UNIVERSITY OF CALIFORNIA.
THE LION S SHARE
"Yes," he said quietly, "you are right, it is blood." Page 99
THE LION S SHARE
The Man of the Hour, Stories of a Western Town
The Missionary Sheriff
A Book of i rue Lovers, etc.
With Illustrations by
E. M. ASHE
THE BC BBS-MERRILL COMPANY
THE BOBBS-MERRILL COMPANY
I THE MAN WITH THE MOLES . . . . i
II AUNT REBECCA . . . -25
III THE TRAIN ROBBERS . . 46
IV THE VANISHING OF ARCHIE , . 70
V BLIND CLUES . . . .83
VI THE Voics IN THE TELEPHONE . . . 100
VII THE HAUNTED HOUSE . . . . . 118
VIII FACE TO FACE . t . . . . . .138
IX THE AGENT OF THE FIRELESS STOVE . .152
X THE SMOLDERING EMBERS . . . .171
XI THE CHARM or JADE 195
XII A BLOW 212
XIII WHOSE FEET WERE SHOD WITH SILENCE . 245
XIV FROM MRS. MELVILLE S POINT OF VIEW . 254
XV "THE LIGHT THAT NEVER WAS" . . .265
XVI THE REAL EDWIN KEATCHAM . . .290
XVII IN WHICH THE PUZZLE FALLS INTO PLACE . 321
XVIII CASAFUERTE 343
XIX EXTRACT FROM A LETTER . . . .371
Serene, indifferent to fate,
Tbou sittest by the Western gate,
Tbou seest the white seas fold their tents ,
Oh t warder of two continents.
Tbou drawest all things small and great
To thee beside the Western gate.
THE LION S SHARE
THE MAN WITH THE MOLES
The first time that Colonel Rupert Winter saw
Cary Mercer was under circumstances calculated
to fix the incident firmly in his memory. In the
year 1903, home from the Philippines on fur
lough, and preparing to return to a task big
enough to attract him in spite of its exile and
hardships, he had visited the son of a friend at
Harvard. They were walking through the cor
ridors of one of the private dormitories where the
boy roomed. Rather grimly the soldier s eyes
were noting marble wainscoting and tiled floors,
and contrasting this academic environment with
his own at West Point. A caustic comment rose
to his lips, but it was not uttered, for he heard the
sharp bark of a pistol, followed by a thud, and a
crackle as of breaking glass.
"Do you fellows amuse yourselves shooting up
&&gt; THE LION S SHARE
the dormitory?" said he. The boy halted; he had
"It came from Mercer s room!" he cried, and
ran across the corridor to a door with the usual
labeling of two visiting cards. The door was not
locked. Entering, they passed into a vestibule,
thence through another door which stood open.
For many a day after the colonel could see just
how the slender young figure looked, the shoul
ders in a huddle on the study table, one arm
swinging nerveless; beside him, on the floor,
a revolver and a broken glass bottle. The latter
must have made the crackling sound. Some dark
red liquid, soaking the open sheets of a newspaper,
filled the room with the pungent odor of alcohol.
Only the top of the lad s head showed a curly,
silky, dark brown head ; but even before the colo
nel lifted it he had seen a few thick drops matting
the brown curls. He laid the head back gently
and his hand slipped to the boy s wrist.
"No use, Ralph," he said in the subdued tones
that the voice takes unconsciously in the presence
"And Endy was going to help him," almost
sobbed Ralph. "He told me he would. Oh, why
couldn t he have trusted his friends !"
THE MAN .WITH THE MOLES 3
The colonel was looking at the newspaper
"Was it money?" said he; for a glance at the
dabbled sheet had brought him the headings of
the stock quotations: "Another Sharp Break in
Stocks. New Low Records." It had been money.
Later, after what needed to be done was over,
after doctors and officers of the law were gone,
Colonel Winter heard the wretched story. A
young, reckless, fatally attractive Southerner,
rich friends, college societies, joyous times; noth
ing really wicked or vicious, only a surrender to
youth and friendship and pleasure, and then the
day of reckoning duns, college warnings, the
menace of black disgrace. The young fellow was
an orphan, with no near kindred save one brother
much older than he. The brother was reputed to
be rich, according to Southern standards, and
young Mercer, who had just come into a modest
patrimony of his own, invested in his brother s
ventures. As to the character of these ventures,
whether flimsy or substantial, the colonel s in
formants were absolutely ignorant. All they knew
of the elder Mercer was that he was often in New
York and had "a lot to do with Wall Street." He
wasn t a broker ; no, he was trying to raise money
to ha^ng on to some big properties that he had;
4 THE LION S SHARE
and the stocks seemed to be going at remarkable
rates just now, the bottom dropping out of the
market. If a certain stock of the Mercers they
didn t know the name could be kept above
twenty-seven he would pull through. Colonel
.Winter made no comment, but he remembered
that when he had studied the morning s stock-
market pages for himself, he had noted "bad
slump in the Southern steels," and "Tidewater
on the toboggan slide; off three to four points,
declining from twenty-seven and a fraction to
"Another victim of the Wall Street pirates,"
was the colonel s silent judgment on the tragedy.
"Lucky for her his mother s dead."
The next morning he had returned and had
gone to his young friend s rooms.
The boy was still full of the horror of the day
before. Mercer s brother was in Cambridge, he
said arrived that morning from New York.
"Endy is going to fetch him round to get him out
of the reporters way sometime this evening;
maybe there s something I can do" this in ex
planation of his declining to dine with the colonel.
As the two entered the rooms, Winter was a little
in advance, and caught the first glimpse of a man
THE MAN WITH THE MOLES 5
sitting in a big mission arm-chair, his head sunk
on his breast. So absorbed was this man in his
own distempered musings that the new-comers
approach did not arouse him. He sat with knitted
brows and clenched hands, staring into vacancy;
his rigid and pallid features set in a ghastly in
tensity of thought. There was suffering in the
look; but there was more: the colonel, who had
been living among the serpent passions of the
Orient, knew deadly anger when he saw it ; it was
branded on the face before him. Involuntarily he
fell back; he felt as if he had blundered in on a
naked soul. Noiselessly he slipped out of the
range of vision. He spoke loudly, halting to ask
some question about the rooms ; this made a mo
ment s pause.
It was sufficient; in the study they found a
quiet, calm, although rather haggard-looking man,
who greeted Winter s companion courteously,
with a Southern accent, and a very good manner.
He was presented to the colonel as Mr. Mercer.
He would have excused himself, professing that
he was just going, but the colonel took the words
out of his mouth : "Ralph, here, has a cigar for
me that is all I came for ; see you at the Tour-
aine, Ralph, to-morrow for luncheon, then." He
6 THE LION S SHARE
did not see the man again; neither did he see
Ralph, although he made good, so far as in him
lay, his fiction of an engagement at the Tottraine.
But Ralph could not come; and Winter had
lunched, instead, with an old friend at his club,
and had watched, through a stately Georgian win
dow, the shifting greenery of the Common in an
All through the luncheon the soldier s mind
kept swerving from the talk in hand to Gary
Mercer s face. Yet he never expected to see it
again. Three years later he did see it; and this
second encounter, of which, by the way, Mercer
was unconscious, was the beginning of an absorb
ing chapter in his life. A short space of time that
chapter occupied; yet into it crowded mystery,
peril, a wonderful and awful spectacle, the keenest
happiness and the cruelest anxiety. Let his days
be ever so many, the series of events which fol
lowed Mercer s reappearance will not be blurred
by succeeding experiences ; their vivid and haunt
ing pictures will burn through commoner and
later happenings as an electric torch flares through
layers of mist.
Nothing, however, could promise adventure
less than the dull and chilly late March evening
THE MAN .WITH THE MOLES 7
when the chapter began. Nor could any one be
less on the lookout for adventure, or even inter
est, than was Rupert Winter. In truth, he was
listless and depressed.
When he alighted from his cab in the great
court of the Rock Island Station he found Haley,
his old orderly, with a hand on the door-hasp.
Haley s military stoicism of demeanor could not
quite conceal a certain agitation at least not
from the colonel s shrewd eye, used to catch the
moods of his soldiers. He strangled a kind of
sigh. "Doesn t like it much more than I," thought
Rupert Winter. "This is mighty kind of you,
Haley," he said.
"Yes, sor," answered Haley, saluting. The
colonel grinned feebly. Haley, busy repelling a
youthful porter, did not notice the grin ; he strode
ahead with the colonel s world-scarred hand-lug
gage, found an empty settee beside one of the
square-tiled columns of the waiting-room and dis
posed his burden on the iron-railed seat next the
corner one, which he reserved for the colonel.
"The train ain t in yet, Colonel, 7 said he. "I ll
be telling you "
"No, Haley," interrupted the colonel, whose lip
twitched a little; and he looked aside; "best say
8 THE LION S SHARE
good-by now ; don t wait. The fact is, I m think
ing of too many things you and I have gone
through together." He held out his hand ; Haley,
with a stony expression, gazed past it and saluted,
while he repeated : "Yes, sor ; I ll be back to take
,the bags whin the train s made up." Whereupon
he wheeled and made off with speed.
"Just the same damned obstinate way he s al
ways had," chuckled the colonel to himself.
Nevertheless, something ached in his throat as he
frowned and winked.
"Oh, get a brace on you, you played-out old
sport !" he muttered. "The game s on the last four
cards and you haven t established your suit ; you ll
have to sit back and watch the other fellows
play!" But his dreary thoughts persisted. Ru
pert was a colonel in the regular army of the
United States. He had been brevetted a brigadier-
general after the Spanish War, and had com
manded, not only a brigade, but a division at one
critical time in the Philippines; but for reasons
probably known to the little knot of politicians
who "hung it up," although incomprehensible to
most Americans, Congress had failed to pass the
bill giving the wearers of brevet titles the right to
keep their hard-won and empty honors; where-
THE MAN WITH THE MOLES 9
fore General Winter had declined to Colonel
He had more substantial troubles, including a
wound which would probably make him limp
through life and possibly retire him from service
at fifty. It had given him a six months sick leave
( which he had not wanted), and after spending
a month on the Atlantic coast, he was going for
the spring to the Pacific. Haley, whose own term
of service had expired, had not reenlisted, but had
followed him, Mrs. Haley and the baby uncom
plainingly bringing up the rear. It was not fair
to Haley nor to Mrs. Haley, the colonel felt. He
had told Haley so ; he had found a good situation
for the man, and he had added the deed for a lit
tle house in the suburbs of Chicago.
If Haley wouldn t reenlist there never was a
better soldier since he had downed a foolish young
hankering for wild times and whisky if he
wouldn t go back to the army, where he belonged,
let him settle down, take up the honest carpenter s
trade that he had abandoned, be a good citizen
and marry little Nora to some classmate in the
high school, who might make a fortune and build
her a Colonial mansion, should the Colonial still
obtain in the twentieth century.
io THE LION S SHARE
The colonel had spread a grand prospect before
Haley, who listened unresponsively, a dumb pain
in his wide blue Irish eyes. The colonel hated it;
but, somehow, he hated worse the limp look of
Haley s Back as he watched it dwindle down
However, Mrs. Haley had been more satisfac
tory, if none the less bewildering. She seemed
very grateful over the house and the three hun
dred dollars for its furnishing. A birthday pres
ent, he had termed it, with a flicker of humor
because the day was his own birthday. His fiftieth
birthday it happened to be, and it occurred to him
that a man ought to do something a little notable
on such an anniversary. This rounding of the
half-century had attributes apart; it was no mere
annual birthday ; it marked the last vanishing flut
ter of the gilded draperies of youth ; the withering
of the garlands; the fading tinkle of the light
music of hope. It should mark a man s solid
achievements. Once, not so long ago, Winter had
believed that his fiftieth birthday would see wide
and beneficent and far-reaching results in the
province where he ruled. That dream was shat
tered. He was generous of nature, and he could
have been content to behold another reap the fields
THE MAN WITH THE MOLES n
which he had sown and tilled ; it was the harvest,
whether his or another s, for which he worked;
but his had been the bitter office to have to stand
aside, with no right to protest, and see his work
go to waste because his successor had a feeble
brain and a pusillanimous caution in place of
his own dogged will. For all these reasons, as
well as others, the colonel found no zest in his
fiftieth birthday; and his reverie drifted dismally
from one somber reflection to another until it
brought up at the latest wound to his heart his
favorite brother s death.
There had been three Winter brothers Ru
pert, Melville and Thomas. During the past year
both Thomas Winter and his wife had died, leav
ing one child, a boy of fourteen, named Archibald
after his fathers uncle. Rupert Winter and the
boy s great-aunt, the widow of the great-uncle for
whom he had been named, were appointed joint
guardians of the young Archie. To-night, in his
jaded mood, he was assailed by reproaches because
he had not seen more of his ward. Why, he hadn t
so much as looked the little chap up when he
passed through Fairport merely had sent him a
letter and some truck from the Philippines ; nice
guardian he was ! By a natural enough transition,
12 THE LION S SHARE
his thoughts swerved to his own brief and not al
together happy married life. He thought of the
graves in Arizona where he had left his wife and
his two children, and his heart felt heavy. To
escape musings which grew drearier every sec
ond, he cast his eyes about the motley crowd
shuffling over the tiled floors or resting in the
massive dark oaken seats. And it was then that
he saw Gary Mercer. At first he did not recog
nize the face. He only gazed indifferently at two
well-dressed men who sat some paces away from
him in the shadow of a great tiled column similar
to his own. There was this difference, it hap
pened : the mission lantern with its electric bulbs
above the two men was flashing brightly, and by
some accident that above the colonel was dark.
He could see the men, himself in the shadow.
The men were rather striking in appearance;
they were evidently gentlemen ; the taller one was
young, well set-up, clean-shaven and quietly but
most correctly dressed. His light brown hair
showed a slight curl in its closely clipped locks;
his gray-blue eyes had long lashes of brown
darker than his hair; his teeth were very white,
and there was a dimple in his cheek, plain when
he smiled. Had his nose been straight he would
THE MAN WITH THE MOLES 13
have been as handsome as a Greek god, but the
nose was only an ordinary American nose, rather
too broad at the base; moreover, his jaw was a
little too square for classic lines. Nevertheless, he
was good to look upon, as well as strong and clean
and wholesome, and when his gray-blue eyes
strayed about the room the dimple dented his
cheek and his white teeth gleamed in a kind of
merry good-nature pleasant to see. But it was the
other man who held the colonel s eye. This man
was double the young man s age, or near that ; he
was shorter, although still of fair stature, and
slim of build. His face was oval in contour and
delicate of feature. Although he wore no glasses,
his brow had the far pucker of a near-sighted man.
There was a mole on his cheek-bone and another
just below his ear. Both were small, rather than
large, and in no sense disfiguring ; but the colonel
noted them absently, being in the habit of photo
graphing a man in a glance. The face had beauty,
distinction even, yet about it hung some associa
tion, sinister as a poison label.
"Now, where," said the colonel to himself,
"where have I seen that man?" Almost instantly
the clue came to him. "By Jove, it s the brother P
he exclaimed. Three years ago, and he had almost
i 4 THE LION S SHARE
forgotten ; but here was Gary Mercer the name
came to him after a little groping here he was
again; but who was the pleasant youngster with
him ? And what were they discussing with so lit
tle apparent and so much real earnestness ?
One of the colonel s physical gifts was an ex
traordinary acuteness of hearing. It passed the
mark of a faculty and became a marvel. Part of
this uncanny power was really due, not to hear
ing alone, but to an alliance with another sense,
because Winter had learned the lip language in
his youth; he heard with his eyes as well as his
ears. This combination had made an uninten
tional and embarrassed eavesdropper out of an
honest gentleman a number of times. To set off
such evil tricks it had saved his life once on the
plains and had rescued his whole command an
other time in the Philippines. While he studied
the two faces a sentence from the younger man
gripped his attention. It was : "I don t mind the
risk, but I hate taking such an old woman s
"She has a heap," answered the other .man
carelessly ; "besides " He added something with
averted head and in too low a voice to reach the
listener unassisted. But it was convincing, evi-
THE MAN WITH THE MOLES 15
dently, since the young man s face grew both
grave and stern. He nodded, muttering: "Oh, I
understand; I wasn t backing water; I know we
have lost the right to be squeamish. But I say,
old chap, how long since Mrs. Winter has seen
you ? Would she recognize you ?"
The colonel, who had been about to abandon
his espionage as unbecoming a soldier and a gen
tleman, stowed away all his scruples at the men
tion of the name, He pricked up his ears and
sharpened his eyes, but was careful lest they
should catch his glance. The next sentence, owing
to the speaker s position, was inaudible and in
visible; but he clearly caught the young man s
"You re sure they ll be on this train ?"
And he saw the interlocutor s head nod.
"The boy s with them?"
An inaudible reply, but another nod.
"And you re sure of Miss Smith ?"
This time the other s profile was toward the
listener, who heard the reply, "Plumb sure. I
wish I were as sure of some other things. Have
we settled everything ? It is better not to be seen
"Yes, I think you ve put me wise on the main
16 THE LION S SHARE
points. By the way, what is the penalty for kid
Again an averted head and hiatus, folk vved by
the younger man s sparkling smile and ekclama-
tion : "Wow ! Riskier than foot-ball and even
more fun !" Something further he added, but his
arms hid his mouth as he thrust them into his
greatcoat, preparing to move away. He went
alone; and the other, after a moment s gloomy
meditation, gathered up coat and bag and fol
lowed. During that moment of arrested decision,
however, his features had dropped into sinister
lines which the colonel remembered.
"Dangerous customer, or I miss my guess,"
mused the soldier, who knew the passions of men.
"I wonder they couldn t mean my Aunt Re
becca ? She s old ; she has millions of money but
she s not on this train. And there s no Miss
Smith in our deck. I m so used to plotting I go
off on fake hikes! Probably I m getting old and
dotty. Mercer, poor fellow, may have his brain
turned and be an anarchist or a bomb-thrower or
a dirty kidnapper for revenge; but that boy s a
decent chap ; I ve licked too many second lieuten
ants into shape not to know something of young
By the way what is the penalty for kidnapping?" Page 16
THE MAN WITH THE MOLES 17
He pushed the idea away; or, rather, his own
problems pushed it out of his mind, which went
back to his ward and his single living brother.
Melville had no children, only his wife s daugh
ters, who were both married Melville having
married a widow with a family, an estate and a
mind of her own. Melville was a professor in a
state university, a mild, learned man whom nature
intended for science but whom his wife was de
termined to make into the president of the uni
"Even money which will win," chuckled Ru
pert Winter to himself. "Millicent hasn t much
tact; but she has the perseverance of the saints.
She married Mel ; he doesn t know, but she surely
did. And she bosses him now. Well, I suppose
Mel likes to be bossed ; he never had any strenuous
opinions except about the canals of Mars Val-
With a gasp the colonel sprang to his feet.
There before him, in the flesh, was his sister-in-
law. Her stately figure, her Roman profile, her
gracefully gesticulating hand, which indicated the
colonel s position to her heavily laden attendant,
a lad in blue these he knew by heart just as he
knew that her toilet for the journey would be in
i8 THE LION S SHARE
the latest mode , and that she would have the latest
fashion of gait and mien. Millicent studied such
She waved her luggage into place an excel
lent place in the same breath dismissing the por
ter and instructing him when he must return.
Then, but not until then, did she turn graciously
to her brother-in-law.
"I hoped that I should find you, Bertie," she
said in a voice of such creamy richness that it was
hard to credit the speaker with only three short
trips to England. "Melville said you were to take
this train ; and I was so delighted, so relieved ! I
am in a most harassing predicament, my dear
"That s bad," murmured the colonel with
sympathetic solicitude; "what s the trouble?
Couldn t you get a section?"
"I have my reservations, but I don t know
whether I shall go to-night."
"Maybe I m stupid, Millicent, but I confess I
don t know what you mean."
"Really, there s no reason why you should,
Bertie. That s why I was so anxious to see you
in time, so that I might explain to you might
put you on your guard."
THE MAN WITH THE MOLES 19
"Yes?" the colonel submitted; he never hur
ried a woman.
"I m going to visit dear Amy you remember
she was married two years ago and lives in Pas
adena ; she has a dear little baby and the loveliest
home! It s charming. And she was so delighted
with your wedding gift, it was so original. Amy
never did care for costly things; these simple,
unique gifts always pleased her. Of course, my
main object is to see the dear child, but I shall not
go to-night unless Aunt Rebecca Winter is on the
train. If for any reason she waits over until to
morrow I shall wait also."
"Ah," sighed the colonel very softly, not stir
ring a muscle of his politely attentive face ; "and
does Aunt Rebecca expect to go on the train ?"
"They told me at the Pullman office that she
had the drawing-room, the state-room and two
sections. Of course, she has her maid with her
and Archie "
"Does he go, too?" the colonel asked, his eyes
narrowing a little.
"Yes, she s taking him to California ; he doesn t
seem well enough, she thinks, to go to school, so
he is to have a tutor out there. I m a little afraid
Aunt Rebecca mollycoddles the boy."
20 THE LION S SHARE
"Aunt Rebecca never struck me as a molly-
coddler. I always considered her a tolerably
cynical old Spartan. But do you mean there is
any doubt of their going? Awfully good of you
to wait to see if they don t go, but I m sure Aunt
Rebecca wouldn t want you to sacrifice your sec
Mrs. Melville lifted a shapely hand in a Del-
sartian gesture of arrest ; her smiling words were
the last the colonel had expected. "Hush, dear
Bertie; Aunt Rebecca doesn t know I am going.
I don t want her to know until we are on the
"Oh, I see, a surprise?" But he did not see;
and, with a quiet intentness, he watched the color
raddle Mrs. Melville s smooth cheeks.
"Hardly," returned the lady. "The truth is,
Bertie, Melville and I are worried about Aunt Re
becca. She, we fear, has fallen under the influ
ence of a most plausible adventuress; I suppose
you have heard of her companion, Miss Smith ?"
"Can t say I have exactly," said the colonel
placidly, but his eyes narrowed again. "Who is
"I thought I am sure Melville must have
written you. But Oh, yes, he wrote yesterday
THE MAN WITH THE MOLES 21
to Boston. Well, Bertie, Miss Smith is a South
erner; she says she is a South Carolinian, but
Aunt Rebecca picked her up in Washington,
where she was with a kind of cousin of ours who
was half crazy. Miss Smith took care of her and
she died she fixed a darkling eye on the soldier
"she died and she left Miss Smith money."
"A few thousands. That is how Aunt Rebecca
met her, and she pulled the wool over auntie s
eyes, and they came back together. She s awfully
"Oh, dear, no. And she s nearer forty than
thirty. Just the designing age for a woman when
she s still wanting to marry some one but begin
ning to be afraid that she can t. Then such crea
tures always try to get money. If they can t
marry it, and there s no man to set their caps for,
they try to wheedle it out of some poor fool
woman!" Millicent was in earnest, there was no
doubt of that ; the sure sign was her unconscious
return to the direct expressions of her early life
in the Middle West.
"And you think Miss Smith is trying to influ
ence Aunt Rebecca ?"
22 THE LION S SHARE
"Of course she is ; and Aunt Rebecca is eighty,
Rupert. And often while people of her age show
no other sign of weakening intellect, they are not
well regulated in their affections ; they take fancies
to people and get doting and clinging. She is
getting to depend on Miss Smith. Really, that
woman has more influence with her than all the
rest of us together. She won t hear a word against
her. Why ! when I tried to suggest how little we
knew about Miss Smith and that it would be bet
ter not to trust her too entirely, she positively re
sented it. Of course I used tact, too. I was so
hurt, so surprised!" Mrs. Millicent was plainly
The colonel, who had his own opinion of the
tact of his brother s wife, was not so surprised;
but he made an inarticulate sound which might
pass for sympathy.
"We ve been worried a good deal," pursued
Mrs. Melville, "about the way Aunt Rebecca has
acted. She wouldn t stay in Fairport, where we
could have some influence over her. She was al
ways going south or going to the sea-shore or go
ing somewhere. Sometimes I suspect Miss Smith
made her, to keep her away from us, you know."
"Well, as long as I have known Aunt Rebecca
THE MAN WITH THE MOLES 23
anyhow, ever since Uncle Archibald died she
has been restless and flying about."
"Not as she is now. And then she only had her
"Oh, yes, Randall; she s faithful as they make
em. What does she say about Miss Smith ?"
"Bertie, she s won over Randall. Randall
swears by her. Oh, she s deep!"
"Seems to be. But excuse me what s your
game, Millicent? How do you mean to protect
our aged kinswoman and, incidentally, of course,
the Winter fortune?"
"I shall watch, Bertie ; I shall be on my guard
every waking hour. That deluded old woman is
in more danger, perhaps, than you dream."
"Miss Smith" her voice sank portentously
"was a trained nurse/
"What harm does that do unless you think
she would know too much about poisons?" The
"It s no laughing matter, Bertie. Rebecca is so
rich and this other woman is so poor, and, in my
estimation, so ambitious. I make no insinuations,
I only say she needs watching."
"You may be right about that," said the colonel
24 THE LION S SHARE
thoughtfully. "There is Haley and the boy for
your bags !"
The boy picked up the big dress-suit case, the
smaller dress-suit case and the hat case, he
grabbed the bundle of cloaks, the case of um
brellas, and the lizard-skin bag. Dubiously he
eyed the colonel s luggage, as he tried to disen
gage a finger.
"Niver moind, young feller," called Haley, per
emptorily whisking away the nearest piece, "I ll
help you a bit with yours, instead ; you ve a load,
Mrs. Melville explained in an undertone: "I
take all the hand-luggage I possibly can ; the over
weight charges are wicked !"
"Haley, they won t let you inside without a
ticket," objected the colonel. But Haley, unheed
ing, strode on ahead of the staggering youth.
"I have an English bath-tub, locked, of course,
and packed with things, but he has put that in the
car," said Mrs. Melville.
"Certainly," said the colonel absently; he was
thinking: Mrs. Winter, the boy, Miss Smith
how ridiculously complete ! Decidedly something
will bear watching.
No sooner was Mrs. Melville ushered into her
section than the colonel went through the train.
He was not so suspicious as he told himself he
might have been, with such a dovetailing of cir
cumstances into his accidentally captured informa
tion ; he couldn t yet read villainy on that college
lad s frank face. But no reason, therefore, to neg
lect precautions. "Hope the best of men and pre
pare for the worst," was the old campaigner s
A walk through the cars showed him no signs
of the two men. It was a tolerably complete in
spection, too. There was only one drawing-room
or state-room of which he did not manage to get
a glimpse the closed room being the property of
a very great financial magnate, whose private car
was waiting for him in Denver. His door was
fast, and the click of the type-writer announced
the tireless industry of our rulers.
But if he did not find the college boy or the man
26 THE LION S SHARE
with the moles he did get a surprise for his walk ;
namely, the sight of the family of Haley, and
Haley himself beside their trig, battered lug
gage, in a section of the car next his own. Mrs.
Haley turned a guilty red, while Haley essayed a
"What does this mean ?" demanded the colonel.
"Haley felt he would have to go with you, Colo
nel," replied Mrs. Haley, who had timid, wide,
blue eyes and the voice of a bird, but a courage
under her panic, as birds have, too, when their
nests are in peril. "We ve rinted the house to a
good man with grown-up children, and Haley can
get a job if you won t want him."
"Yis, sor," mumbled Haley. He was standing
at attention, as was his wife, the toddling Nora
being held in the posture of respect on the plush
"And I suppose you took the furniture money
to buy tickets?"
"And you re bound to go with me?"
"Yis, sor," said Haley.
"You ought to be ashamed of yourself, Ser
geant," said the colonel ; but he was glad at the
heart of him for this mutinous loyalty.
AUNT REBECCA 27
"Yis, sor," said Haley.
"Well, since you are here, I engage you from
to-day, you understand."
"Yis, sor," said Haley. Mrs. Haley whimpered
a blessing ; but the only change in the soldier was
that his military stolidity became natural and real
instead of forced.
"Sit down on this seat over here with me and
I ll tell you what I want. You fraud, letting me
say good-by to you "
"I didn t want to take the liberty, sor, but you
made me shake hands. I was afraid you d catch
on, sor. Tis a weight off me moind, sor."
"I dare say. You always have your way with
me, you old mule. Now listen ; I want you to be
on the watch for two men" thereupon the colo
nel described his men, laying special stress on the
moles on the face of one, and the other s dimple.
Having set Haley his tasks, he went back to his
car in better spirits.
By this time the train was moving. He had
seen his kinswoman and her party enter ; and he
found the object of Mrs. Melville s darksome
warnings sitting with a slender lad in the main
body of the car. Aunt Rebecca was in the draw
ing-room, her maid with her. Mrs. Melville, who
28 THE LION S SHARE
had already revealed her presence, sat across the
aisle. She presented the colonel at once.
Miss Smith did not look formidable ; she looked
"nice," thought the colonel. She was of medium
height; she was obviously plump, although well
proportioned ; her presence had an effect of radi
ant cleanliness, her eyes were so luminous and her
teeth so fine and her white shirt-waist so immacu
late. There was about her a certain soft illumina
tion of cheerfulness, and at the same time a rest
ful repose; she moved in a leisurely fashion and
she sat perfectly still. "I never saw any one who
looked less of an adventuress/ Winter was think
ing, as he bowed. Then swiftly his glance went
to the lad, a pale young fellow with hazel eyes and
a long slim hand which felt cold.
The boy made a little inarticulate sound in his
throat and blushed when Colonel Winter ad
dressed him. But he looked the brighter for the
blush. It was not a plain face; rather an inter
esting one in spite of its listlessness and its sickly
pallor ; its oval was purely cut, the delicate mouth
was closed firmly enough, and the hazel eyes with
their long lashes would be beautiful were they not
"He has the Winter mouth, at least," noted the
AUNT REBECCA 29
colonel. He felt a novel throb at his heart. Had
his own boy lived, the baby that died when it was
born, he would be only a year older than Archie.
At least, this boy was of his own blood. Without
father or mother, but not alone in the world ; and,
if any danger menaced, not without defenders.
The depression which had enveloped him lifted
as mist before the sun, burned away by the mere
thought of possible difficulties. "We will see if
any one swindles you out of your share," said
Rupert Winter, compressing the Winter mouth
more firmly, "or if those gentlemanly kidnappers
His ebbing suspicion of the boy s companion
revived ; he would be on his guard, all right.
"Aunt Rebecca wants to see you," Mrs. Mel
ville suggested. "She is in the drawing-room with
"Still playing Penelope s Web?"
"Oh, she always comes back to it. But she
plays bridge, too ; Rupert, I hear your game is a
wonder. Archie s been learning, so he could play
"Good for Archie!" he shot a glance and a
smile at the lad s reddening face "we ll have a
30 THE LION S SHARE
"Lord, I wish he didn t look quite so ladylike,"
he was grumbling within, as he dutifully made his
way to his aunt s presence.
The electric lights flooded the flimsy railway
table on which were spread rows of small-sized
cards. An elderly lady of quality was musing
over the pasteboard rows. A lady of quality
that was distinctly the phrase to catch one s fancy
at the first glimpse of Mrs. Winter. Not an aged
lady, either, for even at eighty that elegantly
moulded, slim figure, that abundance of silvery
hair parted in the middle and growing thickly on
each side in nature s own fashion, which art can
not counterfeit, as well as softly puffed and
massed above that exquisitely colored and tex
tured skin, strangely smooth for her years, with
tiny wrinkles of humor, to be sure, about the eyes,
but with cheeks and skin unmarred; that fine,
firmly carved profile, those black eyebrows and
lashes and still brilliant dark eyes ; most of all that
erect, alert, dainty carriage, gave no impression
of age ; but they all, and their accessories of toilet
and manner, and a little prim touch of an older,
more reticent day in both dress and bearing 1 , re
called the last century phrase.
A soft gray bunch of chinchilla fur lay where
AUNT REBECCA 31
she had slipped it on her soft gray skirts; one
hand rested in the fur her left hand and on the
third finger were the only rings which she wore, a
band of gold, worn by sixty years, and a won
derful ruby, wherein (at least such was Rupert s
phantasy) a writhing flame was held captive by
its guard of diamond icicles. The same rings ad
mired by her nephew ever since he was a cadet
just the same smiling, inscrutable, high-bred, un
changing old dame !
"Good evening, Aunt Rebecca; not a day
older !" said the colonel.
"Good evening, Bertie," returned the lady, ex
tending a hand over the cards; "excuse my not
rising to greet you; I might joggle the cards. Of
course I m not a day older ; I don t dare to grow
older at my age! Sit down. I m extremely glad
to see you ; I ve a heap to talk to you about. Do
you mind if I run this game through first?"
The colonel didn t mind. He raised the prof
fered hand to his lips ; such homage seemed quite
the most natural act in the world with Mrs. Win
ter. And he unobtrusively edged his own lean and
wiry person into the vacant seat opposite her.
"How far are you going ?" said she, after a few
moves of the cards.
32 THE LION S SHARE
"My ticket says Los Angeles ; but it had to say
something, so I chose Los Angeles for luck; I m
an irresponsible tramp now, you know ; and I may
drop off almost anywhere. You are for southern
California, aren t you ?"
"Eventually; but we shall stop at San Fran
cisco for two or three weeks."
"Do you mind if I stop off with you? I want
to get acquainted with my ward," said the colo
"That s a good idea, Bertie."
"He seems rather out of sorts ; you aren t wor
ried about well, tuberculosis or that sort of
"I am worried about just that sort of thing;
although the doctor says nothing organic at all is
the matter with him ; but he is too melancholy for
a boy; he needs rousing; losing his father and
mother in one year, you know, and he was devoted
to them. I can t quite make him out, Bertie; he
hasn t the Winter temperament. I suppose he has
a legal right to his mother s nature ; but it is very
annoying. It makes him so much harder to un
derstand not that she wasn t a good woman who
made Tom happy; but she wasn t a Winter.
However, Janet has brightened him up consider-
AUNT REBECCA 33
ably you ve seen Janet Miss Smith ? What do
you think of her?"
Winter said honestly that she was very nice-
looking and that she looked right capable ; he fell
into the idiom of his youth sometimes when with
"She is," said Aunt Rebecca.
"Where did you find her?" asked the colonel
carelessly, inspecting the cards.
Aunt Rebecca smiled. "I thought Millicent
would have given you all the particulars. She was
nurse, secretary, companion and diet cook to
Cousin Angela Nelson ; when she died I got her.
Lucky for me."
"So I should judge," commented the colonel
"I presume Millicent has told you that she is an
adventuress and after my money and a heap more
stuff. If she hasn t she will. Get a notion once in
Millicent: s head and a surgical operation is neces
sary to dislodge it ! Janet is the only mortal per
son who could live with poor Cousin Angela, who
had enough real diseases to kill her -and enough
imaginary ones to kill anybody who lived with
her! Janet made her comfortable, would not
stand everything on earth from her though she
34 THE LION S SHARE
did stand a heap and really cared for her. When
she died Cousin Angela left her some money ; not
very much, but a few thousands. She would have
left her more, but Janet wouldn t let her. She left
some to some old servants, who surely deserved it
for living with her, some to charities and the rest
to her sisters, who hadn t put a foot inside the
house for fifteen years, but naturally resented her
not giving them everything. I reckon they filled
Millicent up with their notions." She pushed the
outspread cards together.
"You had several moves left," said the colonel.
"Four. But then, I was finished. Bertie, you
play bridge, of course ; and I used to hear of your
whist triumphs; how did you happen to take to
"To fill up the time, I reckon. I began it years
ago. Now a soldier s life is a great deal more
varied, because a man will be shifted around and
get a show of the different kinds of service. And
there are the exams., and the Philippines oh,
plenty of diversions. But in the old days a man in
the line was billed for an awfully stupid time. I
didn t care to take to drink ; and I couldn t read as
you do if I d had books, which I hadn t, so I took
to playing cards. I played skat and poker and
AUNT REBECCA 35
whist, and of late years I ve played bridge. Milli-
cent plays ?"
"Millicent is a celebrated player. She was a
great duplicate-whist player, you know. To see
Millicent in her glory, one should play duplicate
with her. I m only a chump player; my sole ob
ject is to win tricks."
"What else should it be?"
Aunt Rebecca smiled upon him. "To give in
formation to your partner. The main object of
the celebrated American-leads system is signaling
information to your partner. Incidentally, one
tells the adversaries, as well as one s partner,
which, however, doesn t count really as much as
you might think; for most people don t notice
what their partners play very much, and don t
notice what their adversaries play at all. Millicent
is always so busy indicating things to her partner
and watching for his signals and his indications
that you can run a cross ruff in on her without her
suspecting. She asked me once if she didn t play
an intelligible game, and I told her she did ; a babe
in arms could understand it. She didn t seem
"How about Archie? Can he play a good
36 THE LION S SHARE
"Very fair for a boy of fourteen ; he was fond
of whist until his troubles came/ said Mrs. Win
ter, with a faint clouding of her keen gaze.
"Since then he hasn t taken much interest in any
thing. Janet has brightened him up more than
any one; and when he heard you were coming
that did rouse him. You are one of his heroes.
He s that sort of a boy," she added, with a tinge
of impatience in her soft Southern voice. As if
to divert her thoughts, she began deftly moving
the cards before her. Her hands showed the blue
veins more prominently than they show in young
hands. This was their only surrender to time;
they were shapely and white, and the slim fingers
were as straight as when the beaux of Fairfax
County would have ridden all day for a chance to
The colonel watched the great ruby wink and
glow. The ruby was a part of his memories of
his aunt; she had always worn it. He remem
bered it, when she used to come and visit him at
the hotel at West Point, dazzling impartially of
ficers, professors, cadets and hotel waiters. Was
that almost forty years ago? Well, thirty- four,
anyhow ! She had been very good, very generous
to all the young Winters, then. Indeed, although
r AUNT REBECCA 37
she never quite forgave him for not marrying the
wife of her selecting, she had always been kind
and generous to Rupert; yet, somehow, while he
had admired and found a humorous joy in his
Aunt Rebecca, he wondered if he had ever loved
her. She was both beautiful and brilliant when
she was young, a Southern belle, a Northern so
ciety leader; her life was full of conquests; her
footsteps, which had wandered over the world,
had left a phosphorescent wake of admiration.
She had always been a personage. She was a
power in Washington after the war; they had
found her uniquely delightful in royal courts long
before Americans were the fashion ; she had been
of importance in New York, and they had loved
her epigrams in Boston ; now, in her old age, she
held a veritable little court of her own in the pro
vincial Western city which had been her hus
band s home. He went to Congress from Fair-
port ; he had made a fortune there, and when he
died, many years ago, in Egypt, back to his West
ern home, with dogged determination and lavish
expenditures of both money and wit, his widow
had brought him to rest. The most intense and
solemn experience of a woman she had missed,
for no children had come to them, but her hus-
38 THE LION S SHARE
band had been her lover so long as he lived, and
she had loved him. She had known great men ;
she had lived through wonderful events; and
often her hand had been on those secret levers
which move vast forces. She had been in trage
dies, if an inviolable coolness of head, perhaps of
heart, had shielded her from being of them. The
husband of her youth, the nearest of her blood, the
friends of her middle life all had gone into the
dark; yet here she sat, with her smooth skin and
her still lustrous eyes and her fragrant hands,
keenly smiling over her solitaire. The colonel
wondered if he could ever reconcile himself with
such philosophy to his own narro\ved and emptied
life; she was older than he, yet she could still
find a zest in existence. All the great passions
gone; all the big interests; and still her clever
mind was working, happy, possibly, in its mere
exercise, disdaining the stake, she who had had
every success. What a vitality! He looked at
her, puzzling. Her complexity bewildered him,
he not being of a complex nature himself. As he
looked, suddenly he found himself questioning
why her face, in its revival of youthful smooth
ness and tint, recalled some other face, recently
studied by him a face that had worn an abso-
AUNT REBECCA 39
lutely different expression ; having the same deli
cate aquiline nose, the same oval contour, the
same wide brows who? who? queried the colo
nel. Then he nodded. Of course ; it w r as the man
with the moles, the brother. He looked enough
like Mrs. Winter to be her kinsman. At once he
put his guess to the test. "Aunt Becky," said he,
"have you any kin I don t know about?"
"I reckon not. I m an awfully kinless old
party/ said she serenely. "I was a Winter, born
as well as married, and so you and Mel and Archie
are double kin to me. I was an only child, so I
haven t anything closer than third or fourth
cousins, down in Virginia and Boston."
"Have you, by chance, any cousin, near or far,
Resting her finger-tips on the cards, Aunt Re
becca seemed to let her mind search amid Vir
ginian and Massachusetts genealogical tables.
"Why, certainly/ she answered after a pause,
"there was General Philemon Mercer Confeder
ate army, you know and his son, Sam Nelson ;
Phil was my own cousin and Sam Nelson my sec
ond, and Sam Nelson s sons would be my third,
wouldn t they ? Phil and Sam are both dead, and
Winnie Lee, the daughter, is dead, and poor Phil
40 THE LION S SHARE
the grandson, you know poor boy, he shot
himself while at Harvard ; but his brother Gary is
"Do you know him ?"
"Never saw him but once or twice. He has
very good manners."
1 "Is he rich?"
"He was, but after he had spent his youth
working with incredible industry and a great deal
of ability to build up a steel business and had put
it into a little combination not a big trust, just
a genuine corporation some of the financial
princes wanted it for a club to knock down big
ger game, I reckon and proceeded to cheapen
the stock in order to control it. Gary held on des
perately, bought more than he could hold, mort
gaged everything else; but they were too big for
him to fight. It was in 1903, you know, when
they had an alleged financial panic, and scared the
banks. Gary went to the wall, and Phil with him,
and poor Phil killed himself. Afterward Gary s
wife died ; he surely did have a mean time. And,
to tell you the truth, Bertie, I think there has been
a little kink in Gary s mind ever since."
"Did you hold any of Gary s stock?" He was
piecing his puzzle together.
AUNT REBECCA 41
"Yes, but my stock was all paid for, and I held
on to it ; now it is over par and paying dividends.
Oh, the property was all right, had it been kept
in honest hands and run for itself. The trouble
with Cary was that in order to keep control of the
property he bought a lot of shares on margins,
and when they began to run downhill, he was
obliged to borrow money on his actual holdings
to protect his fictitious ones. The stock went so
low that he was wiped out. He wouldn t take my
advice earlier in the game; and I knew that it
would only be losing money to lend it to him,
later still, sometimes I have been rather sorry
I didn t. Would I better try the spade, Bertie, or
the diamond ?"
The colonel advised the spade. He wondered
whether he should repeat to his aunt the few
sentences which he had overheard from Mercer
and his companion ; but a belief that old age wor
ries easily, added to his natural man s disinclina
tion to attack the feminine nerves, tipped the
scales against frankness. So, instead, he began to
talk about Archie ; what was he like ? was he fond
of athletics ? or was he a bookish lad ? Aunt Re
becca reported that he had liked riding and golf ;
but he was not very rugged, and since his father s
42 THE LION S SHARE
death he had seemed listless to a degree. "But
he is better now," she added with a trace of eager
ness quite foreign to her usual manner. Janet
Smith has roused him up ; and what do you sup
pose she has done ? But really, you are the cause."
"I ?" queried the colonel.
"Just you. Archie, Janet argued, is the kind of
nature that must have some one to be devoted to."
"And has he taken a fancy to her ? Or to you ?"
Aunt Rebecca s eyes dulled a little and her deli
cate lips were twisted by a smile which had more
wistfulness than humor in it. "I m not a lovable
person ; anyhow, he does not love easily. We are
on terms of the highest respect, even admiration,
but we haven t got so far as friendship, far less
comradeship. Janet is different. But I don t mean
Janet ; she has grown absurdly fond of him ; and
I think he s fond of her; but what she did was to
make him fond of you. You, General Rupert
Winter ; why, that boy could pass an examination
on your exploits and not miss a question. Janet
and he have a scrap-book with every printed word
about you, I do believe. And she has been amaz
ingly shrewd. We didn t know how to get the
youngster back to his sports while he was out of
school; and, in fact, an old woman like me is
AUNT REBECCA 43
rather bewildered by such a young creature, any
how ; but Janet rode with him ; you are a remark
able rider; I helped there, because I remembered
some anecdotes about you at West Point "
"But, my dear Aunt "
"Don t interrupt, Bertie, it s a distinctly Amer
ican habit. And we read in the papers that you
had learned that Japanese trick fighting jiu-
jitsu and were a wonder "
"I m not, I assure you; that beast of a news
paper man "
"Never mind, if you are not a wonder, you ll
have to be ; you can take lessons in Los Angeles ;
there are quantities of Japs there. Why, even in
Chicago, Janet picked up one, and we imported
him, and Archie took lessons, and practises every
day. There s a book in my bag, in the rack there,
a very interesting book; Janet and I have both
read it so we could talk to Archie. You would
better skim it over a little if you really aren t an
expert, enough so you can talk jiu-jitsu, anyhow;
we can t be destroying Archie s ideals until he
gets a better appetite/
"Well, upon my word!" breathed the colonel.
"Do you expect me to be a fake hero? I never
took more than two lessons in my life. That re-
44 THE LION S SHARE
porter interviewed my teacher, who was killed in
the Japanese War, by the way; he went to the
army after my second lesson. He didn t know any
English beyond yes and if you please ; and he
used them both on the reporter, who let his own
fancy go up like a balloon. Well, where is the
He found it easily; and with a couple of vol
umes of another kidney, over which he grinned.
"The Hound of the Baskervilles and The
Leavenworth Case! I ve read them, too," he said;
"they re great! And do you still like detective
stories? You would have made a grand sleuth
yourself, Aunt Becky." Again he had half a mind
to speak of the occurrence at the station; again
he checked the impulse. "I remember," he added,
"that you used to hold strenuous opinions."
"You mean my thinking that the reason crimes
escape discovery is not that criminals are so
bright, but that detectives in general are so
particularly stupid? Oh, yes, I think that still.
So does Sir Conan Doyle. And I have often
wished I could measure my own wits, once, with
a really -fine criminal intellect. It would be worth
"God forbid !" said the colonel hastily.
AUNT REBECCA 45
There came a tap on the door.
"Millicent!" groaned Aunt Rebecca. "I know
the creaking of her stays. No, don t stay, Bertie ;
go and get Janet and a rescue bridge party as
quick as you can !"
"The original and only Aunt Rebecca," thought
the colonel at the door, smiling. But, somehow,
the handsome old dame never had seemed so
nearly human to him before.
THE TRAIN ROBBERS
When the colonel awoke next morning the
train was running smoothly over the Iowa prai
ries, while low hills and brick factory chimneys
announced Council Bluffs. The landscape was
wide and monotonous ; a sweep of illimitable corn
fields in their winter disarray, or bleakly fresh
from the plow, all painted with a palette holding
only drabs and browns; here and there a dab of
red in a barn or of white in windmill or house;
but these livelier tints so scattered that they were
no more than pin spots on the picture. The very
sky was as dimly colored as the earth, lighter,
yet of no brighter hue than the fog which smoked
up from the ground. Later in the spring this same
landscape would be of a delicate and charming-
beauty; in summer or autumn it would make the
beholder s pulses throb with its glorious fertility;
but on a blurred March morning it was as dreary
as the reveries of an aging man who has failed.
THE TRAIN ROBBERS 47
Nevertheless, Rupert Winter s first conscious
sensation was not depression, only a little tingle
of interest and excitement, such as stings pleas
antly one who rises to a prospect of conflict in
which he has the confidence of his own strength.
"By Jove!" he wondered, "whatever makes me
His first impulse was to peep through his cur
tains into the car. It wore its early morning aspect
of muffled berths and stuffy curtains, among
which Miss Smith s trig, carefully finished pres
ence in a fresh white shirt-waist, attended by the
pleasant whiffs of cologne water, gave the be
holder a certain refreshing surprise. One hand
(white and firm and beautifully cared for) held
a wicker bottle, source of the pleasant whiffs;
her sleek back braids were coiled about her comely
head, and the hair grew very prettily in a blunted
point on the creamy nape of her neck. It was
really dark brown hair, but it looked black against
the whiteness of her skin. She had very capable-
looking shoulders, the colonel noted, and a flat
back; perhaps she wasn t pretty, but in a long
while he had not seen a more attractive-looking
woman. She made him think of a Bonne Celine
rose, somehow. He could hear her talking to some
48 THE LION S SHARE
one behind the berth s curtains. Could those dole
ful moans emerge from Archie? Could a Winter
boy be whimpering about the jar of the train in
that fashion ? Immediately he was aware that the
sufferer was Randall, for Miss Smith spoke:
"Drink the tea, and lie down again, I ll attend to
Mrs. Winter. Don t you worry!"
"Getting solid with Randall," commented the
colonel. "Which is she kind-hearted, or an ac
complished villainess? Well, it s interesting, any
By the time he had made his toilet the train
was slacking speed ready to halt in Council
Bluffs, and all his suspicions rushed on deck
again at the sight of Miss Smith and Archie
He joined them, and he had to admit that Miss
Smith looked as pleased as Archie at his appear
ance. Nor did she send a single furtive glance,
slanting or backward, while they walked in the
crisp, clean air. Once the train had started and
Miss Smith was in the drawing-room, breakfast
ing with Mrs. Winter and Archie, he politely at
tended Mrs. Millicent through the morning meal
in the dining-car. It was so good a meal that he
naturally, although illogically, thought better of
THE TRAIN ROBBERS 49
Miss Smith s prospects of innocence ; and cheerily
he sought Haley. He found him in the smoking
compartment of the observation-car, having for
companions no less personages than the magnate
and a distinguished-looking New Englander, who,
Rupert Winter made no doubt, was a Harvard
professor of rank and renown among his learned
kind. He knew the earmarks of the species. The
New Englander s pencil was flying over a little
improvised pad of telegraph blanks, while he
listened with absorbed interest to Haley s rich
Irish tones. There was a little sidewise lunge of
Haley s mouth, a faint twinkle of Haley s frank
and simple eyes which the colonel appraised at
very nearly their real value. He knew that it
isn t in Irish- American nature to perceive a wide-
open ear and not put something worth hearing
into it. Besides, his sharp ears had brought
him a key to the discourse, a sorrowful remark of
the sergeant s as he entered: "Yes, sor, thim
wather torchures is terrible!"
He glanced suspiciously from one of Haley s
audience to the other. The newspaper cartoonist
had pictured on all kinds of bodies of preying
creatures, whether of the earth or air, the high
brows, the round head, the delicate features, the
50 THE LION S SHARE
thin cheeks, the straight line of the mouth, and
the mild, inexpressive eyes of the man before
him. He had been extolled as a far-sighted bene
factor of the world, and execrated picturesquely
as the king of pirates who would scuttle the busi
ness of his country without a qualm.
Winter, amid his own questionings and prob
lems, could not help a scrutiny of a man whose
power was greater than that of medieval kings.
He sat consuming a cigarette, more between his
fingers than his lips; and glancing under droop
ing eyelids from questioner to narrator. At the
colonel s entrance he looked up, as did Haley,
who rose to his feet with an unconscious salute.
"I d be glad to spake wid youse a minnit, if I
might, General," said Haley, "about where I put
your dress-shute case, sor."
The colonel, of course, did not expect any re
marks about a suit-case when he got Haley by
himself at the observation end of the car; but
what he did get was of sufficient import to drive
out of his mind a curt lecture about blackening the
reputation of the army with lies about the Philip
pines. Haley had told him that he had seen the
man with the two moles on his face jump out of
his own car at Council Bluffs. He had simply
THE TRAIN ROBBERS 51
stood on the platform, looking to right and left
for a moment; then he had swung himself back
on the car. Haley had watched him walk down
the aisle and enter the drawing-room. He did
not come out ; Haley had found out that the draw
ing-room belonged to Edwin S. Keatcham, "the
big railroad man, sor."
"It doesn t seem likely that he would be an ac
complice of a kidnapper," mused the colonel.
"The man might have gone in there while he was
"Sure, he might, sor ; twas mesilf thinking that
same; and I wint beyant to the observation-car,
and there the oulcl gintleman was smoking."
"And you stopped to tell yarns to that other
gentleman instead of getting back and follow-
"No, sor, I beg your pardon, sor ; I was kaping
me eyes open and on him ; for himsilf was in the
observation-car where you are now, sor, until we
come in, and thin he walked back, careless like, to
his own car. Will I be afther following him ?"
"Yes; don t lose him."
They did not lose him ; they both saw him enter
the drawing-room and almost immediately come
out and sit down in one of the open sections
52 THE LION S SHARE
"See if yon can t find out from the conductor
where he is going," the colonel proposed to Ha
ley ; and he frowned over his thoughts for a bad
quarter of an hour at the window. The precipi
tate of all this mental ferment was a determina
tion to stick close to the boy, saying nothing.
He hoped that when they stopped overnight at
Salt Lake City, according to Aunt Rebecca s plan,
they might shake off the "brother s" company.
The day passed uneventfully. He played bridge
with Mrs. Millicent and Miss Smith and Archie,
while Aunt Rebecca kept up her French with one
of Bentzon s novels.
Afterward she said grimly to him: "I think
you must have been converted out in the Philip
pines; you never so much as winced, that last
hand; no, you sat there smiling over your ruin
as sweetly as if you enjoyed it."
The colonel smiled again. "Ah, but, you see,
I did enjoy it; didn t you notice the hand? No?
Well, it was worth watching. It was the rubber
game ; they were twenty- four and we were twenty-
six and we were on the seventh round; Miss
Smith had made it hearts. She sat on my left,
dummy on my right. Millicent had the lead. She
had four little spades, a little club, the queen of
THE TRAIN ROBBERS 53
hearts and a trey ; dummy had the queen, the ten
and the nine of spades, it had the king of hearts
and three clubs with the jack at the top. I had
a lovely diamond suit which I hadn t had a chance
to touch, top sequence, ace, king, queen ; I had
the jack of trumps and the jack of spades; and
the queen and a little club. I hadn t a lead, you
understand; Millicent had taken five tricks and
they had taken one; they needed six to win the
game, we needed two ; see ? Well, Millicent hadn t
any diamonds to lead me, and unhappily she didn t
think to lead trumps through dummy, which
would have made a world of difference. She led
a club; dummy put on the jack. I knew Miss
Smith had the ace and one low heart; no clubs,
a lot of low diamonds, and she might or might
not have a spade. I figured that she had the ace
and a little one; if she would trump in with the
little one, as ninety-nine out of a hundred women
would have done, her ace and her partner s king
would fall together; or, at worst, he would have
to trump her diamond lead, after she had led out
her king of spades, and lead spades, which I could
trump and bring in all my diamonds. Do you take
in the situation?"
"You mean that Janet had the king of spades
54 THE LION S SHARE
alone, the ace and the little trump and four worth
less diamonds ? I see. It is a chance for the grand
coup; I reckon she played it."
"She did!" cried the colonel with unction.
"She slapped that ace on the trick, she modestly
led her king of spades, gathered in my jack, then
she stole, she stole my child away/ my little jack
of trumps; it fell on dummy s king, and dummy
led out his spades and I had to see that whole
diamond suit slaughtered. They made their six
tricks, the game and the rubber ; and I wanted to
clap my hands over the neatness of it."
"She is a good player," agreed Aunt Rebecca,
"and a very pleasant person. You remember the
epitaph, don t you, Bertie ? She was so pleasant.
Yet Janet has had a heap of trouble; but, after
all, happiness is not a condition but a tempera
ment ; I suppose Janet has the temperament. She s
a good loser, too ; and she never takes advantage
of the rules."
"She certainly loves a straight game," reflected
the colonel. "I confess I don t like the kind of
woman that is always grabbing a trick if some
one plays out of the wrong hand."
He said something of the kind to Millicent,
obtaining but scant sympathy in that quarter.
THE TRAIN ROBBERS 55
"She s deep, Bertie; I told you that," was the
only reply, "but I m watching. I have reason for
"Maybe you have been misinformed," ventured
her brother-in-law with proper meekness.
"Not at all," retorted she sharply. "I happen
to know that she worked against me with the
"Daughters," the colonel repeated inanely,
"Certainly not! The Daughters of the Revo
"It s a mighty fine society, that ; did a lot dur
ing the Spanish War. And you are the state
president, aren t you?"
"No, Rupert," returned Mrs. Melville with
dignity, "I am no longer state regent. By methods
that would shame the most hardened men poli
ticians I was defeated ; why ! didn t you read about
"You know I only came back from the Phil
ippines in February."
"It was in all the Chicago papers. I was in
terviewed myself. I assure you the other candi
dates (there were two) tried the very lowest
political methods. Melville said it was scandalous.
56 THE LION S SHARE
There were at least three luncheons given against
me. It wasn t the congress, it was the lobby
defeated me. And their methods! I would not
believe that gentlewoman could stoop to such in
famy of misrepresentation." The colonel chewed
his mustache; he felt for that reporter of the
Chicago paper; he was evidently getting a pho
nographic record now; he made an inarticulate
rumble of sympathy in his throat which was as
the clucking of the driver to the mettled horse.
Mrs. Melville gesticulated with Delsartian grace,
as she poured forth her woes.
"They accused me of a domineering spirit;
they said I was trying to set up a machine. //
I worked for them, many a time, half the night,
at my desk ; never was a letter unanswered ; I did
half the work of the corresponding secretary ; yet
at the crucial moment she betrayed me! I learned
more in those two days of the petty jealousy, the
pitiless malevolence of some women than I had
known all my life before; but at the same time,
to the faithful band of friends" the colonel had
the sensation of listening to the record again
"whose fidelity was proof against ridicule and
cruel misrepresentation, I return a gratitude that
will never wane. Rupert" she turned herself in
THE TRAIN ROBBERS 57
the seat and waved the open palm of her hand in
a graceful and dramatic gesture, " those women
not only stooped to malignant falsehoods, they
not only trampled parliamentary law underfoot,
but they circulated through the hall a cartoon
called the Making of the Slate. Of course, we
had our quarters a-t a hotel, and after the even
ing meeting, after I had retired, in fact, a bell
boy brought me a message; it was necessary to
have a meeting at once, to decide for the secre
taryship, as we had found out Mrs. Ellennere
was false. The ladies in the adjoining rooms and
the others of us on the board who were loyal came
into my chamber. Rupert, will you believe it,
those women had a grotesque picture of us, with
faces cut out of the newspapers of course, all our
pictures were in the papers and they had the
audacity and the meanness to picture me in in
the garments of night !"
"That was pretty tough. But where does Miss
Smith come in?"
"She was at the convention. She is a Daugh
ter. I ve always said we are too lax in our admis
"Who drew the picture?"
"It may not be Miss Smith, but she does
58 THE LION S SHARE
draw. I m sure that she worked against me; she
covered up her footprints so that I have no proof ;
but I suspect her. She s deep, Bertie, she s deep.
But she can t hoodwink me. I ll find her out."
The colonel experienced the embarrassment
that is the portion of a rash man trying to defend
one woman against another ; he retreated because
he perceived defense was in vain ; but he did not
feel his growing opinion of Miss Smith s inno
cence menaced by Mrs. Melville s convictions.
She played too square a game for a kidnapper
and Smith was the commonest of names. No,
there must be some explanation; Rupert Winter
had lived too long not to distrust the plausible
surface clue. "It is the improbable that always
happens, and the impossible most of the time,"
Aunt Rebecca had said once. He quite agreed
with her whimsical phrase.
Nothing happened to arouse his suspicions that
day. Haley reported that Gary Mercer was going
on to San Francisco. The conductor did not
know his name; he seemed to know Mr. Keatch-
am and was with him in his drawing-room most of
the time. Had the great man a secretary with
him ? Yes, he seemed to have, a little fellow who
had not much to say for himself, and jumped
THE TRAIN ROBBERS 59
whenever his boss spoke to him. There was also
a valet, an Englishman, who did not respond
properly to conversational overtures. They were
all going to get off at Denver.
Haley was not misinformed, as the colonel
perceived with his own eyes and he saw Gary
Mercer bow in parting to the great man, who
requited the low salute with a gruff nod. Here
was an opportunity for a nearer glimpse of Mer
cer, possibly for that explanation in which Winter
still had a lurking hope. He caught Mercer just
in the car doorway, and politely greeted him:
"Mr. Mercer, I think? You may not remember
me, Colonel Winter. I met you in Cambridge,
three years ago "
It seemed a brutal thing to do, to recall a meet
ing under such circumstances ; but if Mercer could
give the explanation he would excuse him ; it was
better than suspecting an innocent man. But
there was no opportunity for explanation. Mer
cer turned a blank and coldly suspicious face
toward him. "I beg pahdon," he said in his South
ern way, "I think you have made a mistake in
"And are you not Mr. Cary Mercer?" The
colonel felt the disagreeable resemblance of his
60 THE LION S SHARE
own speeches to those made in newspaper stories
by the gentleman who wishes his old friend to
change a fifty-dollar bill or to engage in an amus
ing game with a thimble. Mercer saw it as well
as he. "Try some one from the country/ he re
marked with an unpleasant smile, brushing past,
while the color mounted to the colonel s tanned
cheek. "The next time you meet me," Rupert
Winter vowed, "you ll know me."
A new porter had come on at Denver; a light
brown, chubby, bald man with a face that radiated
friendliness. He was filled with the desire for
conversation, and he had worked on the road for
eight years, hence could supplement Over the
Range and the other guide-books with personal
gossip. He showed marked deference to the
colonel, which that unassuming and direct man
could not quite fathom, until Archie enlightened
him. Archie smiled, a queer, chewed-up smile
which the colonel hailed with :
"Why are you making fun of me, young
"It s Lewis, the porter; he follows you round
and listens to you in such an awestruck way."
"Why, Sergeant Haley told him about you;
THE TRAIN ROBBERS 61
and I told him a little, and he says he wishes
you d been on the train when they had the hold
ups. This is an awful road for hold-ups, he says.
He s been at five hold-ups."
"And what does he advise?
"Oh, he says, hold up your hands and they
won t hurt you."
"Well, I reckon his advice is sound/ laughed
the colonel. "See you follow it, Archie."
"Shall yon hold up your hands, Uncle Bertie?"
"Much the wisest course ; these fellows shoot."
Archie looked disappointed. "I suppose so,"
he sighed. "I m afraid I d want to, if they were
pointing pistols at me. Lewis was on the train
once when a man showed fight. He wouldn t put
up his hands, and the bandit plugged him, like a
flash ; he fell crosswise over the seat and the blood
spurted across Lewis wrist ; he said it was like a
hot jet of water."
The homely and bizarre horror of the picture
had evidently struck home to Archie; he half
"Too much imagination," grumbled the colo
nel to himself. "A Winter ought to take to fight
ing like a duck to water!" He betook himself
62 THE LION S SHARE
to Miss Smith; and he was uneasily conscious
that he was going to her for consoling. But he
felt better after a little talk about Archie with
her. Plainly she thought Archie had plenty of
spirit; although, of course, he hadn t told her
about the bandits. The negro was "kidding" the
passengers ; and women shouldn t be disturbed by
such nonsense. The colonel had old-fashioned
views of guarding his womankind from the harsh
ways of the world. Curious, he reflected, what
sense Miss Smith seemed to have; and how she
understood things. He felt better acquainted with
her than a year s garrison intercourse would have
made him with any other woman he knew.
That afternoon, they two sat watching the
fantastic cliffs which took grotesque semblance
of ruined castles crowning their barren hillsides;
or of deserted amphitheaters left by some van
ished race to crumble. They had talked of many
things. She had told him of the sleepy old South
Carolinian town where she was born, and the plan
tation and the distant cousin who was like her
mother, and the hospital where she had been
taught, and the married sister who had died.
Such a narrow, laborious, innocent existence as
she described! How cheerfully, too, she had
THE TRAIN ROBBERS 63
shouldered her burdens! They talked of the
South and of the Philippines ; a little they talked
of Archie and his sorrow and of the eternal
problems that have troubled the soul of man since
first death entered the world. As they talked, the
colonel s suspicions faded into grotesque shadows.
"Millicent is ridiculous," quoth he. Then he fell
to wondering whether there had been a romance
in Miss Smith s past life. "Such a handsome
woman would look high," he sighed. Only twenty-
four hours ago he had called Miss Smith "nice-
looking," with careless criticism. He was quite
unconscious of his change of view. That night
he felt lonely, of a sudden ; the old wound in his
heart ached; his future looked as bleak as the
mountain-walled plains through which he was
speeding. After a long time the train stopped
with a jar and rattle, ending in a sudden shock.
He raised the curtain to catch the flash of the
electric lights at Glen wood. Out of the deep
defile they glittered like diamonds in a pool of
water. Why should he think of Miss Smith s
eyes? With an impatient sigh, he pulled down
the curtain and turned over to sleep.
His thoughts drifted, floated, were submerged
in a wavering procession of pictures ; he was back
64 THE LION S SHARE
in the Philippines; they had surprised the fort;
how could that be when he was on guard? But
they were there He sat up in his berth. In
stinctively he slipped the revolver out of his bag
and held it in one hand, as he peeped through the
crevice of the curtains. There was no motion, no
sound of moving; but heads were emerging be
tween the curtains in every direction ; and Archie
was standing, his hands shaking above his tum
bled brown head and pale face. A man in a soft
hat held two revolvers while another man was
pounding on the drawing-room door, gruffly
commanding those inside to come out. "No, we
shall not come out/ responded Aunt Rebecca s
composed, well-bred accents, her neat enuncia
tion not disturbed by a quiver. "If you want to
kill an old woman, you \vill have to break down
"Let them alone, Shay, it takes too long; let s
finish here, first," called the man with the revol
ver; "they ll come soon enough when we want
them. Here, young feller, fish out! Nobody ll
get hurt if you keep quiet; if you don t you ll get
a dose like the man in number six, two years ago.
Hustle, young feller!"
The colonel was eying every motion, every
THE TRAIN ROBBERS 65
shifting from one foot to the other. Let them once
get by Archie
The boy handed over his pocket-book.
"Now your watch," commanded the brigand ;
"take it, Shay!"
"Won t you please let me keep that watch?"
faltered Archie; "that was papa s watch."
The childish name from the tall lad made the
robber laugh. "And mama s little pet wants to
keep it, does he? Well, he can t. Get a move on
The colonel had the sensation of an electric
shock; as the second robber grabbed at the fob
in the boy s belt, Archie struck him with the edge
of his open hand so swiftly and so fiercely under
the jaw that he reeled back against his companion.
The colonel s surprise did not disturb the auto
matic aim of an old fighter of the plains; his re
volver barked ; and he sprang out, on the man he
shot. "Get back in the berths, all of you," he
shouted; "give me a chance to shoot!"
The voice of the porter, whose hands had been
turning up the lights not quite steadily, now
pealed out with camp-meeting power, "Dat s it;
give de colonel a chance to do some killing !"
Both bandits were sprawling on the floor of
66 THE LION S SHARE
the aisle, one limp and moaning; but the other
got one hand up to shoot; only to have Archie
kick the revolver out of it, while at the same in
stant an unbrella handle fell with a wicked whack
on the man s shoulder. The New England pro
fessor was out of his berth. He had been a base
ball man in his own college days; his bat was a
frail one, but he hit with a will ; and a groan told
of his success. Nevertheless, the fellow scrambled
to his feet. Mrs. Melville was also out of her
berth, thanks to which circumstance he was able
to escape; as the colonel (who had grappled with
the other man and prevented his rising) must
needs have shot through his sister-in-law to hit
the fleeing form.
"What s the matter?" demanded Mrs. Mel
ville, while the New Englander used an expres
sion which, no doubt, as a good church-member,
he regretted, later, and the colonel thundered:
"All the women back into their berths. Don t
anybody shoot! You, professor, look after that
fellow on the floor." He was obeyed; instinct
ively, the master of the hour is obeyed. The por
ter came forward and helped the New Englander
bind the prostrate outlaw, with two silk hand
kerchiefs and a pair of pajamas, guard mount
Miss Smith was sitting beside Archie, holding the watch. Page 67
THE TRAIN ROBBERS 67
being supplied by three men in very startling 1 cos
tumes ; and a kind of seraglio audience behind the
curtains of the berth being enacted by all the
women in the car, only excepting Aunt Rebecca
and Miss Smith. Aunt Rebecca, in her admirable
traveling costume of a soft gray silk wrapper,
looked as undisturbed as if midnight alarms were
an every-night feature of journeys. Miss Smith s
black hair was loosely knotted; and her face
looked pale, while her dark eyes shone. They all
heard the colonel s revolver ; they all saw the two
men who had met him at the car door spring off
the platform into the dark. The robbers had
horses waiting. The colonel got one shot ; he saw
the man fall over his horse s neck; but the horse
galloped on ; and the night, beyond the little splash
of light, swallowed them completely.
After the conductor and the engineer had both
consulted him, and the express messenger had ap
peared, armed to the teeth, a little too late for
the fray, but not too late for lucid argument, Win
ter made his way back to the car. Miss Smith
was sitting beside Archie; she was holding the
watch, which had played so important a part in
the battle, up under the electric light to examine
an inscription. The loose black sleeves of her
68 THE LION S SHARE
blouse fell back, revealing her arms; they were
white and softly rounded. She looked up ; and the
soldier felt the sudden rush of an emotion that he
had not known for years; it caught at his throat
almost like an invisible hand.
"Well, Archie," he said foolishly, "good for
Archie flushed up to his eyes.
"Why didn t you obey orders, young man,
and hold up your hands?" said Colonel Rupert
Winter. "You re as bad as poor Haley, who is
nearly weeping that he had no chance, but only
broke away from Mrs. Haley in time to see the
robbers make off."
"I I did at first ; but I got so mad I forgot,"
stammered Archie happily. "Afterward you were
my superior officer and I had to do what you
All the while he chaffed the boy, he was watch
ing for that beautiful look in Janet Smith s eyes ;
and wondering when he could get her off by her
self to brag to her of the boy s courage. When
his chance at a few words did come he chuckled :
"Regular fool Winter! I knew he would act in
just that absurd, reckless way." Then he caught
the look he wanted ; it surely was a lovely, worn-
THE TRAIN ROBBERS 69
anly look; and it meant what in thunder did it
mean? As he puzzled, his pulses gave the same
unaccountable, smothering leap ; and he felt as the
boy of twenty had felt, coming back from his first
battle to his first love.
THE VANISHING OF ARCHIE
"In my opinion," said Aunt Rebecca, critically
eying her new drawing-room on the train to San
Francisco; "the object of our legal methods seems
to be to defend the criminal. And a very efficient
means to this end is to make it so uncomfortable
and costly and inconvenient for any witness of
a crime that he runs away rather than endure
it. Here we have had to stay over so long in Salt
Lake we nearly lost our drawing-room. But never
mind, you got your man committed. Did you find
out anything about his gang? *
The colonel shook his head. "No, he s a tough
country boy; he has the rural distrust of lawyers
and of sweat-boxes. He does absolutely nothing
but groan and swear, pretending his wound hurts
him. But I ve a notion there are bigger people
back of him. It s most awfully good of you,
Aunt Rebecca, to stick to me this way."
"Of course, I stick to you; I m too old to be
THE VANISHING OF ARCHIE 71
fickle. Did you ever know a Winter who wouldn t
stand by his friends ? I belong to the old regime,
Bertie; we had our faults glaring ones, I dare
say but if we condoned sin too readily, we never
condoned meanness; such a trick as that upstart
Keatcham is doing would have been impossible to
my contemporaries. You saw the morning pa
pers ; you know he means to eat up the Midland ?"
"Yes, I know," mused the colonel; "and turn
Tracy, the president, down the one who gave
him his start on his bucaneering career. Tracy
declines to be his tool, being, I understand, a
very decent sort of man, who has always run
his road for his stock-holders and not for the
stock-market. A capital crime, that, in these days.
So Keatcham has, somehow, by one trick or
another, got enough directors since Baneleigh
died to give him the control ; though he couldn t
get enough of the stock; and now he means to
grab the road to use for himself. Poor Tracy,
who loves the road as a child, they say, will have
to stand by and see it turned into a Wall Street
foot-ball; and the equipment run down as fast
as its reputation. I think I m sorry for Tracy. Be
sides, it s a bad lookout, the power of such fel
lows; men who are not captains of industry, not
72 THE LION S SHARE
a little bit; only inspired gamblers. Yet they are
running the country. I wonder where is the class
that will save us."
"I don t know. I don t admire the present cen
tury, Bertie. We had people of quality in my day;
we have only people of culture in this. I confess
I prefer the quality. They had robuster nerves
and really asked less of people, although they
may have appeared to ask more. We used to be
contented with respect from our inferiors and
courtesy from our equals "
"And what from your betters, Aunt Rebecca ?"
drawled the colonel.
"We had no betters, Rupert ; we were the best.
I think partly it was our assurance of our posi
tion, which nobody else doubted any more than
we, that kept us so mannerly. Nowadays, no
body has a real position. He may have wealth
and a servile following, who expect to make some
thing out of him, but he hasn t position. The
newspapers can make fun of him. The common
people watch him drive by and never think of
removing their caps. Nobody takes him seriously
except his toadies and himself. And as for the
sentiments of reverence and loyalty, very useful
sentiments in running a world, they seem to have
THE VANISHING OF ARCHIE 73
clean disappeared, except" she smiled a half-
reluctant smile "except with youngsters like
Archie, who would find it agreeable to be chopped
into bits for you, and the women who have not
lived in the world, like Janet, who makes a heroine
out of me upon my word, Bertie, je t ai fait
"Not at all," said the colonel; "an illusion of
the sunset; but what do you mean when you say
people of quality required less than people of cul
"Oh, simply this; all we demanded was defer
ence; but your cultivated gang wants admiration
and submission, and will not let us possess our
secret souls, even, in peace. And, then, the quality
despised no one, but the cultivated despise every
one. Ah, well
Those good old times are past and gone,
I sigh for them in vain,
Janet, I wish Archie would fish his mandolin out
and you would sing to me ; I like to hear the songs
of my youth. Not rag-time, or coon-songs, but
dear old Foster s melodies; Old Kentucky Home,
and Massa s in the Col, Col Ground, and Nellie
Was a Lady what makes that so sad, I wonder ?
74 THE LION S SHARE
Nellie was a lady, las night she died; it s
all in that single line; I think it is because it
represents the pathetic idealization of love ; Nellie
was that black lover s ideal of all that was lovely,
and she was dead. Is the orchestra ready and
the choir? Yes, shut the door; we are for art s
sake only, not for the applause of the cold world
in the car."
Afterward, when he was angry over his own
folly, his own blind, dogged, trustfulness against
all the odds of evidence, Rupert Winter laid his
weakness to that hour; to a woman s sweet, un
trained, tender voice singing the simple melodies
of his youth. They sang one song after another
while the sun sank lower and stained the western
sky. Through the snow-sheds they could catch
glimpses of a wild and strange nature; austere,
yet not repelling ; vistas of foot-hills bathed in the
evening glow ; rank on rank of firs, tall, straight,
beautiful, not wind-tortured and maimed, like the
woeful dwarfs of Colorado ; and wonderful snow
capped mountain peaks, with violet shadows and
glinting streaks of silver. Snow everywhere : on
the hillsides ; on the close thatch of the firs ; on the
ice-locked rivers ; snow freshly fallen, softly tint
ed, infinitely, awesomely pure.
THE VANISHING OF ARCHIE 75
Presently they came out into a lumber country
where the mills huddled in the hollows, over the
streams. Huge fires were blazing on the river-
banks. Their tawny red glare dyed the snow for
a long distance, making entrancing tints of rose
and yellow; and the dark green of the pines,
against this background, looked strangely fresh.
And then, without warning, they plunged into
the dimness of another long wooden tunnel and
emerged into lovely spring. The trees were in
leaf, and not alone the trees ; the undulating swells
of pasture land and roadside by the mountains
were covered with a tender verdure; and there
were innumerable vines and low glossy shrubs
with faintly colored flowers.
"This is like the South," said Miss Smith.
Archie was devouring the scene. "Doesn t it
just somehow make you feel as if you couldn t
breathe, Miss Janet?" said he.
"Are you troubled with the high altitude?*
asked Millicent anxiously; "I have prepared a
little vial of spirits of ammonia; I ll fetch it for
The colonel had some ado to rescue Archie;
but he was aided by the porter, who was now pass
ing through the car proclaiming: "You all have
76 THE LION S SHARE
seen Dutch Flat Mr. Bret Hahte wrote bout ; nex
station is Shady Run; and eve ybody look and
see the greates scenic traction of dis or any
odder railroad, Cape Hohn!"
Instantly, Mrs. Melville fished her guide-book
and began to read :
" There are few mountain passes more famous
than that known to the world as Cape Horn. The
approach to it is picturesque, the north fork of
the American River raging and foaming in its
rocky bed, fifteen hundred feet below and parallel
with the track "
"Do you mind, Millicent, if we look instead
of listen?" Aunt Rebecca interrupted, and Mrs.
Melville lapsed into an injured muteness.
Truly, Cape Horn has a poignant grandeur
that strikes speech from the lips. One can not
look down that sheer height to the luminous ghost
of a river below, without a thrill. If to pass along
the cliff is a shivering experience, what must the
actual execution of that stupendous bit of engi
neering have been to the \vorkmen who hewed
the road out of the rock, suspended over the
abyss! Their dangling black figures seem to
sway still as one swings around the curve.
Our travelers sat in silence, until the "Cape,"
THE VANISHING OF ARCHIE 77
was passed and again they could see their road
bed on the side. Then Mrs. Melville made a po
lite excuse for departure; she had promised a
"Daughter" whom she had met at various "bien
nials" that she would have a little talk with her.
Thus she escaped. They did not miss her. Hardly
speaking, the four sat in the dimly lighted, tiny
room, while mountains and fields and star-sown
skies drifted by. Unconsciously, Archie drew
closer to his uncle, and the older man threw an
arm about the young shoulders. He looked up to
meet Janet s eyes shining and sweet, in the flash
of a passing station light. Mrs. Winter smiled,
her wise old smile.
With the next morning came another shift of
scene; they were in the fertile valleys of Cali
fornia. At every turn the landscape became more
softly tinted, more gracious. Aunt Rebecca was
in the best of humor and announced herself as
having the journey of her life. The golden green
of the grain fields, the towering palms, the pepper-
trees with their fascinating grace, the round tops
of the live-oaks, the gloss of the orange groves,
the calla-lily hedges and the heliotrope and gera
nium trees which climbed to the second story of
the stucco houses, filled her with the enthusiasm
78 THE LION S SHARE
of a child. She drank in the cries of the enter
prising young liar who cried "Fresh figs," months
out of season, and she ate fruit, withered in cold
storage, with a trustful zest. No less than three
books about the flora of California came out of
her bag. A certain vine called the Bougain-
villea, she was trying to find, if only the cars
would not go so fast ; as for poinsettias, she cer
tainly should raise her own for Christmas. She
was learned in gardens and she discoursed with
Miss Smith on the different kinds of trumpet-
vine, and whether the white jasmine trailing
among the gaudy clusters was of the same family
as that jasmine which they knew in the pine for
ests. But she disparaged the roses; they looked
shop-worn. The colonel watched her in amaze
"Bertie, I make you think of that little dwarf
of Dickens , don t I?" she cried. "Miss Muffins,
Muggins? what was her name? You are expect
ing me to exclaim, Ain t I volatile? Thank
Heaven, I am. I could always take an interest in
trifles. It has been my salvation to cultivate an
interest in trifles, Bertie; there are a great many
more trifles than crises in life. Where has Janet
gone? Oh, to give the porter the collodion for
THE VANISHING OF ARCHIE 79
his cut thumb. People with troubles, big or little,
are always making straight for Janet. Bertie,
have you made your mind up about her ?"
"Only that she is charming," replied the colo
nel. He did not change color, but he was uneasily
conscious that he winced, and that the shrewd old
critic of life and manners perceived it. But she
was mercifully blind to all appearance ; she went
on with the little frown of the solver of a psycho
logical enigma. "Yes, Janet is charming; and
why? She is the stillest creature. Have you no
ticed? Yet you never have the sense that she
hasn t answered you. She s the best listener in the
world; and there s one thing about her unusual
in most listeners her eyes never grow vacant."
Rupert had noticed ; he called himself a dodder
ing old donkey silently, because he had assumed
that there was anything personal in the in
terest of those eyes when he had spoken. Of
course not; it was her way with every one, even
Millicent, no doubt. His aunt s next words were
lost, but a sentence caught his ear directly : "For
all she s so gentle, she has plenty of spirit. Bertie,
did I ever tell you about the time our precious
cousin threw our great-great-grandfather s gold
snuff-box at her? No? It was funny. She flew
80 THE LION S SHARE
into one of her towering rages, and shrieking,
Take that! hurled the snuff-box at Janet. Janet
wasn t used to having things thrown at her. She
caught the box, then she rang the bell. Thank
you very much/ says Janet ; and when old Aunt
Phrosie came, she handed the snuff-box to her,
saying it had just been given to her as a present.
But she sent it that same day to one of the sisters.
There was never anything else thrown at her, I
can tell you."
They found a wonderful sunset on the bay when
San Francisco was reached. Still in her golden
humor, as they rattled over the cobblestones of
the picturesque streets to the Palace Hotel, Mrs.
Winter told anecdotes of Robert Louis Stevenson,
obtained from a friend who had known his
mother. Mrs. Winter had chosen the Palace in
preference to the St. Francis, to Mrs. Melville s
"She thinks it more typical," sneered Millicent ;
"myself, I prefer cleanliness and comfort to
Their rooms were waiting for them and two
bell-boys ushered Mrs. Winter into her suite.
Randall was lodged on the same floor, and Mrs.
Melville, who was to spend a few days with her
THE VANISHING OF ARCHIE 81
aunt on the latter s invitation, was on a lower
floor. The colonel had begged to have Archie
next to him ; and he examined the quarters with
approbation. His own room was the last of the
suite; to the right hand, between his room and
Archie s, was their bath; then the parlor of Mrs.
Winter s suite next her room and bath, and last,
to the right, Miss Smith s room.
Archie was sitting by the window looking
out on the street ; only the oval of his soft boyish
cheek showed. The colonel went by him to the
parlor beyond, where he encountered his aunt,
her hands full of gay postal cards.
"Souvenirs de voyage," she answered his
glance; "I am going to post them."
"Can t I take them for you?"
"No, thanks, I want the exercise."
"May I go with you ?"
"Indeed, no. My dear Bertie, I m only aged,
I m not infirm."
"You will never be aged," responded the colo
nel gallantly. He turned away and walked along
the arcade which looked down into the great court
of the hotel. Millicent was approaching him ; Mil-
licent in something of a temper. Her room was
hideously draughty and she could not get any one,
82 THE LION S SHARE
although she had rung and telephoned to the of
fice and tried every device which was effectual in
a well-conducted hotel; but this, she concluded
bitterly, was not well-conducted; it was only
There s a lovely fire in Aunt Rebecca s par
lor," soothed the colonel; "come in there."
Afterward it seemed to him that this whole in
terview with Millicent could not have occupied
more than four minutes ; that it was not more than
seven minutes since he had seen Archie s shapely
curly head against the curtain fall of the window.
But when he opened the door, Miss Smith
came toward them. "Is Archie with Aunt Re
becca?" said she.
The colonel answered that he had left him in
the parlor; perhaps he had stepped into his own
But neither in Archie s nor the colonel s nor in
any room of the party could they find the boy.
"But this is preposterous," cried Mrs. Melville,
"you must have seen him had he come out of the
room ; you were directly in front of the doors all
"I was," admitted the colonel; "can can the
boy be hiding to scare us?" He spoke to Miss
Smith. She had grown pale; he did not know
that his own color had turned. Millicent stared
from one to the other.
"How ridiculous!" she exclaimed; "of course
not ; but he must be somewhere ; let me look !"
Look as they might through all the staring,
empty rooms, there was no vestige of the boy. He
was as clean vanished as if he had fallen out of
the closed and locked windows. The colonel ex
amined them all; had there been one open, he
would have peered outside, frightened as he had
never been when death was at his elbow. But it
certainly wasn t possible to jump through a win
dow, and not only shut, but lock it after one.
84 THE LION S SHARE
Under every bed, in every closet, he prowled;
he was searching still when Mrs. Winter re
turned. By this time Mrs. Melville was agitated,
and, naturally, irritated as well. "I think it is un
pardonable in Archie to sneak out in this fash
ion/ she complained.
"I suppose the boy wanted to see the town a
bit," observed Aunt Rebecca placidly. "Rupert,
come in and sit down; he will be back in a mo
ment; smoke a cigar, if your nerves need calm
Rupert felt as if he were a boy of ten, called
back to common sense out of imaginary horrors
of the dark.
"But, if he wanted to go out, why did he leave
his hat and coat behind him ?" asked Miss Smith.
"He may be only exploring the hotel," said
Mrs. Winter. "Don t be so restless, Bertie; sit
The colonel s eye was furtively photographing
every article of furniture in the room ; it lingered
longest on Mrs. Winter s wardrobe-trunk, which
was standing in her room. Randall had been de
spatched for a hot-water bottle in lieu of one
which had sprung a leak on the train ; so the trunk
stood, its door ajar.
BLIND CLUES 85
"Maybe he is doing the Genevra stunt in there
is that what you are thinking?" she jeered.
"Well, go and look."
Light as her tone was, she was not unaffected
by the contagion of anxiety about her ; after a mo
ment, while Rupert was looking at the wardrobe-
trunk, and even profanely exploring the swathed
gowns held in rigid safety by bands of rubber,
she moved about the rooms herself.
"There isn t room for a mouse in that box,"
growled the colonel.
"Of course not/ said his aunt languidly, sink
ing into the easiest chair ; "but your mind is easier.
Archie will come back for dinner ; don t worry."
"How could he get by me?" retorted the colo
"Perhaps he went into one of the neighboring
rooms," Miss Smith suggested. "Shall I go out
and rap on the door of the next room on the left?"
On the right the last room of the party was a
"Why, you might" acquiesced Aunt Rebecca;
but Mrs. Melville cut the ends of her words.
"Pray let me go, Aunt Rebecca," she begged,
suiting the action to the words, and was out of
the door almost ahead of her sentence,
86 THE LION S SHARE
The others waited ; they were silent ; little flecks
of color raddled Mrs. Winter s cheeks. They
could hear Millicent s knock reverberating. There
was no answer. "Telephone to the adjacent
rooms/ proposed the colonel.
"I ll telephone," said Mrs. Winter, and rang
up the number of the next room. There was no
response; but when she called the number of the
room adjoining, she seemed to get an answer, for
she announced her name. "Have you seen a
young lad?" she continued, after an apology for
disturbing them. "He belongs to our party; has
he by chance got into your room? and is he
there?" In a second she put down the receiver
with a heightened color, saying, "They might be
a little civiler in their answers, if it is Mr. Keatch-
am s suite."
"What did the beggar say?" bristled the colo
"Only that it was Mr. Keatchanrs suite Mr.
E. S. Keatcham as if that put getting into it
quite out of the question. Some underling, I pre
"There is the unoccupied room between. That
is not accounted for. But it shall be. I will find
out who is in there." Rupert rose as he spoke,
BLIND CLUES 87
pricked by the craving for action of a man accus
tomed to quick decision. He heard his aunt
brusquely repelling Millicent s proposal of the po
lice, as he left the room. Indeed, she called him
back to exact a promise that he would not make
Archie s disappearance public. "We want to find
him," was her grim addendum; "and we can t
have the police and the newspapers hindering us. *
In the office, he found external courtesy and a
rather perfunctory sympathy, based on a sup
pressed, but perfectly visible conviction that the
boy had stolen out for a glimpse of the city, and
would be back shortly.
The manager had no objection to telling Colo
nel Winter, whom he knew slightly, that the oc
cupant of the next room was a New England lady
of the highest respectability, Mrs. Winthrop
Wiggles worth. If the young fellow didn t turn
up for dinner, he should be glad to ask Mrs. Wig-
glesworth to let Mrs. Winter examine her room;
but he rather thought they would be seeing young
Winter before then oh, his hat? They usually
carried caps in their pockets; and as to coats
boys never thought of their coats.
The manager s cheeriness did not especially up
lift the colonel. He warmed it over dutifully,
88 THE LION S SHARE
however, for his womankind s benefit. Miss
Smith had gone out; why, he was not told, and
did not venture to ask. Mrs. Melville kept making
cautious signals to him behind his aunt s back;
otherwise she was preserving the mien of sympa
thetic solemnity which she was used to show at
funerals and first visits of condolence and con
gratulation to divorced friends. Mrs. Winter, as
usual, wore an inscrutable composure. She was
still firmly opposed to calling in the aid of the po
Did she object to his making a few inquiries
among the hotel bell-boys, the elevator boy and
the people in the restaurant or in the office ?
Not at all, if he would be cautious.
So he sallied out, and, in the midst of his fruit
less inquisition, Millicent appeared.
Forcing a civil smile, he awaited her pleasure.
"Go on, don t mind me," said she mournfully;
"you will feel better to have done everything in
"But I shall not discover anything?"
"I fear not. Has it not occurred to you that he
has been kidnapped ?"
"Hmn !" said the colonel.
"And did you notice how perturbed Miss Smith
BLIND CLUES 89
seemed? She was quite pale; her agitation was
"She is tremendously fond of Archie."
"Or she knows more than she will say."
"Oh, what rot !" sputtered the colonel ; then he
begged her pardon.
"Wait," he counseled, and his man s resistance
to appearances had its effect, as masculine im
mobility always has, on the feminine effervescence
before him. "Wait," was his word, "at least until
we give the boy a chance to turn up; if he has
slipped by us, he is taking a little pasear on his
own account; lads do get restless sometimes if
they are held too steadily in the leash, especially
if you will excuse me by, well, by ladies."
"If he has frightened us out of our wits well,
I don t know what oughtn t to be done to him !"
"Oh well, let us wait and hear his story," re
peated the soldier.
But the last streaks of red faded out of the
west; a chill fog smoked up from the darkening
hills, and Archie had not come. At eight, Mrs.
Winter ordered dinner to be served in their
rooms. Miss Smith had not returned. The colo
nel attempted a military cheerfulness, which his
aunt told him bluntly, later in the evening, re-
90 THE LION S SHARE
minded her of a physician s manner in critical
cases where the patient s mind must be kept abso
But she ate more than he at dinner; although
her own record was not a very good one. Mini-
cent avowed that she was too worried to eat, but
she was tempted by the strawberries and carp,
and w r ondered were the California fowls really
so poor; and gave the sample the benefit of im
partial and fair examination, in the end making
a very fair meal.
It is not to be supposed that Winter had been
idle ; before dinner he had put a guard in the hall
and had seen Haley, who reported that his wife
and child had gone to a kinswoman in Santa Bar-
"Sure the woman has a fine house intirely, and
she s fair crazy over the baby that s named afther
her, for she s a widdy woman with never a child
excipt wan that s in hivin, a little gurrl; and she
wudn t let us rist til she d got the cratur . Nor
I wasn t objictin , for I m thinking there ll be
something doin and the wimin is onconvanient,
The colonel admitted that he shared Haley s
opinion. He questioned the man minutely about
BLIND CLUES 91
Mercer s conduct on the train. It was absolutely
commonplace. If he had any connection (as the
colonel had suspected) with the bandits, he made
no sign. He sent no telegrams ; he wrote no let
ters; he made no acquaintances, smoking his
solitary cigar over a newspaper. Indeed, abso
lutely the only matter of note (if that were one)
was that he read so many newspapers buying
every different journal vended. At San Fran
cisco he got into a cab and Haley heard him give
the order: "To the St. Francis." Having his
wife and child with him, the sergeant couldn t
follow; but he went around to the St. Francis
later, and inquired for Mr. Mercer, for whom he
had a letter (as was indeed the case the colonel
having provided him with one), but no such naii^e
appeared on the register. Invited to leave the let
ter to await the gentleman s arrival, Haley said
that he was instructed to give it to the gentleman
himself; therefore, he took it away with him.
He had carried it to all the other hotels or board
ing-places in San Francisco which he could find,
aided greatly thereto by a friend of his, formerly
in "the old th," a sergeant, now stationed at the
Presidio. Thanks to him, Haley could say defi
nitely that Mercer was not at any of the hotels
92 THE LION S SHARE
or more prominent boarding-houses in the city, at
least under his own name.
"And you haven t seen him since he got into
the cab at the station ?" the colonel summed up.
Haley s reply was unexpected : "Yes, sor, I
seen him this day, in the marning, in this same
"Drinking coffee at a table in th coort. He
wint out, havin paid the man, not a-signin , an
he guv the waiter enough to make him say,
Thank ye, sor/ but not enough to make him
smile and stay round to pull aff the chair. I fol-
lied him to the dure, but he got into an autymo-
"Get the number?"
"Yis, sor. Number here tis, sor, I wrote it
down to make sure." He passed over to the colo
nel an old envelope on which was written a num
* "M. 20139," read the colonel, carefully not
ing down the number in his own memorandum-
book. And he reflected, "That is a Massachusetts
number humph !"
Haley s information ended there. He heard of
*0f course, no allusions are made to any real M. 20139.
BLIND CLUES 93
Archie s disappearance with his usual stolid mien,
but his hands slowly clenched. The colonel con
"You are to find out, if you can, by scraping
acquaintance with the carriage men, if that auto
you have written a description, I see, as well
as the number find out if that auto left this hotel
this afternoon between six and seven o clock.
Find out who were in it. Find out where it is
kept and who owns it. Get H. Birdsall, Mer
chants Exchange Building, to send a man to help
you. Wait, I ve a card ready for you to give him
from me ; he has sent me men before. Report by;
telephone as soon as you know anything. If I m
not here, speak Spanish and have them write it
down. Be back here to-night by ten, if you can,
Haley dismissed, and his own appetite for din
ner effectually dispelled by his report, Winter
joined his aunt. Should he tell her his suspicions
and their ground? Wasn t he morally obliged,
now, to tell her? She was co-guardian with him
of the boy, who, he had no doubt, had been spir
ited away by Mercer and his accomplice; and
hadn t she a right to any information on the mat
ter in his possession ?
94 THE LION S SHARE
Reluctantly he admitted that she did have such
a right; and, he admitted further, being a man
who never cheated at solitaire, that his object in
keeping the talk of the two men from her had
not been so much the desire to guard her nerves
(which he knew perfectly well were of a robuster
fiber than those of most women twenty or forty
years younger than she) ; no, he admitted it
grimly, he had not so much spared his aunt as
Janet Smith ; he could not bear to direct suspicion
toward her. But how could he keep silent longer?
Kicking this question about in his mind, he
spoiled the flavor of his after-dinner cigar, al
though his aunt graciously bade him smoke it in
And still Miss Smith had not returned ; really,
it was only fair to her to have her present when
he told his story to his aunt ; no, he was not grab
bing at any excuse for delay; if he could watch
that girl s face while he told his story he would
well, he would have his mind settled one way or
Here the telephone bell rang; the manager in
formed Colonel Winter that Mrs. Wiggles worth
" Wigglesworth ? what an extraordinary name !"
BLIND CLUES 95
cried Millicent when the colonel shared his in
"Good old New England name; I know some
extremely nice Wigglesworths in Boston," Mrs.
Winter amended with a touch of hauteur ; and, at
this moment, there came a knock at the door.
There is all the difference in the world between
knocks; a knock as often as not conveys a most
unintentional hint in regard to the character of
the one behind the knuckles ; and often, also, the
mood of the knocker is reflected in the sound
which he makes. Were there truth in this, one
would judge that the person who knocked at this
moment must be a woman, for the knock was not
loud, but almost timidly gentle; one might even
guess that she was agitated, for the tapping was
in a hurried, uneven measure.
"I believe it is Mrs. Wigglesworth herself/ de
clared Aunt Rebecca. "Bertie, I m going into the
other room ; she will talk more freely to you. She
would want to spare my nerves. That is the
nuisance of being old. Now open the door."
She was half-way across the threshold before
she finished, and the colonel s fingers on the door
knob waited only for the closing of her door to
turn to admit the lady in waiting.
96 THE LION S SHARE
A lady she was beyond doubt, and any one who
had traveled would have been sure that she was a
lady from Massachusetts. She wore that little
close bonnet which certain elderly Boston gentle
women can neither be driven nor allured to aban
don ; her rich and quiet black silken gown might
have been made any year within the last five, and
her furs would have graced a princess. She had
beautiful gray hair and a soft complexion and
wore glasses. Equally evident to the observer was
the fact of her suppressed agitation.
She waved aside the colonel s proffered chair,
introducing herself in a musical, almost tremulous
voice with the crisp enunciation of her section of
the country. "I am Mrs. Wigglesworth ; I under
stand, Colonel Winter you? y-yes, no, thank
you, I will not sit. I I understood Mrs. Winter
ah, your aunt, is an elderly woman/
"This is my sister-in-law, Mrs. Melville Win
ter," explained the colonel. "My aunt is elderly
in years, but in nothing else."
Mrs. Wigglesworth smiled a faint smile; the
colonel could see a tremble of the hand that was
unconsciously drawing her fur collar more tightly
about her throat. "How very nice yes, to be
sure," she faltered. "But you will understand that
BLIND CLUES 97
I did not wish to alarm her. I heard that you
wanted to speak to me, and that the little boy was
"Or stolen," Mrs. Melville said crisply.
The colonel, in a few words, displayed the situa
tion. He had prevailed upon his visitor to sit
down, and while he spoke he noticed that her
hands held each other tightly, although she ap
peared perfectly composed and did not interrupt.
She answered his questions directly and quietly.
She had been away taking tea with a friend ; she
had remained to dine. Her maid had gone out
earlier to spend the day and night with a sister in
the city ; so the room was empty between six and
seven o clock.
The chambermaid wasn t there, then?"
"I don t think so. She usually does the room
and brings the towels for the bath in the morning.
But I asked her, to make sure, and she says that
she was not there since morning. She seems a
good girl; I think she didn t but I have found
something. At least I am af I may have found
something. I thought I might see Mrs. Winter s
niece about it" she glanced toward Millicent,
who said, "Certainly," at a venture; and looked
98 THE LION S SHARE
"And you found ?" said the colonel.
"Only this. I went to my rooms, turned on the
light and was taking off my gloves before I un
tied my bonnet. One of my rings fell on the floor.
It went under a rug, and I at once remarked that
it was a different place for the rug to the one
where it had been before. Before, it was in front
of the dresser, a very natural place, but now it is
on the carpet to one side, a place where there
seemed no reason for its presence. These details
seem trivial, but "
"I can see they are not," said the colonel.
"Pray proceed, Madam. The ring had rolled un
der the rug!"
Mrs. Wigglesworth gave tyim a grateful nod.
"Yes, it had. And when I removed the rug I
saw it ; but as I bent to pick it up I saw something
else. In one place there was a stain, as large as
the palm of my hand, a little pool ofit looks
Mrs. Melville uttered an exclamation of horror.
The colonel s face stiffened; but there was no
change in his polite attention.
"May we be permitted to see this ah, stain?
The three stepped through the corridor to the
BLIND CLUES 99
outside door, and went into the chamber. The
rug was firing to one side, and there on the gray
velvet nap of the carpet was an irregular, sprawl
ing stain about which were spattered other stains,
some crimson, some almost black.
Millicent recoiled, shuddering. The colonel
knelt down and examined the stains. "Yes," he
said very quietly, "you are right, it is blood."
There was a tap on the door, which was opened
immediately without waiting for a permission.
Millicent, rigid with fright, could only stare help
lessly at the erect figure, the composed, pale face
and the brilliant, imperious eyes of her aunt
"What did you say, Bertie?" said Rebecca Win
ter. "I think I have a right to the whole truth."
THE VOICE IN THE TELEPHONE
"Well, Bertie?" Mrs. Winter had gone back to
her parlor in the most docile manner in the world.
Her submission struck Rupert on the heart ; it was
as if she were stunned, he felt.
He was sitting opposite her, his slender, rather
short figure looking shrunken in the huge, ugly,
upholstered easy-chair; he kept an almost con
strained attitude of military erectness, of which
he was conscious, himself; and at which he smiled
forlornly, recalling the same pose in Haley when
ever the sergeant was disconcerted.
"But, first," pursued his aunt, "who was that
red-headed bell-boy with whom you exchanged
signals in the hall ?"
The colonel suppressed a whistle. "Aunt
Becky, you re a wonder! Did you notice? And
he simply shut the palm of his hand! Why, it s
this way: I was convinced that Archie must be
on the premises; he couldn t get off. So I tele-
THE VOICE IN THE TELEPHONE 101
phoned a detective that I know here, a private
agency, not the police, to send me a sure man to
watch. He is made up as a bell-boy (with the
hotel manager s consent, of course) ; either I, or
Millicent, or that boy has kept an eye on the
Keatcham doors and the next room ever since I
found Archie was gone. No one has gone out
without our seeing him. If any suspicious person
goes out, we have it arranged to detain him long
enough for me to get a good look. I can tell you
exactly who left the room."
"It is you who are the wonder, Bertie," said
Aunt Rebecca, a little wearily, but smiling. "Who
has gone out ?"
"At seven Mr. Keatcham s secretary went down
to the office and ordered dinner, very carefully.
I didn t see him, but my sleuth did. He had the
secretary and the valet of the Keatcham party
pointed out to him ; he saw them. They had one
visitor, young Arnold, the Arnold s son "
"The one who has all the orange groves and
railways ? Yes, I knew his father."
"That one ; he only came a few moments since.
Mr. Keatcham and his secretary dined together,
and Keatcham s own man waited on them; but
the waiter for this floor brought up the dishes. At
102 THE LION S SHARE
nine the dishes were brought out and my man
helped Keatcham s valet to pile them a little far
ther down the corridor in the hall."
These items the colonel was reading out of his
little red book.
"You have put all that down. Do you think it
"I have put everything down. One can t weed
until there is a crop of information, you know."
"True," murmured Aunt Rebecca, nodding her
head thoughtfully. "Well, did anything else hap
"The secretary posted a lot of letters in the
shute. They are all smoking now 7 . Yes " he
was on his feet and at the door in almost a single
motion. There had been just the slightest tattoo
on the panel. When the door was opened the
colonel could hear the rattle of the elevator. He
was too late to catch it, but he could see the in
mates. Three gentlemen stood in the car. One was
Keatcham, the other two had their backs to Win
ter. One seemed tc be supporting Keatcham, who
looked pale. He sa / the colonel and darted at
him a single glanr? in which was something
like a poignant appen 1 ; what, it was too brief for
the receiver to decide for in the space of an eye-
THE VOICE IN THE TELEPHONE 103
blink a shoulder of the other man intervened,
and simultaneously the elevator car began to
There was need to decide instantly who should
follow, who stay on guard. Rupert bade the boy
go down by the stairs, while, with a kind of bull
dog instinct, he clung to the rooms. The lad \vas
to fetch the manager and the keys of the Keatch-
Meanwhile Rupert paced back and forth before
the closed doors, whence there penetrated the
rustle of packing and a murmur of voices. Pres
ently Keatcham s valet opened the farther door.
He spoke to some one inside. "Yes, sir," he said,
"the porter hought to be ere now."
The porter was there; at least he was coming
down the corridor which led to the elevator, trun
dling his truck before him. He entered the rooms
and busied himself about the luggage.
Doggedly the colonel stuck to his guard until
the valet and another man, a clean-shaven, fresh-
faced young man whom the watcher had never
seen before, came out of the room. The valet
superintended the taking of two trunks, accepting
tickets and checks from the porter with a thor
oughly Anglican suspicion and thoroughness of
104 THE LION S SHARE
inspection, while the young man stood tapping his
immaculate trousers-leg with the stick of his ad
mirably slender umbrella.
"It s all right, Colvin," he broke in impatiently;
"three tickets to Los Angeles, drawing-room, one
lower berth, one section, checks for two trunks;
come on !"
Very methodically the man called Colvin
stowed away his green and red slips, first in an
envelope, then in his pocket-book, finally button
ing an inside pocket over all. He was the image
of a rather stupid, conscientious English serving
creature. Carefully he counted out a liberal but
not lavish tip for the porter, and watched that
functionary depart. Last of all, he locked the
With extreme courtesy of manner Winter ap
proached the young man.
"Pardon me," said he. "I am Colonel Winter;
my aunt, Mrs. Winter, has the rooms near yours,
and she finds that she needs another room or two.
Are you leaving yours ?"
"These are Mr. Keatcham s rooms, not mine/
the young man responded politely. "He is leaving
"When you give up your keys, would you mind
THE VOICE IN THE TELEPHONE 105
asking the clerk to send them up to me?" pursued
the colonel. "Room three twenty-seven."
"Certainly," replied the young man, "or would
you like to look at them a moment now ?"
"Why if it wouldn t detain you," hesitated
Winter; he was hardly prepared for the offer of
"Get the elevator and hold it a minute, Colvin,"
said the young man, and he instantly fitted the key
to the door, which he flung open.
"Excuse me," said he, as they stood in the
room, "but aren t you the Colonel Winter who
held that mountain pass to let the other fellows
get off, after your ammunition was exhausted ?"
"I seem to recall some such episode, only it
sounds rather gaudy the way you put it."
"I read about you in the papers; you swam a
river with Funston ; did all kinds of stunts "
"Or the newspaper reporter did. You don t
happen to know anything about the price of these
rooms, I suppose ?"
The young man did not know, but he showed
the colonel through all the rooms with vast civil
ity. He seemed quite indifferent to the colonel s
interest in closets, baths and wardrobes; he only
wanted to talk about the Philippines.
io6 THE LION S SHARE
The colonel, who always shied like a mettled
horse from the flutter of his own laurels, grew
red with discomfort and rattled the door-knob*.
"There the suite ends," said the young man.
"Oh, we don t want it all, only a room or two,"
Colonel Winter demurred. "Any one of these
rooms would do. Well, I will not detain you. The
elevator boy will be tired, and Mr. Keatcham will
"Not at all ; he will have gone. I I m so very
glad to have met you, Colonel "
In this manner, with mutual civilities, they
parted, the young man escorting the colonel to his
own door, which the latter was forced to enter by
the sheer demands of the situation.
But hardly had the door closed than he popped
out again. The young man was swinging round
the corner next the elevator.
"Is he an innocent bystander or what ?" puzzled
the soldier. He resumed his march up and down
the corridor. The next room to the Keatcham
suite was evidently held by an agent of the Fire-
less Cooking Stove, since one of his samples had
strayed into the hall and was mutely proclaiming
its own exceeding worth in very black letters on
a very white placard.
THE VOICE IN THE TELEPHONE 107
"If the young man and the valet are straight
goods, the key will come up reasonably soon from
the office," thought the watcher.
Sure enough, the keys, in the hands of Winter s
own spy, appeared before he had waited three
minutes. He reported that the old gentleman got
into a cab with his secretary and the valet, and the
other gentlemen took another cab. The secretary
paid the bill. Had he gone sooner than expected ?
No; he had engaged the rooms until Thursday
night ; this was Thursday night.
The colonel asked about the next room, which
was directly on the cross corridor leading to the
elevator. The detective had been instructed to
watch it. How long had the Fireless Cooking
Stove man had it? There was no meat for sus
picion in the answer. The stove man had come
the day before the Keatcham party. He was a
perfectly commonplace, good-looking young man,
representing the Peerless Fireless Cooking Stove
with much picturesque eloquence; he had sold a
lot of stoves to people in the hotel, and he tried
without much success to tackle "old Keatcham" ;
he had attacked even the sleuth himself. "He
gave me a mighty good cigar, too," chuckled the
io8 THE LION S SHARE
"Hmn, you got it now?"
"Only the memory," the boy grinned.
You ought to have kept it, Birdsall would tell
you ; you are watching every one in these rooms.
Did it have a necktie? And did you throw that
"No, sir, I kept that; after I got to smoking, I
just thought I d keep it."
When he took the tiny scrap of paper from his
pocket-book the colonel eyed it grimly. " A de
Villar y Villar, " he read, with a slight ironic
inflection. "Decidedly our young Fireless Stove
promoter smokes good cigars !"
"Maybe Mr. Keatcham gave it to him. He was
"Was he? Oh, yes, trying to sell his stove
but not succeeding ?"
"He said he was trying to get past the valet
and the secretary ; he thought if he could only get
at the old man and demonstrate his stove he could
make the sale. He could cook all right, that
The colonel made no comment, and presently
betook himself to his aunt. She was waiting for
him in the parlor, playing solitaire. Through the
open door the white bed that ought to have been
THE VOICE IN THE TELEPHONE 109
Archie s was gleaming faintly. The colonel s
"Well, Bertie? Did you find anything?" Mrs.
Winter inquired smoothly.
"I m afraid not; but here is the report." He
gave it to her, even down to the cigar wrapper.
"It doesn t seem likely that Mr. Keatcham has
anything to do with it," said she. "He, no doubt,
has stolen many a little railway, but a little boy
is too small game."
"Oh, I don t suspect Keatcham; but I wish I
had caught the elevator to-night. He looked at
me in a mighty queer way."
"Did you recognize his secretary as any one
whom you ever saw before?" asked Mrs. Winter.
"I can t say," was the answer, given with a
little hesitation. "I m not sure."
"I don t think I quite understand you, Bertie;
better make a clean breast of all you know. I m
getting a little worried myself."
The colonel reached across the cards and tapped
his aunt s arm affectionately. He felt the warm
est impulse toward sympathy for her that he had
ever known; it glistened in his eyes. Mrs. Win
ter s cheeks slowly crimsoned; she turned her
head, exclaiming, did she hear a noise; but the
no THE LION S SHARE
colonel s keen ears had not be*n warned. "Poor
woman/ he thought, "she is worritd to death,
but she will not admit it."
"Now, Bertie," said Mrs. Winter calmly, but
her elbow fell on her cards and spoiled a very
promising game of Penelope s Web, "now, Ber
tie, what are you keeping back ?"
Then, at last, the colonel told her of his experi
ence in Chicago. She heard him quite without
comment, and he could detect no shift of emotion
in her demeanor of absorbed but perfectly calm
attention, unless a certain tension of attitude and
feature (as if, he phrased it, she were "holding
herself in") might be so considered. And he was
not sure of this. When he came to the words
which stuck in his throat, the sentence about Miss
Smith, she smiled frankly, almost laughed.
At the end of the recital and the colonel had
not omitted a word or a look in his memory she
merely said : "Then you think Gary Mercer has
kidnapped Archie, and the nice-looking Harvard
boy is helping him ?"
"Don t you think it looks that way, yourself?"
She answered that question by another one:
"But you don t think, do you, that Janot is th
Miss Smith mentioned ?"
THE VOICE IN THE TELEPHONE in
His reply came after an almost imperceptible
Again she smiled. "That is because you know
Janet; if you didn t know her you would think
the chances were in favor of their meaning her?
Naturally! Well, I know Gary a little. I knew
his father well. I don t believe he would harm a
hair of Archie s head. He isn t a cruel fellow at
least not toward women and children. I ve a no
tion that what he calls his wrongs have upset his
wits a bit, and he might turn the screws on the
Wall Street crowd that ruined him. That is, if
he had a chance; but he is poor; he would need
millions to get even a chance for a blow at them.
But a child, a lad who looks like his brother no,
you may be sure he wouldn t hurt Archie! He
"But the name, Winter ; it is not such a com
mon name ; and the words about a lady of of "
The polite soldier hesitated.
"An old woman, do you mean ?" said Aunt Re
becca, with a little curving of her still unwrinkled
"It sounds so complete," submitted her nephew.
"Therefore distrust it," she argued dryly.
"Gaboriau s great detective and Conan Doyle s
ii2 THE LION S SHARE
both have that same maxim not to pick out easy
Winter smiled in his own turn. "Still, some
times the easy answers are right. Now, here is
the situation : I hear this conversation at the
depot. I find one of the men on the same train
with me. He, presumably, if he is Gary Mercer,
and I don t think I can be mistaken in his iden
"Unless another man is making up as Gary!"
"It may seem conceited, but I don t think I
could be fooled. This man had every expression
of the other s, and I was too struck by the I may
almost call it malignant look he had, not to rec
ognize him. No, it was Mercer; he would cer
tainly recognize you, and he would know who I
am ; he would not be called upon to snub me as a
possible confidence man."
"That rankles yet, Bertie?"
He made a grimace and nodded.
"But," he insisted, "isn t it so? If he is up to
some mischief, any mischief doesn t care to have
his kin meet him that is the way he would act,
don t you think ?"
"He might be up to mischief, yet have no de
signs on his kin."
THE VOICE IN THE TELEPHONE 113
"He might," said the colonel musingly. A
thought which he did not confide to the shrewd
old woman had just flipped his mind. But he
went on with his plea.
"He avoids you ; he avoids me. He is seen go
ing into Keatcham s drawing-room; that means
some sort of an acquaintance with Keatcham,
enough to talk to him, anyway. How much, I
can t say. Then comes the attack by the robbers ;
he is in another car, so there is no call for him to
do anything; there is no light whatever on
whether he had anything to do with the robbery.
"Then we come here. Keatcham has the room
next but one. Archie goes into his own room ; we
see him go; I am outside, directly outside; it is
simply impossible for him to go out into the hall
without my seeing him ; besides, I found the doors
outside all locked except the one to the right where
we entered your suite; then we may assume that
he could not go out. He could not climb out of
locked windows on the third floor down a sheer
descent of some forty or fifty feet. Your last
room to the right, Miss Smith s bedroom, is a
corner room ; besides, she was in it ; that excludes
every exit except that to the left. We find Mrs.
Wigglesworth was absent, and there were evi-
H4 THE LION S SHARE
dences of *an an attack of some kind carefully
hidden, afterward. But there is no sign of the
boy. I watch the rooms. If he is hidden some
where in Keatcham s rooms, the chances are, after
Keatcham goes, they will try to take him off. I
don t think it probable that Keatcham knows any
thing about the kidnapping; in fact, it is wildly
improbable. Well, Keatcham goes; immediately
I get into the room. The valet and the young man
visiting Keatcham, young Arnold, let me in with
out the slightest demur. Either they know noth
ing of the boy or somehow they have got him
away, else they would not let me in so easily.
Maybe they are ignorant and the boy is gone,
both. We go to the rooms very soon after ; there
is not the smallest trace of Archie."
"How did he get out?"
"They must have outwitted me, somehow," the
colonel sighed, "and it looks as if he went volun
tarily; there was no possible carrying away by
force. And there was no odor of chloroform
about ; that is very penetrating ; it would get into
the halls. They must have persuaded him to go
"If they have kidnapped him," said Mrs. Win
ter, "they will send me some word, and if they
THE VOICE IN THE TELEPHONE 115
have persuaded him to run away, plainly he must
be able to walk, and that mess in Mrs. Wiggles-
worth s room doesn t mean anything bad."
"Of course not," said the colonel firmly.
Then, in as casual a tone as he could command :
"By the way, where is Miss Smith ? She is back,
isn t she?"
"Oh, a long time ago," said Mrs. Winter. "I
sent her to bed."
"I ve been frank with you. You will recipro
cate and tell me why, for what, you sent her out ?"
Mrs. Winter made not the least evasion. She
answered frankly: "I sent her with a carefully
worded advertisement but you needn t tell Milli-
cent, who has also gone to bed, thank Heaven I
sent her with a carefully worded advertisement to
all the papers. This is the advertisement. It will
reach the kidnappers, and it will not reach any
one else. See." She handed him a slip of paper
from her card-case. He read :
"To the holders of Archie W: Communicate
with R. S. W., same address as before, and you
will hear of something to your advantage. Per
The colonel read it thoughtfully, a little puz
zled. Before he had time to speak, his quick ears
ii6 THE LION S SHARE
caught the sharp ring of his room telephone bell.
He excused himself to answer it. His room was
the last of the suite, but he shut the door on his
way to the telephone.
He expected Haley; nor was he disappointed.
Haley reported in Spanish that he had traced
the automobile ; it was the property of young Mr.
Arnold, son of the rich Mr. Arnold. Young Ar
nold had been at Harvard last year, and he took
out a Massachusetts license; he had a California
one, too. Should he (Haley) look up young Ar
nold ? And should he come to report that night ?
The colonel thought he could wait till morn
ing, and, a little comforted, hung up the receiver.
Barely was it out of his hand when the bell
shrilled again, sharply, vehemently. Winter put
the tube to his ear.
"Does any one want Colonel Winter, Palace
Hotel?" he asked.
A sweet, eager, boyish voice called back : "Un
cle Bertie! Uncle Bertie, don t you worry; I m
"Archie!" cried the colonel. "Where are you?"
But there was no answer. He called again, and
a second time; he told the lad that they were
dreadfully anxious about him. He got no re-
THE VOICE IN THE TELEPHONE 1 1;
sppnse from the boy; but another voice, a wom
an s voice, said, with cold distinctness, as if to
some one in the room : "No, don t let him ; it is
impossible !" Then a dead wall of silence and Cen
tral s impassive ignorance. He could get nothing.
Rupert Winter stood a moment, frowning and
thinking deeply. Directly, with a shrug of the
shoulders, he walked out of his own outside door,
locking it, and went straight to Miss Smith s.
He knocked, at first very gently, then more
vigorously. But there was no answer. He went
away from the door, but he did not reenter his
room. He did not bear to his aunt the news which,
with all its meagerness and irritating incomplete
ness, had been an enormous relief to him. He
simply waited in the corridor. Five minutes, ten
minutes passed; then he heard the elevator whir,
and, standing with his hand on the knob of his
open door, he saw his aunt s companion, dressed
for the street, step out and speed down the cor
ridor to her own door.
The other voice the woman s voice had been
Janet Smith s.
THE HAUNTED HOUSE
A mud-splashed automobile runabout contain
ing two men was turning off Van Ness Avenue
down a narrower and shadier side street in the
afternoon of the Sunday following the disappear
ance of Archie Winter. One of the occupants
seemed to be an invalid whom the brilliant March
sunshine had not tempted out of his heavy wrap
pings and cap; the other was a short, thick-set,
corduroy- jacketed chauffeur. One marked the
runabout at a glance as a hardly used livery mo
tor-car; but a moment s inspection might have
shown that it was running with admirable smooth
ness and quiet. The chauffeur wore goggles,
hence his eyes were shielded, but he turned a
broad smile upon the pallid cheeks and sharpened
profile beside him.
"Colonel, as a health-seeker who can t keep
warm enough, you re great!" he cried. "Lord,
but you look the part !"
THE HAUNTED HOUSE 119
"If I can t shed some of these confounded
rnujQleri soon," growled the pale sufferer ad
dressed, "I ll get so red with heat it will come
through my beautiful powder. I hope those fel
lows won t see us, for they will be on to us, all
"Our own mothers wouldn t be on to us in these
rigs," the chauffeur replied cheerily ; he seemed to
be in a hopeful mood; "and let us once get into
the house, and surprise em, and there ll be some
thing drop. But I haven t really had a chance to
tell you the latest having to pick you up at a
drug store this way. Now, let s sum things up!
You think the boy got out through Keatcham s
apartment ? Or Mrs. Wigglesworth s ?"
"How else?" said the colonel, "he can t fly,
and if he could, he couldn t fly out and then lock
the windows from the inside."
"I see" the chauffeur appeared thoughtful
"and the Wigglesworth door was locked. You
think that Keatcham is in it, someway ?"
"Not Keatcham," said the colonel. "There
was another man in the car- Atkins they called
him, though he has disappeared. But Mercer re
mains. His secretary and that valet of his; I
think the secretary is Gary Mercer. The boy
120 THE LION S SHARE
might have slipped out in those few moments we
were hunting for him inside. Afterward, either
Mrs. Melville Winter or I was on guard until
your man came. He might go to the Fireless
Stove man, slip out of his rooms, and round the
corner to the elevator in a couple of seconds.
Then, of course, I might see their rooms "
"Provided, that is, the Fireless Stove drummer
is in the plot, too."
"The Fireless Stove drummer who smokes Vil-
lar y Villar cigars ? He is in it, I think, Birdsall."
"Well, I ll assume that. Next thing: you get
the telephone call. And you say the voice sounded
chipper; didn t look like he was being hurt or
bothered anyway, did it?"
"Not at all. Besides, you know the letter Miss
Smith got this morning ?"
"I think I d like another peek at that; will you
drive her a minute, while I look at the letter
again ?" The instant his hands were free Birdsall
pulled out the envelope from his leather-rimmed
It was rectangular in shape and smaller than
the ordinary business envelope. The paper was
linen of a common diamond pattern, having no
engraved heading. The detective ran his eyes
THE HAUNTED HOUSE 121
down the few lines written in an unformed boyish
hand. There was neither date nor place; only
these words :
DEAR Miss JANET Don t you or auntie be woried about
me because I am well and safe and having a good time. I
had the nose bleed that is why I spoted the carpet. Tell
Auntie to please pay for it out of my next week s allowance.
Be sure and don t wory.
Your aff. friend,
ARCHIBALD PAGE WINTER.
"You re sure this is the boy s writing?" was
the detective s comment.
"Sure. And his spelling, too."
"Now," said Birdsall, watching the colonel s
keen, aquiline profile as he spoke, "now you no
tice there s no heading or mark on the paper;
and the water-mark is only O. K. E., Mass., 1904.
And that amounts to nothing; those folks sell all
over the country. But you notice that it is not
the ordinary business paper; it looks rather lady
like than commercial, doesn t it?"
The colonel admitted that it did look so.
"Now, assuming that this letter was sent with
the connivance of the kidnappers, it looks as if
our young gentleman wasn t in any particular
danger of having a hard time. To me, it looks
122 THE LION S SHARE
pretty certain he must have skipped himself;
tolled along someway, maybe, but not making
any resistance. Now, is there anybody that you
know who has enough influence over him for that ?
How about the lady s maid ?"
"Randall has been a faithful servant for twenty
years, a middle-aged, serious-minded, decent
woman. Out of the question."
"This Miss Smith, your aunt s companion, who
is she ? Do you know ?"
"A South Carolinian; good family; she has
lived with my aunt as secretary and companion
for a year; my aunt is very fond of her."
"That all you know? Well 7 have found out
a little more; she used to live with a Mrs. James
S. Hastings, a rich Washington woman. The
lady s only son fell in love with her; somehow
the marriage was broken off."
"What was his name?"
"Lawrence. They call him Larry. He went to
Manila. Maybe you ve met him there."
"Yes, I knew him ; I don t believe he ever was
accepted by her."
"I don t know. I have only had two days on
her biography. Later, she went to Johns Hopkins
Hospital. One of the doctors was very attentive
THE HAUNTED HOUSE 123
to her but it did not come to anything. She
didn t graduate. Don t know why. Then she
went to live with Miss Angela Nelson, who died
and left her money, away from her own family.
There was talk of breaking the will ; but it wasn t
done. Then she came to Mrs. Winter."
The colonel was silent; there was nothing dis
creditable in these details. He had known before
that Janet Smith was poor; that she had been
thrown on the \vorld early; that she must earn
her own livelihood; yet, somehow, as Birdsall
marshaled the facts, there was an insidious, mala
rious hint of the adventuress, bandied from place
to place, ha\vking her attractions about, whee
dling, charming for hire, entrapping imbecile
young cubs Larry Hastings wasn t more than
twenty-two somehow he felt a revolt against
the picture and against the man submitting it
and, confound Millicent!
The detective changed the manner of his ques
tions a little. "I suppose your aunt is pretty ad
vanced in years, though she is as well pre
served an old lady as 1 have ever met, and as
shrewd. Say, wouldn t she be likely to leave the
boy a lot of money ?"
"I dare say." The colonel was conscious of an
i2 4 THE LION S SHARE
intemperate impulse to kick Birdsall, who had
been such a useful fellow in the Philippines.
"If anything was to happen to him, who would
get the money?"
"Well, Mrs. Melville and I are next of kin,"
returned the colonel dryly. "Do you suspect us? "
"I did look up Mrs. Melville," answered the
unabashed detective, "but I guess she s straight
goods all right. But say, how about Miss Smith?"
The colonel stared, then he laughed. "Bird
sall," said he, "there s somewhat too much men
tion of ladies names to suit my Virginian taste.
But if you mean to imply that Miss Smith is going
to kill Archie to get my aunt s money, I can tell
you you are way off! Your imagination is too
active for your profession. You ought to hire
out to the yellow journals."
His employer s satire did not even flick the
dust off Birdsall s complacency ; he grinned cheer
fully. "Oh, I m not so bad as that; I don t sup
pose she did kill the boy; I think he s alive, all
right. But say, Colonel, I ll give it to you straight ;
I do think the seiiora coaxed the boy off. You
admit, don t you, he went off. Well, then he was
coaxed, somehow. Now, who s got influence
enough to coax him? You cross out the maid;
;THE HAUNTED HOUSE 125
so do I. You cross out Mrs. Melville Winter ; so
do I. I guess we both cross out the old lady.
Well, there s you and the senora left. I don t
suspect you, General."
"Really? I don t see why. I stand to make
more than anybody else, if you are digging up
motives. And how about the chambermaid?"
Birdsall flashed a glance of reproach on his
companion. "Now, Colonel, do you think I ain t
looked her up? First thing. Nothing in it. De
cent Vermont girl, three years in the hotel. Came
for her lungs. She ain t in it. But let s get back
to Miss Smith. Did you know she is Cary
Mercer s sister-in-law ?"
He delivered his shot in a casual way, and the
colonel took it stonily; nevertheless, it went to
the mark. Birdsall continued. "Now, question is,
was Mercer the secretary ? You didn t see the man
in the elevator, except his back. Had he two
"I couldn t see. He had different clothes;
but still there was something like Mercer about
"Burney didn t get a chance to take a snapshot,
but he did snap the stove man. Here it is. Pull
that book out of my pocket."
126 THE LION S SHARE
Obeying, the colonel lifted a couple of small
prints which he scrutinized intently, at the end,
admitting, "Yes, it is he all right. Now do you
know what / think ?"
Birdsall couldn t form an idea.
"I think the Keatcham party is in it; and I
think they are after bigger game than Archie.
Maybe the train-robbers were a part of the
scheme although I m not so sure of that."
"Oh, the robbers were in it all right. But now
come to Miss Smith; where does she come in?
Or are you as sure of her as Mercer was in Chi
If he had expected to get a spark out of the
Winter tinder by this scraping stroke, he was
mistaken ; the soldier did not even move his brood
ing gaze fixed on the hills beyond the house
roofs; and he answered in a level tone : "Did you
get that story from my aunt, or was it Mrs. Mel
ville? I m pretty certain you got your biography
from that quarter. My aunt might have told her/
"That would be betraying a lady s confidence.
I m only a detective, whose business is to pry,
but I never go back on the ladies. And I think,
same s you, that the lady in question is a real
nice, high-toned lady; but I can t disregard the
THE HAUNTED HOUSE 127
evidence. I never give out my system, but I ve
got one, all the same. Look here, see this paper?"
he had replaced the envelope in his pocket;
he pulled it out again; or rather, so the colonel
fancied, until Birdsall turned the envelope over,
revealing it to be blank. "There s a sheet of
paper inside ; take it out. Look at the water-mark,
look at the pattern; then compare it with this
letter handing the colonel the original envel
ope. "Same exactly, ain t they?"
The colonel, who had studied the two sheets
of paper silently, nodded as silently ; and he had
a premonition of Birdsall s next sentence before
it came. "Well, Mrs. Melville Winter, this morn
ing, took me to Miss Smith s desk, where we
found this and a lot more like it."
"You seem to be right in thinking the paper
widely distributed," observed the colonel.
"And you don t think that suspicious?"
"I should think it more suspicious if the paper
were not out on her desk. If she is such a deep
one as you seem to think, she would hide such an
incriminating bit of evidence."
"She didn t know we suspected her. Of course,
you haven t shadowed her a little bit ?"
"There is a limit to detective duty in the case
128 THE LION S SHARE
of a gentleman," returned the colonel haughtily.
"I have not."
Little Birdsall sighed; then in a propitiatory
tone: "Well, of course, we both think there are
other people in the job ; I don t know exactly what
you mean by bigger game, but I can make a stag
ger at it. Now, say, did you get any answer when
you wrote to Keatcham himself?"
"Yes," said the colonel grimly, "I heard. You
know the sort of letter I wrote ; telling him of our
dreadful anxiety and about the lad s being an
orphan ; don t you think it was the sort of letter a
decent man would answer, no matter how busy
he might be?"
"Sure. Didn t you get an answer ?"
"I did." The colonel extricated himself from
his wrappings enough to find a pale blue envel
ope, which he handed to Birdsall, at the same time
taking the motor handle. "You see ; type-written,
very polite, chilly sort of letter, kind to make a
man hot under the collar and swear at Keatcham s
heartlessness. Mr. Keatcham unable to answer,
having been ill since he left San Francisco. Did
not see anything of any boy. Probably boy ran
away. Has no information of any kind to afford.
And the writer is very sincerely mine. The min-
THE HAUNTED HOUSE 129
ute I read it I was sure Mercer wrote it; and he
wrote it to make me so disgusted with Keatcham
I wouldn t pursue the subject with him. Just the
same way he snubbed my aunt ; and, for that mat
ter, just the way he tried to snub me on the train.
But he missed his mark; I wired every hotel in
Santa Barbara and every one in Los Angeles;
and Keatcham isn t there and hasn t been there.
He has a big bunch of mail at Santa Barbara
waiting for him, forwarded from Los Angeles,
but he hasn t shown himself."
Birdsall shot a glance of cordial admiration
at the colonel. "You re all there, General," he
cried with unquenchable familiarity. "I ve been
trying to call up the Keatcham outfit, and /
couldn t get a line, either. They haven t used the
tickets they bought their reservations went
empty to Los Angeles. Now, what do you make
out of that?"
"I make out that Archie is only part of their
game," replied the soldier. "Now see, Birdsall,
you are not going to get a couple of rich young
college fellows to do just plain kidnapping and
scaring women out of their money "
"Lord, General," interrupted Birdsall, "those
college guys don t turn a hair at kidnapping;
130 THE LION S SHARE
they regularly steal the president of the freshman
class, and the things they do at their hazing bees
and initiations would make an Apache Indian sit
up and take notice. I tell you, General, they re
the limit for deviltry."
"Some kinds. Not that kind; it s too dirty.
Arnold was one of the cleanest foot-ball players
at Harvard. And I don t know anything about
human nature if that other youngster isn t decent.
But Mercer es un loco; you can look out for
anything from him. Now, see the combination.
Arnold was at Harvard ! I have traced the motor
car they used to him; and then, if you add that
his father is away safe in Europe and he has an
empty house, off to one side, with a quantity of
space around it and the reputation of being
haunted, why "
"It looks good to me. And I understand my
men have got around it on the quiet all right.
How s your man Haley got on, hiring out to the
Jap in charge?"
"Well enough; the Jap took him on to mow,
but either Mr. Caretaker doesn t know anything
or he won t tell. He s bubbling over with conver
sation about the flowers and the country and the
Philippines, where he used to be; but he only
THE HAUNTED HOUSE 131
knows that the honorable family are all away
and he is to shun the house. Aren t we almost
"Just around the corner. I guess when you
see it you ll think it s just the patio a spook of
taste would freeze to."
"Why is it haunted?"
"Now you have me. I ain t on to such dream
stuff. Gimme five cards. Mrs. Arnold died off in
Europe, so tain t her; and the house has only
been built two years ; but the neighbors have seen
lights and heard groans and a pick chopping at
the stones. Some folks say the land belonged
to an old miner and he died before he could tell
where he d buried his masuma; so he is taking a
little buscar after it. There s the house, General."
The street climbed a gentle hill, and on its
crest a large house, in mission style, looked over
a pleasant land. Its position on a corner and the
unusual size of the grounds about it gave the man
sion an effect of space. Of almost rawly recent
erection though it was, the kindly climate had so
fostered the growth of the pines, acacias and live-
oaks, the eucalypti and the orange-trees, which
made a rich blur of color on the hillside, had so
lavishly tended the creeping ivies and Bougain-
132 THE LION S SHARE
villeas which masked the rounded lantern arches
of the stern gray fagade, and so sumptuously bla
zoned the flower-beds in the garden on the one
hand, yet, on the other, had so cunningly dulled
the greenish gray of the cobblestones from Cali
fornia arroyos in chimney and foundation, and
had so softly streaked the marble of the garden
statues and the plaster of walls and mansion with
tiny filaments of lichens or faint green moss, that
the beholder might fancy the house to be the an
cient home of some Spanish hidalgo, handed down
with an hereditary curse, through generations, to
the last of his race. One was tempted to such a
flutter of fancy because of the impression given
by the mansion. A sullen reticence hung about the
place. The windows, for the most part, were
heavily shuttered. Not a pane of glass flashed
back at the sunlight; even those casements not
shuttered turned blank dark green shades, like
bandaged eyes, on the court and the beautiful ter
races and the lovely sweep of hillsides where the
wonderful shadows swayed and melted.
The bent figure of a man raking, distorted by
the perspective, was visible just beyond the high
pillars of the gateway. He paid no attention to
the motions of the motor-car, nor did he answer
THE HAUNTED HOUSE 133
a hail until it was repeated. Then he approached
the car. Birdsall was in the roadway trying to
unlock the gate. The man, whose Japanese fea
tures were quite distinguishable, bowed; he ex
plained that the honorable owners were not at
home; his insignificant self was the only keeper
of the grounds. He spoke sufficiently good Eng
lish with the accompaniment of a deprecatory,
amiable smile. Birdsall, in turn, told him that his
own companion was a very great gentleman from
the East who belonged to a society of vast power
which was investigating spectral appearances, and
that he had come thousands of miles to see the
The Japanese extended both hands, while the
appeal of his smile deepened. "Too bad, velly,"
he murmured, "but not leally any g lost, no, nev ."
"Don t you believe in the ghost?" asked Colonel
"No, me Clistian boy, no believe not ing."
"All the samee," said the colonel, laboriously
swinging himself from his vantage-ground of the
motor seat to the flat top of the wall, thence drop
ping to the greensward below, "allee samee, like
go in house hunt ghost." He crackled a bank-note
in the palm of the slim brown hand, smiling and
i 3 4 THE LION S SHARE
nodding as if to break the force of his brusque ac
tion. Meanwhile, Birdsall had safely shut off his
engine before he placed himself beside the others
with an agility hardly to be expected of his ro
As for the caretaker, whether because he per
ceived himself outnumbered, or because he was
really void of suspicion, he accepted the money
with outward gratitude and proffered his guid
ance through the garden and the orchards. He
slipped into the role of cicerone with no atom of
resistance; he was voluble; he was gracious; he
was artlessly delighted with his seiiors. In spite
of this flood of suavity, however, there seemed to
be no possibility of persuading him to admit them
to the house.
Assured of this, the two fell back for a second,
time for the merest eyeflash from the detective
to the soldier, who at once limped briskly up to
the Jap, saying: "We are very much obliged to
you ; this is a beautiful house, beautiful gardens ;
but we want to see the ghost ; and if you can give
me young Mr. Arnold s address I will see him
or write, and we can come back."
The gardener, with many apologies and smiles,
did not know Mr. Arnold s honorable address, but
THE HAUNTED HOUSE 135
he drew out a soiled card, explaining that it bore
the name of the gentleman in charge of the prop
erty. Birdsall, peering over the Jap s shoulders,
added that it was the card of a well-known legal
"Then," said the colonel with deliberation, "we
will thank you again for your courtesy, and
what s that?"
The Jap turned ; they all started at the barking
detonation of some explosion; while they gazed
about them there came another booming sound,
and they could see smoke pouring from the chim
ney and leaking through the window joints of a
room in the rear of the house. Like a hare, not
breaking his wind by a single cry, the Jap sped
toward the court. The others were hard on his
heels, though the colonel limped and showed signs
of distress >>y the time they reached the great iron
The Jap pulled out a key; he turned it and
swung the door barely wide enough to enter, call
ing on them to stay out ; he would tell them if he
"Augustly stay; maybe honolable t ieves!" he
But the detective had interposed a stalwart leg
136 THE LION S SHARE
and shoulder. Instantly the door swung open ; he
acted as if he had lost his wits with excitement.
"You re burning up! Lord! you re burning!
Fire! Fire!" he bawled, and rushed boldly into the
Winter followed him, also calling aloud in a
strident voice. And it was to be observed, being
such an unusual preparation for a conflagration,
that he had drawn a heavy revolver and ran with
it in his hand. Before he jumped out of the car
he had discarded his thick top-coat and all his
An observer, also (had there been one near),
would have taken note of a robust Irishman, who
had been weeding the flower-beds, and would have
seen him straighten at the first peal of the ex
plosion, stare wildly at the chimneys before any
distinct smoke was to be seen, then run swiftly
and climb up to a low chimney on a wing of the
house, watering-pot in hand. He would have seen
him empty his inadequate fire extinguisher and
rapidly descend the ladder, while the smoke vol
leyed forth, as if defying his puny efforts; later,
he would have seen the watering-pot bearer pur
sue the others into the house, emitting noble yells
of "Fire!" and "Help!"
The detective had interposed a stalwart leg and shoulder. Page 135
THE HAUNTED HOUSE 137
Further, this same observer, had he been an in
timate friend of Sergeant Dennis Haley, certainly
would have recognized that resourceful man of
war in the amateur fireman.
FACE TO FACE
When the two men got into the house the dim
rooms made them stumble for a moment after
the brilliant sunshine of the outer skies; but in
a second Birdsall s groping hand had found an
electric push-button and the room was flooded
with light. They were in a small office off the
kitchen, apparently. Smoke of a peculiarly pun
gent odor and eye-smarting character blurred all
the surroundings ; but during the moment the Jap
halted to explore its cause the others perceived two
doors and made for them. One was locked, but
the other must have been free to open, since Ha
ley, with his watering-can, bounded through it
while they were tugging at the other. Almost im
mediately, however, Haley was back again shout
ing and pointing down the dark passage.
"The fire s there" screamed the detective. "I
can smell smoke! The smoke comes through the
keyhole!" But while the Jap fitted a key in the
FACE TO FACE 139
lock and swung back the door, and Haley, who
had paused to replenish his watering-can at a con
venient faucet, darted after the other two, the
colonel stood listening with every auditory nerve
strained to catch some sound. He yelled "Fire!
help!" at the top of his voice, but not moving a
muscle. "Too far off," he muttered, then he
yelled again and threw a heavy chair as if he had
stumbled against it. Another pause ; he got down
on his knees to put his ear to the floor. Directly
he rose ; he did not speak, but the words that he
said to himself were only : "Just possible. Some
one down cellar; but not under here." Meanwhile
he was hurrying in pursuit of the others as swiftly
as his stiff knee would allow. He found them in
a side hall with tiled or brick floor, gathered about
a water-soaked heap of charred red paper.
" Tis terrible!" announced Haley, "a bum for
sure! a dinnermite bum!" fishing out something
like a tin tomato can from the sodden mass.
"Anyhow 7 , there goes the real thing," observed
the colonel coolly, as a formidable explosion
jarred the air.
"If you blow us up, I kill you flist!" hissed the
Ja~p, and his knife flashed.
"Chito, ChitoT soothed the colonel, lifting his
THE LION S SHARE
revolver almost carelessly. Simultaneously two
brawny arms pinioned the Jap s own arms at his
"Shure, Mister Samurai, tis the ongrateful
chap youse is/ expostulated Haley. "I hate to
reshtrain ye, but if ye thry any jehujits on me
twill be sahanara wid youse mighty quick."
"No understan ," murmured the Jap plaintively.
"Come, put out the fire first," said the colonel ;
"you know the house, you go ahead."
The Jap darted on ahead so swiftly that they
had some ado to follow ; which seemed necessary,
since he might have clashed a bolt on them at any
turn. The colonel s stiff leg kept him in the rear,
but Haley was never a hand s breadth behind the
They found smoke in two places, but they easily
extinguished the tiny flames. In both cases the
bombs turned out to be no more dangerous than
a common kind of fireworks yielding a suffocating
smoke in an inclosure, but doing no especial dam
age on safe and fire-proof ground, like a hearth.
They were quickly extinguished. In their search
they passed from one luxurious room to another,
the Jap leading, until he finally halted in a spa-
FACE TO FACE 141
cious library hung in Spanish leather, with an
cient, richly carved Spanish tables and entrancing
Spanish chairs of turned wood and age-mellowed
cane, and bookcases sumptuously tempting a
book-lover. But the colonel cared only for the soul
of a book, not its body ; the richest and clearest of
black letter or the daintiest of tooling had left
him cold ; moreover, every fiber in him was strung
by his quest ; and Haley, naturally, was immune ;
strangely enough, it was the cheerful, vulgar little
detective who gave a glance, rapid but full of ad
miration, at the shelves and pile of missals on the
table, incongruously jostled by magazines of the
Winter faced the Jap, who was sheathed again
in his bland and impassive politeness. "Where is
Mr. Mercer?" said he.
The Jap waved his hands in an eloquent ori
ental gesture. He assured the honorable ques
tioner that he did not know any Mr. Mercer.
There was no one in the house.
The colonel had seated himself in a priceless
arm-chair in Cordova stamped leather; he no
longer looked like an invalid. "Show your star,
please," he commanded Birdsall, and the latter si
lently flung back the lapel of his coat.
142 THE LION S SHARE
"I ought to tell you," continued Rupert Win
ter, "that the game is up. It would do no good
for you to run that poisoned bit of steel of yours
into me or into any of us; we have only to stay
here a little too long and the police of San Fran
cisco will be down on you oh, I know all about
what sort they are, but we have money to spend
as well as you. You take the note I shall write to
Mr. Mercer, or whatever you choose to call him,
and bring his answer. We stay here until he
Having thus spoken in an even, gentle voice, he
scribbled a few words on a piece of paper which
he took out of his note-book. This he proffered to
On his part, the latter kept his self-respect ; he
abated no jot of his assurance that they were alone
in the house ; he insinuated his suspicion that they
were there for no honest purpose; finally he was
willing to search the house if they would stay
where they were.
"I am not often mistaken in people," was the
colonel s rather oblique answer, "and I think you
are a gentleman who might kill me if you had a
chance, but would not break his word to me. If
you will promise to play fair with us, do no harm
FACE TO FACE 143
to my nephew, take this letter and bring me an an
swer if you find any one on your word of
honor as a Japanese soldier and gentleman, you
may go; we will not signal the police. Is it a
The Jap gravely assented, still in the language
of the East, "saving his face" by the declaration
of the absence of his principals. And he went off
as gracefully and courteously as if only the high
est civilities had passed between them.
"Won t he try some skin game on us?" the de
tective questioned ; but Winter only motioned to
ward the telephone desk. "Listen at it," he said,
"you can tell if the wires are cut; and he knows
your men are outside hiding, somewhere; he
doesn t know how many. You see, we have the
advantage of them there; to be safe they don t
dare to let many people into their secret. We can
have a w r hole gang. We haven t many, but they
may think we have."
Birdsall, who had lifted the receiver to his ear,
laid it down with an appeased nod. Immediately
he proceeded to satisfy his professional conscience
by a search in every nook and cranny of the apart
ment. But no result appeared important enough to
justify the production of his red morocco note-
144 THE LION S SHARE
book and his fountain-pen. He had paused in dis
gust when the colonel sat up suddenly, erect in his
chair; his keener ears had caught some sound
which made him dart to all the windows in suc
cession. He called Haley (whom he had posted
outside to guard the door) and despatched him
across the hall to reconnoiter. "I am sure it was
the sound of wheels," he explained, "but Haley
will be too late ; we are on the wrong side of the
As he spoke the buzz of an electric bell jarred
their ears. "Somebody is coming in the front
door/ hazarded Birdsall.
"Evidently," returned the colonel dryly. "How
can our absent friends get in otherwise at least
how can they let us understand they have come
in ? I think we are going to have the pleasure of
an interview with the elusive Mr. Mercer."
They waited. The colonel motioned Birdsall to
a seat by the table, within breathing distance of
the telephone. He himself fluttered the loose
journals and magazines, his ironic smile creasing
his cheek. "Our Japanese friend reads the news
papers," he remarked. "Here are to-day s papers ;
yes, Examiner and Chronicle, unfolded and
smoked over. Cigar, too, not cigarette, for here
FACE TO FACE 145
is a stump decidedly our cherry-blossom friends
are getting civilized!"
"Oh, there is somebody in here all right,"
grunted Birdsall. "Say, Colonel, you are sure
Mrs. Winter has had no answer to her ad? No
kind of notice about sending money ?"
"I haven t seen her for a few hours, but I saw
Mrs. Melville Winter ; she was positive no word
had come. She thought my aunt was more wor
ried than she would admit, and Miss Smith looked
pale, although she seemed hopeful."
"She didn t really want to give me the letter, I
thought," said the detective. The colonel gave
him no reply save a black look. A silence fell. A
footfall outside broke it, a firm, in no wise
stealthy footfall. Birdsall slipped his hand inside
his coat. The colonel rose and bowed gravely to
On his part, Mercer was not in the least flur
ried ; he looked at the two men, not with the arro
gant suspicion which had stung Winter on the
train, but with the melancholy courtesy of his
bearing at Cambridge, three years before.
"This, I think, is Colonel Winter?" he said, re
turning the bow, but not extending his hand,
which hung down, slack and empty at his side.
146 THE LION S SHARE
"I am glad you recognized me this time, Mr.
"I am sorry that I did not recognize you be
fore," answered Mercer. "Will you gentlemen be
seated ? I am not the owner of the house nor his
son ; I am not even a friend, only a casual ac
quaintance of the young man, but I seem to be
rather in the position of host, so will you be
seated, and may I offer you some Scotch and
Shasta Mr. ah "
"Mr. Horatio Birdsall, of the Birdsall and
Gwen Detective Agency," interposed Winter.
Birdsall bowed. Mercer bowed. "Excuse me if
I decline for us both; our time is limited no,
thank you, not a cigar, either. Now, Mr. Mercer,
to come to the point, I want my nephew. I un
derstand he is in this house."
"You are quite mistaken," Mercer responded
with unshaken calm. "He is not."
"Where is he, then?"
"I do not know, Colonel Winter. What I
should recommend is for you to go back to the
Palace, and if you do not find him there why,
come and shoot us up again!" His eye strayed
for a second to the blackened, reeking mass on
the great stone hearth.
FACE TO FACE 147
Have you sent him home? Is that what you
mean to imply?"
"I imply nothing. Colonel ; I don t dare to with
such strenuous fighters as you gentlemen; only
go and see, and if you do find the young gentle
man has had no ill treatment, no scare only a
little adventure such as boys like, I hope you will
come out here, or wherever I may be, and have
that cigar you are refusing."
The colonel was frankly puzzled. He couldn t
quite focus his wits on this bravado which had
nothing of the bravo about it, in fact had a tinge
of wistfulness in its quiet. One would have said
the man regretted his compulsory attitude of an
tagonism ; that he wanted peace.
Mercer smiled faintly. "You ought to know
by this time when a man is lying, Colonel," he
continued, "but I will go further. I may have
done plenty of wrong things in my life, some
things, maybe, which the law might call a crime ;
but I have never done anything which would de
bar me from passing my word of honor as a gen
tleman; nor any one else from taking it. I give
you my word of honor that I have meant and I
do mean no slightest harm to Archie Winter ; and
that, while I do not know where he is at this
148 THE LION S SHARE
speaking, I believe yon will find him safe under
your aunt s protection when you get back to the
"Call up the Palace Hotel, Mr. Birdsall," was
the colonel s reply. "Mr. Mercer, I do not dis
trust that you are speaking exactly, but you know
your Shakespeare; and there are promises which
keep their word to the ear but break it to the
"I don t wonder at your mistake; but you are
Birdsall was phlegmatically ringing up Mrs.
Winter, having the usual experience of the rash
person who intrudes his paltry needs on the com
plex workings of a great hotel system.
"No, I don t know the number, I haven t the
book here, but you know, Palace Hotel. Well
give me Information, then Busy? Well, give
me another Information, then yes, I want the
Palace Hotel P-a-1-a-c-e yes, yes, Palace Ho
tel ; yes, certainly. Yes ? Mrs. Archibald Winter.
Yes line busy? Well, hold on until it is disen
gaged. Say, Miss Furber, that you? This is
Birdsall and Gwen. Yes. Give me Mrs. Winter,
will you, 337? This Mrs. Winter? Oh! When
will she be back? Is Mrs. Melville Winter in?
FACE TO FACE 149
Well, Miss Smith in? She s gone, too? Has Mas
ter Archibald got back, yet, to the hotel ? Hasn t ?
Thank you eh?" in answer to the colonel s in
terruption. "What say, Colonel ?"
"Tell her to call up this number," the colonel
read it out of the telephone book "when Master
Archie does get back, will you ? I am afraid, Mr.
Mercer, that you will have to allow us to trespass
on your hospitality for a little longer."
He suspected that Mercer was annoyed, al
though he answered lightly enough: "As you
please, Colonel Winter. I am sure you will hear
very soon. Now, there is another matter, your
machine; I understand you left it outside. Will
you ring for Kito, Colonel? Under the circum
stances you may prefer to do your own ringing.
I will ask him to attend to the car."
The colonel made proper acknowledgments.
He was thinking that had Mercer cared to con
fiscate the motor, he would have done it without
ringing; on the other hand, did he desire some
special intercourse with his retainer, wherein, un
der their very noses, he could issue his orders
well, possibly they might get a whiff of the secret
themselves were he allowed to try. At present the
game baffled him. Therefore he nodded at Bird-
150 THE LION S SHARE
sail s puckered face behind Mercer s shoulder.
And he rang the bell.
The Jap answered it with suspicious alacrity.
"Kito," said Mercer, "will you attend to Gen
eral Winter s car ? Bring it up to the court."
Absolutely harmless, to all appearances, but
Birdsall, from his safe position behind master and
man, looked shrewd suspicion at the soldier.
"Shall your man in the hall go with him?"
The colonel shook his head. "No/ he said
quietly, "we have other men outside if he needs
help. Call Skid, please." But when Birdsall at
tempted to get Central there was no response.
The colonel merely shrugged his shoulders, al
though Birdsall frowned with vexation. "What a
pity!" said Winter softly. "Now the fellows will
come when the time is up ; we can t call them off."
Mercer smiled faintly. "There are two more
telephones in the house," he observed. "You can
call off your dogs easily any time you wish. Also
you can hear from the Palace. Will you come up
stairs with me? I assure you I have not the least
intention to harm you or the honest sergeant."
"You take the first trick, Mercer," said the colo
nel. "I supposed the bell was your signn 1 to h?ve
FACE TO FACE 151
the wires cut. But about going; no, I think we
will stay here. There is a door out on the court
which, if you will open thank you. A charming
prospect ! Excuse me if I send Haley out there ;
and may I go myself?"
Anticipating the answer, he stepped under the
low mission lintel into a fairy-like Californian
court or patio of pepper-trees and palms and a
moss-grown fountain. There was the usual col
onnade with a stone seat running round the wall.
Mercer, smiling, motioned to one of them. "I
wish I could convince you, Colonel, that you are
in no need of that plaything in your hand, and
that you are going to dine with your boy isn t
he a fine fellow ?"
The colonel did not note either his admission
that he had seen Archie, nor a curious wanning
of his tone ; he had stiffened and grown rigid like
a man who receives a blow which he will not
admit. He stole a glance at the detective and met
an atrocious smirk of complacency. They both
had caught a glimpse of a figure flitting into a
door of the court. They both had seen a woman s
profile and a hand holding a little steel tool which
had ends like an alligator s nose. And both men
had recognized Miss Smith.
THE AGENT OF THE FIRELESS STOVE
The time was two hours later. Rupert Winter
was sitting on one of the stone benches of the
colonnade about the patio. The court was suf
fused with the golden glow presaging sunset.
Warm afternoon shadows lay along the flags;
wavering silhouettes of leafage or plant; blurred
reflections from the bold bas-reliefs of Spanish
warriors and Spanish priests sculptured between
the spandrels of the arches. Winter s dull eyes
hardly noted them : the exotic luxuriance of foli
age, the Spanish armor and Spanish cowls were
all too common to a denizen of a Spanish colony
in the tropics, to distract his thoughts from his
own ugly problem. He had been having it out
with himself, as he phrased it. And there had
been moments during those two hours, when he
had ground his teeth and clenched his fists be
cause of the futile and furious pain in him.
iWhen he recognized Janet Smith, by that same
AGENT OF THE FIRELESS STOVE 153
illuminating flash he recognized that this woman
who had been tricking him was the woman that
he loved. He believed that he had said his last
word to love, but love, after seeming to accept the
curt dismissal, was lightly riding his heart again.
"Fooled a second time/ he thought with inex
pressible bitterness, recalling his unhappy mar
ried life and the pretty, weak creature who had
caused him such humiliation. Yet with her
there had been no real wrong-doing, only absolute
lack of discretion and a childish craving for gaiety
and adulation. Poor child! what a woeful end
ing for it all ! The baby, the little boy who was
their only living child, to die of a sudden access
of an apparently trifling attack of croup, while
the mother was dancing at a post ball ! He was
East, taking his examination for promotion. The
frantic drive home in the chill of the dawn had
given her a cold which her shock and grief left her
no strength to resist she was always a frail little
creature, poor butterfly! and she followed her
baby inside of a month. Had she lived, her hus
band might have found it hard to forgive her, for
already a sore heart was turning to the child for
comfort ; but she was dead, and he did not let his
thoughts misuse her memory. Now here was an-
154 THE LION S SHARE
other, so different but just as false. Then, he
brought himself up with a jerk; he would be fair;
he would look at things as they were ; many a man
had been fooled by the dummy. He would not
jump at conclusions because they were cruel, any
more than he would because they were kind.
There was such a thing, he knew well, as credu
lous suspicion; it did more harm than credulous
trust. Meanwhile, he had his detail. He was to
find Archie; therefore, he waited. They were in
the house; it were only folly to give up their ad
vantage under the stress of any of Mercer s plaus
ible lurings to the outside.
Moreover, by degrees, he became convinced
that Mercer, certainly to some extent, was sincere
in his profession of belief in Archie s absence and
safety. This, in spite of hearing several times that
Archie was not returned. Mercer did all the
speaking, but he allowed Birdsall to hold the re
ceiver and take the message from Mrs. Winter.
The telephone was in an adjoining room, but
by shifting his position a number of times the
colonel was able to catch a murmur of the con
versation. He heard Mercer s voice distinctly. He
had turned away and was following the detective
out of the room. "I don t understand it any more
AGENT OF THE FIRELESS STOVE 155
than you do, Mr. Birdsall," he said; "you won t
believe me, suh, but I am right worried."
"Of course I believe you," purred the detective
so softly that the colonel knew he did not believe
any more than Mercer suspected. "Of course I
believe you ; but I don t know what to do. It ain t
on the map. I guess it s up to you to throw a
little light. I ve called the boys off twice already
and told em to wait an hour or a half-hour longer.
I got to see the colonel."
"I can trust my intuitions, or I can trust the
circumstantial evidence," thought the colonel. He
jumped up and began to pace the court.
"Seems to be like a game of bridge before one
can see the dummy," he complained; and as so
often happens in the crises of life, a trivial illus
tration struck a wavering mind with the force of
an argument. His thoughts reverted whimsically
to the card-table; how many times had he hesi
tated over the first lead between evenly balanced
suits of four ; and how often had he regretted or
won, depending solely upon whether his card in
stinct had been denied or obeyed ! It might be in
stinct, this much-discussed "card instinct," or it
might be a summing up of logical deductions so
swift that the obscure steps were lost, and the
156 [THE LION S SHARE
reasoner was unconscious of his own logical pro
cesses. "Now," groaned Rupert Winter, "I am up
against it. She looks like a good woman; she
seems like a good woman; but I have only my
impressions and Aunt Rebecca s against the ap
parent facts in the case. Well, Aunt Rebecca is a
shrewd one!" He sat down and thought harder.
Finally he rose, smiling. He had threshed out his
problem; and his conclusion, inaudibly but very
distinctly uttered to himself, was: "Me for my
own impressions ! If that girl is in with this gang,
either what they are after isn t so bad or they
have made her believe it isn t bad."
He looked idly about him at the arched door
way of the outer court. It was carved with a fa
vorite mission design of eight-pointed flowers
with vase-like fluting below. There was a tiny
crack in one of the flowers, the tiniest crack in
the world. He looked at it without seeing it, or
seeing it with only the outer half of his senses,
but he could not have told how into his effort
to pierce his own tangle there crept a sudden inter
est, a sudden keenness of scrutiny of this minute,
insignificant crack in the stone. He became aware
that the crack was singularly regular, preserving
the form of the flower and the fluting beneath.
AGENT OF THE FIRELESS STOVE 157
Kito, the Japanese, who was sitting at the far
end of the court, conversing in amity with Haley,
just here rose and came to this particular pillar.
The Irishman sat alone, rimmed by the sunset
gold, little spangles of motes drifting about him ;
for the merest second Winter s glance lingered
on him ere it went to the Jap, who passed him,
After he had passed, the colonel looked again
at the column and the crack it was not there.
"Chito, chito!" muttered the colonel. Care
lessly he approached the column and took the
same posture as the Jap. Unobtrusively his fin
gers strayed over the stone. He scratched the
surface; not stone, but cement. He tapped cau
tiously, keeping his hand well hidden by his body ;
no hollow sound rewarded him; but all at once
his groping fingers touched a little round object
under the bold point of an eight-pointed flower.
He didn t dare press on it ; instead he resumed his
cautious tapping. It seemed to him that the sound
had changed. He glanced about him. Save for
Haley he was alone in the patio. He pressed on
the round white knob, and what he had half ex
pected happened: a segment of the column
swung on inner hinges, disclosing the hollow
158 THE LION S SHARE
center of the engaged columns on either side.
He looked down. Nothing but darkness was visi
ble, but while he stood, tensely holding his breath,
his abnormally sensitive auricular nerve caught
distinctly the staccato breath of that kind of sigh
which is like a groan, and a voice said more wear
ily than angrily : "Oh, damn it all !"
Almost simultaneously, he heard the faint foot
falls of the men within; he must replace his
movable flower. The column was intact, and he
was bending his frowning brows on the stylobate
of another when Birdsall and Mercer entered
together, Mercer, with a shrug of his shoulders at
the detective s dogged suspicion, preceding the
"Well," said the colonel, "did you get my
"Yes, suh, I got your aunt herself," responded
Mercer, with his Virginian survival of the formal
civility of an earlier generation. "Yes, suh; but
I regret to say Archie is not there."
"Where is he?" The soldier s voice was curt.
"Honestly," declared Mercer, "I wish I knew,
suh, I certainly do. But " Mercer s jaw fell;
he turned sharply at the soft whir of an electric
AGENT OF THE FIRELESS STOVE 159
stanhope gently entering the patio through the
great arched gateway. It stopped abreast of the
group, and its only occupant, a handsome young
man, jumped nimbly out of the vehicle. He greet
ed them with a polite removal of his cap, a bow,
and a flashing smile which made the circuit of
the beholders. Birdsall and the colonel recog
nized the traveling enthusiast of the Fireless
The colonel took matters into his own hands.
"I think you re the young gentleman who took
my nephew away/ said he. "Will you kindly
tell us where he is ?"
"And don t get giddy, young gentleman,"
Birdsall chimed in, "because we know perfectly
well that you are not the agent of the Peerless
"I ve got one here on trial, and I ve come back
to see if they like it," explained the young man,
in silken accents, but with a dancing gleam of the
"We are going to keep it," said Mercer.
"Kito," calling the unseen Jap, "fetch that Fire-
less Stove this gentleman left us, and show it to
this gentleman here."
"Oh, cut it out!" Birdsall waved him off.
160 THE LION S SHARE
"It s only ten minutes before our fellows will
come. You can put the police court wise with
all that. Try it on them; it don t go with us."
"Where is the boy?" said the colonel.
"Tell him, if you know," said Mercer. "This
gentleman," he explained, "left a stove with us
to test. He was here about it this morning, and we
gave Archie to him to take to the Palace Hotel."
"And he is there now," said the young man.
"Did you leave him there?" asked the colonel.
"Yes, did you?" insisted Mercer.
The young man looked from Mercer to the
other two men. There was no visible appeal to
the Southerner, but Winter felt sure of two
things: one, that the new-comer was Mercer s
confederate whom he was striving to shield by
pretending to disavow; the other, that for some
reason Mercer was as anxious for the answer as
"Why-y," hesitated the stove promoter, "you
see, Mr. ah, gentlemen, you see, I was told to
take the boy to the Palace Hotel, and I set out to
do it. We weren t going at more than an eight-
mile-an-hour clip, yet some foozler of a cop
arrested us for speeding. It was perfectly ridicu
lous, and I tried to shake him, but it was no use.
AGENT OF THE FIRELESS STOVE 161
They carried us off to a police court and stuck
me for ten dollars. Meanwhile my machine and
my passenger were outside. When I got outside
I couldn t find them. I skirmished around, and
finally did get the machine. I d taken the pre
caution to fix it so it couldn t be run before I
left it took the key out, you know it must
have been trundled off by hand somewhere!
but I couldn t find the boy. Naturally, I was a
bit worried; but after I had looked up the force
and the neighborhood, it occurred to me to phone
to the Palace. I did, and I was told he was there."
"Who told you?" The question came simulta
neously out of three throats.
"Why, Mrs. Winter that s what she called
"But not three minutes ago Mrs. Winter told
me that he wasn t there," remarked Mercer coldly.
"When did you telephone?"
"It was at least fifteen minutes ago," the young
man said dolefully. "I say, wouldn t you better
call them up again ? There may be some explana
tion. I shouldn t have come back without the kid
if I hadn t been sure he was safe."
"Was it Mrs. Melville or Mrs. Winter you
got?" This came from the colonel. "Did she by
1 62 THE LION S SHARE
chance have an English accent, or was it South
"Oh, no, not Southern," protested the young
man. "Yes, I should say it was English or try
ing to be."
"It would be exactly like Millicent," thought
the colonel wrathfully, "to try to fool the kid
nappers, who had apparently lost Archie, by pre
tending he was at the hotel !"
He made no comment aloud, but he nodded as
sent to Mercer s proposal to telephone; and then
he walked up to the stove man.
"The game is up," he said quietly. "We have
a lot of men waiting outside. If we signal, they
will come any minute; if we don t signal, they
will come in ten minutes. Give us a chance to
be merciful to you. This is no kind of a scrape
for your father s son or for Arnold s."
Shot without range though it was, Winter
was sure that it went home under all the young
fellow s assumed bewilderment. He continued,
looking kindly at him :
"You look now, I ll wager, about as you used to
look in the office when you called on the dean
by invitation and were wondering just where
the inquiry was going to light !"
AGENT OF THE FIRELESS STOVE 163
The dimple showed in the young man s cheek.
"I admit," he replied, "that I didn t take advan
tage as I should of my university opportunities.
Probably that is why I have to earn a strenuous
livelihood boosting the Only Peerless Fireless
Stove. By the way, have you ever seen the Fire-
less in action ? Just the thing for the army ! Fills
a long-felt want. I should be very pleased to
demonstrate. We have a stove here."
The colonel grinned responsively. "You do it
very well," said he. "Can t you let me into the
There was the slightest waver in the promoter s
glance, although he smiled brilliantly as he
answered : "I ll take it into consideration, but
will you excuse me ? I want to speak to Mr. Mer
cer about the stove."
The moment he had removed his affable young
presence Birdsall approached his employer. It
had been a difficult quarter of an hour with the
detective. Vague instinct warned him not to touch
the subject of Miss Smith; he felt in no way as
sured about anything else. The result had been
that he had fidgeted in silence. But the accumu
lated flood could no longer be held.
"I ve found out one thing," exploded Birdsall,
1 64 THE LION S SHARE
puffing in the haste of his utterance. "The boy
is on the premises."
"Think so?" was all the colonel s answer.
"I m sure of it. Say, I overheard Mercer talk
ing down a speaking-tube."
"What did he say?"
"Talked French, damn him! But say, what s
"What s cupillo gorge?"
"Sure he wasn t talking of a carriage, or did
he say je le couperai la gorge?"
"Maybe. I wouldn t swear to it. I don t paries
franqais a little bit."
"Did you hear any other noises? Where were
Birdsall thought he had heard other noises,
and that they were down cellar. "And anyhow,
Colonel, I m dead-to-rights sure those guys are
giving us hot stuff to get us out of the house.
I m for getting our men in now and rushing the
house. It s me for the cellar."
While the colonel was rolling Birdsall s infor
mation around in his mind, he heard the echo of
steps on the flagging which preceded Mercer and
the other man.
AGENT OF THE FIRELESS STOVE 165
There was that in the bearing and the look of
them that made the watcher, used to the signs of
decision on men s faces, instantly sure that their
whole course of plans and action was changed.
Mercer spoke first and in a low tone to the
"I have no right," said he, "to ask so much
trust from you, but will you trust me enough
to step aside with this young man and me for a
moment only out of ear-shot? I give you my
word of honor I mean no slightest harm to you.
I want to be frank. I will go alone if you de
The colonel eyed him intently for the briefest
space. "I ll trust you," said he. Then : "I think
you have the key to this queer mix-up. At your
service. And let your friend come, too. He is an
ingenuous sort, and he amuses me."
Birdsall looked distinctly sullen over the re
quest to wait, intimating quite frankly that his
employer was walking into a trap. "I won t
stand here more than fifteen minutes," he grum
bled. "I ve given those fellows poco tiente long
enough." But the colonel insisted on twenty min
utes, and reluctantly Birdsall acquiesced.
Mercer conducted the others to the library.
1 66 THE LION S SHARE
When they were seated he began in his composed,
"I earnestly beg of you to listen to me, and
to believe me, for your nephew s sake. I am go
ing to tell you the absolute truth. It is the only
way now. When you came, we handed him over
to this gentleman, exactly as we have said. I do
not know why he should have been stopped. I
do not know why he left the machine "
"Might he not have been carried away?" said
"He might; but I don t know what motive "
"What motive had you? You kidnapped him !"
"Not exactly. We had no intention of harm
ing him. He came accidentally into the room be
tween Mrs. Winter s and Mr. Keatcham s suites.
Standing in that room, trying to stanch the bleed
ing of a sudden hemorrhage of the nose, he over
heard me and my friend "
"You?" asked the colonel laconically of the
young Harvard man.
"I," smilingly confessed the latter. "I am
ready to own up. You are a decent fellow, and
you are shrewd. You ought to be on our side,
not fighting us. I tell you, you don t want to have
the boy turn up safe and sound any more than I
AGENT OF THE FIRELESS STOVE 167
do. Mr. Mercer was talking to me, and the kid
overheard. We heard him and went into the
"Knocked on the door and he opened it. And
we jumped on him. It was life and death for us
not to be blown on ; so, as we didn t wish to kill
the kid, and as we didn t know the youngster well
enough to trust him then although we might,
for he is game and the whitest chap! but we
didn t know why, we just told him he would
have to stay with us a while until our rush was
over. That was all we meant; and we let him
"How about his great-aunt the cruel anx
"Anxiety nothing!" began the other man, but
a glance from Mercer cut him short.
The Southerner took the word in his slow, gen
tle voice. "I tried to reassure our aunt, Colonel
Winter. I think I succeeded. She telephoned and
I told her it was all right. As for Archie,
after we talked with him, he was willing enough
to go. He stole out with my friend inside of
five minutes, while you all were searching your
rooms. It was he insisted on calling you up, lest
1 68 THE LION S SHARE
you should be worried. He said you were right
afraid of kidnappers, and you would be sending
the police after us. You can call Mrs. Winter up
and find out if I am not telling you the exact
"Very well, I will; 9 said Winter. They met
the sullen detective at the door. Gary Mercer,
with his mirthless smile, led the way. Mercer
rang up the hotel for Winter, himself. To the
colonel s vast relief Aunt Rebecca answered the
"Est-ce que c est vous-meme, mon neveu?"
said she dryly.
"Mais oui, ma tante. Why are you speaking
so formally in foreign tongues? Is Millicent on
"In her room," came the answer, still in
French. "Well, you have got us in a pretty mess.
Where is my boy ?"
"I only wish I knew ! Tell me now, though, is
Mercer s story straight ?"
"Absolutely. You may trust him."
"What s his real game, then? The one he was
afraid Archie would expose ?"
"But you are in it, aren t you ?"
AGENT OF THE FIRELESS STOVE 169
"Enough to ask that you abandon the chase
immediately! Unless you wish to ruin me!"
"You ll have to speak plainer. I ve been kept
in the dark as long as I can stand in this matter."
But before he could finish the sentence.
"Pas id, pas maintcnant c est trop de peril,"
she cried, and she must have gone, for he could
get no more from her. When he rang again,
"Mrs. Winter says, sir, will you please come
up here as quick as you can. She s gone out. She
thought she caught sight of Mr. Archie on the
To the colonel s demand, "Where, how did
she see him ?" he obtained no answer, and on his
vicious pealing of the bell there came, eventually,
mellow Anglican accents which asked: "Yes?
Whom do you wish to see?" It is an evidence of
the undisciplined nature of the sex that the soldier
made a face and hung up the receiver.
He found himself although this to a really
open mind is no excuse in a muddle of conflict
ing impulses. He was on edge to get into the
street for the search after the boy ; he was clutched
in a vise by his conviction that the clue to Ar
chie s whereabouts lay in Mercer s hands, and
i/o THE LION S SHARE
that the Southerner meant no harm to the lad.
And all the while he could feel Birdsall tugging
at the leash.
"It s on the cards/ he grumbled, with a wry
face, "quite on the cards that he may bolt in spite
of me, and do some foolish stunt of his own that
will make a most awful muddle."
Not nearly so composed as he looked, therefore,
he turned to Mercer. However, his ammunition
was ready, and to Mercer s inquiry, was he satis
fied? he replied calmly: "Well, not entirely. If
Archie isn t in the house, who is it whose throat
you wish to cut ? Who is hidden here ?"
It could not have been an unexpected question
or Mercer hardly had answered so readily : "You
know who it is," said he. "It is Mr. Keatcham."
THE SMOLDERING EMBERS
If Mercer s avowal surprised the colonel, there
was no trace of such emotion in his face or his
manner. "I rather thought it might be," he said.
"And our young friend who is promoting Fireless
Stoves with the solemn energy he learned doing
Dicky stunts ?"
"Mr. Endicott Tracy/ Mercer had the manner
of a ceremonious introduction. Tracy flavored
the customary murmur of pleasure with his ra
"Pleased, I am sure," said the colonel in turn,
bowing. "Your father, I suppose, is the president
of the Midland; and Mr. Keatcham will, I sup
pose, not be able to prevent his reelection to
morrow. Is that the game ?"
Mr. Tracy s son admitted that it might be.
"Ah, very clever," said the colonel, "very.
Any side-show, for example?"
"I did not go into this for money." Mercer s
THE LION S SHARE
level gaze did not relax, and he kept his dreary
eyes unflinchingly on Winter s. A peculiar look
in the eyes recalled some tragic and alien memory,
just what, Rupert could not capture; it flitted
hazily through his thoughts ere the next words
drove it off. "Nevertheless, it is true that if we
win out I shall have enough to pay back to all
the people who trusted me the money they lost
when they were frightened into selling their stock
in the Tidewater, and your aunt and Mr. Tracy
stand to make money."
"How do you expect to make it ?"
"The M. and S. stock is away down because
of rumors Keatcham is likely to control it. When
it is settled it is not to be looted by him, the stock
will rise we are sure of the ten points ; we may
make twenty "
"And my aunt has financed your scheme, has
she ? paid all your expenses ?"
The Harvard man laughed out. "Our ex
penses f Oh, yes, she has grub-staked us, all
right; but she has done a good deal more she
has furnished more than half a million to us for
The colonel considered; then: "But why did
you keep him here so long beforehand ?" said he.
THE SMOLDERING EMBERS 173
"It was not long beforehand/ said Mercer.
"The meeting was adjourned for a day we
don t know why we fancy that his partners sus
pect something. It is called for to-morrow, in
spite of their efforts to have it put off a week.
But we want more ; we want to induce Keatcham
to vote his own stock for us, and to call off his
"And you can t force him to do it?"
"We shall force him, easily enough," returned
Mercer, "but we don t trust him. We want his
private code-book to be sure he is playing fair.
In fact, we have to have it, because nothing gets
any attention that isn t, so to speak, properly in
"And he will not give it to you?"
"Says he has lost it."
"Perhaps he has," mused the soldier. "But
now, all this is not my concern, except that I
have no right, as a soldier, even passively to aid
in breaking the laws. It is my duty to rescue and
free Mr. Keatcham."
But before he could speak further Mercer lifted
a hand in apologetic interruption. Would Colonel
Winter excuse him, but he must ask Mr. Tracy
to go back to the patio and have an eye on the
174 THE LION S SHARE
detective. Endicott only exchanged a single
glance before he obeyed. Mercer s eyes followed
him. "It was not to be helped," he said, half to
himself, "but I have been sorry more than once
that I had to take him into this."
Winter looked at him, more puzzled than he
wanted to admit to himself; indeed, he was rather
glad to have the next word come from Mercer.
"I have a few things I want to say to you;
they go easier when we are alone but won t you
sit down?" When the colonel had seated himself
he went on : "I d like to explain things a bit."
"I d like to have you," answered the soldier.
"I think you have the clue to Archie s where
abouts and don t recognize it yourself; so put me
wise, as the slang goes."
Then, without preface, in brief, nervous sen
tences, spoken hardly with a quiver of a muscle
or a wavering cadence of the voice, yet neverthe
less instinct with a deadly earnestness, Mercer
began to talk. He told of his struggling youth
on the drained plantation, mortgaged so that after
the interest was paid there was barely enough to
get the meagerest living for his mother and sister
and little brother; of his accidental discovery of
iron ore on the place; of his working as a com-
THE SMOLDERING EMBERS 175
mon laborer in the steel mills ; of his being "roos
ter," "strand-boy," "rougher," "heater," "roller,"
during three years while he was waiting for his
chance ; of his heart-draining toil ; of his solitary
"I never was the kind of fellow to make
friends," he said, in his soft, monotonous voice,
"so I expect I was the fonder of my own kin.
I d a mighty good mother, sir, and sister; and
there was Phil my little brother. We were right
happy all together on the old place that s been
in our family for a hundred years, and it was all
we asked to stay there; but it had every dollar
of mortgage it could stand, and the soil all worn
out, needing all kinds of things; and I wish you
could have seen the makeshifts we had for ma
chines! I was blacksmith and carpenter and
painter just sixteen, and not an especially
bright chap, but mighty willing to work ; and my
mother and Sis and I we did a heap. When I
stumbled on the ore I couldn t be sure, but I
wrote to Aunt Rebecca Winter. She sent a man
down. He looked up things. It would take a heap
of money to work the mines, but it might be a
big thing. She paid off the mortgage and took
another. First to last, she s been mighty kind to
1 7-6 THE LION S SHARE
us. She would have done more had we let her.
So I went to Pittsburgh and learned my trade,
and I made enough to pay interest, and the peo
ple at home got a fairly good living. When I was
twenty-one I was back home, and got a company
started and put up a mill. You know how those
things have to creep up. But there was ore, all
right, and I understood my business and taught
the hands. We d a right sweet little mill. Well,
I don t want to take up your time, suh. Those
next ten or twelve years were right hard work,
but they were happy, too. We prospered; we
helped the whole county prosper. We paid Aunt
Becky. We were in good shape. We went
through 93 paying our dividends just as regular,
and making them, too, though we didn t much
more it was close sailing. But we were honest ;
we made a mighty good article; and everybody
trusted us. Then came the craze for mergers,
and a number of us got together. Still we weren t
very big, but we were big enough to be listed.
I didn t want it, but some of the men thought it
was a terrible fine thing to be Iron Kings/ That
was how. Keatcham was looking over the country
for fish for his net; he somehow heard that here
was a heap of good ore and new mills. The first
THE SMOLDERING EMBERS 177
intimation we had was his secretary coming as a
Northern invalid why, he stayed at our house
because we were so sorry for him, the hotel be
ing in new hands and not right comfortable. He
seemed so interested in our mills, and bought
some stock, and sent presents to Phil and my
mother after he went."
"That was Keatcham s private secretary, you
"Yes, suh, Atkins. You met him on the train
as sleek and deadly a little scoundrel as ever
got rich quick. Oh, he s deep. Well, suh, you
know the usual process. Convinced of the value
of the property, Keatcham and one or two others
set out to buy it. They got little blocks of it
here and there. Then Atkins wrote me in confi
dence that some men were after the controlling
interest and meant to squeeze us all out offered
to lend me money to buy of course, on a mar
gin. And I was plumb idiot enough to be tolled
into his trap! I, who had never speculated with
a dollar before, I didn t borrow his money, but I
took all I could raise myself, and I bought
enough to be sure I could control the next elec
tion. Then the slump came, and after the slump
the long, slow crumbling. I controlled the elec-
178 THE LION S SHARE
tion all right, of course, but before the next one
came I was ruined, and Keatcham put his own
men in. I went desperately to New York. I
didn t know how to fight those fellows; it was a
new game. I didn t find Atkins. Maybe because
that wasn t his name when I had known him. I
was so sure that the property was good as if
that mattered! As if anything mattered with
these gamblers who play with loaded dice and
dope the horses they bet against! Phil had all
his property in the mills ; we all had. We mort
gaged the house ; we had to, to protect our stock.
You know how the fight ended, and what hap
pened at Cambridge. That isn t all. My wife "
He stood a little straighter, and the light went
out of his eyes. "I told you I don t make friends
easily, and I am not the kind of man women take
to; all the same, the loveliest girl in the South
loved me ever since I jumped over the mill-dam
to save her rag doll, once, when she was visiting
her aunt near us. I d married, when we seemed
prosperous. Now, understand me, I don t say
it was my ruin and Phil s death that killed her
and the baby; she had pneumonia, and it may be
that seeing that paper by accident didn t turn the
scale; but I do say that she had her last hours
THE SMOLDERING EMBERS 179
embittered by it. That s enough for me. When
I got home with with Phil, she was dead."
"Tough," said the colonel. He began to revise
his impressions of Mercer.
"Wasn t it?" the other asked, with a simplicity
of appeal that affected the listener more than any
thing he had heard. He jumped out of his chair
and began pacing the room, talking more rapidly.
"You re a man; you know what I wanted to do."
"Kill somebody, I suppose. / should."
"Just that. I ran Atkins to cover after a while
through Endicott Tracy. That boy is one of the
noblest fellows that ever lived ; yes, suh. He was
going to help poor Phil, Phil s room-mate had
told him. All those boys look a-here, Colonel
Winter, if ever anybody talks to you about Har
vard fellows being indifferent "
"I shall tell him he can t get under the Ameri
can surface. A Harvard boy will do anything on
earth for his friends."
"They were mighty good to me. It was Endy
found out about Atkins, just from my description
of him. I found out about Keatcham for my
self. And you are quite right for a little while
I wanted to kill them both. Looked like I just
naturally had to kill them! But there was my
i8o THE LION S SHARE
mother. There was nobody to take care of her
but Sis and me, and a trial for murder is terri
bly expensive. Of course, anybody can get off
who has got money and can spend it ; but it takes
such an awful heap of money. And we were all
ruined together, for what little was left was all
in the company, and that promptly stopped paying
dividends. I couldn t risk it. I had to wait. I
had to go to work to support my mother, to pay
Sis and her back, don t you see? We came here.
I got a job, a well-paid one, too, through Endy s
father, reporting on the condition of the mills
a kind of examiner. And the job was for
"Why did you take it? I know, though. You
did it to familiarize him with your appearance,
so that he would not be warned when your
"How did you know that?"
"A man I knew in the Philippines a Filipino
was wronged by a white man, who took his
wife and threw her aside when he tired of her.
The girl killed herself. Her husband watched
his chance for a year, found it at last thanks
to that very fact that his victim wasn t on guard
against him and sent his knife home. He d
THE SMOLDERING EMBERS 181
been that fellow s servant. I picked the dead man
up. That Filipino looked as you looked a minute
"What became of the Filipino?" inquired his
The colonel had not told the story quite with
out intention. He argued subconsciously, that
if Mercer were a good sort under all, he would
have a movement of sympathy for a more cruelly
wronged man than he; if not, he would drive
ahead to his purpose, whatever that might be.
His keen eyes looked a little more gentle as he
answered : "He poisoned himself. The best way
out, I reckon. I should hate to have had him
shot after I knew the story. But there was really
no option. But I m interrupting you. You did
your work well and won Keatcham s confidence ?"
"He isn t a very confiding man. I didn t see
him often. My dealings were with Atkins. He
didn t know that I had found him out ; he thought
that he had only to explain his two names, and
expected gratitude for his warning, as he called
it. He is slimy; but I was able to repay a little
of my score with him. I was employed by more
than Keatcham, and I saw a good many industrial
back-yards. Just by chance, I came on a clue, and
1 82 THE LION S SHARE
Endy Tracy and I worked it up together. Atkins
was selling information to Keatcham s enemies.
We did not make out a complete case, but enough
of one to make Keatcham suspect him, and at
the right time. But that happened later you see,
I don t know how to tell a story even with so
much at stake." He pulled out his handkerchief,
and Winter caught the gleam of the beads on his
sallow forehead. "It was this way," he went on.
"At first I was only looking about for a safe
chance to kill him, and to kill that snake of an
Atkins; but then it grew on me; it was all too
easy a punishment just a quick death, when his
victims had years of misery. I wanted him to
wade through the hell / had to wade through.
I w r anted him to know why he was condemned.
Then it was I began to collect just the cases I
knew about just one little section of the horrible
swath of agony and humiliation and poverty and
sin he and his crowd had made the one I knew
every foot of, because I d gone over it every night
I wasn t so dead tired I had to sleep. God ! do you
know what it is to have the people who used to
be running out of their houses just to say howdy
to you, curse you for a swindler or a fool or
turn out of one street and down the other not
THE SMOLDERING EMBERS 183
to pass you? Did you ever have a little woman
who used to give you frosted cake when you were
a boy push her crape veil off her gray hair and
hand you the envelope with her stock, with your
handwriting on the envelope, and beg you try
ing so hard not to cry, twas worse than if she
had beg you to lend her just half her interest
money and you couldn t do it? Did you never
mind. I said I waded through hell. I did! Not I
alone that was the worst all the people that had
trusted me ! And just that some rich men should
be richer. Why should they have the lion s share ?
The lion s share belongs to the lion. They are
nothing but jackals. They re meaner than jackals,
for the jackals take what the lion leaves, and
these fellows steal the lion s meat away from
him. We made honest money; we paid honest
wages; folks had more paint on their houses
and more meat in their storehouses, and wore bet
ter clothes Sunday, and there were more school-
houses and fewer saloons, and the negroes were
learning a trade instead of loafing. The whole
county was the better off for our prosperity, and
there isn t a mill in the outfit and I know what
I m talking about there isn t a shop or a mine
that s as well run or makes as big an output now
1 84 THE LION S SHARE
as it did when the old crowd was in. You find
it that way everywhere; and that s what is going
to break things down. We saw to all the little
affairs; they were our affairs, don t you know?
But Keatcham s new men draw their salaries and
let things slide. Yet Keatcham is a great manager
if he would only take the time ; only he s too busy
stealing to develop his businesses; there s more
money in stealing a railway than in building one
up. Oh, he isn t a fool; if I could once get him
where he would have to listen, I know I could
make him understand. He s pretty cold-blooded,
and he doesn t realize. He only sees straight
ahead, not all round, like all these superhumanly
clever thieves; they have mighty stupid streaks.
Well, I ve got him now, and it is kill or cure for
him. He can t make a riffle. I knew I couldn t
do anything alone ; I had to wait. I had to have
stronger men than I am to help. By and by they
tried their jackal business on a real lion on
Tracy. They wanted to steal his road. I got on
to them first. I see a heap of people in a heap of
different businesses the little people who talk.
They notice all right, but they can see only their
own little patch. I was the fellow riding round
and seeing the township. I pieced together the
THE SMOLDERING EMBERS 185
plot and I told Endy Tracy. He wouldn t believe
me at first, because his father had given Keatcham
his first start and done a hundred things for him.
To be sure, his father has been obliged as an hon
est man to oppose Keatcham lately, but Keatcham
couldn t mean to burn him out that way. But he
soon found that was precisely what Keatcham
did mean. Then he was glad enough to help me
save his father. The old man doesn t know a
thing ; we don t mean he ever shall know. We let
him put up the best sort of a fight a man can with
his hands tied while the other fellow is free. My
hands are free, too. I don t respect the damned
imbecile laws that let me be plundered any more
than they do ; and since my poor mother died last
summer I am not afraid of anything; they are;
that s where I have the choice of weapons. I tell
you, suh, nobody is big enough to oppress a des
perate man! Keatcham had one advantage he
had unlimited money. But Aunt Rebecca helped
us out there. Colonel, I want you to know I didn t
ask her for more than the bare grub-stake ; it was
she herself that planned our stock deal."
"She is a dead game sport," the colonel
chuckled. "I believe you."
"And I hope you don t allow that I was willing
1 86 THE LION S SHARE
to have her mix herself in our risks. She would
come ; she said she wanted to see the fun "
"I believe you again/ the colonel assured him,
and he remembered the odd sentence which his
aunt had used the first night of their journey,
when she expressed her hankering to match her
wits against those of a first-class criminal.
"We didn t reckon on your turning up, or the
complication with Archie. I wish to God we d
taken the boy s own word ! But, now you know
all about it, will you keep your hands off ? That s
all we ask."
"Well," the colonel examined his finger-nails,
rubbing his hands softly, the back of one over the
palm of the other "well, you haven t quite told
me all. Don t, unless you are prepared to have it
used against you, as the policemen say before the
sweat-box. What did you do to Keatcham to get
him to go with you so like Mary s little lamb?"
"I learned of a little device that looks like a
tiny currycomb and is so flat and small you can
bind it on a man s arm just over an artery. Just
press on the spring and give the least scratch, and
the man falls down in convulsions. I showed him
a rat I had had fetched me, and killed it like a
flash. He had his choice of walking out quietly
THE SMOLDERING EMBERS 187
with me I had my hand on his arm or drop
ping down dead. He went quietly enough."
"That was the meaning of his look at me, was
it ?" Winter thought. He said only : "Did Endi-
cott Tracy know about that?"
"Of course not/ Mercer denied. "Do you
reckon I want to mix the boy up in this more than
I have? And Arnold only knew I was trying
some kind of bluff game."
"I will lay odds, though," the colonel ventured
in his gentlest tone, "that Mr. Samurai, as Haley
calls him, knew more. But when did you get rid
"Mr. Keatcham discharged him at Denver. I
met Mr. Keatcham here; it was arranged on the
train. We had it planned out. If that plan had
failed I had another."
"Neat. Very neat. And then you became the
Mercer flushed in an unexpected fashion. "Cer
tainly not !" he said with emphasis. "Do you think
I would take his wages and not do the work faith
fully? No, suh. I assumed to be his secretary in
the office ; that gave me a chance to arrange every
thing. But I did it to oblige him. I never touched
a cent of his money. I paid, in fact, for our board
1 88 THE LION S SHARE
out of our own money. It would have burned my
fingers, suh !"
"And the valet? Was he in your plot? Don t
answer if you "
"He was not, suh," replied Gary Mercer. "He
is a right worthy fellow, and he thought, after he
had seen to the tickets which he did very care
fully and given them to me, he could go off on
the little vacation which came to him by his mas
ter through me."
"That s a little bit evasive. However, I haven t
the right to ask you to give away your partners,
anyhow." He was peering at Mercer s face be
hind his glasses, but the pallid, tired features re
turned him no clue to the thoughts in the head
above them. "What have you done with Mr.
Keatcham ?" he concluded suddenly.
The question brought no change of expression,
and Mercer answered readily : "I put him off by
himself, where he sees no one and hears nothing.
I read a good deal about prisons and the most
effectual way of taming men, and solitary con
finement is recommended by all the authorities.
His meals are handed to him by by a mechanical
device. He has electric light some of the time,
turned on from the outside. He has a comfortable
THE SMOLDERING EMBERS 189
room and his own shower-bath. He has comfort
able meals. And he is supplied with reading."
"Reading?" repeated the colonel, his surprise
in his voice.
For the first time he saw Mercer smile, but it
was hardly a pleasant smile. "Yes, suh, reading,"
he said. "I have had type-written copies made of
all the cases which I discovered in regard to his
stealing our company. I reasoned that when he
would get absolutely tired of himself and his own
thoughts he would just naturally be obliged to
read, and that would be ready for him. He tore
up one copy."
"Hmn I can t say I wonder. What did you
"I sent him another. I expected he would do
that way. After a while he will go back to it, be
cause it will draw him. He ll hate it, but he will
want to know them all. I know his nature, you
"What are you going to do with him ?"
"Let him go, after he does what we want and
promises never to molest any of us."
"But can you trust him ?"
"He never breaks his word," replied Mercer
indifferently, "and besides, he knows he will be
190 THE LION S SHARE
killed if he should. He isn t given to being scared,
but he s scared of me, all right."
"What do you want him to do ?"
"Promise to be a decenter man and to let Mr.
Tracy alone in future ; meanwhile, to send a wire
in his secret code saying he has changed his mind.
It will not surprise his crowd. He never confides
in them, and he expects them to obey blindly any
thing in that code language. I reckon other tele
grams are just for show, and they don t notice
The colonel took a turn around the room to
pack away this information in an orderly fashion
in his mind. Mercer waited patiently ; he had said
truly that he was used to waiting. Perhaps he
supposed that Winter was trying the case in his
own mind ; but in reality Rupert was seeking only
one clue, as little diverted from his purpose as a
bloodhound. He began to understand the man
whose fixed purpose had his own quality, but
sharpened by wrong and suffering. This man had
not harmed Archie; as much as his warped and
fevered soul could feel softer emotions, he was
kindly intentioned toward the lad. Who had car
ried him away, then? Or was he off on his own
account, really, this time? Or suppose Atkins,
THE SMOLDERING EMBERS 191
the missing secretary discharged at Denver, com
ing back for another appeal to his employer, find
ing Keatcham gone, but, let one say, stumbling
on some trace of mystery in his departure; sup
pose him to consider the chance of his having his
past condoned and a rosy future given him if his
suspicions should prove true and he should release
the captive wouldn t such a prospect spur on a
man who was as cunning as he was unprincipled ?
Mightn t he have watched all possible clues, and
mightn t he have heard about Archie and plotted
to capture the child, thinking he would be easily
pumped? That would presuppose that Atkins
knew that Archie was at the Arnolds or no, he
might only have seen the boy on the street; he
knew him by sight; the colonel remembered that
several times Archie had been with him in Keatch-
am s car. It was worth considering, anyhow. He
spoke out of his thoughts : "Do you think Keatch
am could have told the truth, and that code of
his be lost or stolen ? Why couldn t Atkins have
stolen it? He had the chance, and he isn t ham
pered by principle, you say."
Mercer frowned; it was plain the possibility
had its argument for him. "He might," he con
ceded, "but I doubt it. Why hasn t he done some-
192 THE LION S SHARE
thing with it? He hasn t. They wouldn t have
postponed that meeting if he had wired his proxy
and his directions in the code. He d have voted
his employer s stock. He s got too much at stake.
I happen to know he thought it a sure tip to sell
short, and he has put almost all he has on it. You
see, Keatcham was banking on that; he knew it.
He thought Atkins wouldn t dare give any of his
secrets away or go against him in this deal, be
cause they were in the same boat."
"Still, I reckon I ll have to see Keatcham."
Mercer shook his head, gently but with deci
sion. "I hate to refuse you, Colonel, but unless
you promise not to interfere, it is impossible. But
I ll gladly go with you to see if we can find any
trace of Archie. I ll risk that much. And if you
will promise "
"Such a promise would be impossible to an of
ficer and a gentleman," the colonel urged lightly,
smiling. "Besides, don t you see I have all the
cards ? I have only to call in my men. I d hate to
do it, but if you force me, you would have no
"We shouldn t resist, Colonel, no, suh; your
force is overwhelming. But it would do no good ;
you couldn t find him."
THE SMOLDERING EMBERS 193
"We could try; and we may be better sleuths
than you imagine."
"Then it would be the worse for him ; for if you
find him, you will find him dead."
There was something so chilling in his level
tones that Winter broke out sharply : "Are you
fooling with me? Have you been such an in
credible madman as to kill him already?"
Mercer s faint smile made the colonel feel boy
ish and impetuous. "Of course not, suh," he an
swered. "I told you he was alive, myself. I reck
oned you knew when a man is lying and when he
is telling the solemn truth. You know I have told
you the truth and treated you on the square. But,
just the same, if you try to take that man away,
you ll only have his dead body. He can t do any
more harm then, and a dead man can t vote."
The colonel, who had taken out his cigarette-
case, opened it and meditatively fingered the rub
ber band. "Do you reckon," he suggested, in his
most amiable voice, "do you reckon young Ar
nold and Endicott Tracy will stand for such frills
in warfare as assassination?"
"I do not, suh," replied Mercer gravely, and as
he spoke he pushed back the heavy tapestry hid
ing a window opposite the colonel s head, "but
194 THE LION S SHARE
they can both prove an alibi. Mr. Arnold is in
Pasadena, and there goes Mr. Tracy now in his
machine to try to find Archie. Do you see?"
The colonel saw. He inclined his head, at the
same time proffering his case.
"I rather think, Mr. Mercer, that I was wrong.
You have the last trump."
THE CHARM OF JADE
It was no false lure to distract pursuit, that hur
ried sentence of Randall s which had met the colo
nel s angry appeal for information. The woman
was not only repeating Mrs. Winter s message;
the message itself described a fact. As she stood
at her room telephone, Aunt Rebecca had hap
pened to glance at Randall, supplementing the per
functory dusting of the hotel maid with her own
sanitary, dampened, clean cloth; Randall s eyes
suddenly glazed and bulged in such startling trans
formation that, instead of questioning her, Mrs.
Winter stepped swiftly to the window where she
was at work, to seek the cause of her agitation.
"Oh, Lord! Oh, Mrs. Winter!" gasped Ran
dall. "Ain t that Master Archie?"
Mrs. Winter saw for herself; the face at a cab
window, the waving of a slim hand Archie s
face, Archie s hand. Brief as was the space of his
passing (for the two horses in the cab were trot-
196 THE LION S SHARE
ting- smartly) , she was sure of both. "Give me my
bonnet/ she commanded, "any bonnet, any
gloves ! And my bag with some money !"
It was as she flung through the door that she
threw her message to the colonel back exactly as
Randall had submitted it. Miss Smith was com
ing along the loggia. "Don t stop me !" said Mrs.
Winter sternly. "I ve seen Archie; I m after
"Stop!" cried Miss Smith but it was to the
elevator boy who was whizzing below them in his
cage, not to her employer; and she boarded the
elevator with the older woman. "I ll go with
you," she said. There was no vibration in her
even tones, although a bright red flickered up in
But Rebecca Winter caught savagely at her
breath, which was coming fast. "It is not with
the running; you needn t think it, Janet," she
panted sharply, in a second. "It was the sight of
his face so suddenly; I never expected any face
would make my heart pump like that again. All
of which shows" she was speaking quite natur
ally and placidly again "that women may grow
too old for men to make fools of them, but never
for children. Come ; it was a shabby sort of hack
THE CHARM OF JADE 197
he was in, drawn by two horses with auburn tails.
Here s the office floor."
Not a word did Janet Smith say ; she was not a
woman of words in any case. Moreover, the pace
which Mrs. Winter struck was too rapid for com
ments or questions; it swept them both past the
palm-shaded patio into the side hall, out on the
noisy, dazzling, swaying street. Looking before
her, Miss Smith could see the dusty body of a
hack a block away. Mrs. Winter had stepped up
to a huge crimson motor-car, in the front seat of
which lounged the chauffeur, his forehead and
eyes hunched under his leather visor. The ma
chine was puffing, with the engine working, ready
to leap forward at a touch of the lever.
"Twenty dollars an hour if you let me get in
now !" said Mrs. Winter, lightly mounting by his
side as she spoke.
"Hey, me? what!" gurgled the chauffeur,
plucked out of a half-doze. "Oh, say, beg your
pardon, lady, but this is hired, it belongs "
"I don t care to whom it belongs, I have to have
it," announced Mrs. Winter calmly. "Whoever
hired it can get another. I ll make it all right.
You start on and catch that hack with the auburn-
tailed horses "
198 THE LION S SHARE
"I ll make it right with your fare !" Miss Smith
cut in before the chauffeur could answer. "It s a
case of kidnapping. You catch that cab!" She
was standing on the curb, and even as she spoke
an elderly man and his wife came out of a shop.
They stared from her to the automobile, and in
their gaze was a proprietary irritation. This was
instantly transfused by a more vivid emotion. The
woman looked shocked and compassionate. "Oh,
pa!" she gasped, "did you hear that?"
The man was a country banker from Iowa. He
had a very quick, keen eye; it flashed. "Case of
kidnapping, hey?" snapped he, instantly grasping
the character of the speakers and jumping at the
situation. "Take the auto, Madam. Get a move
on you, Mr. Chauffeur !"
"Oh, I m moving, all right," called the chauf
feur, as he skilfully dived his lower wheels under
the projecting load of a great wagon and obliquely
bumped over the edge of a street-car fender, pur
sued by the motorman s curses. "I see em, lady ;
I see the red tails; I ll catch em!"
His boast most likely had been made good
(since for another block they bore straight on
their course) but for an orange-wagon which had
been overturned. There was a rush of pursuit of
THE CHARM OF JADE 199
the golden balls from the sidewalk; a policeman
came to the rescue of traffic and ordered every
thing to halt until the cart was righted. The boys
and girls in the street chased back to the sidewalk.
The episode took barely a couple of minutes, but
on the edge of the last minute the cab turned a
corner. The motor-car turned the same corner,
but saw no guiding oriflamme of waving red
horsehair. The cross street next was equally bare.
They were obliged to explore two adjacent high
ways before they came upon the hack again. This
time it was in distant perspective, foreshortened to
a blur of black and a swish of red. And even as
they caught sight of it the horses swung round
into profile and turned another corner. In the
turn a man wearing a black derby hat stuck his
arm and head out of the window in order to give
some direction to the driver. Then he turned half
around. It was almost as if he looked back at his
pursuers; yet this, Mrs. Winter argued, hardly
could be, since he had not expected pursuit, and
anyhow, the chances were he could not know her
It was a mean street, narrow and noisome, but
full of shipping traffic and barred by tramways
a heartbreaking street for a chase. The chauffeur
200 THE LION S SHARE
was a master of his art ; he jumped his great craft
at every vacant arm s-length ; he steered it through
incredibly narrow lanes ; he progressed sometimes
by luffs, like a boat under sail when the forward
passage must be reached in such indirect fashion ;
but the crowd of ungainly vehicles, loaded dizzily
above his head, made the superior speed of the
motor of no avail. In spite of him they could see
the red tails lessening. Again and yet again, the
hack turned ; again, but each time with a loss, the
motor struck its trail. By now the street was
changed; the dingy two-story buildings lining it
were brightened by gold-leaf and vermilion; ori
ental arms and garbs and embroidery spangled
the windows and oriental faces looked inscrutably
out of doorways. There rose the blended odors
of spice, sandalwood and uncleanliness that an
nounce the East, reeking up out of gratings and
puffing out of shops.
"Ah," said Mrs. Winter softly to herself, "Chi
nese quarter, is it? Well." Her eyes changed;
they softened in a fashion that would have amazed
one who only knew the surface of Mrs. Winter,
the eccentric society potentate. She looked past
the squalid, garish scene, past the shining sand
hills and the redwood trees, beyond into a stranger
THE CHARM OF JADE ,201
landscape glowing under a blinder glare of sun.
Half mechanically she lifted a tiny gold chain that
had slipped down her throat under the gray gown.
Raising the yellow thread and the carven jade
ornament depending therefrom, she let it lie out
side amid the white lace and chiffon.
"We re making good now," called the chauf
feur. "Will I run alongside and hail em, or
She told him quietly to run alongside. But her
lips twitched, and when she put up her hand to
press them still, she smiled to discover that the
hand was bare. She had forgotten to pull on her
glove. She began to pull it on now.
"The road is narrow/ said she. "Run ahead
of the hack and block its way. You can do it
without hitting the horses, can t you ?"
"Well, I guess," returned the chauffeur, in
stantly accomplishing the manoeuver in fine style.
But he missed his deserved commendation ; in
deed, he forgot it himself; because, as he looked
back at the horses rearing on the sudden check
and tossing their auburn manes, then ran his scru
tiny behind them to the hack, he perceived no life
in it; and when his own passenger jumped with
amazing nimbleness from her seat and flung the
202 THE LION S SHARE
crazy door wide open, she recoiled, exclaiming:
"Where are they ? Where did you leave them ?"
"Leave who?" queried the hackman. "Say,
what you stoppin me fur ? Runnin into me with
your devil-wagon! Say!" then his wrath trailed
into an inarticulate mutter as he appreciated better
the evident quality of the gentlewoman before
"You may be mixed up in a penitentiary of
fense, my man," said she placidly. "It is a case
of kidnapping. Where did you leave that boy
who was in the cab ? If you give us information
that will find him, there s five dollars ; if you fool
us well, I have your number. Where did you
leave the boy ?"
"Why, there was a cop with im a cop and
a gentleman. Ain t you got hold of the wrong
"A brown-haired boy in a gray suit with a blue
cravat you know he was in your cab. And how
do you know it was a real policeman?"
"Or he wasn t helping on the deviltry if it
was?" sneered the chauffeur, who had now be
come a full-fledged partizan. "Ain t you lived in
this burg long enough to find out how to make a
little mazuma on the side? You re too good for
THE CHARM OF JADE 203
Frisco. Heaven is your home, my Christian
"Cut it out!" retorted the man. "I guess I
know how to find my way round as well as the
next man "
"Certainly you do/ soothed Mrs. Winter, who
was fingering a crisp new five-dollar bank-note,
"and you are no kidnapper, either; you made no
bargain with those men "
"Sure I didn t," agreed the hackman, "nor I
ain t standin for kidnapping, neither. Why, I got
kids of my own, and my woman she d broom me
outer the house if I was to do them games. Say,
I ll tell you all I knows. They got off, them three,
at that there corner, and I was to drive fast s I
could three blocks ahead and then git home any
old way. And that s God s truth, I "
"You didn t see where they went ?" Mrs. Win
ter was quietly insistent.
"No, I didn t. I guess I was a dumb fool not
ter notice, but they paid me well, and I d a bad
thirst, and I was hiking to a place I know for
beer ; and that s "
"Did the boy seem willing?"
"He didn t do no kicking as I seen."
A few more questions revealed that the man
204 THE LION S SHARE
had unpacked his full kit of information. He had
never seen either of the men before. The gentle
man yes, he was sure he was a gentleman ; he
wasn t no swell confidence guy ; he was the regu
lar thing gentleman engaged him to take a party
to the Chinese quarter; he d tell where to stop;
didn t need a guide; only wanted to make a few
purchases, he said, and he knew where the things
was; yes, ma am, that was all; only down there
on Market Street, or maybe why, somewhere
near by he stuck his head out and told him to
turn the corner, and then he kept telling him to
turn corners, until finally he told him to stop and
they got out.
Mrs. Winter gave the man the bank-note, coun
seling him to keep his eyes open for the two men
and the boy, and to report to her at the Palace
Hotel, giving his number, should he see either
man or boy. It would be very well worth his
The chauffeur did not interrupt, but he shook
his head over the departing hack. "He d ought to
have known it wan t on the square, but these hack
drivers ain t got good sense even when they re, so
to speak, sober, which ain t often," he solilo
quized. "Well, lady, if they ve took to the Chi-
THE CHARM OF JADE 205
nese quarter, we d better be looking up a Chink
to help us, I guess. I know a fairly decent one "
"I think I know a better," interrupted Mrs.
Winter, with a faint smile. She had detected a
suppressed pity in the man s regard. "Motor
slowly along the street. There is a shop, if I can
find it, where there ought to be a man "
"Man you know ? Say, lady, I guess I better go
in with you, if you don t mind "
"No; stay in your car. You don t know how
safe I am. Not only my gray hair protects me,
but I have only to say a few words and any of
these men will fight for me if necessary. But this
is in confidence just between us, you understand.
You are not to repeat it, ever."
She looked at him with a frank smile, and in
voluntarily his hand went up to his cap. "What
you say goes, lady. But jest remember Fm right
here, spark going all the time, ready to throw her
wide open when you step in; and" his voice
sank "I ain t absolutely unprepared for a scrap,
"I understand," said she, looking at him
keenly, and a few moments later she stepped
briskly into the shop before which he halted with
a little lightening of the heart because of this un-
206 THE LION S SHARE
couth knight of the lever. The shop itself was
like any pne of a score on the street, crowded
with oriental objects, bizarre carvings of ivory
and jade, daggers and strings of cash, swords,
gorgeous embroidered robes of silk and gold in a
huddle over a counter or swinging and gleaming
in the dusky background, squat little green and
brown gods with puffy eyelids, smiling inscrutably
amid shoes and fans and Chinese lanterns of glass
and bronze, glittering with beads in all these,
like the score about it ; yet the clean windows and
a certain order within gave it a touch out of the
common. A man and a boy served the shop, both
in the American dress, with their pigtails tucked
under visorless caps. Both greeted her in the
serene oriental fashion, bowing and smiling, their
obsequious courtesy showing no smallest sign of
the surprise which the sight of an unattended
woman must have given them.
Nevertheless, Mrs. Winter was aware that both,
under their lowered eyelids, took cognizance of
that soft-carven disk of jade among the laces on
her breast. She asked the man if he had seen a lad
and an older man, or it might be two older men,
one a policeman, come into that or any other
neighboring shop. She explained that the lad was
THE CHARM OF JADE 207
her grand-nephew and was lost ( she eschewed the
harsher word, for she had no desire to set afloat a
rumor which might bring the police upon her).
She named a sum large enough to kindle a sudden
gleam in the boy s eyes, as the reward awaiting
the lucky man who might put her on the right
track. But her words struck no responsive spark
from the Chinaman s veiled gaze. In perfect
English and a very soft voice he avowed igno
rance and sympathy with the same breath.
And all the while she could feel his glance slant
down at the jade ornament.
"Send the boy to look in the shop next door,"
said she. As she spoke she raised the charm be
tween her thumb and first two fingers, looking at
him directly. Her tone was that of command, not
request. He frowned very slightly, making an al
most imperceptible gesture, to which she returned
a single Chinese phrase, spoken so low that had
he not expected the words they had been indis
tinguishable to his ear. Instantly he addressed the
boy rapidly in their own language. The boy went
out. The master of the shop returned to Mrs.
Winter. His manner had utterly changed; the
tradesman s perfunctory deference was displaced
by an almost eager humility of bearing. He would
208 THE LION S SHARE
have her sit there were a few cane-seated Amer
ican arm-chairs, in grotesque contrast to all their
accompaniments he prostrated himself before
her; he put himself at her service; still to her
trained eye there was a corner of his mind where
incredulity wrestled with a stronger emotion.
"Do not fear," she said gently. "It is really my
own, and he gave it to me himself, almost thirty
years ago. He was hardly thirty years old him
self then. You see, my husband had been so for
tunate as to do him a kindness. It was he who
had it first. When he died it came to me, and now
for the second time in my life I am using it. I
knew you belonged. I saw the sign. Will you
help me find my boy?"
"Did your ladyship know he is he e, in San
If she had not already dissipated any doubt in
his mind, her evident relief blew the last shred
away now. "Haven t you such a thing as a tele
phone somewhere?" cried Rebecca Winter. "Time
is precious. Can t you speak to him have him
It appeared that there was a telephone, and in
a moment she was put into communication by the
shopkeeper. He stood in an attitude of deep re-
THE CHARM OF JADE 209
spect while she talked. He heard with unsmiling
attention her first Chinese words; he listened as
she returned to English, speaking very quietly,
but with a controlled earnestness, explaining that
she was Archibald Winter s widow, giving dates
and places, in nowise alluding to the service which
had won the charm about her neck. Yet as he list
ened, insensibly the Chinaman grew certain that
she had spoken the truth. Presently she turned to
him. "He wishes to speak to you/ she said, and
went back to the shop. She sighed as one sighs
from whose heart a great burden rolls. "To find
him here, and still grateful !" she was thinking.
"What wonderful good fortune!"
She sat down, and her face grew dreamy. She
was no longer thinking of Archie. Her vision was
on another face, another scene, a time of peril,
when almost against her reason her instinctive
woman s recoil of pity for a fellow-creature in
danger of unthinkable torture had been so intense
that she had more than acquiesced in her hus
band s plan of risking both their lives to save him ;
she had impelled him to it ; she had overcome his
terror of the risks on her account. "It is only
death we have to fear, at worst," she had argued.
"We have the means to escape in a second, both
210 THE LION S SHARE
of us, from anything else; and if we run away
and leave this poor wretch, who hasn t done any
thing but love his country, just as we love ours,
and be too civilized for his trifling, ornery, pusil
lanimous country-people to understand, to get
slashed to pieces by their horrible ling-ling
whatever they call it Archibald Winter, don t
you reckon we shall have nightmares as long as
Thirty years ago yet it seemed like yesterday.
Distinctly she could hear her husband s voice; it
had not come back to her with such reality for
years ; it was more real than the cries of the street
outside ; and her heart was beating faster for his
words: "Becky, there never was a woman like
you! You could make a dead man hop up and
fight, bless you !"
"Your ladyship" it was the shopkeeper back
again; he had lived in England, and he offered
the most respectful western title of his knowledge
"your ladyship may be chee ful. All will be
done of the best. The young gentleman will be
back fo to-night. If your ladyship will now le-
tu n to the hotel."
Mrs. Winter bowed slightly ; she was quite her
self-possessed self again. "I will go certainly,"
It took only a moment to transfer a passenger. Page 211
THE CHARM OF JADE 211
she said, "but I shall hope to see you, also, to
night ; and meanwhile, will you accept, as a token
from a friend who trusts you, this?" She took a
little gem-encrusted watch from her fob and
handed it to him. Her manner was that of a
queen who rewards her general. And she left
him bowing low. She entered the motor-car. It
was no longer a lone motor. Another car steamed
and snorted near by, in which sat the amiable
banker from Iowa, his wife and Janet Smith.
It took only a moment to transfer a passenger,
to explain that she hoped to find the boy who had
been lost no, she would not use such a strenuous
word as kidnapped and would they complete
their kindness by not mentioning the affair to any
one? One hated so to get into the papers. And
would they let her see them again to thank them ?
Then, as she sank back on the cushions, she re
marked, as much to the expectant chauffeur as to
Janet: "Yes, I think it is all right. I think we
shall see Archie to-night."
There was no one but Mrs. Winter to welcome
the colonel when, jaded, warm and dusty, he
tapped on Aunt Rebecca s parlor door. Mrs. Mil-
licent was bristling with a sense of injury; one
couldn t touch her conversationally without risk
of a scratch. The colonel put up the shield of his
unsuitable appearance, his fatigue and his de
plorable need of a bath, and escaped into his own
apartment. But he made his toilet with reckless
haste. All the time he was questioning his recent
experience, trying to sort over his theories, which
had been plunged into confusion by Mercer s con
fession. "I suppose," he reflected, "that I had no
right to give Mercer that hint at the door." The
hint had been given just as they parted. It was
in a single sentence :
"By the way, Mercer, if that pillar in the patio
is of importance in your combination, you would
better keep an eye on it ; it has a trick of cracking."
"The devil it has!" grunted Mercer. Then he
A BLOW 213
thanked him, with a kind of reluctant admiration
in his tone.
"You are sure you don t object to my detect
ive s staying?" questioned the colonel.
"No, suh ; prefer to have him. You told him to
have his men in and overhaul the house ?"
"I did. I warned you I should have to. You
promise there shall be no racket? But I I think
I ll take Haley."
"Thank you. That s right kind of you, suh.
This had been the manner of their parting as
suredly a singular one, after the sinister suspicions
and the violent promises which the soldier had
made himself in regard to this very man. After
leaving, he had motored into town, down to
the police courts, to discover no records of the
arrest and no trace of Archie. Thence, discour
aged, perplexed and more worried than he liked
to admit, he had repaired to the hotel. His aunt
was gone, Miss Smith was gone, and Randall
could only relate how Mrs. Winter "had flewed
like a bird, sir, into a big red motor-car and gone
off, and then Miss Smith and a lady and gentle
man had got into a white car and gone off in the
214 THE LION S SHARE
He was meditating on his next step, wlien Bird-
sail was announced below. The detective looked
as warm and as tired as the colonel had felt an
hour before. Rupert was not eager to see him,
but neither was he anxious for the tete-a-tete with
Millicent which awaited him in the parlor. Be
tween the two he chose Birdsall.
"Well," he greeted him, "did you find any trace
of the boy?"
"Of course I did," growled Birdsall. "They
didn t try to hide im. They had him lodged in a
dandy room with his own bath. Of course, he
left his tooth-brush. They d got him some auto
mobile togs, too, and he d left some leggings when
he packed, and a letter begun on a pad to Miss
Smith Dear Miss Janet, it begins, I am hav
ing a bully time. I can steer the machine, only I
can t back that s all. Say, the young dog has
been having it fat while we were in the frying-pan
for fear somebody was bothering him."
"But he is not in the house now ?"
"No, nor nothing else."
"Nobody hidden away? Where did the groans
you heard come from?" queried the colonel
Birdsall flushed. "I do believe that slick de-
A BLOW 215
ceiver you call Mercer put up a game on us out
of meanness just to git me guessing."
"That sort of thing looks more like the college
"Say, it might have been. This thing is giving
me nervous prostration. Say, why didn t you see
the thing out with me?"
The colonel shamelessly told the truth to de
ceive. "I was called here. I was told that Mrs.
Winter, my aunt, had seen Archie in the street."
"She was just getting out of a machine as I
came up. Miss Smith was with her, and they had
their hands full of candy boxes. They were
laughing. I made sure the boy had been found."
"Not to my knowledge," said the colonel. But
in some excitement he walked into the parlor.
The ladies had arrived; they stood in the center
of the room while Randall took away the boxes.
"Candy for Archie," explained Aunt Rebecca,
and these were the first words to reach Rupert
Winter s ears. "I expect him to dinner."
"Aunt Rebecca," proclaimed Millicent, "I never
have been one to complain, but there are limits to
human endurance. I am a modern person, a civil
ized Episcopalian, accustomed to a regular and
well-ordered life, and for the last few days I seem
216 THE LION S SHARE
to have been living in a kind of medieval mystery,
with kidnappers, and blood-stains, and, for any
thing I know, somebody ready to stick a knife into
any one of us any time! You people may enjoy
this sort of thing you seem to but I don t.
And I tell you frankly that I am going to apply
to the police, not to any private detective inquiry
office, as like as not in league with the criminals"
thus ungratefully did Mrs. Millicent slur the
motives of her only truly interested auditor "but
real policemen. I shall apply "
She did not tell where she should apply, the
words being snapped out of her mouth by the
sharp tinkle of the telephone bell.
Aunt Rebecca responded to the call. "Send him
up," was her answer to the inaudible questioner.
She laid down the receiver. Then she put it
back. Then she stood up, her silver head in the
air, her erect little figure held motionless.
Janet Smith s dark eyes sought hers; her lips
parted only to close firmly again.
Even the detective perceived the electric in
tensity of the moment, and Rupert shut his fists
tight, with a quickened beating of the heart; but
emotional vibrations did not disturb Mrs. Melville
Winter s poise. She continued her plaint.
A BLOW 217
"This present situation is unbearable, unprece
dented and un un unexpected," she declaimed,
rather groping for a climax which escaped her.
Aunt Rebecca raised her hand.
"Would you be so very kind, Millicent," said
she, "as to wait a moment? I am trying to listen."
Like a response to her words, the knob of the
door was turned, the door swung, and Archie en
tered the room, smiling his odd little chewed-up
Janet uttered a faint cry and took a single step,
but, as if recognizing a superior right, hung back
while the boy put his arm about his great-aunt s
waist and rather bashfully kissed her cheek.
She received the salute with entire composure,
except for a tiny splash of red which crept up to
each cheek-bone. "Is it really you, Archie?" said
she. "You are a little late for dinner day before
yesterday, but quite in time for to-day. Sit down
and tell us where you have been,"
"Quite so!" exclaimed Mrs. Millicent. "Good
heavens! Do you know r how we have suffered?
Where have you been? Why did you run away?"
But Archie, who had surrendered one-half of
him to be hugged by Miss Smith and the other to
be clapped on the shoulder by his uncle, seemed
218 THE LION S SHARE
to think a vaguely polite "How-de-do, Aunt Milli-
cent ; I m sorry to have worried you !" to be an
swer enough. Only when the question was re
peated by Mrs. Winter herself did he reply : "I m
awfully sorry, Aunt Rebecca, but I ve promised
not to say anything about it. But, truly, I didn t
mean to bother you."
Millicent exploded in an access of indignation :
"And do you mean that you expect us to accept
such a ridiculous promise after all we have been
"Quite so," remarked Aunt Rebecca, with a
precise echo of her niece s most Anglican utter
ance the gift of mimicry had been one of Mrs.
Winter s most admired and distrusted social gifts
from her youth.
Rupert Winter hastened to distract Millicent s
attention by saying decisively: "If the boy has
promised, that ends it; he can t break his parole.
Anyhow, they don t seem to have hurt you, old
"Oh, they treated me dandy, those fellows,"
said Archie. "Miss Janet, I know how to run an
electric motor-car, except backing."
"I ll bet you do," muttered the detective.
Here the colonel came to the boy s relief a sec-
A BLOW 219
ond time and drew Birdsall aside. "Best let me
pump the chap a little. You get down-stairs and
see how he got here, who brought him. They ll
get clean away. It is late for that as it is. You
can report to-morrow."
It was the colonel, also, who eliminated Mrs.
Millicent by the masterly stratagem of suggesting
that she pass the news to Mrs. Wigglesworth. He
artfully added that it would require tact to let the
lady from Boston understand that the lad had
been found without in any way gratifying her
natural curiosity in regard to the manner of find
ing or the cause of disappearance. "I ll have to
leave that to you/ he concluded. "Maybe you can
see a way out ; I confess my hands are in the air."
Millicent thus relegated to the ambassador s
shelf, the colonel slipped comfortably into his pet
arm-chair facing his nephew on the lounge be
tween Aunt Rebecca and Miss Smith. Miss Smith
looked frankly, charmingly happy. Aunt Rebecca
looked rather tired.
"Of course/ remarked he, "I understand, old
man, that you have promised secrecy to well, to
the Fireless Stove gang, as we ll call them ; but the
other kidnappers, the crowd that held up your car
and then switched you off on a side track while
220 THE LION S SHARE
young Fireless was detained they haven t any
hold on you ?"
"No, sir," said Archie; "but you see, that
strange gentleman and Aunt Millicent I was
scared lest I d give something away."
"They re not here now. All friends here. Sup
pose you make a clean breast of your second kid
napping. It may be important you should."
Nothing loath, Archie told his story. Left out
side while Tracy went into the office with a po
liceman, to whom he gave his assumed name, he
remained for hardly two minutes before a gentle
man and a "cop" came up to him, and the latter
ordered him to descend from the machine but
not until they had found it impossible to move
the vehicle. When they did discover that the key
was out and gone, the man in citizen s clothes
hailed a cab and the officer curtly informed Archie
that Gardiner (Tracy s traveling name) had been
taken to another court and he was to follow. He
didn t suspect anything beyond a collision with
the speed regulations of the city, but had he seen
a chance to dive under his escort s arm the boy
would have taken it. Such chance was not af
forded him, and all he was able to do was to lean
out suddenly as they passed the Palace and to
A BLOW 221
wave at Randall. "I wanted them to stop and let
me get some one to pay my fine/ said Archie,
"but they said I was only a witness. They;
wouldn t let me stop; they run down the curtain
at least so far as it would run. It was like all
those hack curtains, you know all out of order."
"Archie/ 5 the colonel interjected here, "was one
of the men a little fellow, clean-shaven, with a
round black head, blue eyes one of his eyes
winks a little faster than the other ?"
"Yes, sir. How did you know?"
"I didn t know ; I guessed. Well, get on ; they
wanted to pump you when they got you safely out
"Yes," Archie said, "they put me into the
sweat-box, all right."
"Did you tell them anything ?" asked Mrs. Win
Archie looked at her reproachfully. Did she
think that he had gone to boarding-school for
nothing? He explained that, being a stranger in
the town, he could not tell anything about where
he d been. There was an agent at the house trying
to sell stoves, and they let him take him off back
to the hotel. The man seemed to know all about
who he (Archie) was, and about his having gone
222 THE LION S SHARE
away. The men asked him an awful lot of ques
tions about how he was taken away. He said he
didn t know, and he d promised not to tell. He
couldn t tell. They said he would have to go to
jail if he didn t tell, because the men who had him
were such bad men. But he didn t tell.
"Did they try to frighten you to make you
tell ?" said Mrs. Winter.
"Oh, they bluffed a little," returned Archie care
lessly, yet the keen eyes on him eyes both
worldly-wise and shrewd noted that the lad s
color shifted and he winced the least in the world
over some remembrance.
"But they didn t hurt you? They didn t burn
you or cut you or twist your arms, or try any
other of their playful ways?" Mrs. Winter de
manded ; and Janet began feeling the boy s arms,
breathing more quickly. The colonel only looked.
"No, they didn t do a thing. I knew they
wouldn t, too," Archie assured her earnestly. "I
told them if they did anything, Uncle Rupert and
you would make them pay."
"And you weren t frightened, away from every
one in that hideous quarter ?" cried Miss Smith.
"Oh, my dear!" She choked.
"Well, maybe I was a little scared. I kept think-
A BLOW 223
ing of a rotten yarn of Kipling s ; something hap
pened to him, down in the underground quarter,
in just such a hot, nasty-smelling hole, I guess, as
I was in; you remember, Miss Janet, about the
game of cards and the Mexican stabbing a Chink
for cheating, and how Kipling jumped up and ran
for his life, never looked around; and don t you
remember that nasty bit, how he felt sure they
had dealt with the greaser their own way and he d
never get up to the light again "
"I ve been remembering that story all this after
noon," answered Miss Smith with a shudder.
"Agreeable little tale," said Aunt Rebecca
dryly. "Archie, you must have had a right nasty
quarter of an hour ; what stopped it ?"
"Why, a Chink came and called the little man
off ; and there was a lot of talking which I couldn t
hear, and the cop was swearing; I think they
didn t like it. But, in a minute the Chinaman
he was an awful nice little feller he came up to
me and took me out, led me all sorts of ways, not
a bit like the way I came in, and got me out to
the street. The other fellows were very polite;
they told me that they were my friends and only
wanted to find a clue to my kidnappers; and the
burning holes in me was only a joke to give me
224 THE LION S SHARE
an excuse to break my word under compulsion
why, they wouldn t hurt me for the world! I
pretended to be fooled, and said it was all right,
and looked pleasant; but I d like to scare them
the same way, once, all the same."
The boy caught at his lip which was trembling,
and ended with a shaky laugh. Miss Smith
clenched the fist by her side ; but she dropped the
arm near Archie, and said in a matter-of-fact,
sprightly tone: "Archie, you really ought to go
dress and wash for dinner ; excuse me for men
tioning it, but you have no idea how grimy you
The commonplace turn of thought did its er
rand. Archie, who had been bracing himself anew
against the horror which he remembered, dropped
back into his familiar habits and jumped up con
sciously. "It s the dust, motoring," he offered
bashfully. "I ought to have washed before I came
up. Well, that s all ; we came straight here. Now,
may I go take a bath ?"
Aunt Rebecca was fingering a curious jade
locket on her neck. She watched the boy run to
the open door.
"I wish you d go into your room, Colonel,"
said Miss Smith, "and see that nothing happens
A BLOW 225
to him. It s silly, but I am expecting to see him
vanish again !"
The sentence affected the colonel unpleasantly ;
why need she be posing before him, as if that first
disappearance had had any real fright in it? Of
course she didn t know yet (although Aunt Re
becca might have told her she ought to have told
her and stopped this unnecessary deceit) that
he was on to the game; but he didn t like it.
.Unconsciously, his inward criticism made his tone
drier as he replied with a little bow that he im
agined Archie was quite safe, now, and he would
ask to be excused, as he had to attend to some
thing before dinner.
Was it his fancy that her face changed and her
eyes looked wistful? It must have been. He
walked stiffly away. Hardly had he entered his
room and turned his mind on the changed situa
tion before the telephone apprised him that a
gentleman, Mr. Gardiner, who represented the
Fireless Cook Stove, said that he had an appoint
ment with Colonel Winter to explain the stove;
should he be sent up ?
Directly, Endicott Tracy entered, smiling.
"Where s the kid? I know he s back," were his
first words; and he explained that he had been
226 THE LION S SHARE
hunting the kidnappers to nd purpose. "Except
that I learned enough to know they put up a job
with the justice, all right; I got next to that game
without any Machiavellian exertions. But they
got away. Who is it? Any of Keatcham s gang?"
"Atkins," said the colonel concisely.
Tracy whistled and apologized. "It s a blow,"
he confessed. "That little wretch ! He has brains
to burn and not an ounce of conscience. You
know he has been mousing round at the hotels
after Keatcham s mail "
"He didn t get it?"
"No, Gary had covered that point. Gary has
thought this all out very carefully, but Atkins
has got on to the fact that Gary was here in this
hotel with Keatcham. But he doesn t know where
we come in; whether Keatcham s gang is just
lying low for some game of its own, or whether
we ve got him. At least, I don t believe he
"You ought not to be talking so freely to me;
I haven t promised you anything, you knpw,"
warned the colonel.
"But you ve got your nephew back all right;
we have been on the square with you; why should
you butt in ? I know you won t."
A BLOW 227
"I don t seem to have a fair call to," observed
"And I think the old boy is going to give in;
he has made signals of distress, to my .thinking.
Wanted his mail; and wanted to write; and in
formed Gary he saw him for the first time to
day that he had bigger things on deck than the
Midland; and wanted to get at them. We re
going to win out all right."
"Unless Atkins gets at him to-night," the
colonel suggested. "You oughtn t to have come
here, Gardiner. Don t go home, now. Wait until
later, and let me rig you up in another lot of togs
and give you my own motor-car. Better."
Tracy was more than impressed by the propo
sal; he was plainly grateful. He entered with
enthusiasm into the soldier s masquerade Tracy
had always had a weakness for theatricals and
some of his Hasty Pudding Portraits of Unknown
People We Know had won him fame at Cam
bridge. Ten minutes later, there sat opposite the
colonel a florid-faced, mustached, western com
mercial traveler whose plaided tweeds, being an
ill-advised venture of Haley s which the colonel
had taken off his hands and found no subject of
charity quite obnoxious enough to deserve them,
228 THE LION S SHARE
naturally did not fit the present wearer, but suited
his inane complacence of bearing and might pass
for a bad case of ready-made purchase.
"Now," said the adviser, "I ll notify Haley
to have my own hired motor ready for you and
you can slip out and take it after you ve had
something to eat. Here s the restaurant card.
Haley will be there. Leave it at the drug store
on Van Ness Street Haley will give you the
number and get home as unobtrusively as pos
sible. Yon can peel off these togs in the motor
if necessary. You ve your own underneath ex
cept your coat. Wrap that in a newspaper and
carry it. I don t know that Atkins has any one
on guard at the hotel, but I think it more than
likely he suspects some connection between our
party and Keatcham s. But first, tell me about
Atkins; what do you know about him? It s an
"America can take all the glory of him, I fancy,"
said Tracy. "He s been Keatcham s secretary for
six years. He seems awfully mild and useful and
timid. He s not a bit timid. He s full of resource;
he s sidled suggestions into Keatcham s ear and
has been gradually working to make himself ab
solutely necessary. I think he aimed at a part-
A BLOW 229
nership; but Keatcham wouldn t stand for it. I
think it was in revenge that he sold out some of
Keatcham s secrets. Gary got on to that and has a
score of his own to settle with him, besides. I
don t know how he managed, but he showed him
up; and Keatcham gave him the sack in his own
cold-blooded way. I know him only casually.
But my cousin, Ralph Schuyler, went to prep,
school with him, so I got his character straight
off the bat. His father was a patent-medicine
man from Mississippi, who made a fair pile, a
couple of hundred thousand which looked good
to that section, you know. I don t know anything
about his people except that his father made the
Celebrated Atkins Ague Busters ; and that At
kins was ashamed of his people and shook his
married sisters who came to see him, in rather
a brutal fashion ; but I know a thing or two about
him; he was one of those bounders who curry
favor with the faculty and the popular boys and
never break rules apparently, but go off and have
sly little bats by themselves. He never was popu
lar, yet, somehow, he got into things; he knew
where to lend money; and he was simply sicken-
ingly clever; in math, he was a wonder. Ralph
hated him. For one thing, he caught him in a
2 3 o THE LION S SHARE
dirty lie. Atkins hated him back and contrived to
prevent his being elected class president, and when
he couldn t prevent Ralph s making his senior so
ciety the happy thought struck Atkins to get on
the initiation committee. They had a cheery little
branding game to make the fellows quite sure they
belonged, you know, and he rammed his cigar
stump into Ralph s arm so that Ralph had blood-
poisoning and a narrow squeak for his life. You
see that I m not prepossessed in the fellow s favor.
He s got too vivid an imagination for me !"
"Seems to have," acquiesced the colonel.
"I think, you know" Tracy made an effort
to be just "I think Atkins was rather soured.
Some of the fellows made fun of the Ague Bust
ers ; he had a notion that the reason it was
such uphill work for him in the school, was his
father s trade. No doubt he did get nasty licks,
at first; and he s revengeful. He hasn t got on
in society outside, either this he lays to his not
being a university man. You see his father lost
some of his money and put him to work instead
of in college. He was willing enough at the time
I think he wanted to get married but after
ward, when he was getting a good salary and pil
ing up money on his tips, he began to think that
A BLOW 231
he had lost more than he had bargained for.
Altogether, he s soured. Now, what he wants
is to make a thundering big strike and to pull
out of Wall Street, buy what he calls a seat
on the James and set up for a Southern gentle
man. He s trying to marry a Southern girl, they
say, who is kin to the Carters and the Byrds and
the Lees and the Carys why, you know her,
she s Mrs. Winter s secretary."
"Does does she care for him?" The colonel
suddenly felt his mouth parched ; he was savagely
conscious of his mounting color. What a fiendish
trick of fate! he had never dreamed of this!
Well, whether she cared for him or not, the man
was a brute ; he shouldn t get her. That was one
certainty in the colonel s mind.
"Why, Gary vows she doesn t, that it was only
a girlish bit of nonsense up in Virginia, that time
he was prospecting, you know. But I don t feel
so safe. She s too nice for such a cur. But you
know what women are; the nicest of them seem
to be awfully queer about men. There s no betting
"I m afraid not," remarked the colonel lightly.
But he put his fingers inside his collar and
loosened it, as if he felt choked.
232 THE LION S SHARE
Because he had a dozen questions quarreling
for precedence in his head, he asked not one.
He only inquired regarding the situation; dis
covering that both Mercer and Tracy were equally
in the dark with himself as to Atkins plans, At-
I kins store of information, Atkins resources.
How he could have waylaid Tracy and the boy
without knowing whence they came was puz
zling; it was quite as puzzling, however, assum
ing that he did know their whereabouts, to decide
why he was so keen to interrogate the boy. In
fact, it was, as Tracy said, "top much like Profes
sor Santa Anna s description of a German defini
tion of metaphysics, A blind man hunting in a
dark room for a black cat that isn t there/
"In any event, you would better keep away
from me" was the colonel s summing up of the
situation; "I don t want to be inhospitable, but
the sooner you are off, and out of the hotel, the
safer for your speculation."
"Friends will please accept the intimation,"
said Tracy good-humoredly. "Very well, it s
twenty-three for me. I m hoping you ll see your
way clear to run over as soon as the old man has
surrendered; I m going to invite him to make us
a proper visit, then, and see the country. I m al-
A BLOW 233
ways for letting the conquered keep their side-
He went away smiling his flashing smile, and
turned it up at the hotel as he walked out ; the
colonel made no sign of recognition from the
window whence he observed him. Instead, he
drew back quickly, frowning ; it might be a mere
accident that only a hand s-breadth of space from
the young Harvard man was a dapper little shape
in evening clothes, a man still young, with a
round black head ; if so, it was an accident not to
the colonel s liking.
"Damn you!" whispered Rupert Winter very
softly. "What is your little game?"
At once he descended, having telephoned Ha
ley to meet him at the court. When he entered
and sent his glance rapidly among the little tables,
by this time filled with diners, he experienced a
disagreeable surprise. It did not come from the
sight of Sergeant Haley in his Sunday civilian
clothes, stolidly reading the Call; it came from a
vision of Atkins standing, bowing, animatedly
talking with Janet Smith.
Instead of approaching Haley, Winter fell back
and scribbled a few words on a page of his note
book, while safely shielded by a great palm. The
234 THE LION S SHARE
note he despatched to Haley, who promptly
joined him. While they stood, talking on appar
ently indifferent subjects, Miss Smith passed
them. Whether because he was become suspicious
or because she had come upon him suddenly, she
colored slightly. But she smiled as she saluted
him and spoke in her usual tranquil tone. "You
are going to dine with us, aren t you, Colonel?"
said she. "I think dinner is just about to be
The colonel would be with them directly.
Haley s eyes followed her ; he had returned her
nod and inquiry for his wife and little Nora with
a military salute and the assurance that they were
both wonderfully well and pleased with the coun
"Sure, ain t it remarkable the way that lady do
keep names in her mind?" cried he. "An don t
she walk foine and straight? Oi ve been always
towld thim Southern ladies had the gran way
wid em; Oi see now tis thrue." The unusual
richness of Haley s brogue was a sure sign of feel
ing. The colonel only looked grim. After he had
taken Haley to a safe nook for his confidence, a
nook where there were neither ears nor eyes to
be feared, he would have made his way up-stairs ;
A BLOW 235
but half-way down the office he was hailed by
the manager. The manager was glad to hear that
the young gentleman was safely back. He let the
faint radiance of an intelligent, respectfully tact
ful smile illumine his words and intimate that
his listener would have no awkward questions to
parry from him. The colonel felt an ungrateful
wrath, a reprehensible snare of temper which did
not show in his confidentially lowered voice, as he
replied : "Mighty lucky, too, we are ; the boy s all
right ; but San Francisco is no place for an inno
cent kid even to take the safest-looking walk.
What sort of a police system have you, anyhow ?"
The manager shook his head. "I m not brag
ging about it; nor about the Chinese quarter,
either. I confess I ve felt particularly uncomfort
able, myself, the last day. Well if you ll excuse
the advice least said, you know."
The colonel nodded. He proffered his cigar-
case; the manager complimented its contents, as
he selected a cigar; and both gentlemen bowed.
A wandering, homesick Frenchman, who viewed
their parting, felt refreshed as by a breath from
his own land of admirable manners. Meanwhile,
the colonel was fuming within: "Confound his
insinuating curiosity! but I reckon I headed him
236 THE LION S SHARED
off. And who would have thought/ he wondered
forlornly, "that I could be going to dine with the
boy safe and sound and be feeling so like a
But none of this showed during the dinner at
which Millicent was in high good humor, having
obtained information about most astounding bar
gains in the Chinese quarter from Mrs. Wiggles-
worth. Her good humor extended even to Miss
Smith, who received it without enthusiasm, albeit
courteously ; and who readily consented to be her
companion for the morning sally on the distressed
Orientals, whose difficulties \vith the customs had
reduced them to the necessity of sales at any cost.
Aunt Rebecca listened with an absent smile, while
Archie laughed at every feeblest joke of his uncle
in a boyish interest so little like his former apathy
that often Miss Smith s eyes brightened and half
timidly sought the uncle s, as if calling his atten
tion to the change. Only a few hours back, his
would have brightened gratefully in answer;
now, he avoided her glances. Yet somehow, his
heart felt heavier when they ceased. For his part,
he was thankful to have his aunt request his com
pany in a little promenade around the "loggia," as
she termed it, overlooking the great court.
A BLOW 237
She took him aside to tell him her afternoon
experience, and to ask his opinion of the enigmati
cal appearance of Atkins. He was strongly tempt
ed, in return, to question her frankly about Miss
Smith, to tell her of seeing the latter with At
kins only that evening. He knew that it was the
sensible thing to do but he simply could not do
it. To frame his suspicions past or present of
the woman he loved; to discuss the chances of
her affection for a man loathsomely unworthy of
her; worse, to balance the possibilities of her
turning betrayer in her turn and chancing any
damage to her benefactress and her kinsman for
this fellow s sake no, it was beyond him. He
had intended to discuss his aunt s part in the
waylaying of Keatcham, with calmness and with
the deference due her, but unsparingly ; he meant
to show her the legal if not moral obliquity of
her course, to point out to her the pitfalls besetting
it, to warn her how hideous might be the conse
quences of a misstep. Somehow, however, his
miserable new anxiety about Miss Smith had dis
turbed all his calculations and upset his wits ; and
he could not rally any of the poignant phrases
which he had prepared. All he was able to say
was something about the rashness of the business ;
238 THE LION S SHARE
it was like the Filipinos with their bows and ar
rows fighting machine-guns.
"Or David with his ridiculous little sling going
against Goliath," added she. "Very well put,
Bertie; only the good advice comes too late; the
question now is, how to get out with a whole
skin. Surprising as it may be, I expect to with
"Honored, I m sure," growled Bertie.
"There is one thing I meant to ask you I
haven t, but I shall now. Instead of making it
impossible for me to sleep to-night, as you virtu
ously intended in order to clear your conscience
before you tried to pull me out of the trap I ve
set for myself, suppose you do me a favor, right
"You put it so well, you make me ashamed of
my moral sense, Aunt Becky; what is it you
"Oh, nothing unbefitting a soldier and a gen
tleman, dear boy ; just this : Gary has to have some
money. I meant to give it to Stoves, but you
hustled him off in such a rush that I didn t get
at him. You know where he is, don t you? You
haven t sent him straight back?"
"I can find him, I reckon."
X BLOW 239
"Then I ll give you the money, at once/*
How weak a thing is man ! Here was an emi
nently cool-headed, reasonable man of affairs
who knew that paws which had escaped from the
fire unsinged had no excuse to venture back for
other people s chestnuts; he had expressed him
self clearly to this effect to young Tracy; now,
behold him as unable to resist the temptation of a
conflict and the chance to baffle Atkins as if he
were a hot-headed boy in plain shoulder-straps !
"I ll do better for you, Aunt Rebecca," said he.
"I ll not only take Fireless the money, I ll go with
him to the house. I can make a sneak from here ;
and Atkins is safely down-stairs at this moment.
He may be shadowing Fireless; if he is, perhaps
I can throw him off the track."
Thus it befell that not an hour later Rupert
Winter was guiding the shabby and noisy runa
bout a second time toward the haunted house.
"Nothing doin / said the joyous apprentice
to crime; "I called old Gary up and got a furious
slating for doing it; but he said there wasn t a
watch-dog in sight; and the old man had sur
rendered. He was going to let him into the
library on parole."
"You need a guardian," growled the colonel;
240 THE LION S SHARE
"where did you telephone? Not in the drug
"Oh, dear, no, not in such a public place; I ve
a shrinking nature that never did intrude its
private, personal affairs on the curious world.
I used the phone of that nice quiet little restau
rant where they gave me a lovely meal but were
so long preparing it, I used up all the literature
in sight, which was the Ladies Home Journal and
a tract on the virtues of Knox s Gelatine. When
I couldn t think of anything else to do I routed
out Gary I d smoked all my cigarettes and all
my cigars but one which I was keeping for after
dinner. And Gary rowed me good and plenty.
There wasn t a soul in the room."
"Has any one followed you ?"
"Not a man, woman or child, not even a yellow
dog. I kept looking round, too."
"It was a dreadfully risky thing to "do; you
don t deserve to escape; but perhaps you did.
Atkins may have come to the Palace for some
other purpose and never have noticed you."
"My own father wouldn t have got on to me
in that dinky rig."
Winter was not so easy in his mind. But he
hoped for the best, since there was nothing else
A BLOW 241
for him to do. They were in sight of the house
now, which loomed against the dim horizon,
darker, grimmer than ever. Where the upper
stories were pierced with semicircular arches, the
star- sown sky shone through with an extraor
dinary effect of depth and mystery. All the lighter
features of the architecture, carving on pediment
or lintel or archivolt, delicate iron tracery of
rcjas, relief of arcature and colonnade all these
the dusk blurred if it did not obliterate; the great
dark bulk of the house with its massive buttresses,
its pyramidal copings and receding upper stories,
was the more boldly silhouetted on-the violet sky ;
yet because of the very flatness of the picture, the
very lack of shadow and projection, it seemed un
substantial, hardly more of reality than the giant
shadow it cast upon the hillside. Electric lights
wavered and bristled dazzling beams on either
side of the street ; not a gleam, red, white or yel
low, leaked through the shuttered windows of
the house. In its blackness, its silence, its deter
mined isolation it renewed, but with a greater
force, the first sinister thrill which the sight of
it had given the man who came to rifle it of its
"Lonesome-looking old shanty, isn t it?" said
242 THE LION S SHARE
the Harvard boy; "seems almost indecorous to
speak out loud. Here s where we cache the car
and make a gentle detour by aid of the shrubbery
up the arroyo to the north side of the patio. See?"
He directed the colonel s course through an
almost imperceptible opening in the hedge along
sharp turns and oblique and narrow ways into a
small vacant space where the vines covered an
adobe hut. Jumping out, Tracy unlocked the door
of this tiny building so that the colonel could
run the car inside ; and after Winter had emerged
again, he re-locked the door. As there was no
window, the purpose of the hut was effectually
"Very neat," the colonel approved; whereat
Tracy flashed his smile at him in the moonlight
and owned with ingenuous pride that he himself
was the contriver of this reticent garage.
From this point he took the lead. Neither
spoke. They toiled up the hill, in this part of the
grounds less of the nature of a hill than of an
arroyo or ravine through which rocks had thrust
their rugged sides and over which spiked semi-
tropical cacti had sprawled, and purple and white
flowered vines had made their own untended
tangle. Before they reached the level the colonel
A BLOW. 243
was breathing hard, every breath a stab. Tracy, a
famous track man who had won his H in a won
derful cross-country run, felt no distress until
he heard his companion gasp.
"Jove ! But that hill s fierce !" he breathed ex
plosively. "Do you mind resting a minute?"
"Hardly," the colonel was just able to hold
his voice steady "I have a Filipino bullet in my
leg somewhere which the X-ray has never been
able to account for; and I m not exactly a moun
tain goat !"
"Why, of course, I m a brute not to let you run
up the drive in the machine. Not a rat watching
us to-night, either; but I wanted you to see the
place ; and you seem so fit "
"You oughtn t to give away your secrets to
me, an outsider "
"You re no outsider; I consider you the treas
urer of the band," laughed Tracy. They had
somehow come to an unexpressed but perfectly
understood footing of sympathy. The colonel
even let the younger man help him up the last
stiff clamber of the path. He forgot his first chill,
as of a witness approaching a tragedy ; there was
a smile on his lips when the two of them passed
into the patio. It lingered there as he stood in the
244 THE LION S SHARE
flower-scented gloom. It was there as Tracy stum
bled to a half-remembered push-button, wonder
ing aloud what had become of Gary and Kito that
they shouldn t have answered his whistle ; it was
there, still, when Tracy slipped, and grumbled:
"What sticky stuff has Kito spilled on this floor?"
and instantly flooded the court with light.
Then he saw the black, slimy pool and the long
slide of Tracy s nailed sole in it; and just to
one side, almost pressing against his own foot, he
saw a man in a gray suit huddled into the shape
of a crooked U, with his arms limp at his side
and his head of iron-gray fallen back askew.
The light shone on the broad bald dome of the
forehead. He had been stabbed between the shoul
ders, in the back ; and one side of the gray coat
was ugly to see.
"Good God !" whispered Tracy, growing white.
"It s Keatcham! they ve killed him! Oh, why
didn t I come back before !"
WHOSE FEET WERE SHOD WITH SILENCE
"Get out your revolver/ ordered the colonel;
"look sharp ! there may be some one here."
But there was not a sign of life revealed by
the search. Meanwhile, Winter was examining
the body. His first thought was that Keatcham
had tried to escape and had been struck down in
his flight. Kito would not scruple at such a deed ;
nor for that matter, Mercer. But why leave the
man thus ? Why not dispose of the body unless,
indeed, the assassins had been interrupted. Any
how, what a horrid mess this murder would make
of the affair ! and how was he to keep the women
out of it! All at once, in the examination which
he had been making (while a dozen gruesome
possibilities tumbled over one another in his
mind) he stopped; he put his ear to the man s
"Isn t he dead?" asked Tracy under his breath.
"No, he is not dead, but I m afraid he ll never
246 THE LION S SHARE
find it out/ returned the colonel, shrugging his
shoulders. "However, any brandy handy? And
get me some water."
"I know where there is some brandy I ll get
it; there is some water in the fountain right
"What s the matter?" demanded Gary Mercer
in one of the arcade doorways of the patio.
"What s happened? The devil! Who did this?"
He strode up to the kneeling soldier.
"You are in a position to know much better
than I," said the colonel dryly. "We came this
moment ; we found this."
"Gary, did you do it ?" the young man laid his
hand on Gary s shoulder; his face was ashy but
his voice rang full and clear. "If you did, I am
sure you had a reason; but I want to know;
we re partners in this thing to the finish."
"Thank you, boy," said Gary gently, "that s
good to hear. But I didn t hurt him, Endy. Why
should I ? We d got what we wanted."
"Who did?" asked the colonel.
"I didn t and Kito didn t. He went away to
see his only brother who is sick. He hasn t got
back. I don t know who did it; but whoever
stabbed him must have done it without warning
SHOD WITH SILENCE 247
him; for I didn t hear a sound. I was in the
"He s breathing a little, I think," murmured
the young man, who was sopping the gray mask
of a face while Winter trickled brandy drop by
drop into the sagging mouth, "and look ! some
body has tried to rob him; that s a money belt!"
The waistcoat was open and Winter could see,
beneath, a money belt with buttoned pockets,
which had been torn apart with such haste that
one of the buttons had been wrenched off.
"They seem to have been after money," said
he ; "see ! the belt is full of bills ; there s only one
"Perhaps he was interrupted," explained Mer
cer. "Push the brandy, Colonel, he s moving his
eyelids, suh !"
"We ve got to do something to that hole in
him, first," said the colonel. "Is there any doc
"I daren t send for one."
"Tony Arnold might know one we could trust,"
suggested Tracy. "I can get him over the long
"We want somebody now, this minute," de
clared the colonel.
248 THE LION S SHARE
"There s Janet Smith," said Mercer, "my sis
ter-in-law; she s Mrs. Winter s companion; she
used to be a trained nurse and a mighty good one ;
she could be trusted."
Could she ? And how the terms of his distrust
had changed! He had fought against an answer
in the affirmative this morning; now his heart
was begging for it; he was cold with fear lest
she wasn t this conspirator s confederate.
"Send for them both," said he with no sign of
"I ll call up Aunt Rebecca," said Mercer.
"Isn t he reviving? No? Best not move him till
we get the wound dressed, don t you reckon,
JBut the colonel was already making a rough
tourniquet out of his handkerchief and a pencil
to stanch the bleeding. The others obeyed his curt
directions; and it was not until the still uncon
scious man was disposed in a more comfortable
posture on the cushions which Tracy brought,
that Winter sent the latter to the telephone; and
then he addressed Mercer. He took a sealed pack
age from an inner pocket and tendered it, saying :
"You know who sent it. Whatever happens,
you re a Southern gentleman, and I look to you
SHOD .WITH SILENCE 249
to see that she they are kept out of this nasty
"Of course/* returned Mercer, with a trace
of irritation; "what do you take me for? Now,
hadn t I better call Janet?"
"But if this were to be discovered "
"She wouldn t have done anything; she is only
nursing a wounded man whom she doesn t know,
at my request."
"Very well," acquiesced the colonel, with a
long sigh as he turned away.
He sat down, cross-legged, like a Turk, on the
flags beside the wounded man. Mercer was stand
ing a little way off. It was to be observed that
he had not touched Keatcham, nor even ap
proached him close enough to reach him by an
outstretched hand. Winter studied his face, his
attitude and suppressed the slightest of starts;
Mercer had turned his arm to light another elec
tric bulb and the action revealed some crimson
spots on his cuff and a smear on his light trousers
above the knee. The lamp was rather high and
he was obliged to raise his arm, thus lifting the
skirts of his coat which had previously hidden
the stain. He did not seem aware that his action
had made any disclosure. He was busy with the
250 THE LION S SHARE
light. "That ll be better," said he; "I ll go call up
How had those stains come ? Mercer professed
just to have entered. Vainly Winter s brain tried
to labor through the crazy bewilderment of it all ;
Mercer spoke like an honest man but look at his
cuffs ! How could any outside assassin enter that
locked and guarded house? yet, if Mercer had
not lied,, some one must have stolen in and struck
Keatcham. Kito? But the Jap was out of the
house perhaps ! And Janet Smith, what was she
doing talking to Atkins ? Had she given that rep
tile any clue? Could he but it was his oppor
tunity to rescue Keatcham, not to murder him
what a confounded maze !
And what business had he, Rupert Winter, who
had supposed himself to be an honorable man,
who had sworn to support the Constitution and
the laws of the United States, what business had
he to help law-breakers and murderers escape the
just punishment of their deeds? He almost
ground his teeth. Oh, well, there was one way out,
and that was to resign his commission. He would
do it this very night, he resolved; and he swore
miserably at himself, at his venerable aunt who
must be protected at such a sacrifice, at Atkins,
SHOD WITH SILENCE 251
at the feebly moaning wretch whom he had not
ceased all this while to ply carefully with drops of
brandy. "You everlasting man-eater, if you dare
to die, I ll kill you !" he snorted.
Thereupon he went at the puzzle again. Before
any answer could come to the telephone calls, a
low, mournful, inhuman cry penetrated the thick
walls. It was repeated thrice; on the third call,
Tracy ran quickly through the patio to a side
door, barred and locked like all the entrances,
released and swung it open and let in Kito. A
few murmured words passed between them. The
Jap uttered a startled exclamation. "But how can
it to be? How? no one can get in! And who
shall stab him? For why?"
He examined the wounded man, after a gravely
courteous salute to Winter; and frowned and
sighed. "What did it?" said he; "did who
stabbed, take it way, he must give stlong pull!
"Whoever did it," said the colonel, "must have
put a knee on the man s back and pulled a strong
pull, as you say." In speaking the words he felt a
shiver, for he seemed to see that red smear above
Mercer s knee.
He felt the shiver again when Mercer returned
and he glanced at him ; there was not a stain on
252 THE LION S SHARE
his shining white cuffs; he had changed them;
he had also changed his suit of clothes and his
shoes. His eyes met the colonel s; and Winter
fancied there was a glint of defiance in them ; he
made no comment, for no doubt a plausible ex
cuse for the fresh clothes was ready. Well, he
(Winter) wouldn t ask it. Poor devil ! he had had
For the next half-hour they were all busy with
"He is better," pronounced the Jap; "he will
not live, maybe, but he will talk, he can say who
"If he can only do that!" cried Mercer. "It
is infernal to think any one can get in here and do
such a thing!"
"Rotten," Tracy moaned.
The colonel said nothing.
They were all still working over Keatcham
when a bell pealed. Tracy started; but Mercer
looked a shade relieved. "They ve come," said he.
"They?" repeated the colonel. He scrambled to
his feet and gasped.
Miss Smith was coming down the colonnade,
but not Miss Smith alone. Aunt Rebecca walked
beside her, serene, erect and bearing a small hand-
SHOD WITH SILENCE 253
bag. Miss Smith carried a larger bag ; and Tracy
had possessed himself of a dress-suit case.
"Certainly, Bertie," remarked his aunt in her
softest tone, "I came with Janet. My generation
believed in les convenances."
All the colonel could articulate was a feeble,
"And Archie? and Millicent?"
"Haley is staying in your room with Archie.
Millicent had retired; if she asks for us in the
morning we shall not be up. She has an appoint
ment with Janet, but it isn t until half-past eleven.
Randall has her instructions."
"But but how did you get here?"
Aunt Rebecca drew herself up. "I trust now,
Bertie, you will admit that I am as fit as any of
you to rough it. If there is one mode of transit
I abominate, it is those loathsome, unsanitary,
uncivil, joggly street-cars; we came as far as the
corner in the street-cars, then we walked. Did we
want to give the number to a cab-man, do you
. suppose ? Bertie, have you such a thing as a match
about you? I think Janet wants to heat a tea-
sjDoonf ul _of ^water;.f prja strychnine hypodermic."
FROM MRS. MELVILLE S POINT OF VIEW
The Palace Hotel,
San Francisco, March 24, 1906.
My dear Husband :
Although I sent you a postal yesterday, I am
writing again to-day to try to keep you in touch
with our extraordinary series of events. Noth
ing has been heard from Archie except the letter
if he wrote it which tells nothing except that
his kidnappers use the same kind of writing paper
as Miss Janet Smith. I grow more suspicious of
her all the time. You ask (but of course you
wrote before the recent mysterious and tragical
occurrences) you ask do I like Miss Smith any
better, now that I am thrown with her so closely.
No, Melville, / have not the fatal credulity of the
Winters ! I distrust her more. She has, I admit,
an engaging personality; there is a superficial
amiability that would be dangerous to one not on
her guard. But I am never off my guard with
MRS. MELVILLE S VIEWS 255
her. I m sorry to say, however, that your brother
seems deceived by her plausible ways. And, of
course, our poor aunt is still her blind dupe.
Aunt Rebecca has failed a good deal this last year ;
she is quite irritable with me, sometimes; and I
suppose it is the insensibility of age, but she does
not appear to realize the full horror of this kid
napping. Miss Smith actually seems to suffer
more; she looks pale and haggard and has no
appetite. I do not think it all pretense, either; I
dare say much of it is remorse! The situation is
dreadful. Sometimes I think Aunt Rebecca will
not yield to the demands of these wretches who
have our poor boy, and that he will be mutilated
or murdered; sometimes I think that they have
murdered him already and are writing forged let
ters to throw us off the track. You can imagine
how my nerves are shaken! I have seen hardly
anything of the city ; and of course have not gone
into society at all. Indeed, I have met only one
pleasant person ; that was the secretary of the great
financier, Mr. Edwin Keatcham, who was here,
next to us. The secretary is a pleasing person
quite comme il fant in appearance. I met him here
in the court where he nearly knocked me over;
and he apologized profusely and really very
256 THE LION S SHARE
nicely, using my name. That surprised me, but
he explained that they had been on the train with
us. Then I remembered him. His name is Horatio
Atkins; and he is very polite. He is on a two
weeks vacation and came here to see Mr.
Keatcham, not knowing he was gone. He was
really most agreeable and so sympathetic about
poor dear Archie. He agreed with me that such a
nervous temperament as Archie s suffers much
more from unkindness. I could see, in spite of
his assumed hopefulness, that he shared my fears.
He has met quite a number of our friends. He
may (through Mr. Keatcham) be a most valua
ble acquaintance. Didn t you tell me, once, that
Keatcham was the leading benefactor of the uni
He (Mr. Atkins) got his vacation on account
of his health; and he is going to Southern Cali
fornia. I don t wonder. I have never suffered
more than in this land of sunshine! It is not so
much the cold of the air as the humidity! Do
pray be cautious about changing to your summer
underwear. Don t do it! I nearly perished, in the
bleak wind yesterday, when I tried to visit a few
shops. Be sure and take the cough medicine on
the second shelf of our bath-room medicine closet;
MRS. MELVILLE S VIEWS 257
don t mistake rheumatism liniment for it; they
are both on the same shelf; you would bet
ter sort them out. You are so absent-minded, Mel
ville, I haven t a peaceful day when I m away
from you; and do for Heaven s sake try to bow
to Mrs. Farrell and call her by her right name!
You certainly have been to the president s house
often enough to know his wife on the street; and
I don t think that it was a good excuse which
you gave to Professor Dale for calling "Good
morning, Katy!" to Mrs. Dale (who was born a
Schuyler and is most punctilious) that -you mis
took her for our cook!
I miss you very much. Give my love to all
our friends and be sure to wear your galoshes
(your rubbers, you know) when the campus is
wet, whether it is raining or not.
Your aft. wife,
THE SAME TO THE SAME
The Palace Hotel, March 25, ten p. M.
My dear Husband:
What do you think has happened ? I am almost
too excited to write. Archie is back! Yes, back
258 THE LION S SHARE
safe and sound, and absolutely indifferent, to
all appearances, to all our indescribable suf
ferings on his account! He walked into the
parlor about six or a little after, grinning like
an ape, as if to disappear from the face of the
earth and come back to it were quite the usual
thing. And when we questioned him, he professed
to be on his word not to tell anything. And Ber
tie upheld him in this ridiculous position ! How
ever, I was told by the detective whom Bertie
employed, rather a decent, vulgar, little man, that
they (Bertie and he) had cornered the kidnap
pers and "called their bluff/ as he expressed it ;
but I m inclined to think they got their ransom
from our unfortunate, victimized aunt who is too
proud to admit it, and that they probably managed
it through Miss S . I know they called up the
room to know if the boy was back ; and I puzzled
them well, I fancy, by saying he was. I may have
saved our poor aunt some money by that; but I
can t tell, of course. Melville, I am almost sure
that Miss J. S is at the bottom of it, whatever
the mystery is. I am almost sure that, not content
with blackmailing and plundering auntie, Miss
S is now making a dead set at poor, blind, sim
ple-hearted Bertie! I have reasons which I
MRS. MELVILLE S VIEWS 259
haven t time to enumerate. Bertie will hardly
bear a word of criticism of her patiently ; in fact,
I have ceased to criticize her to him or to Aunt
Rebecca ah, it is a lonely, lonely lot to be clear
sighted; but noblesse oblige. But often during the
last few days I have thought that Cassandra
wasn t enough pitied.
Your aff. wife,
THE SAME TO THE SAME
Casa Fuerte, San Francisco, Cal.,
This heading may surprise you. But we are
making a visit to Mr. Anthony Arnold (the
Arnold s son) in his beautiful house in the sub
urbs pf the city. It was far more convenient
for me at the Palace where I found Mrs. Wig-
glesworth most attentive and congenial and
found some great bargains; but you know I can
not be false to my Trust. To watch Aunt Rebecca
Winter (without seeming to watch, of course, for
the aged always resent the care which they need)
is my chief object in this trip; therefore when Mr.
260 THE LION S SHARE
Arnold (whose father she knows, but the old gen
tleman is traveling in Europe with his married
daughter and her family) when the young Ar
nold urged us all to come and spend a couple of
weeks with him, I could not very well refuse.
Though a stranger to me, he is not to Auntie or
Bertie. The house is his own, left him by his
mother, who died not very long ago. At first, I
remained at the Palace with Bertie and Archie;
Bertie seemed so disturbed at the idea of my going
and Aunt Rebecca was very liberal, insisting that
I was just as much her guest as before, it was
only she who was running away ; and the end of
it was (she has such a compelling personality,
you know) that she went with Randall and J. S.
to Casa Fuerte (Strong House and you would
call it well-named could you see it ; it is a massive
structure!) while we others remained until Sun
day. On account of what I have hinted in regard
to the designs of a certain lady I was not sorry
to have Bertie under another roof. He has a for
tune of his own, you know, and a reputation as
well. Wealth and position at one blow certainly
would appeal to her, an obscure dependent prob
ably of no family (it is not a romantic name), and
Bertie is very well-bred and rather handsome with
MRS. MELVILLE S VIEWS 261
his black eyebrows and gray hair and aquiline
nose. I have been very, very worried, but I feel
relieved as to that. Melville, she is flying at higher
game! In this house is a multimillionaire, in fact
the fourth richest man in the United States, Ed
win S. Keatcham. He is ill probably with ap
pendicitis which seems to be the common lot. I
asked the doctor of course, very delicately
and he said, "Well, not exactly, but " and smiled
very confidentially ; and begged me not to mention
Mr. Keatcham s illness or even that he was in the
house. "You know," he said, "that when these
great financiers sneeze, the stock-market shakes;
so absolute secrecy, please, my dear madam."
Don t mention it to a soul, will you? Of course
I haven t seen the invalid ; but I ve seen his valet,
who is very English; and I have seen his nurse.
Who do you suppose she is ? Janet Smith ! Yes ;
you know she has been a trained nurse. Was there
ever a more artful creature! But Mr. K. is none
of my affairs ; he will have to save himself or be
lost. Once she is his wife we are safe from that
designing woman. I am quite willing to admit his
danger and her fascination. Now, Melville, for
once admit that I can be just to a woman whom I
262 THE LION S SHARE
This house is sumptuous; I ve a lovely bath
room and a beautiful huge closet with a window.
It must have cost a mint of money. I have been
told that Arnold pere made a present of it to his
wife; he let the architect and her draw all the
plans of it, but he insisted on attending to the
construction himself; he said he was not going to
have any contract work or "scamping," such as I
am reliably informed has been common in these
towering new buildings in San Francisco; he
picked out all the materials himself and inspected
the inspector. It has what they call "reinforced
concrete" and all the beams, etc., are steel and the
lower story is enormously thick as to walls, in the
genuine Mission style. He said he built for earth
quakes. The house is all in the Spanish hidalgo
fashion. I wish you could see the bas-reliefs and
the carved furniture with cane seats of the seven
teenth century, all genuine; and the stamped
leather and the iron grille work rcjas they call it
all copied from famous Spanish models from
Toledo ; you know the ancient Spaniards were re
nowned for their rejas. The pictures are fine
all Spanish; I don t know half the names of the
artists, but they are all old and imposing and some
of them wonderfully preserved. The electric
MRS. MELVILLE S VIEWS 263
lights are all in the shape of lanterns. The patio,
as they call the court around which the house is
built, reminded me of the court in Mrs. Gardiner s
palace in Boston, only it was not so crowded with
objets and the pillars are much thicker and the
tropical plants and vines more luxuriant on ac
count of the climate, I suppose. It is all certainly
There is a great arched gateway for carriages
which reminds me, do be sure to send the horses
into the country to rest, one at a time ; and have
Erastus clean the stable properly while they are
gone. You can keep one horse for golf ; but don t
use the brougham ever ; and why not send the sur
rey to be done over while I am gone? Is the
piazza painted yet ? How does the new cook do ?
Insist upon her cooking you nourishing food.
You might have the Bridge Club of an evening
there are only the four of you and she might,
with Emily s help, get you a nice repast of lobster
a la Newburg, sandwiches and chicken salad ; but
be sure you don t touch the lobster ! You know
what happened the last time ; and I shan t be there
to put on mustard-plasters and give you Hunyadi
water. If Erastus needs any more chamois skins
Emily knows where they are, but admonish him
264 THE LION S SHARE
to be careful with them ; I never saw mortal man
go through chamois skins the way he can ; some
times I think he gives them to the horses to eat !
Your afL wife,
"THE LIGHT THAT NEVER WAS"
The changes which Mrs. Melville had accepted
so philosophically, the metamorphosis of the tragic
and lonely house of mystery into a luxurious
country villa, the flinging open of the shutters, the
marshaling of servants, the turning, one may say,
of the lime-light on a rich man s ordinary life
all this had occurred as swiftly and with as little
warning as a scene shifts on the stage.
Mrs. Rebecca Winter may have the credit for
this bonlevcrsenient of plans. By an astonishingly
early hour, the next morning, she was awake and
down-stairs, where Kito and Tracy were making
coffee, toasting bread and admiring the oatmeal
which had cooked, while they slept, in the Fire-
less Stove. Tracy had planned a surprise of brown
bread, but through no fault of the Fireless, owing
solely to his omitting what he called "the pick-
me-up/ commonly known as soda an accident,
as he truly said, which might happen to any lady
266 THE LION S SHARE
the bread was "rather too adhesive." The
breakfast, notwithstanding, was a cheerful one,
because Miss Smith reported the patient a shade
better. She looked smiling, although rather heavy-
eyed. Mercer and the colonel had taken turns sit
ting in the adjoining room to bring her ice or hot
water or be of service outside.
The colonel had suggested calling a doctor, but
Aunt Rebecca had demurred: "Janet can do
everything; it is just a question of his heart; and
she has digitalis and nitroglycerin and strychnine,
the whole outfit of whips. She has dressed the
wound with antiseptics. To-morrow will be soon
enough for the medical talent." It was she, how
ever, who, as soon as breakfast was over, took first
Mercer and Tracy, then the colonel apart, and
proposed calling up Keatcham s confidential as
sociates on the long distance telephone. "Strike,
but hear me, nephew," she said languidly, smiling
at his bewilderment. "Our only chance now is to
exhaust trumps. Yesterday the game was won.
Keatcham had surrendered, he had told his part
ners in the deal to make no fight on Tracy s elec
tion; they could get what they wanted without
the Midland ; he advised them to cover their shorts
and get ready for a bull market "
"LIGHT THAT NEVER WAS" 267
"How did he do all that when he had lost his
private code book ?"
"How would you do it? You would use the
long distance telephone. We caught them at Se
attle, where his men had gone for the meeting.
I don t understand why they needed me to sug
gest that. There the poor man was, as your
Harvard stove agent calls it, rubbering about the
library, trying to find The Fortunes of Nigel in
the edition Darley had illustrated; of course, it
wasn t there. He had lost it just before he came
to the Palace, he thought. It seems his old cipher
needs a particular book, that kind. No doubt in
my mind that your theory is right and that Atkins
stole it and perhaps thought he stole the key, but
didn t get it. He took a memorandum of ciphers
which looked like a key. There Keatcham was,
with millions hanging on his wires and his mod
ern substitute for the medieval signet-ring that
would enforce the message quite lost. What to
do? Why, there was nothing to do but get an
other cipher! They made up a temporary one,
right in that library, yesterday afternoon."
"But how could Mercer be sure Keatcham
would not play a trick on him ? Did he hear the
268 THE LION S SHARE
"Certainly not. He took Keatcham s word.
Whatever his faults, Keatcham has always kept
his word. Mercer was sure he would keep it. He
went out of the room. He was in the library; when
Keatcham was stabbed."
The colonel drew a long, difficult breath .
"Then you don t believe Mercer did it?"
"I m sure he didn t. He didn t hurt him. Why
should he kill him after he had surrendered ? He
had nothing to gain and considerable to risk, if
not to lose. We want that bull market/*
"But who did then ? Atkins? But he is trying
to rescue him."
"Is he? How do we know? The rescue was
only our supposition. I m only certain none of
our crowd did it."
"No, Kito keeps absolutely within his orders;
he knew how things stood when he went away.
Mercer saw him go. He couldn t get in, either;
he had to signal to be let in. They were as careful
as that. Now, assuming they all are innocent, isn t
it the best plan to telephone to Seattle to Keatch
am s next friend there ?"
"He hasn t any family, has he? His wife died
and there were no children, I think."
"LIGHT THAT NEVER WAS" 269
"No, and if he ever had any brothers or sisters
they died when they were little; his business as
sociates are the only people Gary knows about.
He is anxious to have word sent at once, because
there are important things to do in Keatcham s
own interest; he came to California and he has
employed Gary in a big Portland cement invest
ment; Gary has been working all the time on it
for him I beg your pardon " for the colonel
had raised his hand with a little gasp.
"Do you mean," said he, "that Mercer has been
acting as Keatcham s agent, working in his inter
est all the time he was holding him a prisoner and
ready to kill him rather than let him go ?"
"Why not ? Gary is a man of honor. This ce
ment deal is a perfectly fair one which will give
a fair price to the present owners and make a
great business proposition. There are other
schemes, too, very large ones, which need the man
at the wheel. Now, I have talked with Gary and
Endicott Tracy and my plan is to call up Warne-
bold, his next friend, who knows Mercer has been
employed by Keatcham and knows his voice and
knows he is a trusty man (for Mercer has done
some inquiries for him and saved him once from
buying a water-logged steel plant) to call him
THE LION S SHARE
up and tell him the truth. We can say Mr.
Keatcham was mysteriously stabbed; we can ask
what is best to do. By that time we can report
that we have the best medical assistance young
Arnold will get his family physician, who can be
trusted. .Warnebold will instruct Mercer, I
reckon, to keep the fact of the assault a secret, not
even mention that Mr. Keatcham is ill ; and very
likely he or some one else will come straight on
here. Meanwhile, young Arnold can open the
house, hire some servants who won t talk I can
get them for him ; we all say nothing of the mag
nate s presence. And the bull market will come
After a little reflection the colonel agreed that
the bold course would be the safest. Thus it came
about, with amazing rapidity, that the haunted
house was opened; that sleek, smiling Chinamen
whisked brooms and cleaning cloths at open win
dows ; and Haley and Kito frankly told any curi
ous inquirers who hailed them over the lawn and
the flower-beds that young Mr. Arnold was com
ing home and going to have a house-party of
friends. The servants had been carefully selected
by Mrs. Winter s powerful Chinese friend; they
had no dread of white spooks, however they might
"LIGHT THAT NEVER WAS" 271
cringe before yellow ones. Mrs. Winter and Ran
dall left their hotel, after all the appropriate cere
monies, amid the lavish bows and smiles of
liberally paid bell-boys and porters. They gave
out that they were to visit friends ; and the colonel,
who remained, was to take charge of their mail;
hence, with no appearance of secrecy, the trail
took to water and was lost, since the motor-car
which carried them was supplied by Birdsall and
driven by a safe man of his own.
Regarding the detective, Rupert Winter had
had what he called "a stiff think;" he could not
afford even the remote risk of his going with the
picturesque assortment of information which he
had obtained about Casa Fuerte and Mercer, into
Atkins employ ; therefore he hired him, still, him
self. He made a partial but absolutely truthful
statement of the case ; he said frankly : "Birdsall,
I m not going to treat you fair, for I m not going
to tell you all I know, because well, for one
thing, I don t feel sure how much I do know my
self. But all I m going to ask of you is to watch
the house, day and night, without seeming to
watch it. You will oblige Mr. Keatcham as well
as me. There is a big game going on, but it isn t
what you thought. Mr. Keatcham s best helpers
272 THE LION S SHARE
are right in that house. Mercer and I and young
Fireless and Arnold are doing our best to guard
him, not hurt him. Now, there is big money for
you if you will watch out for us/
Birdsall reflected a moment before he answered,
but he did answer, screwing up his face : "I don t
like these jobs in the dark ; but I like you, Colonel,
and it s a go/*
Keatcham s valet was next summoned from his
vacation and became, in Tracy s phrase, "a dandy
The Tracys family physician came twice a day.
He was known to be visiting one of the guests
who had fallen ill. Mercer sent three or four tele
grams a day to Seattle and to New York, to
Keatcham s associates. Several times he held a
conversation of importance over the telephone
with the man who acted as distributer of intelli
gence. Warnebold, himself, came on to San Fran
cisco from Seattle, and was received with every
courtesy. He questioned Kito, questioned Mer
cer, questioned the colonel. Tracy had effaced
himself and was in Pasadena for a day or two.
The colonel was the star witness (at least this
was young Arnold s verdict). His narrative was
to the effect that he had gone out to see Mercer,
"LIGHT THAT NEVER WAS" 273
who was a family connection; no, he was not
alone, he had a young friend with him ; confiden
tially, he would admit that the friend was Mr.
Tracy s son; and, while he could not be sure, he
had reason to suspect that he, "young Tracy,"
had been conducting some delicate negotiations
with Mr. Keatcham. At this point the interlocutor
nodded slightly; he was making the deductions
expected and explaining to himself Keatcham s
astonishing communication over the telephone.
So, he was surmising shrewdly, that was the clue ;
the old man had been making some sort of a deal
with Tracy through the son ; well, they were pro
tected, thanks to Keatcham s orders. Likely as not
they never would know all the reasons for this
"I understand, then," he said, as one who holds
a clue but has no notion of letting it slip out of his
own fingers, "you and young Tracy got here and
you found Mr. Keatcham ? How did you get in ?
Did Mr. Mercer let you in ? How did it happen he
didn t discover Mr. Keatcham instead of you, or
did you come in on the side?"
Mrs. Winter who was in the room had a di
version ready, but it was not needed ; the colonel
answered unhesitatingly, with a frank smile:
274 THE LION S SHARE
"No, we came in ourselves; young Tracy had a
"Oh, he had, had he?" returned Warnebold
with a shrug of the shoulders.
"He is a great friend of young Arnold s ; they
were at Harvard together, belonged to the same
"Yes, I understand ; well"
The rest of the interview was clear sailing.
Mrs. Winter s presence was explained in her very
own words. "Of course I was put out a good deal
at first," added the colonel, "by the women getting
mixed up in it ; but Miss Smith undoubtedly saved
Mr. Keatcham s life. I never saw any one who
seemed to think of so many things to do. Half a
dozen times, that first night, he seemed to be fad
ing away; but every time she brought him back.
I was anxious to have a doctor called in; but
Mercer seemed opposed to making a stir "
"He knew his business thoroughly," interjected
Keatcham s confidant, "he undoubtedly had his
instructions to keep Keatcham s presence here
"He had," said Mrs. Winter; "besides, Miss
Smith is his sister-in-law and he knew that she
could be trusted to do everything possible. And,
"LIGHT THAT NEVER WAS" 275
really, it didn t look as if anything could help
him. I hardly believed that he could live an hour
when I saw him."
"Nor I," the colonel corroborated.
Warnebold, plainly impressed by Mrs. Winter s
grand air, assured them both that he felt that
everything that could be done had been done;
Miss Smith was quite wonderful; and he would
admit (of course, confidentially) that Mr. Keatch-
am did have a heart trouble ; Mr. Mercer had re
called one or two fainting fits; there was some
congestion ; and the doctor found a sad absence of
reaction ; he believed that there had been a er
syncope of some sort before the stabbing; Mr.
Keatcham himself, although he was still too weak
to talk much, had no recollection of anything ex
cept a very great faintness. Mr. Mercer s theory
seemed to cover the ground.
"Except as to who did the stabbing," said the
"Has Mr. Keatcham any bitter enemies?"
asked Aunt Rebecca thoughtfully.
"What man whcMias made a great fortune
hasn t?" demanded Warnebold with a saturnine
wrinkle of the lips. "But our enemies don t stab
or shoot us, nowadays."
276 THE LION S SHARE
"They do out West/ said the colonel genially ;
"we re crude."
"Are you in earnest ?"
"Entirely. I know a man, a mine superintend
ent, who got into a row with his miners because
he discharged a foreman, one of the union lights,
for stealing ore. In consequence he got a big
strike on his hands, found a dynamite bomb un
der his front piazza, and was shot at twice. The
second time he was too quick for them; he shot
back and killed one of them. He thought it was
time to put a stop to so much excitement, so he
sent for the second assassin "
"And had him arrested ?"
"Oh, dear, no; he wasn t in Massachusetts; I
told you he wanted the thing stopped. No, he sent
for him and told him that he had no special ill
feeling toward him, but that the next time any
thing of the kind happened he had made arrange
ments to have not him, or any other thug who
was doing the work, but the two men who were at
the bottom of the whole business, killed within
twenty-four hours. They took the hint and kind
feeling now prevails/
Warnebold grunted; he declared it to be a
beastly creepy situation ; he said he never wanted
"LIGHT THAT NEVER L WAS"^ 277
to sit down without a wall against his back ; and
he intimated that the president of the United
States was to blame for more than he realized. "I
hope you have some one watching the house," he
fumed, "and that he well, he doesn t belong to
the police force."
"No, he s an honest mercenary," said the colo
nel ; "I ll introduce him to you."
"And you haven t found any method of enter
ing the house?" fumed the financier.
"No," said Aunt Rebecca.
"Yes," said the colonel.
He laughed as they both whirled round on him.
"You speak first, my dear aunt," he proposed po
litely ; "I ll explain later."
Mrs. Winter said that a most careful examina
tion had been made not only by Mercer and the
colonel together, but also by young Arnold. They
found everything absolutely secure; all the win
dows were bolted and all the cellar gratings firm
and impossible to open.
"Now, you ?" said Warnebold.
"I only found out to-day," apologized the colo
nel, "or I should have spoken of it. I got to
thinking; and it occurred to me that in a house
built, as I understood from Arnold, by a very
278 THE LION S SHARE
original architect, there might be some queer fea
tures, such as secret passages. With that in my
mind, I induced the young gentleman to hunt up
the architect, as he lives in San Francisco. He not
only showed us some very pretty secret passages
about the house, but one that led into it. Shall I
show it to you?"
On their instantly expressed desire to see the
hidden way, the colonel led them to the patio.
He walked to the engaged column which once
before had interested him; he pressed a con
cealed spring under the boldly carved eight-pointed
flower; instantly, the entire side of the columns
swung as a door might swing. As they peered
into the dusky space below, the colonel, who had
put down his arm, pressed an electric button and
the white light flooded the shaft, revealing an in
genious ladder of cleats fitted into steel uprights.
"Here," said the colonel, "is a secret way from
the patio to the cellar. The cellar extends a little
beyond the patio and there is a way down from the
yard to the cellar I can quickly show you, if you
"No, thank you," replied Warnebold, who was
a man of full habit and older than the colonel, "I
will take your personal experience instead."
"LIGHT THAT NEVER WAS" 279
Then if you will go out into the yard with me
I will show you where a charming pergola ends
in a vine-wreathed sun-dial of stone that you
may tug at and not move ; but press your foot on
a certain stone, the whole dial swings round on a
concealed turn-table such as they have in garages,
you know. You will have no difficulty in finding
the right stone, because an inscription runs round
the dial : Mas vale tarde que nunca; and the stone
is directly opposite nunca. When you have moved
away your dial you will see a gently inclining tun
nel, high enough for a man to walk in without
stooping, wide enough for two, and much better
ventilated than the New York subway. That tun
nel leads to a secret door opening directly into the
cellar, so skilfully contrived that it looks like an
air-shaft. This door is only a few feet from the
shaft to the patio. We have found a bolt and put
it on this entrance, but there wasn t any before;
nor did any one in the house know of the secret
The colonel went on to say that on questioning
the architect he averred that he had never men
tioned the secret passage to his knowledge ex
cept that very recently, only a few days before,
at a dinner, he had barely alluded to it ; and one
280 THE LION S SHARE
of the gentlemen present, an Easterner, had asked
him where he got a man to make such a contriv
ance it must take skill. He had mentioned the
name of the workman. The colonel had hunted
up the artisan mentioned, only to find that he had
left town to take a job somewhere; no one seemed
to know where. Of course he had inquired of
everybody. The name of the Easterner was At
"Atkins," cried Warnebold, at this turn of the
narrative, "Keatcham s secretary? Why, he s the
boldest and slyest scoundrel in the United States !
He started a leak in Keatcham s office that made
him a couple of hundred thousands and lost us a
million, and might have lost us more if Mercer
hadn t got on to him. Keatcham wouldn t believe
he had been done to the extent he was at first
you know the old man hates to own to any one s
getting the better of him; it s the one streak of
vanity I ve ever been able to discover in him.
Otherwise, he s cold and keen as a razor on a
frosty morning. He was convinced enough, how
ever, to discharge Atkins; the next news I had,
he was trying to send him to the pen. Gave us
instructions how to get the evidence. No allusion
to his past confidence -in the fellow, simply the or-
"LIGHT THAT NEVER WAS" 281
ders as if we knew all the preliminaries. Won
derful man, Mr. Keatcham, Colonel Winter."
"Very," agreed the colonel dryly.
By this time the warrior and the man of finance
were on easy terms. Warnebold remained three
days. Before he left the patient had been pro
nounced out of danger and had revived enough to
give some succinct business directions. Mercer
had been sent to look out for the cement deal;
and Keatcham appeared a little relieved and
brighter when he was told that Mercer was on
"He will put it through if it can be put," he
had said weakly to Warnebold ; "he s moderately
smart and perfectly honest." Such words, Warne
bold explained later to Mrs. Winter, coming from
Keatcham might be regarded almost as extrava
gant commendation. "Your cousin s fortune is
made," he pronounced solemnly; "he can get At
kins place, I make no doubt."
Mrs. Winter thought that Mercer was a very
"Only always so melancholy; I ve been afraid
he had something serious the matter with his di
gestion. It s these abominable quick lunches that
are ruining the health of all our steady young
282 THE LION S SHARE
men. I don t know but they are almost as bad
as chorus girls and late suppers. Well, Mrs. Win
ter, I m afraid we shall not have another chance
at bridge until I see you in New York. But, any
how, we stung the colonel once and with Miss
Smith playing her greatest game, too. Pity she
can t induce Mr. Keatcham to play ; but he never
touches a card, hardly ever takes anything to
drink, doesn t like smoking especially, takes a cig
arette once in a while only, never plays the races or
bets on the run of the vessel positively such icy
virtue gives an ordinary sinner the cramps ! Very
great man though, Mrs. Winter, and a man we
are all proud to follow ; he may be overbearing ;
and he doesn t praise you too much, but somehow
you always frave the consciousness that he sees
every bit of good work you do and is marking it
up in your favor; and you won t be the loser.
There is no question he has a hold on his asso
ciates ; but he certainly is not what I call a genial
Only on the day of his departure did Warne-
bold, in young Arnold s language, "loosen up"
enough to tell Arnold and the colonel a vital in
cident. The night of the attack a telegram was
sent to Warnebold in Keatcham s confidential
"LIGHT THAT NEVER WAS"
cipher, directing the campaign against Tracy to
be pushed hard, ordering the dumping of some big
blocks of stock on the market and arranging for
their dummy purchasers. The naming of Atkins
as the man in charge was plausible enough, pre
suming there had been no knowledge of the break
in his relations with Keatcham. The message was
couched in Keatcham s characteristic crisp phrase
ology. But for the receiver s knowledge of the
break and but for the previous long-distance con
versation, it had reached its mark. The associates
of Keatcham were puzzled. The hands were the
hands of Esau but the voice was the voice of
Jacob. There had been a hurried consultation into
which the second long-distance telephone from
San Francisco broke like a thunderclap. It de
cided the hearers to keep to their instructions and
disregard the cipher despatch.
"And didn t you send any answer ?" the colonel
"OH, Certainly; we had an address given, The
Palace Hotel, Mr. John G. Makers. We wired
Mr. Makers in cipher. Despatch received. Will
attend to it, I signed. And I wired to the man
ager of the hotel to notice the man who took the
despatch. It wasn t a man, it was a lady."
284 THE LION S SHARE
"Yes, she had an order for Mr. Makers tele
grams. Mr. Makers gave the order. Mr. Makers
himself only stopped one night and went away in
the morning and nobody seemed to remember him
particularly; he was a nondescript sort of party/*
"But the lady?" The colonel s mouth felt dry.
"The lady? She was tall, fine figure, well
dressed, dark hair, the telegraph girl thought, but
she didn t pay any special attention. She had a
very pleasant, musical voice."
"That doesn t seem to be very definite," re
marked the colonel with a crooked smile.
It didn t look like a clue to Warnebold, either ;
but he was convinced of one thing, namely, that
it would pay to watch the ex-secretary.
"And," chuckled he, "there s a cheerful side to
the affair. Atkins is loaded to the guards with
short contracts; and the Midland is booming; if
the rise continues, he can t cover without losing
about all he has. By the way, we got another wire
later in the day demanding what we were about,
what it all meant that we hadn t obeyed instruc
tions. Same address for answer. This time we
thought we had laid a nice trap. But you can t
reckon pn a hotel ; somehow, before we got warn-
"LIGHT THAT NEVER .WAS" 285
ing, Mr. Makers had telephoned for his despatch
and got it."
"Where did he telephone from?"
"From his room in the Palace."
"I thought he had given up his room?"
"He had. But somebody telephoned to the
telegraph office from somewhere in the hotel and
got Mr. Makers wire. You can get pretty much
everything except a moderate bill out of a hotel."
"I see," said the colonel and immediately in his
heart compared himself to the immortal "blind
man ;" for his wits appeared to him to be tramp
ing round futilely in a maze; no nearer the exit
than when the tramp began.
That night, after Warnebold had departed,
leaving most effusive thanks and expressions of
confidence, Winter was standing at his window
absently looking at the garden faintly colored by
the moonlight, while his mind was plying back
and forth between half a dozen contradictions.
He went over the night of the attack on Keatch-
am; he summoned every look, every motion of
Janet Smith ; in one phase of feeling he cudgeled
himself for a wooden fool who had been abso
lutely brutal to a defenseless woman who trusted
him ; he hated himself for the way he would not
286 THE LION S SHARE
see her when she looked toward him ; no wonder
at last she stiffened, and now she absolutely
avoided him! But, in a swift revulsion against
his own softness he was instantly laying on the
blows as lustMy because of his incredible, pig
headed credulity. How absolutely simple the
thing was ! She car ed for this scoundrel of an At
kins who had first betrayed his employer and then
tried to murder him. Very likely they had been
half engaged down there in Virginia; and he had
crawled out of his engagement ; it would be quite
like the cur! Later he found that just such a dis
tinguished, charming woman, who had family
and friends, was what he wanted ; it would be easy
enough for him to warm up his old passion, curse
him! Then, he had met her and run in a bunch
of plausible lies that had convinced her that he
had been a regular angel in plain clothes ; hadn t
done a thing to Gary or to her. Atkins was such
a smooth devil! Winter could just picture him
whining to the girl, putting his life in her hands
and all that rot ; and making all kinds of a tool of
her why, the whole hand was on the board ! So
she was ready to throw them all overboard to
save Atkins from getting his feet wet. That was
why she looked so pale and haggard of a morning
"LIGHT THAT NEVER WAS" 287
sometimes, in spite of that ready smile of hers;
that was why her eyes were so wistful ; she wasn t
a false woman and she sickened of her squalid
part. She loved Aunt Rebecca and .Archie all
the same, she would turn them both down for
him ; while as to Rupert Winter, late of the United
States army, a worn-out, lame, elderly idiot who
had flung away the profession he loved and every
chance of a future career in order to have his
hands free to keep her out of danger where were
there words blistering enough for such puppy-dog
folly! At this point in his jealous imaginings the
pain in him goaded him into motion; he began
furiously pacing the room, although his lame leg,
which he had been using remorselessly all day,
was sending jabs and twists of agony through
him. But after a little he halted again before the
The wide, darkening view ; the great, silent city
with its myriad lights; the shining mist of the
bay; the foot-hills with their sheer, straw-colored
streaks through the forests and vineyards ; the il
limitable depths of star-sown, violet sky all these
touched his fevered mood with a sudden calm.
His unrest was quieted, as one whose senses are
cooled by a running stream.
288 THE LION S SHARE
"You hot-headed Southerner!" he upbraided
himself, "don t get up in the air without any real
Almost in the flitting of the words through his
brain he saw her. The white gown, which was her
constant wear in the sick-room, defined her figure
clearly against a clump of Japan plum-trees.
Their purplish red foliage rustled ; and an unseen
fountain beyond made a delicate tinkle of water
splashing a marble basin. Her face was hidden ;
only the moonlight gently drew the oval of her
cheek. She was standing still, except that one foot
was groping back and forth as if trying to find
something. But, as he looked, his face growing
tender, she knelt on the sod and pulled something
out of the ground. This something she seemed to
dust off with her handkerchief he could not see
the object, but he could see the flutter of the hand
kerchief ; and when she rose the white linen partly
hid the thing in her hand. Only partly, because
when she passed around the terrace wall the glow
from an electric lantern, in an arch, fell full upon
her and burnished a long, thin blade of steel.
He looked down on her from his unlighted
chamber; and suddenly she looked up straight at
the windows of the room where she thought he
"LIGHT THAT NEVER WAS" 289
was sleeping; and smiled a dim, amused, weary,
tender smile. Then she sped by, erect and light of
foot; and the deep shadow of the great gateway
took her. All he could see was the moonlight on
the bluish green lawn ; and the white electric light
on the gleaming rubber-trees and dusty palms.
He sat down. He clasped his hands over his
knee. He whistled softly a little Spanish air. He
laughed very gently. "My dear little girl," said
he, "I am going to marry you. You may be swin
dled into helping a dozen murderers; but I am
going to marry you !"
THE REAL EDWIN KEATCHAM
One Sunday after Mrs. Melville Winter and
Archie came to Casa Fuerte, Mr. Keatcham sent
for the colonel. There was nothing unusual in
such a summons. From the beginning of his ill
ness he had shown a curious, inexpressive desire
for the soldier s company. He would have him
sit in the room, although too weak to talk to him,
supposing he wished to talk, which was not at all
sure. "I like-to-see-him- just-sitting- there," he fal
tered to his nurse, "can t-he-read-or-play-solitaire-
Sometimes Winter would be conscious that the
feeble creature in the bed, with the bluish-white
face, was staring at him. Whether the glassy eyes
beheld his figure or went beyond him to unfinished
colossal schemes that might change the fate of a
continent, or drifted backward to the poverty-
stricken home, the ferocious toil and the unending
self-denial of Keatcham s youth on the Pacific
THE REAL EDWIN KEATCHAM 291
slope, the dim gaze gave no clue. All that was
apparent was that it was always on Winter, as he
curled his legs under his chair, wrote or knitted
his brow over rows of playing-cards.
At the very first, Keatcham s mind had wan
dered; he used to shrink from imaginary people
who were in the room; he would try to talk to
them, distressing himself painfully, ior he was so
weak that his nurses turned his head on the pillow ;
he would feebly motion them away. In such aber
rations he would sometimes appeal, in a changed,
thin, childish voice, to the obscure, toil-worn
pioneer woman who had died while he was a lad.
"Mother, I was a good boy ; I always got up when
you called me, didn t I ? I helped you iron when
the other boys were playing mother, please don t
let that old woman stay and cry here!" Or he
would plead ; "Mother, tell her, say, you tell her
I didn t know her son would kill himself I
couldn t tell he was a damn coward, anyhow
excuse me, mama, I didn t mean to swear, but
they make me so awful mad ! ? There was a girl
who came, sometimes, from whose presence he
shrank ; a girl he had never seen ; nor, indeed, had
he ever known in the flesh any of the shapes
which haunted him. They had lived; but never
292 THE LION S SHARE
had his eyes fallen on them. Nevertheless, their
presence was as real to him as that of the people
about him whom he could hear and touch and see.
It did not take Winter s imagination long to piece
out the explanation of these apparitions: they
were specters of the characters in those dramas
of ruthless conquest which Mercer had culled out
of newspaper "stories" and affidavits and court
reports and forced upon Keatcham s attention.
Miss Smith helped him to the solution, although
her own ignorance of Mercer s method was puz
zling. "How did he ever know old Mrs. Ferris ?"
she said. "He called her Ferris and he talks about
her funny dress she always did wear a queer lit
tle basque and full skirt after all the world went
into blouses but how did he ever come across
her? They had a place on the James that had
been in the family a hundred years and had to
lose it on account of the Tidewater; and Nelson
Ferris blew his brains out."
"Don t you know how?" asked the colonel.
"Well, I ll tell you my guess sometime. Who is
the girl who seems to make him throw a fit so?"
"I m not sure; I imagine it is poor Mabel Ray;
there were two of them, sisters ; they made money
out of their Tidewater stock and went to New
THE REAL EDWIN KEATCHAM 293
York to visit some kin ; and they got scared when
the stock fell and the dividends stopped ; and they
sold out at a great loss. They never did come
back; they had persuaded all their kin to invest;
and the stopping of the dividends made it difficult
for some of the poor ones Mabel said she
couldn t face her old aunts. She went on the stage
in New York. She was very pretty; she wasn t
very strong. Anyway, you can imagine the end
of the story. I saw her in the park last winter
when Mrs. Winter was in New York ; she turned
her face away poor Mabel !"
Through Janet Smith s knowledge of her dead
sister s neighbors, Winter got a dozen pitiful rec
ords of the wreckage of the Tidewater. "Mighty
interesting reading," he thought grimly, "but
hardly likely to make the man responsible for
them stuck on himself!" Then he would look at
the drawn face on the pillow and listen to the bab
blings of the boy who had had no childhood; and
the frown would melt off his brow.
He did not always talk to his mother when his
mind wandered ; several times he addressed an in
visible presence as "Helen" and "Dear" with an
accent of tenderness very strange on those inflex
ible lips. When he talked to this phantasm he was
294 THE LION S SHARE
never angry or distressed; his turgid scowl
cleared ; the austere lines chiseling his cheeks and
brow faded; he looked years younger. But for
the most part, it was to no unreal creature that he
turned, but to Colonel Rupert Winter. He would
address him with punctilious civility, but as one
who was under some obligation to assist him, say
ing, for instance, "Colonel Winter, I must beg
you not to let those persons in the room again.
They annoy me. But you needn t let Mercer know
that. Please attend to it yourself, and get them
away. Miss Smith says you will. Explain to them
that when I get up I will investigate their claims.
I m too sick now !"
Conscious and free from lever, He was Barely
able to articulate, but when delirious fancies pos
sessed him he could talk rapidly, in a good voice.
Very soon it was clear that he was calmer for the
colonel s presence. Hence, the latter got into the
habit of sitting in the room. He would request
imaginary ruined and desperate beings to leave
Keatcham in peace; he would gravely rise and
close the door on their departure. He never was
surprised nor at a loss; and his dramatic nerve
never failed. Later, as the visions faded, a moody
reserve wrapped the sick man, He lay motionless,
THE REAL EDWIN KEATCHAM 295
evidently absorbed by thought. In one way he
was what doctors call a very good patient. He
obeyed all directions; he was not restless. But
neither was he ever cheerful. Every day he asked
for his pulse record and his temperature and his
respiration. After a consultation with the doctor,
Miss Smith gave them to him.
"It is against the rules," grumbled the doctor,
"but I suppose each patient has to make his own
rules." On the same theory he permitted the colo
nel s visits.
Therefore, with no surprise, Winter received
and obeyed the summons. Keatcham greeted him
with his usual stiff courtesy.
"The doctor says I can have the papers will
you pick out the one day after I was
Miss Smith indicated a pile on a little table,
placed ready at hand. "I kept them for him," she
"Read about the Midland," commanded the
faint, indomitable voice.
"Want the election and the newspaper senti
ments?" asked the colonel; he gave it all, con
scious the while of Janet Smith s compassionate,
perplexed, sorrowful eyes.
296 THE LION S SHARE
"Don t skip !" Keatcham managed to articulate
after a pause.
The colonel gave him a keen glance. "Want it
straight, without a chaser ?"
Keatcham closed his eyes and nodded.
The colonel read about the virtually unanimous
election of Tracy; the astonishment of the out
siders among the supposed anti-Tracy element;
the composed and impenetrable front of the men
closest to Keatcham; the reticence and amiability
of Tracy himself, in whose mien there could be
detected no hint either of hostility or of added
cordiality toward the men who had been expected
"to drag his bleeding pride in the dust;" finally of
the response of the stock-market in a phenomenal
rise of Midland.
Keatcham listened with his undecipherable
mask of attention ; there was not so much as the
flicker of an eyelid or the twitch of a muscle. All
he said was: "Now, read if there is anything
about the endowment of the new fellowships in
some medical schools for experimental research."
"Who gives the endowment ?"
"Anonymous. In memory of Maria Warren
Keatcham and Helen Bradford Keatcham. Find
THE REAL EDWIN KEATCHAM 297
The colonel found a great deal about it. The
paper was full of this munificent gift, amounting
to many millions of dollars and filling (with
most carefully and wisely planned details) an
almost absolute vacuum in the American scheme
of education. The dignity and fame of the chairs
and fellowships endowed were ample to tempt the
best ability of the profession. The reader grew en
thusiastic as he read.
"Why, it s immense! And we have always
needed it!" he exclaimed.
"There are some letters about it, there/
Keatcham feebly motioned to a number of neatly
opened, neatly assorted letters on a desk. "The
doctor said I might have the letters read to me.
Miss Smith got him to. For fear of exciting you,
the doctors usually let you worry your head off
because you don t know about things. I ve got to
carry a few things through if it kills me. Don t
"I see," said the colonel, "you shall."
The next time he saw the financier, although
only a few days had elapsed, he was much
stronger ; he was able to breathe comfortably, he
spoke with ease, in his ordinary voice ; in fine, he
looked his old self again, merely thinner and paler.
298 ,THE LION S SHARE
Hardly was the colonel seated before he said
without preface Keatcham never made ap
proaches to his subject, regarding conversational
road-making as waste of brains for a busy man :
"Colonel, Miss Smith hasn t time to be my
nurse and secretary both. I won t have one sent
from New York; will you help her out?"
The colonel s lips twitched; he was thinking
that were Miss Smith working for Atkins, she
couldn t have a better chance to make a killing.
"But I ll bet my life she isn t," he added ; "she
may be trying to save his life, but she isn t play
ing his game !"
He said aloud : "I will, Mr. Keatcham, if you
will let me do it as part of the obligation of the
situation ; and there is no bally rot about compen
"Very well," said Keatcham. He did not hesi
tate; it was (as the colonel had already discov
ered) the rarest thing in the world for him to
hesitate; he thought with astonishing rapidity;
and he formulated his answer while his interlocu
tor talked ; before the speech was over the answer
was ready. Another trait of his had struck the
soldier, namely, the laborious correctness of his
speech; it was often formal and old-fashioned;
THE REAL EDWIN KEATCHAM 299
Aunt Rebecca said that he talked like Daniel
Webster s speeches ; but it had none of the homely
and pungent savor one might expect from a man
whose boyhood had scrambled through miners
camps into a San Francisco stock office ; who had
never gone to school in his life by daylight ; who
had been mine superintendent, small speculator
and small director in California until he became
a big speculator and big railway controller in
"You might begin on the morning mail,"
Keatcham continued. "Let me sort them first."
He merely glanced at the inscriptions on the en
velopes, opening and taking out one which he read
rather carelessly, frowning a little before he
placed it to one side.
A number of the letters concerned the endow
ments of the experimental chairs at the universi
ties. Keatcham s attention was not lightened by
any ray of pleasure. Once he said : "That fellow
has caught my idea," and once: "That s right,"
but there was no animation in his voice, no inter
est in his pallid face. Stealing a furtive scrutiny
of it, now and then, Rupert Winter was impressed
with its mystical likeness to that of Gary Mercer.
There was no physical similarity of color or fea-
300 THE LION S SHARE
ture ; it was a likeness of the spirit rather than the
flesh. The colonel s eyes flashed.
"I have it!" he exclaimed within, "I have it;
they are fanatics, both of them; Keatcham s a
fanatic of finance and Mercer is a fanatic of an
other sort ; but fanatics they both are, ready to go
any length for their principles or their ambitions
or their revenge! J ai trouve le mot d enigme,
as Aunt Becky would say I wonder what
she ll say to this sudden psychological splurge of
"The business hour is up," it was Miss Smith
entering with a bowl on a white-covered tray ; the
sun glinted the lump of ice in the milk and the
silver spoon was dazzling against the linen
"your biscuit and milk, Mr. Keatcham. Didn t
you have it when you were a boy?"
"I did, Miss Janet," and Keatcham actually
smiled. "I used to think crackers and milk the
nicest thing in the world."
"That is because you never tasted corn pone
and milk ; but you are going to."
"When you make it for me. I m glad you re
such a good cook. It s one of your ways I like.
My mother was a very good cook. She could
make better dishes out of almost nothing than
THE REAL EDWIN KEATCHAM 301
these mongrel chefs can make with the whole
"I reckon she could/ said Miss Smith ; she was
"When my father didn t strike pay dirt, my
mother would open her bakery and make pies for
the miners; she could make bread with potato
yeast or salt-emptins can you make salt-rising
"I can shall I make you some, to-morrow ?"
"I d like it. My mother used to make more
money than my father; sometimes when we chil
dren were low in clothes and dad owed a bigger
lot of money than usual, we had a laundry at our
house as well as a bakery. Yet, in spite of all the
work, my mother found time to teach all of us;
and she knew how to teach, too ; for she was prin
cipal of a school when my father married her.
She was a New Englander; so was he; but they
went West. We re forty-niners. I saw the place
where our little cloth-and-board shack used to
stand. After the big fire, you know. It burned us
all up ; we had saved a good deal and my mother
had a nice bakery. She worked too hard ; it killed
her. Work and struggle and losing the children."
"They died ?" said Miss Janet.
3 02 THE LION S SHARE
"Diphtheria. They didn t know anything about
the disease then. We all had it ; and my little sis
ter and both my brothers died; but I m tough.
I lived. My mother fell into what they called a
decline. I was making a little money then I was
sixteen; but I couldn t keep her from working.
Perhaps it made no difference; but it did make a
difference her not having the the right kind of
food. Nobody knew anything about consumption
then. I used to go out in the morning and be
afraid I d find her dead when I got back. One
night I did." He stopped abruptly, crimsoning up
to his eyes " I don t know why I m telling you
"I call that tough," as the colonel blurted out
the words, he was conscious of a sense of repeti
tion. When had he said those very same words
before, to whom? Of all people in the world, to
Gary Mercer. "Mighty tough," murmured he
"Yes," said Keatcham, "it was." He did not
say anything more. Neither did the colonel.
Ketcham obediently ate his milk and biscuit;
and very shortly the colonel took his leave.
The next morning after an uneventful hour of
sorting, reading and answering letters for Miss
THE REAL EDWIN KEATCHAM 303
Smith to copy on the traveling typewriter,
Keatcham gave his new secretary a sharp sensa
tion; he ordered in his quiet but peremptory
fashion : "Now put that trash away ; sit down ;
tell me all you know of Gary real name is Gary
Mercer, isn t it?"
The colonel said it was; he asked him if he
"Everything. Straight. Without a chaser,"
The colonel gave it to him. He began with
his own acquaintance ; he told about Phil Mercer ;
he did not slur a detail ; neither did he underscore
one ; Keatcham got the uncolored facts. He heard
them impassively, making only one comment:
"A great deal of damage would be saved in this
world if youngsters could be shut up until they
had sense enough not to fool with firearms."
When Winter came to Mercer s own exposition
of his motives and his design if successful in his
raid on the kings of the market, Keatcham grunt
ed; at the end he breathed a noiseless jet of a
sigh. "You don t think Mercer is at all" he
tapped the side of the head.
"No more than you are."
304 .THE LION S SHARE
"Oh, well," the colonel jested, "we all have a
prejudice in favor of our own sanity. What I
meant was that Mercer is a bit of a fanatic; his
hard luck has well, prejudiced him "
Keatcham s cold, firm lips straightened into his
peculiar smile, which was rather of perception
than of humor.
One might say of him Aunt Rebecca Win
ter did say of him that he saw the incongruous,
which makes up for humor, but he never enjoyed
it ; possibly it was only another factor in his con
tempt of mankind.
"Colonel," said Keatcham, "do you think Wall
Street is a den of thieves ?"
"I do," said the colonel promptly. "I should
like to take a machine gun or two and clean you
Keatcham did not smile; he blinked his eyes
and nodded. "I presume a good many people
share your opinion of us."
"Millions," replied the colonel.
Again Keatcham nodded. "I thought so," said
he. "Of course you are all off; Wall Street is as
necessary to the commonwealth as the pores to
your -skin ; they don t make the poison in the sys
tem any more than the pores do; they only let it
THE REAL EDWIN KEATCHAM 305
escape. And I suppose you think that big finan
ciers who control the trusts and the railways
"Us," the colonel struck in, "well?"
"You think w r e are thieves and liars and mur
derers and despots?"
"All of that," said the colonel placidly; "also
"You certainly don t mince your words."
"You don t want me to. What use would my
opinion be in a one-thousandth attenuation?
You re no homeopath ; and whatever else you may
be, you re no coward."
"Yet, you think I surrendered to Mercer ? You
think I did it because I was afraid he would
kill me? I suppose he would have killed me if I
hadn t, eh?"
"He can speak for himself about that; he
seems well, an earnest sort of man. But I don t
think you gave in because you were afraid, if that
is what you mean. You are no more afraid than he
was ! You wanted to live, probably ; you had big
things on hand. The Midland was only a trump
in the game; you could win the odd trick with
something else; you let the Midland go."
"Pretty close," Keatcham really smiled "but
3 o6 THE LION S SHARE
there is a good deal more of it. I was shut up witli
the results of my my work. He did it very
cleverly. I had nothing to distract me. There
were the big type-written pages about the foolish
people who had lost their money, in some cases
really through my course, mostly because they
got scared and let go and were wiped out when,
if they had had confidence in me and held on, they
would be very much better off, now. But they
didn t, and they were ruined and they starved and
took their boys out of college and mortgaged their
confounded homes that had been in their families
ever since Adam; and the old people died of
broken hearts and the girls went wrong and some
of the idiotic quitters killed themselves it was
not the kind of crowd you would want shut up
with you in the dark ! I was shut up with them.
He had some sort of way of switching off the
lights from the outside. I never saw a face or
heard a voice. I would have to sit there in the
dark after he thought I had read enough to
occupy my mind. It was unpleasant. Perhaps
you suppose that brought me round to his way of
The colonel meditated. "I ll tell you honestly/
he said after a pause, "I was of that opinion, or
THE REAL EDWIN KEATCHAM 307
something of the kind, until I talked your case
over with my aunt "
"The old dame is not a fool ; what did she say ?"
"She said no, he didn t convert you; but he
convinced you how other people looked at your
methods. You couldn t get round the fact that a
majority of your countrymen think your type of
financier is worse than smallpox, and more con
"Oh, she put it that way, did she? I wish she
would write a prospectus for me. Well, you
think she was nearer right than you ?"
"I think you do; I myself think it was a little
of both. You ve got a heart and a conscience
originally, though they have got pretty well
tanned out in the weather; you didn t want to be
sorry for those people, but you are. They have
bothered you a lot ; but it has bothered you more
to think that instead of going down the ages as a
colossal benefactor and empire builder, you are
hung up on the hook to see where you re at;
and where you will be if the people get thorough
ly aroused. You all are building bigger balloons
when it ought to be you for the cyclone cellar !
But you are different. You can see ahead. I give
you credit for seeing."
3 o8 THE LION S SHARE
"Have you ever considered/ said Keatcham
slowly, "that in spite of the iniquitous greed of
the men you are condemning, in spite of their
oppression of the people, the prosperity of the
country is unparalleled? How do you explain it?"
"Crops," said the colonel ; "the crops were too
big for you."
"You might give us a little credit your aunt
does. She was here to-day ; she is a manufacturer
and she comprehended that the methods of busi
ness can not be revolutionized without somebody s
getting hurt. Yet, on the whole, the change
might be immensely advantageous. Now, why,
in a nutshell, do you condemn us?"
"You re after the opinion of the average man,
are you ?"
"I suppose so, the high average."
The colonel crossed his legs and uncrossed
them again; he looked straight into the other s
eyes; his own narrowed with thought.
"I ll tell you," said he. "I don t know much
about the Street or high finance or industrial de
velopment. I m a plain soldier; I m not a manu
facturer and I m not a speculator. I understand
perfectly that you can t have great changes with
out somebody s getting hurt in the shuffle. It
THE REAL EDWIN KEATCHAM 309
is beyond me to decide whether the new indus
trial arrangements with the stock-jobber on top
instead of the manufacturer will make for better
or for worse but I know this; it is against the
fundamental law to do evil that good may come.
And you fellows in Wall Street, when, to get rich
quick, you lie about stocks in order to buy
cheap and then lie another way to sell dear ; when
you make a panic out of whole cloth, as you did
in 1903, because, having made about all you can
out of things going up, you want to make all you
can out of them going down ; when you play foot
ball with great railway properties and insurance
properties, because you are as willing to rob the
dead as the living; when you do all that, and
when your imitators, who haven t so much brains
or so much decency as you, when they buy up
legislatures and city councils; and their imitators
run the Black Hand business and hold people up
who have money and are not strong enough,
they think, to hunt them down why, not being
a philosopher but just a plain soldier, I call it bad,
rotten bad. What s more, I can tell you the Amer
ican people won t stand for it."
"You think they can help themselves?"
"I know they can. You fellows are big, but
310 THE LION S SHARE
you won t last over night if the American people
get really aroused. And they are stirring in their
sleep and kicking off the bed-clothes."
"Yet you ought to belong to the conservatives. *
"I do. That s why the situation is dangerous.
You as an old San Franciscan ought to remember
how conservative was that celebrated Vigilance
Committee. It is when the long-suffering, pusil
lanimous, conservative element gets fighting mad
that something is doing."
"Maybe," muttered Keatcham thoughtfully. "I
believe we can manage for you better than you
can for yourselves; but when the brakes are
broken good driving can t stop the machine; all
the chauffeur can do is to keep the middle of the
road. I like to be beaten as little as any of them ;
but I m not a fool. Winter, you are used to ac
complishing things; what is your notion of the
"Knowing when to stop exhausting trumps, I
reckon but you don t play cards."
"It is the same old game whatever you play,"
said the railway king. He did not pursue the
discussion; his questions, Winter had found, in
variably had a purpose, and that purpose was
never argument. He lay back on the big leather
THE REAL EDWIN KEATCHAM 311
cushions of the lounge, his long, lean lingers
drumming on the table beside him and an odd
smile playing about the corners of his mouth;
his next speech dived into new waters. He said :
"Have those men from New York got Atkins,
"They couldn t find him/ 7 answered the colo
nel. "I have been having him shadowed, on my
own idea I think he stabbed you, though I have
no proof of it; I take it you have proof of your
"Plenty," said Keatcham. "I was going to
send him to the pen in self-defense. It isn t safe
for me to have it creep out that my secretary
made a fortune selling my secrets. Besides, I
don t want to be killed. You say they can t find
"Seems to have gone to Japan "
"Seems ? What do you mean ?"
"I am not sure. He was booked for a steamer;
and a man under his name, of his build and color,
did actually sail on the boat," announced the
"Hmn ! He s right here in San Francisco ; read
Winter read the note, written on Palace Hotel
312 THE LION S SHARE
note-paper, in a sharp, scrawling, Italian hand.
The contents were sufficiently startling.
Dear friend Hoping this find you well. Why do you
disregard a true Warning? We did write you afore once
for say you give that money or we shal be unfortunately
compel to kill you quick. No? You laff. God knows we got
have that twenty-five thousan dol. Yes. And now because
of such great expence it is fifty thousan you shall pay. We
did not mean kill you dead only show you for sure there
is no place so secret you can Hide no place so strong can
defend you. Be Warn. You come with $50000.00 in $100
bills. You go or send Mr. Mercer to the Red Hat; ask
for Louis. Say to Louis For the Black Hand. Louis will
say For the Black Hand. You follow him. No harm will
come to you. You will be forgive all heretobefores. Else-
ways you must die April 15-20. This is sure. You have
felt our dagger the other is worse.
You well wishing Fren,
The Black Hand.
"Sounds like Atkins pretending to be a Dago,"
said the colonel dryly. "I could do better my
"Very likely," said Keatcham.
"Does he mean business ? What s he after ?"
"To get me out of the way. He knows he isn t
safe until I m dead. Then he hasn t been cleaned
out, but he has lost a lot of money in this Midland
business. The cipher he has is of no use to him,
there, or in the other things which unluckily he
THE REAL EDWIN KEATCHAM 313
knows about. With me dead and the cipher in his
hands, he could have made millions ; even without
the cipher, if he knows I m dead before the rest of
the world, he ought to make at least a half-mil
lion. I think you will find that he has put every
thing he has on the chance. I told you he was
slick. And unstable. What do you anticipate he
will do? Straight, with no chaser, as you say."
"Well, straight with no chaser, I should say a
bomb w r as the meanest trick in sight, so, natu
rally, he will choose a bomb."
"I agree with you. You say the house is
"The whole place. But we ll put on a bigger
force; I ll see Birdsall at once. Atkins would
have to hire his explosive talent, wouldn t he?"
questioned the colonel.
"Oh, he knows plenty of the under-world ras
cals ; and besides, for a fellow of his habits, there
is a big chance for loot. Mrs. Millicent Winter
tells me that your aunt has valuable jewels with
her. If she told me, she may have told other peo
ple, and Atkins may know, He will use other
people, but he will come, too, in my opinion."
"I see," said the colonel; "to make sure they
don t foozle the bomb. But he ll have his alibi
314 THE LION S SHARE
ready all right. Mr. Keatcham, did they send
you a previous letter ?"
"Oh, dear no; that s only part of the game;
makes a better story. So is using the hotel paper ;
if it throws suspicion on anybody it would be
your party; you see Atkins knew Mercer had a
grudge against me as well as him. He was count
ing on that. I rather wonder that he didn t fix
up some proof for you to find."
"By Jove!" cried the colonel; "maybe he did."
"And you didn t find it?"
"Well, you see I was too busy with you; the
others must have overlooked it. Hard on Atkins
after he took so much trouble, wasn t it?"
"I told you he was too subtle. But it is not
wise to underrate him, or bombs either ; we must
get the women and those boys out of the house."
"But how ? You are not really acquainted with
my aunt, Mrs. Rebecca Winter, I take it."
"You think she wouldn t go if there was any
chance of danger?"
"You couldn t fire her unless out of a cannon ;
but she would help get Archie away; Mrs. Mel
ville and Miss Smith "
"Well ur Miss Smith, I am afraid, will .not
be easy to manage ; you see, she knows "
THE REAL EDWIN KEATCHAM 315
"Knows? Did you tell her?" asked Colonel
"Well, not exactly. As the children say, it told
itself. There has been a kind of an attempt, al
ready. A box came, marked from a man I know
in New York, properly labeled with express com
pany s labels. Miss Smith opened it; I could see
her, because she was in the bath-room with the
door open. There was another box inside,
wrapped in white tissue paper. Very neatly. She
examined that box with singular care and then
she drew some water in the lavatory basin, half
opened the box and put the whole thing under
water in the basin. Then I thought it was time
for me and I asked her if it was a bomb. Do you
know that girl had sense enough not to try to
deceive me ? She saw that I had seen every move
she had made. She said merely that it was safe
under water. It was an ingenious little affair
which had an electrical arrangement for touching
off a spark when the lid of the box would be
"Ah, yes. Thoughtful little plan to amuse an
invalid by letting him open the box, himself, to
see the nice surprises from New York. Very
neat, indeed. What did you do with the box?"
3 i6 THE LION S SHARE
"Nothing, so far. It only came about an hour
"Do you reckon some of the Black Hands are
out on the street, rubbering to see if there are any
signs of anything doing?"
"Perhaps ; you might let Birdsall keep a watch
for anything like that. But they hear, somehow ;
there is a leak somewhere in our establishment.
It is not your aunt; she can hold her tongue as
well as use it; the boy, Archie, does not know
anything to tell "
"He wouldn t tell it if he did," interrupted
the colonel; and very concisely but with evident
pride he gave Archie s experience in the Chinese
Keatcham s comment took the listener s breath
away; so far afield was it and so unlike his ex
perience of the man ; it was : "Winter, a son like
that would be a good deal of a comfort, wouldn t
"Poor little chap!" said Winter. "He hasn t
any father to be proud of him father and mother
Keatcham eyed Winter thoughtfully a moment,
then he said : "You ve been married and lost
children, your aunt says. That must be hard.
THE REAL EDWIN KEATCHAM 317
But did you ever read that poem of James
Whitcomb Riley s to his friend whose child was
dead? It s true what he says they were better
off than he who had no child to die/
Rupert was looking away from the speaker
with the instinctive embarrassment of a man who
surprises the deeper feelings of another. He
could see out of the window the lovely April gar
den and Janet Smith amid the almond blossoms.
Only her shining black head and her white shoul
ders and bodice rose above the pink clusters.
She looked up and nodded, seeing him; her face
was a little pale, but she was smiling.
"I don t know," he said, "it s hard enough
either way for a man."
"I never lost any children" Keatcham s tone
was dry, still, but it had not quite the former
desiccated quality "but I was married, for a
little while. If it s as bad to lose your children
as it is to lose the hope of having them, it must
be hard. You lost your wife, too?"
"Yes," said Rupert Winter.
At this moment he became conscious that
Keatcham was avoiding his gaze in the very
manner of his avoiding of Keatcham s a moment
ago; and it gave him a bewildering sensation.
318 THE LION S SHARE
"I wanted to marry my wife for seven years
before we were married/ Keatcham continued
in that carefully monotonous voice. "She was the
daughter of the superintendent of the mine where
I was working. I was only eighteen when I first
saw her. I was twenty-five when % we were mar
ried. She used to give me lessons; she was ed
ucated and accomplished. She did more than is
easy telling, for me. Of course, her parents were
opposed at first because they looked higher for her,
but she brought them round by her patience and
her sweetness and her faith in me. Six months
after we were married, she had an accident which
left her a helpless invalid in a wheeled chair, at
the best; at the worst, suffering you ve known
what it is to see anybody, whom you care for, in
horrible pain and trying not to show it when you
"I have," said Winter; "merry hell, isn t it?"
"I have seen that expression," said Keatcham ;
"I never recognized its peculiar appropriateness
before. Yes, it is that. Yet, Winter, those two
years she lived afterwards were the happiest of
my whole life. She said,, the last night she was
with me, that they had been the happiest of hers."
The same flush which once before, when he had
THE REAL EDWIN KEATCHAM 319
seemed moved, had crept up to his temples, burned
his hollow cheeks. He was holding the edge of
the table with the tips of his fingers and the blood
settled about the nails with the pressure of his
grip. There was an intense moment during which
Winter vainly struggled to think of something to
say and looked more of his sympathy than he was
aware; then: "Gary Mercer needn t think that he
has had all the hard times in the world!" said
Keatcham in his usual toneless voice, relaxing
his hold and leaning back on his pillows. The
color ebbed away gradually from his face.
"I don t wonder you didn t marry again," said
"You would not wonder if you had known
Helen. She always understood. Of course, now,
at sixty-one, I could buy a pretty, innocent, young
girl who would do as her parents bade her, and
cry her eyes out before the wedding, or a hand
some and brilliant society woman with plenty of
matrimonial experience but I don t want them.
I should have to explain myself to them ; I don t
know how to explain myself ; you see I can t half
"I reckon I understand a little."
"I guess you do. You are different, too. Well,
3 2o THE LION S SHARE
let s get down to business, think up some way of
getting the women out of the house ; and get your
sleuths after Atkins. It is we get him, or he gets
us ! "
The amateur secretary assented and prepared
to go, for the valet was at the door, ready to re
lieve him; but opposite Keatcham, he paused a
second, made a pretense of hunting for his hat,
picked it up in his left hand and held out the
right hand, saying, "Well, take care of yourself."
Keatcham nodded; he shook the hand with a
good firm pressure. "Much obliged, Winter,"
"Well," meditated the soldier as he went his
way, "I never did think to take that financial
bucaneer by the hand ; but it wasn t the bucaneer,
it was the real Edwin Keatcham."
IN WHICH THE PUZZLE FALLS INTO PLACE
While the colonel was trying to decipher his
tragical puzzle, while Edwin Keatcham was
busied with plans that affected empires and in
cidentally were to save and to extinguish some
human lives, while Janet Smith had her own
troubles, while Mrs. Rebecca Winter enjoyed
a game more exciting and deadly than Penelope s
Web, Mrs. Millicent Winter and the younger peo
ple found the days full of joyous business. The
household had fallen into normal ways of living.
Although the secret patrol watched every rod
of approach to the house, the espial was so unob
trusive that guests came and went, tradesmen
rattled over the driveways ; the policemen, them
selves, slumbered by day and loitered majestically
by night without the Casa Fuerte portals, never
suspecting. Little Birdsall had his admirable
points; they were now in evidence. To all out-
322 THE LION S SHARE
ward seeming, a pleasant house-party was enjoy
ing the lavish Californian hospitality of Casa
Fuerte; and Black Care was bundled off to the
closet with the family skeleton, according to the
traditions of mannerly people. Arnold had opened
his garage and his stables. There was bridge of
an evening; and the billiard-balls clinked on the
pool-table. Archie could now back the electric
motor into almost any predicament. The new
Chinese chef was a wonder and Tracy was initiat
ing him into the possibilities of the Fireless, de
spite a modest shrinking on the part of the orien
tal artist who considered it to be a new kind of
Millicent, encouraged by Arnold, had had Mrs.
Wigglesworth and two errant Daughters, whose
husbands were state regents for Melville s uni
versity, to luncheon and to dinner; the versatile
Kito donning a chauffeur s livery and motoring
them back to the city in the Limousine, on both
occasions; all of which redounded to Millicent s
own proper glory and state.
Indeed, about this time, Millicent was in high
good humor with her world. Even Janet Smith
was no longer politely obliterated as "the nurse,"
but became "our dear Miss Janet" ; and was pre-
THE PUZZLE FALLS INTO PLACE 323
sented with two of Mrs. Melville s last year s
Christmas gifts which she could not contrive
to use; therefore carried about for general deco
rative generosity. One was a sage-green linen
handkerchief case, quite fresh, on which was
etched, in brown silk, the humorous inscription :
"WIPE ME BUT DO NOT SWIPE ME!" The other
was a white celluloid brush-broom holder be
decked with azure forget-me-nots enframing a
complicated monogram which might just as well
stand for J. B. B. S. (Janet Byrd Brandon
Smith) as for M. S. W. (Millicent Sears Winter)
or any other alphabetical herd. These unpretend
ing but (considering their source) distinguished
gifts she bestowed in the kindest manner. Janet
was no doubt grateful; she embroidered half a
dozen luncheon napkins with Mrs. Melville s mon
ogram and crest, in sign thereof; and very pret
tily, she being a skilful needle-woman. On her
part, Mrs. Mellville was so pleased that she re
marked to her brother-in-law, shortly after, that
she believed Cousin Angela s sisters hadn t been
just to Miss Smith; she was a nice girl; and if
she married (which is quite possible, insinuated
Mrs. Melville archly), she meant to give a tea in
324 THE LION S SHARE
"Now, that s right decent of you, Millie," cried
the colonel; and he smiled gratefully after Mrs.
Melville s beautifully fitted back. Yet a scant five
minutes before he had been pursuing that same
charming back through the garden terraces, in
a most unbrotherly frame, resolved to give his sis
ter-in-law a "warning with a fog-horn." The cause
of said warning was his discovery of her acquaint
ance with Atkins. For days a bit of information
had been blistering his mind. It came from the
girl at the telegraph office at the Palace, not in a
bee-line, but indirectly, through her chum, the
girl who booked the theater tickets. It could not
be analyzed properly because the telegraph girl
was gone to Southern California. But before she
went she told the theater girl that the lady who
received Mr. Makers wires was one of Mrs.
Winter s party ! This bit of information was like
a live coal underfoot in the colonel s mind ; when
ever he trod on it in his mental excursions he
"Who else but Janet?" he demanded. But by
degrees he became first doubtful, then daring. He
had Birdsall fetch the telegraph girl back to San
Francisco. A ten minutes interview assured him
that it was his brother s wife who had called for
THE PUZZLE FALLS INTO PLACE 325
Mr. Makers messages, armed with Mr. Makers
Aunt Rebecca was not nearly so vehement as he
when he told her. She listened to his angry criti
cism with a lurking smile and a little shrug of
"Of course she has butted in, as you tersely
express it, in the language of this mannerless gen
eration; Millicent always butts in. How did she
get acquainted with this unpleasant, assassinating,
poor white trash? My dear child, she didn t
probably ; he made an acquaintance with her. He
pumped her and lied to her. We know he wanted
to find out Mr. Keatcham s abode; he may have
got his clue from her; she knew young Arnold
had been to see him. There s no telling. I only
know that in the interest of keeping a roof over
our heads and having our heads whole instead
of in pieces from explosives, I butted in a few
days ago when somebody wanted Mrs. Melville
Winter on the telephone. I answered it. The per
son asked if I was Mrs. Melville Winter; it was
a strange man s voice. I don t believe in Christian
Science or theosophy or psychics, but I do be
lieve I felt in my bones that here was an occasion
to be canny rather than conscientious. You know
326 THE LION S SHARE
I can talk like Millicent or anybody else; so I
intoned through the telephone in her silken
Anglican accents, Do you want Mrs. Melville
Winter or Aunt Rebecca, Madam Winter? I
hate to be called Madam Winter, and she knows
it, but Millicent is catty, you know, and she
always calls me Madam Winter behind my back.
The fellow fell into the trap at once recognized
the voice, I dare say, and announced that it was
Mr. Makers ; Mr. Atkins, who had left for Japan,
had not been able to pay his respects and say good-
by; but he had left with him an embroidered
Chinese kimono for Professor Winter, whom he
had admired so much; and if it wouldn t be too
much trouble for her to pay a visit to her friend
one of those women she had to luncheon, who s
at the St. Francis he would like to show her
several left by Mr. Atkins, for her to select one.
Then in the most casual way, he asked after Mr.
Keatcham s health. I believed he was improving ;
had had a very good night. I fancy it didn t
please him, but he made a good pretense. Then
he went off into remarks about its being such a
pity Mr. Atkins had left Mr. Keatcham; but
he was so conscientious, a Southern gentleman I
knew; yet he really thought a great deal still of
THE PUZZLE FALLS INTO PLACE 327
Mr. Keatcham, who had many fine qualities ; only
on account of the unfortunate differences At
kins was so proud and sensitive; he was anxious
to hear, but not for the world would he have
any one know that he had inquired; so would I
be very careful not to let any one know he had
asked. Of course I would be; I promised effu
sively; and said I quite understood. I think I
"They are keeping tab on us through Milli
cent," fumed the colonel. "I dare say she gave
it away that Arnold was visiting Keatcham at
the hotel; and it wouldn t take Atkins long to
piece out a good deal more, especially if his spy
overheard Tracy s phone. Well, I shall warn
Millicent with a fog-horn !"
The way he warned Millicent has been related.
But from Millicent he deflected to another sub
ject the impulse of confession being strong upon
him. He freed his mind about the stains on Gary
Mercer s cuffs ; and, when at last he sought Milli
cent he was in his soul praising his aunt for a
wise old woman. After justice was disarmed by
his miscomprehension of Millicent s words, he
took out his cigarette case and began pacing the
garden walks, smoking and humming a little
328 THE LION S SHARE
Spanish love song, far older than the statehood of
La noche estd serena, tranquilo el aquilon;
Tu duke ccntinella te guarda el corazon.
Y en al as de los cefiros, que vagan por doquicr,
Volando van mis suplicas, a ti, bella mujer!
Volando van mis suplicas, d ti, bella mujer!
De un corazon que te ama, recibe el tierno amor;
No aumentes mas la llama, piedad, d un trobador.
Y si te mueve d lastima eterno padecer,
Como te amo, amarna, bellissima mujer!
Como te amo, amama, bellissima mujer I*
*So still and calm the night is,
The very winds asleep,
My heart s so tender sentinel
His watch and ward doth keep.
And on the wings of zephyrs soft
That wander how they will,
To thee, O woman fair, to thee
My prayers go fluttering still.
Oh, take the heart s love to thy heart
Of one that doth adore !
Have pity, add not to the flame
That bums thy troubadour !
And if compassion stirs thy breast
For my eternal woe,
Oh, as I love thee, loveliest
Of women, love me so !
THE PUZZLE FALLS INTO PLACE 329
The words belonged to the air which he had
whistled a weary week ago. Young Tracy came
along, and caught up the air, although he was
innocent of Spanish; he had his mandolin on his
arm; he proffered it to the colonel.
"Miss Janet has been singing coon songs to his
nibs, who is really getting almost human," he
observed affably; "well, a little patience and in
terest will reveal new possibilities of the Fire-
less Stove ! In man or metal. Shall we get under
his nibs window and give him the Bedouin Love
Song and / Picked Me a Lemon in the Garden of
Love and the Sextette from Lucia and other
choice selections ? He seemed to be sitting up and
taking notice; let s lift him above the sordid
thoughts of Wall Street and his plans for busting
The soldier gave this persiflage no answer ; his
own thoughts were far from gay. He stood drink
ing in the beauty of the April night. The air was
wonderfully hushed and clear; and the play of
the moonlight on the great heliotrope bushes and
the rose-trees, which dangled their clusters of
yellow and white over the stone parapets of the
balconies, tinted the leafage and flickered deli
cately over the tracery of shadow on the gray
330 THE LION S SHARE
walls. Not a cloud flecked the vast aerial land
scape only stars beyond stars, through un
fathomable depths of dim violet, and beneath the
stars a pale moon swimming low in the heavens ;
one could see it between the spandrels of the
arches spanning the colonnade.
"Looks like a prize night-scene on the stage,
doesn t it?" said Tracy. "Jolly good shadows
and aren t these walls bulging out at the bottom
bully? I used to know the right name for such
architectural stunts when I was taking Fine Arts
Four dreadful to neglect your educational ad
vantages and then forget all the little you didn t
neglect, ain t it ? I say, get on to those balconies
that isn t the right word for the mission style,
I guess; but never mind; aren t they stunning?
Do you see the ladies up there? Is that Archie
sniggering? What do you think of the haunted
house, now, Colonel?"
Tracy s gay eyes sought the other s gaze to find
it turn somber. Winter couldn t have told why;
but a sudden realization of the hideous peril
dogging the warm, lighted, tenanted house, sub
merged him and suffocated him like a foul gas.
Let their guards be vigilant as fear, let their
wonderful new search-light flood rock and slope
THE PUZZLE FALLS INTO PLACE 331
and dusky chaparral bush; and peer as it might
through the forest aisles beyond; yet yet who
But he forced an equal smile in a second for
the college boy; and chatted easily enough as
they climbed up the stepped arches to the balcony
and the little group looking seaward.
Aunt Rebecca in black lace and jewels was
tilting with the world in general and Millicent
Winter in particular; she displayed her most
cynical mood. She had demolished democracy;
had planted herself firmly on the basic doctrine
that the virtues cultivated by slavery far outnum
ber its inseparable vices; and that most people,
if not all, need a master; had been picturesquely
and inaccurately eloquent on the subject of dyna
mite (which she pronounced the logical fourth
dimension of liberty, fraternity and equality) ; had
put the yellow rich where they belonged ; and the
red anarchists mainly under the sod ; and she had
abolished the Fourth of July to the last sputter
of fire-cracker; thence by easy transitions she
had extolled American art (which American pa
trons were too ignorant to appreciate), deplored
American music ("The trouble isn t that it is
canned" says she, "but that it was spoiled before
332 THE LION S SHARE
they canned it!") and was now driving a chariot
of fire through American literature; as for the
Academics, they never said what they thought,
but only what they thought they ought to think ;
and they always mistook anemia for refinement,
as another school mistook yelling and perspiring
Just as Winter modestly entered the arena, no
less a personage than Henry James was under the
wheels. Janet Smith had modestly confessed to
believing him a consummate artist ; and Millicent
in an orotund voice declared that he went deep,
deep down into the mysteries of life.
"I don t deny it ; he ought to get down deep,"
returned Aunt Rebecca in her gentlest, softest
utterance ; "he s always boring."
Mrs. Melville s suppressed agitation made her
"Do you really think that James is not a great
artist?" she breathed.
"I think he is not worth while."
"Wow !" cried Tracy. "Oh, I say"
"Aunt Rebecca ; you can not mean " this was
Mrs. Melville, choking with horror.
"His style," repeated the unmoved iconoclast,
"his style has the remains of great beauty ; all his
THE PUZZLE FALLS INTO PLACE 333
separate phrases, if you wish, are gems ; and he is
a literary lapidary ; but his sentences are so subtle,
so complex, so intricately compounded, and so
discursive that I get a pain in the back of my neck
before I find out what he may mean ; and then
I don t agree with him ! Now is it worth while to
put in so much hard reading only to be irritated ?"
"I beg pardon/ Winter interposed, with mas
culine pusillanimity evading taking sides in the
question at issue, "I thought we were going to
have some music; why don t you boys give us
some college songs ? Here is a mandolin."
Aunt Rebecca s still luminous eyes went from
the speaker to Janet Smith in the corner. She
said something about hearing the music better
from the other side of the balcony. Now (as Mrs.
Millicent very truly explained) there was not a
ha pennyworth s difference in favor of one side
over the other; but she followed in the wake of
her imperious aunt.
The colonel drew nearer to Janet Smith; in
order to sink his voice below disturbing the music-
lovers he found it necessary to sit on a pile of
cushions at her feet.
"Did you know Mercer will be back to-night?"
he began, a long way from his ultimate object.
334 THE LION S SHARE
He noticed that leaning back in the shadow her
ready smile had dropped from her face, which
looked tired. "I want to tell you a little story
about Mercer/ he continued; "may I? It won t
He was aware, and it gave him a twinge of
pain to see it, that she sat up a little straighter,
like one on guard ; and oh, how tired her face was
and how sweet ! He told her of all his suspicions
of her brother-in-law ; of the blood-stains and the
changing of clothes ; she did not interrupt him by
a question, hardly by a motion, until he told of the
conversation with Keatcham and the note signed
"The Black Hand." At this her eyes lighted; she
exclaimed impetuously : "Gary Mercer never did
send that letter!" She drew a deep intake of
breath. "I don t believe he touched Mr. Keatch
"Neither do I," said the colonel, "but wait!"
He went on to the theater girl s report of the re
ceiver of the telegrams. Her hands, which clasped
her knee, fell apart; her lips parted and closed
"Did I think it was you ?" said he. "Why, yes,
I confess I did fear it might be and that you might
be trying to shield Atkins."
THE PUZZLE FALLS INTO PLACE 335
"I !" she exclaimed hotly ; "that detestable vil
"Isn t he?" cried the colonel. "But well, I
couldn t tell how he might strike a lady," he ended
"I reckon he would strike a lady if she were
silly enough to marry him and he got tired of her.
He is the kind of man who will persecute a girl
to marry him, follow her around and importune
her and flatter her and then, if he should prevail,
never forgive her for the bother she has given
him. Oh, I never did like him ; I m afraid of him
"Not you?" the colonel s voice was cheerful,
as if he had not shivered over his own foreboding
vision. "I ve seen you in action already, you
"Not fighting bombs. I hate bombs. There are
so many pieces to hit you. You can t run away."
"Well, you ll find them not so bad ; besides, you
did fight one this very morning, and you were
cool as peppermint!"
"That was quite different ; I had time to think,
and the danger was more to me than to any one
else ; but to think of Mrs. Winter and Archie and
y all of you; that scares me."
336 THE LION S SHARE
"Now, don t let it get on your nerves/ he
soothed of course it is necessary to take a girl s
hand to soothe her when she is frightened. But
Miss Smith calmly released her hand, only red
dening a little ; and she laughed. "Where where
were we at ?" she asked in her unconscious South
"Somewhere around Atkins, I think," said the
colonel ; he laughed in his turn, he found it easy
to laugh, now that he knew how she felt toward
Atkins. "You see, after I talked with Keatcham
I couldn t make anything but Atkins out of the
whole business. But there were those stained cuffs
and his changing his clothes "
"Yes," said she.
"How explain? There was only one explana
tion: that was, that perhaps Mercer had discov
ered Keatcham before we did, unconsciously
spotted his cuffs, been alarmed by our approach
and hidden, lest it should be the murderers re
turning. He might have wanted a chance to draw
his revolver. Say he did that way, he might fool
ishly pretend to enter for the first time. If he
made that mistake and then discovered the con
dition of his cuffs and the spots on his knee, what
would be his natural first impulse? Why, to
THE PUZZLE FALLS INTO PLACE 337
change them, trusting that they Hadn t been no
ticed. Maybe, then, he would wash them out "
"No," murmured Miss Smith meekly, with
a little twinkle of her eye; "/ did that; he hid
them. How ridiculous of me to get in such a
fright! But you know how Gary hated Mr.
Keatcham; and you no, you don t know the
lengths that such a temperament as his will go.
I did another silly thing: I found a dagger, one
of those Moorish stilettoes that hang in the li
brary; it was lying in the doorway. When no
one was looking I hid it and carried it off. I
stuck it in one of the flower beds; I stuck it in
the ferns; I have stuck that wretched thing all
over this yard. I didn t dare carry it back and
put it in the empty place with the others because
some one might have noticed the place. And I
didn t dare say anything to Gary; I was right
"So was I," said the colonel, "thinking you
were trying to protect the murderer. But do you
know what I had sense to do?"
"Go to Mrs. Winter? Oh, I wanted to!"
"Exactly; and do you know what that dead
game sport said to me? She said she found those
washed and ironed cuffs and the trousers neatly
33$ THE LION S SHARE
cleaneH with milka what s milka? an d the
milka cleaned the spots so much cleaner than the
rest that she had her own suspicions started. But
says she, Npt being a plumb idiot, I went straight
to Gary and he told me the whole story J:
"Which was like your story?"
"Very near. And you see it would be like At
kins to leave incriminating testimony round loose.
That is, incriminating testimony against Mercer
and Tracy. The dagger, Tracy remembers, was
not in the library; it was in the patio. Right to
hand. Atkins must have got in and found Mr.
Keatcham on the floor in a faint. Whether he
meant to make a bargain with him or to kill him,
perhaps we shall never know; but when he saw
him helpless before him he believed his chance
was come to kill him and get the cipher key, re
moving his enemy and making his fortune at a
blow, as the French say. Voila tout!"
"Do you think" her voice sank lower; she
glanced over her shoulder "do you reckon At
kins had anything to do with that train robbery ?
Was it a mere pretext to give a chance to murder
Mr. Keatcham, fixing the blame on ordinary ban
"By Jove! it might be."
THE PUZZLE FALLS INTO PLACE 339
"I don t suppose we shall ever know. But,
Colonel Winter, do you mind explaining to me
just what Brother Cary s scheme with Mr.
Keatcham was? Mrs. Winter told me you
"She told me" mused the colonel, "that you
didn t know anything about this big game which
has netted them millions. They ve closed out their
deals and have the cash. No paper profits for
Auntie! She said that she would not risk your
being mixed up in it; so kept you absolutely in
the dark. I m there, too. Didn t you know Mercer
had kidnapped Archie ?"
"No ; I didn t know he was with Mr. Keatcham
at the hotel. It would have saved me a heap of
suffering; but she didn t dare let me know for
fear, if anything should happen, I would be mixed
up in it. It was out of kindness, Colonel Winter,
truly it was. Afterward when she saw that I was
worried she gave me hints that I need not worry,
Archie was quite safe."
"And the note-paper?"
"I suppose she gave it to them," answered Miss
"And the voice I heard in the telephone?" He
explained how firmly she had halted the conver-
340 THE LION S SHARE
sation the time Archie would have reassured him.
"You weren t there, of course ?" said he.
"No, I was down-stairs in the ladies entrance
of the court in the hotel; I had come in a little
while before, having carried an advertisement to
the paper; I wonder why she maybe it was to
communicate with them without risking a letter."
"But how did your voice get into my phone ?"
She looked puzzled only a second, then laughed
as he had not heard her laugh in San Francisco a
natural, musical, merry peal, a girlish laugh that
made his heart bound.
"Why, of course," said she, "it is so easy!
There was a reporter who insisted on interview
ing Mrs. Winter about her jewelry; and I was
shooing him away. Somehow the wires must have
"Do you remember this is very, very pretty,
don t you think? Just like a puzzle falling into
place. Do you remember coming here on the day
Archie was returned ?"
"I surely do ; my head was swimming, for Mrs.
Winter sent me and I began then to suspect. She
told me Brother Gary was in danger ; of course I
wanted to do anything to help him ; and I carried
THE PUZZLE FALLS INTO PLACE 341
a note to him. I didn t go in, merely gave the note
and saw him."
"I saw you."
"You? How? *
"Birdsall and I; we were here, in the patio;
we, my dear Miss Janet, were the Danger! You
had on a brown checked silk dress and you were
holding a wire clipper in your hand."
"Yes, sir. I saw it on the grass and picked it
She laughed a little ; but directly her cheeks red
dened. "What must you have thought of me!"
she murmured under her breath; and bit the lip
that would have quivered.
"I should like to tell you dear," he answered,
"if you will O Lord, forgive young men for liv
ing! If they are not all coming back to ask me to
sing ! But, Janet, dear, let me say it in Spanish
yes, yes if you really won t be bored; throw me
Aunt Rebecca leaned back in the arm-chair,
faintly smiling, while the old, old words that
thousands of lovers have thrilled with pain and
hopes and dreams beyond their own power of
speech and offered to their sweethearts, rose,
winged by the eternal longing :
342 THE LION S SHARE
"Y si te mueve a lastima mi cterno pddecer,
Como te amOj amame, bellissima mujcr!
Como te amo f amame f bellissima mujer!
"And what does it mean in English, Bertie?"
said Mrs. Melville. "Can t you translate it ?"
"Shall I ?" said the colonel, his voice was care
less enough, but not so the eyes which looked up
at Janet Smith.
"Not to-night, please," said she. "I I think
Mr. Keatcham is expecting me to read to him a
little. Good night. Thank you, Colonel Winter."
She was on her feet as she spoke ; and Winter
did not try to detain her ; he had held her hand ;
and he had felt its shy pressure and caught a
fleeting, frightened, very beautiful glance. His
dark face paled with the intensity of his emotion.
Janet moved away, quietly and lightly, with
no break in her composure; but as she passed Mrs.
Winter she bent and kissed her. And when Ar
chie would have run after her a delicate jeweled
hand was laid on his arm. "Not to-night, laddie ;
I want you to help me down the steps."
With her hand on the boy s shoulder she came
up to Rupert, and inclined her handsome head in
Janet s direction. "I think, by rights, that kiss
belonged to you, mon enfant" said she.
Winter would have said that he was too old a
man to stay awake all night, when he had a nor
mal temperature; yet he saw the stars come out
and the stars fade on that fateful April night. He
entered his room at the hour when midnight
brushes the pale skirts of dawn and misguided
cocks are vociferating their existence to an indif
ferent world. Before he came there had been a
long council with Mercer and his aunt. Mercer,
who had been successful in his mission, had barely
seen his chief for a moment before a gentle but
imperious nurse ordered him away. Winter
caught a queer, abrupt laugh from the financier.
The latter beckoned to him. "See you are as obe
dient as I am when your time comes/ he
chuckled; and he chuckled again when both the
soldier and Miss Smith blushed over his awkward
jocoseness. Yet, the next moment he extended
his hand with his formal, other-generation cour-
344 THE LION S SHARE
tesy and took Miss Janet s shapely, firm fingers
in his own lean and nervous grasp. "Allow me to
offer you both my sincere congratulations," be
gan he, and halted, his eyes, which seemed so
incurious but were so keen, traveling from the
woman s confusion to the man s. "I beg your
pardon; I understood Archie who was here,
gave me to understand and I heard you sing
ing; you will hardly believe it, but years ago /
sang that to my wife."
"So far as I am concerned, it is settled," said
the colonel steadily.
"We are all," Keatcham continued, no longer
with any trace of embarrassment, as he touched
the hand which he still held with his own other
hand, "we are all, as you know, my dear young
lady, in considerable personal peril ; I regret that
it should be on my account ; but it really is not my
fault ; it is because I will not relax my pursuit of
a great scoundrel who is dangerous to all decent
people. But being in such danger, I think you will
be glad afterward if you are generously frank,
and give up something of the sex s prerogative
to keep a lover on the anxious seat. Excuse me if
if I presume on my age and my privileges as a
CASA FUERTE 345
Janet lifted her sweet eyes and sent one glance
as fleeting and light as the flash of a bird s wing.
"I I reckon it is settled/ murmured she; but
immediately she was the nurse again. "Mr.
Keatcham, you are staying awake much too late.
Here is Colvin, who will see to anything you
want. Good night."
It was then that Mr. Keatcham had taken the
colonel s breath away by kissing Janet s hand;
after which he shook hands with the colonel with
a strange new cordiality, and watched them both
go away together with a look on his gaunt face
unlike any known to Colvin.
Only three minutes in the hall, with the moon
through the arched window; and his arm about
her and the fragrance of her loosened hair against
his cheek and her voice stirring his heartstrings
with an exquisite pang. Only time for the im
memorial questions of Igve : "Are you sure, dear,
it is really If" and "When did you first" To
this last she had answered with her half -humor
ous, adorable little lilt of a laugh. "Oh, I reckon
it was a little all along, ever since I read
about your saving that poor little Filipino boy,
like Archie; the one who was your servant in
Manila, and going hungry for him on the march
346 THE LION S SHARE
and jumping into the rapids to save him when
you were lame, too "
Here the colonel burst in with a groan : "Oh,
that monstrous newspaper liar! The dear little
Filipino boy* was a married man; and I didn t
go hungry for him, and I didn t jump into the
river to save him. It wasn t more than wading
dej)th I only swore at him for an idiot and told
him to walk out when he tipped over his boat and
was floundering about. And he did! He was the
limit as a liar "
To his relief, the most sensible as well as the
most lovable woman in the world had burst into
a delicious fit of laughter; and returned: "Oh,
well, you would have jumped in and saved him
if the water had been deep; it wasn t your fault
it was shallow!" And just at this point Mercer
and Aunt Rebecca must needs come with a most
unusual premonitory racket, and Janet had fled.
Afterward had come the council. All the coil
had been unraveled. Birdsall appeared in person,
as sleek, smiling and complacent over his blunders
as ever. One of his first sentences was a declara
tion of trust in Miss Smith.
"I certainly went off at half-cock there," said
he amiably; "and just because she was so awful
CASA FUERTE 347
nice I felt obliged to suspect her ; but I ve got the
real dog that killed the sheep this time; it s sure
the real Red Wull !" It appeared that he had, of
a verity, been usefully busy. He had secured the
mechanic who had given Atkins a plan of the
secret passages of Casa Fuerte. He had found
the policeman who had arrested Tracy (he swore
because he was going too fast) and the magistrate
who had fined him ; and not only that, he had cap
tured the policeman, a genuine officer, not a crim
inal in disguise, who had been Atkins instrument
in kidnapping Archie. This man, whom Birdsall
knew how to terrify completely, had confessed
that it was purely by chance that Atkins had seen
the boy, left outside in the motor car. Atkins, so
he said, had pretended that the boy was a tool of
some enemies of Keatcham s, whose secretary he
was, trading, not for the only time, on his past
position. In reality, Birdsall had come to believe
Atkins knew that Keatcham was employing Mer
cer in his place.
"Why, he knew the old gentleman was just off
quietly with Mr. Mercer and some friends ; knew
they were all friendly, just as well as you or me,"
declared Birdsall. He had seen Archie on the
train, for, as the colonel remembered, he had been
348 THE LION S SHARE
in the Winters car on the night of the robbery.
Somehow, also, Atkins had found out about
Archie s disappearance from the hotel.
"I can t absolutely put my finger on his in
formation," said Birdsall; "but I suspect Mrs.
Melville Winter ; I know she was talking to him,
for one of my men saw her. The lady meant no
harm, but she s one of the kind that is always
slamming the detectives and being took in by the
He argued that Mrs. Winter and Miss Smith
knew where the boy was; for some reason they
had let him go and were pretending not to know
where he was. "Ain t that so? the detective ap
pealed to Aunt Rebecca, who merely smiled, say
ing : "You re a wonder, Mr. Birdsall !" According
to Birdsall s theory, Atkins was puzzled by Ar
chie s part in the affair. But he believed could he
find the boy s present hosts he would find Edwin
Keatcham. It would not be the first time Keatch-
am had hidden himself, the better to spin his web
for the trapping of his rivals. That Mercer was
with his employer the ex-secretary had no manner
of doubt, any more than he doubted that Mercer s
scheme had been to oust him and to build his own
fortunes on Atkins* r u i n .. Be knew both Tracy
CASA FUERTE 349
and young Arnold very well by sight. When he
couldn t frighten Archie into telling anything,
probably he went back to his first plan of shadow
ing the Winter party at the Palace. He must have
seen Tracy here. He penetrated his disguise.
("He s as sharp as the devil, I tell you, Colonel.")
He either followed him himself or had him fol
lowed ; and he heard about the telephone. ("Some
body harking in the next room, most likely.")
Knowing Tracy s intimacy with Arnold it was not
hard for so clever and subtle a mind as Atkins to
jump to the conclusion and test it in the nearest
telephone book. ("At least that is how / figure it
out, Colonel.") Birdsall had traced the clever me
chanic who was interrogated by the Eastern gen
tleman about to build ; this man had given the lav
ish and inquisitive Easterner a plan of the secret
passages to use in his own future residence.
Whether Atkins went alone or in company to the
Casa Fuerte the detective could only surmise. He
couldn t tell whether his object would be mere
blackmail, or robbery of the cipher, or assassina
tion. Perhaps he found the insensible man in the
patio and was tempted by the grisly opportunity;
victim and weapon both absolutely to his hand;
for it was established that the dagger had been
350 THE LION S SHARE
shown Tracy by Mercer as a curio, and left on
the stone bench.
Perhaps he had not found the dagger, but had
his own means to make an end of his enemy and
his own terror. Birdsall believed that he had ac
complices, or at least one accomplice, with him.
He conceived that they had lain in ambush watch
ing until they saw Kito go away. Then an entry
had been made. "Most^like," Birdsall concluded,
"he jest flung that dagger away for you folks to
find and suspect the domestics, say Kitp, cause
he was away." But this was not all that Birdsall
had to report. He had traced Atkins to the haunts
of certain unsavory Italians; he had struck the
trail, in fine. To be sure, it ran underground and
was lost in the brick-walled and slimy-timbered
cellars of Chinatown which harbored every sin
and crime known to civilization or to savagery.
What matter? By grace of his aunt s powerful
friend they could track the wolves even through
those noisome burrows.
"Yes," sighed the colonel, stretching out his
arms, with a resonant breath of relief, "we re out
of the maze; all we have to do now is to keep
from being killed. Which isn t such a plain propo
sition in Frisco as in Massachusetts! But I
CASA FUERTE 351
reckon we can tackle it! And then then, my
darling, I shall dare be happy I"
He found himself leaning on his window-sill
and staring like a boy on the landscape, lost in the
lovely hallucinations of moonlight. It was no
scene that he knew, it was a vision of old Spain ;
and by and by from yonder turret the princess,
with violets in her loosened hair and her soft
cheek like satin and snow, would lean and look.
Y si te mueve d lastima mi eterno padecer t
Como te amOj anuwne, bellissima mujer!
"Ah, no, little girl," he muttered with a shake
of the head, "I like it better to have you a plain,
American gentlewoman, as Aunt Becky would
say, who could send me to battle with a nice little
quivery smile sweetheart! Oh, I m not good
enough for you, my dear, my dear." He felt an
immense humility as he contrasted his own lot
with the loneliness of Keatcham and Mercer and
the multitude of solitaries in the world, who had
lost, or sadder still, had never possessed, the di
vine dream that is the only reality of the soul. As
such thoughts moved his heart, suddenly in the
full tide of hope and thankfulness, it stood still,
chilled, as if by the glimpse of an iceberg in sum-
352 THE LION S SHARE
mer seas. Yet how absurd; it was only that he
had recalled his stoical aunt s most unexpected
touch of superstition. Quite in jest he had asked
her if she felt any presentiments or queer things
in her bones to-night. He expected to be answered
that Janet had driven every other anxiety out of
her mind; and how was she to break it to Milli-
cent? or with some such caustic repartee. In
stead, she had replied testily : "Yes, I do, Bertie.
I feel horrid ! I feel as if something out of the
common awful were going to happen. It isn t ex
actly Atkins, either. Do you reckon it could be
the / Sucy When, that bamboo-shoots mess we
had for dinner?"
Although they spent a good twenty minutes
after that, joking over superstitions, and he had
repeated to her some of Tracy s and Arnold s most
ingenious "spooky stunts," to make the neighbor
hood keep its distance from Casa Fuerte, and they
had laughed freely, she as heartily as he, never
theless he divined that her smile was a pretense.
Suddenly, an unruly tremor shook his own firm
spirits. Looking out on the stepped and lanterned
arches of the wing, he was conscious of the same
tragic endowment of the darkened pile, which had
oppressed him that night, weeks before, when he
CASA FUERTE 353
had stood outside on the crest of the hill ; and
the would-be murderers might have been skulking
in the shadows of the pepper-trees. He tried
vainly to shake off this distempered mood. Al
though he might succeed for a moment in a lover s
absorption, it would come again, insidiously, seep
ing through his happiness like a fume. After futile
attempts to sleep he rose, and still at the bidding
of his uncanny and tormenting impulse he took his
bath and dressed himself for the day. By this
time the ashen tints of dawn were in his chamber
and on the fields outside. He stood looking at
the unloveliest aspect of nature, a landscape on the
sunless side, before the east is red. The air felt
lifeless; there were no depths in the pale sky; the
azure was a flat tint, opaque and thin, like a poor
water-color. While he gazed the motionless trees,
live-oaks and olives and palms, were shaken as by
a mighty wind; the pepper plumes tossed and
streamed and tangled like a banner ; the great elms
along the avenue bent over in a breaking strain.
Yet the silken cord of the Holland window-shade
did not so much as swing. There was not a wing s
breath of air. But gradually the earth and cloud
vibrated with a strange grinding noise which has
been described a hundred times, but never ade-
354 THE LION S SHARE
quately ; a sickening crepitation, as of the rocks in
the hills scraping and splintering. Before the
mind could question the sound, there succeeded
an anarchy of uproar. In it was jumbled the crash
of trees and buildings, the splintering crackle of
glass, the boom of huge chimneys falling and of
vast explosions, the hiss of steam, the hurling of
timbers and bricks and masses of stone or sand,
and the awful rush of frantic water escaping from
engine or main.
Quake, sure s you re born !" said the colonel
Now that his invisible peril was real, was upon
him, his spirits leaped up to meet it. He looked
coolly about him, noting in his single glance that
the house was standing absolutely stanch, neither
reeling nor shivering; and that the chimney just
opposite his eye had not misplaced a brick. In
the same instant he caught up his revolver and
ran at his best pace from the room. The hall was
firm under his hurrying feet. As he passed the
great arched opening on the western balcony he
saw an awful sight. Diagonally across from Casa
Fuerte was the great house of the California mag
nate who did not worry his contractor with de
mands for Colonial honesty of workmanship as
CASA FUERTE 355
well as Colonial architecture. The stately man
sion with its beautiful piazzas and delicate har
mony of pillar and pediment, shone white and
placid on the eye for a second; then rocked in
ghastly wise and collapsed like a house of cards.
Simultaneously a torchlike flame streamed into
the air. A woeful din of human anguish pierced
the inanimate tumult of wreck and crash.
"Bully for Casa Fuerte !" cried the soldier, who
now was making a frenzied speed to the other
side of the house. He cast a single glance toward
the door which he knew belonged to Janet s room ;
and he thought of the boy, but he ran first to his
old aunt. He didn t need to go the whole way. She
came out of her door, Janet and Archie at her
side. They were all perfectly calm, although in
very light and semi-oriental attire. Archie plainly
had just plunged out of bed. His eyes were danc
ing with excitement.
"This house is a dandy, ain t it, Uncle Bertie?"
he exclaimed. "Mr. Arnold told me all about the
way his father built it ; he said it wouldn t bat its
eye for an earthquake. It didn t either; but that
house opposite is just kindling-wood! Say! here s
Cousin Cary; and look, Uncle Bertie, Mr.
Keatcham has got up and he s all dressed. Hullo.
35^ THE LION S SHARE
Cplvin! Don t be scared. It s only a quake!"
Colvin grinned a sickly grin and stammered,
"Yes, sir, quite so, sir." Not an earthquake could
shake Colvin out of his manners.
"Are you able to do this, Mr. Keatcham?"
young Arnold called breathlessly, plunging into
the patio to which they had all instinctively gravi
tated. Keatcham laughed a short, grunting laugh.
"Don t you understand, this is no little every-day
quake ? Look out ! Is there a way you can look
and not see a spout of flame? I ve got to go
down-town. Are the machines all right?"
"We must find Randall; the poor soul has a
mortal terror of quakes " Aunt Rebecca s well-
bred accents were unruffled; she appeared a
thought stimulated, nothing more; danger always
acted as tonic on Winter nerves "Archie, you
go put your clothes on this minute, honey. And
I suppose we ought to look up Millicent."
The colonel, however, had barely set foot on
the threshold when Mrs. Melville appeared, pro
pelling Randall, whom she had rescued from the
maid s closet where she was cowering behind
her neat frocks, momently expecting death,
but decently ready for it in gown and shoes. Mrs.
Melville herself, in the disorder of the shock, had
CASA FUERTE 357
merely added her best Paris hat and a skeleton
bustle to her dainty nightgear. She had not for
gotten her kimono ; she had only forgotten to don
it; and it draggled over her free arm. But her
dignity was intact. The instant she beheld her
kindred she demanded of them, as if they were
responsible, whether this was a sample of the
Calif ornian climate. Keatcham blushed and fled
with Colvin and the giggling Arnold and Archie,
who was too polite to giggle.
Mrs. Winter put on her eye-glasses. "Milli-
cent," said she in the gentlest of tones, "your
bustle is on crooked."
One wild glance at the merciless mirror in the
carved pier-glass did Mrs. Melville give, and,
then, without a word, she fled.
"Randall," said Mrs. Winter, "you look very
nice; come and help me dress. There will most
likely be some more shocks."
Randall, trembling in every limb, but instinc
tively assuming a composed mien, followed the
undaunted old lady.
The colonel was going in another direction,
having heard a telephone bell. He was most anx
ious to put himself into communication with Bird-
sail, because not even during the earthquake had
THE LION S SHARE
he forgotten an uglier peril; and it had occurred
to him that Atkins was of a temper not to be
frightened by the convulsions of order ; but rather
to make his account of it. Nor did the message
through the telephone tend to reassure him.
The man at the other end of the telephone was
Birdsall. No telling how long the telephone serv
ice would keep up, he reported ; wires were down
around the corner; worse, the water mains were
spouting; and from where he stood since he felt
the first shock he had counted thirty-six fires.
Ten of them were down in the quarter where some
of his men had homes ; and a field-glass had shown
that the houses were all tossed about there; he
couldn t keep his men steady ; it seemed inhuman
to ask them to stay when their wives and chil
dren might be dying; of course it was his damn
luck to have all married men from down there.
"Well, I reckon you will have to let them go;
but watch out," begged the colonel, "for you
know the men we are after will take advantage
of general disorder to get in their dirty work.
Now is the most dangerous time/
Birdsall knew it; he had had intimations that
some men were trying to sneak up the hill; they
had been turned back. They pretended to be some
CASA FUERTE 359
wandering railway workers; but Birdsall dis
trusted them. He No use to ring! Vain to tap
the carriage of the receiver! The telephone was
dead, jarred out of existence somewhere beyond
By this time the cold sunlight of the woefulest
day that San Francisco had ever seen was spread
over the earth. The city was spotted with blood-
red spouts of flames. The ruin of the earthquake
had hardly been visible from their distance, al
though it was ugly enough and of real impor
tance; but, even in the brief space which they in
Casa Fuerte had waited before they should set
forth, fires had enkindled in all directions, most
dreadful to see; nor did there seem to be any
check upon them.
Tracy had waked the domestic staff, and, dazed
but stoical, they were getting breakfast. But
Keatcham could not wait; he was in a cold fury
of haste to get to the town.
He had consented to wait for his breakfast un
der Miss Smith s representation that it would be
ready at once and her assurance that he couldn t
work through the day without it.
"Happily, Archie," explained Tracy, whose un
quenchable college levity no earthquake could af-
360 THE LION S SHARE
feet, "happily my domestic jewel has been stocked
up with rice and oatmeal, two of the most nu
tritious of foods ; and Miss Janet is making coffee
on her traveling coffee pot for the Boss. That s
alcohol, and independent of gas-mains. Lucky;
for the gas-range is out of action, and we have to
try charcoal. Notice one interesting thing, Ar
chie? Old Keatcham, whom we were fighting
tooth and nail three weeks ago, is now bossing
us as ruthlessly as a foot-ball coach ; and Cousin
Gary is taking his slack talk as meek as a fresh
man. Great old boy, Keatcham ! And oh, I say !
has any one gone to the rescue of the Rogerses?
I saw Kito speeding over that way from the gar
age and Haley hiking after him. I hope the nine
small yellow domestics are not burned at the stake
with Rogers; the bally fire-trap is blazing like a
As it happened, the colonel had despatched a
small party to their neighbor s aid. Haley and
Kito were not among them; they were to guard
the garage which was too vital a point in their
household economy to leave unprotected. Never
theless, Haley and Kito did both run away, leav
ing a Mexican helper to watch; and when they
returned they were breathless and Haley s face
CASA FUERTE 361
was covered with blood. He was carefully carry
ing something covered with a carriage-robe in his
"I ve the honor to report, sir," Haley mumbled,
stiff and straight in his military posture, a very
grimy and blood-stained hand at salute, "I ve the
honor to report, sor, that Private Kito and me
discovered two sushpicious characters making up
the hillside by the sekrut road. We purshooed
thim, sor, and whin they wu dn t halt we fired on
thim, sor, ixploding this here bum which wint
off whin the hindmost man tumbled."
Kito smilingly flung aside the carriage-robe,
disclosing the still smoking shell of an ingenious
round bomb, very similar to those used in fire
The colonel examined it closely; it was an
ugly bit of dynamite craft.
"Any casualties, Sergeant?" the colonel asked
"Yes, sor. The man wid the bum was kilt be
the ixplosion; the other man was hit by Private
Kito and wounded in the shoulder but escaped. I
mesilf have a confusion on me right arrum, me
ankle is sprained; and ivery tooth in me head is
inmepockit! That s all."
362 THE LION S SHARE
"Report to Miss Smith at the hospital, Ser
geant. Any further report?"
"I wu d like to riccommind Private Kito for
honorable minshun for gallanthry."
"I shall certainly remember him ; and you also,
Sergeant, in any report that I may make. Look
after the garage, Kito."
Kito bowed and retired, beaming, while Haley
hobbled into the house. The consequences of the
attack made on the garage did not appear at once.
One was that young Arnold had already brought
the touring car into the patio in the absence of
Haley and Kito. Another was that he and Tracy
and Kito all repaired to the scene of the explosion
to examine the dead man s body. They returned
almost immediately, but for a few moments there
was no one of the house in the court. The colonel
went to Keatcham in a final effort to dissuade him
from going into the city until after he himself had
gone to the Presidio and returned with a guard.
He represented as forcibly as he could the danger
of Keatcham s appearance during a time of such
tumult and lawlessness.
"We are down to the primeval passions now,"
he pleaded. "Do you suppose if it had been Haley
instead of that dago out there who was killed that
CASA FUERTE 363
we could have punished the murderer? Not un
less we did it with our own hands. They are
maybe lying in wait at the first street-corner now.
If you will only wait "
Keatcham chopped off his sentence without
ceremony, not irritably, but with the brusquerie
of one whose time is too precious for dilatory
"Will the fire wait?" he demanded. "Will the
thieves and toughs and ruffians whom we have to
crush before they realize their strength, will they
wait ? This is my town, Winter, the only town I
care a rap for; and I propose to help save it. I
can. Danger? Of course there is danger; there
is danger in every battle ; but do you keep out of
battles where you belong because you may get
killed? This is my affair; if I get killed it is in
the way of business, and I can t help it ! No, Ar
nold, I won t have your father s son mixed up in
my fights ; you can t go."
"Somebody has to run the machine, sir," in
sinuated young Arnold with a coaxing smile;
"and I fancy I shouldn t be my father s son if I
didn t look after my guest not very long; he d
cut me out. Tracy is going, too, he s armed "
"You are not both going," said the colonel;
364 THE LION S SHARE
"somebody with a head on him must stay here to
guard the ladies."
He would have detailed both Tracy and Mer
cer ; but Mercer could really help Keatcham better
than any one in any business arrangements which
might need to be made. And Keatcham plainly
wished his company. Had not the situation been
so grimly serious Winter could have laughed at
the grotesque reversal of their conditions ; Tracy
and Arnold did laugh ; they were all taking their
orders from the man who had been their defeated
prisoner a little while back. Mercer alone kept
his melancholy poise; he had obtained the aim of
years ; he was not sure but his revenge was subtler
and completer than he had dared to hope. Being
a zealot he was possessed by his dreams. Suppose
he had converted this relentless and tremendous
power to his own way of faith ; what mightn t he
hope to accomplish? Meanwhile, so far as the
business in hand was concerned, he believed in
Keatcham and in Keatcham s methods of help ; he
bowed to the innate power of the man; and he
was as simply obedient and loyal as Kito would
have been to his feudal lord.
In a very brief time all the arrangements were
made ; the four men went into the patio to enter
CASA FUERTE 365
the touring-car. They walked up to the empty
machine. The colonel stepped into the front seat
of the machine. Something in the noise of the
engine which was panting and straining against
its control, some tiny sibilant undertone which any
other ear would have missed, warned his ; he bent
quickly. A dark object gyrated above the heads
of the other two just mounting the long step; it
landed with a prodigious splash in the fountain,,
flying into a multitude of sputtering atoms and
hurling a great column of water high up in air.
Unheeding its shrieking clamor, the soldier
sprang over the side of the car, darted through
the great arched doorway out upon the terrace
toward a clump of rubber-trees. He fired; again
In every catastrophe the spectators minds lose
some parts of the action. There are blanks to be
supplied by no one. Every one of the men and
women present on that fatal morning had a dif
ferent story. Colvin was packing; he could only
remember the deafening roar and the shouting;
and when he got down-stairs and saw he turned
deadly sick; his chief impression is the backs of
people and the way their hands would shake.
Janet Smith, inside, dressing Haley s wounds,
366 THE LION S SHARE
was first warned by the tumult and cries; she as
well as Archie and Haley who were with her
could see nothing until they got outside. All
Mrs. Melville saw was the glistening back of the
car and Mercer stepping into the car and instantly
lurching backward. The explosion seemed to her
simultaneous with Mercer s entering the car. But
Mrs. Rebecca Winter, who perhaps had the cool
est head of all, and who was standing on the dais
of the arcade exactly opposite the car, distinctly
saw Keatcham with an amazing exertion of vigor
for a man just risen from a sick-bed, and with a
kind of whirling motion, literally hurl Mercer out
of the car. She is sure of this because of one
homely little detail, sickening in its very home
liness. As he clutched Mercer Keatcham s soft
gray hat dropped off and the light burnished the
bald dome of his head. In the space of that glance
she heard a crackle and a roar and Kito screamed
in Japanese, running in from the carriage side.
She can not tell whether Tracy or Arnold reached
the mangled creature on the pavement first. Ar
nold only remembers how the carriage-robe
flapped in Tracy s shaking hands before he flung
it over the man. Tracy s fair skin was a streaky,
bluish white, and his under jaw kept moving up
CASA FUERTE 367
and down like that of a fish out of water, while
he gasped, never uttering a sound.
Young Arnold was trembling so that his hands
shook when he would have raised the wounded
man. Mercer alone was composed although
deathly pale. He had the presence of mind to
throw the harmless fragments of the bomb into
the fountain and to examine the interior of the
car lest there should be more of destruction hid
den therein. Then he approached the heap on the
flags; but Keatcham was able to motion him
away, saying in his old voice, not softened in the
least: "Don t you do that! I m all in. No use.
They got me. But it won t do them any good;
you boys know that will you witnessed ; it gives a
fifty thousand for the arrest and conviction or the
killing of Atkins ; his own cutthroats will betray
him for that. But where s Winter? You damn
careless fools didn t let him get hurt ?"
"Shure, sor, he didn t let himsilf git hurted,"
Haley blurted out; he had run in after Miss
Smith, brandy bottle in hand ; " tis the murdering
dagoes is gettin hurted off there behind the big
rubber-trees ; I kin see the dead legs of thim, this
minnit. Tis a grand cool shot the colonel is, sor."
"Bring him in, let them go; they were only
368 THE LION S SHARE
tools," panted Keatcham weakly; but the brandy
revived him; and his lips curled in a faint smile
as Janet Smith struck a match to heat the tea-
spoonful of water for her hypodermic. "Make it
good and strong, give me time to say something
to Mercer and Winter there he comes; good
runners those boys are !"
Tracy and Arnold, acting on a common un
spoken impulse, had dashed after Winter and
were pushing him forward between them. Keatch
am was nearly spent, but he rallied to say the
words in his mind. He kept death at bay by the
sheer force of his will. When Winter knelt down
beside him, with a poignant memory of another
time in the same place when he had knelt beside
a seemingly dying man, and gently touched the
unmarred right hand lying on the carriage-robe,
he could still form a smile with his stiff lips and
mutter: "Only thing about me isn t in tatters;
of course you touched it and didn t try to lift me
where I m all in pieces. You always understood.
Listen! You, too, Mercer. Winter knows the
things I m bound to have go through. I ve ex
plained them to him. You ll be my executors and
trustees? A hundred thousand a year; not too
big a salary for the work you can do it. It s a
He kept death at bay by the sheer force of his will. Page 368
CASA FUERTE 369
bigger job than the army one. Winter. Warne-
bold will look after the other end. He s narrow
but he is straight. I ve made it worth his while.
Some loose ends it can t be helped now. Maybe
you ll find out there are more difficulties in ad
ministering a big fortune than you fancied; and
that it isn t the easiest thing in the world helping
fools who can t . . . help themselves. There
are all those Tidewater idiots . . . made me
read about . . . you ll have to attend to them,
Mercer . . . old woman in the queer clothes
. . . chorus girl . . . those old ladies who
had one egg between them for breakfast ...
you ll see to them all ?"
"Yes," said Mercer, looking down on the
shrunken features with a look of pain and bewil
derment. "Yes, suh, I ll do my best."
"And we re even?"
"I reckon I am obliged to call it so, suh," re
turned Mercer with a long, gasping sigh, "but
my Lord ! you d better have let me go !"
"Very likely," said Keatcham dryly, "the city
needs me. Well, Winter, you must look after
that. I ve been thinking why a man throws his
life away as I did; he has to, unless he*s a pol
troon. He can t count whether he s more useful
370 THE LION S SHARE
than the one he saves ... he has simply got
to save him . . . you were a good deal right,
Winter, about not doing the evil thing to get the
good. No, it s a bad time for me to be taken ; but
it s an honorable discharge. . . . Helen will
be glad . . . you know I m not a pig, Winter
... do what I tried to do . . . where s my
kind nurse?" Janet was trying by almost imper
ceptible movements to edge a pillow under his
shoulders; he was past turning his head, but his
eyes moved toward her. "I ve left you ... a
wedding gift ... if I lived . . . given to
you; but made it safe, anyhow. Mercer?"
His voice had grown so feeble and came in such
gasps from his torn and laboring chest that Mer
cer bent close to his lips to hear the struggling
sentences. "Mercer," he whispered, "I want . . .
just ... to tell you . . . you didri t con
Thus, having made amends to his own will,
having also, let us humbly hope, made amends
to that greater and wiser Will which is of more
merciful and wider vision that our weakness can
comprehend, Edwin Keatcham very willingly
closed his eyes on earth.
EXTRACT FROM A LETTER
From Mrs. Rebecca Winter to Mrs. John S. G.
And it was delightful to discover that you were
so distressed about me. I must be getting a trifle
maudlin in my old age, for I have had a lump in
my throat every time I have thought of Johnny
and you actually starting out to find me; I am
thankful my telegram (Please, Peggy, do not
call it a wire again to me ! I loathe these verbal
indolences) reached you at Omaha in time to stop
Really, we have not had hardships. Thanks to
Israel Putnam Arnold! I have a very admiring
gratitude for that man! In these days of degen
eracy he builded a stanch enduring house. With
union labor, too ! I don t see how he contrived to
do it. Generally, when they build houses here,
372 THE LION S SHARE
they scamp the underpinning and weaken tHe
joists and paint over the dirt instead of washing
it off ; and otherwise deserve to be killed. The un
fortunate man opposite had just that kind of
house, which tumbled down and burned up, at
once; but, alas! it killed some of the people in it,
not the guilty masons and carpenters.
Our chimneys have been inspected and we are
now legally as well as actually sound ; but we did
not suffer. We cooked out on the sidewalk, and
supplemented our cooking with young Tracy s
I told you of Janet s engagement. Confiden
tially, my dear Peggy, I am a bit responsible.
They met by chance on the train; and I assure
you, although chance might have parted us, I did
not let it. I clung to Nephew Bertie. I m sure he
wondered why. I knew better than to let him
suspect. But a success you can t share is like a
rose without a smell. So I confess to you, I have
made this match. But when you see Millicent she
will tell you that she helped things along. She
has abused Janet like a pickpocket ; but now, since
she has discovered Janet didn t draw the Daugh
ters caricature of her, she regards her as one of
the gems of the century.
EXTRACT FROM A LETTER 373
We are recovering from the terrible events of
which we wrote. It is certainly a relief that At
kins is killed. He was one of the two scoundrels
who sneaked into the patio and put the bombs
into the automobile. Bertie shot him. You have
no doubt heard all about Mr. Keatcham s death.
He was killed by the man whose wickedness he
had unconsciously fostered. He did not know it,
but I make no doubt his swollen fortune and the
unscrupulous daring of its acquiring had a great
influence in corrupting his secretary.
And his corruption was his master s undoing.
I must say I sympathize with young Tracy, who
said last night : "I feel as if I had been put to soak
in crime! That bomb was the limit. In future,
me for common or garden virtue ; it may be tame
but I prefer tameness to delirium tremens !"
I used to think that I should like to match my
wits against a first-class criminal intellect; God
forgive me for the wish! I have been matching
wits for the last month ; and never putting on my
shoes without looking in them for a baby bomblet
or feeling a twinge of indigestion without darkly
suspecting the cook who is really the best crea
ture in the world, sent Mr. Arnold by a good
Chinese friend of mine. (I had a chance to do a
3/4 THE LION S SHARE
good turn to my friend, by the way, during tHe
earthquake and thus repay some of his to me.)
Archie is well and cheerful. Isn t it like the
[Winter temperament to lose its melancholy in
such horrors as we have seen? Archie is dis
tinctly happier since he came to California. As
for Janet and Rupert oh, well, my dear, you
and Johnny know! The house has been full of
people, and we have had several friends of our
own for a day or two. I got a recipe for a deli
cious tea-cake from Mrs. Wigglesworth of Bos
ton. She didn t save anything but her furs and
her kimono and a bridge set, besides what she
had on ; she packed her trunk with great care and
nobody would take it down-stairs. Of course she
saved her bag of jewels, which reminds me that
poor Mr. Keatcham left Janet some pearls that
is, the money for them. He was very much at
tached to her.
We buried him on the crest of the hill; later,
when more settled times shall come, he may take
another and last journey to that huge mausoleum
where his wife and mother are buried. Poor
things! it is to be hoped they had no taste living
or else that they can t see now how hideous and
flamboyant is their last costly resting place. But
EXTRACT. FROM A LETTER 375
if Keatcham hadn t a taste for the fine arts he had
compensating qualities. I shall never forget the
night of his burial. It was a "wonderful great
night of stars/ as Stevenson says. A poor little
tired-out clergyman, in a bedraggled surplice,
who had been reading prayers over people for the
last ten hours and was fit to drop, hurried through
the service ; and the town the dead man loved was
flaming miles beyond miles. About the grave was
none of his blood, none of his ancient friends, but
the men I believe he would have chosen men
who had fought him and then had fought for him
faithfully. They were haggard and spent with
fighting the fire; and they went from his burial
back to days and nights of desperate effort. He
had fought and lost and yet did not lose at the
last, but won, snatching victory out of defeat as
he was wont to do all his life. The heavy burdens
which have dropped from his shoulders these
others whom he chose will carry, maybe more
humbly, perhaps not so capably, but quite as cour
ageously. And it is singular how his influence per
sists, how it touches Kito and Haley, as well as
"Shure," said honest Haley (whose wit you are
likely to sample in the near future, for he has
376 THE LION S SHARE
elected to be the Rupert Winters chauffeur ; they
don t know it yet, but they will when it is time) ;
"shure," says he, "whin thot man so mashed up
there ye cudn t move him for fear ye d lose the
main parrt of him, whin he was thinkin of the
town and nothin else, I hadn t the heart to be
complainin for the loss of a few teeth and a few
limps about me ! An I fair wu ked like the divil.
So did Kito, who s a dacint Jap gintleman and no
haythin at all."
Poor Keatcham, he had no childhood and his
wife died too soon to revive the fragrance of his
youth ; but I can t help but think he had a reticent,
awkward, shy sort of heart somewhere about him.
Well, he was what Millicent would call "a com
pelling personality." I use plain language and I
call him a great man. He won the lion s share be
cause he was the lion. And yet, poor Lion, his
share was a lonely life and a tragic death.
UNIVERSITY OF CALIFORNIA LIBRARY
THIS BOOK IS DUE ON THE LAST DATE
MAR i" 1956
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