swinging for the ropes, Braith- waite and Ericsson holding off the little boat.
"Quick!" I screamed. "Come up!"
I saw Braithwaite cast a glance at the Swede, then the former made a leap from his position to the ladder. The police boat was swept out from under them and they hung above the black water. Ericsson was the first aboard. He fell exhausted on the wet deck. I pulled Braithwaite over. There was blood on his hands.
"Close shave!" he muttered, smiling queerly.
A group of sailors were clustered about us. Suddenly Ericsson got to his feet. His shirt was torn from his body, his big chest and arms exposed in all their physical power.
"Damn you, Sigurd Vannis!" he hissed. A big fellow in the group around us stepped forward. "You stole my girl!" continued Ericsson. "You lied to me!"
The man Vannis laughed.
"What do you mean?" he asked.
Ericsson laughed this time.
"Clelia is aboard this ship!" he roared. "Don't tell me she isn't!"
Just as Sigurd Vannis was about to make a denial, I saw a shadowy form slip up from the bulkhead. Even in the darkness I could tell it was a girl. Ericsson saw, too.
"Liar!" he flung at Vannis and made a rush.
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Braithwaite moved to intervene, but I stayed him.
"This isn't an affair for Scotland Yard!" I whispered.
The two big men closed together, their muscles gleaming white in the dimness, their heavy breathing audible even above the noise of the wind and sea. The girl screamed. A sudden lurch of the vessel flung her forward and I caught her just in time to prevent a fall. She smiled up at me weakly.
"You came," she gasped, "but almost too late!"
Clelia clung to me, her eyes wide, watching the fight. And, God! such a fight! Circling, clinching, striking with almost super-strength, the two giants struggled over the deck. One moment they rolled on the slimy floor, the next they were up, circling and sparring again. No one intervened. When two men fight for a woman intervention is useless. But I thought it would never end. In the darkness I could see the faces of the men smeared with blood. Something dark was dripping from their lips.
At an unexpected sideward roll of the schooner they were flung to the deck. I caught the flash of something bright, saw an arm upraised. Clelia screamed. I was too frightened to make a sound. But the arm never fell. With a leopard-like leap the man on the bot- tom got to his feet, and I saw Sigurd Vannis retreating slowly to the low stairs that led to the deck above the cabin. The knife lay under Ericsson's feet.
"You -!" Ericsson screamed.
The two men came together again on the deck above the cabin. For a mo- ment they seemed one, then the roar of a bull ape burst from Ericsson's throat. I saw him literally lift the clawing Van- nis above his head! Leaning forward he flung the body outward. For an in- stant Ericsson tottered on the edge of
the deck, endeavoring to regain his bal- ance, then plunged down past the side of the vessel into the water.
Clelia screamed. She tore herself from my grasp. Too late I divined her purpose. Like a flash she crossed the deck, hung suspended above the railing, then vanished. I reached the side of the ship in time to see her disappear beneath the water.
"Clelia! Clelia!" I screamed.
I saw Ericsson's face appear above the water, the golden hair of his girl clutched tightly in his fist. The face of Clelia, too, came to the surface, then they both sank again. A wave broke and rolled over the spot where they dis- appeared.
The following night the telephone in my room at the Cecil rang. It was Braithwaite.
"Hello, this you, Lombard? . . . I've just come from the hospital. Erics- son's been conscious for nearly five hours and he's sitting by her bed watch- ing like a hawk."
"Do you think she'll pull through?"
"The wound on her head where the life-belt struck her is about the only thing serious."
"When will I see you again?"
"Are you going to leave for America tomorrow as you planned?"
"No, I hardly think I'll go that soon—"
"I knew you wouldn't," he said laughingly. "The spell of London's got you!"
"Where are you dining this evening?"
"Nowhere in particular."
"What about taking me to the quiet little place in Soho that you told me about? You know, they say Soho is about the only really quiet spot in Lon- don. . . . And I do feel like I would thoroughly enjoy a quiet evening!"
[Page 097]
By Viola Brothers Shore
First Came Jay The tall, dark Southerner I met while visiting Away from home. He was the only man For me Until he came To my home town. He was afraid To go in swimming And when I saw him Stand In bathing togs Beside my Billy Who lived next door— I decided To live without him.
And next came Ted— I worshipped him. He was so handsome And His kisses . . . Well, He was my God. But once he lied To me And I found out. The gods may lie But they must never Never Be found Out.
John was my dentist,— We were really
Good—good friends. And a little Flame Of love Sprang up between Us And died down— Leaving us really Good—good friends.
There was a doctor I could have liked But he wanted Money— As if it were not Enough To be a doctor's Wife Without having To pay For it!
There was a married man Of course— There always is— And his wife did not Understand him Of course. And when I would not Do as he wanted I did not Understand him Either So he went and looked for Somebody else!
And there was Sid— He used to say
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98 Men
"You little devil I'll get you yet!" And I was afraid He would— He was so homely— But he Didn't.
And there was Rob— Always ready To die Of devotion. I never cared For him Till he commenced To rush my chum And then it was Too late!
And next came Ned— Who played lawn tennis Like a dream And always wore Such clean White pants. Only he was
A philanderer— And one is enough In any family.
There was a man I liked so much Because he had A sense of humor. But he was A rabbi And I had A sense of humor Too.
And then one day My Billy Who lived next door Came back From the West And married Me. And do you know I've gotten so I really believe He is the only man I ever loved!
The Things a Woman Can Do
By Karl W. Kessler
MAKE a man enjoy the sensation of being robbed. Break a capitalist, drive a strong man to drink and make the janitor smile.
Kiss and hate a man at the same time.
Get the most of anything by giving the least.
Commit murder and be praised for it. And pitied for her helplessness! Become famous because of her ankles, the dimples on her arm, or the suit she enters against a wealthy man.
[Page 099]
The Last Job
By Harold de Polo
THERE was a noticeable stir in the coach as the train slowed down at Os- sining—a lowering of periodicals, a craning of necks, an atmosphere of waiting for the curtain to go up. The watchers became tense as the characters they hoped would appear on the scene did so. There were only two—a slim, tall man who held his head brazenly high as he walked firmly ahead, a slim, tall girl who held to his arm almost grimly, and certainly proudly. They climbed the steps with what could be termed arrogance, and passed down the aisle quite oblivious of the nudging and twisting and low whisper-murmurs. They chose the foremost seat, up near the water cooler where there was most foot-room. Then the man turned deliberately, and gave a last long look of implacable hate at the receding station; but the woman's eyes went to his face, and her free hand shot forward with a jerky little movement and took its place beside the other on his arm. He turned about again, at that, and one of his long-fingered, too-white hands covered her own as he stared stonily before him.
The woman's face flamed, as the train gathered speed, with a joy that could not be repressed. Her eyes blinked, and she brushed away a glad tear, as her fingers dug into the coat- sleeve:
"Oh, Jim—my Jim," she breathed, "it's so good to—"
They were the first words either had
spoken since they had met at the gate and simply gripped hands and looked into each other's eyes,—yet a quick little frown furrowed Jim Knowles' forehead as he negatively shook his head. And Kitty McAlister kept silent, holding to his arm, knowing full well that he did not feel equal to expressing the relief of freedom — of freedom from those four ghastly years behind stone and iron. . . .
They showed on him plainly—hor- ribly, she thought. The inanimate whiteness of the skin struck her first, and then the greyness sprinkled so pro- fusely through the hair that had been so crisply black. There were lines, too, rutted deep into the cheeks, and the finely chiseled lips, once so straight, drooped at the corners. His nose seemed sharper—and it had always been sharp—and he had a new trick of breathing so that his nostrils quiv- ered. It reminded her of the infinitely trained-down race horse, impatiently waiting for action. Only his grey- flecked brown eyes remained the same; and yet, immediately, she told herself that they also had changed. They were what she had always loved most, those eyes, and yet she knew that she loved them more now—hungered for them to look on her. True, the bluish rings under them accentuated their largeness, their fire, their rebellion, but Kitty saw in them a new antipathy, an almost rabid hate, for the world and its con- ventions. . . . She found herself comparing his face to that of some wild creature, suddenly loosed from
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galling thraldom, savagely seeking ven- geance! . . .
She sighed unconsciously—but killed it half-way before he should see. Yes, his eyes frightened her, saddened her, crushed her hopes,—and still; for the very peril they spoke of for him, she could not help loving them with re- newed fervor. They meant, though, that Jim retained, only with an added passion, his fierce love of opposing cus- tom and law. She had prayed, too, that perhaps those four terrible years might change him, that perhaps they were to at last have the longed-for, restful haven. But his eyes said "no," and again she sighed — resignedly. After that she stayed staring unseeing- ly before her, as he was. So they both sat, without a word, without a move- ment, until New York was reached.
The convict did not speak, either, as they walked along the interminable station corridors and out into the brisk spring sunshine. Silently, he allowed himself to be led to a taxi, asking no word as to where they were going, and the fact that he so implicitly relied upon her sent a glad thrill through Kitty. During the journey uptown, too, Jim Knowles sat rigid, staring out of the window with his eyes very big. Occasionally his hands would clench and unclench, and he would rub the fingers tentatively. Indeed, he did not say a word until they were safely alone and away from all prying onlookers, in the cosily furnished little apartment Kitty had rented. He glanced fever- ishly about the home-like, cheery, liv- ing room. Then, with a surge of mad relief, he suddenly lifted his arms and stretched them far out:
"Christ—Christ," he breathed hoarse- ly—and it was not meant as an oath.
Characteristically, the mood left him instantly. He turned abruptly, and with a literal leap he took Kitty in his arms. His face softened, his eyes were
tender, and he kissed her carmine lips longingly. His hands reverently stroked her golden hair, and he looked into her eyes as he murmured his wor- ship for her. He released her sudden- ly, and swept his arm about the room:
"But this, Kitty?" he asked. "I thought the money would be gone?"
"Jim," she answered him, and her frank blue eyes could not help show- ing pride, "I didn't touch a penny of it. I—"
"Kitty," he cried. "You prince— and little idiot at the same time!"
"No, Jim, I got a job—back at the same old manicure game. I was sav- ing the bank account," she went on, her eyes looking right into his, "to give us a new start with!"
But she met with the defiance she had expected. His eyes shone almost angrily, and that lean, cruel look came over his face:
"No, Kitty—no! And you're crazy to think of it, especially now! . . . God, don't you think I want to make someone pay for those rotten years? Don't you think I'm longing and long- ing to get my finger on a combination again? Don't you think I want to show that damned police crowd that they can't get me twice? ... I don't want to give up yet. Lord," glancing at a mirror, "I may look old, but I'm still young—young, I tell you. Thirty-three. Oh, no, they may have put the lines on my face and the grey in my hair, but they haven't broken the old spirit yet. I'll show 'em!"
Kitty McAlister's eyes dwelt on him, lovingly, sadly. She knew that plead- ing would do little good; anyway, it was not quite the time to try, yet. He had not run the gamut of his emotion. So she sat wisely silent.
"Oh, no, Kitty," he went on gaily, an infinitesimal tinge of color showing in either prominent cheekbone, "don't think of that stuff. You needn't worry,
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'cause they're not going to get me again. Oh, no, and I'll show 'em that I've still got the slickest fingers in New York—or in the world—at getting to any safe ever made. Cheer up, girlie. Lord, I tell you the next haul I make will fix us for life. It'll be so big you'll gasp. I won't touch only the greatest. Cheer up—look merry!"
He stood before her, arms akimbo, looking down at her with a smile on his face that somehow miraculously chased away those four hard years up the river. She did not answer his smile, and her blue eyes became very stern.
"Jim," she said firmly, "I mean it! I want you to give it up. You know I never liked it; you know I've always longed for the farm we've spoken of —or that I've spoken of. Jim, I'd hoped and prayed that after this— this thing—you'd change. I haven't had just fun while you were—away, Jim. It—it isn't fair to me if you keep at it!" She paused, just for an instant, and blinked away a single tear: "Yes, Jim," she continued, with the least choke, "I've hoped and prayed you'd give it all up and—and marry —and make a start—the way we've said we might—some day!"
What Kitty termed his "fighting face" came to Jim Knowles. It grew older—as it had even before the lines had been there—and his eyes seemed to lose their brown and turn to grey —cold grey. He apparently talked through closed lips, tautened so that they were pale pink:
"Listen, Kitty," he told her, in that too-even voice, "you know we've talked over most of that business before this —and not only once! You know what I think of that marriage game—bunk! That's not saying I don't love you; you know I do! All that's the matter with you is that your nerve is shaken, you can't help thinking they'll get me
and send me up again. Now forget it! They're not going to! . . . But wait —wait. Maybe that farm and the other stuff will come through. But wait!"
"I know, Jim," she faltered weakly, already beaten, "but—"
Jim Knowles laughed, his eyes flash- ing with that reckless glint as he held out his arms:
"Come here, Kitty, and don't be a fool. Hell—get out my dinner duds and rig yourself up. Let's go out and let me have the first real meal in years, with all the fixings. Tonight's the night, girlie, and we're going to cele- brate!"
She came to his arms, readily enough and he stilled her lament with the hot, soul-searing kisses she loved. He re- leased her slowly, and held her off in front of him with a hand on either shoulder:
"Kitty," he said, smiling, "there's one thing I was going to tell, but you didn't give me time. Maybe that dream about the farm and the rest of it will come true pretty soon. I've de- cided to do just one more job—and that's all. I mean it. I'll be careful, too, that it's a cinch. There—I'm promising!"
And Kitty McAlister hummed over all the gay little tunes she knew as she dressed for dinner.
Kitty's spirits stayed at high-water mark for the next two months or so. Jim was continually in the light, youth- ful mood that made him seem like a boy, and it was not long before he looked his old self. He scarcely ever mentioned his "work," apparently fully enjoying to the limit the sheer living of life. They played gloriously —the theatre, restaurants, dancing—so much so that Kitty occasionally sighed as she looked at the rapidly decreasing bank figures. Still, she had her Jim
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—had him safely and without a worry.
She was more thankful than ever, now, that he had always so scrupulous- ly refrained from mixing with others in his profession. He had rigidly played a lone hand, refusing to listen to the most tempting offers. He did jobs without help, and he did them well. His recently finished term in Sing Sing had been his first, and that was because he had grown careless, perhaps, through the years of such easy triumph. But it had taken a good man to get him, there was consolation in that for them both. Yes, Jim had made a big mistake in failing to give Terry Neall due credit. Had he been just a bit more cautious? . . .
After a couple of months of idle- ness, Kitty noticed that drawn look coming over his face and that wilder, fiercer look into his eyes. Too, he be- came quieter. He spoke less; stayed at home more; sat thinking; caressed for hours his sensitive fingers. The boy had completely left him, and the bitter, cruel man had taken his place. Jim Knowles was nervous for action. She knew the signs more than well.
She said not a word, but she did a deal of hoping and praying. Once, when the agony was great, she ques- tioned him as to whether he had as yet discovered his prospect. And the answer had sent a chill through her:
"No—but I saw Terry Neall to- day!"
"Oh, Jim, Jim," she cried, "won't you give it up? Won't you let's make a new start in some new place? . . . We've still got enough! We can surely make good!. . . Oh, Jim, dear, please give it all up!"
It was an ill omen, as she instantly realized, that he did not cut her short. He simply sat smiling at her—that easy, confident smile she knew so well. He always wore it before he tackled
any job; he was always so cool, and smiling, and different. He had the bearing now.
"Dear old girl," he drawled, "you do worry a lot about the unimportant things! . . . Sure I saw Neall, and he sort of reminded me of you. Went in and had a drink with him. Advised me to quit the game and—and what do you think? And marry you. Said I'd make a respectable citizen if I'd settle down on the straight and narrow! . . Nice boy, Neall. White man. He got me fair and I don't hold it against him —but he won't get me the second time, you can gamble!"
Again her worry was kissed away, and again life went on as serenely as possible—for a few days!
Then he came in, one evening, and just brushed her lips before drawing the big armchair up to the window and lolling back in it. He sat without a word, smoking cigarette after cigar- ette. He occasionally chuckled—a short, grim sort of chuckle—and did the trick of fondling his fingers.
Kitty McAlister knew that the time had come. Her face was suddenly haggard as she came and stood before him, looking into his eyes with a cer- tain hopeless sadness. She spoke just a single word:
He raised his head slowly, his nar- rowed eyes seeming entirely grey— and colder than ever she had known. He almost bit out his speech through those tautened lips:
"Cinch! Old Weiner—the picture dealer,—dirty old miser. Grabbed forty thousand—too late to bank. Some famous painting. Took the money home with him—over on the edge of Montclair. Safe's so easy it's a crime. So cheap he only keeps one servant. Cinch—cinch!"
She started to expostulate—to plead, to rail, to do anything—but Jim rose
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abruptly, with that decisive air she knew there was no denying:
"Come on—might as well eat decent- ly! . . . And don't forget that dream may be coming true!" This time Kitty McAlister, though she gave in, did no joyous humming!
Kitty clung to him desperately as he placed her in a taxi, after dinner, be- fore going over to finish his last job. He always was this way; starting out for a place fully three or four hours before he intended robbing it. He boasted—and justly—that he was prac- tically impossible to trail. Neverthe- less, the woman who loved him felt an odd, insistent sense of tragedy. True, she was as a rule nervous when he had been about his work—but never like this. Something seemed to be drilling and drilling it into her that disaster would again come tonight! . . .
The thought of waiting in the little apartment, alone, was too much to bear. One of Broadway's blazing signs, standing out above the others and her- alding some movie star that always promised excitement, caught her eye. Stopping the machine, she sprang out and hurriedly procured a ticket. Per- haps it would make her forget; not exactly forget, of course, but help to pass the time.
She stayed somewhat less than five minutes. The picture, ironically, hap- pened to be a detective and cracksman affair—the latter bound to get the worst of it. She felt a chill go through her, and walked swiftly, blindly, when she got out into the air.
She telephoned the two friends she possessed whom she could rely on in a crisis—and both were out. She looked in shop windows, but she ac- tually saw nothing but a blur—a blur that had behind it, always, a ghastly picture of Jim, in stripes. And finally, though she dreaded the apartment in
solitude, she dreaded more this aimless wandering. So she got into another taxi and went home. . . .
Kitty had known it would not be necessarily easy there—but she had not known to what an extent she would suffer. Every article of furniture, every insignificant little object, remind- er her of Jim. Still that idea drilled through her—drilled and drilled. Something would happen tonight— and that something was disaster. She tried to calm herself, she assured her- self that it was nerves alone—but it did no good. That silent, insistent voice kept whispering that he was in grave danger. . . . She stood it for an hour, for two hours—and then, when she felt that she would go ut- terly mad, she acted!
Hastily she entered her bedroom and took a long, simple black coat from the closet. Donning this, she stuck a small turban on her head and pinned on a heavyish veil. Then, for the first time since she had owned it, she got the first present Jim had ever given her from an almost forgotten box—a small, intricately silver-chased pistol. Slip- ping the thing into her pocket, she hurried from the apartment. . . .
Kitty McAlister made record time. To be exact, in an hour and twelve minutes she was at the Weiner house on the outskirts of Montclair. What is more, she had covered her trail in a manner that she believed would have been worthy of Jim. Too, she shortly discovered the window by which he had entered, and she was not long in following suit.
Inside the darkened room she stood for a moment listening intently. No sound came to her, and she groped her way toward an outlet. Once in the hallway she again listened—and still nothing came to her. Cautiously she climbed a flight of stairs—and then her heart gave a great leap!
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She heard a voice—and it was not the voice of Jim or of Weiner or of the old servant. It was the voice of the man she instantly realized as Terry Neal:
"Well, Jim Knowles," he was say- ing, "got you again, eh?"
Jim did not answer—the detective was silent—and no revolver shot came. It must mean that he was—captured!
With the lithe, noiseless tread of a panther she climbed the stairway, and as she reached the landing a flood of light streaked from an open doorway. Trough the aperture she saw what had happened. Jim was kneeling by the safe, apparently having just opened it; standing perhaps a dozen feet away, with his weapon levelled, was the hunt- er! . . .
"No, Jim,"—the detective was speak- ing—"you haven't ever given me enough credit. I managed to see you at Weiner's this afternoon—I'll admit that part was bull luck. However, when I learned he'd sold a big thing and was lugging the money home, just took a gamble. Anyway, I trailed you —and I'll give you the credit to say it was no easy merry-go-round. I did it, though, and here I am—and here you are—and that's all!"
Kitty got busy with a rush. Staying in the shadow she aimed her firearm at a point between Neall's shoulder blades:
"No, Terry Neall," she said, her voice so firm and even that it surprised herself, "that isn't all!"
She saw Jim's eyes widen with sur- prise, but he scrupulously kept them glued to Neall's face.
The detective himself showed the stuff he was made of. He did not move a muscle, and his voice came calmly:
"Maybe not, ah—Kitty McAlister. But don't be foolish and shoot. The moment that trigger moves, even if it
kills me, Jim Knowles will get my bullet clean through his brain!"
Jim's face was hard—very hard. He kept his eyes, without a flicker, on Neall—ready to spring at the least chance. The other man gave him none:
"Don't get cocky, Miss McAlister," he drawled. "Knowles is my prisoner and he's coming with me. Sorry, but it's my job and it's got to be done!"
"Terry Neall," returned the woman, her voice still holding that deadly even quality, "you're making a mistake. Jim's coming with me! I'm not bluff- ing, and I think you are. You see, you don't know just what it means to me. I've given my life to Jim. I've thrown away every ideal about honesty I ever had. I've hated the work he's done, I've loathed it—but I put all that aside. I loved him—and I love him—better than anything else in the world. I've had enough hell—and especially I've had enough of it these last four years —and I won't go through it again. I think you know, Terry Neall, when you meet a woman that's telling the truth. And I'm saying now that if I have to kill you to do it, Jim Knowles won't go back to jail with you again!"
Possibly Jim's eyes grew bigger; possibly pride and savage daring came into them. Withal, he still shrewdly kept them on his antagonist.
The detective was quiet for a short moment, and then he spoke—but first he backed slowly to the wall:
"Don't shoot, Miss McAlister—and don't you make a mistake. Wait, I know you're not bluffing,"—he was partly eyeing her—"and I think you know now that I'm not. I realize you want to get Jim away—I realize you'd kill to do it. On the other hand, I've got him covered cold. It's a sort of a hopeless triangle—you get me and I get him, I get him and you get me. I'm playing straight, see—and I'm put- ting it straight. Now," he smiled,
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"what in the deuce are we going to do about it?"
Kitty looked him squarely in the eyes and was forced to say that he seemed a man, every inch. He was slight, quick as a cat, with a pair of honest blue eyes—not so unlike her own—that looked you over with a blink. Surely, too, that firm mouth and sharpened jaw meant what they said.
"Mr. Neall," she said slowly, "all I know that we're going to do about it is one thing. . . . Jim's coming with me—not going back to Sing Sing!"
For the first time the safe-breaker spoke. He smiled one of his dry smiles:
"Hmmm. I don't seem necessary to consult, do I?"
Neall still had his gun on him; he still had both of them under his eye; and he didn't hear the question, for all his answer. Kitty, neither, paid any attention. Each realized that the battle was between themselves:
"Yes, Terry Neall," she said quietly, "he's coming with me—and not with you!"
The detective's eyes, though he could not be accused of exhibiting laxness, were a bit far-off in their expression. A faint smile, too, persisted in turning the corners of his lips. It was rather a whimsical smile, at that. He said nothing.
"Mr. Neall," Kitty went on, "we've got to decide quickly. I know Jim's ways, and that Weiner and his serv- ant he's chloroformed may show signs of life soon and make it what you'd call interesting. I'm not afraid of any- thing else, for I knew you're as bad as Jim on one point—you always play alone, dead alone. Now, am I going to take him out of here with your con- sent, or have I got to kill you? I don't care if you kill Jim in the bargain. I've just made up my mind that he
won't go to Sing Sing. Please decide!" Terry Neall surveyed them both for a long, long minute, that odd smile broadening:
"Kitty McAlister," he said finally, "I'll tell you. First get over the idea that I'm backing down—but I think you're wise enough woman to know I'm not. This is my game, this is my life—this hunt business. Maybe it isn't all fun, I'm not saying. Maybe, even, I wasn't so—so damned glad to send Jim up the first time. Anyway, it's my job and it's my duty! Get that! . . . I'll tell you. I've always liked a brave woman—and I've always liked a brave man. And again, I don't think Jim Knowles at heart is an out and out crook—no, he isn't! There's one thing I think he is—I think he's a man who'd keep his word, once he'd given it. I'm taking that from my own observations, and not only from what I've heard about him. Well, now, all right—and here's my proposition: If Jim Knowles gives me his word of honor that he'll turn straight—that he'll never pull an- other crooked deal—he can walk out with you as free as air!"
He paused, and watched them both shrewdly. Jim Knowles flushed—flush- ed and averted his eyes. Kitty, in- deed, came near forgetting her weapon —and it took Terry Neall to remind her of it:
"You see," he drawled, "I almost might have had you then, if I'd been playing! . . . But here, this has got to be decided. If you don't agree, I swear by everything I hold sacred that I'll pump Knowles full of lead, even if you'll do the same to me. If you give me your word, though, you can walk out with the woman who I think is one of the finest. There's only one thing I ask—only one proviso I make, if you want to call it that. It's that you, Jim Knowles, get rid of your damned fool ideas and marry Kitty
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McAlister—marry a woman that mil- lions of men would be proud and glad and lucky to have love them. There, that's my talk—and that's the last word I'm saying. You've got blamed little time to decide before I start trying to take you back. Miss McAlister, go right to it. Say what?"
Kitty did not answer him. Instead, she looked at Jim Knowles—looked at him with wild hope as she once more placed herself entirely in his hands.
He met her eyes squarely, though his cheeks were flushed and his embarrass-
ment showed. But it was he, who re- plied to honest Terry Neall:
"Neall," he said, putting out his hand, his face literally crimson now, "if you'll take my hand, man to man, you'll know that I mean it when I say I give my word never to crack another safe and to marry the finest woman in the world!"
The detective didn't waste a frac- tion of a second in gripping the offered hand; also, neither did he waste a frac- tion of a second in turning his back as Kitty rushed for Jim with a glad, joy- ous cry that meant the dreams of years had come true!
A War Memory
By Frederick Moxon
WHEN I was over there in France Driving an army ambulance, I sang a song and took my chance.
I took my chance and sang a song, For war is foul, but youth is strong, And life is sweet, and death is long.
Yes, life and love alike are sweet, And by the well we used to meet,— Myself, and pretty Marguerite.
In southern vale the village lay,— ("Hell's Road" a thousand worlds away), And there was rest and holiday.
A church there was with chiming bell, And moonlight silence by the well Where whispering poplar-shadows fell.
I tried my French each little while, And Marguerite, with puzzled smile, Our meanings tried to reconcile.
But Love be praised! and thank the Fates! One thing for no translation waits: Her kisses "talked United States."
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The Comet and the Star
By Louise Winter
NEVA LLOYD stepped from the dramatic stage, where she had won an enviable position as a promising young actress, to the screen, and in less than six months she had firmly established herself in the front ranks of moving-picture favorites, but Tom Collinge became famous overnight.
Collinge was an automobile salesman and, for a bet, he drove one of the firm's cars in a sensational race from Niagara Falls to New York. Camera men snapped him up along the route, and when he made a spectacular finish at Columbus Circle he good-naturedly consented to pose so that the public could get a glimpse of his handsome face decorated with a broad smile of triumph.
A motion-picture director happened to be passing and seeing young Col- linge's possibilities offered him a stag- gering sum to do a picture.
Collinge laughed at the offer. "Quit your fooling," he said, shaking his curly head. "I don't know the first thing about acting!"
"You don't have to," returned Hyams promptly. "You haven't a trace of self- consciousness and you're a type that screens well."
Collinge frowned. He saw that the man was in earnest, but it seemed to him that it was rather a contemptible thing to make money by your personal appearance and not by hard work. "Couldn't think of it," he said, and this time his voice contained conviction.
That night, however, when he and
the only girl in the world were dining at Shanly's to celebrate his victory, he re- lated the occurrence.
"And the man was so persistent that I had to promise to think it over be- fore I could get rid of him," he con- cluded.
Elsie Collinge's eyes opened to their widest extent. "Who was he?" she asked quickly.
"Albert Hyams." Collinge tossed over a card. "Ever hear of him?" He liked the pictures well enough, but Elsie was a fan.
She nodded. "He's Neva Lloyd's director, and what he says with the Paradox people goes," she explained, and there was a slight trace of awe in her voice.
"Neva Lloyd!" Collinge chuckled. "Hyams said he wanted me in her new picture."
Elsie leaned forward. Suddenly she saw possibilities in the offer. "And what did you say?" she demanded.
"Say? Why, I said no, of course. You wouldn't want me to be a movie actor, would you?"
"They get awfully big salaries." Collinge's face fell. "Perhaps, but is money everything? I'm making five thousand a year with the Stone people, and we get along pretty well on that."
"You could make fifty thousand just as easily."
"By selling myself." He was disap- pointed in Elsie. He had related the incident, thinking that she would see the joke as he had seen it. He had never dreamed that she would wish him to consider such an offer.
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"You're selling yourself now at a very, small price. You see what brains alone are worth. If you used your brains, however, in connection with your good looks—and don't scowl like that, Tom Collinge, of course you know you're good looking—you could easily make a fortune. The movies aren't like the ordinary stage, you don't mere- ly have to speak your lines well, you have to know how to ride and drive and swim and do all sorts of athletic stunts. It's fearfully exciting! Besides, they're going to show your picture on the screen driving the Stone and you're not making a fuss about that." She saw all there was to be made out of the flattering proposal and also a certain amount of glory accruing to herself as the wife of a successful movie star.
The frown deepened on Collinge's face and the carefully ordered dinner suddenly lost its savor. He and Elsie had been married for over a year and he had learned by now to recognize a certain hardness in her nature. She was only twenty-two and she looked like a kitten with her fluffy ash-blonde hair, her long sleepy blue eyes and her little red mouth, but underneath her seeming docility was a curious deter- mination to have her own way regard- less of whose feelings she trampled on in order to obtain it.
He wished now that he had kept the incident to himself, but it was too late for regrets and he must steel himself to fight the greed he saw growing in Elsie's eyes.
But between dominant people like Al- bert Hyams and Elsie he was wax, and in spite of his reluctance to taking up work that he thought lacked dig- nity, in less than a month he was signed up as a Paradox star.
The novelty of it was not without in- terest, for as Elsie had pointed out the acting was not all done within doors and the thrills of his first picture were
real to him. His principal objection was to the love-making for he was a clean-minded youngster and loyal to the girl he had married.
"Don't you care if I take Neva Lloyd in my arms and kiss her?" he asked one night, as he came in late. "I'm not made of wood, you know, neither is she!"
But Elsie valued her own attractions too highly to be frightened by his frankness. "She's been kissed by so many men that it's all in the day's work to her," she retorted carelessly.
So Collinge dropped that subject.
At the studio Neva Lloyd made things easy for him. She liked him from the first. He was young and re- freshingly unspoiled. He never tried to monopolize the camera and he treated her with unfailing respect. They were about the same age, but he seemed younger.
It was some satisfaction for Collinge to be able to buy the Stone in which he had driven to fame and fortune and he used it for a scene to be staged in the Westchester Hills.
Neva Lloyd watched him drive up the first morning.
"You handle your car so well that some day I'm going to ask you to drive me back to town," she said in the elder-sister tone that robbed their in- tercourse of all danger.
His brow darkened. "I should drive well. I began as a demonstrator."
"I've heard all about your race." Hyams had played it up to advertise his new star.
"I wish I'd never taken up that fool- ish bet!" Collinge groaned. This was one of the days when making a monkey out of himself, as he phrased it, irked him.
Neva Lloyd smiled gently. "I can't regret it," she said. "It has given me a very delightful companion to work with."
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Collinge felt that he was behaving like a boor. "Miss Lloyd, please for- give me! I'm not belittling your work, but I think I loved selling automobiles quite as much as driving them."
Neva Lloyd had tact. "It's the shak- ing down process that bothers you. In a short time petty annoyances will seem unimportant. The motion picture drama embraces such a wide field; we reach so many millions who cannot af- ford the regular theatre; we can teach so many lessons and we can bring joy into so many lives. I try to think of that part of my work, Mr. Collinge, when I get discouraged with its trivial side." He saw what she wanted him to see and instinctively he straightened up. Her few words reconciled him to his new profession as Hyams' flatteries and Elsie's prophecies had not done.
That night when he and Elsie were dining at the Biltmore he tried to tell her how he now felt about his work.
Elsie, however, was calculating the cost of the sable stole draped across the shoulders of the woman at the next table and she missed most of his speech. But she caught the end and she stared at him incredulously. "Tom, you're a scream! You and Neva Lloyd reform- ing the world through the movies!" She threw back her head and laughed shrilly.
"I wish you wouldn't take everything as a joke, Elsie," Collinge complained.
"And I wish you wouldn't take your- self so seriously," she retorted. "You ought to be wild with joy. You're get- ting a huge sum for two pictures and when you finish these you can demand double or get someone to put you at the head of your own company."
"I'm afraid I've made a mistake. All this money isn't getting us anywhere."
"It's buying us pretty good dinners."
"I used to enjoy spaghetti at Oli- vetti's just as much. None of the old crowd come here."
Elsie shook her head despairingly. "Have you no ambition?"
"Yes, for the things that count. I'm not blaming you, I was tempted and it seemed like easy money, but I wish to God I had my old job back!"
A look of fear swept over Elsie's face. "But you can't give up now!" she said quickly.
"I know it. I'll have to keep my contract for these two pictures at least."
Elsie took courage from that admis- sion. The pictures would stretch over six or eight months and by that time Tom would be so accustomed to luxury that he would not dream of going back to comparative poverty.
There were other days, of course, when he took pleasure in the fact that he could spend money freely. He was naturally conservative for he had been brought up in a frugal household, but he had a generous heart and he gave in to most of Elsie's extravagant de- mands.
After a time, however, he decided it would be necessary to call a halt. The bills that came in were of alarming pro- portions.
Elsie had insisted upon their giving up their five room flat and taking a suite at an apartment hotel down town. He had protested at first, but in the end had given in as usual.
One morning he looked up from a sheaf of bills as Elsie came into the living room where breakfast was being served. He frowned as he saw that she was wearing an elaborate negligee of black Chantilly lace over flesh colored Georgette Crepe.
"See here, girlie, I'm not a Chaplin, you know, and the bills this month are staggerers. We've got to pull up a bit," he said.
Elsie seated herself and dug into her slice of Honey Dew melon. "You should worry! Tom, you've got an
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awfully small outlook. I'll bet if you wanted to throw over the Paradox peo- ple you could get double with The Fea- ture Films."
"And leave Hyams in the lurch after he's been so decent to us?"
"You mean leave Neva Lloyd."
"Tom!" she mimicked him. "Don't forget that you called her a peach when you first began to work with her. I don't mind if your professional admira- tion slops over a bit, but don't think you are hoodwinking me."
"I can't make you out at all, Elsie. I think the money has gone to your head so that you can't see anything else." Collinge spoke slowly. He refused to answer her preposterous attack. He ad- mired Neva Lloyd tremendously, both as an actress and as a woman, but he loved his wife.
"Money's a very good thing, and you never can have too much of it. As for loyalty to Hyams, do you think he wouldn't knife you tomorrow if he could get someone else as good looking for less money?"
"I do. Men have some sense of honor."
"Not men like Hyams."
"Have you any foundation for that assertion?"
"I'm judging by his past perform- ances. I sit in the side lines and I hear a lot that never gets by to the players."
"And you've heard that Hyams isn't square?"
"Not when it interferes with his own pocket."
"And you think the Feature Films would make it worth my while to break with him?"
"I know it." Elsie's tone was posi- tive. "I've met Colonel Roberts, he's backing the Feature Films, and we've talked of what you could do if you had a free hand."
"Hartley Roberts, president of the
Spruce Tire Company. Where did you meet that rounder?" Collinge asked sternly.
Elsie sighed. She hoped Tom wasn't going to be tiresome. What if Roberts were fast? He was a millionaire and a good spender. "At the Biltmore," she said suddenly.
"Cut him out! I won't have my wife meeting men like that!"
"If I do, will you see the Feature people?"
"No, but if you don't I'll go back to selling automobiles as soon as I finish the new picture."
"You couldn't. You'd hate to give up all this as much as I would! You pose as liking simple things, but I notice you take very kindly to silk pajamas and a fifty-dollar dressing gown."
Collinge stared at the brocaded robe which enveloped his form and he won- dered if Elsie were right. He had taken kindly to luxuries, but he had salved his conscience by saying to him- self that he could give them up tomor- row without a pang.
Elsie's slurs about Hyams made him thoughtful, and that morning as he drove down to the studio he wondered how he really stood with the Paradox director. His doubts, however, were quickly set aside as Hyams greeted him with the news that the company was to be sent down to Palm Beach the fol- lowing week for the new picture.
On his way to his dressing room he passed Neva Lloyd. "Heard the news? Gee! It makes me feel like a million- aire, Palm Beach in February!" He was boyishly excited over the prospect of his first trip south.
Neva Lloyd smiled indulgently. "Sometimes it is hard to realize that most of our glory is pasteboard. Haven't you ever been to Florida?"
"Indeed not. I couldn't do stunts like that on a salesman's salary. Elsie is going to be delighted."
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"So Mrs. Collinge is going with us?"
"You bet she is! I stipulated that in the beginning, no long separations from my wife. She's all the family I have, Miss Lloyd."
"You're lucky to have her." Then Neva Lloyd passed on. She had long since taken Elsie Collinge's measure and she wondered why a heartless little creature like that should have won a real man when other women who would have appreciated a sincere affection went without.
Collinge was right. Elsie was de- lighted and she promptly plunged into an orgy of shopping in order to have something fit to wear.
He was aghast at the amount of bag- gage necessary to contain her belong- ings.
"Five trunks and two hat boxes!" he commented. "What have you got in them?"
"Clothes, you idiot! Lovely, chiffony things! No one is going to take the shine out of me at Palm Beach." She was in high good humor for she had had tea that afternoon with Hartley Rob- erts and the colonel had vowed that he would follow her to Florida to see that she did not get lonesome while her hus- band was playing love scenes with Neva Lloyd under the palms.
The Paradox company traveled south in a private car and Elsie went along as a privileged guest. During the trip she managed to antagonize most of the members by her arrogance and she made herself especially disagreeable to Neva Lloyd.
Collinge noticed it and spoke to her. "What have you got against Miss Lloyd?" he asked the first night, after they had retired to their stateroom.
"Principally the fact that she tries to patronize me."
"Nonsense, she's trying to make you feel at home. Naturally, you are out of
your element in a crowd of theatrical people."
"And I prefer to remain so. I don't have to mix with these freaks when we get to Palm Beach."
"Freaks! You are speaking of the people with whom I earn my living!"
"You, not I!" Elsie made the dis- tinction clear.
"But it's your living as well, and you got me into it." Collinge was growing angry.
"I did and sometimes I wonder you're not ashamed to owe it all to me."
"I hadn't thought of it in that way. So I ought to be grateful to you for the chance to make a monkey out of myself with a lot of other freaks!" His face darkened. Elsie seemed to take a de- light in irritating him these days.
"Don't fuss tonight, Tom, I'm sleepy." She reached up and encircled his neck with her arm. "There, you're a beautiful thing and I'm proud of you!" She kissed him lightly, but her careless caresses had no power to thrill him in these days.
Women had not entered into the busy automobile salesman's life, but the mov- ing picture actor had frequent oppor- tunities to realize what deep, overmas- tering passion between men and women meant.
He had searched to the depths of El- sie's shallow nature and had come to the conclusion that she had no more to offer and he must be content with sur- face affection.
The dolce far niente life of the south got under his guard and he plunged into its pleasures with almost as much zest as Elsie did. The idea of ocean bathing in February fascinated him and he spent hours in the surf. Elsie posed on the beach in an abbreviated satin cos- tume, but Neva Lloyd was a strong swimmer and it was she who went out with him beyond the breakers and swam along the coast. It was Neva Lloyd
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who bicycled through winding paths with him while Elsie spent her after- noons dancing and again it was Neva Lloyd who initiated him into the joys of motor boating on Lake Worth.
At the Beach Club one night he ran across Roberts. The older man's greeting was friendly but not over cor- dial so that Collinge had no suspicion that Roberts and Elsie were meeting daily while he was at work or playing with Neva Lloyd.
"My husband warns me that you are a dangerous man." Elsie said the next afternoon as she sipped a bacardi dicky under the cocoanut palms.
"And what about you? Doesn't he realize that you are a constant menace to a man's peace of mind?" Roberts thought he knew every move in the game he was playing, but he had yet to fathom the depth of guile that lay beneath the sleepy blue eyes raised in- nocently to his.
"Not to yours," she murmured in- sinuatingly.
"Haven't you drawn me all the way from New York to Florida?"
"I'm not the only attraction at Palm Beach."
"You are as far as I am concerned."
Elsie was content. She had long since measured the situation. Tom was a money maker at present, but the colonel had a solid position in the finan- cial world and her ambition had risen by leaps and bounds since it had been unleashed a few short months ago. Now she saw no reason why she could not deftly fan the flame of the colonel's ardor into the fire that burned before the hymeneal altar.
And unconsciously Neva Lloyd was furthering her plans. The actress was making Collinge content with only oc- casional glimpses of his wife.
The picture progressed rapidly but it was over two weeks in the making, two weeks during which time Hartley
Roberts sank deep into the pit which Elsie's sublety dug for him and in which Collinge turned to Neva Lloyd for com- radeship.
He was an ardent fisherman. He had never been able to persuade Elsie to take any interest in the sport but Neva Lloyd was almost as keen about angling as he was.
"When we finish you ought to run down to Miami and get some deep sea fishing," she told him one morning as they came ashore with a creditable catch.
"I'd love it." He turned to her eager- ly. "Would you come?"
"With you?" But her smile had no coquetry in it.
"And Elsie, of course. I suppose there's dancing there too."
"I suppose there is but you ought to go alone. Deep sea fishing is a man's sport."
"You've taught me that a woman can share in a lot of sports that I once thought belonged solely to men." His admiring glance took in her slender compact figure with its muscles of steel hidden beneath a seemingly fragile ex- terior.
"It's only since I've been in the pic- tures that I've let my natural tomboy inclinations have full sway. I used to think they might count against my fem- inine charm." Her tone was full of gentle raillery.
"As if anything could do that," he told her warmly.
"Are you trying to flatter me?" she demanded, a slightly worried crease appearing between her eyes.
"No, I'm paying you an honest trib- ute. You've given me your friendship, Neva, and you can't imagine how I value it." He spoke earnestly for at that time he was not experienced enough to classify his emotions.
But Neva Lloyd saw pitfalls ahead. She dared not admit even to herself
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how much Collinge was beginning to mean to her. No other man with whom she had been associated either on the legitimate stage or in pictures had awakened this tender feeling that had a maternal quality about it. Neva Lloyd hated the ugly facts of life. A woman of strong passions she had always held herself in check waiting for the man who would come to mean all the world to her and now she faced the realization that he had come, but he belonged to another woman and she must neither forget it herself nor allow him to do so.
Collinge was miscast as an actor. His heart was not in his work. He was flashing, meteor-like across the motion picture sky but his trail would be brief. He had too much virility to remain con- tent with make-believe incidents and some day he would go back to the busi- ness world that called out his best ac- tivities. She saw that clearly but now she wondered if he would go soon enough to spare them both a disil- lusioning scene.
She spoke now of his former occupa- tion. "Do you ever think of going back to it?" she asked.
"Not now," he returned frankly. "At first I used to, but I guess the lure of wealth has got me, too. Five thousand a year doesn't seem much to me nowa- days."
"But you wouldn't remain a five thou- sand a year man."
"It'd be tough climbing up to the twenty-five thousand class."
"I thought you liked hard work?"
"I thought so myself once."
"I'm hoping you'll see how much bet- ter it would be for you. It isn't as if you were a born actor, you know."
Collinge turned puzzled eyes in her direction. "But I'm making good."
"On your face and your figure and your ability to do stunts."
That hurt. It startled him out of the complacent mood into which he had
drifted since he had come south. "I have no real talent?" he asked slowly. "It's just my personal appearance that gets across?"
Neva Lloyd felt like a surgeon facing a delicate operation, but she did not flinch from the task before her though it would probably take this man out of her life. "It's your youth and your good looks and you're too big a man to go on making money out of those things."
He tried to digest her statement. A few months ago he had had her own viewpoint of the situation but of late he had deluded himself with visions of his own glory. "But I'm a Paradox star!" he protested.
Neva Lloyd smiled indulgently. "You're a comet, with a brilliant tail and you never will be a fixed planet in our painted sky, thank heaven for that!"
"It looks as if you wanted to get rid of me."
"If I do, it's for your own good," she said gravely. "Your present work is not conducive to marital happiness. Aren't you conscious of how little you see of your wife?"
His brow darkened. "I don't believe she cares."
"If she's drifting away it's up to you to win her back before it's too late. You wouldn't want to lose her, would you ?"
"Of course not." His answer came quickly for he was still a primitive man with fixed ideas of right and wrong and an old-fashioned sense of the sacred claims of duty.
They walked on in silence for a few moments and then he stopped.
"I'm not going in. Elsie went motor boating this afternoon and I think I'll play the dutiful husband stunt and meet her on the dock," he said with an attempt at lightness.
"Good boy!" Neva Lloyd commented. "And get out of pictures soon, Tom,
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114 The Comet and the Star
they're bad for married men who want plenty of time in which to love their wives," she concluded.
Then she went up the steps and into the hotel.
Collinge looked after her admiring- ly. What a woman, he thought! What a comrade! What a wife, for some lucky man! And then he pulled him- self up sharply and compressed his lips as he realized the full danger of indul- ging in such thoughts.
During the balance of their stay at Palm Beach he devoted every spare mo- ment to Elsie, and as Roberts had gone north after establishing a complete basis of understanding, she accepted his attentions with a malicious tolerance that made him feel as if she saw through his clumsy attempts to simu- late an affection which had ceased to ex- ist.
He did not tell her that he had writ- ten to the Stone Motor Company until they were on the train, homeward bound. When she heard it she raised her brows significantly.
"What's the idea of bluffing like that? You'd better stick to Hyams, you've lost your chance with the Feature Films," she said contemptuously.
"I've told Hyams I'm through."
"Indeed? And have you and the lovely Neva quarreled?"
"See here, Elsie, keep her name out of this!" His tone was harsh. It was growingly increasingly difficult to retain his temper under Elsie's constant jibes. "These past months have been a night- mare, but we'll wake up soon and find it's all been an ugly dream. Perhaps when we settle down to a sane way of living again, we'll be able to get back our old fondness for each other."
But Elsie refused to reply to that. She merely smiled and opened her book to indicate that as far as she was con- cerned the matter was not worth talking about.
Just before they pulled into the sta- tion Collinge stepped over to Neva Lloyd.
"When we get to New York it's to be good-bye," he said significantly. "But that's what you wanted, wasn't it?" His face was drawn and his eyes were full of misery, but she ignored these signs of suffering and she forced a brave little smile to her lips as she answered:
"Yes, and I wish you all the luck in the world!" She held out her hand and as he took it he realized the truth. Not only had he learned to care but he had taught her to care also.
He turned away abruptly to find El- sie at his elbow.
"Why the long farewell? Won't you see each other tomorrow?" she asked.
"No! I told you I was getting out of the pictures and going back to real life!"
"Dear Tom! You'd be quite bearable if you didn't take yourself so se- riously."
He ignored that and then he gathered their hand luggage together and sig- nalled for a porter.
The next morning he rose early and went down town to the Stone Com- pany's office. They welcomed him back and offered him a percentage on his sales which would bring his salary up considerably. Business details took up most of the day, but about five o'clock he went back to the hotel pre- pared to come to an understanding with Elsie in regard to their future way of living.
They would have to begin on an economical basis, but he looked forward to a few hardships which should absorb him so that he would not have time for regrets.
He was whirled up in the elevator and he let himself into the suite which Elsie had insisted upon and he called to her cheerfully from the entrance hall.
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The Comet and the Star 115
But there was no answer. He passed through the living room into her bed- room, but she was not there and the room had a curiously unoccupied look. There was nothing flung over the chairs, nothing on the bed and the bureau was bare of her numerous toilet articles.
A vague foreboding seized him, but he brushed it aside and went on into his bedroom beyond. There, on the chif- fonier, was a large envelope addressed to him in Elsie's irregular hand. He tore it open.
"You fool!" he read. "If you bored me when you were making money how did you think I was going to put up with you when you went back to your old job? I'm going west and when I get my divorce—and don't think you can stop me for you can't—I'm going to marry Colonel Roberts. I'm not go- ing to drag Neva Lloyd into this as I don't want any scandal that will react on me in the position I am soon going to hold. And don't worry over having lost my love. I know now I never loved you. I must have fallen a victim to those good looks of yours which brought you in a nice fortune until you got so ridiculously sensitive. I wish
Neva Lloyd joy of you. I suppose now you'll go back to pictures and star to- gether."
It was a spiteful letter and it pois- oned his last tender memory of the girl he had once thought her. She must have laid her plans before she had left Palm Beach and doubtless by this time she was speeding west toward freedom. Now that her step was irrevocably taken he could pity her. She set too great a store on the non-essentials of life, such as money, while the things that really counted were passed con- temptuously by. She would be happy when she had attained her selfish desire and she would never miss what she had lightly cast aside. She had never loved him and now he could admit that he had never really loved her. He had loved his dream of her.
He drew a long breath. Some day he would be free to go to Neva Lloyd and put the deep love that filled his heart into words, but he would never go back into pictures. Neva herself had said they were bad for married men who wanted time in which to love their wives, and he wanted the rest of his life to devote to loving her.
How Can the May Be Fair?
By Lizette Luère
HOW can the year swing into May, How can the May be fair, When love is buried in a grave, And Joy is mourning there?
Oh, Woodland white with laurel bloom, Oh, laughing airs of May, Your fresh and carefree loveliness, Must break my heart to-day!
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O Woman! Woman!
By M. A. Hitchcock
SAM was very much sur- prised when he heard of the broken engagement of his friend, Billy, and a charming young woman ac- quaintance, and condemned Billy when he learned that he was the cause of it.
I understand that you broke off
the engagement," said Sam. "I don't see how you could treat Florence so shabbily.
"Oh, it wasn't done at all brutally," replied Billy. "I managed it very di- plomatically!"
"How?" queried Sam.
"Why," explained Billy, "I just sim- ply told her what my salary is."
One Day in May
By Will Thompson
ONE day in May, of cloudless blue, You took my hand beside the brook; And where brown bees the cowslips knew, Into your eyes you bade me look.
Of cloudless blue the mid-spring sky; Wild lilies hung their blushing bells Beside the brook that rippled by; The crinkled ferns waved in the dells.
One day in May we sought the shrine That love had made; and where brown bees Buzzed in the sun, I let you twine A crown of pale anemones.
I trusted you; you took my hand; And I was glad, nor felt surprise. The cowslips knew what May had planned— You bade me look into your eyes.
[Page 117]
The Fool
By Charles Woodstock
IF her husband hadn't been such a sheer fool, as she contemptu- ously dubbed him, Irene Wal- ters might at least have felt a slight qualm for the thing she had done to him. As it was, how- ever, her double betrayal of him in- stilled in her naught but a feeling of vicious, unalloyed joy—for it would mean that soon, even in a scant few days or so, she could at last leave for- ever with the man she loved and the man who loved her!
The half dozen years of her marriage, during which each succeeding day had seemed more dull and more dissatis- fying than the other, would then be behind her—nothing more than a grim nightmare that would but serve to con- trast with the glorious life that would be hers. It was difficult to contain her elation. She felt like calling up several friends and letting them know, like tell- ing the very servants downstairs, like shrieking it aloud to all the world!
But she stilled her emotion and con- tinued sitting quietly in her boudoir, gazing steadfastly and with far-off eyes at her own reflection in the mirror. Presently she smiled—slowly, trium- phantly, a bit cruelly. After all, it was Jasper himself who had been his own ruin. For once, though unknowingly and through no absolutely direct fault of his own, he had mentioned just a few brief words of the thing he always kept religiously locked up in the very depths of his soul—his business!
Not that she had wanted, formerly, to hear anything about it. No—Heav-
ens, no! The very word, alone, was enough to send a shiver of repugnance through her. If she were giving a din- ner and he were late, it was always that word, "business," that was the excuse; when he had to break an engagement they had made, the same thing was blamed for it; whenever she spoke of new expenditures for the house, or of an elaborate affair, or of some rather costly clothes or jewels, it was always to remain undecided until he saw how "business" was going and how the books would balance at the end of the month!
She didn't know anything about the thing—or didn't want to. Decidedly no. Even if she had, it would have been useless, for Jasper never talked, it was said, to either man or woman in re- gard to his affairs down in Wall Street. That, in fact, was what had lately made her task so difficult; that was why she had searched through his papers and his pockets; that was why she had care- fully, cautiously, cunningly sounded him in reference to his latest deal in the effort to find out just one thing—the name of the stock he intended "unload- ing" as a surprise and a ruse to an opposing clique! . . .
Again she smiled. It seemed ironic that she, of all people, should finally wish to learn something about that which she had abhorred. However, it Was only through this very finding out, her lover had shown her, that they could ever hope to run off and have each other forever and all time. And at last, thank God, it was to come to pass. That very afternoon—perhaps
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118 The Fool
even now—her husband would receive rather a crushing financial surprise that at the same time would give Roy a small fortune that would take them to a new land and a new life! . . .
For over the last year, now, happi- ness of a sort had been hers—but a happiness that was tinged with an ach- ing, chafing regret that she might not in- dulge in it openly. Since that glorious night when Roy Trafford, at a house party up in the Berkshires, had told her that he loved her, she had waited for just this moment. From the very be- ginning, it seemed, they had both been strongly drawn toward the other. He had told her hotly, passionately, fierce- ly, that he wanted her and was going to have her—money being the only thing that stood in their way. The want of it, that is.
He was struggling along down in Wall Street, making about enough to enable him to keep up his end and get along passably—but he had no capital or resources behind him, to speak of. She, though married to Jasper Walters, had no fortune in her own right. There- fore, they had but hoped and prayed that the time would come when Roy made a gigantic coup that would give them enough to sail for other lands and spend their days in heavenly idleness, always together. It had seemed more and more hopeless as each day went by —until Roy had learned what he had a scant week ago!
Flushed, excited, jubilant, he had come to her and told her that if she could but discover the name of a cer- tain stock Jasper was intending to load he could make a veritable small fortune. He had gone into the thing fully, but it had all been so much Greek to her. It was something about Jasper doing it as a ruse in order to lower the price so that he himself might get more later at a much lower figure; but, if Roy bought it up, he could come in on the big price
when the time came. Jasper, of course, would be clever enough to sell several different ones—and the point was to learn just which one was important. That, more or less, was all that she understood—all that she wanted to. Roy knew, and that was enough. One thing, however, stood out. Should Roy find out what he wanted, he intended putting in the few thousands he had scraped together, with what he could borrow, and coming out with enough for life for them. And at last—at last, thank God—she had learned! . . .
Jasper, last night, had again indulged in a habit that had formerly been ex- ceedingly annoying—talking in his sleep. He had seemed restless most of the night, tossing about and mumbling in- coherently. At first, in anger, she had started to wake him—but then he had suddenly talked fairly clearly, apparent- ly speaking of the deal he intended exe- cuting on the morrow. It seemed that he was entirely engrossed with this stock he was going to unload—the F. L. & W., whatever that meant—and had named it repeatedly. With tense body and held breath she had listened, joy madly surging through her as she ob- tained further and positive evidence that it was the name Roy wanted to know. F. L. & W.—F. L. & W.— . . . How well she knew it! . . .
There had been no sleep for her from then on. With wide eyes and pounding heart she had waited through the night, through the morning, through breakfast —and when Jasper had finally quit the house she rushed to the telephone in her boudoir and told Roy the glad news. At first he had seemed surprised that it was the F. L. & W., but he had chuck- lingly remarked that "Walters was sure- ly a sly old fox" and had told her that this very day would see him successful and that before many days were over they would be steaming off to start in on their glorious life together! . . .
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The Fool 119
The following hours had seemed more than treble their time, as with raw nerves she had waited for the tele- phone message from him at least say- ing that all was well. God, but how glad she would be never again to see precise, businesslike Jasper. Business. He was clever in that, they said. Well, possibly; but outside of it what a fool he was! Why, he had not even the slightest suspicion of her affair with Roy, although several times she had thought the escapes desperately narrow. No, instead of suspecting, he had occa- sionally remarked that "young Trafford was certainly a nice, clean chap and that he was glad to see that he dropped in so much and kept her company when her old husband was held down at his desk!" . . . Fool—fool . . .
But when would Roy telephone? Heavens, it was—yes, it was after two already. Why didn't he let her know? Certainly he must by this time have fin- ished the important and decisive part! . . She mustn't be too impatient, though. It was that horrible "business" again, and one never knew when that would end! . . . Anyway, what differ- ence did a few minutes, or hours, make? Hadn't she waited month after month for just this moment? And it was surely coming soon! Roy—dear, dear Roy! . . .
Indistinctly, she heard the bell below tinkle. She sat up with a start. Was it—could it be—Roy? . . . But, no; he always rang her up first. Still— perhaps . . .
But then, coming the stairs, she heard the soft, even, regular footsteps that she knew so well. She wrinkled her nose annoyedly. What was bringing Jasper home so early today? Perhaps —perhaps the business surprise! Then Roy had triumphed! . . . But her hus- band was coming into her boudoir. Al- ready he was at the door. How both- ersome! . . .
She smiled her usual mechanical smile when he entered:
"Hello, Jasper," she called out, try- ing her best to speak quite pleasantly, "and what under the sun brings you back from your beloved business at this early hour?"
"Oh, nothing in particular," he smiled in return, and, yawning, sat down. "Finished up rather early and felt a bit tired! . . . But why aren't you off at some tea or such stuff?"
She made some trivial remark about feeling slightly played out herself. Heavens, was he going to sit here talk- ing with her for any length of time? She hoped not. Roy, never in the world realizing that Jasper was here at this hour, might ring up at any moment. Out of the corner of her eye, she stud- ied his face closely. No, nothing was there that told of his having received a business surprise. It was cool, calm, serene as always—and just as expres- sionless. How it got on her nerves, now more than ever—that quiet face and those watery blue eyes—ugh! . . . Yes, he looked like a fool—a stupid, awkward, boresome fool!
How different Roy was—young, good-looking, laughing Roy. How de- liciously he made love—how happy she was while she was with him—how . . .
She knew that she paled a trifle and that her heart went forward at least several notches. Was—was he going to tell of the blow?
But Jasper's voice broke into her thoughts as he again stretched and yawningly remarked:
"Oh, by the way, Irene. Had rather a bad shock today. Quite upset me. In fact, that's one reason why I came home a bit early!"
"Yes," she managed to ask, quietly solicitous.
He was slow in answering—and it seemed to her as if his watery blue eyes, suddenly grown strangely cold and
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120 The Fool
darker, were searing into her very soul.
"Young friend of ours," he drawled carelessly, "poor Roy Trafford! Hmmm. Got badly caught on some stock, I hear. Must have got things mixed up, somehow. He's usually pas- sably shrewd!"
He paused deliberately, and how she held up she didn't know. She felt her heart almost stop and her face go death- ly white and cold. Her muscles con- tracted and her fingers stiffened into taut fists as she hid them in the folds of her wrap:
"Re—really?" she asked, her voice sounding very faint and uanatural to her.
Her husband rose, stretched again, and informed her that he thought he'd take a bit of a nap before dinner came around. Then, as if he had suddenly remembered:
"Oh, Trafford? . . . Yes—yes, it's the truth. Poor chap. Bungled every- thing. Lost every penny he owned as well as a lot he had borrowed on notes, I believe. Ah, I heard that he sud- denly quit town—had to, I guess, wasn't healthy for him! . . . Too bad—yes, too bad. Feel very sorry, especially as —ah—especially as I had rather a good day of it myself, you know!"
But she didn't hear a word he said— or she hardly cared, for the moment,
whether he knew it or not. His back was turned and she watched him dazed- ly, feeling as if she would like to spring on him and tear him to the ground, if for no other reason than to give vent to her disappointment!
Roy—Roy had failed. Something had gone wrong. He was a fugitive. Their dream was over. God — dear God, what agony! ...
At the door her husband turned. "Oh, Irene," he called out, his voice peculiarly quiet.
She looked up. His face was no lon- ger calm and serene and—stupid. In- stead, there was an expression of de- moniacal cunning and fiendish satisfac- tion in his every feature that caused her to unconsciously shudder:
"By the way," he drawled, his every word a slow and poignant sting, "I be- lieve that I indulged in my old habit of talking in my sleep last night, didn't I? . . . But never mind now, dear girl; I'll speak of that later, after my little nap—about that and several other little matters that I want settled up!"
With a cruel smile and low laugh he was gone—and with him, Irene knew, was gone her lover as well as the hus- band who had formerly been at least available as a means of support!
Fool—fool? . . . God! She was the fool! . . .
My Friend
By Karl R. Coolidge
I HAVE always felt that Tom was my best friend.
Only the other day I, as a married man, gave him a few instructions about the proper procedure in making love to a woman.
Today I find that Tom used this information so successfully that he has persuaded my wife to elope with him.
Now I know that Tom is my best friend.
[Page 121]
Her Horrible Revenge
By Terrell Love Holliday
"DEAR? Maurine?"
"Umph!" grunted Mrs. Ammizun, sleepily shaking off the trembling hand that clutched her arm.
"Maurine—" Mr. Ammizun's teeth were rattling audibly now—"please wake up. I just know there's a woman under the bed."
"Oh, the devil! You've been certain of that two or three nights a week ever since we were married. I suppose I'll have to crawl out in the cold to satisfy you."
"If you will, dear. I simply can't go to sleep until I know."
"Where's my gun and flashlight?" growled the head of the house.
Mr. Ammizun drew them from be- neath the pillow, holding the weapon as if it were a loathsome and dangerous bug.
"Thunderation! Bertie, why don't you put your shoes where I won't step on them?"
From away down under the covers Mr. Ammizun sent an apology, and waited breathlessly, as he always did.
"Hey, you hussy! Come out of there, or I'll blow a hole through you."
"Mercy!" shuddered Ammizun, re- treating farther beneath the covers. "There is one. What if she should hurt Maurine? She'd b-better not. I'll scratch her eyes out."
"Throw up your hands!"
"I can't," peevishly replied the bur-
glaress. "I have a tight-sleeved waist under this sweater."
"I suppose," cuttingly remarked Mrs. Ammizun, "that you started home with a club stew and wandered in here by mistake?"
"No," responded the intruder, not to be outdone in facetiousness. "My chauffeuress not only is particular to deposit me at the right door, but she takes me in and puts me to bed."
"Then, how do you account—"
"Oh, I heard that your husband was always expecting to find a woman un- der the bed, and I thought I could save him one disappointment. No doubt he has had many since he married you," mocked the burglaress.
"Bertie! Get up and call the police, before I shoot this brazen jade."
"My dear!" protested Ammizun. "In pajamas!"
Mrs. Ammizun tossed him a dressing gown and shifted round to shield him from the strange woman's gaze while he donned it.
"You! My Bertie!" cried the bur- glaress, when she saw his face.
"Myrilla!" Ammizun, clutching at the dressing-table for support, stared at the ghost of his past.
"So you are the woman who stole my lover while I was fighting for my coun- try in a foreign land," hissed the bur- glaress.
"I—" rejoined Mrs. Ammizun, re- turning the bareful glare—"married the poor, deluded boy you left behind you." Suddenly the burglaress leapt for-
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122 Her Horrible Revenge
ward, seized her rival's wrist and, after a brief struggle, gained possession of the gun.
"Sit down."
Mrs. Ammizun sat and was tied fast to the chair.
"Now." Myrilla thrust the pistol into her bloomer pocket and held out her arms to her erstwhile lover. "Come away with me, dear," she pleaded. "I have enough laid by for two."
"You forget," said Bertie with quiet dignity, moving nearer to his wife.
"Prude!" sneered the burglaress. "You know you love me."
He remained silent.
"You do," boasted Myrilla. "And she noticed your hesitancy in denying it."
"I do not," he disputed, paling. Vi- sioning what the future held, he was, for an instant, tempted to flee the wrath to come. But the precepts of a pure and noble father restrained him. He shook his head.
"What's to hinder my taking you?" Myrilla caught him roughly and held him so close that her hot breath fanned his plump pink cheeks.
"No woman," he said simply, realiz- ing that only an appeal to her chivalry could save him, "will dishonor the man she really loves."
Myrilla's arms dropped. "Forgive me," she whispered, caressing him with her eyes. "As for you—" she turned to Mrs. Ammizun, who writhed helplessly in her chair—"this shall be my re- venge."
Snap went the light switch.
"Please, oh, please don't!" sounded Bertie's pleading voice.
Smack! Smack! The lights came on again.
"You never will know—" taunted the burglaress, departing — "whether or not your husband, instead of merely submitting to my kisses, recipro- cated."
By Virginia Biddle
YOUR face was like a wild flower, I could not break the spell; And so I kissed you in your bower, And told you fairy tales an hour, And breathed a light farewell.
And if I loved you for a day, As summer loving goes, —My love was Will o' Wisp and gay As April gold upon the spray, Or rain upon the rose!
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Motion Picture Department
Edited by Alice Glenister
James Montgomery Flagg once again takes his brush "in hand" to paint the cover for Saucy Stories this month—this time he gives us his ideal of Florence Dixon, of whom it is said, "She is the most photographed girl in America," and probably you have by this time met Miss Dixon on the screen, as she was starred in one of the latest James Montgomery Flagg Comedies that Paramount are releasing, titled, "Independence B'Gosh!" Remember? She had the part of maid to Sara, wife of Horatio Whiffle—and was also sweetheart of Horatio's man, Sam (Olin Howland).
Who of us hasn't craved for inde- pendence? But I am afraid we do not know just what the word means in all senses; maybe we can profit from the lesson of Horatio and Sara. They were so darned poor, it hurt. They were happy, though they didn't know it—for they had work, real, live, honest-to- goodness work, but Horatio wanted in- dependence, b'gosh.
As sudden as a cyclone came an in- heritance of $89,000,000 (did you know there was that much money left after the war?)—and here was Horatio's chance to get on the inside of the inde-
pendence game, and into it he did get, he, Sara, Sam and Lily; between eve- ning clothes, baths, tight shoes and nothing to do but spend money, Horatio found he was not half so independent as he was down in the little ole bucolic dump, Kerchunkett, Maine, their own home town.
Mr. Flagg has his two unhappy, rich and not youthful couple sneak back to the old home, throw independence, store clothes and shoes to the winds, or whatever they use in the country for discarded wearing apparel, and his check book and bank balance he donates to Rockefeller, who cares more for money than anyone or anything else, and we leave them at the end of the second reel and a perfect day, enjoying their hard-earned independence, b'gosh.
* * *
And now here comes Ora Carew, heading her own company. It is be- yond all conception where they get all the ambition, but they get it and in its most violent form. It takes them from the schoolroom, yes, I might almost say from the very laps of their mothers, up through small parts, then on up a little higher to perhaps a second to the lead, then chance helps them on their way
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124 Motion Picture Department
with a boost to the top rung of the lad- der, "the lead"; but does ambition leave them there? Far be it from ambition to leave them high and dry after going so far; not so, it takes them on up and beyond — their wings have grown stronger, as they achieved success, until they are now able to soar alone.
Ora, if she has anything, has ambi- tion, and, it would seem, in large quan- tity. It began to grow way back in the old Keystone Comedy days, when Mack Sennett, always with one comedy eye open for a new beauty to add to his cast, picked Ora and at the same time a long-time contract to star in Keystone- Triangle productions.
Now, Ora had ambition to do more serious work and at the end of her con- tract did a serial for Pathé, which is not yet released. Don't you remember the splendid work she did opposite Wallace Reid in "Too Many Millions"? Which proves that Ora's ambition was guiding her in the right direction. Also, must I mention her work with Tom Moore, in "Go West, Young Man." It is small wonder that Ora and her am- bition felt she could "go it alone," so after finishing her picture with Tom, she was out on location filming the first scenes of her premier as a lone star. We have not yet been advised re- garding the release or name of this picture.
Ora Carew hails from that salty State, Utah, yea, even from Salt Lake City, by which we do not insinuate any- thing. She is pretty enough for any old State to be proud of; a quantity of rich dark hair, and big brown eyes, al- though I think a trifle too serious; but that is perhaps due to the viewpoint she has of anything she undertakes—with her, whatever she is doing claims all the best that is in her. That is why Ora will make a sure bet as a star. Like all live girls, she can swim, dance and ride horseback.
Along comes Olive Thomas, with am- bition all out of breath trying to keep up with her. Olive has so long been associated with Triangle and surround- ed with such poor material, it is good to have her try her own wings and place herself in hands that will of a surety make the most of her talents and rare beauty. For Olive is beautiful— she is like an artistically cut cameo, pink and white, and glorious hair that matches her slumberous eyes; to de- scribe the color of those eyes is impos- sible—they are blue, brown, grey, and all of these blended.
Myron Selznick, son of that well- known Select Pictures producer, is go- ing to be responsible for just what Olive will do for us in the future. "Up Stars and Down" will have been re- leased ere this—it's a dainty bit, like Olive, and for her first picture was well chosen. Her next, a story from the pen of one of Saucy Stories' constant contributors, The story ran as a serial in Saucy Stories in the early Spring of last year—"The Spite Bride." It is an ideal story for Olive, and I am anx- iously looking forward to its release.
* * *
Do not fail to see Mitchell Lewis, Select Pictures star, in "Children of Banishment," adapted for the screen from the well-known novel of the same name, by Francis William Sullivan. The picture is under the direction of Norval MacGregor, who, in his earlier days, was leading man and later director and manager for Nance O'Neil. A great call has been made for the return of Mitchell Lewis as a star—the public had not forgotten his excellent work in "The Barrier," "The Bar Sinister" and "The Sign Invisible"; these placed Lewis in the high ranks as a portrayer of half-caste types, but his ability is versatile and he has been given a variety of roles since then, that proved him worthy of more pleasurable stories.
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Select were awake to a future with Mitchell Lewis in features that will bring out all the bigness of his person- ality and evenly balanced screen acting. He is big and wholesome—one feels his bigness when meeting him personally. He has dark brown hair, that sort of crisps over his head, and eyes that match in color. He is a powerful swimmer and a lover of horses. In "Children of Banishment" he gives us the best work of his career as a screen artist.
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A unique little folder containing some interesting bits of gossip about a certain sprightly little star came to me this morning. On its cover are the words, "Bessie Barriscale to Ye Photoplay Editor." Its contents are as unique as the cover, and I cannot resist quoting some of them to you. Since Bessie has been under the direction of her very own husband, Howard Hickman, an en- tirely new screen star has evolved be- for eour eyes, which all goes to prove what I have been trying to prove to others, that the director has a lot and then some to do with the success or failure of a screen story.
Under the caption of "Honey" fol- lows this—"Just how they fell to talking about bees and honey and the Padres nobody knows, but Bessie Barriscale astonished her party by her knowledge of bees. It was lunch hour for the Barriscale company on location near Redlands, when somebody said:
" ‘The Old Mission honey made of orange blossoms, that the Padres used to clarify and put up in jars was the most famous honey in the world. It was the very heart's blood of the blos- som.' "
" ‘There is a kind of honey even sweeter, more fragrant and more de- licious,' said Bessie B., ‘and that is honey made from the blossom of the mesquite. It is heavenly and Arizona
is the place to get it, and that reminds me of a story an old Indian told me of the ways of bees. According to his lore the humble bee is the farmer of the bee family. He is easy going, good natured and a hard worker, but he has one fatal weakness—he loves to have his back rubbed.
" ‘The honey-bee knows this and often when they meet him coming home laden with honey, they will engage him in friendly conversation and while one soothes him into blissful repose by rub- bing his back, two or three others rob him of every smidgeon of honey he had worked all day to gather.'
" ‘All of which goes to show,' said B. B., ‘that you can always get a man through his weakness—' Bessie ought to know—but— ‘Is bumble bee honey good to eat?' Bessie replies, ‘the field mice will tell you that is.' "
Another caption—"Busy Bees," heads this—"Bessie Barriscale is always tell- ing stories on somebody else, so it's only fair to tell one on Bessie. A lady who had known this blonde lady since in- fancy, relates this story:
"Bessie was a member of the infant class at Sunday School and at a picnic given by her class, the teacher was tak- ing advantage of their woodsy location to tell them something about trees. " ‘Now, who can tell me the name of this tree?' she asked as the class ap- proached a weeping willow.
"No one knew except Bessie. ‘Well, Bessie?' asked the teacher, to which Bessie replied:
" ‘It's a weeping widow.' " That will be(e) about all.
* * *
They were filming "The Bondage of Barbara," the new starring vehicle for Mae Marsh, at the Goldwyn studio. It was the scene where Barbara's brother is imprisoned in the attic of a road- house and faces a greater peril unless he is freed. So long as he is kept in hid-
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ing a burglary will be charged against him—a crime for which Barbara has already paid the price. She must enter the roadhouse without attracting notice and remain in his place.
She was dressed in boy's clothes and shinned up the pole that led to the roof, gaining this, she made her way cat-like to the window and stole up to the attic, where she carried out her plan, and the sight of Miss Marsh shortening the dis- tance between herself and the roof, with all the skill of an agile boy—or a burg- lar, was certainly an interesting and sur- prising moment. The funny part of it was, that she was so absolutely ab- sorbed in her character of the moment, a boy, that it was impossible to think of her as a girl, in fact, she explains this unusual situation. "Wearing trous- ers was a novelty and had a psychologi- cal effect on me. I couldn't have been feminine had I wanted to. I just had to be a thoroughgoing urchin."
This scene comes toward the end of the picture and brings about a surpris- ing climax and the exciting scene fol- lowing Barbara's discovery by the "willuns" results in a conflict no less novel than her porch climbing—but that is another story and one which I believe you would rather "see" for your- selves.
* * *
I visited the Harold Lockwood studio just before his death, when they were taking the last scenes for his big Metro- Screen Classics picture, "The Great Romance," which has been recently re- leased. It was an enormous set, repre- senting the ball-room of a palace in a mythical kingdom and was nearly one hundred feet in length and about fifty wide. Every available foot of space on the studio was taken up with this scene. The floor was of fine Carrara marble effect, big wide entrances hung with heavy plush curtains and overhead great crystal chandeliers, one of them
hung over the center of the scene, be- ing nine feet in diameter.
At one end of the room was a winding grand stairway of four landings, and in keeping with the scheme, the stairs also gave the appearance of marble. Over one hundred people were used in the set, staging a masked ball. This picture will long stand as a memo- rial to the memory of Harold Lock- wood. It was the best and last work of his screen career, and this picture proves an old adage, that "the works of great men live after them," and, although Harold was not what one would call a "a great man," yet he had gathered un- limited admirers not only of his work but of his personality, and I for one, am glad of "The Great Romance."
* * *
Here is a little "close-up" of Gladys Leslie, Vitagraph's enchanting little screen star. Gladys hails from New York and is a product of Washington Irving High School and Columbia Uni- versity—good work in minor parts must mean but one thing—that a producer would one day see her and capture Gladys and her fluffy light hair and laughing brown eyes. This is just what Albert Smith, president of Vitagraph did, and she is now their bright particu- lar star.
Not only is Gladys lovely to look upon, but she has the ability to convey real spirit and meaning to her character- izations—she is the embodiment of youth and a real, live invitation to be happy, also she is appropriately called, "girl with the million dollar smile." Gladys has for her latest Vitagraph picture "Fortune's Child." She is a lit- tle boarding house waif, whose faith in her tattered book of fairy tales keeps alive her belief in the world's goodness, and after a series of most remarkable adventures her dreams come true and the Knight of the book comes and takes her away. There is every reason to
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prophesy that Gladys Leslie will in the future become more and more famous and acquire a goodly string of "fans" from Coast to Coast.
* * *
"And now they are asking for my shoes"—this is what Ruth Roland com- plains of her "fans." "They have asked me for almost everything under the sun, from a five-dollar-a-week annuity to a tractor with a gang plow equipment for use on the farm—but the most interest- ing thing I have ever been asked for was a complete outfit for a set of trip- lets from a father and mother in the Middle West—fancy that, now," and Ruth's merry laugh resounded all over the place, "but this last, a fad as prev- alent as the ‘flu,' has captured the Pa- cific Coast, shoe collecting."
"Who started it and why?"
"Oh, it seems a Second Lieut, ad- mirer of a certain screen star, was presented with a pair of her shoes for a souvenir, and since then he conceived the idea of making a collection of ‘pic- ture shoes' or shoes worn by the screen actresses during certain pictures—did you ever hear of a such a silly fad— but it has spread all over out here, why, if I were to fill all the requests I have for my shoes, I would have to go bare- footed the rest of my natural life."
"But what did you do about the outfit for the triplets, did they get it?"
"Well, I should rather say they did and my blessing as well, for I am a firm believer in families, but, perhaps, if you publish that, I will be overwhelmed with requests for outfits to all the triplets born in America, but at that, I think it far more commendable than furnishing shoes to soldiers, don't you?" I do.
* * *
Did you ever know that William Des- mond, late of Triangle fame, was a "liar?" He is, and what is more he is a "prodigal liar." You will say, that I
certainly have an iron-clad nerve to come out in print with such a state- ment, but if you don't believe it go to see him in his newest, very newest re- lease presented by Jesse D. Hampton, under whose management our old friend is now working. The name of this very entertaining picture is "The Prodigal Liar." Now, will you take back those cruel words you just now hurled at my head?
If you are a "Billy" Desmond "fan" you will enjoy his new picture immense- ly and, moreover, you will certainly en- joy the splendid work of Betty Comp- son, late of Mack Sennett comedies. It is one marvel after another, how these comedy girls turn out to be first rate actresses in serious roles, but Betty car- ries the part of "Hope" evenly and con- sistently all the way through, and "Billy" seemed to actually enjoy work- ing with her. That is, if one could judge from the complacent expression as he rested his head on Betty's lovely young knees.
"Hope" is a "Down East" girl who consumed paper novels depicting life in the great wide West. She was so full of romance there wasn't room for much else but dreams of a western hero, a gambler or even a murderous hold-up man, almost any man in that line of business, who would answer to her vi- sion of Bill Hart.
Hope inherits money and at once communicated with an uncle who owned a ranch out West, and at the same time made it quite clear that she was anxious to mix right up into the wildest experi- ences he could provide.
It so happened that the only real bad man in Chapparal was locked up safely, or so they thought, and the girl had to be provided with the right stage setting —and here it is that Billy Desmond, in the person of Percival Montgomery Jenks, comes into the plot. "Monte," as his best friends called him, finally
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after much persuasion, allowed himself to impersonate the "tumble" bad man, who hid in a cave and stole horses and killed and everything, yes he did. About the same time the real bad man escaped from the plaster of paris jail by a great feat of strength and the help of a file, which he had the forethought to bring with him to jail.
Ah, ha, he comes upon our now thor- oughly in love couple and overhears the lies upon lies that "Monte" is recount- ing to Hope, of his desperate deeds and marvelous escapes from the law. Poor Hope doesn't want to marry a man with such unsafe habits, however ro- mantic they may seem, so he tells her he has what is called "aphasia." My gentlemen readers will recognize it as a well worn and ancient alibi—however, Bill can be cured, so her uncle tells her, by inflicting a blow on his head. Well, she hits him all right and at the same time gets carried away not with, but by the bad man, who drags her by her arm pits and the aid of a handy pony far, far up into the mountains. Of course she is rescued by our hero and she forgives him his dreadful lies and they marry, always supposing they live happy ever after.
If you were to ask me to describe Pathe's release of the newest Rolin Comedy, "Hoot Mon," with Stan Laurel, I would say it is a refreshing Scotch highball with a dash of "pep." Stan Laurel, as you know, is the Eng- lish comedian who has acted in a merry series of comedies for Rolin Comedy, keeps up a lively tempo, though at times a trifle unsteady, but withal, it is full of laughs and kilties and pretty Rolin girls in kilties and also has room for that ample and expansive comedienne, Mar- garet Joslyn, who is one of the best comedy actresses the screen has ever produced. Way back in Essanay times, when they were producing the Snake- ville comedies, with Victor Potel, I re- member her and have often wished she was not so infrequent in pictures.
Much of the action of "Hoot Mon" centers around Ye Blue Coo Inn, where all sorts of Scotch is served to all sorts of Scots, most of which is hot, both the Scotch and the Scots.
* * *
If any of my readers have a favorite screen player of whom they would like to know more, it will give me great pleasure to introduce them more inti- mately to their hero or shero.
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In answering advertisements, please mention SAUCY STORIES
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In answering advertisements, please mention SAUCY STORIES
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In answering advertisements, please mention SAUCY STORIES
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ADVERTISINGIn answering advertisements, please mention SAUCY STORIES
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Charles Francis Press, New York
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