r • ' •■ 4 ' • ■ \.. ,
Henry L. Pierce.
THE CAT AND THE CHERUB
CAT AND THE CHERUB*
AND OTHER STORIES
CHESTER B. FERNALD
THE CENTURY CO.
Copyright, 1895, by
C. B. Fernald
Copyriglit, 1895, 1896, by
The Century Co.
■ F39/ C
BOSTON PUBLIC LIBRARY
THE DE VINNE PRESS, NEW-YORK
The Cat and the Cherub 1
The Cruel Thousand Years 33
The Gentleivian in the Barrel 61
The Man who Lost his Head 81
The Pot of Frightful Doom 99
Chan Tow, the Highrob 119
A Little Liberal 135
The Tragedy op the Comedy 159
Enter the Earl of Tyne 189
The Spirit in the Pipe 213
The Parlous Wholeness of Ephraim . . . 227
THE CAT AND THE CHERUB
THE CAT AND THE CHERUB
IVE were the years of the Infant Hoo
Chee, and five were the inches of his
cue. Then he had an adventure.
Every one in San Francisco who
loves to look at a beautiful girl re-
members Bayley Arenam. Once you
mention her among the Hundreds straightway springs
some novel anecdote of a cleverness of hers. She was
a Cahf ornian, blessed with a glitter of talents and with
a person to vex the gods. And she was the one.
Hoo King was the Infant's father — the ginseng
merchant; and Hoo Bee, of the lily feet, was his
mother. She who tended him was Hwah Kwee, the
amah, a woman of flat feet and considerable kindness.
They dwelt in Chinatown and prospered there ; . for
Hoo King had interests, and was one of the secret Ho
Wang Company, and was greeted with smirks at the
Hong-Kong- American bank. .
The Infant's world was three wide rooms on a top-
most floor, — commodious, truly, — and a flower-pot
balcony leaning over the main thoroughfare, whence
one could drop beans on passers-by, and run away in
an ecstasy of fear. Only at intervals did he see the
streets ; and then he was wedged between the amah
and his father, both inwardly alert. For the fifth of
2 THE CAT AND THE CHERUB
Hoo Chee's years was a troublous time and made his-
tory in the quarter ; and one who would strike most
bitterly at Hoo King, the suspected traitor to the
Chee Kung Tong, would take, not the old man's life,
but his son. The parents treasured their offspring
because his existence insm-ed the rightful worship at
the graves they expected to fill ; and so they made a
baby of the boy, though he was of the age when some
sons put on cue-strings and a man's estate ; and they
tried to discourage fascinations beyond the thi^eshold.
But every day the Infant saw the forbidden streets
with deeper longings.
His only human friend was Yeo Tsing, the Presby-
terian evangelist. Yeo had a pious, folded look, as
of a holy volume ; but he had a genial eye for a child.
He taught the Infant many mission songs, which Hoo
Chee caught from the convert's lips and held tena-
ciously, especially the air of that hymn which inquires
pertinently of all little CJiinese proselytes, first in a
high and skeptical tenor.
Are you washed — are you washed ?
and then in a bass and warning tone.
Are you washed — are you washed ?
and so forth. This the Infant was fond of singing to
himself, though there is doubt whether he could have
expounded it theologically.
But best of all, Yeo served to tide over some of the
child's depression with telling him stories — stories
of small people who did great things. The one that
THE CAT AND THE CHERUB 3
appealed to tlie Infant most was that of a little boy
wlio set out from home all alone, and after many,
many weary miles, and countless trials in which he
showed exceeding' fortitude and virtue, arrived at a
glorious place called the House of Glittering Things,
where he lived happily ever afterward. It was not
very clear why the httle boy had left home. Yeo could
never be quite satisfactory on that point, because he
had forgotten about it, and was too honest to invent.
But what conditions would lead a little child to go forth
from the roof of his birth and retm-n no more, the In-
fant knew well in his heart, and kept there. He had
learned from these stories much to whet his cravings
for the world outside. It seemed that there were re-
gions where, as far as you could see, all the land was
like one great back yard, except that instead of musty
boards and grim, gray rubbish there were acres and
acres of waving green things, and millions of beauti-
ful flowers that you might pluck without a whipping
— flowers as handsome as those on the balcony, and
free for all ! And there were places where a hundred
roof-spouts could not make so big a puddle as was
spread as clear as crystal earrings in a circle of these
posies, where humorous little things with legs were
waiting to jump head first into the water just as you
almost touched them, and then to laugh at you from
the opposite bank; and where little fishes from be-
hind a rock peeped up at you out of the corners of
When the Infant was by him^self he would describe
aU these things to little One-Two, his beloved cat and
confidant, the only creature mth whom he divided his
4 THE CAT AND THE CHERUB
sorrows. One-Two was barely out of kittenhood, yet
had a vague, iuvitiug melanclioly in his look. Most
of his body was covered with long white hairs that
spoke of Angora; but his tail was slim and bluish-
gray, and altogether Maltese ; and when one remem-
bers how he appeared suddenly from nowhere, and
came mewing, cold and lean and hungry, into the joy-
ous arms of the Infant, it is not hard to imagine One-
Two as the projection in time of an international
romance. The Infant coddled the waif and stole food
for it, and named it One-Two because it had one tail
immediately prominent as an error in its composition,
and two eyes of imperial yellow. These were its sal-
vation, for Hoo King had at first superstitiously com-
manded that the strange cat be dismissed ; but Hoo
Chee had resisted even to struggles and tears, which
tenacity delighted his father, who at once asked a for-
tune-teller for a translation of the omen. If the cat's
eyes were blue, came the dictum, then boil its body in
oil, for the augur}^ was bad; but if they were the
color of the viceregal jacket, then it was a cat of for-
tune better than good. So One-Two survived, and
slept curled in the Infant's arms, and perpetually fol-
lowed him about in the da}i;ime, and waxed in size
until he was heavy to carry. Once from his bal-
cony Hoo Chee saw a little American girl — one of
delicacy rare in this quarter — going along the street
bearing a cat. It was not so pretty as One-Two,
thought the Infant ; but it had a red ribbon around
its neck that gave it too much honor. He searched
his world for something like tlie red ribbon ; but there
was nothing. At last he abstracted from his mother's
THE CAT AND THE CHERUB 5
possessions some bright-green silken cords that looked
like cue-strings, and he made a little cue of the long
hairs of the cat's neck, and braided in the silk as an
extension of it. One-Two, whose mischosen tail was
already a source of questioning self-contemplation,
spent a bad half-day in a corner, foreboding over this
fresh phenomenon. To Hoo Cliee the effect of the
trailing green was rhapsodical, and the event of happy
But ever his confinement from the glowing world
told on the Infant's years. The shouts of thousands
of Freedom's Aiyan children penetrated to his small
body and infused in it some of the New World es-
sence. Now came the season of the Chinese New
Year, and he remained stalled with three impassive
spiiits, while the aii' about was joyous with music
and laughter and song. He could not play by day
when from his rear window he caught a bare glimpse
of the Taoist priests, led by a string of pompous
boys, — some of them seemingly smaller than he, —
all making way to the joss-house, bearing gifts to the
gods, and making the quarter resound with squealing
pipes and clanging gongs. He could not sleep by
night when everywhere he heard invisible fire-crack-
ers rattling as if the gods had come down. While
the amah snored by his side he lay awake and
thought of the story of little Quong Sam and the
House of Glittering Things, and the lovely lady
that made him tea and gave him cakes whenever he
asked. He longed to go abroad and meet with like
The sixth day of the holiday week had been set for
6 THE CAT AND THE CHERUB
what happened but once a year. It was a trip away
from the quarter, — first to the cemetery, and then to
the ocean beach, — to which the women looked for-
ward with highest delight. Hoo Chee had learned
some time before that they were to take him along,
and this had sent him singing and dancing the rest
of the day. But it seemed that the time would never
come. When Hoo King came in one morning and
found the women bedecked in their best, he suddenly
changed his mind, and said that the child should re-
main at home, and that the amah must stay to take
care of him. For a father with a single offspring it
was too extravagant a risk to take a small child on a
raili'oad train among the foreign devils, whose curi-
osity and impertinence at the sight of the women
were themselves enough to bear. They had dressed
the Infant handsomely; he was sure that this was
the momentous day, and his blood ran gaily at the
prospect ; but again they told him the time had not
yet come, and the father went off with Hoo Bee,
leaving the amah weeping behind. It was the cus-
tom of the amah to weep, and the child felt sure
they would have taken her if this was the wonder-
ful event. He went to his favorite place on the
balcony, only somewhat hushed and downcast.
He was thinking, though he did not know it. Why
did they always keep him in, instead of letting him
loose, as he saw the happy little urchins in the street?
Could he not go about boldty enough, and preserve
himself as well from harm as tliev? When would
they braid silk strings in his curtailed pigtail, and
put his head in a cap with a red button, and his legs in
THE CAT AND THE CHERUB 7
splendid sk^M^lue trousers wrapped at tlie bottoms?
Certaiuly he was already as strong as any man. He
could kick off all the bed-clothes, and get spanked
for it by the amah. He could hang by his ankles to
the edge of the sink, and appear to be standing on
his head. The amah would not dare such a feat.
And during all tliis festal period they had taken him
out only once — then briefly to the joss-house, before
the hairy wooden gentlemen who sat receiving offer-
ings of fruits and sweets enough to make a covetous
infidel of any mortal. He was charged to repeat
certain words that he could not understand to the
wooden gentlemen, which he did with an accuracy
flattering to his father. But then they dragged him
unwilling home through the decorated streets, with
the thrauneen of a rice-cake as his part of the re-
One-Two had cautiously picked his way over the
iron bars to a seat on a flower-pot, whence he licked
the hand of his small patron. But now the Infant
was staring down across the street like a statuette.
He had seen Miss Arenam. This was the third time
he had feasted his big brown eyes on her. Occasion-
ally, after an absorbing morning with the clay, she
left the lunch-room at the art school, and strolled
through as much of Chinatown as included the prin-
cipal windows, where new things are sometimes found
in porcelain and bronzes. He had noticed her first
when she paused one day in curiosity at the balconies
on his side of the street. He had stared in fascina-
tion, with his chin on the rail ; and then from as far
as he could strain outward without falling he had
8 THE CAT AND THE CHERUB
watched her moving away. Two months later she
appeared again. She did not look up this time, and
after a minute the Infant shouted, ^' Ha-o ! " But his
small voice was inadequate, and she departed without
noticing. Now the lovely dark-haired lady had
shown herself once more. The Infant was absorbed
in thought, and his eyes were fixed constantly on the
door of the china-shop whence she would soon emerge.
After a while he could see her skirts moving about
in the store, and then — there she was!
"Ha-o!" cried the Infant, swinging his arms up
Then he stood mute and discontented, for she had
not looked up, but had walked away quite unaware
Was he always to stay thus pent ? If he were free,
how quickly he would run and get her to smile ! The
amah had left the room. He could hear her down-
staii's, communing in bitter tones with the neighbor
Ching Lo. From the thi'eshold of the forbidden haU
he heard no noises — every one who could go out was
on the streets. On such a day as this, perhaps, the
brave little Quong Sam of old had ventured forth to
find the House of Glittering Things. The Infant
grasped the baluster with every sense alert, and took
one step down. No angry lightning came to strike
him. Then he took another step, and paused to listen
if there were bad devils coming to seize a naughty
boy. But the house w^as still, and he went on, planting
two feet safely on each step until he reached the land-
ing. Ching Lo's door was ajar, but not so that they
could see him ; and his soft shoes carried him noise-
THE CAT AND THE CHERUB 9
lessly past. Tliere^ down another fiigiit, was the street
— and then he conld run and catch the lovely lady !
He made the descent to the front door with greater
confidence and equal circumspection. How delight-
ful the free air ! Now he would hurry and ask her
the way to the House of Glittering Things, for she
must know, if, indeed — why had he not thought be-
fore ? — she were not herseK the Lady of Cakes and
Tea ! Oh, joy ! Then he heard a familiar voice that
stopped him. It was One-Two, who had followed
him, and now stood questioning at the head of the
flight. He had almost forgotten One-Two 5 but could
he leave the faithful partner of his woes behind?
The Infant stood in serious quandary. That his
father would be interested in his son's disappearance
did not occui' to the child. No such idea had been
instilled in him. But indeed the loss of One-Two,
the mascot, would not be undergone without long
search and deep displeasure. You could buy little
boys at a joss-house, but mascots came only unex-
pectedly in through the window. Yet should One-
Two stay on and fall again to the bad grace from
which he had so recently emerged, the Infant shud-
dered for what might happen. For the cat would be
thrown from a window into the soiled back street.
But still, with such a burden, how weary would the
many miles be on the way to the House of Glittering
Things ! And he remembered how little Quong Sam
had not only cast away his shoes, but had even
shaved off his eyebrows to make himself lighter for
his feet to carry. Now came another complication —
he must ascend the stairs to get One-Two, who re-
10 THE CAT AND THE CHERUB
fused to come down, as tliougli mistrusting the ad-
venture — One-Two, wlio had been upon the world
and knew it; and if the amah heard but one suspi-
cious sound, she would rush out and end his prospects
for days and daj's, and the lovely lady would be lost
to him. But One-Two put liis fore feet down one
step, and stood with his hind quarters elevated and
his tail waving, loyal to indissoluble ties, and Hoo
Cliee saw it even while he pondered the problem.
And now, Avhen the cat opened wide his mouth, and
without a noise plainly showed the first anxiety about
the plighted faith, it was too much : he loved One-
The Infant crawled stealthily on hands and chubby
knees up the stairs. One-Two advanced carefully to
meet him, and was taken into the arms of the child,
who silenth^, in his clumsy bab}^ fashion, made way
with his burden back to the door, and out to the
Miss Arenam was standing at the summit of the
liill, looking over the dingy housetops down to the
bay, which shone in the sun like a strange enamel set
in momitains. He recognized her figure and the color
of her dress. He would hurry up the steep incHne
and go with her. He would find little Quong Sam,
and play with him in the Glittering House ; for,
though it was a thousand years since Quong had
started forth, Avho that had come to the presence of the
Lady of Cakes and Tea would ever care to leave it?
He pas.sed other childi-en playing about uncared for.
They w re dressed in common garb, but he was in his
best. He wore little shoes with white felt soles, and
THE CAT AND THE CHERUB 11
uppers embroidered in gold, to which came long, loose,
drab-colored trousers. A skull-cap worked in span-
gles and prodigal hues came down to his ears, and
through a neat hole in its crown projected his cuelet,
ciu-ling away like coal-black smoke from a wigwam.
His bulky tunic, which reached to his knees, was cov-
ered with a gingham bib tightly tied with tapes at the
hips, so that he swelled out hugely above and below
the waist. Wlien he walked his arms seemed lost in
his clothes, and his knees bobbed strangely up and
Ah, but the hill w^as steep ! Now he understood
how the youthful Quong had toiled and toiled and
been discouraged; but Hoo Chee should not quail,
though heavy One-Two must be changed so frequently
from arm to arm. He came to a crossing where a
traction cable rattled terrifically ; and he ran as fast
as his legs would go to escape the car that was coming
three blocks away. They had said he did not know !
But the lovely lady had slowly walked away, and
was lost immediately behind the brow of the hill.
"Was he going to miss her ? No ! He tried to run up
the incline, and his little heart beat faster and faster.
At last he reached the top, and saw the hem of her
blue skirt swish around a corner. Now it was level
going. He caught his breath, and trotted as fast as he
could, unaware of the people who turned and smiled.
When Miss Arenam had gone a few steps do^^^m the
other side of the hill, on the sharp descent from the
nabob castles, and had started up the flights of stones
that led to her father's house, she caught first Mght of
the Infant. He had paused, and now gazed at her
12 THE CAT AND THE CHERUB
in a mixture of doubt and baslifulness. His tiny fig-
lu'e, silhouetted against tlie sky at the line of the hill-
top, was the most entrancing tiling her eyes had met
that dav. She smiled across the little distance, and
the Infant smiled in response. When she looked
again, from farther up, Hoo Chee was hurrying after
her ; and in a moment he could stare mutely up at her
with his hand on the open gate.
"Hello, little gentleman!" said Miss Arenam;
" won't you come in — and bring your friend ? "
The Infant could not speak her tongue, but her smile
was better than words. He tucked One-Two under
his arm, and labored solemnly up the steps with hand
and feet, until he halted to gaze in rapture at her from
nearer than he ever had dreamed. Miss Arenam,
shining down upon him, threw open the door ; and
the two went in together, the silent Infant staring at
her in such intense admiration that she blushed.
By this time the pallid Hwah Kwee was rushing
about in breathless search of her lost charge. There
was no sight of him. She dared not say she had lost
him ; for if no one knew he might wander safely back,
but if it were noised abroad some one would snatch
" What shall I do % " wailed the amah to Ching Lo.
" He has strayed into the vast maze of the city. Hoo
King will kill me ! "
" Say that he was stolen — that they knocked you
" But he will see no mark from the blow," said the
THE CAT AND THE CHERUB 13
" Make one ! It is better than a thousand from the
Hwah snatched a broken dish, and struck its jagged
edge against her forehead.
" Leave the wound alone ! " cried Ching Lo. " Go
and lie in a heap near your door, and think what you
will tell the master. I will say I heard terrible sounds,
and thought he was beating you.''
" If I can only keep him long enough to get his dar-
ling little noddle, I shall be celebrated," said Miss
Ai'enam, working rapidly over a moist clay ball. The
Infant sat on a stool at her feet, holding a fold of her
skirt, and eyeing her intently. One-Two was lapping
a dish of cream, and meditating on the exceeding wis-
dom of this small boy. Frequently Hoo Chee and the
gu4 exchanged smiles.
^' But, Bayley," said her mother, " we must find
whose child he is. Think of the mother w^ho is weep-
ing for him ! "
" I 've sent for Gee, mama," said the daughter. The
clay was taking something the shape of the little nod-
dle in question. Gee, summoned from the kitchen,
threw up his hands.
*'Whey you catch that baby? Who b'long, Miss
Bayley ? Oh, no ! I doan' like go Chinatown say I
know whey that baby was. People say I stolee that
baby — make baily, baily bad for me. Whose boy are
you ? '^ asked Gee, in Chinese.
"Ha, ha, ha!" laughed Hoo Chee, throwing back
his small head, and pulling at the lady's skirt. It was
not plain what amused him.
14 THE CAT AND THE CHERUB
*'Now, Gee," said Miss Areuam, '^ I wish to ask liim
The servant translated, " What is your name, small
sir i " The Infant thoug-ht the query originated with
" Flower-pot," replied the Infant, with a giggle.
" And what is your fathei-'s name ? "
^^ Water-pot," said Cliee, with another giggle.
" And your mother's "? "
'' Rice-bowl ! '^ shouted the Infant. Then he laughed
loud and long, while his fat little body shook. Only
the Chinaman preserved gravity.
" That baby baily small baby, but great much tell
lies — allee samee 'Melican boy."
" I will send a note to the police station," said Mrs.
Arenam, " and ask them to inquire in Chinatown."
" I hope they won't find out anything until I have
finished this — as long as he is happy here. I don't
think his parents will worry over him. What an
ohjet d'art he will be for the people this evening ! "
" Bay ley, your heart is turning to clay with all this
mud-work. Suppose you had a little son, and he
should strav awav ! I dare say it wiU be some time
before his father thinks of asking the police. Those
Chinese are so stupid about some things. If that
child is to stay here this evening he must be scrubbed.
Gee, I want you to give this boy — if it is a boy — a
'' Oh, no ! I no likee. S^pose he die ! That baby
not old enough to wassee."
'^ Send for Mrs. Brady, mama," said Bayley.
Miss Arenam went on with the modeling. The In-
THE CAT AND THE CHERUB 15
fant was still for several moments, while the young
woman frowned, and stood off from the clay, and
measured his nose with her little stick, which opera-
tion he considered most delightful. It was plain that
he was involved in a mental process. At length he
lisped doubtfully :
'' Pay-lee ? "
'^ Yes, dear," said Bayley ; " that is my name."
" Pa3'-lee," said the Infant, confidently. He began
to move about the room, so that she had difficulty in
working from him.
'' Come here, little man," she said ; '' I '11 teach you
some English. Say this : ' Infinitesimal James ' —say
it : ' Infinitesimal James ! "
" ' If-itty-teshi-mow Jays,' " repeated the Infant.
The two smiled ecstatically at each other.
'^ Now say : ' Had nine iinpronouncealle names.'' "
" ' Haddee ny up-plo-now-shi-buh nays '—ha ! ha ! '^
laughed Hoo Chee. It was a rhyme — like those he
had heard his father say to Yeo Tsing.
" Now : ' He wrote them all down, — ' "
" ^ He lote im aw dow',' " repeated the Infant. One-
Two looked on from near by. Hoo Chee stood "vvith
his hands on Miss Arenam's knee, staring straight
into her eyes.
With a mortified frown, — ' "
Witty motti-fy flow,—' "
And tlireiv the whole lot in the flames!'^'
A-flew-ty ho-lot-itty flays ! ' Hee ! "
Very soon he could repeat the lines without prompt-
ing; and meanwhile Bayley was deftly shaping in
the soft baU two almond eyes, and a little flat nose,
16 THE CAT AND THE CHERUB
and a mouth that opened in a smile, and was to show
teeth as big as grains of rice. The Infant was en-
chanted "by the rhyme, and kept on repeating : " If-
itty-teshi-mow Jays " with happy countenance. Then
Bayley taught him another verse :
There vras a little boy, and he was n't very bright, and
He could n't tell his left from his right hand ;
So he chawed his dexter paw till the skin was red and raw,
To remember that the right was the bite hand.
Then a stout, clear-skinned woman came to the
door, and held a brief conversation with Miss Ai'e-
nam, who suggested that Hoo Chee go along with the
nice lady and enjoy a bath. Mrs. Brady held out her
big hand to him. But the Infant grappled with aU
his might to Miss Arenam's skirt, and exclaimed his
objections in a volume of Chinese baby-talk. He and
One-Two willingly followed Miss Arenam into the
tank-room, however, and she left him there with
Mrs. Brady, closing the door. rather quickly. There
was a sound of running water, and Hoo Chee, be-
tween the blue mermaids on the tiles, and curiosity
at what was to happen in this big, warm room with
nothing in it but a square porcelain pond, seemed to
have forgotten his anxiety, especially when the pond
began to fiU with water, and he searched it earnestly
for little fishes that looked up from the corners of
Miss Arenam stood in her apron, and hummed to
herself, while she gave the roughly outlined bust
little dabs with her forefinger. Suddenly there came
THE CAT AND THE CHERUB 17
a frantic shriek from the tank-room, and, hurr^dng in
that direction^ she heard a small voice shrilling in the
direst fear :
'' Pay-lee ! Pay-ay-ay-lee ! "
" What is the matter ? " she asked, knocking at the
door. " Have you scalded that child, Mrs. Brady ? "
^' Scalded nm ! " said Mrs. Bradv, from the other
side. " I 've just hoisted um into the water, an' he
won't let go me neck. Take, yer lianas from me hair^
ye little imp 1 Did ye never see water f "
" Pay-lee ! " shouted the Infant, who apparently
held the situation under control. The top of the tank
was on a level with the floor, and Mrs. Brady had to
kneel to it. But then a splash was heard, and the
anxious Bayley, at the door-knoh, was frightened by
another mighty screech,
" Mrs. Brady," protested the girl, tapping the panel,
" I am sure that water is too hot ; perhaps he is not
used to hot water."
" Or cold, either," puffed Mrs. Brady, turning the
faucet. " Put yer foot down ! (Maybe if ye stay there
an' talk he 11 be peaceful.) Take it out of yer mouth
— it ain't sody- water ! Oh, I wish I was yer mother
— no, I don't ! Now, here comes the shower ! "
Bayley heard the pattering of many drops, and
through them, as from a lamb in a rain, many sounds
in Cantonese, with the wail of " Pay-ay-ay-ay-lee ! "
" There, Mrs. Brady ! You must have let that water
•un too long j perhaps he 's chilled."
" Hot it is," came the answer ; "an' the responsibil-
^ ty be with you. Noiv ! Maybe if you 'd go away he 'd
18 THE CAT AND THE CHERUB
There came a mixtiu-e of scrubbing and yells that
increased as Hod Chee found that he was not hurt,
and began to express his anger. He seemed in the
tortures of pm-gatory.
" What in the world are you doing to that child to
make him cry so ? " said Bayley.
The bath-brush came with a thump to the floor, and
there was an instant of silence.
'' Did n't ye tell me to wash um ? " said Mrs. Brady,
as if the whole matter might have been a mistake.
" Of course I did ! " said the girl, with much
'' Well, I 'm tvashin^ um ! " said Mrs. Brady, with
equal emphasis ; and the scrubbing continued. ^' D' ye
think I 'm tattooin' um ? Now he 's done it ! He 's
put a fistful of soap in his eye ! Down ye go ! "
There was a yell, quickly curtailed, a splash, and
then a long silence.
" Mrs. Brady, you are surely not holding that child
under water all this time ? "
But Mrs. Brady was already triumphantly applying
the finishing touches.
" Now, there ! Ye ain't hurt, are ye ? Ain't ye nice
an' warm? When ye go home, tell yer mother ye was
swallowed bv a whale. What ! Ye had little bov ! "
The Infant had taken One-Two by the scruff of the
neck, and had doused the unsuspecting cat in the
water. One-Two came up sneezing and yowling in
utter dismay. Hoo Chee leaned over and endeavored
to scrub the cat as Mrs. Brady would have done.
A few minutes later there was a loud cry of joy.
One-Two scampered at full speed along the hall, and
THE CAT AND THE CHERUB 19
hid far under a lounge. Hoo Chee burst into the
room where Bayley was still fashioning the model.
The Infant glowed under a fresh and delightful sensa-
tion. He felt like dancing and singing, and presently
he broke forth :
Ah you wass — ah you wass ?
Ah you wass — ah you wass ?
And Miss Arenam laughed, because she thought the
child had learned from the streets a popular ditty that
How you was — how you was ?
The Infant laughed too, and coquetted with the
lady, and would not let her touch him, but sought to
be pursued in fun. They chased each other about in
great glee, equally amused by the sport. At last Bay-
ley caught him up, and kissed him soundly, and said :
" You darling child — I love you ! "
And finally Mrs. Arenam found her daughter in the
arm-chair, with Hoo Chee fast asleep in her lap, while
One-Two dried himself in the sun, and tried to recall
just what had taken place in the tank-room.
The amah had been revived, and had told her story
about the three men who tore the child from her arms.
Half an hour after Hoo King had returned with the
mother, he locked the women in the rooms, and de-
scended the stairs with the same expression on his
face that he had worn all day. He asked other ten-
ants if they had seen the cat One-Two. The cat had
strayed away, said the father, and little Hoo Chee was
20 THE CAT AND THE CHERUB
iip-stairs weeping about it. Hoo King would give five
dollars for its returu. He considered that any one
who knew about the cat would know about the boy j
for the two had been stolen together, said Kwee. They
had discovered that One-Two was a lucky animal, and
they would keep liini alive and well. In time some
one would see the cat, even if the boy had been con-
cealed or murdered. The father went to the various
haunts of his friends, and repeated his inquiry in a
careless manner. He weiit, also, to places where there
were enemies, and where he kept himself ready to be
attacked bodily, such were the relations of the Tongs
at that period in Chinatown. When he spoke, he scru-
tinized his hearers to see if they smiled wisely, or
otherwise betrayed knowledge of his greater loss.
But no one seemed even interested. There was noth-
ing but to wait until the captors approached him for
a ransom. If he noised the truth, then perhaps the
hostile Tongs would find the child first and switch
him away. Nothing would please them better. They
could take Hoo Chee to Oregon, and keep him until he
had forgotten his parentage and had been developed
into a hater of his father's Tong. If the father told
the police, the newspapers woidd have it next morn-
ing. Besides, Hwah Kwee could give no clue to the
men ; they had been too quick. He came home early,
in an evil mood. Hoo Bee had taken her lilv feet to
bed, and was sound asleep.
It was the evening of the month when Miss Are-
nam entertained her little coterie of souls artistic.
While the Infant had slumbered above, the hours had
THE CAT AND THE CHERUB 21
passed until the music-room was full of people, and
they had hushed to hear Miss JoUet sing while Dr.
Rimpo played an obbligato on the flute. In the mid-
dle of the song there came from aloft an inquiring
shriek of ^' Pay-ay-lee ! " followed by the hm-ried pad-
ding of small, uncertain feet upon the stau-s. Miss
Arenam blushed, and grasped the arm of her chair.
Hoo Chee, with One-Two tightly clasped under his
arm, dashed, shouting, into the room, then paused,
dazzled by the lights and the number of strange
faces. But Bayley, in her white dress, shone out from
all the rest like the main star of a coronet ; and the
Infant, running joyously up, dropped on his knees be-
fore her and touched his forehead several times to the
floor. The music stopped : Dr. Rimpo had laughed
absm^dly through his flute, and aU the others joined ;
for the soap of the bath had dried in Hoo Chee's cue,
which stood up as straight as the stem of a gourd.
All the ladies exclaimed :
" Where did you get that beautiful child ? "
Miss Arenam told the story of the afternoon, while
the Infant examined all the people, and determined
that she was the loveliest.
" Now say the little piece," said Bayley.
" E-litty peesh ? " repeated the Infant.
" About the little boy who was n't very bright."
Hoo Chee deposited One-Two carefully on the floor,
and, placing his hands on the lady's knee, looked
straight into her eyes and began :
" Washee litty poy — washee baily plight-an
Coutty telle e left flommy light-an ;
So-ey shawdy-dexy paw — "
22 THE CAT AND THE CHERUB
Here he stopped for breatli —
" — tilly tinny leddy law,
To lemmemy latty lightee wasliee bite-an ! "
Here the company broke into great applause, in which
the Infant joined.
" ' If-itty-teshi-niow Jays," began the young person
as soon as he could be heard ; and he finished the Hues
without a break. There was more applause and laugh-
ter, and the ladies thronged to kiss the boy, while
Bayley strove in vain to overcome the stiffness of his
The song mth the obbligato was begun afresh, and
the evening went on with music. When Miss Arenam
sang a Spanish ballad the Infant insisted on standing
at her side, with One-Two under his arm, and staring
up at her with open mouth, while his ears drank in
her lovely voice. Next she sang the " Angel's Sere-
nade," accompanied by the flute and violin. A strange
sight then was the face of Hoo Chee. Never in his
hfe had he heard anything like this. Perhaps he
feared that Miss Arenam was only a di'eam and might
vanish from him, lea\dng him to wake at the sum-
mons of the amah ; for he clutched the lovely lady's
dress, as if to stay her from moving, and then slowly
the corners of his mouth drew down, and one, two,
three came the tears in his upturned eyes, until they
swam his sight away, and he stuck his little, hard pig-
tail into a fold of the angel's gown, and sobbed.
Thus again was the music interrupted.
" You darling child ! What is the matter ? " cried
Bayley, taldng him maternally in her arms.
THE CAT AND THE CHERUB 23
" Bayley," said lier mother, suddenly, " tliat child
has not eaten a mouthful since he came to this house! "
^' Oh, mama ! " cried the girl, rushing off with him
to the dining-room.
" How strange," said the mother, " that his parents
have not inquired of the police, and been sent here ! "
The Infant was left with Gee, who brought him a
bowl of rice and some dainties i)rescribed by the lovely
lady. Gee did not regard him with favor ; for in their
colloquy the boy had given him a ^' bad face " before
the ladies of the house. Now, while Hoo Chee sat in
a high chair at the vast table, much engrossed with
filling a want which his previous excitement had made
him ignore, Gee tried again to find out who he was.
But the Infant had a very clearly defined pm'pose to
conceal that much, and he answered most of the que-
ries with the f orgetf ulness of a great capitalist on the
witness-stand. At length the servant said in disgust :
" If you don't tell me your name, I '11 whip you ! "
" If you do, I '11 call her," said Hoo Chee, with a
small frown ; '' and she '11 cut your head off ! '^
Gee made no attempt to carry out his threat, but
instead went and whistled down to the basement.
There was a galloping of claws and a sudden cocking
of One-Two's ears. In a moment the cat's back arched
into the most astonishing shape Hoo Chee had ever
seen it take, and One-Two stood in a corner confronted
by the small dog of the household. Prrout shared in
the general surprise, and was half inclined to treat
One-Two as an occurrence too interesting for malice.
But Gee urged him on, and plainly indicated that the
cat was an enemy to be destroyed. The Chinaman
24 THE CAT AND THE CHERUB
foresaw that the results might be disastrous to him-
seK should the facts reach Miss Bayley j so he went
discreetly below-stairs, where he found awaiting him
his friend Lee Sing.
To resist sho^Wng Lee what sport was about to hap-
pen was too much for Gee's mood, and, grinning, he
conducted his friend to where they could look
through, and get a glimpse of the corner of the din-
ing-room. One-Two, with bristling hair, was hunched
in battle array, his eyes glaring into those of the
enemy, who moved cautiously from side to side, wag-
ging his tail in anxious respect for the cat's sharp
claws. The Infant, whom the Chinamen could not
see, had dropped his bowl, and stared upon the scene
in the greatest wonder. In a moment he decided that
his dear One-Two was in peril, and he immediately
struggled dovm from the high chair to go to the res-
cue. Gee, hearing the noise, closed the door. He did
not wish anv Chinaman to know about the child : for
if it was the son of a person hostile to Gee's Tong,
then, no matter what happened. Gee Avould become
the object of violence as the one responsible for an
injury either effected or attempted. Only a China-
man in Chinatown can understand.
"That cat is like one our Hoo King lost to-day,"
said Lee. " He offers five dollars for its return. It
belongs to his little boy, Hoo Chee. Strange that a
man should offer so much for a cat -, but Hoo King
Gee received this information with a quickened
mind. He was a member of Hoo King's Tong. He
said nothing, but presently excused himself, and sent
THE CAT AND THE CHERUB 25
Lee Sing on his way. Gee came half-way up the
stairs and called :
'' Hoo Chee ! "
" What ? " said the Infant, gnilelessly.
The Chinaman laughed softly and retii-ed. Then
he slipped out, and ran over to the police station.
There they telephoned to the Chinatown squad.
The Infant made straight for the dog.
" Go away, bad devil dog ! " he said in Chinese,
raising his smaU fists threateningly. Before Prrout
had recovered from the novelty of this little figure
Hoo Chee had snatched One- Two in his arms, and
with difiiculty had boosted him up to the high table.
Then the Infant climbed back to his chair, where he
leisurely finished his rice, stopping after each mouth-
ful to let One-Two take his share from the bowl.
Prrout after a while gave up his watch on them, and
ran to find his mistress, who promptly sent him back
to the basement.
Miss Arenam's evenings were always delightful.
She was like California, thrilling and inspiring the
charming people of many climes, and her guests in-
variably found the midnight come too soon. Now
Mr. Paxton uncovered his new etching, and the talk
having turned to art. Miss Arenam was persuaded to
exhibit the unfinished bust of the Infant. It was
placed in the front drawing-room, on a pedestal bor-
rowed from one of the marbles, and the people
thronged to admire it.
In the dining-room the smaU model, having eaten
until One-Two refused to accept any more, and until
he himseK was compelled to desist with sighs, stuffed
26 THE CAT AND THE CHERUB
much of what remained into the broad pocket that
ran across the breast of his bib. Then he got down
once more, and proceeded with lordly content to in-
spect this part of the premises. What a funny place
that was behind the screen — a long, low-opening in
the wall, with u-on things, tipped, he thought, with
golden knobs, resting at its bottom on a level with
the floor, and, at the back, a wall of bricks built up
like stairs. Some day he could easily crawl in there
and climb up and see where it led to. How bright
and cheerful compared to the gloomy chambers on
Dupont street! And what a wilderness of curious
things ! Those lights, fifty times as brilliant as the pea-
nut oil- wicks of home, how they dazzled one ! They
— why, why — this was the House of Glittering
Things! And she— was the Lady of Cakes and
Tea! Why had he not thought? Oh, joy! This
was the goal for which he had set out — and oh, how
many, manv weary miles he had walked ! But he had
found it. He woidd stay here forever, and the Lady
would give him cakes and tea, and he Avould play and
play — where was little Quong Sam? Did Quong
have a One- Two ? He would ask Gee. No ; he would
run and find Pav-lee — she would be truthful.
A bell had rung, and Gee had gone through to the
front door. The Infant paused. In a moment he
heard a voice which sent a chiU through his body.
It said in Chinese :
" Is a little boy — Hoo Chee — here ? "
" Yes," said Gee. " If you will give me the reward
I will give you the cat, too."
Hoo Chee, standing behind the door with One-Two
THE CAT AND THE CHERUB 27
in his arms, knew the voice as well as he knew the
color of his bib. Bayley came into the hall ; he heard
her say things in English. He could not understand
them; but something in the tones made his heart
sink. Was he to be taken away from her — back to the
damp and darksome prison of three rooms? Never!
" There is a little lost Chinese boy here," said Bay-
ley ; " but how shall I be sure he belongs to you ? "
Through Gee, Hoo King described his offspring.
^' Yeh," said King, in answer to Mr. Arenam ; " him
gottee one litty mole und' him chin, an' one litty mole
und' him ear."
" Let us examine the child," said Mr. Arenam.
Bayley went into the dining-room. Only the small
dog greeted her. Gee had left the door open. The
child was not to be found. They called his name, but
there was no reply. She sent Gee down to the serv-
ants' quarters, and went herself up-stairs, while the
guests peered under the furniture.
Hoo King grew uneasy. Perhaps this was a ruse
to gain time. He stepped in from the hall. Before
him on the pedestal was the cold head of his son — of
the color of clay. They had slain his only child!
There were no eyes; they had ground them up to
make photographs !
" What for ! what for ! " cried the wretched father,
laying his trembling hands on the pedestal, while his
knees nearly sank under him. He moaned many
words in Chinese. The searchers collected, thinking
the child had been found. Gee explained the cause of
the old man's grief, and tried ta calm his fears. The
dog barked, and ran toward the dining-room, stopping
28 THE CAT AND THE CHERUB
every moment and wagging his tail. Bajdey hui'ried
distractedly for another look at the spot where she
had left the Infant. The dog danced about the fli*e-
place, barking up the chimney in extravagant excite-
ment. Miss Arenam heard the mewing of a cat.
" He cannot have climbed up there. Gee ! Come
here ! "
Gee inserted his head in the chimney space and re-
ceived a kick in the nose from a small felt sole. Then
he drew forth a little shoe.
^' Pay-lee ! " implored the Infant from the dark
Then One-Two and the defeated child were puUed
from the chimney, covered from head to foot \\dth
soot. The Infant was weeping bitterly. The father
hurriedly grasped the cat.
" Ah ! " he cried joyously. " It is one good-luck
cat ! "
'' Pay-Zee / " beseeched the blackened child. He ran
to her with grimy, outstretched hands, his eyes quite
bhnd with, tears.
" Your dress, my dear ! " warned her mother.
But Bayley thought only of her unhappy little
guest. She quickly took him in her arms and kissed
his quivering mouth again and again. The contact
soiled the silk gown beyond repair.
The father rudelv snatched his son away, and made
for the door.
" Pay- Zee / " implored Hoo Chee, reaching out his
hands in vain. ^' Pay-a-lee ! " Then he wept afresh,
as if his heart would break 5 and the street door closed
THE CAT AND THE CHERUB 29
"What a dreadful — dreadful shame!" said Miss
Arenam, her eyes filling. '^ I — I dou't think they
treat him well at home. I — "
Then she went away to where they could not see
The amah was asleep. Hoo King deposited the
child on the mattress at her side. For most of the
way Hoo Chee had hung listless in his arms.
" Go to sleep with your little cat/' said the father,
somewhat tenderly. ''It is a good little cat, is it
not ? "
" Yes," sniffed Hoo Chee, slowly ; '^ but — I wish — "
Then he was silent. The father retired to his room.
The child lay for a while staring up into the grim
darkness, and heard the familiar spip-spop of the fau-
cet in the sink. Then his mouth began to twitch, and
he thought of the Lady of Cakes and Tea and the
glorious House of Glittering Things. For a long time
he cried softly to himself, while One-Two sat won-
Finally, the Infant's eyelids grew heavier and
heavier, and his breathing less interrupted by sighs.
At last sweet weariness came down and gently closed
the big, brown eyes ; and he forgot his troubles, and
floated away, dreaming that he was a httle fish in a
pond with white porcelain banks, and was behind a
stone, looking up out of the corners of his eyes at a
tiny boy who held a cat.
THE CRUEL THOUSAND YEARS
THE CRUEL THOUSAND YEAES
HEN the grim ancestral joss of the
Hoos led the family in an exit to a
different domicile, the years of the
Infant Hoo Chee were yet five. It
was true that now he had the pride
of silken strings to lengthen out his
cue. But since the time when he
had toddled away in pursuit of a lovely American
girlj with whom he had wished to dwell forever in
her home, which he called the House of Glittering
Things, and since the moment when Hoo King had
torn him from her whom the Infant called the Ladv
of Cakes and Tea, Hoo Chee had been more circum-
scribed than ever. Many a vision of that house and
of that lady had been his as he seemed to be wistfully
watching the humming world from the lofty flower-
pot balcony. And no one but his meditative cat, One-
Two, was solemn in the Infant's confidence, or knew
the weight of his woe.
But on that day when the joss came down from
the wall the few old smoky rooms were left as memo-
ries, and the father, Hoo King, and the mother and
the amah walked away in the clear air, with Hoo Chee
bearing the doubtful One-Two in his arms. Soon the
Infant found himself in a second story, whence he
34 THE CRUEL THOUSAND YEAES
looked upon a yard impossibly great, he thought — a
yard as long as a cloud. It dissolved in the gloaniing
as he gazed in awe, with his chin just over the win-
dow-sill, and he waked in the morning denying it.
But w^hen he found it true, he rushed shouting down
the stairs, one step at a time, and shouting into its
vast freedom, where One-Two scampered in giddy
circles with his tail in mirthful curves. Here was a
roaming ground for all duration, and earth to dig,
and straggling weeds, and sticks and stones. It mat-
tered not what castles lay beyond ; here was a park
that equaled the House of Glittering Things !
There was one restriction : he must never have aught
to do with the women who lived on the other side of
the fence, commanded Hoo King, for reasons of his
own. They were Sum Chow's women — Sum Chow,
who had the curio-shop, and opposed the traffic in
women slaves by the Tong which Hoo King ruled.
But women whom the Infant neither feared nor loved
did not concern him in his hours in the yard. The
marvel of his liberty filled his mind ; it lost him his
appetite and some of his sleep for quite two days,
whereafter he ate like a knight returned, and slept as
hard as a horse can gallop, to be up and out, with
One-Two at his heels, catching the dew and the dawn.
In the other place on the balcony, never a smallest
finger might be laid on the stalk of a lily, nor a fea-
ther be drawn across one smooth green leaf, without
discovery; here, first of all, he pulled up a tuft of
grass, and saw its little white legs that walked in the
soil ; and this was a secret in his bosom. Then be-
hind the shed, which he called the Gruesome Go-
THE CRUEL THOUSAND YEARS 35
down, after the place where the doughty little Quong
Sam, of a story he knew, had been impounded by a
Sarcastic Turtle that stood between Quong Sam and
the House of Glittering Things; behind the Grue-
some Go-down was a spot where One-Two suggested
by scratches that they dig, which they did. The In-
fant made mountains and valleys with an iron spoon,
so clever he was, and he threw a pasteboard bridge
across a river-bed, and by it built an Important Town,
where the avenues were shaded by cabbage-leaf trees,
and where One-Two drilled wilful worms and rebel-
lious bugs as citizens.
From a window in Sum Chow's the learned Dr.
Wing Shee, that soothsayer whom all Chinatown re-
spected, occasionally observed the Infant's serious
labors, and grew to like Hoo Chee. The industry
which now was seen to thrive near the Important
Town was mining — in a pile of debris as high as the
Infant's self ; and surely, in all the vast precincts of
the House of Glittering Things, no more absorbing,
dignifying occupation might be found ! With One-
Two's artful nasal divination they brought forth varied
bits of crockery that, when polished with One-Two's
ear, became as brilliant as other gems ; and they drew
out many an odd fabric and buried relic that told of
bygone times and the domestic economies of extinct
houses. The Infant could not stuff them all in the
pocket that ran across the chest of his bib. The
choicest was a big green ring, like those the grown
folks wore, which the Infant squeezed as a love token
over the unwilling head of One-Two, who thence sat
apart, outwardly magnificent, but filled with supersti-
36 THE CRUEL THOUSAND YEARS
tious brooding-. One-Two's splendor paraded tlie In-
fant's dreamland, and when in the morning he found
that the mother had seized the bangle for her own
bedizenment, a first black shadow fell across his shin-
ing new^ world. This was not like the House of Glit-
tering Things. There the Lady of Cakes and Tea
made peace and security for every one. He wished
they would give him back his big green ring — just
to play with; but they never would. He went and
sat silently on his Important Town, with the corners
of his mouth drawn down verv far.
It was not like the House of GHttering Things, be-
cause here the days often promised happiness w^hen
they meant to end in sorrow. Once, while he played
Bad Old iMan with One-Two, there came a shower,
and One-Two ran to shelter, shaking moist paws, to
stand astounded at the antics of Hoo Chee. The In-
fant pranced with open mouth, delighting in the
smart drops on his cheeks. It was superfine ! And
it was a headlong pitch from bliss to find himself
pushed rudely into the house by his father. Up the
stairs Hoo Chee must hurry, and Hoo Chee must stay
to dry by the rice-pan-coals, w^hile the rain made
merry music, glistening and beating on the panes as
if to ask why this little boy would not come out to
play. And he wondered if the rain knew the Lovely
Lady who had a deep, warm porcelain pond, and even
urged people into it. Then the calm of another morn-
ing brought him the joy of a rusty pan a-brim with
water, which must at once be made a lake for his Im-
portant Town ; for the pan needed only a little fish to
be perfect. But the little fish that after all day's
THE CRUEL THOUSAND YEARS 37
strategy he managed to borrow from the amah's
basket would not wag its tail and swim in the pan ;
and though he hid behind a corner and peeped ever so
quickly out at it, still it floated disgracefully stiff on
its side with its mouth stark wade. This would have
been another bootless day ; but the learned Dr. Wing
Shee, who read your heart from your face as surely as
he read the future from the stars, observed the Infant's
listlessness, and came to the fence with a kindlv smile.
They talked of the wind and the sky, and the doctor
promised to tell Hoo Chee some day the story of how
the " Wretched Dragon Made the Sun Wobble."
" And I '11 tell you about the Sarcastic Turtle," said
It was not wrong to talk to a man, and the women
Hoo Chee had not seen. The women were Sum Fay
— Sum Chow's wife, and their daughter, Sum Oo,
whom a beautiful American patron had once addressed
as Miss Oo, which had become Sum Oo's pet appel-
There came love's month of May. The rains had
ceased, and the skies were passing fair. The city
lawns shone everywhere with summer plants; but Hoo
King's yard was barren save of weeds. The learned
Dr. Wing Shee, once looking over into the desolate
space, threw a handful of seeds among the hills and
valleys by the Important Town, where the cabbage-
leaf trees lay pelted into the earth. Out of the doc-
tor's pri\nlege grew a garden for a child. The sun
touched the place with magic, and the Infant saw
with amazement his territorv transformed. A morn-
38 THE CRUEL THOUSAND YEARS
ing-glory shot out of the ground, and ran hand over
hand up a broomstick, shaking out its tender blooms
like banners. A beautiful yellow nasturtium raced
up following, and its blossoms bobbed in the breeze
to One-Two and Hoo Chee, as they stood and won-
dered at it. The Infant must march with exagger-
ated steps, singing :
Pcely mow-wow — pilly willy icop ! Peelj mow- wow — pilly
willy wop !
which were words of his own invention. In such
luxurv of two kinds of flowers one imagined oneself in
a bower of the House of Glittering Things, with the
Lady of Cakes and Tea within call.
And the warm day arrived when the Infant, sitting
on the ground in speculation as to whether a Wretched
Dragon was as big as a cloud, heard a new sound. It
was a delicious sound. It was not a bird. It came from
the other side of the fence, — tones unlike any he had
heard, — and it kept saying, joyously and gurglingly
and fascinatingly, '' Yai-yai-yah ! Yai-yai-yah ! '' which
was clearly an expression of delight with all the world.
The Infant hastened to the fence. The merry " yai-
yai-yah '' kept on with a relish of life in it impossible
except for one whose title to her big green ring en-
dured un threatened. The Infant forgot about whether
a Wretched Dragon was as large as a cloud or only
as large as some land, and he stood with his hands on
the fence, looking up at the tall boards that shut the
sweet sounds away. The tiny voice sang to itseK and
talked to an older voice near by; all in the same
pleased syllables. At length it subsided to a con-
THE CRUEL THOUSAND YEARS 39
tented coo, and then it was still, and it did not come
again. But it lingered in the Infant's ears like strange
new music. At dusk he paused solemnly at the door-
step ; he wished they might know that over here was
a little Hoo Chee and his cat. But they were gone,
and they would never know. Then, to his own as-
tonishment, he dared to shout, " Yai-yai-yah ! '' where-
upon he hastened up the stairs, frightened at his
He dreamed that the Sarcastic Turtle came and
promised to let him stand on it to see over the fence.
And the turtle crawled and crawled with the ever ex-
pectant Hoo Chee on its back, but the fence was
always just so far away. And the turtle kept laugh-
ing and laughing, and bidding him rise on tiptoe, till
the Infant awoke frowning, with his toes in tight
In the morning he and One-Two ran speedily into
the yard; but it was too early for the little voice.
All the brilliant forenoon he listened for it, as he
pulled the shed hairs from One-Two's coat, and laid
them one by one away in a little box ; some one had
said that the cat would need its hair again when the
cold rains came. He would keep the box in the
ginger- jar, where he hid his treasures now, and the
ginger-jar should go in a secret place inside the Grue-
some Go-down. Then, in the afternoon, and none too
soon, he made a grand discovery. It was a knot-hole
in the dividing-fence.
He looked upon a place where many flowers were,
and the grass grew all of one^ height, like soldiers.
And presently came out Sum Chow's young wife
40 THE CRUEL THOUSAND YEARS
bearing a mat. Behind her trotted a little dame of
scarce three summers carrying a fat cloth cat. It
was Miss Oo, and the Infant knew she was a girl, be-
cause she wore her tiny braids in two little horns that
were part of her spangled cap. The Infant saw the
mother leave Miss Go to play alone upon the mat
that lay on the grass. These, then, were the women
of Sum Chow, who were to be avoided.
Miss Oo sat down and made remarks in her own
pecuUar language to the fat cloth cat, and emphasized
them by shaking it up and down by the tail. Then
she rolled over and kicked her inhnitesimal feet in the
air, and murmured demurely :
'' Yai-yai ! "
Her eyes traveled along the clear sky until they
met the sun. They looked without winking straight
into the glittering ball, iu solemn satisfaction that
it should be there, and for a long time there was no
movement in her contented body but the occasional
wiffffle of a raised and bandied foot cased in a silver-
trimmed slipper as big as an ear. The Infant stood
tic^ht to the fence, fascinated bevond measure. In all
the adventures of little Quong Sam, from the begin-
ning to the hero's arrival at the House of Glittering
Thino-s, there was nothino' so delectable as this! Now
it was occurring to Miss Go that the sun made her
warm and happy, and that it was a good sun. A smile
began at her coal-black eyes, and ran down and tugged
at the curling corners of her ample mouth, until her
brown face was all aglee; and she kicked and laughed
and shook the fat cloth cat and shouted :
'^ Yai-yai -yah ! Yai-yai- yah ! "
THE CRUEL THOUSAND YEARS 41
Then she turned on lier side, and in a few moments
she had gone asleep with her thumb in her mouth,
and the memory of the smile remaining on her round
cheeks, while Hoo Chee and the cloth cat stared and
stared and stared.
All the next day the Infant sought the fence at the
slightest sound ; but there were clouds, and Miss Oo
came onlv when the sun invited. The clouds made
him sad, and the day dragged like a faint headache.
His night's slumber was invaded by a tiny maid car-
ried in a splendid car, with all the background a
gorgeous yellow blur of priests and gods. And the
tiny maid shook a fat cat at Hoo Chee, and said,
^' Yai-yai-yah ! " whereupon Hoo Chee stepped into the
car with her. But just as they began to play Bad
Old Man the car changed into tissue paper, and they
fell through it and slid terrifically down the clouds,
and the wee maid disappeared. And another night,
just as a red toy-balloon was floating him over the
fence, a Wretched Dragon, that was bigger than some
land, gleefully gulped the balloon ; and Hoo Chee and
the tiny maid tugged and tugged at the string that
hung from the Wretched Dragon's mouth — until it
had a fit, and writhed and wriggled and shrieked so
that the Sun Wobbled in the sky, whereupon the
string broke, and Hoo Chee and the tiny maid sat
down together very hard with the string in their
hands, and he awoke to find her gone.
But the next day the clouds dissolved, and the sun
sailed on as if nothing had occurred, and after he
had tarried for hours by the fence he saw the proces-
sion of the mother and the mat and Miss Oo and the
42 THE CRUEL THOUSAND YEARS
fat cloth cat. The lufant watched Miss Oo playing,
and cooing, and rolling in the sun, till he wondered
how it was that little Quong Sam had succeeded in
crawling through the bamboo pole when he wanted
to get on the other side of the wall; and Hoo Chee
made a little sound with a stick on the fence. Miss
Oo turned to listen, and when he knocked again she
discovered the knot-hole. The Infant's heart gave a
funny jump; she had stood up, and was coming to
examine the fence.
*•' Little eye ! " she said.
Whereupon Hoo Chee felt a hand upon him, and
was whirled away from her sight.
" Go into the house, fool offspring ! " exclaimed his
father. '^ If you gossip with that girl again I '11 keep
you out of this yard for a thousand years ! "
Hoo King pushed the stick through the knot-hole,
and Miss Oo grasped it, unaware of the tragedy just
enacted on the other side. When he drove it hard
through, that it might not be withdrawn, a splinter
caught in the small maid's finger. It did not hurt
much, but she felt that something was wrong, and
with her finger held up she trotted off to find her
mother. Hoo Chee had gone with little steps into the
house, with the corners of his mouth drawn down
very far, hurrying as if something pursued him. A
thousand years! The penalty was fearful even to
think of, and it hovered around him for hours, like
an oppressive spirit bound at last to drag him to de-
spair. In a thousand years the Important Town
would go to ruin, and lie at the mercy of the Mon-
strous Rat that lived in the Gruesome Go-down ; in a
THE CRUEL THOUSAND YEARS 43
thousand years One-Two would tire of staying in-
doors, and would go away and seek the sun and the
fresh air and the fat cloth cat. And Hoo Chee would
gaze out of the window and see Miss Oo and the two
cats playing and playing and playing, and only once
perhaps in a hundred years would they remember
and look for Hoo Chee's mournful face behind the
pane. It was true that all this was only a threat, but
he felt it closing upon him as if it was real. He
wished he knew how to find the Lady of Cakes and
He thought of it the next morning as he rummaged
in the Go-down, which first had stood so high in the
attractions of the yard, because it was doubtless owned
by the Monstrous Rat, with whom he had expected
many a sanguinary joust before he conquered it.
But now he had forgotten about the Rat. The dim
interior, piled with dusty crates and packing-boxes
long disused, was suited to his mood. Among the
empty boxes he had discovered a light one which he
could handle, and back of it he had found another,
much larger, into which by crawling a distance one
could squeeze and be quite out of the world. A loos-
ened board on the side of the Go-down that fronted
on a strange yard let a shaft of sunlight into this re-
treat, and as he sat there he meditated breaking off
relations with his family, and abiding there perman-
ently, to sally only at night. But a few minutes of
such life told him of its loneliness. He emerged, and
for want of occupation trundled the lighter box into
How this box would have been used, if it had not
44 THE CRUEL THOUSAND YEARS
been for tlie awful threat, the Infant knew. Its awk-
ward dimensions would have been struggled with un-
til it was finally mastered and made to stand against
the fence — so ! And then it would have been easy
to bring that little fruit crate and hoist it on top — so !
After that it was baby's play to fetch these flower-
pots and fit them — so and so and so — one ov^er the
other, till, boxes and all, they made a tower half as
high as the fence! It was an imposing structure,
hidden behind the Gruesome Go-down ; and he wanted
to show himself how he would have climbed up on it
— if it had not been for the thousand years ! All you
had to do, you see, was to step on the big box — so!
Then it was easy enough to reach the small box, and
you caught hold — like this — of the bit of frayed
rope nailed to the fence, and simply pulled yourself
up to the fence-top — like that; and — oh, dear —
there she was !
He stood breathless. Miss Oo lay asleep with her
thumb in her mouth, and the fat cloth cat lay in the
sitting attitude confirmed of fat cloth cats. A tall
calla lily bent and nodded its benison upon Miss Oo,
and her parted lips showed peeping teeth like rows of
Suddenly she startled the Infant by opening her
eyes directly upon him. For an instant she caught
his full stare; but his glance fell away, and his tongue
searched the corners of his mouth. He dared not look
at her. Miss Oo began to smile.
'' Little eye ! " she said.
And the Infant twisted himself in such confusion
that he w^as in danger of falling from the flower-pots
THE CRUEL THOUSAND YEARS 45
into an ignominious heap in the middle of the Im-
portant Town. Miss Oo kept looking straight at him,
and he would not meet her eyes, but looked quite
over her and beyond, at space. She crawled some
way, then rose and came toward the fence.
'' Little boy ? " she inquired.
Which so embarrassed the Infant that he sank down
out of view, leaving nothing visible to Miss Oo but eight
small grimy finger-tips on the fence-top. Womanlike,
she made no effort to get him back, but waited in
silence until the Infant began to wonder if she had
gone, and he found courage to haul himself to see.
She was there, sitting on the grass, absorbed in the
finger-tips. At sight of him, the big smile came again.
"Miss Oo^^ she said.
Which frightened him so that he sank down once
more. But as he sat in cover, and heard nothing
from Miss Oo, he was at length moved to say, but
little above a whisper :
" Yai-yai ! "
Whereupon Miss Oo responded with a giggle in her
smaU voice, " Yai-yai-yah ! " and the Infant could not
refrain from calling back in louder tones, '' Yai-yai-
yaJi 1 " which Miss Oo repeated each time louder than
the Infant, so that soon the merry contest of their
voices had risen to such screams that it reached the
ears of Hoo King. Hoo Ghee's diffidence departed,
and Miss Oo seemed charmed. When they were tired
of shouting she searched her small collection of words.
When Miss Oo liked people she talked to them.
" Rice cake ? " she said, after ^ moment.
The Infant bethought him of the pocket of his
46 THE CRUEL THOUSAND YEARS
bib, and found therein a bean-meal cookie, which he
promptly dropped into her lap. Miss Oo immediately
began to devour it while Hoo Chee waited.
"Little girir' he inquired at length in her own
But she was too busy to answer. She looked at
him over the cookie with two grave eyes, while the
particles of bean-meal collected about her mouth. The
Infant yearned for more conversation. He smiled
engagingly and shouted " Yai-yai-?/«7i ! " and kicked
the boai'ds for her attention. But when Miss Oo
looked up again she saw not even the eight grimy
fingers. The flower-pots had given away, and the en-
tire edifice of his love had fallen, bringing him to the
ground in a mixture of boxes and broken clay. He
had bumped his head, too, and his eyes filled with
tears. Oh, if the Lovely Lady had been there he
would have run to her and cried in the folds of her
gown, and she would have comforted him, and taken
him up in her arms ? But instead he heard the voice
of his father. He must not weep ; he would need his
tears. The thousand years were coming. He should
never see the fence again, and there would n't be
even a flow^er-pot balcony for him to come out on.
His heart thumped against his ribs, and his pallor was
evident even to his father.
But Hoo King did not suspect the gravity of the
offense, and the penalty was merely that the boxes
and the fragments all must be removed to the shed
whence Hoo Chee had fetched them. The labor which
had been lightened by novelty and by a magnetic at-
traction that had governed his will without a protest
THE CRUEL THOUSAND YEARS 47
now became an endless evil toil, and when it was
finished Hoo Chee was well nigh exhausted. Miss
Go had long ago been taken into the house, explain-
ing the crumbs of bean-meal on her face with the
words, " Little boy.'' The Infant went to sleep with-
out a thought of supper, dreaming that he was an
executioner, and must keep chopping off a head that
forever flew up in the air and flew back, tight to its
When he came into the yard once more he was in
no frame of mind to play Bad Old Man with One-
Two. How gloomy the yard was, anyway, thought
the Infant. It was a prison, where one might never
do what one liked most. Oh, if the Lady of Cakes
and Tea would but come and take him to the house
where all was light and freedom and peace ! He went
off in a reverie of her, and of the wonderful ]3orcelain
pond where, if one was not too frightened to search,
there were probably funny little wiggly fishes and
hoppity frogs. He was interrupted by the man who
peddled the flesh of the abalone, and who came through
the gate to interview Hoo King, whose wrath at being
disturbed sent the abalone man away, leaving the gate
ajar for revenge. The Infant saw the forbidden street,
and turned his back, for it invited him to run away.
With a weary spirit, he absently made pictures of rice-
cakes with a stick in the main street of his Important
The abalone man had gone to Sum Chow's and
seemed to be doing business there. The steps which
the Infant heard outside were not the abalone man's ;
they were too light. It was some one coming into
48 THE CRUEL THOUSAND YEARS
Hoo Chee's yard — a woman probably — some woman
humming to herself in a quiet way. The Infant
scratched out the rice-cakes, and tried to make a pic-
ture of the golden fruit the Lady had given him. One-
Two had gone to the gate. The small hum stopped,
and the Infant heard a little voice :
'' Yai-yai ? '^
His heart beat in his throat. There she was.
She stood, with a bright smile, well inside the gate,
bearing the fat cloth cat. One-Two was sniffing the
extraordinary phlegmatic creature with the stuffed
tail, and Miss Oo was pausing for welcome. The In-
fant sat rooted with fear, giving no sign. Miss Oo
waited but a moment; then she came and laid her
hand upon his cheek.
" Miss Oo f " she said.
The wee fingers were veiy soft, and the big black
eyes looked straight at him in frankest liking. But
the abalone man was coming, with his noisy cry.
The father might think to have a glance at the yard
— and it would mean a thousand years ! The Infant
did not know how to make her go away. In his heart
he wanted her to stay. The im^mlse to hide away
with her came upon him like an instinct, and he took
her hand and led her into the Gruesome Go-down.
He would crawl and show her into the packing-box ;
she had followed him so trustfully. He picked his way
over the flower-pots and behind the boxes to where
he squeezed through the long and well-concealed pas-
sage to his cubbyhole, and Miss Oo, holding the fat
cloth cat, followed at his heels as a matter of course.
She crawled into the big box and arranged herself
THE CRUEL THOUSAND YEARS 49
close beside him, while he eyed her with half -prevail-
ing pleasure. One-Two sat before them gazing con-
temptuously at the fat cloth cat. Miss Oo looked
about her and was deeply pleased.
" Little house ? " she said sweetly.
Hoo King was outside. He went to the gate, then
came back and looked for a moment into the shed,
then went again to the gate.- He called sternly to the
abalone man across the street. Then Hoo King ham-
mered at Sum Chow's open gate, and there was pre-
sently a hurried conversation half audible to the two
in the cubbvhole. With one accord Miss Oo and the
Infant remained silent, and in a short while the voices
subsided and were forgotten.
The Infant found his precious ginger-jar, and he
began to show his treasures — the many bits of col-
ored crockery, and pins, and buttons and scraps of
cloth, and every odd and end from the debris pile that
had a brilliant hue or shape unusual. The smaU girl
cooed, and reached for them as he silently handed
them over one by one. Then he put them all back in
the jug, where the box of One-Two's fur lay securely
tied, and Miss Oo took the jar and rattled its contents,
and threw it down, laughing at Hoo Ghee's efforts not
to lose the treasures when they scattered about the
floor. Each time the good-natured Infant laboriously
collected them all, the box of hair first, and each time
the maiden rattled the jug and threw it down again.
Miss Oo's attention was drawn from it only by a big
cookie that dropped from Hoo Chee's bib.
" Little cake ? " she said, holding out her hand.
He gave it to her, and received the ginger- jar in
50 THE CRUEL THOUSAND YEARS
retui'u. She insisted that he take a bite with each of
hers, and Hoo Chee, though he was not hungry, must
accept when she stared at him and thrust the cookie
under his nose. For him the cookie was not a suc-
cess ; it was almost like medicine. Conflicting emo-
tions greatly disturbed him within, for all his pleasure
in this lovely comrade. Now Miss Oo was busying
herself with baring her feet of her tiny shoes, an
act forbidden by her mother. Her glee at this quite
drowned the Infant's trouble for a while. Hoo Chee
must take his shoes off too, and it was hilarious fun
to put them on Miss Oo's smaller feet, and see her
giggle and kick them off against the ceiling of their
little house. She became interested in her big toe,
and brought it up to look at it. She began to frown :
she could not remember its name.
'' Little thumb?" she inquired doubtfully, staring
at the wonderful member. But that did not seem
right. In her perplexity she turned to Hoo Chee.
'' Little nose ? " she ventured.
^^ That 's your little big toe," said Hoo Chee ; where-
upon Miss Oo repeated the words after him, and went
off into an ecstasy of laughter over her new knowl-
edge. She shook the fat cloth cat by the tail, just as
she had when he had seen her flirting with the sun.
And Hoo Chee was so enchanted that he tried to shake
One-Two by the tail. The 3'oung persons were severely
startled by One-Two's instantaneous denial of this
privilege. One-Two turned a somersault in the air,
and sputtered and spun, and made expressions of
most painful character, and disappeared in a rage
that was really half jealousy. Then, in the narrow-
THE CRUEL THOUSAND YEARS 51
ness of their little house, they began to lack new
things to play with, and Miss Oo stared at Hoo Chee
^^ I '11 tell you about the Sarcastic Turtle," said the
Infant, finally, in an inspiration. ^^ There was a man
lost his head, and could n't find it anywhere — and
was n^t it too bad about the poor man ! So he took
some crutches and went to hunt it — so far that he
wished he was home again. But the Sarcastic Turtle
said, ^ I '11 take you across/ And when they got out
in the middle the Sarcastic Turtle said, ' You must
promise never to tell my secret when you get home.
If you do I '11 drown you right now ! ' And the man
said : ^ What is your secret ? ' And the Sarcastic
Turtle said : ' WeU, all the other turtles can say
Yaug-tse-kiang, but I can't !' And the man said
but I '11 tell you about a little boy," said the Infant,
observing signs of failing interest in Miss Oo. She
was sitting propped up in the corner, with her eyes
half closed. She could n't foUow the story ; but it was
pleasant to hear some one talk in a steady voice, when
she felt as she did now.
" A Little Boy went out one day," said Hoo Chee,
thoughtfully, " and followed her up the street. And
she let him in, and it was the House of Glittering
Things ! It was all white inside, and there was plenty
of cakes," said the Infant, whereupon Miss Oo opened
her eyes suspiciously, " and it was lighted with stars
and a dog and everything. And a man named Gee
hated him, and went and told his father, and then he
came and took me away from her ; and I '11 have his
head cut off, and put it up the chimney, and then he
52 THE CRUEL THOUSAND YEARS
won't hate me any more ! She '11 cut it off for me !
And then I 11 stay in the house — and find little
Quong Sam — for a thousand years/' finished the
Miss Go had gone to sleep. The Infant saw her
head rising and falling a tiny distance on her chubby
chest ; but, lovely as she was, he wished she would go
home ! He could not run to the house and leave her,
for the Monstrous Rat might come. It was wretch-
edly uncomfortable, for his father would surely be
seeking him. There she sat, with her hands hanging
at her sides like a Japanese doll's. He wished the
Lady of Cakes and Tea would appear, and take them
both away forever on a cloud that would float so high
that no one could reach it. He thought of the thou-
sand years, and he was nearly ready to cry.
It was really a long time since they had entered the
Go-down. The learned Dr. Wing, pacing in Sum
Chow's yard, trying to reason out the disappearance
of two small children, became aware of faint sounds
coming from the direction of the Go-down, and after
listening carefully for a while to the story of a little
boy, laughed softly to himself and departed. There
were now people in the yard, the Infant knew —
several of them ; and one was a man speaking Chinese
in a foreign accent. Then some one in a wonderfully
lovely voice spoke — a voice whose clear soft tones
penetrated the Go-down. Surely Hoo Chee had heard
that voice before! He grasped the ginger-jar and
crawled excitedly over Miss Go's feet, and put his
head out to listen. G joy ! and oh, most marvelous
surprise! It was the Lady of Cakes and Tea! He
THE CRUEL THOUSAND YEARS 53
wriggled out as fast as his hands and knees would
carry him, jostling the small maid, who murmured
sleepily, " Miss Oo?" and awoke to see his disappearing
Near the door of the Go-down the Infant paused
and peeped through a crack from behind a barrel.
He heard his angry father, who spoke but little Eng-
lish, hotly declaring in Chinese that when Hoo Chee
should be found he would be tied indoors — for a
" The fellow 's a brute ! " said the gentleman who
had come with Miss Bayley Arenam, in English.
" He still pretends to believe that you stole his boy,
and he threatens the child with torture — in the same
breath. If he is n't careful I '11 have the boy removed
to the mission."
" He is so dear ! " said Miss Arenam. " You don't
think his father would hurt him, do you? I do hope
that some day I may do something to make Hoo Chee
happier ! "
''I will teach him mission-school!" Hoo King was
threatening, while the Infant trembled and paled, and
scarcely felt Miss Oo behind him. ''If he does n't
come home I will bring police to your house. And
there is one who can help me," said Hoo King, point-
ing to Sum Go's father, who had just come hopefully
into the yard, after a long search through the quarter.
^' Gh," said Miss Arenam, recognizing Sum Chow ;
"is it your little girl who is missing — Miss Go?
Surely no one would harm them ! Do you think so ! "
"Gone childs," said the learned Dr. Wing Shee,
appearing behind Chow. " Gmens says shall be find ;
54 THE CRUEL THOUSAND YEARS
shall come from east/' said the doctor, pointing to-
ward the Go-down. " Omens say good times come
for that poy, by by."
'' She is good little girl/' said Sum Chow, trying to
smile. '^She is too much — and the mother is too
much sad. But we do not think you "
" Why don't the foreign devils go ? " said Hoo King.
'^ Why do they loiter on my premises ? Do they want
to steal me ? "
The Infant shivered. He saw the Lovely Lady
about to depart. She would disappear again — for-
ever — and he would be left alone with his father.
Ah, no, no ! He rushed wildly out of the Go-down
and after her, calling loudly : i
'' Ha-o, Pay-lee ! Pay-lee ! "
" Why, you darling ! " cried Bayley Arenam, joy-
fully. ^' You were hiding 1 "
The Lady took the dusty young person up, and kissed
him, and, as fast as she could, came trotting after him
the barefooted Miss Oo, who ran to the Lovely Lady,
and said demurely :
'' Miss Oo ? "
And when the Lady put him down, to look at the
Infant and Miss Oo as they stood side by side, the
Infant took hold of the Lady's gown, and turned his
head back so that he could look beseechingly up
into her eyes.
''We want to go home with you," he entreated,
with frightened breath. ''We want to go to the
House of Glittering Things! We want to!" he
begged, with a pain of suspense. " She '11 be good,
THE CRUEL THOUSAND YEARS 55
and I '11 be good. We don't want to stay here. We
want to go home with you ! "
And Miss Oo, hearing the Infant talk of going
somewhere, decided that he should not suddenly for-
sake her again. She tightly grasped the tip of Hoo
Chee's cue, and looked earnestly into the face of the
*^ The darling things ! What does he say ?'^ asked
^' He says they want to go and live with you,"
translated Mr. Arroway.
'^ You angel ! " cried the Lady of Cakes and Tea,
kissing him again. '^ I do wish I could take you.'^
The Infant laughed aloud. It was all right, then !
One could tell from the kiss and the tone, no matter
if one knew not a word of what she said. He would
go with her to the house — and the thousand years
would be left behind ! Hoo King was glaring at his
son in a rage, but the presence of the gentleman who
spoke Chinese restrained what the father might have
"Good-by," said Hoo Chee, radiantly turning his
head to his father, but still holding tight to the Lady.
" I go to the House of Glittering Things. I shall be
always happy ! "
" Ah ! " cried Hoo King, beside himself. ^^ Fool off-
spring! Fool! Come here; they have filled your
impious body with devils ! "
Hoo King made a dash for his son.
'^ No, no, no ! " exclaimed Hoo Chee, fearfully, run-
ning behind Miss Arenam, with the troubled Miss Oo
56 THE CRUEL THOUSAND YEAES
following after and holding to his jngtail. "No, no,
no ! Pay-lee ! FsLj-lee ! "
But Mr. Arroway caught him.
"You belong to your father, little boy," he said
tenderly, iu Chinese, while Hoo Chee struggled and
wept and hated him. " You must stay with him. I
am sorry ; but the Lady will come again some day —
surely ! "
Hoo King strode forward and snatched the Infant's
hand, tearing his hold roughly from the Lady's skirt ;
and Sum Chow took the hand of his daughter. But
Miss Oo began to sniffle, too, resisting with all her
tiny strength the loosening of her grasp of Hoo Chee's
pigtail. When it was accomplished she broke into a
wail. " Miss Oo ! Miss Oo ! " she cried, woefully.
Hoo Chee was dragged by his frowning sire toward
the house, but the Infant wept no longer. His breath
caught and caught, as if his bursting heart was forc-
ing it all from his body; his brain was whirling in a
panic. The sun was to be taken from the sky for a
thousand bitter years.
Long after the yard was deserted there appeared at
the window, just aboye the sill, a little round face
with two red eyes and a mouth drawn down at the
corners yery far. A wind was sending in a swirling
fog. The little red eyes overlooked the Important
Town and the waving posies and the ginger-jar with
the scattered treasures, and they saw into the empty
Go-down. But those whose forms stayed pictured in
his memory — Dr. Wing and Miss Oo and the Lovely
Lady — they were gone — all gone — forever. They
THE CRUEL THOUSAND YEARS 57
were the only ones he loved, but he should never see
them again. The wind slammed the gate and latched
it. The little eyes blinked and blinked and filled till
they could not see; and the small head bowed on the
THE GENTLEMAN IN THE BARREL
THE dENTLEMAN IN THE BARREL
TRADITION says that tlie famous
Wing Shee learned medicine in the
street of the Thirty-four Sorrowful
Grandfathers, Canton, from the
tongues of the sacred storks whose
eyelids he sewed together against
the sight of happenings profane. Another tradi-
tion denies that he ever did learn it. Yet surely the
doctor was a man of parts, and was gifted with every
element, except the favor of chance, for what men
call success. He looked frail in body; yet he had
shone so valorous in the Taiping Rebellion that the
mandarin in whose mob of militants Wing Shee
marched had plotted perforce to extinguish him.
Thus was Wing started on his wanderings, which
stopped twenty years ago in a garret room at No. 13|
Beverly Place, San Francisco.
His walls were hung with water-colors reminiscent
of screens and fans and china. There was a life-sized
lady in much gilt embroidery, who walked due north,
while her eyes yearned due south — a triumph of
mind over matter. There was a beautiful flesh-tint
of the fat Hoo King, who had refused to recognize it ;
whereupon Wing had given it the grimace of a fiend,
and altered the eyes so that they looked at the nose.
62 THE GENTLE:MAN IN THE BARREL
For the doctor was public in any office of the brush.
He would paint your face or a presentment of it, or
he would paint your house. He would write letters,
or big red visiting-cards, or signs. For a modest
transfer he would chart an augury of all the delight-
ful things to come in your career, forbearing mention
of those miseries sufficient to the days thereof; and
since it was done from seven random hairs plucked
by yourself from your own head, there w^as hardly
room for skepticism. But more than for anything
else was he esteemed for his knowledge of diseases,
and of how to make people think that they did not
have them. He was unorthodox in this branch, as he
was in others; and that, among the ignorant, has
been ground for prejudice against him.
It happened that this little old gentleman, who was
sixty-five, though you would have said fifty, found
his room rent two months in arrears, with the pros-
pect in one day more of being placed on the outside
of No. 13i, wHth his pots, pans, and implements of
art. "Wing Shee, who had helped many a fellow in
distress, and whose kindly eyes, through spectacles
with rims as large as silver dollars, attracted every
child, would have fallen into melancholy had that
been possible to him ; for his position seemed not to
touch the hearts of his friends. The scholar's pride
that kept him from meeting the issue by pawning the
tools of his varied accomplishments they would have
called presumptuous affectation.
About this time it became most important to the
great Chee Kung Tong to know what mysterious busi-
THE GENTLEMAN IN THE BARREL 63
ness was done of nights in the rooms of the Tong
styling itseK the Ho Wang Company. The Ho Wang
was ostensibly a corporation formed to deal in wines,
and the twenty who assembled regularly in its rooms
for secret deliberations, with some incidental good-
fellowship and a little propitiation of the gods, were
called the board of directors. Most men in China-
town thought the machinery of the Ho Wang merely
a blind against some foolish local law designed to dis-
courage the lottery-gambler — an innocent person who
chooses to do business by logarithms; or else they
thought the twenty were manufacturing American
silver dollars — a pursuit morally justified by the ever
unsatisfied demand. But the great Chee Kung was
anxious lest this might be the nucleus of a rival or-
ganization growing out of the Chee Kung's despo-
tism. A wall of the Ho Wang rooms was said to be
inscribed with the names of its three hundred mem-
bers. The Chee Kung wanted those names, and would
pay for them.
Lung Tom and Hang Tow, the hulking day watch-
dogs of the Ho Wang quarters, were not available.
Lung Tom was successfully approached by a Chee
Kung trusty, and said he was more than willing to
turn an honest penny ; but it was discovered that he
could neither read nor write. Of Hang Tow the Chee
Kung was chary, since he was suspected of being one
of the Ho Wang's members. The two guards were
never allowed in the rooms during the meetings,
which lasted from eight o'clock at night until four in
the morning; but all the rest of the time they were
required to keep everybody out of the company's
64 THE GENTLEMAN IN THE BARREL
premises, except the police, who were welcome. At
night either Lung Tom or Hang Tow was always at
the street entrance. The police used to come in once
in a while, at first ; but they never discovered any-
thing to warrant suspicion. The place contained a
number of wine-casks, an open fireplace with an iron
pot hung in it, and little else to attrsfct attention. Re-
ligious ceremonies seemed the main diversion of the
One morning, at this juncture, two emissaries of
the Chee Kung climbed to the garret where lodged
the learned Wing Shee. They heard cheerful music,
and came upon the doctor curled in a small heap on
his divan, smoking a pipe and playing a mandolin.
Having conscientiously exhausted every project for
avoiding the ejector of tenants, and having failed, he
had turned to the companions of his leisure, leaving
the rest to fate. Fate entered his room in the persons
of the two from the Chee Kung. That a man reported
on the verge of bankruptcy should be thus passing
his time surrounded by numerous articles on which
money could be had at interest startled them. They
were men with paunches and other indications of
prosperity ; but where they had expected to receive
deference they now bowed diplomatically low, and
proceeded in a subdued tone to lay their proposition
before him, while he graciously made tea, with no
sign of enthusiasm visible through the great horn
bows of his spectacles. When they had received their
cups and had seated themselves, rather awed by his
elegance of manner, the doctor said :
" What do you offer for this service ? If I fail it
will be because I lose my life."
THE GENTLEMAN IN THE BARREL 65
'^What will yon undertake it for?" asked the
spokesman. The tea was excellent ; the rumors about
this learned gentleman must be ridiculously false.
"It will be one dollar for every name," said Wiug
Shee, rattling some keys in his pocket.
"Three hundred dollars!" said the spokesman.
" Impossible ! We will give you one hundred. No ?
Well, good morning."
The two retired slowly, as if expecting the sugges-
tion of a compromise. Immediately the doctor jumped
to the door. They had paused at the first landing
below. He held the knob, ready to run and shout to
them should they start down the remaining flights.
But soon their steps were heard returning, whereupon
he climbed briskly to the divan, resumed his pipe, and
strummed a few chords on his mandolin.
" We have decided to accept your proposition," said
the spokesman, " though as a member of the Chee
Kung Tong, and as a man of means, we think you
ought to do it for less."
"What can the Chee Kung do for me if I get a
hatchet stroke in the nape of the neck f " asked the
doctor, sweeping a wild discord over the strings.
" Come back in thirty-six hours, and if you see me
alive I shall ask you for the money."
The doctor played softly until they were gone. He
reflected that a tenth of the sum would have tempted
him. Meanwhile the spokesman of the Chee Kung
was explaining to his companion that it is better to
promise three hundred dollars than to pay one hun-
When, later, the doctor returned from a visit to an
American friend, he carried a box of tools, and up his
66 THE GENTLEMAN IN THE BARREL
sleeve was a string of boiled sausages. In the hall a
junkman had left an empty barrel so large that the
doctor could barely get it through his door. It was
strong and heavy, and had served perhaps in the vault
of a vinevard. When he had locked himself in with
it, he began to move about rapidly. On the divan he
laid the sausages, some packages of drugs, his mando-
lin, his pipe and a supply of tobacco, a sharp knife
with a case that looked like a closed fan, a bottle of
ground Chinese ink with brushes, a bundle of long
paraffin tapers, several books in his own language,
and a bottle of rice gin.
Then PowLee, who kept the joss-house down-stairs,
and occupied the other garret room, heard Wing
hammering and sawing and planing. That pleased
Pow Lee; for Wing, whose attitude toward joss-
keepers was of small respect, was evidently forced to
the wall, and must pack his belongings. The little
man with the superior manner would have to take up
his abode in some inferior lodging, where two others
would sleep in his bunk during parts of the solar day.
Pow Lee, who was growing wealthy as a member of
the Ho Wang Company, could now rent this room for
himself, which would suit certain financial plans of
his not likely to mature under inspection.
At about dusk the sounds of carpentering came but
intermittently ; and when Pow Lee, after no answer
to his knock, peeped curiously in, he found no one.
That seemed strange, since he was sure he had heard
a hammer-stroke but a minute before. A blue barrel
lay in a pile of shavings. Pow rolled it, and found
it heavy; it was surprising that Wing could have
THE GENTLEMAN IN THE BARREL 67
filled a barrel aud so little cliauged the aspect of the
place. A medicine-box was on the divan, an oppor-
tunity welcome to the inquisitive joss-keeper. But
when he touched it there came from near by the sharp
sweep of chords on a mandolin. It was evidently
Wing returning. Pow Lee fled.
Lights began to shine fr.om the house. The blue
barrel lay in the twilight. Occasionally it oscillated
gently, as if some heavy person had run across an ad-
joining room in the flimsy building. A cloud of
tobacco smoke hung closely around it, as though
brought from the ceiling by a mood of the atmo-
sphere. By and by an American in a leathern apron
came with ropes and let it down the stairs. Then he
locked the door and took the key. At the street the
barrel escaped from the ropes and trundundled across
the sidewalk, where it stopped abruptly against the
wheel of a wagon. The man with the rope apolo-
gized, though it was not plain to whom.
Later, in the back room of the Ho Wang Company,
Hang Tow drowsily opened his eyes and then went
to sleep again, while Lung Tom ranged in line some
newly delivered casks. The blue barrel had arrived
among them; and this he left upright at one side
of the room. Once, while Hang slumbered, Lung
moved it a foot or two.
When Hang awoke he saw Lung sitting on the blue
barrel, gazing toward the wall at a long line of hiero-
glyphic names he could not read. Before long the
Ho Wang would be assembling. Hang lumbered
with interest over to the barrel that was different
from the others.
68 THE GENTLEMAN IN THE BARREL
'^ It does n't belong here," said Lung. " The man
came back while you slept, and said he would call for
it in the morning."
" Unusual barrel — has two bungs ! Wonder what ^s
in itf" said Hang, with pregnant curiosity. But
Lung did not seem to care. Hang could hear no
swish of liquids ; its contents were evidently solid,
since they made a sound when Hang turned it upside
down, wliich was quick work for a man of his strength.
At each end at regular intervals there were small round
holes in the staves, but the holes had been closed
from within. It worried Hang why, if the contents
were not valuable, this had been done, and new heads
put in. It occurred to him that between four and six
in the morning he might be able to open the barrel ;
and should he take a fancy to anything in it, he could
lay the blame on the honest Lung Tom, to whom the
American would naturally look should anything be
" Time ! " called Hang at length to Lung, who ap-
peared to have started a nap. '^The chief said he
would discharge you if he found you asleep again."
'' He told me," said Lung, without opening his eyes,
" that if you did n't smoke less opium he would dis-
Before they left for the front room Lung rolled the
barrel to a far corner. It oscillated to and fro several
times, and finall}^, with an unnatural lurch, came to
rest. A vapor like the smoke of tobacco began to rise
from its vicinity ; but the air was so Chinese, and the
room so dimly lighted by a single oil lamp, that no
one would have detected this phenomenon.
THE GENTLE^IAN IN THE BAREEL 69
At eight o^clock Hoo King, the chief of the Ho
Wangs, arrived with several members. Hang Tow
had hastened to supper, whence he would seek his
favorite opium-joint, where they never failed to drag
him from his stupor at exactly half-past three in the
morning. Lung Tom told Hoo King about the blue
barrel, and took up his station at the street entrance
to the hallway.
The members stopped in the front room, where
there were chairs and gaslight. From the dim corner
of the back room, where the barrel lay on its side, it
was possible to distinguish only that a business meet-
ing was being held. At first any one who opened the
communicating door might have heard, from a source
hard to say, the tinkling of a mandolin, apparently
distant, and surely in the hands of a master. But
soon the music ceased.
Two hours later Hoo King led the way back for
the serious work of the night. He and those who
thronged after him were all well known in Chinatown.
Hoo King was a ginseng merchant and a general ma-
nipulator of profits ; Ma Tee owned a factory which
supplied cigars to all men who could not afford good
ones j the fat Fong Ah was proprietor of a wash-
house in which labored eighteen less fortunate Chi-
nese ; Fai Chu was known to every man who had been
sick, for he sold drugs in one of the neatest shops of
the quarter; Lee Yip was president of a curio-shop
much patronized by tourists ; Fuey Ying slaughtered
pork, and found a market for nearly every pound of
it among the Celestials ; Pow Lee sold joss-sticks, and
70 THE GENTLEMAN IN THE BARREL
ate the offerings to the gods ; Hai Lo was head spirit
in a mysterious place called the Hole-iu-the-Groimd ;
and there were twelve others, all of fresh-shaven heads,
and portliness, and clean clothing in noticeable col-
ors. They wore red buttons in their caps, and their
trousers were tightly wrapped at the ankles. Their
dignity and the tobacco they smoked belonged to a
prosperity hard to explain.
Hoo King, who was telling Ma Tee about the blue
barrel, said suddenly:
"The idiot— he told me he put it in the far
corner ! ^'
The blue barrel was standing upright in the center
of the room.
When the heavy shutters of the rear windows had
been barred and the door locked, and the chief had
wrapped around his wrist the end of a fine wire that
hung from the ceiling, four casks were brought for-
ward and their bungs drawn. One after another each
of those present took from his sleeve a bag, from
which he counted twenty double eagles, holding every
coin so that all could see it, then dropping it into one
of the casks. When the money had been equally di-
vided among the casks the bungs were replaced, and
there began a very long process of rolling the casks
to and fi*o across the floor. Every few minutes new
sets of men came forward for the work, which was
arduous enough to set beads of perspiration on the
faces of the fat Fong Ah and his counterpart Fuey
It was well past midnight, and the rolling was nearly
at an end, when without warning Hoo King^s hand
THE GENTLEMAN IN THE BARREL 71
flew up, jerked by the wire attached to his wrist. He
shouted a word of gibberish, and, freeing himself,
dropped cross-legged in the middle of the room, break-
ing into a chant like those of the Taoist priests.
Quickly six others joined him, and one man began
pounding a gong while another played on a squealing
pipe. The transformation was creditable from a dra-
matic point of view ; the noise was deafening.
The door swung easily open, and admitted a ser-
geant of police, followed by a party of tourists and a
" Shut up ! " shouted the sergeant, crashing his stick
on the panel. '' Now, you, John, tell the ladies what
kind of a fandango this is."
'' This," said the interpreter to the ladies, '^ is a new
kind of leligion — baily diff'unt than all other kinds
leligions of China. All those make-to-write on that
wall was petitions to Heaven. Those men wusship
one big yellow god named Yangtse — baily much
same all you ^Melicans wusship."
'^ Well," said a lady, " they are started in the right
direction. Who knows but that they will finish by
becoming Christians ? "
" More likely to finish in jail, ma'am," said the ser-
geant, who had had experiences. " This ain't much.
But now I '11 show you the old woman who sells live
The party filed out, each lady with her skirts in one
hand, and her smelling-bottle in the other, the men
puffing at cigars in competition with the air of the
Then the scene changed back. The contents of the
72 THE GENTLEMAN IN THE BARREL
casks — water, sand, and coin — were discharged, and
the money was restored to its owners. The opera-
tion was Hoo King's method of '' sweating" United
States gold coin, the result of his many years of ex-
perience. Hoo King was the man who knew the right
quality of sand, and judged the coins, and controlled
the best methods of disposing of them after they had
been robbed of enough metal for profit. The water
with which the sand had been washed was placed in
a big kettle to evaporate, and while the fire roared
beneath it the members sat smoking, and whiling
away the time with jovial conversation. Those who
had to be up early stretched out in sleep.
When Pow Lee recognized the blue barrel, and
stated positively where he had seen it a few hours
before, it came in for much attention and gossip.
There was a general feeling of pleasui*e in this group of
men opposed to the learned Wing Shee both morally
and mentally, over the proof of the financial straits
into which he had fallen. Fai Chu disparaged him as
a quack who had been the death of countless patients.
Hoo King spoke of the rejected portrait, which in its
altered form was a constant thorn in his side, and
suggested how agreeable it would be to roast the doc-
tor in his own blue barrel over such an excellent fire.
Pow Lee seconded their sentiments with spirit, and
searched for the ax, proposing that the barrel be
broken in and its contents examined. With his own
eyes, he said, he had seen Wing Shee packing in it
the cross-eyed portrait of the chief of the Ho Wang,
together with many strange dried animals such as
Wing ground for his magic medicines. Here was a
THE GENTLEMAN IN THE BARREL 73
most desirable opportunity to get possession of tlie
portrait, and examine the outlandish beasts at leisure.
The doctor's false pretenses could be exposed. The
others hammered the barrel, and rolled it, and turned
it upside down.
" Look out ! " said Pow, coming up with the ax,
" Just let me have one blow ! "
But the fat Fong Ah stayed the arm of the joss-
" It won't do," he said ; ^' for if the white man who
brought it makes complaint, the police will search this
place too thoroughly."
When four o'clock arrived, there had been a brief
process with crucible and bellows, and the directors
of the Ho Wang Company had gone home to peaceful
At this point enters something like a question of
veracity. Hang Tow returned rather heavy with
opium, and saw the blue barrel lying on its side.
The two watchmen lay down in different corners of
the room. Each insists that he slept until seven in
the morning without a break. Hang says he had a
dream. Their statements are improbable.
Hang's alleged dream was that he awoke and heard
a sound as if one of the casks was being rolled very
slowly across the floor. There was a mild collision
with another cask, and then a silence that caused a
rising of his loose scalp-locks. Soon came more of
this cautious rolling, and another bump, after which
he presently saw in the direction whence proceeded
the noise eight tiny points of light gleaming in the
74 THE GENTLEMAN IN THE BARREL
darkness a few feet above the floor. The lights shone
steadily, and there was no further sound. This phe-
nomenon filled Hang with a contest of fear and curi-
osity, in which the latter finally prevailed, so that he
crept gently toward the lights. When he was nearly
within reach they disappeared. He struck a match,
and confronted the blue barrel.
If the luminous glances of one of Wing's diaboli-
cal animals had made the glimmer, the monster was
probably too big to escape and be at him from the
bung of the barrel. He lighted the lamp, and with
the handle of the ax knocked in one of the two bungs.
It is absurd to assert that this action would not have
aroused Lung Tom. Hang tried to see into the bar-
rel, but his head got persistently in the way of the
rays of the lamp. He went around and knocked in
the other bung, so that the light might shine from the
other side. But as soon as he left the first bung-hole
for the second, the first bung was replaced from the
inside of the barrel ! He could not run around the
barrel quickly enough to get ahead of the demon im-
But now he wedged a broomstick firmly between
two other casks, so that its end went a short way
through one of the bung-holes and prevented its plug
from being put back ; then once more he thrust in
the second bung. Now he could see ! His eyes met
two large shining disks like spectacles. That was all.
There came a puff as from some one blowing dust,
and a cloud of blinding, stinging red powder filled his
eyes, putting out his sight, and causing him to howl
with pain. As Hang Tow raised his hands to his
THE GENTLEMAN IN THE BARREL 75
brow, the barrel lifted from where it stood, and fell
heavily upon his nose, throwing him on his back.
It rolled off with a thunder that would have awakened
ten Lung Toms. But Lung made no sign. It is not
known just what further harm the barrel did to Hang
Tow, but when it had finished with him it waddled
up to the lamp, blew out the flame, lighted a taper
inside of itself, and settled down comfortably.
When, late in the morning, Hang awoke and saw
Lung sitting in abstraction on a cask near by. Hang
gazed inquiringly through red and tearful eyes at his
honest fellow- watchman. Lung Tom glanced at him
without emotion, and said simply :
'' Too much opium."
The blue barrel was gone.
Snubby Taggerty had the barrel in hand. It was
he who had carried and brought it. He was talking
to it while he urged it through the door of the garret
in Beverly Place. When he had locked himself into
the room, and had said, with a sigh of rest, " All
right ! " two flaps opened in the head of the barrel,
and Doctor Wing Shee looked again upon his beloved
abode. His head was swathed like a Moslem's, and
his cue was coiled into an additional buffer at the
top of it.
"You puUee me," he requested, with a feeble
Taggerty, who was not very tall, stood on a chair,
and tried to extract the learned gentleman from
within. But the doctor's legs, _^ cramped by eighteen
hours in one position, refused to turn on their hinges,
76 THE GENTLEMAN IN THE BARREL
and his knees caught provokingly against the fixed
part of the barrel-head.
" Hoi' on, doc," said Taggerty, suddenly releasing
his hold, and letting his friend slump back to the
interior of the barrel. '' Wait till I t'row it over."
When the barrel was on its side, Taggerty slowly
manipulated the body of his friend as he had some-
times worked large bedsteads through narrow doors,
and finally produced him complete on the floor. The
doctor smiled in the best of humor ; but when Tag-
gerty took him under the arms and raised him to his
feet, the old gentleman's legs refused to straighten,
and he flopped back to a cross-legged position in the
pile of shavings. |
'^ Too muchee same, allee time," explained the doc-
tor, cheerily, while his friend placed him on a chair,
and tried to pull his legs in line. '' No ; you go that
closet — look shee black bottle."
Taggerty drew forth a jar of whisky in which floated
the remains of a plucked fowl.
" What the dickens is the birdie, doc ? " said he, in
" That him cloe-bud ; make ' Caw, caw, caw ! ' You
sabbee ? Baily good for no-can-walk."
Half an hour's rubbing with this liniment left the
Chinaman fairly restored, and not long afterwards the
two deputies of the Chee Kung Tong, chmbing the
garret stairs, heard the familiar tinkle of the learned
gentleman's mandolin. But this time when they came
in they found Snubby Taggerty with him.
^' Here is a book with 303 names of the members of
the Ho Wang Company, as written on the walls of
its rear apartment," said the doctor, leaning over the
THE GENTLEMAN IN THE BAREEL 77
blue barrel. " Three hundred dollars, however, will
Th« visitors exchanged glances.
''We '11 give you two hundred," exclaimed the
'' Three hundred dollars will be sufficient," said the
doctor, in a tone full of meaning.
" But how do we know they are genuine ? Besides,
if you don't accept our terms your trouble will have
been for nothing."
'' You accepted my terms yesterday. My reputation
guarantees their authenticity. As for the rest, it will
be more profitable to me to drop the book into this
barrel, in which there is an inch of coal oil. With
this taper," said the doctor, lighting it, " I can fire the
oil, and destroy the book of names — the valuable
book of names — instantaneously. I give you a min-
ute by my friend's watch to decide. You look shee,"
said the doctor, in English, to Taggerty.
The envoys departed, leaving Wing Shee in posses-
sion of fifteen big gold pieces.
The door had barely closed before it was opened
unceremoniously b}^ a creature with a hooked nose
and a mouth of disdain, who said to Wing Shee briefly :
" Well, to-day is the thirty-first. What is it — pay
or get bounced ? "
"Say, feller," said Taggerty, who sat easily in a
chair, " that ain't the way to speak to a gent like this.
He 's first cousin to the King of the Asiastic empire,
he is — an' I don't like yer ugly face, savez ? "
" What have you got to do with it, you snub-nose ? "
said the ejector of tenants, scornfully.
" Oh, let 's see ! " said Taggart, joyfully. " Count
78 THE GENTLEMAN IN THE BARREL
'em out, doc; an' see he don't cheat on the change.
Did n't I tell yer the doc was in the swim ? I 'm his
chief bull- whacker, I am — take a run ! "
The ejector was rudely ejected by the collar, and
from the stairs were heard sounds of a person de-
scending with great difficulty, but with much haste.
'^ Say, doc," said Snubby Taggerty, when he re-
turned, " was they really three hundred members to
that outfit ? "
^' Oh, no," said Wing Shee. " All those names dead
men. They was put on that wall to make foolee
people. But you baily good boy. I give you twenty
" Naw ! You 'n me 's even for the time you fixed
me busted eye. But they 's twenty live ones, any-
how. An' you 'n me '11 get a reward from the Gov'-
ment for nosin' a counterfeiters' nest. Say, I 've got
a scheme or two to let you in on ; for you 're a dandy
— you are ! " said Taggerty, gazing admiringly at the
blue barrel. '' Bye ! "
After a while nothing remained of the blue barrel
but a pile of kindling-wood. The learned Doctor
Wing Shee sat on his divan, playing the mandolin
softly, and now and then taking a whiff from his pipe.
'' The best of it," he said to himself, with a quiet
smile, as he stared through his great spectacles, and
thought of the time he had spent in the barrel reading
by the light of a taper, ^' is that, after twenty years, I
at last finished the ^ Storv of How Yuen Liu Taught
the Stork to Play Shuttle-Cock,' which, to me, is the
most stupid and improbable of the Seven Thousand
THE MAN WHO LOST HIS HEAD
THE MAN WHO LOST HIS HEAD
IX Chinamen were climbing Jackson
street, in San Francisco. They
were men who bent for thirteen
hours a day over the laundry
benches of the fat Fong Ah, which
lie out of Chinatown. It was after
midnio-ht, and the wooden walk was deserted and
fairly wide; yet they marched dispersed in Chinese
file, as if they were still worming the narrow, crowded
thoroughfares of their city of Canton.
Their conversation was like the gargling of mixed
consonants; and their garments were as made for
one man from one pattern. Of all concerning them
what was most civilized was the cold, hard look on
the face of the hindermost one — Ah Koo. Ah Koo
was silent. While all the rest discussed the theater
they had left, every man staring straight in front of
him as if soliloquizing aloud, — while all the others
were loquacious, Ah Koo seemed sullen. Often he
glanced back, especially when he heard footsteps be-
hind. When presently they had left the Celestial
quarter well in the rear and had turned into the street
where the Fong Ah laundry is. Ah Koo suddenly
darted into the dark shadow of a doorway, and the
others, on their felt soles, noiselessly and without
missing him, vanished from sight.
82 THE ]\IAN WHO LOST HIS HEAD
Now in this, as iu mauy things, were women in-
volved ; and they were two — Loo Kee, who toddled
through life, and Fah Now, who shufiled. Loo Ning
was their lord, an importer of sea-cabbage and odd
vegetables, who dwelt in a suite of rooms over some
stores on Dupont street. He had ebony tables. When
the wind blew holes through the bright paper lanterns
that bobbed from his balcony he hung out fresh ones,
which means that he was prosperous. Loo Kee tod-
dled through life because her feet had been tightly
swathed in silken bandages from the time she was six
years old until she was twelve, so that now she could
walk but with the help of the normal-footed Fah Now
the minor wife — who wore slippers that flapped
with every step she took, because they had no heels
and were kept on only by a big toe pointing upwards.
Fah Now had no greater charm than her face ; but
Loo Kee had sat on a dais six years, outgrowing her
feet, and had then learned many arts and graces,
That dais period had been in Canton, and its end
came when they told her parents that a wealthy Chi-
nese, gone abroad, besought her to wed. The parents,
jingling a thousand Haikwan taels in their pocket,
which was in the trousers of her father, accepted the
sum as a proof of the gentleman's love; and they
stuffed little Kee with stories of splendor and silver
castles awaiting over the sea ; and then stuffed her
into the steerage of a giant craft where for three long
weeks they fed her occasionally and watched her un-
ceasingly. And when she was landed and dragged
successfully past the mildly inquisitive revenue flag
THE MAN WHO LOST HIS HEAD 83
of the United States her value to Loo Ning, who had
imported her, was estimated by him at fifteen hun-
dred Haikwan taels, net. To the rescue society Loo
Ning solemnly swore the affair was romantic, that she
had been betrothed to him since her youth. And lit-
tle Kee, as she had been primed for it, swore the same.
What puzzled people who saw this sort of thing for
the first time was the phrase "since her youth," for
her youth was barely begun.
Up to then Loo Ning had been in America twenty
years. But a previous thirty years had been spent in
Canton. There, strangely, his name had been, not
Loo Ning, but something else, and he had practised
appropriation all through the Kwangtung province.
The officers of the government, who believed that
they stole everything unchained in the Middle King-
dom, grew^ a professional jealousy of him, such that
there came a dispute between him and them concern-
ing his life, they and he craving it for incompatible
uses. And a man with a sword ran miles in pursuit
while Loo Ning fled along the banks of the Canton
river — a curious case of two persons impelled in the
same direction by opposite sentiments. A few weeks
later the sword and Loo Ning turned up in Hong-
Kong, and from that English port, whence in those
days there was no extradition, it was easy to ascend
to the Golden Gate.
But these were his bottom days, and afterward he
prospered. In the course of his rise he took to his
household the handsome Fah Now, aforesaid, she big
of foot, soft of heart, and worth half a thousand dol-
lars to her parents. Then he grew richer and sent
84 THE MAN WHO LOST HIS HEAD
for Loo Kee, and made Fah Now but a tirewoman to
her. Fah Now's face was pleasanter to see than Loo
Kee's, but you looked at their feet.
Ah Koo was Loo Ning's nearest of kin in America,
employed by Loo Ning^s friend, Fong Ah, and thus
came often to see Loo Ning. And the beginning is
that Fah Now, the forsaken, began to yearn for the
admiration of Ah and for human sympathy. The
lady, Loo Kee, too, welcomed Ah always with smiles
that should have caused Fah Now anxiety. But Fah
Now was simple, and as yet what Loo Kee thought of
Ah Koo or what Ah Koo thought of either woman
was unknown to Fah Now. Loo Ning was jealous of
both the women in the ratio of five to fifteen.
One evening Loo Ning had been called to preside
at a dinner where various secret affairs were adjusted
and many a bottle thatched with straw was found to
be all right. Ah Koo thought that Loo Ning might
return full drowsy with liahtow-sJm, which is dark
brown gin, and might thus lie low in a stupor, leav-
ing the women less embarrassed than they were in the
sober presence of their watchful lord. In this hope
Ah withdrew near midnight from the fan-tan game
at the place called in Chinese the Hole-in-the-gi'cmnd,
and issued demurely from one of the dozen escapes
from that subterranean temple of Chance, and walked
a little away and climbed the dingy stairs to the splen-
did odor of opium, sandal wood, and leeks that clung
to Loo Ning's aristocratic abode. Ah came stealthily
and listened at Loo Ning's door and discovered that
Loo had come home from the dinner, but charged
with hal'-toiv-slm only enough to arouse his strongest
THE MAN WHO LOST HIS HEAD 85
proclivity. There was a family jar; Loo Ning was
bawling insults to the lady Loo Kee, who sat mute
and fearing violence. The child, Loo Wah, was
rushing around to be out of the way as his father
strode up and down kicking the furniture and assert-
ing that Ah Koo had been meeting with favor from
Loo Kee, and should perish for it. Loo Kee should
be sold to the highest bidder, promised Loo Ning, and
with that he kicked a box of toys from Loo Wah's
hands and scattered them over the room.
That frightened the child, who, conceiving his
father's effort as hostile, fled to the hall like a flying
squirrel, all yellow sleeves. Young Loo Wah slammed
the door so that Ah was not seen standing outside,
surprised by the light that flashed in his eyes. The
matter served as pretext for trembling Fah Now, who
had all the while expected her mistress to fasten on
her the blame of a new jade earring found on the
lady's lacquer tray, and not the gift of her lord. Fah
Now therefore went after the child and brushed by
Ah Koo, who was flat to the wall in the shadow. The
sounds within lessened and finally ceased, for Loo
Ning was content and had taken his pipe with the
long, slim walking-stick stem and the bowl of an
acorn's size. In the darkness without the roughly
dressed little Fah Now felt her garments plucked and
knew well the voice that whispered her name. Ah
put his hand on her shoulder and urged her to guile
with the master, such that Kee might bear the weight
of the gaud which he said he had left in the tray for
Fah Now alone. The big-foot woman readily fell to
his pleading, and breathed a sigh, wishing with all
86 THE MAN WHO LOST HIS HEAD
her foolish heart that he could steal her away from
her master. Ah understood and made haste (this
being the first interview he had obtained with her
away from the rest) to say that he intended some day
to purchase both her and the lady Kee from Loo Ning
— which no laundrvman ever could do who worked
at Fong All's wages, and that to please Fah Now the
small-foot Loo Kee should be made a servant and
tirewoman to Fah Now^, instead of Fah Now's tend-
ing as then to the wants of Loo Kee. The foolish
big-hearted Fah Now laughed with delight. Then
the door opened, and in the full glimmer of the oil
lamps they stood before Loo Ning himself, his face
transfixed with rage and astonishment.
Fah Now whii'led from the spasmodic clutch of Ah
Koo and dashed from her slippers, becoming a ghost
of white stockings in the dark up-stairs. Ah sprang
back for defense, but Ning had turned for a weapon
that hung on the wall. The weapon was a little fan,
with twin knives concealed within it. Ah took flight
down the stairs. Ning then stopped, to provide him-
self with another weapon.
It was not the late returning crowds, nor that two
policemen of the Squad stood near, that prevented
Ning from pursuing Ah when Ning reached the street
a short distance behind him. Ning could have used
the hatchet in his sleeve to cleave Ah's skull, and then
could have jumped down any cellar-way and burrowed
for a block underground, or run to the roofs and gal-
loped over the pickets and barbed- wii*e fences dividing
them to a dozen places of safety, where both friends
and foes would have secreted him from American
THE MAN WHO LOST HIS HEAD 87
law. But Providence sent the procession of All Koo's
five fellow lanudrymen passing the door as Ah reached
the street ; and Ning knew they would stand by Ah
to a man. Ah dropped into step with the others, and
soon understood that Ning would not attack him at
once. Ning fell far behind, but Ah Koo climbed
Jackson street in a sullen mood. His companions
were accustomed to this, and suspected nothing.
When Ah, unknown to the rest, had silently turned
into the shadow of the doorway, he smiled with a new
idea. The streets were still and the moon was low.
The gas lamps had not been lighted, and after moon-
set that part of town would be left in darkness. The
time passed slowly. A man and his wife came quar-
reling home. Their voices echoed against the walls
of the houses, and Ah muttered words of disgust at a
system that loosens the tongues of women. A fellow
in liquor scared the Chinese with a feint toward the
door-step, and then started back, frightened at Ah.
Finally, with his sleeves joined together in front as if
his hands were cold. Loo Ning rounded the corner,
staring impassively before him, like an automaton in
yellow wax. He walked by Ah Koo, and then along
and down behind a rise in the street, still gazing
stolidly into the fog that now crawled over the hills
from the Golden Gate. Ah Koo arose from the shadow
and started back to Chinatown.
The women had put out their lights, but they did
not retire. Perhaps they both would be beaten when
Loo Ning returned, and it was better to be thickly
dressed. The youthful Loo Wah, induced to come
88 THE MAN WHO LOST HIS HEAD
out of the gloom by many asseverations that his father
had gone, sought refuge in sleep and lay on a mat,
bare of foot and clothed as he was — by the preoccu-
pation of the tearful Fah Now, who settled herself in
the dark near by. She would not be surprised if she
met death before morning, yet was fearful for what
might happen to Ah Koo.
The young Loo Wall turned on his face and snored.
The woman heard footsteps outside and held her
breath. Loo Kee was in another room. Some one
slowly opened the door, stepping lightly as Chinamen
do. She thought it was Loo Ning, returned with the
truth and bent on violence ; and when she was touched
she shrank with a shudder. But she heard the false
voice of Ah Koo, whispering something which she
believed because she trusted him.
"I have killed Loo Ning ! "
Fah Now jumped to her feet and would have made
an exclamation ; but Ah commanded her to be dumb,
and she obeyed with the precision of Chinese women
when they love. He pushed her into a chair, and she
let him bind her hands with a cord, believing it a de-
tail of some plan he had formed for taking her off
with him. When he pulled it too tight into her wrists
she trembled, but made no sound. Then he tied her
feet to the rung of the chair, so that she could not
have moved except on her knees, with the chair on
her back. The only light was a little flame waving
before the joss in a case on the wall, and she could not
see by it the expression on his face. She felt reas-
sured when he sat alongside and said :
" Do you like me ? "
THE ]VIAN WHO LOST HIS HEAD 89
The woman opened ready lips to speak, and in-
stantly the thick braid of her hair was drawn across
her mouth between her teeth, and Ah hauled it so taut
that it strained at the roots, and he tied it fast with a
hitch at the back of her neck, Fah Now could neither
speak nor walk. She was surprised to hear him lock
the door and grope toward another that led to Loo
Kee's sitting-room, where Loo Kee waited in despera-
tion for what her lord might do.
When Ah lighted the wick in Loo Kee's oil cup she
started up, and asked ;
'' Loo Ning — where is he ? "
'• Loo Ning is dead," lied Ah. " We will celebrate j
for now, by inheritance, you belong to me ! "
Loo Kee looked at him gravely for a moment ; then
she jumped to her feet, laughing, and surveying him
For Fah Now, in the gloom, the clock ticked drear-
ily. In the sandal-wood frame on the wall the tiny
flame flickered before the grimacing face of the joss.
The two red tips of redolent tapers, stuck in a bowl
of sand, smoldered forth small lazy smoke-lines of
incense. Ah did not come ; but there were sounds of
revelry in the other room, and a lump pushed up in
Fah Now's throat.
She could plainly hear the lady Kee tottering about
on pigmy soles and laying dishes. She could tell when
Kee ran to the closet, and, with an effort, mounted on
a box to reach a top shelf. Placed there so that the
child. Loo Wah, might not reach them, were the in-
tricate Asiatic sweets and far-fetched titbits that
were part circumstance on occasions of much candles
90 THE MAN WHO LOST HIS HEAD
and ceremony. On it stood the big black jug of moi-
kwee-loy the amber rice-given gin which is flavored
with roses and dosed with other things, and is known
to hurry the generous heart. Fah now w^as sure she
heard the hxdy Kee draw the big jug along the shelf
to lower it with mighty calculation, while Ah Koo
took up Loo Ning's pipe — the one with the long, slim
walking-stick stem and the bowl of an acorn's size.
Why was the idle Loo Kee suddenly doing all this in
the office of a tire-woman ? Ah Koo had promised to
make the small-foot woman bend before the lovely
Fah Now, and braid Fah Now's glossy hair and anoint
the former tire-woman's feet. Was the mistress now
being made to steep young tea-leaves and set out
sugared water-melon rind and bean-meal cookies, so
that Fah Now might sit behind Ah Koo at the table
while Loo Kee stood to serve them ? The sacrilege of
such proceedings fought with the warm delight it
stirred in her mind. But it all fell through ; for why
was she waiting alone, and in bonds, while Loo Kee
had the company of the new master? Her little im-
agination could afford no clue, but the facts were con-
stantly more plain to her from the sounds that came
through the door.
When the bell in a distant tower spoke of two
o'clock in the morning, the moon had long gone down,
and the ringing came over silent house-tops through
a sea-fog. An hour had passed. In the close room,
dimmed by the ever-swaying flame before the joss,
the stiffened captive was swallowing sobs. Now what
came from beyond the door had risen to the half -maud-
lin lausrhter of a revel reckoned in units of moi-hwee-lo.
THE MAN WHO LOST HIS HEAT) 91
There could be but little doubt of the perfidy of Ah
Koo ; but she would appear before them and see for
herseK if he, as master, meant to retain the old regime
with Loo Kee, a proud and insolent mistress before
whom Fah Now must quail. Fah Now dropped on
her knees, and the chair followed her movement and
fell with a rude shock against her shoulder. Her fin-
gers were numb from the tying of the veins, and at
least Ah Koo would release them when he saw her
sufferings. She steadied herself painfully on her
swollen wrists, and managed, inch by inch, to crawl
toward where the light from the keyhole made a little
sharp shaft in the darkness. The chair-top struck the
door with a bump, and immediately the sounds on
the other side stopped. She tried to rise ; but the
effort was too great, and she stumbled, and hit the
door again. It burst open, and Fah Now tumbled
flat on the floor with the chair on her back, and her
face and garments woefully blackened by the dust.
At this sudden apparition Ah Koo and Loo Kee broke
into shouts of derisive laughter.
The two revelers sat at a table littered with scraps
of food and wet with wasted liquor and tea. Kee's
hair hung half unbraided at the hands of Ah, drag-
ging the floor. Three tallow candles lit their faces,
each flame casting a different shadow. A broken dish
of syrup held the point of Loo Kee's elbow. The two
laughed incontinently over the grotesque figure of
Fah Now, who struggled to her feet, her face grown
salmon-colored with mortification. Her head seemed
ready to burst, and she moved back, yearning for the
darkness, where they could not see her. But the chair
92 THE MAN WHO LOST HIS HEAD
stuck fast in the doorway, and she finally sank ex-
hausted into it, with straining eyes.
" Pretty little cows ! " shouted Ah to Kee, pointing
at Fah Now's normal feet; and the two giggled at
''What ghost is this?" asked Kee, nodding at the
big foot woman.
''It is the heavenly joss come down from the wall!''
cried the profane Ah. " Do reverence to it."
Loo Kee wheeled unsteadily to get the lamp which
Loo Ning used to dry the opium bolus before he
turned it into his pipe. The two knelt down before
the strange figure of the scorned and fettered Fah
Now, and took to simpering and jostling each other
while they managed to light the lamp from the can-
dles, spilling the oil and spotting themselves with
grease. They set the oil cup on the floor just out of
range of Fah Now's feet and placed the candles in a
row and set a bowl of cookies in front of them. It
was in imitation of a shrine and offering, with Fah
Now representing the idol; and Ah Koo began a
mock chant, while the nearly tipsy Kee held her sides
in mirth. The two stood to survey their work in a
lull that called again for the jug of moi-Tcivee-lo.
Tears rolled down Fah Now's cheeks and she sought
to dry them behind aching hands. But her hands
were bound together.
At four o'clock Loo Kee had become drowsy, and
Ah Koo left her stupidly lolling across the table. He
cut the bonds from Fah Now's feet and silently let
himself out of the rooms.
All Loo Kee remembered as she floated away on
THE MAN WHO LUST HIS HEAD 93
the sleep of intoxication was that she had fastened a
golden butterfly pin on Ah Koo's cue. It was a
golden butterfly with green enameled wings — a gift
to her from Loo Ning. Ah Koo had forgotten that it
remained on his cue. In the open air the spirit of
moi-hvee-lo began to develop the effect he had thought
controllable. He was in a mood to smile and pride
himself over his conquest. There seemed nothing to
think of but the triumph over the man he had chosen
to make his enemy. The liquor was subliming, and
taking him through the air up over the hills toward
the laundry; — his feet did not seem to touch the
pavement. Ah Koo was beginning to lose his head.
Originally he had planned to come back to the
laundry in full possession of his faculties. The laun-
dry, in a dark midnight, was a place suited to things
such as he had felt would surely happen. It stood
some way back from the street between two blind
walls. If he found Loo Ning weary with waiting on
the dilapidated veranda — watching over the big
square hole in it through which a man could jump on
the shoulders of an unsuspecting laundryman enter-
ing the basement where his fellows slept — then Ah
Koo had planned to punish Loo Ning. The laundry-
men would find Loo Ning's body at six o'clock in the
morning, Ah Koo joining in their surprise. They
would hide the body in the basement to avoid inves-
tigation, and they would cleanse the steps with wash-
Some one in the hours succeeding came and covered
the soundly sleeping lady Loo Kee as she lay on the
cold floor. Though she stirred not, hers was a trou-
94 THE MAN WHO LOST HIS HEAD
bled sleep, alwa3^s full of the image of the tortured
Fah Now, whose eyes stared at Kee, bulging in their
sockets and straining tears of blood. In a little while
the midnight fog shroud rolled away and at length
the peep of dawn shot down from over Mount Diablo
on to the bay and the waking city. In Chinatown,
where men rouse late in the morning of labor and live
in the night, this is the quietest hour.
The door where Fah Now had been held in durance
vile was closed and bolted. The promise of day grew
dimly into the somber room through panes that were
soiled with seasons of dust and rain and through
hangings of young bamboos warped together with
skeins of worsted. It rested first on the ebony table,
cold with half-burned candles and the broken dishes
of the night. There came no sound, for Loo Kee
lay as one who had died in sleep. When the light
had gained to cause gray shadows in her coverlet, and
when the black legs of chairs and stools stood barely
out against the walls, a something scraped across her
forehead. The woman stirred a trifle and then as the
movement took place again, sluggishly raised her
hand to her brow. The thing was the end of one of
the slim bamboos that made the window-hanging. It
came again and again, like the swinging of a pendu-
lum, and at last she opened her eyes, unaware of what
had aroused her. The pendulum stopped.
Loo Kee stared vacantly at the ceiling, her cheeks
no longer red with rouge, but yellow pale from the
rubbing of her sleeve. Then her eyes traveled down
the painted silken panels on the wall, gathering intel-
ligence as they went, to the scene of the late carouse.
THE MAN WHO LOST HIS HEAD 95
They wandered over to the other side of the room and
In that unaccustomed corner some one was lying
asleep, with his face turned to the wall. The form of
his body rose roughly under the blankets, which were
drawn up to his ears, half hiding his head. His cue
appeared to be wound around his neck and under one
ear, as if to make a softer berth. It was Loo Ning,
thought Kee j but at the end of the cue she saw some-
thing glistening — the enameled butterfly. She re-
membered. Loo Ning was dead; she and all Loo
Ning's possessions belonged to Ah Koo. And that
was Ah Koo asleep in the corner — a man she rather
liked. Ah then had made his departure a joke and
had stolen back to put a pleasantry on her. She
stifled a giggle — she would anticipate him.
The parting gloom discovered her face all smiling
as she crawled stealthily along on hands and knees.
When she felt she could just reach the tip of the cue,
which lay invitingly, she stopped and held her breath
in a pleasure of excitement. Then she gave the braid
a tentative tug. Ah Koo turned a litt'e, but rolled
unwillingly back, and she waited. Soon. she pulled
again, with something of a frown of impatience and
with the same result. The light was not yet strong
enough in the corner to show her whether he had
waked and was feigning sleep to tease her; but she
felt that it was so. She would cure him of that.
Without a sound she rose on her elbow, brimming
with the shout of merriment to come when he surren-
dered to the strain of his scalp. Then she braced
herself and jerked the cue as hard as she could.
96 THE J^IAN WHO LOST HIS HEAD
At that moment the bamboo hanging at the window
behind her was quickly drawn aside and the light in
the room was doubled. How it happened the woman
did not know. Her mouth had opened wide, but
stayed mute and gaping. The roots of her hair bris-
tled and chilled, and her heart stopped. She fell for-
ward in a swoon, with the tip of her finger touching
the golden butterfly.
The robust Loo Ning, standing above, grim and
middle-aged, surveyed her without emotion. He
stepped over her, and without disturbing Ah Koo's
head, removed from under the blankets two bundles
of Loo Kee's apparel. The shape which had seemed
to be that of Ah Koo's body collapsed into nothing.
Then he took up his pipe with the long slim walk-
ing-stick stem and the bowl of an acorn's size, and
went out and spoke pleasantly to Fah Now.
THE POT OF FRIGHTFUL DOOM
THE POT OF FRIGHTFUL DOOM
HE blithesome air of '^ Tsim-tsam-
choDg'' was issuing forth from the
little chamber in Beverly Place when
a sudden tempestuous rattling came
at the door, and Dr. Wing Shee
stilled his mandolin.
" They are going to finish my brother Chow ! " wept
the youth Sum Ah. "The head of the Sing Song
Tong just gave me a scroll, — and a kick-push too, —
and it says they have put Chow in chains in a dun-
geon, with nothing but foreign devils^ bread ! And
the man who tries to rescue him they swear to roll in
the cask-with-red-hot-spikes ; and oh, most wonderful,
ancient, wise physician, won't you try?"
Among the screens and china at Sum Chow's curio
shop the doctor found none but the helper Yang.
Chow was gone. Sum Fay, the diminutive wife of
Sum Chow, heard, and put down her tiny girl Sum
Oo, and came out with a sinking heart beneath her
silken tunic. The doctor told her that Chow was his
friend, and spoke of the duty Confucius demanded of
friendship, and said that Sum Chow was surely be-
loved of the gods and so could not die young. Then
he left her mute and blank. But he knew how fiercely
the Sing Song Tong had scowled at Chow for years,
100 THE POT OF FRIGHTFUL DOOM
because of Chow's buoyant career and because he
would not join them. They were a treacherous se-
cret society, driving women slaves, and seeking the
despotism of Chinatown. A day ago their hatchet-
men had eased a grudge against a poor old maker of
pipe-bowl holes, and had clapped a plaster over his
mouth, and beaten his back with his own bamboo, till
his face was the color of clay, before Sum Chow had
broken one of their heads and driven them away from
their aged victim. Chow's present plight was the
Sing Song Tong's reply ; and now the doctor read the
omen of three spots which he had shown Sum Chow
the night before — spots which had been nine days on
the doctor's thumb-nail. As the little old wise man
pushed along the crowded streets, he strove to con-
nect with all this the recent strange recurrence of the
uninterpretable number one and a half, which had
lately appeared in all his occult findings.
Sum Fay had gone with a shudder to the dusty
shrine, and had lighted redolent joss-sticks, and burned
soul-money for Chow's spiritual costs, in case they
had killed him. She had been a mission Christian
girl, and had learned but little of the Taoist faith ;
for all of Chow's religion was integrity and the love
of family. But now, in her first disaster, her native
promptings conquered j and she prayed to her tinseled
gods with her baby in her arms. The tiny Sum Oo
cooed and smilingly clutched at her mother's chin.
But a salt tear suddenly dropped from Sum Fay's
cheek into the baby girl's bright eye, and gave her a
fright, and made her weep bitterly with her mother.
The doctor believed that if Sum Chow survived, he
THE POT OF FRIGHTFUL DOOM 101
was stalled in the Ok Hut private hospital, which
stood on a narrow street with evil history, called
Hatchet Run. The rascal Ok Hut was one of the
Sing Song Tong, and he had in his building a secret
cell which was entered through a trap in the garret
above the sick wards, and aired through a single
opening made by omitting a brick from the very deep
wall. To try an approach to this cell by way of Ok
Hut's garret would be futile, but Dr. Wing Shee knew
how to use the hole in the wall. When, at evening,
the learned doctor arrived at Hatchet Run, his sleeves
concealed many appropriate articles appertaining to
his plan. The doctor mounted to the room of his
great fat friend Pow Len, who dealt in tooth-picks
made from the whiskers of sea-lions, and whose heart
the doctor trusted more than his tongue.
" Ah ! " said Pow Len. '' It is he whose skill once
saved me from death of a twisted gullet. Can I serve
him ? "
" It was not a twisted gullet," corrected the doctor,
assuming a heavy professional ah-. " Your complaint
was really contempt-of-the-spleen. My noble tooth-
pick friend, I wish to borrow your excellent coffin ;
not for a funeral ceremony, but to sit in it here and
meditate. For my brain is heavy with invention."
"Nothing new, I hope?" said the orthodox Pow
Len, surveying the handsome casket which admiring
compatriots had given him. It stood as high as an
old-time eight-day clock.
'^Consider a friend with confidence," quoted the
doctor. '^ My invention is classic, now remaining but
of fragmentary record, but first conceived ten centu-
102 THE POT OF FRIGHTFUL DOOM
ries and three little years ago by the superhuman Tut
Tut, to whom the thought shot down in a two-colored
lightning stroke. It is the sky-flying machine."
" Ah ! " exclaimed the vast Pow Leu. '' With that
I could sail like a swallow to the Golden Gate, and
beard the drowsy seals by night. Enormous profits —
the life of a bird — dear me ! "
'' Precisely," said the doctor — '^ the life of the airy
dodo. Now, in my experience, sir, nothing has proved
so stimulating to precision of thought as sedentary
solitude spent continuously in commodious coffins.
Therefore I request your honorable death-chest."
Thus, after Pow Lcn, who listened with hanging
lip, had reverently poured tea for the wonderful wise
man, and, dreaming of innumerable toothpicks for
the plucking, had agreed, under promise of secrecy,
to exchange quarters with him until either the flying-
machine was produced or suitable coffin rent forth-
coming, Pow Len withdrew.
The doctor quickly locked the door, and then, with
his wonted deftness, fitted the coffin-lid with hinges
and a hook. In a little while he had screwed the box
upright against the wall, and had bh)wn out the light
and fastened himself in what had been built for a
silent man. The coffin was facing in the direction of
the hospital. He emptied his sleeves, and hung a tiny
peanut-oil lamp above his head, and by its glimmer
began to drive an auger through the back of the cof-
fin and through the unfinished sheathing of the house
to the open air.
'^ Sum Chow would be such a loss," thought the
doctor, as he worked in bare yellow arms, with his
THE POT OF FRIGHTFUL DOOM 103
cue coiled around his neck, ^' that I cannot think the
omens meant it. What pleasant hours we have passed
learning the 'Melican tongue ! Chow should have been
a scholar ; for the grace with which he handles, even
in 'Melican script, such words as ' cat' and ^ dok' and
' pik ' and '• cow/ and a hundred others I forget, is
marvelous. I do not think I could ever remember the
complicated marks for ' man ' and ^ woo-man,' or ^ poy '
and ' kull ' long enough to come from Sum Chow's
and write them correctly in my room in Beverly Place,
unless I sacrificed my dignity and ran. All this 'Meli-
can wi'iting looks alike."
An electric light high above a neighboring street
shone on the hospital. Through the two auger-holes
he could see the cell port left by the missing brick in
the wall across the street. Now in one of the holes
he fitted a bamboo tube, through which he intended
to blow a message by way of the port to whomsoever
should languish in the cell j and he hoped to reach
Sum Chow. There were hours to pass before the
street would be vacant, and Wing Shee had allotted
the time to the composition of a message in verse,
which to all but Chow would be gibberish. The doc-
tor's only essay with a pen had left him content to
express the English sounds as best he could with
brush and Chinese characters. That was difficult
when he met distinctions foreign to the older tongue ;
yet Chow could almost always decipher the doctor's
scrolls. As when, in the beginning, Dr. Wing had
written the Chinese signs for the sounds : " Wun pik
kee foo lee too mut chee taw kee in hee sat : say
iss no pik kee Chaw shee ! " and Chow had readily
104 THE POT OF FRIGHTFUL DOOM
translated these into ^'business" English as: ''One
piggee f oolee too muchee talkee in his hat : say is no
piggee jossee ! " and recognized in this a phrase which
had escaped from the mission night-school copy-book,
and which, by disaster to the word " heart,'^ had been
changed from ''The fool hath said in his heart" to
"A big fool talked too much in his hat."
So the doctor made himself warm with the ardor
of rhyming. Thus, while not many blocks away the
little wife Sum Fay lay awake with the tiny Sum Oo
asleep on her breast, and while the mother's melting
eyes kept forming images of her husband in the dark,
and she sighed and sobbed between hope and wretched
fear, the doctor had even forgotten that he was sit-
ting in a coffin, with the hour well past midnight, and
the evidence of fiddle and pipe and maudlin festivity
lessening in that neighborhood, and perhaps Sum
Chow in extreme torture either in the hospital or in
some place unknown. And when at length Sum Fay
had fallen asleep with exhaustion, and the tiny Sura
Oo heaved on the mother's breast like a voyager on a
miniature sea, three long hours had passed, and the
learned Dr. Wing Shee had finished the following
English poem :
How mun nee mah kee wah sun mai turn ?
How mun nee tay 'ko ah lee mah kee cum ?
You mak hop pee tem ; yaw fah mee lee
Ah too mut chee wai tai ; no kun shee!
You no me ?
" And to think," sighed the doctor, " that, instead
of staying by literature, I stampeded off to the wars !
Instead of a leg-mender I might have been a laureate.
THE POT OF FRIGHTFUL DOOM 105
^ Ah too mut chee wai tai j no kiin shee ! ' Ah, Lao-
Tse, but there 's inspiration in this box ! "
He softly unlocked the lid, and came out to scan
the street through Pow's dilapidated blinds. For the
moment there was no one in sight. Quickly he shut
himself in again. A match was ready with its end
embedded in putty so that the phosphorous was barely
exposed. The putty fitted the bamboo tube, and when
he sent this missile flying across the narrow street,
propelled from the tube by an explosion of his breath,
it disappeared within the hospital, through the port,
without a sound. The flying-machine was completed.
Sum Chow was in the hospital. He had been lured
there by one to whom once he had given alms. The
WTetch had watched in the crowded thoroughfare
for a man of distinguished dignity, wearing a rich
blue tunic with bright gilt button-balls, and light
blue silken trousers wrapped at the ankles. Sum
Chow liked snowy linen stockings and shoes embroid-
ered in silver; his long cue shone with careful braid-
ing, and his head and face were always shaved close
in Chinese elegance. He hardly betrayed the power
of attack which had made his envied success. That
day he had gone to Hatchet Run to pay for a golden
love-bangle for littlest Oo. The appointed traitor had
begged a hearing in the hospital entry, and there six
brutal Sing Song hatchet-men had soon prevailed
over Chow's single strength. He had battered two
of them, but the others had thrust him into a big
jute bag, and when they carried him wriggling
through the wards and up the garret ladder, the pa-
tients thought it merely a crazy opium-fiend. The
106 THE POT OF FRIGHTFUL DOOM
hatcliet-men had emptied the bag through the trap
to the brick floor, and Chow had been stunned, and
had wakened to find himself cold and stiff in semi-
darkness, at first he knew not where. He liad put
his mouth to the hole in the wall and called for help
in all the languages he knew, but no one had heard
him. He had lain aching for hours afterward, dur-
ing which Ok Hut's menial had lowered a bowl of
water and some American bread. These he had
avoided with fear ; and so hunger sharpened, and he
steruly set his face to the fate which he felt was pre-
paring. He wondered if his shade could protect his
little wife and his littlest Oo, or if death was even
harsh in that. Midnight found him cramped and
bowed. The strange thing which suddenly struck
the inner wall, and fell a-flame at his side, was start-
ling even to Chow.
It smoldered and died. In a moment another mis-
sile, with more wood exposed to the flame, struck and
ignited. He seized it, and it burned brightly long
enough for him to notice that immediately following
it a waxen taper, tipped with its balancing putty ball,
had shot through the air port, long, white, and un-
mistakable. He lighted it, and the cell port appeared
from without to be faintly illumined. When his eyes
had changed to meet the light, the wondering Chow
picked up a scroll, and instantly recognized the brush-
work of the doctor. He read :
How many markee was on my thumb ?
How many days 'go allee markee come ?
You make liappy time ; your family
Are too muchee wet-eyed : no can see !
You know me ?
THE POT OF FRIGHTFUL DOOM 107
He bounded into life, and waved the taper past the
port three times for the spots the doctor had shown
him the night before, and then, after a pause, nine
times for the days they had stayed on the thumb nail.
So that Chow, drawing on a thread that flew in at-
tached to a pebble, was not sui^prised to find one end
of a Chinese telephone, and then to hear the voice of
his friend :
"Worship the gods for this preservation, hearty
brother," it whispered. " Your little Fay and little Oo
and the stripling all fare well, though wet-eyed that
you stay away ; and be felicitated on their mighty love.
Now first I will shoot you a dinner of dried ducks'
hearts in tiny gelatin capsules — those capsules which
the 'Melicans use to hide the taste of their grimacing
drug kwai)i-nai-inj but which were long conceived be-
fore the year of their principal joss by one Muk Ah
Muk, who confined in them the bubblesome spirits he
extracted from his ten meek wives."
So that as he fell asleep, bodily contented and hope-
ful for the morrow, Sum Chow murmured for the
tenth time :
" With the gods I never associated; but of mortals
surely the greatest is Dr. Wing Shee ! "
The letter which reached the saddened curio shop
told in the doctor^s Chinese-written English that the
big yellow tea-pot was not smashed, but endured in
eternal tenderness for its little cup and its littlest
saucer and the young spoon. Sum Ah (the young
spoon) translated this for joyous Sum Fay (the little
cup), and she danced Sum Oo (the littlest saucer) on
her knee, who laughed and gurgled and behaved not
108 THE POT OF FRIGHTFUL DOOM
like a demure Cantonese, but like any sprite amused
by its own lialf helplessness. Tlie light seemed now
to warm the strange and beautiful wares to Vjrighter
tones, and Sum Fay set gaily to dust them before a
customer from the foreign devils' world should send
her scuttling in her slii)pers back to the penetralia j
and when the heli)er Yang took up his books in an
easier mood, and rattled the buttons on the abacus,
Sum Ah sang a mission hymn of hallelujah. The
better feeling lasted well into the day; but though
in the afternoon Sum Fay walked abroad behind Sum
Ah, and bravely smiled and chatted with him that
none might suspect her woe, twilight fell with deeper
melancholy. Dr. Wing had given no hope for the
future. If the beloved had been free, he would have
run to lind liis wife and his funny baby.
In the small hours of another weary night Sum
Chow sat on the damp cell floor despairing again. In
the morning Ok Hut had come to the trap and
beamed down, wearing the rings the hatchet-men had
wrested from Chow. Ok Hut had observed with an
affectation of scientific glee the signs of the first day's
suffering and tlien had departed. Tlie hours had
dragged without incident, and darkness had come,
and then midnight, with ominous sounds from the
pauper ward, and two o'clock, with its anxious expec-
tancy ; and th(;n the appointed time had passed with
no token from Dr. Wing. The picture kept growing
in Chow's mind of the doctor, dead and cold in Pow
Len's coffin at the hands of the Sing Song Tong, and
then of a cortege, with little Fay mourning the friend
THE POT OF FRIGHTFUL DOOM 109
of her widowhood. By now he had hoped to be free.
The plan had been to cut a hole in the trap, which
would serve when he jumped and reached through to
slide the bolt. But the sawing of wood in the still-
ness of night must be slow and exceedingly careful ;
and now it was late for beginning, and he had yet no
Across the way the learned doctor, with the peanut-
oil lamp like an aureole above his head, was standing
motionless in the dim mahogany casket, frowning at
sounds from the hospital. The doctor's trusted omens,
whether he consulted the spots on his neighbor's cloth,
or the bundle of crooked sticks in the pewter mug, or
which way a bug ran under the burning-glass, had
haunted him still with the uncanny number one and
a half. He waited, alert for good or evil containing
that clement. The moans in the pauper ward were
holding him back. They rose from a wretch in the
sinking stage of the ojnum-habit, one of those whom
the sick-pay tongs sent thither to save the drain on
their treasuries. Ok Hut was accustomed to give
these victims a draught which promised relief to their
agonies, and then, in the most exquisite dream of their
lives, they floated out of the world with never a mur-
mur at fate, and the societies gained, and Ok Hut
prospered, and the coroner was amused. Sometimes
were heard for a moment those screams that went
with the final plight of the smoke fiends, when, as
frequently happened, they suddenly lost their minds
and ran amuck; but then Ok Hut, if they refused the
fatal dose, would shut them in the secret cell, stuffing
the air port with rags. The doctor feared that such
110 THE POT OF FRIGHTFUL DOOM
might happen to-uight in the midst of Chow's en-
But the groans subsided, and the lights from the
hospital windows lessened, and Hatchet Run was left
in silence. Sum Chow heaved a mighty sigh as the
telephone pebble flew in; and now he pulled on the
endless rope-yarn rigged across the street by the doc-
tor, and brought in the tools through the air-port.
Also the doctor sent a small round object in many
thicknesses of wadding.
"Handle it like a new-born babe," he had whispered;
"for in it are crowded winds of whirling waterspouts,
and thunder of falling mountains, and flashes of furi-
ous flame. 'T is a pot of frightful doom, tuned to
the omens with one and a half frog-'s thumbs."
Then Sum Chow poised on the emjjty water-bowl,
and started the auger into the trap. But suddenly he
There had come a wild shriek from the pauper ward,
with commotion and the smashing of a chair and the
calls of the terrified sick. Ok Hut had been deceived.
The opium fiend had not been done for ; he had risen
up and fallen on Ok Hut in his sleep, throttling him,
and screaming that the room was hot with fiery de-
♦' Ah ! " muttered the doctor, in alarm. " The noise
will scurry them all from their beds. Ah ! "
Sum Chow withdrew the auger, and listened. They
were dragging the madman up the ladder; they were
going to throw him also into the cell. The ladder
broke, and three men fell to the floor with a crash.
That meant a delay, thought Chow. He sunk the
THE POT OF FRIGHTFUL DOOM 111
auger into a beam close by the trap, and worked un-
til it was twisted firmly several inches into the wood.
Now it was stout enough to hold him when he hung
to it by one arm — near enough to the trap to clutch
the ankle of whomsoever should come to open it.
Ok Hut's menial, a man from the northern province
of Chang Tung, great in stature, but no match in
quickness for a well-built Cantonese, was treading
along the garret. Sum Chow sprang up and clung to
the auger, and the door was raised in the dark.
'•'' You are free," came the menial's voice, speaking
falsely, as Chow well knew. " I will tie this cord, and
you can climb up on it."
This was a ruse. Ok Hut feared that the squad
might have heard the cries, and might be closing in
from the outside, suspicious of something irregular.
They had done this once before, and then they had
found simply a wretch beating out his brains against
the hospital floor. But to-night they might have been
warned and might be looking for Chow, though an
appeal to the police on behalf of any Chinaman is
improbable; and they might, when all expectation
should subside, swoop suddenly down as they had be-
fore. It was better to get Chow out and lock him in
a chest in the garret, though at the risk of stifling
him. Then the madman could be thrown into the
cell, where if the squad came before his strength had
been writhed away they would find at the worst but
a poor victim whose condition, brought on by him-
self, would not excite the anger of the law. The me-
nial's invitation to Chow was a ruse which meant that
when Chow's head was within reach a noose would
112 THE POT OF FRIGHTFUL DOOM
be slipped over it, choking him, so that he would
mutely follow the menial, for whatever temporary
disposition might be made of him during the time.
The menial waited for an answer, but the place was
black and sUent. He spoke again, but his voice was
returned by the walls of the cell. Then he went on
his knees and struck a match, and thrust it down to
be away from its sulphurous fumes. The match sput-
tered its first blue flame, and at the same moment the
menial's wrist was caught by two hands, and the full
weight of Sum Chow came on the menial's arm with
such sudden force that he fell forward, hitting his
head on the trap-way, and then tumbled through to
the floor of the cell, where he lay stunned.
In the house on the other side of the street the doc-
tor was breathlessly on tiptoe, with the telephone at
his ear. The telephone line hung lax, and the hospi-
tal was grimly still.
"Go into the street, O bravest friend ! " at length
came a trembling voice in the doctor's ear. *' Haul
and hold fast on the cord. It hangs out from the hole
in the wall. That one of us who lives shall avenge
my little Fay, O friend ! my littlest Oo ! Haul and
hold fast ! "
" I hear," came the quiet answer. " Friends to live
with — enemies to die with. Haul and hold fast ! "
The doctor let himself noiselessly out of the coffin.
It was dangerous to descend by the stairs. In a mo-
ment he dropped from the window, three times his
length, to the pavement. At first he lay as if disabled,
but he soon staggered up, and found the cord that
issued from the ceU port. The other end Sum Chow
THE POT OF FRIGHTFUL DOOM 113
had tied around the meniaPs head and through his
mouth to keep him silent, and Chow had made the man
rise and had forced him against the cell port, where
the doctor, now hauling and holding fast on the cord
from the street below, held him powerless to move or
speak. A long time seemed to pass while the doctor
leaned back with the cord wrapped around his wrist.
To him the hospital appeared to have regained its
slumbers, and he pictured Sum Chow creeping stealth-
ily along the garret toward the ladder-way. On
the Run the swaying shop-signs squeaked in the
gusty wind that was bringing the dawn. The doctor
heard the steps of one of the squad on the intersect-
ing street, and described the arc of a circle that
brought him around the corner, still taut on the
cord, but safe from observation. The policeman went
by, and one approached from another way, and the
doctor swung back into Hatchet Run.
Sum Chow had climbed out of the cell. At a dis-
tance he saw the faint light from the ladder- way, but
heard nothing. In a few moments he walked toward
it, knowing that the tread would be taken for that of
the menial. At the ladder he peered cautiously over.
The room was one apart from the sick wards, and no
one was in it. The maniac seemed to have been
quieted, and doubtless lay in his bunk. The prisoner
hung by one hand, and dropped to the floor of the
hospital ; at the same instant Ok Hut appeared at the
door from the pauper ward, and stopped, transfixed
with astonishment. For a moment the two men stood
staring into each other's eyes. ^
" This is life or death to you," said Chow, in a low
114 THE POT OF FRIGHTFUL DOOM
tone. " Throw up your hands and turn your face to
But Ok Hut did not obey. He kept his eyes on
Chow, debating. Ok had no weapon, but there was
one in the drawer of the table where the feeble lamp
stood burning. Sum Chow also seemed unarmed,
except for a small object which he grasped. Ok
Hut waited, planning how to shorten the space
between himself and the table, so as to make a dash
and get it sooner than Chow could reach him.
There was silence but for the snoring of those
who slept in the pauper ward. Ok Hut seemed
motionless ; but he was changing his weight from one
foot to another, so that each time he was approaching
a fraction of an inch nearer the weapon that lay in
Over in the other building some one was looking in
perplexity from the window at the spectacle of the
learned Dr. Wing Shee holding tight on a cord from
the cell port. It might be friend or foe. The doctor
jammed his slouch hat over his eyes, and felt for the
revolver that was strapped to his forearm under his
large sleeve. Soon the enemy would be down and
out and at him, and there would be pistol shots and
the hurry of the squad in the night.
In the hospital the two men were gazing intensely
into each other's eyes. Ok Hut was beginning to
move by greater units, and his confidence began to
''Stop!" said Chow, putting out his hand. "If
you pass that crack in the board — "
But Ok Hut made a leap for the table. In a twink-
THE POT OF FRIGHTFUL DOOM 115
ling Chow, with all his might, hurled the pot of
A terrific explosion in Chinatown startled the hills
of San Francisco, followed by cries, the jingle of
window-glass, and the chattering of scared Chinese,
and soon by comparative stillness. Sum Chow, with
a flesh-wound in his cheek, came bounding down from
the hospital into the arms of the doctor. Mingled
cries were rising from the sick wards. The Run was
filling with a crowd of all races that seemingly had
sprung from nowhere.
Already smoke was pouring from the hospital win-
^' Conceal your cut," commanded the doctor. ^^ Stand
as though you were one of the crowd. In a moment
the squad will be here, and then the ruthless water-
snake men, with their chu-chu monster.'^
When the police thrust them aside, the two crossed
to the door of a friendly merchant, and soon were
hidden in the collecting throng. They stayed to see
Ok Hut brought out insensible and bleeding from
many wounds, and all the other inmates brought out
safely. When Chow and the doctor knew that the
building was doomed, they issued unmolested from
the back of the store to another street, and made their
way in the early light toward where little Fay lay
awake, with her heart beating fast at the shouts and
the clang of the fire-engines, with littlest slumbering
Oo clasped tight to her bosom.
That evening they sat about the dinner-table, wi^h
Sum Ah and the helper Yang, who listened in admi-
116 THE POT OF FRIGHTFUL DOOM
ration, while liapp}- little Fay sat behind her spouse,
and littlest Oo enchanted herself with the tip of the
"You — you risked your life for me!" said Chow,
with something glistening in his eye.
" And what is amusing," said the learned Dr. Wing
Shee, who would have risked it again, '' is that they
have amputated one of Ok Hut's legs at the knee. So
that the omen ' one and a half* meant simply that he
was doomed to issue from this with only one and a
half of his two original legs ! I have to thank you
for these very interesting and exciting days."
CHAN TOW, THE HIGHROB
CHAN TOW, THE HIGHROB.
EFORE me sits tlie Chinese — my
friend who, when the hurly-burly 's
done, spins me out the hours with
narratives of ancient Yellow-land.
His name is Fuey Fong, and he
speaks to me thus :
'' Missa Gordon, whatta is Chrisinjin Indevil Sho-
shiety ? "
I explain to him as best I can the purpose of the
Society for Christian Endeavor.
''We', dissa morning I go down to lailload station.
Shee vay many peoples getta on tlain. Assa conduc-
tor, 'Whatta is?' Conductor tole me-. 'You can't
go. You a Tieejfen. Dissa Chrisinjin Indevil Sho-
" Dissa mek me vay tire'. 'Me'ican peoples fink ole
China heeffen. Fink doan' know about Gaw of hef-
fen. Dissa 'Me'icans doan' know whatta is. China
peoples benieve Olemighty Gaw semma lika you."
Fuey endures in meditation several moments. Then
" Missa Gordon, I tay you how about Gaw convert
" How God converted a Chinese criminal ? "
" Yell. I tay you. Dissa case somma lika dis :
120 CHAN TOW, THE HIGHROB
^' One tern was China highrol). His nem was Chan
Tow. Live by rob on pubnic highway evely one he
can. Dissa highrob live in place call Kan Snh. We',
one tern was merchan', nem Jan Han Sun, getta lich
in Kan Suh j say hisse'f : ' I getta lich ; now mus' go
home Tsan Ran Foo, shee my de-ah fadder-mndder-
in-'aw an' my de-ah wife.' So med determine to go
home nex' dav-
" Kan Suh to Tsan Ran Foo about dousands miles
distant, and dissa parts China no lailload, no canal.
So dissa trivveler declude to ride in horse-carry-chair."
'^ What is a horse-carry-chair ? "
^' We', I tay you. Somma like dis : Two horse —
one befront, one inhine. Two long stick, and carry-
chaii- in minnle. Usa roop somma lika harness. Dissa
way trivvle long distance ole ove' China.
^' We\ nex' day Missa Jan start out f aw Tsan Ran
Foo in horse-carry-chair. Hed big backage of go' an'
sivver. By-by — triwle long tem — was pass high
tree. Up high tree was Chan Tow — dissa highrob —
was very bad man ! Chan Tow up tree to watch to
stea' whatta he can, semma lika vutture."
^' Like a viitture f '^
" Like a vutture — big bird — eat dead beas' ole he
"Chan Tow look down on load, and shee horse-
carry-chau- wif Missa Jan feet stick out. Nen dissa
highrob say hisse'f : ^ Vay nice feet ; lich man. I go
fonnow him. Mavbe can stea' from him.' So fonnow
'long Missa Jan by day, by night, severow day — doan'
lose sight ole dissa tem. By-by Missa Jan was triv-
vle ole night, and leach hotel early morning. He tole
CHAN TOW, THE HIGHROB 121
hotel-kipper: 'You giva me loom. I slip ole day.'
Nen tek his backage go' an' sivver, an' tek to bed wif
him. Chan Tow come long, say : ' Giva me loom
nex' my de-ah frien' jussa come in horse-carry-chair.'
Hotel-kipper look him, and say, ' Whatta your nem
is ! ^ Chan Tow say, ' My nem Chow Ying Hoo.'
Dissa nem, transnate Ingernish, mean Brev Tiger."
" And what does Chan Tow mean ? "
" Oh, Chan Tow mean ole semma bad f aminv.
'^ We', dissa highrob slip nex' loom Missa Jan j but
no can fine how to rob him ole dissa tem. Getta vay
much disgussion ; but nex' day he f onnow long inhine
dissa lich man jussa semma befaw. Somma tem eat
at semma tabuh wif Jan ; but Jan getta begin to sus-
picious, an' ole tem getta his go' an' sivver unnerneaf
him when he shet down to tabuh. Chan Tow say his-
se'f: 'You fink I doan' know how to shucshess to
stea' yo' money. Maybe I big foo' you.'
"We', by-by was mont' go by. Dissa merchan'
reach his netive sheety. Firs' he go immedinity to
respec' his fadder-mudder-in-'aw, becose his fadder-
mudder dead. Dey vay gnad to shee him — vay de-
night. Dey assa him vay many quishuns ; but he tole
dem : ' I mus' go to my de-ah wife. I not sheen her
so long tem.' Nen he smi' hisse'f , an' tole horse-carry-
chair-man run wif him quick to fine his de-ah wife.
When he allive ne' his house, say to man : " Goo' -by !
I go ressa way on feetsteps.' Nen go vay quier on his
tiptoe, and lock vay soft at his daw."
Here pauses the Chinese, and looks at me. Shortly
he says :
" We' ? "
122 CHAIs^ TOW, THE HIGHROB
'' Well f '' I echo.
" We', dissa last tern dissa merehan' Jan Han Sun
was sheen annibe ! "
" Does the highrob follow him and kill him? "
'^ No one shee any highrob. No one see any horse-
caiTv-chair-man. No one shee any Jan. No maw !
" Nex' morning come fadder-mudder-in-'aw to con-
gratchnate dissa daughter. Said, ' We vay denight,
vay gnad, yo' husban' come home. Where he is dissa
morning ? Daughter look vay supp'ise'. Said, ' When
you shee my husban' come home ? ' Parents said :
' Whv, my de-ah daughter, yo^ husban^ pass by my
daw las' night. We hev vay short convisition beged-
der, an' he say bling home glate many go' an' sivver
— mek you habbv. Nen left us come shee you.'
" Nen, vay suddenity, dissa daughter say : 'I fink
you ki' my husban', so you can rob! I hev you
" An' she go to magistrate an' mek petition. Say
her fadder-mudder to ki' her husban'. Her fadder-
mudder bofe vay indignant ; but was putta in jai'.
^'Magistrate examine case, assa many quishuns,
search bofe dissa house — but can't fine who mudder
dissa merchan'. Fadder-mudder-in-'aw say, ' We in-
nocent.' Daughter say, 'You liars!' Her parents
med declaration, ' I doan' hed mudder to any person.'
Two mont's go by. Can't find who mudder. Nen
daughter petition to supere court ; say dissa magis-
trate doan' know how fine who mudder. Supere court
send word, 'You doan' fine who mudder in six mont's
— decade vo' lank.' Dissa China way to mek law.
" We', dissa magistrate, whatta he do ! Doan' like
CHAN TOW, THE HIGHROB 123
getta deglade j dissa spoi' his whole life. Say hisse'f :
' I vay detest to get deglade. Miis' go mek detectif —
fine who mudder.' Nex' day left his court, and go
mek long trivvle — ole dress np like a f ortune-tayer."
"Like a fortune-teller?'^
" Yeh ; fortune- tayer. Vay low common in China.
Go roun' wif ole kine bad j^eoples.
'' Magistrate look jussa semma somma poll fortune-
tayer. Nen go out on load an' trivvle — trivvle vay
far. Eve'y tem shee a man look lika somma bad man,
try mek frien's wif him. But no can fine who mudder.
Long tem trivvle — 'wa}^ intehuh China j but no can
fine any one knows about dissa case. Say hisse'f:
' Pitty soon I getta much discoulagement. Two
mont's maw, getta deglade, getta disglace! I doan'
know I ki' hisse'f ! '
" One day was stag' long load 5 getta mos' exhaus'.
Bofe sides load was high heels, no house. Kep' on,
on 5 semma heels 5 semma no house 5 mus' lie down
in load wifout any subber, wifout any dlink. Dissa
magistrate begin getta desplate. Nen he fink, ^ I play
to G-aw an' my ancestors.' So begin play lika diss :
'O Gaw, O my ancestors, givva me res' 5 givva me
foo' ; givva me wadder ! Nen I kip on f awever fine
who ki' Jan Han Sun.' Nen magistrate stag' 'long
few steps, an' dlop down on big lock. No can any
" Pitty soon look roun' ; shee litty light shine from
winnidow. Dissa was littyoshantyhouse — vay poll
look — "
'^ Littyoshantyhouse ? "
" Litty — ole — shanty — house !
124 CHAN TOW, THE HIGHROB
"We', magistrate go lock at daw. Come to daw
littyoueddy — "
" Little old what ? '^
" Litty — ole — neddy !
'^Dissa oueddy she was vay ole, vay febble. He
tole her : ' Please, oneddy, you givva me kunderness
let me go slip in yo' house to-uight ! I 'mos' died.
No subber, no wadder — mos' exhaus' ! ' Oneddy tole
him : ^ Walks in ; walks in ! But you mus' kip vay
quier, my de-ali sir ; as quier as can be ! My son is
dreffel different man. His profussion was highrob.
He getta home minnernight ; an' you doan' kip quier,
I fred he to strike you!' But magistrate say: 'I
too tire to getta scare'. You nedda me stay wif you.-'
" So oneddy giva him to eat, an' show him to go
slip unner tabuh in katchen. Nen he lie down, an'
play once more his ancestors an' Gaw : ^ You he'p me
oleleddy; I kip plomise. You he'p me somma maw
— I fine who mudder.' Nen go slip.
" By-by was dleam 'bout gleen moudens, gleen
wadder. Hear' spi'its say, ' I wi' assist you.' Ole
dissa vay good sign. Suddinity was wek up from his
slip, and shaw oneddy stand bef aw him — ole in dark.
She say : ' My son come home in vay good humors.
Say lika mek yo' acquaintance.' Dissa tem was min-
nernight. Magistrate craw' out from unner tabuh,
an' fonnow oneddy in nex' loom. Heah was Chan
Tow, dissa highrob. Was fee' in vay good tempini-
ment to-night — hedda jus' rob litty gii-' her earlings."
" It made him very happy to have stolen earrings
fi'om a little girl ? "
" Oh, yell. Earlings med jay-stone.
CHAN TOW, THE HIGHROB 125
"We', Chan Tow lie vay deuigiit to shee dissa for-
tune-tayer. Mek put liisse'f down to tabuh, eat sub-
bah wif him, an' mek oneddy hop 'long getta ole bes'
was in oshantyhouse. Chan Tow say : ' My de-ah sir,
I am exceediny denight to shee you. We bofe about
sem prof ussions : you f oi'tune-tayer ; I was highrob.'
Nen bofe eat, dlink long tem, an' Chan Tow tay ole
about his shucshess in binniziz."
" You mean business ? "
" Yell ; binniziz.
" Tay ole about his binniziz. Tay how stea' watch
from ^Me'ican missiolary man. Tay how — "
'' How did he steal the watch from the American
missionary ? "
" We', somma lika dis : Chan Tow was vay stlong
man, but vay litty meat on his boles. One day shee
missiolary man come 'long load. Hedda watch-chain
hang out. Chan Tow lie down in load, an' begin kick
an' scleam ole semma sick white woman. Missiolary
man was vay sympafy, an' tole him, 'Whatta is?'
Chan Tow say: 'Mucha vay sick! Much vay sick!
You no he'p me home I getta died ! You tekka me
home I mek good Chrisinjin boy ! ' Missiolary man
vay good man -, say hisse'f : ^ Gaw sen' me dissa man
mek convict to Chrisinjanity. I he'p him ! ' So tek
up Chan Tow in his arm to tek home. Chan Tow
kep' gloan, gioan, — an' ole dissa tem was put his han'
in missiolary his pocket an' stea' dissa watch ! Nen
Chan Tow kep' hang on missiolary his neck an' say
hisse'f : ' I lika dissa to ride better I lika to w^alk. I
letta dissa missiolary man ca'y me jusso far he can.'
So missiolary man stag' ^long tem 'long load, an' kep'
126 CHAN TOW, THE HIGHROB
sweat, sweat — semma lika glass ice-wadder ; an' Chan
Tow kep' gloan semma like ole barn daw."
" Clian Tow kept groaning like an old barn door,
and the missionary man kept perspiring like a glass
of ice-water ? ''
" Oh, no ! Missiolary man sweat. By-by, hedda
ca'y dissa higlirob two miles — 'way down vanney,
'way np heel. Nen missiolary man lose ole his breffs,
an' begin to gaps. He say, ^Mus' res'; mns' pntta
you down ! ' Chan Tow kep' gioan, an' say : ' You
putta me down I doan' know I die. Mus' getta home ! '
Missiolary man say: ^ Can't he'p — I 'mos' exhaus'.'
Nen dissa highrob jump down vay well, an' say:
'We', I mus' getta home. I walk ressa way — leave
you to res'. Goo'-by ! ' Nen run fas' he can down
"Missiolary man stay look him run, an' kep' fink
ole tem. Nen say hisse'f : ' I fink dissa man inshin-
sherity. I lose ole dissa tem wif him ! Whatta tem
it is ? ' Nen he search his watch. ^ Oh, my ! No
watch ; no convict ! Dissa vay bad day ! "
The Chinese grins with the greatest pleasure.
" We', magistrate an' higlirob kep' tay ole 'bout ex-
pelunces in binniziz."
" Business ! "
" Yep ; hinniziz."
" Kep' tay ole about binniziz. By-by pea-oil liglit
go out. Oneddy craw' up on bed an' go slip. Nen
two men stay an' smoke pipe — ole dark. Magistrate
closs his legs an' say, ole lika he doan' care : ' Missa
Highrob, dissa light go out mek me remin' whatta
habben Tsan Ran Foo. You heard about dissa case?
CHAN TOW, THE HIGHROB 127
Man nem Jan Han Sun go home his wife — no can
fine who mudda.' Chan Tow smi' vay plou', an' say :
' Oh, my de-ah brudder, I know ole 'bout dissa case.
I was to shee dissa man getta ki' in his own houses.'
" Magistrate dlaw giate big breff frough his pipe.
Swallow smoke clea' down his stomach ! Mek big
cough — nearny cough his top head off ! — an' wek
oneddy ! Nen he say : ' We', we' ! You good dea'
maw wise dissa Magistrate Tsan Ran Foo. I hea' he
was deglade his rank. Cannot fine who mudder ! '
" Chan Tow say : ' Dissa magistrate mus' come fine
me. No one ess can tay him. I tay you ole about
dissa mudder. You lika hea' ? ' Magistrate say : ^ We',
I vay tire'. But lika hea' you talk better I lika go
slip, my de-ah sir ! ' Dissa mek highrob vay plou', an'
he begin lika dis :
" ' One day shaw horse-carry-chair trivvle 'long load.
Shaw feet stick out — vay nice feet; mus' be lich man.
So fonnow him. He hev big backage go' an' sivver,
but eve'y tern go subbah mus' oleways sliet hisse'f on
top dissa backage. Fonnow him long tem — severow
weeks. But cannot stea' from him. By-by he
reach his home Tsan Ran Foo, an' go to respec' his
mudder-f adder-in-'aw 5 nen go fine his wife. Dissa
tem was minnernight — vay dark. Fink was good
tem to stea' from him, an' getta his go' an' sivver. So
kep' fonnow 'long load. When he getta his house he
lock long tem at his daw, but was no answer. Nen
say, vay loud : " De-ah wife, letta me in ! I am yo'
de-ah husban' come home." So by-by was daw open,
an' his wife come say : '' Oh my de-ah husban' ! so
denight to shee you!" Nen ole dark.
128 CHAN TOW, THE HIGHROB
" ^ Nen I go roiin' back his house. Getta 'long bam-
boo po', an' putta dissa po' up 'gainst house to shin up
dissa loof . Nen cut with knife litty roun' ho' frough
loof, an' look down into dissa house. Can look down
into loom, an' shee ole whatta was liabben.
" ' Vay soon Jan examine tabuh ; say : " O my de-ah
wife, whatta for you setta dissa tabuh for two peo-
ples ? You have comply ? " Wife say : '^ O my de-ah
husban', eve y tem since you go 'way I setta dissa ta-
buh for two peoples — you and me — jussa semma you
heah ! " Jan smi' vay plou', an' say, '' You are shin-
sherny my de-ah wife ! " — was mak fee' vay good.
"'Nen his wife tole him: "Now we hev jubinee;
eat, dlink — mek me'y tem ! " So I lie on top dissa
loof, vay dly, vay hunger ; an' ole tem shee her hus-
ban' eat subbah an' kip dlink, dlink, an' kiss his wife,
an' dlink, an' getta maw an' maw intoshcate. By-
by was so intoshcate mus' go slip. Nen his wife he'p
him go bed, an' he begin snow."
" Begin snow — snowul — snole ! Begin snole I "
" It began to snow ? "
" Oh, no ; I tay you. Dissa merchan' begin mekka
lika dis." Fuey makes a sound that is unmistakable.
" ' We', nen look shee whatta dissa woman go do.
She go to hooks on wa', an' tek down lot her dresses.
Nen I shee man step out. Dissa woman whisper to
him : " Shee my husban' slip. He bling back glate
many go' and sivver ! You love me, you tekka dissa
sharp knife and ki' him. Nen we getta marry beged-
der to-morrow, an' mek habby tem."
Her beau say : " Oh, no. I fred ki' him. Fred I
CHAN TOW, THE HIGHROB 129
get behead." An' nen dissa woman getta vay mad
wif him, an' say : " You doan' ki' him, I tekka dissa
knife an' chot op yo' head op, instamentty ! " Nen he
begin tek off his mine — ' "
'' Took off his mind ? "
"Yeh," says Fuey; "I don't know dissa word —
semma you tek off yo' clo's.'^
'^ Changed his mind ! "
'^ ' Begin to tek off — chenge his mine — an say :
''How I ki' him?" Woman say: "You tekka dissa
" ' Nen he clep' up to dissa bed, his eye ole stick out
from his head. When he getta where dissa merchan'
slip, an' snow, snow, ole semma hev good dleam,
dissa beau mek lika was to chenge his mine 'gainj
but dissa woman whisper : " Quick ! Quick ! " — an'
nen ole sudden dissa beau stlike. Nen Jan Han Sun
was died — instamentty !
" ' Dissa woman begin to rip up flaw. Her beau
he'p her ole he can, an' work vay hard, fas' — fred
somebody come. Kep' look 'roun'. An' eve'y tern
pea-oil light flicker, look round to shee who was. Ole
tem stop to hoi' his ear on flaw — shee who come.
Flaw rip up ; nen go getta shover an' dig big long ho'
in earf, unnerneaf dissa bed. Nen putta dissa mer-
chan' his body in dissa ho' in groun'. Nen vay quick
shover back ole dissa earf, fix flaw, an' blow out light.
" ' Ole tem I stay up dissa loof . Vay hunger — no
wadder; an' cannot rob dissa merchan' becose he
dead ! Getta vay disgussion. Light go out, I hang
foot ove' side dissa loof, an' begin fink. Maw I fink,
130 CHAN TOW, THE HIGHROB
maw getta disgussion. By-by getta vaij, vay dis-
gussiou. Nen tek dissa bamboo po' to shove frougli
dissa ho' in loof — vay quiei*. When he shove f rough,
nen I ole suddenity begin push, jab, shove — quick —
ole semma churn budder. Down below woman an'
her beau begin squea', squea', ole semma rat ! 'Mos
scare' to def ! Nen I shin down loof — run 'way.' "
Fuey draws a long breath, and smiles at me his
calm, celestial smile.
^'We', Chan Tow finis' his sto'y. Magistrate was
ole tem smoke big clou's smoke, an' mek loom look
lika was on fire. Mek oneddy wek up an' open daw.
Wlien Chan Tow finis', magistrate say: 'My de-ah
brudder de highrob, yo' sto'y vay intinesse, vay inti-
nesse ! I fink I go slip.' So ole thlee was lie down
to go slip, an' Chan Tow was tek liis opi' pipe an' be-
gin smoke opi.' Wliatta you say — hurt the pipe?"
'' Hit the pipe."
'' Oh, yell ; hit pipe. I doan' spe'k Ingernish vay
"Magistrate wet long tem. By-by oneddy begin
to snow, an' nen by-by Chan Tow getta doan'
'' Chan Tow got donH Jcnoiv f "
" Getta all semma was died. Doan' know."
" Unconscious ? "
'^ Yeh ; uh-uh-coshious ! " sneezes Fuey.
'' Nen magistrate begin craw' 'long on his stomach
— inchy — inchy — cross flaw out daw. Nen run fas'
he can toward Tsan Ran Foo.
'' One mont' go by, an' magistrate sit up in his high
chaii' in his court. Befront him dissa woman an' her
CHAN TOW, THE HIGHROB 131
beau, — ole cover wif mark dissa bamboo po', — an'
dissa f adder-mudder-in-'aw, an' dissa highrob. Magis-
trate say vay slow — ole semma idol talk : ' Dissa —
woman — her lover — are convert — to behead — by hev
dey heads cut off — till deij dead! What yon fink,
woman ? ' Woman say : ' Yo' Excennency, I vay gnad
to be behead wif my de-ah lover. I vay satisfaction ^
we behead begedder. Our spi'its begedder happy
fo'ever.' Nen she turn kiss her beau; but he too
scare to spe'k. An' bof was tek out to behead — dissa
woman ole tem to mek to kiss her beau.
" Magistrate say to highrob : ' You know me ?
Who eata subba wif you sucha-sucha night ? ' Chan
Tow say, ' O yo' Excennency, 1 doan' know who was ! '
Magistrate say : ' I was dissa man. I glate t'anks faw
you. Awso dissa fadder-mudder-in-'aw dissa dead
man. Gaw sen' me to yo' house to mek you instlu-
ment to convert dissa mudderers. I give you good
position ; awso money.' "
"And that was how these criminals were con-
verted?^^ I say, remembering the promise of the
'' Yeh ; convert to behead. Dissa case," concluded
Fuey, " show how Gaw can convert climinal when he
wish ; show how Gaw is glate. I tay you China peo-
ples not heeffen. China 'ligion teach to try to affec-
tion one anudder ; respec' yo' parents ; an' charity an'
pure moral. If people do right I fink he shall be
A LITTLE LIBERAL
A LITTLE LIBERAL
HE train whisked off in a dust, and,
for the fii'st time in his life, the son
of Alexander the Liberal and of
Violet the Modern had parted from
them. They were his playmates ;
and a passage of clouds across the
sun would have swung the balance to tears. But it
was Maine, and a blithesome July day, and Uncle
Jasper Bennett was light-hearted when he forgot his
Maker. They rattled off behind the angular mare
Polly between stone- walls and stony fields and under
hemlock-trees. How soon? asked the Boy. Were
there any little pigs— any little bits of ones? Was
there yet a spinning-wheel — a real one, and not like
those that were only made? And, last and most,
O, were there still some fishes in that dark, deep pool,
down beneath the willows ?
At length loomed the homestead, in a setting of
mighty elms ; low sheds, and a vast red barn with the
swallows in and out, and a stark white dwelling-house
with sleeping blinds. In the orchard a score of grave-
stones — a ghostly garden of Bennetts since the cen-
tury came in; and, standing on the porch by the
kitchen door. Aunt Hepzibah.
She was comely, though they said her eyes were
136 A LITTLE LIBERAL
cold, like tlie clouded sea; and she was wonderfully well
preserved. She had never suffered in her forty years.
Her faith in Providence had been too great ; and the
elements of sorrow had evaporated from her, leaving
but certain lines to mark the lack. She was as neat
as a chui-ch, and as quick as the wrath of God.
Now into the ear of this godless child, Hepzibah
plotted something to whisper; and for the results
thereof she would modestly, but fii-nilv, claim her re-
ward in heaven.
She supposed he was hungr3\ She advised him to
feel right at home, and not act bashful-like.
^' Thanks very much ; I will," said Gerald, studying
her face with polite composui'e. " Please may I see
your little pigs ? ■'
^' You c'n wait t'l ye 'v e't, can't ye ? 'Member how
the Lodd di"uv the evil sperrits int' the bawdies of
swine, don't ye ? " said Hepzibah, as a test.
^'Yes," said the young person in knickerbockers;
"but I don't believe that. I think some bees mus'
have stinged them — stang them. And then they
went in swimming. Papa Zander sent his compli-
ments. He bought me a splendid fis'-line. I '11 go
and see the little pigs after I 've had something to
But when he had eaten the western sky was shot with
gold, and in the tangled garden the mwiad petunias
and pansies and maiden pinks had gone to sleep. He
made a nosegay, and put it in a vase on his bureau,
about half-way between the photographs of his parents.
It was a trifle nearer Violet's, because you must favor
A LITTLE LIBERAL 137
the womeu. Then he sat oppressed by the spare-
room's gloom, while Jasper read Isaiah downstairs,
and Hepzibah finished the dishes. He listened to the
file of crickets' wings, and everywhere, in nnison and
out, the whistling of frogs j and the sounds were
suggestive of night-damp and of disasters lurking for
Mama Violet and Papa Zander. Hepzibah came to
say good night, and then departed, leaving the room
in a fog. He must hurry to use Mama Violet's home-
sick medicine — to keep repeating Jieimweh., German j
mal-du-pays, French; and the Italian cM patisce la
nostalgia, — and thus cheat the blues of a language
lesson. And he must remember that it was only two
nights and a day ; then he would meet Mama Violet's
train at the station, and they would journey on to
find Papa Zander. Besides, to-morrow would bring
the fishing, at the beautiful pool, down beneath the
He blew out the feeble lamp and crawled between the
damp sheets, with the fish-line in his hand. To-mor-
row at the pool was lovely to think of ! But he wished
he had Mama Violet's kiss.
He hung the line over the bedside, and shut his
eyes, trying to feel himself lying on the mossy bank
in the leaf-latticed sunlight, waiting for a fish. The
line swung slowly to and fro in the dark, and the boy
kept mournfully thinking in time to it — Jieimiveh, mal-
du-pays, che patisce la nostalgia ! — until all the words
ran into one, and the line dragged, and the fingers
loosened, and the little hook dropped on the floor.
To-morrow would be Sunday.
138 A LITTLE LIBERAL
A PEWEE made its woodland sigh, suited to sunny
weather ; but a robin announced that it would rain.
The boy threw back the blinds that had darkened the
room. The day seemed glorious. Between the apple-
trees across the road he could see down to the salt
creek where emptied the water from the stream that
made the fishing-pool. In the creek the tide was high
and still, and a forest of oaks and spruce and ash was
mirrored in it from its granite bank, where stretched
along a garland of deep blue harebells, mingled with
yellow St. John'swort. Beyond and away were dense
green forests, and, far above them, the faint carving
that brings a sense of distance and of solitude, and
the resin smell and the music of the pines.
How foolish had been the Jieimweh when there was
fishing to-day down beneath the willows !
" Please, Uncle Jasper," said Gerald, as he sat at
breakfast, raised to theii- level by a great Bible, ^' I
wis' you would show me the exact spot where Papa
Zander used to fis' — the place where papa made you —
where," corrected the Boy, coloring, " you and he had
a fi — fuss one Sunday about the Bible. I have a
splendid fis'line, and splendid hooks."
"'T was jest one them times," explained Jasper,
slowly, in answer to his wife, " when the good Lodd
see fit to chasten the one He loved best. I wa'n't
feelin' any tew pert."
"No," said the Boy, sympathetically, ''after you
were chastened you felt jus' like a wet rag. Papa
A LITTLE LIBERAL 139
Zander says it was tlie Lord's day, but that it was n't
the Lord's day. It was whether Lazarus was really
dead, Aunt Hepzibah, or had an epilepsic fit and jus'
Jasper's mind seemed miles away. Hepzibah looked
absently at the child.
" Aunt Hepzibah," said the Boy, at length attacking
the silence, " this — this holy volume is very conve-
'' Don't s' pose you have one t' home ? " she said.
^^ O, yes. Papa says it 's an interesting book."
" Dews he ! S 'pose he takes good care 't you sha'n't
read it ? "
" Well, I may have the firs' expurgated edition. He
says someone mils' have publis'ed one — for young
" S 'pose he ^d let 'em exp'gate the good Lodd right
out of it ! "
'^ O, no — the Lord 's all right," said the Boy. " But
if he had to esplaiu me everything in the Bible he
says he 'd die before he did. That 's what expurgate
means ; it 's the only word ever Mama Violet could n't
esplain me — it 's so long. But Papa Zander knew !
It 's Latin, you see ; purgo, I make short ; expurgo, I
make extra short. And that's what ought to be done
with the Bible."
Jasper and Hepzibah stared at each other ; and for
some minutes Gerald listened to the ticking of the
'' I don't suppose you '11 have time to go fis'in with
me to-day, Uncle Jasper," he essayed, at length. " I 'm
going — "
140 A LITTLE LIBERAL
" Yuss/' said Hepzibah, '^ you ^re goin' t^ meetin^
'long 'th lis."
<' Why — what f " said the Boy. " Is it Sunday ? "
" I sh 'd say ^t was. ' Bout the first one 't ever hap-
^' ! " said the Boy, vainly searching Hepzibah's
countenance. '' If I 'd known that, I should n't have
come prepared to fis'. What a diffunce ! "
He dragged himself upstairs and emptied his pock-
ets. AU he had come for was to fis', down beneath
the wallows ; and now he must preen and be taken off
in the broiling sun. If after church he spoke of dig-
ging for worms it was plain that Aunt Hepzibah would
have a fit. It was for this then that he had fought
off Jieimweh; and now there was to be another night.
Life was full of hardships, and the Bennett homestead
was losing its charm. He heard the ancient pump
yielding water with rusty and crabbed complaints, and
Polly, the mare, drank with a sAvigging noise very ill-
bred. The bell of the Hard Pine Methodists and that
of the Cedar Creek Baptists were jarring and clashing
across the narrow stream between them, over their
respective creeds. If a little boy came to visit Papa
Zander and Mama Violet, thought Gerald, perspiring
over his collar-button, he would n't be hauled off to
a meeting-house and expected to sit up stiff in a
wooden pew ! Would it be right to steal away this
afternoon and quietly exploit the historic pool? It
would be awful fun ; but perhaps Mama Violet would
say it was n't very polite and may be Papa Zander
would think it was n't quite frank ; and it would be
a sort of fib, too — one of those you don't tell, but do.
A LITTLE LIBERAL 141
which is just as bad. He wished he had stayed with
Papa Zander !
Of coiu'se there were clouds coming over the sun,
and the atmosphere was gro^\ing miserably humid.
Jasper was attaching Polly to the wagon.
" I don't suppose you '11 go if it rains," said the Boy
with a faint hope, waving towards the threatening sky.
^' Never missed it 'n ten years," said Jasper ; " nor
Hepzibah 'n twenty."
" But if it rains awful hard, so hard that umbrellas
and mackintoshes and everything won't keep you dry,
what do you do ? "
" We git wet," said Jasper.
They wedged him, hot and wi-etched, in between
them, and mth a "Git up, Pawley — dew!" they
started off. " ' Pawley ' ! " sniffed the Boy to himself.
What a horse ! An abbreviation of polygon — irregu-
lar, meandering, knock-kneed polygon !
" See that long man comin' up the road," said Hep-
zibah. "That 's Cory Judd. He 's a very gawd-
less man, V he never goes t' meetin' except when he
wants to, 'n' he 's been known to catch fish of a Sun-
day. He won't never go to heaven, but is most likely
to be biled and pickled ! "
" My ! " said the Boy . " What a long pickle he ^d
make !. But it won't hurt when he 's dead, will it ? "
"'T aint his bawdy, 't 's his soul — his immortal
" But I thought a soul was jus' air ? Do you think
Papa Zander will be pickled '? "
" Them that mawks the Lodd must breathe fiuh 'n'
brimstun hereafter," said Hepzibah, solemnly.
142 A LITTLE LIBERAL
''But," said the Boy, innocently quoting Mama
Violet, " you can't accept that sort of a thing nowa-
days unless you throw your brains overboard."
The elders appeared not to have heard him, and he
took to examining the approaching figure of Cory
" O," he said, suddenly, with as much breath as ho
could get, "I know Cory Judd! One time he and
papa were boys. And they took some of the — the
underpins from the school-house one night when they
were having a fuss inside about the minister, and Mr.
Judd and papa teetered the school-house, and Aunt
Hepzibah ran out and said the Lord had sent an
Uncle Jasper astonished the Boy with a biu'st of
" Howdy dew, Cory," said Jasper, as they drew up
under a willow, and the Boy sighed. '^ Jest heard who
't was teetered the school-h'us'. You 're a sly one,
you be ; but I alius suspected ye, blast if I ain't ! See
— that w^as twenty years ago, come punkin-time, wa 'n't
it ? O, I say, Cory, kinder like t' use youi' hay-press
little t' mawi'er ; mine 's bust. I — "
Mr. Judd had been regarding Hepzibah quizzically,
recalling with great satisfaction the spectacle of her
flight from the school-house twenty years ago.
'' I alius knowed 't was you that teetered the school-
h'us' ! " she exclaimed. " You alius was a gawdless
man, 'n' you alius will be. Don't misdoubt but what
you 're goin' fishin' now ! "
Mr. Judd stood wdth his great hand on the muddy
tire of the wagon- wheel ; he smiled faintly, and then
A LITTLE LIBERAL 143
pretended to erase the smile, and pulled a fish-line
from his pocket.
^'I 'm goin' to hang that there hook int' the water,
where ^t belawngs," he began to drawl nonchalantly,
stopping at frequent intervals to spit. " Then I 'm
goin' t' kinder set ^n' callate a while 'bout how the
Lodd come to make Hepzibah Bennett. Now 'f any
fish comes a-flandanderin round that there worm 'n'in-
terferin' 'th my callations, why, — I shall callate to haul
him out out' dry tarritory, where such an inconsid'rate
fish belawngs. For I callate that them what puts
their noses int' what it ain't no pa't or pa'cel of them,
why that they had ought to be somethin' did to ! "
" S' pose you knowed 't was the Lodd's day," said
Hepzibah, watching for an opening.
" So 's the hull seven."
" S'pose you knowed what the good book says."
" Yuss 5 but I 'm pestered 'f I know what it means
more 'n half the time; nor you neither; nor them
that goes t' Cedar Creek."
'' Cedar Creek ! " said Hepzibah, scornfully. " 'F
you 'd walk reg'lar t' hear the gawspel, 'stead of actin'
like you was half -fuddled, mebbe you 'd get nearer the
" Huh ! " said Cory, with a show of feeling. " I
oal'late when I 'm out 'n the sawlitude, a-listenin' to
His music in the woods, I 'm a dahn sight nearer the
Lodd 'n ever you be, Hepzibiah. I don't perk up per-
pendicular 'n a pew, thinkin' plawts against the min-
ister, b' gawsh ! "
" Git up, Pawley ! " cried Hepzibah. ^^ I won't listen
to no sech profanity."
144 A LITTLE LIBERAL
Polly scrambled off in a scandal ; and the Boy,
twisting around, saw Cory grinning in the middle of
the road. The Boy smiled back, then hove a tremen-
dous sigh. Cory, regardless of the coming rain, was
starting across the fields toward the willows.
'^ You need n't be a-smirkiu', Jahsper Bennett," said
his wife j '^ you ain't any tew blameless a man."
" Yes," retorted Jasper, flushing, " 'n' how 'bout that
hay press ? "
The people with whom they fell in surmised who
the little boy was with the gi'eat red bow. He had
wavy hair, like Alexander's, and probably he was
being trained in the light-heartedness for which his
father was remembered. Hepzibah had never allowed
Coosac to forget that Alexander and Violet Bennett
were, to her belief, beyond salvation, except by a spe-
cial dispensation which Hepzibah could never consci-
entiously endorse ; but everybody knew why she kept
Jasper asking for a visit from the Boy, — and her de-
signs. So that they all craned to see him, and Hepzi-
bah made various remarks to Jasper which showed
how well she understood the shortcomings of the va-
rious members of the Hard Pine congregation.
The storm waited for the sermon, which was on the se-
vere responsibility entailed by the possession of a soul.
Then came lightning and thunder, growing apace
with the force of the pastor's discourse. Whenever
he pounded the desk a flash of lightning sprang ready
from the heavens to drive his point home to the hearts
of the sinners present. Deacon Stubb rose to close
the blinds ; and the one he left open to illuminate the
desk, shutting the window against the rain, touched
A LITTLE LIBERAL 145
the face of the pastor with a gray glamour, very im-
pressive when alternated with the lightning. Things
were being said about renegades from the teachings
of their youth, and how their sins should be weighted
on their blood even to the thu'd and foui-th dilutions.
Hepzibah watched the Boy, and many of the congre-
gation looked at him and nodded from time to time
at the pastor's words. The little girl who sat alone
next Gerald, turned often to examine him, with ap-
proval mixed with regret, at what was gossiped. She
was the Debney girl, and her people were sick. They
were always sick, complained Hepzibah, with suspi-
cion. The little girl was nervous, and frightened at
the thunder. She was older than Gerald ; but it was
nicer to sit close to him than to hug the division of
the pews. The Boy had been lost in an envious mem-
ory of Mr. Judd, and in self-demand whether he
might in any propriety wander off to the pool after
dinner. He had to conclude that, though Aunt Hep-
. zibah would not care if she did not know, it would
still be a sort of fib. Now he emerged from his rev-
erie and grew absorbed in the pastor's control of the
lightning, and in wondering what the effect would
be if at the critical point the thunder should fail. The
little girl was earnestly seeking for reassurance about
the thunderbolts. Some of the older females tiu^ned
anxiously in their seats, too; for the raging noise
without was the wildest for years, and it became
louder and louder, as if advancing directly upon the
meeting-house. But Hepzibah sat in faith born of a
clean soul, and in pride that the Spinney faction ~
those who upheld the present minister — should ob-
146 A LITTLE LIBERAL
serve the son of Alexander brought to the Hard Pine
Meeting-house. Then came a tremendous flash of
lightning, accompanying the most solemn thing the
pastor had said with a simultaneous and deafening
report of thunder that told for the church a narrow
escape. There was a creaking without and a great
gust, which brought the huge branch of a stately elm
down with a thump against the building. The ser-
vice was broken in ; for two women had fainted, and
several others were panic-stricken and wished to flee,
they knew not whither ; and the three small daugh-
ters of one of those who had swooned broke into
tears. There was talking, as the men tried to reas-
sure the women ; and Elzira Spinney, who was never
more frightened than Hepzibah Bennett, fastened
her eyes upon Gerald, and said aloud :
" The judgment of the Lodd is on the evil — 'n' on
them of their blood."
And Deacon Stubb, who sided with Hepzibah, and
was the coolest man in the church because he could
not hear thunder, and knew only by the movement
of the lips what was said, replied reverently :
" The Lodd chasteneth them he loveth."
The Boy had sat dazed by the close embrace of the
little gii'l. The two had stared speechlessly into each
other's eyes for a wliole minute. Then he recovered,
remembering the victory at the fishing-pool years
ago, and said :
" It 's all right. The Lord won't chasten meJ^
"" Sh — ! '^ said Hepzibah, angrily, glancing to see
if Elzira had noticed. Elzira had. She was as good
as Hepzibah, so many people thought.
" But Elziry means you," said the little girl, cling-
A LITTLE LIBERAL 147
ing to liim, as another sharp crash came, from appar-
ently as near as the others. " Youi* father is a hea-
then. Ain't you seared ? "
^' Oh, no," said the Boy, audibly above the sobbing
of the three little girls across the chui'ch. ^^ If Papa
Zander were here, he 'd jus' make a speech, and I
guess the lightning would go away. He did it once
when there was a fire at a theater, and it went out."
^^But — oh!" cried the little girl, blinded by the
next flash, which was as brilliant but less severe, —
" how do you know but what the Lodd's mad because
you came to meetin ' ? "
"Well, he could n't hit me without hitting you,"
said the Boy in unconscious criticism of her attitude.
"Anyway, you 'd get struck by the pieces, and he
would n't do that.'^
" Keep still, can't ye ! " cried Hepzibah, angrily,
giving him a vigorous shake, and casting sheep's
eyes around the church. The Boy's face paled. He
had never been handled in his life. He looked up
quickly at his aunt with quivering nostrils. The or-
gan had begun the doxology. The service was being
cut short on account of the sisters who had fainted.
Hepzibah hastened from the sanctuary, and they
drove off at once, under the single cotton umbrella,
before any one could detain them.
" Don't ye know 't ye should n't tok out 'n the
Lodd's house that way ! " exclaimed Hepzibah, as soon
as they were out of hearing, in the manner she might
have used to her own child, if she had been a mother.
" It don't become one of your breedin' t' make free 'n
the house of Gawd ! "
" That little girl was afraid," said Gerald, gasping
148 A LITTLE LIBERAL
from the pressure of tlieii^ bodies; "and I jus^ told
"Don^t make no difiTrunce. Had n't ought to
opened your mouth. Tokkin' 'bout theaters 'n' sech-
like, I never 'n all my bo'n days ! What '11 Elziry
Spinney say ? Ain't you got no trainin' at all ? I sh
think you was a cannibal ! ''
" I 'm not a cannibal ! " retorted the Boy, miserably.
" I don't like you, Aunt Hepzibah — I don't ! I wish
I had never seen you ! I want to go home.''
" Sh' think you would," snuffed Hepzibah, unrelent-
ingly. ''Ain't comf 'table with the upright-minded,
be ye ? Want t' git back t' Alexander, 'n' cahd-pla^in',
theater-goin', 'n' all the sins of creation, don't yef
Your father 's a gawdless man, 'n' your mother tew,
'n' it 's my dooty before the Lodd to tell ye so ! "
" My papa 's the best man in the world ! " cried the
Boy, flaming with rage ; " and my mama — 0, I hate
you ! Her little finger 's a million times better than
you ! I '11 tell her you shook me, and she '11 never let
you look at me, even if I wanted to. I hate you ! " he
iterated, struggling with tears, and fighting to be up
and away from her.
" Your father " began Hepzibah, slowly and dis-
"'LI there now. Hep," said Jasper, with sudden
firmness, " you got t' stawp, d' ye hear ? "
" Jahsper Bennett ! " exclaimed Hepzibah, with her
" I say 't you got t' stawp right this minute," said
Jasper, meeting her eyes with astonishing self-asser-
tion. " I don't want t' hear 'nother word. Aleck 's
A LITTLE LIBERAL 149
my brother — he aiu^t youi'n. You ain't got the hull
world out' yoiu' shoulders, not by a long sight ; 'n'
you tok too much ! Git up, Pawley ! "
He took the Boy on his knee and lashed Polly into
a hurry. The boy kept sniffing and looking ahead of
him, pale in the face. The sun was peeping through
the clouds ; the day was on again, and the red- winged
blackbirds were trilling in the swamps. The dim beds
of pine spills in the thick grove under the hill looked
as brown and dry as if it had never rained. It must
be fresh and sweet down under the willows now,
thought the Boy, with a wretched gulp at the pros-
pects for until to-morrow. Dear Mama Violet !
At dinner Jasper tried to be entertaining. Hepzi-
bah was silent. The boy would not look at her ; and
what Jasper said was interesting to boys of six, per-
haps, but not to boys of eight. Jasper did n't sug-
gest a walk, because he thought the grass too wet.
Hepzibah was considering, and concluding that this
child must be handled with policy. Elzira Spinney
had brought people to church that way and converted
them, pretending at first to tolerate many graceless
things. Hepzibah had a new idea.
"You c'u have this old Bible, little boy," she said.
*' You c'n read it ; 'n' if Violet says anything, you tell
her I said so. What you don't understand you jest
come t' me."
" I think I '11 read it in my room," said the Boy, not
looking her in the eye, and driven to the first artifice
of his life. He wanted to be alone and to decide
whether such unusual circumstances did not warrant
his quiet departure for the pool, when the elders had
150 A LITTLE LIBERAL
arranged themselves for the afternoon. They would
n't mind if they did n't know ; and the Lord would n't
mind if he did know. At least, if he would, he would
have blasted Cory Judd that very day, down beneath
the willows !
Perhaps he had. Suppose Mr. Judd was lying there
now mth a great rift from head to toe, such as Gerald
had seen in tree trunks ? He might be stretched out
stiff on the mossy bank with the fis'-Une grasped in
his hand ; and perhaps there was a little fis' tugging
at the end of the dead man's line. The Boy wondered
if it was not his duty to go down and see. For
though their lines had fallen in different waters
since. Papa Zander and Mr. Judd had once been
Could he cUmb down the corner-post of the porch
over the main door ! Of course he had but to step
out on the roof. The front room down-stairs was
never used except for weddings and funerals. But
there was Hepzibah coming up. He sat pretending
to read the book she had given him. That was right,
said Hepzibah ; she would see that he was not dis-
turbed. She went out and closed the door. Then
she locked it.
Here was a new and extraordinary aggravation,
thought the Boy. Of course he could escape to the
brook by the mndow, but that would still be a sort of
fib. He drew a great breath — it was a weighty ques-
tion. If he remained, there was nothing to do but read
the Bible, which was a matter of doubtful propriety ;
for though Papa Zander had never said so, it was plain
enough that both he and Mama Violet considered the
A LITTLE LIBERAL 151
book liardly one for young boys. And if you knew
that, it was no excuse to say that you had n't been
told in so many words. If he went fis'ing, why, papa
might not approve of that, and there would be such a
fuss with Aunt Hepzibah ! Yet, after all the miseries
of the day, it was simply too much to expect him to
sit still. Finally he decided on the Bible.
Hepzibah had inserted a card at that page of Eeve-
lation which reveals the final destiny of the unbeliev-
ing and the abominable end of several exceedingly ob-
jectionable classes of persons. The Boy disregarded
this verse of the lake of fire, and turned at random
to another part. He had heard of people who thus
discovered what to do for their woes. He looked where
his finger had struck, and read, in the eighth verse
of the thirty-thii^d chapter of Deuteronomy:
" And of Levi he said : Let thy Thummim and thy
Urim be mth thy holy one.''
"^Thy Thummim and thy Urim'!" he repeated.
''I wonder — ? Dear, I wis' Papa Zander was here!
Now I shall never be happy until I know all about thy
Thummim and thy Urim ; and may be if I had waited
for my expurgated edition I should n't have known
anything about it ! "
In the midst of this he heard a voice which seemed
familiar, singing with studied carelessness a quaint
refrain of which the air of the first two lines was the
same with that of the last two. The words were :
Heart-weed and smart-weed,
They look just the same ;
And ye could n't tell 'em 'part —
If it was n't for their names !
152 A LITTLE LIBERAL
or, as Cory Jiidd improved them :
Ha 't-weed 'n' sma't weed
'Ey look jest a-same 's
Ye could n't tell 'em 'pa't
'F 'twa' n't for th' names !
Cory was making a dumb show. The Boy under-
stood with delight.
" Letter for ye," he whispered, wdth a wave. " Did n't
want t' git Hepzy a-vaporin' at me. Kinder mistrusted
you was Aleck's boy. S' pose I could git this up to ye
'thout sta'tin' Hepzy?"
The Boy thought so ; he ran and got the new fish-
line and let it down from the roof of the porch.
" Son of Aleck, b' George," said Cory, putting the
hook through the corner of the envelope. " Come
last night down t' the station ; Foster give it to me
He wanted to know if Aleck was still getting rich
and whether Violet was as handsome as ever — which
the Boy was positive she was. Was the Boy going
fishing to-morrow? No? There followed explana-
tions, and a history of the day, told with moderate
reference to Hepzibah. Well, was the Boy going to
stay cooped up in the spare room, or did he think of
sliding down and going fishing, same 's Aleck would
" I don't know," said the Boy, hopelessly. ^' You see,
it tvould be a sort of fib, and if she asked me, I 'd have
to tell, and then — ! "
" Ay, yuss," allowed Cory, but with some show of
disappointment. " Still, I dunno 's that would have
A LITTLE LIBERAL 153
hindered Aleck in his day, leastwise — but it hain't fur
me t' meddle. By ! I 'm goin' down along. Did n't
have no tho't of fishin' this mo'nin', jest said so t
He saw Cory brushing through the moist field, safe
from the range of Hepzibah's windows. The quick
kingbirds were darting at the grasshoppers ; a cool,
fresh breeze was nodding the daisies, and the butter-
flies fluttered in the sim. But there was nothing but
the Bible for a virtuous little boy. ^' ^ Thy Thummim
and thy Urim ' ! " he repeated, with an access of woe.
Hot tears filled his eyes, and his fists contracted, —
until he remembered the letter.
It was from Papa Zander ! It had been jotted on
the train, and that was what made papa's hand look
so foreign. Really, except Mama Violet, there was
nothing in the world Like Papa Zander !
A song-sparrow sang charmingly afield. The Boy
sat by the window with his elbows on the table. The
red bow was where it had worked askew when he had
tried to escape from Hepzibah ; and his hair was
tumbled with his search for the meaning of Thum-
mim and Urim — a search still vain among theologi-
ans. But he was feeling better. As he read, his face
grew brighter and brighter, and he smiled to himself.
He was too excited to notice that Hepzibah had come
and quietly unlocked the door and silently gone away.
Finally he laughed aloud.
He jumped up and pocketed the fish-line and the
big field-knife that belonged to Alexander. Then he
stepped out on the roof of the porch. AU was clear.
If it was n't clear, no matter. ^ Mr. Judd had disap-
154 A LITTLE LIBERAL
peared, but there was the happy, winding path. The
Boy slid Avith stout little limbs down the post and
walked in a straight line towards where the path cut
the birches and undergrowth. If Hepzibah looked up
at the right moment she would surely see him ; but if
you think you are right you don't have to dodge.
The letter lay open on the table .
Alexander M. Bennett,
On the train.
Dear little Thumpty-bump :
Papa neglected to warn you that your aunt and uncle hold dif-
ferent views from yours, especially about Sunday. But all people
are to be respected for what they sincerely believe. If you went
fishing on Sunday, Aunt Hepzibah would say you were a bad lit-
tle boy ; and though you are always a good boy, it would not be
poli to argue with her. But it is not a case where because you
are a child you are obliged to subscribe to beliefs you may
reject when you are older. I do not know what you think
about fishing on Sunday, but so far as you are responsible for
what you do, it is on account of what you know and believe.
Be sure you are right and then go ahead — if you think it right
to go ahead. If Aunt Hepzibah asks questions, answer them
with your usual frankness, but so as not to wound the lady who
is entertaining you so kindly.
You will find two dear little orchids in the swamp back of the
pool. They are arethusa and calopogon ; but they might have
been anaesthesia and paregoric for all I knew until I was three
times your age. One of them smells as dainty-sweet as a fairy's
smelling-bottle. There are apt to be wood-warblers, too, peck-
ing at the trunks and leaves of the willows — they like the older
ones with the bright yellow lichens. Make yourself akin with
nature, my boy, and you will never be far from whatsoever God
A LITTLE LIBERAL 155
If you see Mr. Cory Judd — you won't find Mm at meeting —
tell him papa has not forgotten the little red school-house ^nd
Surely be on time to take care of Mama Violet.
Your very affectionate
P. S. I used to think they bit better on Sundays. They
did n't suspect. Papa.
N. B. I used to hang mine in the hollow of a tree until
" Maybe Mr. Judd knows about thy Thiimmim and
thy Urim ! " thought the Boy, skipping gaily through
the fragrant shrubbery.
The Monday morning train rolled up to the little
Coosac flag-station, with Mama Violet expectant at the
open window of the parlor car.
" There she is ! There she is, Mr. Judd ! " said the
Boy, breaking away from the gi-asp of Hepzibah, who
had no belief in steam-cars. " Hello, mama ! Hello,
mama ! Is n't she lovely, Mr. Judd 1 Good-by, Aunt
Hepzibah. Good-by, Uncle Jasper! Good-by, Mr.
Judd ! Hope we '11 meet again, Mr. Judd, — when you
come to Boston."
The Boy dashed up the steps of the car and ran in
to find Mama Violet. He encircled her neck with
both arms, and nearly smothered her with kisses.
^' He 's a pretty sma^t boy,'' allowed Hepzibah from
the platform. " Got up this mo'nin' 'for' we was up,
'n' cot three suckers 'n' three them little trout down t'
156 A LITTLE LIBERAL
At this statement Mr. Cory Jndd slapped his knee
and went into an ahnost dangerons fit of laughter.
" No I did n't," called the Boy, as the train moved
quickly out. '' I shinned down and caught them yes-
terday, and, Aunt Hepzibah, — liept them in a tree ! "
But Hepzibah was saying at the same time as loud
as she could :
" I took him to meetin', 'n' I give him a Bible, Vio-
let, 'n' I set him ont' the path of grace. T you don't
see t' the rest of his salvation, tliat he on your soul!^^
Sweet Violet, with her son's hand tight in hers,
looked back on the lady of the Hard Pine Meeting-
house and smiled. The Boy wiiggled up close to her
and put his arm around her waist.
'^ O don't let 's ever part again, mama ! She shook
me and made me read the Bible because I told the lit-
tle girl the Hghtning would n't kill her. And I went
fis'ing — it ivas a kind of fib ; but I told Aunt Hepzi-
bah jus' now. But the pool was the loveliest place !
And warblers and annethusias, and Mr. Judd ! He 's
the funniest Mr. Judd you ever saw, but he did n't
know, — mama, what is thy Thummim and thy Urim ?
Mama, did you get my book : ' How^ Monkeys Speak ? '
O, mama, darling, don't let us ever part again so long
as we live ! "
THE TRAGEDY OF THE COMEDY
THE TRAOEDY OF THE COMEDY
HEY crisped the snow of Boston
Common dressed in handsome fab-
rics, carrying themselves as some
princesses do and as every princess
should. Their waists, within the
easy embrace of their bodices, were
free and supple, as God planned. The winter air bit
Charlotte was strongly boned. Her face was fuU
and her mouth was large and firm, its smile endowed
with liberal range of meaning. Her eyes were of the
North — blue and quiet. Jessica was an inch taller,
a woman with fine frame and slender hands. Her feet
were small, but capable of much ground. Her eyes
were like the Italian sky. Her face was pale, with the
pure, high, narrow brow that sculptors choose. Both
girls had chestnut-glossy hair, and both were twenty-
eight years old. One would have thought them
They had been walking steadily for foui' hours. It
was visible that Charlotte and Jessica were different
from other girls. They were as well groomed as
women of fashion. Their faces had the dignity and
cast of thought of the fostered intellect, but not the
postgraduate air of abstraction ; nor did the girls bear
the trivial weights of the mode.
160 THE TRAGEDY OF THE COMEDY
Charlotte pressed with her elbow a book, thinking
of the story in its pages, written by her friend Mr.
Bond. She conld not help marveling at his genius.
Jessica, seeing into her friend's mind, noticed with
a twinge how the volume was affectionately handled
by Charlotte. Jessica was silent until the pressure
became too great. Then she began ;
" You did n't believe, a year ago, that to-day his
name would stand so high."
" No," said Charlotte, accustomed to these interpre-
tations. " At least I did n't believe he would achieve
this. I confess I thought he might succeed in some-
thing ingenious, or perhaps humorous, or fantastic;
but not that he was equal to this sort of thing. I don't
think we ever overestimated him," she added.
" After all, though," said Jessica, " a single fairish
novel does not confer immortality. Heaven knows
that some of the stuff printed might have been writ-
ten by you or me."
" I said that to Mr. Bond once, and he asked me if
I had ever entered into any competition for money."
" Imphdng that you were a babbling infant. That
was quite like him," said Jessica, with a short laugh.
" He was right. I don't know why you should for-
ever disparage him — after all this time," said Char-
lotte, with dignity.
^^I have no pedestal for Mr. Bond," said Jessica.
" I don't think I ever pretended otherwise."
'^ Not to him, sm*ely — or me ! "
" Oh, I suppose you '11 marry him in the end," said
Charlotte would not answer. A flush came over
THE TRAGEDY OF THE COMEDY 161
Jessica's face. They walked on, looking far ahead,
until they entered the Public Garden. There Jessica
stopped abruptly and whirled around.
"You know you love him — and are sorry!" she
Charlotte slowly raised her eyes to Jessica.
"If ever I do — I will tell you before I tell him,
dear," she said.
" And that will part us forever. You know it," said
Jessica, wretchedly. " You know I never cared for
any one in the world but you. But you have forgotten
all you once felt."
"You have charged me with that so often," said
Charlotte, deprecatingly, "and you know it is not
true. Why should we reopen that miserable, impossi-
" And we used to agree that we should so like the
same man that it would be an outrage on the other
for either of us to marry him," continued Jessica, in
a tone that implied absolute foreknowledge of an
" If you refer by chance to Mr. Bond, you know
you could have liked him if you had wished to."
"Yes; you still think I am jealous of him — or of
you," said Jessica.
"How absurd! I cannot forget, though, that you
spoke of him with more enthusiasm than I did, at
" That was because I did not want to marry him."
" Jessica, you are childish. I did not want to marry
" No ; but you are going to.'^
162 THE TRAGEDY OF THE COMEDY
Charlotte said nothing. They were at their own
door. They parted to dress for the evening.
These girls had met at college. Their strange hy-
persensitiveness and its concurrent melancholy had
immediately joined them together. Their friendship
grew to one of those affairs not infrequent in wo-
men's colleges. It was not the ordinary intimacy be-
tween girls ; it was peculiar and binding. It formed
a creed around itself — one which came to regulate
almost every action of their lives. They rose together,
ate together, studied together, and walked together.
To Jessica, Charlotte was a Juno, fearless and born
to rule. To Charlotte, Jessica was a flower of sur-
passing gentleness, made to be cherished and directed.
Their tastes were identical, and their capabilities were
the wonder of those years with their alma mater.
They did not affect a special trend, but sipped of
every stream which pleased their fancy and widened
their touch with realms of science and pure imaginiv
tion. They entered little into the social circles of stu-
dent life, passing their time rather in voracious read-
ings, both of books and nature. They knew every
flower and bit of stone and creeping or flying thing the
country round. Both were independent in money,
though no bait for fortune-seekers, and both delved
well below the surface of all that excited their inter-
est, purely for the satisfaction that is dilettante.
As each year tightened their friendship they saw
less and less of other girls, and cared less for the so-
ciety of men. They contrived reasons for not going
home during the recess, in order that they might spend
THE TRAGEDY OF THE COMEDY 163
the time more closely together. Wlien their relatives
rebelled, the gii'ls parted iu gloom, and wrote letters
regularly every day until they came back early to the
The most serious incident in their college career,
except the friendship itself, followed upon the sug-
gestion of the lady professor of French to the lady
principal, that the two girls were taking too morbid
an interest in each other, and should be kept more
apart, for the good of their minds and the moral
benefits of occasional sohtude. Charlotte and Jessica
packed their belongings and wrote long letters home,
which resulted in the lady principal's relenting, while
the lady professor of French shrugged her shoulders.
The girls altered their course from French to Spanish.
When they left college Charlotte immediately came
to Boston to live with Jessica and Jessica's father
and brothers. Jessica had been motherless for sev-
eral years, and Charlotte had lost both her parents
during her course at college. In Boston their life
went on again in much the same channels, only at
first more delightfully than ever ; for the girls were
free to go wherever they pleased. They saw, heard,
and read everything that was well played or sung or
written ; and the brilliant cynicism which grew grad-
ually out of their view and mode of life afforded
them now a regular pleasure in averting the atten-
tions of successive men, some of them mediocre and
fatuous, a few superior to the girls, but all with traits
that made them interesting for the time, and all sub-
jected to the cold, critical spirit not rare in clever
modern women who have never allowed themselves
164 THE TRAGEDY OF THE COMEDY
in competition or in true fellowship with the sturdier
Majiy men passed in review through their drawing-
rooms for the amusement of the girls, but few made
more than half a dozen visits. This was apt to be
the extent of their true welcome, and generally suf-
ficed to convey a subtle impression on the men quite
suited to the circumstance. Humor of a high quality,
and much wit and flippancy, the girls received with
applause ; but it was painful to fall below then* stan-
dard, and those who talked of serious matters were
chnied by the lack of enthusiasm of the girls, which
seemed to express a complete disapproval of mascu-
line ideals. Those who survived these conditions
were either entertaining creatures unconscious of
themselves, or else men who fancied themselves in
love with one of the gii'ls, in the fashion of male
creatures for so long as there have been scintillant
beings in the world about whom a man may build a
domestic halo in his imagination. These latter men
were the greatest sport of all, unless Jessica, to whom
they did not often attach themselves, began to draw
a fear from Charlotte's really gentler manner that
Charlotte's heart was in absurd danger of being
touched. Jessica then disposed of the enemy in a
way that was at once humane and expeditious in the
hands of the lady of the house ; and Charlotte made
no sound, though she would have been interested in
a more extended observation of the inferior animal
when it lost its sentimental balance. The two often
laughed together over subsequent wedding-cards en-
graven with the names of the departed and of sweet
THE TRAGEDY OF THE COMEDY 165
But there came Mr. Bond, wlio was a minor officer
in the city government. The girls took him as the
greatest curiosity, and Jessica viewed him as wholly
harmless because he had scanty means, and no future
except in his aspii*ations to a literary career. He
explained this to them, and they received it kindly,
because it seemed pathetic that one with so narrow an
education compared to theirs, a man who told them
in the triumph of discovery many a thing they had
read in the ancient philosophers, should be possessed
of his hopes. But Bond had two qualifications which
they overlooked, perhaps without blame. He was
constantly making the most astounding acquain-
tances with his own shortcomings, which he confided
to them as if he had been an insect under his own
microscope ; and he was constantly drawing a larger
interest on this knowledge of himself — all this with
a persistence in the face of certain odds that would
have inspired the girls if they had not been so nearly
content with their spiritual condition. One might
have inferred from them that he was illiterate; but
he was far from that : his obstacles were great only
when measured from the goal he had set for himself,
and when it was understood how little leisure he had.
But the girls looked to him mainly for amusement,
and for an agreeable outlet for easy-going charity,
rather than for the inspiriting current of sympathy
that may flow between the sexes. He was always
diving into some unexpected corner and producing
some extraordinary character in the flesh, or some
outlandish inanimate thing that was new to them,
and hence highly exciting. And with all his youthful
ardor, as they said it, he had a certain dignity, such
166 THE TRAGEDY OF THE COMEDY
that they could not feel toward him as they did to-
ward any other man.
They did not both perceive, as they knew him bet-
ter, that while he seemed to look to them for instruc-
tion in his spiritual growth, referring continually to
their opinions, he constantly made progress in a di-
rection of which he was sole arbiter. In time Char-
lotte felt it ; but Jessica forever ignored that he had
views that were to be taken seriously, or were in
touch mth the times.
They had begun to honor him witli invitations to
show them curious corners in Boston, when Jessica,
much against her choice, was constrained to go abroad
with her father, in tardy response to his request made
before she went to college. And it happened that
property complications and a lawsidt of importance
required Charlotte's presence at a town on the Maine
coast, where her people had made their all in the rise
of summer-resort real estate. When Jessica was half-
way across the Atlantic, and heavy -with the journal of
three days' longings for Charlotte, Mr. Bond was taking
Charlotte for walks on the cliff at Seaweed Cove.
It was during this miserable period of cathedrals
and homesickness for Charlotte that Jessica began to
dream how Mr. Bond might })ecome a dangerous pos-
sibility. Charlotte, she considered, was, after all, en-
tirely too susceptible to men, and would, if left to
herself, be apt to take them to heart. Besides, Char-
lotte was excessively charming to contemplate — she
could do anything in the world, from making a Greek
verse to making a creamed lobster; and Charlotte
was not alert to know that what men said to her was
THE TRAGEDY OF THE COMEDY 167
always with au ulterior purpose — that of putting the
girl iu weddiug-harness, with all that sort of humble
reaUty so reverse from the silly di-eams of young
creatures who have not learned that the best philoso-
phy confers a higher title on friendship than it does
on love. '' dingers " was Jessica's favorite designa-
tion for girls who confessed to a certain moral sup-
port exerted by men. Jessica herself was of the
" dinger " order, but in a perverted and most exag-
gerated form, and this was the secret of her adhesion
to Charlotte. As much as she admired Charlotte's
self-reliance, she feared it because it was always dan-
gerously near an independence quite opposed to the
theory of their bonded lives.
Meanwhile, mth cliffs and sea, and conversation
over the field of human aspirations, Charlotte came
into a new and delightf nl world that fascinated her
and appealed to her most healthy sentiments. She
enjoyed herself in a fashion which Jessica would have
trembled to see, and did weep over when it was de-
scribed in Charlotte's letters with many appreciative
items concerning Mr. Bond. Charlotte spent hours
and hours in the sunlight, sitting silent while Bond
descanted on various subjects, arriving in the end,
with unerring aim, at a chosen center. If they began
to talk of fish in the sea, he made some remark about
the jewfish, then about the patriarchal system of Jew-
ish life, then about family life in general, then about
the married life of young people. If they spoke of
rocks, he would draw her out concerning mineralogy
and crystals and jewels, and would tell her of a re-
markable wedding-ring he had seen, and recount an
168 THE TRAGEDY OF THE COMEDY
anecdote of its wearer, from wliicli he would draw
deductions of an abstract nature. If they started on
sand and seaweed, he straightway wondered under what
circumstances the x>oet happened on the simile of the
sands of time and the footprints thereon j then talked
about poets, and Longfellow in particular, and Long-
fellow's ideal married life. Then he talked of his own
future and apologized unceasingly for his failings in
the deeper sort of culture, which seemed to her to lie
in the direction of material, rather than in the lack of
imagination or feeling. He spoke of a little book on
wliich he was secretly at work — to be publislied by and
by at his own expense : and she half gave her approval
to its plan, though it did not seem quite in keeping
with all the rest she thought of him. Then he an-
nounced to her that he was going abroad in another
week as agent for a new steam-valve, and might not
return too soon, unless she desired it for her special
benefit. This was at the end of two months, and after
three days' trepidation, in thought of what Jessica
would say to all this, Charlotte finally gave way, and
they confided in her aunt.
The aunt smiled, and reserved her opinion for a
better acquaintance with the gentleman — which she
never obtained, since the young people were always
out of reach; until at length Mr. Bond went away,
leaving Charlotte blue and happy, then blue and wish-
ing for Jessica's return, then blue and doubtful. And
Mr. Bond and Jessica passed on the ocean, Jessica
with a cablegram in her pocket-book, and sunken to
the depths of melancholy that her Charlotte should
stoop to matrimony at all, not to speak of the abomi-
THE TRAGEDY OF THE COMEDY 169
liable choice of a wretched steam-valve novelist whose
culture could be stowed away comfortably in the mi-
nutest corner of Charlotte's brain j a man, thought
Jessica, who would shine, if he ever did, solely by re-
flected light, and in miserable lesser ways that would
be forever a shame and humiliation.
So Jessica made up her mind that the engagement
should be declared off as soon as she could reach
Charlotte, which would be on the pier at New York.
The two went to their hotel and wept together for a
number of hours, and Jessica assumed a superior atti-
tude that was altogether fresh to her, first searching
Charlotte's soul, and then engaging in an analysis of
Mr. Bond that left him like a dried thing in a mu-
seum. Charlotte pleaded for him with no avail, for
Jessica showed that he was neither an ardent student,
nor an athlete, nor a linguist, nor a man of affairs —
all of which symbolic utterances she amplified until
they comprised every attribute which may possibly
give a male creature the right of existence under any
code of moral law. Moreover, she intimated that Mr.
Bond would find Charlotte's money a welcome substi-
tute for the traveling steam- valve, which was the
only part of the inquisition where Charlotte fright-
ened her friend with flashing of the eyes. Then Jes-
sica attacked the institution of marriage on general
grounds, and quoted so many of Charlotte's own
cavils at it that Charlotte finally felt obhged to ac-
knowledge her foolishness, and to write a note to Mr.
Bond explaining what a grievous mistake she had
made; that she did not love him, and could never
170 THE TRAGEDY OF THE COMEDY
This was Bond's first serious experience in being
misprized, and he careened so badly under the burden
that he seemed quite to fit Jessica's estimate of him,
and confirmed forever the abstractions concerning
men made by Jessica out of her innocence of them.
Mr. Bond wrote back that he regretted Charlotte had
taken him for some other man. He filled four pages
with shivering sarcasm that made Charlotte think
Jessica much wiser than had been suspected by her
most irresponsil)le admirers. For a year the matter
seemed a closed incident.
During that year Mr. Bond continued his researches
within himself, and finally came, in the light of a soul
that grew constantly, to be heartily ashamed of his
last communication to the woman he had loved and
still loved. To arrive at such a state meant for him
straightway to write another letter, proudly explain-
ing his new understanding of his unAVorthiness, and
telling of all the mental anguish he had undergone
since they parted, and how completely he compre-
hended what his attitude must have stood for in her
eyes. And Charlotte, moved, as she thought, by her
conscience, replied that they both had much to regret,
she especially in having allowed him to form such an
impression of her regard for him, which had been,
and would always be, simply that of a friend who
admired his honesty and many other traits of his
character. It turned out soon afterward that the
steam-valve brought him back to Boston, and he
called on Charlotte, and they took up the same
fnendly intercourse that had been the rule before he
had ever touched on the subject of marriage.
THE TRAGEDY OF THE COMEDY 171
This reconciliation was bitterly opposed by Jessica,
and never gave her a moment's peace. But Charlotte
stood like a rock, and went so far as to insist that
Jessica should not forget the courtesy of a gentlewo-
man when Mr. Bond came in of an evening ; to which
Jessica yielded, though she came very near dangerous
ground on more than one occasion. Mr. Bond in-
formed Charlotte that he knew that he had forfeited
much of her respect by his letter at the breaking of
their engagement, l^ut that he should not rest until
he had regained what he had lost, and shown her that
he was right when he said he could make her happy,
which was a tremendous undertaking for any man in
any circumstances, and stood for an optimism on his
part that was an argument in itself.
So another year passed, during which the once
ideal life of the two girls seemed to have permanently
altered in a most distressing manner. They devel-
oped. They bickered over many things, all of which
had root in Jessica's specter of Mr. Bond in eventual
triumph ; and as often as they bickered they wept
and mutually asked forgiveness, though Charlotte
would rarely accede to Jessica's demands for limita-
tions on Mr. Bond's occurrence at the house. Mr.
Bond had now become literary editor of a Boston
daily, and smiled good-naturedly at his own small
knowledge of the classics, ancient or modern, when
he compared it to that of the girls. He even took the
humor of Jessica's occasional causticity born of read-
ing his reviews as the only side of her remarks worth
appearing to notice ; and meanwhile the paper in-
creased his salary and gave him more space in the
172 THE TRAGEDY OF THE COMEDY
Sunday edition, and other newspaper men looked up-
on him as a leader in his line. There grew a limit
to which Charlotte would Hsten to Jessica's sarcasms,
and henceforth Jessica never rose without bracing
herself for the announcement of an engagement j for
Charlotte became more silent every day.
The truth was that though Charlotte had said at
first it would be useless to look forward to any change
in her heart, her subsequent reception of his subtly
caressing tones had been such as to warrant a differ-
ent behef. However, he resolved never to speak un-
less she showed conclusivelv that she wished him to.
And Charlotte, between the opposition of Jessica and
the expansion of her own womanly yearnings, came
into that region of feminine doubt which lets things
take care of themselves. For Charlotte was growing,
while Jessica stood still. And it finally happened
that on the eve of another of his departures from
Boston, Mr. Bond, finding his way by chance unan-
nounced into their drawing-room, came upon Char-
lotte standing at the mantelpiece, contemplating a
mask of Mirth.
Charlotte did not care anything for a mask of
Mii-th ; for her eyes were full of tears ; and she could
not conceal them from him when she turned around.
But, unhappily, neither could she explain them ; and
when he made a wdse suggestion, she averred that she
could not truthfully say she loved him, and urged that
mucli the best way was for them to part indefinitely.
He then had his opportunity to cover the memory of
his first rejection ^\dth a manly speech. He said gently
that he should love her always, and that he would
THE TRAGEDY OF THE COMEDY 173
wait patiently until she was ready, no matter how long
it took. And he went off in a driving rain, leaving
her in tears, as he had found her.
Jessica's imagination and artfulness extracted this
much from mournful Charlotte the next day. Jes-
sica then showed conclusively, on the highest moral
grounds, that it was a grievous wrong to Mr. Bond
for Charlotte to let him suppose she felt what she
could not own to her dearest friend. And Charlotte, out
of her affection for Mr. Bond, wrote to him that she
was now sure that she would never marry him, though
she omitted to sav that she was sure that she did not
love him. Mr. Bond did not write for a correction of
this omission, for fear that, with the exaggerated no-
tion of the truth which takes possession of fretful
maids, she would supply it.
On the contrary, he wrote that he felt that Char-
lotte w^ould in the end arrive at the point he desired ;
that he was aware of the antagonism of Miss Jessica,
but that, after all, a regard weaker than objections
external, and perhaps not wholly unselfish, would not
justify any woman in entering matrimony ; and that
he was content to wait until Charlotte understood
this. He said that Charlotte seemed constructed to
prove that the first institution of our civilization could
be a success for one who possessed her qualities ; and
he thereby came dangerously near complimenting
himseK, since he implied himself capable of supplying
the other element for the triumph of his theory. He
tried to state gently that Charlotte was spending the
best years of her life in aimlessness, and that her con-
stitutional tendency to melancholy would increase as
174 THE TRAGEDY OF THE COMEDY
long as she refused to work out normally a scheme
of existence planned more for her benefit than for
that of anybody else in the world. He said that he
loved her, and expected her to discover that she loved
him, and that he should wait until she acknowledged it.
It was two years later when the girls were dining
in their new house after Jessica's outburst in the Pub-
lic Garden. Jessica sulked. They were going to see
two comedies, one of which, in one act, had been writ-
ten by Mr. Bond, and was now to be produced for the
fii^st time in Boston, after a run in New York which
was announced as a success. When it was time for
the theater Jessica refused to go, despite the prayers of
Charlotte. So Charlotte left Jessica at home, and
went off with Jessica's brother.
As they sat waiting for the rise of the curtain, she
saw Mr. Bond enter one of the boxes, accompanied
by some ladies. He had changed considerably, per-
haps for the better, she thought. He looked as old as
he was, and certainly could not convey that impres-
sion of youthfulness which went with his earlier days.
Charlotte watched him intently — the man who had
won her imagination to the onlv earthlv career she
could now contemplate with a hope of happiness.
His manner seemed to have become graver. There
were a few streaks of premature gray in his hair.
Bond's comedy was the stor}^ of a girl who had sent
away the man who loved her. Now she regretted it,
but to no purpose, since from the occasional conven-
tional letters which passed between them she believed
that his heart had fallen into possession of another.
THE TRAGEDY OF THE COMEDY 175
Soon the lover returned. There was a long scene in
which she was caused to shadow forth her sorrow at
his change of sentiment, ending with the announce-
ment on his part that the other woman in the case
was only a myth, and had been invented by him so
that the girl might place a true value on what she
thought she had lost. The letters were read over,
and the description of the girl who did not exist was
found to be that of the girl who did exist, and who
now fell into the arms of the hero. This, after some
httle feminine difficulties were overcome, enabled the
curtain to fall on hearts united.
As Mr. Bond left the box and passed along with the
two ladies, Charlotte noticed that one of them was
3^oung and looked very clever and happy. She was
evidently the daughter of the other lady. Bond
caught sight of Charlotte, and hastened over to speak
" What do you think of the girl in the play ? " he
asked, after the customary exchange.
^' The girl gets more than she deserves," said Char-
'' In the play she does," said Bond.
'' Shall you stay long in Boston ! " asked Charlotte.
She did not know what she might say next.
^'No; I leave to-night — now that the little play
seems to catch favor. Grood-by."
He was gone.
"Bond is getting to be a notable," said Jessica's
brother. "That was a fine-looking girl he had with
For Charlotte the second play dragged wofully.
176 THE TRAGEDY OF THE COMEDY
The atmosphere seemed too heavy to breathe. She
longed to be alone in the open air.
During these moments Jessica, at home, very un-
happy, and ravishiugly handsome in her evening gown,
was making furious game of the admiring Chauncey
Barber, the young medical student and religious enthu-
siast whose courage was apparent only by fits and starts.
In the course of the evening he chanced to remark :
" That 's a beauty Franklin Bond is going to marry,
don't you think?"
" Who ? " asked Jessica, excitedly.
Barber took revenge for her raillery by refusing to
Later, when the girls were alone, they were both
unusually gay. Charlotte soon pleaded fatigue, and
retired to her room. Jessica went to sleep determined
to find out at the earliest opportunity if Mr. Bond was
When Charlotte awoke in the morning she was ill.
As the day wore on she grew worse. Evening found
the doctor at her bedside. The illness developed into
tvphoid fever. For weeks Jessica scarcelv left Char-
lotte's chamber. She slept at Charlotte's side on a
mattress on the floor, nursing her day and night. It
was a great strain on the nerves of the more delicate
girl ; all the more from a fearful anxiety for Charlotte's
life, which sometimes kept Jessica awake far toward
the dawn, when she lay exhausted after a day of high-
est tension. In those hours Jessica went back over
the history of their lives together, and blamed herself
for many a childish jealousy over Charlotte, and for
many a cutting speech born of unreasoning hatred of
THE TKAGEDY OF THE COMEDY 177
those occasional third persons who took Charlotte's
fancy. Now Charlotte would forget Mr. Bond, if
what Barber said was true. And the lives of the two
girls, if death would only spare Charlotte, would go
on, with Jessica chastened in spirit, and risen to a
new dignity, through the loveliness of Charlotte's ex-
ample. They would grow old together ; and if Char-
lotte wished the society of men at times, — Jessica
thought that a little of it would suffice, — why, Char-
lotte should be given it.
The patient became convalescent. The case had
been less severe than Jessica's fears. Charlotte was
able to join with the prayers of the family, and the
admonitions of the doctor, in forcing Jessica into the
open air. At last Jessica consented to take both ex-
ercise and sleep, and while she was absent Charlotte
lay musing hour after hour over the girl in the play.
It occurred to Jessica to ask the doctor about the
rumor of Bond's engagement; the doctor would
know. She met the medical man coming from his
final visit to Charlotte. Mr. Bond's engagement to
Miss Catherwood was a fact which would soon be
attested by names engraved. The wedding was to
take place in Boston.
Jessica breathed a long sigh of content, and ran
The room was dim in twilight. Charlotte lay mo-
tionless, with her hands clasped under her head. She
had been long in meditation. There was a settled look
upon her face. The heart-crisis was past.
" Jessie dear," she said immediately, " I have some-
thing to tell you. I — care for — Mr. Bond."
178 THE TRAGEDY OF THE COMEDY
Jessica's heart stopped. She must not speak now —
no, not until Charlotte was strong.
"You are not going to be angiy, Jessie?" asked
" Oh, no, darling," said Jessica, with a great lump
in her throat. She threw her arms around her friend.
"You will always need me — no matter what hap-
pens ! "
" I told you," said Charlotte, pressing her face against
Jessica's, " because I am so happy ; and I want to tell
" But, my darling," said Jessica, who dared not sob,
" you must think only of getting well now. You are
not to excite youi'self ."
"I do not, dearie — I am too happy. It has been
so long ! I want to be well enough to send for him
and ask his pardon. How long will it be?"
" Some time vet, dear. You must think of other
" Think of other things ? " said Charlotte, smiling.
" You dear, funny girl ! "
That evening Jessica read to Charlotte, who listened
apparently with close attention ; but her thoughts
were far away. She was glad to be left alone in the
dark when Jessica retired to a night of tears. Char-
lotte slept and dreamed.
The next day, as Jessica entered the Library, she
"Good morning," he said pleasantly, as was his
w^ont to Jessica, notwithstanding her attitude toward
him. " Charlotte is ill."
" How did you know ! " asked Jessica.
THE TRAGEDY OF THE COMEDY 179
^' Because 3^011 are alone, if uotliing else. I saw tlie
doctor this morning. He gave me your new address,
and I sent my wedding-cards to you and Charlotte.
Will you step into the florist's ? A bunch of violets
would look well against that black fur."
She went with him, and this was surprising, for she
generally, in his memory of her, took special delight
in refusing the smallest courtesy he offered. When
he suggested now a huge bunch of violets she declined
them. He bowed gravely, and proceeded to assort
some roses. Suddenly he said, holding them up :
" I started to pick these out for Miss Catherwood ;
she likes Banksias, too. But I am going to send them
" Please don't ! " faltered Jessica.
He smiled curiously to himself, and wrote down
Charlotte's name and address. When he had added
his card to the flowers, Jessica went with him to the
street. As they came out she stopped him, and facing
him with a pleading such as he never imagined could
come to her eyes, she said :
"Won't you iplease, please, not send those flowers to
Charlotte ? "
He looked at her in amazement.
" Let us cross to the Common," he said.
When they were less in the crowd, he turned to her
and said, with wonder, and yet in an indulgent way :
" You are a most extraordinary woman ! "
" I will be any kind you wish — if you will only do
as I ask," she said almost tearfully.
He marveled to see Jessica humbled to make a
prayer to him. It was ridiculous^
180 THE TRAGEDY OF THE COMEDY
" You forget," lie said gravely, '^ that I tliiuk a great
deal of Charlotte."
" You — think a great deal of her ! " said Jessica,
impetuously. '^ Oh, you are no better than all the
other clay of your kind ! Your sentiments will not
stand the wear of two short years. You said you
could never love any one but Charlotte — that you
would wait for her as long as you lived, that she could
summon you in ten years and still find you true. And
here you send her your wedding-cards, engraved with
another woman's name ! What fools women are ! "
*^It is true that I said all those things," he an-
swered without emotion, " except the last. And many
other things which I presume Charlotte held no more
sacredly than to tell you — who have so often declared
me an impossible person. The answer to your impli-
cation that I am a staler of oaths lies in the material
you use for your aiTaignment of me."
" What Charlotte has said to me was in defense of
'' Silence was all the defense I needed," he said,
looking into the distance.
" That is all you have received for two years," said
'^ Then — what more to say? Charlotte is happy,
you are happy, I am happy — ah, but that is not all
true ! " he said sorrowfully. " Charlotte and you are
not happy. You have built a wall around yourselves
— you have shut yourselves away from sympathy with
men, and you are out of the march of life."
" All because neither Charlotte nor I wished her to
marry you ! " laughed Jessica.
THE TRAGEDY OF THE COMEDY 181
Charlotte gained strength rapidly. Slie had not
lost her hair. This was a soui-ce of happiness. She
remembered how Bond had often admired it. She
amused herseK with fondling its full length and think-
ing of him. Then she blushed in the quiet of her
room. Each day brought the spring nearer. Jessica
came in every morning laden with flowers, and prom-
ising the earliest Avild blossoms when they should ap-
pear. The twenty-eight white roses Jessica had taken
from the box when they came, and they stood on
Charlotte's table for three days, apparently as a token
of Jessica's affection. Her real tribute was the fact
that Bond's card lay in Jessica's room, part of the
ashes in the grate. Jessica would not leave the house
until the flowers had safely reached her own hands ;
and until the wedding-cards, too, had come, and were
stowed away in her secret drawer. Bond was to be
married at noon on the third of May.
By that morning Charlotte had risen and dressed
regularly for a week. The weather had been cold and
wet, and it was not thought advisable for her to go
out. But now the day opened bright and warm. It
brought memories of past delightful springtimes and
promises of summer that sent her mind back to Sea-
weed Cove, and to the blue waters over which she had
gazed so many hours in silence. Soon she and Jessica
would ride out together, and before long Charlotte
could consider herself well-nigh restored. For a week
Jessica had gone about weighed to earth with the
news she felt long overdue to Charlotte. Often it
trembled on her lips to speak; but the effort stifled
it. When the two were together Jessica's mind was
182 THE TRAGEDY OF THE COMEDY
distracted in debate when and how to begin, while
Charlotte's thoughts were too evidently far away.
The crisis came when, on this morning of the third
of May, Jessica discovered Charlotte sitting at her
desk finishing a note. Charlotte colored crimson when
she found Jessica's eyes fixed upon her in a strange,
" You are not writing to Mr. Bond ? "
" Yes, dear. I have asked him to come as soon as
he can. The doctor told me he was here — two weeks
ago," she confessed shyly. " Oh, it is so delightful to
be well again ! "
'* But how can you be so sure he will come now ? "
" Ah — you do not know him ! Why should he not,
dear ? "
^^ Because, Challie dear — did nH the doctor say the
rest % " asked Jessica, hopelessly.
" The rest ? "
" Yes ; that Mr. Bond is going to marry Miss Cath-
erwood ! Dearest, I could n't tell you until you were
Charlotte put down her pen. Her color flew. She
rested her elbows on the desk and pressed her fore-
head in her hands. Jessica came and placed her arms
around her friend. There was no word.
'^I cannot say I am surprised, dear," said Jessica,
There was a long silence in the room. The soft
May air came in through the open window. It brought
the chiming of the bells in the steeple of the church
where Franklin Bond would soon stand before the
THE TRAGEDY OF THE COMEDY 183
altar. It blew tlie hair which Charlotte had fondled
in thinking of him. For a time she seemed unaware
of Jessica's presence. Suddenly Charlotte rose and
walked across the room.
'' I do not believe it/' she said resolutely. " I cannot
believe it. Don't you know it was lack of faith that
has made me miserable for two long years? Don't
you know that he never lias failed to live up to what
I think of him noiv f That was the trouble, Jessica.
When I fii'st knew him I could take no man seriously.
I looked down upon them. What childishness for a
girl of twenty-three ! And even when I grew to know
him so well, I could not see that he justified his aspi-
rations. His capital seemed so slim to me then; I
did not recognize the moral part of it. I did not un-
derstand that he knew his disadvantages better than
I did, and yet was less afraid in his own self than I
was for him. I saw all his mistakes very clearly ; but
I did not see that he never faltered one moment in his
course — he always pressed forward — always ; some-
times slowly, sometimes almost standing still ; but he
always faced one way, Jessica, and I — I could have
helped him so much more than I did ! If I had only
understood ! But we laughed at him, and made fun
of his work in the newspapers, and of the little book
which he never published because I did not think it
equal to some masterpiece — and there was no one for
whose opinion he cared as he did for mine. He put
the little book aside ; but he never stopped — he went
on just as if I had never existed — only he took more
pride in my praise than — Jessica ! And it made no
difference what idle thing I said, or how I hurt him in
184 THE TRAGEDY OF THE COMEDY
my tliouglitless criticisms, or how I slioAved I thought
him inferior chiy — he forgave me ; he never lost his
gentle tone for one moment all the time I knew him.
And I thought it was small humility on his part, I
thought it was obeisance to my higher spirit — when
it was onlv because he knew better and felt more
deeply than I did, and forgave me out of the sweet-
ness of his soul ! Oh, we have much to learn ! They
teach us to applaud things that are applauded, but we
do not learn to praise the man in the aspiration and
in the struggle. And he never ceased to love me as
long as I — and I do not believe he has ceased to noiv!
If his name has been heard with Miss Catherwood's,
why, it has been against his will. For all I know, per-
haps he thought it might move me as it did the girl
in the play. I told you about that. She thought she
had lost him — then she began to feel his value. It
made her wretched first. It made them both happy
in the end. It was a matter of years ; but they cared
for each other. Time could not change it. And do
vou believe that the man who wrote that sweet little
play, the one who was true to me through three long
years of wretched unappreciation on my part, through
rebuff and insane womanish freaks and distrust and
almost ridicule at times — do you believe he has for-
gotten the things he said to me ! Why, I have faith
now ! If vou were to tell me anvthino; in the world
against him I would believe him innocent. I liave
faith. I believe he loves me to-day — just as he al-
ways did. And I — do not deserve it ! "
^' But, oh, my darling ! " cried Jessica, bursting into
tears, " he does n't love you any more ! He told me
so — and I have been the cause of all this ! "
THE TRAGEDY OF THE COMEDY 185
" I have faith iu him ! " said Charlotte. " He would
not open his heart to yon."
" But he is being married away at this minute — in
the church under those bells. I have his cards, ad-
dressed to you. 2lHst you see ? "
" Let me have them ! " gasped Charlotte.
Charlotte stood at the window, holding to the sill
in the whirl of things about her. The current of
spring air struck cold against her heated temples.
Her note to Bond rustled and blew from the table.
The chiu'ch lay in the distance before her. The chimes
rang out the wedding-march from " Lohengrin/' and
the people would soon begin to stream from the portal.
Her breath came quick and irregular. She thrust her
arms out wide above her head, and appealed to the
fresh blue sky with a sigh that shook her frame.
Jessica retm-ned wet-eyed, with the invitation in her
hand. Charlotte was rigid. She took the smooth
paper in her hands — the lines swam — she did not
see the names. Jessica dropped to her knees, and
beseechingly clasped Charlotte, crying :
" Can you ever in the long, long world forgive me ? "
The paper floated to the floor. Charlotte's hands
fell lightly on Jessica's shoulders. The silence was
broken only by Jessica's sobs.
''There is nothing to forgive," said Charlotte at
length, slowly. " I was put to a test. I was offered
doubt and mistrust — and I accepted them. I was un-
equal to the test. Mr. Bond has to thank you. There
''Say that we can go on now," pleaded Jessica,
tearfully — '^go on as we did before ever a man
came into oui' happiness. I will give my whole life to
186 THE TRAGEDY OF THE COMEDY
make you forget — my wliole life ! Poor, poor darling
Charlotte ! "
Charlotte slowly shook her head :
" It cau never be exactly the same — not until we
understand each other. I do not want to forget. It
is not I who am to he pitied. I am better off than
you. I have learned. I would not for anything in the
world exchange my — for the man who once — for
your innocence of what it is to trust — ! "
That was two years ago. Charlotte is thirty. I
do not know that she is prominent in charitable work,
or has thrown herself into some intellectual field with
an energy and devotion that are winning her laurels.
I have not heard that she is specially glorified as the
sweet fii'eside aunt of her brother's children, or the
tender confidante of younger people in love. But I
know that her hair has in it many threads of purest
silver ; and that she looks quite thirty j and that — I
should not like to be Charlotte.
Jessica was married last fall to a man four years
younger than herself.
ENTER THE EARL OF TYNE
ENTER THE EARL OF TYNE
Is Mr. Howard Delafield turned from
Seventy-blauk street into the ave-
nue, a sleigh with scarlet plumes and
a crystal dasher rushed past him and
drew up in front of the Garston
house. The Earl of Tyne alighted,
and the footman had hardly touched the bell before
the door opened and the earl went in. Mr. Delafield,
on foot, paused for an instant in the middle of a step,
and then kept on past the Garston house, as if that
had not been his destination. He decided to return
in half an hour, and, if the sleigh was gone, ring the
bell — to find, probably, that Mildred had left for a
ride with the earl and her grandmother. If so, Mr.
Delafield would have to explain his late delinquencies
on another day. It seemed a month since he had seen
Mildred; but he was not quite loath to delay what
now he knew he should say. He had been heavy-
hearted all the way, and the rich spectacle of the earl
and of the glistening sleigh and its men and jingling
steeds made Delafield sick.
But when he came back the sleigh was gone. Miss
Garston had not ridden off with the earl. She was in ;
and she greeted Delafield coolly, and led the way to
the oak room, where a log fire crackled on the hearth.
190 ENTER THE EARL OF TYNE
"I don't understand/' she began, turning in the
fuller light ; but her tone altered a shade. '' Are you
ill ^? Could n't you come f "
" I 'm all right/' he said, with a weary smile, taking
the arm-chair. " It 's a long story ; I ought to have
" I don't see why you did n't write," she said. " It
has been a week. I could n't ask any one ; I simply
lay awake. There 's so little defense of ignoring me.
It 's against all our theories, and I never should hesi-
tate to withdraw rather than accept it. I don't want
to be hasty. You look pale, and I 'm sorry ; but you
make me suffer, and you don't seem to understand, and
you might as weU be in Japan."
" I never should withhold my confidence," said Dela-
field. " I could n't respect you if I did. So we shall
not part for that. It is good/' he added ominously,
" that we can be calm over serious things."
" But what is so serious 1 " she asked, frightened
from some of her color. "■ Tell me, have I seemed to
do something'? Surely you don't believe that about
the earl — that I let him pay me marked attention ?
I wondered if those reporters had talked to you and
added to the falsehoods they printed about him. I
tried to fit a dozen reasons to your silence, but I could
n't fit one. I saw you hurrying along Twenty-third
street two days ago, and you did n't look disabled.
Don't you see how queer — "
" Do you know how long we have been engaged ? "
he asked gi'avely.
" Nearly three years/' said Mildi-ed, as if the time
had not seemed long.
ENTER THE EARL OF TYNE 191
*' And you are twenty-four years old, and I am as
impecunious as I was three years ago. We can't go
on this way — we must give it up."
He did not look to see her face, but gazed intently
on the flames.
^' I thought then," he said, after a few moments,
" that by now we might be married. I really had done
well when I reached the editorial staff, and I thought
I should soon have something better. But I did n't.
Beyond a few hundreds saved, I have n't since made
a gain. I Ve gone off ; my chances have decreased ;
and I don't seem doomed to financial success. But in
my capacity of one who treasures your welfare I will
not be a fiasco. We must give it up, and you must
take what better fate awaits you."
She was rigid in the oak settee, with her eyes fixed
on the Garston arms below the mantel. He shook his
head in pity of himself.
" I 've had time," he went on, in a strained voice,
" to think. A man may be much that a woman hon-
ors, and yet from a metropolitan point be a financial
failure. We both thought the chances favorable ; but
they are not. In four or five years I might, by dint of
plodding, take you to Harlem, but not the best of it,
to share my nonentity in ' apartments ' — a set of bins
a hundred feet in the sky — a euphemism for a tene-
ment. I could not promise more. You would be ex-
communicated from society because you could not
afford to entertain, and debarred from the opera be-
cause you would not climb the heavens to hear it.
Then you would find, after the novelty of our life had
settled to a routine, that you were slowly dying of
192 ENTER THE EARL OF TYNE
distaste, and that the only happy ones about you were
those who could be content with farce-comedy and
popular music and Sunday newspapers."
The Garston arms were silver set in purple marble,
and her face was cold against them. Her feet were
motionless on the tiger's skin. Delafield appeared to
be making a painful study of the flames. He started
on, and had to begin twice.
" Food, clothing, warmth, friends," he said, clearing
his throat — "all are necessary. They cost in New
York. You must have finery if you move with the
friends of the Earl of Tyne ; you must have things to
feed to them, and a place to receive them in. We
must n't learn by dire experience what is so patent ;
if there is an art of li\ing, we ought to consider the
end, and allow for our older years, with your greater
needs for dainties and carriages and servants and cli-
mates. It is inevitable that some day you would com-
pare your state with what it might have been, and me
— with the other man ; and I am not siu-e I should be
adequate ; I cannot advise the risk. The woman who
marries a fortune is something assuaged if her love
wears out ; and for you no brilliant marriage is im-
probable. I should never forget that, left to your
present surroundings, you might have come to care
for a man of great wealth, or perhaps for one ^\dth
both wealth and title, like the Earl of Tyne. And, on
the other hand, to see vou condemned with me to such
a contrast with what might have been, would destroy
the lightness of my heart."
The fire was subsiding. He paused. Very far away
she seemed already, with her eyes, half closed, fixed
ENTER THE EARL OF TYNE 193
on the gaping lion's mouth in the arms. He could not
read her face. She might be occupied with some
" I would n't have you think that I despair," he said
suddenly. " I always go on. My philosophy does not
refuse me self-esteem ; and it could n't refuse success,
if life were forever and strength as long as life. But
a woman ages ; she cannot so well begin a career in
the middle of her prime. If you wait and wait, and
curb all thoughts of other men, and finally do see me
crushed — think of it ! See how it stands now. I am
no longer an editorial writer — I have not been for a
week. I have changed my rooms, so that the book
reviews can meet my present expense. I shall find
something else, simply because a man can't seek in
vain forever. I left because they asked me to libel
Dougherty, our misrepresentative in Congress, and to
twist his foolish doings to the semblance of a misde-
meanor. Dougherty does n't know enough to be a
rascal ; and I refused, and they gave me a choice, and
I resigned. Affairs have promised this for months ;
for my self-respect grew always faster than my bank-
account, and some of the things I used to condone are
abhorrent to me now. I cannot call a college graduate
a noble fellow because he ferrets out a girl who fled
away to hide, and because he purchases her photo-
graph from the villain who swore to defend her. But
that is what first promoted my successor. For a long
time I have refused to write some things they asked,
and they found me worth concessions, though they
knew how strongly I stood for reform ideas and how
contemptible I held theii- party ^majors 5 but the new
194 ENTER THE EARL OF TYNE
man can do perhaps as well as I, and he stops at
nothing. He is an example of " perfect discipline " ;
he knows the division between moral and legal libel
to a hair's breadth. I used to dream how satisfactory
it must be to be a gentleman of the editorial column
and wield nothing but a force toward better things.
I thought then, you see, that all journalism was a pro-
fessional pursuit. If I had been less caUow it would
liav^e been far better for you."
Her fingers lay on the arm of the settee, and the
diamond on one of them — tlie only jewel she wore —
shot up a cold glint caught and changed from the les-
sening rays of the fire. He could see only her profile.
'^ There is one thing I never have spoken of," he
said, after a moment, compressing his lips. " I should
be absurd to ignore that j^our grandmother is a rich
woman who loves you and likes me well. In the event
of her death you would receive a fortune by her will,
or she might give you an income if you married.
Both these possibilities may have crossed your mind
as fair guaranties for the future ; but have you re-
flected how the prospect of being the impecunious
husband of a rich wife would load me with dread?
My pride would not bear it — nor yours — for me to
be a weakling beside your beauty and your money.
It has not frightened me away, you understand ; it
has made me pause, for your sake. It has brought me
to a determination which nothing can alter."
Her pallor was disturbing him. She was like ala-
baster, and the rise of her chest was barely apparent.
She had not spoken, or moved her eyes from the Gar-
ston arms. The blaze had left the hearth, and the
ENTER THE EARL OF TYNE 195
logs smoldered, growing blacker and blacker, while
the sky outside took deeper and colder tints, and the
winter sun was sinking in a flare of orange. He feared
that she mistrusted his sincerity.
" I may have seemed unimpassioned all through our
engagement," he said, with regretful firmness. " But
if I have seemed so, you will thank me. I know I
hui't you. I shall not speak of myself — it is not the
time ; but I submit that, if you release me, it will be
better for us to — say good-by — now. Only your
grandmother knows that we have been engaged ; and
we have always maintained a dignity which you will
not regret, perhaps, when we meet again in after years.
That is all. Am I not right ! "
He had finished. What he had doubted his courage
for when he had sighted Mildred's house, the Earl of
Tyne had given him strength to say. Now the words
were out of his mouth, and as he waited for Mildred's
answer his mind went back to the room in West
Twenty-eighth street where he was going after he had
parted with Mildred for perhaps the rest of their lives.
It was a dingy and darksome and narrow room, no
whit less melancholy for the presence of his bookcase
and his desk and his books and etchings. It was a
wretched place to go and lie awake in the first appall-
ing realization of his sacrifice; it was wretched be-
cause there on the table, in a silver frame with doors
that were unlocked by a sacred key, would be the pic-
ture of Mildred — Mildred as he had seen her once on
the stairs, on the night of a ball. The frame had stood
on his table for two long years, to be opened as often
as he paused at early morning, after his work was
196 ENTER THE EARL OF TYNE
done, before he went to dream of her. Whatever he
did, the picture, or the absence of it, would dominate
the room, and the room would dominate him. He
would give up the room, he told himself ; he would
take his sa\^ngs and wander abroad until the wound
stopped bleeding. But even then he could never
again unlock the silver frame, nor — unless he heard
some day that Mildred was a countess — ever part
Mildred was still mute and white. The maid came
knocking, and opened the portieres to fetch some
^' It 's gun out, ma'am,'' she said, from her knees, as
she placed a small log on the andirons and poked the
embers into a heap beneath. " Should I start it or
" Yes," murmured Mildred, with un\^dtting ambi-
guity 5 and the maid, aware of an oblivion chilling-
even to a servant, forsook the fire to its will. Dela-
field turned to Mildred and paused for her answer.
She began to breathe harder, and seemed about to
speak J but she could not. He asked himself wretch-
edly how one could doubt her who saw her eyes so
blank with woe, and saw the clasping and unclasping
of her fingers. Her mouth twitched as if she was a
tiny girl and as if he had been treacherous and made
her afraid of every one. In an escape of tenderness
he let himself for a moment cover her hand.
" Why, you poor child," he exclaimed, ^' it 's as cold
as ice ! "Wliat makes it so ? "
" It 's the ring," she said huskily, her eyes shunning
him. "I — I release you ! "
ENTER THE EARL OF TYNE 197
She took the diamond off and laid it on the arm of
'^ But — please keep it," he said, at the memory of
how he had put it on her finger many months ago.
" You '11 keep at least that, won't you ? "
" You forget it was your mother's — that she told
you to give it to the woman you loved " said Mildred,
with a trace of bitterness. " Only," she added, turn-
ing to him, ^' just for a while will you sit here ? I want
to say some things, if I can, that would have come to
me when you were gone — things I should suffer not
to say. Once I could n't have asked you ; but three
years make a change. I cannot readjust myself so
quickly — with no warning. Will you come?" she
He moved to the place beside her on the double set-
tee. The fii-e, lingering along the bottom of the logs,
reflected some glow from the hearth, brighter because
the twilight was beginning. The white diamond glit-
tered on the settee arm, minus an owner. Mildi'ed kept
half turned away from him, and he waited for her to
^' It 's because ours has been so — different from
others," she said, struggling for words. " Other men
are much more — more enthusiastic to the women who
promise to marry them. But you seem to have thought
you ought n't to be, or else you did n't care. And
I always feared to say — perhaps — how good you
She paused for a moment.
" Because," she went on, " I could n't — in words —
they mock me, and you left no other way. If you
198 ENTER THE EARL OF TYNE
had n't been outwardly so true and careful, and so
fierce in your hatred of fraud, I should have thought
you could n't have much feeling. But, as it was, I
believed you meant to honor me."
Delafield was looking into the embers.
" You 've been so different from what I expected —
when you asked me. You were so good then ! I had
read your heart from the instant you came to care. I
knew for weeks that you were weighing it over ; and
I was so proud of you for first telling me about — your
prospects. Perhaps you thought I did n't appreciate
that ; and I 'm sure you ^vere shocked at my quick
assent, for you did n't know how I had wished it for
months and months. And now you think that what
I accepted so readily I can easily lose. You never will
know ; for I am not as I was. I used to quench my
doubts , but I can't be certain now whether you ever
cared or not."
The embers were fading out, and her face was re-
ceding in the gloom.
" How little I know you," she went on, the words
coming faster, '' that I can talk so — after these years !
It 's because you placed me too high, perhaps ; made
me a goddess instead of a friend. I did n't want to
be a goddess ; it is n't a real thing. I wanted to be
like other well-bred women when they give their word.
But I could n't ask you to be different ; I could n't
speak of it now if I ever expected to see you again.
My friendship did n't attract you. You saw this house
and the precious girdles I wear, and you concluded
that I was too dainty to be useful, and too feeble to
stand the battle of life — for any sake ; and you liked
ENTER THE EARL OF TYNE 199
me because I made a pretty ornament in this Imck-
gTOund, just as you part with me because you cannot
maintain it. I was foolish not to see that. You enjoy
in me the very contrast with what I admired in you.
You have never seen any one just like me ; and when
you found me in such surroundings, not pampered
or silly or spoiled, I impressed you. It must have
been because I looked well standing at the head of the
stairs, with the stained-glass light, and the maid lift-
ing on my cloak, and the footman waiting stiff below
with my traveling-bag — as you saw me once, and
looked so worshipful. How strange you were not to
know that you were stronger and better and finer a
sight than I ! At that moment I should have rather
gone with you, with a cheap bag and a cheap cloak
and no footman and no maid, than have gone as I did,
with any one else in the world. I did n't know you
then as I do to-day. The maid and the stained glass
had been traditions in our family simply because
wealth and elegance had been traditions; but tliey
did n't make our happiness. Health was what we
asked, and the joy of exerting strength and will,
whether it was my grandfather in his ship or my
father in his bank. If you think I have degenerated
from them, you are neither clever nor complimentary."
The darkness had pressed down between them,
though she sat so near. The solitary diamond spar-
kled close to her fingers' ends. He heaved a deep, un-
even sigh ; but Mildred's voice was growing stronger.
" I should have seen how far apart our real ideals
lay ; but I was foolish, and I do thank you for your
dignity now. You differed so^ from the men I was
200 ENTER THE EARL OF TYNE
meeting. They were either stupid or gross, or jellied
with vice, or poor cartoons of foreigners. There was
n't one of them Avith the grace of the Earl of Tyne,
and there was n't one of them like our people — like
my father. But you were so ambitious and vigorous
and daring! You had even done brutal things, I
thought, thougli I admired the dash that took you
through them, because I felt that better taste would
come to you, as it has. In most things you had all
the finish of the men I knew, and vou realized twice
as much as they dreamed. You had struggled, too,
and suffered anxiety and temptation ; and yet you
were as ruddv and clear-skinned and steadv-handed
as a young gii'l. You grew — I could see you grow ;
and you called to all that was potent and healthy in
mv mind. I wanted to run beside vou, and do and
dare things with you, and live yom* life of vigor and
conquest. I did n't want to be carried — I 'm too much
alive. I knew I could not run so fast or so far as you ;
but I could go each day faster and farther than you
could carry me. I used to tell you this, and you used
to say what a mighty team two such as we would be
when we both put shoulder to the wheel, each to his
best. But you did n't mean it, or else you meant it
for all the world but me. Your real picture was a girl
at the head of the stairs, waiting freshly groomed and
gowned, all crisp and idle and full of pretty femi-
nine affairs to dissipate yom* weariness and vexations.
That has its fascination, true enough, and quite enough,
for most of us ; but it is n't the thing for me. I 'm
too jealous of your houi's away from me — I mean I
should be if I cared. I should expect your life-work
ENTER THE EARL OF TYNE 201
to be part of yoiir soul, and I should want to be part
of it in some way, too. I should want to serve wher-
ever I could, being your friend — the best you ever
had. I should lose the last memory of myself in the
one I cared for. That woidd be living — for me. But
you — would n't understand it."
A screen stopped most of the light that would have
come in through the windows, and the fii-e was hidden
in its own ashes. They were in the dark. The chim-
ney-place was growing coldj the sleigh-bells in the
street, recalling the Earl of Tyne, sounded cold, too ;
and the cruel things she said were tingling. He had
not thought that words would ever hurt him from so
sweet a source.
" Then if you failed," she continued, ^' I should know
it was fate, not lack of me 5 just as a triumph would
n't be yours alone, but ours, as life, would be ours. A
woman who asks that, who can let you go without a
pang because you fail to value it — she would never
be a drag, no matter how much she had to learn. I
have no genius, I know; I can't write; and so you
think my energies would be dispersed by society —
that I should languish for the Earl of Tyne ! You
have n't believed me when I said I had no taste for
that. I 'm not opposed to social life ; I know it too
well: it keeps more people out of mischief than it
spoils. But it is n't the thing for me. I have vigor
that will not let me dawdle ; and independence and
will that never betrayed me until I thought I cared
for you. I don't wonder you mistake me; I never
am so timid and weak as with you ; nor so stupid as
not to see when I 'm made a sport of."
202 ENTER THE EARL OF TYNE
She stopped for a moment.
'' But you wrong me, Mildred ! '' he said painfully.
" I never wronged you while I expected to be your
wife," came her spirited answer. '■ I took in earnest
everything you said. Life means so much to me ; it
has so many charms — such great rewards for force
and action ; its very buffets have a taste for me. You
never imagined for an instant what terrific impatience
I leashed from day to day since we were first engaged ;
how I longed to grasp your hand and be off and be
living. You would have thought it bold if I had told
you while we were engaged. Oh, I used some days to
walk in Central Park all the morning; to tire myself
and keep myself from Ijdng awake to think how I
might help you. If I did n't, I wanted to fly — to
jump from my window. Wliat a waste it was — a
waste of thought and sleepless nights, when I could
rise in the morning and walk my miles and yet come
back sleepless, because I longed to be up and working-
out the traditions of my blood ! And all my dreams
pointed to you, who took me for nothing — nothing
but lace ! You don't know me. You don't know
what I like, or what I need, or how little you ful-
fill your promise. You think I want carriages ! I 'd
rather have a driving snow and high boots and an
alpenstock, with a loaf of rye bread in a haversack,
than tool a coach A\dth the Earl of Tyne through ten
columns of a newspaper. You think I should languish
in a flat with a man who was mine and knew me
through and through — languish for want of a box
at the Metropolitan, and for want of an earl when I
had my own nobleman plighted to me gladly ! You
ENTER THE EARL OF TYNE 203
apprehend me, but you cannot comprehend me in the
The soft fabric of her sleeve touched his shoulder;
but he felt as far removed from her as if three years
ago she had not laid her head uj^on his shoulder and
said she was happy there. Delafield winced.
" But you don't know the dreary reality/' he said
hopelessly. " You never knew rude living except as
a bit of contrast. You have n't felt its deadening
''You could n't deaden me with rude living if I
chose to accept it," she exclaimed angrily. "You
could n't break my spirit with plain walls so long as
there was air and sky and the elements of food. I
know it deadens the dead; it frets small souls; it
would stimulate me. If it would n't, there is no such
thing as binding hearts. If a strong woman cannot
share your lot as honor makes it, then she never loved
you more than half. If you don't expect that princi-
ple, you don't honor her and you don't care. I know
my words are only sounds to you ; I ought to say, ' I
adore you — if you can furnish steam heat and all the
modern improvements ! ' You 'd respect me just as
much if I did. But now you think I 'm melodramatic,
and I think you are ; for every word you spoke has
been affected. If we had gone on as we did until we
married, our misunderstanding would have finished,
but our mistake would have only begun. You are
not keyed up to my pitch," she said passionately.
" You 've taken three good years of my life under
false pretenses ; and you 've humiliated me so that I 'm
ashamed to look at you, and L'm glad it 's dark!"
204 ENTER THE EARL OF TYNE
"Ah, but you don't know!" he protested wretchedly,
gripping the back of the settee so that it creaked.
" And you don't know how hard it has been to say it !
I should have been a coward and held it back if I
had n't seen him coming up your steps. I had started
in indecision, and every step saw me worse ; but his
splendor made me sick. If you care no more than
you say, I 'm already — l)ut you must care, Mildred j
you would n't speak so hotly if you did n't."
" Then I '11 speak more calmly," she said, with what
seemed seK-possession. "We both have much to
thank the earl for, it seems. Has the fire quite gone
out? Perhaps you find it chilly here?" she added,
turning to him in the gloom.
He made no answer, but his hand dropped from the
back of the settee.
" I '11 go now," he said at last, trying to adopt her
manner. Yet he waited, while she kept silent, and
heard his breathing, and saw the sparkle of his dia-
mond just beyond her finger-tips. A cold di*aft blew
down through the chimney and swept the ashes.
" There '11 be a time," he said, " when you 11 look
upon me as only a newspaper man, without distinction
from all the rest. He will see me, and he '11 think of
the vulgar, venal irresponsibility of the most blatant
of our newspapers, of the sort that traduce their igno-
rant readers and aflt'ront their intelligent ones with
every revolution of their press ; and he '11 say con-
temptuously, ' That is one of the men who write what
they would blush to own.' And yet there are clean
sheets, for those who have taste for them ; and one may
be botli a journalist and a gentleman j and if not, he 'd
ENTER THE EARL OF TYNE 205
only be one in ig*nominy with the thousands who
bought what he wrote. But when a few years are
gone all I shall be to you is — a newspaper man."
^^ If a man respects himself, that should be enough,"
she said coldly, as if she did not divine that he was
thinking of the earl.
Delafield stood up. He paused for a moment, and
she knew he was trying to discern for the last time
her outline in the darkness. Then slowly he made his
way around back of the settee, past tables and chairs,
to the door. She heard the clink of the rings of the
portieres, and could tell that he had paused again,
holding the curtain in his hand. She realized that
the next few moments would shape the coui'se of her
^'Oh, will you please find the bellows for me before
you go ? " she asked in a new tone suited to pleading
for a favor.
He came groping his way back, with hands out-
stretched, and accidentally touched her face. She
gave a little start and an exclamation which he did
not comprehend. The maid turned the current on in
the hall, and some light came over the top of the
" Did I hurt you ? " he asked. " I could n't see."
'4 ;^o — I understand," she hastened to say, with a
shiver. She had thought he meant a caress. ^^I
wanted the bellows to blow the fire, please. I 'm cold."
He picked it out, and, as he would have done when
they had been engaged, used it on the ashes to save
her the trouble of it. At first the embers took some
life : then thev drowsed.
206 ENTER THE EARL OF TYNE
" It 's gone too far," he said griml}^ 5 ^4t won't come
"Oh, I tJii)iJc it will," she said fervently, ''if you
only try ! "
He kept on mechanically, looking into the embers ;
but they gave no more than a glow that seemed to
compensate for the pallor of his face.
'^ It 's no use," he said at length, letting the mouth of
the bellows drop, and staring dejectedly into the ashes.
" Don't be disgusted," she urged, so softly as if she
feared to frighten the flames away. " Can't you try
again f "
" I 'U send the maid ; I '11 ring the bell as I go out,"
he said, keeping turned away from her, and about to
" But you 're not going to force me to make the fire
myself?" she asked gently, laying her hand on his
sleeve and looking earnestly at him. " I don't want
the maid. I want you — you to move the log a trifle,
please — to where those splinters will catch. I 'm too
cold to wait for the maid, and I want to say one little
word more. Please take the stool."
He did as she asked, and with the tongs moved the
log to where the splinters took the flames ; and as she
watched him, silently and with hungry eyes, the fii-e
ran along until aU. the log was ablaze and crackling
and lighting the room. He waited, not seeing her
face, and growing bitter that she should be able to
add to the injuries she had already inflicted.
"About the earl," she began, with difiiculty — "I
have seen him only three times in my life. We were
introduced at Mrs. Van Thaler's, and we talked for
ENTER THE EARL OF TYNE 207
about ten minutes. I did not go to ride with him, as
the papers said ; and I never showed that I liked him.
Last week he called here, and I was astonished and
grandma w^as enraged ; but we saw that he was under
some delusion. To-day, just as I sent a servant to
buy your paper to see if it chanced to mention your
whereabouts, he came again. We had never asked
him to come to see us. In a little while I managed
to find what his mistake was. He took me for Miss
Gaston, farther up the avenue ; he did n't know that
our name was Garston. He said she had invited him,
but that he had forgotten her face and remembered
only her name, which was known all over the world
in connection with a great business house; and he
said he had forgotten my name, but remembered my
face. I told him that we knew the Gastons but
slightly. Then he apologized very regretfully, and
went away. I don't know him."
She waited wistfully for Delafleld to make some
comment, but he did not.
^' And grandma could n't leave me anything," she
said, miserable at his silence. ^' It all goes to charity,
because papa was wealthy then, and grandpa did n't
expect him to die so poor, and so they arranged it all
between them. I shall have just my own little income.
I wear these things only because grandma insists on
buying them ; but when she 's gone I shall have only
my few hundreds, and tliey ought n't to be enough to
frighten even you away."
She paused and waited in vain. Delafield said
nothing. Her eyes fell on the diamond, and its
sparkle was too much for themr
208 ENTER THE EARL OF TYNE
" I did n't have any more to say," she faltered, half
choking. "I — I thought — "
The tears that had assembled behind her vehemence
rushed up in triumph over her striving, and she trem-
bled and shuddered with her grief. For a moment
Delafield clenched his fists behind him ; then they
opened, and he moved quickly to her side.
^^ Shall I love my happiness more than you ? " he
said distinctly. " Shall I follow my heart alone ? "
'^ Yes — yes ; be selfish — be selfish ! " cried Mildred.
"I — I want to be worth fmy and hate and fighting
for ! There is n't anything in tlie world I want so
much as vou ! "
He took her strongly in his arms, and tenderly
kissed her. She was still sobbing, but differently}
and he let her weep for the easing of her heart.
" I shall adopt your view," he said resolutely, with
his lips at her ear. ^'From now I shall believe all
you believe ; and we '11 start and make our life a
proof of our creed. Don't fear that I shall be weak ;
I was thinking of you, and I made a mistake. I al-
ways go on. Please — "
"Yes," she said joyously, her arms around his neck
and theu' eyes meeting in new trust and happiness;
" you were tired and worn with anxiety, and the earl
bothered you, dear. But it will not be so again, be-
cause fii'st you '11 tell me everything. You must take
a long rest to-night; but you must stay to dinner, and
di-ink something liot to prevent you from having got-
ten cold while 1 was so horrid."
With her repentance she was nearly ready to weep
again, and she sprang up on a plea of di'awing the
ENTER THE EARL OF TYNE 209
shades. There came a heavy clang of sleigh-bells
without, different from the ordinary.
" Come quick ! " she said.
She had looked out in the glare of the electric lights
and had seen the sleigh with the scarlet plumes and
the crystal dasher. There were the two splendid
towering flunkies, strictly enprofil; and behind them,
haK frozen in their furs, the young Earl of Tyne, ele-
gantly dressed, and a brilliantly costumed girl of
countenance sharp and sagacious.
Delafield came up behind Mildred and slipped the
diamond to its place on her lovely finger.
" And who 's the lady "? " he asked.
" That 's Miss Gaston," said Mildred.
THE SPIRIT IN THE PIPE
THE SPIRIT IN THE PIPE
^^^^^^^ELL, I '11 tell ye. Captain Silas Far-
ragut Tarrant, U. S. N., owned a
farm whereon was a barn wherein
was a horse over which was a room
where slept a little red Irishman —
Clarence O'Shay — who loved both
the pipe and the jug. Which I say
no word agin urn, but one night the rum rose up in
O'Shay and the coals dropped out of uz pipe aflame
on the straw of uz bed, and the barn burnt down
and the horse burnt up.
And Clarence O'Shay ran that fast away from the
blaze that when the Captain had um up on charge of
cruelty to a beast and arsony to a barn, Clarence come
into court with an alibi ; whereby the jury acquit um
of arsony, by that he could n't have possibly been at
the barn at the time ; and fined um twenty dollars for
cruelty to a beast because at such time he ought to
have been at the barn.
And the Captain, as some say, to make amends for
the charge found false, or as others say to git O'Shay
before an impudent cocked-hat court some day, instid
of a civil one, got an enlistment for O'Shay as a sec-
ond-class blue-jacket in the navy, and then straight-
way forgot of um. For the Captain was busy with
214 THE SPIRIT IN THE PIPE
trading of uz hot-skotclied farm and Avith having uz
rich wife's relations tickle the administration to git
um a fine command.
And thev fixed it to shove aside the one that should
have ut and give old Tarrant command of the battle-
ship Vtaliy U. S. N., a brand-new grand machine of
war of thirteen thousand ton by specification and
fourteen thousand by fact, they say ; she had a
whole grove of funnels and military tops and wicked
rifles pointing every what way. And the Captain come
aboard of her and hoisted his pennant and declared
she was in commission. But 't was three months be-
fore he had her ready to commit anything but lying
forninst the pier.
Well, Clarence O'Shay, going his way, was sent to
a big fat wooden receiving-ship — one of the war of
1812. That 's where I see um first; a square, short,
squat, raw squab he was, with brick-colored fur and
a jaw like the end of a box ; and uz shanks was twisted
like andirons' legs. There was two or three hundred
aboard, some recruits like him, and some with their
hides tanned with experience, like me. I made a friend
of um because he said that old Tarrant was beholden
And the officers took um and put um through the
setting-up exercises day by day, till uz shoulder blades
ground the skin of uz back between um and the beads
stood out on uz brow, and they had um straightened ;
and they swore at um till they filled um with respect ;
and they taught um the evil end of a gun, and a no-
tion of standing in line and counting fours and drill-
ing with the rest of the tarriers ; and I learned um
THE SPIRIT IN THE PIPE 215
liow to swing to uz hammick without kicking all f our
of uz neighbors out of bed ; and he got the gift of ut
in three months, and no credit to uz stupidity.
And when we made part of a draft of fifty to fill
out the Utah I took um under me wing and showed
um how to smuggle uz jug in the broad light of day
past the searching sergeant of marines ; and he took
to that handily. But — oh, a real man-o'-war was a
wildering bedazzlement to um ! 'T was cross-eyeing
to um ! Such that he spent the deal of uz time a-f ail-
ing through coal-holes and hatches and ladderways,
all by mistake — that green he was — and making
friends everywhere in the bowels of the ship by ut,
with telling how once he had risked uz life to save
the Captain's horse from being dry-smoked. And I
thought I see me way to some special dispensations
from old Tarrant through O'Shay.
And I took um a walk — to rub off uz luster. I
showed um the air-pumps and steam-pumps and hand-
pumps and hydraulicky-pumps, and the fan-gear and
tiller-gear and turning-gear ; and condinsers and ice-
makers and forty small engines here and there ; with
the winches and capstans and dynamos, and ash-hoists
and shot-lifts and railways, and deck-plates and hand-
wheels, and water-tight doors and holds and bottoms
— me telling um what each and every one was for.
And I expostulated to um how the gi-een-flanged red-
painted pipe overhead carried water, and the yellow-
flanged blue pipe carried steam from the donkey, and
the black-flanged gray pipe carried pressed au^, and
the red-flanged green pipe carried hydraulicky, and
the speaking-tube pipe, painted yellow, took whispers
216 THE SPIRIT IN THE PIPE
all over the sliip ; and I showed niii twenty flush
hatches and started to tell um what each one was for.
But O'Shay took to drink — sayino; that Heaven would
And he nursed uz jug till he emptied it — and that
with all stragglers al^oard and us lying in the lower
harbor with every one sobering for a cruise ! And he
laid down on the tank-tops and sing :
I 'd rather be right than Prisident !
I 'd rather be boggled than right, bedad!
Po}) ! — goes the goozle !
and such profanity. And when I asked um to brace
up uz back and temper uz voice to the regulations he
said he was too busy with uz joy. And I begged
um and begged um for fear of court-martial and
me losing uz influence to straighten umself — but
in vain ; and when I spilled a bucket of brine on uz
head he said he was tight — tight — water-tight ; and
he asked if I was a blue bag-pipe with red fringes —
that obvious to uz surroundings he was ; and when I
give um me boot in uz ribs he laughed with joy and
said 't was the pleasantest sensation in the history of
And so for fear of uz court-martial for smuggling
uz jug I lifted a man-hole door and doubled um up
and stuffed um down between the inner and outer
skins of the ship — 't was a space not three feet in the
clear ; and I closed um in with a light to sleep by and
screwed down the nuts on the door hard and fast.
THE SPIRIT IN THE PIPE 217
And the last command I heard him say was to lower
no more blasted coffins there, but to leave um in the
gentlemanly enjoyment of uz tomb.
Well, I hauled off and forgot of um. For I see by
the signs that the ship was to crawl away by moon-
light, and me to serve me lick at the wheel at mid-
night. So I hove to and snored in me hammick be-
tween me favorite beams. And there was little
Clarence, forty feet below, lying boxed up on the
hard cement of her outside bottom, with her inner
bottom for uz sky — not two feet above uz nose, and
uz feet agin her vertical keel and uz head bang up
agin another vertical plate called a longitudinal. For
ye see, a steel man-o'- war's shell is built on the cellu-
lose system, — as though ye should cut off one story
of an empty honey-comb and bend ut to the shape of
a ship's bottom ; and this was one of the cells which
six of 'em made a compartment on the Utah. And
ye could crawl from one of the six to another by vii'tue
of holes in the upright plates ; but beyond the six of
the compartment ye could n't go without tearing-
through a twelve-pound plate, unless by the man-hole
door, which was screwed down tight above Clarence's
But O'Shay laid absorbing the flavor of uz drink
long past when old Tarrant come aboard from a
champagne goozle, two-thirds content with the uni-
verse and placing main reliance on uz executive offi-
cer. The Captain ordered the Utah under way and
tumbled into uz bunkj and I heard the anchor haul-
ing utself in over the windlass and the engines begin
218 THE SPIRIT IN THE PIPE
to go bump — bump, bump — bump, and I knew in
me sleep we was off hunting for bad weather for a
And by and by, down below, O'Shay half waked
in uz sleep and inquired the time of day, and no one
answered um — nothing but the stamping of the old
double-harnessed elephants of engines two hundred
feet abaft of um. And he laid on uz back with the elec-
tric handlight at uz side gazing up at the black man-
hole door, and by inches he partly come to himself —
seeing above um and below um and all around um
nothing but cold red iron walls and hearing the hard
pounding of something not very far off, he did n't
know what. And then a cold shiver chased utself all
over um, for the thought of uz being bui'ied alive in
an u'on casket that way. " Begad," he says, " I re-
member now I died with onlv a boot in the ribs for
me absolution," he says, " and begad I hear the tread
of the twelve apostles plain as day ! " And with that
he drew in a breath like a wheezy cylinder and let out
a howl to 'em for a stay of proceedings on uz soul ; but
he might as well have been a rat a-di'ownding in the
bilge ; for the twelve apostles kept on treading, tread-
ing, — bump, bump, — never no farther and never no
nearer — keeping step all the time as if they was
walking in a circle round um enjoying the fun of ut.
And he give a shriek and tried to jump up, but the
iron skin struck uz head and knocked um down, and
he saw a hole that let into the next cell and he crawled
through ut like a wild snake, dragging the light and
leaving uz wits and pieces of uz breeches behind um,
first praying and begging of the apostles, and then a-
THE SPIRIT IN THE PIPE 219
swearing at 'em and then a-cnrsing of the Captain's
horse for burning up and leaving um to be buried alive
at sea, and all the time crawling and howling and cold-
sweating till he crawled through the six cells back
again to the first; — and he laid down on uz face and
weep with distaste of ut.
When uz tears was spent he found that uz hand
was grasping of a pipe. And seeing ut was painted
yellow O'Shay come to umself a bit, and remembered
what 't was, for sure. For ye see, the speaking-tube
pipes in the TJtali was led down through the inner
bottom to keep 'em safe from splinters and shell ; and
this happened to be the one that went forward from
the Captain's bunk — the same I showed um in the
pilot-house, with telling um if he was captain he could
speak with me through ut. And O'Shay took out his
grandfather's knife, with the file in ut, and sawed
away at the brass pipe to make a hole in ut ; and he
recollected the flask in uz pocket and took comfort by
that ; and he filed like a good one, and emptied the
flask, and soon he had a hole in the pipe as big as a
dollar J and he put his big mouth to ut and says:
" Phe-euw ! " with a breath that blowed the brass fil-
ings a jingling for yards abaft. And the automatic
mouth-piece aft in the Captain's cabin — 't was nigh
on to midnight — and the same like mouth-piece for-
rard in the pilot-house, both whistled to wake the
dead. For ye see, Clarence being in the middle, was
establishing umself with both ends of ut — though he
had no thoughts but of me. And the quartermaster's
mate in the pilot-house jumped to the mouth-piece
and whispered : '^ Yessir." And in the cabin old Tar-
220 THE SPIRIT IN THE PIPE
rant, waked up from uz champagne doze by the hiss
in nz ear, took np the month-piece that hnng by a
flexible tnbe from the sheathing, and says Tvith impa-
tience : '^ Well, sir ? " Which neither of 'em heard
the other J bnt O'Shay, down below, hearing their
voices associating together, shouts : " Come and un-
lock me, ye blasted idiot ! " And the quartermastei'^s
mate, thinking old Tarrant was locked in his state-
room, says: ^'Yessir!" and charged horse and foot
along the deck toward the cabins. And old Tarrant,
at hearing such marvelous insubordination shouted
to um by some one at the other end of the tube,
shot up from uz bunk like a mortar. " Ye 're under
arrest ! '' says he, through the mouth-piece. ^' Go tell
the master-at-arms to lock ye up!" says he. And
O'Shay, thinking ut was me, shook uz fist at the
hole in the pipe, and bawls in old Tarrant's ear : " Un-
der arrest, is ut f I 'm ten miles under dry land ! "
says he. ''Come lemme out — or I 11 make a corpse
of ye that can't walk the streets of Heaven in de-
cency ! " and A\'ith hearing that blasphemy the Cap-
tain leapt over and pushed a bell, and uz Scandina-
vian blockhead of a private-of-marines-orderly come
in. '' Arrest that man in the pilot-house, ye numb-
skull ! " orders the Captain.
And the private-orderly-numbskull lit out for the
pilot-house, running to split uz tight blue robin's-egg
breeches ; and he meets the quartermaster's mate run-
ning and asking : " What 's the matter with the skip-
per ? " — and says the orderly : " What 's the matter at
the pilot-house ? " and they both went on without an-
swering each other. And the mate burst into the
THE SPIRIT IN THE PIPE 221
Captain's stateroom, saying eagerly : " Did ye want
help, sir?'' "Help, ye fool!" roars the Captain.
'^ Who said nt ! Do I want help to put on me trou-
sers ? You 're under arrest, too, sir ! Go tell the or-
derly to arrest ye despite yer resistance ! " he says, or
something like ut. "I '11 see if there 's mutiny aboard
this craft," says old Tarrant, putting his feet into the
sleeves of uz dress coat by mistake, and howling in a
voice to wake the dead and half the ward-room offi-
cers : " Call the officer of the deck ! Pilot-house there,"
he says, through the mouth-piece, leaning over uz
bunk ; —'' send aft the officer of the deck ! " And
O'Shay, down below, thinking ut was me, bellers back :
" I '11 send ye aft the twist of me thumb in yer eye,"
he says ; ^' come down and lemme out or I '11 come up
and make a horse-meat sausage of ye ! " And about
that time I began to hear 'em in extraordinary expe-
ditions on deck, and the orderly hollerin' to split um-
self, and the master-at-arms running steeple-chases,
and I says to meself ut 's time to spill.
And from the hatchway I noticed there was no of-
ficer on the bridge, so I reconnoitered the man at the
wheel — the one I come up to be standing by to re-
lieve. '' The matter!" says he, shifting uz quid and
staring straight on in her coui'se— 't was a bright
moonlight night, ten miles off Sandy Hook. " There 's
the divil to pay and no pitch hot," he says. " Just
listen to the old man talking in uz drink through the
voice-pipe ! " And I took the mouth-piece and heard
a voice saying: "I warn ye ; if me soul leaves me
body I '11 come up at ye through the pipe, I will ! I '11
stick yer heart that full of holes^as a strawberry ! " he
222 THE SPIRIT IN THE PIPE
says. " Me naked spirit '11 sit on yer ear/' he says,
"like a barnacle on a clam — talkin<^ to ye till the
end of time ! " he says, ^' and longer, begad ! "
And me heart moved two inches to one side, fori
know'd 't was O'Shay that was bringing the whole ship's
company to uts feet with the belief that old Tarrant
had gone daft with uz drink. I could hear manding
and countermanding from stem to stern of her. With
that I grabbed a gallon of valve oil from the floor of
the pilot-house and dumped ut quick down the pipe
and polished off the mouth-piece with me sleeve. And
I tumbled below, for I had but five minutes to git
O'Shay and save uz neck from court-martial ; and I
knew the oil would only stop um till he could spit ut
out and draw uz breath. For luck there was no one
by when I unfastened um. " Hello, Clarence," says I.
"What are ye here for!" "For me health, ye ba-
boon ! " says he, spitting oil from uz teeth. And at
fii'st he showed fight ; but I haided um out by the col-
lar of uz neck and sat um down hard once or twice on
the tank-tops to show um uz legs was too stiff for ut,
and I whispered to um of the officers' running around
crazy to find um, with their threats of keel-hauling
um. And I carried um up the ladder on me back and
planted um on deck with care.
Along come a young surgeon looking for what he
could find, and says he: "What ails this man!"
" Nothing, sir," says I ; " he 's fallen down two hatch-
ways and disturbed uz innards, as appears from uz
mouth, su*," which was still bubbling oil. And the
surgeon says : " Dump um into the sick-bay." Wliich
I did, giving um a pointer to keep mum with uz voice
about smuggling uz jug, and advising um to git all
THE SPIRIT IN THE PIPE 223
the sleep he could; "for I hear/' I says, "ye 're to be
hanged at the signal-arm at sunrise."
And when I come for me trick at the wheel, on the
bridge I see the pilot-house full of ward-room officers,
and they had the quartermaster's mate and the man
whose relief I was and the wooden-head Scandinavian
orderly, questioning all three of um about what they
had said ; but the Captain they had soothed back to
bed. And they could figure no relationship with the
statements of them three and what the Captain had
said. I heard ^em send for the regulations and I
knowed they was considering the steps to be taken
when a captain loses uz command by virtue of uz vice
of intemperance, for they thought he had drillium
trimmins. And from what I heard I see 't was the
intention to watch um in the morning and take action
according to uz condition ; and so they dispersed.
And when me trick was done at four o'clock in the
morning T lost no time in dropping below to make
a clumsy job of repairing the voice-pipe, at the risk
of imminent discovery.
'T was four bells of the morning before I had fin-
ished ut. I says to meself, I '11 go and be shining brass
knobs in the cabin, to take the Squab's place and hear
what is said. And the fii'st thing old Tarrant re-
marks when he opens the door was : " Go tell the offi-
cer of the deck to send aft all those men I placed un-
der arrest last night at midnight." Which I did, and
the officer hummed and hawed and says : " How does
the Captain look this morning?" "How does he
look ? " says I ; "he looks like he had bad sleep last
night, sir," I says, "and maybe misleading dreams,
with no irreverence to um, sir."
224 THE SPIRIT IN THE PIPE
Aud the officer saj^s: "Humj go tell um lie was
mistaken. He placed no man under arrest last niglit.'^
And when I told old Tarrant that, he did n't fly off
uz handle, but looked a bit dazed to umself . " 'T was
the night before," he says to umself; "yes, never
mind, 't was the night before." And he come with
false leisure forrard, and see the quartermaster's mate
standing on one leg agin the tompion of old ten-inch
smoking of uz pipe to beat the stack of a soft-burning
" Was ut las night," says the Captain, " I had you
aft at midnight f '' he says, a bit dubious. " 3Ie, sir ? "
says the mate with uz eyebrows flying up under uz
hat ; " no, sir, 't was n't me, sir ; nor any night, sir."
And old Tarrant walked aft again. And 't was the
last word any one hear of ut, or of anything that
had occurred that night. But during that cruise the
color of old Tarrant's beak changed from a flaming-
turkey red to a decent claret and water ; and 't was
plain he thought he had the drillium dreams.
Well I went forward and shook O'Shay to wake um.
'^ Beware me naked spirit ! " he mutters, half obvious
of umself. '^ Wake up, Clarence," says I, bringing um
to umself. "Are ye better this morning, me boy?
'T is twenty-four hours ye laid in a stupor calling out
names to beat the divil. Ye 've had a bad case of
drillium trimmins, me lad. 'T is a special dispensa-
tion ye 're living this day ! "
" Is that all of ut ! " says Clarence, rolling of uz eyes
with relief. " Thank Heaven ! " he says. " I dreamed
I was being shipped in a tin can to the King of the
Man-Eating Isles ! "
THE PARLOUS WHOLENESS OF EPHRAIM
THE PARLOUS WHOLENESS OF
^OME of the people forgot the ad-
monition about avoiding the main
road, and they went by the Junkins
place, and were seen by Zendy as
she sat at the window sewing pieces
of apples on a string. Cory Judd,
who scorned riding, walked past without a look —
which was perhaps because of his shame at his pride
in his new clothes.
" Now, what 's Cory Judd all handsomed up for ? "
said Zendy. " Do you s'pose he '11 tramp clear to Bos-
ton, same ^s he threatens ? "
Ephraim sat in the wooden rocker with the " Book
of Seven Hundred Ailments," which was opened at
Ailment No. 440.
"I dunno," replied Ephraim. ''You holler down
and ask him 'bout that ' Man-and-Beast Salve.' I 've
got 440 sprouting out ^twixt my shoulder-blades,
sure ^s you live ; and if it strikes in, it '11 lead to 441,
and that '11 be my end. I 'm going to have another
one them spells ; for I believe I must of et something.'^
'' I sh' like to come and ketch myself a-hoUering
to Cory Judd ! " said Zendy, casting a glance at the
"Book of Ailments." '' You 've got forty ^even salves.
1 s^pose the next book will be "^The Complete Barn-
228 THE PARLOUS WHOLENESS OF EPHRAIM
yard Physician.' Then you '11 be a-howling 'round
with the pip, and the distemper, and conniption fits.
If I was you I 'd tumble int' the cellar and git a new
set of griefs — you ain't quite miserable enough these
days. Now I do wonder what Cory Judd 's a-kiting
so for. I sh' think 't was Fourth July, the way he 's
slicked up ! "
" Mebbe I sha'n't ever be slicking up any more," re-
plied Ephraim. "I 'm a pretty faded man, Zendy,
and you don't two thirds realize it. Don't suspect
you will till I 'm took. Here 's 201 I 've had for years,
and 213, and 697, and I felt a touch of 149 this morn-
ing, just as plain as your face : 'aching back, dull eye,
shooting pains, pale tongue — ' ! "
'' ' Can't lie awake by night ; no appetite after
meals,' " interpolated Zendy. " Overwork 's what 's
done it. Yesterday you cleaned a lamp-chimney; and
day before you wound the old clock. If I was you I
should n't set and watch me sewing apples; might
tucker you out. Now, if there ain't the Spinneys, in
their new wagon, so washed and dressed they dasn't
sneeze ! Do you s'pose it 's Sabbath, and we 've mis'
laid a whole day from this week? What do you
s'pose — ?"
" Why can't ye yell to Elziiy Spinney to tell her
boy to pull some that yeller-dock root out back their
house?" replied Ephraim. ^'I kinder hanker after it,
and it drives off 622. I sh' think you could ; might
be my dying wish, for all you know. I can feel my
liver palpitating 'bout twice too fast. Zendy, I 'm
persuaded I must of drunk some rain-water that
wa'n't biled. 1 bet I 'm heaping full of them in vis-
THE PARLOUS WHOLENESS OF EPHRAIM 229
ible phenomenons on page 1286 — them you can't see
without a burning-glass. I ^ve got a million of 'em
plotting and planning inside of me. I tell ye I can
see the handwriting on the wall ! "
" Well, I vow ! " said Zendy. '^ If you ain't grow-
ing peskier and worse every day. You 're juss well 's
I be — and you have been these two years. I sh'
think you 'd been blowed up in a railroad accident !
All you think about is you. Now I sh' juss like to
know what the Spinneys — "
"Yuss, I be a-getting worse," replied Ephraim.
"See how fat I am? It 's the dropsy,— 578, — just
as noticeable as your nose. But I had n't spoke, be-
cause I don't git no sympathy. There ain't a bone
in my body but what 's warped with neuraligy ; but
all you think about is the neighbors."
" Well," said Zendy, with a sigh, " swaller your
forty-'leven medicines! You pour 'em all into one
now, don't ye? Why don't you take some shingle-
nails and cider, 'gainst the general debility breaking
out on ye? Land sakes, if there ain't the Stapleses —
and them all perked up, too ! Ephrum, somebody 's
having a time ; and you and me ain't invited ! "
" Pshaw ! " said Ephraim, " Elziry was in yester-
day; and she tells everything; and what she don't
know 'bout what 's going on ain't so. I wish you
had git-up-and-git enough to screech to Anne Staples
and git the whereabouts of that doctor feller that
proscribes by mail."
"I know what they 're doing," said Zendy, sud-
denly. " Sed Staples told me some one told her she
overheard 'Mandy Dame say 'Lishy Lemly's daughter
230 THE PAELOUS WHOLENESS OF EPHRAIM
give out she wa'ii't going to have yon to her wedding.
Said you always mourned so much 'bout your ail-
ments that it set the whole company 's solemn 's con-
ference. Said she 'd show folks a wedding without
one your speeches. Now that 's just it ; they 're hav-
ing that wedding; and I bet the rest of 'em was
'shamed, and went 'round bv the lane."
Epliraim had put down the '^ Book of Ailments."
" But you don't s'pose so f " he said, rising to peer
after the wagon with the Staples family sitting
starchly in it. ^^Now folks would n't do that! I
don't kinder believe folks would give a wedding nor
any kind of time without me : you see I always make
a speech, you know. Besides, I give Jerushy Jane
Lemly a muskrat skin once ; and one time you worked
her a fascinator."
'^Yuss; but she always did the most at our husk-
ings," said Zendy.
"Yuss; but she always et the most punkin-pie,
too; so that 's even," reasoned Ephraim. "You
lemme git the paper ; mebbe they 's a circus."
"Circus, pshaw!" said Zendy. "You lemme git
the telescope ! "
Zendy disappeared up-stairs, while Ephraim vainly
searched the weekly edition. Zendy was gone for
what seemed a long time, and Ephraim called to her,
havmg long professed that climbing to the second
story was too much for him. He thought that the
loud puffing with which he at length made the ascent
was sufficient notification to Zendy of his unusual per-
formance, and that she would express her surprise
at his approach ; but Zendy made no sign. The trap-
THE PARLOUS WHOLENESS OF EPHRAIM 231
door to tlie roof was open, and the marks of Zendy's
shoes were on the dusty ladder.
''Zendy!'' called Ephraira. ^' What do you see?
Is it the wedding ? Zendy ! Zendy, you ain't fallen
off the roof, have ye 1 Now I wonder if that old fool
has slid off and broke her neck ? " wailed Ephraim in
distress. ^' Zendy ! "
" Um ! " said Zendy, finally, from above. She was
outside, sitting on the ridge-pole, holding the tele-
scope pointed through the trees toward the barn of
the Lemly place, a mile in the distance. But she
would not tell what she saw.
" You ^re too sick a man," she said, grimly. " K I
was to tell, you 'd git a spell of 1177."
" Well, I know," said Ephraim. '^ Jerushy Jane is
having that wedding, and I ain't invited. They think
I 'm petered out and could n't speechify to set 'em
gaping, same 's I used to. Guess I could outwrastle
with old Lemly right now. Zendy, you got to walk
past the Lemly place,— juss same ^s you did n't know
we was slighted, — and give 'em lief to put the thing
down in black and white. They sha'n't say ^t was
forgitfulness, b' George! You go right 'long; do
'^ Sha'n't do no such thing," said Zendy. '' 1 shall
leave 'em be. I can see 'em one by one putting their
teams int' the barn, juss same 's they was 'shamed.
Every one of 'em dressed up stiff 's a ramrod. There 's
Elziry Spinney; did you ever see any one look so
put-together 1 "
Zendy refused to go and walk by the Lemly place.
Ephraim argued that he could iVt do it ; because such
232 THE PARLOUS WHOLENESS OF EPHRAIM
an exertion would deliv^er him over to a number of
numbers that always lurked in his constitution, as
she ought to know. Zendy said that he could take
the old pig and ride ; which roused Ephraim's feel-
ings to an uncommon pitch. He rapped his stick on
the floor and went down the stairs more quickly than
he had come up, with unpleasant mutterings. Never-
theless Zendy, sitting on the ridge-pole, was not pre-
pared to see him issue from the house and start with
decided steps down the short stretch that led to the
main road. And when, without stopping, he turned
and set off toward the Lemly place, Zendy put the
astonished telescope on him. Ephraim had departed
without taking his several medicines ; he had not in
two years walked so far ; if he had gone away it had
been after much urging, so that people who asked
him to be present at their weddings thought them-
selves under an obligation to him, and he had always
driven in a degree of state. It had been rare to find
him farther than the hen-house. Zendv was troubled.
" I don't kinder like it," she said to herself. '' I do
s'pose he is kinder poorly, though not 's much so 's he
thinks. It 's unusual ; and unusual breeds unusual ;
and I 'm scared lest something '11 happen."
What happened first was that Jerusha Jane Lemly,
while her best friends were worrying over her skirts,
looked up the road from her chamber window and
made an exclamation. The people she had seen driv-
ing into the barn completed the invited company,
which had been made select by a number of omis-
sions of Jerusha's choosing; but now the tone of the
gathering was threatened by one she did not like.
THE PAKLOUS WHOLENESS OF EPHRAIM 233
^' Heaps o^ wonders ! ^' said Jerusba. '* If there aiu't
old Ephrum Junkins — pegging 'long the road 's
though he 'd been made whole by faith ! Ma ! Ma !
There 's old Ephrum Junkins ! Now what you going
to do ? I sha'n't have him ! I sha'n't, if I set up
here till kingdom come ! "
The echoing of this statement through the house
brought consternation, as every one knew what Jeru-
sha Jane would n't do when she said she would n't.
Father Elisha at first mildly suggested that they
might as well let Ephraim in, now that he had come
so far. But Mother Lemly put her thumb on him.
She issued warning to the people who were yet out-
doors, and they vanished quickly at her command.
The wedding guests inside suddenly found themselves
whispering in the dark, with all the shades drawn,
and information concerning the progress of Ephraim
Junkins in great demand. Some of those outside,
who had failed to get into the barn before it was
locked, ran hither and thither, and finally put them-
selves away as best they could ; and everybody was
saying to himself : " Well I do declare ! "— at such a
situation. The most unconcerned person near by was
Ephraim. When after a few minutes he reached the
place, he apparently bade fair to pass on without hav-
ing vouchsafed a glance ; but when opposite the front
door he paid it the compliment of a casual notice.
At the same time seemed to arise a feeling that he
ought to stop for a moment and pay his respects to
old Elisha Lemly; though the perfunctoriness of it
was plainly portrayed on Ephraim's face for all who
cared to see. Jerusha Jane, peeping through a pin-
234 THE PARLOUS WHOLENESS OF EPHRAIM
hole she had made in her chamber shade, saw Eph-
raim kuockiiig' at the kitchen door, just as had been
his wont in the davs before his aihnents.
There was no answer to his knocks. Ephraim
tried the barn j but all the doors were locked. Then
he went around to the front door, to which a freshly-
trodden trail led through the long grass in the yard.
Pinned to the panel was an envelop, bearing the
^' Le ml y's folks all went aivaij yesterday^
" Now, ain't that strange ! " soliloquized Ephraim, in
a penetrating voice. " Old 'Lishy must have pulled
up stakes and moved his family to the next county."
The door of the long wagon shed had been so hast-
ily fastened that Ephraim opened it with little diffi-
culty, and the effort gave him a chance to prove that
his strength had not so wholly departed as people
might think. The sound caused considerable rust-
ling in a pile of salt hay inside. In fact, old Silas
Ludlow, who was much beholden to Ephraim Junkins
for past services in the way of speechmaking, — Silas
being blessed with seven daughters, — had, in endeav-
oring to hide his head, exposed, one half of his person.
^^ Now, who 'd a-thought ! " said Ephraim, surveying
this considerable half. "If there ain't old Silas's
pantyloons — all stuffed with salt hay so 's to keep!
I 've known 'em for years by that j^atch, which don't
appear except when he steps into his wagon down to
the meeting-house. Gone and left his boots sticking
into 'em — almost 's natural 's life; looks as though
he was kinder anxious 'bout something when he left
'em there — kinder absent-minded and hurried-like.
THE PARLOUS WHOLENESS OF EPHRAIM 235
Now, what sights you do see when you 're all alone
and no one to prove it ! '^
It was getting unduly warm inside the Lendy
house, with only the scullery window open. Ezra
Dame, who was shortly to be joined in holy matri-
mony to Jerusha Jane, if only the Lord would make
a suitable disposition of Ephraim Junkins, was so em-
barrassed in his corner that he was smiling painfully;
and it was especially hard on the two Lemly poor re-
lations, who toiled in the kitchen, cooking the wed-
ding dinner and growing redder in the face and more
hateful of Jerusha every minute. Ephraim had been
investigating with leisurely thoroughness; and now
he made his way to the front door, and solemnly set-
tled himself on the big stone step. In the parlor the
impression gained that he had gone. But now he
was plainly heard to say :
" Guess I '11 set and brood awhile."
For some time Ephraim kept eating some choice
apples he had discovered near the scullery window.
"Now I will say this is a pretty tearful subject,'^ he
began, at length, in a voice as if he was talking to a
large assemblage, but all the while looking at the en-
velop in his hand. " Here 's the whole Lemly fam'ly
suddenly took right off the earth ^ — clean sweep.
Here 's me a-setting on the door-step, and here 's the
old Lemly house shut 's tight 's a drum, and nary soul
inside — nary one. Now, ain't that a pity! Here 's
the barn-doors closed, and old Lemly forgot and went
off and left 'em all padlocked on the inside. I don't
see how he ever got out himself, nor how he 's to git
in. But T see through a crack they was as many 's
236 THE PARLOUS WHOLENESS OF EPHRAIM
fifteen of his neighbors' hosses crawled in there some-
how or other, and it 's a wonder some of their owners
ain't here looking for 'era. Strange that old Lemh^
should go 'way and leave these fancy Baldwins 'round.
Dunno 's they 's anything I like so 's one of his late-
ripe'ing Baldwins, when they 're hard and green,
same 's these ; and this was off year for apples, too ;
and Simon Staples told me only yesterday how 'Lishy
was saving the only few he had, for some pet purpose,
and here he 's gone away and left 'em ! I sh'll have
to take the rest of 'em home.
*"Tis mighty sad to think of the whole Lemly tribe
being wiped off the niap of this township in one sun-
down," continued Ephraim, turning to face the dark-
ened windows, " especially that old dried-up Jerushy
Jane, her that we was all afraid would git spliced to
that young nincompoop Ezry Dame. I 'm glad she 's
quit without so, for that 's a sight of trouble saved.
I 'm glad because, that while 't is generally thought
that while Jerushy Jane — even her — deserves a mite
better than such as him, also Ezry Dame he deserves
a quick sight better than Jerushy Jane. For the
Lord knows no one would think of marrying her if
't wa'u't for what her father has. 7 was scared least
they would hitch up, and I be requested to make one
them felicitating speeches, one such as no wedding
has been complete without or thought of in these here-
abouts for the last twentv-five vears. For I should
of had to git out of it the easiest I could, without
hurting some one's feelings, not being cantankerous-
like nor mean-snea'king out from a thing, as folks has
been known to. But I 'd seen Jerushy Jane die an
THE PARLOUS WHOLENESS OF EPHRAIM 237
old maid, which by nature she was meant to do, 'fore
I 'd git up and prognosticate lies 'bout her future
happiness, here or hereafter ; for there ain't a person
in this county that can see how any one is to be con-
gratulated for marrying Jerushy Jane, nor any one
for marrying Ezry Dame."
In the parlor old Peter Hammond, while waiting
for the ceremony to begin, had fallen asleep. Ezra
Dame was so red that he thought his cheeks visible in
the dark — a thought which made them redder.
" So they 's a sorter sweet sorrer in that," pursued
Ephraim, '' though it does seem pretty tearful to have
the whole Lemly f am'ly took out from under your
feet like a stroke of lightning. They must of left in
a hurry, for they did n't stop to take in the mats from
the doors, but left out their best one, which I ain't
seen before since I give it to Mother Lemly when she
and 'Lisby had their silver wedding. Pretty expen-
sive mat that was — as any one could see by comparing
it to the one 'Lishy bought to give the minister when
he was married. Mother Lemly, I hear, used this one
for a tidy at first. She 'd never gone and left it lying
loose like this unless 't was something happened —
mebbe she heard of some one that was willing to
marry Jerushy ; and as for 'Lishy, Lord knows he
would n't leave a hoss-hair 'round if he thought an
angel might take it for a harp-string. And they left
the scullery window open. Awful absent-minded,"
said Ephraim J rising. " Thieves might break in and
steal Jerushy's curls."
The remainder of the late-ripening Baldwins had
disappeared from the scullery window ; but Ephraim
238 THE PARLOUS WHOLENESS OF EPHRAIM
did not seem to notice it. He took away the stick
that held the sash up, and closed the window, leav-
ing the two poor relations to stifle in the kitchen.
In the parlor the minister was staring devontly at
the points of sunlight tliat came through the win-
dow-shade to which Ephraim was now addressing
his meditations. Every one was unaware of Eph-
raim, and determined that every one else should
^' Beats all/^ continued Ephraim loudly, as he set-
tled himself once more on the stone step, ^' how things
without spiritual life shows how they miss Jerushy !
^T is juss so everything that belongs to the fam'ly
could speak. 'Here,' says this envelop, which I see
is postmarked this morning, and could n't of got
here before this noon — ' here,' says it, ' Ephrum Jun-
kins must know 'bout this.' So it shakes the letter
from its inwards, and runs and gits a pencil and
scratches on its back : ' Lemly's folks all went away
yesterday,' in a first-rate forgery of Mother Lemly's
handwi'iting; and then climbs up and pins itself to
the door. Juss the same with the things out back.
' Here,' says they, ' Jerushy Jane 's gone off looking
for some wooden-head to marry her ; but we '11 git
ourselves ready 'gainst her coming back unsuccessful,
juss same 's them two poor relations of hers, that
does all the work and gits nothing for it but leav-
ings and hard words, same 's they was here to slop
'round and get dinner.' So them late-ripe'ing Bald-
wins says to themselves : ' Here, we 'd better git in
out the sun, or we '11 git mellered 'fore our time.'
So they up and roll int' the house, same 's they had
THE PARLOUS WHOLENESS OF EPHRAIM 239
legs. Then the sink-pump begins to draw water, — I
can hear it a-snorting now, — sounds juss 's though
old Peter Hammond was setting in the corner of the
parlor winder and had fell asleep waiting for some-
thing to happen. Then out back the shed some that
wood that 'Lishy cut from widder Cole's half-acre,
because she could n't pay the interest on the mort-
gage, and he knew the church would git her through
the winter somehow — some that wood takes the ax
and chops itself to kindlings, and gits a match and
crawls int' the stove, and touches itself off and roars
like a turkey -red lion, as you can see by the smoke
a-spilling out the chimney. ^Jerushy Jane '11 be
home 'for' long,' says everything. And the old
black pot gits down off the hook, and waddles up to
the sink and gits itself full of water, and climbs up
on the stove, and sets down to git a-bubbling. And
then the onions, — I can smell 'em 's loud 's they
was under my chin, — well, they turn to and peel off
their coats, and run and jump int' the pot, and squat
down to bile !
"Still," said Bphraim, very loudly, "I dunno why
I sh'd be brooding here. The Lemlys ain't much to
me. I always treated 'em considerate like. When
Mother Lemly come to me and said what a close-
fisted old barn-rat 'Lishy was, I never told 'Lishy.
When 'Lishy come to me and asked if 't was wicked
to wish that Mother Lemly was enjoying a stay in
Heaven, I never told her. I give 'em both my honest
sympathy ; but they ain't anything to me — more than
folks that live in the same town that I do. First
thing I know my folks from Boston will be arriving ;
240 THE PARLOUS WHOLENESS OF EPHRAIM
and I dimno 's I 'd pick out juss these steps to let 'em
see me setting on ; for my Boston folks are pretty
tony and stylish, and rather particular 'bout who
they see me with. I '11 make that stretch home in
'bout nine minutes."
Ephraim straightened himself and walked briskly
from the yard, and still more briskly until he had
gone from sight around a bend in the road. The ex-
ercise, far from fatiguing him, was exhilarating; and
he kept on at the same gait, chuckling as he went.
The stick with which he had plodded up the stairs to
find Zendy lay forgotten in the Lemly yard. Eph-
raim grew more charmed with himself at every step.
Zendy was standing alone. The figure that seemed
to be Ephraim was coming too fast for him, and when
Ephraim was within call he did not seem himself; for
the customary melancholy of his face was supplanted
by a gleam of satisfaction. Zendy was troubled.
"What 's the matter?" she said. "Where you
been ? Where 's your stick ? Ain't you tuckered ? "
" Well, sir," said Ephraim, radiantly, steaming past
her and taking the rise in front of the house at a pace
which left her in the rear. " Well, sir, I juss give it
to 'em ! Guess they won't forgit it ! Is anybody fol-
lering me — ? 'Cause I ain't looked 'round ; — walked
off juss same 's I forgotten 'em at their own gate.
You oughter heard me a-brooding aloud — offhand !
^ Onions took their coats off,' says I, ^ and jumped in
and squat down to bile ! ' Plain 's your face ! And
Silas's Sunday pantyloons — hee, hee! Well, sir,
you '11 wish you 'd come!"
" There, Ephraim, there," said Zendy, soothingly.
THE PARLOUS WHOLENESS OF EPHRAIM 241
" You ain't quite well, I 'm sure. You 're all tuck
ered, ain't ye ? There, I should n't let myself git so
excited. How 's your aches ? "
'' Tuckered ? '' said Ephraim. '' Who 's tuckered ?
1 11 teach 'em I ain't no setting rooster, b' George !
Think I 've lost my gift, do they ? As for aches and
pains, I ain't a single one — if I was to try. Dunno
's I ever shall have again. I 've shook my ills and
give up pills — and don't pay no more doctor's bills,
— eh, Zendy?"
"Ephrum Juukins," said Zendy, solemnly, "you've
got to git right to bed ! You 're a sick man ; and you
don't realize it one mite. I ain't seen you exert so
these ten years ! Don't you lemme hear 'nother word.
You need every parcel of strength you got. Oh, Eph-
rum, why did n't you stay to home ? "
" Go-to-bed pshaw ! " said Ephraim. '^ I tell ye I 'm
's pert 's a sparrer. Could n't find no ache nor pain
if I was to hunt."
"That 's juss what 's the matter," said Zendy.
"You 've come to the fair hill-top overlooking the
valley of shadder of death, Ephrum, and here you
be a-ready to go coasting down t' the bottom 's fast 's
you know how ! Don't you see how 't always is ? —
them that's ailing all of a sudden gifting up and hop-
ping round outdoors and looking pert, and everybody
saying how smart Ephrum Junkins is looking — and
then all of a jump the Lord whisks your head off 's
though 't was an ax. Ephrum — I dunno, Ephrum!
There," she said, recovering herself; "you go to bed,
won't ye '^ "
" Pshaw ! " said Ephraim. " Here I be as skittish
242 THE PARLOUS WHOLENESS OF EPHRAIM
as a yeller kitten. You sh'd see me kiting 'long the
road, 's though I was shot from a bow ! Well, sir,
they was fifteen hosses that crawled int' that barn,
b' George; and they 'd locked themselves in — eh?
I s'pose I set there 's much 's an hour — brooding
to myself loud enough for the pigeons. I callate
Jerushy Jane '11 live to see me — "
But the enthusiasm had spilled from Ephraim's
'' I was going to step off front the house 'bout time
the wedding broke off, and chop that tree I been a-
going to so long," he added, thoughtfully.
Zendy left him sitting still in the rocking-chair,
gazing rather steadily at his thumbs. She ran down
to the road and caught the boy whom she had seen
driving one of Lemly's teams.
"You hurry and find Doctor Payne," she said.
" He 's down to the wedding, I guess. You tell him to
come up along 's fast 's he can ; for Ephrum Junkins
is took so that I misdoubt he '11 last the evening.
You hurry and I '11 give you a watermelon."
When she came back Ephraim was silent, and she
looked at him sadly and said nothing. He expected
her to urge him again to retire; but she did not.
At length Ephraim said :
" Of course, if you 're any scared, Zendy, I s'pose I
might just as well go. Still, it does seem kinder
foolish ; and I should n't tell any the neighbors 'bout
" Hain't you the leetlest kind of an ache ? " asked
*'No," said Ephraim, with a shade of regret. "I
THE PARLOUS WHOLENESS OF EPHRAIM 243
caD't truthfully git up and lie 'bout it. I ain't got
the shadder of one."
" It 's unusual," said Zendy ; " and unusual breeds
unusual. You jump in ^s quick 's you know how;
and I '11 make a poultice and some licorish tea ; and
I '11 stuff your ears with cotton, so the crickets and
roosters and things sha'n't keep you awake. And
there, I 'd drink some hot water if I was you. Dun-
no 's I should be scared, Ephraim ; mebbe it '11 pass
off in the night."
Ephraim lay in the depths of the feather-bed, with
the blinds closed, while Zendy stirred about the ad-
joining kitchen. A streak of sunlight came through
and found the wall beside him ; all the world seemed
wide awake and well ; but Ephraim's lightsome spirits
had departed. Presently he called :
'^'T is kinder unusual, ain't it?"
'' Well, mebbe," said Zendy. " Still — "
" Still what ? " said Ephraim, with the cotton in his
ears. ^' Say, I guess you 'd better git out some that
Mrs. Slopley's Sure Cure — 't won't do no harm;
though I dunno 's they 's any cause for you to git
worried, feeling so smart 's I do — ?"
" Oh no," said Zendy ; '^ worrying will only make
Ephraim lay staring at the ceiling, unpleasantly
aware of his own fiber. He listened to the throbbing
of his arteries and asked himself if there was not
something unusual in it^ — unusual bred unusual.
People's hearts sometimes unexpectedly stopped, and
then people gave three gasps and all was over.
''S'pose you set some that Greenson's Painkiller
244 THE PAKLOUS WHOLENESS OF EPHRAIM
handy," he called. ^' And if you sh'd see Doctor
Payne you might yell to him, I felt 's coltish 's a
calf when I laid down here ; but I duuuo."
The ticking of the clock seemed to keep time with
his breathing — at least it had at fii'st ; but now
surely the clock was getting ahead. His lungs might
be gradually slowing down, and perhaps they would
lag until by and by they would stop short — col-
lapsed like an empty bellows.
" I duuno but you 'd better send for him, Zendy —
so ^s to keep you from worrying," he managed to say
without falling behind the clock.
" There, I should n't snort so," said Zendy. " He ^s
"What, you sent for him?" exclaimed Ephraim.
" I wonder if you 've had one your presentiments ? I
should n't have such nonsense. Here I be, locking's
bright 's a new dollar — ain't I? What 's the use
you trying to scare me so! There, ain't that clock
gitting ready to stop ! I ain't superstitious ; but you
kinder make me nervous running 'round the way
Zendv comforted him with the licorice tea for his
inner man, and with something she put between his
shoulders — a poultice the mustardy nature of which
she concealed from Ephraim on account of his objec-
tion to being burned. The licorice tea began search-
ing for the late-ripening Baldwins.
Lemly's boy had met the people as they were leav-
ing after the wedding , and he mingled among them,
eager with the importance of his news ; so that be-
fore dusk every one had heard of Ephraim^s going to
THE PARLOUS WHOLENESS OF EPHRAIM 245
bed. Those who had known Ephraim and Zendy
since early years came in to see if they could be of
assistance ; and they made a considerable gathering
of people in their Sunday clothes.
"I ain't going to be caught napping/' exclaimed
Zendy. "Here he ails and wails every minute for
two years, and here he gits up suddenly and tramps
off somewhere, and says he ain't got an ache nor a
pain, and wants to chop down trees! I juss drove
him to bed."
Ephraim removed the cotton from one ear. The
arrival of the visitors had for awhile turned his
thoughts away from himself.
" Real nice of you to put your good clothes on juss
to come see us/' he heard Zendy say. They all sat in
the kitchen, with the lamp casting a dimness over
their faces; and they settled themselves as if they
had come to see the affair to its end. Conversation
languished; for everybody was thinking about the
wedding, and no one dared to speak of it. Old Peter
Hammond, who was deaf, was last; and Ephraim
heard him say:
" What — nary an ache nor pain ? "
" Nary a fly-bite," called Ephraim. " I dunno 'f the
Lord 's crowding a place for me on the other shore ;
but seems to me 't would of been juss as well if I 'd
first stepped out front and chopped that old apple-
tree. Been going to these ten years ; ever since the
time Leviticus Brooks drove the pitchfork into his
leg, and Alice Dame 's calf got hurt, too, and Joel
Pitkin was 'lected.''
" He 's beginning to reach back,'' whispered Amanda
24:6 THE PARLOUS WHOLEKESS OF EPHRAIM
Dame to Sarah Tower. " When they begin to reach
back years and years, then I know they 're going
This remark was repeated to the others ; and for
a while Ephraim heard nothing but an ominous
'^ Good deal of sickness and ailments 'round/^ came
the voice of Mother Margery Hook, at length breaking
the funereal silence. ^^ They do say May Teuny War-
ren won^t last out the night — and she so young, too,
— you would n't expect. And then old Jeddy Mar-
vin — that was born on same day 's Ephraim — he 's
done a fearful night and ain't no better. I declare I
ain't got nothing fit to wear to a funeral.^'
'^ You '11 have to go just to weddings till you git
something new,'* said Zendy, surveying Mother Mar-
gery's lavender trimmings. This remark caused an-
" Zendy ! " called Ephraim. '^ You steep me some
that catnip, will ye ? "
"What she said reminds me of old Josiah Cod-
man," came the voice of Hannah Swan. " Old Jo-
siah, ^f you remember, rose up from a stroke and
hoed a whole patch of beets. Come evening he was
flat on his back ; and stone cold before morning."
Ephraim^s mind went back to the clock, which now
seemed to tarry behind his breathing. Perhaps his
lungs would go faster and faster, until they burst
with panting, and he lay stone dead.
" There was Jim Sweet's wife, too," he heard Angy
Brooks say. "She left the chronic sinking-fits and
went to a dance. Said she 'd like to see the one that
THE PARLOUS WHOLENESS OF EPHRAIM 247
could outbob and fliug with her ! And she up and
died in the middle of a jig. Most of the orthodox
folks took it for a judgment."
'^ Then Eunice Dexter, 'f you remember," said Han-
nah Swan— "she that married the Spooner twins,
one after the other. She got up and went to a husk-
ing, and died from eating Mother Hammond's pan-
dow^dy. I don't s'pose Ephrum 's et anything, has
" No," said Zendy 5 " he ain't et anything ; he 's too
scared to eat what fights him." But Ephraim thought
of the late-ripening Baldwins ; and for some indefina-
ble reason he wished he had not touched them.
'' Zendy ! " he called. " That boy ain't found Doctor
Payne ! Why 's he so slow ! "
"Doctor Payne?" said Mother Margery Hook.
" Gone to Boston — for a week."
" Thunder ! " said Ephraim, breaking out in a cold
sweat. " Zendy, what you going to do ? "
"And Doctor Wallace is away to Bucksport,"
whispered Peter Hammond, loudly. " Still, I don't
think a doctor would mend any, Zendy. I quit
doctoring these ten years. Speaking of like cases,"
Ephraim heard Peter say, "come to think of it,
there was Ephrum's own father. T was juss 'bout
same ^s this. Dunno 's any of you remember ^ but
old Ephrum had been lain up with something he
called typhoid-gout, — he doctored himself mostly,—
and one day he rose off his lounge, where he 'd been
most the time for several years, carving little clipper
ships inside of ginger-pop bottles, rose off and took
stick and stumped clear down to Cedar Creek; and
248 THE PARLOUS WHOLENESS OF EPHRAIM
made old Enocli Blood, — that was keeping a black-
smith shop 'bout where the meeting-house now is, —
made him pone up seven dollars Enoch had owed him
since he 'd married Thankful Spinney — with seven
per cent, interest — and had them four boys. And
old Ephrum come a-thumping home all smiling 's
could be, and said he callated to git out to work to
his trade — which, if you rec'lect, was shipwright.
Well, come lamplight, — 'bout this time 's I remember,
— he was suddenly took with a cramp somewhere in
his inwards; and old Ephrum juss wriggled himself
out of this world — vou 'd heard him for miles. He
had three doctors; but Lord, the doctors could n't
do him no good ! So Ephrum need n't feel so bad."
^^ Zendy," called Ephraim, feebly, with beads upon
his brow. '' My inwards don't feel right. S'pose I
take some Fam'ly Cure? I think mebbe I have a
Zendy absented herself for awhile, during which
she conned the symptoms of Ephraim with a prac-
tised eye. Then she came out and whispered to the
" His eyes are kinder staring, and his breath comes
quick, and his hair kinder stands up ; but Lord, I ain't
worried no more. He ain't going to sink. No, he
ain't; I know Ephrum."
" I dunno 's I sh'd be too hopeful," Ephraim heard
Mother Margery say ; and Peter Hammond whispered
very plainly ! " Neither sh'd I — with that pain — so
like his fatherc"
'* Zendy ! '' called Ephraim. " 440 's commencing
to burn betwixt my shoulder-bladeSo T wish some of
THE PARLOUS WHOLENESS OF EPHRAIM 249
you 'd look into the book. Zeudy ain't worth a hill
of beans with it."
Peter Hammond had the book in his grasp, and
no one could get it away from him.
" Here 's 440/' said Peter, after a search which had
led him to page 440 instead of to the ailment of that
number. " Some kinder fits, it says ; but pshaw,
Ephrum, it don't say they break out 'twixt your
"Zendy — ain't you a gump ! " cried Ephraim,
" Give the book to some one that can spell num-
bers. Have I got to lay here and die ! Oh, my back !
Oh, but I 'm a sick man ! "
Zendy returned to the chamber^ Ephraim lay with
his face pushed into the pillow.
" My time 's come," he cried in mufiSed tones. " I can
feel myself stiflin'. I 'm a-goin' ; 201 's comin' back ;
697 's comin' ; 440 's bringin' on 441 ! I 'm a-goin' j
good-by, Zendy, if I sh'd lose my mind ! "
Zendy came and closed the door. The visitors
"I guess you folks had better all go home,*' she
said, " unless you got some wedding or other to go
to J for it kinder flusters Ephrum. He 's all right
now. He 's got his aches and pains back j and he 's
too strapping mad and scared with his ailments to be
a-going to die. Good-night, all," she said, as she held
the lamp and they filed out into the dark. " I kinder
put faith In that mustard and licorish." But it was
plain that they all thought Ephraim in a perilous
Ephraim was rolling and writhing in the billows of
250 THE PARLOUS WHOLENESS OF EPHKAIM
the feather-bed. Zendy hove a sigh of relief to see
him ; aud she sat down and rested in the wooden
'' There, if you ain't carrying on natural/' she said,
approvingly. ''Just as like yourself as two peas.
There, I dunno 's I 'd shout so."
'' I was ticketed to leave ye 'fore long ! " cried Eph-
raim. '' I kep' tellin' ye so, but I did n't git no sympa-
thy. 440 has struck in ! Zendy, why don't you git
scared and do somethin' f Here I be on my dyin' bed,
and you a-settin' there like a bump on a log! Oh,
them apples — my back 's burnin' right off ! Oh, Zendy,
ain't you got no more feeling than I was a frog 'I "
The head of Cory Judd appeared at the open
" Heard Ephrum was took," said Cory, who some-
times looked like an owl. " How 's he doing?"
"Oh, he 's doing real nice, thank ye," said Zendy.
" I guess he only et something."
" Oh, yuss ! " said Ephraim, savagely, rising in bed.
*' I was invited out to a wedding ; and I et the door-
knob off the door ! "
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