And Other Weird Tales
C. B. CORY
NEW YORK RALPH S. MIGHILL 70 FIFTH AVENUE 1899
OTHER WEIRD TALES
BY CHARLES B. CORY Author of "Dr. Wandermann," "Hunting and Fishing in Florida," etc.
NEW YORK RALPH S. MIGHILL 70 FIFTH AVENUE 1899
Copyright, 1899 BY CHARLES B. CORY
PRESS OF Rockwell and Churchill BOSTON, U.S.A.
Charles K. Crane
AUTHOR AND TRAVELLER
WHOSE NAME RECALLS MANY PLEASANT MEMORIES
MONTEZUMA'S CASTLE 7
THE AMATEUR CHAMPIONSHIP 23
THE TRAGEDY OF THE WHITE TANKS 43
TOO CLOSE FOR COMFORT 55
THE STRANGE POWDER OF THE JOU JOU PRIESTS 75
AN AZTEC MUMMY 78
A LESSON IN CHEMISTRY 90
AN INTERESTING GHOST 102
THE MOUND OF ETERNAL SILENCE 116
THE STORY OF A BAD INDIAN 127
A QUEER COINCIDENCE 135
THE STORY OF AN INSANE SAILOR 152
THE ELIXIR OF LIFE 173
THE VOODOO IDOL 194
AN ARIZONA EPISODE 205
ONE TOUCH OF NATURE 218
LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS.
OFTEN AT NIGHT HE SPOKE WITH FIERY ELOQUENCE Frontispiece.
THE CASTLE IS BUILT ON A LEDGE ON THE SIDE OF A MOUNTAIN 7
THE SMOKE CONTINUALLY OOZED FROM ALL PARTS OF HIS BODY 106
THE MOUND OF ETERNAL SILENCE 118
JUDSON'S MAP 119
A SILVER COIN * * * ONE EDGE HAD BEEN FLATTENED AND A HOLE PIERCED IN IT 152
THE GREAT DOG * * * RESTING HIS HEAD ON THE COWBOY'S KNEE 218
"No," said the curiosity dealer, "that mummy is not for sale. I had too big a job to get it."
"Tell me about it," I asked.
The curiosity dealer carefully closed and locked the case, and then meditatively rolled a cigarette.
"Well, it was this way: you see I was out after snakes and other natural history specimens. I had a special order from a chap in New York for three hundred snakes—he wanted some big rattlers. I think I sent him some that pleased him; anyhow he paid for them all right. I had a customer who wanted a rattlesnake with a very big rattle, and I fixed up a snake for him on this trip and sent it to him afterwards. It had one hundred and eighteen rattles! I glued a lot of rattles together, and by taking off the buttons it was pretty hard to see where they were joined. This rattle was more than a foot long.
"There was another Eastern chap wanted an ibex, which he said was found up in these mountains. It had light-colored horns curved over at the tips like a chamois and striped legs and eyes that stuck out like an antelope. He had heard about the ibex and wanted a pair. I told him I had often killed them, but they were hard to get."
"What is an ibex?" I asked.
"I'll be hanged if I know," answered the collector. "But there are fellows in these mountains who say that there really are such animals, and if he wanted to have an ibex, and had to have an ibex, I might as well get him an ibex as anybody else, even if I had to make one.
"But to get back to my story. I had a big outfit on this trip and I expected to get a lot of curios one way and another, what with snakes and animals of various kinds, besides all the things that I might pick up in the way of baskets and Indian relics, which might prove salable. My outfit consisted of two wagons, five horses, and I had a Mexican along to look after the teams and do the cooking.
"After being out some two weeks we found ourselves near what is called 'Montezuma's Castle,' up by the Verde. There are a lot of caves scattered about up there, supposed to have been made by the Cave Dwellers, and many of them had never been touched or examined.
"I had an offer of good money for a mummy, and had tried making them from the bodies of Indian children, but I never could get them to look real. The bones are not crumbly enough, and the rags which the real mummies are done up in are pretty difficult to imitate.
"I was mighty anxious to explore the big caves, so off we went to the place, and I tell you the old ruin they call 'Montezuma's Castle' is a dandy, and don't you forget it. The castle is built on a ledge high up on the side of a mountain which hangs over at the top. The only way to get up is by ladders or ropes, and it is mighty hard to get there even then.
"Right near there, on the face of the high cliff, there are a lot of fine old Cliff dwellings, and some of them are more than one hundred feet from the base. These cliffs are straight up and down, sometimes nearly smooth, but often with narrow broken ledges here and there on the face of the wall.
"One particular cave which seemed to be a rather large one was about fifty feet up, and immediately below it were two or three small ledges, which, after I had looked the place over, seemed to me to be sufficiently wide to hold a ladder; and I came to the conclusion that if I wished to explore one of these caves I had better try the one in question.
"In my outfit I had two large tents, nine by fourteen, and the poles of these tents, it seemed to me, would answer very well for ladders if I connected them by pieces of rope. It was not necessary to make the steps very near together, and by cutting notches in the poles and tying pieces of rope across I succeeded in making two very good ladders, one fourteen feet long, with the two top poles—one from each tent; and two small ladders, each about seven feet. I made these last from the four upright tent poles, there being two to each tent, as you know.
"The foot of the cliff was rough, and the first fifteen feet or so we could climb easily to a broad ledge, then there came a space between nine and ten feet in height, which was as smooth and perpendicular as a wall. Here my first ladder was put up. Two small ledges above this, some three feet apart, and a wider ledge four feet higher, allowed me to climb up, without the use of ladders, to another ledge.
"From here I ran another small ladder up to a ledge which was between two and three feet wide; from this ledge to the entrance of the cave was about twelve feet, and my fourteen-foot ladder answered finely, but the difficulty was, it had to stand so straight that it was rather ticklish business going up; one could not help feeling that a slip or a little backward jerk would topple it over into the valley below, and as from the ledge where it stood to the bottom was some forty feet, a tumble on to the rocks would prove most unpleasant.
"However, my Mexican, Antonio, held the ladder, and by very careful work I succeeded in reaching the mouth of the cave and crawling in. I had no sooner entered than I felt pretty sure it had never previously been visited by any one since the original inhabitants left it. The first thing I did was to take a stout piece of twine from my pocket and fasten the end of the ladder to a piece of rock. Then I felt easier.
"There were numerous bits of broken pottery scattered about and one nearly perfect specimen. Besides these there was a very interesting bit of stone carving. These things I gathered together and placed in a heap near the entrance. I then went back and, taking a small hatchet which I had brought with me, commenced to dig about in the floor and pretty soon found this little child mummy.
"By the time I had taken it out I was pretty thirsty and hot, as you may suppose. I was careful and did not hurry matters, and the cave was like an oven.
"Wrapping the little mummy carefully in a big handkerchief which I had tied round my neck, I untied the twine from the ladder, and lowered the bundle slowly down to Antonio, my Mexican, who was standing at the foot of the top ladder. It reached him safely, but while he was untying it I carelessly dropped the end of the string. I went back, however, and gathered up the other relics, intending to take some of them down with me and then come back for the rest if I could not manage them all the first time.
"While I was looking them over I heard a crash and the sound of tumbling stones, and looking out I saw that the ladder had fallen, and commenced to curse Antonio for his carelessness; but imagine my horror when I saw him throw down the bottom ladder and then run as fast as he could towards the camp. My first and only thought was to pay Antonio for his treachery. It was evidently his intention to leave me safely housed in a place from which I could never escape alive, and start off the proud owner of the two wagons, five horses, and various valuables which he believed my boxes to contain.
"My revolver was still in my belt, and hastily pulling it I commenced shooting at the running figure, now some sixty or seventy yards distant. The first bullet knocked up a cloud of dust about three feet to his right and a little ahead, the second was still worse, but at the third he turned sideways, staggered on several paces, and fell among some loose rocks in a way that must have been unpleasant. He tried to get up again, but I now had his range pretty well and hit him again with the sixth shot; after that he lay pretty quiet, although I thought I saw him move his arm once or twice. I reloaded, having plenty of cartridges in my belt, and began shooting at him again. This time I hit him three times out of six shots, and as he had not moved for some minutes I concluded that he was dead.
"Then I began to think over how I was going to get down. I was very thirsty and it was tantalizing to see the water down in the valley sparkling in the sunlight. It looked very clear and refreshing.
"I thought and thought, and the more I thought the more hopeless it seemed to me to plan a way to get down alive. There was one ladder still standing,—the second one,—but there was a space of some thirty feet before I could reach it. I had absolutely nothing, not even a string, to aid me in getting down.
"There was no use hoping for help from any one, for the place was rarely visited, and it might be weeks before any person would discover that I was there. I was getting more thirsty all the time, and, at last, I hated to go to the mouth of the cave, hot as it was inside, because the sight of the water nearly drove me mad. I amused myself by occasionally taking a shot at Antonio. I had his range down pretty fine, now, and rarely missed him. It was getting late, and the sun had long since sunk out of sight. Above the mountains there was one tall peak which I could see up the canyon. It stood out in the sunlight bright and shining, even after the canyon had become quite dark.
"As the sun sank lower and lower the darkness crept gradually up until only the very top was left a shining point. For a few minutes it shone a fiery red and then the light was gone like a huge torch which flickers and goes out.
"Then the night noises commenced: the incessant, maddening croaking of the frogs and now and then an owl.
"Did you ever hear the frogs in Arizona?"
I responded in the affirmative.
"Well, then, you know something about what they sound like, and know they can give Eastern frogs cards and spades and beat them easy. But you don't know what they sound like when you are really thirsty!"
"Probably not," I answered.
"Well," continued the curiosity dealer, "I knew nothing could be done until morning, so I lay down and tried to sleep. I was very nervous and could not help fearing that in the night I might walk in my sleep or roll to the mouth of the cave and tumble out. I do not think I really slept at all, but lay in a half-dazed condition until it was light enough for me to see things in the canyon below.
"Strange to say, I was not hungry, although I had eaten nothing since the previous morning. My whole thoughts were concentrated on the one desire—something to drink! I thought and pondered, trying to think of some possible way to get down! At one time I thought seriously of jumping to the ledge below, but I knew that it would be impossible for me to stay on it even if my legs were not broken by the fall, and that to jump meant practically to commit suicide!
"At last a thought occurred to me that I might possibly make a rope out of my clothes. I had a large pocket-knife and a hatchet, and no sooner had the thought suggested itself than I commenced to undress. My canvas coat, shirt, and trousers and some thin underclothes constituted my entire wardrobe, and by carefully cutting them into strips wide enough to bear my weight, and yet narrow enough to give sufficient length, I succeeded in making a kind of a rope with which I hoped I could succeed in reaching the second ladder without broken bones!
"I could not work steadily, as it was impossible for me to avoid getting up and now and then walking about the cave. I suffered so with the heat and thirst, that the hope of escape alone kept me from going mad. At last the rope was done and tied together with various knots. It had a creepy sort of stretchy feeling when I pulled on it, but I had no alternative but to trust to it,—it was that or nothing, and nothing meant death from thirst in a very short time.
"I succeeded in fixing the hatchet firmly into and across a cleft in the rock where it was split, and it gave me something to tie the rope to which I was satisfied would hold my weight. I tied the end of the rope to the hatchet handle and threw the other end down, and was mighty glad to see that it reached within four or five feet of the middle ledge.
"I was stark naked excepting my shoes, and I tell you it was no easy task letting one's self down over the sharp edges of the rock. Every moment I expected one of the knots to give way, and I shall never forget the feeling which came over me as I swung myself clear of the ledge and hung swaying on that improvised rope which seemed to stretch and grow thin in a way which sent cold shivers running up and down my spine. It seemed a year before I reached the ledge. I went down pretty slow, sparing the rope as much as I could by supporting part of my weight by digging my toes into every little crack and crevice I could find, but I got there at last, and when I did, I sat down on the ledge and cried like a baby.
"Well, that is the story. Of course I got down the rest of the way all right, or I wouldn't be here; but I don't know as I would have done it if Antonio had pulled down the second ladder instead of the bottom one. He was evidently in too much of a hurry to do the job up right. After reaching the second ladder, it was no kind of a trick to slide it down and use it over again. The first thing I did when I got down was to run as fast as I could to the river and drink as much water as I dared, then I lay down in the water and enjoyed it. Talk about your Paradise Cocktails—they are not to be compared with that Verde River water which I tasted that day!"
"Oh, yes, he is there yet, I believe, although I have never been back since to see, and I hope I never will. My first experience among the Cliff Dwellers was all sufficient."
THE AMATEUR CHAMPIONSHIP.
A committee from the Phoenix Athletic Club and one from the Prescott Club had met, and after considerable discussion had arranged a match to decide the Amateur Championship of Arizona.
As the Phoenix and Prescott clubs were far and away the foremost athletic organizations in the Territory, the contest was looked forward to with a great interest, especially as an intense rivalry existed between the two cities.
"Let the contest be fair and square on both sides," said Smith, the chairman of the Phoenix committee. "Let each club send its best man, who is strictly an amateur, of course, and a member of the club, in good standing, and let the best man win."
"Them's my sentiments exactly," responded Johnson, the chairman of the Prescott committee. "Fair play and honors to the best man, say I! I did think of sending a young fellow I know in our club who took some sparring lessons in 'Frisco last year, and is quite clever; he's a gunsmith by profession, but the trouble is he has been teaching the boys during his spare time when he could get away from the shop, and that makes him a professional, doesn't it?"
"It does," said Smith, "and I am glad to find you are as particular as I am in such matters; let me tell you, it is a pleasure to meet a man like yourself who tries to be fair and square, and to take no advantage of anybody. Let's take something."
During the next few days there were anxious meetings of the committees in charge of the arrangements. A certain man well up in sporting matters went to 'Frisco as a committee of one, representing the Prescott Club, to hunt for talent; at the same time a brother of the chairman of the Phoenix committee, who kept a bar-room in Chicago, received a letter which caused considerable discussion between him and his partner, and several interviews with a certain short-haired, thick-set individual who frequented his place.
"What I want," said the letter, "is the best man you can get. Some one who is a sure winner, and can punch the stuffing out of this amateur duck from Prescott. Don't make a mistake, and do not spare money. Get a star, as the boys will bet all they have on him, and we do not want to take any chances."
The following week the chairman of the committee of the Phoenix organization received a letter from his brother in Chicago, which informed him that for two hundred dollars, and expenses, they had secured the services of a well-known professional, but one who had never been West, and who, they were sure, could "lick" anything which could be produced, professional or amateur, on the Pacific Coast. He had commenced training, and they could rest easy, and bet as much money as they wanted to.
Meanwhile the Prescott Club's representative had made a rich find in San Francisco, in the shape of an Australian professional who had just landed and was therefore not likely to be recognized. He had a record of numerous victories in his own country, and cheerfully undertook, for the sum of seventy-five dollars, "to knock the bloomin' head off any bloomin' duffer," anywhere near his own weight, that might be brought against him.
Things went along merrily, letters were exchanged between the chairman of the two committees reporting as to the progress of their representatives.
"Our young man," wrote the Prescott leader, "is doing very well, and I hope great things from him. Naturally we want to win, and have secured the best man of good amateur standing in our town to represent us. He is a drug clerk, and his mother objected pretty strongly at first, but she has been talked over. There will be a party of at least one hundred of us go down with him, and I hope you will have front seats reserved for us. Most of the boys feel inclined to wager a little on the success of our representative, but he himself does not feel very confident of the result. Upon my return I found quite a strong feeling in favor of having the young gunsmith represent us, but, after my conversation with you, could not for a moment countenance any such proceedings on our part."
Two nights following, the Prescott chairman read the following letter in answer to the one which he had sent:
TO R. W. JOHNSON, ESQ., Chairman of the Committee for the Prescott Athletic Club, Prescott, Arizona:
DEAR SIR: I am glad to hear that there is considerable interest taken in the forthcoming match. Boxing is a noble art, and this coming contest will no doubt help to boom both our clubs. There is a great interest taken here in the match, and I warn you our man is getting himself in the very best condition possible. He is nervous, of course, this being his first appearance in an affair of this kind. He is a clerk in a bank, who has lately been engaged by my friend Robinson, and therefore does not get as much time for exercise as perhaps would be wise, but Robinson is an enthusiastic sport, as you know, and has arranged to let him get off several hours each day. We look forward to a great contest, and I certainly feel that the winner may fully consider himself the Amateur Champion of the Territory. We shall take great satisfaction in reserving the one hundred seats you ask for. I think you will find all the money ready for you in the way of bets that you will want. Our population is made up a great deal, as you know, largely of miners and ranchers, and they are inclined to bet recklessly. I cannot close without congratulating the Prescott Athletic Club for the energy and enterprise they have shown in this matter. May the best man win!
Yours, etc., J. SMITH.
There was a great crowd packed into the ring of the Phoenix Athletic Association on the evening of the contest. Seats were at a premium, and the fight had been the principal subject of conversation for days. The two principals had met and been introduced to one another, just before going to the scene of the contest. Both were dressed for the occasion, and I tell you they were sights! The bank clerk had on a collar so high that he could hardly turn his head, a high silk hat, long black frock-coat, and an immense white rose in his buttonhole.
The Prescott drug clerk was still more gorgeous. Besides a buttonhole bouquet and high collar, he sported an eye-glass, and smoked a cigarette while in the presence of his opponent.
"'Ow's yer bloomin' 'ealth?" remarked the drug clerk. "Hi 'opes as 'ow yer fit."
"Ah-h-h, go arn," answered the embryo financier, using only one side of his mouth, "don't try ter jolly me, yer sage-brush dude, or I'll give yer a poke right here."
Several members of the committee hastened to interfere, and put a stop to all further danger of trouble by hurrying the principals off to their dressing-rooms to prepare for the contest.
In the ante-room Smith hugged Robinson, and nearly wept with joy when they were alone.
"Did you take a good look at the stiff?" he gasped. "Why, our man will punch daylight out of him in two minutes after the gong sounds! Why, I say this is wrong—it is too easy; I really feel sorry for these Prescott chaps!"
Robinson chuckled and muttered something about "fools and their money being soon parted," and then the two worthies repaired to the ringside.
Smith was to be Master of the Ceremonies, and climbing upon the raised platform he crawled through the ropes, and after looking about him for a moment, raised his hands to enjoin silence.
"Gentlemen," he said, "I must beg you all to stop smoking. The contest which is to be held here to-night is to decide the Amateur Championship of the Territory of Arizona. Nothing is more calculated to incite among our younger men the love for athletic sports than such competitions, when conducted in a fair and sportsmanlike manner. I must beg of you not to allow yourselves to be biased towards indulging in any unseemly noise in case your favorite should be worsted. What we want is a fair field and no favoritism, and while we hope our boy will win, none of you, I am sure, would wish in any way to feel that either man was given any undue advantage. The men will fight with 3-oz. gloves, Marquis of Queensbury rules, three minutes to each round, with a minute's rest between. A man down to get up inside of ten seconds or be counted out. No hitting in the clinches. Many of you are acquainted with the gentlemen who are our representatives this evening, but for the benefit of those who are not I will introduce them."
Waving his hand towards the Prescott pugilist, he said:
"This is Alexander Harrington, amateur champion of the Prescott Athletic Club, who is, I may say, by profession a popular druggist in the town from which he comes. [Considerable applause.]
"And this," he continued, pointing to the man who represented the Phoenix Club, "is J. Francis Livingstone, a young man who has shown himself to be a good exponent of the noble art, and who is deemed to be the amateur champion of the Phoenix Athletic Association. As he has only lately arrived, and is not very well known to many of you, I may add that he is a personal friend of our Vice-president, Mr. Robinson, and is employed at his bank. [Wild enthusiasm.] As there can be no question as to the amateur standing of the gentlemen, I will again beg of you to treat both men with equal favor, and will ask the Referee to call time!"
The seconds at this climbed down from the ringside, shoving their stools out under the ropes, and the two athletes, throwing aside their bath robes, stood up in their corners, each stripped to the buff, with the exception of tight trunks and canvas shoes. A roar of admiration and astonishment went up as the bank clerk first exposed himself, and Robinson grinned at Smith across the ring as the splendid exhibition of muscle was exhibited. It was evident that the bank clerk had not devoted all his time to banking; he was apparently as fit as a race-horse, and the muscles of his back and arms twisted and rolled about like snakes, at every movement.
But Robinson's expression altered somewhat as he glanced at the drug clerk. That individual was somewhat shorter than his opponent, but if the banking representative was well developed, he of the pharmaceutical persuasion was magnificent.
Both men had been fanned and washed, their gloves carefully tied on, and they now stood rubbing their shoes on some powdered rosin which was scattered about the corners, eyeing each other intently. What they thought will probably never be given to the public, but there is no doubt that each must have experienced a feeling of surprise at the physical condition of his opponent. This did not affect them in the least, however, as they were both as anxious to begin as bull-dogs, and when time was called and the gong rang, they danced to the middle and commenced sparring for an opening, grinning with confidence.
For the first minute or two nothing was done. Forward and back they moved, their arms moving in and out, each with his eyes fixed on the face of his opponent, watching closely for an opening. Then the bank clerk jumped in and led one, two, without effect, for his first blow was neatly guarded and the second brought a vicious cross-counter in return, which grazed his nose as he got back out of the way. In came the drug clerk with a rush, and they closed just as the gong sounded which ended the round.
Up through the ropes came the seconds with the activity of a lot of monkeys, and the two men were hurriedly seated upon stools and each was fanned furiously with a towel by one second, while the other bathed his neck and face with cold water. A hum of conversation arose.
"Who is the blooming duck?" whispered the druggist to his principal second. "'E ain't no bleeding dude, I can tell yer."
But before the man had time to reply, the gong sounded the call of "time," and the men sprang forward to the middle of the ring.
There was no sparring this time—they went at it biff, bang, right and left, sending in their blows with all the power of their muscular bodies. The Referee, almost dancing with excitement, shouted to them to "break away," and tried to part them when they clinched, but they were no sooner separated than they closed again, fighting with the energy and tenacity of bull-dogs.
Just before time was up, the drug clerk swung his right and caught the gentleman of finance fair and square on the nose, with the result that Prescott was awarded first blood and first knock-down, amid great excitement.
During the one minute's rest the seconds did wonders. The men were sponged and rubbed, while fanned constantly with a large towel, water was squirted on their heads and the back of their necks, and at the sound of the gong each arose from his stool looking as fresh as at the start.
Round 3 opened as though it would be a repetition of the hurricane style of fighting of the previous round, but after a clinch or two and giving and receiving a few good blows, the men kept apart and fought more warily. Each had evidently become satisfied that the other was not quite the easy victim he had expected; and as this conviction gradually dawned upon them they dropped the rough and tumble style and fought with more skill and caution, each watching and waiting for an opening, hoping for a chance for a "knock-out," but none came, and the round closed with honors even.
During the intermission Watkins, the sheriff, who was acting as Referee, talked earnestly with a friend, and from time to time looked hard at the drug clerk. He turned towards the time-keeper and seemed about to say something, when the bell rang and the men were again in the middle of the ring.
Round 4 had commenced.
They were both fresh and eager, but business was written all over their hard faces,—they were not smiling now. Round and round they moved, constantly facing each other, their arms moving back and forth like a machine. Now and then one or the other would make a quick feint or move, and the other would spring back with the agility of a dancing-master.
Suddenly the financier thought he saw an opening, and let go his left, but was short, and received a counter in return which sounded all over the place; then they went at it hammer and tongs and kept the Referee very busy separating them, and making them fight fair. Questionable prize-ring methods were resorted to by both men, and the knowledge shown by these amateurs of the little unfair tricks of the professional prize-fighter was astonishing. The bank clerk took especial pains to stick his thumb in his opponent's eye whenever they clinched, and the compounder of drugs used his head and elbow in a way which is frowned upon by advocates of fair play.
The men were fighting hard and fast when the round ended. Every man in the crowd was on his feet yelling like a hyena, as they went to their corners. Referee Watkins walked to the side of the ring, and raising his hand to enjoin silence, stood waiting for the uproar to subside. At last, when he could be heard, he addressed the crowd as follows:
"Gentlemen, I am sorry to stop this fight, but I must do it. These men are supposed to be fightin' for the Amatoor Champeenship of the Territory. Whether this is a put-up job or not, I do not know, but I do know that the Prescott man is a professional pug, lately arrived from Australia. I suspected him from the first. From the way he acted I was pretty blamed sure he was no drug clerk and my friend here, Jim Sweeney, swears he knows him, and that he was called the 'Ballarat Boy' when he saw him fight in Australia, some seven months ago. I can't let this thing go on, and have honest men lose their money. I am not dead sure in my mind that the other man isn't a ringer; he is a damned sight too good for an amatoor; but that cuts no ice. This fight stops right now. It's a draw, and all bets are off."
There was a tremendous row, but the pugilists were hurried off to their respective dressing-rooms, and the crowd slowly left the building. On the steps outside, Johnson, the chairman of the Prescott Athletic Club, met Smith, and, going up to him, he offered him his hand.
"Smith," said he, "I want to tell you how pained I am that the affair ended as it did. You, of course, do not for a moment suspect that any of us knew our man was a professional. How he could deceive us I cannot understand. Why, I was never more fooled in my life!"
Smith shook hands heartily. "Don't say a word, Johnson; the best of us are often deceived, and the more pure our motives are the easier it is to fool us."
They walked on in silence for a short distance.
"Pity they stopped it; it was a lovely scrap while it lasted."
"That's what it was," said Smith.
THE TRAGEDY OF THE WHITE TANKS.
"I do not believe," said the curiosity dealer, "that the bite of the gila monster is fatal. It is poisonous, no doubt, and there have been one or two cases of death where persons have been bitten by it, but it is always well to remember that the teeth themselves may be in a condition to produce blood-poisoning, which might cause death without the assistance of any particular toxic venom. The rattlesnake, however, which is rather too common in the desert, is a different sort of a chap. If he strikes you, you may just as well make your will, and chirp your death song, as to monkey with physicians, and squander some of the good wealth which may be useful to your family."
I asked him if he did not believe in the efficacy of some of the so-called Indian snake cures.
"There are lots of Indian remedies," he continued, "and snake charmers' cures for rattlesnake bites, which are, in my opinion, all poppy-cock. It is claimed that the Moquai Indians, during their Snake Dance, allow rattlesnakes to bite them, and after applying the juice of a certain herb suffer no ill effects from the poison. This may be all right, but the antidote is considerable of a secret, and you cannot buy it at your druggist's.
"There was a chap over in France who claimed to have produced an anti-venomous serum which was a sure cure for the poison of a rattlesnake, or any other old snake which you might want to have bite you. I squandered five dollars of my hard-earned wealth in sending for a bottle. This chap lives at Lille, France, and manufactures his serum at the Pasteur Institute at that place. He gives careful directions as to how much to use, and just how to use it, and it may be all right with some snakes which have the reputation of being bad, but it don't go with our rattlers. I tried it in all sorts of ways. I tried to get a Mexican to experiment on, but couldn't. None of them had much faith in the cure—not enough to let a healthy snake bite 'em for five dollars.
"Then I tried dogs. I got three curs, all in robust health. The first one died in fifteen minutes after being struck by a big rattlesnake which I had in a box, although I injected him with a carefully measured dose of the serum. Another one lived several hours, and made a hard struggle. I thought at one time he might pull through, but it was no use. He joined his friend in dog heaven after giving his final kick four hours and fifteen minutes after he and the snake had been introduced to each other.
"The third one was a half-breed bull bitch with lots of vitality. I tried to make this one immune by injecting a dose of the serum twenty-four hours before, and again immediately after she was struck by the snake, but she did not do as well as the other one, and died in three hours and sixteen minutes. All these dogs seemed to die from inability to breathe. The poison apparently acts on the respiratory centres rather than directly on the heart. They all vomited just before they died."
"Have you never found out what the Indians use as an antidote?" I asked.
"No, I have tried, but they keep it a carefully guarded secret. One reason why I believe that the secret is so carefully preserved is because they have no antidote, and the whole thing is a bluff.
"You see," continued the collector, "in my wanderings about the country I have run across a great many queer people, and as you seem interested in this subject, I will tell you an incident which happened while I was out at camp one time at the White Tanks, catching gila monsters, horned toads, etc.
"I remember the year well, because I had a lot of trouble with a very useless assistant of mine, whom I sent to Central America to collect for me. Among the birds he brought back were a lot of skins of the blue chatterer—the one with the purple throat, you know. He knew I was anxious to get new species, so he thought he would be smart and make some for me. So he manufactured five, all with faked labels on, showing that each species was taken at different altitudes. Unfortunately he commenced too high, and the mountains in the vicinity where he collected, and where the labels indicated that the birds were taken, lacked several hundred feet of the necessary altitude for two of the species, so that if his labels were correct he must have shot them out of a balloon.
"They all looked alike except about the throat and head. One lot had a gold band across the breast, another had the whole throat gold, others had gold stripes or spots. I believe he produced these gaudy effects with the lighted end of his cigar.
"He doctored up a lot of humming-birds, too, and made me a peck of trouble. I fired him, all right. Dishonesty in a trade like mine is, I think, most reprehensible, and there is no money in it, because you are dead sure to get found out.
"He was a cute little chap, however, and had learned a lot of tricks from the Indians. He could change a bird's color by feeding it on certain kinds of food. There is a chap in Amsterdam who does about the same thing and brightens up old worn birds which have faded out in the Zoological Gardens, and sends them back with all the brilliancy of their original plumage restored; but he cannot turn a red parrot blue, or make a gray bird with a yellow head turn to bright orange all over, as this chap could. He told me how he did it, but the secret is too good to give away. But to get back to the story about rattlesnakes:
"It was, as I said, in the spring of '89, a party of us were camped at the White Tanks about forty-five miles north-west of here, and one day a chap came into our camp, a half-breed Mexican Indian, who called himself a snake-charmer. He had a box of rattlesnakes which he would allow to twine round his neck and bite him, for a dollar. He travelled about the country giving exhibitions with his snakes, and selling the rattlesnake cure, which was put up in small bottles containing a brown-colored liquid, which he claimed he made from a plant which was a sure cure for the bite of the rattlesnake, and a number of the boys bought this remedy, paying him a dollar a bottle.
"He had seen our camp, as he drove along the road to Phoenix, and he told us he had been up country for two or three weeks visiting some mines, where he had done very well, selling his cure to the miners and exhibiting his snakes.
"There were several of us in the party, and one chap, a doctor by the name of Baker, who was always playing practical jokes. As we were coming back to Phoenix, the next day, Miguel, which was the snake-charmer's real name, I believe, although he was generally known as Mexican John, decided to stay over a day and go back with us.
"Baker proposed that we should see how much faith Miguel had in his own antidote. As it happened, I had captured a very big rattlesnake the day previous, and had him in a box in my tent. By the aid of some forked sticks and bagging we succeeded in fastening the snake so that he could not move. We then pried his mouth open, and kept it open with a small stick. We took all this trouble for the purpose of preparing him to assist in an experiment in which he and Mexican John were to be the principal performers. Baker carefully cut out the poison-sacs, which are situated just beneath the temporal muscle, back of the eye. It was suggested that it would be better to remove the fangs, to avoid any possibility of danger; but Baker objected, as he said removing the fangs would give the whole thing away.
"He took the precaution, however, while the snake lay helpless with its mouth open, to carefully wash the teeth, and then filled the small openings near the end of the fangs with some dental cement which Baker had in his outfit, which hardens in a few minutes. You see, the fangs of a rattlesnake are like two hypodermic syringes. They are hollow tubes, as it were, with an opening near the point,—a little narrow slit, but one that is easily seen, if you look for it. Through this he squirts the poison by the aid of the temporal muscle, which he contracts as he strikes.
"As we had removed the poison-sacs and plugged up the fangs, this snake was not in a very good condition to do any serious harm. He, however, was fighting mad, and evidently did not enjoy the operation which he had undergone. It did not seem to hurt him any, however, for he was as lively as a kitten when we let him loose in the box, and was ready and anxious to strike at anything.
"Towards evening Miguel came back to camp, and we had the snake all ready for him. It was a much larger one than those which he had in his box, and when we slipped it in among the others we could easily recognize it from its size. The boys asked John to give an exhibition of the curative powers of his snake cure, saying that they would like to buy some more, but wished to see it tried before doing so.
"John was quite ready, and after opening a bottle of the antidote he lifted the cover of his snake box, and reached in his hand to take one of them out. As he did so, he was immediately struck good and hard by our latest addition to the collection.
"My, how he carried on! He looked hastily into the box, and then at the marks on his hand, where the fangs had cut in. He gave one screech, grabbed a knife, cut the place wide open, and commenced to suck it fiercely, at the same time praying and cursing almost in the same breath.
"The boys begged him to apply his antidote, asking him what was the matter and why he appeared to be so frightened, but all the answer they could get was, 'Don't touch me. I am going to die! I'm going to die!'
"And say, what do you think? He did die! He got weaker and weaker. His teeth were clenched, and he refused to take whiskey, although the boys forced some down his throat. In a little while he became insensible, and in less than an hour he was dead.
"'Scared to death,' you say? Well, maybe so; anyway, the boys said the laugh was on Baker!"
TOO CLOSE FOR COMFORT.
When Dr. Watson entered I saw by his manner that he had something of more than usual interest to communicate. Watson has a trick of winding and unwinding his watch chain around his finger whenever he has some case in which he is particularly interested. As a rule, his work in the asylum keeps him busy the greater part of the day, and the little time he has to spare is given to cases in which he is called in consultation or by special appointment.
Therefore, knowing how busy he was, I felt certain that something out of the ordinary had called him from his regular duties at this time of day, and I was interested to learn what it was.
Watson is nothing if not direct, and rarely wastes words. On this occasion he certainly lived up to his reputation, for he began talking before he was fairly in the room.
"My dear Morris," he said, "I have called to talk with you of a most interesting case, which has lately come under my observation. It is one in which I need your help, and I hope you will be able to spare the time to assist me."
I nodded and waved him to a chair.
"The case in question is a most interesting one, in which hypnotic suggestion may or may not be an important factor.
"You know young Blake, the son of the late Mathew Blake, and you are aware that he has been rather extravagant in his habits and ways of living, and although not exactly a spendthrift, undoubtedly spends more money than he ought to in many ways. The great trouble with him is his passion for race-horses, and that is what, one of these days, is going to break him financially, unless I am very much mistaken.
"Just now young Blake has two horses entered in the big race which comes off day after to-morrow at Eaton Park. One of his horses, called Emperor, is well known, and he should easily win the race. He is by far the best horse of the lot, and has been selling in the pools for two to one against the field. The other horse is not nearly as good as Emperor, and has little chance of being placed. Murphy, the jockey who is to ride Emperor, is one of the best on the turf, although comparatively a young boy, probably about nineteen years old. He has ridden a number of races, and from all reports is a lad of good habits, and seemingly thoroughly honest.
"Young Blake, as you know, 'plunges' more or less on his horses when they run, whenever he thinks they have a fair show to win, and in this case he has bet a great deal more money than he can afford to lose, knowing that unless the horse meets with some unforeseen accident he is certain to win the race. As I understand it, he has bet so much money that if by any chance Emperor should lose the race it would seriously hurt young Blake. Of course, this is all foolishness from our standpoint, but the fact remains that the young man has bet this money, and that any accident which would interfere with his pulling off that race would cause him serious loss.
"Knowing his father as I did, I have taken more or less interest in the boy, and have time and again advised him to let racing alone, and settle down to more serious life. I should not have taken the special interest in this particular race had it not been that by a curious coincidence information has come to me which leads me to suspect that everything is not as it should be at young Blake's stables.
"Last year one of the stable boys, a lad by the name of Collins, was badly injured by an accident, and young Blake saw that he was nicely taken care of, and paid him a salary during his illness. The youngster was grateful, and the other day, it seems, he came to Mr. Blake and told him that Murphy, the jockey who is to ride Emperor, had been sleeping badly for several nights, and talked a good deal in his sleep about the horses.
"Murphy and Collins sleep together in the room over the stable, and the night before last Collins was awakened by hearing Murphy call out to some one, and then say distinctly, 'Yes, yes, I understand; if you wave your handkerchief I am to 'pull' Emperor. If you do not wave it I am to win, if I can.'
"This is serious business. The boy was dreaming, of course; but why did he dream such a dream? The idea of 'pulling' being in the boy's mind is in itself enough to cause serious reflection. Yesterday young Blake called on me and told me this story as it had been told to him by Collins. Collins was present at the time, and again repeated his statement, declaring positively that he could not have been mistaken in the words spoken by Murphy in his sleep, and that the boy seemed very much excited.
"Blake, by my advice, sent for Murphy and we had a serious conversation with him. The boy seemed thoroughly honest, and was very much hurt upon being questioned in regard to the matter. He said that he had worked for Blake several years and had always tried to do right, that he intended to ride his best, and win the race if he could.
"Blake naturally feels somewhat disturbed under the circumstances, but he believes the boy is honest, and he believes young Collins must in some way have been mistaken in what he imagines he heard. Or, if he was not mistaken, that Murphy was dreaming, and the words had no significance.
"He told Murphy to go back to the stables, and that he would trust him implicitly, stating at the same time that it would cause him serious inconvenience if by any chance Murphy should not win, as he had bet a large amount of money on the result.
"Murphy, with tears in his eyes, thanked him for trusting him, and went back to the stables. Afterwards I had a serious conversation with Collins, and learned that on two occasions he had seen Murphy talking with a strange man who often visited the track.
"Upon inquiry we have learned that the man in question is a brother of a man who married Murphy's sister, and that Murphy has met him several times at his sister's house. The man's name is Simms. He is a low character, who is known as a habitual frequenter of the race track, and who at times does business as a poolseller and bookmaker. Simms is described as being thin and dark, with a big scar on his right cheek, usually wears a soft hat, and carries a cane with considerable silver about the handle.
"Last night I decided to have an interview with Murphy and find out whether the lad could be hypnotized or not. Why this idea suggested itself to me I do not know, except that, as you know, hypnotism is one of my hobbies. With Blake's consent I sent for Murphy, and asked him to let me look him over, as I would like to assure Blake as to his physical condition, as naturally he was feeling, as I told him, somewhat nervous after our interview of the morning.
"The boy consented readily enough, and after listening to his heart, and asking him a few questions which might suggest a cause for his restlessness at night, I asked him to look at me fixedly while I gently stroked his forehead above the eyes with my hand. Imagine my surprise when I found him to be an extremely sensitive hypnotic subject. He did not become entirely unconscious, but was in a peculiar somnambulistic condition, in which he conversed readily enough. He is one of the best subjects for post-hypnotic suggestion that I have ever seen.
"I tried several experiments with him, and the thought occurred to me if it was not possible that this susceptibility to hypnotic suggestion might be used by unscrupulous persons in many ways, which might be especially dangerous in case he was riding a good horse in a race.
"Upon questioning Murphy, after I had awakened him, regarding his susceptibility to hypnotic influence, he told me that Simms had often put him to sleep for fun, when they met at his sister's house. The question which now presents itself is, Suppose he has been hypnotized and has been given a post-hypnotic suggestion, that he is to 'pull' Emperor if a certain man waves his handkerchief, how are we to prevent his carrying out these instructions? Of course, we can take the boy off the horse and put on another jockey, but Blake does not wish to do this.
"In his waking moments Murphy does not remember anything that has been told him while hypnotized, and I doubt if we could make Blake believe that there was any real danger in that quarter. Again, if we allow him to go in and ride the race, it is more than possible that he could be made to win or lose the race by any one who had given him orders while in a hypnotic condition, and we also know that he would forget entirely that he had received such orders after waking.
"Now, the difficulty presents itself as to how we can prevent him following out such instructions, in case he has received them. We know we cannot affect such suggestions by re-hypnotizing him, because we do not know the exact circumstances under which such directions were given. To merely hypnotize and tell him he is not to carry out such orders would have no effect whatever. Perhaps if we could tell him that under certain described circumstances he was not to carry out such orders we might succeed.
"But my experience has been that the directions, as given, are carried out by the subject if, at the time, the circumstance described, which is to be recognized as a signal for such and such action on the part of the hypnotized sensitive, occurs and is noticed.
"For instance, if I should hypnotize a young man, and say that at eight o'clock, when he hears the clock strike, he should at once go downstairs and get a glass of water, he would undoubtedly do it when the clock struck eight. But if the clock did not strike eight, supposing some one had removed the striker, and when near the hour some one occupied his attention so that he did not notice the time, in all probability he would not obey orders. It requires some special occurrence which has been described in connection with the act to suggest it again to his mind.
"In my opinion, the best we can do is to let Murphy ride the race, and to take all precautions possible to prevent any man waving his handkerchief to Murphy during the race. Of course, to have any real effect on the race, the person waving his handkerchief as a signal for Murphy to 'pull' Emperor must do so far enough from the home stretch to make it certain that Emperor can be prevented from winning without attracting especial attention, which could not be done in case Emperor was in the lead if the signal was given close to the Grand Stand. We, therefore, must look out for our man, if such a man there be, some distance down the race-track.
"Now, if you will go to the track with me to-morrow we will station ourselves in places where we think it likely that such a person would stand, and keep a sharp watch for a thin, dark man with a scar on his cheek. Will you join me?"
I assured him I would be more than willing to do so, as I was very much interested in the case.
"Good! Now, this is my plan. I shall take Mike Falan with me, and he is worth half a dozen men in the case of a row. I have also engaged three private detectives to be on the watch at the entrance to the Grand Stand, and another at the entrance to the grounds, while a fifth is to station himself at the side of the track, and do sentinel duty about the half-mile post, with orders to report to me the moment Simms puts in an appearance, and to have him shadowed. Of course, this elaborate plot may exist only in my imagination, but if, as I believe, there is a carefully arranged scheme to beat Blake's horse, we shall have done him a good turn, and perhaps saved him a lot of money. I must go now, but don't fail to meet me to-morrow at eleven, at the track. You will find me in front of the Grand Stand."
The next morning when I arrived at the track I found Dr. Watson in conversation with a powerful-looking man whom he introduced to me as Mike Falan. We walked slowly up the track to a point about a quarter of a mile from the finish. There was a great crowd of people present, the numbers had gone up for the first race, and most of the horses were already out and "warming up." Emperor appeared to be in splendid condition. As he galloped easily up and down in front of the Grand Stand his great muscles rolled and swelled under the shiny skin, and he looked and acted like a horse fit to race for his life. He was a prime favorite at the pools and was selling at two to one against the field.
"I have seen Blake," said Watson, "and he is feeling confident that Emperor will win. He is somewhat nervous, of course, but he tells me the horse is in first-class shape, and that Murphy is all right. No signs of Simms yet and the race will be started in less than ten minutes. It begins to look as though I have been frightened at a shadow."
At this moment a man touched Watson on the arm and whispered something to him and then moved quickly away through the crowd. Watson started, and turning to me said,
"Come this way. Simms is here, he is down the track, below the gate."
He hurried away, Mike and I following, and upon getting clear of the crowd we saw a man leaning against the picket fence which separated the track from the carriage drive, watching the horses through a small field-glass. As we came up, Simms, for it was he, glanced suspiciously at us, but as we paid no attention to him and talked earnestly together, apparently arguing as to the relative merits of the horses, he soon ceased to notice us and turned again to the horses.
Hardly had he done so when he hurriedly put the glass in his pocket, and a great shout from the Grand Stand and cries of "They're off!" told us that the great race had commenced.
We could see the horses far off on the opposite side of the track all running in a bunch, until they neared the half-mile flag, when two were seen to be well in advance of the others. As they swung round the curve we could see the red cap worn by Murphy flashing in the sun, and we knew that Emperor was leading. But another horse, a deep bay, the jockey dressed completely in blue, was very close to him.
On they came, and Watson and Mike edged closer and closer to Simms, whose whole attention was fixed on the race. His face was flushed, and he was actually dancing with excitement. We watched him as a cat watches a mouse, and it was very lucky for Blake that we did so. The horses were now quite near us, and we could see Murphy plainly, and noted how white and drawn his face looked. Suddenly Simms pulled a large white handkerchief from his pocket, but as he did so the doctor snatched it from his hand and at the same instant Mike seized him in his powerful arms, and dragged him from the fence.
Mad with surprise and rage, he struggled and kicked like a wild animal. "Damn you," he yelled, "let me go; let go, I say! What in hell do you mean?"
"Let him go, Mike," said the doctor. Mike pushed Simms from him, and he staggered back against the fence. The man was crazy with rage, and I believe for the moment he was really insane. He half crouched as if to spring at us, snarling and showing his teeth like a savage dog, then his hand went to his hip pocket.
"I wouldn't try that if I were you, Simms," said Watson quietly. "You will get the worst of it if you do."
Watson's right hand was in the pocket of his sack-coat, and his eyes said, "I'll shoot," as plainly as if he had told Simms so in so many words.
"See here, you," cried Mike, "if you pull a gun I'll smash your jaw!"
Simms looked from one to the other of us, with the expression of a madman. His face was ghastly white, and the scar on his cheek stood out livid, in contrast with the white skin. I thought for a moment he was about to draw his revolver, but suddenly he turned and ran toward the crowd, and in a moment was lost to our view.
The shouting and cheering still kept up, and, as we hurried toward the Grand Stand, Watson asked a man which horse had won.
"Emperor, by a length,—a great race!"
We found Blake in front of the stand. He came to us and shook hands. His face was beaming with the joy of success.
"Do you know," he said, "I do believe that something is the matter with Murphy. He was as pale as a ghost after the race. He said he could remember nothing about it until he found himself in the home stretch running neck and neck with Nettie B. Then he seemed to wake from a dream, and sat down and rode Emperor for all he was worth. You know the rest. He won out all right, but I tell you it was a confounded sight too close for comfort."
THE STRANGE POWDER OF THE JOU JOU PRIESTS.
Dr. Watson carefully opened the little antique silver box, which was about the size and shape of an ordinary watch, and showed that it contained a gray powder and a little gold measure resembling a miniature thimble. It was evidently very old, the cover being worn smooth in many places, nearly effacing the peculiar hieroglyphics with which it had once been engraved.
"I consider this," he said, "my chef-d'oeuvre, my 'star exhibit,' as it were. The powder possesses such wonderful properties, and is so unlike any known drug, that I hesitate to describe its effects. That it is a powerful poison there can be no doubt, but when taken in small doses it is apparently harmless enough."
"What is its history?" asked Dr. Farrington.
"I picked it up in London. Got it from Burridge, the explorer, who had just returned from a year's trip in the interior of West Africa. He went into Benin City with the English when they cleaned out the town. Burridge says he took it from a dead Jou Jou priest, and he made me pay a pretty stiff price for it. It is a wonderful drug, entirely unknown outside of Africa. Burridge thinks it is made from the leaves of some plant; but its preparation is a secret of the priests of Jou Jou.
"Now, I propose that we each take a small quantity of the powder to-night, and then dine together to-morrow evening and compare notes. I may as well tell you now, it produces strange hallucinations. I tried it once myself, and my experience on that occasion was, to say the least, peculiar; therefore I am more than anxious to try it again, and compare notes with you afterwards, and I think I can promise you a new and novel experience."
Farrington and Forster were perfectly willing to try the experiment which Watson hinted promised such interesting results, and it was agreed that each should take a dose of the powder before retiring, and meet together the next evening.
Promptly at the time appointed, the three men met in Watson's study, and after cigars had been lighted Watson asked Farrington to be the first to relate his experience, whereupon the Doctor drew from his pocket several pages of closely written manuscript, and began as follows:
AN AZTEC MUMMY.
[DR. FARRINGTON'S STORY.]
I was standing in a museum looking at a case of mummies. One of them was marked "Mummy of an Aztec, found in a Cliff Dwelling," and it interested me very much. In size it was that of a small man, and was in a fine state of preservation, with the exception that the bones of the legs were exposed, and more or less disintegrated, in some places. The hands, even to the finger nails, were perfect, however, and there was a silver ring on the index finger. One hand grasped a large stone axe—the handle being modern. The right hand rested across the chest, clasping a necklace of silver wire.
"Interesting specimen, is it not?" said a voice at my side.
"Quite so," I replied. "But I doubt if it is really an Aztec mummy."
"What makes you think that?" asked the voice sharply.
"Because I don't believe the Aztecs buried their dead in Cliff Dwellings. However, it is an interesting mummy, and in a wonderful state of preservation."
I was so interested in examining the mummy that I had spoken without turning my head. Now, however, I looked up and saw a tall, gaunt figure of a man dressed in a suit of corduroy, and wearing a broad-brimmed hat, or sombrero, such as is generally worn on the Western plains.
"Well," he remarked, "in my opinion, it is a pretty good mummy. I made it myself, and ought to know."
"Excuse me, what did you say?" I asked, thinking I had not understood him aright.
"I said that was one of my mummies."
"What do you mean by that, sir?" I asked.
"You will understand when I tell you I was a dealer in curiosities, and during my time I furnished museums with a great many interesting and valuable specimens; when trade was slow, I occasionally helped nature a little, but that is all over now."
"Have you given up the business?" I asked.
"Had to; but perhaps you do not know that I am dead," answered my companion. "Fell from a cliff last year and broke my neck."
"Did you, indeed?" I answered, trying to appear interested.
"That's what I did. But let me tell you about that mummy. There was a scientific chap who came to our place and wanted to buy Aztec relics. Me and my partner made a trade with him and sold him a lot of stuff; but he was very anxious to be taken where he could dig some up for himself, 'to be sure of the authenticity and antiquity of the relics.' Well, me and my pard figured up that it might be to our advantage to take him to a good Cliff Dwelling, and we arranged that he should pay us so much for everything he dug up. If he found a mummy we got one hundred dollars; if stone hatchets and axes, two dollars each; arrow-heads, ten cents each; for stone matats and grinders, one dollar each, taking them as they came; and whole pottery, five dollars."
"Where did you find the mummy? Did you know of the cave?" I asked.
"Well, we knew where there were lots of caves, and where there were Indian graveyards. With the aid of a little stain and judicious arrangement of a body we prepared a fine Aztec mummy. Of course we used the body of an Indian, one who had been dead for a long time and was dried up and crumbly. My partner was a clever chap, and he fixed up the axe and the silver necklace, and we took the outfit and started for the Verde Canyon. We picked out a good-sized cave, and dug a hole in the floor, in which we carefully placed the mummy and covered him up with dry dust; then we wet the clay over him, leaving the floor hard and smooth as before. We also buried about fifty axes and two or three hundred arrow-heads, and half a dozen nice specimens of Indian pottery, which we burned up good and black.
"After we had 'salted' the cave to our satisfaction, we partly sealed up the entrance and returned to Flagstaff."
"Was that acting quite fair?"
"Fair? Why, how do you think that poor man would have felt if he had come all the way out to Arizona, and gone to all the expense of his car-fare and outfit, and then found nothing? It was philanthropy, my dear sir, the height of philanthropy."
"Was he pleased with the mummy?"
"Pleased? Why, bless your dear, innocent soul, he screamed with joy like a child, when we accidentally discovered a piece of a toe while digging in the bottom of the cave! He dropped on his knees and removed every particle of dirt with his hands, and almost cried over it. He carried on so that my partner nearly gave us away. He was a chump about some things: if anything pleased him, he would laugh, and his laugh sounded like the bray of a jackass.
"Well, sir, when this scientific chap got down on his knees, and commenced to paw the earth away from the fake mummy, my partner began to gurgle. I knew what was coming and punched him in the ribs, but it did no good. The scientific chap looked up and asked what was the matter.
"'Matter?' shouted my pard, and then he roared and yelled and howled.
"A look of doubt and annoyance came into our victim's eyes; but pard saved himself just in time.
"'Look!' he yelled between his paroxysms of laughter, 'look at that buzzard over there! I'm damned if he ain't the funniest buzzard I ever saw in my life,' and then he roared and yelled and jumped about. 'Look at him,' he laughed; 'see him fly! did you ever see anything so funny?'
"I am not sure but what the scientist thought he was crazy, but anyhow, he didn't catch on to what he was laughing at, and pretty soon went on with his digging. We stayed there three days and dug the whole place up and took back with us a basket full of stone axes, arrow-heads, three large prehistoric vases, and the mummy. He drove the wagon himself every step of the way, for fear something would get broken, and when we got to Flagstaff he spent two days packing the relics."
"Do you consider that sort of thing quite honorable?" I asked.
"Honorable? What is that you say, you squint-eyed dude? Now, my boy, don't get fresh with me just because I am dead and can't jump you."
I hastened to pacify him.
"Well, that's all right, but if you had said that to me last year when I was alive I would have marked squares all over your body with a piece of chalk and then played hop-scotch on you."
"I meant no offence," I said humbly.
"Maybe you didn't. But just you make another break like that, and I won't forget it; you will have to die sometime, and then,—oh, mamma!"
"Is your partner dead?" I asked.
"No, Jim is not dead by a long shot. I went down to see him last winter at his place in California, where he has opened up a new store. He has a good tourist trade—made a lot of money this year out of mermaids and sea-devils—there was a run on sea-devils this winter. He makes them out of fishes.
"The mermaids he makes out of fishes' tails and Indian children—robs the graveyards, you know. Some of them are really fine and artistic. I tell you he is an artist in his line.
"He has a branch store still somewhere in New Mexico, and made a stack of money last winter in Navajo blankets and scalp-trimmed Indian arms and shields. It is the scalp trimming which catches the tourist. He gets most of his scalps from California, from hospitals there; but when he is short, horse hair does pretty well, especially for old Indian scalps.
"And then, Navajo blankets. Holy smoke, a gold mine isn't in it! They make them of Germantown wool and aniline dyes, and they cost at the factory all the way from six bits to $10, and sell to the tourist for various prices; sometimes as high as $75 or $80. Oh, I tell you he is shrewd; some day he will be worth a million!
"Sometimes a chap goes into his shop and poses as an expert—those are the kind of jays that fill Jim's soul with joy. The fellow will pull over a pile of blankets, and after looking at them wisely, will say, 'Haven't you got any real good blankets? These are Germantown wool and mineral dyes.'
"Then Jim will say—'Ah, I see you know something about blankets.'
"'Oh, yes; a little,' answers the expert.
"'The fine old-style blankets are mighty hard to get now,' remarks Jim.
"'I know they are,' remarks the wise tourist, 'but still they are to be had sometimes, are they not? Come, now, haven't you got something choice hidden away?'
"Then Jim will look about, as though fearful that somebody might see him, and will steal softly into a back room and pull from beneath his bed a good cheap blanket—worth about $3—and spread it out lovingly in front of the tourist.
"'There,' he whispers; 'look at that; that is not for sale. I am keeping that for myself, but I thought you would like to see it, as it is very evident you know a good deal about blankets; isn't it a beauty?'
"Then the tourist 'bites,' and asks him what it is worth, and admires it, agrees with him as to the splendid old dyes and fine preservation of the native wool prepared in the manner of the old Navajo, speaks of its great rarity, and at last ends by asking Jim what he will take for it, and usually carries it away with him, having paid three or four times the value of a really good blanket.
"I've seen Jim pull their legs so hard they'd pretty near limp when they went out. Ah, those were happy days!"
The departed heaved a deep sigh, and gazed silently at his handiwork.
"Well," he said, "I must be going; I have a lot of things I want to do before morning, but hope to run across you sometime again. Glad you like the mummy. I forgot to mention that most of the teeth were gone when we first got it, and Jim put in a fine new set, and improved it a whole lot."
I glanced at the mummy, and when I looked up again, my companion had disappeared.
A LESSON IN CHEMISTRY.
[MR. FORSTER'S STORY.]
I took the powder as agreed, and sat down to read the evening paper before retiring, with the result that I did not retire at all. I became much interested in an article on new explosives with which the Government has been lately experimenting, and had nearly finished it, when I heard a voice say to me, "Interesting subject, isn't it?"
I turned, and saw seated on my lounge a peculiar-looking man: his clothes seemed to be all run in together. You could make out the outlines of the man, but the figure was not clear; sort of foggy, you know. What surprised me most was that I could look right through him and see that back of the lounge.
I said to myself, "Is this a dream or the effect of the powder I have taken?" and I pinched my leg, and rubbed my eyes, but although I seemed to be perfectly wide awake, the shape did not disappear.
"What did you say?" I asked.
"I remarked that the subject of high explosives was decidedly interesting," answered the shape. "I was a chemist when alive, but it makes me sad to think how very little I really knew. Chemistry, as well as other branches of science, has made great strides during the past generation, since my day, but even now they really know very little."
"But," I answered, "it seems to me the high explosives which we now have are sufficiently powerful if we knew how to use them with safety."
"That's it," answered the shape. "Now, I have a couple of hours to spare, and, if it would interest you, and you care to come over to my laboratory, I will be happy to give you one or two points which may prove of value to you—I say to my laboratory, but it really is not mine; I use any laboratory that is handiest, and I know most of the good ones in the city. You see, I do not need to have a key to enter a room; that is one of the great advantages we have, as you will discover one of these days. Just now I can get you in very well because the owner of the laboratory to which we will go is out of town. I will go in first and unlock the door for you."
I told him that I should be most happy to accept his invitation; it seemed the most natural thing in the world to be conversing with a ghost and to have him invite me to go to somebody's laboratory and use up his chemicals. It never occurred to me that it might not be considered quite good form. We went out of my rooms and downstairs, the shadow floating alongside of me in the most friendly manner possible. I could see by the position of his body that he had hold of my arm, but his fingers did not show on my coat-sleeve.
We went up town for perhaps half a mile, and entered a large brick building in which I noted were various studios. It was dark, but going up three flights of stairs my guide opened a door and ushered me into a large and extensively furnished laboratory, evidently belonging to some scientific man of means and experience. The ghost turned the button of the electric light, and then motioned me to a seat.
"My time," he said, "is somewhat limited, because I have an appointment with a lady at twelve, but I will show you what a high explosive really is, and then if we have time we will talk of something else. The difficulty about high explosives is not in making them, but in using them after they are made; you create a gigantic power which you do not know how to handle.
"The rather modern discovery of how to make liquid air has simplified matters a good deal. When you can make liquid hydrogen in quantities you will have a still better agent for many purposes. Now, let us take a little of this liquid air. You see it pours like water. As I happen to know, our absent host has nearly two gallons of it, or had this afternoon; some of it has evaporated, but, as you see, there is still more than a gallon left, and we will not steal much, as all we want for our experiment to illustrate to you the greatest explosive which can be manufactured is about as much liquid air as you can hold in a thimble."
"Do you propose to try your explosive here, Mr."—I hesitated. "By the way, what is your name?"
"Oh, call me any old name; it does not matter!"
"Mr. Spook, shall we say?"
"Ahem! a little personal, perhaps, but it will do as well as another. Now, as I was saying, I will show you how to make the most powerful explosive that was ever invented."
It is possible that I did not show as much interest and enthusiasm as he expected, and to tell the truth I was a little nervous. Spooks do not have the same interest in being careful in their experiments—an accident or two is of little consequence to them, but might be decidedly disagreeable to me. I may have shown something of what I was thinking in my manner, for Spook looked at me keenly.
"What is the matter? You do not appear interested."
"On the contrary," I answered, "I am deeply so, but do we not run considerable risk in trying such experiments in a laboratory without the consent of its owner?"
"Not at all, not at all. I will use a very small amount of the explosive, and there will be no damage done."
"Have you attempted to make it before, Mr. Spook?" I ventured.
"Oh, yes, last week; that was a mistake—you see now I know all about it, I didn't then; the explosion was something awful—it blew the building pretty much all to pieces. If I had been alive I don't believe you could have found a piece of me as large as your finger—they called it spontaneous combustion; however, we won't have anything of that kind to-night."
"Please don't," I answered.
"No, I promise you. Now we will take a little of this red phosphorus—ordinary phosphorus will not answer—and pour a little liquid air on it, stirring it gently, as you see. Now, if I should let that dry it would explode at the slightest touch; but we do not want that, and we wish to increase its power, so we add a little chloride of potassium; now watch it dry—see the color change to a light red-brown. There, if you should strike that or put fire to it, it would wreck this building as completely as if you had exploded fifty pounds of dynamite in it."
I drew away from the table instinctively.
"Have no fear, I will not explode it. Now watch me closely. I will ignite a minute quantity, about as much as would make the head of a small black pin or a No. 4 bird-shot. See, the rest we will put in this pail of water. There—now all is ready—here goes!"
He lit a match and touched the little brown dot—a tremendous explosion followed and the wooden table was split into pieces. The sound was so terrific and the shock so unexpected that I was dizzy and frightened.
"Great heavens!" I exclaimed, "you have broken everything in the laboratory!"
"No," replied the ghost rather shamefacedly, "not so bad as that, but I'm afraid that I have ruined the table and cracked a few things; however, I will be more careful next time: it is even more powerful than I thought. What do you suppose would be the effect on a warship if struck with a shell containing one hundred pounds of that stuff?"
I answered that she would be destroyed.
"Destroyed? I should say she would; the largest battleship would be blown to atoms."
The spook glanced at an old-fashioned Dutch clock in the corner of the laboratory.
"Fine clock that; glad I didn't break it with our little racket just now. I see I have nearly an hour to spare. Is there any experiment you would like to try?"
I said anything would interest me, but that I didn't care for any more explosives.
"I suppose you know how to make diamonds, don't you?"
I answered that for years men had tried to manufacture diamonds, but practically without success; that as far as I was aware they had only succeeded in making them so small as to be practically of no use commercially, and the expense of the manufacture was far in excess of their value.
"That's all right," answered the spook; "but really it is a very simple matter. Here; I will make a diamond for you." He walked across the room to the fireplace, and taking from the grate a lump of coal about the size of a billiard ball, he laid it upon the table.
"This," he said, "is nearly pure carbon, and as you are well aware it is practically what a diamond is. Now, I will illustrate to you how you may make a diamond from this piece of coal, which will be as good as any diamond ever found in the mines. We will manufacture it instead of letting nature do it.
"We will first place it in this glass bowl, and pour over it sufficient liquid air to cover it completely. We will let it remain until it is thoroughly cold, say, at least 200 degrees below zero; there—now all we have to do is to heat it and then subject it to a powerful—Great Gee Hosiphat! Five minutes to twelve! I must go—appointment with a lady at twelve. But I say, old fellow, just hold it under the blowpipe and get it hot—just as hot as you can; I will be back soon—ta-ta." His last words came to me faintly through the window—he had already floated out.
I took the queer-colored piece of coal, and began heating it under the blowpipe. It did not burn, as I thought it would, but turned red and then white; gradually it seemed to grow larger and larger and brighter and brighter until I opened my eyes and found myself in bed with the sun shining full upon me through the open window.
AN INTERESTING GHOST.
[DR. WATSON'S STORY.]
It is with the greatest difficulty, (said Dr. Watson), that I force myself to believe that what I am about to relate to you did not actually happen. It seemed to me that I was as wide-awake as I am at this present moment, and impossible that the strange series of incidents could be due entirely to mental disturbances. I went home and went to bed, after first taking the powder, and I think I went to sleep. How long I slept I do not know, but I was startled at finding myself floating about the room with much the same feeling as one has when floating in water, only it was without effort. My motion seemed to be governed entirely by my will,—if I glanced at anything in the room I would float towards it. Imagine my astonishment at seeing my body lying in the bed apparently sound asleep; you will admit the sensation was novel, to say the least.
After floating around the room two or three times enjoying the peculiar sensation, I began to wonder what they had been doing at the hospital during my absence. Immediately I found myself in the hospital ward. Dr. Ford and two nurses were standing by a cot at the north end, and glancing at the chart on the table I saw the patient was seriously ill.
"Moribund," said a voice.
"I'm afraid so," I answered. I turned and saw an elderly gentleman, dressed in the costume of the last century, floating beside me.
"Sad, is it not? People still die, I see, in spite of the wonderful advance in the science of medicine since my day."
"Were you a doctor when alive?" I asked.
"Well, I was called one, and received the regular license to kill or cure. I regret to say that I have since learned that I killed a great many more than I cured. The trouble is, after you are dead your patients know this as well as you do and say unkind things; even to-night I received word from a former patient of mine, and a ghost who ought to know better, to the effect that he intended to hunt me up and punch my head. I treated him for renal colic and he died of appendicitis."
"What sort of a death certificate did you give?" I asked.
"Heart disease, and let me tell you that was a great deal nearer to it than some of you chaps get nowadays."
"You are not complimentary," I said coldly.
"Perhaps not; but if you think my criticisms harsh and uncalled for, let us get down to cold facts. Did it ever occur to you how very few people live to be even one hundred and twenty-five years old? You surely will admit that there is no reason why a man should not live to that age, barring accidents. We know that in Bible times there were lots of old fellows who passed their three hundredth birthday, and a chap named Methuselah claimed to be nine hundred and ninety-nine years old."
"Nine hundred and sixty-nine, was it not?" I asked.
"Perhaps you are right, but sixty-nine or ninety-nine, I am inclined to be a little sceptical about that record myself; there is one thing in its favor, however, and that is, that he made it an even nine hundred and ninety-nine, and not one thousand. Of course, you know there are plenty of people living to-day who are over one hundred years old, and some who have reached the very satisfactory age of one hundred and twenty-five; most of them, however, live in Bulgaria, Mexico, or some out-of-the-way place, and are so poor that they have to live abstemiously."
"Then you consider the secret of longevity to be a matter of diet?" said I.
"Partly that, and partly proper care of the nervous system; but come downstairs, and let us have a cigarette; I am dying for a smoke."
We floated down to the office, which happened to be unoccupied at the time. The medical ghost helped himself to a cigarette from a trayful on the mantel-piece, and lighting it, he seated himself in an armchair, and puffed away with evident enjoyment. I noticed the smoke, which he inhaled continually, oozed from all parts of his body.
"My dear fellow," he said impressively, "you must understand that all diseases are caused by germs—microscopic bugs and plants, you know, many of them so small that they are invisible to an ordinary microscope, or, if seen at all, are not recognized. There are thousands and thousands of them, and each and every one has its mission in life, and preys upon and destroys other germs. Now, the human body is constantly getting a lot of germs inside of it which do not belong there. Some are taken in by the lungs, while floating in the air; some by the stomach, by the food and drink; some by the skin, etc.
"These germs are met by their natural enemies which live in man's blood—his body-guard, as it were—and are destroyed. But if the attacking army is very large, or from some reason the home army has been weakened and decimated, then the invaders flourish, establish themselves and wax powerful and strong, and the man becomes what is called 'sick.'
"Come," he said, rising abruptly, and throwing the unconsumed end of his cigarette into the fireplace. "Come with me to the laboratory, and I will show you in about two minutes more than I could explain if I talked for years, and a great deal more satisfactorily."
We floated down to the laboratory, and the ghost took from the shelf a wide-mouthed bottle and held it up to the light.
"Here," he said, "we have a culture. You, of course, understand how the germs of disease are cultivated for experimental use. It is needless for me to explain to you that certain media are used for these cultures, such as milk, beef-broth, etc.
"Here we have the germ of diphtheria, here of tuberculosis, here of typhoid fever, etc. That little short jar over yonder contains some cholera bacilli, which have been lately sent here. Now look at this typhoid germ. If we took a drop of healthy blood and put some of these typhoid germs in it, how they would wiggle! but if the drop of blood was from a typhoid patient, they won't wiggle very long, as you know. See this blunt-headed chap which we have to stain to see properly, even with this wonderful microscope; that is our old friend the bacillus of tuberculosis; but unless you see the patient first I do not believe you could distinguish him from the leprosy bug.
"These are known germs, but look through the glass at this drop, and you will see some bugs worth seeing, although the medical fraternity have not as yet discovered their value. Perhaps you know that most bacteriologists consider these germs to be plants, not bugs, although they admit some of them move a little. How astonished they would be if they could look through this glass! See that chap with green hind legs: he preys on the typhoid germ, and when they discover this physicians will simply inoculate the patient with a lot of these little chaps with the green legs, and they will do the rest.
"Here is a germ with yellow stripes which looks a little like a diminutive potato bug. He is the deadly enemy of the bug of consumption, and will attack and kill him on every possible occasion. They are about evenly matched, but I think the little striped chap is a bit the better. Another ghost and myself made a match the other night,—seven battles, the result to decide the championship,—a sort of a bugging main, as it were. I won. The first six matches were even. We won three each, but in the seventh my striped bug got the tubercular germ down and shook him as a terrier does a rat. The other ghost and myself nearly had a fight to get our eyes to the microscope. I tell you it was exciting. There is my champion bug now, see him?—the one with the fourth hind leg gone."
"But how," I asked, "are you going to prevent people from dying of old age?"
"Of course they will die of old age; but there is no such thing as old age under one hundred and fifty years; what you call old age is not old age at all. There are two kinds of old age or senility. Old age, properly speaking, results from a distinct modification of the nervous tissues and a hardening of the arteries—the former caused by unnatural conditions, nervous strain and dissipation, and the latter from over-feeding and drinking. The trouble with the ordinary man is that he absorbs great quantities of nitrogenous foods instead of making his diet one of nuts, fruit, milk, etc. In comparatively young men of the present age there is often a decided modification of the nervous tissues with symptoms resembling those in neurasthenia. In such cases galvanic treatment will restore the centres to their normal condition. You will, therefore, I think, admit that with proper diet and possibly the aid of a galvanic battery a man may live,—barring possible death by violence,—say, two hundred years."
"You mean," I said, "when we have learned to combat the various disease germs by pitting against them their natural enemies."
"Exactly, of course," answered the shade; "but it seems to me that we have talked long enough; I am becoming very dry, so let us repair to the Waldorf and have a cocktail."
"How is it possible," I asked, "that you can take a cocktail, there being nothing tangible about you?"
"Of course," answered the ghost, "it is impossible for me to actually drink a cocktail. I can, however, float over the bar and inhale the pleasing odors arising from the various concoctions served to the guests, and in my ethereal condition I enjoy the odors and am affected by them as much as if I were really drinking the liquid."
We floated from the house and down town, until we reached the brilliantly lighted Waldorf Hotel. There were many people in the bar-room, and the medical shade and myself, floating about over the different tables, inhaled with decided enjoyment the delicate aroma of the various mixed drinks so dear to the present generation.